‘If not me, who?’: Mikhail Gorbachev ended Cold War and saved the world, but failed to save Soviet Union FEATURE

30 Aug, 2022

It is hard to imagine that anyone could have dismantled the Soviet Union from the inside faster or more comprehensively than Mikhail Gorbachev, a man who had no such intention. Its crumbling is both Gorbachev’s singular achievement and his personal tragedy.

It is also the most important moment in history since 1945.

Popular perceptions have transformed the former Soviet leader into a kitschy icon, remembered as much for starring in an advert for no-crust pizza, as for picking up a Nobel Peace Prize.

But in the demise of ‘The Evil Empire’ he was no naïf, nor a catalyst for generic historic inevitabilities. Almost every single event in the countdown to the fall of communism in Russia and beyond is a direct reflection of the ideals, actions and foibles of Mikhail Gorbachev and those he confronted or endorsed.

This is the story of a farm mechanic who managed to penetrate the inner sanctum of the world’s biggest country, an explanation of what drove him once he reached the top, and an attempt to understand whether he deserves opprobrium or sympathy, ridicule or appreciation.

First president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev before a parade marking the 69th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War.
RIA Novosti.
The first president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev signs autographs during the presentation of his new book “Alone with Myself” in the Moskva store.
RIA Novosti.

If not me, who? And if not now, when?
— Mikhail Gorbachev

CHILDHOOD

Growing up a firebrand Communist among Stalin’s purges

Born in 1931 in a Ukrainian-Russian family in the village of Privolnoye in the fertile Russian south, Mikhail Gorbachev’s childhood was punctuated by a series of almost Biblical ordeals, albeit those shared by millions of his contemporaries.

His years as a toddler coincided with Stalin’s policy of collectivization – the confiscation of private lands from peasants to form new state-run farms – and Stavropol, Russia’s Breadbasket, was one of the worst-afflicted. Among the forcible reorganization and resistance, harvests plummeted and government officials requisitioned scarce grain under threat of death.

Gorbachev later said that his first memory is seeing his grandfather boiling frogs he caught in the river during the Great Famine.

Yet another grandfather, Panteley – a former landless peasant — rose from poverty to become the head of the local collective farm. Later Gorbachev attributed his ideological make-up largely to his grandfather’s staunch belief in Communism “which gave him the opportunity to earn everything he had.”

Panteley’s convictions were unshaken even when he was arrested as part of Stalin’s Great Purge. He was accused of joining a “counter-revolutionary Trotskyite movement” (which presumably operated a cell in their distant village) but returned to his family after 14 months behind bars just in time for the Second World War to break out.

Just in time for the Second World War to break out. For much of the conflict, the battle lines between the advancing Germans and the counter-attacking Red Army stretched across Gorbachev’s homeland; Mikhail’s father was drafted, and even reported dead, but returned with only shrapnel lodged in his leg at the end of the war.

Although Sergey was a distant presence in his son’s life up to then and never lived with him, he passed on to Mikhail a skill that played a momentous role in his life — that of a farm machinery mechanic and harvester driver. Bright by all accounts, Mikhail quickly picked up the knack — later boasting that he could pick out any malfunction just by the sound of the harvester or the tractor alone.

But this ability was unlikely to earn him renown beyond his village. Real acclaim came when the father and son read a new decree that would bestow a national honor on anyone who threshed more than 8000 quintals (800 tons or more than 20 big truckloads) of grain during the upcoming harvest. In the summer of 1948 Gorbachev senior and junior ground an impressively neat 8888 quintals. As with many of the agricultural and industrial achievements that made Soviet heroes out of ordinary workers, the exact details of the feat – and what auxiliary efforts may have made it possible – are unclear, but 17-year-old Gorbachev became one of the youngest recipients of the prestigious Order of the Red Banner of Labor in its history.

Having already been admitted to the Communist Party in his teen years (a rare reward given to the most zealous and politically reliable) Mikhail used the medal as an immediate springboard to Moscow. The accolade for the young wheat-grinder meant that he did not have to pass any entrance exams or even sit for an interview at Russia’s most prestigious Moscow State University.

With his village school education, Gorbachev admitted that he initially found the demands of a law degree, in a city he’d never even visited before, grueling. But soon he met another ambitious student from the countryside, and another decisive influence on his life. The self-assured, voluble Raisa, who barely spent a night apart from her husband until her death, helped to bring out the natural ambition in the determined, but occasionally studious and earnest Gorbachev. Predictably, Gorbachev rose to become one of the senior figures at the university’s Komsomol, the Communist youth league — which with its solemn group meetings and policy initiatives served both as a prototype and the pipeline for grown-up party activities.

STAVROPOL

Party reformist flourishes in Khruschev’s Thaw

Upon graduation in 1955, Gorbachev lasted only ten days back in Stavropol’s prosecutor’s office (showing a squeamishness dealing with the less idealistic side of the Soviet apparatus) before running across a local Komsomol official. For the next 15 years his biography reads like a blur of promotions – rising to become Stavropol region’s top Komsomol bureaucrats, overseeing agriculture for a population of nearly 2.5 million people before his 40th birthday.

All the trademarks of Gorbachev’s leadership style, which later became famous around the world, were already in evidence here. Eschewing Soviet officials’ habit of barricading themselves inside the wood-paneled cabinets behind multiple receptions, Gorbachev spent vast swathes of his time ‘in the field’, often literally in a field. With his distinctive southern accent, and his genuine curiosity about the experiences of ordinary people, the young official a struck chord as he toured small villages and discussed broken projectors at local film clubs and shortages of certain foodstuffs.

His other enthusiasm was for public discussion, particularly about specific, local problems – once again in contrast with the majority of officials, who liked to keep negative issues behind closed doors. Gorbachev set up endless discussion clubs and committees, almost quixotically optimistic about creating a better kind of life among the post-war austerity.

POLITBURO

Cutting the line to the throne

By the 1970s any sign of modernization in Soviet society or leadership was a distant memory, as the country settled into supposed “advanced socialism”, with the upheavals and promises of years past replaced by what was widely described as ‘An Era of Stagnation’ (the term gained official currency after being uttered by Gorbachev himself in one of his early public speeches after ascending to the summit of the Soviet system).

Without Stalin’s regular purges, and any democratic replacement mechanisms, between the mid-1960s and 1980s, almost the entire apparatus of Soviet leadership remained unchanged, down from the increasingly senile Leonid Brezhnev, who by the end of his life in 1982 became a figure of nationwide mockery and pity, as he slurred through speeches and barely managed to stand during endless protocol events, wearing gaudy carpets of military honors for battles he never participated in. Predictably, power devolved to the various factions below, as similarly aged heavyweights pushed their protégés into key positions.

The Kremlin Palace of Congresses (now the State Kremlin Palace). The XXV Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Feb. 24-March 5, 1976). CPSU Central Committee General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev delivering speech.
RIA Novosti.

Mikhail Andreyevich Suslov, CPSU CC Politbureau member, CPSU CC secretary, twice Hero of Socialist Labor.
RIA Novosti.Leonid Brezhnev, left, chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium and general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, with Alexei Kosygin, chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers, on Lenin’s Mausoleum on May 1, 1980.
RIA Novosti.The Soviet Communist Party’s politburo member Konstantin Chernenko and central committee member Yury Andropov attend the Kremlin Palace of Congresses’ government session dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the USSR.
RIA Novosti.Yuri Andropov (1914-1984), General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee (since November 1982).
RIA Novosti.

With a giant country as the playground, the system rewarded those who came up with catchy programs and slogans, took credit for successes and steered away from failures, and networked tirelessly to build up support above and below. Gorbachev thrived here. His chief patrons were Brezhnev himself, purist party ideologue Mikhail Suslov, who considered Stavropol his powerbase, and most crucially the hardline head of the KGB, Yuri Andropov. The security chief referred to the aspiring politician as ‘My Stavropol Rough Diamond’ — another rejoinder to those seeking to paint Gorbachev as a naïve blessed outsider, a Joan of Arc of the Soviet establishment.

After being called to Moscow in 1978 to oversee Soviet agriculture — an apocryphal story suggests that he nearly missed out on the appointment when senior officials couldn’t find him after he got drunk celebrating a Komsomol anniversary, only to be rescued by a driver at the last moment — Mikhail Gorbachev was appointed to the Politburo in 1980.

The Politburo, which included some but not all of the ministers and regional chiefs of the USSR, was an inner council that took all the key decisions in the country, with the Soviet leader sitting at the top of the table, holding the final word (though Brezhnev sometimes missed meetings or fell asleep during them). When Gorbachev became a fully-fledged member he was short of his 50th birthday. All but one of the dozen other members were over sixty, and most were in their seventies. To call them geriatric was not an insult, but a literal description of a group of elderly men – many beset by chronic conditions far beyond the reach of Soviet doctors – that were more reminiscent of decrepit land barons at the table of a feudal king than effective bureaucrats. Even he was surprised by how quickly it came.

Brezhnev, who suffered from a panoply of circulation illnesses, died of a heart attack in 1982. Andropov, who was about to set out on an energetic screw-tightening campaign, died of renal failure in 1984. Konstantin Chernenko was already ill when he came to leadership, and died early in 1985 of cirrhosis. The tumbling of aged sovereigns, both predictable and tragicomic in how they reflected on the leadership of a country of more than 250 million people, not only cleared the path for Gorbachev, but strengthened the credentials of the young, energetic pretender.

Leonid Brezhnev’s funeral procession at Vladimir Lenin’s mausoleum.
RIA Novosti.

The decorations of General Secretary of the CPSU Leonid Brezhnev seen during his lying-in-state ceremony at the House of Unions.
RIA Novosti.Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and the last Soviet president (second left in the foreground) attending the funeral of General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Konstantin Chernenko (1911-1985) in Moscow’s Red Square.
RIA Novosti.The funeral procession during the burial of Leonid Brezhnev, general secretary of the CPSU central committee, chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet.
RIA Novosti.The funeral of Yuri Andropov, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. The coffin is placed on pedestal near the Mausoleum on Red Square.
RIA Novosti.The funeral procession for General Secretary of the CPSU Konstantin Chernenko moving towards Red Square.
RIA Novosti.General Secretary of the Central Comittee of CPSU Mikhail Gorbachev at the tribune of Lenin mausoleum during May Day demonstration, Red square.
RIA Novosti.

On 11 March 1985, Gorbachev was named the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR.

REFORMS NEEDED

Overcoming economic inefficiency with temperance campaigns

As often in history, the reformer came in at a difficult time. Numbers showed that economic growth, which was rampant as Russia industrialized through the previous four decades, slowed down in Brezhnev’s era, with outside sources suggesting that the economy grew by an average of no more than 2 percent for the decade.

The scarcity of the few desirable goods produced and their inefficient distribution meant that many Soviet citizens spent a substantial chunk of their time either standing in queues or trading and obtaining things as ordinary as sugar, toilet paper or household nails through their connections, either “under the counter” or as Party and workplace perks, making a mockery of Communist egalitarianism. The corruption and lack of accountability in an economy where full employment was a given, together with relentless trumpeting of achievement through monolithic newspapers and television programs infected private lives with doublethink and cynicism.

A line of shoppers outside the Lenvest footwear shop.
Ria Novosti.

But this still does not describe the drab and constraining feel of the socialist command economy lifestyle, not accidentally eschewed by all societies outside of North Korea and Cuba in the modern world. As an example, but one central to the Soviet experience: while no one starved, there was a choice of a handful of standardized tins — labeled simply salmon, or corned beef — identical in every shop across the country, and those who were born in 1945 could expect to select from the same few goods until the day they died, day-in, day-out. Soviets dressed in the same clothes, lived in identical tower block housing, and hoped to be issued a scarce Lada a decade away as a reward for their loyalty or service. Combined with the lack of personal freedoms, it created an environment that many found reassuring, but others suffocating, so much so that a trivial relic of a different world, stereotypically a pair of American jeans, or a Japanese TV, acquired a cultural cachet far disproportionate to its function. Soviets could not know the mechanisms of actually living within a capitalist society — with its mortgages, job markets, and bills — but many felt that there were gaudier, freer lives being led all around the world.

And though it brought tens of millions of people out of absolute poverty, there was no longer an expectation that the lifestyles of ordinary Soviets would significantly improve whether a year or a decade into the future, and promise of a better future was always a key tenet of communism.

Several wide-ranging changes were attempted, in 1965 and 1979, but each time the initial charge was wound down into ineffectual tinkering as soon as the proposed changed encroached on the fundamentals of the Soviet regime — in which private commercial activity was forbidden and state control over the economy was total and centralized.

Moscow, Russia. Customers at the Okean [Ocean] seafood store. 1988.
Ria Novosti.

Gorbachev deeply felt the malaise, and displayed immediate courage to do what is necessary — sensing that his reforms would not only receive support from below, but no insurmountable resistance from above. The policy of Uskorenie, or Acceleration, which became one of the pillars of his term, was announced just weeks after his appointment — it was billed as an overhaul of the economy.

But it did not address the fundamental structural inefficiencies of the Soviet regime. Instead it offered more of the same top-down administrative solutions — more investment, tighter supervision of staff, less waste. Any boost achieved through rhetoric and managerial dress-downs sent down the pyramid of power was likely to be inconsequential and peter out within months.

His second initiative, just two months after assuming control, betrayed these very same well-meaning but misguided traits. With widespread alcohol consumption a symptom of late-Soviet decline, Gorbachev devised a straightforward solution — lowering alcohol production and eventually eradicating drinking altogether.

Doctor Lev Kravchenko conducting reflexotherapy session with a patient at the Moscow Narcological Clinical Hospital #17.
RIA Novosti
Stolichnaya vodka from the Moscow Liqueur and Vodka Distillery.
RIA Novosti.

“Women write to me saying that children see their fathers again, and they can see their husbands,” said Gorbachev when asked about whether the reform was working.

Opponents of the illiberal measure forced Russian citizens into yet more queues, while alcoholics resorted to drinking industrial fluids and aftershave. Economists said that the budget, which derived a quarter of its total retail sales income from alcohol, was severely undermined. Instead a shadow economy sprung up — in 1987, 500 thousand people were arrested for engaging in it, five times more than just two years earlier.

More was needed, and Gorbachev knew it.

PERE­STROIKA

“We must rebuild ourselves. All of us!”

Gorbachev at his zenith

Gorbachev first uttered the word perestroika — reform, or rebuilding — in May 1986, or rather he told journalists, using the characteristic and endearing first-person plural, “We must rebuild ourselves. All of us!” Picked up by reporters, within months the phrase became a mainstay of Gorbachev’s speeches, and finally the symbol of the entire era.

Before his reforms had been chiefly economic and within the existing frameworks; now they struck at the political heart of the Soviet Union.

The revolution came from above, during a long-prepared central party conference blandly titled “On Reorganization and the Party’s Personnel Policy” on January 27, 1987.

In lieu of congratulatory platitudes that marked such occasions in past times, Gorbachev cheerfully delivered the suspended death sentence for Communist rule in the Soviet Union (much as he didn’t suspect it at the time).

“The Communist Party of the Soviet Union and its leaders, for reasons that were within their own control, did not realize the need for change, understand the growing critical tension in the society, or develop any means to overcome it. The Communist Party has not been able to take full advantage of socialist society,”
said the leader to an audience that hid its apprehension.

“The only way that a man can order his house, is if he feels he is its owner. Well, a country is just the same,” came Gorbachev’s trademark mix of homely similes and grand pronouncements.” Only with the extension of democracy, of expanding self-government can our society advance in industry, science, culture and all aspects of public life.”

“For those of you who seem to struggle to understand, I am telling you: democracy is not the slogan, it is the very essence of Perestroika.”

Gorbachev used the word ‘revolution’ eleven times in his address, anointing himself an heir to Vladimir Lenin. But what he was proposing had no precedent in Russian or Soviet history.

The word democracy was used over 70 times in that speech alone.
The Soviet Union was a one-party totalitarian state, which produced 99.9 percent election results with people picking from a single candidate. Attempts to gather in groups of more than three, not even to protest, were liable to lead to arrest, as was any printed or public political criticism, though some dissidents were merely subjected to compulsory psychiatric care or forced to renounce their citizenship. Millions were employed either as official KGB agents, or informants, eavesdropping on potentially disloyal citizens. Soviet people were forbidden from leaving the country, without approval from the security services and the Party. This was a society operated entirely by those in power, relying on compliance and active cooperation in oppression from a large proportion of the population. So, the proposed changes were a fundamental reversal of the flows of power in society.

General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachyov making his report “October and perestroika: the revolution continues” in the Kremlin Palace of Congresses at a joint session of the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR Supreme Soviet, devoted to the 70th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.
RIA Novosti.

Between Gorbachev’s ascent and by the end of that year, two thirds of the Politburo, more than half of the regional chiefs and forty percent of the membership of the Central Committee of Communist Party, were replaced.

Gorbachev knew that democracy was impossible without what came to be known as glasnost, an openness of public discussion.

“We are all coming to the same conclusion — we need glasnost, we need criticism and self-criticism. In our country everything concerns the people, because it is their country,”
said Gorbachev, cunningly echoing Lenin, at that January forum, though the shoots of glasnost first emerged the year before.

From the middle of 1986 until 1987 censored Soviet films that lay on the shelves for years were released, the KGB stopped jamming the BBC World Service and Voice of America, Nobel Peace Prize winner nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov and hundreds of other dissidents were set free, and archives documenting Stalin-era repressions were opened.

A social revolution was afoot. Implausibly, within two years, television went from having no programs that were unscripted, to Vzglyad, a talk show anchored by 20 and 30-somethings (at a time when most Soviet television presented were fossilized mannequins) that discussed the war in Afghanistan, corruption or drugs with previously banned videos by the Pet Shop Boys or Guns N’ Roses as musical interludes. For millions watching Axl Rose, cavorting with a microphone between documentaries about steel-making and puppet shows, created cognitive dissonance that verged on the absurd. As well as its increasing fascination with the West, a torrent of domestic creativity was unleashed. While much of what was produced in the burgeoning rock scene and the liberated film making industry was derivative, culturally naïve and is now badly dated, even artifacts from the era still emanate an unmistakable vitality and sincerity.

Rock for Peace concert in Moscow, 1988.
RIA Novosti.

“Bravo!” Poster by Svetlana and Alexander Faldin. Allegorically portraying USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, it appeared at the poster exposition, Perestroika and Us.
RIA Novosti.Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee and Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, talking to reporters during a break between sessions. The First Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR (May 25 — June 9, 1989). The Kremlin Palace of Congresses.
RIA Novosti.

Many welcomed the unprecedented level of personal freedom and the chance to play an active part in their own country’s history, others were alarmed, while others still rode the crest of the wave when swept everything before it, only to renounce it once it receded. But it is notable that even the supposed staunchest defenders of the ancien régime — the KGB officers, the senior party members — who later spent decades criticizing Perestroika, didn’t step in to defend Brezhnev-era Communism as they saw it being demolished.

What everyone might have expected from the changes is a different question — some wanted the ability to travel abroad without an exit visa, others the opportunity to earn money, others still to climb the political career ladder without waiting for your predecessor die in office. But unlike later accounts, which often presented Gorbachev as a stealthy saboteur who got to execute an eccentric program, at the time, his support base was broad, and his decisions seemed encouraging and logical.

As a popular politician Gorbachev was reaching a crescendo. His trademark town hall and factory visits were as effective as any staged stunts, and much more unselfconscious. The contrast with the near-mummified bodies of the previous General Secretaries — who, in the mind of ordinary Soviet citizens, could only be pictured on top of Lenin’s Mausoleum during a military parade, or staring from a roadside placard, and forever urging greater productivity or more intense socialist values — was overwhelming.
Gorbachev was on top — but the tight structure of the Soviet state was about to loosen uncontrollably.

USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev in Sverdlovsk Region (25-28 April, 1990). Mikhail Gorbachev with the people of Sverdlovsk at the Lenin Square.
RIA Novosti.

USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev visits Sverdlovsk region. Mikhail Gorbachev visiting Nizhnij Tagil integrated iron-and-steel works named after V.I. Lenin.
RIA Novosti.CPSU Central Committee General Secretary, USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev in the Ukrainian SSR. Mikhail Gorbachev, second right, meeting with Kiev residents.
RIA Novosti.

COLD WAR ENDS

Concessions from a genuine pacifist

In the late 1980s the world appeared so deeply divided into two camps that it seemed like two competing species were sharing the same planet. Conflicts arose constantly, as the US and the USSR fought proxy wars on every continent — in Nicaragua, Angola and Afghanistan, with Europe divided by a literal battle line, both sides constantly updated battle plans and moved tank divisions through allied states, where scores of bases housed soldier thousands of miles away from home. Since the Cold War did not end in nuclear holocaust, it has become conventional to describe the two superpowers as rivals, but there was little doubt at the time that they were straightforward enemies.

“The core of New Thinking is the admission of the primacy of universal human values and the priority of ensuring the survival of the human race,” Gorbachev wrote in his Perestroika manifesto in 1988.

At the legendary Reykjavik summit in 1986, which formally ended in failure but in fact set in motion the events that would end the Cold War, both sides were astonished at just how much they could agree on, suddenly flying through agendas, instead of fighting pitched battles over every point of the protocol.

“Humanity is in the same boat, and we can all either sink or swim.”

General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev (left) and U.S. President Ronald Reagan (right) during their summit meeting in Reykjavik.
RIA Novosti.

Landmark treaties followed: the INF agreement in 1987, banning intermediate ballistic missiles, the CFE treaty that reduced the military build-up in Europe in 1990, and the following year, the START treaty, reducing the overall nuclear stockpile of those countries. The impact was as much symbolic as it was practical — the two could still annihilate each other within minutes — but the geopolitical tendency was clear.

President Reagan: Signing of the INF Treaty with Premier Gorbachev, December 8, 1987

Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the US president Ronald Reagan.
RIA Novosti.
Mikhail Gorbachev (left) and the US president Ronald Reagan signing an agreement in the White House. Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on the official visit to the USA.
RIA Novosti.

Military analysts said that each time the USSR gave up more than it received from the Americans. The personal dynamic between Reagan — always lecturing “the Russians” from a position of purported moral superiority, and Gorbachev — the pacifist scrambling for a reasonable solution, was also skewed in favor of the US leader. But Gorbachev wasn’t playing by those rules.

“Any disarmament talks are not about beating the other side. Everyone has to win, or everyone will lose,” he wrote.

The Soviet Union began to withdraw its troops and military experts from conflicts around the world. For ten years a self-evidently unwinnable war waged in Afghanistan ingrained itself as an oppressive part of the national consciousness. Fifteen thousand Soviet soldiers died, hundreds of thousands more were wounded or psychologically traumatized (the stereotypical perception of the ‘Afghan vet’ in Russia is almost identical to that of the ‘Vietnam vet’ in the US.) When the war was officially declared a “mistake” and Soviet tanks finally rolled back across the mountainous border in 1989, very few lamented the scaling back of the USSR’s international ambitions.

Last Soviet troop column crosses Soviet border after leaving Afghanistan.
RIA Novosti.

Driver T. Eshkvatov during the final phase of the Soviet troop pullout from Afghanistan.
RIA Novosti.Soviet soldiers back on native soil. The USSR conducted a full pullout of its limited troop contingent from Afghanistan in compliance with the Geneva accords.
RIA Novosti.The convoy of Soviet armored personnel vehicles leaving Afghanistan.
RIA Novosti.

In July 1989 Gorbachev made a speech to the European Council, declaring that it is “the sovereign right of each people to choose their own social system.” When Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, soon to be executed by his own people, demanded — during the 40th anniversary of the Communist German Democratic Republic in October 1989 — that Gorbachev suppress the wave of uprisings, the Soviet leader replied with a curt “Never again!”

“Life punishes those who fall behind the times,” he warned the obdurate East German leader Erich Honecker. Honecker died in exile in Chile five years later, having spent his dying years fending off criminal charges backed by millions of angry Germans.

Russian tanks did pass through Eastern Europe that year — but in the other direction, as the Soviet Union abandoned its expensive bases that were primed for a war that neither side now wanted.

Graffitti at the Berlin Wall.
RIA Novosti.
East German citizens climb the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate after the opening of the border was announced early November 9, 1989. REUTERS/Herbert Knosowski BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE.
Reuters.
A big section of the Berlin Wall is lifted by a crane as East Germany has started to dismantle the wall near the Brandenburg Gate in East Berlin, February 20, 1990.
Reuters.

By the time the Berlin Wall was torn down in November, Gorbachev was reportedly not even woken up by his advisors, and no emergency meetings took place. There was no moral argument for why the German people should not be allowed to live as one nation, ending what Gorbachev himself called the “unnatural division of Europe”. The quote came from his 1990 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

ETHNIC TENSIONS

Smoldering ethnic conflicts on USSR’s outskirts flare up

Ethnic tensions on the outskirts of the empire lead to full-scale wars after USSR’s collapse. Towards the end of his rather brief period as a Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev had to face a problem many thought of as done and dusted; namely, ethnic strife, leading to conflict and death.

By the mid-1980s, the Soviet Union was officially considered by party ideologists to be one multi-ethnic nation, despite it being comprised of 15 national republics and even more internal republics and regions, with dozens of ethnic groups living there in a motley mixture. The claim was not completely unfounded as the new generation all across the country spoke Russian and had basic knowledge of Russian culture along with Marxist philosophy. In fact, the outside world confirmed this unity by calling all Soviet citizens “Russians” — from Finno-Ugric Estonians in the West to the Turkic and Iranian peoples of Central Asia and natives of the Far East, closely related to the American Indians of Alaska.

Demonstration on Red Square. The International Labor Day. “Long live the brotherly friendship of the peoples of the USSR!” reads the slogan under the USSR national emblem surrounded by flags of 15 of the Union republics carried at a May Day demonstration in 1986.
RIA Novosti.

At the same time, the concept of the single people was enforced by purely Soviet methods — from silencing any existing problems in the party-controlled mass media, to ruthless suppression of any attempt of nationalist movements, and summary forced resettlement of whole peoples for “siding with the enemy” during WWII.

After Gorbachev announced the policies of Glasnost and democratization, many ethnic groups started to express nationalist sentiments. This was followed by the formation or legalization of nationalist movements, both in national republics and in Russia itself, where blackshirts from the “Memory” organization blamed Communists and Jews for oppressing ethnic Russians and promoted “liberation.”

Neither society nor law enforcers were prepared for such developments. The Soviet political system remained totalitarian and lacked any liberal argument against nationalism. Besides, the concept of “proletarian internationalism” was so heavily promoted that many people started to see nationalism as part of a struggle for political freedoms and market-driven economic prosperity. At the same time, the security services persisted in using the crude Soviet methods that had already been denounced by party leaders; police had neither the tools nor the experience for proper crowd control.

As a result, potential conflicts were brewing all across the country and the authorities did almost nothing to prevent them. In fact, many among the regional elites chose to ride the wave of nationalism to obtain more power and settle old accounts. At the same time, the level of nationalism was highly uneven and its manifestations differed both in frequency and intensity across the USSR.

In February 1988, Gorbachev announced at the Communist Party’s plenum that every socialist land was free to choose its own societal systems. Both Nationalists and the authorities considered this a go-ahead signal. Just days after the announcement, the conflict in the small mountain region of Nagorno-Karabakh entered an open phase.

Nagorno-Karabakh was an enclave populated mostly, but not exclusively, by Armenians in the Transcaucasia republic of Azerbaijan. Relations between Armenians and Azerbaijanis had always been strained, with mutual claims dating back to the Ottoman Empire; Soviet administrative policy based purely on geography and economy only made things worse.

