Super-States in Core Eurasian Geopolitics – Utopian Proposition?

November 08, 2022

Source

by Straight-Bat

  1. Introduction

A question that troubled me often involves different kinds of “state apparatus” witnessed in the history of core Eurasia – principalities, city-states, kingdoms, empires, nation-states etc. Every possible combination of a geographical region (within core Eurasia) and a particular epoch represents a specific historical manifestation of a particular type of geopolitical entity – hence, in the 18th century while Caspian Sea region hosted a number of principalities like emirates/khanates, the Chinese mainland hosted an empire. The question I struggled with: is there a particular form of geopolitical entity that can be termed as better (or worse) for the society compared to the others? An extension of the same question would be whether the history of humankind follows any particular trajectory so far as development of political institutions are concerned. An offshoot of that question is what Marx famously referred to as the ultimate destination of the destiny of humankind – (class-less) ‘stateless’ society. While searching for a plausible response to my query, I also discovered an interesting phenomenon: a specific geopolitical entity can be beneficial and detrimental to the interests of a society at the same time, and with passage of time its impacts on the society transforms dynamically. Thus, an ‘empire’ could be destroyer of the society in a small principality while acting as a facilitator for trade and commerce for the rest of empire – Mongol empire in 13th century was a classic example of this. Russian empire elicits an example of how the positive role of the ‘state apparatus’ in providing arable land in central Asia to the peasants during 18th-19th century transformed into state repression (guided by the large land-owning kulaks) in the second half of the 19th century. Yet another interesting case study could be how the central Asian region around Caspian Sea-Aral Sea-Amu Dariya-Syr Dariya acted as the trade routes (a significant part of the famous Silk Route stretched from eastern China to Mediterranean Sea) that benefitted its aristocracy much more profoundly than the commoners who would actually execute the physical process of goods transportation and arrangements of other logistics. So, there is no straight answer to the basic question I mentioned in the beginning. Rather, I am happy to put the question in an altogether different format – assuming the Marxist idea of a stateless (class-less) society as inevitable, my quest would be to explore which kind geopolitical entity is suitable for bringing about such revolutionary change in the society to transform the selfish unjust and unequal society into a just and equitable society where 90% of the population, the plebs not only gained equal rights legally but, more importantly, they exercise those rights.

Another question, not completely unrelated, that has been bothering me relates to the geography, and history of the single geographic landmass that is known in academic books in two parts – Asia, Europe. To be specific, I have been deliberating on the question whether core Eurasia could really be treated as the ‘heartland’, control of which is a prerequisite to exercise total control over the world? Before one could sincerely take up the issue for a discussion, he/she must be able to grasp the definition of ‘core Eurasia’. Geologically, ‘Eurasia’ is a tectonic plate that lies under much of Europe and Asia. However, there is no well-defined geographic boundary of ‘core Eurasia’ in international politics. The European (geopolitical) strategists and Asian intellectuals converge on this subject remarkably well — the landmass that lies between Pacific Ocean in the east and river Vistula plus Carpathian mountain range in the west, and between Arctic Ocean in the north to the line joining Arabian Sea coast-Himalayan mountain range-South China Sea coast in the south can be termed as ‘core Eurasia’. This particular question has a definite answer – ‘core Eurasia’ indeed can be assumed as heartland because of two reasons. Firstly, the countries that dot the entire landscape of core Eurasia are not only home to 25% of the global population currently but has enough arable land, water, and forest resources for a healthy and continuous population growth. Secondly, the entire landmass of core Eurasia hold deposits of minerals, fossil fuels, rare earth, and gems in disproportionately high quantities compared to its share of total surface area of earth. Hence, the human civilization can grow, sustain, and flourish as a stand-alone phenomenon in core Eurasia even if civilizations in other regions of the world fail to sustain – this, in my opinion, is the single most important characteristic of core Eurasia why it may be considered as the ‘heartland’. Readers who are conversant with the works of geopolitics pundits like Brzezinski will easily conclude that I don’t subscribe to Brzezinski’s thought on this issue which was centred around ‘exercising power to control the world’ as he noted, “The control over Eurasia would almost automatically entails Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent.

Having established the fact that there is ample justification for treating core Eurasia as the heartland and having identified the objective of my primary quest as finding out the most appropriate type of geopolitical entity that would facilitate a just exploitation-free society, let me clarify why I’m spending time and effort to author this article. There is a specific background why I’m inclined to get into such a subject. Three to four thousand years back my ancestors roamed in the vast Eurasian steppes with an objective of finding a large inhabitable space to settle down – destiny called them to move to the Indus valley from where they finally spread across the entire south Asian subcontinent. Till now, in our community, when a member passes away, the (direct) descendants have to tie a piece of kush (i.e. long grass) to our body during the grieving period – thus, during the most difficult days of life when one’s parent departs, we remember our origin, the steppe grassland! Apart from that, during the initial 1200 years of current era, my region and people were intellectually involved with the Chinese and Tibetan scholars in a two-way exchange of knowledge, spirituality, religion, trade, and martial art. Buddhist scholars from eastern region of Indian subcontinent traveling to Chinese mainland (including Tibet) were as common as scholars from Chinese mainland staying in Buddhist universities located in the eastern region of Indian subcontinent. Needless to say then, I am concerned about core Eurasia and all those people who inhabit these lands now.

This article is fundamentally based on my thoughts, and I don’t claim to anchor these thoughts on any academic mooring. However, I will present facts based on historical and current affairs and apply rational logic (with minimum role of sentiment) to present my hypothesis. I don’t intend to hurt anybody’s sentiments or sense of patriotism or sense of duty towards own community. I ONLY wish that this article should settle down in the collective memory of all core Eurasian citizens as an abstract idea – may be a ‘utopian’ one – which, in future by 2050 CE, should be discerned by the wise people of all countries and communities, across core Eurasian landmass.

  1. What is Wrong with core Eurasia Currently?

Quite in disagreement with many alt-media reporters and commentators, I would like to argue that core Eurasia presently is going through a seemingly end-less turmoil – economic, political, social, cultural – majority part of which is orchestrated by the Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy. I will only list down the current disorders in core Eurasia that has geopolitical and geo-economic implications:

  1. South Korea – not only South Korea (a phantom-state that got created after WW-II) has been turned into a low-cost military-industrial complex to supply military machinery to countries that can’t afford American and European weapons, but the entire South Korean society also has been infested with immoral vulgar and decaying influence of ‘Jewish’ Christianity [link 🡪 https://www.zerohedge.com/medical/scariest-halloween-my-life-120-dead-south-korea-after-crowd-crushing-incident ]. South Korea is a malignant cancer in core Eurasia that has been growing phenomenally with the capital investment by the Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy during past 5 decades protected by USA military bases. Unless appropriate treatment is carried out, it will remain a consistent threat to security of core Eurasia
  2. Taiwan – not only Taiwan (a phantom-state that got created after WW-II) has been turned into a ‘giant weapons depot’ by the Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy to cause major destruction of industrial belts and technology hubs along the south-east coastal regions of Chinese mainland, but the elite Taiwanese society has also been thoroughly westernized along with tie-up with USA on manufacturing of weapons [link 🡪 https://www.newdelhitimes.com/us-considering-joint-weapons-production-with-taiwan/ ]. Taiwan is another malignant cancer in core Eurasia that has been growing no less remarkably than South Korea (with the capital investment by global oligarchy). Unless appropriate treatment is carried out, it will remain a consistent threat to security of core Eurasia
  3. Kazakhstan – largest of the artificial-states that came into existence in central Asia after the Soviet stooges of the global Zionist-Capitalist clique demolished the USSR in 1991. Over the decades Kazakhstan has become the anchor state for NATO expansion into core Eurasia – in order to develop the interoperability between elements of its armed forces and those of NATO countries, since 2006 Kazakhstan has hosted annual military exercises called “Steppe Eagle”. ‘Kazakhstan’s PfP Training Centre was accredited by NATO as a Partnership Training and Education Centre in December 2010’. The most dangerous activity on the soil of Kazakhstan is the research on biological warfare by USA funding [link 🡪 https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202203/1254486.shtml ]. If Taiwan and South Korea are malignant tumors on the periphery of core Eurasia, Kazakhstan is right at the centre! It will certainly become a future threat to the stability and prosperity of core Eurasia
  4. Kyrghizstan-Tajikistan-Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan – other phantom-states that came into existence in central Asia after the planned demolition of the USSR. Significant social-political-environmental issues exist in these 4 state-lets – (i) Wahhabism, the version of Sunni Islamic extremism is rampant in all these 4 phantom-states coordinated by Turkey plus Saudi Arabia based oligarchy, and the most preposterous matter being that in each of these 4 phantom-states the citizens are instigated on the basis of ‘nationalism’ (against other 3 nationalities) and ‘religion’ (against secular state policy, forcing the government to initiate policies that would force the people adopt Arab-Islamic names, wear hijab for women, abstain from music and sports, exclude women from public life, teach only religious education in Arabic language, preach religious militancy through Islamic jihad, etc.); (ii) Decades of extremely high rate of water consumption have taken their toll on these societies – rapid environmental degeneration; (iii) elites from politics, judiciary and bureaucracy have been involved in operating drug trafficking business in order to extract illicit profit from the drug trade (which primarily originated in Afghanistan coordinated by the Zionist-Capitalist oligarchy mostly based out of Anglo countries and Israel). Undoubtedly these ‘four sisters’ can create more headache for core Eurasia in future
  5. Mongolia – A country where the society apparently loathes to deliberate on modernization of education, industry, and communication. Along with Kazakhstan, Mongolia adds to the geopolitical uncertainties right in the centre of core Eurasia. Till date Moldova offers minimum destabilization to core Eurasia as compared to other regions listed here. However, the local oligarchy is working hand in glove with the global Zionist-Capitalist clique to control the government and force it towards joining NATO block. This country might become a future threat to the security of core Eurasia
  6. Afghanistan – A country where poverty and lawlessness are the general norms, Zionist-Capitalist clique has been running world’s largest drug cartel since past three decades. During the same period, Wahhabism took a new name in Afghanistan – Taliban. These two problems got exacerbated with collapse of government services, and curtailment of foreign aid. Sudden and unilateral withdrawal of USA and NATO military forces from Afghanistan was NOT really sudden – the entire game was planned well in advance. USA based Zionist-Capitalist oligarchy hoped that the ‘Islamic Wahhabism’ will continue to flourish in Afghanistan and Talibani ideology and militants will become the largest export of Afghanistan [link 🡪 https://www.fpri.org/article/2022/05/northern-afghanistan-and-the-new-threat-to-central-asia/ ] Even if the current Taliban government appears to be taking governance seriously, there is every possibility that in the near future, Afghanistan will become the hotbed of ‘Islamic movements’ which will be utilized to overthrow or destabilize governments across core Eurasia
  7. Transcaucasia region –apart from the central Asian artificial countries, Transcaucasia was another region where dissolution of Soviet Union created ‘unstable states’. Unlike other 8 regions listed here, this is a region where two rounds of war were fought resulting in much destruction. Subversion is a norm here rather than exception. A deep analysis would indicate that the intra-regional politics is compelling Georgia-Armenia-Azerbaijan to engage in bitter struggle among themselves to diminish each other thereby fettering countries like Russia and Iran with the problem of refugee and migrants. Undoubtedly Turkey (as a coordinator of Islamic militant gangs that directly/indirectly work for the Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy) and USA governments are managing the puppet show staying behind the curtain, but it is doubtful to what extent that will cause rupture in the Eurasian fabric. Having said that, it must be noted that an unstable Transcaucasian region can create troubles for the trade-routes that crisscross this region used by core Eurasia and other countries in Asia and Europe
  8. Moldova – along with Ukraine, Moldova adds to the geopolitical uncertainties in the eastern side of core Eurasia. Till date Moldova offers minimum destabilization to core Eurasia as compared to other regions listed here. However, Zionist-Capitalist clique works overtime here also to control the government and force it towards joining NATO block. The country might become a future threat to the security of core Eurasia
  9. Ukraine – another large artificial-state that witnessed a territorial expansion entirely due to historical undercurrents. Ukraine has been converted into a ‘giant fortress’ by the Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy which would have joined NATO to host missile bases (if Russia not made its geopolitical demands that Ukraine will never join NATO clear to the Ukraine government in 2021 end). But, the most dangerous situation for the entire planet is: Ukraine is rushing ahead with research and development of (i) biological, (ii) chemical, (iii) nuclear warfare with funding and technology tie-up with institutions based out of USA, and other Anglo countries. on manufacturing of weapons [link 🡪 https://www.unz.com/mwhitney/uncle-sams-bio-weapons-extravaganza/ ]. If an iota of sanity was left with Ukraine government, they would have concluded a treaty with Russian government within one month of special military operation accepting the terms set by Russia. Instead, the skeletons are coming out of the Ukrainian closet – the Ukrainian government for a long time has been 100% owned by the Jewish oligarchy who wants to mobilize the last citizen of Ukraine because the USA and Anglo countries wish to fight and destroy Russian land and society. Russia and core Eurasia must not allow continuation of such a toxic entity in core Eurasia
  10. Baltic region – region of 3 phantom-states that got created due to the dissolution of the USSR. This region is special because the Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy has been driving the government policies such that during past three decades, depopulation across the entire Baltic region became a continuous and consistent social phenomenon. There is a robust background to this – the Hegemon wanted the region absolutely free from any settlement in order to (i) convert the entire Baltic Sea coast into a giant naval and land army base, (ii) restrict Russian access to Baltic Sea as much as possible, (iii) invade Kaliningrad (old Konisberg) and destroy the Russian military base. The USA government has been pursuing policies on these (unstated but obvious) objectives for decades [link 🡪 https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Falling-In_Deterrent-Value-of-HNS-in-the-Baltic.pdf ]. Unless appropriate actions are taken, it will transform into a nightmare for the security of Russian society and land impairing core Eurasian architecture considerably.

Except Mongolia and Afghanistan, all other entries in the above mentioned list have been identified as phantom-state / artificial state – Eurasian history corroborates my statement. Few common traits exhibited by the listed entities are: (i) local oligarchy has been in the drivers’ seat to control power and wealth to the detriment of the common population, (ii) an inward-looking religious / nationalist posturing is a common thread across the region, (iii) global Zionist-Capitalist forces are using the local oligarchy to foment socio-political tensions that will divert the people’s hatred towards core Eurasian powers like Russia and China, (iv) USA, Israel, Anglo countries and NATO countries use Turkey and Japan as the spearheads to control these regions, (v) through multilateral institutions like SCO, EAEU, CSTO and geo-economic programmes like BRI China and Russia try to influence the political and economic viability of these regions. Even though (iv) and (v) balance each other, the entire core Eurasia may become an extremely unstable region if the Zionist forces succeed to set a conflagration simultaneously across 3 / 4 entities (which is a wet dream of the Zionists).

Since this article deals only with core Eurasia, I won’t raise geopolitical and geo-economic problems that beset Asia and Europe. However, countries like Japan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Syria, Turkey, Balkan countries, Poland, Germany, France, Italy, and the UK present two types of problems through their hard and soft power: (a) presently all of them participate (most of them willingly) in the common global conspiracy hatched by the Zionist-Capitalist oligarchy against core Eurasian countries and societies, (b) historical role played by almost all of them to foment geopolitical instability in their own region with/without involvement of the global Zionist-Capitalist oligarchy.

  1. Political-Economic Integration in Core Eurasia Initiated by the Mongol Empire

Like it or dislike it, loathe it or love it, romanticize it or demonize it, one can’t simply ignore the role of Mongol empire in shaping the core Eurasian landmass – it is a well-established historical fact that, the Mongol empire shattered the medieval era geopolitics in the core Eurasian region applying ruthless force wherever they faced resistance. Though a united Mongol empire didn’t last even fifty years in the 13th century after demise of Chinghis Khan, the remnants of Mongol khans remained rulers in many smaller regions across core Eurasia for another five centuries as ‘Khanate’ entered the lexicon of modern political studies. If the current doldrums in core Eurasia is put under scanner, a strange observation can’t be avoided – many a current geopolitical trouble has its root in the Mongol-instigated geopolitics during the late medieval-cum-early modern era. That indicates we can’t avoid to briefly explore the geopolitical contour of the Mongol empire during the 13th century. (It will be a splendid historic inquiry if the evolution of Mongol empire is analyzed from 1227 CE when Chinghis Khan died till 1911 CE when Mongolia declared independence as a ‘modern’ state – but that is beyond the scope of this article).

While Chinghis Khan was the creator and the first emperor of Mongol empire, after his death at 1227 CE, the descendants while expanding the boundaries to cover entire core Eurasia also engaged in internecine warfare among themselves – after the death of Mongke Khan, by 1260 CE the empire was transformed into a confederacy of 4 empires, and by end of the 14th century each of those empires again got split into multiple khanates ruled by Chinghis Khan’s successors or non-Mongol rulers with kinship to Mongol aristocracy. The following table 3.1 provides a brief tentative geopolitical summary of 13th century core Eurasian landmass:

Table: 3.1 >

1227 CE1300 CE
<< UNIFIED MONGOL EMPIRE >>– Regions of current Peoples Republic of China >Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Tianjin, Beijing, Hebei, Shanxi, north-east part of Shandong, north-west part of Gansu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region except south-east part.– Currently Mongolia– Currently Kazakhstan– Currently Uzbekistan– Currently Turkmenistan– Currently Kirghizstan– Currently Tajikistan– Regions of current Afghanistan >Northern part (one-third of state)– Regions of current Pakistan >Northern part (one-fifth of state)– Regions of current Russian Federation >— Far Eastern Federal District >Primorsky Krai, Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai (except one-third part in the north), Amur Oblast, Zabaykalsky Krai, Republic of Buryatia, Sakha Republic (except two-third part in the north)— Siberian Federal District >Irkutsk Oblast, Tuva Republic, Altai Republic, Altai Krai, Novosibirsk Oblast, Omsk Oblast (except northern half), Kemerovo Oblast, Republic of Khakassia, one-third in south of Krasnoyarsk Krai— Ural Federal District >Southern half of Kurgan Oblast, southern half of Tyumen Oblast, one-fourth of Chelyabinsk Oblast in south<< YUAN EMPIRE >>– Regions of current Peoples Republic of ChinaAll except three-fourth of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region– Currently Mongolia– Currently North Korea, South Korea– Currently Taiwan– Regions of current Russian Federation >— Far Eastern Federal District >Primorsky Krai, Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai (except one-third part in north), Amur Oblast, Zabaykalsky Krai, Republic of Buryatia, Sakha Republic (except two-third part in north)— Siberian Federal District >Irkutsk Oblast, Tuva Republic, Republic of Khakassia, southern half of Krasnoyarsk Krai– Regions of current Myanmar >North-eastern part (half of the state)– Regions of current India >A sizeable stretch of land in north-east abutting south Tibet
<< CHAGATAI KHANATE >>– Regions of current Peoples Republic of ChinaThree-fourth of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region– Regions of current KazakhstanTwo-fifth of the state in east and south– Currently Kyrghizstan– Currently Tajikistan– Regions of current UzbekistanAlmost entire state except land around Aral Sea– Regions of current AfghanistanOne-fourth of the state in the north-east
<< GOLDEN HORDE >>– Regions of current Russian Federation >— Siberian Federal District >Altai Republic, Altai Krai, Novosibirsk Oblast, Omsk Oblast, western half of Tomsk Oblast— Ural Federal District >Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug (except a small strip in north-east), Kurgan Oblast, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Tyumen Oblast, Chelyabinsk Oblast— Volga Federal District— North Caucasian Federal District— Southern Federal District— Central Federal District >One-third land in south of the district— Crimea– Regions of current BelarusAll except northern one-fourth of landmass– Currently Ukraine– Currently Moldova– Regions of current Romania >One-third land in the east abutting Moldova border
<< ILL KHANATE >>– Currently Iran– Regions of current IraqHalf of the state in eastern and northern side bordering Iran, Syria– Regions of current SyriaOne-third of the state in north-eastern side– Regions of current TurkeyHalf of the state in eastern side– Currently Armenia– Currently Azerbaijan– Currently Turkmenistan– Regions of current Afghanistan >All except one-fourth of the state in the north-east– Regions of current Pakistan >Baluchistan province in the south-west side

It can be noted from Table 3.1 presented above and Figure 3.1 given below that by 1300 CE, core Eurasia (except unpopulated northern most lands of Russia near arctic) was under the sway of the Mongol aristocrats – scholars estimated that the Mongol confederacy was spread over around 24,000,000 km2 of land creating the largest land empire in history [Link 🡪 https://maps.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/shepherd_1911/shepherd-c-092.jpg ].

Fig 3.1 >

As Morris Rossabi mentioned in the article ‘Mongol Impact on China: Lasting Influences with Preliminary Notes on Other Parts of the Mongol Empire’ (refer ACTA VIA SERICA Vol. 5, No. 2, December 2020) “perhaps the Mongols’ most important contribution was to bring East Asia, the Middle East, and Europe in touch with each other and that Eurasian history began with the Mongols’ creation of the largest contiguous land empire in world history. The Mongols also built splendid cities, promoted the economies, fostered the sciences, technologies, and the artistic advances in their domains.” Discerning readers can’t deny this observation by Rossabi. During the course of past half century, other scholars from different countries also conclusively proved that the Mongol empire facilitated trade and commerce across all regions of Asia and Europe while contributing quite substantially towards propagation of the Sciences and the Arts.

  1. Why Super-States and Key States in core Eurasia?

Question: What is the mission I’m talking about? Why can’t the current state of affairs in core Eurasia fulfill the mission? Why a reorganization of geopolitical framework of core Eurasia is a necessity?

Answer: ‘The ultimate objective will be to bring complete dignity, widest possible freedom, and maximum possible development for every citizen of the communities in core Eurasia. Every human being (irrespective of his/her background identity like age, sex, ethnicity, language, religion, region, state) will become free from hunger-disease-insecurity-injustice, will spend time in socially useful productive work, can indulge in literature-art-music-cinema, can do research in science-mathematics-life science’, can be at ease equally with technology as well as social studies, ‘can seek knowledge of ‘life’-‘society’-‘world’-‘universe’, can seek entertainment and pleasure at leisure time, without any of these things being morally or physically harmful to any section or people’ of the proposed super-states and key states in core Eurasia.

Most of the existing states are unable to offer such environment to its people not because the countries are poor, (on the contrary core Eurasia is the richest zone of the earth) – the oligarchy which is well-entrenched in the ruling edifice of every country, have been exploiting the population ruthlessly with the help of Zionist-Capitalist globalist clique. Zionist-Capitalists would love if core Eurasia becomes uninhabited and they become the master of the land and its natural resources so that the planet earth nourishes only the ‘golden billion’ (one billion population in Anglo countries, Jews, Europeans). Hence current geopolitical setup is not conducive to such humanitarian missions.

For fulfilling the mission, I mentioned above, core Eurasia should be free from the self-serving elites-aristocrats-oligarchs who misuse their political power to achieve their personal objectives – to gain power and to gain wealth. Most of the artificial-states should be dissolved and made part of one/two super-states. Without geopolitically balanced architecture destabilization in all conceivable and unconceivable forms will continue to ruin core Eurasia. Thus the current borders between so-called states should be reoriented so that,

  1. The historical background of (mid-19th century) landmass-and-community relationship gets due importance
  2. ‘Fake states’ don’t act as Zionist-Capitalist agents for destabilization in core Eurasia
  3. Core Eurasian state-actors can always remain united to become a ‘role model’ for all other regions.

In core Eurasia, during my lifetime, most of the old geopolitical issues resurfaced – some through crude bloody incidents while some others in a very subtle way. So, whether such a dispute is currently a burning issue or a dormant dispute, leaders need to look into those and try proactively to resolve it so that geopolitically balanced architecture can be achieved. Let me list down the key issues, and key actors, and suggest the resolutions considering the historical timeline from the Mongol Empire in 1227 CE to the 1848 Revolution as the ‘age of empire building’ in core Eurasia beyond which change of borders through war would not be considered as ‘valid’ (for setting our benchmark we assumed such validity). There will be certainly a question asked from every quarter – on what basis such a logic is being considered? As such, there can be no definite answer that would please everyone, rather I would like to say, that there will be no basis that is acceptable to everyone! So, I chose 1848 CE as the historical watershed because in the early modern era 1848 CE was the year when plebeians of different societies across entire Europe and some parts of Asia really did stand up against centuries old exploitation-injustice-inequality inflicted by the patricians (even if the commoners were beaten back everywhere, the patricians were forced to start counting its probable demise since then). So a reorganisation of core Eurasia into super-states and key states is suggested as below:

Table: 4.1 >

Geopolitical Restructuring Issue in Core EurasiaProposed Resolution
Significant Actor – Super-state in Russia
At the time of the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 CE, USSR encompassed the following geographical regions apart from Russia:1. Baltic Europe – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania2. Eastern Europe – Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova3. Transcaucasia – Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan4. Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, TurkmenistanThere were some remarkable aspects of the territorial evolution of Tsarist Russian empire and the USSR:(a) NONE of the above mentioned regions/sub-regions were annexed into the Tsarist empire with their 1991 borders. Reorganization of the administrative zones within the empire was a regular exercise for ALL heads of state at different points of time. Few of those were:(i) In 1708 CE Tsar Peter the Great divided the empire into eight administrative divisions called guberniyas (Archangelgorod, Azov, Ingermanland, Kazan, Kiev, Moscow, Siberia, Smolensk)(ii) In 1727 CE Catherine I enacted another reform – a total of 166 uyezds was established(iii) By 1910 CE 104 administrative governorate units (Oblast and Governorate) were formed(iv) After 1922 CE Bolshevik Party undertook a series of restructuring that transformed the earlier architecture of administrative organization(b) Historically, some regions have been under the Russian influence (political, cultural, economic) for a very long time before the proposed the cut-off year of 1848 CE — in 1721 CE Livonia, Estonia, Ingria, and Karelia were annexed from Sweden; through second and third partitions in 1793 CE and 1795 CE, Russia acquired southern part of current Latvia (south of Riga), most part of current Lithuania including Wilno (Vilnius), most part of current Belarus including Minsk, Pinsk, Brest, most part of Right Bank Ukraine that forms current Ukraine including Lutsk, Rovno, Zhytomyr, Bratslav, and Galicia from Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth; Bessarabia (two-thirds of which lies within modern Moldova) was taken over by Russian Empire in 1812 CE defeating Ottoman Empire; parts of Georgia, Dagestan, parts of northern Azerbaijan, and parts of northern Armenia were annexed from Persian Empire by Russian Empire in 1813 CE; in 1828 CE, Persian Empire ceded Caucasian region (present-day Armenia, Azerbaijan) to Russian Empire; Kazakh-Junior Horde and Kazakh- Middle Horde declared to be loyal Russian citizens in 1732 and 1740 respectively, but full control of Russia got established by 1798 CE; Kazakh-Great Horde khanate was annexed into the Russian empire in the 1820s, when the Great Horde khans choose Russian protection against Kokand Khanate(c) On the other hand it can be easily noted that, the Tsarist empire continued with invasions and annexations after 1848 CE in the central Asia and Pacific ocean coast regions (refer the map given in Fig:4.1 that is copied from Encyclopaedia Britannica: Link 🡪 https://www.britannica.com/place/Russian-Empire ) – Sakhalin island was seized from Japanese kingdom in 1875 CE by Alexander II; khanates of Khiva (1873 CE), Bukhara (1866 CE), Kokand (1876 CE) were annexed by Alexander II; Alexander III annexed Pamir plateau in 1893 and land of Teke Turkomans in 1881 CE; Alexander III annexed the coastal and northern part of Manchuria through a series of unequal treaties forced upon Qing China (the Treaty of Aigun in 1858 and the Treaty of Peking in 1860)1. All countries / regions of a country that were part of Russian empire in 1848 CE should move back to the Russian super-state:– Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania– Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova,– Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan,– Kazakhstan (except south-eastern part – Dzungaria)2. Russia should hand over such territories to other countries that were annexed from them after 1848 CE:– Outer Manchuria i.e. modern-day Russian areas of Primorsky Krai, Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai (southern two-thirds), Amur Oblast, Zabaykalsky Krai to China3. Regions which were part of Russian empire/USSR between 1849 and 1991, and became independent since 1991, should continue their current geopolitical identity as ‘state’:– Four Central Asian countries i.e. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan were formed as administrative regions within Russian empire / USSR out of the lands from five annexations by Tsars after 1848 CE – Khanate of Khiva, Khanate of Bukhara, Khanate of Kokand, Pamir plateau, and land of Teke Turkomans
Significant Actor – Super-state in China
By 1848 CE the Qing empire territories included the following regions apart from (directly) Ming-ruled mainland China including Hainan and Taiwan islands:1. East Asia – Manchuria (Nurgan RMC of Ming empire), Inner and Outer Mongolia2. South-central Asia – Qinghai (Dokham RMC of Ming empire)3. Central Asia – Xinjiang (that included some parts of eastern Kazakhstan land from Lake Balkhash up to the current international border with China in the north-east, east and south direction, this region was annexed by Russia in 1860, 1881)4. South Asia – Tibet (U-Tsang RMC and Elis military-civilian Marshal of Ming empire; it included Aksai Chin region of Ladakh and south-eastern regions of Tibet which were seized by British after 1860 CE)The key aspects of the territorial evolution of Qing Chinese empire are:(a) The policy of partitioning the empire into several administrative regions underwent substantial change when the Qing empire replaced the Ming empire. While Ming emperors governed peripheral regions like Tibet, Manchuria through setting up Regional Military Commission, Qing empire established administrative regions across the entire empire.(b) Unlike Russian Tsarist empire, the Chinese Qing empire ceased expansion by 1800s. When in 1911 CE the Qing empire was abolished (refer the map given in Fig:4.2 that is copied from Wikipedia: Link 🡪 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qing_dynasty#/media/File:China_1911_es.svg ) the following regions were found to be parts of neighbouring states, not China:(i) a part of western Xinjiang of Qing China (some parts of currently eastern Kazakhstan land from Lake Balkhash up to the current international border with China in the north-east, east and south directions)(ii) Outer Manchuria, a part of Manchuria of Qing China (currently part of the Far Eastern District of Russia)(iii) Outer Mongolia, a part of Qing China (currently Mongolia state)(iv) western Ladakh and south-eastern Tibet, both part of Qing China (part of modern-day India)(v) Taiwan island, a part of Qing China (currently Taiwan state)1. All countries / regions of a country that were part of Chinese empire in 1848 CE should be transferred back to the Chinese super-state:– Taiwan– The islands in South China Sea– Outer Manchuria– Western Xinjiang (Dzungaria)– Aksai Chin and South-eastern Tibet2. Regions which were part of Chinese empire between 1848 and 1911, and became independent since 1911, should continue their current geopolitical identity as ‘state’:– Mongolia which declared independence from China in 1911 occupies outer Mongolian regions of Qing China
Significant Actor – Key State in Iran
Hardly any change in borders happened in Iran after 1848 CE. Hence the country, centre of one of the oldest empire in the history of humankind doesn’t pose any geopolitical challenge.Not Applicable
Significant Actor – Key State in Korea
One of the biggest geopolitical tragedy happened in the Korean Peninsula. Following Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905 Korea became the protectorate of Imperial Japan. After Japan’s surrender in 1945 in September People’s Republic of Korea was established by Lyuh Woon-hyung. In February 1946 Lyuh Woon-hyung was murdered by USA led oligarchy. Thereafter in the south of 38th parallel Syngman Rhee established Republic of Korea in August 1948 while in the following month Kim Il-sung established Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north. China and North Korea lost about 1 million people as KIA and MIA. A divided Korea is a continuous reminder about creation and growth of a malignant tumour that was implanted in core Eurasia by the USA and Anglo oligarchy after WW II.USA needs to pull out military forces lock, stock, and barrel; a united Korean government to be formed with representation from ALL regions, professions, and parties. Both the military should combine into a single force. China and Russia to ensure peace during the transition period.

Looking at the above table 4.1, one would conclude that I have identified only four entities as ‘significant actor’ in core Eurasia. Yes, if one looks into this essay in 2122 i.e. hundred years from now, the reader will find the accuracy and appropriateness of this essay in both its assumptions (that, across this humongous landmass named as ‘core Eurasia’ there are only 4 communities who are not spineless flunkies of Zionist-Capitalist oligarchy and who are not mindless followers of Anglo-Jewish culture) and its suggestions (that, in order to bring out the best possible environment for a community to survive and thrive, geopolitical fabric needs to be reorganized in terms of two super-states and two key states, all of whom will maintain very close coordination among themselves on all geopolitical and geo-economic matters). Finally, the proposed geopolitical restructuring should seriously consider (this is the first time that I’m mentioning this point as an IMPORTANT task) a formal alliance among the 4 significant actors in core Eurasia.

Fig: 4.1 🡪

Fig: 4.2 🡪

Table: 4.2 >

Geo-economic Restructuring Issue in Core EurasiaProposed Resolution
1. Any community, any country, any state can be built ONLY with a population that is large enough to sustain the cultural, economic, political, and technological progress achieved by it. Russia, Iran, North Korea in its current form don’t show healthy population growth, it doesn’t generate hope for future – I will rate this problem as severity 1 for all 3 actors.China, with world’s largest population till 2022, has been beset with continuously reducing rate of population growth – I will rate this as severity 2 for China.2. Any country, any state can organise itself ONLY on the basis of own currency or currency of a neighbour with whom two-way trade is normal. Apart from that, the dependence on Dollar (as exchange currency) must be brought down to a minimum level to avoid the fate of Russia.for China, USA debt holding over 1 trillion is a problem of severity 1, for USA will certainly weaponize the debt at the earliest ‘opportunity’ (like, China re-establishes its control over Taiwan).3. Russia-Iran-China all 3 actors are very rich in terms of natural resources. Energy, metal and mineral, rare earth elements – all three types of deposits are present in substantial quantities in core Eurasia.Import and export of such ‘natural resources’ should be aimed at enriching the commoners in Asia-Africa-South America continents as much as possible.4. SCO-BRI-EAEU should be coordinated simultaneously for economic rejuvenation of core Eurasia as well as Asia-Africa-South America continents as much as possible.As a parallel activity, encourage non-Anglo non-Jewish communities/ countries (like Germany, Japan, Italy, France, Sweden etc.) to enhance their participation in trade and commerce with core Eurasia through multilateral global platforms like RCEP.5. Minimize use of technology, hardware, and applications owned by the Zionist-Capitalist oligarchy in the areas of international finance, defence, aerospace, and social networking.As a parallel activity, encourage non-Anglo non-Jewish communities/ countries (like Germany, Japan, Italy, France, Sweden etc.) to enhance their participation in trade and commerce.Government should move on two fronts:(i) encourage early marriage and childbearing at social and cultural platforms(ii) introduce new rules and laws to facilitate marriage and childbearing for working persons, professionals, even unemployed(i) A gold-backed currency or a basket of Eurasian currencies needs to be pushed(ii) Reduce holding of US treasury rapidly by increasing central bank holding of gold to maximum level(i) These countries should restrict export of raw material and processed minerals to Europe, North America, Australia(ii) They should also ensure that other countries in core Eurasia do the same as much as possible(i) Transform the BRI format so that organizations from the participating countries get around 40% share of the capital expenditure.(ii) Bring in German, Japanese, Italian, French companies into BRI projects for supply of some machinery etc.(i) Identify areas where all 4 actors or any 3 actors will join hands to form business entities. Invest in research and development jointly.(ii) Bring in German, Japanese, Italian, French companies selectively.

Obviously a logical question will arise – ‘how such a massive transformation will happen’ and ‘when’. Local oligarchy, nationalist intelligentsia, bureaucracy, business people, and military forces are the groups who have vested interests in perpetuating the current geopolitical framework. In normal situations (where international relations follow unipolar world order) such geopolitical transformation can hardly be talked about. But major upheavals in politics, economics, and environment will compel the 90% population (the plebs) to think and accept such transformation that will bring momentous change in their lifestyle. It will be the responsibility of ALL patriotic leaders, communist party members, community elders in ALL countries to prepare themselves and their countries/communities towards accepting positive transformation.

