Over 2,300 killed as 7.8-magnitude earthquake hits Turkey, Syria

Monday, 06 February 2023 5:04 AM  [ Last Update: Monday, 06 February 2023 1:17 PM ]

A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake has hit Turkey and Syria, killing over 2,300 people and trapping many others.

The quake struck at 04:17 am local time (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 17.9 kilometers (11 miles) and was followed by a 6.7-magnitude aftershock 15 minutes later, according to the US Geological Survey.

Turkey’s AFAD emergencies service center put the first quake’s magnitude at 7.4.

According to the head of Turkey’s disaster and emergencies management agency (AFAD) Yunus Sezer, the country’s death toll following the earthquake has risen to about 1,500 with thousands of buildings destroyed.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described the earthquake as the country’s largest disaster since 1939.

People gather as rescuers search for survivors under the rubble, following an earthquake, in the Syria city of Jandaris, February 6, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

The Ankara government has requested international aid amid the widespread devastation caused by the quake.

The president of the Turkish Red Crescent also urged the nation to make blood donations.

Kerem Kinik also said on Twitter the organization sending additional shipment of blood to the affected region.

The country’s vice president Fuat Oktay announced the suspension of schools in the 10 affected cities and provinces.

He also announced that flights to and from the airport in Hatay province have been suspended, while airports in Marash and Antep are also closed to civilian flights.

The quake leveled buildings across major cities in southern Turkey, including Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, and caught most people while they were still asleep.

“I have never felt anything like it in the 40 years I’ve lived,” Erdem, a resident of the Turkish city of Gaziantep, near the quake’s epicenter, told Reuters. “We were shaken at least three times very strongly, like a baby in a crib.”

Rescuers search for survivors under the rubble, following an earthquake, in militant-held town of Jandaris, Syria, on February 6,2023. (Via Reuters)

The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, said it was concerned about areas in Turkey from which there had been no news following the overnight tremor.

“National authorities will be focusing on search and rescue at the moment,” a WHO spokesperson told Reuters in a statement, adding “Then we will expect an increased need for trauma care to treat the injured and to support the entire health system in affected areas.”

In Syria, the country’s official media as well as rescue teams working across the nation put the death toll at over 800.

The official SANA news agency, quoting the country’s health ministry, said the quake had killed at least 461 people and left at least another 1,326 injured, including the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus.

Rescue teams said over 380 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in northwestern parts of the country, which are held by pro-Turkish militants.

A man carries away an injured child following an earthquake in the town of Jandaris, Syria, on February 6, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Reports said the Syrian border city of Harem in Idlib province was completely ruined by the quake.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad held an emergency cabinet meeting to review the damage and discuss the necessary measures, according to his office.

Raed Ahmed, who heads Syria’s National Earthquake Center, told Syrian media that this was “historically, the biggest earthquake recorded in the history of the center.”

The tremors were also felt in Lebanon and Cyprus.

People in the Lebanese cities of Beirut and Tripoli ran into the street and took to their cars to get away from their buildings in case they collapsed, Reuters cited witnesses as saying.

Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones. In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed in the worst earthquake to hit the country in decades.

Putin offers condolences, aid to Turkey, Syria after quake

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences and offered Russian aid to Turkey and Syria following the deadly earthquake, the Kremlin said.

“We share the sadness and the pain of those who lost their loved ones and we hope for a speedy recovery for all the injured, and are ready to provide the assistance needed to overcome the impact of this natural disaster,” Putin said in a message to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

In a separate message to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin asked him to “convey words of sincere sympathy and support” to the families of the victims and said Russia was “ready to provide required assistance.”

People gather near a damaged site following an earthquake, in Aleppo, Syria, in this handout released by SANA on February 6, 2023. (via Reuters)

“Bashar al-Assad gratefully accepted this offer, and in the coming hours rescuers of the Russian emergencies ministry will fly to Syria,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

“The Turkish president warmly thanked Vladimir Putin for such a prompt and sincere reaction and said that he was giving instructions to the competent authorities of the country to accept the help of Russian rescuers,” it said.

Russia said it had emergency rescue Ilyushin-76 planes on standby to fly to the two countries.

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu separately spoke with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar by telephone, offering condolences and support.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that Shoigu “offered to provide all necessary assistance through the military department to his Turkish colleague in the aftermath of the earthquake, including medical assistance to the victims.”