In spring 1989, nationalists took to the streets in another Transcaucasian republic — Georgia. The country was (and still is) comprised of many ethnic groups, each claiming a separate territory, sometimes as small as just one hill and a couple of villages, and the rise of nationalism there was even more dangerous. Georgians marched under slogans “Down with Communism!” and “Down with Soviet Imperialism.” The rallies were guarded and directed by the “Georgian Falcons” — a special team of strong men, many of them veterans of the Afghan war, armed with truncheons and steel bars.

“Down with Communism!”

“Down with Soviet Imperialism.”

This time Gorbachev chose not to wait for clashes and a Spetsnaz regiment was deployed to Tbilisi to tackle the nationalist rallies. Again, old Soviet methods mixed poorly with the realities of democratization. When the demonstrators saw the soldiers, they became more agitated, and the streets around the main flashpoints were blocked by transport and barricades. The soldiers were ordered to use only rubber truncheons and tear gas, and were not issued firearms, but facing the Georgian Falcons they pulled out the Spetsnaz weapon of choice — sharp shovels just as deadly as bayonets.

At least 19 people were killed in the clashes or trampled by the crowd that was forced from the central square but had nowhere to go. Hundreds were wounded.

Soviet tanks are positioned on April 9, 1989 in front of the Georgian government building where pro-independence Georgians were killed as paratroopers moved in to break up a mass demonstration. An anti-Soviet demonstration was dispersed on April 9th by the Soviet army, resulting in 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries. In independent Georgia “April 9” is an annual public holiday remembered as the Day of National Unity.
AFP PHOTO.

Moscow ordered an investigation into the tragedy and a special commission uncovered many serious mistakes made both by the regional and central authorities and party leaders. However, at the May Congress of People’s Deputies, Gorbachev categorically refused to accept any responsibility for the outcome of the events in Tbilisi and blamed the casualties on the military.

Further on, the last Soviet leader persisted in the kind of stubbornness that inevitably must have played a part in his fall. In February 1990, the Communist Party’s Central Committee voted to adopt the presidential system of power and General Secretary Gorbachev became the first and last president of the USSR. The same plenum dismantled the Communist Party’s monopoly of power, even though the country had no grassroots political organizations or any political organizations not dependent on the communists save for the nationalists. As a result, the urge for succession increased rapidly, both in the regional republics and even in the Soviet heartland — the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.

In 1990, the Republic of Lithuania was the first to declare independence from the Soviet Union. Despite his earlier promises, Gorbachev refused to recognize this decision officially. The region found itself in legal and administrative limbo and the Lithuanian parliament addressed foreign nations with a request to hold protests against “Soviet Occupation.”

In January 1991, the Lithuanian government announced the start of economic reforms with liberalization of prices, and immediately after that the Supreme Soviet of the USSR sent troops to the republic, citing “numerous requests from the working class.” Gorbachev also demanded Lithuania annul all new regulations and bring back the Soviet Constitution. On January 11, Soviet troops captured many administrative buildings in Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities, but the parliament and television center were surrounded by a thousand-strong rally of protesters and remained in the hands of the nationalist government. In the evening of January 12, Soviet troops, together with the KGB special purpose unit, Alpha, stormed the Vilnius television center, killing 12 defenders and wounding about 140 more. The troops were then called back to Russia and the Lithuanian struggle for independence continued as before.

A Lithuanian demonstrator stands in front of a Soviet Army tank during the assault on the Lithuanian Radio and Television station on January 13, 1991 in Vilnius.
AFP PHOTO.

Vilnius residents gather in front of the Lithuanian parliament following the takeover of the Radio and Television installations by Soviet troops.
AFP PHOTO.An armed unidentified man guards the Lithuanian parliament on January 19, 1991 in Vilnius.
AFP PHOTO.Vilnius residents holding a Lithuanian flag guard a barricade in front of the Lithuanian parliament on January 20, 1991.
AFP PHOTO.Soviet paratroopers charge Lithuanian demonstrators at the entrance of the Lithuanian press printing house in Vilnius. January, 1991.
AFP PHOTO.

Gorbachev again denied any responsibility, saying that he had received reports about the operation only after it ended. However, almost all members of the contemporary Soviet cabinet recalled that the idea of Gorbachev not being aware of such a major operation was laughable. Trying to shift the blame put the president’s image into a lose-lose situation — knowing about the Vilnius fighting made him a callous liar, and if he really knew nothing about it, then he was an ineffective leader, losing control both of distant territories and his own special forces.

The swiftly aborted intervention — troops were called back on the same day — was a disappointment both to the hardliners, who would have wanted Gorbachev to see it through, and to the democratic reformers, horrified by the scenes emerging from Vilnius.

This dissatisfaction also must be one of the main factors that provoked the so-called Putch in August 1991 — an attempt by die-hard Politburo members to displace Gorbachev and restore the old Soviet order. They failed in the latter, but succeeded in the former as Gorbachev, isolated at his government Dacha in Crimea, returned to Moscow only because of the struggles of the new Russian leader Boris Yeltsin. When Gorbachev returned, his power was so diminished that he could do nothing to prevent the Belovezha agreement — the pact between Russia, Belarus and Ukraine that ended the history of the Soviet Union and introduced the Commonwealth of Independent States. All republics became independent whether they were ready to or not.

This move, while granting people freedom from Soviet rule, also triggered a sharp rise in extreme nationalist activities — the stakes were high enough and whole nations were up for grabs. Also, in the three years between Gorbachev’s offering of freedom and the collapse of the USSR, nothing was done to calm simmering ethnic hatred, and with no directions from Moscow or control on the part of the Soviet police and army, many regions became engulfed in full-scale civil wars, based on ethnic grounds.

Things turned especially nasty in Tajikistan, where fighting between Iranian-speaking Tajiks and Turkic-speaking Uzbeks very soon led to ethnic cleansing. Refugees had to flee for their lives to Afghanistan, which itself witnessed a war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance.

Government soldiers aim at positions of armed opposition groups in the border area of Afghanistan 08 June 1993. The civil war between pro-communist forces and the opposition has left thousands dead and turned hundreds of thousands of people into refugees in the last year.
AFP PHOTO.

Two fighters of the Tajik pro-Communist forces engage in a battle with pro-Islamic fighters 22 December 1992 in a village some 31 miles from the Tajik capital of Dushanbe.
AFP PHOTO.Tajik women cry over the dead body of a soldier 29 January 1993. The soldier was killed during fighting between Tajikistan government troops and opposition forces in Parkhar.
AFP PHOTO.

The long and bloody war in Georgia also had a significant ethnic component. After it ended three regions that were part of the republic during Soviet times — Abkhazia, Adzharia and South Ossetia – declared independence, which was enforced by a CIS peacekeeping force. At some point, Georgia managed to return Adzharia but when Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, backed and armed by Western nations, attempted to capture South Ossetia in 2008, Russia had to intervene and repel the aggression. Subsequently, Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations.

YELTSIN’S CHALLENGE

New star steals limelight

As Stalin and Trotsky, or Tony Blair and Gordon Brown could attest, your own archrival in politics is often on your team, pursuing broadly similar — but not identical aims — and hankering for the top seat.

But unlike those rivalries, the scenes in the fallout between Mikhail Gorbachev, and his successor, Boris Yeltsin played out not through backroom deals and media leaks, but in the form of an epic drama in front of a live audience of thousands, and millions sat in front of their televisions.

The two leaders were born a month apart in 1931, and followed broadly similar paths of reformist regional commissars – while Gorbachev controlled the agricultural Stavropol, Yeltsin attempted to revitalize the industrial region of Sverdlovsk, present-day Yekaterinburg.

Yet, Yeltsin was a definitely two steps behind Gorbachev on the Soviet career ladder, and without his leg-up might have never made it to Moscow at all. A beneficiary of the new leader’s clear out, though not his personal protégé, Yeltsin was called up to Moscow in 1985, and the following year, was assigned the post of First Secretary of the Moscow Communist Party, effectively becoming the mayor of the capital.

Yeltsin’s style dovetailed perfectly with the new agenda, and his superior’s personal style, though his personal relationship with Gorbachev was strained almost from the start. Breaking off from official tours of factories, the city administrator would pay surprise visits to queue-plagued and under-stocked stores (and the warehouses where the consumables were put aside for the elites); occasionally abandoning his bulletproof ZIL limo, Yeltsin would ride on public transport. This might appear like glib populism now, but at the time was uncynically welcomed. In the first few months in the job, the provincial leader endeared himself to Muscovites — his single most important power base in the struggles that came, and a guarantee that he would not be forgotten whatever ritual punishments were cast down by the apex of the Communist Party.

Boris Yeltsin, First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party’s Moscow City Committee, at the official meeting celebrating the 70th anniversary of the October revolution.
RIA Novosti.

Boris Yeltsin, left, candidate member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, at lunch.
RIA Novosti.Voters’ meeting with candidate for deputy of the Moscow Soviet in the 161st constituency, First Secretary of the CPSU Moscow Town Committee, Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Boris Yeltsin, centre.
RIA Novosti.People’s deputy Boris Yeltsin. Algirdas Brazauskas (right) and chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council Mikhail Gorbachev on the presidium.
RIA Novosti.

But Yeltsin was not just a demagogue content with cosmetic changes and easy popularity, and after months of increasing criticism of the higher-ups, he struck.

During a public session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in October 1987, the newcomer delivered a landmark speech.

In front of a transfixed hall, he told the country’s leaders that they were putting road blocks on the road to Perestroika, he accused senior ministers of becoming “sycophantic” towards Gorbachev. As his final flourish, Yeltsin withdrew himself from his post as a candidate to the Politburo — an unprecedented move that amounted to contempt towards the most senior Soviet institution.

The speech, which he later said he wrote “on his lap” while sitting in the audience just a few hours earlier, was Yeltsin in a nutshell. Unafraid to challenge authority and to risk everything, with a flair for the dramatic, impulsive and unexpected decision (his resignation as Russian president in his New Year’s speech being the most famous).

Footage shows Gorbachev looking on bemused from above. He did not publicly criticize Yeltsin there and then, and spoke empathetically about Yeltsin’s concerns, but later that day (with his backing) the Central Committee declared Yeltsin’s address “politically misguided”, a slippery Soviet euphemism that cast Yeltsin out into the political wilderness.

Gorbachev thought he had won the round — “I won’t allow Yeltsin anywhere near politics again” he vowed, his pique shining through — but from then on, their historical roles and images were cast.

Gorbachev, for all of his reforms, now became the tame, prissy socialist. Yeltsin, the careerist who nearly had it all, and renounced everything he had achieved at the age of 54 and re-evaluated all he believed in. Gorbachev, the Politburo chief who hid behind the silent majority, Yeltsin the rebel who stood up to it. Gorbachev, the politician who spoke a lot and often said nothing, Yeltsin, the man of action.

Historically, the contrast may seem unfair, as both were equally important historical figures, who had a revolutionary impact for their time. But stood side-by-side, Yeltsin — with his regal bearing and forceful charisma — not only took the baton of Perestroika’s promises, but stole the man-of-the-future aura that had hitherto belonged to Gorbachev, who now seemed fidgety and weaselly by comparison.

While he was stripped of his Moscow role, Yeltsin’s party status was preserved. This had a perverse effect. No one stopped Yeltsin from attending high-profile congresses. No one prevented him from speaking at them. It was the perfect situation — he had the platform of an insider, and the kudos of an outsider. Tens of deputies would come and criticize the upstart, and then he’d take the stage, Boris Yeltsin vs. The Machine.

On June 12, 1990 Russia declared sovereignty from the USSR. A month later, Yeltsin staged another one of his dramatic masterclasses, when he quit the Communist Party on-stage during its last ever national congress, and walked out of the cavernous hall with his head held high, as loyal deputies jeered him.

In June 1991, after calling a snap election, Yeltsin became the first President of Russia, winning 57 percent — or more than 45 million votes. The Party’s candidate garnered less than a third of Yeltsin’s tally.

By this time Gorbachev’s position had become desperate. The Soviet Union was being hollowed out, and Yeltsin and the other regional leaders were now actively colluding with each other, signing agreements that bypassed the Kremlin.

The Communists and nationalists — often one and the same — had once been ambivalent about Gorbachev’s reforms, and anyway had been loath to criticize their leader. But inspired by Gorbachev’s glasnost, and with the USSR’s long term prospects becoming very clear, they now wanted their say as well. A reactionary media backlash started against him, generals pronounced warnings of “social unrest” that sounded more like threats, and some had begun to go as far as to earnestly speculate that Gorbachev was working for the Cold War “enemy.”

USSR IMPLODES

Failed coup brings down faded leader of fractured country

The junta that tried to take power in the Soviet Union on the night of August 18th is one of the most inept in the history of palace coups.

On August 18, all phones at Gorbachev’s residence, including the one used to control the USSR’s nuclear arsenal, were suddenly cut off, while unbeknownst to him, a KGB regiment was surrounding the house. Half an hour later a delegation of top officials arrived at the residence in Foros, Crimea, walked past his family to his office, in their briefcases a selection of documents for Gorbachev to sign. In one scenario, he would simply declare a state of emergency, and proclaim control over all the rebel republics, in another he would hand over power to his deputy Gennady Yanaev, due to worsening health.

Genuinely angry at their disloyalty, the Soviet leader called them “chancers”, and refused to sign anything, saying he would not have blood on his hands. He then showed them out of the house with a lengthy tirade — clearly recollected by all present in their memoirs — in which he crowned the plotters a “bunch of cocks.”

The plotters were not prepared for this turn of events. Gathering once again back in Moscow, they sat around looking at their unsigned emergency decree, arguing and not daring to put their names on the typewritten document. As midnight passed, and more and more bottles of whisky, imported from the decadent West they were saving the USSR from, was brought in, the patriots found their courage, or at least persuaded Yanaev to place himself at the top of the list of signatories. The Gang of Eight would be known as the State Committee on the State of Emergency. Accounts say that by the time they were driven to their dachas — hours before the most important day of their lives — the plotters could barely stand. Valentin Pavlov, he of the unpopular monetary reform, and the prime minister, drank so much he had to be treated for acute alcohol intoxication, and was hospitalized with cardiac problems as the events of the next three days unfolded.

But orders were issued, and on the morning of the 19th tanks rolled into Moscow. While news suggested that nothing had gone wrong — and at this point it hadn’t — the junta made it seem as if everything had. Not only were there soldiers on street, but all TV channels were switched off, with Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake iconically played on repeat. By four o’clock in the afternoon, most of the relatively independent media was outlawed by a decree.

But for all their heavy-handed touch the putsch leaders did nothing to stop their real nemesis. Unlike most coups, which are a two-way affair, this was a triangular power struggle – between Gorbachev, the reactionaries, and Yeltsin. Perhaps, like Gorbachev, stuck in their mindset of backroom intrigue the plotters seemed to underrate Yeltsin, and the resources at his disposal.

Russia’s next leader had arrived in Moscow from talks with his Kazakhstan counterpart, allegedly in the same merry state as the self-appointed plotters. But when his daughter woke him up with news of the unusual cross-channel broadcasting schedule, he acted fast, and took his car straight to the center of Moscow. The special forces soldiers placed around his dacha by the conspirators were not ordered to shoot or detain him.

Yeltsin’s supporters first gathered just a few hundred yards from the Kremlin walls, and then on instruction marched through the empty city to the White House building, the home of the rebellious Russian parliament. There, in his defining moment and as the crowd (although at this early hour it was actually thinner than the mythology suggests) chanted his name, Yeltsin climbed onto the tank, reclaimed from the government forces, and loudly, without the help of a microphone, denounced the events of the past hours as a “reactionary coup.” In the next few hours, people from across Moscow arrived, as the crowd swelled to 70,000. A human chain formed around the building, and volunteers began to build barricades from trolleybuses and benches from nearby parks.

Military hardware in Kalininsky prospect after imposition of a state of emergency in August 1991.
RIA Novosti.
Muscovites block the way for military weaponry during the GKChP coup.
RIA Novosti.

Moscow residents building barricades next to the Supreme Soviet during the coup by the State EmergencyCommittee.
RIA Novosti.Thousands of people rallying before the Supreme Soviet of Russia on August 20, 1991.
RIA Novosti.

Though this seemed as much symbolic, as anything, as the elite units sent in by the junta had no intention of shooting, and demonstrated their neutrality, freely mingling with the protesters. Their commander, Pavel Grachev, defected to Yeltsin the following day, and was later rewarded with the defense minister’s seat. The Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov also supported Yeltsin.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin waves from the balcony of the Russian Parliament to a crowd of demonstrators protesting against the overthrow of Soviet President Gorbachev during the brief coup in August 1991, in Moscow August 20, 1991. The result, ironically, was the dissolution of the Soviet Union. REUTERS/Michael Samojeden IMAGE TAKEN AUGUST 20, 1991.
Reuters.

Realizing that their media blackout was not working, and that they were quickly losing initiative, the plotters went to the other extreme, and staged an unmoderated televised press conference.

Sat in a row, the anonymous, ashen-faced men looked every bit the junta. While Yanaev was the nominal leader, he was never the true engine of the coup, which was largely orchestrated by Vladimir Kryuchkov, the KGB chief, who, with the natural caution of a security agent, did not want to take center stage. The acting president, meanwhile, did not look the part. His voice was tired and unsure, his hands shaking — another essential memory of August 1991.

From left: the USSR Interior Minister Boris Pugo and the USSR Vice-President Gennady Yanayev during the press conference of the members of the State Committee for the State of Emergency (GKCP).
RIA Novosti.
From left: Alexander Tizyakov, Vasily Starodubtsev, Boris Pugo, Gennady Yanayev, and Oleg Baklanov during the press conference of the State of Emergency State Committee (GKCP) members at the USSR Foreign Ministry.
RIA Novosti.

In another spectacularly poor piece of communications management, after the new leaders made their speeches, they opened the floor to an immediately hostile press pack, which openly quoted Yeltsin’s words accusing them of overthrowing a legitimate government on live television.

Referring to Gorbachev as “my friend Mikhail Sergeevich,” Yanaev monotoned that the president was “resting and taking a holiday in Crimea. He has grown very weary over these last few years and needs some time to get his health back.” With tanks standing outside proceedings were quickly declining into a lethargic farce in front of the whole country.

Over the next two days there was international condemnation (though Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat supported the coup) the deaths of three pro-Yeltsin activists, and an order by the junta to re-take the White House at all costs, canceled at the last minute. But by then the fate of the putsch had already been set in motion.

Meanwhile, as the most dramatic events in Russia since 1917 were unfolding in Moscow, Gorbachev carried on going for dips in the Black Sea, and watching TV with his family. On the first night of the coup, wearing a cardigan not fit for an nationwide audience, he recorded an uncharacteristically meek address to the nation on a household camera, saying that he had been deposed. He did not appear to make any attempt to get the video out of Foros, and when it was broadcast the following week, it incited reactions from ridicule, to suspicions that he was acting in cahoots with the plotters, or at least waiting out the power struggle in Moscow. Gorbachev likely was not, but neither did he appear to exhibit the personal courage of Yeltsin, who came out and addressed crowds repeatedly when a shot from just one government sniper would have been enough to end his life.

On the evening of August 21, with the coup having evidently failed, two planes set out for Crimea almost simultaneously from Moscow. In the first were the members of the junta, all rehearsing their penances, in the other, members of Yeltsin’s team, with an armed unit to rescue Gorbachev, who, for all they knew, may have been in personal danger. When the putschists reached Foros, Gorbachev refused to receive them, and demanded that they restore communications. He then phoned Moscow, Washington and Paris, voiding the junta’s decrees, and repeating the simple message: “I have the situation under control.”

But he did not. Gorbachev’s irrelevance over the three days of the putsch was a metaphor for his superfluousness in Russia’s political life in the previous months, and from that moment onward. Although the putschists did not succeed, a power transfer did happen, and Gorbachev still lost. For three days, deference to his formal institutions of power was abandoned, and yet the world did not collapse, so there was no longer need for his dithering mediation.

Gingerly walking down the steps of the airstair upon landing in Moscow, blinking in front of the cameras, Mikhail Gorbachev was the lamest of lame duck leaders. He gave a press conference discussing the future direction of the Communist Party, and inner reshuffles that were to come, sounding not just out-of-touch, but borderline delusional.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev addresses the Extraordinary meeting of the Supreme Soviet of Russian Federation in Moscow in this August 23, 1991 file photo.
Reuters.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev touch hands during Gorbachev’s address to the Extraordinary meeting of the Supreme Soviet of Russian Federation in Moscow, August 23, 1991. REUTERS/Gennady Galperin (RUSSIA).
Reuters.

Gorbachev resigned as the President of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991.

“The policy prevailed of dismembering this country and disuniting the state, which is something I cannot subscribe to,” he lamented, before launching into an examination of his six years in charge.

“Even now, I am convinced that the democratic reform that we launched in the spring of 1985 was historically correct. The process of renovating this country and bringing about drastic change in the international community has proven to be much more complicated than anyone could imagine.”

“However, let us give its due to what has been done so far. This society has acquired freedom. It has been freed politically and spiritually, and this is the most important achievement that we have yet fully come to grips with.”

AFTERMATH

Praised in West, scorned at home

“Because of him, we have economic confusion!”

“Because of him, we have opportunity!”

“Because of him, we have political instability!”

“Because of him, we have freedom!”

“Complete chaos!”

“Hope!”

“Political instability!”

“Because of him, we have many things like Pizza Hut!”

Thus ran the script to the 1997 advert that saw a tableful of men argue loudly over the outcome of Perestroika in a newly-opened Moscow restaurant, a few meters from an awkward Gorbachev, staring into space as he munches his food alongside his 10 year-old granddaughter. The TV spot ends with the entire clientele of the restaurant getting up to their feet, and chanting “Hail to Gorbachev!” while toasting the former leader with pizza slices heaving with radiant, viscous cheese.

The whole scene is a travesty of the momentous transformations played out less than a decade earlier, made crueler by contemporary surveys among Russians that rated Gorbachev as the least popular leader in the country’s history, below Stalin and Ivan the Terrible.

The moment remains the perfect encapsulation of Gorbachev’s post-resignation career.

To his critics, many Russians among them, he was one of the most powerful men in the world reduced to exploiting his family in order to hawk crust-free pizzas for a chain restaurant — an American one at that — a personal and national humiliation, and a reminder of his treason. For the former Communist leader himself it was nothing of the sort. A good-humored Gorbachev said the half-afternoon shoot was simply a treat for his family, and the self-described “eye-watering” financial reward — donated entirely to his foundation — money that would be used to go to charity.

As for the impact of Gorbachev’s career in advertising on Russia’s reputation… In a country where a decade before the very existence of a Pizza Hut near Red Square seemed unimaginable, so much had changed, it seemed a perversely logical, if not dignified, way to complete the circle. In the years after Gorbachev’s forced retirement there had been an attempted government overthrow that ended with the bombardment of parliament, privatization, the first Chechen War, a drunk Yeltsin conducting a German orchestra and snatching an improbable victory from revanchist Communists two years later, and an impending default.

Although he did get 0.5 percent of the popular vote during an aborted political comeback that climaxed in the 1996 presidential election, Gorbachev had nothing at all to do with these life-changing events. And unlike Nikita Khrushchev, who suffered greater disgrace, only to have his torch picked up, Gorbachev’s circumstances were too specific to breed a political legacy. More than that, his reputation as a bucolic bumbler and flibbertigibbet, which began to take seed during his final years in power, now almost entirely overshadowed his proven skill as a political operator, other than for those who bitterly resented the events he helped set in motion.

Other than in his visceral dislike of Boris Yeltsin — the two men never spoke after December 1991 — if Gorbachev was bitter about the lack of respect afforded to him at home, he wore it lightly. Abroad, he reveled in his statesmanlike aura, receiving numerous awards, and being the centerpiece at star-studded galas. Yet, for a man of his ambition, being pushed into retirement must have gnawed at him repeatedly.

After eventually finding a degree of financial and personal stability on the lecture circuit in the late 1990s, Gorbachev was struck with another blow — the rapid death of Raisa from cancer.

A diabetic, Gorbachev became immobile and heavy-set, a pallor fading even his famous birthmark. But his voice retained its vigor (and accent) and the former leader continued to proffer freely his loquacious opinions on politics, to widespread indifference.

Gorbachev’s legacy is at the same time unambiguous, and deeply mixed — more so than the vast majority of political figures. His decisions and private conversations were meticulously recorded and verified. His motivations always appeared transparent. His mistakes and achievements formed patterns that repeated themselves through decades.

Yet for all that clarity, the impact of his decisions, the weight given to his feats and failures can be debated endlessly, and has become a fundamental question for Russians.

Less than three decades after his limo left the Kremlin, his history has been rewritten several times, and his role bent to the needs of politicians and prevailing social mores. This will likely continue. Those who believe in the power of the state, both nationalists and Communists, will continue to view his time as egregious at best, seditious at worst. For them, Gorbachev is inextricably linked with loss — the forfeiture of Moscow’s international standing, territory and influence. The destruction of the fearsome and unique Soviet machine that set Russia on a halting course as a middle-income country with a residual seat in the UN Security Council trying to gain acceptance in a US-molded world.

Others, who appreciate a commitment to pacifism and democracy, idealism and equality, will also find much to admire in Gorbachev, even though he could not always be his best self. Those who place greater value on the individual than the state, on freedom than on military might, those who believe that the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the totalitarian Soviet Union was a landmark achievement not a failure will be grateful, and if not sympathetic. For one man’s failure can produce a better outcome than another’s success.

RAISA

Passion and power

The history of rulers is littered with tales of devoted wives and ambitious women pulling strings from behind the throne, and Raisa was often painted as both. But unlike many storybook partnerships, where the narrative covers up the nuances, the partnership between Mikhail and Raisa was absolutely authentic, and genuinely formidable. Perhaps the key to Mikhail’s lifelong commitment, and even open deference to his wife, atypical for a man of his generation, lay in their courtship.

Raisa Gorbacheva, wife of the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee and Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Mikhail Gorbachev, in Paris during their official visit to France. Ria Novosti.

In his autobiography, Gorbachev recollects with painful clarity, how his first meeting with Raisa, on the dance floor of a university club, “aroused no emotion in her whatsoever.” Yet Gorbachev was smitten with the high cheek-boned fellow over-achiever immediately, calling her for awkward dorm-room group chats that went nowhere, and seeking out attempts.

— Raisa Gorbacheva
“We were happy then. We were happy because of our young age, because of the hopes for the future and just because of the fact that we lived and studied at the university. We appreciated that.”

It was several months before she agreed to even go for a walk through Moscow with the future Soviet leader, and then months of fruitless promenades, discussing exams at their parallel faculties. With candor, Gorbachev admits that she only agreed to date him after “having her heart broken by the man she had pledged it to.” But once their relationship overcame its shaky beginnings, the two became the very definition of a Soviet power couple, in love and ready to do anything for each other. In the summer vacation after the two began to go steady, Gorbachev did not think it below him to return to his homeland, and resume work as a simple mechanic, to top up the meager university stipend.

The two were not embarrassed having to celebrate their wedding in a university canteen, symbolically, on the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution on November 7, 1953. Or put off when the watchful guardians of morality at Moscow State University forbid the newlyweds from visiting each other’s halls without a specially signed pass. More substantial obstacles followed, when Mikhail’s mother also did not take to her daughter-in-law, while Raisa agreed to a medically-advised abortion after becoming pregnant following a heavy bout of rheumatism. But the two persevered. Raisa gave birth to their only child in 1955, and as Gorbachev’s star rose, so did his wife’s academic career as a sociologist. But Raisa’s true stardom came when Gorbachev occupied the Soviet leader’s post.

