بوتين يهدّد بنقل الحرب الى فنزويلا وكوبا وفتح جبهة تحرير «فيتنامية» من سورية!

السبت 15 كانون ثاني 2022

محمد صادق الحسيني

طبول الحرب في أوكرانيا باتت تستحضر حروب متنقلة في أكثر من قارة، والتصريحات والتصريحات المضادة أخذت تتدافع بين الروس والأميركان وحلفائهم في حلف الناتو، بشكل غير مسبوق… حتى باتت حدود أوكرانيا لا سيما الجنوبية الغربية منها أشبه بالفتيل الذي يمكن ان يشعل حرباً عالمية.

في هذه الأثناء صعّد الروس من تهديداتهم للغرب لتصل حدود الحديقة الخلفية للولايات المتحدة الأميركية.

فقد نشر موقع ميليتاري ووتش الأميركي أول أمس تصريحاً لنائب وزير الخارجية الروسي، سيرغي ريابكوڤ، قال فيه انه «لا يستبعد ان تقوم روسيا بإنشاء قواعد عسكرية في كوبا وڤنزويلا» على الرغم من انه لا يريد تأكيد الأمر حالياً ولكنه لا يستبعد ايّ شيء في الوقت نفسه.

فيما تعتقد مصادر روسية قريبة من الكرملين على انّ الروس قد قاموا بنشر أسلحة استراتيجية هناك، وأنهم سيعلنون عن ذلك في الوقت المناسب.

في هذه الأثناء نقل الموقع نفسه عن الأمين العام لحلف شمال الأطلسي، إيان شتولتينبيرغ قوله، في الإطار نفسه، انّ من المحتمل ان تنضمّ أوكرانيا وجورجيا للحلف وهو ما سيسهل نشر أسلحة نووية أميركية بالقرب من الأراضي الروسية.

وهذا في تقديرنا تصريح قريب من إعلان حرب، مؤجلة حالياً، ضدّ روسيا. وهو ما لن تسمح به موسكو تحت ايّ ظرف كان برأي المصادر آنفة الذكر.

فالرئيس بوتين برأي هذه المصادر ليس بوريس يلتسين، وما لم يقبل به الأخير، لن يقبل به رئيس الكي جي بي السابق في ألمانيا الشرقية، وزعيم معسكر تحالف الشرق الجديد، الذي ركب يوماً طائرة السوخوي بنفسه منطلقاً من موسكو وذهب لمقاتلة ميليشيا الغرب القاعدية المموّلة يومها سعودياً في الشيشان وجورجيا يوم كان رئيساً للوزراء في عهد يلتسين في العام ٢٠٠٠.

المصادر نفسها تؤكد بأنّ لدى فلاديمير بوتين خطة هجومية مضادة متكاملة لمواجهة احتمالية قيام الغرب بضم أوكرانيا لحلف الناتو.

والخطة حسب تلك المصادر تقوم على التالي:

أولا ـ الإعلان عن نشر قوات وأسلحة استراتيجية في كوبا وفنزويلا.

ثانيا ـ دعم سورية وحلفائها في حلف المقاومة على الطريقة الفيتنامية في الصراع العربي «الإسرائيلي»أو.

ثالثا ـ دعم كلّ ما من شأنه إثارة القلاقل في تركيا للإطاحة بالركن الجنوبي من حلف الأطلسي وتفكيك دولة أردوغانُ.

رابعا ـ وانْ تطلب الأمر اجتياح بولندا وصولاً الى حدود ألمانيا الشرقية سابقاً اي عند جدار برلين!

ويملك بوتين في هذا السياق حججاً قانونية وسياسية وأمنية قوية جداً ومقنعة للرأي العام الروسي والعالمي.

فثمة اتفاق سوفياتي مع الغرب يقضي بانسحاب الروس (السوفيات) من أوروبا الشرقية مقابل عدم توسع الناتو شرقاً…

في حين انّ الناتو ليس فقط اجتاح أوروبا الشرقية بل وأصبح اليوم في البلطيق والآن يريد ضمّ جمهوريات سوفياتية سابقة مثل جورجيا وأوكرانيا، فاتحاً شهيته باتجاه تفكيك الاتحاد الروسي نفسه!

ثم انّ شخصية بوتين القومية الروسية وتاريخه السياسي الشخصي وهو ابن لينينغراد والكي جي بي، لا تسمح له بان يقبل ان تقارعه سلطة نازية جديدة ركّبها الغرب في جمهورية اعتبرها الروس حتى الأمس القريب جزءاً من لا يتجزأ من روسيا ـ أوكرانيا.

 فضلاً ان تتمرّد عليه جمهورية مثل جورجيا عمل فيها الغرب ثورة ملونة وركّب فيها رئيسة عميلة للغرب كانت سفيرة فرنسا في جورجيا تمّ فرضها على الشعب الجورجي، فقط لاعتبارها من أصول جورجية في لحظة غفلة روسية!

 ثم ان ما حصل في كازاخستان قبل أيام من عملية ردعية استراتيجية، قادها بوتين شخصياً استهدفت ضرب النيوليبرالية في كلّ آسيا الوسطى والقوقاز فضلاً عن قمع رديفتها في نفس روسيا، كان كفيلاً برأي أهل الاختصاص بتغيير قواعد الاشتباك الدولية ما سيمنع الغرب، من ارتكاب حماقة الانقضاض على أوكرانيا والتي يملك بوتين فيها نفوذاً غير مرئيّ أكثر مما يملك مجموع الغرب بكلّ قواعده المتعددة التي باتت مزروعة على امتداد حدود الخاصرة الأمنية القومية الروسية الأهمّ!

العالم يتغيّر بسرعة كبيرة، ومركز ثقله انتقل عملياً من الغرب الى الشرق.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

بوتين ينتقل الى الهجوم الاستراتيجي الوقائي

الاثنين 10 يناير 2022

 ناصر قنديل

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

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

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

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

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

فيديوات متعلقة

مقالات متعلقة

NATO expansion to Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova a life-or-death situation: Kremlin

26 Dec 2021

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen Net

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stressed the sensitivity of Ukraine’s issue to Russia, and that conflict can threaten Ukraine’s statehood.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, Moscow, Russia, on October 2, 2019 (Anadolu Agency)

According to Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, NATO’s expansion to Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova is a matter of life and death for Russia.

Peskov told Rossiya 1 about the issue: “Of course, for us, this is, well, essentially a matter of life and death already, ” talking about NATO’s extension to include nations like Ukraine and other former Soviet Union members.

The Kremlin spokesperson stated, “The equipment is beginning to make its way into Ukraine, military instructors are coming there, there are several thousand of them already,” adding that “NATO is gradually making its way into Ukraine and then, the only thing left will be to make it official.”

When asked if a military escalation could be hazardous to Ukraine’s statehood, Peskov responded “undoubtedly,” adding that “this is something President Putin talked about on multiple occasions and this is something that Kiev knows perfectly well and Washington knows perfectly well.”

Russia released its proposals for security agreements with the US and NATO earlier this month. The draft documents included a proposal to avoid deploying intermediate- and short-range missiles in areas where they could endanger either party to the agreement, as well as other measures.

Lavrov: US approach toward Russia creates a toxic atmosphere

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on December 24 that the US unfriendly approach toward Russia creates a toxic atmosphere and prevents the creation of peaceful contact between the two countries. 

In an interview for Oslobođenje newspaper, Lavrov pointed out that Moscow’s interactions with Washington have led to unfavorable scenarios, revealing that there have been many tensions between the two.

The Russian FM accused the US of being “overtly antagonistic” as it continues to impose sanctions, be hostile, and “make baseless charges against Russia.”

Putin: Russia will not be part of the conflict in the Donbas region

During his annual press conference, Putin stressed, on December 23, that Russia is ready to work with Ukrainian sides who are looking to build good-neighborly relations with Moscow.

On his part, the Russian President said Russia will not be part of the conflict in the Donbas region.

It is worth noting that the Minsk Agreement is an agreement to stop the war in the Donbas region, signed by Ukraine, Russia, the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Luhansk People’s Republic, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe on September 5, 2014.

New trade corridor connecting Iran and Europe

19 Dec 2021

Net Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen

The Iranian ambassador to Baku says a new trade corridor will be activated this week linking Iran and Europe via Azerbaijan.

The new corridor comes after the revival of the ECO and the INSTC corridor

Iran’s ambassador to Baku, Abbas Mousavi, announced Saturday that the new corridor linking Iran to Europe via Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Black Sea will be activated this week.

On Twitter, Mousavi said that the new corridor comes after the revival of the ECO Corridor between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, and the International North-South Transport Corridor (Finland, Russia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Iran, the Persian Gulf, and India).

The ECO corridor’s objective is to strengthen economic relations between Tehran, Ankara, and Islamabad and to facilitate trade and investment in the region.

On the other hand, the INSTC corridor is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road routes to link and increase trade between countries of the region including India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe, mentioned Mehr news agency.

It is noteworthy that on December 10th, Moscow witnessed the first meeting between deputy foreign ministers of a new regional cooperation titled 3+3, which consists of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia from the South Caucasus and three neighboring countries, namely Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation… Russia is the Common Enemy! المصالحة التركية – الأرمينية.. روسيا العدو المشترك!

ARABI SOURI 

Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

Pashinyan may not hesitate to engage in positive dialogue with Ankara, to open up through it to Europe, and to help him support his position to take revenge on Moscow.

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu surprised everyone when he talked about appointing a special representative for dialogue with Armenia after Yerevan took a similar step by appointing its representative for direct dialogue with Ankara “without the need for Russian mediation,” this is what Minister Cavusoglu said. This clearly reflects the intention of the Turkish and Armenian parties to normalize relations between them, away from the interference and influence of other parties, primarily Russia and then Iran.

After the defeat of Yerevan in the Karabakh region thanks to Turkish and Israeli support for Azerbaijan, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan did not hesitate to accuse Moscow of not helping Armenia in this war, which led to a chill and serious tension between the latter and Russia, Pashinyan took advantage of this tension in his election campaign, from which he emerged victorious, despite Moscow’s support for his opponents, both political and military.

Pashinyan’s victory in the June 20 elections prompted US President Joe Biden to exploit this in his psychological and political war against Russia. During his meeting with him in Rome on October 31 last, he recommended Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to talk With Pashinyan and to address all differences between the two countries, through direct dialogue between the two parties.

Biden’s recommendation undoubtedly met with President Erdogan’s calculations in the Caucasus, after he made Azerbaijan a strategic foothold in the region, with more comprehensive cooperation relations in all fields with Georgia, the other country in the Caucasus, whose relations with Moscow have also been tense, after the Russian army intervened in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, during the August 2008 war, they declared their independence from Georgia with Russian support, as is the case in Lugansk and Donetsk provinces in eastern Ukraine.

President Erdogan knows the many weaknesses of Pashinyan, whose country suffers from very difficult economic and financial problems, and wants to help him to overcome these problems, in return for direct and indirect support from him for his projects and strategic plans in the Caucasus. Everyone knows that these plans and projects target Russia in the first place, as is the case in Central Asia, where the Islamic republics are of Turkish origin.

Erdogan plans to help Yerevan open land and air borders with it, allow trade across the common border, and thus ease work and residency conditions for the roughly 50,000 Armenians, most of whom are women, now working in Turkey. Everyone knows that this simple aid, in addition to encouraging Turkish businessmen to work in Armenia, which lacks the most basic necessities of economic life (there is no industry, agriculture, or trade) will encourage the Armenians, in general, to forget their bad historical memories with the Turks regarding their accusation of the Ottoman Empire of exterminating one and a half million Armenians during the First World War. The Armenians, whose number does not exceed three million, and a large part of them work abroad, are living in very difficult economic and financial conditions, especially after the defeat of Karabakh and the placing of Azerbaijani obstacles in the way of Iranian trade with Armenia. Moreover, Armenia’s economic and military capabilities do not and will not allow it to confront Azerbaijan, after Turkey’s military support for it, through air and land bases there.

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المصالحة التركية – الأرمينية.. روسيا العدو المشترك!

2021 الاربعاء 15 كانون الأول

المصدر: الميادين نت

حسني محلي

قد لا يتردّد باشينيان في الحوار الإيجابي مع أنقرة، للانفتاح عبرها على أوروبا، ولتساعده على دعم موقفه للانتقام من موسكو.

تركيا وأرمينيا تعتزمان تطبيع العلاقات بينهما

فاجأ وزير الخارجية التركي مولود جاويش أوغلو الجميع عندما تحدث عن تعيين ممثل خاص للحوار مع أرمينيا، بعد أن أقدمت يريفان على خطوة مماثلة بتعيين ممثلها للحوار المباشر مع أنقرة “من دون الحاجة إلى وساطة روسية”، والقول للوزير جاويش أوغلو. ويعكس ذلك بكل وضوح نيّة الطرفين التركي والأرميني تطبيع العلاقات بينهما، بعيداً عن تدخلات الأطراف الآخرين وتأثيراتهم، وفي الدرجة الأولى روسيا ثم إيران. 

فبعد الهزيمة التي مُنيت بها يريفان في إقليم كاراباخ بفضل الدعم التركي والإسرائيلي لأذربيجان، لم يتردّد رئيس الوزراء الأرميني نيكول باشينيان في اتهام موسكو بعدم مساعدتها لأرمينيا في هذه الحرب، وهو ما أدّى إلى فتور وتوتر جديّ بين الأخيرة وروسيا، واستغل باشينيان هذا التوتر في حملته الانتخابية التي خرج منها منتصراً، على الرغم من دعم موسكو لمعارضيه، السياسيين منهم والعسكر. 

وجاء انتصار باشينيان في الانتخابات التي نُظمت في الـ20 من حزيران/يونيو الماضي ليدفع الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن إلى استغلال ذلك في حربه النفسية والسياسية ضد روسيا، فأوصى الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان، خلال لقائه به في روما في الـ31 من تشرين الأول/أكتوبر الماضي، بالحديث مع باشينيان، ومعالجة كل الخلافات بين البلدين، عبر الحوار المباشر بين الطرفين. 

توصية بايدن التقت من دون شك مع حسابات الرئيس إردوغان في القوقاز، بعد أن جعل من أذربيجان موطئ قدم استراتيجي له في المنطقة، مع المزيد من علاقات التعاون الشامل في جميع المجالات مع جورجيا، الدولة الأخرى في القوقاز، والتي شهدت علاقاتها هي أيضاً مع موسكو توتراً خطراً، بعد أن تدخل الجيش الروسي في أوسيتيا الجنوبية وأبخازيا، خلال حرب آب/أغسطس 2008، فأعلنتا استقلالهما عن جورجيا بدعم روسي، كما هي الحال في مقاطعتي لوغانسك ودونيتسك شرق أوكرانيا.

الرئيس إردوغان يعرف نقاط الضعف الكثيرة لدى باشينيان الذي تعاني بلاده من مشاكل اقتصادية ومالية صعبة جداً، ويريد أن يساعده لتجاوز هذه المشاكل، مقابل دعم مباشر وغير مباشر منه لمشاريعه ومخططاته الاستراتيجية في القوقاز. ويعرف الجميع أن هذه المخططات والمشاريع تستهدف روسيا في الدرجة الأولى، كما هي الحال في آسيا الوسطى، حيث الجمهوريات الإسلامية ذات الأصل التركي.

ويخطط إردوغان لمساعدة يريفان في فتح الحدود البرية والجوية معها، والسماح بالتجارة عبر الحدود المشتركة، وبالتالي تخفيف شروط العمل والإقامة بالنسبة إلى نحو خمسين ألف أرميني، ومعظمهم من النساء، يعملون الآن في تركيا. ويعرف الجميع أن هذه المساعدات البسيطة، إضافة الى تشجيع رجال الأعمال الأتراك على العمل في أرمينيا التي تفتقر إلى أبسط مقوّمات الحياة الاقتصادية (ليس هناك صناعة وزراعة وتجارة) ستشجّع الأرمن عموماً على نسيان ذكرياتهم التاريخية السيّئة مع الأتراك في ما يتعلق باتهامهم الدولة العثمانية بإبادة مليون ونصف مليون أرمني إبّان الحرب العالمية الأولى. فالأرمن، وعددهم لا يتجاوز ثلاثة ملايين، وقسم كبير منهم يعمل في الخارج، يعيشون ظروفاً اقتصادية ومالية صعبة جداً، خاصة بعد هزيمة كاراباخ، ووضع العراقيل الأذربيجانية أمام التجارة الإيرانية مع أرمينيا. كما أن قدرات أرمينيا الاقتصادية والعسكرية لا ولن تسمح لها بمواجهة أذربيجان، بعد الدعم العسكري التركيّ لها، عبر القواعد الجوية والبرية هناك. 

تصريحات الوزير جاويش أوغلو من المتوقع لها أن تحمّل في طيّاتها العديد من المفاجآت بعد فتح الحدود بين البلدين، وقد تلحق بها زيارة باشينيان لتركيا، كما زار الرئيس السابق عبد الله غول يريفان في أيلول/سبتمبر 2008 لحضور مباراة كرة القدم بين المنتخبين التركي والأرميني، وسط هتافات البعض من الجمهور ضده وضد تركيا، مع التذكير بالإبادة الأرمنية، ومن دون أن تمنع هذه الهتافات الطرفين التركي والأرميني من التوقيع في الـ 10 من تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 2009 في زيوريخ على بروتوكول للتعاون المشترك وبوساطة سويسرية، لكنه لم يحقّق أهدافه، وكان أهمها تبادل السفراء وفتح الحدود المشتركة وإطلاق الرحلات الجوية. وكان السبب الرئيسي في فشل هذا البروتوكول هو عدم تراجع الجانب الأرميني عن موقفه في ما يتعلق بالإبادة الأرمنية، واقترح الجانب التركي آنذاك تشكيل لجنة أكاديمية مشتركة تُعدّ دراسة شاملة حول هذا الموضوع، بعد الاطلاع على كل الوثائق الرسمية في أرشيف الدولتين وأرشيف الدول المعنية، وأهمها فرنسا وبريطانيا وروسيا وألمانيا وأميركا. 

باشينيان بدوره قد لا يتردّد في الحوار الإيجابي مع أنقرة، أولاً للانفتاح عبرها على أوروبا، وبالتالي لتساعده على دعم موقفه للانتقام من موسكو التي يحمّلها مسؤولية هزيمته في حرب كاراباخ. كما أن الانفتاح على أنقرة سيساعده في تحقيق مكاسب اقتصادية كبيرة، وخاصة إذا نجح إردوغان في مخططاته لإقامة تكتلات اقتصادية في القوقاز تضمّ تركيا وأذربيجان وأرمينيا بل وحتى روسيا وإيران، على أن تكون تركيا هي المحرك الرئيسي لمثل هذا التكتل، ما دام غاز أذربيجان وبترولها يصلان تركيا عبر أراضي جورجيا، كما يصل الغاز الروسي تركيا ومنها الى أوروبا، على أن يبقى الغاز الإيراني للاستهلاك التركي الداخلي. 

ويريد الرئيس إردوغان لمثل هذا التكتل الاقتصادي أن يساعده في جعل تركيا ممراً رئيسياً للعديد من مشاريع الخطوط الحديدية بتسمياتها المختلفة، التي تهدف إلى ربط أوروبا بآسيا وحتى بالصين، وهو ما لن يتحقق إلا بالمرور عبر أراضي أرمينيا وجورجيا معاً. كما يتمنى إردوغان لهذه المشاريع أن تدعم استراتيجيته القومية في آسيا الوسطى، ولا يمكن لها أن تتحقق إلا عبر التفوّق في القوقاز، وهو ما يتطلب كسب أرمينيا وجورجيا المجاورة له حتى يتسنّى له الامتداد شرقاً صوب أذربيجان بعمقها الجغرافي والقومي والتاريخي في إيران. ويفسّر ذلك الفتور والتوتر في العلاقة بين أذربيجان وإيران خلال أزمة كاراباخ، بعد أن شنّ الإعلام الموالي لإردوغان والأوساط القومية حملة عنيفة ضدّ طهران بحجّة أنها تدعم الأرمن. 

ويبقى الرهان على موقف موسكو التي لم تعد تخفي انزعاجها من سياسات أنقرة، ولكن من دون أن يتسنى لها أن تفعل أي شيء بعد أن فقدت الكثير من مقوّمات المساومة مع الرئيس إردوغان في سوريا وأذربيجان وأوكرانيا، والآن أرمينيا، ولاحقاً في مواقع وساحات أخرى، ويُعدّ إردوغان من أجلها ما استطاع من قوة!

ولكن ما عليه في هذه الحالة إلا أن يُقنع باشينيان والرأي العام الأرميني بضرورة التخلي عن مقولاتهما في ما يتعلق بالإبادة الأرمنية، وهو ما لن يكون صعباً في ظل الواقع الأرميني الداخلي والمعطيات الحالية (التذكير بصفقة القرن بين “إسرائيل” والأنظمة العربية) التي تجمع حسابات أنقرة ويريفان في خندق واحد، ما دام العدو مشتركاً بالنسبة إلى إردوغان وباشينيان، وإلا فلِمَ استعجل لمثل هذه المصالحة بعد هزيمة كاراباخ واعتراف الرئيس بايدن في نيسان/أبريل الماضي بالإبادة الأرمنية؟! 

GEOFOR interviews The Saker: Will Kiev decide on an open armed conflict?

December 05, 2021

Note: in late November I was interviewed by the Russian website Geofor.  Here is the English language translation of this interview.

GEOFOR: Mr. Raevsky, no sooner have the American warships left the Black Sea than the British went in there. Apparently, “unscheduled exercises” of NATO ships and Ukrainian watercraft are about to commence, again. Again, near the maritime borders of the Russian Federation. Moreover, a couple of American military boats were delivered to Odessa (although, politely speaking, not quite new). As a military analyst with experience in intelligence, how do you assess the degree of threats from this incessant demonstration of force in terms of the possibility of provoking a military conflict with far-reaching consequences?