People search through rubble following the earthquake in Diyarbakir, Turkey, on February 6, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

China’s Xi condole with Turkey, Syria over deadly quake

Later on Monday, China’s President Xi Jinping sent his condolences to Turkish and Syrian leaders over the most powerful earthquake to have hit their countries in nearly a century.

Xi told Turkey’s Erdogan and Syria’s Assad in separate messages that he was “shocked” to learn of the disaster.

He also conveyed “deep condolences for the dead and sincere sympathy for their families as well as for the injured.”

“I am shocked to learn of the strong earthquake that took place in your countries, causing heavy casualties and loss of property,” Xi said in his messages, according to CCTV.

China’s official foreign aid agency said it was in communication with Turkish and Syrian authorities and “willing to provide emergency humanitarian aid in accordance with the needs of the affected population.”

People search for survivors under the rubble following the earthquake in Diyarbakir, Turkey, on February 6, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

EU mobilizes over 10 search and rescue teams to Turkey

The European Union says more than 10 search and rescue teams from the bloc have been mobilized in the wake of Turkey’s major earthquake.

“Urban Search and Rescue teams have been quickly mobilized from Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania to support the first responders on the ground,” the European Commission said in a statement.

Italy, Spain and Slovakia have offered their rescue teams to Turkey as well.


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‘Empire of Lies’: Lavrov Says World Increasingly Certain No One Immune to West’s Banditry

February 3, 2023

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Countries are increasingly convinced that no one is immune to the West’s banditry and expropriation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a meeting of the United Russia Party commission on international cooperation and support for compatriots abroad.

“As for the West, President [Vladimir] Putin has aptly called it an ’empire of lies.’ The West, and this is confirmed by our contacts, has not been perceived globally as the beacon of democracy for a while now. The US and its NATO satellites have completely undermined their reputation as reliable international partners that are capable of coming to an agreement. The understanding that literally no one is immune from expropriation and from state banditry on the part of the former colonial powers is becoming ever stronger in the world,” the minister said.

Lavrov said Russia and some other states, whose numbers are growing, are consistently reducing their dependence on the greenback. “We are working together with like-minded people to transfer international settlements into national currencies, and create alternative payment and logistics systems so as not to depend on the whims and dictates of the country that has declared itself a hegemon. In general, we are working towards establishing a fairer global monetary, financial, trade and economic architecture, which objectively contributes to the fight against new manifestations of neocolonialism,” he said.

Source: Agencies

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‘Doomsday clock’: 90 seconds to midnight

Thursday, 26 January 2023 11:08 AM  [ Last Update: Thursday, 26 January 2023 11:17 AM ]

By Pepe Escobar

The Doomsday Clock, set by the US-based magazine Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, has been moved to 90 seconds to midnight.  

That’s the closest ever to total nuclear doom, the global catastrophe.

The Clock had been set at 100 seconds since 2020. The Bulletin’s Science and Security Board and a group of sponsors – which includes 10 Nobel laureates – have focused on “Russia’s war on Ukraine” (their terminology) as the main reason.

Yet they did not bother to explain non-stop American rhetoric (the US is the only nation that adopts “first strike” in a nuclear confrontation) and the fact that this is a US proxy war against Russia with Ukraine used as cannon fodder.

The Bulletin also attributes malignant designs to China, Iran and North Korea, while mentioning, only in passing, that “the last remaining nuclear weapons treaty between Russia and the United States, New START, stands in jeopardy”.

“Unless the two parties resume negotiations and find a basis for further reductions, the treaty will expire in February 2026.”

As it stands, the prospects of a US-Russia negotiation on New START are less than zero.

Now cue to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov making it very clear that war against Russia is not hybrid anymore, it’s “almost” real.

“Almost” in fact means “90 seconds.”

So why is this all happening?

The Mother of All Intel Failures

Former British diplomat Alastair Crooke has concisely explained how Russian resilience – much in the spirit of Iranian resilience past four decades – completely smashed the assumptions of Anglo-American intelligence.

Talk about the Mother of All Intel Failures – in fact even more astonishing than the non-existent Iraqi WMDs (in the run-up to Shock and Awe in 2003, anyone with a brain knew Baghdad had discontinued its weapons program already in the 1990s.) 

Now the collective West “committed the entire weight of its financial resources to crushing Russia (…) in every conceivable way – via financial, cultural and psychological war, and with real military war as the follow-through.”