Soviet President and General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party’s Central Committee, Mikhail Gorbachev, 2nd right, and Soviet First Lady Raisa Gorbacheva, right, at the meeting with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, left, at the Soviet Embassy in London.
RIA Novosti.

Raisa Gorbacheva, the wife of the Soviet leader (left), showing Nancy Reagan, first lady of the U.S., around the Kremlin during U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s official visit to the U.S.S.R.
RIA Novosti.General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev (center left) and his spouse Raisa Gorbacheva (second from left) seeing off US President Ronald Reagan after his visit to the USSR. Right: The spouse of US president Nancy Reagan. The Hall of St. George in the Grand Kremlin Palace.
RIA Novosti.Raisa Gorbacheva (left), wife of the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, and Barbara Bush (right), wife of the U.S. president, attending the inauguration of the sculptured composition Make Way for Ducklings near the Novodevichy Convent during U.S. President George Bush’s official visit to the U.S.S.R.
RIA Novosti.Soviet first lady Raisa Gorbacheva meets with Tokyo residents during Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachyov’s official visit to Japan.
RIA Novosti.The meeting between Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, President of the USSR and the heads of state and government of the seven leading industrial nations. From left to right: Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Norma Major, Raisa Maksimovna Gorbacheva and John Major.
RIA Novosti.Soviet president’s wife Raisa Gorbacheva at the 112th commencement at a female college. The State of Massachusetts. Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev’s state visit to the United States.
RIA Novosti.

In a symbol as powerful as his calls for international peace and reform at home, the Communist leader was not married to a matron hidden at home, but to an urbane, elegantly-dressed woman, regarded by many as an intellectual equal, if not superior to Mikhail himself. Gorbachev consulted his wife in every decision, as he famously told American TV viewers during a Tom Brokaw interview. This generated much ill-natured mockery throughout Gorbachev’s reign, but he never once tried to push his wife out of the limelight, where she forged friendships with such prominent figures as Margaret Thatcher, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush.

Raisa was there in the Crimean villa at Foros, during the attempted putsch of August 1991, confronting the men who betrayed her husband personally, and suffering a stroke as a result. It was also Raisa by Gorbachev’s side when they were left alone, after the whirlwind settled in 1991. Despite nearly losing her eyesight due to her stroke, Raisa largely took the lead in organizing Mikhail’s foundation, and in structuring his life. In 1999, with his own affairs in order, not least because of the controversial Pizza Hut commercial, and Russians anger much more focused on his ailing successor, Gorbachev thought he could enjoy a more contented retirement, traveling the world with his beloved.

CPSU Central Committee General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa at Orly Airport, France.
RIA Novosti.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (center), Soviet first lady Raisa Gorbacheva (right), Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Kazakh first lady Sara Nazarbayeva during Gorbachev’s working visit to Kazakhstan.
RIA Novosti.General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev (left) and his spouse Raisa Gorbachev (center) at a friendship meeting in the Wawel Castle during a visit to Poland.
RIA Novosti.Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa during his official visit to China.
RIA Novosti.An official visit to Japan by USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev. He with wife, Raisa Gorbachev, and Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu near a tree planted in the garden of Akasaka Palace.
RIA Novosti.Mikhail Gorbachev (center), daughter Irina (right) and his wife’s sister Lyudmila (left) at the funeral of Raisa Gorbachev.
RIA Novosti.Last respects for Raisa Gorbacheva, spouse of the former the USSR president in the Russian Fond of Culture. Mikhail Gorbachev, family and close people of Raisa Gorbacheva at her coffin.
RIA Novosti.Mikhail Gorbachev at the opening of the Raisa exhibition in memory of Raisa Gorbacheva.
RIA Novosti.

— Raisa Gorbacheva
“It is possible that I had to get such a serious illness and die for the people to understand me.”

Then came the leukemia diagnosis, in June of that year. Before the couple’s close family had the chance to adjust to the painful rhythm of hope and fear that accompanies the treatment of cancer, Raisa was dead. Her burial unleashed an outpouring of emotion, with thousands, including many of her husband’s numerous adversaries, gathering to pay their sincere respects. No longer the designer-dressed careerist ice queen to be envied, resented and ridiculed, now people saw Raisa for the charismatic and shrewd idealist she always was. For Gorbachev it made little difference, and all those around him said that however much activity he tried to engage in following his wife’s death, none of it ever had quite the same purpose.

“People say time heals. But it never stops hurting – we were to be joined until death,” Gorbachev always said in interviews

For the tenth anniversary of Raisa’s death, in 2009, Mikhail Gorbachev teamed up with famous Russian musician Andrey Makerevich to record a charity album of Russian standards, dedicated to his beloved wife. The standout track was Old Letters, a 1940s melancholy ballad. Gorbachev said that it came to him in 1991 when he discovered Raisa burning their student correspondence and crying, after she found out that their love letters had been rifled through by secret service agents during the failed coup.

The limited edition LP sold at a charity auction in London, and fetched £100,000.

Afterwards, Gorbachev got up on the stage to sing Old Letters, but half way through he choked up, and had to leave the stage to thunderous applause.

The Secret American Plan to Make Russia Great Again

May 24, 2022

Source

By Dmitry Orlov

It is generally a good idea to avoid ascribing nefarious intent to actions explained by mere stupidity. But this is a case where mere stupidity cannot possibly explain the long, steady procession of foreign policy errors spanning three decades, all of them specifically aimed at strengthening Russia. It is not possible to argue that a surplus of hubris, ignorance, greed and political opportunism and a deficit of competent foreign policy analysts can produce such a result, for that would be essentially the same as arguing that some monkeys armed with drills, mills and lathes can produce a Swiss watch. But the only alternative would be to claim that there is a network of Kremlin’s agents ensconced deep within the bowels of the American Deep State and that they are all working in concert to advance Russia’s interests while meticulously maintaining plausible deniability all the while and at all levels of the operation.

Ostensibly, the plan was to weaken and destroy Russia; but then, following the Soviet collapse, Russia was weakening and destroying itself very well all by itself, no intervention needed. What’s more, every US effort to weaken and destroy Russia has made it stronger; had there existed even a most rudimentary feedback mechanism, so vast a discrepancy between policy goals and policy results would have been detected and adjustments would have been made. Superficially, this may be explained by the nature of America’s sham-democracy, where each administration can blame its failures on mistakes made by the previous administration, but the Deep State remains in power throughout, and it would simply be forced to admit to itself that there is a problem with the plan to weaken and destroy Russia after a few cycles of this unfolding fiasco. The fact that it hasn’t detected any such problem brings us full circle, back to the suspicion that there are Putin’s agents toiling tirelessly deep within the Deep State.

But that’s pure conspiracy theory and we shouldn’t want to go anywhere near that. Suffice to say, there is at present no adequate explanation for what happened. After the Soviet collapse, very little was needed to speed along the collapse of Russia itself. But none of these steps have been taken, and the steps that were taken (with the ostensible goal of weakening and destroying Russia) have done the exact opposite. Why? Below are listed 10 of the most successful initiatives of what appear to be a US Deep State MRGA campaign. If you have an alternative explanation, I’d like to hear it.

1. If Russia were immediately accepted into the World Trade Organization (which it wanted to join) it would have been swamped with cheap imports, destroying all of Russian industry and agriculture. Russia would simply sell oil, gas, timber, diamonds and its other resources and buy whatever is needed. Instead, the US and other WTO members spent 18 years negotiating Russia’s entry into the organization. By the time it joined, in 2006, very little time remained before the financial collapse of 2008, after which time the WTO hasn’t been too much of a factor.

2. If Russia were immediately granted visa-free travel to the West (as it wanted) most working-age Russians would have readily diffused out of Russia, leaving behind a population of orphans and the elderly, much as has happened with contemporary Ukraine. After losing much of its productive population, Russia would not have posed any sort of economic or military threat. Instead, Russia was never granted visa-free travel and instead faced restrictions that have only increased over time. By now most Russians have internalized the idea that they are simply not wanted in the West and that they should seek their fortune back home.

3. After the Soviet collapse, Russia itself collapsed into a loose mosaic of regional centers. Many of them (Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Urals Republic, Chechnya) entertained notions of secession. Left untouched, Russia would have devolved into a loose confederation with no ability to formulate joint foreign policy. Instead, resources and mercenaries were pumped into Chechnya, turning it into an existential threat to Moscow’s authority and forcing it to become militarily assertive. The fact that Chechen volunteers are now fighting on the Russian side in the Ukraine underscores the failure of America’s Chechnya policy.

4. If, following the Soviet collapse, NATO simply recognized that the threat it was intended to counter no longer existed and either dissolved or simply became quiescent, Russia would never have thought it necessary to rearm itself. Indeed, Russia was happily cutting up its ships and missiles for scrap metal. Instead, NATO saw it fit to bomb Yugoslavia (for a made-up humanitarian reason) and then to relentlessly expand eastward. These actions have communicated most adequately the message that it wasn’t the USSR, and Communism, that the West opposed but Russia itself. And while, by the time the 1990s rolled around, not too many Russians were eager to fight and die for the greater glory of communism, rising to the defense of Motherland is an entirely different story.

5. If Russia’s near-abroad were simply left alone, Russia would never have considered venturing outside of its already vast and underpopulated territory. But then came a provocation: acting with US sanction, Georgian forces attacked Russian peacekeepers in South Osettia during the Beijing Olympics of 2008, forcing Russia to react. The fact that Russia could demilitarize Georgia in just a few days was a major confidence boost and taught it that NATO and NATO-trained forces are soft and squishy and not much of a problem. Russian territory expanded to include South Ossetia, with Abkhazia thrown in as an added bonus, paving the way for further territorial expansion (Crimea, Donbass, Kherson… Nikolaev, Odessa…).

6. If the US left alone Syria, a close Russian ally for close to a century, Russia would not have expanded into the Mediterranean region. As it is, Syrian government invited Russia to help it turn the tide in its war against US-supported ISIS and Russia destroyed ISIS with the help of a rather small contingent of air-and-space forces at just one airbase. The action in Syria has showcased modern Russian weapons systems and has led to a 20-year backlog in weapons orders from around the world. What’s more, Russia’s allies around the world know that if the US/NATO, or their mercenaries, give them any trouble, all they have to do is whistle and Moscow will rush in with their precision bombs and neatly stack the corpses.

7. After the 2014 Kiev putsch and the re-accession of Crimea, US/Western sanctions were immensely helpful in helping jump-start a large-scale program of import replacement, rejuvenating both Russian industry and agriculture. Russia is now largely self-sufficient in food and a major food exporter. Its position as the world’s main breadbasket will be further improved by the addition of Eastern and Southern Ukrainian “black earth” regions of uniquely fertile land. The sanctions were accompanied by speculative attacks on the ruble which drove its value down from 30 to the dollar to 60 (where it stands today) making Russian products much more competitive internationally and stimulating foreign trade.

8. The endless hollow threats to block Russia from using the SWIFT interbank messaging system have prompted Russia to create its own payment system, which is now integrated with China’s. The arrest of the $300 billion Russian sovereign wealth fund that was held on deposit in Western banks, along with freezing the funds of Russian oligarchs, have taught Russians not to trust Western banks and to avoid keeping their money abroad. All of these hostile actions in the finance space have paved the way for a rather measured response that has instantly made the ruble the most valuable and stable currency on the planet, leaving the dollar and the euro vulnerable to hyperinflation.

9. The eight-year war waged by the Ukrainian army, with unquestioning US/NATO support, against the Russian civilian population in the Donbass, has produced a very specific understanding throughout Russia’s population: that the West wants to exterminate it. When the Ukrainians then declared that they want to build nuclear bombs, and when it was discovered that Pentagons bioweapons labs in the Ukraine were working on creating pathogens specifically targeting Russians, and when, finally, it became clear that it was not just the Ukrainians but all of NATO was behind it, that the Ukrainians-plus-NATO were poised to launch an all-out attack, Russia pre-empted it by launching its own Special Operation. Cynical as this may seem, the previous eight-year shelling of buildings full of old people, women and children, shown live on Russia’s nightly news but steadfastly ignored in the West, was instrumental in producing approval ratings for the Special Operation that has reached 76%, with similar ratings for Putin, his government and even many of the regional governments. Now that, Western arms shipments notwithstanding, the Ukrainian military is being whittled away at a rate that will finish it off in approximately 20 days (the calculated “Day Z”), Russia is poised to emerge as an outright victor in World War III which, just like the Cold War, which it had lost, was barely even fought. This will restore Russia’s military’s mystique of being perpetually victorious.

10. Finally, Russia should be grateful for the lavish funds provided over the years by the US and the collective West in support of free speech and freedom of the press in Russia, by which is meant pro-Western propaganda. First, it did help liberate Russia’s media space, to a point that now Russia is much more open to freedom of self-expression than any of the European countries or the US, with barely a hint of corporate censorship or cancel culture that are rampant in the West. Second, so ham-handed and overbearingly dumb was the Western propaganda onslaught that the Russians, after processing it for some years, now openly laugh at the pro-Western narrative, and opinion research agencies report Russian support for pro-Western policies only in trace amounts. The process was helped by the sheer ludicrousness of various developments in the West: cancel culture, MeToo, LGBT, child sex change operations, promotion of pedophilia and all the rest, which produced a wave of revulsion. This 180º reversal, from overwhelmingly pro-Western opinions of the early 1990s to the current situation, are a crowning achievement of the entire three-decade-long Deep State campaign to Make Russia Great Again (MRGA).

I do not wish to argue that the existence of MRGA within the US Deep State is demonstrably, provably true. But I urge you to follow Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous dictum that “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth” and let me know what you come up with.

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Turkey swings west: the Ukraine war and domestic elections

Ankara’s rapprochement with the US has been accelerated by events in Ukraine. These ties will also shape Turkey domestically, with or without a 2023 Erdogan electoral win.

May 17 2022

While Ankara has always sought to maintain a careful balance between east and west, Turkey’s 2023 election candidates believe they need US support to win.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Erman Çete

On 7 April, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chaired a videoconference meeting with his counterparts from five other states to discuss, among other things, the pressing issue of naval mines drifting into the Black Sea.

According to Akar, the origin of the mines could not be identified, but an investigation is ongoing.

The meeting’s agenda was ultimately less notable than its curious participant list. Five of the attending countries – Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine – have borders with the Black Sea, but Russia, a major littoral state, was not invited, while Poland, which has no borders with the waterway, was present.

The mines threat has emerged amid the escalating armed conflict in Ukraine. Russia’s principal intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), warned on 21 March that several hundred mines had drifted into the Black Sea after breaking off from cables near Ukrainian ports. The claim was dismissed by Kiev which accused Moscow of disinformation and trying to close off parts of the strategic waterway.

Nevertheless, since the onset of the conflict in February, four mines have ‘drifted’ into the Black Sea, including one discovered off Romania’s coastline, and three stray mines found in Turkish waters which were safely neutralized.

Turkey’s balancing act

Throughout the crisis, Ankara has had to navigate between Russia and Ukraine and balance its diplomatic ties with both states carefully. As an important NATO member, this has not been a straightforward task for Turkey.

Between 19 to 22 April, NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) organized  Exercise Locked Shields 2022, the largest cyber defense exercise in Tallinn, Estonia. The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) attended this drill with TAF-affiliated defense company HAVELSAN.

The following day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that Turkey would close its airspace for a three-month period to Russian planes flying to Syria. But the Turkish minister also announced the cancellation of a pre-planned NATO drill to avoid provoking Russia.

Concurrent with this precarious balancing act, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has worked overtime to thaw relations between Ankara and Persian Gulf states and Israel. There are also plans afoot to add Egypt to Turkey’s various regional diplomatic forays.

Resetting relations with the US

At the same time, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has tried to exploit any opportunity to present itself as an indispensable ally to Washington. Talks hosted in Istanbul between Russia and Ukraine may have failed to lead to a breakthrough in negotiations, but US President Joe Biden endorsed Turkey’s role as mediator, while State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that Turkey was “in full coordination and consultation with the US” during the process.

Ankara’s role as a mediator has also been encouraged by US think-tanks such as the United States Institute of Peace, which has called on the US and Europe to support Turkey as the only mediation channel between Russia and the west.

Undoubtedly, the Ukraine conflict has enabled Turkey to reposition itself with Washington as a valuable NATO ally. This has become evident with reports that US military F-16 sales to Turkey are now back on the table again after a period of doubt.

Naturally, pro-AKP media has been praising Erdogan’s role as ‘peacemaker’ and are keen to parlay his accomplishments into a domestic political bonanza. But according to Turkish journalist and commentator Murat Yetkin, AKP’s initial prognosis on the Ukraine conflict was that it would cool down around June and Turkey could shortly thereafter reverse its economic losses arising from the crisis.

It has become apparent, however, that the AKP may have been too rash with that timeframe. Ankara’s leading NATO allies appear less concerned about the destruction of Ukraine and its fallout across Europe than about ‘weakening’ Russia via proxy, with a prolonged war of attrition in mind. For the AKP brass, if the conflict continues into next year, Erdogan’s chances of eking out a victory in Turkey’s 2023 elections could be seriously jeopardized.

Ukraine, a foreign policy tool

Rear Admiral Turker Erturk, Turkey’s former Black Sea commander, believes that the US government gave Turkish military operations in northern Iraq (Operation Claw Lock) the green-light, mainly because of the war in Ukraine. Washington, according to Erturk, will need Turkey in the upcoming stages of the conflict, and has thus become more flexible and transactional with Ankara.

For Erturk, this is a major reason why Erdogan’s government is seeking a balanced approach – in order to negotiate with the US and win the upcoming elections. “Promises made to the US regarding the Ukraine War will be implemented after the election,” he predicts.

Erturk also claims that Washington favors former chief of staff and current Defense Minister Hulusi Akar as the next president of Turkey. The retired rear admiral interprets the Black Sea mines meeting led by Akar – which included the Poles and excluded the Russians – as an message of support to the US. It should be noted that even at the height of US-Turkish tensions and its accompanying leverage contest, Akar stuck his neck out by guaranteeing that Ankara would never break with the western world.

The role of the Turkish Army, post-Erdogan

Akar is not the only military man with a shot at the presidency. Erdogan’s son-in-law Selcuk Bayraktar, who masterminded the famous Turkish armed drone Bayraktar could also be a political successor. He has also openly voiced support for Ukraine, a gesture likely not intended for domestic audiences.

Bayraktar’s now deceased father, Özdemir Bayraktar, threw his support behind the jailed army officers during the highly politicized Ergenekon (2008-2019) and Balyoz (Sledgehammer, 2010-2015) ‘coup d’etat’ trials. That makes the Bayraktars respected even amongst Kemalist circles – not just for their game-changing armed drones, but also for placing their political clout against the trials.

Foreign Affairs piece earlier this year by Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, provides an insight into a hypothetical scenario involving an Erdogan-opposition deal for a transition. If a deal cannot be reached, Cagaptay says, Turkish democracy will crumble.

A possible solution to ease this transition, Cagaptay argues, is for the two sides to accept the Turkish Army’s mediation as a “non-partisan” institution, with backing from the US and the EU. The opposition ensures that Erdogan and his family will not be tried, while Erdogan transfers power to the opposition’s candidate and the TAF acts as a guarantor.

Intact foreign policy

Turkey’s opposition alliance, Millet (Nation), which consists of six parties for now, has not decided on its presidential candidate yet. The governing coalition, Cumhur (People), has accused Millet of being agents of the west.

Although both the government and opposition are pro-NATO, some parties in Millet, such as the pro-west Turkish nationalist IYI (Good) Party, want to play a more proactive role in Ukraine against Russia. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who belongs to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), sparked a debate when he was spotted out with the British Ambassador amidst a heavy fall of snow last winter.

Imamoglu once was a leading opposition figure against Erdogan. He defeated the Turkish president twice in local 2019 elections, and his right-wing/moderate political stance was influential even among Erdogan supporters. However, his recent tour in the Black Sea region where his hometown is located, unleashed angry reactions amongst Millet supporters for including pro-Erdogan journalists to cover his visit. Even his own party, CHP, criticized Imamoglu for “breaking the party discipline.”

Now an underdog, Ankara’s Mayor Mansur Yavas, also a CHP member, is leading in Turkey’s election polls. He is a former member of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and popular amongst Cumhur’s voter base. Yavas gives the impression that he could be a bipartisan president, a statesman who would oversee a smooth Turkish transition to the post-Erdogan era.

But will the upcoming 2023 elections signify a sharp geopolitical shift in the country’s bearings? A close look at Turkey’s economic situation, and its government’s overtures to the west, suggests not.

Turkey’s relations with Russia, even as a bargaining chip against the west, will likely continue independently of election results, as Ankara has historically sought to maintain its east-west equilibrium. Today, however, both wings of Turkish politics seem set on soliciting western support – to different degrees and in various arenas – to secure an electoral win.

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

Norman Finkelstein : Russia has the historical right to invade Ukraine (updated with transcript)

May 15, 2022

The Debrief with Briahna Joy Gray, April 8, 2022.

Source: http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/norman-finkelstein-on-ideology-in-the-classroom-and-ukraine-the-debrief-with-briahna-joy-gray/

Transcript:

Question: How much of a similarity maybe do you see between the kind of… the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the way some people handle some of the reactionary and right-wing elements in the Palestinian defense and opposition, versus how some of the left is talking about the Ukraine defense and the Azov battalions… Do you think there’s a comparison? And I’ll just leave the question at that. Thanks.

Norman Finkelstein: Well I have to ask Briahna’s permission to go in a digression…

Briahna: Absolutely.

Norman Finkelstein : Okay. On the question of the Ukraine, the thing that’s troubled me about the public conversation of the Ukraine or hysteria —it’s not even a conversation, it’s hysteria about the Ukraine— is the following: those who are not totally immersed in the mainstream propaganda, some of the people you’ve had on your program and people who are not especially of the left, they have no particular left-wing allegiance, like John Mearsheimer at University of Chicago, or before he passed away Stephen F. Cohen who predicted that if you keep up with this NATO expansion in the Ukraine, there’s going to be a war. He said that in Democracy Now in 2014, and he was right. And other people, Professor Chomsky. I would include in that group several others, and they’ll all say the following thing:

Number one, the Russians were promised that there would be no NATO expansion to the East, that was the quid pro quo for the reunification of Germany after the decomposition of the Soviet Union. The Russians were promised that but the West went ahead. We’re talking about the 1990s: the promises were given, but the West then went ahead and started to expand NATO once, as John Mearsheimer likes to put it there was the first tranche, then the second tranche of expansion… Then NATO starts expanding in Georgia and in the Ukraine. The Soviet Union says it’s a red line.

To stop this, the Soviet Union offers a perfectly reasonable resolution: just neutralize Ukraine like we neutralized Austria after World War II, neither aligned with an Eastern bloc nor aligned with a Western bloc. That seemed to me perfectly reasonable. And the people I mentioned, Mearsheimer, Cohen passed away since but Professor Chomsky and a number of others, they’ll all agree on the reasonableness of Putin’s demands.

And then the reasonableness of those demands, those demands have to, as Briahna says in her paper and as she said this evening, they have to always be seen in context. So what’s the context? The context is the Soviet Union, the former Russia, it lost… the estimates are about 30 million people during World War II. The United States which, if you watch American movies, you would think the US won World War II, it lost about two hundred thousand people. The UK was the second candidate for winning World War II, they lost about four hundred thousand people. The Soviet Union lost 30 million people. Even those who didn’t take courses in the hard sciences can reckon the difference between several hundred thousand and thirty million. Now that’s not an ancient memory for the Russians. If you… I remember Stephen F. Cohen saying “when I grew up in little America —he was from Kentucky— we used to celebrate…” I forgot what was called here Victory Day, V-something, he said “but you know now as adults we don’t celebrate that anymore in the United States, Victory in World War II”, he said, but Russia, he said, they still celebrate V-Day, they still celebrate it. I live in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. A large part is Russian Jews, a large part is Russian Jews. You go out in May, you go out on the V-Day, and you can see that Russians up to 80 and 90 year olds, they’re wearing medals, they’re medals from World War II. That memory is alive.

And now there’s this Ukraine, where Nazis are playing an outsized role. I’m not saying they’re a majority, but in the political and military life, they play an outsized —disproportionate let’s call it— role. This Ukraine where Nazis are playing an outsized role, are aligned with a formidable military bloc called NATO, NATO keeps advancing and advancing and advancing, closing on Russia, trying to suffocate it… And beginning around 2016, under Trump, begins to arm the Ukraine, pouring in weapons, engaging in military exercises with NATO, behaving very provocatively. And then the Foreign Minister Lavrov finally says we’ve reached the boiling point.

Now everything I just told you, Professor Chomsky, John Mearsheimer and others will acknowledge it. The mainstream press won’t even acknowledge that but people who call themselves just, legitimately call themselves dissidents, although Mearsheimer wouldn’t call himself a dissident, he just calls himself a realist. Nice guy, I consider him a friend, I like him. They’ll acknowledge all that. But then they say the invasion was criminal. Criminal invasion, criminal, criminal, criminal. And my question which I’ve constantly been putting in correspondence is a very simple one: if you agree that for 20 years—more than 20 years, more than two decades—, Russia has tried to engage in diplomacy; if you agree that the Russian demand to neutralize Ukraine —not occupy it, not determine its government, its form of economy, just neutralize it like Austria after World War II—, if you agree that was a legitimate demand; if you agree that the West was expanding and expanding NATO; if you agree that Ukraine de facto had become a member of NATO, weapons pouring in, engaging in military exercises in NATO; and if you agree… You know, Russia lost 30 million people during World War II because of the Nazi invasion, so there’s a legitimate concern by Russia with all of these —if you excuse my language— Nazis floating around in the Ukraine, then the simple question is: What was Russia to do?

I’m not saying I agree with the invasion, I’m not saying it went right, but I think one thing: the invasion showed… you know what the one thing the invasion showed, Briahna, was that Russia is kind of weak militarily, which is why all the more they may have been fearful of a NATO-backed Ukraine filled with Nazis, and probably at some point positioning nuclear missiles on its border. And I think 30 million, 30 million people… Listen to this: I think 30 million people is 30 million arguments in favor of Russia. Now I’m not going to say, because I’m not a general and I’m not a diplomat, so I’m not going… I’m not a military strategist so I’m not going to say it was the wisest thing to do. I’m not going to say it was the most prudent thing to do. But I will say —and I’m not afraid to say it because it would dishonor the memory of my parents if i didn’t say it—, I will say that they had the right to do it. And I’m not taking that back. They had the right to do it. They had if I can call it the historic right to do it. 30 million people (killed during WW2), and now you’re starting again, you’re starting again. No, no, you know I can’t go for it, I can’t go for those who acknowledge the legitimacy of the arguments made by Putin but then call the invasion criminal. I don’t see that.

Now you could say the way they executed it may have had criminal elements. However I don’t know… Well, you went to Harvard Law School, I don’t know if you studied the laws of war, but the laws of war make a very big distinction between ‘jus ad bellum’ and ‘jus in bello’, namely whether the launching of the war was legitimate or whether it was an act of aggression versus the way you conduct the war, ‘jus in bello’. Maybe the conduct, targeting of civilians and so forth, that probably violates the laws of war, but that’s a separate issue under law from “did they have the right to attack”. I think they did. I’m not going to back off from that.