It can be found in history that, time and again strong leaders created new geopolitical reality (sometimes because of moral high ground and in other times using superior political economy) that created new rules and orders tearing apart the existing order – I will strongly advocate such occurrence if and only if the common people of a country / region find better standard of living in the newly created architecture. Living in the 21st century I won’t criticize Chinghis Khan’s brutality against his adversaries – on the contrary, I would ask two simple questions – (i) was there a single king/emperor in the medieval era across the world who didn’t resort to mind-blowing violence to create a psychological defeat in the opponent camp? (ii) wasn’t it that the Mongol empire brought a new era in trade and commerce across the entire continents of Asia and Europe benefitting the living standard of the inhabitants? Hence I proposed here that the creation of super-states in core Eurasia in the near future – Eurasian Union of Russia and Asian Union of China – would go a long way to create a better society that ushers a new dawn of humanity! Unless the above mentioned territorial reorganizations are undertake, in my opinion, the construction of those super-states can’t really take-off!

Since I’m only discussing about core Eurasia, I’m not mentioning the case of a super-state in the Indian subcontinent. Actually India should be viewed as a super-state which should include half of what is currently Pakistan (Punjab and Sindh regions are truly such historically ‘Indian’ regions without which Indian map can’t be even be thought of! Since the beginning of ancient civilization Punjab and Sindh were the core of all Indian kingdoms/sultanates/empires until 1947 CE when British power connived with ALL key political parties like Congress, Muslim fundamentalists, and Hindu fundamentalists to divide India). But we are not discussing that.

  1. Conclusion

By now, most of the esteemed readers have already formed an opinion about this article and my objectives. To conclude this write-up, let me handle those probable clarifications from an ideological perspective:

1) An “expansionist and empire-apologist”: To be frank, this is the most significant stigma that could be assigned to this article. For a while, this article can truly create such a sentiment among the readers. Fundamentally, I’m a Marxist, and one of the final objectives of a Marxist socialist society is borderless society! Hence, on an ideological platform, I actually condemn ‘empire-building’ as a process of geopolitics. Let me state that, ‘Empire’, as a concept, is the most reactionary, naked, and violent form of ‘state apparatus’. Hence, I can never become an apologist for empire building. If so, the question still remains: what is the objective of this article?

Well, every historic ‘empire’, in reality, has different background and different characteristics. While Spanish, Portuguese, British and French empires built after 1496 CE across the world basically attempted to ‘get rid of’ the aboriginal population as much as possible, and pillaged the foreign land and resources to enrich the elites and oligarchy of those invading powers, completely contrasting behaviour could be noticed in case of the Chinese, and Russian empires. Russian and Chinese empires not only brought order and security to the people of the region they annexed but the trade and commerce got invigorated across the Eurasian landmass benefitting the commoners. Essentially while the European powers brought colonial imperialism, the Eurasian powers acted as the agents of change towards win-win modernisation.

I foresee that before different countries could even imagine a borderless landmass and a society free from exploitation (as the ultimate objective of Marxism), a country would require:

(a) A ‘state’ that ensures education, healthcare, housing, and employment for ALL citizens

(b) A ‘state’ that brings ALL races, religions, languages living in a landmass under an umbrella with an objective of shared security

(c) A ‘state’ that creates enough of social capital as a harbinger of economic prosperity while sustaining the fragile environment

Let me confess, while looking back into the history, I find ONLY Chinese and Russian super-states as the agents who would provide framework for achieving the above results. So, I propose building of such super-states as the prelude for state-less society.

2) A “reactionary feudalist pseudo-Marxist”: There will be certainly a group of dogmatic Marxists who would suggest that this article is actually a step backward which point towards rejuvenation of medieval feudal era political environment. This article doesn’t discuss the ‘class struggle’, neither this speaks about a ‘proletarian revolution’. Actually, looking everything under the sun through the prism of Marxism doesn’t help any Marxist – neither a revolutionary communist party member nor a revolutionary communist state. Abolition of ‘state apparatus’ was never identified by Marx as an immediate objective for a socialist society! On the other hand, if a truly welfare state apparatus can arrange education, healthcare, housing, and employment to all citizens of core Eurasia, people would actually gain through better living standard. And they would further realise how a state apparatus based on Marxist socialist socio-economic political thoughts would transform the current society into a more egalitarian society ensuring truth, justice, and equality and that prevail over deception, injustice, and inequality.

These readers, mostly from Europe and North America, are NOT bothered about a real democracy where the freedom of speech goes hand-in-hand with the freedom from hunger and malnutrition, and right to vote a political party is coupled with right to education and employment. They are actually bothered about the re-emergence of core Eurasia as the centre of global trade, commerce, science, and technology – instead of expressing that point categorically which otherwise would smack of racism and racial hatred (towards Asians), they wrap it up with half-baked politically correct jargons (like democracy, human rights, blah blah).

For these type of readers, I have two simple questions:

(a) What did the Greek city-states mean by ‘democracy’? (Clue – slaves who toiled ceaselessly in ancient Greek city-states or Roman Empire were never counted as citizens). It was not certainly meant for all people of their society, so what do the pseudo-socialists and lapdog-intellectuals licensed by the Zionist-Capitalist clique wish to achieve through the so-called democracy?

(b) What did the European aristocrats and oligarchs mean by ‘human rights’? Most of the regions in North America, South America and Australia continents were subjected to genocide by those same sociopath-cum-psychopath European (aristocrat and elite) marauders who, apparently set up world’s ‘finest’ democratic state apparatus like the ‘USA’, ‘Canada’, ‘Australia’, so why shouldn’t they pay respect to the concept of human rights and leave those continents lock stock and barrel one fine morning (better late than never)?

Anyway, by promoting super-states like Russia and China, I’m looking forward to a future reinstatement of Marxist ideas and philosophies among the people of core Eurasia. And, please don’t say that Marxist ideas and organisation could flourish in liberal capitalist democratic countries in Europe and North America (where the entire leftist/socialist political spectrum has been hijacked by the opportunist corrupt labour aristocracy since early 1890s) – those entities can’t be termed as ‘country’ or ‘democracy’, they are simply a bunch of oligarchs thriving in their respective ‘estate’ using lies and deception that can be termed as ‘demon-cracy’!

3) A “utopian arm-chair strategist”: To those readers who would identify me as such, I have a simple counter question – could anybody in 1942 even dream of the boundaries of USSR and PRC that were internationally accepted in 1950? What appears as ‘utopian idea’ may become a reality just 10 years from now – history of core Eurasia time and again proved it! After all, exactly hundred years back the foundation was laid for the first super-state in the history of humankind – USSR.

By and large, there are another two categories of shaming which would be applicable to the readers who consider themselves as ‘nationalist’:

i) A “Russian stooge and Chinese agent”: many readers who hail from countries – Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Moldova etc. – that have been proposed here as phantom-states would like to curse me as a ‘Russian’ agent and/or a ‘Chinese’ agent. This is another stigma that fits in with this narrative. Particularly, many of the readers find any statement that talks in favour of China and Russia, as support to ‘authoritative and despotic foreign regimes’. Let me respond to this – on the face of it, my proposition appears as a simple ancient trick of ‘annexation of more landmasses. But, it isn’t so – I consider the people as the primary subject of ‘patriotism’ and the landmass as the secondary subject. Let me elaborate on this through a historical example. Alexander Nevsky served as the Prince of Novgorod (1236–56 and 1258–1259), Grand Prince of Kiev (1236–52) and Grand Prince of Vladimir (1252–63) during the most difficult times in medieval Rus’ history. He paid a tribute to the Mongol Golden Horde while fighting against ALL European powers approaching from north-west. In my opinion, Nevsky revealed the finest expression of ‘patriotism’ that flowers in the well-being of the people of his kingdoms while paying less importance to geographical expansion of the landmass he dominated! Nevsky was bothered about his society, culture and commerce, hence as soon as he identified that European powers would destroy exactly those aspects he stood as a rock against such invasions.

Let me again acknowledge, while looking back into the medieval and modern history, I find ONLY Chinese and Russian super-states as the institutions that can ensure exchange of ideas, knowledge, goods, and services among different regions and different societies across the world without pontificating.

ii) An enemy to Russia and China: many readers who hail from current RF and PRC, would stand exactly opposite to the readers from say, Kazakhstan or Ukraine! They would come back asking why (his/her) country should give away even an inch of land to the neighbouring country. Ultimate tragedy of human life is that they always seek ‘ownership’ of almost everything under the Sun, we forget that everything – land, water body, forests, mountains, deserts – belong to mother earth. Humankind is nothing but a small part of the nature – we don’t own anything; we need to be grateful to nature for providing ALL means for living our life! If giving away some part of one country to another country proves beneficial for both the communities, why not? True patriots ALWAYS bother about the advancement of economy and culture of the people if required with little adjustments. Every society has a memory and every community has a tradition centred on some regions which they consider as inalienable part of their history – Ukraine and Belarus are such regions for the Russian society, south Korea is such a region for the Koreans, Manchuria and Tibet are such regions for the Chinese, Punjab and Sindh provinces of Pakistan are such regions for the Indians!

I’m certainly not an enemy of any country or any society or any people! On the contrary, (as I laid out in the introduction) I consider myself as a part of the people of core Eurasian landmass. I’m against hypocrisy, insanity, deception, vulgarity and above all, inequality and injustice – history alone proves that ALL these banes witnessed by the humanity since ‘civilization’ dawned, were caused by the 1% aristocracy-elite-oligarchy in EVERY region across the world! The proposed two super-states, in my opinion, will go a long way to provide a stable environment and opportunity for amelioration of the plebeian lives in core Eurasia. It will usher the beginning of a new era!

Short profile:

Straight-Bat is an Engineer by profession, currently pursuing higher study in Economics. A keen observer of global affairs, Straight-Bat enjoys being an analyst of history, politics, economy, and geopolitics.

One of the few decade-old members of The Saker blog-site, Straight-Bat finds this website as a capstone entity that is dedicated to focus on truth and justice in public life across the world.

Vladimir Putin Press Conference – Astana Kazakhstan – October 14, 2022 – English Subtitles

October 15, 2022

Vladimir Putin’s comments at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit

October 13, 2022

Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit

Vladimir Putin attended the 6th summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA). The meeting is taking place in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

Following the summit, the participants adopted the Astana Statement on Transforming the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the Statement by CICA Heads of State on Cooperation to Ensure ICT Security. The package of approved documents includes the CICA Action Plan to Implement the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, as well as the summit’s decisions in granting the status of a CICA member state to Kuwait, on CICA presidency issues in 2022–2024 and on holding regular meetings of the Council of Heads of State and Government and the Council of Ministers. The CICA Fund Regulations have also been approved.

* * *

Speech by the President of Russia at the 6th CICA summit

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President [of Kazakhstan] Kassym-Jomart Tokayev,

Colleagues,

Over the past 30 years, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia has been discussing vital aspects of strengthening security and stability in the vast Asian region.

Today we have met against the backdrop of serious changes in global politics and economy. The world is becoming truly multipolar, and Asia, where new centres of power are growing, is playing a major, if not the key role in this.

Asian countries are drivers of global economic growth. Integration associations, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Eurasian Economic Union, are working dynamically and effectively here.

Russia is actively contributing to these processes. We are committed to the development and prosperity of Asia, to creating an open trade and investment cooperation space and broadening and deepening cooperation ties in various economic sectors towards this end.

I would like to remind you that Russia was a founding country of the CICA Business Council, which has held many successful conferences and seminars on the entire range of economic issues over the past years.

We are working hard together with other Asian counties to create a system of equal and indivisible security based on the universally recognised principles of international law and the UN Charter.

Our Conference and other regional associations are dealing with many pressing issues, notably the increased volatility of global prices of energy, food, fertilisers, raw materials and other essential goods, which is affecting the quality of life in industrialised and developing countries. Moreover, this is creating a real threat of hunger and large-scale social upheavals, especially in the poorest countries.

For its part, Russia is doing its best to supply crucial products to the countries that need them. We call for lifting the artificial and illegal obstacles, which are hindering the revitalisation of the normal operation of global supply chains, in order to be able to address pressing tasks in the field of food security.

Like many of our Asian partners, we believe that it is necessary to start a revision of the operating principles of the global financial system, which for decades allowed the self-proclaimed “golden billion,” which has been using capital and technology flows to its sole advantage, to largely live at others’ expense.

As a priority measure, we believe it is necessary to more actively use national currencies in mutual settlements. These measures would definitely help strengthen the financial sovereignty of our states, develop domestic capital markets and deepen regional economic integration.

It is extremely important to take further action, in cooperation with other regional forums and organisations, to resolve any crises and conflicts occurring in Asia, strengthen cooperation between our states on countering terrorism, expose and neutralise extremist groups, block their financial sources, fight drug trafficking and prevent the propaganda of radical ideas.

Unfortunately, Afghanistan remains one of the biggest security challenges for our region, as my colleagues have already said today.

After more than 20 years of US and NATO military presence and their failing policy, that country turned out to be unable to independently deal with the terrorist threat, as indicated by the endless series of violent terrorist attacks, including the blast outside the Russian Embassy in Kabul on September 5.

To normalise the situation in Afghanistan, naturally, we have to work together to help it with economic recovery. But first of all, we strongly insist on compensating for the damage caused to the Afghan people during the years of occupation and unblocking the unlawfully frozen Afghan funds.

In the context of a settlement in Afghanistan, it would be helpful to use the resources of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and its regional anti-terrorist body.

We also invite all Asian countries to engage in closer cooperation with the International Counter-Terrorist Data Bank, established at Russia’s initiative.

I would like to point out that Russia and China have drafted a joint statement for this summit on cooperation in ICT security. We hope that the joint statement will be approved.

Finally, I would like to mention the importance of strengthening multilateral cooperation between the participating countries on social, cultural and humanitarian issues and in promoting the inter-civilisational dialogue and contacts between peoples.

In particular, volunteer movements are among those that require support. The acute stage of the Covid-19 pandemic that we have passed demonstrated the helpful role of volunteer and youth groups in supporting the population. Russia has accumulated extensive and useful experience in these matters and we are ready to share it with interested countries.

Overall, I would like to note with satisfaction that our joint work within this Conference on Mutual Interaction and Confidence Building is making progress. Russia will further develop multi-dimensional cooperation with all represented parties.

We support the initiatives of the Kazakh presidency.

Thank you.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s article on cooperation in the Caspian Region

September 20, 2022

The Caspian – a unique region of neighbourliness

On June 29, 2022, Ashgabat hosted an important international event, the 6th Caspian Summit, and I believe it is important to consider the role and place of the Caspian Region in the fairer, more democratic and sustainable multi-polar system that is taking shape today.

The importance of the Caspian Region for the Russian Federation is determined by its strategic location in the centre of Eurasia, at the crossroads of its transport and energy routes, the presence of a huge amount of mineral and biological resources and the intertwining of the local cultures that coexist here.

Russia’s vital interests include durable peace, stability and security in the Caspian Region, sustainable development based on neighbourliness, trust and cooperation of the coastal states, and the use of its economic, including transit, potential to the mutual benefit of the coastal states. A key task is to ensure the rational use of natural resources in the region, protect and preserve the environment of this unique body of water, and guarantee ecological and transport security in its basin. With these aims in mind, Russia advocates the systemic, comprehensive development of cooperation among the five nations and the gradual institutionalisation of this process. We are doing much to expand ties with our neighbours in all areas.

We believe all Caspian issues should be resolved solely by consensus of the five coastal states. Extra-regional forces should not be allowed to exert a negative influence.

Despite the ancient history of the region, the current system of cooperation has taken shape there relatively recently. After the Soviet Union’s disintegration, the number of Caspian states increased from two to five. For this reason, joint administration of the Caspian Sea via constructive cooperation moved to the fore in the early 1990s.

In October 1992, the heads of state and government of the Caspian states met in Tehran to discuss the possibility of establishing a Caspian Economic Cooperation Organisation. The participants reviewed prospects for setting up such entities as a Caspian interstate oil company, Caspian interstate bank of economic cooperation, Caspian development bank, a centre for Caspian economic and political studies, and a centre for the studies of Caspian bio resources.

These initiatives were not translated into reality for several reasons, including the unregulated legal status of the Caspian Sea. In the process the five Caspian states – Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan – agreed on the need to draft principles and rules and create special cooperative bodies and institutions in the region. I would like to emphasise that the five-member cooperation format took shape naturally by virtue of political and geographical factors and the need to jointly manage the unique Caspian Sea.

The 5th Caspian Summit in Aktau (Kazakhstan) in 2018 marked a very important step, with participants signing a Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, a kind of a Caspian constitution. This document is based on the consent of the sides (recorded in the preamble) to observe several principles: sovereign rights to the Caspian Sea and its resources belong to them alone; they are responsible to current and future generations for preserving the region and promoting its sustainable development, and they have exclusive authority to settle Caspian Sea issues.

I would like to emphasise 17 principles governing the activities of the sides (Article 3 of the Convention). In effect, they boil down to the code of conduct in the region and help preserve it as an area of peace, neighbourly relations and cooperation. These principles are comprehensive and embrace both universally recognised standards of international law, including respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and rules for practical cooperation between partners.

The sides have adopted a large number of security provisions, some of which are of particular importance. Thus, they pledged to prevent the presence of armed forces of third countries in the Caspian Sea, to refrain from prejudicing each other’s security and to implement military confidence building measures.

The negotiations over the convention lasted for over 20 years and were eventually crowned with a diplomatic compromise based on the verified balance of interests. Speedy ratification of the convention by the sides is in the best interests of regional stability and steady progress.

It goes without saying that the five Caspian nations are not going to fence themselves off from the outside world, especially in the economic sphere. However, we and our partners are firmly committed to the position that outside interference in our affairs is unacceptable.

This means that interaction with players outside the region can occur only with the approval of all five members for the purposes of addressing pressing issues facing the Caspian. Examples include initiatives that are implemented jointly with UN agencies (the UN Human Settlements Programme project titled “Urbanisation and Climate Change Adaptation in the Caspian Sea region,” the UN Environment Programme and the UN Development Programme project on combating pollution of the Caspian Sea with marine litter and plastic waste).

Sectoral cooperation is making progress alongside the efforts to draft and adopt the convention and is being consistently codified in international treaties, such as the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, the Agreement on Security Cooperation in the Caspian Sea, and cooperation agreements in other areas ranging from transport and logistics to emergency relief.

The five leaders’ personal contribution to Caspian cooperation can hardly be overstated. Each summit has helped expand and deepen interaction. During the most recent sixth summit, the principles underlying the activities of the five nations were confirmed and thus became political commitments, which fully ensures that they will guide our practical activities.

In Ashgabat, the heads of state reviewed cooperation priorities, including the efforts to tap the Caspian Sea’s transport, energy and resource potential and to ensure environmental safety and cooperation in tourism and culture. The prospects for industrial cooperation and project activities in the high-tech industry were discussed in detail. A number of highly constructive initiatives have been put forward, in particular, President of Kazakhstan Tokayev’s proposal to create a Caspian food “hub” and President of Turkmenistan Berdimuhamedov’s idea to set up a Business Cooperation Council.

An important achievement was the agreement to create a permanent facility for holding five-nation foreign ministers’ meetings in order to discuss development issues and improve the partnership of the Caspian countries, develop coordinated measures for implementing decisions, and draft the agenda and list of final documents for the summits. The ministers will coordinate interaction within the five-nation sector-specific mechanisms.

Thus, we can safely assume that Caspian cooperation is going at a fast clip and breaking new ground. Clearly, far from all issues facing the Caspian countries have been resolved. Some require additional political and diplomatic efforts, such as approving the draft Agreement on methodology for establishing straight baselines in the Caspian Sea which, once adopted by the parties, will make it possible to complete the delimitation of water areas.

In addition, it is important to speed up the process of approving five-nation draft documents in a number of key areas of intersectoral cooperation, such as maritime transport, search and rescue, navigation safety, marine scientific research, combating poaching and the drug threat. Further consolidation of efforts to prevent sanitary and epidemiological emergencies and to respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases is greatly needed. Discussions on the Tehran Convention Secretariat’s rules of procedure are ongoing.

In the economic area it is important to keep up efforts to achieve the balanced use of Caspian energy and transit capacities, which requires consideration of all the countries’ interests and environmental security factors. Our region has every chance to become one of Eurasia’s biggest hubs for multi-modal transcontinental shipments, primarily by tapping the potential of the North-South international transport corridor.

Expanding cooperation between regions of the five countries will facilitate Caspian interaction. Cultural cooperation and the development of tourism, including cruise routes, are other promising avenues.

The institualisation of five-nation cooperation should remain at the centre of attention. This process is making headway – regular meetings of the leaders of the Caspian states have already become a tradition.

The Caspian Economic Forum at the heads of government level has become an important format. Its first meeting took place at the initiative of Turkmenistan in 2019. In October 2022, Moscow will host its second forum. We hope it will provide a fresh impetus to the trade and economic aspects of Caspian cooperation.

The institution of the Conference of the Parties to the Tehran Convention is up and running. The commission for the preservation and rational use of aquatic biological resources and management of their common reserves holds sessions every year. The Coordination Committee for Hydrometeorology of the Caspian Sea meets as well. There are agreements on mechanisms for regular ministerial meetings, including the afore-mentioned meetings of foreign ministers as well as their transport and economic counterparts. The high-level working group of deputy foreign ministers/special envoys of the Caspian states is in operation. It was established following the 5th Caspian Summit. I would like to emphasise that all five-nation issues are resolved by consensus.

To make existing structures and mechanisms more efficient, it makes sense to turn them into a uniform regional system. At the current stage, the formation of a flexible five-nation forum – the Caspian Council – seems to be the best way of achieving this. The proposed council should function without a secretariat or other bureaucratic add-ons. The five Caspian countries studied this idea at the expert level and Russia proposed it at the 6th Caspian Summit. We agree with President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev who supported our initiative. He said the Caspian Sea was ready for new steps on institutionalising five-way cooperation.

We have consistently held that the efforts of the five nations to promote the sustainable development of the Caspian Region help maintain stability throughout Greater Eurasia and fuse the creative potential of the states and their integration associations in our common Eurasian home. Russia seeks to continue working closely with its Caspian partners to achieve these and other ambitious goals in accordance with the principles of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea.

‘Samarkand Spirit’ to be driven by ‘responsible powers’ Russia and China

The SCO summit of Asian power players delineated a road map for strengthening the multipolar world

September 16 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

Amidst serious tremors in the world of geopolitics, it is so fitting that this year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of state summit should have taken place in Samarkand – the ultimate Silk Road crossroads for 2,500 years.

When in 329 BC Alexander the Great reached the then Sogdian city of Marakanda, part of the Achaemenid empire, he was stunned: “Everything I have heard about Samarkand it’s true, except it is even more beautiful than I had imagined.”

Fast forward to an Op-Ed by Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev published ahead of the SCO summit, where he stresses how Samarkand now “can become a platform that is able to unite and reconcile states with various foreign policy priorities.”

After all, historically, the world from the point of view of the Silk Road landmark has always been “perceived as one and indivisible, not divided. This is the essence of a unique phenomenon – the ‘Samarkand spirit’.”

And here Mirziyoyev ties the “Samarkand Spirit” to the original SCO “Shanghai Spirit” established in early 2001, a few months before the events of September 11, when the world was forced into strife and endless war, almost overnight.

All these years, the culture of the SCO has been evolving in a distinctive Chinese way. Initially, the Shanghai Five were focused on fighting terrorism – months before the US war of terror (italics mine) metastasized from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond.

Over the years, the initial “three no’s” – no alliance, no confrontation, no targeting any third party – ended up equipping a fast, hybrid vehicle whose ‘four wheels’ are ‘politics, security, economy, and humanities,’ complete with a Global Development Initiative, all of which contrast sharply with the priorities of a hegemonic, confrontational west.

Arguably the biggest takeaway of this week’s Samarkand summit is that Chinese President Xi Jinping presented China and Russia, together, as “responsible global powers” bent on securing the emergence of multipolarity, and refusing the arbitrary “order” imposed by the United States and its unipolar worldview.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pronounced Xi’s bilateral conversation with President Vladimir Putin as “excellent.” Xi Jinping, previous to their meeting, and addressing Putin directly, had already stressed the common Russia-China objectives:

“In the face of the colossal changes of our time on a global scale, unprecedented in history, we are ready with our Russian colleagues to set an example of a responsible world power and play a leading role in order to put such a rapidly changing world on the trajectory of sustainable and positive development.”

Later, in the preamble to the heads of state meeting, Xi went straight to the point: it is important to “prevent attempts by external forces to organize ‘color revolutions’ in the SCO countries.” Well, Europe wouldn’t be able to tell, because it has been color-revolutionized non-stop since 1945.

Putin, for his part, sent a message that will be ringing all across the Global South: “Fundamental transformations have been outlined in world politics and economics, and they are irreversible.” (italics mine)

Iran: it’s showtime

Iran was the guest star of the Samarkand show, officially embraced as the 9th member of the SCO. President Ebrahim Raisi, significantly, stressed before meeting Putin that “Iran does not recognize sanctions against Russia.” Their strategic partnership will be enhanced. On the business front, a hefty delegation comprising leaders of 80 large Russian companies will be visiting Tehran next week.

The increasing Russia-China-Iran interpolation – the three top drivers of Eurasia integration – scares the hell out of the usual suspects, who may be starting to grasp how the SCO represents, in the long run, a serious challenge to their geoeconomic game. So, as every grain of sand in every Heartland desert is already aware, the geopolitical pressure against the trio will increase exponentially.

And then there was the mega-crucial Samarkand trilateral: Russia-China-Mongolia. There were no official leaks, but this trio arguably discussed the Power of Siberia-2 gas pipeline – the interconnector to be built across Mongolia; and Mongolia’s enhanced role in a crucial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) connectivity corridor, now that China is not using the Trans-Siberian route for exports to Europe because of sanctions.

Putin briefed Xi on all aspects of Russia’s Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine, and arguably answered some really tough questions, many of them circulating wildly on the Chinese web for months now.

Which brings us to Putin’s presser at the end of the summit – with virtually all questions predictably revolving around the military theater in Ukraine.

The key takeaway from the Russian president: “There are no changes on the SMO plan. The main tasks are being implemented.” On peace prospects, it is Ukraine that “is not ready to talk to Russia.” And overall, “it is regrettable that the west had the idea to use Ukraine to try to collapse Russia.”

On the fertilizer soap opera, Putin remarked, “food supply, energy supply, they (the west) created these problems, and now are trying to resolve them at the expense of someone else” – meaning the poorest nations. “European countries are former colonial powers and they still have this paradigm of colonial philosophy. The time has come to change their behavior, to become more civilized.”

On his meeting with Xi Jinping: “It was just a regular meeting, it’s been quite some time we haven’t had a meeting face to face.” They talked about how to “expand trade turnover” and circumvent the “trade wars caused by our so-called partners,” with “expansion of settlements in national currencies not progressing as fast as we want.”

Strenghtening multipolarity

Putin’s bilateral with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not have been more cordial – on a “very special friendship” register – with Modi calling for serious solutions to the food and fuel crises, actually addressing the west. Meanwhile, the State Bank of India will be opening special rupee accounts to handle Russia-related trade.

This is Xi’s first foreign trip since the Covid pandemic. He could do it because he’s totally confident of being awarded a third term during the Communist Party Congress next month in Beijing. Xi now controls and/or has allies placed in at least 90 percent of the Politburo.

The other serious reason was to recharge the appeal of BRI in close connection to the SCO. China’s ambitious BRI project was officially launched by Xi in Astana (now Nur-Sultan) nine years ago. It will remain the overarching Chinese foreign policy concept for decades ahead.

BRI’s emphasis on trade and connectivity ties in with the SCO’s evolving multilateral cooperation mechanisms, congregating nations focusing on economic development independent from the hazy, hegemonic “rules-based order.” Even India under Modi is having second thoughts about relying on western blocs, where New Delhi is at best a neo-colonized “partner.”

So Xi and Putin, in Samarkand, for all practical purposes delineated a road map for strengthening multipolarity – as stressed by the final  Samarkand declaration  signed by all SCO members.

The Kazakh puzzle 

There will be bumps on the road aplenty. It’s no accident that Xi started his trip in Kazakhstan – China’s mega-strategic western rear, sharing a very long border with Xinjiang. The tri-border at the dry port of Khorgos – for lorries, buses and trains, separately – is quite something, an absolutely key BRI node.

The administration of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Nur-Sultan (soon to be re-named Astana again) is quite tricky, swinging between eastern and western political orientations, and infiltrated by Americans as much as during the era of predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s first post-USSR president.

Earlier this month, for instance, Nur-Sultan, in partnership with Ankara and British Petroleum (BP) – which virtually rules Azerbaijan – agreed to increase the volume of oil on the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline to up to 4 million tons a month by the end of this year. Chevron and ExxonMobil, very active in Kazakhstan, are part of the deal.

The avowed agenda of the usual suspects is to “ultimately disconnect the economies of Central Asian countries from the Russian economy.” As Kazakhstan is a member not only of the Russian-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), but also the BRI, it is fair to assume that Xi – as well as Putin – discussed some pretty serious issues with Tokayev, told him to grasp which way the wind is blowing, and advised him to keep the internal political situation under control (see the aborted coup in January, when Tokayev was de facto saved by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization [CSTO]).

There’s no question Central Asia, historically known as a “box of gems” at the center of the Heartland, striding the Ancient Silk Roads and blessed with immense natural wealth – fossil fuels, rare earth metals, fertile agrarian lands – will be used by the usual suspects as a Pandora’s box, releasing all manner of toxic tricks against legitimate Eurasian integration.

That’s in sharp contrast with West Asia, where Iran in the SCO will turbo-charge its key role of crossroads connectivity between Eurasia and Africa, in connection with the BRI and the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC).

So it’s no wonder that the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait, all in West Asia, do recognize which way the wind is blowing. The three Persian Gulf states received official SCO ‘partner status’ in Samarkand, alongside the Maldives and Myanmar.

A cohesion of goals

Samarkand also gave an extra impulse to integration along the Russian-conceptualized Greater Eurasia Partnership  – which includes the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) – and that, just two weeks after the game-changing Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) held in Vladivostok, on Russia’s strategic Pacific coast.

Moscow’s priority at the EAEU is to implement a union-state with Belarus (which looks bound to become a new SCO member before 2024), side-by-side with closer integration with the BRI. Serbia, Singapore and Iran have trade agreements with the EAEU too.

The Greater Eurasian Partnership was proposed by Putin in 2015 – and it’s getting sharper as the EAEU commission, led by Sergey Glazyev, actively designs a new financial system, based on gold and natural resources and counter-acting the Bretton Woods system. Once the new framework is ready to be tested, the key disseminator is likely to be the SCO.

So here we see in play the full cohesion of goals – and the interaction mechanisms – deployed by the Greater Eurasia Partnership, BRI, EAEU, SCO, BRICS+ and the INSTC. It’s a titanic struggle to unite all these organizations and take into account the geoeconomic priorities of each member and associate partner, but that’s exactly what’s happening, at breakneck speed.

In this connectivity feast, practical imperatives range from fighting local bottlenecks to setting up complex multi-party corridors – from the Caucasus to Central Asia, from Iran to India, everything discussed in multiple roundtables.

Successes are already notable: from Russia and Iran introducing direct settlements in rubles and rials, to Russia and China increasing their trade in rubles and yuan to 20 percent – and counting. An Eastern Commodity Exchange may be soon established in Vladivostok to facilitate trade in futures and derivatives with the Asia-Pacific.

China is the undisputed primary creditor/investor in infrastructure across Central Asia. Beijing’s priorities may be importing gas from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and oil from Kazakhstan, but connectivity is not far behind.

The $5 billion construction of the 600 km-long Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan (Pakafuz) railway will deliver cargo from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean in only three days instead of 30. And that railway will be linked to Kazakhstan and the already in progress 4,380 km-long Chinese-built railway from Lanzhou to Tashkent, a BRI project.

Nur-Sultan is also interested in a Turkmenistan-Iran-Türkiye railway, which would connect its port of Aktau on the Caspian Sea with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea.

Türkiye, meanwhile, still a SCO observer and constantly hedging its bets, slowly but surely is trying to strategically advance its own Pax Turcica, from technological development to defense cooperation, all that under a sort of politico-economic-security package. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did discuss it in Samarkand with Putin, as the latter later announced that 25 percent of Russian gas bought by Ankara will be paid in rubles.    

Welcome to Great Game 2.0

Russia, even more than China, knows that the usual suspects are going for broke. In 2022 alone, there was a failed coup in Kazakhstan in January; troubles in Badakhshan, in Tajikistan, in May; troubles in Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan in June; the non-stop border clashes between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (both presidents, in Samarkand, at least agreed on a ceasefire and to remove troops from their borders).

And then there is recently-liberated Afghanistan – with no less than 11 provinces crisscrossed by ISIS-Khorasan and its Tajik and Uzbek associates. Thousands of would-be Heartland jihadis have made the trip to Idlib in Syria and then back to Afghanistan – ‘encouraged’ by the usual suspects, who will use every trick under the sun to harass and ‘isolate’ Russia from Central Asia.

So Russia and China should be ready to be involved in a sort of immensely complex, rolling Great Game 2.0 on steroids, with the US/NATO fighting united Eurasia and Turkiye in the middle.

On a brighter note, Samarkand proved that at least consensus exists among all the players at different institutional organizations that: technological sovereignty will determine sovereignty; and that regionalization – in this case Eurasian – is bound to replace US-ruled globalization.

These players also understand that the Mackinder and Spykman era is coming to a close – when Eurasia was ‘contained’ in a semi-disassembled shape so western maritime powers could exercise total domination, contrary to the national interests of Global South actors.

It’s now a completely different ball game. As much as the Greater Eurasia Partnership is fully supported by China, both favor the interconnection of BRI and EAEU projects, while the SCO shapes a common environment.

Yes, this is an Eurasian civilizational project for the 21st century and beyond. Under the aegis of the ‘Spirit of Samarkand.’

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

Ukraine: Somewhere between Afghanization and Syrianization

Ukraine is finished as a nation – neither side will rest in this war. The only question is whether it will be an Afghan or Syrian style finale.

August 30 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

One year after the astounding US humiliation in Kabul – and on the verge of another serious comeuppance in Donbass – there is reason to believe Moscow is wary of Washington seeking vengeance: in the form of the ‘Afghanization’ of Ukraine.

With no end in sight to western weapons and finance flowing into Kiev, it must be recognized that the Ukrainian battle is likely to disintegrate into yet another endless war. Like the Afghan jihad in the 1980s which employed US-armed and funded guerrillas to drag Russia into its depths, Ukraine’s backers will employ those war-tested methods to run a protracted battle that can spill into bordering Russian lands.

Yet this US attempt at crypto-Afghanization will at best accelerate the completion of what Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu describes as the “tasks” of its Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine. For Moscow right now, that road leads all the way to Odessa.

It didn’t have to be this way. Until the recent assassination of Darya Dugina at Moscow’s gates, the battlefield in Ukraine was in fact under a ‘Syrianization’ process.

Like the foreign proxy war in Syria this past decade, frontlines around significant Ukrainian cities had roughly stabilized. Losing on the larger battlefields, Kiev had increasingly moved to employ terrorist tactics. Neither side could completely master the immense war theater at hand. So the Russian military opted to keep minimal forces in battle – contrary to the strategy it employed in 1980s Afghanistan.

Let’s remind ourselves of a few Syrian facts: Palmyra was liberated in March 2016, then lost and retaken in 2017. Aleppo was liberated only in December 2016. Deir Ezzor in September 2017. A slice of northern Hama in December and January 2018. The outskirts of Damascus in the Spring of 2018. Idlib – and significantly, over 25 percent of Syrian territory – are still not liberated. That tells a lot about rhythm in a war theater.