Andrei Raevsky: From a military point of view, I assess the degree of direct threat from these forces as zero. Firstly, any ship that enters the waters of the Black Sea can be instantly destroyed by a number of Russian coastal defense systems and/or the Russian Aerospace Forces. So, the degree of threat from them is zero. Secondly, they are equipped with  rather outdated Tomahawk missiles. They have a relatively low flight speed, and they do not pose a great threat to Russian air defense systems.

On the other hand, there is an indirect threat from these NATO ships. And very serious. They are nudging Ukrainians in the same way as in 2008 they nudged Saakashvili in Georgia. They give Kiev a mistaken feeling being under an umbrella, under the protection of the US Navy or, say, NATO bomber planes, which is a complete deception and delusion, but this is the real danger.

GEOFOR: Does Russia have the ability to protect itself if it comes to launching Tomahawks? And how is this perceived in Pentagon and NATO headquarters? In the same context: what, in your opinion, is behind the decision of the Russian president to reject the Ministry of Defense’s offer to hold its unscheduled exercises on the Black Sea simultaneously with the United States and NATO? How will it be perceived in the Washington military-political establishment – as confidence in the capabilities of the Russian military to respond adequately to provocative actions or, as a desire not to take a potentially dangerous situation to the extreme?

Andrei Raevsky: Yes, of course, Russia can defend itself. As I just said, these are relatively slow and outdated cruise missiles, which do not pose a great danger to the multi-layered integrated air defense of the Crimea and the South of Russia and the entire Southern Military District of the Russian Federation. You can remember what the US missile strike on Syria was like, where most of them [Tomahawks] were shot down not by the Russian contingent in Syria – this is very important to emphasize – but by the Syrians with their relatively simpler air defense system.

Thus. I don’t think that all these Tomahawks threaten Russia very much.

I will also add that if the United States and NATO wanted to hit Russia with Tomahawks, it would be better for them to get out of the Black Sea and go to the Mediterranean Sea and move away to the maximum distance – just so as not to be instantly sunk.

Putin’s decision not to conduct simultaneous maneuvers in the Black Sea, in my opinion, is absolutely reasonable.

In Washington, this is likely to make an impression, in a certain sense, of a staged scene: Shoigu says: “I am ready”,  and Putin takes such a peacemaking, pacifying step. This is what in the West is called “Good cop – bad cop.” In fact, they are, of course, united in terms of developing principles and strategies for protecting Russia from possible aggression.

GEOFOR: And now a little more about Ukraine and the situation around it. Russian analysts find many analogies in the situation in Ukraine now and the one that was in Georgia on the eve of August 2008. How would you characterize the factors (internal and external) that could lead to Kiev deciding on an open armed conflict? And what will this lead Ukraine and Europe as a whole to? Who, in the end, may be the beneficiary?

Andrei Raevsky: Yes, the situation is very similar to that. And I would even say that the situation Zelensky is in, is worse than the one Saakashvili was in.

I’m afraid that his rating is such that he really has nothing to lose. The question of whether Kiev will decide on an open armed conflict implies that Kiev has an opportunity to solve something. I doubt it very much. Without getting the “go-ahead” from the “Washington Regional Party Committee” Kiev will not move. Thus, if Kiev moves, it will be, at least, in the presence of a “tacit” – not even consent – order, when the West gives the command “Attack!”. Few people in the West care that Kiev will then “get its ass kicked.”

But the most important thing in this context is to remember that the goal is not to “liberate ORDLO from Muscovites” (Note: “ORLDO” is the current official Ukie legal term for the LDNR) or “restore democracy and territorial integrity of Ukraine” and so on. The goal is to force Russia to openly invade Ukraine and start a war: so that it cannot be denied, in order to totally sink energy projects between Russia and the EU and make the EU completely dependent, first of all, on American shale gas and other energy carriers. And to achieve these goals, Ukraine does not need any victory at all – it’s enough to just say: “Here, these evil Putin’s “green men” have seized even more territory! Oh, how bad they are!”

We can say that from a military point of view, Russia will win very quickly. But from a political point of view, it will be a victory for the United States.

GEOFOR: Do you consider it possible that, with NATO’s symbolic support in the Black Sea, as well as the presence of various American, British and other instructors on land, Kiev will decide on a military provocation not in the Donbas, but in the Black Sea? After all, it is known that everyone is waiting for the Ukrainian military offensive in the east of the country, and why, for example, Zelensky not follow the path of his predecessor Poroshenko, who sent boats to break through the Kerch Strait, and, creating a conflict situation, disrupted the already agreed meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin? Moreover, the second meeting of the Russian and American presidents this year is now being prepared…

Andrei Raevsky: Yes, such a provocation in the Black Sea is very likely. It is enough to recall their provocation when Ukrainian boats tried to pass into the Kerch Strait. And it was without any presence of Americans. Of course, this is possible. I think this is not only possible, but it will definitely happen.

And if there really are plans to arrange a meeting between Biden and Putin, then Ukrainians have very little time left. In December, Americans convene their “Democracy Forum”, then there are holidays…

If there is this meeting – and we don’t know if there will be one – there could be a lot of things that could undermine it. For supporters of the war – both in the United States and in Ukraine – this is a very important moment that cannot be missed.

GEOFOR: And in conclusion. If it is likely that the ongoing Russian-American consultations (the arrival of the Deputy Secretary of State and the director of the CIA in Moscow, for example) and the dialogue between the two leaders, which, hopefully, will take place, will lead to at least some stabilization, both around the Ukrainian problem and in bilateral relations. What problems in this regard could you highlight?

Andrei Raevsky: These consultations are very important, and this is a very desirable development of the situation because American officials of this level have not come to Moscow twice to present some kind of ultimatum.

To present an ultimatum, you can simply use a consul.

To do this, there is absolutely no need to send the highest representatives of the American authorities to Moscow.

The conversations that took place – whatever they were – were to the point. And they were serious. As long as both sides are talking, at least they are not shooting. And this is very desirable.

And we can only hope that such consultations will continue in the future.

Of course, the Americans are the most dangerous enemy for Russia. This needs to be understood.

This is not a get-together with a “vodka-herring” menu to just shoot the breeze. Neither is this a friendly meeting.

But this is a direct dialogue of those who can really make decisions in a difficult situation and influence the situation.

And in this regard, it is very important.

Therefore, there is no need to fall into the mistake that Americans very often fall into when they say: “We don’t talk to such and such.” We don’t talk to terrorists, we don’t talk to states and “regimes” that we don’t recognize. This is a very big mistake.

You need to talk to everyone, often including the fiercest enemies.

source: https://geofor.ru/4710-andrej-raevskij-reshitsya-li-kiev-na-otkrytyj-vooruzhennyj-konflikt.html

The Russian Foreign Intelligence office (SVR) issues an unprecedented warning about US operations in eastern Ukraine

November 23, 2021

The Saker

This is a machine translated text whose source is here: http://svr.gov.ru/smi/2021/11/ssha-provotsiruyut-obostrenie-na-vostoke-ukrainy.htm
(Emphasis and color added by me, Andrei)
——-

THE UNITED STATES PROVOKES AN ESCALATION IN THE EAST OF UKRAINE

The press Bureau of the SVR of Russia reports that recently Washington officials have been actively intimidating the world community by allegedly preparing Russia for “aggression” against Ukraine. According to incoming data, the US State Department through diplomatic channels brings to its allies and partners absolutely false information about the concentration of forces on the territory of our country for a military invasion of Ukraine. The Americans paint a terrible picture of how hordes of Russian tanks will begin to crush Ukrainian cities, convince them that they have some “reliable information” about such intentions of Russia.

It is surprising with what speed a previously quite respectable foreign ministry turns into a mouthpiece of false propaganda.

These fabrications, however, are not as harmless as it may seem. The quote attributed to the Minister of Propaganda of Hitler’s Germany, Joseph Goebbels, reads: “The more monstrous the lie, the more willing the crowd is to believe in it.” Of course, this line fits into the anti-Russian course of the West. We are much more concerned about the fact that such aggressive propaganda encourages the Kiev regime to build up its military grouping in the Donbas and resume shelling of civilian objects. There is data on the creeping advance of Ukrainian positions deep into the so-called gray zone along the demarcation line, as well as the concentration of forces and means of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the border areas with Russia and Belarus. The United States and its allies continue to pump Ukraine with weapons, encourage the use of delivered means of destruction, including strike unmanned aerial systems, in order to carry out military provocations.

The provocative policy of the United States and the European Union, which deliberately strengthens Kiev’s sense of permissiveness and impunity, causes extreme concern. We observed a similar situation in Georgia on the eve of the events of 2008. Then M. Saakashvili “broke loose” and tried to destroy Russian peacekeepers and the civilian population of South Ossetia. It cost him dearly.

Head of the Press Bureau

SVR of Russia S.N. Ivanov

22.11.2021

Russian Defense Ministry issues an emergency statement on the situation in the Black Sea

NOVEMBER 13, 2021

Russian Defense Ministry issues an emergency statement on the situation in the Black Sea

https://smiruss.ru/minoborony-rf-vystupilo-s-eks/

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation issued an emergency statement on the situation in the Black Sea

The United States is creating a multinational group near the Russian borders in the Black Sea, and is also studying the theater of possible hostilities in the region. This is stated in the message of the Ministry of Defense of Russia, the correspondent of “PolitNavigator” reports.

The ministry stressed that we are talking about the entry into the Black Sea of the destroyer Porter, the headquarters ship Mount Whitney and the tanker John Lenthall. In addition, five American F-15E Strike Eagle fighters were deployed to airbases in Bulgaria and Romania. The Russian Ministry of Defense believes that this is not only about exercises – in this way, the US military is developing the territory.

“Taking into account the fact that in addition to the US Navy, it is planned to use tactical, patrol and strategic aviation, as well as contingents of the armed forces of Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine, there is a study of the alleged theater of military operations in the event that Kiev prepares a military solution in the south- east, ”the statement said.
According to the military expert of the Institute of CIS Countries, Captain I Rank Sergei Gorbachev, the United States is creating its own mini-flotilla in the Black Sea, capable of delivering missile strikes and threatening not only the south of Russia, but also Moscow:

“The development of the coastal infrastructure of Ukraine is underway – port, logistics components, the use of facilities on land. If we talk about aviation, this is the use of the airspace of Ukraine for their own purposes, the development of the airfield network. NATO aircraft periodically land in Odessa, near Nikolaev, and at other sites in various regions of Ukraine. I think our statement is related to drawing attention to the forces from which the threat to peace comes.

This kind of thing happens periodically – just remember the significant grouping of anti-Russian forces that participated in the Sea Breeze 2021 summer exercises. There, both the number of forces and the number of countries whose representatives were sent to the exercises can even be called a record. That is, this kind of thing happened. But here we see a coincidence both in time and place, and it is worth paying attention to the variety of forces. If we evaluate the three American boats, then this is a command ship, which has equipment of a very different direction, capable of performing functions ranging from monitoring to reconnaissance, providing communications systems, command and control, and so on.

This is a platform that can accommodate a significant number of seconded contingent, the same Marines. On the other hand, there is the possibility of landing helicopters, transferring various weapons systems and personnel. If we are talking about an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, then this ship is a platform for 90 different missiles, including Tomahawks, which can reach Moscow. This includes issues related to the use of the Aegis combat information control systems associated with the same complex in Romania. Plus, a tanker that has the ability to provide not only fuel, but also all sorts of oils, water, supplies, and so on. Such a mini-flotilla, multifunctional, with various possibilities.

A member of the movement “strong Russia”, military expert Mark Bernardini offers Russia in response to the actions of the US to send its warships to American shores:
“Of course, the principle of reciprocity, obviously, the United States is nothing will not be against it, if in the vicinity of Cuba and Florida, and also Alaska, the ships of the Russian Navy will appear: after all, you need to study the theater of possible hostilities in the event of an attack by the States on Liberty Island? Seriously, the Americans are really preparing and will promote the version of the US and its henchmen (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey) helping Ukraine’s attack on the Donbass people’s republics.

In fact, as you know, the Kiev fascists will never dare to do this without an unspoken order from the overseas Naglo-Saxons. In other words, not the United States and the company will join Ukraine, but exactly the opposite. Alas, the Ukrainian regime has never been very far-sighted: it would be worth reminding them how the Yankees’ assurances to such heads of state as Gorbachev, Hussein, Gaddafi and even Saakashvili have turned out over the past thirty years. ”
Maxim Karpenko

The Ministry of Defense records the unprecedented activity of reconnaissance aircraft in the sky over the Black Sea:

On November 9, over the Black Sea, the US Air Force’s E-8C ground target reconnaissance and strike control aircraft was accompanied by the radio-technical means of the anti-aircraft missile forces of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

Also on the past day, Russian anti-aircraft missile forces over the Black Sea were accompanied by THREE reconnaissance aircraft of NATO member states:

  •  The strategic reconnaissance aircraft RC-135 of the US Air Force, which took off from the airbase on the island of Crete (Greece), was approaching the state border of the Russian Federation at a distance of 30 km.
  •  The base patrol aircraft P-8A Poseidon of the US Navy, which took off from the airbase on the island of Sicily (Italy), was approaching the state border of the Russian Federation at a distance of 70 km.
  •  The C-160G “Gabriel” reconnaissance aircraft of the French Aerospace Forces that took off from the airbase on the territory of Romania was approaching the state border of Russia by 30 km.
  • Another U-2 strategic reconnaissance aircraft of the US Air Force, which took off from the territory of Great Britain, was detected and accompanied by radar reconnaissance equipment over the territory of Ukraine, approaching the border of the Russian Federation at a distance of about 60 km.
  • This morning at 8.56 Moscow time, the US Navy guided missile destroyer Porter left the Georgian port of Batumi.
  • At 09.20 Moscow time, the US Navy headquarters ship Mount Whitney left Batumi.
  • Tanker “John Lenthall” of the US Navy is located in the southwestern part of the Black Sea.
  • The actions of the American Navy, together with reconnaissance and strategic aviation in the Black Sea, confirm the true goal of the unscheduled multinational exercise: the development of the alleged theater of military operations and, in particular, the territory of Ukraine in case Kiev prepares a military solution in the southeast.

CIA Chief Comes to Moscow. Russia Gets the US Deep State to Pay Attention

November 9, 2021

By Finian Cunningham

Source

Russia is not going to tolerate any further provocations to its national security. The question now is: can the United States power elite change its belligerent behavior?

The “rare” visit to Moscow last week by CIA chief William Burns signaled a remarkable development. The U.S. political establishment seems to have had a wake-up call to hear directly from Russia’s leadership about its concerns for international peace.

On one hand that indicates how badly bilateral relations have deteriorated. On the other, however, a direct line of communication between Moscow and Washington could help clarify points of conflict and avoid escalation.

CIA director William Burns was sent last week to Moscow in a surprise visit. He was reportedly dispatched by President Joe Biden. During his two-day shuttle tour, Burns held separate talks with the head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, and with Burns’ counterpart, Sergei Naryshkin, the director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service (SVR). Both men represent the highest level of Russian state security.

In addition, during his stay, the CIA chief also had a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Such a call is thought to be extremely unusual. The normal protocol is for Putin to delegate Kremlin aides to conduct discussions with foreign dignitaries.

But Burns is no ordinary foreign dignitary. The 65-year-old is a seasoned diplomat having previously served as U.S. ambassador to Russia (2005-2008). His long career in the State Department combined with his latest posting as director of the Central Intelligence Agency make Burns the embodiment of Washington’s foreign policy establishment – the so-called Deep State.

Thus his visit to Moscow can be seen as a moment when the leadership of the two nuclear-armed states engaged in direct and robust talks. More so than when President Biden met Putin in Geneva earlier in June for only a few hours and a lot of accompanying media hype. Note, too, how, Biden sent Burns as his representative for this serious occasion, not Secretary of State Antony Blinken nor national security advisor Jake Sullivan.

U.S. media reports of Burns’ Moscow mission were no doubt pitched as a distraction from the real agenda. It was reported that Burns issued warnings about Russian military build-up on the border with Ukraine. The Kremlin dismissed those claims and the purported satellite images of military movements as groundless fabrications. Even the Ukrainian defense ministry – normally all too alarmist about imminent Russian “invasion” – said there was no Russian build-up as claimed by the U.S. media reports.

More plausibly, the Kremlin said the high-level conversations with Burns were about “bilateral relations” and “regional conflicts” without giving further details on the discussions. That suggests the Russian side was telling the United States in no uncertain terms of its vital national security concerns and, just as importantly, how it would respond kinetically if red lines were violated.

Only a few weeks ago, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Ukraine during which the Pentagon chief reiterated the possibility of future membership of the NATO alliance. The Kremlin has repeatedly warned that such a development would be a red line provoking a response. Austin’s insistence on Ukraine’s NATO membership must have rankled deeply in Moscow. How could these Americans be so crass?

Moscow has also recently highlighted the build-up of American and NATO forces in the Black Sea as being another red line. It seems no coincidence that President Putin announced that over the next few months Russian warships will be armed with new hypersonic missiles.

There are other important contextual factors. Last month, the Biden administration sent senior diplomat Victoria Nuland to Moscow for a three-day visit. Nuland embodies U.S. regime-change policy, most memorably for her role in orchestrating the 2014 coup d’état in Kiev. She was greeted in Moscow by deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. It was reported that the U.S. side was tone-deaf to Russia’s concerns about Ukraine, as well as NATO’s increasing offensiveness on Russia’s borders and the growing tensions in the bilateral relationship.

Then Moscow announced it was cutting off diplomatic channels with the NATO alliance. The move was prompted by the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Brussels who were alleged without substantiation to be working as spies. That move was seen by Moscow as the last straw in a series of provocations by NATO. The diplomatic channels had become redundant long before largely due to reluctance by NATO to engage in a mutual dialogue.

In any case, Moscow was letting it be known that it had had enough of dealing with ciphers and anti-Russia cacophony. By walking away from NATO, the Kremlin was telegramming that the United States better start taking its red lines seriously.

State Department deputies – even of the hawkish Nuland variety – are not sufficient for the serious purpose of grave communications. Neither are nominally senior diplomats like Blinken or apparatchiks like Sullivan who, for all their apparent seniority, operate on scripted talking points like message boys. Secretary of Defense Austin – the titular head of the Pentagon – also revealed himself as nothing more than a script-monger during his robotic tour of Ukraine and Georgia. Such people are not worth dealing with in terms of getting to the heart of conflict.

Sometimes the most effective way to make a point is to reduce communications to a bare minimum. And in that way, declutter the noise and echo by stripping out the channels that don’t have any real consequence.

Russia has made it clear that the U.S. and NATO are pushing a potential confrontation over Ukraine, the Black Sea, the Balkans and the wider region. Having done that, and having expressed red lines, it seems the U.S. Deep State decided it better start paying attention to what Russia was saying.

The urgent visit to Moscow by William Burns was the occasion for some serious talking about how to prevent tensions spiraling further into war. The U.S. Deep State got the message directly. Russia is not going to tolerate any further provocations to its national security. The question now is: can the United States power elite change its belligerent behavior?

Tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran… “Israel” is on the Line

 ARABI SOURI 

Tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran -Israel is on the Line

Tel Aviv is not satisfied with this role and its effective military, intelligence, media, and economic presence in Azerbaijan, but it seeks to expand the scope of this influence in the Caucasus region through its presence in Georgia, which is also close to Iran.

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

Relations between Iran and Azerbaijan are experiencing coolness and sometimes noticeable tension, due to mutual accusations by officials of the two countries, led by President Ilham Aliyev, who spoke of “the incursion of Iranian military vehicles into Azerbaijani territory, during Iranian military maneuvers near the common border,” which was denied by the spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry Saeed Khatibzadeh.

Apathy and tension appeared during the Azerbaijani-Armenian war last year, when information spoke of extensive and intensive Israeli support for the Azerbaijani army, along with Turkish support, which contributed to the victory achieved by the Azerbaijani army.

This victory, to which Tel Aviv contributed by selling Baku drones and spy technology operating via Israeli satellites, was a sufficient reason for further coordination and cooperation between the two ‘countries,’ where the press information talked about Israel establishing bases and radar stations near the border with Iran to monitor Iranian military movements and to monitor Iranian missiles if they are launched towards “Israel”, meanwhile, Israeli companies are working on establishing agricultural and industrial projects similar to the system of Jewish settlements in southern Azerbaijan, 50 km from the border with Iran.

This disturbs Tehran, which sees this Israeli presence, in its various military and intelligence forms, as a threat to its national security, especially with the information that talks about the role of the Mossad in provoking the nationalist sentiments of the Azerbaijani citizens of Iran, who live near the borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan, who number about thirty million, compared to eight million, the population of Azerbaijan.

This Israeli provocation is accompanied by some Turkish nationalist circles inciting the Azeris of Iran, given that they are of Turkish origin, noting that at least 90% of them are Shiites, and their loyalty is to the Iranian state, while the citizens of Azerbaijan are 80% of them Shiites, and they do not hide their discomfort, rather, they are concerned about provocative statements in the Azerbaijani media and talk about Israeli conspiracy from their lands against Iran.

Some Turkish nationalist circles had launched a media campaign against Iran during the Karabakh war, and talked about Iranian military support for Armenia during this war, in an attempt to provoke the nationalist feeling of the Azeris, while the Turkish-backed Azerbaijani authorities continue to obstruct the passage of Iranian trains and trucks transporting Azerbaijani and Russian goods arriving in Iran through the Caspian Sea on their way to Armenia, without that bothering President Ilham Aliyev, who is proud of his close relations with Tel Aviv, some influential Jewish businessmen in Baku, including Leonid Tayrov, Leonid Goldstein, Talman Ismailov and Aras Aglararv, who have Azerbaijani, Israeli and Russian citizenship, and some of them are American, and they all have close relations with influential Russian Jews in Moscow.