You know, these are for me… even at my age, these are acts of deference to the suffering of my parents. My parents felt a very deep love for the Russian people, because they felt the Russian people understood war. They understood what my parents went through [in the Warsaw Ghetto & Auschwitz] during World War II, so there was a very deep affection… My father even, at the end of his life, he learned fluent Russian because neighborhood is all Russian. And you know, Polish to Russian is not a huge leap but also he liked the Russian people. So in my family growing up, the worst curse (insult)… there were two curses, two curses: curse number one was “parasite”. You have to work. My parents had a very… they had a work ethic. Believe me, I could have lived without the idea of pleasure, it didn’t exist in my house: you had to work. And the second word, the second curse, the second epithet was “traitor”. A traitor. And I know my parents would regard me as a traitor if I denounced what the Russians were doing now. How they’re doing it, as they say, probably there are violations and maybe egregious violations of the laws of war, we’ll have to wait to see the evidence, but their right to protect their homeland from this relentless juggernaut, this relentless pressing on their throats, when there was such an easy way to resolve it…

You know, if you read War and peace, and I suspect you did because you’re quite a gifted writer, obviously you were a reader…

Briahna: I confess, there was a copy on my shelf that I have started many times, but I haven’t… I’ve never finished it.

Norman Finkelstein: I’m surprised… In any case, War and peace is about the invasion of Russia, the war of 1812, and Tolstoy, the centerpiece of War and peace is the great battle of Borodino, and he describes it in this kind of terrifying detail. In the battle of Borodino, 25 000 Russians were killed, or maybe it was all together 25 000, I can’t remember, I think was 25 000 Russians were killed. Why do I mention it? So for Russians the seminal event of the 19th century was the war of 1812 and the invasion of Russia. For the 20th century, it’s World War II, and just in the battle of Leningrad, just Leningrad, not Saint-Petersburg, just Leningrad, a million Russians were killed. There was cannibalism! This is serious, World War II for the Russians. And you want me to just forget about that? That’s just a trivial fact? A trivial fact? No! Now you’ll ask yourself: in all the coverage that you’ve heard about your Russian attack on Ukraine, all the coverage you’ve read and listened to, how many times have you heard that 30 million Russians were killed during World War II? How many times?

Briahna Very infrequently. It’s never stated in this context.

Norman Finkelstein: Absolutely. And Stephen F. Cohen… You know, he was my Professor at Princeton and for a while he was my advisor. He… I didn’t know him well and at the end we had a falling down over my whole dissertation catastrophe, debacle, but Cohen had a genuine affection for the Russian people. He did. He loved the Russians. He loved the Russian people. And so when he begins his presentation… There is a Youtube of him debating the former US Ambassador, Mc Faul I think, Michael Mc Faul. How does he begin? He begins with how Russians remember the V-day. You know, that’s the starting point for me, it’s a starting point.

http://www.twitter.com/caitoz/status/1525620613980643328

Now you might say well, doesn’t your whole argument then justify what Israel does because of what happened to Jews during World War II? It’s an interesting question because the most moving, the most moving speech in support of the founding of the State of Israel, by far the most moving speech, you know who it was given by at the UN? It was given by the Soviet foreign minister Gromyko. And he said it was another act of generosity. Remember I mentioned to you earlier the boy’s act of generosity where he looks past what Trichka says about Black people, and as a student I thought it was a very generous act. So now the Russians lost 30 million people in World War II, but Gromyko says the suffering of the Jews, it was different, it was horrible. Here is a Russian saying that. And he said if a binational State is not possible, they earned their right to a State. So I say I applied the same standard. Now the way Israel carried out its right to establish a State by expelling the indigenous population, appropriating their land and creating havoc and misery for generation after generation, decade after decade, no I’m not going there. But yes I do believe… in recent correspondence with some friends I use the expression “I think Russia has the historic right to protect itself”, not by violating somebody else’s right to self-determination but neutralization, I think that’s legitimate.

Briahna: So I want to ask you this because you know it wouldn’t be right for me to put this question to Ro Khanna and not put this question to you. You are speaking so compellingly about the kind of moral valences of who’s entitled to feeling insecure as a nation, who’s entitled because of the historical cost it has paid to defend itself and to defend whatever you want to call it, you know, democracy in fascism, all of these kinds of words, has paid in terms of the number of human lives and kind of an unmatched price, and I think that’s…

Norman Finkelstein: The Chinese lost about 26 million to the Japanese, so it was close.

Briahna: It’s close but still… And yet when I was talking to Ro Khanna and he was saying well, ultimately he’s arguing on the other side that America is 100% right, Russia’s 100% wrong and this is a just war regardless of the substance. I would push him on this idea, of even if you believe it to be just kind of morally, the act I’m going to have to as a leftist is pushback against the idea that the preemptiveness of the war is okay, and that war is a solution. It is something that we should be tacitly or implicitly condoning. And I wonder what you make of that question.

Norman Finkelstein: Look, Briahna, not to flatter you but you always ask the right questions, and that’s why I was careful in what I said. You referred to the pre-emptiveness. Russia tried for 22 years. That’s giving a lot of time to diplomacy! 22 years is a lot of time!

And the question is: at what point, at what point does Russia get to act? When there are nuclear-tipped missiles on its border? Is that when it gets to act? I don’t agree with that. I think of course you have to give maximum time to see if diplomacy is going to work, absolutely…

Briahna: And then you start fighting? And then you send in troops? Because Norm, this is the… whether or not you believe…

Norman Finkelstein: I’m very happy, I’m very happy to take to heart your question. And that leads me again with the same question that I returned to you and I’ve returned to all of my correspondents over the past six weeks. If it’s clear that all the negotiations are in bad faith, if it’s clear that Ukraine had become de facto a member of NATO, what was Russia supposed to do? You say “don’t send in troops”. Fine. I come from a family that was completely anti-war. My mother used to say “better a hundred years of evolution than one year of revolution”. She had enough of war. I have no problem with your recoiling at the process. But what I’m saying is what was Russia supposed to do?

Briahna: What I’m asking is how you distinguish between your feelings that this is a moral war, this is a justified act, fine, and someone like Ro Khanna’s belief that US intervention, continued support of NATO, Western powers, sending weapons into Ukraine, arming the Azov battalion, is as he puts it a just war. The fact that you are both making these arguments, regardless… I’m not making an equivalent between the value of your arguments but obviously Ro Khanna thinks what he thinks and my point to him was you using vague terms like “just war” is exactly what’s allowed the kind of jingoistic parade to lead us into so many other incursions. So how principally do you distinguish? I understand your feeling and I understand the historical citations and the loss of life that leads you to the conclusions that you’ve been led to, but someone on the other side will say the same thing, someone else said “Well Marshall well this is how many Ukrainians have suffered and this is…”

Norman Finkelstein: But you’re canceling, if I may use that word, you’re canceling the context. You see I began my whole discussion with you, not with the position of Biden or the position of lunatics like Judy Woodruff, you know, and PBS. I said my quarrel is with people on the left who agree with all of my context but then make the leap and say it’s a criminal invasion. And I say to Professor Meirsheimer, Professor Chomsky and many others who acknowledge everything I just said, I say then what was… if you agree with everything I said, what was Putin supposed to do? I don’t see what he was supposed to do. I’m lost. It’s an impasse. I don’t see what…

Briahna: You were making a reference earlier to laws of war and rules before, i don’t know about it, I’ve never studied the laws of war, but it does seem to me that a line is drawn between… and I know that people are going to say something can be constructively war and you know. But in terms of an actual invasion and boots on the ground or missile strikes or things like that, the thing that Russia has to do even if it disadvantages them strategically in some ways is to wait until the other person hits first.

Norman Finkelstein: I don’t agree with that. I would say, as in any case, you have to demonstrate its last resort, and therefore you do have to demonstrate…

Briahna: How do you do that? Because that’s the question, how do you make sure that this is not just the same kind of…

Norman Finkelstein: I’m going to give you a historical analogy, probably the details which you’re unfamiliar with, but just allow me to just sketch it out. So in 1967, Israel launches a war, it occupies the West Bank, Gaza, Syrian Golan heights, and then it occupies this huge area, the Egyptian Sinai. And after the 67 war, about three years later, when Anwar Sadat comes into power, he says “I’m willing to sign a peace treaty with Israel but they have to return the territory they acquired during the 67 war”, because that’s the law : under international law, it’s inadmissible to acquire territory by war. Israel acquired the territory during the june 67 war, so these territories belong to Egypt. Israel says no, we’re not leaving the Sinai. Sadat says “Look, I’m offering you a peace treaty, I’m offering you peace, just return what’s not yours, the Egyptian Sinai”. Israel says no. Then Israel starts creating facts in the ground in the Sinai, it starts building settlements, those same settlements you’re familiar with in the West Bank. And then it announces in 1972 it’s going to rebuild what’s called the old jewish city of Carmel. Egypt says you’re not going to do that. You’re crossing a red line. Egypt says if you don’t stop this we’re going to attack, we’re going to attack. Everybody ignores Egypt because Arabs don’t know how to fight wars. The Arabs were nicknamed after 67, the term of abuse for an Arab was they were “monkeys”, they called them monkeys. They don’t know how to fight wars. Okay? And then come october 1973. Guess what: Sadat attacks. And the Israelis were so shocked they thought the whole thing was over, they called it… Moshe Dayan who was the Defense minister at the time, or the Foreign minister I can’t remember which, I think Defense minister at the time, he says… he made this panicky phone call, he said it’s the end of the third temple. This is it, we’re finished. Well it wasn’t the end of the third temple but it was a significant, heavy loss to Israel, they lost between two and three thousand soldiers, which is the largest number except for the war in 1948.

Now here’s the point: the point is no country in the world, none, including the United States, no country in the world condemned Sadat for aggression, none. And you know, for Israel it was a close call, or it seemed to be. In retrospect it turned out not to me, but it seemed to be a close call. Nobody condemned Egypt. Why? One, its demand was legitimate. Return the Sinai, it’s not yours, it’s our territory. Number two: Sadat tried negotiations for six years. And number three, as hard as he tried to negotiate, Israelis kept provoking and provoking and provoking until they announced rebuilding the old jewish city of Carmel. And Sadat says it’s over and then plans with Syria the attack which happens, what’s called the Yom Kippur war, the october war in 1973.

So now fast forward to Putin: the man was reasonable (neutralize Ukraine), negotiates over 20 years to fighting over this NATO expansion in the East, and then they start provoking them even more, they start pouring weapons into the Ukraine, they start carrying on joint military exercises between Ukraine and NATO. And then all of these swarmy Nazis start to surface. No I’m not saying Nazis control the government but they play an outsized role in the government, in the military. And I don’t see what’s the difference between what Putin did and what Sadat did. I don’t see the difference. I think it was the same thing, and nobody condemns Sadat for aggression. No one.

Briahna: But I’m asking I think a different question. I’m really not interested in litigating any given case mostly because I don’t know what the hell any of these things are about, so like I don’t really… I’m not going to say whether this war is just, that’s for other people to determine. What I do know is that everyone is making that argument on all kinds of sides, including people I know I don’t disagree with. And so many wars have been started with the argument that it is a just war for x, y and z reasons, and it’s okay to act despite there not having been a direct act of aggression against the allegedly aggrieved party. And so all I’m asking is to give some thought to how one would articulate a standard that can’t be so easily abused.

Norman Finkelstein: You know, Rihanna, I agree, it’s like once you grow up in life, you discover that life is very little about principles: it’s mostly about judgment. Principles get you not very far. I remember I got this lesson from Professor Chomsky, as he always puts it in his very lucid, simple terms. He said to me once: “Norman, we all know it’s wrong to lie, but if a rapist knocks in your door and asks “Is your daughter in the bedroom”, there’s a clash of principles there obviously. And so at the end of the day, what is required is not the application of an abstract principle but the faculty of judgment. When principles clash, you have to exercise judgment. You then have to look at particulars, the specifics.

Briahna: Excuse me, I appreciate that, which is probably why, you know, this is the limit, this is the limit of it for me and I’ll… I’m happy to take more questions from people who I’m sure know much more about the particulars. Although your last statement about, you know, principles versus judgment, and you know, the rapist at your door, does make me, it does make me tempted to ask you about what you think about the slap. […]

[If you want to know what Norman Finkelstein thinks about Will Smith’s slap at the Oscars, and other more serious issues, check the full podcast].

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On Wars, Propaganda and outright Lies

May 07, 2022

Source

By Francis Lee

Here is a typical political offering from the British centre-left. As follows:

‘’Putin’s war on Ukraine has led to thousands of deaths, upended the world order, and intensified the global energy crisis. At home in Britain, it has led to an outpouring of support for Ukrainian refugees – if not for black and brown people fleeing war and persecution – and provided cover for Keir Starmer to further crack down on the Left of Labour, from socialist MPs to Young Labour.

In this extract of an interview from the latest Momentum political education bulletin, The EducatorDavid Wearing (whomever he is!- FL) discusses the geopolitical interests at stake, the reactions of Western states, especially the UK, and how the Left in Britain can meaningfully engage in anti-imperialist struggle today.

Momentum a centre-left political grouping within the British Labour Party: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused untold devastation and loss of life. Evidence of fresh atrocities seem to emerge almost daily. Why has Vladimir Putin’s regime launched this war of aggression, in your opinion?’’ (Red Pepper – leftist British publication.)

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Francis Lee (FL). You see the Russians are the really bad guys, or so we are told, and this is regarded as being axiomatic coming straight from the NATO propaganda handbook, the media, and the political elites in the west. But actually, the war against the Eastern Provinces in the Donbass in Eastern Ukraine started shortly after 2014 when the US organized the coup in Independence Square. Kiev was eager to march East and ‘deal with’ (to put it mildly) the two republics who subsequently were put under a siege by the Ukrainian army and death squads and 14000 of the two Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk were killed after being under the Ukie siege from 2014 to the present time. Of course, no mention was made of this in Mr. Wearing’s piece.

David Wearing holds forth as follows: There’s a standard imperialist mentality at work. (Agreed, but read Washington for Moscow – FL) Moscow evidently regards Ukraine with a strong sense of entitlement; part of its sphere of influence in the same way that the United States has historically treated Latin America as its ‘backyard’ under the so-called ‘Monroe Doctrine‘, and sought to dominate the Middle East more recently. Reasserting substantive control over Russia’s near abroad has been an overriding strategic priority for Moscow since the mid-1990s at least.

Indeed, the guiding principle across two decades of Putin’s presidency has essentially been ‘Make Russia Great Again‘. His revanchist, authoritarian nationalism is a product of the 1990s, when Moscow lost its grip on many of its former Tsarist and Soviet possessions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and when the Russian economy imploded under neoliberal shock therapy. The ugly machismo of Putin’s rule is a backlash against all of this.

FL – Actually, it was Putin who pulled Russia out of the grip of the oligarchs and free riders who had almost destroyed Russia. Moreover, this would of course be yet another eastern expansion in NATO’s relentless march whose object is and always has been to place an ever-tightening tourniquet around Russia’s neck. It is the West through the instrumentality of NATO which has pushed right up to Russia’s borders in a defiance of the deal in 1991 where NATO would not move ‘’one inch’’ closer to Russia’s borders with a flight time of 5 minutes to Moscow by hypersonic missile.

In fact, Russia offered a peace deal with a view to winding down the conflict which involved an implementation of the Minsk Accords, restoration of the Lugansk/Donetsk independent republics and neutrality for Ukraine. Initially the Ukrainian diplomatic delegation seemed interested in these proposals during the peace talks in Turkey. But as soon as they got back home to Ukraine the delegation was told in short order – almost certainly by the Americans – that none of these proposals were acceptable. So, according to the hard-liners and the Americans, that leaves only war as an option.

But according to Mr Wearing

So, the imperial logic is obvious (yes, but whose imperial logic? FL) but it hardly adds up to a justification for war. Certainly not one you can sell to the Russian public as good reason to sacrifice their sons and daughters on the battlefield. Hence the various pretexts for the invasion that Putin has offered in terms of defending the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine. We don’t need to detain ourselves with any of that. (sic! FLReally, why not?

Wearing continues: Every imperial aggressor throughout history has claimed to be acting on some noble, virtuous principle.

FL – In actual fact the USSR as it was then constituted, was only too glad to get rid of these burdens, i.e., the Baltics, Georgia et cetera.

Aside from geopolitical motives, there’s been a palpable sense of hubris from Putin following previous military victories in Chechnya, Georgia (Georgia who firstly attacked South Ossetia killing a number of Russian Peacekeepers) and Syria (Presumably the writer thinks that a Russian victory in Syria was a defeat for democracy, when it was actually a defeat for the Takfiris).

But this war has proved a major miscalculation, and the danger now is that — like the US in Vietnam and Afghanistan – he (Putin) digs in for the long term rather than suffer the humiliation of accepting defeat. Given the sheer viciousness of the Russian campaign so far, this is not something that the people of Ukraine can afford.

WearingClearly, responsibility for this heinous violence lies first and foremost with Putin and the Russian state.

(F.L., I beg your pardon, but heinous violence came from the Ukrainian military and particularly from the neo-nazi units who couldn’t wait to start shelling the Donbass and continuing to do so for 8 long years killing 14000 ethnic Russians in their homes. Moreover, by 2021 Ukie army decided to take a second bite of the cherry. One hundred thousand Ukrainian troops were about to roll over the Donbass, but Putin after all the dithering stopped them in their tracks with the Russian Regular Forces and the Don Bass Militias.

Such is the policy of the British left’s framing of the situation which is one that they don’t understand and have no wish to.)

DW: There’s been a debate within the US foreign policy establishment about the wisdom of expanding NATO going back over a quarter of a century. One side (the old conservatives and Cold War veterans) argued that expanding the alliance too far into Russia’s former sphere of influence would raise tensions between Washington and Moscow to a dangerous degree. The other side (the neo-liberals and neo-conservatives of the post-Cold War era) argued that Washington’s interests lay in opening the alliance up to any state that wanted to join. At least initially, it was the latter group that got their way.

This is a debate among imperialists about the best policy for Washington to adopt Moscow in its own imperial interests. So, it’s been a little odd to see the anti-expansionist position in that debate being portrayed in recent weeks as ‘pro-Moscow’. Take the US diplomat George Kennan, who argued in 1997 that ‘expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era’, which would ‘inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion [and] restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations’. Back in the 1940s, Kennan had been one of the key intellectual architects of Washington’s entire Cold War strategy toward the USSR. It’s a sign of the depths to which the current debate has degenerated that even the sort of analysis offered by people like him is now routinely denounced as apologia for Putin.

For myself, I can see some logic in the arguments made by these old conservatives of the US foreign policy establishment. Clearly, they are attempting to explain, rather than excuse, their imperial adversary’s response to the expansion of NATO. And clearly some of their predictions have come true.

However, as socialist anti-imperialists we have our own language and frames of reference which are much more analytically useful than some of the shoddy euphemisms of the grand strategists. For example, we should dispense with talk of Russia’s ‘security concerns’ (Oh, yes Russia’s ‘paranoia’ about ‘security concerns’ regarding NATO’s inexorable moving up to the Russian border and stationing their hypersonic assets right on the Russian doorstep with 5 minutes flight time to Moscow and St. Petersburg – FL) as a ‘great power’, and instead refer more frankly and accurately to Russia’s imperial ambitions in places like Ukraine.

FL – (BS! Russia and Putin did not harbour any imperial ambitions, nor did it want a war either with any of its ex-soviet republics, or NATO’s relentless push to its western borders. It was NATO who were belligerently encouraged for exactly that eventuality, not Russia).

The term ‘security’ is one that mostly has an obfuscators effect in political discourse. Imperialists may see control over neighbouring countries as a matter of security, even ‘defence’, but the rest of us don’t have to indulge that.

We also need to think beyond how imperial powers should best manage competition over their respective spheres of interest. A better question for us might be, how can West, Central and Eastern Europe, including Russia, be made into a common home rather than a geopolitical battleground? This is likely a question for a post-Putin world, but we should start thinking about it now. If we’re lucky enough at some point in the future to enjoy another historical moment of détente between the West and Russia, and another interlocutor in Moscow like Mikhail Gorbachev, then we should seize that moment to build a durable peace, rather than squander it a second time.

FL – (But Gorbachov was tricked by the US – this in the shape of Chief US negotiator, James Baker, and the Americans whom NATO had promised would not move ‘’one inch further to the East’’ who then reneged on the promise. The NATO military machine then predictably moved right up to the old Soviet borders. From the US-NATO viewpoint this was a shrewd move, which caught the Russians napping. Well Putin must have mused ‘fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.)

Momentum: So that’s the Western meta-narrative around the confrontation with Russia. What about the West’s approach to the Ukraine war itself?

DW: The fact that the Western powers find themselves on the right side (‘’the right side indeed’’! Along with, Svoboda, C14, Right Sector, the Azov Regiment! These are the shock-troops of NATO under US leadership) the Ukraine war reflects imperial interests and expediency not some high moral principle. They perceive a clear geopolitical advantage to be gained either from a Ukrainian victory or at least a Russian military failure. Support comes in the form of arms supplies to Ukraine and sanctions against Moscow, but a no-fly zone or some other direct intervention has thankfully been ruled out so far, due to the entirely rational fear that this would trigger World War Three.

There’s been no groundswell of opposition to this from the left, and rightly so. Ukraine has no option but to defend itself (sic!) militarily, (by marching east presumably and attempting to over-run the Don Bass and killing its own citizens therein? FL) and it has the right to do so (yes, apparently on a regular basis. FL ), and it has the right to seek the means of self-defence. (self-defence! But of course, shelling your own citizens in the Don Bass – a strange form of self-defence this!) from the only sources credibly able to provide it, namely Russia’s Western adversaries.

But given the nature of Western power we are understandably wary. We are wary of sanctions having a devastating effect on the Russian population, and without seriously hurting the regime. We are wary of any escalation into a direct NATO-Russia war, which would be utterly catastrophic.

Already in the past few weeks we’ve seen US President Biden announce huge additional spending on nuclear weapons. Experts have long warned that upgrading and renewing nuclear arsenals makes the world less, nor safer. We can expect a serious rise in military spending in the UK, and in Germany as well, where decades of foreign policy have been torn up. It’s really important that we stand by our anti-militarist principles in this moment. That doesn’t mean an absolutist form of pacifism, but it does mean an insistence that people recognise that arms races inflame rather than guard against the danger of military conflict.

Finally, in the prevailing atmosphere of machismo, we need to ensure people don’t forget the non-military, humanitarian dimension. That means demanding swift and safe paths to entry for Ukrainian refugees (as part of our wider demand for a complete change in UK border policy). It means aid for displaced Ukrainians wherever they might be. And it means any other economic measures that might help, such as cancelling Ukraine’s national debt to support its recovery whenever the war finally ends.’’

FL – Yes, I get it, a sort of ‘soft NATO’ approach?

OK, so let’s have another version. The Soviet Union was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1941. During the retreat the Red Army was pushed back almost to Moscow. Ukraine was occupied by Germany and also by indigenous Ukrainian fascist collaborators – still unfortunately with us – for most of WW2. Not only did Bandera’s (OUN-B) and Shukeyvich (UPA) fascist (yes, fascists!) collaborate with the Wehrmacht particularly in the massacre in Volhynia (1943-44) of Poles, Jews, and Russians, they were also lauded by the local population (and still are to this day) of the inhabitants of the western Ukraine centred around the cities of Lviv, Ternopol and Vinnytsia, et al. Not to be missed are the statues of Bandera lovingly adorned with flowers in the major cities west of the river Dnieper.

Around the period of 2013, ultra-nationalist groups (inveterate fascists) in the shape of Right Sector and Svoboda C14, and those lovely chaps of the Azov Regiment (1) began to emerge from the shadows and appear among the genuine moderate majority and joined in pitched battles in Kiev with the Berkut (riot Police) daily which the opposition forces finally won. This was, according to the UK’s Guardian ‘newspaper’ a victory for democracy (sic!) and peoples’ power. Well, it might have started like this, but it soon transmuted into something very different. Nobody should be in any doubt about the political complexion of these ultra-nationalist groups – who were and continue to be more than a marginalist political-military force – who went on to hold 6 portfolios in the new ‘government’ based in Kiev. Nor should anyone be in any doubt about both the overt and covert roles played by both the US and EU officials (not forgetting the ever-present Mr. Soros, who is always a fixture in these situations) and the formation of the future interim government.

Throughout this period the EU and high-ranking US officials were openly engaged in Ukraine’s internal affairs. The US Ambassador, Geoffrey Pyatt, and the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, were strolling around Independence Square reassuring the protestors that America stood behind them. Also basking in the political sunlight were US NGOs (such as the National Endowment for Democracy – NED – directly funded by the US Government) and (USAID). Also involved was the US Human Rights Watch (HRW) and not forgetting of course the ubiquitous Mr. Soros. Identified as GS in the leaked Open Society Foundation (OSF) documents, others involved in the Ukrainian coup in the planning, were the already named, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, along with the following: David Meale (Economic Counsellor to Pyatt, Lenny Benardo (Open Society Foundation – OSF) Yevhen Bystry (Executive Director International Renaissance Foundation – IRF) Oleksandr Sushko (Board Chair, IRF) Ivan Krastev (Chairman Centre for Liberal Studies, a Soros and US government-influenced operation in Sofia, Bulgaria) and Deff Barton (Director, US Agency for International Development AID – USAID – Ukraine). USAID is a conduit for the CIA.

Even right-wing thinkers such as George Freidman at Stratfor described these events as being ‘the most blatant coup in history.’

The new ‘government’ in Kiev was represented by a hotch-potch of oligarchs, Kolomoisky, Akhmetof, Pinchuk, Poroshenko, et al, and petty fuhrers including Pariuby, Yarosh, Biletsky, from the Western Ukraine with their violent armed Squadristi units (as in Italy’s period under Mussolini’s regime) terrorizing their opponents. The ultra-right Svoboda Party had a presence in the Ukrainian parliament (Rada). It was and still is a neo-nazi, ultra-right, anti-Semitic, Russophobic party with its base of support in the western Ukraine. The most important governmental post was handed to its fuhrer Andriy Parubiy who was appointed as Secretary of the Security and National Defence Committee, which supervised the defence ministry and the armed forces. The Parubiy appointment to such an important post should, alone, be cause for international outrage. He led the masked Right-Sector thugs who battled riot police in the Maidan in Kiev.

Like Svoboda, Right-Sector led by their own tin-pot fuhrer Dmitry Yarosh is an openly fascist, anti-semitic and anti-Russian organization. Most of the snipers and bomb-throwers in the crowds related to this group. Right Sector members had been participating in military training camps for the last 2 years or more in preparation for street activity of the kind witnessed in the Ukraine during the events in Independence Square in 2013-14. The Right Sector as can be seen by the appointment of Parubiy, is not able to control major appointments to the provisional government but he has succeeded in achieving his long-term goal of legalizing discrimination against Russians. What the Anglo-American left fail to understand – quite deliberately in my view – is the notion that the Ukrainian right-wing extremists are a marginal force in Ukraine. How much evidence do they need exactly? In fact, the politics of the western Ukraine is dominated by the ultras of the right, and every major city has statues of Bandera lovingly cared for and adorned with flower bouquets around his feet.

This discrimination took the forms of mass murder of the 45 people who passed out leaflets in the southern Black Sea port of Odessa when pro-Yanukovich supporters were attacked by fascist mobs and chased into a nearby building, a trade union HQ. The building was then set on fire and its exits blocked, the unfortunate people trapped inside were either burnt to death or, jumped out of the windows only to be clubbed to death when they landed. The practices of the political heirs of Bandera had apparently not been forgotten by the present generation. There is a video of the incident, but frankly, it was so horrific that I could only watch it once. (See more recently the whole murderous episode in the American publication Consortium News 2022). These barbarians were described by Luke Harding a ‘journalist’ of the Guardian as being ‘’an eccentric group of people with unpleasant right-wing views.’’ Yes, they were really nice chaps who got a little carried away!