The Russian military never made a conscious decision to interrupt the multi-channel flow of western weapons to Kiev. Methodically destroying those weapons once they’re in Ukrainian territory – with plenty of success – is another matter. The same applies to smashing mercenary networks.

Moscow is well aware that any negotiation with those pulling the strings in Washington – and dictating all terms to puppets in Brussels and Kiev – is futile. The fight in Donbass and beyond is a do or die affair.

So the battle will go on, destroying what’s left of Ukraine, just as it destroyed much of Syria. The difference is that economically, much more than in Syria, what’s left of Ukraine will plunge into a black void. Only territory under Russian control will be rebuilt, and that includes, significantly, the bulk of Ukraine’s industrial infrastructure.

What’s left – rump Ukraine – has already been plundered anyway, as Monsanto, Cargill and Dupont have already bagged 17 million hectares of prime, fertile arable land – over half of what Ukraine still possesses. That translates de facto as BlackRock, Blackstone and Vanguard, top agro-business shareholders, owning whatever lands that really matter in non-sovereign Ukraine.

Going forward, by next year the Russians will be applying themselves to cutting off Kiev from NATO weapons supplies. As that unfolds, the Anglo-Americans will eventually move whatever puppet regime remains to Lviv. And Kiev terrorism – conducted by Bandera worshippers – will continue to be the new normal in the capital.

The Kazakh double game

By now it’s abundantly clear this is not a mere war of territorial conquest. It’s certainly part of a War of Economic Corridors – as the US spares no effort to sabotage and smash the multiple connectivity channels of Eurasia’s integration projects, be they Chinese-led (Belt and Road Initiative, BRI) or Russian-led (Eurasian Economic Union, EAEU).

Just like the proxy war in Syria remade large swathes of West Asia (witness, for instance, Erdogan about to meet Assad), the fight in Ukraine, in a microcosm, is a war for the reconfiguration of the current world order, where Europe is a mere self-inflicted victim in a minor subplot. The Big Picture is the emergence of multipolarity.

The proxy war in Syria lasted a decade, and it’s not over yet. The same may happen to the proxy war in Ukraine. As it stands, Russia has taken an area that is roughly equivalent to Hungary and Slovakia combined. That’s still far from “task” fulfillment – and it’s bound to go on until Russia has taken all the land right up to the Dnieper as well as Odessa, connecting it to the breakaway Republic of Transnistria.

It’s enlightening to see how important Eurasian actors are reacting to such geopolitical turbulence. And that brings us to the cases of Kazakhstan and Turkey.

The Telegram channel Rybar (with over 640k followers) and hacker group Beregini revealed in an investigation that Kazakhstan was selling weapons to Ukraine, which translates as de facto treason against their own Russian allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Consider too that Kazakhstan is also part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the EAEU, the two hubs of the Eurasian-led multipolar order.

As a consequence of the scandal, Kazakhstan was forced to officially announce the suspension of all weapons exports until the end of 2023.

It began with hackers unveiling how Technoexport – a Kazakh company – was selling armed personnel carriers, anti-tank systems and munitions to Kiev via Jordanian intermediaries, under the orders of the United Kingdom. The deal itself was supervised by the British military attaché in Nur-Sultan, the Kazakh capital.

Nur-Sultan predictably tried to dismiss the allegations, arguing that Technoexport had not asked for export licenses. That was essentially false: the Rybar team discovered that Technoexport instead used Blue Water Supplies, a Jordanian firm, for those. And the story gets even juicier. All the contract documents ended up being found in the computers of Ukrainian intel.

Moreover, the hackers found out about another deal involving Kazspetsexport, via a Bulgarian buyer, for the sale of Kazakh Su-27s, airplane turbines and Mi-24 helicopters. These would have been delivered to the US, but their final destination was Ukraine.

The icing on this Central Asian cake is that Kazakhstan also sells significant amounts of Russian – not Kazakh – oil to Kiev.

So it seems that Nur-Sultan, perhaps unofficially, somehow contributes to the ‘Afghanization’ in the war in Ukraine. No diplomatic leaks confirm it, of course, but bets can be made Putin had a few things to say about that to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in their recent – cordial – meeting.

The Sultan’s balancing act

Turkey is a way more complex case. Ankara is not a member of the SCO, the CSTO or the EAEU. It is still hedging its bets, calculating on which terms it will join the high-speed rail of Eurasian integration. And yet, via several schemes, Ankara allows Moscow to evade the avalanche of western sanctions and embargoes.

Turkish businesses – literally all of them with close connections to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) – are making a killing, and relishing their new role as crossroads warehouse between Russia and the west. It’s an open boast in Istanbul that what Russia cannot buy from Germany or France they buy “from us.” And in fact several EU companies are in on it.

Ankara’s balancing act is as sweet as a good baklava. It gathers    economic support from a very important partner right in the middle of the endless, very serious Turkish economic debacle. They agree on nearly everything: Russian gas, S-400 missile systems, the building of the Russian nuclear power plant, tourism – Istanbul is crammed with Russians – Turkish fruits and vegetables.

Ankara-Moscow employ sound textbook geopolitics. They play it openly, in full transparence. That does not mean they are allies. It’s just pragmatic business between states. For instance, an economic response may alleviate a geopolitical problem, and vice-versa.

Obviously the collective west has completely forgotten how that normal state-to-state behavior works. It’s pathetic. Turkey gets “denounced” by the west as traitorous – as much as China.

Of course Erdogan also needs to play to the galleries, so every once in a while he says that Crimea should be retaken by Kiev. After all, his companies also do business with Ukraine – Bayraktar drones and otherwise.

And then there’s proselytizing: Crimea remains theoretically ripe for Turkish influence, where Ankara may exploit the notions of pan-Islamism and mostly pan-Turkism, capitalizing on the historical relations between the peninsula and the Ottoman Empire.

Is Moscow worried? Not really. As for those Bayraktar TB2s sold to Kiev, they will continue to be relentlessly reduced to ashes. Nothing personal. Just business.

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

Ukraine update: Dugina murder and blacklisting of Roger Waters

August 22, 2022

(Machine translation)

The FSB reported on the identification of the customers and perpetrators of the murder of Daria Dugina.

The murder was planned by the Ukrainian special services.
The direct perpetrator of the murder was a citizen of Ukraine Natalia Vovk, born in 1979, who left Russia for Estonia on August 21. She arrived in Russia on July 23.

It is also reported that:

1. Vovk and her daughter Sofya Shaban rented an apartment in the house where Daria Dugina lived in Moscow.
2. A “Mini Cooper” was used to spy on Daria Dugina. The numbers were changed three times on it — the license plates of the DPR, Kazakhstan and Ukraine were used

As reported, Daria’s car was blown up using a remote detonation of an IED with a capacity of 400 grams of TNT.

The car was driven from the parking lot to the explosion site. The suspects’ phones have disappeared from the network.The investigation continues.

Documents and photos of the murderer of Daria Dugina – a “serviceman” of the terrorist organization “Azov Regiment” – Natalia Vovk (nee Shaban).

source

According to Russian sourcesNatalia Vovk is now hiding in Estonia, and EU and NATO member state.

In other Ukronazi news,

Roger Waters has been added to the infamous website “Mirotvorets” (peacemaker) which lists the so-called “enemies of the Ukraine” and publishes their personal information:

Samarkand at the crossroads: from Timur to the BRI and SCO

August 11, 2022

From its ancient Silk Road role to China’s BRI project, Uzbekistan is set to remain an important geoeconomic hub in Central Asia

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

SAMARKAND – The ultimate Silk Road city, set at an unrivaled Eurasian trade crossroads, is the ideal spot from which to examine where the New Silk Roads adventure is heading next. For starters, the upcoming summit of heads of state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will take place in Samarkand in mid-September.

The ancient city dazzled Alexander the Great in 329 BC and made the Tang dynasty crazy for its golden peaches. This was a cosmopolitan hub that embraced Zoroastrian fire-worship and even flirted with Nestorian Christianity, until Arab conquerors under the banner of the Prophet arrived in 712 and changed everything forever.

In the 13th century, the Mongols irrupted on the scene with the proverbial bang. But then Timur, the Turco-Mongol conqueror who founded the Timurid Dynasty in the late 14th century, set to embellish Samarkand into a resplendent diamond, drawing artists from across his vast empire – Persia, Syria, India – to make it “less a home than a marvelous trophy.”

And yet, ever the quintessential nomad, Timur lived in swank tents and gardens on the outskirts of his urban jewel.

The Silk Road trade frenzy died down in the 16th century after the Europeans finally “discovered” their own Maritime Silk Road.

Russia conquered Samarkand in 1868. It was, briefly, the capital of the Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan before the transfer to Tashkent and then, up to 1991, mired into invisibility. Now the city is all set to revive its ancient glory, as a key hub of the Eurasian Century.

What would Timur make of all this?

“Conqueror of the World”

Timur was born in a little village outside of Samarkand, into a clan of Turkicized Mongols, only a century after the death of Genghis Khan. Hit by arrows in his right shoulder and hip when he was only 27, he got slapped with the pejorative Persian nickname Timur-i-Leme (“Timur the Lame”), later Latinized into Tamerlane.

Just like with Genghis, you wouldn’t want to pick a fight with Timur. He single-mindedly set out to become “Conqueror of the World,” and delivered in droves.

Timur defeated the Ottoman Sultan Beyazid in Ankara (don’t mention that to Turks); destroyed the Golden Horde in the Kazakh steppes; bombed Christian armies in Smyrna (today’s Izmir) with cannonballs made of severed heads.

In Baghdad in 1401 – they still remember it, vividly, as I heard it in 2003 – his soldiers killed 90,000 residents and cemented their heads in 120 towers; he ruled over all trade routes from Delhi to Damascus; he evoked poetry by Edgar Allan Poe, drama by Christopher Marlowe, opera by Vivaldi.

The zombified, woke, collective west would deride Timur as the proverbial autocrat, or a “dictator” like Vladimir Putin. Nonsense. He was Islamicized and Turkicized – but never religiously fanatic like today’s Salafi-jihadis. He was illiterate, but spoke Persian and Turkic fluently. He always showed enormous respect for scholars. This is a nomad always on the move who supervised the creation of some of the most dazzling urban architecture in the history of the world.

Every night at 9 pm, in front of the psychedelic lighting enveloping the architectural treasure of the Registan (“sandy place”), originally a bazaar in a trade crossroads, amidst the blurred conversations of countless Samarkand families, Timur’s words still resonate: “Let he who doubts our power look upon our buildings.”

Timur died in 1405 in Otrar – today in southern Kazakhstan – when he was planning the Mother of All Campaigns: the invasion of Ming China. This is one of the greatest “what ifs” in history. Would Timur have been able to Islamicize Confucianist China? Would have he made his mark just like the Mongols who are still very much present in the Russian collective unconscious?

All these questions swirl in our mind when we are face to face with Timur’s tomb – a stunning slab of black jade in the Gur-i-Mir, actually a very modest shrine, surrounded by his spiritual adviser Mir Sayid Barakah and family members such as his grandson, star astronomer Ulug Beg.

From Timur to Putin and Xi

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are no Timur material, of course, much less current Uzbek President Shavkat Mirzoyoyev.

What’s striking now, as I’ve seen on the ground in bustling Tashkent and then on the road to Samarkand, is how Mirzoyoyev is skillfully profiting from both Russia and China via his multi-vector policy to configure Uzbekistan as a Central Asian – and Eurasian – powerhouse by the 2030s.

The government is heavily investing in a massive Center of Islamic Civilization in Tashkent, nearby the landmark Khast-Imam square, home to the deeply influential al-Bukhari Islamic Institute, and is also building a whole new business complex in the outskirts of Samarkand for the SCO summit.

The Americans have invested in a business center in Tashkent complete with a brand new slick Hilton attached; only a block away the Chinese are building their own version. The Chinese will also be involved in the construction of an essential New Silk Road transportation corridor: the $5 billion Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan Pakafuz railway, also known as Trans-Afghan Railway.

Uzbekistan has not bought into the idea – at least not yet – of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which calls for free movement of goods, people, capital and services. The country privileges its own autonomy. Russia accepts this because bilateral relations with Tashkent remain strong, and there’s no way the latter will get closer to NATO.

So from Moscow’s perspective, getting cozier with post-Islam Karimov Uzbekistan remains a must, at the same time without coercing it to join the Eurasia integration institutions. That may come in time; there’s no rush. Russia enjoys huge approval ratings in Uzbekistan – even though not as high as in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

As many as 5 million migrants from the Central Asian “stans” are working in Russia – mostly Uzbeks and Tajiks, even as they now also seek jobs in the Persian Gulf, Turkey and South Korea.

As one of its top “secured” spheres of influence, Moscow regards Central Asian states as critical partners, part of a consolidated Eurasian vision which is in total contrast with the western borderlands and the fast disintegrating Ukraine.

All roads lead to BRI

The Chinese angle, defined by its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is way more nuanced. For all of Central Asia, BRI equals infrastructure development and integration in global trade supply chains.

Uzbekistan, like its neighbors, linked its national development strategy to BRI under President Mirziyoyev: that’s inbuilt in the official “Strategy of Actions in Five Priority Directions of Development.” Uzbekistan is also an official member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

China’s relationship with Central Asia draws of course on the Soviet era, but also carefully takes into account territorial divisions and mind-boggling border issues.

The collapse of the USSR saw, for instance, a river, an irrigation ditch, a bunch of trees or even a roadside brutalist monument suddenly converted into external borders of new sovereign nations – with unpredictable results.

In the Ancient Silk Road era this made no sense. Timur conquered everything from northern India to the Black Sea. Now, it’s hard to find somebody in Tashkent to take you across the border to Turkestan via Shymkent – both now in southern Kazakhstan – and back, with minimum border hassle. Sultan Erdogan wants to bolster Turkestan’s reputation by naming it the capital of all Turkic peoples (that’s hugely debatable, but another long story).

And we’re not even talking about the hotbed of the Ferghana valley, still prone to the fanatical jihadi influence of outfits of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) kind.

All that was festering for three decades as each of these new Central Asian nations had to articulate a distinct national ideology coupled with a vision for a progressive, secular future. Under Karimov, Uzbekistan swiftly recovered Timur as its definitive national hero and heavily invested in reviving all the glory of the Timurid past. In the process, Karimov could not miss the opportunity of expertly styling himself as the modern Timur in a business suit.

Back to the geoeconomic limelight

The SCO shows how China’s approach to Central Asia is defined by two central vectors: security and the development of Xinjiang. Stronger regional states such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan deal with Beijing, as with Moscow, via their carefully calibrated multi-vector foreign policy.

Beijing’s merit has been to expertly position itself as a provider of public goods, with the SCO functioning as a top lab in terms of multilateral cooperation. This will be bolstered even more at the Samarkand summit next month.

The destiny of what is in effect Inner Eurasia – the heartland of the Heartland – is inescapable from a subtle, very complex, multilevel competition between Russia and China.

It’s crucial to remember that in his landmark 2013 speech in Nur-Sultan, then Astana, when the New Silk Roads were formally launched, Xi Jinping stressed that China stands “ready to enhance communication and coordination with Russia and all Central Asian countries to strive to build a region of harmony.”

These were not idle words. The process involves a conjunction of BRI and the SCO – which has progressively evolved into a mechanism of economic cooperation as much as security.

In the 2012 SCO summit, then Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Cheng Gouping had already been adamant: China would absolutely not allow the unrest that happened in West Asia and North Africa to happen in Central Asia.

Moscow could have said the exact same thing. The recent (failed) coup in Kazakhstan was swiftly dealt with by the six-member, Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

China is increasingly invested in using the SCO to turbo-charge a geoeconomic overdrive – even as some of its proposals, such as establishing a free trade zone and a joint SCO fund and development bank still have not materialized. That may eventually happen, as in the wake of western Russophobic sanctions hysteria the SCO – and BRI – progressively converge with the EAEU.

At every SCO summit, Beijing’s loans are gleefully accepted by Central Asian actors. Samarkand next month may herald a qualitative convergence leap: Russia and China even more involved in bringing back Inner Asia to the geoeconomic limelight.

BRICS is turning into a collective “Non-West”

June 30, 2022

Elena PaninaDirector of the RUSSTRAT Institute – Machine Translated and cleaned up from the Russian original.

MOSCOW, June 29, 2022, RUSSTRAT Institute.

BRICS expansion has been discussed for a long time. It is significant that the last summit on June 24 in the BRICS Plus format was attended by such countries as Algeria, Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, Fiji, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Senegal, Thailand and Uzbekistan.

At the same time, the fact that the first applications for membership were submitted by Argentina and Iran, which did not take part in the BRICS Plus meeting, does not seem accidental.

Initially, the BRICS group was created as an association of the largest developing economies in the world. However, in the modern world, it is political decisions that determine the nature of the development of economic ties. It is quite logical that the first countries with a pronounced geopolitical sovereignty and having their own geopolitical scores with the collective West are preparing to join the expanded BRICS.

Iran is already almost two and a half thousand years old, since the time of Cyrus the Great is a powerful historical power, and its geopolitical significance cannot be overestimated. The geography itself determines the potential of its influence on the countries of the Arab world up to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, in the Transcaucasus, Central Asia, as well as on the Afpak region (Afghanistan and Pakistan). Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran’s state ideology has been anti-Western. Tehran is engaged in an intense struggle with the US-British coalition for influence in Iraq, and is helping Syria in the fight against terrorism.

From an economic point of view, Iran’s potential is also great. The Iranian economy is in the world’s top 20 in terms of purchasing power parity, the country is third in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in terms of proven oil resources, and has 16 percent of the world’s proven gas reserves.

Argentina, since the time of General Juan Domingo Peron, has also clearly felt its geopolitical role, being one of the regional leaders in Latin America. This role is recognized all over the world. Argentina, while not one of the world’s largest economies, is nevertheless a full member of the G20. Having survived the failed war with Great Britain over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), as well as the collapse of liberal reforms according to the IMF recipes, the country has an obvious request to find an independent path of development. Today, Argentina is in a difficult economic situation, it has a huge external debt. However, the potential of Argentina as one of the global food exporters has significantly increased in recent years.

For various reasons, both Iran and Argentina are extremely interested in BRICS projects to create new international settlement systems that are alternative to the global hegemony of the dollar. Iran, which is under sanctions, life itself has forced to go to “de-dollarization”, the country practically does not use the US currency. For Argentina, the transition to a hypothetical new monetary and financial zone would mean an escape from the stranglehold of the IMF, from the pressure of American creditors, which today have an extremely destructive impact on the national economy.

In any case, against the background of aggressive pressure from the United States and its allies on potential new BRICS members, the desire of Iran and Argentina to join the community requires a certain amount of foreign policy courage. There is reason to assume that the process of their joining the BRICS will be successful, since both countries do not cause rejection even in India, which until recently was the main opponent of expansion. We can confidently predict that in the near future the process of adding new members to the BRICS will continue due to the entry of a number of Asian and African countries.

But even now, the BRICS expansion at the expense of Iran and Argentina is the final departure of the community from the idea of Goldman Sachs analyst Jim O’Neill, who coined this abbreviation twenty years ago, who decided to designate such a term as “emerging economies” that are “catching up” with the developed West.

We can say that BRICS is confidently turning into a “collective Non-West”, from a community of emerging markets it is finally transformed into a community of world powers with a pronounced geopolitical sovereignty.

BRICS+: It’s Back with Scale and Ambition

June 28, 2022

http://infobrics.org/post/36006/

By Jaroslav Lissovolik

After several years of being relegated to backstage of the BRICS agenda, in 2022 the BRICS+ format is back and is at the very center of the discussions surrounding China’s chairmanship in the grouping. With the return of the BRICS+ paradigm the BRICS is going from introvert to extrovert and its greater global ambition raises hopes across the wide expanses of the Global South of material changes in the global economic system. The main question now centers on what the main trajectories of the evolution of the BRICS+ framework will be – thus far China appears to have advanced a multi-track approach that targets maximum scope and diversity in the operation of the BRICS-plus paradigm.

One of the novelties of China’s BRICS chairmanship in 2022 has been the launching of the extended BRICS+ meeting at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs that apart from the core BRICS countries also included representatives from Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal in Africa, Argentina from Latin America, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Thailand. And while the inclusion of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia may reflect their role in the G20 and overall size of their economies in the developing world, the inclusion of countries such as Senegal (chairmanship in the African Union in 2022), United Arab Emirates (chairmanship in the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2022) and Argentina (chairmanship in CELAC in 2022) is suggestive of a regional approach to building the BRICS+ platform.

That regional approach was also evidenced in the Forum of political parties, think-tanks and NGOs that was held on May 19th in BRICS+ format – among the countries invited to participate were Cambodia (chairmanship in ASEAN in 2022) as well as Senegal and Argentina that represented Africa and Latin America respectively. In effect China thus presented an inclusive format for dialogue spanning all the main regions of the Global South via aggregating the regional integration platforms in Eurasia, Africa and Latin America. Going forward this format may be further expanded to include other regional integration blocks from Eurasia, such as the GCC, EAEU and others.

During the meeting of foreign ministers of BRICS countries China also announced plans to open up the possibility of developing countries joining the core BRICS grouping. This approach differed to some degree from the line pursued by BRICS in the preceding years, when any expansion outside of the BRICS core was deemed to be the purview of the BRICS+ format. It remains to be seen whether the expansion in the core BRICS grouping is going to be supported by other members, but at this stage it appears unlikely that a speedy accession of any single developing economy is likely in the near term.

One important consideration in the future evolution of the BRICS+ format is its evenhandedness and balance observed between the main regions of the Global South. In this respect the inclusion of several countries into the “core BRICS” group may be fraught with risks of imbalances and asymmetries in terms of the representation of the main regions of the developing world in the core BRICS grouping. There is also the risk of greater complexity in arriving at a consensus with a wider circle of core BRICS members. While the option of joining the core should be kept open, there need to be clear and transparent criteria for the “BRICS accession process”.

Another issue relevant to the evolution of the BRICS+ framework is whether there should be a prioritization of the accession to the BRICS core of those developing economies that are members of the G20 grouping. In my view the G20 track for BRICS is a problematic one – the priorities of the Global South could get weakened and diluted within the broader G20 framework. There is also the question about the efficacy of G20 in coordinating the joint efforts of developing and developed economies in the past several years in overcoming the effects of the pandemic and the economic downturn. Rather than the goal of bringing the largest heavyweights into the core BRICS bloc from the G20 a more promising venue is the greater inclusivity of BRICS via the BRICS+ framework that allows smaller economies that are the regional partners of BRICS to have a say in the new global governance framework.

The next stage in the BRICS+ sequel is to be presented by China in June during the summit of BRICS+ countries. The world will be closely gauging further developments in the evolution of the BRICS+ format, but the most important result of China’s chairmanship in BRICS this year is that BRICS+ is squarely back on the agenda of global governance. The vitality in BRICS development will depend to a major degree on the success of the BRICS+ enterprise – an inert, introvert BRICS has neither global capacity, nor global mission. A stronger, more inclusive and open BRICS has the potential to become the basis for a new system of global governance.

Valdai Discussion Club

Source: Valdai Discussion Club

Ayatollah Khamenei: West Uses Issue of Ukraine to Expand NATO

 June 19, 2022

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei says the West is using the issue of Ukraine to pave the way for further expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks in a Sunday meeting with the visiting President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Tehran.

“In the case of Ukraine, the main problem is that the West means to expand NATO and they will lose no time to further expand their influence wherever they can,” the Leader said.

Ayatollah Khamenei added, “[Various] issues must be painstakingly monitored and [we] must be careful because Americans and the West [in general] always seek to expand the scope of their influence in different regions, including in East and West Asia and scuttle independence and power of countries [in those regions].”

The Leader also highlighted profound historical and cultural ties between Iran and Kazakhstan, stressing the need to further expand cooperation between the two countries, especially with regard to regional collaboration.

Ayatollah Khamenei also called for more coordination between the two countries with respect to political and economic issues, saying that it was necessary for further expansion of bilateral ties.

Stressing the necessity of activating the joint commissions between Iran and Kazakhstan, the Leader said the two countries must boost their efforts for the follow-up and implementation of bilateral agreements.

SourcePress TV

Related

President Putin: St Petersburg International Economic Forum Plenary session

June 18, 2022

Ed Note:  This transcript is not fully complete but we post it because of the renewed DDoS attacks on Russian infrastructure.  When it is complete, we will do an update.   (Mr Putin was on top form with an excellent, even exhaustive and detailed economic tour de force for Russia, and then of course for the sane world, or our Zone B).

Pepe Escobar created a very high-level summary:

THE NEW ERA

Top Ten Breakdown – as announced by Putin

  • The era of the unipolar world is over.
  • The rupture with the West is irreversible and definitive. No pressure from the West will change it.
  • Russia has renewed its sovereignty. Reinforcement of political and economic sovereignty is an absolute priority.
  • The current crisis shows the EU is not ready to play the role of an independent, sovereign actor. It’s just an ensemble of American vassals deprived of any politico-military sovereignty.
  • Sovereignty cannot be partial. Either you’re a sovereign or a colony.
  • Hunger in the poorest nations will be on the conscience of the West and Euro-democracy.
  • Russia will supply grains to Africa and the Middle East.
  • Russia will invest in internal economic development and reorientation of trade towards nations independent of the US.
  • The future world order, currently in progress, will be formed by strong sovereign states.
  • The ship has sailed. There’s no turning back.

A further summary from RT rounds it out:  https://www.rt.com/russia/557346-putin-spief-speech-takeaways/


http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/68669

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also took part in the session. President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addressed the session via videoconference.

The theme this year is New Opportunities in a New World.

* * *

Plenary session moderator Margarita Simonyan: Good afternoon, or almost evening.

As you may know, we had a minor technical issue. Thankfully, it has been dealt with quickly. We are grateful to those who resolved this.

We are also grateful to the audience.

We are grateful to our leader, President Vladimir Putin, for traditionally fitting this forum into his schedule so that he can tell us about economic prospects and other plans.

We are grateful to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for attending our forum. We know that it is not an easy thing to do. Thank you for supporting our forum and our country. We really appreciate this.

We will have a lot of questions today. You may not like some of them, and I may not be happy to ask some of them. We would be much happier to speak only about good things, but this is impossible today.

Mr President, I would like to ask you to take the stand and to tell us what lies in store for us all. Thank you.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. President Tokayev, friends and colleagues,

I welcome all participants and guests of the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

It is taking place at a difficult time for the international community when the economy, markets and the very principles of the global economic system have taken a blow. Many trade, industrial and logistics chains, which were dislocated by the pandemic, have been subjected to new tests. Moreover, such fundamental business notions as business reputation, the inviolability of property and trust in global currencies have been seriously damaged. Regrettably, they have been undermined by our Western partners, who have done this deliberately, for the sake of their ambitions and in order to preserve obsolete geopolitical illusions.

Today, our – when I say “our,” I mean the Russian leadership – our own view of the global economic situation. I would like to speak in greater depth about the actions Russia is taking in these conditions and how it plans to develop in these dynamically changing circumstances.

When I spoke at the Davos Forum a year and a half ago, I also stressed that … the era of a unipolar world order has come to an end. I want to start with this, as there is no way around it. This era has ended despite all the attempts to maintain and preserve it at all costs. Change is a natural process of history, as it is difficult to reconcile the diversity of civilisations and the richness of cultures on the planet with political, economic or other stereotypes – these do not work here, they are imposed by one centre in a rough and no-compromise manner.

The flaw is in the concept itself, as the concept says there is one, albeit strong, power with a limited circle of close allies, or, as they say, countries with granted access, and all business practices and international relations, when it is convenient, are interpreted solely in the interests of this power. They essentially work in one direction in a zero-sum game. A world built on a doctrine of this kind is definitely unstable.

After declaring victory in the Cold War, the United States proclaimed itself to be God’s messenger on Earth, …without any obligations and only interests which were declared sacred. They seem to ignore the fact that in the past decades, new powerful and increasingly assertive centres have been formed. Each of them develops its own political system and public institutions according to its own model of economic growth and, naturally, has the right to protect them and to secure national sovereignty.

These are objective processes and genuinely revolutionary tectonic shifts in geopolitics, the global economy and technology, in the entire system of international relations, where the role of dynamic and potentially strong countries and regions is substantially growing. It is no longer possible to ignore their interests.

To reiterate, these changes are fundamental, groundbreaking and rigorous. It would be a mistake to assume that at a time of turbulent change, one can simply sit it out or wait it out until everything gets back on track and becomes what it was before. It will not.

However, the ruling elite of some Western states seem to be harbouring this kind of illusions. They refuse to notice obvious things, stubbornly clinging to the shadows of the past. For example, they seem to believe that the dominance of the West in global politics and the economy is an unchanging, eternal value. Nothing lasts forever.

Our colleagues are not just denying reality. More than that; they are trying to reverse the course of history. They seem to think in terms of the past century. They are still influenced by their own misconceptions about countries outside the so-called “golden billion”: they consider everything a backwater, or their backyard. They still treat them like colonies, and the people living there, like second-class people, because they consider themselves exceptional. If they are exceptional, that means everyone else is second rate.

Thereby, the irrepressible urge to punish, to economically crush anyone who does not fit with the mainstream, does not want to blindly obey. Moreover, they crudely and shamelessly impose their ethics, their views on culture and ideas about history, sometimes questioning the sovereignty and integrity of states, and threatening their very existence. Suffice it to recall what happened in Yugoslavia, Syria, Libya and Iraq.

If some “rebel” state cannot be suppressed or pacified, they try to isolate that state, or “cancel” it, to use their modern term. Everything goes, even sports, the Olympics, bans on culture and art masterpieces just because their creators come from the “wrong” country.

This is the nature of the current round of Russophobia in the West, and the insane sanctions against Russia. They are crazy and, I would say, thoughtless.They are unprecedented in the number of them or the pace the West churns them out at.

The idea was clear as day – they expected to suddenly and violently crush the Russian economy, to hit Russia’s industry, finance, and people’s living standards by destroying business chains, forcibly recalling Western companies from the Russian market, and freezing Russian assets.

This did not work. Obviously, it did not work out; it did not happen. Russian entrepreneurs and authorities have acted in a collected and professional manner, and Russians have shown solidarity and responsibility.

Step by step, we will normalise the economic situation. We have stabilised the financial markets, the banking system and the trade network. Now we are busy saturating the economy with liquidity and working capital to maintain the stable operation of enterprises and companies, employment and jobs.

The dire forecasts for the prospects of the Russian economy, which were made in early spring, have not materialised. It is clear why this propaganda campaign was fuelled and all the predictions of the dollar at 200 rubles and the collapse of our economy were made. This was and remains an instrument in an information struggle and a factor of psychological influence on Russian society and domestic business circles.

Incidentally, some of our analysts gave in to this external pressure and based their forecasts on the inevitable collapse of the Russian economy and a critical weakening of the national currency – the ruble.

Real life has belied these predictions. However, I would like to emphasise that to continue being successful, we must be explicitly honest and realistic in assessing the situation, be independent in reaching conclusions, and of course, have a can-do spirit, which is very important. We are strong people and can deal with any challenge. Like our predecessors, we can resolve any task. The entire thousand-year history of our country bears this out.

Within just three months of the massive package of sanctions, we have suppressed inflation rate spikes. As you know, after peaking at 17.8 percent, inflation now stands at 16.7 percent and continues dropping. This economic dynamic is being stabilised, and state finances are now sustainable. I will compare this to other regions further on. Yes, even this figure is too much for us – 16.7 percent is high inflation. We must and will work on this and, I am sure, we will achieve a positive result.

After the first five months of this year, the federal budget has a surplus of 1.5 trillion rubles and the consolidated budget – a surplus of 3.3 trillion rubles. In May alone, the federal budget surplus reached almost half a trillion rubles, surpassing the figure for May 2021 more than four times over.

Today, our job us to create conditions for building up production and increasing supply in the domestic market, as well as restoring demand and bank financing in the economy commensurately with the growth in supply.

I mentioned that we have taken measures to reestablish the floating assets of companies. In most sectors, businesses have received the right to suspend insurance premiums for the second quarter of the year. Industrial companies have even more opportunities – they will be able to delay them through the third quarter as well. In effect, this is like getting an interest-free loan from the state.

In the future, companies will not have to pay delayed insurance premiums in a single payment. They will be able to pay them in equal installments over 12 months, starting in June next year.

Next. As of May the subsidised mortgage rate has been reduced. It is now 9 percent, while the programme has been extended till the end of the year. As I have mentioned, the programme is aimed at helping Russians improve their housing situation, while supporting the home building industry and related industries that employ millions of people.

Following a spike this spring, interest rates have been gradually coming down, as the Central Bank lowers the key rate. I believe that that this allows the subsidised mortgage rate to be further cut to 7 percent.

What is important here? The programme will last until the end of the year without change. It means that our fellow Russians seeking to improve their living conditions should take advantage of the subsidy before the end of the year.

The lending cap will not change either, at 12 million roubles for Moscow and St Petersburg and 6 million for the rest of Russia.

I should add that we must make long-term loans for businesses more accessible. The focus must shift from budget subsidies for businesses to bank lending as a means to spur business activity.

We need to support this. We will allocate 120 billion rubles from the National Wealth Fund to build up the capacity of the VEB Project Financing Factory. This will provide for additional lending to much-needed initiatives and projects worth around half a trillion roubles.

Colleagues,

Once again, the economic blitzkrieg against Russia was doomed to fail from the beginning. Sanctions as a weapon have proved in recent years to be a double-edged sword damaging their advocates and architects just a much, if not more.

I am not talking about the repercussions we see clearly today. We know that European leaders informally, so to say, furtively, discuss the very concerning possibility of sanctions being levelled not at Russia, but at any undesirable nation, and ultimately anyone including the EU and European companies.

So far this is not the case, but European politicians have already dealt their economies a serious blow all by themselves. We see social and economic problems worsening in Europe, and in the US as well, food, electricity and fuel prices rising, with quality of life in Europe falling and companies losing their market edge.

According to experts, the EU’s direct, calculable losses from the sanctions fever could exceed $400 billion this year. This is the price of the decisions that are far removed from reality and contradict common sense.

These outlays fall directly on the shoulders of people and companies in the EU. The inflation rate in some Eurozone countries has exceeded 20 percent. I mentioned inflation in Russia, but the Eurozone countries are not conducting special military operations, yet the inflation rate in some of them has reached 20 percent. Inflation in the United States is also unacceptable, the highest in the past 40 years.

Of course, inflation in Russia is also in the double digits so far. However, we have adjusted social benefits and pensions to inflation, and increased the minimum and subsistence wages, thereby protecting the most vulnerable groups of the population. At the same time, high interest rates have helped people keep their savings in the Russian banking system.

Businesspeople know, of course, that a high key rate clearly slows economic development. But it is a boon for the people in most cases. They have reinvested a substantial amount of money in banks due to higher interest rates.

This is our main difference from the EU countries, where rising inflation is directly reducing the real incomes of the people and eating up their savings, and the current manifestations of the crisis are affecting, above all, low-income groups.

The growing outlays of European companies and the loss of the Russian market will have lasting negative effects. The obvious result of this will be the loss of global competitiveness and a system-wide decline in the European economies’ pace of growth for years to come.

Taken together, this will aggravate the deep-seated problems of European societies. Yes, we have many problems as well, yet I have to speak about Europe now because they are pointing the finger at us although they have enough of their own problems. I mentioned this at Davos. A direct result of the European politicians’ actions and events this year will be the further growth of inequality in these countries, which will, in turn, split their societies still more, and the point at issue is not only the well-being but also the value orientation of various groups in these societies.