And yet Russia held its ground. And now reality-based developments prevail over fiction. The Global South “is peeling away into a separate economic model, no longer dependent on the dollar for its trading needs.”

And the accelerated collapse of the US dollar increasingly plunges the Empire into a real existential crisis.

All that hangs over a South Vietnam scenario evolving in Ukraine after a rash government-led political and military purge. The coke comedian – whose only role is to beg non-stop for bags of cash and loads of weapons – is being progressively sidelined by the Americans (beware of traveling CIA directors). 

The game in Kiev, according to Russian sources, seems to be that the Americans are taking over the Brits as handlers of the whole operation.

The coke comedian remains – for now – as a sock puppet while military control over what is left of Ukraine is entirely NATO’s.

Well, it already was – but now, formally, Ukraine is the world’s first de facto NATO member without being an actual member, enjoying less than zero national sovereignty, and complete with NATO-Nazi Storm troopers weaponized with American and German tanks in the name of “democracy”.

The meeting last week of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group – totally controlled by the US – at the US Air Force base in Ramstein solidified a sort of tawdry remix of Operation Barbarossa.

Here we go again, with German Panzers sent to Ukraine to fight Russia.

Yet the tank coalition seems to have tanked even before it starts.  Germany will send 14, Portugal 2, Belgium 0 (sorry, don’t have them). Then there’s Lithuania, whose Defense Minister observed, “Yes, we don’t have tanks, but we have an opinion about tanks.”

No one ever accused German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of being brighter than a light bulb. She finally gave the game away,  at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg:

“The crucial part is that we do it together and that we do not do the blame game in Europe because we are fighting a war against Russia.”

So Baerbock agrees with Lavrov. Just don’t ask her what Doomsday Clock means. Or what happened after Operation Barbarossa failed. 

The NATO-EU “garden”

The EU-NATO combo takes matters to a whole new level. The EU essentially has been reduced to the status of P.R. arm of NATO.

It’s all spelled out in their January 10 joint declaration.

The NATO-EU joint mission consists in using all economic, political and military means to make sure the “jungle” always behaves according to the “rules-based international order” and accepts to be plundered ad infinitum by the “blooming garden”.

Looking at The Big Picture, absolutely nothing changed in the US military/intel apparatus since 9/11: it’s a bipartisan thing, and it means Full Spectrum Dominance of both the US and NATO. No dissent whatsoever is allowed. And no thinking outside the box.

Plan A is subdivided into two sections.

1. Military intervention in a hollowed-out proxy state shell (see Afghanistan and Ukraine).

2. Inevitable, humiliating military defeat (see Afghanistan and soon Ukraine). Variations include building a wasteland and calling it “peace” (Libya) and extended proxy war leading to future humiliating expulsion (Syria).

There’s no Plan B.

Or is there? 90 seconds to midnight?

Obsessed by Mackinder, the Empire fought for control of the Eurasian landmass in World War I and World War II because that represented control of the world.

Later, Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski had warned: “Potentially the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition between Russia, China and Iran.”

Jump cut to the Raging Twenties when the US forced the end of Russian natural gas exports to Germany (and the EU) via Nord Stream 1 and 2.

Once again, Mackinderian opposition to a grand alliance on the Eurasian landmass consisting of Germany, Russia and China.

The Straussian neo-con and neoliberal-con psychos in charge of US foreign policy could even absorb a strategic alliance between Russia and China – as painful as it may be. But never Russia, China and Germany.   

With the collapse of the JCPOA, Iran is now being re-targeted with maximum hostility. Yet were Tehran to play hardball, the US Navy or military could never keep the Strait of Hormuz open – by the admission of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Oil price in this case would rise to possibly thousands of dollars a barrel according to Goldman Sachs oil derivative experts – and that would crash the entire world economy.

This is arguably the foremost NATO Achilles Heel. Almost without firing a shot a Russia-Iran alliance could smash NATO to bits and bring down assorted EU governments as socio-economic chaos runs rampant across the collective West. 

Meanwhile, to quote Dylan, darkness keeps dawning at the break of noon. Straussian neo-con and neoliberal-con psychos will keep pushing the Doomsday Clock closer and closer to midnight.   

Pepe Escobar is a Eurasia-wide geopolitical analyst and author. His latest book is Raging Twenties.

(The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV)


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Lavrov: US seeking to make conflict in Ukraine even more violent

December 27, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Russia’s foreign minister highlighted that Ukraine is fully aware of Russia’s demands and could simply meet them.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Source: AP.