They play an influential role in developing relations between Azerbaijan and “Israel” in all fields, the most important of which are military and intelligence, as Tel Aviv sells one billion dollars annually in arms and military equipment to Azerbaijan. They also mediate between Tel Aviv and Ankara, as is the case with Ukrainian President Zalensky, who is also a Jew, and has a close relationship with “Israel” and the Jewish lobby organizations in America. In one of his leaked speeches, President Aliyev admitted the depth of the relationship with Tel Aviv, and said, “Eighty percent of the relations between the two ‘countries’ are underground,” meaning that they are hidden.

Turkey and Russia.. Central Asia after Afghanistan?

Azerbaijan covers 60% of Israel’s need for oil, which reaches the Turkish port of Ceyhan by pipelines and is transported to the Haifa port by oil tankers, whose owners are said to be the son of (Turkish) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the son of former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Tel Aviv is not satisfied with this role and its effective military, intelligence, media, and economic presence in Azerbaijan, but it seeks to expand the scope of this influence in the Caucasus region through its presence in Georgia, which is also close to Iran, the biggest concern of Tel Aviv, which was benefiting from its extensive intelligence presence in Afghanistan During the American occupation there. The information talks about Tel Aviv’s efforts to establish Israeli espionage stations in Georgia, whose goal is to monitor Iranian military movements and eavesdrop on Iranian communications, which is the task carried out by the American Koracik base in southeastern Turkey, and its main task is to inform Tel Aviv as soon as any Iranian missile is launched towards “Israel” so that the Iron Dome can confront it before it enters Palestinian airspace.

The information also speaks of Israeli and Turkish efforts to achieve reconciliation between Azerbaijan and Armenia, to contribute to the formation of a new bloc in the Caucasus region that might target Iran, and even Russia, which together seek to confront such a move.

It seems clear that this bothers Moscow, especially after the establishment of Turkish military bases in Azerbaijan, and Ankara’s efforts to develop its relations with Georgia, and its continued refusal to the Crimean annexation to Russia, and its continued development of military relations with Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Romania, which are the countries bordering the Black Sea, this disturbs Moscow, which is watching the movements of Tel Aviv and Ankara, separately, in the Islamic republics of Central Asia, Russia’s backyard, and the neighbors of Iran and Afghanistan together!

And the last bet remains on the developments of the next stage, and the prospects for Turkish policy in the future after the last Sochi summit and all its details are directly or indirectly related to the calculations of “Israel” in the region, and its main target is undoubtedly Iran, which has obstructed and impeded its projects in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, the Gulf, and other places in the world!

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from MGIMO students and faculty

September 02, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from MGIMO students and faculty

Ed: This is a wide ranging discussion of international affairs

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from MGIMO students and faculty on the occasion of the beginning of a new academic year, Moscow, September 1, 2021

Friends,

As always, I am delighted to be here on September 1, and not only on this day, of course, since we hold events here at other times of the year as well. But September 1 has special importance, since this is Knowledge Day. First-year students get to feel the university spirit, and meetings like this help us streamline this experience and are sure to benefit students in their studies.

I am certain that you will not regret choosing this university. MGIMO graduates find work in a wide variety of spheres, from public service and research to business and journalism. We are proud that our alma mater has such a great reputation. MGIMO Rector, Anatoly Torkunov, has just shared some enrolment statistics. They are impressive. He said that the minister keeps a close eye on everything going on in this school. But you cannot keep track of everything, and I mean this in a good way. MGIMO University constantly improves its programmes and activity and expands its partnership networks. Today, MGIMO University will sign yet another cooperation agreement, this time with Ivannikov Institute for System Programming. This shows that we always need to be in step with the times. This is the right way to go. The quality of the education that graduates receive at this university is recognised both in Russia and around the world.

I am glad MGIMO University continues to attract international students. This is an important channel for maintaining humanitarian, educational and people-to-people ties. In today’s world these ties have special importance, since at the intergovernmental level our Western colleagues have little appetite for talking to us on equal terms. As you probably know, and I am certain that you have a keen interest in foreign policy, they persist with their demands that we change the way we behave and act the way they view as being correct. This is a dead end. We are open to a frank, constructive, mutually beneficial dialogue, taking into account each other’s interests. It is along these lines that we maintain dialogue and promote cooperation and partnerships with the overwhelming majority of countries around the world. This includes our closest allies and strategic partners – members of the CSTO, CIS, EAEU, SCO and BRICS. We have many reliable friends, almost in all continents interested in promoting mutually beneficial projects that benefit all the participants.

To counter this trend toward a multipolar world, which reflects the cultural and civilisational diversity on this planet, our Western partners seek to maintain their dominant standing in international affairs. They are acting in quite a brash manner making no secret out of the fact that their main objective is to contain their competitors, primarily Russia and China. The documents adopted at the NATO, EU, and US-EU summits over the past months are designed to consolidate the “collective West” in their efforts to counter the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.

The Indo-Pacific strategies that are openly pursuing the goal (as it has been proclaimed) of containing China have gained currency in the Asia-Pacific region. They are trying to implicate another of our strategic partners, India, in these games. Everyone can see it and everyone understands what it is all about. But those who gave up their sovereignty and joined the ranks of the countries led by the United States and other Western countries are not in a position to utter a word of disagreement.

Truth be told, following the tragic events in Afghanistan and after the United States and its NATO allies had hurriedly left that country, a chorus of voices began to be heard in Europe advocating self-reliance in foreign affairs, especially in matters involving the deployment of armed forces, rather than reliance on directives issued by Washington that it can change in an instant. These are glimpses of something new in the position of the West, in this case, the Europeans.

The second notable aspect highlighted by US President Joe Biden and President of France Emmanuel Macron is as follows: both announced within one or two days of one another that it was time to give up on interfering in other countries’ internal affairs in order to impose Western-style democracy on them.

We welcome such statements. We have long been urging our Western colleagues to learn from the reckless ventures that they have got themselves into in recent decades in Iraq and Libya, and they tried to do the same in Syria. I hope (if the above statements are a true reflection of their hard-won understanding of the matter) that our planet will be a safer place in the future. But all the same, we have to “clear out the rubble” of the past policies. Hundreds of thousands of people, civilians, were impacted or killed during the invasion of Iraq and the attack on Libya. There are lots of problems stemming from the revived international terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa and huge numbers of illegal migrants. The illegal arms trade, drug smuggling and much more are on the rise. All this needs to be “cleared up” by the international community, because it affects almost everyone.

Now that the NATO troops have pulled out from Afghanistan, the most important thing for us is to ensure the security of our allies in Central Asia. First, they are our comrades, including comrades-in-arms, and second, the security of Russia’s southern borders directly depends on this.

I hope that if we act together, we will be able to agree on these external steps that will help create an environment within Afghanistan for forming a truly national leadership. We are working energetically to this end.

We are witnessing two trends in the international arena. On the one hand, it is about the formation of a multipolar and polycentric world. This trend reflects the position of most states around the world. On the other hand, efforts are being made to hold back this objective historical process and to artificially preserve control over everything that is happening in the international arena, including with the use of unscrupulous methods such as unilateral illegal sanctions, competition that is occasionally reminiscent of ultimatums, or changing the rules in the midst of an ongoing project.

The West tends to mention less often (if at all) the term “international law” and calls on everyone to maintain a “rules-based world order.” We have nothing against the rules. After all, the UN Charter is also a set of rules, but they were agreed with all states without exception. They are supported by every country that is a member of this one-of-a-kind organisation with incredible and unmatched legitimacy. The West has different rules in mind. They are creating formats of their own. For example, the US has announced that it will convene a Democracy Summit to create an Alliance of Democracies. Clearly, Washington will be the one to determine who will be invited and who is considered a democracy. By the same token, France and Germany announced an initiative to create an Alliance for Multilateralism, i.e. “multilateralists.” When asked why these issues cannot be discussed at the UN, where multilateralism is at its finest in the modern world, the answer is that the UN is home to “retrogrades” and they want to create an Alliance for Multilateralism based on “advanced” ideas. And the “leaders,” above all the EU, will set the rules for multilateralism, and the rest will have to look up to them. This is a crude description, but it conveys the essence of what they are trying to tell us in so many words.

There are initiatives to create partnerships, including in the areas that were supposed to be discussed at universal platforms long ago. Numerous initiatives appearing in the developing world are also being used for the same purpose. There are attempts to channel them to meet Western interests.

The policy of undermining international law and universal principles sealed in the UN Charter is reflected, to a certain extent, in the efforts to call into doubt the results of World War II. They are aimed at trying to equate the winners in this bloodiest war in human history with those who unleashed it and proclaimed the destruction of whole nations as their goal. These attempts are aimed at undermining our positions in the world. Similar attacks are being made on China’s positions. We cannot give up and remain indifferent on this issue.

Every year, we put forward major initiatives at the UN on the inadmissibility of glorifying Nazism, waging a war against monuments and fuelling any forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia.

The overwhelming majority of states not only support these initiatives but also become their co-authors. In most cases, our Western colleagues bashfully abstain from this. They explain that the appeal to prevent certain trends runs counter to democracy and freedom of speech. In other words, for them the neo-Nazi trends that are obvious in Europe, in part, in the Baltic states and Ukraine, do not amount to a gross violation of the Nuremberg trials verdict but merely reflect a commitment to tolerance and freedom of speech.

I do not think it is necessary to explain in detail the harmful and pernicious nature of such attempts to rewrite history and give the green light to those who want to reproduce misanthropic attitudes in the world arena. I do not believe it is necessary to speak in detail about the need to counter these attitudes with resolve and consistency.

We have a foreign policy course endorsed by President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Its main goal is to ensure the most favourable conditions for national development, security, economic growth and the improvement of the living standards of our citizens. We will consistently translate this course into reality.

We have never striven for confrontation, not to mention isolation. We are open to cooperation with the Western countries if they change their approach and stop acting like teachers who “know everything” and are “above reproach,” treating Russia like a pupil that must do its homework.  It is inappropriate to talk to anyone in this manner, let alone Russia.

Our plans enjoy firm support of our people for the course towards strengthening the sovereignty of the Russian Federation and promoting good, friendly relations with our neighbours and all those who are willing to do this honestly, on an equitable basis.

Question: The question has to do with the changes in modern diplomacy under the influence of new technology. Digital diplomacy is a widespread term today. Technological development adds a fundamentally new dimension to a diplomats’ work, and also leads to a qualitative transformation of the system of international relations. How do you think new technologies will affect energy policy in particular and diplomacy in general?

Sergey Lavrov: I am asked this question every time I speak at Knowledge Day here. Apparently, this reflects the thinking of each new generation of students, about how technology will generally affect the processes concerning state-level problem solving and international relations.

Indeed, digital technologies are rapidly penetrating our lives, even faster in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Many events, including international events, have transitioned to the online format. There is an upside to this. To a certain extent, it helps to save time, which is becoming a more sparse resource every day, given the aggravating international challenges and problems that our foreign policy tries to resolve.

When it comes to holding official meetings such as the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly with a pre-agreed agenda where each country wants to express its point of view, such statements are prepared in advance through the efforts of a large number of specialists. The result is a policy document on a specific matter on the international agenda, which then goes through debates in one format or another. I see no problem with participating in this kind of discussion online using digital technology.

There are other international meetings, when something needs to be agreed upon as soon as possible; these meetings can also be held remotely. At least this way is better than a phone call because you can see the other person’s face, and this is very important.

But the most serious issues cannot be resolved online. All my colleagues agree with this. Maybe in the future, humanity will invent a way to convey the feeling of personal contact. But I doubt this will be possible. No machine is capable of replacing a person.

I am confident that conventional diplomacy will retain its importance as the main tool in international affairs. As soon as a serious problem arises, it is imperative to meet and try to negotiate.

Question: Will the autumn 2021 elections to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation impact Russia’s foreign policy in the international arena?

Sergey Lavrov: A good question. Elections in our country actually begin in a little more than a fortnight. Even now Western colleagues make it clear that they are set to cast discredit on them. Various political scientists are publishing articles and making speeches aimed at preparing public opinion in the direction of the narrative that the elections results will be rigged.

We regularly invite international observers to our national elections. This year, around 200 observers will come to us as well, including those from international organisations. The only one of them who arrogantly declined the invitation was the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). We told them they could send a group of 60 observers. This is the largest group we invite from abroad. They said they wanted 500. When you are being invited to visit someone, you do not demand gifts for yourself instead of showing respect towards the hosts. OSCE does not have a rule under which ODIHR must dictate election monitoring provisions. All the countries have only one obligation there – to invite international observers to elections. It is not even written down that they should be from OSCE. They may be from anywhere you like. We do it regularly and meet our obligations in full. This is an example of how international law (and this principle is prescribed at OSCE, I mean that all issues must be solved by consensus) is being replaced by “rules.” This Office itself made up a rule, along the same lines the West operates, by demanding that its own “rules” must be obeyed.

However important international observers might be, we will also have our own observers. Their number is immense. The voting will be streamed live in full. Our Central Electoral Board provides detailed coverage of this and other innovations being introduced. We are taking steps to ensure maximum transparency of voting at our embassies and general consulates. As always, we are making arrangements so that it is possible for our citizens abroad to cast their vote and fulfil their election right.

With all the importance of international observers, it is ultimately our citizens who will take a decision on how we will live on and with which members our parliament will draft new laws. Those who are going to objectively figure out developments in the Russia Federation are always welcome. As to those who have already passed a judgement, let them bear the shame.

Question: I know that poetry and art are among your hobbies. How can we make Russian literature and cinema more effective as a soft power tool abroad?

Sergey Lavrov: There is only one way, and that is to promote these works in other countries’ markets. This policy was vigorously pursued in the Soviet Union. That was a useful experience for the international film and literary community as well. I believe we are renewing these traditions now. I do not know about literary exhibitions, I just do not think I have seen a lot of information on this, but many film festivals recognise the work of our directors, actors and producers. A number of Russian films are highly valued in Cannes and in Karlovy Vary. We must continue to do this.

Question: Does Russia have effective and proportionate methods of fighting manifestations of Russophobia, oppression of Russians, persecution against the Russian language and the Russian world in certain countries?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a difficult question, given the recent manifestations of inappropriate attitudes towards ethnic Russians in a number of countries, including some of our neighbours. This topic has several dimensions to it. The most important point is that the government of a country where our citizens are subjected to some kind of discriminatory influence must firmly oppose such manifestations and take steps to prevent them. This is important, not only because they attack Russians or our other compatriots, but also because it’s required by international conventions, the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many other documents that are universal and approved by everyone.

In Russia, too, we have seen situations recently where some migrant labourers were at odds with other labour migrants. This is also a problem because Russia needs migrant labourers. We are trying to make immigration as clear, transparent and legitimate as possible. We negotiate with the countries they come from for long-term employment (mostly the Central Asian countries) and agree on special courses for potential migrants that make sure they speak minimal Russian and are familiar with Russian customs, our laws, and that they are planning to behave in a way that is appropriate for being hired in the Russian Federation. This is important for our economy. Without migrant labourers, many Russian industries are now experiencing a significant shortage of personnel.

It is also important to keep in mind that these countries are our allies. We, as allies, must support each other; one way to do so is to ensure an appropriate environment for citizens who represent a different ethnic group.

We have a huge number of ethnic groups living in Russia. Russia is a record holder in multi-ethnicity. All this cultural and religious diversity has always made our country strong, providing the solid foundation on which we stand. We have never tried to destroy the traditions, cultures or languages ​​of any peoples that have lived here since the Russian Empire, then the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation. We have always supported their languages, cultures, and customs.

Another factor that must be taken into account is the basic quality of life for each and every citizen. We pursue a most open policy. We will make every effort to ensure that our neighbours or other countries where our compatriots live or work fully comply with their international obligations. The fight against discrimination must use political methods based on respect for international commitments.

Question: Do conditions exist for economic and investment cooperation with Japan on the Kuril Islands?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, they do, of course. It is even more than that. We made a relevant proposal to our Japanese colleagues a long time ago. When, several years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the Japanese Prime Minister at the time, Shinzo Abe, we came up with an initiative to engage in joint economic activity on these islands. Our Japanese neighbours agreed to this proposal after a while, but decided to confine our cooperation to relatively unsophisticated areas, like aquaculture and waste treatment. These things are important but they are of no strategic significance. We offered them cooperation in any industry of their choice on the southern Kuril Islands and this has been stated repeatedly in the correspondence with our Japanese colleagues. However, the Japanese are seeking to secure a deal with us that would allow them to engage in economic activity and invest money [in the area], not in compliance with Russian law, but rather on the basis of an agreement that provides for another jurisdiction – not that of the Russian Federation. Under this jurisdiction, Russian and Japanese representatives in a certain administrative body would enjoy equal rights, meaning that some hybrid laws would be introduced. This cannot be done under our Constitution.

Regretfully, our Japanese friends are missing out on the opportunity to invest money with us for our mutual benefit. Nonetheless, we have good plans. Soon, new privileges will be announced for our foreign partners who agree to work with us in this part of the Russian Federation. I believe there will be practical interest in this.

Question: In one of your interviews you said (and I fully agree) that modern Western-style liberal democracies have run their course. How will nation states evolve going forward? What forms of state organisation hold the most promise? What should we be striving for?

The UN is plagued by many problems, ranging from Greta Thunberg to agreements that are not being acted upon, such as, for instance, the Paris Agreement. What can be done to turn this deplorable trend around? What laws need to be adopted? What kind of organisations must be created? What does Russia think about this?

Sergey Lavrov: I briefly touched on this matter in my opening remarks. I believe each state should be structured around its customs and traditions and be comfortable for its residents who will have children, grandchildren, etc. It appears that they have promised to stop trying to impose democracy on other countries. At least, President Biden and President Macron said this almost simultaneously. We’ll see how they deliver on their promises.

Each country should take care of its own affairs independently. Everyone now agrees that imposing a Western system on Afghanistan was a grave mistake. Afghanistan has always been a fairly decentralised country where clan-based and other bonds, as well as relations between different ethnic groups, have always played a major role. And Kabul usually balanced out these relations. Saying that tomorrow you will have elections and everyone should go and cast their vote to elect a president who will have certain powers – it was not the Afghans who came up with this idea. It was imposed on them and the ones who did it hurt themselves badly. I hope the promises not to impose democracy on anyone else will be kept.

With regard to environmental protection, the Paris Agreement can hardly be described as a treaty that is not being acted upon. It was based on the fundamental principle that included the need to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, but each country was supposed to assume commitments of its own. Preparations for another conference of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will take place in Glasgow this autumn, are underway.

As part of this process, the most important thing is to agree on variables that will meet the interests of each participant. The proposal of several Western countries to stop using coal-fired power generation starting literally today cannot be complied with by many countries, including several Western countries, simply because this would undermine their energy security. The same applies to large developing countries, including China and India. They are reluctant to stop their growth. They are making it clear to the West that the Western countries have attained their current level of development due to intensive use of natural resources, which gave rise to the greenhouse effect, and now the West wants large developing countries to skip their current phase of development and go straight to a post-carbon economy. It doesn’t work that way, they say. First, they need to complete the economic development of their respective states, which is a complex process that involves the interests of each state. An attempt to balance these interests is being undertaken in the course of preparations for the next conference of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

We made a commitment that by 2030 we would have 70 percent of the 1990 level when the countdown began under the UN Climate Convention. It is unlikely that anyone would have complaints with regard to us. President Vladimir Putin has made clear more than once that we must be extremely careful with regard to everything that is happening. The fact that Russia’s Arctic zone, which is mainly permafrost, is warming up much faster than the rest of the planet is worrisome. This matter is being carefully addressed by several of our ministries, and it is a concern for all of our Government.

Question: Can environmental issues motivate the world powers tо unite against a background of general discord? What is the potential for green diplomacy?

Sergey Lavrov: Environmental protection and concern for the planet’s climate must become a motive for pooling our efforts. It is hard to say now to what extent the world powers will manage to achieve this.

Let me repeat that the developing nations are strongly inclined to use their opportunities for the current stage of their development before assuming the commitments promoted by their Western colleagues. Many interests come together here. Our global interest lies in the health of the planet and the survival of humanity. However, every country has its own national assessment of the current situation and the commitments to their people. It is a complicated matter, but there is no doubt that this is a challenge that must prompt all of us to come together. We stand for pooling our efforts.

Question: Can the Russian Federation “enforce Ukraine to peace” under the Minsk Agreements?

Sergey Lavrov: The Minsk Agreements do not envisage any enforcement. They have been voluntarily approved, signed and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council, thereby becoming international law. When Ukraine as a state, both under Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky, is doing all it can to avoid fulfilling these agreements, we must point this out to those who compiled them with us. I am primarily referring to Germany, France and other Western countries that are going all-out to justify the Kiev regime. When I say that it is trying to avoid fulfilling these agreements, I am referring to many laws that actually prohibit the Russian language, the transfer of special authority to the territories that have proclaimed themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the efforts to harmonise the parameters of local elections in them. These are the basics of the Minsk Agreements.

Recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Moscow. This issue was raised at her talks with President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We showed our German colleagues the legal bans that Mr Zelensky adopted himself to justify his complete inability to fulfil what is required by all states in the world. All countries without exception believe that there is no alternative to the Minsk Agreements for settling the crisis in Donbass. Our Ukrainian colleagues are true prestidigitators. At one time, they believed that Rus was the true name of Ukraine (our ministry has already replied to this, so I will not repeat it). Later they said that the conversion of Rus was a Ukrainian holiday. This is sad. Mr Zelensky claims that Russian gas is the dirtiest in the world. He is doing this not because he is particularly bright but because he wants to maintain and fuel his Russophobic rhetoric and actions to prompt the West to continue supporting Kiev.