Indeed, these differences are being suppressed and swept under the rug. Frankly, the democratic procedures and elections in Europe and the forces that come to power look like a front, because almost identical political parties come and go, while deep down things remain the same. The real interests of people and national businesses are being pushed further and further to the periphery.

Such a disconnect from reality and the demands of society will inevitably lead to a surge in populism and extremist and radical movements, major socioeconomic changes, degradation and a change of elites in the short term. As you can see, traditional parties lose all the time. New entities are coming to the surface, but they have little chance for survival if they are not much different from the existing ones.

The attempts to keep up appearances and the talk about allegedly acceptable costs in the name of pseudo-unity cannot hide the main thing: the European Union has lost its political sovereignty, and its bureaucratic elites are dancing to someone else’s tune, doing everything they are told from on high and hurting their own people, economies, and businesses.

There are other critically important matters here. The worsening of the global economic situation is not a recent development. I will now go over things that I believe are extremely important. What is happening now does not stem from what happened during recent months, of course not. Moreover, it is not the result of the special military operation carried out by Russia in Donbass. Saying so is an unconcealed, deliberate distortion of the facts.

Surging inflation in product and commodity markets had become a fact of life long before the events of this year. The world has been driven into this situation, little by little, by many years of irresponsible macroeconomic policies pursued by the G7 countries, including uncontrolled emission and accumulation of unsecured debt. These processes intensified with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, when supply and demand for goods and services drastically fell on a global scale.

This begs the question: what does our military operation in Donbass have to do with this? Nothing whatsoever.

Because they could not or would not devise any other recipes, the governments of the leading Western economies simply accelerated their money-printing machines. Such a simple way to make up for unprecedented budget deficits.

I have already cited this figure: over the past two years, the money supply in the United States has grown by more than 38 percent. Previously, a similar rise took decades, but now it grew by 38 percent or 5.9 trillion dollars in two years. By comparison, only a few countries have a bigger gross domestic product.

The EU’s money supply has also increased dramatically over this period. It grew by about 20 percent, or 2.5 trillion euros.

Lately, I have been hearing more and more about the so-called – please excuse me, I really would not like to do this here, even mention my own name in this regard, but I cannot help it – we all hear about the so-called ‘Putin inflation’ in the West. When I see this, I wonder who they expect would buy this nonsense – people who cannot read or write, maybe. Anyone literate enough to read would understand what is actually happening.

Russia, our actions to liberate Donbass have absolutely nothing to do with this. The rising prices, accelerating inflation, shortages of food and fuel, petrol, and problems in the energy sector are the result of system-wide errors the current US administration and European bureaucracy have made in their economic policies. That is where the reasons are, and only there.

I will mention our operation, too: yes, it could have contributed to the trend, but the root cause is precisely this – their erroneous economic policies. In fact, the operation we launched in Donbass is a lifeline they are grabbing at to be able to blame their own miscalculations on others, in this case, on Russia. But everyone who has at least completed primary school would understand the true reasons for today’s situation.

So, they printed more money, and then what? Where did all that money go? It was obviously used to pay for goods and services outside Western countries – this is where the newly-printed money flowed. They literally began to clean out, to wipe out global markets. Naturally, no one thought about the interests of other states, including the poorest ones. They were left with scraps, as they say, and even that at exorbitant prices.

While at the end of 2019, imports of goods to the United States amounted to about 250 billion dollars a month, by now, it has grown to 350 billion. It is noteworthy that the growth was 40 percent – exactly in proportion to the unsecured money supply printed in recent years. They printed and distributed money, and used it to wipe out goods from third countries’ markets.

This is what I would like to add. For a long time, the United States was a big food supplier in the world market. It was proud, and with good reason, of its achievements, its agriculture and farming traditions. By the way, this is an example for many of us, too. But today, America’s role has changed drastically. It has turned from a net exporter of food into a net importer. Loosely speaking, it is printing money and pulling commodity flows its way, buying food products all over the world.

The European Union is building up imports even faster. Obviously, such a sharp increase in demand that is not covered by the supply of goods has triggered a wave of shortages and global inflation. This is where this global inflation originates. In the past couple of years, practically everything – raw materials, consumer goods and particularly food products – has become more expensive all over the world.

Yes, of course, these countries, including the United States continue importing goods, but the balance between exports and imports has been reversed. I believe imports exceed exports by some 17 billion. This is the whole problem.

According to the UN, in February 2022, the food price index was 50 percent higher than in May 2020, while the composite raw materials index has doubled over this period.

Under the cloud of inflation, many developing nations are asking a good question: why exchange goods for dollars and euros that are losing value right before our eyes? The conclusion suggests itself: the economy of mythical entities is inevitably being replaced by the economy of real values and assets.

According to the IMF, global currency reserves are at $7.1 trillion and 2.5 trillion euros now. These reserves are devalued at an annual rate of about 8 percent. Moreover, they can be confiscated or stolen any time if the United States dislikes something in the policy of the states involved. I think this has become a very real threat for many countries that keep their gold and foreign exchange reserves in these currencies.

According to analyst estimates, and this is an objective analysis, a conversion of global reserves will begin just because there is no room for them with such shortages. They will be converted from weakening currencies into real resources like food, energy commodities and other raw materials. Other countries will be doing this, of course. Obviously, this process will further fuel global dollar inflation.

As for Europe, their failed energy policy, blindly staking everything on renewables and spot supplies of natural gas, which have caused energy price increases since the third quarter of last year – again, long before the operation in Donbass – have also exacerbated price hikes. We have absolutely nothing to do with this. It was due to their own actions that prices have gone through the roof, and now they are once again looking for somebody to blame.

Not only did the West’s miscalculations affect the net cost of goods and services but they also resulted in decreased fertiliser production, mainly nitrogen fertilisers made from natural gas. Overall, global fertiliser prices have jumped by over 70 percent from mid-2021 through February 2022.

Unfortunately, there are currently no conditions that can overcome these pricing trends. On the contrary, aggravated by obstacles to the operation of Russian and Belarusian fertiliser producers and disrupted supply logistics, this situation is approaching a deadlock.

It is not difficult to foresee coming developments. A shortage of fertiliser means a lower harvest and a higher risk of an undersupplied global food market. Prices will go even higher, which could lead to hunger in the poorest countries. And it will be fully on the conscience of the US administration and the European bureaucracy.

I want to emphasise once again: this problem did not arise today or in the past three or four months. And certainly, it is not Russia’s fault as some demagogues try to declare, shifting the responsibility for the current state of affairs in the world economy to our country.

Maybe it would even be nice to hear that we are so powerful and omnipotent that we can blow up inflation in the West, in the United States and Europe, or that we can do things to throw everything into disorder. Maybe it would be nice to feel this power, if only there were truth in it. This situation has been brewing for years, spurred by the short-sighted actions of those who are used to solving their problems at somebody else’s expense and who have relied and still rely on the mechanism of financial emission to outbid and draw trade flows, thus escalating deficits and provoking humanitarian disasters in certain regions of the world. I will add that this is essentially the same predatory colonial policy as in the past, but of course in a new iteration, a more subtle and sophisticated edition. You might not even recognise it at first.

The current priority of the international community is to increase food deliveries to the global market, notably, to satisfy the requirements of the countries that need food most of all.

While ensuring its domestic food security and supplying the domestic market, Russia is also able to scale up its food and fertiliser exports. For example, our grain exports in the next season can be increased to 50 million tonnes.

As a priority, we will supply the countries that need food most of all, where the number of starving people could increase, first of all, African countries and the Middle East.

At the same time, there will be problems there, and not through our fault either. Yes, on paper Russian grain, food and fertilisers… Incidentally, the Americans have adopted sanctions on our fertilisers, and the Europeans followed suit. Later, the Americans lifted them because they saw what this could lead to.

But the Europeans have not backed off. Their bureaucracy is as slow as a flour mill in the 18th century. In other words, everyone knows that they have done a stupid thing, but they find it difficult to retrace their steps for bureaucratic reasons.

As I have said, Russia is ready to contribute to balancing global markets of agricultural products, and we see that our UN colleagues, who are aware of the scale of the global food problem, are ready for dialogue. We could talk about creating normal logistical, financial and transport conditions for increasing Russian food and fertiliser exports.

As for Ukrainian food supplies to global markets – I have to mention this because of numerous speculations – we are not hindering them. They can do it. We did not mine the Black Sea ports of Ukraine. They can clear the mines and resume food exports. We will ensure the safe navigation of civilian vessels. No problem.

But what are we talking about? According to the US Department of Agriculture, the matter concerns 6 million tonnes of wheat (we estimate it at 5 million tonnes) and 7 million tonnes of maize. This is it, altogether. Since global production of wheat stands at 800 million tonnes, 5 million tonnes make little difference for the global market, as you can see.

Anyway, Ukrainian grain can be exported, and not only via Black Sea ports. Another route is via Belarus, which is, incidentally, the cheapest way. Or via Poland or Romania, whichever you prefer. In fact, there are five or six export routes.

The problem is not with us, the problem is with the adequacy of the people in control in Kiev. They can decide what to do, and, at least in this particular case, they should not take their lead from their foreign bosses, their masters across the ocean.

But there is also the risk that grain will be used as payment for arms deliveries. This would be regrettable.

Friends,

Once again, the world is going through an era of drastic change. International institutions are breaking down and faltering. Security guarantees are being devalued. The West has made a point of refusing to honour its earlier commitments. It has simply been impossible to reach any new agreements with them.

Given these circumstances and against the backdrop of mounting risks and threats, Russia was forced to go ahead with the special military operation. It was a difficult but necessary decision, and we were forced to make it.

This was the decision of a sovereign country, which has еру unconditional right to uphold its security, which is based on the UN Charter. This decision was aimed at protecting our people and the residents of the people’s republics of Donbass who for eight long years were subjected to genocide by the Kiev regime and the neo-Nazis who enjoyed the full protection of the West.

The West not only sought to implement an “anti-Russia” scenario, but also engaged in the active military development of Ukrainian territory, flooding Ukraine with weapons and military advisers. And it continues to do so now. Frankly, no one is paying any attention to the economy or well-being of the people living there, they just do not care about it at all, but they have never spared money to create a NATO foothold in the east that is directed against Russia and to cultivate aggression, hatred and Russophobia.

Today, our soldiers and officers, as well as the Donbass militia, are fighting to protect their people. They are fighting for Russia’s future as a large, free and secure multiethnic country that makes its own decisions, determines its own future, relies on its history, culture and traditions, and rejects any and all outside attempts to impose pseudo-values steeped in dehumanisation and moral degradation.

No doubt, our special military operation goals will be fulfilled. The key to this is the courage and heroism of our soldiers, consolidated Russian society, whose support gives strength and confidence to the Russian Army and Navy and a deep understanding of the truth and historical justice of our cause which is to build and strengthen Russia as a strong sovereign power.

My point is that sovereignty cannot be segmented or fragmented in the 21st century. The components of sovereignty are equally important, and they reinvigorate and complement each other.

So, what matters to us is not only the defence of our political sovereignty and national identity, but also strengthening everything that determines our country’s economic, financial, professional and technological independence.

The very structure of Western sanctions rested on the false premise that economically Russia is not sovereign and is critically vulnerable. They got so carried away spreading the myth of Russia’s backwardness and its weak positions in the global economy and trade that apparently, they started believing it themselves.

While planning their economic blitzkrieg, they did not notice, simply ignored the real facts of how much our country had changed in the past few years.

These changes are the result of our planned efforts to create a sustainable macroeconomic structure, ensure food security, implement import substitution programmes and create our own payment system, to name a few.

Of course, sanction restrictions created many challenges for the country. Some companies continue having problems with spare parts. Our companies have lost access to many technological solutions. Logistics are in disarray.

But, on the other hand, all this opens up new opportunities for us – we often talk about this but it really is so. All this is an impetus to build an economy with full rather than partial technological, production, human and scientific potential and sovereignty.

Naturally, it is impossible to resolve such a comprehensive challenge instantly. It is necessary to continue working systematically with an eye to the future. This is exactly what Russia is doing by implementing its long-term plans for the development of branches of the economy and strengthening the social sphere. The current trials are merely resulting in adjustments and modifications of the plans without changing their strategic orientation.

Today, I would like to talk about the key principles on which our country, our economy will develop.

The first principle is openness. Genuinely sovereign states are always interested in equal partnership and in contributing to global development. On the contrary, weak and dependent countries are usually looking for enemies, fuelling xenophobia or losing the last remnants of their identity and independence, blindly following in the wake of their suzerain.

Russia will never follow the road of self-isolation and autarky although our so-called Western friends are literally dreaming about this. Moreover, we are expanding cooperation with all those who are interested in it, who want to work with us, and will continue to do so. … They make up the overwhelming majority of people on Earth.

I will not list all these countries now. It is common knowledge.

I will say nothing new when I remind you that everyone who wants to continue working or is working with Russia is subjected to blatant pressure from the United States and Europe; it goes as far as direct threats. However, this kind of blackmail means little when it comes to countries headed by true leaders who know the difference between their own national interests, the interests of their people – and someone else’s.

Russia will build up economic cooperation with these states and promote joint projects. At the same time, we will certainly continue to cooperate with Western companies that have remained in the Russian market despite the unprecedented arm-twisting – such companies exist, too.

We believe the development of a convenient and independent payment infrastructure in national currencies is a solid and predictable basis for deepening international cooperation. To help companies from other countries develop logistical and cooperation ties, we are working to improve transport corridors, increase the capacity of railways, transshipment capacity at ports in the Arctic, and in the eastern, southern and other parts of the country, including in the Azov-Black Sea and Caspian basins – they will become the most important section of the North-South Corridor, which will provide stable connectivity with the Middle East and Southern Asia. We expect freight traffic along this route to begin growing steadily in the near future.

But foreign trade is not our only priority. Russia intends to increase scientific, technological, cultural, humanitarian and sports cooperation based on equality and mutual respect between partners. At the same time, our country will strive for responsible leadership in all these areas.

The second principle of our long-term development is a reliance on entrepreneurial freedom. Every private initiative aimed at benefiting Russia should receive maximum support and space for implementation.

The pandemic and the more recent events have confirmed how important flexibility and freedom are in the economy. Russian private businesses – in tough conditions, amid attempts to restrain our development by any means – have proved they can compete in global markets. Private businesses should also be credited for Russia’s adaptation to rapidly changing external conditions. Russia needs to ensure the dynamic development of the economy – naturally, relying on private business.

We will continue to reduce administrative hurdles. For example, in 2016–2018, we imposed a moratorium on routine audits of small businesses. Subsequently, it was extended through 2022. In 2020, this moratorium was extended to cover mid-sized companies. Also, the number of unscheduled audits decreased approximately fourfold.

We did not stop at that, and last March, we cancelled routine audits for all entrepreneurs, regardless of the size of their businesses, provided their activities do not put people or the environment at high risk. As a result, the number of routine audits has declined sixfold compared to last year.

Why am I giving so many details? The point is that after the moratorium on audits was imposed, the number of violations by entrepreneurs – this was the result – has not increased, but rather it has gone down. This testifies to the maturity and responsibility of Russian businesses. Of course, they should be offered motivation rather than being forced to observe regulations and requirements.

So, there is every reason to take another radical step forward, that is, to abandon, for good and on a permanent basis, the majority of audits for all Russian businesses, except on risky or potentially dangerous activities. Everyone has long since understood that there was no need to check on everyone without exception. A risk-oriented approach should be at work. I ask the Government to develop the specific parameters of such a reform in the next few months.

There is another very sensitive topic for business, which has also become important today for our national security and economic resilience. To reduce and bring to a minimum all sorts of abuse and loopholes to exert pressure on entrepreneurs, we are consistently removing loose regulations from criminal law that are applied to economic crimes.

Last March, a law was signed, under which tax-related criminal cases against entrepreneurs shall only be brought before a court by the tax service – there is no other way. Soon a draft law will be passed on reducing the statute of limitations for tax-related crimes and on rejecting lawsuits to initiate criminal proceedings after tax arrears have been paid off.

Working comprehensively, although prudently, we need to decriminalise a wide range of economic offenses, for instance, those that punish businesses without a licence or accreditation. This is a controversial practice today because our Western partners illegitimately refuse to provide such licenses.

Our own agencies must not single-handedly make our businesses criminally liable for actually doing nothing wrong. The problem is this, and small businesses understand it very well – if a licence has expired, and Western partners refuse to extend it, what are businesses to do, wrap up operations? By no means, let them work. State oversight should continue, but there should be no undue interference in business.

It also makes sense to think about raising the threshold of criminal liability for unpaid customs duties and other such taxes. Additionally, we have not for a long time reconsidered the parameters of the terms ‘large’ and ‘very large’ economic loss for the purposes of economic offences despite inflation accruing 50 percent since 2016. The law now fails to reflect the current realities and needs to be corrected.

We need to reconsider the conditions for detaining entrepreneurs and for extending preliminary investigations. It is no secret that these practices have long been used inappropriately.

Businesses have been forced to cease operations or go bankrupt even before the investigation is over. The reputation of the owners and of the brand name suffers as a result, not to mention the direct financial loss, loss of market share and jobs.

I want to ask law enforcement to put an end to these practices. I also ask the Government and the Supreme Court to draft appropriate legislation before October 1 of this year.

In addition, at the Security Council, a special instruction was given to look into criminal cases being opened without later proceeding to court. The number of such cases has grown in recent years. We know the reasons. A case is often opened without sufficient grounds or to put pressure on individuals. We will discuss this in autumn to take legislative action and change the way our law enforcement agencies work.

It goes without saying that regional governments play a major role in creating a modern business environment. As is customary during the St Petersburg Forum, I highlight the regions that have made significant progress in the National Investment Climate Rankings compiled by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives.

There have been changes in the top three. Moscow and Tatarstan have remained at the top and were joined by the Moscow Region which, in a span of one year, went from eighth place to the top three. The leaders of the rankings also include the Tula, Nizhny Novgorod, Tyumen, Novgorod, and Sakhalin regions, St Petersburg and Bashkortostan.

Separately, I would like to highlight the regions that have made the greatest strides such as the Kurgan Region, which moved up 36 spots; the Perm Territory and the Altai Territory, up 26 spots; Ingushetia, up 24 spots; and the Ivanovo Region which moved up 17 spots.

I want to thank and congratulate our colleagues in the regions for their good work.

The federal government and regional and municipal governments should focus on supporting individual business initiatives in small towns and remote rural communities. We are aware of such stories of success. That includes developing popular software and marketing locally produced organic food and environmentally friendly products nationwide using domestic websites.

It is important to create new opportunities, to introduce modern retail formats, including e-commerce platforms, as I mentioned above, and to cut the logistics, transportation and other costs, including by using upgraded Russian Post offices.

It is also important to help small business employees, self-employed individuals and start-up entrepreneurs acquire additional skills and competencies. Please include corresponding measures tailored specifically to small towns and rural and remote areas as a separate line in the national project for promoting small and medium-sized businesses.

Today I would like to address our officials, owners of large companies, our business leaders and executives.

Colleagues, friends,

Real, stable success and a sense of dignity and self-respect only come when you link your future and the future of your children with your Fatherland. We have maintained ties with many people for a long time, and I am aware of the sentiments of many of the heads and owners of our companies. You have told me many times that business is much more than just making a profit, and I fully agree. It is about changing life around you, contributing to the development of your home cities, regions and the country as a whole, which is extremely important for self-fulfilment. There is nothing like serving the people and society. This is the meaning of your life and work.

Recent events have reaffirmed what I have always said: it is much better at home. Those who refused to hear that clear message have lost hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in the West, in what looked like a safe haven for their assets.

I would like to once again say the following to our colleagues, those who are both in this audience and those who are not here: please, do not fall into the same trap again. Our country has huge potential, and there are more than enough tasks that need your contribution. Invest here, in the creation of new enterprises and jobs, in the development of the tourism infrastructure, support schools, universities, healthcare and the social sphere, culture and sport. I know that many of you are doing this. I know this, but I wanted to say it again.

This is how the Bakhrushin, Morozov, Shchukin, Ryabushinsky, Akchurin, Galeyev, Apanayev, Matsiyev, Mamontov, Tretyakov, Arsanov, Dadashev and Gadzhiyev families understood their noble mission. Many Russian, Tatar, Buryat, Chechen, Daghestani, Yakutian, Ossetian, Jewish, Armenian and other merchant and entrepreneurial families did not deprive their heirs of their due share, and at the same time they etched their names in the history of our country.

Incidentally, I would like to note once again that it remains to be seen what is more important for potential heirs: money and property or their forefathers’ good name and service to the country. The latter is something that cannot be squandered or, pardon my language, wasted on drink.

A good name is something that will always belong to your descendants, to future generations. It will always be part of their lives, going from one generation to another, helping them and making them stronger than the money or property they might inherit can make them.

Colleagues,

A responsible and well-balanced macroeconomic policy is the third guiding principle of our long-term development. In fact, this policy has largely enabled us to withstand the unprecedented pressure brought on by sanctions. Let me reiterate that this is an essential policy in the long term, not just for responding to the current challenges. We will not follow in the footsteps of our Western colleagues by replicating their bitter experience setting off an inflation spiral and disrupting their finances.

Our goal is to ensure robust economic growth for years to come, reducing the inflation burden on our people and businesses and achieving the mid- and long-term target inflation rate of four percent. Inflation was one of the first things I mentioned during my remarks, so let me tell you this: we remain committed to this target of a four-percent inflation rate.

I have already instructed the Government to draft proposals regarding the new budget guidelines. They must ensure that our budget policy is predictable and enables us to make the best use of the external economic conditions. Why do we need all this? To put economic growth on a more stable footing, while also delivering on our infrastructure and technological objectives, which provide a foundation for improving the wellbeing of our people.

True, some international reserve currencies have set themselves on a suicidal path lately, which is an obvious fact. In any case, they clearly have suicidal intentions. Of course, using them to ‘sterilise’ our money supply does not make any sense. Still, the principle of planning one’s spending based on how much you earn remains relevant. This is how it works, and we understand this.

Social justice is the fourth principle underpinning our development. There must be a powerful social dimension when it comes to promoting economic growth and business initiatives. This development model must reduce inequality instead of deepening it, unlike what is happening in other countries. To be honest, we have not been at the forefront when it comes to delivering on these objectives. We have yet to resolve many issues and problems in this regard.

Reducing poverty and inequality is all about creating demand for Russian-made products across the country, bridging the gap between regions in terms of their capabilities, and creating new jobs where they are needed the most. These are the core economic development drivers.

Let me emphasise that generating positive momentum in terms of household income growth and poverty reduction are the main performance indicators for government agencies and the state in general. We need to achieve tangible results in this sphere already this year, despite all the objective challenges we face. I have already assigned this task to the Government.

Again, we provide targeted support to the most vulnerable groups – pensioners, families with children, and people in difficult life situations.

Pensions are indexed annually at a rate higher than inflation. This year, they have been raised twice, including by another 10 percent on June 1.

The minimum wage was also increased by 10 percent at the same time, and so was the subsistence minimum – a reference figure used to calculate many social benefits and payments – accordingly, these benefits should also grow, increasing the incomes of about 15 million people.

In recent years, we have built a holistic system to support low-income families with children. Women are entitled to state support from the early stages of pregnancy and until the child reaches the age of 17.

People’s living standards and prosperity are the most important demographic factors; the current situation is quite challenging due to several negative demographic waves that have recently overlapped. In April, less than a hundred thousand children were born in Russia, almost 13 percent less than in April 2020.

I ask the Government to continue to keep the development of additional support measures for families with children under review. They must be far-reaching and commensurate with the magnitude of the extraordinary demographic challenge we are facing.

Russia’s future is ensured by families with two, three and more children. Therefore, we need to do more than provide direct financial support – we need to target and direct the healthcare system, education, and all areas that determine the quality of people’s lives towards the needs of families with children.

This problem is addressed, among other approaches, by the national social initiatives, which regional teams and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives are implementing together. This autumn, we will assess the results of their work, review and rank the Russian regions by quality of life in order to apply the best experiences and practices as widely as possible throughout the country.

Prioritising the development of infrastructure is the fifth principle underlying Russia’s economic policy.

We have scaled up direct budget spending on expanding transport corridors. An ambitious plan for building and repairing the federal and regional motorway core network will be launched next year. At least 85 percent of the roads are to be brought up to code within the next five years.

Infrastructure budget lending is a new tool that is being widely used. The loans are issued for 15 years at a 3 percent APR. As I mentioned before, they are much more popular than we originally thought. The regions have multiple well-thought-out and promising projects that should be launched at the earliest convenience. We will look into how we can use this support measure. We debated this issue last night. What I am saying is that it is a reliable tool.

Upgrading housing and utilities services is a separate matter with a backlog of issues. The industry is chronically underinvested to the tune of 4.5 trillion rubles. Over 40 percent of networks need to be replaced, which accounts for their low efficiency and big losses. About 3 percent of the networks become unusable every year, but no more than 2 percent get replaced, which makes the problem even worse every single year.

I propose consolidating resources and launching a comprehensive programme for upgrading housing and utilities, and synchronizing it with other infrastructure development and housing overhaul plans. The goal is to turn the situation around and to gradually reduce the number of dated networks, just like we are doing by relocating people from structurally unsafe buildings or fixing roads. We will discuss in detail housing and utilities and the construction complex with the governors at a State Council Presidium meeting next week.

On a separate note, I propose increasing resources to fund projects to create a comfortable urban environment in small towns and historical settlements. This programme is working well for us. I propose allocating another 10 billion rubles annually for these purposes in 2023–2024.

We will allocate additional funds for renovating urban areas in the Far Eastern Federal District. I want the Government to allocate dedicated funds to this end as part of the programmes for infrastructure budget lending and housing and utilities upgrading, as well as other development programmes.

Promoting comprehensive improvements and development for rural areas is a top priority for us. People who live there are feeding the country. We now see that they are also feeding a major part of the world, so they must live in comfort and dignity. In this connection, I am asking the Government to allocate additional funding for the corresponding programme. Export duties on agricultural produce can serve as a source of funding here. This is a permanent source of revenue. Of course, there can be fluctuations, but at least this ensures a constant flow of revenue.

On a separate note, I suggest that we expand the programmes for upgrading and modernising rural cultural centres, as well as regional theatres and museums by allocating six billion rubles for each of these projects in 2023 and 2024.

What I have just said about cultural institutions is something that people are really looking forward to, something they really care about. Let me give you a recent example: during the presentation of the Hero of Labour medals, one of the winners, Vladimir Mikhailov from Yakutia, asked me directly for help with building a cultural centre in his native village. This was during the part of the ceremony where we meet behind closed doors. We will definitely do this. The fact that people are raising this issue at all levels shows that they are really eager to see these projects implemented.

At this point, I would like to make a sidenote on a topic that is especially relevant now, since we are in early summer, when Russians usually take their summer vacations.

Every year, more and more tourists want to visit the most beautiful corners of our country: national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves. According to available estimates, this year this tourist flow is expected to exceed 12 million people. It is essential that all government bodies, businesses and tourists are well aware of what they can and cannot do in these territories, where they can build tourism infrastructure, and where such activity is strictly prohibited because it endangers unique and fragile ecosystems.

The draft law governing tourism in special protected territories and regulating this activity in a civilised manner is already in the State Duma.

In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we must figure out in advance all the relevant estimates and ensure that the decisions are well-balanced. We need to be serious about this.

I would like to place special emphasis on the need to preserve Lake Baikal. In particular, there is a comprehensive development project for the city of Baikalsk, which must become a model of sustainable, eco-sensitive municipal governance.

This is not just about getting rid of the accumulated negative environmental impacts from the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, but about setting a higher standard of living for the city and transforming it into a signature destination for environmental tourism in Russia. We need to rely on the most cutting-edge technologies and clean energy when carrying out this project.

Overall, we will be developing clean technology to achieve the goals we set in the environmental modernisation of production facilities, and to reduce hazardous emissions, especially in large industrial centres. We will also continue working on closed-loop economy projects, green projects and climate preservation. I spoke about these issues in detail at this forum last year.

Consequently, the sixth cross-cutting development principle that consolidates our work is, in my opinion, achieving genuine technological sovereignty, creating an integral system of economic development that does not depend on foreign institutions when it comes to critically important components. We need to develop all areas of life on a qualitatively new technological level without being simply users of other countries’ solutions. We must have technological keys to developing next-generation goods and services.

In the past years, we have focused a lot of attention on import substitution, succeeding in a range of industries, including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, defence production and several others.

But I should stress that there is a lot of discussion in our society about import substitution. And it is not a cure-all nor a comprehensive solution. If we only imitate others when trying to replace foreign goods with copies, even if very high-quality ones, we may end up constantly playing catch-up while we should be one step ahead and create our own competitive technologies, goods and services that can become new global standards.

If you remember, Sergei Korolyov did not just copy or locally upgrade captured rocket technology. He focused on the future and proposed a unique plan to develop the R-7 rocket. He paved the path to space for humankind and in fact set a standard for the entire world, for decades ahead.

Proactively – this is how founders of many Soviet research programmes worked at the time. And today, building on that groundwork, our designers continue to make progress and show their worth. It is thanks to them that Russia has supersonic weapons that do not exist in any other country. Rosatom remains the leader in nuclear technology, developing our fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers. Many Russian AI and Big Data solutions are the best in the world.

To reiterate, technological development is a cross-cutting area that will define the current decade and the entire 21st century. We will review in depth our approaches to building a groundbreaking technology-based economy – a techno economy – at the upcoming Strategic Development Council meeting. There is so much we can discuss. Most importantly, many managerial decisions must be made in the sphere of engineering education and transferring research to the real economy, and the provision of financial resources for fast-growing high-tech companies. We will also discuss the development of cross-cutting technologies and progress of digital transformation projects in individual industries.

To be clear, of course it is impossible to make every product out there, and there is no need for that. However, we need to possess critical technologies in order to be able to move swiftly should we need to start our own production of any product. This is what we did when we quickly started making coronavirus vaccines, and most recently launched the production of many other products and services.

For example, after dishonest KamAZ partners left the Russian market, their place was taken by domestic companies, which are supplying parts for traditional models and even advanced mainline, transport and heavy-duty vehicles.

The Mir card payment system has successfully replaced Visa and MasterCard on the domestic market. It is expanding its geography and gradually gaining international recognition.

The St Petersburg Tractor Plant is another case in point. Its former foreign partner stopped selling engines and providing warranty maintenance. Engine builders from Yaroslavl and Tutayev came to the rescue and started supplying their engines. As a result, the output of agricultural equipment at the St Petersburg Tractor Plant hit a record high in March-April. It did not decrease, but hit an all-time high.

I am sure there will be more positive practices and success stories.

To reiterate, Russia possesses the professional, scientific and technological potential to develop products that enjoy high demand, including household appliances and construction equipment, as well as industrial and service equipment.

Today’s task is to scale up the capacities and promptly get the necessary lines up and running. One of the key issues is comfortable work conditions for the businesses as well as the availability of prepared production sites.

I ask the Government to submit key parameters of the new operating guidelines for industrial clusters by the autumn. What is critical here?

First – financing. The projects launched in these clusters must have a long-term credit resource for up to ten years at an annual interest rate below seven percent in rubles. We have discussed all these issues with our economic agencies as well. Everyone agreed, so we will proceed.

Second – taxation. The clusters must have a low level of relatively permanent taxes including insurance contributions.

Third – supporting production at the early, kick-off stage, forming a package of orders including subsidising the purchases of ready products by such enterprises. This is not an easy issue but I think subsidies may be required. They are needed to ensure the market. We just have to work it out.

Fourth – simplified administration including minimal or no inspections as well as convenient customs monitoring that is not burdensome.

Fifth, and probably the most important – we need to set up mechanisms of guaranteed long-term demand for the new innovative products that are about to enter the market. I remind the Government that such preferential terms and respective industrial clusters must be launched as early as January 1, 2023.

On a related note, I want to say that both new and already operating points of industrial growth must attract small businesses and engage them in their orbit. It is crucial for entrepreneurs, for small entities to see the horizon and grasp their prospects.

Therefore, I ask the Government together with the SME Corporation [Federal Corporation for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises] and our biggest companies to launch an instrument for long-term contracts between companies with state participation and SMEs. This will ensure demand for the products of such enterprises for years ahead whereas suppliers can confidently undertake commitments to launch a new manufacturing facility or expand an existing one to meet that order.

Let me add that we have substantially shortened the timeframe for building industrial sites and eliminated all the unnecessary burdensome procedures. Still, there is much more we can do here. We have things to work on, and places to go from here. For example, building an industrial facility from the ground up takes anywhere from eighteen months to three years, while the persistently high interest rates make it harder to buy suitable land plots.

Given this, I suggest launching industrial mortgages as a new tool for empowering Russian businesses to quickly start making all the products we need. What I mean are preferential long-term loans at a five-percent interest rate. Companies planning to buy new manufacturing space will be entitled to these loans. I am asking the Government to work out all the details with the Russian banking sector so that the industrial mortgage programme becomes fully operational soon.

Friends,

Changes in the global economy, finances and international relations are unfolding at an ever-growing pace and scale. There is an increasingly pronounced trend in favour of a multipolar growth model in lieu of globalisation. Of course, building and shaping a new world order is no easy task. We will have to confront many challenges, risks, and factors that we can hardly predict or anticipate today.

Still, it is obvious that it is up to the strong sovereign states, those that do not follow a trajectory imposed by others, to set the rules governing the new world order. Only powerful and sovereign states can have their say in this emerging world order. Otherwise, they are doomed to become or remain colonies devoid of any rights.

We need to move forward and change in keeping with the times, while demonstrating our national will and resolve. Russia enters this nascent era as a powerful sovereign nation. We will definitely use the new immense opportunities that are opening up for us in this day and age in order to become even stronger.

Thank you for your attention.

Margarita Simonyan: Thank you, Mr President.

I would very much like to say that after such exhaustive remarks and such an exhaustive analysis, we have nothing left to talk about, because you have answered all the questions. Still, some questions remain, and we will certainly ask them.

And now I would like to ask President Tokayev to come over here and share with us his perspective on the processes taking place in his country, in our country, and in relations between our countries and in the world.

Thank you.

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: President Putin,

forum participants,

I congratulate everyone on a significant event – the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum. I thank President Putin for the invitation and for the warm and cordial welcome in the cultural capital of Russia.

Over the past quarter of a century, the St Petersburg Forum has deservedly gained respect as a prestigious expert platform and occupies a worthy place among other world discussion platforms.

Today, we are meeting in rather extraordinary circumstances – I am referring to the elevated political and economic turbulence. The global upheavals caused by the pandemic and the rising geopolitical tensions have led to a new reality. Globalisation has given way to an era of regionalisation, with all its inherent advantages and disadvantages. Be that as it may, the process of reformatting traditional economic models and trade routes is accelerating.

The world is changing rapidly – unfortunately, in most cases it is not for the better. Inflation in many countries is breaking ten-year records, global economic growth is slowing down, and competition for investment and resources is intensifying.

There are constraining factors for economic growth such as climate change, growing migration flows, and faster technological change. We certainly pay attention to these processes.

Speaking about the new reality, it is important to bear in mind the rapidly changing structure of the international order – even the seemingly stable East-West, North-South vectors of interaction are shifting. It is important for the countries in our region not only to find the right answers to all these challenges, but also to try to make the most of them. Therefore, we have to consistently reach our full potential for cooperation within the Eurasian Economic Union. The project to link Eurasian integration with China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is relevant here.

As you know, Kazakhstan is now implementing large-scale political and economic reforms. Their goal is to reset public administration and build a fair, new Kazakhstan. We are working to ensure that there is a correlation between economic growth and rising living standards for our people. We want to achieve sustainable development of trade and economic ties, open new production lines, support the growth of human capital, and make investments.

As part of our large-scale effort to modernise the country, we are drafting new rules of the game in the economy without glaring monopolies and rampant corruption. Our priority is to support businesses and improve the business climate with a view to providing the utmost protection for the rights of investors, and promoting stability and predictability. We will continue meeting all of our commitments to our traditional partners. Kazakhstan will continue building an inclusive, fair society without social inequality.