The US and NATO are attempting to defeat Russia on the battlefield in order to destroy the country, Russia’s Foreign Minister said.

Sergei Lavrov made the remark late Monday, according to the ITAR-TASS news agency, adding that Ukraine is fully aware of Russia’s demands and could simply meet them to end the war.

“Our proposals for the demilitarization and denazification of the territories controlled by the [Kiev] regime, [and] the elimination of threats to Russia’s security emanating from there, including our new lands, are well-known to the enemy,” Lavrov said, adding, “The point is simple: Fulfill them for your own good. Otherwise, the issue will be decided by the Russian army.”

According to him, the main party that benefited from this conflict is the US, which has been seeking to make the most out of the war in Ukraine. 

“Washington has also been solving a key geopolitical goal of breaking the traditional bonds between Russia and Europe and making their European satellites even more dependent on them,” Lavrov emphasized, further adding that the US is currently planning orders for its defense sector for years to come.

“The Kiev regime is being pumped up with the latest weapons, receiving samples that have yet to enter into service with Western armies, seemingly in order to see how they will perform in combat,” he concluded.

Moscow said it started the war to protect the pro-Russian population in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Lugansk and Donetsk from Kiev’s persecution, as well as to “de-Nazify” its neighbor.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently warned in an article that Moscow would continue the war until Kiev’s “disgusting, almost fascist regime” was removed and the country was completely demilitarized.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that Moscow was open to talks and blamed the lack of talks on Kiev and its Western backers.

Lavrov likewise affirmed in his remarks that when it comes to how long the conflict would last, “the ball is in the regime’s court and Washington behind it.”

Read next: What’s in the 9th package of EU sanctions against Russia?

Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has stated that he is not optimistic about the possibility of “effective” peace talks between Ukraine and Russia in the near future. 

”I do believe that the military confrontation will go on,” said Guterres at the UN Headquarters in New York. Adding that they will have to wait for serious peace negotiations, Guterres said “We have no illusions that true peace negotiations will be possible in the immediate future.”

The UN, according to its SG, said that it is concentrating its efforts on Russian ammonia exports through a pipeline to a Black Sea port in Ukraine and accelerating exchanging prisoners of war. 

Turkish media outlet Anadolu Agency asked Guterres whether he would support an Erdogan-proposed trilateral mechanism between Ankara, Moscow, and Damascus in efforts to resolve the war. In response, Guterres said that the UN was not consulted and it is “premature” to make any comments on the proposal.

The UN’s main concern, for the time being, was Syria, particularly renewing its cross-border humanitarian aid mechanism. ”Now that we have made progress (on) indeed, and Turkey has played a positive role on that in increasing the cross-line support,” he said.

Read next: Lavrov anticipates demise of Western economic dominance

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Sergey Lavrov Interview for Film on Extremism in Europe – November 2022 – English Subtitles

November 28, 2022

Note from Michael Rossi Poli Sci who subtitled that video:

Dear Patreon Supporters,

First off, thank you once again for your pledged support and votes of confidence on my work.

Unfortunately, YouTube decided to remove the latest video I uploaded today (Sunday November 27) of Sergey Lavrov giving an interview on political extremism in Europe AS “hate speech”. How they came to that conclusion is beyond me, but I suppose it had to do with the video title having the word “extremism” in it, and “nazism” in the description.

Either way, YouTube removed the video and I have received my first Community Guideline strike, preventing me from upload, commenting, or interacting in any way on my channel for a week. I have appealed the strike, but I don’t know when I will hear back.

In the meantime, I have uploaded the video here and made it publicly accessible. Please feel free to share with those whom you think would benefit from it. For the next week, you’re my “ambassadors” of sorts 🙂

I hope to get this straightened out ASAP, because YouTube offers no prior warning or review of content before something gets flagged, and videos with direct “hate speech” get published all the time.

I may start moving more of the translated videos over here and making it Patrons Only.

Best wishes,

Mike Rossi

Apparently, YT reversed its decision.  Still, PLEASE SUPPORT MIKE ROSSI ON PATREON: https://www.patreon.com/MichaelRossiPoliSci

The G20’s Balinese geopolitical dance

FRIDAY, NOV 18, 2022 

BY TYLER DURDEN

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

Xi has few reasons to take Biden – rather, the group writing every script in the background – at face value…

Balinese culture, a perpetual exercise in sophisticated subtlety, makes no distinction between the secular and the supernatural – sekala and niskala.