One week later with the open support of Washington and its European allies, the regime installed by Washington and Berlin in February’s fascist-led putsch then began extending its reign of terror against all popular resistance in Ukraine. That was the significance of the events in the major eastern Ukrainian sea-port city of Mariupol less than a week after the Odessa outrage. (Mariupol has also come into the recent news for a second time around,)

After tanks, armoured personnel carriers and heavily armed troops were unleashed on unarmed civilians in the city, the Kiev regime claimed to have killed some 20 people. The Obama administration immediately blamed the violent repression on “pro-Russian separatists.’’

One week later Poroshenko, ex-Finance Minister in Yanukovich’s government, was elected as President on 29 May and duly announced that “My first presidential trip will be to Donbass where armed pro-Russian rebels had declared the separatist Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and control a large part of the region.’’ This was the beginning of the Anti-Terrorist Operation the ATO. However, things didn’t quite work out as planned. After 2 heavy defeats at Iloviask and Debaltsevo the Ukie army was stopped in its tracks and the situation has remained static to roughly this day.

Until that is things changed. Some 8 years later the Ukie army started doing what comes naturally to them: namely to start shelling the Donbass again. It should be understood that the shelling had started in 2014 immediately after the Kiev coup. During the whole period some 14000 hapless citizens of the Don Bass were killed. Moreover, a large Ukie army of some 100,000 were beginning to mass outside of the Don Bass and were preparing their move.

There was no way that Putin was going to allow this. Not only would it mean mass murder of the Don Bass, but it would also put Ukraine (qua western proxy) right on Russia’s border with NATO hypersonic missiles 5 minutes flying time from Moscow. That settled it – Putin had had enough. The Russian Army moved in. It was left with no alternative.

No great power can allow a peer competitor to mass on its borders by any other great power. The US/NATO was precisely doing this. As Putin pointed out, the flying time for hypersonic missiles from the Russian border to Moscow was 5 minutes. See the American Realist theorist John Mearsheimer in this respect.

Yet, all we get from the legacy left is the incessant virtue signalling and anti-Russian rhetoric. In truth Putin didn’t want this war, but there was pressure building up not only from the US neo-cons but also internally in Russia for a more militant approach in both the Parliament and with the Russian public. Any disinterested account of Putin’s turned on the initial attack of NATO and its proxies and Russia’s counterattack. The neo-cons should have heeded Obama’s warning that Russia had an ‘escalation dominance’ and that the US would be advised to tread carefully on Russia’s doorstep.

Russia is slowly but inexorably winning the battlefield in what has been a total defeat for the regime in Kiev, and more importantly for the US-NATO bloc. The tectonic geopolitical plates seem to be moving.

Gazprom: Gas supply halted to Bulgaria, Poland until payment in rubles

Wednesday 27 April 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen Net 

Gazprom announced it would halt Russian imports to Bulgaria and Poland until their dues are paid in rubles.

Russia gas to Poland resumes, but no word on Bulgaria.

Russia’s Gazprom announces the suspension of gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland due to the non-payment of dues in rubles.

Russian energy giant Gazprom announced on Wednesday that it had completely suspended gas supplies to Bulgaria’s largest natural gas distribution company Bulgargaz and Polish oil and gas company PGNiG, as the companies failed to pay for gas in rubles.

As of the end of the business day on April 26, Gazprom Export had not received payments for gas supplies in April from Bulgargaz and PGNiG in rubles.

“Gazprom has completely suspended gas supplies to Bulgargaz (Bulgaria) and PGNiG (Poland) due to non-payment in rubles … Gazprom Export has notified Bulgargaz and PGNiG of the suspension of gas supplies from April 27 until the payment is made in accordance with the procedure established by the decree (of Russian President Vladimir Putin],” the company said in a statement.

The energy giant added that it will reduce transit to third countries if Bulgaria and Poland begin to withdraw gas from the transit flow without authorization.

Earlier today, Russian gas shipments to Poland under the Yamal contract were interrupted today, Wednesday, according to data from European Union gas transmission operators, amid heightening fears that Russia may cut supply to the allies of Ukraine in what the latter refers to as “gas blackmail”.

Russia announced it would suspend gas imports to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday, following blasts in a breakaway region of neighboring Moldova that prompted Kiev to accuse Moscow of attempting to extend the Ukraine war into Europe.

In response to the draconian set of sanctions imposed on Russia following its operation, Russia’s energy giant Gazprom informed Poland and highly dependent Bulgaria that it would cut off supply.

Explosions targeting the state security ministry, a radio tower, and a military unit in neighboring Moldova’s Transnistria – held by Moscow’s forces for decades – occurred last week in response to a Kremlin commander’s accusations that Russian speakers in the nation were repressed.

Earlier, Russia had warned against the NATO expansion to Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, calling it a life-or-death situation.

This raised concerns that Moldova could be next in Russia’s attempt to secure its borders against the NATO expansion in the region, contrary to all agreed-upon laws and covenants.

“Russia wants to destabilize the Transnistrian region,” Mykhaylo Podolyak, a Ukraine presidential aide, claimed.

“If Ukraine falls, tomorrow Russian troops will be at Chisinau’s gates,” he said, referring to Moldova’s capital.

The US expressed similar worries but stopped short of endorsing Kiev’s claim that Russia was to blame.

“We fully support Moldova’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.

Will the war keep extending? 

With armaments pouring into Ukraine, Germany declared Tuesday that it will supply anti-aircraft tanks, reversing its previously criticized cautious posture.

Britain will also push Kiev’s allies to “increase” military production, including tanks and planes, to assist Ukraine, with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss calling for a “new approach” to fight Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We must be prepared for the long haul and double down on our support for Ukraine,” she is set to say, according to pre-released remarks.

“Heavy weapons, tanks, aeroplanes — digging deep into our inventories, ramping up production. We need to do all of this,” she will add.

Truss will also urge Europe to cease Russian energy imports “once and for all,” depriving Moscow of a crucial source of leverage over its reliant western neighbors.

Bulgaria, which is nearly entirely reliant on Russia for its annual gas consumption, said it had received information from energy behemoth Gazprom that supplies would be suspended beginning Wednesday. 

Poland’s PGNiG gas company, too, announced that Moscow will turn off the taps, even though its Prime Minister stated that the country’s gas storage facilities were 76% full and that it was prepared to get necessary supplies from other sources.

Russia Mod: Briefing on analysis of documents related to US military and biological activities in Ukraine

March 17, 2022

https://t.me/mod_russia_en/238

The Russian Defence Ministry continues to study materials received from employees of Ukrainian laboratories on the implementation of military biological programs of the United States and its NATO allies on the territory of Ukraine.

Western mass media and some biologists, who most often have a second American citizenship, express doubts about the reliability of the materials published by us. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the documents have the signatures of real officials and are certified by the seals of organizations.

We believe that components of biological weapons were created on the territory of Ukraine.

Here is a document dated March 6, 2015, confirming the Pentagon’s direct participation in the financing of military biological projects in Ukraine.

According to established practice, American projects in the field of sanitation in third countries, including in Africa and Asia, are funded through national health authorities.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the agreement on joint biological activities was concluded between the US Military Department and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. However, the real recipient of funds are the laboratories of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence located in Kiev, Odessa, Lvov and Kharkov. The total funding amounted to $32 million.

It is no coincidence that these biolabs were chosen by the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the contractor company Black & Veatch as the executors of the U-P-8 project aimed at studying the pathogens of the Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever, leptospirosis and hantaviruses. The corresponding request of the Pentagon to involve Ukrainian laboratories for the implementation of the project is presented on the slide. From our point of view, the interest of US military biologists is due to the fact that these pathogens have natural foci both on the territory of Ukraine and in Russia, and their use can be disguised as natural outbreaks of diseases. That is why this project has received additional funding, and the terms of its implementation have been extended.

A study of the documents in the part of the P-781 project on the study of ways of transmitting diseases to humans through bats showed that the work was carried out on the basis of a laboratory in Kharkov together with the infamous R. Lugar Center in Tbilisi. The total costs of the Pentagon for its implementation in Ukraine and Georgia amounted to $ 1.6 million, most of which was received by Ukraine as the main contractor.

The documents received by the Russian Ministry of Defence indicate that research in this area is systematic and has been conducted since at least 2009 under the direct supervision of specialists from the United States within the framework of projects P-382, P-444 and P-568. One of the curators of this activity was the head of the DTRA office at the US Embassy in Kiev, Joanna Wintrall. Maybe journalists should talk to her?

During the implementation of these projects, six families of viruses (including coronaviruses) and three types of pathogenic bacteria (pathogens of plague, brucellosis and leptospirosis) were identified. This is due to the main characteristics of these pathogens that make them favourable for the purposes of infection: resistance to drugs, rapid speed of spread from animals to humans, etc.

It is necessary to note a number of documents confirming the transfer of bioassays selected in Ukraine to the territory of third countries, including Germany, Great Britain, Georgia.

Here are official documents confirming the transfer of five thousand samples of blood serum of Ukrainian citizens to the R. Lugar Center affiliated with the Pentagon in Tbilisi, 773 bioassays were transferred to the reference laboratory of Great Britain. An agreement has been signed for the export of unlimited quantities of infectious materials to the Leffler Institute in Germany.

An analysis of the information received indicates that Ukrainian specialists are not aware of the potential risks of transferring biomaterials, are being used essentially blindly, and have no real idea of the true purpose of the research being conducted.

I would like to draw attention to outbreaks of economically significant diseases on the territory of the Russian Federation. In 2021 alone, the damage from highly pathogenic avian influenza exceeded 1.7 billion rubles, and 6 million heads of poultry were destroyed. At the same time, in European countries, the losses of the agricultural industry from it amounted to about 2.0 billion. euro.

Within the framework of the FLU-FLYWAY project, the Kharkov Institute of Veterinary Medicine studied wild birds as vectors for the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza. At the same time, the conditions under which spread processes can become unmanageable, cause economic damage and pose risks to food security have been assessed.

These documents confirm the involvement of the Kharkov Institute in the collection of avian influenza virus strains with high epidemic potential and capable of overcoming the interspecific barrier. The activities of this institute should be the subject of an international investigation.
Information continues to be received about attempts to destroy biomaterials and documentation in laboratories in Ukraine.

We know that during the liquidation measures in the laboratory of veterinary medicine in Khlebodarskoye, working employees (citizens of Ukraine) were not even allowed into the building! This laboratory cooperates with Anti-Plague Research Institute named after Mechnikov in Odessa, which conducts research with pathogens of plague, anthrax, cholera, tularemia, arboviruses.

In an attempt to cover their tracks, biological waste from the laboratory in Khlebodarskoye was taken 120 km away towards the western border to the area of Tarutino and Berezino settlements. All these facts are recorded by the Ministry of Defence for subsequent legal assessment.

It is necessary to mention the emergency destruction of documents in Kherson biological laboratory.

One of the reasons for such a rush may be the concealment of information about the outbreak of dirofilariasis, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, that occurred in Kherson in 2018. The question arises why four cases of infection were detected in February, which is unusual for the life cycle of these insects. In April 2018, representatives of the Pentagon visited local healthcare institutions, where they got acquainted with the results of the epidemiological investigation and copied medical documentation.

However, no documentary evidence has been found concerning this outbreak in Kherson laboratory. Proceeding from this, we believe that the urgency of destroying such documentary evidence is explained by the desire to prevent them from getting to Russian specialists.

In addition, attention is drawn to the fact of a sharp increase in cases of tuberculosis caused by new multi-resistant strains among citizens living in Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics in 2018. These data are confirmed by specialists of Rospotrebnadzor. During the mass outbreak recorded in the area of Peski settlement, more than 70 cases of the disease were detected, which ended in a rapid fatal outcome. This may indicate a deliberate infection, or an accidental leakage of the pathogen from one of the biolabs located on the territory of Ukraine.

In accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons, the participating States submit to the UN information about objects and ongoing biological activities.

These are Confidence-building measures that are published in order to monitor the implementation of the Convention. Since 2016 – the moment of the beginning of the implementation of the projects mentioned by us (including UP-4, UP-8 and P-781), the USA and Ukraine have been deliberately silent about them in international reporting, despite their obvious military-biological orientation.

Such secrecy is another reason to think about the true goals of the Pentagon in Ukraine.

I would like to remind you of the historical facts when such irresponsible activities of the United States outside of national jurisdiction ended only with formal apologies from the American administration. So, in October 2010, US President Obama acknowledged the fact of conducting illegal research on Guatemalan citizens who were intentionally infected with syphilis and gonorrhea pathogens with the approval of the White House.

The Russian Federation has repeatedly called for the publication of data on the military biological activities of the Pentagon on the territory of third countries, but the collective West, led by the United States, consistently blocks this initiative, preferring to conduct research bypassing international obligations with “someone else’s hands”.

We will continue to study the evidence and inform the world community about the illegal activities of the Pentagon and other US government agencies in Ukraine.

Documents:  https://disk.yandex.ru/d/ndINmQKPfDRM0w

Briefing Slides: https://disk.yandex.ru/d/Y8zIZLLNV6M9Fg

‘After Syria, Ukraine is part two of World War III’: Senior Analyst

March 17, 2022

In a recent episode of his YouTube political talk program ’60 minutes’, senior Lebanese political analyst Nasser Qandil argued that ‘the Ukraine war is part two of World War III’, after ‘part one in Syria had ended in a clear victory for Russia’.

Source: Nasser Qandil (YouTube)

Description:
Date: March 7, 2022

( Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing a small monthly amount here )

Transcript:

Nasser Qandil:

I wish to talk about a number of points regarding the Ukraine war, because we – as always –aim at deepening and consolidating the understanding, awareness, and perception of all those watching us, and helping them to receive the means (that raise their) awareness and not (imposing) our own outcome, meaning they can use the tools, premises, and introductions (we present) to reach different conclusions – and this is an achievement that’s way more important than (merely) dictating to them the outcome (of analyses) and saying (that’s the whole thing) and ‘full stop’ (i.e. you don’t need to think any further). Therefore, our mission in this program is to increase the knowledge (of viewers), and not only to use (the knowledge) we have or that which people have (in our discussions).

The first conclusion I wish to consolidate with you, my dear viewers, is that this war is the largest war after World War II. I personally tried to check through history before adopting this conclusion, (looking into) the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the Invasion of Iraq, the Invasion of Afghanistan, the wars of Israel in our region (the Middle East) since 1967 including the October War we fought (against Israel) as Arabs, and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon; this whole outcome makes me confidently say, bearing responsibility for my words, that this is the world’s largest war after World War II, and I’ll explain why.

The first point is that the initiator of this war is Russia, while all the other wars had (another) common (factor). We haven’t witnessed a war – except for a limited number like the October War for example, like initiatives (by forces) opposing the American (hegemony) project and its extensions and alliances, the majority – 99% of the wars witnessed after World War II were wars of domination and control carried out by the US. Therefore, we are before a war, the first characteristic of which is the transfer of the military initiative in decision-making. This shift moved from a side that was the only one taking the initiative, and which has, for seventy years, taken the lead at the global level, which is the US, (that recently) withdrew from Afghanistan and (began) avoiding to take part in wars and (began) gathering its shreds and shrapnel from places it got involved in with the aim of incurring the least amount of (further) losses, and in an attempt to strike settlement (agreements), (while) on the other hand we have the rise of a side that has started – since more than 10 years within a limited (pace) – speaking about the South Ossetian war in 2008, the Crimean Peninsula war in 2014, the huge position (Russia took) in Syria in 2015, and (the part it took) in Kazakhstan in 2021. However, now (this war) is President Putin’s largest war – Russia’s largest war after this calm ascent (of Russia), and the parallel decline of American power.

Here, we can’t look at the war from the (aspect of) geography alone. Before going into the geographical (aspect), it’s a fundamental and essential issue yes. But (first) we’re talking about a descending arc of a state, which is the US arc (of power), and an ascending Russian arc – an arc that represents this rise of Asia as a whole, and can be seen in Eastern countries in different manifestations, even if there weren’t a precise and accurate coordination and approach between Russia, Iran, and China – because there are many who would try to dig up some cracks and holes within this presentation; we are not talking about congruence of approaches. Even in the Syrian war, China didn’t take the position that Iran took; Russia took time until it took (its) position (to support Syria,) but it eventually did and paid the price for it and reaped its fruits. Consequently, it’s not necessary to speak about congruence, yet there’s an Asian rise (of power) that no one can argue about, a rise that shakes American hegemony. No one can say that the rise of Iran is not evident, and that this rise (of power) didn’t lead to the erosion of America’s position and grip on the heart of Asia and especially in our region (the Middle East). (In addition,) China’s rise worries America and the entire West, and Russia’s rise is now evident in the military sphere and through this huge, massive qualitative step, which (helped) form this ascending Russian arc that expresses this rise of Asia, (a Russian arc) that is sometimes ahead of the (Asian arc) such that it enjoys a higher degree of courage in its decision-making, (all of this) while the descending American arc (lies on the other side)…here we talk about the second characteristic of this war, which makes it one of the world’s most important wars after World War II, which is that it’s taking place in Europe.

All other wars – in the view of the West that led the world, (the West being) the US and Europe – were on the peripheries and in third world countries. I mean, check (the history) of all the (previous) wars – it (will help) explain to us why this revival of racist thought is being seen in (the attitudes) of journalists and analysts through unintended slips of tongue sometimes, (because) maybe if they thought a little about it they’d be ashamed (of what they were saying). However, this war is actually in Europe, and not in a third world country.

Therefore, for the first time since World War II – although the Yugoslavian war was in Europe, it was a war carried out by the US and western Europe to destroy what’s left of the Soviet legacy, to pave the way for a tight grip on the entire geography, economy, and politics of Europe. Now, this is the first war to knock Europe’s door, meaning that Russia is fighting a war and it’s on the European door. This is the second factor.

The third factor – I want to draw attention to the necessity of investigation, to reread information about Ukraine. Here, I’ll provide the main points to help (the viewer) get (the idea of) what we’re talking about. There’s a chain called ‘The European Bridge’ of five major European states, historically speaking: Spain, France, Germany, Poland, and Ukraine. Ukraine, in terms of (geographical) area equals (the area of) France plus a bit, (and it equals) Germany + Holland + Belgium + Switzerland (all together) in (its geographical) area. Ukraine’s population equals the population of France and equals the population of both Poland and Romania added together. The rest of the Eastern European countries became fragments – after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia – the rest, such as Lithuania, Estonia and Hungary are actually micro-states compared to the size of Ukraine. We’re speaking about 45 million people, meaning twice the number of Iraq’s (population) back when the war started (there). We’re speaking about an area of (about) 600,000 km², which is Syria’s size multiplied by three times and a half, and Lebanon’s size multiplied by 60. We are speaking about the second (most important) state in the Soviet Union after Russia, in terms of size, population, army, technical qualifications of its (various) generations, its colleges, participation in food and technical production, its position in terms of nuclear weapons.

So, we’re not speaking about Iraq, the besieged, disintegrated, weak Iraq that suffers from internal crises, that is not supported by any (external) side, and which is this far (from Europe) – if (in) Iraq, the US army’s entrance to the capital, Baghdad, took 20 days while they were at their peak of advancement, and so even if it takes the Russian army 200 days to enter Kyiv, they will still be considered as making (good) progress – (this approach) allows us to read the situation correctly. Ukraine – this is Ukraine, of course in Ukrainian history there’s a connection between it and Russia; Ukraine is to a large extent (considered as a) mini-Russia. Originally, Russia initiated from Kyiv, the Russian Empire was founded in Kyiv and then moved to Moscow. Therefore, there are efforts for reaching parity, or emulation and competition (between them). Ukraine believes – those who know the traditional Soviet environment (can relate), when we used to visit the Soviet Union, none would introduce themselves by their original nationality and point out that they’re not Russian, except for the Ukrainians; they use to say ‘I’m not Russian’. And I’m speaking about communists, he’d be an official whose mission is to negotiate with us and talk about issues. So, (we can notice that) Ukraine has a sense of competition, with the European background, and a dimension that is related to the way Ukraine was formed – which is a group of (mixed) ethnicities, and if you look at its geography you can notice that parts of it didn’t belong to Ukraine and Stalin later joined many of them to Ukraine: a part of Moldova, a part of Poland, in addition to the Crimean Peninsula that was originally Russian.

Anyway, Lenin and Stalin had a bias for Ukraine and a special interest in satisfying this Ukrainian pride and reassuring them that (Ukraine) is of an important and special status. Therefore, it has always been – I use a metaphor sometimes, I’d say that Ukraine’s (relation) with Russia is like Queen Elizabeth and Lady Diana, in which Queen Elizabeth represents the throne, history (of England), etc., and Lady Diana is the sweet, lovely, popular, (lady) that (represents) elegance, youth, and beauty etc. Therefore, Ukraine, in the eyes of the Soviet Union and the West – Brzezinski said in the 80s or 1978 that ‘Russia without Ukraine is a great state, and a very great one, yet without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an Empire’.

So, we must know what we are speaking about, and why am I saying these words. It is to say that the conclusion is that Putin – this is his war, (the war) that he had been preparing for since at least 2014, because the 2014 war when he annexed the Crimean Peninsula and joined it to Russia, it was the first Ukrainian war for President Putin. (Furthermore,) since 2008, when he entered South Ossetia, he wasn’t aiming at Georgia; look at the (world) map, you’ll see Georgia’s size compared to Ukraine, it can’t even be compared to it! The fight is over Ukraine, the same way Syria was (of great importance) in the Middle East; the one who controls Syria will have control over the (whole Middle East) region and the world through it, (now,) the one who controls Ukraine will have control over Europe and the world through it.

Therefore, the first point we must break free from in our thinking and debate, is talking about the duration of the war; who said Putin wishes to end it in a short period of time? Why put a formula that says that one of the signs of success is the speed in which the achievement is done? It’s not a rule at all! This war might be (intentionally) designed to be a long one, so that a new world system could be built upon its ramifications, developments, and (resulting) frameworks.

It’s a war that cannot end without (reaching) a Russian-American-European settlement. Who’s Zelenskyy? What (kind of) position and power does he have (compared to Russia’s power)? What can he offer in any kind of negotiations? And what kind of decision does he get to make in negotiations? Therefore, it’s a Russian-American war. Europe became part of it. And if Europe had made the decision of not being a part of it, the whole thing would’ve ended through a Russian-European settlement. Therefore, the US used all its capabilities to make Europe a part of it, but that’s not a permanent condition. Today the fight is over Europe; to what extent can Europe remain part of this war?

Therefore, we are before part two of World War III. If Syria was the first episode, then Ukraine is the second episode. The first episode ended – if we are speaking internationally – it ended with a clear victory for Russia. Now we are before the second episode.

West should initiate talks with Russia over its security concerns: US expert

16 Mar 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen Net 

According to the expert, a respectful serious conversation on the provision of security guarantees will improve the situation around Ukraine.

Representative of the Schiller Institute, Richard Black. 

To alleviate tensions, the West should begin conversations with Moscow on the security concerns raised by Russia in late 2021, according to Richard Black, a representative of the Schiller Institute.

“The highly reasoned proposals of the Russian Federation to NATO and the West, put forward in December by [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin that mutual security is guaranteed between the United States, West, and Europe, and Russia has to be negotiated, and the simple clear principles laid out in the treaties proposed by the Russian Federation in December have to be negotiated,” Black said when asked what should the West do to ease tensions with Russia.

He believes that a respectful serious conversation between the parties on the provision of security guarantees will improve the situation around Ukraine, including establishing a ceasefire, as well as neutrality of the country.

Earlier this week, Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia-West negotiations on security guarantees could hardly proceed as the situation has drastically changed.

During Russia’s December 2021 security proposals to NATO and the United States, Moscow highlighted the necessity of guarantees that the alliance would not expand eastward to include Ukraine and Georgia. In response, Washington insisted it will not allow anyone to slam the alliance’s open-door policy shut.

The draft agreements also imposed a ban for the United States and Russia to deploy intermediate and short-range missiles through a striking distance of each other’s territory, among other terms.

“Ukraine, Bio-weapons, & the Pentagon”

March 12, 2022

Source

by Keith Hartzler

Are there American-run bio-weapon labs in Ukraine? After reading Dilyana Gaytandzhieva’s 29 April 2018 article “The Pentagon Bio-Weapons,” my answer is “Yes, but with caveats & qualifiers.” Gaytandzhieva claims there are eleven—three in Lviv; two in Dnipro; one each in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Vinnytsia, Ternopil, & Uzhgorod. The fact sheets she provides appear to be from a United States government website, though she does not specify.[1] According to the fact sheets, each lab was built between 2010 & 2013, & each cost American taxpayers $2–$3 million. They are each called either a Diagnostic Lab or a Research Institute, except for the Institute of Veterinary Medicine in Kyiv.

In her opening paragraph, after more or less accusing the United States of crimes against humanity, Gaytandzhieva references the Defense Threat-Reduction Agency & its Cooperative Biological-Engagement Program. The document she links to from Congressional Research Service describes “cooperative threat-reduction programs” as an “emergency response to impending chaos in the Soviet Union” that has since broadened to address chemical, biological, radiological, & nuclear threats from rogue nations & terrorist groups. The document “Summary” also says the Department of Defense biological threat-reduction program, which once focused on “dismantling the vast biological-weapons complex in Russia,” is now used “to promote ‘best practices’ at biological laboratories with dangerous pathogens & to develop disease surveillance systems on several continents.” Nearly 75% of its fiscal-year 2016 budget request was devoted to this program, called “Cooperative Biological Engagement.” So the agency & its program, at its inception at least, seems to have filled a real need. Keeping chemical, biological, radiological, & nuclear weapons away from rogue nations & terrorist groups also seems like a worthwhile endeavor. There is no indication anywhere in Gaytandzhieva’s article that “cooperative biological engagement” might be necessary or have merit. In this way, the article is misleading & apt to give the false impression that the sole purpose of these labs is bio-weapon testing & experimentation by the Pentagon. Her blinders & lack of context were also evident when she confronted (7 March 2018) Robert Kadlec at a conference in Brussels, where he answered her insinuating questions with some of the aforementioned, aboveboard context. However, he also said “the U.S. does not have a military biological-weapons program. Period. End of statement.” He described his statement as “unequivocal & undeniable.” That, to me, is reminiscent of Anthony Fauci’s slippery parsing with regard to gain-of-function research. The use of subcontractors does not absolve funding agencies of responsibility for actions taken in their name, be that the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases or the Defense Threat-Reduction Agency. Nor does parsing the definition of terms to circumvent common-sense, good-faith understanding of a subject.

The outsourcing of work to private companies—in this case, Southern Research Institute; Black & Veatch; Metabiota; Parsons Government Services International; CH2M Hill; & Battelle Memorial Institute—raises issues that call into question the plain truth of Kadlec’s statement. Are these companies accountable to Congress, both in theory & in practice? If employees of these companies are given diplomatic immunity—as Gaytandzhieva alleges vis-à-vis The Lugar Center in Tbilisi, Georgia—what say do host countries have in what these U.S. government proxies are doing? According to Gaytandzhieva, citing a 2005 agreement, “Ukraine has no control over the military bio-laboratories on its own territory.” In which case, we are left uncomfortably close to taking Mr. Kadlec at his word. That requires a level of trust in American government—on a dangerous & far-reaching subject—I do not have. Not even close. And surely a policy of “trust us” is laughable to Russia.

I am certainly not an epidemiologist, nor do I know much about the development & use of biological weapons, including my country’s once-active, now supposedly defunct bio-warfare program. But I am sensitive to the air of deceit, of pretense that pervades institutional pronouncements such as Mr. Kadlec’s. The absence of an official “military biological-weapons program” does not preclude all manner of activities that give every indication of belonging to some sort of unofficial program. Gaytandzhieva presents alarming evidence that a wide range of biological agents are produced &/or tested at Fort Detrick in Maryland, Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, & Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.