I believe that to ensure sustainable development of all countries of the region, it is necessary to determine new horizons of cooperation and create new growth points in our economies. Along with this, we must always remember the very important task of ensuring international and regional security.

In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the following points.

The first task, as I have already mentioned, is to strengthen the capacity of the Eurasian Economic Union. This task remains relevant for us. The aggregate size of the economies of its members exceeds $2 trillion. This is an enormous market with free movement of goods, capital, services and workforce. At any rate, this is what it should be.

Despite the pandemic and geopolitical upheavals, cooperation in the EAEU continues to grow stronger. Last year, its trade reached a record $73 billion, which is a third higher than last year.

Russia has been and remains Kazakhstan’s key economic partner in the EAEU. Last year, our trade went up by almost a third to exceed $24 billion. These are record figures for us. The dynamics remains positive this year as well. Our trade increased by over 12 percent in the first quarter of 2022.

I believe that, considering the new reality, it would be appropriate and useful to develop an innovative trade strategy within the Eurasian Economic Union. Instead of imposing counter-sanctions, which, frankly, are unlikely to be productive, a more proactive and flexible trade policy should be pursued covering the Asian and the Middle Eastern markets. Kazakhstan could be instrumental in its role of a buffer market.

Overall, the ultimate success of Eurasian integration largely, if not massively, depends on our effective common trade strategy. Kazakhstan and Russia can break new ground in industrial cooperation.

We have a special plan, a programme for industrial cooperation in the new circumstances. Investors from Russia will be provided with industrial sites complete with infrastructure, and a favourable investment climate will be created for them. As a matter of fact, this is already being done.

The full unlocking of our countries’ agricultural potential is particularly important in these circumstances. According to the FAO [the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations], Russia and Kazakhstan are global leaders in terms of available agricultural land. This fact is of particular importance in light of declining global food security. According to the UN, the number of malnourished people will go from 270 million to 323 million this year.

Providing people with high-quality and safe food remains a priority and a factor in maintaining internal stability.

To create a reliable food system, it is important to implement innovative solutions and advanced technologies, as well as to cut food losses.

Approaches to ensuring food security should be developed at the national level and within regional associations, including the EAEU with account taken of the interests of all state participants. Achieving declared goals in this extremely important area is unlikely without coordinated work.

In other words, fighting skyrocketing inflation and food shortages is our common challenge, which will remain a priority in the foreseeable future, because it directly concerns the well-being of our people. Our countries’ potential makes it possible to consistently and fully supply our markets with the necessary foods, as the President of Russia convincingly demonstrated today.

Secondly, I believe that it is essential that we continue expanding trade and economic cooperation with third countries. Kazakhstan is proactively involved in integration processes, and has always stood for mutually beneficial cooperation with other international organisations.

As far as I know, there has been much interest on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia’s initiative to build a Greater Eurasian Partnership. This concept consists of offering regional organisations a platform for creating a common space of equal cooperation. It is for this reason that Kazakhstan continues to have a positive outlook on the effort to build the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

This year, Kazakhstan chairs the Commonwealth of Independent States. Over the years, this structure has built up a positive track record despite all the geopolitical challenges, which proves that multilateral dialogue tools are effective.

I believe that the CIS is perfectly suited for serving as a foundation for this megaproject. I am referring to Greater Eurasia, or the Greater Eurasian Partnership. It can encompass the SCO, ASEAN, and the Eurasian Economic Union as its integral elements.

Over the next decade, China, India, as well as countries in the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, which have traditionally been friendly to us, can become major investors in the economies of our region.

China has already emerged as Kazakhstan’s main economic and foreign trade partner. This country invested in our economy more than $22 billion over the past 15 years. For this reason, strengthening our multilateral cooperation with China is a very important goal for our country.

Of course, the economy matters today just as much as political considerations. I believe that we have to promote business-to-business ties and build new transport and logistics corridors. Today, we treat these matters as our top priorities when meeting with people from Russia and other interested nations.

There is a lot of potential for combining our efforts to develop a pool of breakthrough innovation and technology projects, as well as uninterrupted transportation and logistics chains. At the end of the day, this will create new economic growth opportunities for our countries.

Thirdly, Kazakhstan maintains its unwavering commitment to international efforts to combat climate change. We will be consistent in our efforts to promote green investment and carry out corresponding projects. Environmental problems are global in nature, affecting almost all countries without exception, including Kazakhstan.

Last year, our farmers had serious problems due to a draught that was triggered by low rainfall and low water level in rivers. The cross-border Ural River is in critical condition. We call it Zhayyq on our territory.

I believe we should tackle such problems together when faced with such long-term challenges to the sustainable development of our states. I think we should give serious thought to the prospects of introducing the principles of closed-loop or circular economy. We are working to reduce the GDP’s energy-output ratio, expand the renewable energy sector and reduce transit losses in this area.

The similarity of our economies, industrial infrastructure ties between our two countries and geography as such are prompting us to pool efforts in this strategically important area as well. I hope that together we will manage to draft effective approaches and specific measures for tangible progress in this field.

Fourthly. High quality human resources and constructive inter-cultural dialogue are a reliable source of economic growth. As part of the UN-proclaimed International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, we will continue our policy of preserving the cultural diversity of our country and promoting international dialogue between civilisations.

In September our capital will host yet another congress of world and traditional religions. We welcome the participation of religious figures from Russia in this forum. Practically all of them confirmed their participation.

Kazakhstan is actively reformatting the system of its higher education with the participation of leading foreign universities, including Russian ones. The deepening of international academic ties has special significance for promoting the traditions of bilateral cooperation.

I am convinced that the successful implementation of a number of joint educational and cultural initiatives will allow us to make a tangible contribution to the steady economic advance of our country.

Participants of the forum,

Kazakhstan proceeds from its firm conviction that Eurasia is our common home and that all countries on our continent should closely cooperate in the community. We are confident that the building of a peaceful, stable and economically strong Eurasia will become a major factor of sustainable development and inclusive growth on a global scale.

I am convinced that this prestigious discussion venue that unites top class experts has great potential in searching for constructive ideas aimed at normalising the international situation and recovering the positive dynamics of the world economy.

Thank you for your attention.

Margarita Simonyan: Thank you very much, President Tokayev.

Eurasia is indeed our common home. We all want this home to be safe and prosperous through God’s help and our mutual efforts.

And now we will turn to Africa. We have a video address from President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Can we have it on the screens, please? Thank you.

President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi: In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful,

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin,

Ladies and gentlemen,

At the outset, allow me to extend to His Excellency, President Vladimir Putin, my sincere congratulations on the silver jubilee of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. Since 1997, when it has been held for the first time, the forum has become a leading platform for the business community and a remarkable economic event that seeks to discuss the key economic issues facing emerging markets and the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Arab Republic of Egypt, as a guest country, will be part of this year’s session of the forum, which marks the 25th anniversary of its launch, thus confirming the distinguished level that Egyptian-Russian economic relations have reached over the recent years.

This year’s forum is being held amid unprecedented political and economic challenges of a strategic nature. We hope that the outcomes of the forum will contribute to finding effective solutions to these challenges in a way that mitigates the impact of the global economic crisis and its negative repercussions on many countries in the world, especially the economies of emerging countries, takes the concerns and interests of all parties into account, and achieves the security and tranquility of peoples.

This would be achieved through long-term political understandings that open the way for the growth of the global economy, especially in the wake of the severe coronavirus pandemic, which has cost our societies many victims and considerable money and resources, thus making us keen to avoid any slowdown in the global economy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me use this opportunity to reiterate that the Arab Republic of Egypt values its firm, historic friendship relations with the Russian Federation, and values the tangible progress the two countries’ relations have been witnessing over the past years in a multitude of vital sectors, for the two countries’ economies and the prosperity of the two peoples.

The Arab Republic of Egypt and the Russian Federation have been engaged over the past years in the implementation of mega and ambitious projects that serve our countries and respond to the aspirations of our peoples to realise more economic progress.

The most prominent of these are: the project for the establishment of the Dabaa nuclear power plant, which comes within the context of the Egyptian State’s strategy to expand national projects for the use of new and renewable sources of energy.

Another project is the establishment of the Russian Industrial Zone in the Economic Zone of the Suez Canal, which is meant to become an important platform for industry in Africa.

This is in addition to cooperation between the two countries to upgrade the Egyptian railway network and other joint ventures that realise the benefit of the two peoples.

Ladies and gentlemen,

You must be aware that the exceptional events that have been taking place in the Arab Republic of Egypt over the past decade had their immense impact on the overall economic situation in the country. The Egyptian people stood up to surmount this crisis by supporting a clear vision, based on investing in the Egyptian citizen and developing his capabilities.

Therefore, Egypt Vision 2030 was launched to reflect the state’s long-term strategic plan to achieve the principles and goals of sustainable development, with its economic, social and environmental dimensions.

Based on this vision, the Government of Egypt has modernised its legislative structure to enable Egypt to attract more foreign investment. This qualified Egypt to become the top destination for attracting foreign investments in Africa and one of the few countries in the world capable of achieving a growth rate of up to 3.3 percent in 2021, despite the negative challenges posed by the spread of COVID-19 and their impact on the global economy. We expect the Egyptian economy to grow by 5.5% during the current fiscal year. The country’s non-petroleum exports also increased during 2021 to reach $32 billion.

Egypt has also succeeded, within the framework of its strategy to increase its capabilities, to implement mega agricultural projects that are aimed at increasing agricultural land by almost 2 million feddans.

This is in addition to the mega projects Egypt is implementing in the fields of transport, by expanding thousands of kilometers of roads and upgrading Egypt’s transport system by introducing new projects. Those include the high-speed rail that will constitute a means to link the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, thus boosting and facilitating international trade.

Adding to this are the mega industrial projects and the numerous projects in the field of clean energy production, which have been established in Egypt at a rapid pace over the past period.

Despite the previously-mentioned national efforts, Egypt’s actions and efforts to achieve progress were hit recently by economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The world was partially recovering from its effects and repercussions, when it was hit again by a great economic crisis that cast a shadow over growth rates and negatively affected states’ budgets, reflecting on the rise of fuel prices and the decline in the value of the national currencies in the face of hard currencies. This is in addition to the disruption in supply chains, the emergence of the food crisis, as well as the irregular movement of civil aviation. This sector is connected with vital fields of the Egyptian economy, primarily tourism and insurance.

Addressing this crisis, which has an international character, requires international efforts and collaboration among all parties in order to get matters back to their normal state, particularly the movement of maritime traffic and the regularity of supply chains, particularly foodstuff, such as grain and vegetable oil.

This also requires working toward restoring calm and stability at the international level, in order to mitigate the impact of this economic crisis on the peoples, who seek peace and development.

I also call on all companies participating in this forum and others to take advantage of this huge opportunity that is provided by investing in Egypt in all fields.

I would not miss, before concluding my speech, thanking the people of Saint Petersburg, this brave city throughout history, which at the same time represents an icon for culture and openness on the outside world.

Finally, I would like, once again, to thank His Excellency, President Vladimir Putin, for his kind invitation for Egypt to participate in this forum as a guest of this round, wishing the forum and the participants all success and blessings and wishing our friendly countries more constructive cooperation, prosperity and progress. We pray God Almighty to spread peace and stability across the world and to spare our peoples the scourge of war and its economic and social impact by giving priority to the language of dialogue, understanding and co-existence.

Thank you.

Margarita Simonyan: We are grateful to the President of Egypt. I think that the people of the host city should be especially pleased to hear his warm words about St Petersburg.

We have just a little time left before the discussion begins. They say anticipation increases desire.

We will now listen to an address by President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.

President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping (retranslated): President Putin, ladies and gentlemen, friends,

I am delighted to have this opportunity to address the plenary session of the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum, which I attended in person three years ago.

In February this year, President Putin visited China and attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. We had a detailed exchange of views, following which we reached a vital agreement on expanding our comprehensive practical cooperation and implementing the concept of global governance based on joint consultations, joint participation and joint use.

Cooperation between China and Russia is currently ascending in all spheres. Our bilateral trade reached $65.8 billion over the first five months of this year. We can expect to attain new records by year-end. This is evidence of the high resilience and ingenious potential of Chinese-Russian cooperation.

The world is entering a new period of turbulence and transformation amid the ongoing radical changes and the coronavirus pandemic. There is an obvious trend of anti-globalism, a growing divide between the South and the North, and a weakening of cooperation drivers in the area of development, which could plunge the erratically reviving global economy into a deep recession and create unprecedented challenges to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

According to ancient Chinese words of wisdom, a clever man sees a seed of crisis in every opportunity and an opportunity in every crisis. Danger and opportunity always go together. By overcoming danger, you get opportunity. Strength lies in confidence. The more there are difficulties, the more important it is to remain confident.

During last year’s session of the UN General Assembly, I proposed a Global Development Initiative, which was positively received and supported by a number of international organisations, including the UN, and about a hundred countries.

Today, at a time when the international community is ever more interested in achieving more equitable, sustainable and secure development, we should seize opportunities, meet challenges head-on, and work on the implementation of the Global Development Initiative to build a shared future of peace and prosperity.

First, we need to create conditions for development. It is important that we follow true multilateralism, respect and support all countries’ pursuit of development paths suited to their national conditions, build an open world economy, and increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries in global economic governance with a view to making global development more balanced, coordinated and inclusive.

Second, we need to strengthen development partnerships. It is important that we enhance North-South and South-South cooperation, pool cooperation resources, platforms and networks of development partnerships, and scale up development assistance in order to forge greater synergy for development and close the development gap.

Third, we need to advance economic globalization. It is important that we enhance the coordination of development policies and international rules and standards, reject attempts at separation, supply disruption, unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure, remove trade barriers, keep global industrial and supply chains stable, tackle the worsening food and energy crises, and revive the world economy.

Fourth, we need to pursue innovation-driven development. It is important that we unlock the potential of innovation-driven growth, improve the rules and institutional environment for innovation, break down barriers to the flow of innovation factors, deepen exchanges and cooperation on innovation, facilitate deeper integration of science and technology into the economy, and make sure the fruits of innovation are shared by all.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends,

The fundamentals of the Chinese economy are its strong resilience, enormous potential and long-term sustainability, which remain unchanged. We have full confidence in China’s economic development. China will continue to promote high-quality development, promote openness with firm resolve, and pursue high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

China stands ready to work with Russia and all other countries to explore development prospects, share growth opportunities, and make new contributions to deepening global development cooperation and building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Thank you.

Margarita Simonyan: Thank you, Mr President.

Coming to learn Chinese wisdom and some of Chinese sagacity is always a good thing, especially now that Chinese wisdom might come in useful for the entire world.

Mr President, I would like to show you something that I have brought with me especially. It is juice, and it used to be so nicely coloured. It does not matter what sort of juice it is; you cannot even see the brand here, although it is a popular one. And now – do you see? A small picture and the rest is white. Why is that? And this is happening on a massive scale.

Because we ran out of paint. The producer of paint for such packaging has left Russia, and the producer of the packaging also announced that they are leaving. I bought this two weeks ago, and soon this will disappear. As a result, we will have to pour it into bottles or three-litre glass jars, like it was in my childhood, unless we discover that we do not produce bottles either.

There are conflicting opinions on this. You have touched upon this issue today. Some of the participants – a considerable part, maybe even the majority – came here by Sapsan trains. Some say “We will swap Sapsans for Chinese trains, they are even better,” since Siemens has gone. Others say “We will learn to make them ourselves.” Let me remind you that we launched our own high-speed trains in 1984, I think they were called ER200. I was four years old, did not go to school yet, but we already had high-speed trains – but we do not have them any longer. It is sad, isn’t it?

And there are also people who say that no, we cannot replace all that, we can use Sapsan trains for another couple of years and then we will just give up high-speed railways, which means we will step back from what we got used to. And it is like this with everything: telephones, computers, everything we got used to. This is a very sad, I would even say heartbreaking plan.

Maybe there is a different plan?

Vladimir Putin: Whenever any decisions are taken, the key issues must be to singled out. What is key for us? Being independent, sovereign and ensuring future-oriented development both now and for the future generations? Or having packaging today?

Unless we have sovereignty, we will soon have to buy everything and will only produce oil, gas, hemp fibre, saddles and sell rough logs abroad.

It is inevitable. I have already said so in my speech: only sovereign countries can expect to have a sovereign future. That does not mean, however, that we need to plunge back into a situation of 30, 40 or 50 years ago.

Regarding packaging. I do not think it is such a complicated thing that either our partners from other countries can replace, who will be pleased to occupy this market sooner or later, or we will be able to make ourselves.

Margarita Simonyan: You do not see it, but President Tokayev is nodding his head: they will probably be able to replace it.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Absolutely, this is not a problem.

Vladimir Putin: Of course, we will able to replace it.

The question is about a totally different matter. We keep talking about import substitution. In my speech here I also said – and I will just add a couple of words so as not to take too much time while answering only one question.

The issue is not about import substitution, the issue is to establish our own capabilities based on progress in education, science and new promising schools of engineering. We will always be given packaging materials and other simple things, event telephones and smartphones. What we have never been given and never will be is critically important technologies. We have never been given them before even though we had problem-free relations with our Western partners in the previous decades. This is the problem.

And when we begin to stand up for our rights, we are immediately slapped with some sanctions and restrictions; this is what the problem is all about. Therefore, we must commit ourselves to that and have the capacity to reproduce critically important technologies on the basis of what I mentioned. And with that base we will always be able to manufacture the goods you mentioned: packaging materials, telephones and smartphones. If we realise that and keep focusing on solving fundamental issues, we will resolve everything else without a problem.

Let me reiterate: others are already coming to that place – those who produce the packaging materials, those who produce the paints. We are also starting to produce paints and other consumer goods as well as goods employed in industry in a broader sense. We can make anything – I have absolutely no doubt about that.

Obviously, some things will be lost, other things will be made on a new basis, much more advanced – the way it happened earlier. Therefore, when we talk about import substitution, we will substitute something while other things will have to be done on a totally new promising basis of our own making.

Margarita Simonyan: Thank you. President Tokayev, would you like to add anything?

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: I think everything is clear here, and judging by President Putin’s extremely interesting speech, we can understand that he is thinking in the categories of historical perspective, so to say.

Margarita Simonyan: As always.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: And juice packaging has no place here.

Indeed, it is a small problem, nature abhors a vacuum: others will come who will be producing juice packaging that is just as good, and local producers will appear.

The issue is about something else. In particular, I said in my speech about the importance of Eurasian cooperation, about the importance of uniting efforts to resolve unexpected problems. I think we will arrive at the result we are seeking on this road.

To be continued.

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

May 26, 2022

First Eurasian Economic Forum

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actually, import substitution was necessary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your attention. Thank you.

WHY Sanctions have FAILED against RUSSIA – Inside Russia Report

May 21, 2022

A lovely conversation detailing how the ordinary Russian adapted to sanctions.

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

May 16, 2022

CSTO summit

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

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

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

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon!

I am glad to welcome you all in Moscow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colleagues, I would like to welcome all of you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear friends,

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

Colleagues,

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

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

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

Sorry for such a long speech.

Thank you for your attention.

Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Lukashenko.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colleagues,

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

Thank you for your attention.

Nikol Pashinyan:Thank you, Mr Tokayev.

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

President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov: Good afternoon.

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

I am happy to meet with you in hospitable Moscow.

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

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

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

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

Colleagues,

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

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

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

Colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your attention.

Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Japarov.

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

Mr President, go ahead, please.

Vladimir Putin: Friends and colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your attention.

Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Putin.

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

President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon: Colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you very much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Chair and members of the Collective Security Council,

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

How Mariupol will become a key hub of Eurasian integration

Mariupol was battered by Ukraine’s right-wing Azov battalion well before Moscow launched its military ops. In Russian hands, this strategic steelworks port can transform into a hub of Eurasian connectivity.

March 29 2022

Mariupol sits on the strategic Sea of Azov at the tip of the Black Sea, and is the ‘Mecca’ of Europe’s steel industry. Its conquest by Russia can pave the way for a Eurasian railroad and connectivity surge.

By Pepe Escobar

Mariupol, the strategic Sea of Azov port, remains in the eye of the storm in Ukraine.

The NATO narrative is that Azovstal – one of Europe’s biggest iron and steel works – was nearly destroyed by the Russian Army and its allied Donetsk forces who “lay siege” to Mariupol.

The true story is that the neo-Nazi Azov batallion took scores of Mariupol civilians as human shields since the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, and retreated to Azovstal as a last stand. After an ultimatum delivered last week, they are now being completely exterminated by the Russian and Donetsk forces and Chechen Spetsnaz.

Azovstal, part of the Metinvest group controlled by Ukraine’s wealthiest oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov, is indeed one of the biggest metallurgic plants in Europe, self-described as a “high-performance integrated metallurgical enterprise that produces coke and sinter, steel as well as high-quality rolled products, bars and shapes.”

Amidst a flurry of testimonials detailing the horrors inflicted by the Azov neo-Nazis on Mariupol’s civilian population, a way more auspicious, invisible story bodes well for the immediate future.

Russia is the world’s fifth largest steel producer, apart from holding huge iron and coal deposits. Mariupol – a steel Mecca – used to source coal from Donbass, but under de facto neo-Nazi rule since the 2014 Maidan events, was turned into an importer. Iron, for instance, started to be supplied from Krivbas in Ukraine, over 200 kilometers away.

After Donetsk solidifies itself as an independent republic or, via referendum, chooses to become part of the Russian Federation, this situation is bound to change.

Azovstal is invested in a broad product line of very useful stuff: structural steel, rail for railroads, hardened steel for chains, mining equipment, rolled steel used in factory apparatus, trucks and railroad cars. Parts of the factory complex are quite modern while some, decades old, are badly in need of upgrading, which Russian industry can certainly provide.

Strategically, this is a huge complex, right at the Sea of Azov, which is now, for all practical purposes, incorporated into the Donetsk People’s Republic, and close to the Black Sea. That implies a short trip to the Eastern Mediterranean, including many potential customers in West Asia. And crossing Suez and reaching the Indian Ocean, are customers all across South and Southeast Asia.

So the Donetsk People’s Republic, possibly part of the future Novorossiya, and even part of Russia, will be in control of a lot of steel-making capacity for southern Europe, West Asia, and beyond.

One of the inevitable consequences is that it will be able to supply a real freight railroad construction boom in Russia, China and the Central Asian ‘stans.’ Railroad construction happens to be the privileged connectivity mode for Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And, crucially, of the increasingly turbo-charged International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC).

So, mid-term, Mariupol should expect to become one of the key hubs of a boom in north-south routes – INSTC across Russia and linking with the ‘stans’ – as well as major BRI upgrades east-west and sub-BRI corridors.

Interlocked Eurasia

The INSTC’s main players are Russia, Iran and India – which are now, post-NATO sanctions, in advanced interconnection mode, complete with devising mechanisms to bypass the US dollar in their trade. Azerbaijan is another important INSTC player, yet more volatile because it privileges Turkey’s connectivity designs in the Caucasus.

The INSTC network will also be progressively interconnecting with Pakistan – and that means the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key BRI hub, which is slowly but surely expanding to Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s impromptu visit to Kabul late last week was to advance the incorporation of Afghanistan to the New Silk Roads.

All that is happening as Moscow – extremely close to New Delhi – is simultaneously expanding trade relations with Islamabad. All three, crucially, are Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members.

So the grand North-South design spells out fluent connectivity from the Russian mainland to the Caucasus (Azerbaijan), to West Asia (Iran) all the way to South Asia (India and Pakistan). None of these key players have demonized or sanctioned Russia despite ongoing US pressures to do so.

Strategically, that represents the Russian multipolar concept of Greater Eurasian Partnership in action in terms of trade and connectivity – in parallel and complimentary with BRI because India, eager to install a rupee-ruble mechanism to buy energy, in this case is an absolutely crucial Russia partner, matching China’s reported $400 billion strategic deal with Iran. In practice, the Greater Eurasia Partnership will facilitate smoother connectivity between Russia, Iran, Pakistan and India.

The NATO universe, meanwhile, is congenitally incapable of even recognizing the complexity of the alignment, not to mention analyze its implications. What we have is the interlocking of BRI, INTSC and the Greater Eurasia Partnership on the ground – all notions that are regarded as anathema in the Washington Beltway.

All that of course is being designed amidst a game-changing geoeconomic moment, as Russia, starting this Thursday, will only accept payment for its gas in rubles from “unfriendly” nations.

Parallel to the Greater Eurasia Partnership, BRI, since it was launched in 2013, is also progressively weaving a complex, integrated Eurasian network of partnerships: financial/economic, connectivity, physical infrastructure building, economic/trade corridors. BRI’s role as a co-shaper of institutions of global governance, including normative foundations, has also been crucial, much to the despair of the NATO alliance.

Time to de-westernize

Yet only now the Global South, especially, will start to observe the full spectrum of the China-Russia play across the Eurasian sphere. Moscow and Beijing are deeply involved in a joint drive to de-westernize globalist governance, if not shatter it altogether.

Russia from now on will be even more meticulous in its institution-building, coalescing the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), the SCO and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – a Eurasian military alliance of select post-Soviet states – in a geopolitical context of irreversible institutional and normative divide between Russia and the West.

At the same time, the Greater Eurasia Partnership will be solidifying Russia as the ultimate Eurasian bridge, creating a common space across Eurasia which could even ignore vassalized Europe.

Meanwhile in real life, BRI, as much as the INSTC, will be increasingly plugged into the Black Sea (hello, Mariupol). And BRI itself may even be prone to re-evaluation in its emphasis of linking western China to western Europe’s shrinking industrial base.

There will be no point in privileging the northern BRI corridors – China-Mongolia-Russia via the Trans-Siberian, and the Eurasian land bridge via Kazakhstan – when you have Europe descending into medieval dementia.

BRI’s renewed focus will be on gaining access to irreplaceable commodities – and that means Russia – as well as securing essential supplies for Chinese production. Commodity-rich nations, such as Kazakhstan and many players in Africa, shall become the top future markets for China.

In a pre-Covid loop across Central Asia, one constantly heard that China builds plants and high-speed railways while Europe at best writes white papers. It can always get worse.

The EU as occupied American territory is now descending, fast, from center of global power to the status of inconsequential peripheral player, a mere struggling market in the far periphery of China’s “community of shared destiny.”

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

Is Qatar the means for a US comeback in Eurasia?

Energy-rich Qatar’s designation as a major non-NATO ally may upset the Persian Gulf balance, but could be a means for the US to counter a Sino-Russian lockhold on Eurasia.

March 21 2022

Washington’s sudden upgrade of Qatar to a Major Non-NATO Ally is not only about gas, but a means to get a foothold back in Eurasia.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Agha Hussain

The US’ designation of Qatar as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) carries more geopolitical significance than is immediately evident. It in fact can be viewed as one of Washington’s first steps toward a new strategy for a US riposte against Russia and China at key theaters in Eurasian great-power competition.

On 31 January, US President Joe Biden hosted the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hammad Al-Thani in Washington and declared Qatar an MNNA. Also discussed was gas-rich Qatar’s potential role in alleviating Europe’s reliance on Russian gas for its energy supply – a key leverage point for Moscow to dissuade European NATO members from confronting it over Ukraine.

It should be noted, however, that Qatar itself has cast doubt over any speculation that it could unilaterally replace the continent’s gas needs in case of a shortage.

Indeed, there is no western military response to current Russian operations in Ukraine. Whether US or European Union (EU), the western strategic calculus does not deem Kiev important enough to rescue from Russia.

Nonetheless, Ukraine is still crucial for the US as a means to help counter Russian influence in vast, resource-rich Eurasia. Namely, through connecting China to Europe via the multimodal Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan (via the Caspian Sea)-Georgia-Ukraine (via the Black Sea) route and thus helping China reduce reliance on its currently most-used land route to Europe, i.e. via Russia and Belarus, a close Russian ally.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

This strategy would give the US a rare opportunity to leverage China’s global economic expansion through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which it usually tries to counter with limited success, to reduce Russia’s geo-economic depth in Eurasia.

However, the aforementioned Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) is more time-consuming, costly, and closer to conflict areas than Russia-Belarus. And Moscow and Tehran have all but blocked the Caspian Sea as a transit route for pipelines. Moreover, to justify the investment needed to improve Ukraine’s transit capacity and to ensure that traders even use the TITR, the EU needs to sanction Moscow and render the Russia-Belarus route untenable.

Thus, the EU hypothetically replacing Russia with Qatar as its gas supplier, and subsequently becoming more willing to confront Moscow, unlocks a major roadmap for the US to counter Russia.

In this scenario, the EU could enhance and leverage China’s own interest in tilting to the TITR from Russia. According to a 2016 study in the European Council of Foreign Affairs, Ukraine’s harmonization with EU trade standards boosted China’s interest in increasing its Ukrainian food imports, which necessitated enhancing Ukraine’s transport infrastructure since these imports cannot travel to China via the Belarus-Russia route due to Moscow’s sanctions on Kyiv. Indeed, China signed agreements with Ukraine last year to develop the latter’s transport infrastructure.

Afghanistan

The freezing of Afghan central bank assets are burning US bridges with Afghanistan – where the US fought its longest war (2001-21) in its short history. However, the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2021 provided an opportunity for Russian and Chinese influence to fill the void. Thus, as the US’ great-power rivalries with Russia and China deepen, the case for rebuilding contacts and connections in Afghanistan will strengthen in Washington.

Afghanistan is central to the US’ goal of building new international transport routes for the Central Asian Republics (CARs) that do not transit through Russia, whose territory and infrastructure the CARs disproportionately rely on. This is an official US objective, as represented by the C5+1 platform and Washington’s official ‘Strategy for Central Asia 2019-25’.  Afghanistan is the transit state for this strategy, to connect the CARs to its own neighbor Pakistan and Pakistani Arabian Sea ports for access to global shipment.

For a proper ‘return’ to Afghanistan as a Eurasia-focused great-power, the US appears to have selected Qatar as its conduit. In this vein, Washington shifted its operational command for Afghanistan to Qatar during the withdrawal and designated Doha its official diplomatic representative in Kabul in November 2021.

Moreover, the US picked Qatar from amongst a broad mix of options for military involvement in post-withdrawal Afghanistan. Such options included negotiating with Pakistan to allow US aircraft to transit its airspace into Afghanistan for combat purposes and even Moscow’s offer, made during the withdrawal, for the US to use Russian bases in Central Asia for intel gathering flights over Afghanistan.

Qatar stood out as the best choice from the US’ great-power perspective. Pakistan’s close regional rapport with China and emphasis on cooperation, made it unlikely to facilitate an inroad for the US. Furthermore, Qatar’s retention of its own diplomatic channels to Afghanistan makes it yet more suitable to the US’ great-power sensitivities.

Qatar hosted US-Taliban peace talks since 2013, years before platforms such as the Moscow-led ‘Extended Troika’ or Beijing’s ‘Quadrilateral Coordination Group’ (QCG) were launched. Doha was not party to either platform, or of other multilateral dialogues on Afghanistan.

Hence, the US can integrate Qatar into its bigger-picture for Afghanistan without making the Gulf state feel as if it is sacrificing its positive bilateral relations with Afghanistan’s other external stakeholders.

Aside from Ukraine and Afghanistan, Washington has another potential front against its Eurasian rivals: Qatar’s home turf in the Persian Gulf region, where common ground exists between Doha’s own ambitions and the US’ containment efforts aimed at China in particular.

The Persian Gulf and China

China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are especially important trading partners to each other given the unmatched size of the former’s market for the latters’ energy exports. Beijing also invests heavily in the GCC to turn it into a commercial and logistics hub for the (BRI), the single most consequential driver of Eurasian geoeconomics.

The US views China’s expanding role in the Gulf – whether in the BRI, tech investment or security realms – as a challenge to its own decades-old status as the GCC states’ main security guarantor. How the Sino-GCC embrace pans out is therefore of special interest to Washington.

As noted by Jonathan Fulton, a specialist on Sino-GCC relations, the extent of GCC participation in the BRI is dependent on each Gulf state’s own development plans with BRI. Saudi Arabia and the UAE lead the way in this respect, hosting the bulk of China’s BRI supply chain in the region in the form of industrial parks and ports heavily invested in by Beijing.

In contrast, Chinese-Qatari relations lack this connectivity dimension and are more restricted to just trade.

“In general, Qatar and China maintain a very warm relationship,” noted Gulf affairs analysts Giorgio Cafiero and Anastasia Chisholm in August last year. “The Sino-Qatari partnership is mainly energy-oriented. Beyond the cooperation in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector, however, there is much less to Doha’s relationship with Beijing compared to Saudi Arabia or the UAE’s relations with China.”

China has also signed ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships’ with the Saudis and Emiratis in contrast to the lower-level ‘Strategic Partnership’ with Qatar.

Since Chinese investments in Qatar do not springboard the BRI the way those in Saudi Arabia and the UAE do, it makes sense for the US to boost Qatar as a hedge against complete Chinese monopoly over the Gulf’s integration with Eurasia via BRI.

The end of the three-and-a-half year, Saudi-led blockade against Qatar has not necessarily led to a halt in Doha’s rivalry with Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. Rather it has grown more central to its foreign policy as it reclaims its place in the GCC without letting its guard down. This is a reality of Gulf affairs that will likely accompany the GCC’s closer integration with the BRI.

Qatar can offset its GCC rivals’ gains from the BRI by increasing its military engagement with the US. Both the Saudis and Emiratis still rely on the security umbrella that complying with the US’ great-power priorities brings yet have also strengthened ties with China.

This dilemma could also turn Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s increasing defence ties with both China and Russia into driving factors of a partisan pro-Qatari slant in the US’ Gulf policy. After all, Qatar has kept its own defence dealings with China and Russia minimal compared to those with the US.

The UAE recently suspended talks with the US to import the latter’s F-35 fighter jets. One of the reasons for this impasse is Emirati resentment at the US tying the deal to Abu Dhabi’s 5g contract with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, which Washington sees as means for China to compromise the Emirati-imported F35s’ technology. Meanwhile, Qatar’s own talks for the F-35s proceed with less complications and are arguably boosted by its MNNA designation.

China does not want its regional investments getting caught up in the intra-GCC competition for primacy in the Gulf, which could happen if the US greenlights the F-35s for Qatar but not for the UAE, thus setting a precedent for deeper rivalry.

After all, intra-GCC competition has increasingly exhibited zero-sum tendencies. This was seen last year when Saudi Arabia told companies doing business in the kingdom that they would lose their government contracts unless they shifted their regional headquarters to Riyadh from Dubai and then also excluded imports from Emirati economic zones from their preferential tariffs.

Such “zero-sumism” is antithetical to what China wants in the Gulf, which is the harmonization of each Gulf state’s trade and connectivity policies. Beijing needs this to synergize its various Gulf investments into serving a broader, unified global strategy as per the BRI.

Thus, the US could use its ascendant ties with Qatar to cause China a significant headache in the Gulf, especially considering how far Beijing stays from contributing to zero-sum rivalries and standoffs due to its neutrality-oriented foreign policy.

Mutual convenience

However it pans out, the emerging US-Qatari alliance in Eurasia is highly convenient to both sides.

At the very least, the US can try to leverage Qatar’s potential energy role in Europe, its diplomatic role in Afghanistan and its ambitious Gulf policies relative to growing Chinese influence there for its own geopolitical interests.

As for Qatar, the fact that these roles do not threaten its bilateral relations with either China or Russia is a major plus point. Neither of the Eurasian great-powers is zero-sum in its foreign relations outlook and is unlikely to deem Qatar’s prospective participation in the US’ Eurasia strategy a major problem.

Eurasia is once again at the forefront of geopolitics and great power rivalries. Following the US exit from Afghanistan last summer, the incumbent superpower, was perceived to be scaling back if not withdrawing from this strategically important region, however in its relationship with Qatar, the US has shown it may be down but not quite out of Eurasia.