Sekala is what our senses may discern. As in the ritualized gestures of world leaders – real and minor – at a highly polarized G20.

Niskala is what cannot be sensed directly and can only be “suggested”. And that also applies to geopolitics.

The Balinese highlight may have featured an intersection of sekala and niskala: the much ballyhooed Xi-Biden face-to-face (or face to earpiece).

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs preferred to cut to the chase, selecting the Top Two highlights.

1. Xi told Biden – rather, his earpiece – that Taiwan independence is simply out of the question.

2. Xi also hopes that NATO, EU and US will engage in “comprehensive dialogue” with Moscow.

Asian cultures – be they Balinese or Confucianist – are non-confrontational. Xi laid out three layers of common interests: prevent conflict and confrontation, leading to peaceful coexistence; benefit from each other’s development; and promote post-COVID global recovery, tackle climate change and face regional problems via coordination.

Significantly, the 3h30 meeting happened at the Chinese delegation’s residence in Bali, and not at the G20 venue. And it was requested by the White House.

Biden, according to the Chinese, affirmed that the US does not seek a New Cold War; does not support “Taiwan independence”; does not support “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”; does not seek “decoupling” from China; and does not want to contain China.

Now tell that to the Straussians/neo-cons/neoliberalcons bent on containing China. Reality spells out that Xi has few reasons to take “Biden” – rather the combo writing every script in the background – at face value. So as it stands, we remain in niskala.

That zero-sum game

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was dealt a terrible hand: how to hold a G20 to discuss food and energy security, sustainable development, and climate issues, when everything under the sun is polarized by the war in Ukraine.

Widodo did his best, urging all at the G20 to “end the war”, with a subtle hint that “being responsible means creating not zero-sum situations.”

The problem is a great deal of the G20 arrived in Bali bent on zero-sum – seeking confrontation (with Russia) and hardly any diplomatic conversation.

The US and UK delegations avowedly wanted to snub Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov every step of the way. France and Germany is a different matter: Lavrov did speak briefly with both Macron and Scholz. And told them Kiev wants no negotiation.

Lavrov also revealed something quite significant for the Global South:

“US and the EU have given the UN Secretary General written promises that restrictions on the export of Russian grain and fertilizers will be lifted – let’s see how this is implemented.”

The traditional group photo ahead of the G20 – a staple of every summit in Asia – had to be delayed. Because – who else – “Biden” and Sunak, US and UK, refused to be in the same picture with Lavrov.

Such childish, un-diplomatic hysterics is profoundly disrespectful towards ritual Balinese graciousness, politeness and a non-confrontational ethos.

The Western spin is that “most G20 countries” wanted to condemn Russia in Ukraine. Nonsense. Diplomatic sources hinted it may be in fact a 50/50 split. Condemnation comes from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, UK, US and EU. Non-condemnation from Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkiye and of course Russia.

Graphically: Global South against Global North.

So the joint statement will refer to the impacts of the “war in Ukraine” on the global economy, and not “Russia’s war in Ukraine”.

The collapse of the EU economy

What was not happening in Bali enveloped the island in an extra layer of niskala. Which brings us to Ankara.

The fog thickened because on the backdrop of the G20, the US and Russia were talking in Ankara, represented by CIA director William Burns and SVR (Foreign Intel) director Sergei Naryshkin.

No one knows what exactly was being negotiated. A ceasefire is only one among possible scenarios. And yet heated rhetoric from NATO in Brussels to Kiev suggests escalation prevailing over some sort of reconciliation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was adamant; de facto and de jure, Ukraine can’t and does not want to negotiate. So the Special Military Operation (SMO) will continue.

NATO is training fresh units. Next possible targets are the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and the left bank of the Dnieper – or even more pressure in the north of Lugansk. For their part, Russian military channels advance the possibility of a winter offensive on Nikolaev: only 30 km away from Russian positions.

Serious Russian military analysts know what serious Pentagon analysts must also know: Russia used at best only 10% of its military potential so far. No regular forces; most of them are DPR and LPR militias, Wagner commandos, Kadyrov’s Chechens and volunteers.

The Americans suddenly interested in talking, and Macron and Scholz approaching Lavrov, point to the heart of the matter: the EU and the UK may not survive next winter, 2023-2024, without Gazprom.