Ukraine continues to exploit the obvious efforts of the West to unbalance and destabilise Russia, sidetrack it from resolving its vital problems and make our foreign policy less effective. The Ukrainian regime is exploiting all this. This is clear to everyone. Having placed its bets on Kiev, the West feels uncomfortable about giving up on them. But this approach has obviously failed. The realisation of this fact is coming up but has not yet been embodied in practical steps aimed at convincing or, to use your expression, “enforcing” anything. It is the West that must enforce compliance from its client.

Question: How do you see yourself as a State Duma deputy, something you may soon be? Do you have proposals or ideas to offer? Perhaps, you have specific initiatives to promote our relations with Armenia or Georgia?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not speculate on the outcome of the elections to the State Duma.

We deal with our relations with Armenia and Georgia as Foreign Ministry officials. Armenia is our ally. New Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan was just in Moscow, on August 31. We had a good discussion. Our bilateral agenda is quite fulfilling and includes mutual visits, major projects and expanded economic cooperation. All of that is unfolding in a very intensive and confident manner.

There is the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, and Russia has played a decisive role in bringing a solution to it. The President of Russia, the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia signed agreements on November 9, 2020 (on ceasing hostilities and developing cooperation in this region) and on January 11. These agreements include specific actions that follow up on our leaders’ proposals to unblock all transport lines and economic ties. This is not a one-day project. It is underway, and the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are closely following it. Our military personnel in the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh work daily on the ground to reduce tensions and build trust. The border guards are helping their Armenian allies sort out issues with their Azerbaijani neighbours.

Relations with Georgia are almost non-existent. There is a Section of Russia’s Interests in Georgia and a Section of Georgia’s Interests in Russia. There is trade, which is quite significant. Russia is one of Georgia’s leading trade partners. Our people love to go to Georgia (I myself love the country). There are no official interstate or diplomatic relations; they were severed at Tbilisi’s initiative. We have offered to resume them more than once. We planned to reciprocate to our Georgian neighbour when they introduced visa-free travel for our citizens. At first, we followed closely the developments as they were unfolding. We are not banning anyone from going to Georgia. In 2019, we were also willing to announce visa-free travel for Georgian citizens, but an unpleasant incident occurred with gross provocations against the Russian parliamentary delegation, which arrived in Tbilisi for a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy. Our deputy was the assembly chairman. In a conference room in Georgia, the Georgian hosts offered him the chair of the chairman of the parliament themselves. Then, immediately, a group of thugs came in the room demanding that Russia stop interfering in Georgia’s internal affairs and stop “occupying” their parliament. It even came to fisticuffs. With no apologies coming our way, we held back introducing visa-free travel for Georgian citizens and put our decision to resume regular flights on hold. We were ready to go ahead with it. If Georgia really doesn’t want to “play the Russian card” in an effort to retain Western protection, but instead prefers to have good relations with us as a neighbour, we will respond at any time.

Question: What qualities do you think a diplomat’s wife might need? What rules of etiquette she should observe?

Sergey Lavrov: There are no special rules here. A wife and a husband should both understand each other. Rather than obstructing the other, they should help each other carry out the ideas they have decided to devote their lives to and also achieve self-fulfillment in their professions. There is no universal advice.

When I was a rank-and-file diplomat, I worked with some top officials, whose wives had different “styles” – this occurs sometimes. In both cases, this proved to be effective and useful in our work. If a wife has a profession, her husband should also have respect for it. When a woman, regardless of whether she is the wife of an ambassador or a diplomat in a lower position, goes to a country which her husband has been posted to but where she cannot realise her professional potential, this can be a serious problem, which has to be addressed. In this situation, each family decides on its own whether the spouses go together or each of them keeps his or her job and tries to travel as often as possible to see the other. This is life; it doesn’t necessarily fit into a particular pattern.

Question: I believe the man himself comes first – Sergey Lavrov – and only then there is the Russian Foreign Minister. I like to look at politics through the prism of humaneness. What is your favourite song, the one you listen to and feel happy?

Sergey Lavrov: There are many. I will not give examples. The list is long. I do not want to leave anyone out. These are mostly songs by singer-poets. I enjoy listening to them whenever I have the chance, say, in my car or when I meet with my friends.

Question: I have a question about Russia’s relations with the Eastern European countries, given the complexity of regulating relations in this region since World War II, not to mention after the USSR’s collapse. How will they develop in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: If a particular country has a government concerned about national interests, projects that meet the needs of its population, economic growth, and a search for partners that will help it resolve these problems in the best way, Russia has no problems in relations with any Central or East European country or any other country in the world.

We have close ties with Hungary and it is being criticised for this. In the European Union, Hungary and Poland are reprimanded for not obeying the EU’s general standards and principles. Thus, they hold referendums calling into doubt LGBT rights. Recently, Hungary held a referendum on the same law as Russia did. This law does not prohibit anything but imposes administrative liability for promoting LGBT ideology among minors. Nothing else. I think this is the right thing to do. In addition to major economic projects (nuclear power plants, and railway carriage production for Egypt), we have many other undertakings and good humanitarian cooperation.

Together with Armenia and the Vatican in the OSCE and the UN Human Rights Council, Russia and Hungary are acting as the driver in protecting the rights of Christians, including in the Middle East where Christians are seriously harassed. Hungary is not embarrassed about its Christian roots (incidentally, nor is Poland ashamed of its past and present). When they start talking about the need to raise their voice in defence of Christians, other European countries say that this is not quite politically correct.

In the OSCE, we suggested adopting a declaration against Christianophobia and Islamophobia, because it has already passed a declaration on anti-Semitism. However, these proposals are getting nowhere. Seven years ago, the West promised to adopt them but so far the OSCE countries have failed to adopt a common position on banning both Christianophobia and Islamophobia.

Regarding other East European countries, we have good relations with Slovenia. In particular, we are both working to preserve our common memory, including the bloody events of WWI and WWII. People in Slovenia care a lot about war memorials. Recently, they established a new monument devoted to all Russian soldiers who perished in both world wars. Our economic cooperation is in good shape.

We are implementing economic projects with other Eastern European countries, for instance, with Slovakia. We have considered many ideas about projects with the Czech Republic, but in the past few months it has decided to take a more Russophobic attitude and adopt overtly discriminatory decisions, like banning Rosatom from a tender on building a new nuclear power plant unit. It justified its policy with allegations that have never been proved by anyone. It blamed us for detonating some arms depots in 2014. Even many people in the Czech Republic consider this far-fetched.

However, the allegations remain. We are used to being accused of all kinds of “sins” without any evidence. This happened during the so-called poisoning of the Skripals and Alexey Navalny, and the investigation of the Malaysia Airlines crash in Donbass in July 2014. As in many other cases, these accusations are not buttressed by anything. Our requests to present facts are ignored or qualified as “classified.” Or we are told someone has “prohibited” to transmit information or some other excuse. This position is not serious. It reflects the Western approach to fueling Russophobic tensions without grounds.

Question: Do you think that we can describe the meeting between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden in Switzerland as the beginning of a relative normalisation of relations between the two countries?

Sergey Lavrov: Holding a meeting is better than having no contact at all. No breakthroughs occurred, but there was a mutually respectful conversation, on an equal footing, without any grievances expressed to either side.  The dialogue was permeated with the awareness of responsibility that the two biggest nuclear powers had for the state of affairs in the world. The presidents paid attention to the need to intensify bilateral contacts, particularly in the interests of stakeholders in the business community. But the main focus was on the international agenda.

The United States withdrew from the Treaty on Open Skies (TOS) just a few months before the meeting and from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 2019.   This has created a background for the fading of the international arms reduction and control agenda. When Joe Biden took office, he promptly responded to the proposal (which was made way back to the Trump administration but remained unanswered for a couple of years) on the need to extend the New START Treaty without any preconditions. We have managed to preserve at least this element of the arms control architecture for the next five years.

This was the context for the presidents’ meeting in Geneva. The main positive result of the meeting is that the two leaders reaffirmed the position that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and therefore it must never be unleashed. A statement to this effect was made a long time ago by the USSR and the USA. We suggested that the United States confirm this axiom. The previous administration evaded this, but Joe Biden accepted the proposal.

Within the same statement that spoke about the inadmissibility of unleashing a nuclear war, the two presidents outlined an instruction to start a dialogue on matters of strategic stability.  The first tentative meeting took place in July of this year. The second one is scheduled for September. At this stage, the parties’ positions are far apart, but the fact that the dialogue is under way gives hope for the coordination of a basis for further specific talks on arms limitation.   These are our short-term objectives.

They also talked in general terms about the need to establish a dialogue on cyber security. This is yet another topic on which we were unable to reach out to Washington for several years. Vladimir Putin’s official statement was dedicated to the initiatives on ensuring a transparent dialogue based on trust and facts on cyber security in Russian-American relations. Contacts of this kind are being prepared as well. There are reasons to believe that we will reduce international tension just a little in some areas. But this does not abolish the fact that the United States continues to see the containment of Russia and China as one of its main tasks, as well as the encouragement of measures that may be instrumental in having an irritating effect on us.

Air Mission: April Overview

Air Mission: April Overview

May 01, 2021

By Nat South for the Saker Blog

From time to time, I gather and compile basic statistics on US / NATO/ Swedish flights principally near to Russia, (articles posted on my blog). The idea is to get a rough snapshot of the activity, location and types of aircraft that carry out intelligence-gathering missions, broadly known as Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance, (ISR), as well as those in direct support of those missions. It is a thankless and time-consuming task, but hopefully it can offer a semblance of having a wider perspective on issues, other than just riding on emotional off-one events, without providing any context.

The US and NATO (and Sweden) routinely send out a variety of aircraft dedicated for ISR missions along or in proximity to Russia. These missions are tasked with monitoring the military status quo, namely the movement of units and in particular the deployment of equipment and ships. Given the ongoing Ukraine-Russia tensions, the data collecting took on another aspect in the last month, namely what kind of activity and response could be seen. Well, the answer is that the skies got a little more crowded in April.

Going through the figures for April shows a marked overall increase in ISR the Black Sea region compared to other regions. Not surprising considering the military build-up in Crimea and in southern Russia, in response to the re-deployment of Ukrainian military hardware and units to Eastern Ukraine.

All the data obtained is done through trawling through social media accounts who track via ADS-B, Mode-S and MLAT sites, to identify the type of aircraft, location, and nationality of the aircraft. Invariably, there are some flights that are missed, because only those that had transponders active in each location were logged. For example, there were certainly more flights off the Norway, Barents Sea and in the GIUK region than I managed to record.

Some points to retain:

Intensification of flights in the Black Sea, (Crimea, Southern Russia FIR). Although the use of unmanned RQ-4B Global Hawks over Eastern Ukraine and Northern Georgia has been going on for a long time, (years in fact), there was an uptick of activities, (Graph 1) in April. Given their 250km reported ‘visual’ range, they can scan a wide swath of land. Unusually, on several occasions in April, two RQ-4B operated at the same time in the region. Prior to April, most of the ISR flight paths were fairly regular in character, this wasn’t the case several times during April, in particular the RQ-4B flights.

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Being unmanned, this is the only US / NATO aircraft that carries out missions over territorial airspace over Ukraine and Georgia. For a short time, a RQ-4B was brought in from the Middle East to carry air missions. Many of these flights did not have habitual flight track of prior ISR missions in certain areas, (Eastern Ukraine, Crimean coastline, and Georgia), often orbiting or making multiple tracking back and forth passes.

A comparison is provided below between the number of flights between February, March, and April. The figures for March or February were not different to previous months, so, a big change in frequency. To sum up, the redeployment of Ukrainian military units did not bring about changes in air missions but the Russian redeployments to the area certainly influenced US and NATO military brass in despatching aircraft to the region.

Another noticeable increase in flights is that of the US Navy P-8 Poseidon flights along the northern Black Sea coastline region. Flights were almost a daily occurrence and this unprecedented as far I know. However, this is partially consistent with the fact that the Russian Navy units started a series of naval exercises in the Black Sea over April, (some of the media reports below to get a gist of the frequency and intensity).

It has to be noted that the flights take place in international airspace, but some of the flights tracked closely the 12 nautical miles limit. As with the other ISR aircraft (Rivet Joint, EP3 Aries), the flight route taken were fairly consistent, going along the whole coast of Crimea, flying all the way down to the sea area adjoining Sochi and towards Novorossiysk, (which I refer to as Southern Russia FIR), and then returning back along the coastline.

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8-9 April https://tass.com/defense/1276211

12-13 April https://tass.com/defense/1276793

14 April https://www.rt.com/russia/520989-black-sea-fleet-dispatched-us-threat/

19-23 April https://tass.com/defense/1279759/

https://tass.com/defense/1280235

https://tass.com/defense/1281517

27-30 April https://twitter.com/mod_russia/status/1388085378175881216

Boeing P-8s contrary to social media pundits aren’t just submarine hunters, (“must be looking for a Kilo” fare), but in addition to their anti-submarine warfare (ASW), P-8s have anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction roles. In other words, maritime domain intelligence.

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Another interesting aspect that is noteworthy is the increase in intelligence-gathering flights along the Russian Far East, (Kamchatka and Anadyr). This ties in with press releases and videos on interceptions by the RuAF, where Russian Air Force MiG-31 high-altitude fighter intercepted an USAF RC-135W Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft off the coast of Kamchatka.

Often, several type of ISR missions were taking place simultaneously in the Black Sea region, (usually a combination of P-8 and Rivet Joint, or P-8 with Global Hawks). This means that several types of intelligence gathering are carried out, (maritime, ELINT, etc…). This situation

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The above graph shows the ISR missions carried out in April was done daily around many regions from the Baltic to the Barents Sea.

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The overall snapshot for April across many regions is shown in the above graph, the Baltic region, being the second busiest region overall.

So, how do these figures compare to those for March?

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The Black Sea region in April swapped places with the Baltic region, to lead by a wide margin. To note that I have split the Black Sea region into different sectors, to distinguish the location of flights. The Black Sea region is the overall total, which includes flights that did not enter Crimean, Russian FIRs but were in support of other ISR missions. Generally, this does not include Turkish flights in the southern Black Sea sector, as such the only flights that are counted are those support of other flights monitoring Russian military activities. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to confirm whether a RQ-4B flight went to Eastern Ukraine or Georgia, so it may be expected that the figures that I have are lower than in reality.

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The main types of aircraft that carried out various intelligence-gathering missions in the Black Sea region are listed above. While some (the E-3 AWACS, Peace Eagle) stayed over land, their location of activity suggested support for overall intelligence-gathering operations linked to Russian military activities and units.

No surprise to say that it is the US military that flies the most often, with the UK in second place.

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Lastly, as an interesting comparison with my dataset, here is a graph showing the numbers of air flights along Russian borders, (including the unmanned aircraft) along with interceptions carried out since the beginning of the year, as regularly reported by the Russian Ministry of Defence. As you can surmise, a lot more aerial activity takes place in proximity to Russia generally, (Not just ISR flights but air tankers, U2s and maybe bomber flights are possibly included in the figures). These figures probably also include other non-NATO aircraft elsewhere near to Russia.

Getting this level of official data from NATO and NORAD would be a rarity and as such, it is nearly impossible to compare data for Russian military flights, as the data is rather opaque compared that of the Russian MoD. Add in a level of obfuscation, as this quote shows the typical situation:
““NORAD responded to more Russian military flights off the coast of Alaska than we’ve seen in any year since the end of the Cold War” General Glen Van Herck’s briefing to the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2020.

  1. Define highest as per the yearly data (which is not available)
  2. Why reference it to the end of the Cold War? I find it rather misleading to use the basic value as “the end of the Cold War”, whether for aircraft and submarines.

The average NORAD interceptions in the USA/ Canada ADIZ, since 2013 is between 10-16 (roughly), PER YEAR. According to the Russian MoD, there were 10 interceptions for the whole of April alone.

Conclusion

The northern part of the Black Sea region has come under close scrutiny for April regarding US/NATO air missions, and it does not show any signs of decreasing in frequency as yet, (as I write this, there are 2 Global Hawks operating in the region). Yet other areas continue to be monitored as attentively as in previous months on a daily basis.

It highlights the continued need for intelligence by Washington and Brussels on all aspects of Russian military activities and units.

NB: For anyone interested in the naval sitreps side of activities, I have produced a series of them for March and April: https://natsouth.livejournal.com/19905.html concerning the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Red Sea. I regularly update the sitreps with a Twitter thread of additional events.

Margarita Simonian on Biden’s call to the “killer”

April 15, 2021 

Note: in my analysis yesterday I quoted Margarita Simonian, the head of Russia Today.  Today I have asked my director of research, Scott, to translate yet another thought provoking series of comments made by Simonian yesterday.  Now that we see that Biden has imposed even more sanctions on Russia (right after his phone call), her words take on an even deeper meaning.

The Saker
——-

In regard to Biden’s phone call and his summit with Putin. The phone call took place, so what? Will this negotiation take place, or they won’t take place, regardless, it won’t change anything in their attitude towards us. Our relations towards them is our reaction to their actions. We don’t want the same things for them as they want for us. We don’t have the aim to destroy the USA, and to break the United States apart into 50 small independent countries. We don’t seek to disarm the US and strip away their nuclear weapons, and to take away their every potential in every way. In other world, everything they are trying to do to us. We don’t have plans against them similar to those they, actually, harbor towards us.

Interviewer: We don’t even want to democratize them and to demand from them to stop human rights abuse. They elected a new president, but their police officer just again killed an Afro-American. They have unsolved racial problems. Biden criticized Trump for exactly the same Trump criticizes now Biden.

Simonyan: The United States’ attitude towards us will not change. The United States, due to their nature, won’t tolerate anyone who even in theory could threaten their existence. We are, in theory, threaten their existence and they cannot agree with this. And they will continue to do everything to make sure that we as such would disappear .

In these conditions, a meeting between Putin and Biden will be just a protocol event. The meeting will be just for pictures. There cannot be any serious discussion and decision taken during such meeting. Even if something were decided during this meeting, it will be overwritten and nullified the very next day. I don’t believe there could be any substance and any common sense to this meeting.

To stand by their word is not a part of American mentality. It’s something we do. And our president follows this rule. He does certain things, not because it’s profitable, but because he had an agreement. They don’t have the same attitude to their agreements. Gorbachev had an agreement about the West not extending NATO eastward towards Russia’s borders. What had happened to this agreement? Or, take, for example, American national pastime of bringing troops home from Afghanistan.

An American easy attitude to words explains Biden’s words about a “killer”. They simply don’t attach the same meaning to words. I don’t know what exactly took place there, but I imagine that a fame seeking journalists, a Lary King wannabe,RIP, asked a provocative question and Biden responded as he could. It was impossible to cut it out, because everyone leaks there. They leak even secret government negotiations. Everyone would know in ten minutes that Biden’s people demanded to cut out a part of an interview concerning president Putin. Biden would be forced to explain himself for the next three months. I would incline to thing that it was a guff, not as serious as it looks from our point of view. We take this things seriously. We say that since you call our leader a “killer” then we won’t communicate with you and will be in a state of war. Listen to their election debates and how they verbally abuse each other. We would be terrified, but for them it’s absolutely normal.

As for the Ukraine, I think that the United States as they urged Georgia to attack back in 2008, they are trying to push the Ukraine to do something equally stupid. The most important are Patrushev’s words about a provocation that might take place with the participation of Ukrainian military that would provide the Ukraine with a chance to start a war against, and I am quoting here, against Crimea. In simple terms, to start a war against Russia. America, like a Santa-Clause of steroids, presents us with such “presents” for many years, now. We wouldn’t recognize an independence of Ossetia and Abkhazia for twenty years. But we had it done thanks to an American gift. We would never consider to start creating a sovereign internet, if it weren’t for the American gifts of blocking us online and demonstrating us a need for such thing. We wouldn’t be able to develop our agriculture and food production if it weren’t for their sanctions and our contra-sanctions. And, there wouldn’t be reunification with Crimea, if we had normal relations with the Ukraine. This new gift in a shape of the Ukraine attacking Crimea is unavoidable. Its a medical fact.

Putin’s Ukrainian Judo

Putin’s Ukrainian Judo

Source

April 14, 2021

By Dmitry Orlov and posted with special permission

A terrible war is about to erupt on Russia’s border with the Ukraine—or not—but there is some likelihood of a significant number of people getting killed before project Ukraine is finally over. Given that around 13 thousand people have been killed over the past seven years—the civil war in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine has gone on for that long!—this is no laughing matter. But people get desensitized to the mostly low-level warfare. Just over the past couple of weeks a grandfather was shot by a Ukrainian sniper while feeding his chickens and a young boy was killed by a bomb precision-dropped on him from a Ukrainian drone.

But what’s about to happen now is forecasted to be on a different scale: the Ukrainians are moving heavy armor and troops up to the line of separation while the Russians are moving theirs up to their side of the Ukrainian border, a position from which they can blast any and all Ukrainian troops straight out of the gene pool without so much as setting foot on Ukrainian territory—should they wish to do so. The Russians can justify their military involvement by the need to defend their own citizens: over the past seven years half a million residents in eastern Ukraine have applied for and been granted Russian citizenship. But how exactly can Russia defend its citizens while they are stuck in the crossfire between Russian and Ukrainian forces?