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

‘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

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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.

مواطن الضعف الغربيّ في المواجهة في أوكرانيا

 العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

عندما خسر الغرب حربه الكونية على سورية وعجز عن تفكيكها لإعادة تركيبها بما يناسب المشروع الصهيوأميركي الذي يخدم نظرية الأحادية القطبية العالمية بقيادة أميركا، اتجه الى اعتماد استراتيجية بديلة تقضي بإطالة أمد الصراع في سورية لمنعها من استثمار إنجازاتها والحؤول دون عودتها الى حياتها الطبيعية من غير مسّ بوحدة أراضيها وسيادتها التامة عليها، وتوجيه ضربة استراتيجية كبرى لروسيا لمنعها من استثمار الإنجاز في سورية وحرمانها من موقعها في العلاقات الدولية والحؤول دون اكتمال ظروف تشكل نظام عالمي جديد قائم على التعددية في الأقطاب والتحالفات والتفاهمات والمجموعات الدولية الاستراتيجية.

لقد انصرف الغرب منذ العام 2019 ـ تاريخ تأكد هزيمته في سورية الى وضع الخطط الهادفة لتحقيق ما يريد في الميدان الشرق أوسطي وعلى الحدود مع روسيا لمحاصرتها ثم إسقاطها وشطبها من المعادلة الدولية وكانت استراتيجية الاحتواء والتطويق هي المسلك المفتوح أمام الغرب بقيادة أميركية لتحقيق الغرض، ولهذا كانت عملية أذربيجان ضدّ أرمينيا حليفة روسيا وكان مشروع الثورة الملونة في كازاخستان ضدّ النظام الموالي لموسكو والمنتظم معها في منظمة الأمن الجماعي، ثم كانت السلوكيات الأخطر والأدهى من حيث الاستفزاز والاستدراج في أوكرانيا التي تحوّلت بشكل واضح الى رأس رمح في الخاصرة لا بل في القلب الروسي.

فهمت روسيا مبكراً وعميقاً ما يخطط لها وقرأت جيداً أهداف الغرب بقيادة أميركية ضدّها ولم تهمل العبارات الغربية التي تتضمّن علانية او ضمناً مفهوم العداء الغربي لروسيا سواء في ذلك على صعيد الناتو أو على صعيد دول الغرب الكبرى التي جاهرت بأنّ «روسيا عدو»، لكنها التزمت في الردّ أقصى درجات ضبط النفس وابتلاع المشاعر السلبية مع الاستمرار في تطوير العلاقات الاقتصادية التي فيها مصالح للطرفين بشكل متبادل وشبه متوازن لا بل فيها أرجحية لصالح روسيا. لكنها في الوقت ذاته اتجهت الى بناء المجموعة الاستراتيجية الدولية التي تتقاطع مع أطرافها في السعي لإقامة التوازن الدولي والنظام التعددي على أنقاض النظام العالمي الأحادي الذي تعمل أميركا لإرسائه وتثبيته، فكان التطوير الهامّ للعلاقة مع الصين وايران وإقامة المثلث الاستراتيجي المناهض للهيمنة والسيطرة الغربية على العالم المثلث الذي شكل إنجازاً استراتيجياً للدول الثلاث أرفدته روسيا بإنجازها في أذربيجان وكازاخستان حيث أفشلت مهمة تطويقها من الجنوب والجنوب الغربي وراكمت به انتصاراتها الى جانب محور المقاومة في سورية.

بيد انّ الغرب بقيادة أميركية وبوقوفه على ما تقدّم، شعر باختلال في المشهد الدولي والاستراتيجي لصالح روسيا وحلفائها وقرّر جرّ روسيا الى ميدان يستنزفها فيه لسنوات تنتهي بشطب روسيا من المعادلة الدولية، ولما كان الطوق الأميركي كسر في أذربيجان وكازاخستان، وانّ الميدان السوري مهما تعاظم أمره لا يشكل مدخلاً كافياً لإدارة حرب استنزاف ضدّ روسيا حتى ولو نجح الأمر في ان تكون العمليات فيه كافية لاستنزاف سورية وفقاً للتقدير الغربي فقد وقع الاختيار على أوكرانيا لتكون ميدان الاستنزاف القاتل لروسيا، استنزاف تنفذه قوى عسكرية وشبه عسكرية وميليشيات وجماعات إرهابية لا تتضمّن مباشرة في صفوفها قطعات من الجيوش النظامية الغربية المنضوية او غير المنضوية في الـناتو، استنزاف تخدمه وتواكبه حرب شاملة يشنها الغرب على روسيا من كلّ الأبواب السياسية والاقتصادية والفكرية والاجتماعية والرياضية، حرب تشمل كلّ شيء باستثناء العمل العسكري القتالي المباشر الذي تقوم به الجيوش النظامية.

لقد رأى الغرب في ساحة المعركة في أوكرانيا منفذه الأخير لتعويض ما فاته او ما خسره او تعذر عليه تحقيقه في مواجهة أعدائه في العقود الثلاثة الماضية، وخاصة في العقد الأخير الذي تبلورت فيه أكثر وجوه خسائر الغرب وتقدّم خصومه، ولذلك كانت أميركا ملحة ومُصرّة على تفجير الوضع بوجه روسيا واستدراجها الى الميدان الأوكراني، حتى أنها وصلت الى درجة وضع الخطط التنفيذية لاجتياح إقليم الدونباس وشبه جزيرة القرم التي ضمّتها روسيا اليها قبل ٨ سنوات وصولاً الى الاستعداد للتحرّش بروسيا داخل أراضيها.

في مواجهة الإصرار الغربي قرّرت روسيا الدفاع لثني الغرب عن خطته بكلّ السبل، بدءاً بالتمسك باتفاقيتي مينسك ١ و ٢ اللتين تضمنان أمن السكان في إقليم دونباس، ثم بتحشيد ١٠٠ ألف عسكري على الحدود لإظهار القوة وحمل الخصم على التراجع، ثم كشف أسرار السلوكيات الغربية العدائية ضدّ روسيا والسكان من أصل روسي، إلا أنّ كلّ ذلك لم ينجح في ثني الغرب عن خطته العدائية وإصراره على جرّ روسيا الى حرب استنزاف وتدمير شاملة، حيث اضطرت روسيا إليها في نهاية المطاف فحرّكت قواتها غرباً تحت عنوان «عملية عسكرية خاصة» لحماية الأمن القومي الروسي وأمن الأشخاص الروس عبر الحدود،

والآن وبعد أسبوعين من انطلاق العملية التي ظنّ الغرب في البدء وبخاصة أميركا انه نجح في استدراج موسكو اليها، وانّ الفخ أطبق على الدب الروسي وفقاً لما يشتهي الغرب، بعد أسبوعين من العمليات العسكرية يتبيّن للغرب سوء تقديره ويكتشف انّ الفخ المزعوم لا فعالية له بالشكل المرتجى، لا بل انّ الآثار السلبية للمواجهة القائمة تطال الغرب عامة وأوروبا خاصة بأضرار تفوق ما كانوا يتوقعون إنزاله بروسيا، وتنكشف مواطن الضعف الغربي في أكثر من عنوان نذكر منها:

أولاً: خشية الناتو بقيادة أميركا من المواجهة العسكرية المباشرة مع الجيش الروسي ما حمل الناتو على تجنب التدخل المباشر والإعلان صباح مساء انّ أوكرانيا ليست جزءاً من الناتو الذي هو «حلف دفاعي لا يبادر الى هجوم» بزعمهم، وهم في الحقيقة يخشون مواجهة القوة النووية الثانية في العالم، وكان للإنذار الروسي بعد تجهيز قوات الردع الاستراتيجي أثره الكافي في هذا المجال،

ثانياً: الارتداد السلبي للحرب الاقتصادية علي الغرب وخاصة أوروبا في مجال الطاقة وظهور وهن الاقتصاد الأوروبي المعتمد علي الغاز والنفط الروسي ما جعل الحرب الاقتصادية ذات مفعول بالغ التأثير على أوروبا ما ينذر بسقوط الاقتصاد الأوروبي لا بل بتدميره في بضعة شهور لا تتعدّى الستة ان لم يوجد حلّ لأزمة الطاقة ولا يبدو انّ في الأفق حلاً.

ثالثاً العجز عن تنظيم مقاومة وطنية أوكرانية فاعلة والاضطرار الى الاستعانة بمرتزقة الخارج ما سيحول البوابة الشرقية لأوروبا ومن أوكرانيا بالذات الى مجمع للإرهاب العالمي ما سيرتدّ أيضاً على الامن الأوربي بوجهيه القومي والفردي وينعكس سلباً على دورة الحياة الاقتصادية والاجتماعية بشكل خاص.

رابعاً: تفلت روسيا من مكامن استهدافها بحرب الاستنزاف، ما يجعل الغرب يتحمّل من أعباء هذه الحرب مع طول المدة فوق ما يتحمّله المستهدف خاصة أننا نسجل لروسيا تعاملها الذكي مع الموضوع كما يلي:

ـ اعتمادها استراتيجية الضغط المتدرّج الصاعد بدل استراتيجية السيطرة والاحتلال،

ـ استعمالها قدراً لا يتجاوز ١/١٣ من مجمل قدراتها العسكرية بحيث تغدو العمليات العسكرية في أوكرانيا بمثابة مناورات بسيطة تسطيع القيادة إبدال القوى فيها شهرياً او مرة في الشهرين.

ـ تجنب الدخول الكثيف الى المدن وخوض حرب الشوارع.

ـ تجنب الانتشار والانفلاش العسكري الواسع الذي يتيح للإرهاب فرص الاستهداف السهل.

ـ الأداء الإنساني الراقي مع السكان المدنيين وتجنّب المسّ بهم ما يقلبهم الى خانة العداء.

ـ الاعتماد المكثف علي أسلحة عالية الدقة في تدمير الأهداف العسكرية والاستراتيجية دون المسّ بالسكان والتقيّد المتقن بقاعدة التناسب والضرورة المعتمدة في القانون الدولي الإنساني.

ـ وأخيراً عدم العمل تحت ضغط الوقت لا بل استعمال المناورة المتقلبة بين الشدة والاسترخاء وفتح الممرات الإنسانية لتحييد السكان وخدمة لاستراتيجية الضغط.

لكلّ ما تقدّم نستطيع القول بأنّ روسيا عرفت متى تطلق عمليتها لتجعلها عملاً عسكرياً استباقياً في معرض الدفاع وعرفت كيف تتملص من فخاخ العدو وعرفت كيف تناور في الميدان وعلى المسرح الاستراتيجي العام، وبالتالي عرفت كيف تستعمل أوراقها لتكتب نصرها بقدم ثابتة ونفس واثقة بقدراتها.

*أستاذ جامعي ـ باحث استراتيجي

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Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, March 3, 2022

MARCH 07, 2022

The Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

  1. Upcoming talks between Sergey Lavrov and Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan Ruslan Kazakbaev
  2. Ukraine update
  3. Race-based discrimination in Ukraine
  4. African Union statement on hostility against Africans trying to leave Ukraine
  5. On Western countries using the Nazi salute
  6. US military biological activities in Ukraine
  7. The UN General Assembly adopts a resolution titled “Aggression against Ukraine”
  8. Illegal Western sanctions against international humanitarian cooperation
  9. Bringing Russian citizens home from abroad
  10. Statements by Japanese Foreign Ministry Department Director
  11. Statement by the Friends of Crimea International Association on the Situation around Ukraine
  12. The anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
  13. The 25th anniversary of the IORA

Answers to media questions:

  1. China’s stance on the situation in Ukraine
  2. Expulsion of the staff of Russia’s permanent mission to the United Nations
  3. Expulsion of Russian diplomats from Bulgaria
  4. Settling the Ukrainian crisis
  5. Russia‒China trade cooperation
  6. Coverage of the Ukrainian conflict by British media
  7. Russia’s relationship with the EU
  8. Suspension of Russia’s rights of representation in the Council of Europe
  9. Potential suspension of Russia from other international organisations
  10. Establishing a Russia‒US communications channel on the situation in Ukraine
  11. Prime Minister of Pakistan’s visit to Russia
  12. The EU’s double standards
  13. Information war against Russia
  14. Efforts to normalise the situation in Afghanistan
  15. Russia‒Iceland relations
  16. Denazification in the context of the situation in Ukraine
  17. Russia’s possible withdrawal from international organisations
  18. Organising humanitarian corridors to evacuate Indian citizens from Ukraine
  19. India’s stance on the situation in Ukraine
  20. International Women’s Day greetings
  21. Refusal of certain countries to join the Western anti-Russia sanctions 

Upcoming talks between Sergey Lavrov and Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan Ruslan Kazakbaev

On March 5 in Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will have talks with Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Ruslan Kazakbaev during the latter’s official visit to Russia.

This meeting is launching a series of events scheduled for 2022 to mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Kyrgyzstan (established on March 20, 1992).

During the talks, the ministers will discuss topical issues of bilateral cooperation in politics, trade and the economy, cultural, humanitarian and other areas. They will also exchange opinions on issues pertaining to Eurasian integration, as well as global and regional security, including in the context of the events in Ukraine, and cooperation at international platforms.

They plan to sign a Programme of Cooperation between the foreign ministries of Russia and Kyrgyzstan for 2022‒2024, as well as a joint statement by the foreign ministries of the two countries following Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev’s official visit to the Russian Federation.

We expect that the meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia and Kyrgyzstan will contribute to the further strengthening of the Russia‒Kyrgyzstan strategic partnership and alliance.

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Ukraine update

I would like to draw your attention to the interview Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has given today, which was devoted entirely to this subject. He took questions from the international media. Its transcript will be available on all the Ministry’s resources.

We have come up against an unprecedented information attack, against information terrorism. It is taking place not only in the media but also in cyberspace. The attack is being directed from the West, and it is being implemented also through Ukrainian resources and capabilities. Ukraine and its infrastructure are being used as instruments. The goal of this attack is to misinform the international community and to discredit Russia’s actions. In this context we need to explain the real state of affairs.

On February 24, 2022, Russia began a special military operation in Ukraine. The reason for this was the eight-year-long policy directed by the Ukrainian authorities, the Kiev regime against its own people and Russia. That regime came to power as a result of a series of anti-constitutional events organised in Ukraine by the West.

One of the main, though not the first or only such event was the 2014 coup. It was carried out by the neo-Nazi forces with Western support. For eight years after that, the new regime systematically violated human rights and the rights of minorities, infringed on freedom of speech and the media, waged a war on the Russian language and culture, eliminated political opponents, conducted a civil war in Donbass, and sabotaged the efforts of the international community, primarily Russia, to find a legal solution to the conflict, as well as the Minsk agreements.

At the same time, Ukraine was being supplied with Western weapons, which were delivered to it in huge amounts. It was being turned into a bridgehead, not just of individual states of the NATO bloc which directly threatens Russia. This was taking place against the backdrop of the destruction of the global security architecture and in the absence of any security guarantees for our country.

I would like to point out that the West has not provided such guarantees to any state, not even to NATO members. The decisions are made there by those who stand at the helm. Our country was not just offered any security guarantees; they have been denied to us. Not offering and denying are two different things. We have the written replies that leave no doubt as to the intentions of NATO and those who control it, that is, the United States, regarding any possibility of discussing issues that are not only important and vital to us but concern our very existence. They have rejected all our proposals. They refused in writing to discuss all our proposals with us. This is why we demanded written replies. If we hadn’t done that, there would have been hue and cry now that they – the West – had been misunderstood, that they didn’t mean that, and that they offered Russia continued dialogue. But no, they rejected our proposals in writing.

We were speaking about the role of the Ukrainian regime in international relations.  Ukraine and the Ukrainian people have been turned into an instrument of Western policy. The current actions by the Ukrainian regime (even if you had not known about the causes of the situation in Donbass, seen the photographs, talked with witnesses, or read the documents of international organisations and non-governmental agencies) leave no doubt that the country is being governed by criminals. The West is supplying them with weapons. These criminals are using civilians as human shields and are hiding in residential districts, flats and houses. They are doing everything they can, not sparing the lives of their citizens, foreigners or civilians in general, to create a certain picture of events and present it as a reality.

It is important to study archival data. We will present them so that you will be aware of what they have been perpetrating over these past eight years.  One can and must speak about what the international community discussed but failed to hear because of the Western propaganda.  One can and must see what is going on live on air. How the thugs wielding Western weapons, thugs who have not been legalised through their involvement in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who are in fact Nazi-chevron-wearing members of punitive battalions known as Azov, Donbass, Right Sector, etc., took positions behind civilians. They are the same people, to whom they (as everyone was told and as Washington was saying) were bringing freedom and democracy. Now the whole world can see how you bring freedom and democracy. You are doing this based on nationalist principles, while hiding behind the backs of women and children. You are doing this, while manipulating public consciousness with huge support from the US and UK security services, and NATO countries in general.  They are using you and have no compassion for you (I am referring to the Ukrainian militants). We feel compassion for the people, for those who regarded you as their true defenders, while you are thugs and marauders pure and simple.

The armed forces of Ukraine and the neo-Nazis are using peaceful civilians as a human shield and deploying heavy weapons in residential areas.  This is a fact. You can ban this from screens all you want – I am addressing CNN, BBC, and others – but people will find out anyway and will be able to tell the difference between fakes and the truth. They are not evacuating civilians. Worse, they are doing all they can to get as many civilians as possible remain in the “hotspots” by imposing a curfew and mining exit roads from cities.  These tactics are always used by terrorists, who are accustomed to taking civilians hostage.

We are receiving numerous appeals from embassies of other countries in Ukraine asking us to help them provide a safe escape for their citizens and diplomats, as well as for employees of international organisations. We do all we can (this is primarily being done by the Defence Ministry) to give them the necessary help.

The situation in Ukraine is being aggravated by an uncontrolled growth of crime. This has been intentionally provoked by the Ukrainian authorities who have issued tens of thousands of units of firearms to everyone who would take them. Convicted criminals have been released from prisons. As soon as they are issued arms, they form criminal gangs that attack and kill their fellow Ukrainians. As a result, a wave of looting, marauding and murders has swept through the country. Nationalism is assuming extreme forms verging on outright racism. Nationals of Asian and African states are facing discrimination and violence. The obvious aim of these actions is to create havoc and cause as many civilian casualties as possible.

Unlike the neo-Nazi battalions that intentionally destroy or disable critically important infrastructure, the Russian military are doing their best to ensure the safety of these facilities.  A case in point is a joint mission by Russian paratroopers and Ukrainian soldiers to guard the power plants, the sarcophagus, and the repository for spent nuclear fuel at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The area around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant is also being guarded and controlled. Both power stations are operating normally. We would like the relevant international organisations to take note of this, since Ukraine has been supplying them with false information. Please get first-hand information.

As you may know, direct Russian-Ukrainian talks have taken off the ground in Belarus.  We hope that they will bring an end to  this situation as soon as possible, facilitate the restoration of e peace in Donbass and a return of all of Ukraine’s ethnic groups to a peaceful and fair life.

Take another look at the tactics of those whom the Kiev regime has assigned to conduct talks.  How many hours does it take them to reach their destination? Upon arrival, they say they are tired and hit the hay. They would bicker over a venue for the negotiations and over their seats… Does this show concern for their people? Of course not. They have direct instructions from the US security services. They have no compassion for the people of Ukraine. They don’t care. The longer they do the bidding of the Kiev regime, the more suffering will befall their fellow Ukrainians. But who in Vladimir Zelensky’s underground shelter is thinking about this?

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Race-based discrimination in Ukraine

Numerous media publications about race discrimination in Ukraine have come to our attention.

Manifestations of racism and racial discrimination in today’s Ukraine, including with regard to the citizens of Asian and African countries currently residing there, students being beaten, attacks on the citizens of the countries that refused to condemn  Russia, being aware of what has been going on [in Donbass] all these years; rough treatment of Africans who wished to leave Ukraine; and the way citizens of China, India, etc. are being treated. Unfortunately, this is nothing new to the people who are aware of what happened there and it stems directly from those developments. It has always been that way. Earlier, foreigners were under their radar screens, but now they are, first, being used to stage provocations, and, second, deep down, these nationalists don’t care about a thing.

This shocking situation comes in the wake of the current Kiev authorities and their predecessors doing nothing to overcome the problem of nationalism. For opportunistic and political reasons, their Western curators did more than just turn a blind eye to this and did everything to ensure the growth of neo-Nazi ideology. After all, it is not their country; it is somewhere “out there” in the distant nation of Ukraine populated, according to the US President, by Iranians. They are oblivious to the fact that the citizens of their countries – the United States and the European Union – may also be there now. Who are they supplying with weapons? Someone who will kill people left and right?

The anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racial discrimination that are flourishing in Ukraine today are the very things that we have been talking about tirelessly over the last eight years and that the West, I mean Euro-Atlantic institutions,  have tried hard to ignore, and they have taken good care of and almost nurtured the ideological followers of Nazism instead. If, with so many materials available, you are unable to see it for yourself, then you don’t want to see it. In fact, you haven’t seen it. Now, you are left with what you have.

It is particularly strange to see the European states that experienced the horrors of the Second World War turn a blind eye to the threat of the revival of the “brown plague.” However, maybe it’s not so strange.

Once again, I would like to draw your attention to the Ministry’s annual reports on the human rights situation in individual countries, the manifestations of Nazism around the world, as well as individual reports on that country, which provided regular analyses of the human rights situation, indicating the widely spread racism and neo-Nazism. The current situation with foreign citizens in Ukraine is yet another confirmation of this.

Ukraine’s stance on this matter speaks volumes because it is one of the few countries (more precisely, one of two countries) that regularly, every year, votes against the resolution titled “Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” which Russia submitted for consideration by the UN General Assembly

The US prohibited EU countries from joining this resolution and voting for it. You do not see this, either? This is your position, the position of the Western countries. As a reminder, this document raises acute issues related to the growth of extremely dangerous manifestations of neo-Nazism and racial discrimination, the spread of hateful ideology and the theory of racial superiority in the modern world.

Ukraine has adopted a similar stance with regard to yet another important initiative in the sphere of combating racism, namely the resolution titled “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.” In particular, when reviewing the document during the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in December 2021, the Ukrainian delegation simply chose not to vote, and a year before that, it abstained from voting. What is that if not links in a single chain? Does this not prove that they openly mocked these issues of counteracting the spread of Nazi and racist factology? Of course, that’s the way it is. They are not hiding it. They benefitted from staying close to the extremists professing neo-Nazi ideology. Why? Because nationalism is an ideology that people with low cultural and moral levels take up easily. Spreading this ideology is easy. All you need is a little money, weapons, and materials saying that one race is superior to another, and one nation is not as good as the next one. That’s it. They can then be conveniently used during Maidan protests or for political purposes in order to orchestrate the allegedly “righteous” public wrath, which in reality is nothing but the forceful pressure of the street. This is an accurate description of Ukraine’s political life in recent decades. There was also the first Maidan protest, which unfolded under the colour orange, as a supposedly peaceful initiative, although it was a paid-for move. A PR campaign of similar proportions costs a lot of money. Maidan in 2013-2014 brought together extremists and militants who had been trained in camps in Poland and the Baltic countries. How many times have we mentioned this? The Baltic States and Poland condemn us. How about you taking a look at yourselves?

In its statement of February 28, the African Union expressed concern about the situation involving citizens of various countries in Ukraine noting that Africans being singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist. I see the point the African Union is making. But Russian lives also matter. And this is exactly how Russians were treated there during eight years. Perhaps, we should not be dividing people by skin colour or religion? Perhaps, we can feel the pain of other people, too? Perhaps, some day we will see hashtags like #russianlivesmatter?

Clearly, ignoring and even openly refusing to recognise the obvious existence of problems in the field of combating racism, looking up to the United States when reviewing manifestations of racism and racial discrimination as the implementation of some kind of “freedom of speech” (now we can see it and know its value in the West) not only leads, as experts say, to a “human rights impasse,” but is also an absolutely irresponsible position that leads to the suffering of people, or even entire national, ethnic or racial groups.

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African Union statement on hostility against Africans trying to leave Ukraine

In their official statement on February 28, Chairperson of the African Union, President of Senegal Macky Sall, and Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed deep concern about incoming reports of hostile attitude towards nationals of African countries trying to leave Ukraine.

Senior officials of the African Union urged “all countries to respect international law and show the same empathy and support to all people” fleeing the area of the special operation “notwithstanding their racial identity.”

We fully concur with this statement. Is it possible to extend it to our entire life? Not just this specific case. It should become a prevailing concept in national legislations of every country and international law (as long as Washington, London and Brussels do not destroy it completely).

We fully support the stance of this pan-African organisation. On our part, we would like to note that, as of today, the Russian Foreign Ministry has no information about requests from nationals of African countries for permission to cross the border between the LPR, the DPR and the Russian Federation. At the same time, diplomatic missions of several African countries have contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry with requests to arrange evacuation of their nationals, students of Ukrainian universities. We are working on these requests in cooperation with the Russian Defence Ministry.

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On Western countries using the Nazi salute

We noted that a whole number of countries, including Canada and the EU countries, senior officials of these countries, foreign ministers, senators – representatives of their legislative branch – public figures and politicians are using the same slogan that has become a national salute in Ukraine in the past years. We talked about this before. I do not want to say this slogan out loud but I will definitely include it in the transcript of this briefing. I refuse to pronounce it.

Here is brief historical background for all those who use these two words [three in English, Ed.], a comma and an exclamation mark. In August 1939, fascist Italy hosted the second congress of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists. One of the decisions of this congress was to adopt the Ukrainian fascists’ salute, “Glory to Ukraine!” and the response “Glory to heroes!” The salute and the response were adopted as a symbolic greeting. It was a call sign, a code word of sorts to distinguish between friends and foes. In a similar manner, they forced people in Ukraine to count themselves off by asking the question “Which country does Crimea belong to?” It was the same logic. You are deprived of your own opinion. There is only one correct opinion – of the militants in Ukraine. If you have your own point of view, a strong civic stance that goes counter to their idea of what is best, you have to press your face to the ground. Didn’t you know many other examples in the West? Of course, you did. You knew and you kept silent. What Western media outlets are doing right now is a crime. Everybody must know about it.

It was the same salute that collaborationists used to greet the Wehrmacht and the SS – not only between themselves but to identify themselves to Hitler’s SS. Allow me to remind you, in case you do not know, that the SS and the Wehrmacht were those who organised the genocide of Jews, the Romany and Slavic ethnicities in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and Russia. Or is “genocide” a word I cannot use even here? Do we have no right to use it now? Or is there some conscience left and we can still use the word “genocide” in the context of WWII? Perhaps, more people died then and the conflict was longer? No, it did not last longer but indeed, more people died. Should we have waited longer? Until the next time presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers use the same salute and being called neo-Nazis baffles them?

All these years, Russia has been publishing reports drafted by the Foreign Ministry, as well as by other agencies and organisations, on grave human rights violations in Ukraine. I am talking about crimes perpetrated on nationalist grounds. In 2014, the Foreign Ministry, and then in 2015, Russia’s Investigative Committee published their White Books on crimes committed in Ukraine. Do you think we have hidden it in a secret library? Of course not. It is available on the Foreign Ministry website and on social media. We sent it to all our partner countries and international organisations.

The Foreign Ministry regularly releases reports on human rights violations in Ukraine and on violations of the rights of Russian citizens and compatriots abroad.

I would like to draw your attention to the book by Maxim Grigoryev and Dmitry Sablin titled “Ordinary Fascism. Ukraine’s War Crimes and Human Rights Violations in 2017-2020.” Year after year, we reported on this matter with evidence on hand. On top of that, Russian journalists carried out their own investigations. Not the foreign journalists, I mean the Western journalists – it was almost impossible to get them there.

Just recently, we circulated a presentation on the war crimes committed by the Ukrainian leadership in Donbass at the session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva (February 28). You can find it on the website of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva. This is a terrifying photo report depicting people who were killed, and the destruction caused in Donbass. Today, when they lament about the casualties, while we offer our condolences to all the families, just remember that you tacitly accepted the atrocities for all these years. Let me repeat what I have been saying all along. An awakening of the conscience cannot happen suddenly.

There is no shortage of evidence from multiple sources. Some documents are publicly available, including on the Foreign Ministry website. It has been facing DDoS attacks, specifically designed to prevent us from releasing all these documents. We understand that not everyone reads these documents, while some of those who do pretend otherwise. We will draw your attention to these materials again and again.

Since April 2014, the representatives of the Ukrainian armed forces and law enforcement agencies have been ignoring the international agreements and acts by massively shelling Donbass communities, killing and wounding thousands of civilians who were never involved in the military conflict. They used indiscriminate lethal weapons, prohibited under international humanitarian law. Many communities, primarily along the line of contact, were left without water, gas or power, mobile phone services, or the supply of food and medicine. People died when Ukrainian shells exploded, or from hunger, lack of water or medicine.

The Ukrainian army was especially cynical when shelling hospitals, morgues, and schools where there were bomb shelters. They also shelled cemeteries. This is what led to the creation of mass graves for civilians who fell victim to Ukraine’s military and political leadership and their Western curators.

As of December 2021, more than 16 spontaneous mass graves and burial sites were discovered. In one of them, the remains of a four-month-old baby were found. Between August and November 2021, the remains of 295 people were unearthed, studied, and processed. The preliminary forensic examination of the remains from all the burial sites on LPR and DPR territories showed that women and the elderly accounted for most of the casualties who died from firearms, mortar explosions or blunt trauma.

Apart from killing people in Donbass with shells, Kiev enforced a water, economic and transport embargo on Donbass, bringing the region to the brink of a humanitarian disaster. Living in most cities along the line of contact was akin to surviving in an all-out war. This lasted for eight years. The Kiev regime did not want to draw a line between civilians and combatants.

The people of Donbass lived in these conditions for eight years, not a week!

International human rights organisations noted these issues by saying that the conflict unleashed by the Kiev authorities in southeastern Ukraine had a negative impact on all the population, impoverished it and resulted in the stagnation of its economy. The share of the population with extremely low incomes increased in 2013-2015. Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky (Argentina), an independent expert on foreign debt and human rights, visited Ukraine in May 2018, and wrote in his report on this trip that retirees living in Donbass had to regularly cross the line of contact and register as internally displaced persons in order to receive their pensions. This means that they had to do paperwork with shelling going on. They had to do all this just to get their pensions. They risked their lives and had to assume substantial expenses. Many of them were killed. According to the expert, more than 600,000 retirees did not receive the payments they were entitled to.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women took note of these issues falling within its mandate, highlighting the gap between the law and the way Ukraine implemented it. In particular, the committee noted that a law on the rights and freedoms of internally displaced persons was adopted in October 2014, alongside several decisions and directives to help internally displaced women, but nothing was done to carry them out.

In August 2016, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) highlighted the plight of displaced persons. The Committee expressed concern that social benefits, including pensions, were tied to IDP status and residence in areas controlled by Kiev, which is why not all internally displaced persons have access to such benefits; local integration of IDPs was complicated by existing legal and regulatory frameworks; they also had difficulties with access to suitable affordable housing and decent employment; restrictions on freedom of movement made it difficult for IDPs to access social services, education and healthcare.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination also noted that people were exposed to physical danger when crossing the line of control. They could come under fire or be wounded by anti-personnel mines planted by forces controlled by the Kiev regime. All these factors prevented members of ethnic minorities from registering as IDPs and receiving social assistance. Most of these individuals were also at risk of discrimination and stigmatisation.

Developments in this area have been regularly monitored by OHCHR and the OSCE SMM. All these materials were available, they were published – but no one cared to read them.

Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine Matilda Bogner (Australia) in March 2020 brought to Kiev’s attention the need to start paying pensions to residents of the uncontrolled regions of Donbass, calling on the newly formed government and parliament to review the draft law on pensions in accordance with human rights norms and resume the lawmaking process on a priority basis. Again, this is how international law was trampled by Kiev’s Western supervisors. They didn’t want to see it, they laughed at it, like it was nothing. Until they talk about it on CNN, no one is interested, no one makes a big deal about it. This is not something they said at a briefing at the White House or at the State Department, and then hyped on American television channels. Right now, they can quote the UN and at the same time pressure the relevant representatives, including UN representatives, to extract the necessary reaction. This has worked. They have faithfully fallen into line to give the UN reaction to events. Where were they before? These are materials from the United Nations and other international organisations.

While monitoring the situation with the right to liberty and security, international human rights groups have recorded numerous facts of illegal detention, torture, intimidation, abuse and sexual violence. Similar examples are regularly included in the reports of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.

All these years, there have been numerous violations of people’s right to trial and defence in criminal cases linked with the conflict in Donbass. There is a widespread practice of forcing persons under investigation to sign plea deals and hearing cases in absentia, attacks on lawyers and intimidation of lawyers by radical right-wingers, and putting pressure on representatives of the judiciary.

Law enforcement and SBU officers systematically used torture and violence against detainees and had absolute impunity. Cases of illegal detention, torture and abuse of persons detained on charges related to the conflict in the southeast were regularly recorded by international missions. This directly involved the ethnic groups that lived there.

Various techniques were widely used to extract confessions. There have been complaints that the SBU or investigative authorities forced people to confess to being members of, or having links with, armed groups. The National Police or the SBU published several such videos as an example of how to behave and how representatives of the Ukrainian security forces could behave. At the same time, even according to international missions, the detainees made statements incriminating themselves as a result of torture, abuse or intimidation by SBU officers. I am quoting specific reports, and we will post links to them later today. We are told we don’t talk about it enough. We have been talking about this for eight years, right here, in this room, and at international venues, and at our embassies. Just go to the Foreign Ministry website and search Ukraine, Donbass, Donetsk, or Lugansk. Just try it yourself and you will see hundreds of materials on this subject. It’s not that we didn’t say enough; they just didn’t want to hear it.

The international organisations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have issued a joint report, with reference to their 2016 investigation, about the illegal and violent nature of the detainment of people by employees of the Ukrainian security services and investigative authorities. Such incidents include cases related to expressing disagreement with the official policy of the Kiev authorities. For example, a person was illegally held by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) from November 2014 to February 2016 for taking part in anti-Maidan rallies and events in defence of Soviet monuments. He was accused of planning terrorist attacks, tortured and otherwise ill-treated, which has done very serious harm to his health. He also reported that the cells in which he was kept were overcrowded, and the people in them, including those with disabilities and the elderly, were systematically beaten and were detained for the exchange of prisoners of war. After his release, Konstantin Beskorovainy, the person I am talking about, along with other former prisoners, officially filed a complaint against the actions of the SBU. During the investigation, there were unreasonable delays in the proceeding, and victims were intimidated, so that many people refused to participate in the criminal process. Among other things, the territorial office of the military prosecutor attempted to change the applicant’s status from victim to witness and to close the case. The investigation was reopened after several appeals.

Torture of detainees by the SBU was also confirmed by persons who took part in the exchange of detainees between Kiev and the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics. In particular, persons who returned from the government-controlled territories after the exchange of detainees on December 29, 2019, said that SBU officials and members of the Azov far-right group tortured them to obtain confessions. In particular, prisoners were forced to make false confessions and to testify about their alleged sabotage training near Rostov. The detainees were subjected to beating, strangling, mock hanging or drowning, tortured with electric shocks, and threatened with reprisals against their loved ones. This information has been reported by the media and is available in the public domain. (1234)

Exchanged persons also said that they had been kept in secret SBU prisons before being sent to detention centres. At the same time, several days to several months passed from the actual detention to its official registration.

According to the human rights ombudsman of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Daria Morozova, all detainees released by Kiev confirmed that they had been subjected to illegal interrogation methods.