It is probably the most persuasive aspect of her article. Less persuasive, to me at least, but still striking is the litany of atypical disease outbreaks in regions of Ukraine where these labs have so recently proliferated. She mentions swine flu in Kharkiv (2016); Hepatitis A in Mykolaiv, Zaporizhia, Odessa, & Kharkiv (all 2017—apparently, the virus was “isolated in contaminated drinking water”); & cholera in Mariupol (2011), Mykolaiv (2014–’15), & Odessa (2015). She suggests The Lugar Center is to blame for both the appearance of certain species of tropical mosquito in Georgia; Krasnodar, Russia; & Turkey & for the changing attributes of Phlebotomine sand flies in Tbilisi & nearby Dagestan, Russia. She suspects the recent appearance of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever in Georgia & Afghanistan is tied to Pentagon contractors & she calls attention to the recent studies of Tularemia—also known as Rabbit Fever & a known bio-agent—in Georgia under the rubric of Cooperative Biological Engagement. The problem with her argument is that proximity to these outbreaks & appearances & changing attributes does not constitute damning evidence against the labs, & the U.S. Army reports she cites from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, & ’80s don’t either. I’m not saying such information is irrelevant. If I lived in Russia or China, the Department of Defense map showing American labs in twenty-five countries would definitely be cause for concern (assuming it is accurate), & the prospect of bio-weapon encirclement would strike me as antagonistic & threatening. I am saying her evidence is far from incontrovertible proof of the wrongdoing she alleges.

As I was finishing my response to Gaytandzhieva’s article, I learned of Victoria Nuland’s testimony at Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Asked by Marco Rubio if Ukraine has chemical or biological weapons, Nuland answered

Ukraine has biological research facilities, which in fact we are now quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces may be seeking to gain control of. So we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach.

Then, smoothly & yet somehow jarringly, Rubio & Nuland joined together like synchronized swimmers to agree that if there is an incident or attack stemming from one of these facilities, “the Russians will be behind it” & they will engage in blame-shifting. Wow. Watching that video is a jolt. Rather than deny the presence of such weapons, Nuland basically acknowledged it. She called them “research materials.” Both her words & her manner of speaking suggest that Russia & China & Dilyana Gaytandzhieva are correct when they accuse the United States of harboring dangerous pathogens in Ukrainian labs. If Russia gains control of the labs, & the pathogens have not been either removed or destroyed, Putin will have proof that the United States has been disingenuous if not criminal regarding its bio-weapons program. No wonder Nuland is “concerned!” The effort to pre-emptively blame Russia for prospective issues with pathogens we are still lying about induces intellectual whiplash & suggests, more ominously, a false flag is forthcoming.

They are from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine’s website

Ukraine Is Not A Victim–It is Part of NWO Agenda

Come on, people. What would America do if Russia or China was attempting to build military bases on our Canadian and Mexican borders? What do you think would happen?

 March 12, 2022

By  Jonas E. Alexis, Assistant Editor

By Chuck Baldwin

As a political analyst and more importantly as a spiritually-minded student of the Scriptures, I am absolutely convinced of this: When the major establishments all pounce on one subject, collectively decide who is a victim and who is a villain and beat the same drum every day over and over in total unison, the narrative that is being presented is one hundred percent upside down.

And right now the power establishments have decided to bewitch us with an anti-Russia, pro-Ukraine agenda. But as with all establishment propaganda, the narrative is a big, fat lie.

I begin with Ron Paul’s excellent commentary:

When the Bush Administration announced in 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia would be eligible for NATO membership, I knew it was a terrible idea. Nearly two decades after the end of both the Warsaw Pact and the Cold War, expanding NATO made no sense. NATO itself made no sense.

Explaining my “no” vote on a bill to endorse the expansion, I said at the time:

NATO is an organization whose purpose ended with the end of its Warsaw Pact adversary… This current round of NATO expansion is a political reward to governments in Georgia and Ukraine that came to power as a result of US-supported revolutions, the so-called Orange Revolution and Rose Revolution.

Providing US military guarantees to Ukraine and Georgia can only further strain our military. This NATO expansion may well involve the US military in conflicts unrelated to our national interest…

Unfortunately, as we have seen this past week, my fears have come true. One does not need to approve of Russia’s military actions to analyze its stated motivation: NATO membership for Ukraine was a red line it was not willing to see crossed. As we find ourselves at risk of a terrible escalation, we should remind ourselves that it didn’t have to happen this way. There was no advantage to the United States to expand and threaten to expand NATO to Russia’s doorstep. There is no way to argue that we are any safer for it.

NATO went off the rails long before 2008, however. The North Atlantic Treaty was signed on April 4, 1949 and by the start of the Korean War just over a year later, NATO was very much involved in the military operation of the war in Asia, not Europe!

NATO’s purpose was stated to “guarantee the safety and freedom of its members by political and military means.” It is a job not well done!

I believe as strongly today as I did back in my 2008 House Floor speech that, “NATO should be disbanded, not expanded.” In the meantime, expansion should be off the table.

Hear, hear, Dr. Paul.

I also encourage you to read this terrific column by Attorney John Whitehead entitled Perpetual Tyranny: Endless Wars Are The Enemy Of Freedom.

In this column Whitehead wrote,

As long as America’s politicians continue to involve us in wars that bankrupt the nation, jeopardize our servicemen and women, increase the chances of terrorism and blowback domestically, and push the nation that much closer to eventual collapse, “we the people” will find ourselves in a perpetual state of tyranny.

It’s time for the U.S. government to stop policing the globe.

This latest crisis—America’s part in the showdown between Russia and the Ukraine—has conveniently followed on the heels of a long line of other crises, manufactured or otherwise, which have occurred like clockwork in order to keep Americans distracted, deluded, amused, and insulated from the government’s steady encroachments on our freedoms.

And so it continues in its Orwellian fashion.

Two years after COVID-19 shifted the world into a state of global authoritarianism, just as the people’s tolerance for heavy-handed mandates seems to have finally worn thin, we are being prepped for the next distraction and the next drain on our economy.

Yet policing the globe and waging endless wars abroad isn’t making America—or the rest of the world—any safer, it’s certainly not making America great again, and it’s undeniably digging the U.S. deeper into debt.

War has become a huge money-making venture, and the U.S. government, with its vast military empire, is one of its best buyers and sellers.

What most Americans—brainwashed into believing that patriotism means supporting the war machine—fail to recognize is that these ongoing wars have little to do with keeping the country safe and everything to do with propping up a military industrial complex that continues to dominate, dictate and shape almost every aspect of our lives.

Consider: We are a military culture engaged in continuous warfare. We have been a nation at war for most of our existence. We are a nation that makes a living from killing through defense contracts, weapons manufacturing and endless wars.

The United States is the number one consumer, exporter and perpetrator of violence and violent weapons in the world. Seriously, America spends more money on war than the combined military budgets of China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Italy and Brazil. America polices the globe, with 800 military bases and troops stationed in 160 countries. Moreover, the war hawks have turned the American homeland into a quasi-battlefield with military gear, weapons and tactics. In turn, domestic police forces have become roving extensions of the military—a standing army.

The American Empire—with its endless wars waged by U.S. military servicepeople who have been reduced to little more than guns for hire: outsourced, stretched too thin, and deployed to far-flung places to police the globe—is approaching a breaking point.

Come on, people. What would America do if Russia or China was attempting to build military bases on our Canadian and Mexican borders? What do you think would happen?

Plus, the leader of Ukraine is anything but a hero. He gladly participated in allowing the banks of Ukraine to be used as money launderers for rich businessmen and politicians and for influence peddling in U.S. politics.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (a Zionist Jew) is also accused of barbaric—even genocidal—treatment of the people living in the two breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk—which have a Natural right under God to separate from Ukraine and who appealed to Russia for protection. (Tell me, did Iraq and Afghanistan invite America to send our military to their countries before we invaded them?) Is it any wonder that Ukraine is looking to Israel for military assistance? After all, Israel is extremely proficient at ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Let’s also not forget that Ukraine is home to over a dozen U.S. biolabs that are sponsored and financed by the Pentagon. In other words, those labs are there for potential military operations. Again, what do you think America would do if Russia had built a dozen military biolabs just across our borders in Canada and Mexico?

Ukraine is NOT a victim. It has been up to its proverbial neck in global (especially anti-Russian) subterfuge, theft, acts of inhumanity and war crimes for years. Ukraine is no friend of freedom or the United States. But it is a friend to corrupt politicians and businessmen.

Whatever is really going on in Ukraine has nothing to do with the narrative being propounded by the major establishments.

1) Let me ask you something: If the United States felt justified in launching preemptive invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan—including long-term occupations—a half a world away from our borders against small backwards nations that posed zero threat to America, how is Russia not justified in launching a preemptive campaign to protect itself from a serious formidable military expansion at its border—especially when its protection is sought from legitimate independent states? (Remember, America was once a breakaway country.) Please read Dr. Paul’s commentary referenced above about why the real villain in this situation is NATO, not Russia. Again, what would we do if we were in Russia’s shoes?

If Russia really wanted to conquer Ukraine, it could easily do so. Ukraine is totally incapable of successfully resisting the Russian military, if Russia truly desired military conquest (which it doesn’t). Russian leader Vladimir Putin told the world exactly why his actions were being taken, what his actions in Ukraine were designed and not designed to do—including NOT occupying Ukraine—and how they would be conducted. I think you should read what he said.

2) Were the U.S. biolabs an important objective? I understand that the labs may have been destroyed early in the operation. If so, that is a VERY GOOD thing.

3) Now that the American people have made it known that they have had it with the phony Covid narrative and the fear factor is totally gone, are the totalitarian elite now using the threat of global war to again consume people’s hearts with fear? As Whitehead said, “Endless wars are the enemy of freedom.” (I’ve been saying that for years.) Fear is also a tool to enslave us. Early in the Covid charade, I brought a message to this regard.

4) Is this a diversion to take our attention away from the National Vaccine Pass (and other attempts by our own central government to trample our liberties) that is being rolled out, supported by both Democrats and Republicans?

5) Is this another manipulation of world affairs from within the backrooms of the CFR and Bilderbergs for the purpose of achieving their overall objective of global governance?

Of course, Scofield futurists are all over the place screaming about “end times prophecy.” What Balderdash! One would think that Christians would start using their brains a little bit and stop listening to these phony prophecy sensationalists who make bank (and fools out of themselves) with false prophecies about the end of the world.

Whatever the real story in Ukraine is, I can tell you this: It is NOT what the major establishments are telling us. And Ukraine is NOT a victim.

Dr. Chuck Baldwin is an American politician and has been involved in at least 12 full-length documentary films. He was the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party for the 2008 U.S. presidential election and had previously been its nominee for U.S. vice president in 2004. He is also a pastor of Liberty Fellowship in Kalispell, Montana.

Related Articles

Snapshot

March 10, 2022

Source

By Fred Reed

Everybody and his goat are talking about the Ukraine. Why not me? You might ask, But Fred, what do you know about it? To which I would respond, Look, this is journalism. You don’t need to know anything, just wing it, preferably using words you can spell. Admittedly this is more of a limitation than it used to be. Anyway, here goes:

Why did Russia invade the Ukraine? Contrary to American media, the invasion was not unprovoked. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, America has been pushing NATO, which is a US sepoy operation, ever closer to Russian borders in what, to anyone who took fifth-grade geography, is an obvious program of military encirclement. Of the five countries other than Russia littoral to the Black Sea, three, Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria, are now in NATO. America has been moving toward bringing in the Ukraine and Georgia. After Georgia would have come Azerbaijan, putting American forces on the Caspian with access to Iran and Kazakhstan. This is calculated aggression over the long term, obvious to the—what? Ten percent? Fifteen percent?—of Americans who know what the Caucasus is.

Putin has said, over and over, that Russia could not allow hostile military forces on its border any more than the US would allow Chinese military bases in Mexico and China or missile forces in Cuba. Washington kept pushing. Russia said, no more. In short, America brought on the war.

Among people who follow such things, there are two ways of looking at the invasion. First, that Washington thought Putin was bluffing, and he wasn’t. Second, that America intentionally forced Russia to choose between allowing NATO into the Ukraine, a major success for Washington’s world empire; or fighting, also a success for Washington as it would cause the results it has caused.

From the latter understanding, America pulled off, at least at first glance, an astonishing geopolitical victory over Russia. Nordstream II blocked, crippling sanctions placed on Russia, many of its banks kicked out of SWIFT, economic integration of Europe and Asia slowed or reversed, Germany to spend 113 billion on rearming (largely meaning buying American costume-jewelry weaponry), Europe forced to buy expensive American LNG, and Europe made dependent on America for energy. All this in a few days without loss of a single American soldier. This presumably at least in part engineered by Virginia Newland who, though she looks like a fireplug with leprosy, seems effectively Machiavellian.

Next victim, China. Divide and conquer. Or at least that’s the theory. At the same time reinstate the JCPOA and use economic baubles to try to pry Iran away from Beijing.

Here we need some context. Everything Washington does internationally aims at maintaining America’s largely military near-hegemony over the world. This involves several elements:

First, military dominance. This includes the many hundreds of bases around the world, naval supremacy, and the huge military expenditure. Thy latter will be maintained at any cost to domestic needs, and apparently it is going to be increased.

Second, control of the world’s supply of energy. Washington is trying to starve Venezuela, with its vast reserves of petroleum, into submission. Submission means letting American-dominated oil majors exploit the country’s oil. Washington is doing the same with Iran and its enormous reserves. It has troops in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, has confiscated Syria’s oil lands, crushed Libya, and so on. Keeping the European vassals from buying more Russian gas through Nordstream II is part of this energy control and an important part.

Third, and crucial, keep Eurasia—note the “EU”—from coalescing into a vast continent-spanning trade zone, which is exactly what China contemplates in its BRI, Belt and Road initiative. This is too much subject for a few paragraphs, but some thoughts: China is a manufacturing juggernaut in explosive growth. Economic power is the basis of all power. China has the advantage of inner lines of communication: it can build rail, fiber optics, highway,s and pipelines in Asia, where America has little access. China has money because it has a for-profit economy, and America doesn’t. The pull of China’s gigantic market and manufactures was beginning to loosen America’s control of Europe. Eurasian integration had to be stopped.

Fourth, the dollar. Washington controls the dollar, the IMF, SWIFT, and in general the international financial system. It uses this control brutally as a weapon to impose sanctions, crippling the economies of such countries as Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and now Russia. Seeing this intimidates other countries. Washington may have gone too often to this well. Having made England, its chief bootlicker, confiscate Venezuela’s gold reserves, and now freezing Russia’s reserves, Washington has served notice that no country is secure from this treatment. Here I speculate freely, but this may prove America’s worst mistake since 1619 as it may greatly accelerate the search for other payment systems—CIPS from China, SPFS from Russia, and the upcoming digital yuan. Washington, methinks, is betting the farm.

So much for the world. Meanwhile, America seems to be sinking into irreversible decadence that muss eventually—I would say soon—affect its international position. As the world’s economic and, laggingly, technological center of gravity moves east to Asia, an internally collapsing America will be less able to maintain the empire. Consider:

Washington’s printing of money, equivalent to the debasing of the coinage characteristic of failing societies, has resulted in high inflation and a potentially catastrophic national debt. This will cause political perturbation as voters seek to find which of the two essentially identical parties will not behave like the other one. Unrest will grow. Trust abroad in the dollar will decrease.

America suffers from a massive and growing trade deficit, largely with China, about which nothing can be done, certainly not soon, because America no longer makes things it needs. Manufacturing cannot be brought back, excep perhaps in niche markets like semiconductors, because the US no longer has the necessary engineers and trained work force, and American labor costs more than Chinese, so reshoring would increase inflation. The importation of cheap Chinese products keeps inflation down,.

The heavy flow of national wealth into Wall Street and the military in addition to offshoring has led to real poverty in Appalachia, the Rust Belt, and the rural Deep South. This has produced some 100,000 opioid deaths annually in despairing populations. Simultaneously large and growing homeless aggregations appear in LA, Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, St. Louis, on and on, estimated at 60,000 in LA and 50,000 in New York, making the subways dangerous. Bush world conditions presumably do not make for political stability, as neither does the governmental inattention to them.

Crime is out of control, not a sign of a healthy polity. Some 700 homicides annually in Chicago, 300 in Baltimore, and similar numbers elsewhere are now routine, almost all of the killers and killed being black. To countries like Japan and South Korea this must seem barbaric. The situation is not First World.

America’s racial problem is grave. The southern border is open, the southwestern states either majority Latino or soon to be. This is not as bad as it could be as the races seem to get along, but it imposes heavy economic and other costs. At the same time across the country cities have huge black ghettos with appalling semiliteracy, no prospects for the young, all of this apparently irremediable. Racial attacks on whites and Asians grow in number and so, almost everywhere, do racial killings, mostly by blacks. Governments at all levels fear blacks who they know will burn cities if provoked, which leads tax bases to flee from cities, making things worse.

This adds to potentially explosive resentment. There is a substantial White Nationalist movement, that wants no non-whites in America (a bit late for this), Republican Chambers of Commerce, that want more illegal Latinos for the cheap labor but won’t say so, and the high-tech sector, which wants more East Asian and Indian immigrants on which America, with a failing educational system, increasingly depends.

Overall, government is weak, unable to prevent crime, riots, and looting. Washington does not control, but is controlled, being a storefront operation for special interests. Elections do not change policy but only the division of the spoils. Presidents perform their three essential duties, protecting Wall Street, Israel, and the military budget, but not much else.

Schooling is being dumbed down in stark contrast with China. Excellence everywhere is discouraged in the name of equity. Native white talent dwindles in the elite schools, from high-end high schools through CalTech, as Asian majorities predominate. Measures of talent, such as SATs and Medcats, are dropped or downplayed. English grammar and arithmetic are dropped as racist. None of this seems likely to improve America’s future competitiveness.

Finally, the media are controlled. This allows Washington freedom of action abroad as enough of the public will believe anything they are told by television (The Russians are coming, the Chinese are coming, the Iranians are coming, the Guatemalans….) Internally censorship may keep the lid on, for now anyway, by keeping enough of the population from knowing what is going on. By preventing discussion of problems, or their mention, it assures that nothing will be done. I suspect this is having the effect of winding a spring.

Where is all of this leading?

Biden is playing as if this were 1960 and the US enjoyed rock solid military and economic superiority and the population were firmly behind him. This is the world he remembers, being an aging cold warrior. He seems to believe that he consequently can do what he pleases with no repercussions for America. This may be true, or true enough. Perhaps he believes that Russia will collapse in domestic rebellion or simply surrender to the US. It is not how I would bet.

But—and this is sheer speculation—it is not clear what would happen if Russia cut off gas and petroleum and wheat and such things as neon gas from Europe. The West is accustomed to bombing remote countries, not to going without. Would Russia collapse under privation before Europe decided it wanted to trade with Moscow after all?

If Biden and the hawks decide to play hardball with China, they may realize that America is an economic dependency of Beijing. If—again, very hypothetically—China cut off all trade with America, the US economy would die instantly. Almost everything on American shelves is made in China. An American public already very unhappy would explode, which it is on the point of doing for various reasons. Reflect on the Floyd riots. China would be hurt, but it has other markets and a nationalistic population more united than the American.

Them’s my thoughts, probably worth what you pay for them.

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation Statements and those biological labs

March 10, 2022

This will contain a few statements and this first one is from about 12 hours ago.  Source is MoD Russia Telegram Channel:  https://t.me/mod_russia_en

Briefing by Russian Defence Ministry

 The grouping of troops of Lugansk People’s Republic, continuing offensive operations, took control of Blizhnee and Tavla. The advance was 4 kilometers.

The operation to liberate Mariupol from nationalists continues.
The units of People’s Militia of Donetsk Republic took control of Azovskiy, Naidenovka, Lyapino, Vinogradar disticts in the east of the city and went to Azovstal plant. “Western” neighbourhood has been liberated in the west part of the city.

 The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation continue to strike at the military infrastructure of Ukraine.

 In total, 2,911 military infrastructure facilities of Ukraine were destroyed during the operation.

 Among them: 97 aircraft, 107 unmanned aerial vehicles, 141 anti-aircraft missile defence systems, 86 radar posts, 986 tanks and other armored vehicles, 107 multiple launch rocket systems, 368 field artillery and mortars, 749 special military vehicles.

  The Russian Ministry of Defence continues analysis of documents provided by employees of Ukrainian biological laboratories on the secret military biological activities of the United States on the territory of Ukraine.

Russian specialists of the NBC protection troops have studied documents on the transfer of human biomaterials taken in Ukraine to foreign countries on the instructions of US representatives.

Detailed information about the implementation of a project by the United States on the territory of Ukraine to study the transfer of pathogens by wild birds migrating between Ukraine and Russia and other neighboring countries was of particular interest.

According to the documents, the American side planned to organize work on pathogens of birds, bats and reptiles in Ukraine in 2022. And further study of the possibility to transfer of African swine fever and anthrax by them.

According to the documents, experiments with samples of bat coronavirus were carried out in biological laboratories created and funded in Ukraine.

The purpose of these and other Pentagon-funded biological researches in Ukraine was the creation of mechanism for the covert spread of deadliest pathogens.

In the near future, we will show another set of documents received from Ukrainian employees of biological laboratories and present the results of their assessment.


  Russian Defence Ministry continues to study materials of military biological programs of the United States and its NATO allies on the territory of Ukraine.


   Briefing on the results of the analysis of documents (https://disk.yandex.ru/d/62hsNB8kC7MXPQ)related to the military biological activities of the United States on the territory of Ukraine

The Russian Defence Ministry continues to study materials on the implementation of military biological programs of the United States and its NATO allies on the territory of Ukraine.

The information received from various sources confirms the leading role of the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency in financing and conducting military biological research on the territory of Ukraine.

Details of the UP-4 project became known, which was implemented with the participation of laboratories in Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa and was designed for the period up to 2020.

Its purpose was to study the possibility of the spread of particularly dangerous infections through migrating birds, including highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza, the mortality rate of which reaches 50 percent for humans, as well as Newcastle disease.

Due to the fact that Ukraine has a unique geographical location where transcontinental migration routes intersect, 145 biological species were studied within the framework of this project. At the same time, at least two species of migratory birds were identified, whose routes pass mainly through the territory of Russia. At the same time, information about migration routes passing through the countries of Eastern Europe was summarized.

Of all the methods developed in the United States to destabilize the epidemiological situation, this is one of the most reckless and irresponsible, since it does not allow to control the further development of the situation. This is confirmed by the course of the pandemic of a new coronavirus infection, the occurrence and features of which raise many questions.

In addition, the R-781 project is interesting, where bats are considered as carriers of potential biological weapons agents.

Among the priorities identified are the study of bacterial and viral pathogens that can be transmitted from bats to humans: pathogens of plague, leptospirosis, brucellosis, as well as coronaviruses and filoviruses.
It is noteworthy that the research is carried out in close proximity to the borders of Russia – in the areas of the Black Sea coast and the Caucasus.

The project is being implemented with the involvement of not only Ukrainian, but also Georgian biological laboratories controlled by the Pentagon in cooperation with the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the US Geological Survey.

The analyzed materials on the UP-8 project, aimed at studying the Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever virus and hantaviruses in Ukraine, clearly refute the US public statement that only Ukrainian scientists work in the Pentagon biolabs in Ukraine without the intervention of American biologists. One of the documents confirms that all serious high-risk studies are conducted under the direct supervision of specialists from the United States.

The payroll of Ukrainian contractors clearly demonstrates how they are financed. It has been confirmed that the US Department of Defence paid the money for research participation directly, without the involvement of intermediaries. The extremely modest pay, by US standards, is noteworthy. This indicates a low estimation of the professionalism of Ukrainian specialists and the neglect of their American colleagues.

In addition, the studied materials contain proposals for the expansion of the US military-biological program in Ukraine. Thus, there was evidence of the continuation of completed biological projects UP-2, UP-9, UP-10, aimed at studying the pathogens of anthrax and African swine fever.

The Pentagon is also interested in insect vectors capable of spreading dangerous infectious diseases. The analysis of the obtained materials confirms the transfer of more than 140 containers with ectoparasites of bats – fleas and ticks from the biolab in Kharkov abroad.

Significantly, similar research was carried out in the 1940s on the development of biological weapons components by the Japanese unit 731, whose members later fled to the US to escape prosecution for war crimes.

I would like to remind you that representatives of Western countries are extremely cautious about handing over their biomaterials.

At the same time, available documents confirm numerous cases of transferring biological samples of Ukrainian citizens abroad. For example, 350 cryocontainers with blood serum samples were transferred from the Public Health Centre of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to the reference laboratory for infectious diseases of the Australian Doherty Institute under the pretext of determining antibody titers.

Another example is the German-funded project No. 68727 EN on the study of Congo-Crimean haemorrhagic fever pathogens and hantaviruses. As part of this project, one thousand blood serum samples of citizens from different regions of Ukraine belonging exclusively to the Slavic ethnic group were donated to the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (Hamburg).

It is highly likely that one of the objectives of the US and its allies is to create bioagents capable of selectively targeting different ethnic populations.

During a hearing of the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 March, Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland reported on the presence of bioweapons in Ukraine where biosecurity research had been conducted. She expressed concern about the possibility of these bio-laboratories and the materials there being taken over by the Russian Armed Forces.

According to available information, the Americans have already managed to evacuate most of the documentation, including databases, biomaterials and equipment from laboratories in Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa to the Lvov Research Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene and the US Consulate in Lvov. The possibility of transferring part of the collection to Poland has not been excluded.

In fact, with her statement, Nuland indirectly confirmed the Pentagon’s military-biological program in Ukraine in circumvention of existing international agreements.

 Documents (https://disk.yandex.ru/d/62hsNB8kC7MXPQ)


Tucker Carlson comments:

Exclusive: Pro-Zionist U.S. Politicians Dead Set on War with Russia

World affairs are rapidly moving toward chaos as the war between Russia and Ukraine threatens to escalate into a nuclear conflagration.

March 9, 2022

By  VT Editors

by Richard C. Cook for VT

World affairs are rapidly moving toward their culmination as the U.S.-instigated war between Russia and Ukraine threatens to escalate into a nuclear conflagration.

The charge to world war is being led by U.S. Zionist politicians and bureaucrats, especially President Joe Biden and his chief implementer, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. As usual, the dirty work on the ground is being carried out by the ever-present CIA and its compliant military superstructure.

By now the Zionist march to world domination has been thoroughly documented and will not be reprised here. It has been accomplished largely through infiltration and control of the English-speaking nations—chiefly Great Britain and the U.S.

Great Britain was taken over during the latter part of the 19th century through the instrumentality of Cecil Rhodes’ Round Table, controlled by the Rothschilds. The U.S. fell under the dominion of the same influences with Zionist creation of the Money Trust leading to the Federal Reserve System in 1913.

The chief competition for world hegemony by 1900 was imperial Germany, which the Zionists succeeded in knocking off through World Wars I and II. Along the way, it was also necessary to eliminate competition from the Austro-Hungarian, Russian, Ottoman, and Persian empires, although the aid of Bolshevik Russia, aka the Soviet Union, had to be enlisted to counter the strength of Hitler’s Germany on the European continent.

By then, the independent Zionist entity of Israel had been wrested from British-controlled land in Palestine. Zionism now had a tangible world headquarters.

But after World War II, as Zionist-controlled America moved decisively toward world hegemony through war against all comers led by its CIA and military establishments, Russia became viewed as a dispensable burden, leading to the Cold War and the dissolution of the Eurasian Soviet conglomeration of nations during the 1990s.

In Europe, Zionist America moved swiftly to take over the British-inspired NATO, which metastasized by the early 21st century to include most of Eastern Europe. Also eager to join were politicians on the Zionist payroll from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine.