The rationale of defending its citizens led to conflict in the briefly Georgian region of South Ossetia, which started on August 8, 2008 and lasted barely a week, leaving Georgia effectively demilitarized. Russia rolled in, Georgia’s troops ran off, Russia confiscated some of the more dangerous war toys and rolled out. Georgia’s paper warriors and their NATO consultants and Israeli trainers were left wiping each others’ tears. Any suggestion of arming and equipping the Georgians since then has been met with groaning and eye-rolling. Is the upcoming event in eastern Ukraine going to be similar to the swift and relatively painless defanging of Georgia in 2008? Given that the two situations are quite different, it seems foolish to think that the approach to resolving them would be the same.

Is it different this time and is World War III is about to erupt with eastern Ukraine being used as a trigger for this conflagration? Do the various statements made at various times by Vladimir Putin provide a solid enough basis for us to guess at what will happen next? Is there a third, typically, infuriatingly Russian approach to resolving this situation, where Russia wins, nobody dies and everyone in the West is left scratching their heads?

The Ukrainian military is much like everything else currently found in the Ukraine—the railway system, the power plants, the pipeline systems, the ports, the factories (the few that are left)—a patched-up hold-over from Soviet times. The troops are mostly unhappy, demoralized conscripts and reservists. Virtually all of the more capable young men have either left the country to work abroad or have bribed their way out of being drafted. The conscripts sit around getting drunk, doing drugs and periodically taking pot shots into and across the line of separation between Ukrainian-held and separatist-held territories. Most of the casualties they suffer are from drug and alcohol overdoses, weapons accidents, traffic accidents caused by driving drunk and self-harm from faulty weapons. The Ukrainian military is also working on winning a Darwin award for the most casualties caused by stepping on their own land mines. As for the other side, many of the casualties are civilians wounded and killed by constant shelling from the Ukrainian side of the front, which runs quite close to population centers.

The Ukrainian military has received some new weapons from the US and some NATO training, but as the experience in Georgia has shown, that won’t help them. Most of these weapons are obsolete, non-updated versions of Soviet armaments from former East Bloc but currently NATO nations such as Bulgaria. These really aren’t of much use against an almost fully rearmed Russian military. A lot of the Ukrainian artillery is worn out and, given that Ukrainian industry (what’s left of it) is no longer able to manufacture gun barrels, artillery shells or even mortar rounds, this makes the Ukrainian military quite literally the gang that can’t shoot straight. It’s a great day for them if they manage to hit a kindergarten or a maternity clinic and most of the time they are just cratering up the empty countryside and littering it up with charred, twisted metal.

In addition to the hapless conscripts and reservists there are also some volunteer battalions that consist of hardcore Ukrainian nationalists. Their minds have been carefully poisoned by nationalist propaganda crafted thanks to large infusions of foreign (mostly American) money. Some of them have been conditioned to think that it was the ancient Ukrs who built the Egyptian pyramids and dug the Black Sea (and piled the left-over dirt to build the Caucasus mountain range). These may or may not be more combat-capable than the rest (opinions vary) but, much more importantly, they are a political force that the government cannot ignore because they can quite literally hold it hostage. They have been known for stunts such as shelling the offices of a television channel whose editorial policies they found disagreeable and physically assaulting a busload of opposition activists.

It is these Ukro-Nazi zealots that stand directly in the way of any peaceful settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine and an inevitable eventual rapprochement between the Ukrainians and Russia. There is a deep and abiding irony in that these über-antisemitic Ukro-Nazis are about to be ordered into battle against Russia by a Jewish comedian (Vladimir Zelensky, president) who got elected thanks to a Jewish oligarch (Igor “Benny” Kolomoisky). Are they going to be annihilated? Quite possibly, yes. Will their annihilation make Ukraine and the world a better place? You be the judge. To the Russians these Nazi battalions are just a bunch of terrorists and, as Putin famously put it, it is up to him to send terrorists to God and then it is up to God to decide what to do with them. But there is a more efficient strategy: let them remain somebody else’s problem. After all, these Nazi battalions have almost zero ability to threaten Russia. Eventually the Europeans will realize that the Ukraine must be denazified, at their own expense, of course, with Russia offering advice and moral support.

To understand where this Ukrainian nationalist menace came from without venturing too far down the memory hole, it is enough to appreciate the fact that at the end of World War II some number of Ukrainian war criminals who fought on the side of the Nazis and took part in acts of genocide against Ukrainian Jews and Poles found a welcoming home in the US and in Canada, where they were able to feather their nests and bring up the next several generations of Ukrainian Nazis. After the collapse of the USSR, they were reintroduced into the Ukraine and given political support in the hopes of thoroughly alienating the Ukraine from Russia. In the course of serial color revolutions and unending political upheaval and strife they were able to become prominent, then dominant, in Ukrainian political life, to a point that they can now hold the Ukrainian government hostage whenever it fails to be sufficiently belligerent toward Russia, to maintain strict anti-Russian censorship in the media and to physically threaten anyone who voices disagreement with them.

Russophobia and belligerence toward Russia are, in turn, all that is currently required of the Ukraine by its US and EU masters, who wish to portray the Ukraine as a bulwark against a supposedly aggressive Russia but in reality wish to use it as an anti-Russian irritant and to use it to contain (meaning to restrict and frustrate) Russia economically and geopolitically. To this end the Ukrainian school curriculum has been carefully redesigned to inculcate hatred of all things Russian. The Ukraine’s Western mentors think that they are constructing a pseudo-ethnic totalitarian cult that can be used as a battering ram against Russia, along the lines of Nazi Germany but with much tighter external political control, or, to use a more recent, updated CIA playbook, along the lines of Al Qaeda and its various offshoots in the Middle East.

The rationale that’s used to serve up all this is “countering Russian aggression.” But it is inaccurate to describe Russia as aggressive. It is much closer to the truth to describe it as, by turns, assimilative, protective and insouciant. It is assimilative in that you too can apply for a Russian citizenship based on a number of criteria, the most important of which is cultural: you need to speak Russian, and to do so convincingly you have to assimilate culturally. If an entire Russian-speaking region starts waving the Russian tricolor at rallies, singing the Russian anthem and then holds a referendum where a convincing majority votes to rejoin Russia (97% in Crimea in 2014), then Russia will annex that territory and defend it. And if lots of people in a Russian-speaking region individually apply for Russian citizenship, swear allegiance to Russia and are issued Russian passports, then Russia will try to defend them individually against attack.

All would be sweetness and light with this scheme of voluntary accession if certain Russian regions didn’t periodically start demanding independence or if the Russians themselves didn’t periodically shed their self-important and ungrateful dependents. As this has happened, Russia has granted them sovereignty, which, more often than not, they didn’t know what to do with. At various times, Russia has freely bestowed national sovereignty on a whole slew of countries: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, the Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Rumania, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan… For some of them, it granted them sovereignty several times over (Poland seems to be the prize-winner in that category). The political elites of these countries, having become used to suckling at Mother Russia’s ample bosom, naturally look for someone new to invade and/or liberate them and then to feed them.

After the collapse of the USSR, their new masters naturally became the US and the EU. But as these newly sovereign nations soon found out, not as much milk has flowed in their direction from their new masters, and some of them have started casting furtive glances toward Russia again. The twentieth century was a confusing time for many of these countries, and many of them are puzzled to this day as to whether at any given time they were being occupied or liberated by Russia. Let us consider, as a mini case study, the three Baltic mini-nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. With the exception of the Lithuanians, who had their 15 minutes of fame during their brief late-medieval dalliance with Poland, these three ethnic groups never made good candidates for sovereign nations. They were first dominated by the Germans, then by the Swedes.

Then Peter the Great purchased their lands from the Swedes with silver coin, but after that they continued to toil as serfs for their German landlords. But then in mid-19th century the Russian Empire abolished serfdom, starting with Estonian and Latvian serfs as an experiment. It then introduced compulsory schooling, wrote down the local languages, and invited the more promising native sons to come and study at St. Petersburg. This started them on the way toward developing a national consciousness, and what a headache that turned out to be!

While the Russian Empire held together they remained under control, but after the Russian Revolution they gained independence and swiftly turned fascist. As World War II neared, the Soviet leadership became justifiably concerned over having little pro-Nazi fascist states right on their border and occupied/liberated them. But then as the Germans advanced and the Red Army retreated, they were re-occupied by the fascists/liberated from the communists. But then as the Germans retreated and the Red Army advanced, they were re-occupied/re-liberated again and became, for a time, exemplary Soviet Communists.

And so they remained, occupied/liberated, being stuffed full of Soviet-built schools, hospitals, factories, roads, bridges, ports, railways and other infrastructure—until the USSR collapsed. They were the first to demand independence, singing songs and holding hands across all three republics. Since then they have squandered all of their Soviet inheritance and have progressively shed population while serving as playgrounds for NATO troops who get a special thrill, I suppose, by training right on Russia’s border. Their political elites made a tidy little business of Russophobia, which pleased their new Western masters but gradually wrecked their economies. Having reached their peak during the late Soviet era, they are now hollow shells of their former selves.

And now, lo and behold, an embarrassingly large chunk of their populations is pining after the good old Soviet days and wants better relations with Russia (which, in the meantime, seems to have largely forgotten that these Baltic statelets even exist). Their political elites would want nothing more than for Russia to occupy/liberate them again, because then they could be rid of their noisome constituents and move to London or Geneva, there to head up a government in exile and work on plans for the next round of occupation/liberation.

To their horror, they are now realizing that Russia has no further use for them, while their new masters at the EU are sinking into a quagmire of their own problems, leaving them abandoned with no kind master to care for them and to feed them. They thought they had signed up to administer a vibrant new democracy using free money from the EU, but instead they are now stuck administering a depopulating, economically stagnant backwater peopled by ethnic relicts. In eras past, they would have only had to wait until the next wave of barbarian invasion from the east. The barbarians would slaughter all the men, rape and/or kidnap all the prettier women, and the naturally recurring process of ethnogenesis would start again. But now there are a dozen time zones of Russia to their east and no hope at all of any more barbarian invasions, so all they can do is drink a lot and, by turns, curse the Russians and the Europeans.

The situation is much the same throughout Eastern Europe, in a great arc of semi-sovereign, pseudo-sovereign and (in the case of the Ukraine) faux-sovereign nations from the Baltic to the Black Sea and on to the Caspian Sea and beyond. The many serial occupations/liberations have given their political elites a wonderful weathercock-like quality: one moment they are wearing Nazi insignia and heiling Hitler and the next moment they are good Soviet Communists reciting the 10 Commandments of the Builders of Communism. The Ukraine (getting back to it, finally) is no different in this respect but different in another: by no stretch of the imagination is it even a nation, or a combination, assemblage or grouping of nations; it is, strictly speaking, an accidental territorial agglomeration. As a failed attempt to create a monoethnic nation-state it is a chimera.

The following map, labeled “Dynamics of agglomeration of Ukrainian territories,” shows the process in detail. The toponym “Ukraine” (“Ukraina”) is most likely of Polish origin, meaning “border zone,” and it seems to have first become a thing in 1653 when the red-colored region below decided that it had had enough of Polish Catholic dominance and discrimination (its inhabitants being Orthodox Christians) and chose to rejoin Russia. The region became known as Malorossia, or Little Russia, and the yellow-colored districts were added to it over time. And then, after the Russian Revolution, came the big gift: Malorossia and neighboring districts were formed into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and to make it something more than just a rural backwater Lenin saw it fit to lump in with it a number of Russian regions shaded in blue. It was this mistake that paved the way to the current impasse in what is but by all rights should never have been eastern Ukraine.

Then, right before, and again right after World War II Stalin lumped in the green-shaded western districts, which were previously part of he Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its inhabitants were Austrian, Polish, Hungarian, Rumanian and most of the rest, though initially Russian, had spent five centuries under foreign rule and spoke a distinctive, archaic dialect that served as the basis for creating the synthetic language now known as Ukrainian, while the rest of what is now Ukraine spoke Russian, Yiddish and a wide assortment of village dialects. It was this alienated group that was used as leavening to fashion a synthetic Ukrainian nationalism. In turn, Ukrainian Bolshevik leaders used this faux-nationalism to fashion the Ukraine into a regional power center within the USSR.

And then came the final mistake when Nikita Khrushchev, very much a product of the Ukrainian regional power center, paid it back for helping to promote him to the top job by giving it Russian Crimea—a move that was illegal under the Soviet constitution which was in effect at that time and a prime example of late Bolshevik political corruption that was undone in 2014 with great jubilation.

There are those who think that the solution to the Ukrainian problem is to take the Ukraine apart the same way it was put together. Behold the following map. Moving east to west, we have the Russian tricolor over Crimea (the only factual bit so far), then the flag of Novorussia covering all those territories that were arbitrarily lumped into the newly created Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic by Lenin in 1922. Further west we have the flag of the state of Ukraine. And to the west is the flag of the Right Sector, a nationalist party with distinct Nazi tendencies that is currently active in Ukrainian politics.

I believe that, with the exception of Crimea, this map may very well turn out to be complete and utter nonsense. It seems outlandish to think that the Ukrainian Humpty-Dumpty, which is in the process of being knocked off the wall most unceremoniously by just about everyone, including Russia, the EU and the US, is going to break apart into such tidy, historically justifiable pieces. For one thing, national borders don’t matter so much any more once you are east of the Russian border, all of Europe now being one big unhappy mess. With millions of Ukrainians trying to eke out a living by working in Russia, or Poland, or further West, the distinctions between the various bits of the Ukrainian territory they are from are just not that meaningful to anyone.

For another, all of the Ukraine is now owned by the same bunch of oligarchs whose fortunes are tightly integrated with those of transnational corporations and of Western financial institutions. None of them care at all about the people that once inhabited this region and their varied histories and linguistic preferences. They care about translating economic and financial control directly into political control with a minimum of diplomatic politesse. The Ukraine has been in the process of being stripped bare of anything valuable for 30 years now, up to and including its fertile soil, and once there is nothing left to loot it will be abandoned as a wild field, largely uninhabited.

But we are not quite there yet, and for now the only map that really matters is the following one, which shows the two separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, collectively known as Donbass, short for Donetsk Basin, a prolific coal province that was mainly responsible for fueling the Ukraine’s former industrial might, which to this day continues to produce anthracite, a valuable, energy-rich coal that is now scarce in the world. It is that relatively tiny but densely populated sliver of land along the Russian border, less than 100km across in many places, that is the powder keg that some believe may set off World War III.

The Ukrainian military has been massing troops and armor along the line of separation while the Russian military has pulled up its forces to their side of the border. Shelling, sniper fire and other provocations from the Ukrainian side are intensifying, with the hope of provoking the Russians into moving forces onto Ukrainian territory, thus allowing the collective West to shout “Aha! Russian aggression!” Then they could put a stop to Nord Stream II pipeline, scoring a major geopolitical victory for Washington and follow that up with plenty of other belligerent moves designed to hurt Russia politically and economically.

For the Russians, there are no good choices that are obvious. Not responding to Ukrainian provocations and doing nothing while they shell and invade the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, killing Russian citizens who live there, would make Russia look weak, undermine the Russian government’s position domestically and cost it a great deal of geopolitical capital internationally. Responding to Ukrainian provocations with overwhelming military force and crushing the Ukrainian military as was done in Georgia in 2008 would be popular domestically but could potentially lead to a major escalation and possibly an all-out war with NATO. Even if militarily the conflict is contained and NATO forces sit it out, as they did in Georgia, the political ramifications would cause much damage to the Russian economy through tightened sanctions and disruptions to international trade.

Those being the obvious bad choices, what are the obvious good ones, if any? Here, we have to pay careful attention to the official pronouncements Putin has made over the years, and to take them as face value. First, he said that Russia does not need any more territory; it has all the land it could ever want. Second, he said that Russia will follow the path of maximum liberalization in granting citizenship to compatriots and that, in turn, the well-being of Russia’s citizens is a top priority. Third, he said that resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine through military means is unacceptable. Given these constraints, what courses of action remain open?

The answer, I believe, is obvious: evacuation. There are around 3.2 million residents in Donetsk People’s Republic and 1.4 million in Lugansk People’s Republic, for a total of some 4.6 million residents. This may seem like a huge number, but it’s moderate by the scale of World War II evacuations. Keep in mind that Russia has already absorbed over a million Ukrainian migrants and refugees without much of a problem. Also, Russia is currently experiencing a major labor shortage, and an infusion of able-bodied Russians would be most welcome.

Domestically, the evacuation would likely be quite popular: Russia is doing right by its own people by pulling them out of harm’s way. The patriotic base would be energized and the already very active Russian volunteer movement would swing into action to assist the Emergencies Ministry in helping move and resettle the evacuees. The elections that are to take place later this year would turn into a nationwide welcoming party for several million new voters. The Donbass evacuation could pave the way for other waves of repatriation that are likely to follow. There are some 20 million Russians scattered throughout the world, and as the world outside Russia plunges deeper and deeper into resource scarcity they too will want to come home. While they may presently be reluctant to do so, seeing the positive example of how the Donbass evacuees are treated could help change their minds.

The negative optics of surrendering territory can be countered by not surrendering any territory. As a guarantor of the Minsk Agreements, Russia must refuse to surrender the Donbass to the Ukrainian government until it fulfills the terms of these agreements, which it has shown no intention of doing for seven years now and which it has recently repudiated altogether. It is important to note that the Russian military can shoot straight across all of Donbass without setting foot on Ukrainian soil. Should the Ukrainian forces attempt to enter Donbass, they will be dealt with as shown in the following instructional video. Note that the maximum range of the Tornado-G system shown in the video is 120km.

And should the Ukrainians care to respond by attacking Russian territory, another one of Putin’s pronouncements helps us understand what would happen next: if attacked, Russia will respond not just against the attackers but also against the centers of decision-making responsible for the attack. The Ukrainian command in Kiev, as well as its NATO advisers, would probably keep this statement in mind when considering their steps.

The Donbass evacuation should resonate rather well internationally. It would be a typical Putin judo move knocking NATO and the US State Department off-balance. Since this would be a large humanitarian mission, it would be ridiculous to attempt to portray it as “Russian aggression.” On the other hand, Russia would be quite within its rights to issue stern warnings that any attempt to interfere with the evacuation or to launch provocations during the evacuation process would be dealt with very harshly, freeing Russia’s hands in dispatching to God the berserkers from the Ukraine’s Nazi battalions, some of whom don’t particularly like to follow orders.

The West would be left with the following status quo. The Donbass is empty of residents but off-limits to them or to the Ukrainians. The evacuation would in no sense change the standing or the negotiating position of the evacuees and their representatives vis-à-vis the Minsk agreements, locking this situation in place until Kiev undertakes constitutional reform, becomes a federation and grants full autonomy to Donbass, or until the Ukrainian state ceases to exist and is partitioned. The Ukraine would be unable to join NATO (a pipe dream which it has stupidly voted into its constitution) since this would violate the NATO charter, given that it does not control its own territory.

Further sanctions against Russia would become even more difficult to justify, since it would be untenable to accuse it of aggression for undertaking a humanitarian mission to protect its own citizens or for carrying out its responsibilities as a guarantor of the Minsk agreements. The Donbass would remain as a stalker zone roamed by Russian battlefield robots sniping Ukrainian marauders, with the odd busload of schoolchildren there on a field trip to lay flowers on the graves of their ancestors. Its ruined Soviet-era buildings, not made any newer by three decades of Ukrainian abuse and neglect, will bear silent witness to the perpetual ignominy of the failed Ukrainian state.

History is as often driven by accident as by logic, but since we cannot predict accidents, logic is the only tool we have in trying to guess the shape of the future. Rephrasing Voltaire, this, then, is the best that we can expect to happen in this the best of all possible worlds.


My other writings are available at https://patreon.com/orlov and https://subscribestar.com/orlov. Thank you for your support.

Should Russia repeat the 08.08.08 war in the Donbass? (OPEN THREAD #8)

Should Russia repeat the 08.08.08 war in the Donbass? (OPEN THREAD #8)

Source

April 09, 2021

You know the expression, “better a bad peace than a good war“.  This surely sounds true and common sense seems to support this.  But, as with many slogans, it all depends on the meaning of words.

For one thing, Russia has been at war with the Empire for at least since 2017.  You can call that “peace” as opposed to a full-scale convention or nuclear war, but considering the human and material costs of this very real war, I am not so sure that the word “peace” fits.

Next, if we accept that we are already in a costly and ugly war (even if this war is not a full-scale military one), one could reasonably say that “bad” is still preferable to “worse”.  But here the assumption is that a transition to an open war would be necessarily worse for Russia.  But is that really true?

In economic and political terms, Russia remains weaker than the consolidated West.  In military terms, however, it is the opposite (see here for a very good primer on this issue).  Would that then not make sense for Russia to move the confrontation into the mode which favors her?

Furthermore, the notion that now is “bad” and that it will get “worse” if Russia is forced to intervene makes another logically flawed assumption: that if Russia does absolutely nothing things will not become “worse” anyway!

Then, we need to define the concept of “good war”.  Thousands of volumes have been written about what a “just” war is and even thousands more about what a “good war” might be.  This is a complex and even philosophical issue which I don’t want to discuss now, but I do want to point out the ambiguity of the concept.

There is also a practical reason: seems to me that the time has come again for the West to receive the painful smackdown the West gets from Russia about once every century. Clearly the folks in Germany have forgotten WWII.  As for the US Americans, 99.99999999% of them don’t know shit about WWII!.  Maybe all these loudmouths need a, what shall we call it, maybe a not-so-gentle “reminder”?  I would not suggest that if I had ANY hope AT ALL that the Europeans at least remember WWII.  Alas, I have no such hopes left.

So what are we left in the case of Russia vs Banderastan?