Russian citizens who travelled to Ukraine from Crimea were subjected to illegal persecution. Criminal cases were opened against them on charges of treason, infringement on territorial integrity and inviolability, creation of paramilitary and armed groups, and assistance to terrorists and separatists. In January 2020, they detained Ivan Antonov, a person with impaired hearing, who was returning from a pilgrimage to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. In early November 2020, Nikolai Fedoryan, department head at the Chernomorneftegaz state company in Crimea and former deputy head of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry for Crimea, was detained and charged with “assisting the occupation authorities during searches and illegal detentions.” There are many more such documents. We will publish all of them.

As for procedural irregularities, they happened all too often. In December 2018, SBU employees searched the premises of members of the Russian-speaking community in Poltava. Sergey Provatorov, coordinator of the Coordinating Council of Russian Compatriots of Ukraine and head of the Russian Community association, was forced to give up his Pushkin Medal.

Criminal proceedings were initiated against historian Yury Pogoda, a prominent expert on the Great Northern War, and Viktor Shestakov, poet, journalist and head of the Russian Community in Poltava, who have been charged under Article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (“encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine”).

In May 2019, SBU employees searched the premises of Vladimir Saltykov, head of the Transcarpathian regional association Rus, during which they seized cell phones and PCs. These persons were socially active citizens who did not take part in hostilities or calls for action. They only took a civil stand, which has led to years of persecution.

In August 2020, SBU agents detained Tatyana Kuzmich, a Russian language and literature teacher with years of experience and head of the Rusich Russian National Association, on charges of treason, which sparked a public outcry. She did much to promote the Russian language in Ukraine. We have reported this and have cited the relevant facts. The Ukrainian security services claimed that she was recruited during her stay in Crimea and supplied secret materials to Russia.

This information was made public in Ukraine to set the public against these people, not to mention the publishing of their personal data by the notorious Myrotvorets website.

We had been trying for years to raise the attention of international organisations and the United States, which failed to vote for the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism and all forms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and intolerance, under the pretext of avoiding infringement on freedom of speech. At the same time, they refused to denounce the continuing operation of Myrotvorets for the same reason. This is incredible. It cannot be that people do not see obvious things, that the personal data published on this website have led to the persecution of people, including journalists, socially active citizens and researchers, who have not called for anything bad but have only taken a civic position.

Forced Ukrainization and language discrimination against a considerable part of society, including flagrant violations of the rights of Russian speakers, are an integral element of the policy of the Kiev authorities, the Kiev regime.

Starting in 2017, Ukrainian law has consistently been adjusted to prohibit the use of any language other than Ukrainian in the public sector, the education system and the media. The adoption of several laws, including On Education and On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language, has introduced discriminatory restrictions against the Russian language compared to Ukrainian, the official EU languages and the languages of indigenous peoples. Other laws were also adopted to ensure the forced Ukrainization of public life, the media, television and services.

Ukrainian radicals have regularly staged aggressive actions against those who continued teaching the Russian language. In March 2020, nationalists organised the persecution of school teachers in Lvov who were accused of spreading “the propaganda of the Russian world” and “the russification of Ukrainian children.” An aggressive campaign was launched in April 2020 against Pavel Viktor for his physics video lessons in Russian.

In November 2020, Professor Valery Gromov of the Dnipro University of Technology (Dnepropetrovsk) was forced to resign after a female student officially complained that he was giving his lectures in Russian.

Yevgenia Bilchenko, a lecturer at the department of cultural studies and philosophical anthropology, National Pedagogical Drahomanov University (Kiev), who initially supported Maidan but later revised her views, was dismissed in January 2021 after criticising the law On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language on social media.

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US military biological activities in Ukraine

Numerous materials on US military biological activities in Ukraine have been made public recently.  On March 2, Natural News, rightwing bioethics website, posted a journalistic investigation into the Pentagon’s relevant activities that run counter to Washington’s obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction. According to the website, various facilities created under the aegis of the Department of Defence (Federal Agency for Threat Prevention), including the Science and Technology Centre in Ukraine (CTCU), have recently received hundreds of millions of US dollars in funding for clandestine scientific and applied research.  The author, Ethan Huff, does not rule out that the outbreaks of different diseases observed in the region (flue, cholera, Zika virus, and others) could be caused, among other things, by America’s military biological activities in Ukraine. Just read the article for yourself.

For their part, specialists have highlighted another aspect. In late February, the US Embassy in Ukraine unexpectedly removed from public access all documents related to military biological cooperation between Washington and Kiev. The earlier posted documents were deleted.

Just imagine that NATO has supplied a huge amount of offensive weapons of various types, without the slightest justification, to a location in the centre of Europe in direct vicinity of Russian borders, where Russian citizens live in addition to numerous other people who find themselves in these territories by a twist of fate.  At the same time, the US and Ukraine have been actively promoting their biological cooperation, including experiments and the like, in the same sector. Apart from everything else, all of this is accompanied by NATO-Ukraine military exercises, held once every six weeks, where Russia is the hypothetical adversary.  To top it off, the Ukrainian president makes a statement that they are ready to consider the possibility of Ukraine acquiring nuclear weapons, which comes amid a wild nationalist frenzy in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who regard all Russians as their main enemy. The time has come, they say to the entire international community (which is now pretending that it is shocked) at the Munich Security Conference. But why wasn’t it shocked at the idea that a country with so many problems and overflowing with Western weapons can have nuclear weapons in addition? (It has the capacity for that and, of course, support from the United States.) Actually, it might already possess dirty nuclear technologies. Shall we wait somewhat longer? But for what? Senior representatives of the United States say they had no intention of talking to Ukraine about deploying nuclear weapons. No plans! But who do we believe? They are the people who have systematically lied for decades, while launching under the cover of lies military operations all over the world, resulting in millions of victims. There is an important nuance that makes this story even more dramatic. The thing is that the United States, which has nuclear weapons as a matter of official record, has them not only on US territory. Few people in Russia, let alone the world, know about this. Who is keen to know? The United States has its nuclear weapons in several countries of Europe. Practically next door to Russia. At the same time, the European countries, their armed forces and their intelligence services have no ability whatsoever to control these weapons. Is that normal?

Given that for years or, in truth, decades the Kiev regime has been under the US yoke, it could have relied on the people’s will, made a selection of public opinion, and held a referendum, which would really assess the Ukrainian people’s attitude to having nuclear weapons. But even hoping for this is out of the question. The results of the vote would have been rigged. NATO are old hands at that. The decision would have been taken. And when the weapons would have been deployed in the territory of that weakly controlled state, the situation would have been totally different. This is a state whose nationalist forces are infected with the bacilli of nationalism; it is unable to diffuse its years-long bloody internal crisis; its politicians are each nationals of two or three countries and they have no idea at all about national interests. They have for years catered to the interests of NATO countries alone. Then we would have had an absolutely different situation on our European continent and directly on Russia’s borders.

I see the United States and its NATO partners, as well as the world as a whole watch with sinking hearts as North Korea launches missiles. (North Korea has withdrawn from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.) It pursues a policy of its own and gives grounds for it. When we have any grievances, we certainly communicate them. But the West is united in the belief that North Korea has no right to possess nuclear weapons or undertake missile launches.

But what about Ukraine? We can talk all we want about the regularity/irregularity of its political system, the plusses and minuses, but Ukraine has had no political system other than external control. Its other possession is the nationalist battalions, which were only nominally part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and were really just squads of militants trained in neighbouring countries.

As for the US biological activities in Ukraine, the Americans have clearly tried to pretend like nothing happened and sweep any trace of it under the rug. This topic is also a source of concern for us.

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The UN General Assembly adopts a resolution titled “Aggression against Ukraine”

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke at length today on international reactions. I will not go over it again. A transcript is coming soon. The video is already available which provides a thorough analysis of the vote on March 2 at the UN General Assembly. The resolution was adopted. The Western countries, led by the United States, made incredible efforts to make sure this document was widely approved. Every method of influencing the delegations in New York and in the various capitals was used. They used overt blackmail, attempts at bribery and threats of sanctions.  Don’t tell us this was the unified voice of the General Assembly. So much for a united “voice” with the sanctions gun pointed at the “head” of a state, which, in principle, is unable to oppose it and has no other way out of it. It looks very much like the developments that have been unfolding for many years in Ukraine. Love your homeland in Ukrainian, but if you do so in Russian, “you are not a person, but a species.” This is what President Vladimir Zelensky said about those who disagreed with the Kiev regime on certain issues. However, the resolution was not unconditionally supported. Dozens of countries refused to vote for it. However, no one is saying that it was not adopted. Of course, it was. No need to distort its meaning. It is obvious. The methods used can be clearly seen as well. The Western media are playing an enormous role in this, the wailing voices of the correspondents who have never experienced problems in their lives and have never demanded accountability from their regimes. There is no doubt that the adoption of the resolution runs counter to the tasks at hand. The document will simply embolden the Kiev radicals and nationalists to continue their criminal actions. They have taken civilians as hostages.

This resolution will be used to continue the abuse of the Russian-speaking people, the deployment of military equipment in densely populated residential urban areas in Ukraine (contrary to international law), and the unchecked distribution of weapons, including to inmates who were cut loose. The regime is fighting on its own territory, distributing weapons to civilians and is releasing inmates convicted of criminal offenses. As a reminder, we are talking about a state that has chosen democracy and has for many years been talking about a democracy that had practically won in that country. Weapons were distributed among die-hard criminals, not political prisoners. Moreover, they put an emphasis on “those who participated in hostilities” and are “experienced.” Who participated in what battles? Not only that, they fought their own people. If you give them weapons, they will start shooting not just their own people, but they will use the weapons for looting, robbery and violence.

The outcome of the vote at the General Assembly and the UN Security Council once again highlights the international community’s inability to take effective measures to force the Kiev authorities to fulfill their obligations under the Minsk agreements.

For our part, we are ready to continue the talks with Ukraine in order to prevent further bloodshed, as the Russian leadership has repeatedly stated.

Mass violation of Russian media outlets’ rights in Western countries

Over the past few days, the real, not declarative, value of “Western values” has become crystal clear. The ongoing developments in the global information space can be described as depriving Russia of any chance of making its point of view known on unfolding international developments. The worst thing is that the international community is deprived of the opportunity to know the point of view of the other side and to have access to the materials that describe reality as it is. They themselves whipped up hysteria around Ukraine, and have now taken away the voice of the media that provide materials straight from the region.

With its February 27 decision, the Council of the European Union introduced a ban on Russia Today and Sputnik broadcasting throughout the European Union, which the EU member states rushed to comply with. US digital platforms, such as Google and Meta, swore allegiance to them in a heartbeat and began blocking media accounts in various countries across the board. Apple, Android, and Microsoft have removed Russia Today and Sputnik apps from their stores, etc. We have been talking about this for years, including at international venues. No one was interested. Now they are just finishing what they started back then.

The governments of Australia, Canada, and Uruguay did not hesitate to resort to censorship in the spirit of pseudo-solidarity with the so-called liberal democratic world. Twelve investigations into Russia Today have been initiated by the British regulator Offcom. Truth be told, they didn’t just do this, but did it a little earlier in order to be done just in time for the right moment. This is some kind of elaborated Jesuitism where you know something, but are still preparing the legal grounds in advance, just in case.

The fact that Russian journalists can at least do some work there is because London is concerned about risking the BBC’s position in Russia, since it has been assigned the important role of undermining domestic political stability and security in our country, which follows from recent public statements by British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Many countries have gone even further. They have chosen to eliminate Russian-language broadcasts on their territory altogether, because the anti-Russia version of the cancel culture makes this possible. It is being implemented before our eyes on an ever-larger scale and affects all spheres of life without exception, including culture, education, sports, medicine and everyday life.

The Baltic countries are trying particularly hard. Going through the list of the TV channels they banned would probably take half the time allocated to this briefing. In Estonia, they went as far as “cleaning” their shelves of Russian magazines and newspapers. Moldova chose to use the commotion to put an end to Sputnik broadcasting once and for all. They blocked the media operator’s website and shut down its radio broadcasts. The European Alliance of Professional Associations is pushing to expel Russian journalists from the International Association of Journalists and to stigmatise the entire media community solely because it speaks Russian.

The West has declared a campaign against the Russian media, and this campaign is not over yet. The list of media sources that have been incapacitated or blocked is updated almost hourly. At the same time, in all cases of widespread blatantly Neanderthal-like censorship that has been in existence for many years now as a pretext for annihilating Russian broadcasting in the West and depriving millions of their citizens of popular alternative sources of information, these “beacons of democracy,” without bothering to provide any justification, declare Russian mass media outlets peddlers of propaganda and a threat to their security.

Of course, the fact that the media from the NATO and EU member countries, the United States and Canada, including their Russian bureaus, are spreading die-hard hastily concocted disinformation and fake news and, without a shadow of doubt or embarrassment, are working to destabilise the situation in our country and are publishing calls to commit illegal actions does not bother anyone. This is different. The speed and effectiveness of implementing the measures that violate all the basic principles of freedom of speech and pluralism of opinion clearly shows that this scenario has been planned for years.

Our Western partners have long been willing and planning to simply cross Russia out of the global media space. They started thinking about this the moment we appeared in this space and at the first signs of success for Russian media outlets, which have been in business for many years and have proven their objectivity. It all started right there. Our Western partners are following a programme to systematically remove us from the media space. It goes without saying that no facts have ever been provided, but the playbook was there for everyone to see. The West worked hard and long to promote a convention on helping journalists and protecting their safety when they cover armed conflicts. Armed conflicts always have at least two sides, occasionally more. These sides operate their media. You would have been right if you had said right off that it was not about protecting journalists in hot spots, but about depriving one of the conflicting parties of a means of communication and the dissemination of information. Indeed, in many respects the West has pioneered the development of the provisions and draft laws, both within the given country and at the international legal level, which were supposed to protect journalists as they cover hot phases in conflicts. Now, you are using this pretext to turn off these very media outlets, whose journalists are working in hot spots. How is that?

It has long been clear to us that it is pointless and useless to talk with the international human rights agencies that have sprung up in inordinate amounts in recent years. This is also part of the responsibility of the OSCE institution in question, which, with tacit consent, greenlighted the persecution of Russian journalists and Russian-speaking media and failed to protect journalists who cried out about what was happening in Ukraine, Donbass, etc. This is part of your tacit complicity in creating and provoking this global crisis. All these institutions, agencies and NGOs have been working for a long time now and with varying degrees of loyalty to cater exclusively to Western interests. They bring up freedom of speech and other rights and freedoms only when Washington and the key capitals of its allies give them an approving nod. There may be different points of view on everything. But it’s a proven fact that only one position was correct during all these years, and only one media source could be heard, which led to a collapse and a formidable crumbling of the international legal system, which is supposed to be objective and fair and which should have a place for different points of view. When this fails to happen, a conflict tends to escalate.

I would like to address those behind this act of execution of freedom of speech. You have dealt a cowardly and treacherous blow to Russian journalism and your own people who have a guaranteed right to receive information that does not fit into your mould. It is particularly important to provide such an opportunity during a crisis. You have pulled off your masks as loyal adherents of democracy and revealed the false nature of your demagogy on human rights. Will you learn anything from the current situation or will the answer once again be, “this is different?”

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 Illegal Western sanctions against international humanitarian cooperation

The Western world extending illegal restrictions on the international humanitarian sphere is not just beyond the scope of international peace; it is directly aimed at discriminating against ordinary people whose rights the Western champions of democracy so vigorously defend on all international platforms. Sanctions that affect the freedom of movement, the freedom of expression and access to cultural achievements and information, limit the development of cultural and sports cooperation and contacts between people, are absolutely unacceptable. They grossly violate the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act of the 1975 Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

This discriminatory anti-Russia campaign includes cancelling shows by Russian cultural and art figures abroad; Western universities are expelling students, and the organisers of various individual and team competitions are suspending athletes just for being Russian. I have just heard a new version – they are now saying that foreign teams or individual athletes are refusing to participate in any competition that includes Russians. So, let them abstain and fulfil their wish. They also have the right to be heard. If they don’t want to participate, respect that. Our people want to participate, and they have been training for this for years. I think they have proven many times that sport should be outside politics by continuing to participate despite what you call sanctions, all types of pressure and discrimination, despite all that we call injustice. Gritting their teeth, under pressure from the stands and from international sports officials alike, having seen the mockery of national symbols and of our culture, they go ahead and do their job. They keep reaching out to their colleagues to the end, even being aware of the risks – including to athletes from Ukraine, many of whom later hissed behind their backs. Our athletes have been above all this. They have endured everything – humiliation, real humiliation, discrimination, the use of all forms and types of pressure, and harassment. Now this anti-human, discriminatory campaign has gained unprecedented momentum, although this was an expected consequence. Everything around is being cancelled.

The most egregious cases that have caused a worldwide outcry include the cancellation of concerts by Valery Gergiev, Denis Matsuev, and Anna Netrebko at the La Scala theater in Milan. The demands made by the Munich city government and the La Scala management in Milan that they dissociate themselves from Russia’s policy is something unheard of. Maybe they should also give you a Nazi salute? Do I have to say something to you against the background of the swastikas that you see in Ukraine? Do you think this is an isolated case? It’s just that Gergiev is a celebrity of such status that this could not go unnoticed. How many of our professors at foreign universities, doctors at Western clinics who have been treating their citizens, and their family members have received similar threats, demands, humiliation, and insults? For what? Because your governments have supported the war in Ukraine for eight years, “have not seen” it, giving you – as democratic societies – no chance of reacting? Now the Russians are to blame for this, too? Oh no. The Bavarian State Opera considered it possible to cancel their contract with world-famous Anna Netrebko on the same grounds. As for Valery Gergiev – do you not understand why he couldn’t do it? Do you not understand what he has gone through, taking more than one bloody conflict like this close to his heart? He played in Syria during bombardments by western-sponsored “moderate” militants. Gergiev brought people back to life in Syria and around the world. He gave hope to those who defended statehood in Syria, with curse words and shells shot at our backs. Who did you want to break? The man who saw South Ossetia after Mikhail Saakashvili was done with it? Have you asked this of him? Maybe you asked it of someone else? Well, try it.

The International Mathematical Union Executive Committee’s move to exclude its Russian member from its meeting cannot be called anything other than immoral. As a result, in his absence, a decision was made to cancel the International Congress of Mathematicians in St Petersburg in July 2022. The actions by a number of Western universities are simply outrageous, as their administrators try to take out their anger on Russian students because they are dissatisfied with our country’s policies.

Other such incidents also deserve mention, such as the IOC recommendation to international sports federations not to invite Russian athletes to participate in competitions. Is this the International Olympic Committee? Have they not seen, or are they unaware of how much pressure has been exerted on our athletes for years? We have no other interpretation of such actions but as an attempt to harm our athletes, to eliminate strong rivals. You can’t put up a fair fight, so you are doing what you can? This will not lead you to your intended goal. It will destroy your world. In fact, these calls by the IOC leaders, which go beyond common sense, violate Olympic principles and the very concept of ​​​​both the Olympic movement and international sport.

We are confident that cooperation in education, science, sports and culture has always been and must remain outside politics. This is not a call to think again; it is a call to realise that such actions direct international processes towards self-destruction. This mechanism has been launched, and no chance of reversal can be seen at this point.

We said exactly the same things when the West tore Kosovo away from Serbia. You were warned how it would be. We talked about international terrorism and Afghanistan. It is impossible to just keep silent, indulge this and pretend that nothing is happening. This is our common planet. Our one and only. For all the achievements of the space industry in each country, we still cannot fly away. We live here, all together. When they closed the skies to Russian planes without giving any information, I understood the world has crossed a line, that politicians who run today’s world have passed the point of no return. I actually realised this even during the pandemic.

The mayhem unleashed against Russia, the attempts to isolate and even exclude our country from the humanitarian landscape are not just part of a Russophobic campaign. Basing conditions for participating in cultural, scientific and sports events on the political allegiance of the artists, scientists and athletes is a direct path to civilisational crisis. Even in Soviet times, the period of global confrontation between two ideologies, famous musicians, dancers, actors, artists, and scientists could give concerts, participate in exhibitions and symposiums around the world, and athletes could compete in international tournaments.

All I can do is offer my sympathy to the West, because their “high moral values” have not helped them avoid using humanity’s humanitarian heritage as a political bargaining chip.

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Bringing Russian citizens home from abroad

Given that some countries have closed off their airspace to Russian airlines, it is recommended that tour operators and airlines organise alternative flights to bring Russian nationals back home, including using the airports of the third countries and land checkpoints, as well as combined routes (air/car or railway).

Russian nationals can submit information about themselves and their location by filling in a special form on the Foreign Ministry website help.mid.ru.

We also suggest following updates from the Federal Agency for Tourism, the Federal Agency for Air Transport, the Foreign Ministry and the nearby Russian diplomatic missions in the media and on social networks.

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Statements by Japanese Foreign Ministry Department Director

We have noted that Japanese Foreign Ministry Department Director Hideki Uyama, during the parliamentary hearings on February 28, 2022, drew a parallel between the special military operation in Ukraine and the southern Kurils’ accession to Russia. Leaving aside the well-known fact that the said islands were transferred to our country in accordance with international law following World War II, during which Japan suffered a devastating defeat, we want to point out the obviously revanchist subtext of the Japanese diplomat’s words. We consider it proof that certain forces in the Japanese political establishment keep in mind the possibility of realising their territorial claims against Russia. We recommend that they forget about such an “option” once and for all.

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Statement by the Friends of Crimea International Association on the Situation around Ukraine 

We, representatives of the Friends of Crimea International Association, in connection with Russia’s decision to conduct a special military operation for Ukraine’s demilitarisation and denazification in accordance with Russia’s treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, affirm the following.

All sensible people on Earth realise that Russia cannot feel safe against the backdrop of anti-Russia actions by the nationalist regime in Kiev, the deployment of NATO military facilities in Ukraine, Ukrainian leaders stating their intention to start developing nuclear weapons as blackmail, and the US and NATO refusing to guarantee that the alliance will not expand further. The last straw for Russia’s patience was the shelling of Donbass cities and the resulting death toll, which continued to mount even after Moscow’s recognition of the DPR and the LPR, as well as Kiev’s refusal to back down from its plans to “clear out” their territories by force of arms.

Since the founding of our association in 2017, we have issued repeated public calls to stop the blockade of Crimea and the flagrant violations of the rights of its residents, to consider the Russian position and resume constructive dialogue between the West and the Russian Federation, and to respect the principles of equal and indivisible security for both sides.

We share the view expressed by the Russian leadership that Ukrainian nationalists will never forgive the residents of Crimea for the free choice they made in 2014. We agree that the current Kiev regime is prepared to stage armed provocations against the peninsula.

Ukraine’s adventurist project, known as the International Platform for Crimea’s De-occupation, or the Crimean Platform, which the West supported in 2021 and signed as an official document, was bound to sharply exacerbate tensions around the peninsula and the rest of the Black Sea region because its goal was to question and threaten Russia’s territorial integrity. All friends of Crimea who organised in their respective countries demanded that their governments abstain from this provocative venture. Unfortunately, our appeal to stop the world’s unmistakable slide toward armed conflict was not heard either in the United States or in Europe.

As such, we join all peace-loving people on Earth in calling for the elimination of this neo-Nazi hotbed in Europe, in Ukraine, and urging the ruling circles of the United States and other NATO countries to stop the pointless and dangerous actions taken against the people of Crimea and start a constructive dialogue with Russia on ensuring mutual security on an equal basis.

We stand for peace in Europe and the rest of the world and for friendly and equitable relations between all nations.

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The anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

March 5 marks 52 years since the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) took effect. This document is the cornerstone of nuclear non-proliferation and one of the pillars of the modern world order in security.

Tested for reliability by decades, the NPT continues to serve the interests of all states, both nuclear and non-nuclear countries, by ensuring international stability and predictability as well as enabling all countries to benefit from the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The Russian Federation has always been and continues to be fully committed to this treaty, by taking significant efforts to promote a world free from nuclear weapons. We intend to pursue this noble goal further.

It should be noted that in the current extremely difficult geopolitical circumstances, there are direct threats to the functioning of the NPT. It is deeply alarming that the Kiev regime has started dangerous games, attempting to acquire its own nuclear weapons. These attempts must be stopped.

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The 25th anniversary of the IORA

March 7 marks 25 years of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). We want to congratulate our organisation – Russia joined it in November 2021 as a dialogue partner – on this remarkable anniversary.

In the past 25 years, the association emerged as an effective multilateral platform for cooperation around the Indian Ocean and became an important element of regional security and sustainable development architecture.

Our country is committed to close practical cooperation in different areas of focus of the IORA, including countering COVID-19 and putting socioeconomic recovery on a steady trajectory.

We are interested in fruitful and pragmatic cooperation based on the principles of equality and respect for the legitimate interests of each state. We are confident that constructive and inclusive cooperation is a mandatory condition of further positive and dynamic development of the Indian Ocean states and a response to trans-border challenges.

We wish the association success, prosperity and new productive achievements.

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Answers to media questions:

Question: China must decide where to stand on the situation around Ukraine, Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Committee on US-China Relations and former Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew said on Monday. What is your opinion of that call and current relations with China?

Maria Zakharova: The People’s Republic of China, one of the largest global powers, has an independent and balanced foreign policy and can do without the Americans’ arrogant pointers. We can see that Beijing has also taken a balanced attitude to the Ukrainian problem. China has repeatedly called for respecting the principle of indivisible security and has pointed out that trying to ensure regional security by expanding military blocs is unacceptable and that Russia has reasons to be concerned. At the same time, China does not hesitate to tell the truth about the real role of the United States in the Ukrainian crisis, whose actions have provoked a dramatic aggravation. Chinese representatives at the UN have been consistently upholding this position.

The calls by senior US officials to choose a side in the conflicts Washington itself is fuelling and financing is a shopworn method of Anglo-Saxon diplomacy, which has been based on the “divide and rule” principle for centuries. The Americans have been using this unscrupulous tactic not only in Europe but also in absolutely all international situations that include an element of the sides’ disagreement. It is obvious that China has not risen to the bait.

Our relations with our Chinese friends are based primarily on mutual respect, mutual trust and a balance of the partners’ main interests. We greatly appreciate Beijing’s readiness to take an objective and unbiased stand on the Ukrainian issue. We will continue to maintain close ties on the entire range of international and regional issues in the spirit of strategic partnership.

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Question: When will Russia announce its response measures to the expulsion of 12 diplomats from the Russian Permanent Mission to the UN in New York? Will the response be symmetrical?

Maria Zakharova: I would like to note that a comment on this subject was posted on the Foreign Ministry website yesterday.

I can add that the United States continues pushing Russian representatives out of UN bodies in violation of all arrangements and its own obligations under the UN Charter and the Host Country Agreement.

One of the expelled 12 diplomats from Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN is the last Russian officer officially assigned to the Office of Military Affairs at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. At the same time, Washington has refused to issue visas to other candidates from the Russian Defence Ministry who have long been approved for their positions.

They are doing this with the silent agreement of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Secretariat, the obedient extras to the lawless policy. We are not going to tolerate this, and we have announced openly that we will respond at the bilateral level, for example, by targeting the quota of the US diplomatic presence in Moscow, which is still calculated based on the number of our personnel at the UN.

We could also expel US diplomats, although we don’t want to do this again. But Washington’s insolence and unwillingness or inability to come to agreement may leave us no other choice.

We urge the US to act reasonably and to stop escalating the situation.

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Question: Ho can you comment on Sofia’s decision to expel two Russian diplomats? When will we reciprocate? Why was that decision taken yesterday?

Maria Zakharova: On March 2, the Bulgarian authorities declared two diplomats at the Russian Embassy in Sofia persona non grata. As before, no reasonable explanation for that decision or any proof of our diplomats’ “inappropriate” activities have been provided. The local media have launched a frenzied propaganda campaign.

Considering that this latest attack on Russian diplomats in Bulgaria was synchronised with similar unfriendly actions in several other countries, we regard this as part of an unprecedented and impudent Western campaign to demonise Russia.

We regard this decision as a brazen provocation, especially in view of the fact that the Sofia authorities took this step on the eve of March 3, a sacred day in our common history: the anniversary of Bulgaria’s liberation from the Ottoman rule as a result of the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878 .

Russia reserves the right to take response measures.

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Question: On Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it welcomed talks between Russia and Ukraine. How do you assess the possibility of settling the crisis around Ukraine via talks? What could be the key to resolving this crisis, from Russia’s perspective?

Maria Zakharova: Speaking about talks, both sides have to want to take part in them to begin with. You can see how inconsistent they are in their statements: they don’t want to participate, it would be hard to get there, they got lost on the way, they are tired and so on. We can see clearly that this is done to slow down the negotiation process. So, if they want to talk and reach agreements, we have been ready and open from the very beginning.

I would like to note once again that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov answered this question in detail today.

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Question: According to the official spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, China and Russia will continue to cooperate in trade as usual. Would you like to comment on this?

Maria Zakharova: We share the Chinese ministry’s point on view in this. Relations between Russia and China are an example of neighbourly, mutually beneficial cooperation, and our trade and economic ties are long-term, strategic and not affected by the political situation at any given moment.

The trends in bilateral trade show that there is enormous potential for further growth. Last year trade grew almost one third and set a new record, $140 billion. The heads of state set a goal of significantly increasing it.

We intend to continue deepening our strategic cooperation in energy, which is of great importance for ensuring the economic security and successful development of the two countries. During President of Russia Vladimir Putin’s visit to China on February 4, 2022, Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation signed a contract to supply gas from the Far East. Plans are being developed to expand exports of Russian energy products to China. Extensive cooperation prospects can be seen in the peaceful use of nuclear power, where we and our Chinese partners have significant experience of successful cooperation.

We will continue to focus on large joint projects in various spheres, including in the Russian Far East. The intergovernmental commission has set a list of several dozen prospective investment goals. All of them will be supported and implemented consistently.

There are agreements to further develop and deepen cooperation in the sphere of space, science and innovations, as well as ICT and other high-tech fields, in transport. We can see major potential in agriculture, above all in increasing the volume of Russian agricultural products supplied to China.

We believe that in this difficult situation we and China, which also speaks out against unilateral restrictions, will be able to ensure the stable and progressive development of bilateral economic cooperation.

I would also like to stress that the West (which, of course, has many faces, and many of its elements are not independent), this Anglo-Saxon world would never stop. It needs resources in all senses of the word: energy, finance, human, ideological, all kinds of resources. It’s like an insatiable monster that consumes everything in its path for its own satisfaction and survival. They won’t stop with us or with China. A real sanction war broke out against China, though Beijing fulfilled all its economic contracts and responsibilities in good faith. It began on quite a limited scale with us, but it was clear that these sanctions would escalate. Today they have stopped hiding their true goal. This goal is to destroy us from the inside: the economy, finance, society and so on. They won’t stop there, they will keep going through world, destroying everything in their path. In fact, this is what they always do.

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Question: Andrey Kozyrev twitted this message to you and your colleagues the other night. He said you were professionals and not cheap propagandists. “When I was at the Foreign Ministry, I was proud of my colleagues. Now it’s impossible to support this bloody, brother killing war in Ukraine.” He called on all Russian diplomats to resign in protest. Mr Kozyrev obviously was the first foreign minister of Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Empire. Would you resign and stop spinning cheap propaganda?

Maria Zakharova: We posted a comment on this on social media. Haven’t you seen it?

Question: Yes, but I would like to get your answer on the record, if possible.

Maria Zakharova: But that was our answer. You can quote directly from it, so I don’t have to read it again. You know what? Do you remember what years Andrey Kozyrev served as Foreign Minister?

Question: Yes, but I remember very vaguely. It was a long time ago.

Maria Zakharova: Indeed, but we remember this time very well. As a matter of fact, he served as Foreign Minister from October 1990 until January 5, 1996. You may remember that his years in this position coincided with the horrible events in the North Caucasus. You, British journalists, presented the tragedy in the North Caucasus along the same lines as the quote you just read. You called it a “bloodbath,” a “conflict,” or “Caucasus fighting for democracy and freedom.”

What did Andrey Kozyrev tell you at that time? What did he say when Britain and its Foreign Office received the terrorists and extremists from the North Caucasus, and Margaret Thatcher had tea with them, while Vanessa Redgrave called them Britain’s best friends, including Akhmed Zakayev? Do you know who Akhmed Zakayev is? This is related to your question about propaganda. This was a man who built a propaganda machine to whitewash extremism and terrorism in the 1990s in the Caucasus, when Andrey Kozyrev served as Foreign Minister. He was accepted by the British elite who greeted him as a friend. This answers the question on whether you are consistent in following your principles.

I do believe that there is consistency in what you do, but no principles. Learn your history and read Andrey Kozyrev, but not just on Twitter. Read the statements he made during these years, read how Moscow requested that London and Washington stop supporting terrorists from the North Caucasus. Read Moscow’s calls to the NATO countries, primarily Great Britain, to stop supporting extremism and the bloodbath in the 1990s. When you finish reading this and understand the history of our country, maybe then you will understand the real meaning of what we are doing rather than just using cheap slogans and propaganda-inspired talking points.

Question: I am not using propaganda slogans. I am simply quoting the words of a former foreign minister of Russia saying that it is impossible to support this bloody brother killing war in Ukraine. He called on all Russian diplomats to resign in protest. Would you resign?

Maria Zakharova: I have already answered this question and also explained how we feel about Andrey Kozyrev by reposting the statement by the Foreign Ministry staff on my social media accounts. You say that you do not use propaganda slogans. Did you notice that Mr Kozyrev wrote part of his tweet in English and part in Russian? Which colleagues was he talking to in English? Do you think we have anyone in our Foreign Ministry who does not understand Russian? This is propaganda. When someone writes half a tweet in English, he wants your attention, the Western mainstream media, and wants to get his message through to you, rather than talk to those whom he pretends to address. This is what propaganda is all about. You have an identical position. I will see you at the next briefing, since I have big plans on how to respond to your misinformation and fake news.

Question: You say that you are trying to protest civilians, but we have seen one civilian building hit after another, residential blocks, Freedom Square in Kharkov, local government buildings. And we have seen mounting numbers of civilian casualties. Are your soldiers just bad at targeting or you are actually lying about this?

Maria Zakharova: If you are going to ask questions in this manner, I will not speak to you at all. You may direct all your propaganda to your British politicians. Please control yourself here. If you can’t, then don’t pretend to be a journalist.

I have a degree in international journalism, and I know all about asking questions with an implanted position. Please note that the Defence Ministry said from the outset that the campaign is aimed at military infrastructure. As Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said today, unfortunately there are casualties both among servicemen and civilians. It happens, unfortunately. It is amazing that the question is coming from you, a representative of a country that has been carrying out massacres for years and decades in countries that share no borders with you, and it is totally unclear what you were doing there at all.

As for who lies, that’s the UK government, when it supported the campaign to take over Iraq. True, they admitted their lie later but have not apologised or been held accountable.

Question: The municipal building in Kharkov’s Freedom Square is not a military target. Yet it was clearly hit by a missile that destroyed the building. And we have seen any number of residential buildings, blocks of flats, homes, entire villages being wiped out by Russian fire. What I am saying, you know, whether you object to my tone or not, is this bad aiming, bad targeting by the Russian military, or are you being disingenuous with the claims that you are not targeting civilians?

Maria Zakharova: And there is the third option: you are saying “either…or”, but maybe these are fakes? Maybe Ukrainian fighters are claiming this is destruction caused by the Russian Armed Forces while they are the ones doing it, how about that?

Please give me specific materials. We will look at them and send them to the Defence Ministry, and they will provide their comments. But what you have to say, judging by how you said it, is pure propaganda.

Question: But why would the Ukrainian military target a municipal building in Kharkov? Is it capable of striking a building like that? Why would it strike its own residential areas?

Maria Zakharova: I told you – please give us the materials and we will comment on this specific case.

Question: Well, we have seen the video. Do you mean you have not seen it?

Maria Zakharova: I do not know what specifically you saw. Give us the materials and we will comment on them. I am not a military expert and do not comment on the course of the campaign.