Meanwhile, with Russia seemingly down for the count, the Zionists had utilized their 9/11 false flag attacks to launch a massive series of wars against nations of the Middle East to cement control over the Asia-European bridge and to seize the Asian heartland in Afghanistan. Russia’s Slavic kinsmen in Yugoslavia had already been trounced through the NATO attacks in the Balkans in the 1990s.

Earlier, the ground for the Middle Eastern assaults had been prepared by the U.S. through the first Iraq war of the late 1980s. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya were then smashed to bits, while Zionist wars against Syria and Yemen are ongoing.

Of course, Iran has proven a harder nut to crack. Part of the problem with the Zionist plans for Syria and Iran came from support to those nations given in various forms by a resurgent Russia led by Vladimir Putin.

This brings us to today.

Russia under Putin was the last remaining obstacle to final Zionist victory, particularly with China having been pacified through incorporation into the West’s consumer economy and the threat of military confrontation through the U.S.’s “pivot to Asia.” So, obviously, Russia and Putin had to go.

After Russia stomped on the pretensions of Georgia and effectively began to integrate itself into the European economy through the export of petrochemicals, wheat, and strategic minerals, a provocation through the Western takeover of Ukraine presented itself as the chosen means to draw Russia into a catastrophic war.

This was accomplished expertly under the second Obama administration by the 2014 coup engineered by Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama State Department, whereby the legitimate democratically-elected government of Ukraine was overthrown and replaced by a cabal of U.S. puppets under Poroshenko.

Soon afterward, the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine declared independence from the Kiev regime, followed by the Russian annexation of the vital region of the Crimean peninsula.

The Kiev regime then began the assault on Donbass which has gone on now for eight years, and Americans began a relentless propaganda attack against Russia for its actions in Crimea. This attack was led then, as now, by the ubiquitous U.S. Zionist media led by such entities as CNN, NBC, FOX, the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc.

Meanwhile, the now-president of the Kiev Regime, Zelensky, continued to lobby openly for NATO membership and announced his intention to acquire nuclear weapons, even as the U.S. Defense Department set up bioweapons laboratories throughout the country. Russia and Putin, quite naturally, saw the actions of the Kiev regime as an existential threat. On February 24, 2022, the Russian military invaded.

Now the Zionist West has seen its big chance. The time for war with Russia has come, whatever the cost may be. As Zionist politicians everywhere salivate, the door is about to slam, where the last vestiges of independent national sovereignty on planet earth may be closed. Nuclear war looms as the U.S. takes action through sanctions, weapons shipments, and threats of armed retaliation through NATO allies, such as Poland.

Russia has accused the West, rightly so, of acts of economic warfare, and has put its strategic weaponry on alert. The U.S. claims it does not want war against Russia, but this is a sham. The U.S. has already mobilized its direct and asymmetric weaponry.

The main threat is to cut off all imports from Russia, with Germany and other European nations expected to follow suit. This is already crashing Western stock markets and will inevitably cause an economic depression.

Even as this takes place, the Zionist media is trying to get us to blame only Putin. Biden and the other Zionists will, of course, continue to blame Putin for everything, and the megaphone of MSM media will continue to amplify the call to war a thousand-fold.

World war is roaring down the tracks.

Unless, someone, somewhere, breaks the Zionist shackles. As it is absolutely impossible for this to come from the enslaved English-speaking nations, the initiative can only come from continental Europe.

If Zelensky should begin acting like a sane human being and accepts the Russian conditions for peace, and if Putin refrains from taking the Zionist bait and desists from launching a preemptive nuclear attack, then maybe something can change even at this hour. We can only hope.


Richard C. Cook is a former U.S. government analyst who writes on geopolitical subjects.  

Statement by the Chief of the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection troops of the Russian Federation Armed Forces Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov (March 7, 2022): biological programs

March 07, 2022

https://t.me/mod_russia_en/60

 The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation has repeatedly drawn attention to the biological programmes implemented by the Pentagon in the post-Soviet area.

Including the territory of Ukraine that has united a chain of more than 30 biological laboratories divided into those for scientific research and for sanitary-epidemiological investigations.

Those works have been ordered by the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). A firm affiliated to the defence department (Black and Veatch above all others) are involved in the implementation of the projects.
The works refer to three main branches. In the first place, it refers to the biological situation observation in the areas of possible deployment of the NATO military contingents, according to the Pentagon. In the second place, it is dedicated to collecting and transporting the strains of dangerous microorganisms. The third branch of activity refers to scientific investigations on potential biological weapons agents that are specific for that region, possessing natural focuses and able to be transmitted to humans.

For example, since 2021, the Pentagon has been carrying out the project called ‘Diagnosis, observation and prevention of zoonotic diseases in the Armed Forces of Ukraine’ funded with 11.8 million dollars.

In 2020-2021, the German Ministry of Defence examined the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leptospirosis, meningitis, hantaviruses causative agents within the Ukrainian-German initiative for biological security on the external borders of the European Union.

Under the pretext of testing agents for the treatment and prevention of the coronavirus infection, a few thousand of serum samples taken from the infected individuals that refer to the Slavic ethnicity have been transported from Ukraine to Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

At the same time, the activity of the biological laboratories that, according to our data, has been intensified since 2014 and the so-called Ukrainian healthcare system ‘reforming’ programme implemented by the United States have led to an unmanageable increase of hazardous and economically important infections morbidity.

Thus there has been noted an increase of rubella, diphtheria and tuberculosis cases in Ukraine. The incidence of measles has increased more than 100 times. The World Health Organization has declared Ukraine a country with a high risk of the poliomyelitis outbreak.

We are considered that in the year of 2007 a strain of African swine fever with high contagiousness was constructed in the Georgian biological laboratory which is subordinate to Pentagon. It`s spread caused significant economic damage to a number of states including Ukraine and Poland and excluded them from a number of pork exporters.

The Department of the Chief of the Russian troops NBC protection constantly analyzes the biological situation on the territory of Ukraine.

According to our data an emergency phasing out of the biological programmes takes place. The analysed documents confirm that Ukrainian Health Ministry has set a task to completely destroy the bio-agents in the laboratories since 24th of February.

At the same time the analysis of the instructions given to the laboratory officials indicates that liquidation procedure is aimed at the irrevocable destruction of the collections. Apparently, everything necessary for continuation of the implementation of the military biological program has already been taken out of Ukraine.

The analysis of the acts of destruction shows that work was carried out with pathogenes of plague, anthrax and brucellosis in the Lvov biological laboratory, pathogens of diphtheria, salmonellosis and dysentery in laboratories in Kharkov and Poltava. Here are some of them: only in Lvov 232 containers with the casuative agent of leptospirosis, 30 containers with tularemia, 10 with containers brucellosis, 5
containers with plague were destroyed. In total more than 320 containers. The nomenclature and excessive number of bio-pathogens indicate that the work was carried out within the framework of military biological programs.

The curators from the Pentagon understand that if these collections get to Russian experts a fact of violation of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons by Ukraine and the USA will most likely be confirmed. Namely: carrying out work to enhance the pathogenic properties of microorganisms with usage of synthetic biology methods.
Only this can explain a haste with which the liquidation was carried out.

This is only a small part of documents. We continue the work and will inform you.

Related

A matter of self-defence

MARCH 03, 2022

Source

by Ghassan Kadi

I am not here to write about historic, strategic and military details pertaining to the issues surrounding the Ukraine crisis. Apart from those fabricating Hollywood material, there are many excellent analysts covering these areas competently.

But as a Syrian/Lebanese, within my limited capacity, I have a duty to show support and reciprocate Russia’s support to Syria where it is due and, in this case, it is as it is one that is based on truths and moral issues that cannot be overlooked, even if Russia did not support Syria at all.

What I want to discuss is the justification and morality of self-defence.

War is a heavily-loaded word, a word that implies man killing man, humanity fighting humanity, armies pillaging nations, creating orphans and widows, refugees, sex slaves, destroying civilizations, economies, beautiful ancient architectural icons and a whole hoard of other atrocities that often are never repaired or resolved.

But there are wars and there are wars.

One cannot place the actions of the USA’s invasion of Iraq in the same basket as that of resistance against Nazi occupation.

People, and nations, have the right of self-defence. Self-defence is not an act of aggression. It is an act to prevent further aggression.

Not surprisingly, when the rules of the jungle prevail, just like in La Fontaine’s fables, aggressors on one hand conjure up for themselves the justification to kill, and on the other hand, they vilify the victims of their aggression when they try to exercise their right of self-defence.

The USA has been engaged in wars ever since WWII ended. Beginning with the Korean War, the West moved the theatre to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq I and Iraq II, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria; not to mention other smaller wars. In reality, there was never ever any justification for any of them and the national security of the United States of America was never under threat by any of those much pooper and much less equipped nations.

What is ironic is the fact that even though the odds were always in favour of America, and this is an understatement, America never won any of those wars. Some cynics argue that America’s objectives were not about winning wars but about leaving mess and destruction behind. Whilst I partially agree with this sentiment, I cannot accept that America has intentionally invaded Iraq to hand it on a silver platter to Iran any more that it invaded Taliban’s Afghanistan to hand it back to the Taliban. Those who believe that America has always been successful in achieving its target of havoc seem to give it more kudos than it deserves. I genuinely believe that America has been a total failure and that its performance as the world’s self-appointed custodian of the post WWII era had been abysmal to put it mildly.

Perhaps America could be excused for it actions during the hot Cold-War era. It was a period of uncertainty, fear, and what was behind the ‘dreaded’ ‘Iron Curtain’ left little surprises to be desired.

But, using American administration rhetoric, with the dismantling of the USSR this hot-cold War era was also supposed to cease.

Contrary to the commonly-held belief in the West, America did not win the Cold War. The Cold War ended when Gorbachev negotiated with Raegan the terms of disengagement. https://sputniknews.com/20190402/gorbachev-nato-expansion-reasons-1073764558.html

The rest is history. The manner in which America broke all of its promises to never encroach into Eastern Europe, how it coaxed former Warsaw Pact nations to join NATO, how it positioned missiles close to Russian borders, how it pillaged Serbia, how it tried to create a puppet regime in Georgia in 2008, how it sponsored a coup d’etat in Ukraine in 2014 putting Neo-Nazis in charge, how it bombarded the Eastern provinces for eight long years, how it reneged on the Minsk Agreements, how it refused to reach a deal on Ukraine in Jan 2022, a deal that took into consideration Russia’s legitimate security concerns, are all acts of provocation that can only lead to war; a Russian war of self-defence.

Western arrogance remains high despite the fact that Russia has clearly demonstrated red lines in Georgia and Syria. But Kiev is not Damascus. Kiev was the capital of the Russian Empire long before Texas was a state of the Union.

Furthermore, Russia is not Afghanistan or Somalia. Russia is not only a nuclear superpower, but also one with weaponry that is far more advanced than the West’s.

The Western bully has been picking on the wrong would-be adversary, and for a very long time.

What is most unbelievable about the current situation is the Western European compliance with America’s stance. Americans may well be distanced from the history and internal politics of Europe, but Germany, France, Italy and Spain must surely know better, but they are behaving in a manner as if they are either totally ignorant or extremely callous.

Puppet states of Eastern Europe should look over their shoulders and see what real support Ukraine is receiving from America after America promised Ukraine the world and then hung it out to dry.

This brings us back to the issue of drawing the line between instigating war for no reason other than imperial gain and fighting legitimately for self-defence.

The West and its media are taking the line of presenting Russia as the aggressor, portraying Putin as a crazed Tzar who wants to rebuild the USSR; not only ignoring the events of 2014 onwards, but also ignoring past and present atrocities of the West that had no justification at all.

Have we forgotten Iraq’s WMD blunder?

Russia did all it could to avert a military confrontation in Ukraine.

For eight long years, Russia refused to acknowledge the independence of the eastern provinces.

Russia continued to keep all bridges of communication with the West open in the hope of reaching an agreement to end the impasse.

Russia made it clear to America time after time, that it has red lines that cannot be crossed, including not accepting Ukraine to join NATO.

But all that America did was to ignore and continue to intimidate. When the talk about the impending Russian invasion of Ukraine was flagged on Western media, it was because America had the full intention to make sure that the January 2022 Switzerland talks with Russia must fail leaving the military option alone on the table.

The actions of Russia to neutralize and de-Nazify Ukraine are acts of self-defence. Any fair and proper court of justice would attest to this, but not in the West, where media is the echo chamber of the Western globalists and the only key to the hearts and minds of people in the West who unquestionably believe what their media dishes out.

But why are some of Russians so surprised and dismayed now by the new wave of anti-Russian propaganda? Lucky enough to visit Russia a few years ago, I found myself in an alternative paradigm; not a ‘Truman Show’ little bubble, but a huge world that did what it believed was right and didn’t give a pig’s butt (excuse the French) about what the West and Western media thought and decreed.

I was able to see the so-called ‘iron curtain’, way after the USSR was no longer, but not from a Western xenophobic vantagepoint, but from a Russian one that did not seem to care much at all about the views and the attitude of the West.

It was disappointing to see Western franchises like Starbucks and McDonald’s, but Russia looked like a proud stand-alone nation that is big enough, strong enough and rich enough to dictate its own directive and destiny.

If anything, a few years later, Russia is now in a much stronger position to dictate what it wants to the old ailing West and the stronger sanctions today are not going to be any more effective than previous milder ones.

President Biden now represents the West in many more ways than one. Not only he is meant to be the leader of the so-called ‘Free World’, but at his old age, a mental state that borders dementia, he represents the global hemisphere that has lost its technical edge and rationality; not to mention economic clout.

It is very sad that the once developed West that paved the rest of the world in technology and innovation has put its leadership under the hands of short-sighted impotent leaders like Biden, Merkel (formerly), Johnson and Macron. Those weak and shortsighted leaders are pushing the West into the corner of cultural suicide.

They represent the political legacy that led to the exodus of Western manufacturing base.

They are the legacy that destroyed family values, cultural values as well as moral values.

They are the ones forcing Russia to create an alternative global power with China; the West’s main and primary competitor.

But the problem with Western political leaders is that they are not serving their own people; they are serving their sponsors and their own profit and loss statements.

Nations are not corporations, and the corporate aspect of Western political leadership is bursting its own bubble. It is not ready to confront the challenges of either Russia or China, let alone both of them combined. The West continues to live in the euphoria of a bygone era in which it had the upper hand by way of being a leader in technological advances and manufacturing which are the basic foundations for strong economies. It has lost its technical edge, placing itself in a conflict it can neither win, let alone be able to fight.

The West needs to learn to accept humility as a desired value. For the sake of humanity as a whole, it needs to learn this lesson before its obstinance and arrogance leads the world into further and deeper wars and disasters.

How Ukraine’s ‘Revolution of Dignity’ led to war, poverty and the rise of the far right

22 Feb, 2022 

A motley crew of militant Ukrainian nationalists and pro-Western activists wanted to change their democratically elected government. Eight years on, the results look disappointing.

FILE PHOTO. © Getty Images / Victor Boyko

The events that transpired in Ukraine in 2013-14, dubbed the Euromaidan, still resonate in people’s memory. While each side in the conflict views them differently, it’s clear to all that the Ukraine once familiar to everyone has changed beyond recognition since then. 

People’s revolution or coup d’état?  

The impetus for the dramatic events was the decision of the then-president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, to suspend the conclusion of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union and his subsequent failure to sign it during the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. According to Ukraine’s prime minister at the time, Nikolai Azarov, Ukraine’s transition to European industry standards was to cost the country €150-160 billion. The question arises as to what the Ukrainian authorities were thinking during the long preparation of the agreement, but the decision had the effect of an exploding bomb. 

On November 21, immediately after the announcement of this decision, Ukrainian blogger Mustafa Nayyem published a call to action on social networks: “We will meet at 22:30 under the Independence Monument. Dress warmly, bring umbrellas, tea, coffee, a good mood, and friends.” It was this that kicked off the Euromaidan. However, as subsequent events confirmed, the protest was not the initiative of an opposition blogger and a few students. Soon after the protests began, a number of political heavyweights got involved. On November 30, MP Irina Gerashchenko said on a talk show that riot police had used violence against the protesters and a Western journalist had been injured. Her political opponents suspected this was deliberate disinformation, as the real clashes between the police and the activists in the main city square started only the next day. Gerashchenko’s statements could have been a provocation meant to spark them. That having been said, radical nationalists had begun attacking police much earlier, in fact. According to some evidence, the first violent episodes occurred on November 23. 

With the active support of the United States and EU member states, preparations for launching and organizing the protests, as well as deploying the media, began long before Viktor Yanukovich’s decision to postpone signing the agreement with the EU. The most notable outlet covering the Euromaidan was an internet channel called Hromadske.tv (Public TV), which received a $50,000 grant from the US Embassy in September 2013. Another $95,000 was added by the Embassy of the Netherlands. The former head of Ukraine’s security service, the SBU, Alexander Yakimenko, later reported that it was then that the volume of diplomatic mail increased, and fresh dollar banknotes began to appear on Kiev’s main square, the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, which would go on to lend the revolution its name. 

The West made no effort to hide its interest. Western politicians spoke openly on the Maidan, and EU diplomats attended speeches. Victoria Nuland, an official representative of the US State Department, was not only personally in the Maidan, but also discussed the appointment of the future rulers of Ukraine. She later acknowledged that the US had allocated $5 billion to Ukraine to “promote democracy.” 

On February 20, 2014, events entered a decisive stage. In the morning, firearms began to be used on the Maidan, which led to the deaths of both protesters and police officers. Those events have never been investigated. Some reports claim that snipers from Georgia took part in the shooting of protesters. General Tristan Tsitelashvili, the former commander of Georgia’s elite Avaza unit, has stated that one of his former subordinates, Koba Nergadze, participated in the operation, along with Alexander Revazishvili. The former two men gave official testimony to Alexander Goroshinsky and Stefan Reshko, the lawyers representing former members of Ukraine’s Berkut special forces in Kiev’s Svyatoshinsky District Court. According to sources in the Georgian military, the orders were given to them by Brian Christopher Boyenger, a US Armed Forces officer. One of the snipers allegedly involved in the shootings told the BBC about the events, but the Western media paid little attention to their testimony. 

On February 21, President Yanukovich, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, and Eric Fournier, Head of the Continental Europe Department of the French Foreign Ministry acting for the EU, along with representatives of the opposition, signed an agreement on settling the crisis in Ukraine. In particular, the document provided that “within 48 hours after signing this agreement, a special law will be adopted, signed, and promulgated that will restore the effect of the Constitution of Ukraine of 2004.” 

From that moment on, the coup d’état can be tracked literally minute by minute: 

February 21, 4:40pm: the UNIAN news agency publishes information about the signing, which requires Yanukovich and the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament of Ukraine, to fulfill their obligations under the agreement by 4:40pm on February 23, 2014. 

Night of February 21-22: Euromaidan activists occupy government buildings and the parliament.  

22 February 2014, 12:29pm: The head of the Verkhovna Rada, Vladimir Rybak, is removed from office. 

12:34pm: Alexander Turchinov is elected as chairman in his place.  

1:08pm: The Verkhovna Rada assumes political responsibility for the situation in Ukraine.  

5:11pm: The resolution ‘On the self-removal of the president of Ukraine from the exercise of constitutional powers’ is adopted

23 February 2014, 12:36pm: A resolution is passed to assign the duties of the president to the chair of the Verkhovna Rada. 

Though the deadline stipulated in the agreement for amending the constitution had not yet been reached, the EU recognized as legitimate the appointment of the chair of the Verkhovna Rada to be the acting president of Ukraine. 

Policeman hit by a firework ©  Olga Sukharevskaya, 2013

Who started the war and the repressions?  

Officially, the war in the Donbass began on April 13, 2014, when Turchinov announced the launch of an “antiterrorist operation,” following the Donetsk People’s Republic’s declaration of independence on April 7. The Lugansk People’s Republic declared independence on April 27, by which time Kiev’s operation was already underway. 

In fact, Ukrainian forces were deployed to the Donbass in March 2014, long before these regions declared their independence. It’s true that the locals, protesting against the Euromaidan movement coming to power, started seizing government buildings. However, it was the Maidan activists who had used this tactic first, back in January 2014.

Meanwhile, people living in the pro-Russian southeastern regions of Ukraine simply organized protests at the weekend, hoping the new government would listen to them. Unlike their opponents, the 30 protesters who were burned alive in the Trade Unions Building in Odessa were not armed. It all came to light in ‘The Masks of the Revolution’ – a French documentary by Canal+ that the Ukrainian Embassy demanded be banned in Europe.  

On May 9, 2014, Ukrainian tanks entered Mariupol city center, where unarmed people were marching in celebration of Victory Day in the Great Patriotic War. Later that day, there was a shootout in front of a local police station that involved the far-right Azov Battalion and resulted in casualties among policemen and civilians. 

Even though the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called for investigations, none have been conducted. On top of that, the repressions machine kicked into high gear, making prison sentences for anti-Euromaidan comments or likes on social media commonplace. A recent example is what happened to a Sumy Region local, who was convicted under Article 109 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine for once liking a post on the Odnoklassniky (Classmates) social network that spoke of unity between Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians. A couple of days ago, Deputy Head of National Police Alexander Fatsevich said “‘Russian world’ enthusiasts will be detained and brought to justice.” And, recently, the SBU charged prominent journalist Miroslava Berdnik, who recently had serious back surgery, with undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The daughter of the Ukraine Helsinki Group co-founder Oles Berdnik, she is a human rights activist staunchly following in her father’s footsteps. Miroslava Berdnik even addressed the Israeli Knesset, outlining the issues of Nazism and anti-Semitism in Ukraine. 

The Kiev government is ignoring the concerns of international organizations and preventing Russian artists from performing in Ukraine, as well as banning Russian books and Russian and even Ukrainian TV channels. The forced Ukrainization continues despite all  resolutions passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Matilda Bogner, head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, has pointed out incidents involving online bullying, threats, intimidation, and incitement to violence against those who are against Ukrainization or “who expressed positive views about the Russian language or otherwise expressed opinions perceived as pro-Russian.” 

The infamous Myrotvorets (Peacekeeper) website that has collated the personal data of thousands of people, including EU and US nationals, remains operational. Recently, it added the President of Croatia Zoran Milanović and former head of the German navy Vice Admiral Kai-Achim Schönbach to its blacklist. But while high-profile figures in the Myrotvorets database have the means to ensure their own safety, people such as journalist Oles Buzina and head of the Joint Military Union of Ukraine Oleg Kalashnikov ended up dead

Justification and spread of Nazism 

Due to the active participation in the Euromaidan protests of radical far-right ultra-nationalists, who inherited the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists’ (OUN) ideology dating back to World War II, today’s Ukraine condones support for Nazism. Despite the fact that the OUN was condemned by the European Parliament in its resolution of 25 February 2010 on the situation in Ukraine, in 2015, Kiev adopted a law ‘On the legal status and honoring of the memory of the fighters for the independence of Ukraine in the 20th century’. This law elevated the OUN and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), who were abettors of the Third Reich, to the status of fighters for Ukraine’s independence. Among the leaders of these organizations were Stepan Bandera, recruited by Nazi Germany’s military intelligence agency, Abwehr, for espionage, and Roman Shukhevych, a hauptmann of the German Shutzmannschaft 201 auxiliary police battalion and one of the commanders of the Nachtigall Battalion. 

Nazi symbols drawn by Euromaidan activists, graffity says «Death to police» ©  Olga Sukharevskaya, 2013

The Act of Restoration of the Ukrainian State, announced by the OUN on 30 June 1941, is considered an important date in today’s Ukraine. Article 3 of this act reads as follows“The newly formed Ukrainian state will work closely with the National-Socialist Greater Germany, under the leadership of its leader, Adolf Hitler, which is forming a new order in Europe and the world and is helping the Ukrainian people to free itself from Muscovite occupation.” 

Addressing the UN Security Council, Elena Berezhnaya, head of the Irina Berezhnaya Institute for Legal Policy and Social Protection, said that glorification of the SS Galicia Division has become common practice in Ukraine, as has the erection of monuments to commemorate Bandera and his supporters, and government funding of neo-Nazi groups under the guise of patriotic education of the youth. 

Today’s neo-OUN has deeply infiltrated both Ukraine’s government and law enforcement structures. The George Washington Institute of Public Policy has published a report saying that the Hetman Petro Sahaidachny National Army Academy, Ukraine’s premier military training institution, which is supported by the US administration, has been home to the far-right group Centuria. 

And the activities of Ukrainian nationalists are not limited to Ukraine’s territory – they are actively promoting Nazi ideas in Western countries too. According to US outlet Politico, the Azov Battalion – which is controlled by an ex-member of the Ukrainian Parliament, Andriy Biletsky – has established a link with the Nordic Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi group with official chapters operating in Sweden, Finland, and Norway. One of the Rise Above Movement’s founders, American white supremacist Robert Rundo was among those invited to attend a meeting with members of the battalion. The same article states that there is a connection between the same militia and Brenton Tarrant, an Australian white supremacist who killed 51 Muslims in an attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. It also reports that US Army veteran Craig Lang, who is wanted for the 2018 slaying of a Florida couple, had been active on the front line in eastern Ukraine, where he had fought on Kiev’s side. 

As outlined in a new report published by the US-based Soufan Center, which focuses on global security challenges and foreign policy issues, “Ukraine has emerged as a hub in the broader network of transnational white supremacy extremism, attracting foreign fighters from all over the world. Where jihadis travel to fight in places like Syria, white supremacists now have their own theater in which to learn combat – Ukraine, where the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces has been raging since 2014, attracting fighters from around the globe who are fighting on both sides. Recent research shows that around 17,000 foreigners from 50 countries, including the United States, have gone to fight in that conflict.” 

However, the demand voiced by the US Congress that the Azov Battalion – which was incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard in November 2014 – be officially placed on the US’ list of foreign terrorist organizations has not been met, and neither has the ban imposed on funding it and other Ukrainian neo-Nazi militia been implemented. 

Economic failure amid militarization  

Ukraine’s military spending is now more than eight times higher than it was back in 2013, but the economy on the whole is in a deepening recession. In 2021, Ukrainian GDP stood at a record $195 billion (compared to $182 billion in 2013), but that was negated by inflation. When it came to certain goods, consumer inflation reached 11%, hitting a record high in the past three and a half years. The CEO of the CASE Ukraine think tank, Dmitry Boyarchuk, points out that, “in a number of areas, this growth is in name only: the prices on our exports were simply higher than the prices on our imports. But in terms of volume, our exports have been shrinking. We produce exactly as much as before, if not less, but we earned more because of the prices in the global markets.” 

At the same time, the debt has been growing. In 2013, Ukraine’s external debt amounted to $27.9 billion, but by the end of 2021,  it had reached $47.7 billion. 

Ukraine has been gradually transforming from an industrial and agrarian country into a raw-materials supplier. In 2013, machine-building exports accounted for 18.9% ($12.9 billion), while, in 2017, they were down to 9.9% ($4.3 billion). The foreign trade structure for 2021 confirms this trend. Ukraine’s top exports last year were ferrous metals ($13.95 billion, up 81.4% compared to 2020), grains ($12.34 billion; +31.2%), and animal and vegetable fats and oils ($7.04 billion; + 22.5%). As for the imports, apart from energy resources, Kiev needs machines and equipment ($14.2 billion; +22.9%), as well as products of the chemical and related industries ($9.74 billion; +32.8%). It is ironic that the US ambassador said Ukraine must become an agrarian superpower. The “granary of the USSR,” as Ukraine was once known, is now importing more and more food. In 2021, it imported $8 billion worth of food products (+19% compared to 2020). 