I submit that what Russia did in 08.08.08 five day war (in reality only three!) was correct.  She did the following:

  1. Comprehensively disarmed Saakashvili’s gangs of thugs in uniform
  2. Guaranteed the safety of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia
  3. Did not engage in a long occupation, take Tbilissi (absolutely correct decision!) or impose another ruler

Russia got the job done, and simply left (with a small contingent left in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia)

Now let’s transpose that the the Ukronazi controlled Ukraine:

  1. Comprehensively disarm “Ze’s” gangs of thugs in uniform
  2. Guarantee the safety of the LDNR
  3. Not “solve” the Ukrainian crisis for the Ukrainians (that is their job, not Russia’s)

Seems to me rather reasonable.  And, besides, just like Georgia, the Ukronazi Ukraine will not recover from that “minimal response” for many years.  In fact, I believe that only by defanging the Ukronazis would guarantee the collapse of Banderastan into several successor states.

There are, of course, major differences between Georgia on 08.07.08 and today’s Ukraine, both quantitative and qualitative.  Just one example: the Ukies could attack Russia proper (I said “attack” – I did NOT say “prevail”!) something which Saakashvili could not do.  Still, the fundamental sequence disarm->protect->withdraw is, in my opinion, one worth considering as “good” a war as can be, especially since the “peaceful alternative” might turn out much worse.

So what do you think?  Should Russia repeat the 08.08.08 scenario if the Ukronazis attack?

The Saker

PS: bonus question: check out these two news items:

Question: can you find a logical military rationale for either move and, if yes, which one?

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity on Avoiding War in Ukraine

By Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Global Research, April 07, 2021

Antiwar.com 6 April 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

***

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Avoiding War in Ukraine

Dear President Biden,

We last communicated with you on December 20, 2020, when you were President-elect.

At that time, we alerted you to the dangers inherent in formulating a policy toward Russia built on a foundation of Russia-bashing. While we continue to support the analysis contained in that memorandum, this new memo serves a far more pressing purpose. We wish to draw your attention to the dangerous situation that exists in Ukraine today, where there is growing risk of war unless you take steps to forestall such a conflict.

At this juncture, we call to mind two basic realities that need particular emphasis amid growing tension between Ukraine and Russia.

First, since Ukraine is not a member of NATO, Article 5 of the NATO Treaty of course would not apply in the case of an armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

Second, Ukraine’s current military flexing, if allowed to transition into actual military action, could lead to hostilities with Russia.

We think it crucial that your administration immediately seek to remove from the table, so to speak, any “solution” to the current impasse that has a military component. In short, there is, and can never be, a military solution to this problem.

Your interim national security strategy guidance indicated that your administration would “make smart and disciplined choices regarding our national defense and the responsible use of our military, while elevating diplomacy as our tool of first resort.” Right now is the perfect time to put these words into action for all to see.

We strongly believe:

1. It must be made clear to Ukrainian President Zelensky that there will be no military assistance from either the US or NATO if he does not restrain Ukrainian hawks itching to give Russia a bloody nose — hawks who may well expect the West to come to Ukraine’s aid in any conflict with Russia. (There must be no repeat of the fiasco of August 2008, when the Republic of Georgia initiated offensive military operations against South Ossetia in the mistaken belief that the US would come to its assistance if Russia responded militarily.)

2. We recommend that you quickly get back in touch with Zelensky and insist that Kiev halt its current military buildup in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces have been lining up at the border ready to react if Zelensky’s loose talk of war becomes more than bravado. Washington should also put on hold all military training activity involving US and NATO troops in the region. This would lessen the chance that Ukraine would misinterpret these training missions as a de facto sign of support for Ukrainian military operations to regain control of either the Donbas or Crimea.

3. It is equally imperative that the U.S. engage in high-level diplomatic talks with Russia to reduce tensions in the region and de-escalate the current rush toward military conflict. Untangling the complex web of issues that currently burden U.S.-Russia relations is a formidable task that will not be accomplished overnight. This would be an opportune time to work toward a joint goal of preventing armed hostilities in Ukraine and wider war.

There is opportunity as well as risk in the current friction over Ukraine. This crisis offers your administration the opportunity to elevate the moral authority of the United States in the eyes of the international community. Leading with diplomacy will greatly enhance the stature of America in the world.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

  • William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
  • Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer & former Division Director in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (ret.)
  • Bogdan Dzakovic, former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (ret.) (associate VIPS)
  • Graham E. Fuller,Vice-Chair, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
  • Robert M. Furukawa, Captain, Civil Engineer Corps, USNR (ret.)
  • Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
  • Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator
  • John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former Senior Investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003
  • Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
  • Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA presidential briefer (ret.)
  • Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East & CIA political analyst (ret.)
  • Pedro Israel Orta, CIA Operations Officer & Analyst; Inspector with IG for the Intelligence Community (ret.)
  • Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)
  • Scott Ritter, former MAJ., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq
  • Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)
  • Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA
  • Sarah G. Wilton, CDR, USNR, (ret.); Defense Intelligence Agency (ret.)
  • Robert Wing, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (former) (associate VIPS)
  • Ann Wright, U.S. Army Reserve Colonel (ret) and former U.S. Diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War

*

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Tension in Ukraine and the Turkish Straits Issue التوتر في أوكرانيا وقضية المضائق التركية

Tension in Ukraine and the Turkish Straits Issue

Ukraine tensions - Russia, USA, NATO, the Turkish Straits

 ARABI SOURI 

حسني محلي
International relations researcher and specialist in Turkish affairs

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

The Ukrainian interior, especially the border separating the west and east of the country, is witnessing a dangerous tension, which many expect will turn into hot confrontations between Ukraine backed by America and some European countries and Russia that support separatists in the east of the country, who in 2014 declared autonomy in the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

This tension acquires additional importance with the approaching date of the exercises scheduled to take place next month, with the participation of Ukrainian forces and NATO units, the largest of their kind since the fall of the Soviet Union. Moscow sees in these maneuvers, which bear the name ‘Defending Europe – 21’, as a direct threat, because they will include the Black Sea and the North Baltic Seas, which are potential hotbeds of confrontation between Russia and NATO.

All this comes as Washington continues its relentless efforts to include Ukraine and Georgia in the (NATO) alliance before the end of this year, after it included in 2004 both Bulgaria and Romania to it, in an attempt to tighten the blockade on Russia in the Black Sea, which Turkey also overlooks.

President Biden called his Ukrainian counterpart Zalinsky (a Jew and a friend of Netanyahu), and after that the contacts made by the defense and foreign ministers, the chief of staff, and the secretary-general of the US National Security Council with their Ukrainian counterparts this week, to prove the seriousness of the situation in the region, after Washington confirmed its absolute support for Ukraine in its crisis with Russia.

The Russian response to these US-Ukrainian provocations was not late, Moscow mobilized very large forces in the region, and large naval maneuvers began in the Crimea and the Krasnodar region in southeastern Ukraine and in the northern Black Sea.

The timing of the Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Shantop’s speech about President Erdogan’s powers to withdraw from the Montreux Convention gained additional importance, because it coincided with the escalation between Moscow and Washington, and sparked a new debate in the Turkish, Russian and Western streets, as 120 retired Turkish diplomats signed, and after them 103 admirals retirees, on two separate statements in which they denounced Shantop’s words, and said: ‘The withdrawal from the Montreux Agreement puts Turkey in front of new and dangerous challenges in its foreign policy, and forces it to align itself with one of the parties to the conflict in the region.

The response came quickly from Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu and Fakhruddin Altun, spokesman for President Erdogan, who accused the admirals of ‘seeking a new coup attempt. While the Public Prosecutor filed an urgent lawsuit against the signatories of the Military personnel’s statement, the leader of the National Movement Party, Devlet Bakhsali, Erdogan’s ally, demanded that they be tried and their pensions cut off. Some see this discussion as an introduction to what Erdogan is preparing for with regard to the straits and raising the level of bargaining with President Putin.

The ‘Montreux Convention’ of 1936 recognized Turkey’s ownership of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles straits while ensuring freedom of commercial navigation in them for all ships, and set strict conditions for the passage of warships owned by countries not bordering the Black Sea through these straits. Washington does not hide its dissatisfaction with this convention, and since the fall of the Soviet Union, it has been planning to send the largest possible number of its warships to the Black Sea and the bases it is now seeking to establish in Bulgaria and Romania, and later Ukraine and Georgia.

With Turkey’s support for this American scheme, Russian warships will find themselves in a difficult situation en route to and from the Mediterranean. Russian diplomatic circles have considered the Istanbul channel that Erdogan seeks to split between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, parallel to the Bosphorus, as an attempt by Ankara to circumvent the ‘Montreux Convention’, so that American and (North) Atlantic warships can pass through this channel in the quantity and sizes they want, far from the conditions of the Montreux Convention.

All these facts make Turkey, directly or indirectly, an important party in the possible hot confrontations in Ukraine, given Ankara’s intertwined strategic relations with Kiev, especially in the field of war industries, especially the jet engines for drones and advanced missiles. In addition to this, the Turkish religious and national interest in the Crimea region, which Muslims make up about 15% of its population, with their bad memories during the communist Soviet rule, the ideological enemy of the Turkish state, which is the heir to the Ottoman Empire, which is the historical enemy of the Russian Empire.

Whatever the potential developments in the Ukrainian crisis and their implications for the Turkish role in the Black Sea region, with their complex calculations, Moscow and Washington (and their European allies) do not neglect their other regional and international accounts in the Mediterranean and Red Sea regions, especially with the continuation of the Syrian, Yemeni, Somali and Libyan crises, and their repercussions on the balance of power in the basins of the Straits of Hormuz, Bab el-Mandeb and the Eastern Mediterranean, where ‘Israel’ is present, which borders Jordan with its recent surprising events.

Erdogan Used 3000 Syrian Terrorists in the Nagorno Karabach Battles

https://syrianews.cc/erdogan-used-3000-syrian-terrorists-in-the-nagorno-karabach-battles/embed/#?secret=MqFNSvMgQn

Here, the recent Russian-Iranian-Chinese moves with their various elements gain additional importance, because they disturbed and worried Western capitals, which found themselves forced, even in their last attempt, to distance Tehran from this alliance, by returning to the nuclear agreement as soon as possible.

Washington and Western capitals believe that this may help them to devote themselves to the Ukraine crisis, and then to similar issues in other regions, through which it aims to tighten the siege on Russia in its backyards in Central Asia and the Caucasus, where Georgia and Azerbaijan have direct links with Turkey.

It has become clear that, with all its geostrategic advantages, it will be the arena of competition, and perhaps direct and indirect future conflict between Washington and Moscow, as they race together to gain more positions in its arena, which supports President Erdogan’s position externally, because his accounts have become intertwined in Syria and Karabakh with Russia, and its ally Iran, it will also support his projects and plans internally to stay in power forever, thanks to US and European economic and financial support. Without this, he cannot achieve anything.

The bet remains on the content of the phone call that the Turkish president is waiting for from President Biden, for which many have written many different scenarios that will have their results reflected on the overall US-Russian competitions. This possibility will raise the bargaining ceiling between Erdogan and both Putin and Biden, whoever pays the most will win Turkey on his side or prevent it from allying with his enemy.

Intercontinental Wars – Part 3 The Open Confrontation

https://syrianews.cc/intercontinental-wars-part-3-the-open-confrontation/embed/#?secret=byysW2Qrix

Tsar Putin Brings the Sultan Wannabe Erdogan Half Way Down the Tree

https://syrianews.cc/tsar-putin-brings-the-sultan-wannabe-erdogan-half-way-down-the-tree/embed/#?secret=AkXY3KfFOg

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التوتر في أوكرانيا وقضية المضائق التركية

حسني محلي
باحث علاقات دولية ومختصص بالشأن التركي

حسني محلي

المصدر: الميادين نت

5 نيسان 12:08

مهما كانت التطورات المحتملة في الأزمة الأوكرانية وانعكاساتها على الدور التركي في منطقة البحر الأسود، بحساباتها المعقدة، لا تهمل موسكو وواشنطن حسابتهما الإقليمية والدولية الأخرى في منطقتي الأبيض المتوسط والأحمر.

التوتر في أوكرانيا وقضية المضائق التركية
تسعى واشنطن لضم أوكرانيا إلى حلف شمال الأطلسي

يشهد الداخل الأوكراني، وخصوصاً الحدود الفاصلة بين غرب البلاد وشرقها، توتراً خطيراً يتوقع الكثيرون أن يتحوّل إلى مواجهات ساخنة بين أوكرانيا المدعومة من أميركا وبعض الدول الأوروبية وروسيا التي تدعم الانفصاليين شرق البلاد، الذين أعلنوا في العام 2014 حكماً ذاتياً في جمهوريتي دونيتسك ولوغانسك.

يكتسب هذا التوتّر أهمية إضافية مع اقتراب موعد المناورات المقرر إجراؤها الشهر القادم، بمشاركة القوات الأوكرانية ووحدات الحلف الأطلسي، وهي الأكبر من نوعها منذ سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي. ترى موسكو في هذه المناورات التي تحمل اسم “الدفاع عن أوروبا – 21” خطراً يستهدفها بشكلٍ مباشر، لأنّها ستشمل البحر الأسود وبحر البلطيق الشمالي، وهي ساحات المواجهة الساخنة المحتملة بين روسيا والحلف الأطلسي.

يأتي كلّ ذلك مع استمرار مساعي واشنطن الحثيثة لضم أوكرانيا وجورجيا إلى الحلف قبل نهاية العام الجاري، بعد أن ضمّت في العام 2004 كلاً من بلغاريا ورومانيا إليه، في محاولة منها لتضييق الحصار على روسيا في البحر الأسود الذي تطل تركيا أيضاً عليه.

وجاء اتصال الرئيس بايدن بنظيره الأوكراني زالينسكي (يهودي وصديق لنتنياهو)، وبعده الاتصالات التي أجراها وزراء الدفاع والخارجية ورئيس الأركان وسكرتير عام مجلس الأمن القومي الأميركي بنظرائهم الأوكرانيين خلال الأسبوع الجاري، لتثبت مدى جدية الوضع في المنطقة، بعد أن أكدت واشنطن دعمها المطلق لأوكرانيا في أزمتها مع روسيا.

لم يتأخّر الرد الروسي على هذه الاستفزازات الأميركية – الأوكرانية، فقامت موسكو بحشد قوات كبيرة جداً في المنطقة، وبدأت مناورات بحرية واسعة في شبه جزيرة القرم وإقليم كراسنودار جنوب شرق أوكرانيا وفي شمال البحر الأسود. 

وقد اكتسب التوقيت الزمني لحديث رئيس البرلمان التركي مصطفى شانتوب عن صلاحيات الرئيس إردوغان للانسحاب من اتفاقية “مونترو” أهمية إضافية، لأنه تزامن مع التصعيد بين موسكو وواشنطن، وأثار نقاشاً جديداً في الشارع التركي والروسي والغربي، إذ وقّع 120 دبلوماسياً تركياً متقاعداً، وبعدهم 103 أميرالات متقاعدين، على بيانين منفصلين استنكروا فيهما كلام شانتوب، وقالوا: “إن الانسحاب من اتفاقية “مونترو” يضع تركيا أمام تحديات جديدة وخطيرة في سياستها الخارجية، ويجبرها على الانحياز إلى أحد أطراف الصراع في المنطقة”.

جاء الرد سريعاً على لسان وزير الداخلية سليمان صويلو، وفخر الدين التون، المتحدث باسم الرئيس إردوغان، اللذين اتهما الأميرالات “بالسعي لمحاولة انقلاب جديدة”، فيما أقام وكيل النيابة العامة دعوى قضائية عاجلة ضد الموقعين على بيان العسكر، وطالب زعيم حزب الحركة القومية دولت باخشالي، حليف إردوغان، بمحاكمتهم وقطع المرتبات التقاعدية عنهم. ويرى البعض أن هذا النقاش مقدمة لما يحضّر له إردوغان في ما يتعلق بالمضائق ورفع مستوى المساومة مع الرئيس بوتين. 

وكانت اتفاقية “مونترو” للعام 1936 قد اعترفت بملكية تركيا لمضيقي البوسفور والدردنيل، مع ضمان حرية الملاحة التجارية فيهما لجميع السفن، وحددت شروطاً صارمة على مرور السفن الحربية التي تملكها الدول غير المطلة على البحر الأسود من هذه المضائق. لا تخفي واشنطن عدم ارتياحها إلى هذه الاتفاقية، وهي تخطط منذ سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي لإرسال أكبر عدد ممكن من سفنها الحربية إلى البحر الأسود، وتسعى الآن إلى إنشاء قواعد في بلغاريا ورومانيا، ولاحقاً في أوكرانيا وجورجيا.

وبدعم تركيا لهذا المخطط الأميركي، ستجد السفن الحربية الروسية نفسها في وضع صعب في الطريق من البحر الأبيض المتوسط وإليه. وقد اعتبرت أوساط دبلوماسية روسية قناة إسطنبول التي يسعى إردوغان لشقّها بين بحر مرمرة والبحر الأسود، وبشكل موازٍ لمضيق البوسفور، محاولة من أنقرة للالتفاف على اتفاقية “مونترو”، حتى يتسنّى للسفن الحربية الأميركية والأطلسية المرور في هذه القناة بالكم والكيف اللذين تشاؤهما، بعيداً من شروط اتفاقية “مونترو”.

كل هذه المعطيات تجعل تركيا، بشكل مباشر أو غير مباشر، طرفاً مهماً في المواجهات الساخنة المحتملة في أوكرانيا، نظراً إلى علاقات أنقرة الاستراتيجية المتشابكة مع كييف، وخصوصاً في مجال الصناعات الحربية، وفي مقدمتها المحركات النفاثة للطائرات المسيّرة والصواريخ المتطورة. يُضاف إلى ذلك الاهتمام التركي الديني والقومي بمنطقة القرم التي يشكل المسلمون حوالى 15% من سكّانها، مع ذكرياتهم السيّئة خلال الحكم السوفياتي الشيوعي، العدو العقائدي للدولة التركية، وهي وريثة الإمبراطورية العثمانية التي تعدّ العدو التاريخي للإمبراطورية الروسيّة.

مهما كانت التطورات المحتملة في الأزمة الأوكرانية وانعكاساتها على الدور التركي في منطقة البحر الأسود، بحساباتها المعقدة، لا تهمل موسكو وواشنطن (وحلفاؤهما الأوروبيون) حسابتهما الإقليمية والدولية الأخرى في منطقتي الأبيض المتوسط والأحمر، وخصوصاً مع استمرار الأزمات السورية واليمنية والصومالية والليبية، وانعكاساتها على موازين القوى في حوضي مضيقي هرمز وباب المندب وشرق الأبيض المتوسط، حيث تتواجد “إسرائيل” التي تحتل فلسطين المجاورة للأردن بأحداثه الأخيرة المفاجئة.

وهنا، تكتسب التحركات الروسية – الإيرانية – الصينية الأخيرة بعناصرها المختلفة أهمية إضافية، لأنها أزعجت وأقلقت العواصم الغربية التي وجدت نفسها مضطرة، ولو في محاولة أخيرة منها، إلى إبعاد طهران عن هذا التحالف، عبر العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي بأسرع ما يمكن. 

وتعتقد واشنطن والعواصم الغربية أن ذلك قد يساعدها للتفرغ لأزمة أوكرانيا، وبعدها لقضايا مماثلة في مناطق أخرى، تهدف من خلالها إلى تضييق الحصار على روسيا في حدائقها الخلفية في آسيا الوسطى والقوقاز، حيث جورجيا وأذربيجان ذات الصلة المباشرة مع تركيا. 

وقد بات واضحاً أنها، وبكل مزاياها الجيوستراتيجية، ستكون ساحة المنافسة، وربما الصراع المستقبلي المباشر وغير المباشر بين واشنطن وموسكو، وهما تتسابقان معاً لكسب المزيد من المواقع في ساحتها، وهو ما يدعم موقف الرئيس إردوغان خارجياً، لأن حساباته باتت متداخلة في سوريا وكاراباخ مع روسيا وحليفتها إيران، كما سيدعم مشاريعه ومخططاته داخلياً للبقاء في السلطة إلى الأبد، بفضل الدعم الاقتصادي والمالي الأميركي والأوروبي. ومن دون ذلك، لا يمكنه أن يحقق شيئاً.

يبقى الرهان على فحوى المكالمة الهاتفية التي ينتظرها الرئيس التركي من الرئيس بايدن، والتي كتب من أجلها الكثيرون العديد من السيناريوهات المختلفة التي ستنعكس بنتائجها على مجمل المنافسات الأميركية – الروسية. سيرفع هذا الاحتمال سقف المساومة بين إردوغان وكلٍّ من بوتين وبايدن. ومن يدفع منهم أكثر سوف يكسب تركيا إلى جانبه أو يمنعها من التحالف مع عدوه.

حتى تلك الساعة، يبدو واضحاً أن الجميع يراهن على مضمون الصفقة التي سيقترحها الرئيس بايدن على الرئيس إردوغان، وشروط الأخير للقبول بتفاصيلها أو رفضها، وهو يدري أن الرئيس بوتين يملك بدوره ما يكفيه من الأوراق لإبقاء تركيا خارج الحلبة الأميركية، حتى لا تعود، كما كانت في سنوات الحرب الباردة، سمكة عالقة في الصنارة الأميركية. 

Is the Ukraine on the brink of war (again)?

THE SAKER • MARCH 10, 2021

Just a few weeks ago I wrote a column entitled “The Ukraine’s Many Ticking Time Bombs” in which I listed a number of developments presenting a major threat to the Ukraine and, in fact, to all the countries of the region. In this short time the situation has deteriorated rather dramatically. I will therefore begin with a short recap of what is happening.

First, the Ukrainian government and parliament have, for all practical purposes, declared the Minsk Agreements as dead. Truth be told, these agreements were stillborn, but as long as everybody pretended that there was still a chance for some kind of negotiated solution, they served as a “war retardant”. Now that this retardant has been removed, the situation becomes far more explosive than before.