I am ready, but if you are unable, I will give you the link to the Anti-fake section. Possibly, you will find that the video has already been debunked. In any case, send us the materials. We are prepared to look into them.

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Question: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he is sorry that the Western sanctions have failed to freeze all of Russia’s gold and foreign currency reserves. What will happen to Moscow-Brussels relations?

Maria Zakharova: Brussels pushed them into a corner, not just today, but in 2014. The architecture of our interaction with Brussels, from summit meetings to sectoral dialogues, was broken down. They chose to use sanctions against our country, and to wage a real anti-Russia campaign in all spheres under the cover of “strategic communication.” This was their tactic. For example, they forced candidate countries and partner states to express solidarity with anti-Russia statements and sanctions. In fact, this also took place in Ukraine. The policy in Brussels is “you are either with us, or against us.” They have not tried a harmonising approach but have chosen disengagement.

And ultimatums. What started the Maidan rallies in 2013 and 2014? In 2013, President Viktor Yanukovych was the EU’s best friend, the most promising leader who honoured his agreements. He attended summits and was met with applause. Nobody left the room when he was there. He was the best friend of the European Union.

Everything changed overnight. His EU friends “saw the light” when he refused to yield to their blackmail regarding the Association Agreement with the EU. Yanukovych postponed the decision until 2014 to compare the possibilities of alignment and integration with the EU to the post-Soviet integration processes in Eurasia. The next day, when he said that he would not sign the agreement immediately but would prefer to postpone it until next year, he became the target of attacks on all sides.

The same is happening to our country now. He was hissed at and called names. The EU did that. They stopped any talks with him and closed all doors on him, and after that the Maidan rallies began to pressure him into accepting the EU ultimatum and sign the agreement, which did not provide for aligning any processes but for making the choice exclusively in favour of the EU.

The Maidan rallies began with the militants and their Nazi ideology. The UK media had no interest in that. They didn’t ask how many civilian facilities the militants destroyed and how badly the civilian infrastructure was damaged. UK and US journalists walked between burning tires and Molotov cocktails as if in a rose garden, taking pictures of “public wrath.” What was that “public wrath” related to? It was related to one thing only: Brussels and Washington were staging an anti-constitutional coup with their own hands. This is how it began.

Brussels used far-fetched pretexts and open provocations to interfere in our domestic affairs and the internal affairs of countries who share close economic, financial, cultural, political and security ties with us.

During the subsequent years, the EU continued to disregard Russia’s legitimate interests and build up its political and economic pressure on our country. Our persistent calls to use its influence to encourage Kiev to implement the Minsk Package of Measures and stop infringing on the rights of Russian speakers came up against a wall of silence.

The EU policy towards Russia is still based on the Mogherini principles, which were adopted in 2016. They were anti-Russia from the very outset. But it was in 2016, or six years before February 2022. I invite you to read them. They are written in the Cold War language, just like Brussel’s new triad adopted in June 2021: “push back, contain, and engage.” This is what Josep Borrell proposed for our country. As expected, the principle of “selective engagement” has not gained traction. Nobody planned to use it. Instead, there was only pushback, which did nothing to promote stable and neighbourly relations in Europe.

In reply to our security guarantee proposals and personal letters from Sergey Lavrov to his counterparts in 37 countries, including EU member states, about compliance with the principle of indivisible security, we received a formal response dictated by the United States. Moreover, it was provided by Josep Borrell and Jens Stoltenberg, although the letters had not been addressed to them.

The EU took the next step on February 27, 2022, when it decided to send lethal weapons to Ukraine. By supplying weapons, the EU, which claims to be a diplomatic alliance, will extend the agony of the Kiev regime and increase the suffering of civilians. This makes one really wonder about the logic, real goals and soundness of their policy. This is being done through the Europe Peace Foundation. What kind of peace is this?

Brussels has demonstrated the worth of its claims about the rule of law in the EU. It ignored the eight criteria set out in the EU Common Position defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment. That document was adopted in 2008. The Foreign Ministry commented on this violation in a statement on the EU’s role in the developments in Ukraine, which was published on February 28, 2022.

This policy, which can be described as pouring oil on the flames, will not be left unanswered. As for blocking Russia’s gold and foreign currency reserves and other EU restrictions, we know that Western hypocrisy is coupled with greed for gain. This is a classic case. Any country across the globe that supports the “wrong” regime, does not behave as expected, and elects the “wrong” party or leader is immediately faced with blocked accounts, deposits and reserves, and even the detainment of people who have access to information regarding these accounts. Is this the first time this happened? No, it has always been like that.

Was there a military conflict in Venezuela? No, just the vagaries of politics. But its accounts have been blocked and Venezuela couldn’t have its own money. In principle, they have done no harm to anyone. I don’t imagine what fault could be found with them. Wrong regime? Wrong oil prices? Wrong oil supply routes? Wrong pocket where the money lands? Or lack of hegemony by the colonial machine, which is controlling many things but has somehow failed in Venezuela? The colonial boss has tried to spread its control through Latin America and the Caribbean basin, but some countries, for example, Cuba and Venezuela, managed to avoid it. They have their own resources and their own domestic and foreign policies. The world has seen this happen several times. But can you cite an example when you helped anyone just for a thank you? When you transferred money to Ukraine, it returned within a week to the accounts of Western banks or individuals or was used to buy weapons from the senders. It is a criminal game that has been going on for decades and even centuries.

The global markets have reacted with soaring energy prices and plummeting shares of Western companies, which have been badly hit by the severed business ties with Russia. Regrettably, ordinary EU citizens, who are being deceived and have been deceived for years, will pay for this. Brussels officials will not suffer yet, but they will when we adopt measures in reply to the sanctions. I can promise this with my whole heart.

I would also like to add that our relations with the EU will depend on the EU’s understanding of its own interests in stabilising the situation in Europe and correcting the security imbalances created by NATO’s eastward expansion. They will depend on the EU’s awareness of the need to demonstrate geopolitical independence and to launch a dialogue with Russia based on respect. We will take this into account and formulate our policy accordingly. We will see if they recognise the need for the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine and for new realities in the region. We will proceed from this.

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Question: The Council of Europe suspended Russia’s rights of representation. PACE President Tiny Kox said that Russia must meet its financial commitments to the Council of Europe. Is this just a question of money? Can you comment on that?

Maria Zakharova: We have already commented on the decision by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to suspend Russia’s rights of representation. This is the result of double standards and the lack of independence of the Strasbourg-based organisation at the same time.

There is no historical precedent for denying one of the Council of Europe member states the possibility of taking part in the work of its statutory bodies for carrying out a military operation. NATO’s aggression against Yugoslavia, or their invasion of Iraq and Libya, or Mikhail Saakashvili’s military venture in South Ossetia, or the eight years of genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime against civilians in Donbass – nothing has elicited a radical response of this magnitude from Strasbourg. The reason is clear: this is something close to their heart, so close that they can’t even smell it. This “capital of human rights” did everything to turn a blind eye to the crimes of the Ukrainian nationalists. However, when our country finally decided to put an end to this outrage, the Council of Europe rushed to “punish” us in this strange and awkward manner. At the same time, they are also demanding that we honour our obligations, including our financial commitments, which is the most incredible part of this whole story.

This is unacceptable. We do hope that Strasbourg scratches its head, at least a little bit. If they do, they will understand the extent to which its decision will hurt the Council of Europe. I will not announce a final decision; let’s wait for their response. However, we have several options on the table in terms of responding to these steps.

We are also aware of the statements by Tiny Kox, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I will not challenge his statements from this rostrum. Engaging in an indirect debate with him is not my intention. All I want to do is point out to PACE leadership, just as a historical reminder, that one of the slogans preceding the United States’ War of Independence was “no taxation without representation.”

There have been other situations in the history of relations between Russia and the Council of Europe similar to the one we have today. The most recent example is 2014. When Crimea reunited with Russia, the Parliamentary Assembly of this organisation was hysterical. It suspended the voting rights of the Russian delegation and prevented it from sitting in its governing bodies or observing elections. In response, our country stopped paying its membership fees. Since Russia is one of the biggest contributors to the budget of this organisation and accounts for about 10 percent of its revenue, this was quite a heavy blow for the Council of Europe. Within a year, the organisation changed its mind and restored the Russian parliamentary delegation’s rights.

We strongly believe that the obligation for a state to pay contributions to the budget of the Council of Europe arises from the possibility to fully participate in its activities. By taking the decision to suspend Russia’s rights, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe must understand the consequences. Back in 2014, we had the same conversation about money, contributions and how they correlate with enjoying our full rights. Our representatives discussed this with the representatives of the Council of Europe in every detail for hours, days and even months. Therefore, by deciding to suspend Russia’s rights of representation, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe must understand the consequences, including in financial, administrative, and legal terms.

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Question: Are there any international agencies in which Russia’s membership may be suspended or eliminated altogether?

Maria Zakharova: I don’t know. I cannot answer this question now. We did not have such plans. This was invented long ago. I’m referring to the UN Security Council and other agencies. We are told we are not eligible for membership in one agency because we are too big, and cannot enter another one because our economy is too small. It has been like this for decades. Instead of resolving issues together, working and building relations we have to face confrontation all the time with different groups of countries. They are always displeased with something. It is a classic already.

There was never a different approach. Everything went well only with Andrey Kozyrev. When he said Russia had no national interests, everyone applauded him, everyone agreed with him. But we must make a choice: either we have national interests and not everyone will applaud us, or we don’t have them. As soon as we declare this and agree to everything that is being imposed on us, and that glaringly contradicts the essence of our history, state and culture, we will receive thunderous applause. They will praise us. We will be extolled to the skies. We will be awarded with medals not for some achievements but just for the heck of it. We have already been through all this. We tried to trust them and understood that this was not the way to go. This happened many times. We tried to assert our right to exist at all kinds of talks. We are seeing the result: talks have stopped on all fronts. Apparently, talks about our existence have never been part of the West’s plans. Did this start in the absence of the Cold War and bloc confrontation? No, this may have gone on for centuries. Read letters by Ivan the Terrible to his British partners. Like we are saying now he said then that they had not fulfilled any of their commitments on trade, nor kept a single promise. Each time the situation follows the same scenario.  We do all we can, we are patient, we persuade, we invite them to the negotiating table, we talk and we find compromise. In some cases, we modify our positions, making concessions or suggesting exchanges. But then they come up with a provocation or present us with the terms that do not leave us a choice, considering these terms threaten our existence.

What are security guarantees? This issue boils down to our existence. Maybe it’s worth following Britain’s example − a preventive strike and interference in the internal affairs of those states that do not accommodate UK economic interests. People simply “disappear” both inside and outside Britain. They disappear as if they never existed. What happened with White Helmet member James Le Mesurier that carried out orders? What about the Skripals? Have they been found? No. Are they alive? Where are they? Who has seen them? Nobody has seen them. Nobody knows anything. They performed the role assigned to them and disappeared from the face of the Earth. Scotland Yard has been investigating this case for many years. So what? According to British logic, this is unimportant: No body, no case. Millions of people were killed in Iraq. They don’t care about anything at all. Not a single international institution replied. Everything is blocked. Everybody is silent. All they are saying is that they were doing all they could to bring democracy to the region. But the region is bad and democracy didn’t take hold. They crippled the Middle East and North Africa. What hadn’t they done there? They divided the whole of Africa with a ruler when they had to give up colonies, or else they would have never given them up.

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Question: Referring to a high-ranking Pentagon official, Politico reported that the US Defence Department expressed its desire to establish a communication channel with Russia against the backdrop of the situation in Ukraine. It may be patterned after a model the sides established in 2015 for settling the situation in Syria. Has Moscow received this proposal from Washington? Will it help establish a constructive dialogue between the sides?

Maria Zakharova:  And why are you interested? Don’t you want to connect to these channels. This is not an issue for the Foreign Ministry. This as a leak from the other side, so ask it. We have never rejected contacts, all the more so when other countries request them.

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Question: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan paid a two-day visit to Moscow last week and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During their meeting, they discussed the Pakistan Stream pipeline project and expansion of trade. How does Russia assess working relations with Pakistan after this visit? What did they manage to agree on?

Maria Zakharova: The visit you are talking about took place on February 23-24. It was the first visit by a Pakistani head of government to Russia in a bilateral format in 23 years. It gave a good impetus to the fast-growing Russian-Pakistani ties. Moscow and Islamabad showed determination to build up multifaceted cooperation even amid the tense international situation.

The Ukraine discussion was high on the meeting agenda. The Pakistani Prime Minister accepted with understanding our argument about the circumstances that have forced Russia to take this stance with our Western partners regarding the situation in Ukraine, security guarantees, Kiev’s genocide against millions of people living in Donbass, manifestations of neo-Nazi ideology and so on.

The leaders agreed to expand trade and economic cooperation with a focus on energy. They expressed mutual interest in signing commercial documents on the flagship project, the Pakistan Stream gas pipeline, in the near future. This will greenlight its practical implementation. Both parties agreed there are good prospects for LNG supplies to Pakistan and modernisation of Pakistani railways.

They also agreed to tighten cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the drug threat, taking into account the growing activity of a number of terrorist groups, primarily ISIS and Al-Qaeda in South Asia. They decided to continue the regular Friendship exercises, the Arabian Monsoon naval exercises, and contacts at the Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism.

The two countries’ leaders expressed a unanimous opinion on the need to stabilise Afghanistan by forming an inclusive government, taking into account the interests of all ethnic and political groups, as well as assisting that country in order to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. They agreed to maintain cooperation at specialised international and regional platforms.

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Question: President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky signed an executive order introducing temporary visa-free regulations for foreign nationals who will travel to Ukraine to fight the Russian army. Western countries support Ukrainians in every possible way, and are saying they must protect their sovereignty, while at the same time, when young people in Kashmir raise their voices for their rights and freedom, Europe calls them terrorists. What can you say about Europe’s double standards?

Maria Zakharova: You are aware of our position with regard to the Kashmir issue. It remains unchanged. We consistently advocate resolving the existing differences between Islamabad and New Delhi by political and diplomatic means on a bilateral basis in accordance with the provisions of the 1972 Simla Agreement and the 1999 Lahore Declaration.

Western duplicity is nothing new and shows absolutely in all matters. At some point, they claimed that the idea of militants from other countries participating in an armed conflict is unacceptable for them, but we have seen vast numbers of examples where they were outraged by the fact that Russian nationals, and maybe not only them, were allegedly participating in the conflict. They said it was unacceptable. Today, the Kiev regime said that Europe, its Euro-Atlantic structures, promised to send 16,000 volunteers to Ukraine. Of course, they will be armed volunteers. You know what the consequences will be. You represent a region that has become hostage to this colonial line of thinking. When the British were leaving it, they shaped the situation so as to keep these countries hostage to this imperial thinking. I can say right away that if the NATO countries, the European Union and the United States send mercenaries there, then in a very short time these mercenaries will return to them. Only they will be totally different people then. They will have tasted blood by then. Now, once again I will revisit the 1990s, to which my British colleague sent me with his question today. They were sending militants and terrorists to the North Caucasus via the Middle East, Central Asia, directly via Europe, NATO countries, and the Mediterranean. We are aware of it. We are aware that numerous militants were sent there and that they gave them weapons. We are aware of other developments and the use of illegal drugs to control these people. What happened next? When Russia was dealing with terrorists on its own territory with jeers coming from the West, all the West was thinking about was how to save the lives of terrorists. They criticised us and told us we had no right to do it. They told us it was “a humanitarian disaster.” Our region was aflame and terrorist attacks were perpetrated all over the country, which for them was a humanitarian disaster. God forbid we dare touch terrorist cells in the North Caucasus which were financed by the West. When our internal counterterrorism operation began to bring about effective results, and this terrorist scum was pressed against the hills and mountains, they started fleeing to these very countries, primarily, northern Europe, Britain, and Scandinavia. You know what? Several years later, in the mid-2010s, the same countries that hosted terrorists from the North Caucasus officially contacted us asking what to do now. You know the way they think better than us. They were asking for advice and help of our specialists. They were ready to conduct joint operations. They even wanted us to take them away, since they had no idea of what to do with them. They provided shelter to many radicals under the guise of refugees and settled them in compact areas. Five to six years later, they were horrified by what was happening there and ran to us asking to help and save them, which we did.

It will play out the same way now. Look, 3,000 Iraqi migrants, people with money who could afford a plane ticket, trained professionals who had savings, arrived at the Belarusian-Polish border in search of a better chance to fulfil their potential. They were neither fundamentalists, nor terrorists. They had all kinds of papers. They had officially issued entry documents, they bought tickets and responded to the “call” of the European Union (which has been encouraging them to look for a better life for many years) and were on their way to Berlin. Did you see how it ended? They were afraid even of these 3,000 people. They gassed them, blinded and deafened them by light and sound, and did everything to prevent children, women and civilians from entering the EU. Why? Just because Europe is already suffocating from the problem posed by migrants from the Middle East.

The Iraqis who came to Belarus to the EU borders, the refugees who have for decades been coming from the Middle East through the Mediterranean, Italy and Greece are the result of the experiment conducted by the West (the United States, Britain and NATO countries) on these regions.

Another experiment they are planning to conduct will have a bloody ending for them. They are handing out weapons to militants and ordinary people who have never fought under the banner that it is supposedly necessary to fight back the aggression and to defend themselves.  This is being said by the Kiev regime, which simply formulated the ideology of aggression throughout the country. This experiment won’t end just like that. Europe, which is about to supply weapons and armed militants to them, will get them back just as they got the White Helmets back. Remember, they controlled them from London. Remember the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights? Where is it headquartered? London. It controlled the White Helmets movement. The White Helmets in Syria received instructions from London, Brussels and the United States from there. And they received money, too, which is an established fact.

Under the guise of humanitarian organisations, they did all kinds of things there. When this outrage was over (also thanks to the efforts of the Russian Armed Forces), the White Helmets asked their sponsors (who promised to take them to their respective countries) to deliver on their promise, because no one needed them in Syria. They knew they would be killed there, just like James Le Mesurier “accidentally” died there. And that is the end of it. What did the West do to them? It tried to send them to Jordan or other countries. Why? Because they know who they are getting. The only difference is that the Middle East is separated from Europe geographically. These are different continents.

Here we share the same continent. Thanks to these countries’ policies, the borders with Ukraine are open. Let them not say later that these armed militants who will go back (and they will) to these countries have become an unpleasant “surprise” for them. We warned them.

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Question: What can Russia do or has already done to set off the effect of the information war that is being zealously waged against it?

Maria Zakharova: There are some natural disasters that we can foresee and take measures to protect ourselves from. And there are those that all we can do is wait for them to be over and try to survive. The problem is not with us or with our position. The information war unleashed by the West is fatal to it. They are killing their media and the ability of their countries and people for critical thought. They are killing democracy because if it is based on the media of propaganda and does not allow for opinions, it is not a democracy and it cannot be lasting.

The Western world has opted for this type of [political] setup – one without an alternative – as its priority. They ruled out the possibility of making adjustments to democracy or gaining a new perspective on it.  Pure democracy as it is. If they black out media, block internet platforms, engage in information manipulation and give money to support chosen media outlets in other countries, they can forget about democracy. If there is no alternative to their political system – for decades, people have been taught to give their lives for democracy – everything is doomed.

I do not want to assert this but we are seeing manifestations of these phenomena. We will continue to provide information, refute fake news and respond, whenever we have an opportunity to protect ourselves and our media with retaliatory measures. We will draw yet another conclusion. We will do everything we can. The orgy going on right now must scare those who started it.

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Question: How can the deteriorating relations between Russia, and the United States and some European countries affect cooperation in bringing the situation in Afghanistan back to normal?

Maria Zakharova: We believe the existing bilateral and multilateral cooperation formats have proved their worth. Take, for example, the expanded troika format: Russia, China, the United States and Pakistan. Several European players expressed an interest in joining these efforts. Another meeting in this format is scheduled for March 2022. It is about regional security, among other matters. Considering the existing opportunities for the dissemination of information and the speed at which all processes are evolving, we are now putting a broader interpretation on the term “region”.

We noted that under various pretexts, the United States can skip some meetings of the expanded troika, the way it happened in Kabul and Moscow last year. However, this does not have a significant effect on the functioning of this mechanism.

Currently, given the difficult humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the focus of this group’s efforts has shifted to assisting the post-conflict recovery of that country. This testifies yet again to the importance and relevance of this format.

In light of the recent events, we are prepared for any scenarios of our cooperation with the West on Afghanistan. At the same time, no matter what decisions the Americans and Europeans might take regarding this work in the future, it is important not to allow them to shed the responsibility for the deplorable state of affairs in Afghanistan, which is the result of the 20-year military campaign conducted by the United States and its allies in the country.

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Question: Iceland has closed its airspace for Russia and is denying entry visas for Russians. There is a danger of attack on the Russian Embassy in Reykjavík. Iceland’s government made the Atlantic Cargo aircraft available for transporting lethal weapons to Ukraine. Should Iceland expect Russia to retaliate?

Maria Zakharova: Your question contains so much that I can answer using the same words.

It does indeed contradict the obligations assumed by individual countries as well as joint obligations. It runs counter to the objectives declared by the Western community, specifically Iceland, on the need to achieve peace in Ukraine. What they are doing will increase the number of casualties in Ukraine and create a threat to the European continent because those weapons will get into the hands of neo-Nazi fighters.

How will we react? The Russian leadership has already spoken about it. I do not represent the Defence Ministry. I cannot give comments. This is beyond my competence. I am not involved in these matters. I can speak on the subjects within the scope of the Foreign Ministry’s activities. We warned them. The response will be worked out.

All this is caused by a profound misunderstanding of the situation on the ground. Since the beginning of the armed conflict in Donbass in 2014, we never saw any concern in Iceland regarding the oppression, loss of life and hostilities there – what the Kiev regime was doing. How can you care about one part of Ukraine and not care about another? It shows your lack of understanding of what is going on.

Why does every country have to know everything? It doesn’t have to know. It’s all right if a country is not a permanent member of the UN Security Council (or is not a member of major international associations that play a decisive role), distances itself from the public opinion of what is happening, observes from the sidelines even if it concerns something of crucial importance for the security of a region on its continent. It is strange not to notice, but yes, there are countries like that. For certain reasons they were not involved, were unaware. Possibly, they had no experts. They did not even make any attempts to figure things out for themselves. In that case they should continue to stick to this position.

Since for eight years you didn’t think it was important to find out why people were dying there, then you shouldn’t wake up now. Go on sleeping. And if you’ve decided to wake up now, then you should look at some materials. We have provided enough of them. Study them. You cannot blindly follow someone else’s course and create the feeling of collective condemnation based on one country’s information on an issue that you have no understanding of because it never had any importance for you.

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Question: Could you specify what Russia means by the term “denazification”? You have repeatedly referred to the Ukrainian leaders as Nazis and a “nationalist regime.” What does “denazification” mean in this context? Is it changing who is in power or renouncing a kind of rhetoric?

Maria Zakharova: People who profess Nazi logic may be described in theoretical or in practical terms. Much has been written about them in theory.

In practical terms: They took part in combat units that are distinguished by the logos of battalions from World War II or the Great Patriotic War as we call it here. People who collaborated with the Third Reich, including on occupied territories, were turned into national heroes. An atmosphere was created that made it impossible for people of different ethnic origins and religious beliefs to coexist, as they were persecuted for these characteristics. Many of them were okay on their own but the problem emerged in combination. This was not even considered abnormal or an excess. It was the policy of the state. That’s how it was in everyday life.

People with barbaric logic may be found in any society. Like the vandals who desecrate monuments (either out of stupidity or conviction). They are denounced, persecuted and punished. They are condemned for what they do by society in terms of public morality and also by the state in terms of law. There are laws against such behaviour. Public opinion is strongly against this. The same position is held by different government institutions, executive and legislative authorities and civil society. This issue is subject to regulation. Any individual or collective action by neo-Nazis is stopped. When they desecrate a monument, local communities, municipalities and deputies pay close attention. They restore the monument while law enforcement finds the criminals and punishes them. Children are told that this is not the way to go, and newspapers write that it is an isolated example that brings shame on society.

In Ukraine the picture is the reverse. These are not isolated examples. There are thousands of them. They are not criticised in public. Sometimes, an approach based on historical reconciliation is taken. Why don’t they sit at the same table and make friends? (The veterans who fought against the Nazis and those who were on the side of the Galicia division.) There is an all-or-nothing policy – either ban everything (both the red star and Nazi logos) or allow everything. How come? This is like making peace between Hannibal and his victim. Why not put them in the same room? After all, they are both homo sapiens and will find a common language. Let’s go away and see whether one of them will eat the other. This is the same logic. The ground was prepared at government level for not putting a stop to it. These nationalist movements were a convenient instrument for achieving their political aims.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin said what to do about all this on February 24 of this year. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other Russian officials explained in detail the essence of denazification as one of the goals of the special military operation in Ukraine. Its goal is to eradicate Nazism and fascism that made a comeback in Ukraine over seven decades after World War II. They were there. We know. See the film “Ordinary Fascism.”  In the past, if this existed, it was driven into a corner or completely rooted out. Whatever some people had in their minds was pushed far back without the possibility of it spilling out. This was Soviet policy towards fascism – zero tolerance, to use the current expression. There was no tolerance of any neo-Nazi manifestations. It was inconceivable.

But they supported all the collaborators and accomplices like the grandfather of Chrystia Freeland, who published a Nazi journal in Poland. He was given a job, food and accommodation. They periodically used him for their internal purposes and later in the anti-Soviet and anti-Russian struggle.

Despite our detailed explanations, some Western media are trying to distort the meaning of denazification. The day before yesterday, one French television channel interpreted denazification as the intention to fragment, divide and destroy the Ukrainian nation. They took the word “Nazism” at the root of the word and interpreted it to mean a nationality, a nation. This is the level of Western propaganda. A sophisticated distortion. This substitution of “Nazism” for “nation” is highly indicative of Western propagandists. For the past eight years, they either shut their eyes to what was happening or openly encouraged Nazi trends in Ukraine, calling them a “movement for liberation” or a manifestation of “cultural identity.” True, this “cultural identity” emerged there on such a scale during World War II. Previously, if it existed it was manifest in civil confrontation and internal conflicts, including political intolerance. The misanthropic logic never existed. People were fighting, there was a civil war but it was about different classes and social positions. It had nothing to do with one nation’s superiority over others and, as a consequence, not having equal rights.

We would like to point out that since 2014, when the national radicals took power in the country after the unconstitutional coup d’etat, they began to glorify those who collaborated with Nazi Germany. These were members of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA), which openly killed Russians, Poles, Jews, Gypsies, people of other ethnicities and “objectionable” Ukrainians during World War II.

During the past eight years, the atrocities of the OUN-UPA fighters, who killed thousands of civilians, were presented as “the struggle for freedom.” Streets and stadiums were named in honour of Hitler’s accomplices – Bandera and Shukhevich. We talked about this issue almost every day. Nazi formations – the Right Sector, S14, Trizub, Azov, Donbass and Aidar, to name a few, were operating in the open in Ukraine. Torchlight processions were held. A torchlight procession is not a carnival with flashlights. It is a Nazi-oriented march with relevant symbols, greetings and stylistic features. However, not everyone in Europe realises this. Some of those units were incorporated in the Ukrainian armed forces and sent to Donbass as a combat cell. They looted, raped and killed. They are responsible for civilian deaths.

Denazification is a historical term. We didn’t invent it. I will cite several examples to show that the world already faced it in the past so that Western journalists stop saying they hear this for the first time. Don’t mix things up. Take denazification of Germany and Austria after World War II. After the war, the victorious Allied powers established the Allied Control Council. One of the goals of Germany’s occupation by these powers, by which the council was to be guided, was “to destroy the National Socialist Party and its affiliated and supervised organisations, to dissolve all Nazi institutions, to ensure that they are not revived in any form, and to prevent all Nazi and militarist activity or propaganda.” (Report about the tripartite Berlin/Potsdam Conference, August 2, 1945, item 3 of section A – Political Principles of Section 3 on Germany). To reach these objectives, the Council adopted Law No. 10 and Law No. 4, which determined a number of individuals subject to denazification and provided for the creation of special judicial bodies to review their cases.

The Council issued Directive No. 38 “Arrest and Punishment of War Criminals, Nazis, and Militarists and the Internment, Control, and Surveillance of Potentially Dangerous Germans.”

Article 139 of the Fundamental Law of Germany provides for the continuation of legal instructions on denazification.

Austria also has a legal base for it. Article 12 of the State Treaty for the Re-Establishment of an Independent and Democratic Austria of May 15, 1955 prohibits former members of Nazi organisations from serving in the Austrian armed forces. In addition, the treaty provides for the return of property of Austrian nationals, including property that had been forcibly removed from the Austrian territory to Germany after 1938, to its owners but makes a reservation: “This provision shall not apply to the property of war criminals or persons who have been subjected to the penalties of denazification measures… (Article 23).

This is just a brief review of historical examples. Everything must be formalised at the legal level.

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Question: In view of unprecedented sanctions and Russia’s isolation which, among other things, prevented Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov from participating in the UN events in Geneva, does Moscow consider withdrawing or suspending its participation in certain international structures? I am interested, in particular, in Russia’s activities in the OSCE, which you repeatedly criticised in the preceding months and weeks.

Maria Zakharova: I have already spoken about that. We proceed from the fact that some Western ideologists have long been engaged in this work. We are monitoring it.

As of yet Russia is not considering withdrawing from or suspending its engagement with the OSCE. We can do that any time. However, our patience has its limits.

As you may know, in the 1970s Moscow stood at the origins of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, a forerunner of this major regional organisation meant to become a venue for discussing and taking collective consensus decision on security issues in the Euro-Atlantic. It hurts to see what the OSCE has turned into. I recall, when I was at university, we studied what the OSCE is and the principles it stands for. What I have faced in practice, especially in the past years, is worlds different. The principles have been perverted to the core. It is impossible to believe that the Organisation was founded on certain principles which have been so utterly corrupted by now.

The West has usurped the management of the OSCE bodies since the 1990s so as to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states and impose ultra-liberal concepts and values which are alien to many countries. The Western countries signed OSCE obligations while intending, as we know now, to never follow up on them. The notorious “rules-based order” obligations are meant only for the former socialist countries whereas “developed democracies” are above the law. In other words, some countries owe everything to everyone whereas the latter have only rights and can do whatever they see fit.

The turning point in understanding all of this did not occur yesterday. You have rightly noted that we have been speaking a great deal about it recently, too. If someone has enough patience to go over past events, they will realise that we have been speaking about it for a long time now. In 1999, NATO violated all international norms and OSCE principles when it bombed Yugoslavia and tried to rip Kosovo from it. They were doing it for many years. Just in case, when they need to trample universal norms, the West always has a tested tool which we first qualified as double standards and now they themselves called it “constructive uncertainty.” When a clear-cut wording can be turned into a murky passage which doesn’t entail (from their point of view) any commitments, that’s what they obviously think the constructive uncertainty is. Even though everything is written on paper and all the principles are clearly laid out.

OSCE members have been after the Russian media outlets in the past years and especially the past months, making them experience all the beauty of the Western interpretation of “liberalism.” Many media outlets had Westerners among their staff who worked there as equals and expressed views not as NATO countries’ citizens but as journalists. And not even expressed a position but just did their job.

As a result, the OSCE failed to take advantage of the historic opportunity to strengthen its international standing by assisting in the settlement of the intra-Ukrainian crisis. Instead, the Western OSCE members used the Vienna-based organisation to cover and justify Kiev’s reluctance to stop the genocide in Donbass by implementing their commitments under the Minsk Package of Measures through a dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission throughout its almost eight-year-long operation in Ukraine failed to report true and impartial information to the world community about the victims and destruction caused by the Ukrainian Army’s and nationalist battalions’ punitive operation against civilians in the DPR and LPR, not to mention of the way they turned a blind eye to gross human rights violations across entire Ukraine. Even the little that they uttered would have been enough to unblock the negotiating process between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. Yet they did not do it. They did not use any of the opportunities. They kept buzzing, clamouring and booing whenever Russian representatives tried to make them understand the severity of the situation. The Westerners preferred hostile rhetoric and promoting confrontational bloc-based approaches rather than meaningful in-depth discussions.

Such lopsided pan-European cooperation is sinking into oblivion. This does not mean the OSCE must be buried. We need a forum for equitable and mutually respectful dialogue and cooperation. When the collective West gets over its fits of Russophobia, we will be ready to jointly restore interaction in the Organisation. But we will not do that on the principles that discriminate against Russia and other nations “to the east of Vienna.” A great deal of work lies ahead to revive the true Helsinki Spirit for the OSCE to operate for the benefit of all its member-states without exception.

This will become possible when all countries whose leaders signed the documents of the 1999 Istanbul and 2010 Astana summits are guided by the principle of equal and indivisible security not just in word but in deed, and unconditionally implement their commitment not to enhance their own security at the expense of others’ security. We will be waiting for the West to sober up from the anti-Russia frenzy.

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Question: An Indian citizen died in Kharkov. India wants to have safe corridors for its students. Will Russia provide them?

Maria Zakharova:  The responsibility of establishing humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of Indian nationals in Ukraine has been assigned to our specialised agencies, which are working on this issue. The question about Indian nationals was discussed during the contact between the two countries’ leaders. All information on this issue is provided in the comment posted on the Kremlin’s website.

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Question: What do you think about the Indian approach to the current developments? Did the Prime Minister of India call for dialogue?

Maria Zakharova: India and its leadership have a weighted, wise and far-sighted position on a number of issues, including a wide range of global and regional issues. That is typical of the Indian leadership. They apply this method (I mean the method of a weighted and unbiased approach) in general to the international agenda. It does not mean that there are no problems or differences with other countries. Yet, speaking in general, this is a weighted and far-sighted position, including on the situation in Ukraine.

The Indian leadership has drawn Russia’s attention to the importance of conducting an honest dialogue, which could lead to a compromise in this situation. As for us, we are seeking honesty in the negotiation process on all tracks, not only regarding Ukraine, but we also demand the same attitude from NATO.

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Question: They say that the advocates of the so-called European values, those Ukrainian transgender women who registered as men and want to leave Ukraine now are not allowed to do so, because men are not allowed to leave and vice versa, those men who changed their gender can leave.

Please accept most heartfelt greetings from your fellow compatriots on the occasion of the coming first spring holyday, International Women’s Day. We are happy that such smart, kind and beautiful women as those working at the Foreign Ministry and agencies abroad are with us. You are the best.

Maria Zakharova: Thank you very much. Having such support and seeing such genuine interest in international affairs gives me confidence. I am always in favour of impartiality and professionalism. I think that these qualities and, of course, commitment to the truth have always been key for overcoming even the most complicated situations in life. Life cannot give us a cloudless sky every day. We face various challenges as people, nations and countries. That’s life. They happen and pass differently, but the difference is how people act in the situation, how decently they behave, think beyond their own current emotions, how much they think about others and work and act for the benefit of other people. This is one of the main secrets and objectives in life; in overcoming obstacles and achieving the results at the level where you can do your best.

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Question: How does Russia regard the refusal by Turkey and Georgia to take part in the Western anti-Russia sanctions?

Maria Zakharova: The Western anti-Russia sanctions are illegitimate and adopted without the necessary approvals. However, it is not so much because of the procedure. The sanctions are part of a bigger plan that they did not conceal. These sanctions are unlawful. Sometimes the principle is more important than the damage inflicted by its application. This happens when you stand up for the truth, when you work for the benefit of the most important principles of humankind’s existence. But when the sanctions are illegitimate under the law and hypocritical in essence, when the reason for imposing them is to destroy something and to save something else, how can it be tolerated that they do harm even to those who impose them. This is absurd, foolish and short-sighted, let alone indecent. Unfortunately, this term has been lost by many in international affairs. However, behaviour should at least try to follow logic somehow.

I hope that I have answered all your questions.

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