A destroyed armored vehicle in Kiev ©  Olga Sukharevskaya, 2013

At the same time, we’re seeing deindustrialization. In 2014, the Lvov Bus Factory was closed, and, in 2018, bankruptcy proceedings were initiated over the Zaporozhskiy Automobile Building Plant. In 2016-2019, the Antonov aircraft manufacturer didn’t produce a single plane. In July 2021, the Nikolayev Shipyard – once a key part of the Soviet shipbuilding industry – was officially closed. Yuzhmash, a large aerospace and rocket factory, has been barely staying afloat since 2014. In 2013, 50,449 cars were manufactured in Ukraine, but, by 2021, the number had decreased to 7002. 

Living standards are also falling. Utilities rates keep rising, and, as of now, the utilities debt has reached $3 billion, owing to International Monetary Fund (IMF) requirements. Ukrainian political analyst Vladimir Chemeris explains that “the tariffs will keep rising. Back in summer 2020, our government signed a memorandum with the IMF, agreeing that gas prices should be fully market-determined. Market price means higher price. The IMF also underlined this requirement time and time again, and our government agreed, hoping for more and more loans to at least pay off the previous ones.” 

Having terminated its gas supply contracts with Russia, Ukraine has had to deal with an energy crisis. On top of that, Kiev has to pay more for gas than even the EU countries. In October, gas prices across the EU ranged from €300 to €700, while, in Ukraine, it reached €1,100. 

And so Ukrainians are leaving the country en masse. In 2020, 601,200 received EU residence permits. According to the Ptoukha Institute of Demography and Social Studies, in 2021, the number of migrant workers stood at 2.5 to 3 million people, while 1,068,000 Ukrainians obtained Russian citizenship in 2014-2021. In the first 10 months of 2021, the population outflow exceeded 600,000 – a record high in the past 11 years.  

A survey carried out by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology shows that 64.7% of Ukrainian citizens believe things are going in the wrong direction. One in four Ukrainians and one in three young people want to move to a different country.  All in all, this can hardly be called a victory for the Euromaidan. 

By Olga Sukharevskaya, a Ukrainian-born ex-diplomat, legist, and author based in Moscow

Russia’s campaign against Ukraine: Putin stands up to the world

February 25, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen 

Mohamad Zreik 

The international community looks with caution at the heated situation between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia’s Campaign against Ukraine: Putin Stands Up To the World

On Thursday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the start of a large-scale military action in Ukraine’s Donbas. According to former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Russian soldiers initiated a large military operation in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Russian troops are reportedly prepared to enter into Ukraine from the Crimean Peninsula. A tense border between Ukraine and Russia has been developing for weeks. The US claims Russian President Vladimir Putin planned to attack Ukraine long ago.

Russia-Ukraine tensions date back to the “Middle Ages”. Both Russia and Belarus have roots in the East Slavic kingdom of Kievan Rus’, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Despite their common ancestors, these two countries developed independent languages and civilizations. So while Ukraine couldn’t establish itself, Russia expanded into an empire. Since 1917, when Russia’s empire crumbled, a large section of what is now Ukraine was forcefully reoccupied by Soviet Russia.

Even though Ukraine and Belarus helped overthrow Soviet domination in December 1991, Moscow tried to maintain its status by creating the Commonwealth of Independent States. The Kremlin thought it could influence Ukraine by supplying cheap gas. While Russia and Belarus have a close relationship, Ukraine has traditionally looked west. Contrary to popular belief, Russia was not unhappy with the Ukrainian government’s pro-Western stance in the 1990s since Moscow kept mute, the West did not strive to integrate Ukraine, and the Russian economy was struggling.

Russia was obsessed with the Chechnya conflict. Moscow officially recognized Ukraine’s borders and Crimea’s Russian-speaking population in 1997. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, Ukraine held the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal. They worked together to denuclearize Ukraine in exchange for security guarantees against a potential Russian attack. Kiev handed Russia hundreds of nukes. Moscow and Kiev had their first real diplomatic crisis under Putin. Vladimir Putin began building a dam in the Kerch Strait in Kosa Tusla in 2003.

When the Russian and Ukrainian presidents met, they addressed the issue by agreeing to redraw the country’s borders. When the dam project was stalled, the two countries’ ties began to erode. As a result of the “Orange Revolution,” Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western politician, defeated Viktor Yanukovych in the 2004 Ukrainian presidential elections. To Ukraine’s surprise, Russia cut off gas supply twice in 2006 and 2009.

The Bush administration’s aim to integrate Ukraine and Georgia into NATO and accept their membership through an initial preparation program in 2008 was greeted with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rejection.” Bush’s proposal was foiled by France and Germany, and while Ukraine and Georgia joined NATO during the Bucharest summit, no timeframe was set. Because joining NATO took longer than expected, Ukraine sought a partnership with the EU.

In the summer of 2013, Moscow placed heavy economic sanctions on Kiev and restricted imports. In light of this, the Yanukovych government suspended the pact, sparking a wave of protests. He was detained in Russia in February, and Russia annexes Crimea. A political vacuum in Kiev allowed Moscow to seize Crimea in March 2014, marking the start of an unofficial war. So when Donetsk and Luhansk declared themselves people’s republics, Russian paramilitary forces joined the fight. After the May 2014 presidential elections, the Kiev administration started a major military operation dubbed the “War on Terror.”

The “Normandy Format” was also created at a June 2014 meeting between newly elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day landings. In September, a Minsk peace agreement ended hostilities on a larger front by defeating Ukrainian military elements in Ilovaisk, east Donetsk. A proxy war rages in Donbas and in early 2015 the rebels began an onslaught on Kiev, supported by Russian forces without identification, which Moscow denied. Kiev alleges Russian soldiers assisted the offensive.

The attack on Debaltseve, which compelled the Ukrainian army to leave in a manner close to escape, cost the Ukrainian forces a second loss. Although its conditions have not yet been fully implemented, “Minsk 2” was agreed upon under Western auspices at the time. In the fall of 2019, the two warring sides succeeded in evacuating forces from many battle zones; but no meetings since the December 2019 Normandy conference in Paris. Seeing Ukraine’s current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, would be a waste of time for Putin.

Since December 2021, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has publicly urged the US not to allow Ukraine’s NATO membership or military assistance. President Putin is deeply disturbed by the thought of Ukraine joining NATO. According to Chapter V of the “NATO” pact, any attack on a NATO member constitutes an attack on all 27 members, putting Russia in direct confrontation with the US, UK, and France.

First, in the spring of 2021, Putin gathered military people and equipment along the Ukrainian border, attracting the attention of the US, which sought to meet with Putin and Vice President Biden. Meanwhile, Putin’s views on the US have shifted dramatically, especially after the haphazard US military departure from Afghanistan and the division that followed the previous presidential elections, which Moscow regards as proof of American weakness. Vladimir Putin sees the West as fundamentally split on the role of the United States, and President Biden is still working to mend the transatlantic partnership after the level of distrust established under former US President Donald Trump’s term. In addition, France was surprised by Biden’s nuclear submarine deal with the UK and Australia.

Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO raised concerns about a Western military presence on Russia’s borders. Because, as Putin stated, “we must make this totally definite,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov says Russia “needs a legally binding promise” that NATO would not expand. Most Donbas residents speak Russian; hence 720,000 of the almost 3.5 million residents have Russian passports. In eastern Ukraine, the Russian government has long aided and backed Ukrainian insurgents.

In mid-week polls, Donbas residents favored the Russian government. The next day, the Donetsk and Luhansk parliaments agreed to protect any Russian military operation in eastern Ukraine if Russia recognized the two territories. Averting a financial catastrophe in Europe by blocking “Nord Stream 2,” the gas pipeline linking Russia to Germany and then to the rest of Europe, Western nations may impose pressure on Moscow.

Russia began massing soldiers along the Ukrainian border in November. In his address on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged separatist-controlled areas of Ukraine’s two regions as separate entities. Putin says Ukraine has no history and its leaders are corrupt. When the Russian army topped 100,000 soldiers on February 15, a spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry claimed certain army units “had already started placing their equipment onto trains and wagons; today they will start returning.” After Russia’s statement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance “constantly moves forces forward and backward.” The alliance’s forces have always moved right, left, forward, and backward. Russian military capabilities have progressively increased along Ukraine’s borders in recent months.

The international community looks with caution at the heated situation between Russia and Ukraine. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, as well as China, have called for calm and dialogue. On the other hand, the Russian President considers that this decision was inevitable and Russia is achieving its strategic goals in Ukraine.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

قبل تدخلها في أوكرانيا.. كيف واجهت موسكو تطويق واشنطن والناتو لحدودها؟

2022 السبت 25 شباط

المصدر: الميادين.نت

بتول رحال 

العملية العسكرية الروسية في أوكرانيا ليست الأولى من نوعها. فقبل ذلك، قامت موسكو بالتدخل في بلدانٍ مجاورة لها، ضد وجود الولايات المتحدة والناتو وتأثيرهما فيها.

لا تتوانى روسيا عن حماية حدودها ومجالها الحيوي أمام أي مخاطر تواجهها

“هل يجب علينا أن ننظر، مكتوفي الأيدي وغير مبالين، إلى مختلف النزاعات الداخلية في بعض الدول، وإلى فظائع الأنظمة الاستبدادية والطغاة وانتشار أسلحة الدمار الشامل؟ هل نستطيع النظر مكتوفي الأيدي إلى ما يجري؟ سأحاول الإجابة عن هذا السؤال، بالطبع، لا ينبغي لنا النظر مكتوفي الأيدي”

(الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين في مؤتمر ميونيخ، في الـ10 من شباط/فبراير 2007)

تضمّن هذا الخطاب الشهير للرئيس الروسي، فلاديمير بوتين، آنذاك، انتقاداتٍ لاذعةً للولايات المتّحدة، ودول الغرب، وخصوصاً دول حلف شمال الأطلسي، التي “تسعى لتمدد الحلف نحو حدود روسيا، على الرغم من الوعود التي قدّمها الناتو سابقاً إلى موسكو”، وفق بوتين.

بمقارنة خطاب بوتين قبل 15 عاماً، مع خطابه الذي ألقاه قبيل بدء العملية العسكرية الروسية في دونباس، والذّي أكّد خلاله أنّ المواجهة بين روسيا والقوى القومية المتطرفة في أوكرانيا “لا مفر منها”، وأنّه “لن يسمح لأوكرانيا بامتلاك أسلحة نووية”، نرى أنّ روسيا ما زالت متمسكّةً بموقفها في مواجهة أي تهديدٍ أو تأثيرٍ للولايات المتحدة وحلف الناتو، وخصوصاً في البلدان الواقعة عند حدودها، ولاسيما أنّ هذه ليست المرّة الأولى التي تتدخّل فيها موسكو، أمنياً أو سياسياً، في بلدان مجاورة لها، في وقت لم تتراجع واشنطن ودول الناتو أيضاً عن تطويق روسيا.  

التدخل العسكري الروسي في جورجيا

في السابع من آب/أغسطس 2008، اندلع نزاعٌ مسلّح في جمهورية أوسيتيا الجنوبية، المعترف بها جزئياً في جنوبي القوقاز، وذلك بعد أن شنّت جورجيا هجوماً عنيفاً على عاصمة أوسيتيا الجنوبية، تسخينفالي، وحاولت فرض السيطرة على الجمهورية باعتبارها جزءاً من أراضيها.

بعدها بيومٍ واحد، في الثامن من آب/أغسطس، أعلن الرئيس الروسي آنذاك، ديمتري مدفيديف، إطلاق “عملية عسكرية لتطبيق السلام” في منطقة النزاع – في أوسيتيا وأبخازيا على البحر الأسود -، اختُتمت في الـ12 من آب/أغسطس، بطرد القوات الجورجية من أراضي أوسيتيا الجنوبية وجمهورية أبخازيا، المعترف بها جزئياً أيضاً، وسيطرة الجيش الروسي على عدد من البلدات والمدن الجورجية، وأيضاً باعتراف موسكو بهما دولتين مستقلتين. 

حينذاك، تعهّد الرئيس الروسي، ديمتري مدفيديف، “احترام حياة المواطنين الروس وكرامتهم أينما وُجدوا”، إذ إنّ أوسيتيا وأبخازيا، يتكلّم معظم السكان فيهما الروسية، ويحملون جواز سفرٍ روسياً. بعد ذلك، قام مدفيديف، في الـ16 من آب/أغسطس، مع رئيسي أوسيتيا الجنوبية وأبخازيا والرئيس الجورجي، ميخائيل ساكاشفيلي، بالتوقيع على خطة لتسوية النزاع.

وبشأن سبب قيام جورجيا بهذه الخطوة ضدّ أوسيتيا الجنوبية، أوضح فلاديمير بوتين، الذي كان رئيساً للوزراء آنذاك، أن “مستشارين عسكريين أميركيين شاركوا في الصراع الذي اندلع في جورجيا”، مشيراً إلى أنّ “روسيا وجدت علامات على أن مواطنيين أميركيين كانوا في منطقة العمليات العسكرية في البلاد”.

يُشار إلى أنّ هذه الأحداث اندلعت بعد أشهرٍ قليلة من تعهّد حلف “الناتو” رسمياً، في قمة  بوخارست، في نيسان/أبريل 2008، منحَ كل من جورجيا وأوكرانيا العضوية فيه، عندما “تتوافقان مع معايير الحلف”.

استعادة روسيا شبه جزيرة القرم

بعد أحداث جورجيا بعدة أعوام، أُطيح الرئيس الأوكراني، الحليف لروسيا، فيكتور يانوكوفيتش، في الـ21 من شباط/فبراير 2014، عقب موجة احتجاجات شهدتها العاصمة كييف، عُرفت بحركة “الميدان الأوروبي”، بسبب تعليق الأخير التوقيع على اتفاقية شراكة تجارية مع الاتحاد الأوروبي.

إلا أنّ هناك مَن رفض هذه التحركات ووصفها بـ”الانقلاب”، وبدأت احتجاجات في المناطق الشرقية والجنوبية من أوكرانيا، طلباً لعلاقات أوثق بروسيا، بينما تعدَّدت التظاهرات في شبه جزيرة القرم من أجل فكّ الارتباط بأوكرانيا والالتحاق بالاتحاد الروسي.

لم تغضّ روسيا الطرف عن طلب مواطني القرم، بل سارعت إلى تنفيذه، لتعلن انضمام الإقليم إلى أراضيها في الـ18 من آذار/مارس بعد أن قامت قوات موالية لها بالسيطرة على شبه الجزيرة، وعقب استفتاء أجرته القرم، أيّد 96% من المشاركين فيه هذا الانضمام.

روسيا تدعم لوكاشينكو في احتجاجات عام 2020

أمّا في بيلاروسيا، فقامت روسيا بدعم الرئيس البيلاروسي ألكسندر لوكاشنكو، في مواجهته  للاحتجاجات غير المسبوقة، التي نددت بإعادة انتخابه  في التاسع من آب/أغسطس 2020، وذلك عن طريق إقرارها بشرعية الانتخابات الرئاسية في البلاد، مبديةًً استعدادها لتقديم المساعدة العسكرية أو غيرها من المساعدات لتطبيق القانون، على لسان رئيسها فلاديمير بوتين.  

وذكرت صحيفة “نيويورك تايمز”، في تقرير تعليقاً على كلام الرئيس الروسي، أن تحذير بوتين من أن روسيا يمكن أن تتدخل لاستعادة النظام، يشير إلى “الدعم الكامل للوكاشينكو بقدر أقل من إرساله رسالة إلى الغرب، مفادها: إذا واصلتَ الضغط على بيلاروسيا، فسيكون لديك أوكرانيا أخرى بين يديك”.

حينها، اتهم لوكاشينكو الدول الغربية بالتدخل المباشر في الوضع في البلاد. أمّا وزير الدفاع الروسي، سيرغي شويغو، فوصف الاحتجاجات التي شهدتها البلاد بـ “الثورة الملوَّنة” التي تقدّم الولايات المتحدة مساعدةً تقنية إليها، عبر تأجيج التوترات، مؤكّداً أنّه كان للثورة الملونة عدة أهداف، من بينها “تعطيل تكامل دولة الاتحاد مع روسيا، وتخريب العلاقات بين موسكو ومينسك”.

يُذكَر أن تلك الاحتجاجات حدثت في وقت كان حلف شمال الأطلسي يعمل على تحسين بنيته التحتية العسكرية، وتخزين المواد والوسائل التقنية والأسلحة والمعدات العسكرية بالقرب من حدود الاتحاد الروسي. 

إدخال قوات حفظ السلام الروسية لكازاخستان

على الخطى نفسها، سارت روسيا في كازاخستان، التي شهدت في مطلع العام الحالي موجة احتجاجات بدأت بمطالب اقتصادية، تحولت إلى اشتباكات عنيفة بين المتظاهرين وقوات الأمن في عدد من المدن، بينها ألما آتا كبرى مدن البلاد. 

قامت موسكو، مع تصاعد الاحتجاجات في كازاخستان، بإدخال قوات حفظ السلام الروسية، العاملة ضمن مهمة منظمة معاهدة الأمن الجماعي، للبلاد، تلبيةً لطلبٍ من الرئيس الكازاخي، جومارت توكاييف، من أجل تنفيذ المهمات الموكلة إليها بشأن حماية المنشآت الحيوية والبنية التحتية الرئيسة هناك.

وخرجت قوات حفظ السلام الروسية بعدها بأسبوع عقب انتهاء مهماتها، وإعلان السلطات إنهاء عملية “مكافحة الإرهاب” في ألما آتا ومنطقتين في جنوبي البلاد، الأمر الذي وصفه توكاييف بأنّه “نجاة من عملية انقلاب”.

وتبيّن بعد ذلك أنّ “المظاهرات في كازاخستان مُعَدّة مسبقاً لزعزعة استقرار الوضع في البلاد، وأن منظّميها تلقوا دعماً من الخارج”، وفق رئيس اللجنة التنفيذية لرابطة الدول المستقلة، سيرغي ليبيديف. وهو ما تدخّلت روسيا ودول منظمة الأمن الجماعي، بحسب بوتين، من أجل إيقافه. 

وبحسب الرئيس البيلاروسي، ألكسندر لوكاشنكو، فإنّ التدخّل حدث لأنّه “لا يمكن التخلي عن كازاخستان كهدية، مثل أوكرانيا، إلى أميركا وحلف شمال الأطلسي”.

اتّخذت روسيا، منذ زمن، قرار مواجهة الأحادية الأميركية، ووضعٍ حدّ لتوسّع الناتو، وهي من أجل ذلك لا تتوانى عن حماية حدودها ومجالها الحيوي أمام أي مخاطر تواجهها، إن كان من خلال تشكيل التحالفات العسكرية والسياسية، مثل معاهدة الأمن الجماعي، أو توقيع المعاهدات الأمنية مع جيرانها من الدول، مثل الاتفاقية التي تمّ الإعلان عنها مؤخراً بين روسيا وأذربيجان، أو من خلال العمليات العسكرية كالتي تحدث الآن في أوكرانيا، وحدثت سابقاً في عدد من الدول. 

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هكذا تكلّم بوتين…

 الخميس 24 شباط 2022

 سعاده مصطفى أرشيد _

ألقى الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين الاثنين الماضي خطاباً يمكن القول إنه كان خطاباً استثنائياً بكلّ المعاني، وهو يذكر بالخطابات التي كانت تلقى في أيام قديمة كان للعقائد فيها اعتبار كبير. استعرض بوتين تاريخ روسيا والصراع العالمي منذ عهد القياصرة من آل رومانوف مروراً بالحقبة الشيوعية، مذكراً بأخطاء ومثالب القيادة السوفياتية ـ البلشفية، في اتفاقية 1922 المهينة مع الغرب والتي وقعتها القيادة البلشفية لتتفرّغ لحربها الداخلية مع معارضيها المناشفة ولو على حساب المصالح الروسية العليا، وهو بخطابه هذا وكأنه يعلن عدم اعترافه بنتائجها في ذكراها المئوية، ويرى أنّ تلك السياسة القاصرة في إدراك الأبعاد السياسية هي التي أسّست لانفصال أوكرانيا عن وطنها روسيا الأمّ.

هذا الخطاب سيشكل ولا شك ملمحاً من ملامح السياسة الروسية لفترة طويلة مقبلة، ويعطي فكرة عن مقدار جدية روسيا وحلفائها في المشاركة الفعّالة وضرورة الشراكة الكاملة في بناء نظام عالمي جديد وبشكل يحمي مصالحهم بقدر ما يحمي السلم العالمي، وتكراراً أن لا معنى للسلم العالمي إذا كان على حساب مصالحهم العليا وأمنهم القومي، وروسيا ومن معها يضعون العصا تلو العصا في دواليب القرار الأميركي الذي لا يزال يأمل بأن يرث بشكل أحادي القطب النظام السابق الثنائي القطبية، والذي ترى أوساط عديدة في واشنطن انه يمثل النظام الأمثل ونهاية التاريخ، حسب نظريات أكاديمية متهافتة.

 خلص بوتين للقول إنّ مجموعة فاسدة وعميلة للغرب هي مَن يحكم أوكرانيا، وإنّ هذه المجموعة ليست عدوة لروسيا فحسب وإنما لروسيا وللشعب الأوكراني على حدّ سواء، فهؤلاء دمّروا البلد وباعوا اقتصاده وأمنه وصناعاته لحسابهم الخاص، وأودعوا الأموال في أرصدتهم في البنوك الغربية، هؤلاء جعلوا من أوكرانيا بلداً مستباحاً لا بل شبه محتلّ من الغرب والذي يسيطر على قرارات وعمل الحكومة، كما يسيطر على القضاء والجيش الذي يمكن إدارة قطاعاته العسكرية من غرف عمليات حلف شمال الأطلسي (ناتو). إنهم يريدون ابتزاز روسيا وهم يسرقون الغاز الروسي المار من أراضي أوكرانيا في طريقه إلى أوروبا، ويقدمون المعلومات الأمنية لأعداء روسيا وأعداء الشعب الأوكراني، ثم إنّ هؤلاء الأطلسيّين يمتلكون القدرة في حال تواجدوا على الأرض الأوكرانية على تهديد أمننا القومي، لذلك لن نسمح بتمدّد حلف شمال الأطلسي شرقاً، وهذا قرار حاسم مرتبط بعقيدة الأمن القومي الروسي، يؤكد بوتين أنّ روسيا تفضل وتعطي الأولوية للحلّ السياسي الهادئ وتفهم تعقيدات الحلول الأخرى ومخاطرها، والتي قد تلجأ لها في حال فشل الحلّ السياسي ورفضت مقترحاتها من أوكرانيا ومَن وراء أوكرانيا، وبوتين في نهاية خطابه لم ينس التأكيد على أنّ الغرب لا يزال حتى ما بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي وعقيدة الشيوعية، لم يتوقف عن اعتبار روسيا عدواً استراتيجياً.

 إنها ولا شك أيام صعبة على العالم، وقد تشهد ارتفاعات جنونية في أسعار كثير من السلع، خاصة الغذائية منها والتي تأتي من أوكرانيا وعلى رأسها القمح والشعير والذرة، كذلك أسعار البترول والغاز خاصة في غرب أوروبا، وهي أوقات صعبة على روسيا وخياراتها التي قد تحمل مخاطر عالمية كالتي ذكرت أعلاه، ولكن روسيا سبق لها أن مرّت بأوقات صعبة تحتاج لأن تتذكرها اليوم، وذلك عندما كانت تحاول الخلاص من تركة بوريس يلتسن البائسة، ومحاولاتها استعادة دورها ومكانتها، ذلك في حين تمّ خذلانها من دول الكتلة الشرقية التي سارعت إلى الدخول في المجموعة الأوروبية، وحلف شمال الأطلسي، فيما عمل الغرب على إثارة الشيشان وغيرهم من الأقليات (وإن كانت أقليات كبيرة)، ثم حاول التسلل إلى جورجيا وروسيا البيضاء وأوكرانيا ليلعب في برزخ الأمن القومي الروسي، ولم تجد روسيا في ذلك الحين من صديق ونصير يساعدها في محنها المتعددة إلا سورية، التي منحتها إطلالتها الوحيدة على المياه الدافئة من خلال موانئها في شرق المتوسط، والتي لا تزال حتى الساعة نافذة روسيا الوحيدة، والتي تعيد الأزمة الحالية التأكيد على مدى الأهمية القصوى لسورية في الأمن القومي الروسي، وفي حين تنأى كثير من الدول الصديقة لروسيا عن التدخل لصالحها في هذه الأزمة، نرى أنّ وزير الخارجية السوري يزور موسكو ويعلن من هناك وقوف بلادة الحاسم مع موسكو ويعلن اعتراف سورية بجمهوريتي لوغانسك ودونيتسك، ولعلّ سورية كانت الدولة الأولى بعد روسيا في العالم بهذا الاعتراف.

 تسير سياسات الدول وفق إشارات بوصلة المصالح الدقيقة، لذلك تركز الضغط السياسي والأمني وحتى الاقتصادي على سورية، لكي تتخلى عن روسيا وتفكك قواعدها وتمنع عنها إطلالتها البحرية على المياه الدافئة. وهذا ما رفضته دمشق، وكان رفضها هذا سبباً من أسباب الحرب الكونية في سورية وعليها. وهي حرب بالمعنى الاستراتيجي حرب على روسيا في الوقت ذاتها، وذلك بهدف طردها من شرق المتوسط، ولتمرير الغاز القطري عبر الأراضي السورية إلى أوروبا ليكون بديلاً عن الغاز الروسي، من هنا يمكن فهم أنّ التدخل الروسي في الأزمة السورية لم يكن باعتباره رداً للجميل. فلا أحد يفكر بهذه الطريقة وروسيا ليست استثناء، روسيا دخلت في عام 2015 للدفاع عن نفسها، للدفاع عن مصالحها الاستراتيجية المهدّدة والمذكورة آنفاً.

مساء أول أمس الثلاثاء ردّ الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن على خطاب نظيرة الروسي، معلناً الدفعة الأولى من عقوباته، ومؤكداً أنّ العقوبات المقبلة ستكون أكثر صرامة وقسوة، فيما قال ناطق باسم الكرملين بلهجة متهكمة رداً على بايدن، بأنّ الرئيس الروسي لم يكن لديه الوقت لسماع خطاب الرئيس الأميركي، لذلك من الصعب التعليق عليه.

هكذا ردّت روسيا القوية التي ترى أنّ مصلحتها فوق كلّ مصلحة، ويرى بعض منا ـ وكاتب المقال منهم ـ أنّ مصلحتنا القومية تفوق أيّ مصلحة، فلا بدّ من العمل على صيغة بيننا وبين روسيا تكون مصالحنا المشتركة فوق مصالح غيرنا. القيادة الروسية التي لطالما تذرّعت بأنّ في (إسرائيل) ما يزيد عن مليون مستوطن من أصل روسيّ، نأمل أن تكون قد امتلكت الوقت في هذا الظرف الدقيق والحساس للاطلاع على تصريحات وزير الدفاع (الإسرائيلي) يائير لابيد، الذي أكد الثلاثاء الماضي انه إذا اندلعت الحرب بين روسيا وأوكرانيا فإنّ (إسرائيل) ستقف حيث تقف الولايات المتحدة، أي في مواجهة روسيا، غير آبه بأنّ لديها مصلحة بالحفاظ على علاقات جيدة مع موسكو، لقد جاء الوقت لتعميق هذا التحالف السوري ـ الروسي وحان الوقت ليدرك الحليف الروسي ضرورات حليفه، كما لمعرفة مَن هو عدوه…

*سياسيّ فلسطينيّ مقيم في الكفير ـ جنين ـ فلسطين المحتلة

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