The issue of the Minsk Agreements brought to the fore the truly breathtaking hypocrisy of the West: even though Russia never was a party of these agreements (Russia signed them as a guarantor, not as a party), the West chose to blame Russia for “not implementing” these agreements, that in spite of the fact that everybody knew that it was the Ukraine which, for fear of the various Neonazis movements, simply could not implement these agreements. This kind of “in your face” hypocrisy by the West had a tremendous impact on the internal Russian political scene which, in turn, greatly strengthened the position of those in Russia who never believed that a negotiated solution was possible in the first place. In that sense, these agreements represented a major victory for the Kremlin as it forced the West to show the full depth of its moral depravity.

Second, it is pretty obvious that the “Biden” administration is a who’s who of all the worst russophobes of the Obama era: Nuland, Psaki, and the rest of them are openly saying that they want to increase the confrontation with Russia. Even the newcomers, say like Ned Price, are clearly rabid russophobes. The folks in Kiev immediately understood that their bad old masters were back in the White House and they are now also adapting their language to this new (well, not really) reality.

Finally, and most ominously, there are clear signs that the Ukrainian military is moving heavy forces towards the line of contact. Here is an example of a video taken in the city of Mariupol:

Besides tanks, there are many reports of other heavy military equipment, including MLRS and tactical ballistic missiles, being moved east towards the line of contact. Needless to say, the Russian General Staff is tracking all these movements very carefully, as are the intelligence services of the LDNR.

This is all happening while Zelenskii’s popularity is in free fall. Actually, not only his. Think of it: Biden stole the election in the US and has to deal with 70 million “deplorables” while the EU leaders are all facing many extremely severe crises (immigration, crime, COVID lockdowns, Woke ideology, etc.). The truth is that they all desperately need some kind of “distraction” to keep their public opinion from focusing on the real issues facing the western societies.

What could such a “distraction” look like?

Phase one: the trigger

The Ukraine is unlikely to simply attack the Donbass. Kiev needs to stick to the “we are the victim of the aggressor-country” narrative. However, if past behavior is one of the best predictors of future behavior, we can immediately see what is likely to happen.

Remember how three Ukrainian Navy vessels tried to force their way under the Crimean bridge? What about the Ukrainian terrorist groups which Kiev tried to infiltrate into Crimea? And, finally, there are the many terrorist attacks executed by Ukrainian special forces inside Novorussia. The truth is that the Ukrainian special services (SBU and military) have been conducting reconnaissance diversionary operations in the Donbass, in Crimea and even in Russia.

Right now, both sides (Kiev and the LDNR) have officially declared that they have given the authorization to their forces to respond to any provocations or incoming fire. Just imagine how easy it is for either side to organize some kind of provocation, then claim to be under attack and to declare that “we had to defend ourselves against the aggressor”.

Therefore, the most likely scenario is some kind of Ukrainian provocation followed by a “defensive counter-attack” by the Ukrainian military.

Phase two: the attack

Over the past years, the Ukrainian military has received a great deal of assistance from the West, both in terms of equipment/money and in terms of training. Furthermore, in numerical terms, the Ukrainian military is much bigger than the combined forces of the LDNR. However, it would be a mistake to assume that the LDNR forces were just sitting on their laurels and not working really hard to achieve a qualitative jump in their capabilities.

The Ukrainian government is working on yet another mobilization (there were many such waves of mobilization in the past, none of them really successful), and considering the chaos in the country, it is unlikely to go better than the previous ones. If we want to do some “bean counting”, we can say that Kiev could theoretically mobilize about 300,000 soldiers while the standing LDNR forces number approximately 30,000 soliders (these are standing forces before mobilization). However, we must take into account that the Ukrainian forces are mostly conscripts whereas the LDNR forces are 100% professional volunteers fighting for their own land and in defense of their own families and friends. This makes a huge difference!

Besides, like all “bean counting”, this purely numerical comparison completely misses the point. That point is that the LDNR forces are much better trained, equipped, commanded and motivated. Furthermore, the LDNR forces have had years to prepare for an Ukronazi attack, In fact, both sides of the line of contact are now heavily fortified. Yet, and in spite of all this, the LDNR suffers from a huge weakness: no strategic (or even operational) depth. Worse, the city of Donetsk is quite literally on the front line.

Could the Ukrainian forces “punch through” the LDNR defenses? I would say that this is not impossible, and “not impossible” is serious enough to warrant a lot of preparations by the Russian armed forces to quickly intervene and stop any such breakthrough by the Ukrainian forces. Does the Russian military have the means to stop such an attack?

Yes, absolutely. First, all of the LDNR is literally right across the Russian border, which means that pretty much any Russian weapons system can “reach” not only into the LDNR, but even throughout the Ukrainian tactical, operational and even strategic depth. Russia can also deploy a classical Anti Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) “cupola” over the LDNR using a mix of air defense and electronic warfare systems. Russian rockets and artillery systems can be used not only as counter-battery fire, but also to destroy attacking Ukrainian subunits. Finally, the Russian forces in Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet can also be engaged if needed. As for Russian coastal defense systems (Bal and Bastion), they can “lock” the entire Black Sea.

The biggest problem for Russia is that she cannot do any of that without triggering a huge political crisis in Europe; just visualize what the likes of Antony Blinken, Ned Price or Jane Psaki would have to say about such a Russian intervention! Remember, these are the folks who immediately accused Russia of attacking Georgia, not the other way around. We are now all living in the “post-truth” era of “highly likely”, not of facts.

I have said that for years now the real point of a Ukrainian attack on the Donbass would not be to reconquer the region, but to force Russia to openly and, therefore, undeniably intervene. This has been a Neocon wet dream since 2014 and it is still their ultimate objective in the Ukraine. So what would a Russian counter-attack look like?

Phase three: the Russian intervention

First, let me ask you this: did you know that about 400,000 residents of the LDNR already have Russian passports? Is that a lot? Well, the total population of the LDNR is about 3.7 million people, so more than 10% of the population. This is crucial for two reasons: first, you can think of these Russian citizens as a kind of tripwire: if enough of them get killed, Putin have no other choice than to intervene to protect them and, in fact, Putin has made it clear many times that Russia will never allow the Ukraine to seize Novorussia by force or to massacre its population. Second, there are many precedents of countries (mostly western ones) using military force to protect their citizens. Examples include the US in both Grenada and Panama, the Turks in Cyprus and Syria or the French in many African countries.

Next, in purely military terms, Russia has plenty of standoff weapons which could be used to disrupt and stop any Ukranian attack even without sending in a ground force. Not only that, but the Russian response does not have to be limited to the front lines – Russia could easily strike the Ukraine even in its strategic depth and there is really nothing the Ukrainians could do to prevent that. Still, I do not believe that the Russian counter-attack would be limited to standoff weapons, mainly because of the need to relieve the LDNR forces on the front line which will be exhausted by difficult defensive operations. In other words, this time around Russia won’t even bother to deny her involvement; at this point in time, this would be futile and counter productive.

The west loves concepts such as the “responsibility to protect” (R2P)? Good! Then Russia can use it too.

Of course, I am not naive to the point of believing that anybody in the West will be suaded by notions such as fairness or precedent. But the Kremlin will use this argument to further educate the Russian people in the true intentions of the West. This is especially helpful for Putin during an election year (which 2121 is for Russia), and this will only further weaken both the pro-western opposition (for obvious reasons) and even the anti-western “patriotic” opposition which will have no choice but to fully support a military intervention to save the Donbass.

Phase four: the Empire’s response

I don’t believe for one second that anybody in the West will volunteer for suicide and advocate for a military intervention in the Ukraine or against Russia. NATO is a “pretend” military alliance. In reality, it is a US instrument to control Europe. Yes, historically the pretext for NATO was the supposed threat from Soviet Union and, now, from Russia, but the true reason for NATO has always been to control the European continent. Nobody in the West believes that it is worth risking a full scale war against Russia just over a (relatively minor) Russian military intervention in the eastern Ukraine. However, once it becomes undeniable that Russia has intervened (the Kremlin won’t even bother denying this!), the trans-national imperial Nomenklatura which runs the Empire will see this as a truly historical opportunity to create a major crisis which will weaken Russian positions in Europe and immensely strengthen the US control over the continent.

We have all seen how the western politicians and presstitutes have invented a (totally fake) Russian intervention in the Donbass and how they said they would “punish” Russia for “not implementing the Minsk Agreements”. We can only imagine how strident and hysterical these Russia-hating screams will become once Russia actually does intervene, quite openly. Again, if past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, then we can rest assured that western politicians will do what they always do: exacerbate and prolong the conflict as long as possible, but without directly attacking Russia. That is the purpose of the Ukrainian military, to provide the cannon fodder for the AnglioZionists.

Phase four prime: possible Ukronazi responses

Take it to the bank: “Ze” and the rest of the clowns in the Rada are no military leaders. Even Ukrainian military commanders are truly of the 3rd class type (all the good ones are either gone or fired). The first concern of the folks in Kiev will be to safely evacuate the western “advisors” from the area of operations and then to hide themselves and their money. For all the running around in battle fatigue and for all the hot air about super weapons, the Ukrainian military won’t continue to exist as an organized fighting force for longer than 48 hours. As I mentioned above, Russia can easily impose a no-fly zone, not only over the LDNR, but even over the entire eastern Ukraine. Russia can also basically switch off the power in the entire country. There is a very good reason why Putin declared in 2018 that any Ukrainian serious attack or provocation “will have very serious consequences for the Ukrainian statehood as a whole”.

Yet it would be extremely dangerous to simply dismiss the Ukronazi potential for creating some real headaches for Moscow. How?

For example, I would not put it past the Ukrainians to threaten an attack against the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF) in Transnistria. This is a small force, far away from Russia, surrounded by hostile neighbors. Keep in mind that Tiraspol is about 600km west from Donetsk! Not only that, but if Moldova is not a member of NATO, Romania is. As for the current President of Moldova, Maia Sandu, she is both Romanian and deeply anti-Russian. But while all this is true, I think that it is also important to keep another factoid in mind: Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, is only about 300km away from the Crimean Peninsula. This places all of Moldova well within reach of Russian standoff weapons and rapid reaction mobile forces. For the Moldovans, any notion of attacking the OGRF in Transnistria would be really crazy, but for a desperate Ukronazi regime in Kiev this might be preferable to a defeat against Russia.

Of course, the Ukronazi regime in Kiev really has no agency, ever since the “revolution of dignity”. All the decisions about the Ukraine are made by Uncle Shmuel and his minions in Kiev. So the question we should be asking would be: would anybody put it past the Neocon crazies in the White House to egg on the Ukronazi regime in Kiev to further widen the conflict and force Russia to also intervene in Transnistria?

Some commentators in the West, and a few in Russia, have suggested that the “Biden” plan (assuming there is such a thing) would be to trigger simultaneous crises in different locations all around Russia: the Donbass, but also the Black Sea and/or Sea of Azov, Georgia, Belarus, Transnistria, Armenia, etc. The Empire might also decide to come back to Hillary Clinton’s plan to place a no-fly zone over Russian forces in Syria. I am not so sure that this is the major threat for Russia right now. For example, there is a good reason why Russia is split into military districts: in case of war, each military district becomes an independent front which can fight autonomously, support other fronts and be supported by the strategic capabilities of the Russian military. In other words, the Russian military can handle several major and simultaneous crises or even conflicts in her neighboring states. As for Hillary’s no fly zone over Syria, considering the undeniable reality that all of CENTCOM bases are under a double crosshair (the one from Iran and the one from Russia), it is unlikely that the US would try such a dangerous move.

I am acutely aware of the fact that the anti-Putin propagandists are trying to convince us that Russia and Israel are in cahoots or that Putin is Netanyahu’s best buddy. I already addressed this nonsense several times (see herehereherehere and here) so I won’t repeat it all here. I will just say that a) Russian air defenses in Syria are tasked with the defense of the Russian task force in Syria, not the Syrian air space b) Syrian air defenses are doing a superb job shooting down Israeli missiles. These Syrian air defenses are forcing the Israelis to attack less defended and, therefore, also less valuable targets (say like a border post between Syria and Iran) c) there are now numerous reported instances of Russian Aerospace Forces driving Israeli aircraft out of the Syrian air space and, last but not least, d) the Israeli strikes are undeniably good for Israeli morale and propaganda purposes (the “invincible” IDF!), but the point is that they make absolutely no difference on the ground. In the near future, I hope to write an analysis showing that these rumors about Russia being sold out to Israel are part of a US PSYOP campaign to weaken Putin at home. Stay tuned.

For these reasons, I believe that the Empire will push the Ukraine towards an open confrontation with Russia, all the while making sure that US/NATO forces remain far away from the action. In fact, from a US/NATO point of view, once Russia officially admits that Russian forces did intervene to stop the Ukrainian assault, the main objective of the attack will have been reached: All of Europe will unanimously blame Russia and Putin for everything. That, in turn, will result in a dramatic deterioration of the security situation in the Ukraine and the rest of eastern Europe. A new “Cold War” (with hot overtones) will become the determining factors in east-west relations. As for NATO, it will reheat the old principle of “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”.

Phase five: the situation after the end of the war

Again, if past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, we can expect the Russians to do many things like they did in the 5 day war (really 3 day only) against NATO-backed Georgia in 08.08.08. For example, irrespective of where exactly the Russian military actually decides to stop (could be along the current line of contact, or it could include a complete liberation of the Donbass from the occupying Ukronazi forces), this will be a short war (long wars are mostly things of the past anyway). The Ukrainian military will be comprehensively destroyed but the Russian forces will not occupy major Ukrainian cities (just as they stopped short of taking Tbilisi in 08). As one LDNR officer declared in an interview 2015 “the further west we go, the less we are seen as liberators and the more we are seen as occupiers”. He is right, but there is something much more important here too: Russia simply cannot afford to rebuild the quasi totally deindustrialized Ukraine. The propaganda from their curators notwithstanding, the Ukraine is already a failed state, has been one for years already. And there is exactly nothing that Russia needs from this failed state. Absolutely nothing. The absolutely LAST thing Russia needs today is to get bogged down in a simultaneous effort to restore the Ukrainian state and economy while fighting all sorts of Neonazi nationalist insurgencies.

If they try to join the fight, then both Ukrainian Black Sea Fleet and the Ukrainian Air Force will simply vanish, but Russia will not launch any amphibious assaults on the Ukrainian coastline.

There are those who, on moral and historical grounds, want Russia to liberate at the very least the Ukrainian east and the Ukrainian south (the area from Mariupol to Odessa). I categorically disagree. It is all very fine and cute to say “Putin come and restore order”, but the people of the Ukraine must liberate themselves and not expect Russia to liberate them. Opinion polls in Russia show that most Russians are categorically opposed to a war (or a protracted occupation) and I see no signs that the people of the southern Ukraine are desperate to be liberated by the Russian military. This entire notion of Russia disinfecting the Ukraine from the Nazi rot is an ideological construct with no base in reality. Those who still dream of Russian tanks in Kiev or Dnepropetrovsk will be sorely disappointed: it won’t happen.

Thus, I fully expect the Ukrainian state to still exist at the end of this war, albeit a much weaker one. Furthermore, it is quasi certain that should the Ukrainian military attack Novorussia, then Russia would again repeat what she did in 08 and recognize the LDNR republics along with some kind of long term integration program. Civil unrest and even uprisings are likely, not only in the east, but also in the south and west of the Ukraine. Needless to say, the EU and NATO will go absolutely crazy and yet another “curtain” (maybe a “salo curtain”) will yet again split the European continent, much to the delight of the entire Anglosphere. At the end of that process, the Banderastan-like Ukraine will simply break apart into more manageable chunks which will all come under the influence of their more powerful and better organized neighbors.

As for Russia, she will mostly turn away from the West, in total disgust, and continue to develop a multi-polar world with China and the other countries of Zone B.

Conclusion: back from the brink, again?

In truth, all of the above are just my speculations, nobody really knows whether this war will really happen and, if it does, how it will play out. Wars are amongst the most unpredictable events, hence the number of wars lost by the party which initiated them. What I presented above is one possible scenario amongst many more. The last time when a Ukrainian attack appeared to be imminent, all it took was Putin’s words about “very serious consequences for the Ukrainian statehood as a whole” to stop the escalation and convince Kiev not to attack. This time around, the Russians are making no such threats, but that is only because Russians don’t believe in repeating threats anyway.

At this time of writing, there are serious clashes between the VSU (Ukrainian) forces and the LDNR defenders. Both sides are using small arms, grenade launchers and artillery systems. According to one well informed blogger, his sources in Kiev are telling him that:

“A while ago, an order came from the office of the old senile Biden to prepare the VSU for an offensive in the Donbass, but wait for the final go-ahead from the White House. At the same time, this source also said that similar military operations will be conducted in other countries where there are Russian interests, in order to deflect the public attention from the Donbass and weaken any support for the Donbass”.

There are many more such posts on Telegram, including pro-Ukrainian commentators spreading rumors about Russian mercenaries seen near the frontline east of Mariupol. We can already say that the informational battle has begun. Only time will tell whether this battle will turn kinetic or not. But right now it looks like we are “all systems go”.← Book Review: “Disintegration” by Andrei…

Biden’s accounts with Russia. What will Erdogan do? حسابات بايدن مع روسيا.. ماذا سيفعل إردوغان؟

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

Biden’s accounts with Russia. What will Erdogan do?

حسابات بايدن مع روسيا.. ماذا سيفعل إردوغان؟
Biden’s accounts with Russia. What will Erdogan do?
حسني محلي

Husni Mahali 

Al-Mayadeen Net

1 March

Georgia is gaining additional importance in Washington’s calculations, and soon President Biden, because it challenges Russia’s nine autonomous republics — most of whose population is Muslim — including Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.

Since joining NATO in the early 1950s, Ankara has played a key role in opposing the Western camp, led by America, to the Soviet Union, which was then adjacent to Turkey through Georgia and Armenia in the south. Through dozens of Atlantic and U.S. bases in its territory (12 of which remain), Turkey was also an advanced outpost to defend Western interests and prevent the Communist Soviet Union from expanding south toward the Arab and Muslim world.

The fall of the Soviet Union after the Afghan war and the resulting birth of The Islamic Republics of Turkish origin gave Ankara more power in regional and international calculations, especially after the late President Turgut Ozal’s talks on “the unity of the Turkish nation, from the Adriatic Sea (Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia) to the China Dam, through Bulgaria and Greece, where Muslim minorities of Turkish origin are.

Ozal’s words were welcomed and encouraged by Washington, the traditional enemy of the Soviet Union, and then Russia, which the West wanted to surround from its southern flank, where the Islamic republics, and from the West, where the countries that nato embraced in 2004, namely Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and southern Bulgaria and Romania, which overlook the Black Sea, which Turkey controls, control its only Bosphorus Strait.

This came at a time when Ukraine and Georgia paid dearly for their adventures during their velvet revolutions in which Western institutions played a major role, with Abkhazia and South Ossetia declaring independence with the support of Moscow, and separated from Georgia, while the civil war in Ukraine was a reason for the partition of the country, after the citizens of the eastern regions voted for secession, prompting Russia to “annex” Crimea in 2014.

As was the case in the 1950s and beyond, Ankara has played, and continues to play, some role in all of these developments that President Erdogan wanted to help him to support his projects and plans, which appear to have been influenced by Ozal’s slogans, and Ankara has had, and continues to be, directly and indirectly linked to the developments of its neighbor Georgia, whose tens of thousands of its citizens work in Turkey.

Georgia is gaining additional importance in washington’s calculations, and soon President Biden, because it challenges russia’s nine self-governing republics — mostof whose population is Muslim — including Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.

Thousands of citizens of these and other Central Asian republics have joined Al-Nusra and ISIS, while Washington wants to help it in the future in its plans to tighten the blockade on Russia, and the factions of “Afghan jihadists” helped America achieve its first goal, which is to overthrow and tear the Soviet Union, according to the green belt theory, it became clear that Washington is planning to return to this belt, and wants Turkey to play a key role in activating it, but after agreeing with Erdogan on a comprehensive deal to achieve both sides the biggest direct and indirect gains, which Presidents Biden and Erdogan are preparing on the eve of the phone call between the two parties, which seem to have been delayed by the many topics that will be in front of them, difficult and intertwined, and they need each other.

In exchange for the financial and political support of Erdogan, which seems to be in dire need, President Biden wants Turkey to go back to the 1950s and prove its absolute loyalty to Washington and NATO, which is clearly preparing for a new phase of psychological, economic and political war against Russia, this time through its back gardens to the south and west, which means that it needs to support President Erdogan because of his ties and role in the Central Asian Islamic Republics (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan), as in the Caucasus, where Azerbaijan is linked to Azerbaijan. Georgia has privileged relations, and Washington seeks to annex it to NATO, along with Ukraine.

The events in Armenia at this time are of added importance, having become a direct arena for U.S. and French intervention against the traditional Russian role. Ankara is watching all these interventions closely, firstly because Armenia is a neighboring country, and secondly because of information about the possibility that President Biden will recognize the Armenian genocide of the Ottoman era during World War I, without neglecting Washington’s privileged relationship between Ankara and Kiev, and at the expense of The Russian plans in Ukraine, Erdogan has repeatedly rejected Putin’s decision to “annex” Crimea to Russia, while information speaks of very broad cooperation between Turkey and Ukraine in all fields, especially military industries, including drones, tanks and missiles, with significant Turkish support for the Muslim minority in Crimea.

Ankara has also succeeded in establishing privileged relations with most of the former Soviet Republics and Eastern European countries that have bad memories with Moscow, which President Biden may need in his future calculations to tighten the blockade on Russia within its borders or elsewhere, particularly Latin America, where Erdogan has succeeded in establishing privileged relations with its most prominent head of state, Nicolas Maduro, despite all the personal, ideological and political contradictions between them.

President Biden may need Turkish support for his plans and projects in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, which has turned into a front alcove to defend Russian interests in the region, and across it in many regional and international arenas in which Washington, some Western capitals, and sometimes Ankara, are competing, despite the contradiction of interests among all of these capitals.

In all cases, it seems clear that we will not wait long to see what Biden will ask of Erdogan, and how the latter will respond to these demands, the most important of which is undoubtedly a return to Turkey’s nationalist, religious and historical behavior against Russia. For the past five years, after Erdogan’s apology following the downing of the Russian plane, President Putin has sought to block this possibility through a combination of interlocking economic, political and military relations with Ankara and its implications for coordination, cooperation and joint action in Syria.

With the information that president Biden expects to clear all his accounts with Ankara, whether negative or positive, President Erdogan finds himself in a situation that is never enviable, having become clear that his options are limited, either continue the current situation in the relationship with Moscow and Washington, which Biden will not accept, or continue his cooperation with Russia and its allies, which is completely impossible.

In this case, in his very difficult situation internally, he has no choice but to agree with President Biden on the axes of the next phase, and to minimize the losses in his relations with Russia that he does not want to repeat, as Biden, who knows he has a lot of serious papers against him personally and officially, wishes.

The most important question remains: Will Biden put these papers on the table and ask for them to be resolved, or will he ask Erdogan to use his own papers in Russia’s backyards, in exchange for absolute support in the gardens of others!?

حسابات بايدن مع روسيا.. ماذا سيفعل إردوغان؟

تكتسب جورجيا أهمية إضافية في حسابات واشنطن، وقريباً الرئيس بايدن، لأنها تحدّ جمهوريات الحكم الذاتي الروسية – معظم سكّانها مسلمون – وعددها تسعة، ومنها الشيشان وأنغوشيا وداغستان.

حسابات بايدن مع روسيا.. ماذا سيفعل إردوغان؟
حسابات بايدن مع روسيا.. ماذا سيفعل إردوغان؟

أدَّت أنقرة منذ انضمامها إلى الحلف الأطلسي في بداية الخمسينيات من القرن الماضي دوراً أساسياً في معاداة المعسكر الغربي، بزعامة أميركا، للاتحاد السوفياتي، الذي كان آنذاك مجاوراً لتركيا من خلال جورجيا وأرمينيا في الجنوب. كما كانت تركيا، من خلال عشرات القواعد الأطلسية والأميركية الموجودة في أراضيها (ما زال هناك 12 قاعدة منها)، مخفراً متقدماً للدفاع عن المصالح الغربية ومنع الاتحاد السوفياتي الشيوعي من التمدد جنوباً باتجاه العالم العربي والإسلامي.

وجاء سقوط الاتحاد السّوفياتيّ بعد الحرب الأفغانيّة وما نتج منه من ولادة الجمهوريات الإسلاميّة ذات الأصل التركي، ليمنح أنقرة المزيد من عناصر القوة في الحسابات الإقليمية والدولية، وخصوصاً بعد أحاديث الرئيس الراحل تورغوت أوزال عن “وحدة الأمة التركية، من البحر الأدرياتيكي (البوسنة وكوسوفو ومقدونيا) إلى سد الصين الحصين، مروراً ببلغاريا واليونان، حيث الأقليات المسلمة ذات الأصل التركي.

وقد حظيت مقولات أوزال بترحيب وتشجيع من واشنطن؛ العدو التقليدي للاتحاد السوفياتي، ومن بعده روسيا، التي أراد الغرب أن يحاصرها من خاصرتها الجنوبية، حيث الجمهوريات الإسلامية، ومن الغرب، حيث الدول التي احتضنها الحلف الأطلسي في العام 2004، وهي أستونيا ولاتفيا وليتوانيا، وجنوبا بلغاريا ورومانيا اللتين تطلان على البحر الأسود، الذي تسيطر تركيا على مضيقه الوحيد البوسفور.

أتى ذلك في الوقت الذي دفعت أوكرانيا وجورجيا ثمن مغامراتهما غالياً خلال ثوراتهما المخملية التي أدت فيها مؤسسات غربية دوراً رئيسياً، فقد أعلنت أبخازيا وأوسيتيا الجنوبية استقلالهما بدعم من موسكو، وانفصلتا عن جورجيا، فيما كانت الحرب الأهلية في أوكرانيا سبباً لتقسيم البلاد، بعد أن صوّت مواطنو المناطق الشرقية من أجل الانفصال، ودفع ذلك روسيا إلى “ضم” شبه جزيرة القرم إليها في العام 2014.

وكما كان الوضع في الخمسينيات وما بعدها، فقد أدت أنقرة، وما تزال، دوراً ما في مجمل هذه التطورات التي أراد لها الرئيس إردوغان أن تساعده لدعم مشاريعه ومخططاته التي يبدو أنها تأثرت بالشعارات التي رفعها أوزال، فقد كان لأنقرة، وما يزال، علاقة مباشرة وغير مباشرة بمجمل تطورات جارتها جورجيا، التي يعمل عشرات الآلاف من مواطنيها في تركيا.

وتكتسب جورجيا أهمية إضافية في حسابات واشنطن، وقريباً الرئيس بايدن، لأنها تحدّ جمهوريات الحكم الذاتي الروسية – معظم سكّانها مسلمون – وعددها تسعة، ومنها الشيشان وأنغوشيا وداغستان. 

وقد انضمّ الآلاف من مواطني هذه الجمهوريات وغيرها في آسيا الوسطى إلى “النصرة” و”داعش”، في الوقت الذي تريد واشنطن لها أن تساعدها مستقبلاً في مخطّطاتها لتضييق الحصار على روسيا، كما ساعدت فصائل “الجهاديين الأفغان” أميركا في تحقيق هدفها الأول، وهو إسقاط الاتحاد السوفياتي وتمزيقه، وفق نظرية الحزام الأخضر، فقد بات واضحاً أن واشنطن تخطط للعودة إلى هذا الحزام، وتريد لتركيا أن يكون لها دور أساسي في تفعيله، ولكن بعد الاتفاق مع إردوغان على صفقة شاملة تحقّق للطرفين الحد الأكبر من المكاسب المباشرة وغير المباشرة، وهو ما يستعدّ له الرئيسان بايدن وإردوغان عشية المكالمة الهاتفية بين الطرفين، والتي يبدو أنها تأخّرت بسبب كثرة المواضيع التي ستكون أمامهما وصعوبتها وتشابكها، وهما يحتاجان إلى بعضهما البعض.

ومقابل الدعم المالي والسياسي لإردوغان، الذي يبدو أنه في أمس الحاجة إليه، يريد الرئيس بايدن لتركيا أن تعود إلى خمسينيات القرن الماضي، وتثبت ولاءها المطلق لواشنطن والحلف الأطلسي، الذي يبدو واضحاً أنه يستعد لمرحلة جديدة من الحرب النفسية والاقتصادية والسياسية ضد روسيا، وهذه المرة عبر حدائقها الخلفية جنوباً وغرباً، وهو ما يعني حاجتها إلى دعم الرئيس إردوغان بسبب علاقاته ودوره في جمهوريات آسيا الوسطى الإسلامية (كازاخستان وتركمنستان وقرغيزيا وأوزبكستان)، كما هو الحال في القوقاز، حيث ترتبط تركيا مع أذربيجان وجورجيا بعلاقات مميزة، وتسعى واشنطن لضمّها إلى الحلف الأطلسي، ومعها أوكرانيا.

وتكتسب أحداث أرمينيا في هذا التوقيت أهمية إضافية، بعد أن تحوّلت إلى ساحة مباشرة للتدخل الأميركي والفرنسي ضد الدور الروسي التقليدي. وتراقب أنقرة كل هذه التدخلات عن كثب؛ أولاً لأنّ أرمينيا دولة مجاورة لها، وثانياً بسبب المعلومات التي تتحدث عن احتمالات أن يعترف الرئيس بايدن في 24 نيسان/أبريل القادم بالإبادة الأرمنية في العهد العثماني إبان الحرب العالمية الأولى وخلالها، من دون أن تهمل واشنطن العلاقة المميزة بين أنقرة وكييف، وعلى حساب المخططات الروسية في أوكرانيا، إذ أعلن إردوغان أكثر من مرة رفضه قرار بوتين “ضم” شبه جزيرة القرم إلى روسيا، في الوقت الذي تتحدّث المعلومات عن تعاون واسع جداً بين تركيا وأوكرانيا في جميع المجالات، وخصوصاً الصناعات العسكرية، ومنها الطائرات المسيّرة والدبابات والصواريخ، مع دعم تركي كبير للأقليّة المسلمة في القرم.

كما نجحت أنقرة في إقامة علاقات مميزة مع معظم جمهوريات الاتحاد السوفياتي السابق ودول أوروبا الشرقية التي لها ذكريات سيئة مع موسكو، وهو ما قد يحتاجه الرئيس بايدن في حساباته المستقبلية لتضييق الحصار على روسيا داخل حدودها أو في أي مكان آخر، وبشكل خاص أميركا اللاتينية، التي نجح إردوغان في إقامة علاقات مميّزة مع أبرز رئيس دولة فيها، نيكولاس مادورو، رغم كلّ التناقضات الشخصية والعقائدية والسياسية بينهما.

وقد يحتاج الرئيس بايدن إلى دعم تركي لمخططاته ومشاريعه في الشرق الأوسط، وخصوصاً في سوريا، التي تحولت إلى خندق أمامي للدفاع عن المصالح الروسية في المنطقة، وعبرها في العديد من الساحات الإقليمية والدولية التي تنافسها فيها واشنطن وبعض العواصم الغربية، وأحياناً أنقرة، على الرغم من تناقض المصالح بين جميع هذه العواصم.

وفي جميع الحالات، يبدو واضحاً أننا لن ننتظر طويلاً حتى نرى ما سيطلبه بايدن من إردوغان، وكيف سيرد الأخير على هذه المطالب، وأهمها من دون شك العودة إلى السلوك القومي والديني والتاريخي التركي ضد روسيا. وقد سعى الرئيس بوتين طيلة السنوات الخمس الأخيرة، وبعد اعتذار إردوغان منه إثر إسقاط الطائرة الروسية، لسد الطريق على هذا الاحتمال، من خلال مجموعة من العلاقات الاقتصادية والسياسية والعسكرية المتشابكة مع أنقرة وانعكاساتها على التنسيق والتعاون والعمل المشترك في سوريا.

ومع المعلومات التي تتوقع للرئيس بايدن أن يصفي كل حساباته مع أنقرة، سواء كان سلباً أو إيجاباً، يجد الرئيس إردوغان نفسه في وضع لا يحسد عليه أبداً، بعد أن بات واضحاً أن خياراته محدودة، فإما يستمر في الوضع الحالي في العلاقة مع موسكو وواشنطن، وهو ما لن يقبل به بايدن، وإما يتمادى في تعاونه مع روسيا وحليفاتها، وهو مستحيل تماماً.

وفي هذه الحالة، لا يبقى أمامه، في ظلّ وضعه الصعب جداً داخلياً، إلا الاتفاق مع الرئيس بايدن على محاور المرحلة القادمة، وبالحد الأدنى من الخسائر في علاقاته مع روسيا التي لا يريد أن يعاديها، كما يرغب بايدن، الذي يعرف الجميع أنه يملك الكثير من الأوراق الخطيرة ضده شخصياً ورسمياً.

ويبقى السؤال الأهم: هل سيضع بايدن هذه الأوراق على الطاولة ويطلب حسمها أم سيطلب من إردوغان أن يستخدم ما يملكه من الأوراق في حدائق روسيا الخلفية، مقابل تقديم دعم مطلق له في حدائق الآخرين!؟

Putin, crusaders and barbarians

February 27, 2021

Putin, crusaders and barbarians

By Pepe Escobar and first posted at Asia Times

Moscow is painfully aware that the US/NATO “strategy” of containment of Russia is already reaching fever pitch. Again.

This past Wednesday, at a very important meeting with the Federal Security Service board, President Putin laid it all out in stark terms:

We are up against the so-called policy of containing Russia. This is not about competition, which is a natural thing for international relations. This is about a consistent and quite aggressive policy aimed at disrupting our development, slowing it down, creating problems along the outer perimeter, triggering domestic instability, undermining the values that unite Russian society, and ultimately to weaken Russia and put it under external control, just the way we are witnessing it transpire in some countries in the post-Soviet space.

Not without a touch of wickedness, Putin added this was no exaggeration: “In fact, you don’t need to be convinced of this as you yourselves know it perfectly well, perhaps even better than anybody else.”

The Kremlin is very much aware “containment” of Russia focuses on its perimeter: Ukraine, Georgia and Central Asia. And the ultimate target remains regime change.

Putin’s remarks may also be interpreted as an indirect answer to a section of President Biden’s speech at the Munich Security Conference.

According to Biden’s scriptwriters,

Putin seeks to weaken the European project and the NATO alliance because it is much easier for the Kremlin to intimidate individual countries than to negotiate with the united transatlantic community … The Russian authorities want others to think that our system is just as corrupt or even more corrupt.

A clumsy, direct personal attack against the head of state of a major nuclear power does not exactly qualify as sophisticated diplomacy. At least it glaringly shows how trust between Washington and Moscow is now reduced to less than zero. As much as Biden’s Deep State handlers refuse to see Putin as a worthy negotiating partner, the Kremlin and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have already dismissed Washington as “non-agreement capable.”

Once again, this is all about sovereignty. The “unfriendly attitude towards Russia,” as Putin defined it, extends to “other independent, sovereign centers of global development.” Read it as mainly China and Iran. All these three sovereign states happen to be categorized as top “threats” by the US National Security Strategy.

Yet Russia is the real nightmare for the Exceptionalists: Orthodox Christian, thus appealing to swaths of the West; consolidated as major Eurasian power; a military, hypersonic superpower; and boasting unrivaled diplomatic skills, appreciated all across the Global South.

In contrast, there’s not much left for the deep state except endlessly demonizing both Russia and China to justify a Western military build-up, the “logic” inbuilt in a new strategic concept named  NATO 2030: United for a New Era.

The experts behind the concept hailed it as an “implicit” response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s declaring NATO “brain dead.”

Well, at least the concept proves Macron was right.

Those barbarians from the East

Crucial questions about sovereignty and Russian identity have been a recurrent theme in Moscow these past few weeks. And that brings us to February 17, when Putin met with Duma political leaders, from the Liberal Democratic Party’s Vladimir Zhirinovsky – enjoying a new popularity surge – to United Russia’s Sergei Mironov, as well as State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin.

Putin stressed the “multi-ethnic and multi-religious” character of Russia, now in “a different environment that is free of ideology”:

It is important for all ethnic groups, even the smallest ones, to know that this is their Motherland with no other for them, that they are protected here and are prepared to lay down their lives in order to protect this country. This is in the interests of us all, regardless of ethnicity, including the Russian people.

Yet Putin’s most extraordinary remark had to do with ancient Russian history:

Barbarians came from the East and destroyed the Christian Orthodox empire. But before the barbarians from the East, as you well know, the crusaders came from the West and weakened this Orthodox Christian empire, and only then were the last blows dealt, and it was conquered. This is what happened … We must remember these historical events and never forget them.

Well, this could be enough material to generate a 1,000-page treatise. Instead, let’s try, at least, to – concisely – unpack it.

The Great Eurasian Steppe – one of the largest geographical formations on the planet – stretches from the lower Danube all the way to the Yellow River. The running joke across Eurasia is that “Keep Walking” can be performed back to back. For most of recorded history this has been Nomad Central: tribe upon tribe raiding at the margins, or sometimes at the hubs of the heartland: China, Iran, the  Mediterranean.

The Scythians (see, for instance, the magisterial The Scythians: Nomad Warriors of the Steppe, by Barry Cunliffe) arrived at the Pontic steppe from beyond the Volga. After the Scythians, it was the turn of the Sarmatians to show up in South Russia.

From the 4th century onward, nomad Eurasia was a vortex of marauding tribes, featuring, among others, the Huns in the 4th and 5th centuries, the Khazars in the 7th century, the Kumans in the 11th century, all the way to the Mongol avalanche in the 13th century.

The plot line always pitted nomads against peasants. Nomads ruled – and exacted tribute. G Vernadsky, in his invaluable Ancient Russia, shows how “the Scythian Empire may be described sociologically as a domination of the nomadic horde over neighboring tribes of agriculturists.”

As part of my multi-pronged research on nomad empires for a future volume, I call them Badass Barbarians on Horseback. The stars of the show include, in Europe, in chronological order, Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, Huns, Khazars, Hungarians, Peshenegs, Seljuks, Mongols and their Tatar descendants; and, in Asia, Hu, Xiongnu, Hephtalites, Turks, Uighurs, Tibetans, Kirghiz, Khitan, Mongols, Turks (again), Uzbeks and Manchu.

Arguably, since the hegemonic Scythian era (the first protagonists of the Silk Road), most of the peasants in southern and central Russia were Slav. But there were major differences. The Slavs west of Kiev were under the influence of Germania and Rome. East of Kiev, they were influenced by Persian civilization.

It’s always important to remember that the Vikings were still nomads when they became rulers in Slav lands. Their civilization in fact prevailed over sedentary peasants – even as they absorbed many of their customs.

Interestingly enough, the gap between steppe nomads and agriculture in proto-Russia was not as steep as between intensive agriculture in China and the interlocked steppe economy in Mongolia.

(For an engaging Marxist interpretation of nomadism, see A N Khazanov’s Nomads and the Outside World).

The sheltering sky

What about power? For Turk and Mongol nomads, who came centuries after the Scythians, power emanated from the sky. The Khan ruled by authority of the “Eternal Sky” – as we all see when we delve into the adventures of Genghis and Kublai. By implication, as there is only one sky, the Khan would have to exert universal power. Welcome to the idea of universal empire.

Kublai Khan as the first Yuan emperor, Shizu. Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). Album leaf, ink and color on silk. National Palace Museum, Taipei. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/National Palace Museum, Taipei

In Persia, things were slightly more complex. The Persian Empire   was all about Sun worship: that became the conceptual basis for the divine right of the King of Kings. The implications were immense, as the King now became sacred. This model influenced Byzantium – which, after all, was always interacting with Persia.

Christianity made the Kingdom of Heaven more important than ruling over the temporal domain. Still, the idea of Universal Empire persisted, incarnated in the concept of Pantocrator: it was the Christ who ultimately ruled, and his deputy on earth was the Emperor. But Byzantium remained a very special case: the Emperor could never be an equal to God. After all, he was human.

Putin is certainly very much aware that the Russian case is extremely complex. Russia essentially is on the margins of three civilizations. It’s part of Europe – reasons including everything from the ethnic origin of Slavs to achievements in history, music and literature.

Russia is also part of Byzantium from a religious and artistic angle (but not part of the subsequent Ottoman empire, with which it was in military competition). And Russia was influenced by Islam coming from Persia.

Then there’s the crucial influence of nomads. A serious case can be made that they have been neglected by scholars. The Mongol rule for a century and a half, of course, is part of the official historiography – but perhaps not given its due importance. And the nomads in southern and central Russia two millennia ago were never properly acknowledged.

So Putin may have hit a nerve. What he said points to the idealization of a later period of Russian history from the late 9th to early 13th century: Kievan Rus. In Russia, 19th century Romanticism and 20th century nationalism actively built an idealized national identity.

The interpretation of Kievan Rus poses tremendous problems – that’s something I eagerly discussed in St. Petersburg a few years ago. There are rare literary sources – and they concentrate mostly on the 12th century afterwards. The earlier sources are foreigners, mostly Persians and Arabs.

Russian conversion to Christianity and its concomitant superb architecture have been interpreted as evidence of a high cultural standard. In a nutshell, scholars ended up using Western Europe as the model for the reconstruction of Kievan Rus civilization.

It was never so simple. A good example is the discrepancy between Novgorod and Kiev. Novgorod was closer to the Baltic than the Black Sea, and had closer interaction with Scandinavia and the Hanseatic towns. Compare it with Kiev, which was closer to steppe nomads and  Byzantium – not to mention Islam.

Kievan Rus was a fascinating crossover. Nomadic tribal traditions – on administration, taxes, the justice system – were prevalent. But on religion, they imitated Byzantium. It’s also relevant that until the end of the 12th century, assorted steppe nomads were a constant “threat” to southeast Kievan Rus.

So as much as Byzantium – and, later on, even the Ottoman Empire – supplied models for Russian institutions, the fact is the nomads, starting with the Scythians, influenced the economy, the social system and most of all, the military approach.

Watch the Khan

Sima Qian, the master Chinese historian, has shown how the Khan had two “kings,” who each had two generals, and thus in succession, all the way to commanders of a hundred, a thousand and ten thousand men. This is essentially the same system used for a millennia and a half by nomads, from the Scythians to the Mongols, all the way to Tamerlane’s army at the end of the 14th century.

The Mongol invasions – 1221 and then 1239-1243 – were indeed the major game-changer. As master analyst Sergei Karaganov told me in his office in late 2018, they influenced Russian society for centuries afterwards.

For over 200 years Russian princes had to visit the Mongol headquarters in the Volga to pay tribute. One scholarly strand has qualified it as “barbarization”; that seems to be Putin’s view. According to that strand, the incorporation of Mongol values may have “reversed” Russian society to what it was before the first drive to adopt Christianity.

The inescapable conclusion is that when Muscovy emerged in the late 15th century as the dominant power in Russia, it was essentially the successor of the Mongols.

And because of that the peasantry – the sedentary population – were not touched by “civilization” (time to re-read Tolstoy?). Nomad Power and values, as strong as they were, survived Mongol rule for centuries.

Well, if a moral can be derived from our short parable, it’s not exactly a good idea for “civilized” NATO to pick a fight with the – lateral – heirs of the Great Khan.

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