The IEA has calculated that the overall deficit by then will approach 30 billion cubic meters. And that presupposes “ideal” circumstances this coming winter: mostly warm; China still under lockdowns; much lower gas consumption in Europe; even increased production (from Norway?)

The IEA ‘s models are working with two or three waves of price increases in the next 12 months. EU budgets are already on red alert – compensating the losses caused by the current energy suicide. By the end of 2023, that may reach 1 trillion euros.

Any additional, unpredictable costs throughout 2023 mean that the EU economy will completely collapse: industry shutdown across the spectrum, euro in free fall, rise of inflation, debt corroding every latitude from the Club Med nations to France and Germany.

Dominatrix Ursula von der Leyen, leading the European Commission (EC), of course should be discussing all that – in the interests of EU nations – with global players in Bali. Instead her only agenda, once again, was demonization of Russia. No niskala here; just tawdry cognitive dissonance.

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Russia, India, China, Iran: the Quad that really matters

Tuesday, 15 November 2022 3:55 PM 

By Pepe Escobar

Southeast Asia is right at the center of international relations for a whole week viz a viz three consecutive summits: Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Phnom Penh, the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in Bali, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok.  

Eighteen nations accounting for roughly half of the global economy represented at the first in-person ASEAN summit since the Covid-19 pandemic in Cambodia: the ASEAN 10, Japan, South Korea, China, India, US, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand. 

With characteristic Asian politeness, the summit chair, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (or “Colombian”, according to the so-called “leader of the free world”), said the plenary meeting was somewhat heated, but the atmosphere was not tense: “Leaders talked in a mature way, no one left.”

It was up to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to express what was really significant at the end of the summit.

While praising the “inclusive, open, equal structure of security and cooperation at ASEAN”, Lavrov stressed how Europe and NATO “want to militarize the region in order to contain Russia and China’s interests in the Indo-Pacific.”

A manifestation of this policy is how “AUKUS is openly aiming at confrontation in the South China Sea,” he said.

Lavrov also stressed how the West, via the NATO military alliance, is accepting ASEAN “only nominally” while promoting a completely “unclear” agenda. 

What’s clear though is how NATO “has moved towards Russian borders several times and now declared at the Madrid summit that they have taken global responsibility.”

This leads us to the clincher: “NATO is moving their line of defense to the South China Sea.” And, Lavrov added, Beijing holds the same assessment.

Here, concisely, is the open “secret” of our current geopolitical incandescence. Washington’s number one priority is the containment of China. That implies blocking the EU from getting closer to the key Eurasia drivers  – China, Russia, and Iran – engaged in building the world’s largest free trade/connectivity environment.

Adding to the decades-long hybrid war against Iran, the infinite weaponizing of the Ukrainian black hole fits into the initial stages of the battle.

For the Empire, Iran cannot profit from becoming a provider of cheap, quality energy to the EU. And in parallel, Russia must be cut off from the EU. The next step is to force the EU to cut itself off from China.

All that fits into the wildest, warped Straussian/neo-con wet dreams: to attack China, by emboldening Taiwan, first Russia must be weakened, via the instrumentalization (and destruction) of Ukraine.

And all along the scenario, Europe simply has no agency.     

Putin, Raeisi and the Erdogan track

Real life across key Eurasia nodes reveals a completely different picture. Take the relaxed get-together in Tehran between Russia’s top security official Nikolai Patrushev and his Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani last week.

They discussed not only security matters but also serious business – as in turbo-charged trade.

The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) will sign a $40 billion deal next month with Gazprom, bypassing US sanctions, and encompassing the development of two gas fields and six oilfields, swaps in natural gas and oil products, LNG projects, and the construction of gas pipelines.

Immediately after the Patrushev-Shamkhani meeting, President Putin called President Ebrahim Raeisi to keep up the “interaction in politics, trade and the economy, including transport and logistics,” according to the Kremlin.

Iranian president reportedly more than “welcomed” the “strengthening” of Moscow-Tehran ties.

Patrushev unequivocally supported Tehran over the latest color revolution adventure perpetrated under the framework of the Empire’s endless hybrid war.

Iran and the EAEU are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in parallel to the swap deals with Russian oil. Soon, SWIFT may be completely bypassed. The whole Global South is watching.

Simultaneous to Putin’s phone call, Turkiye’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan – conducting his own diplomatic overdrive, and just back from a summit of Turkic nations in Samarkand – stressed that the US and the collective West are attacking Russia “almost without limits”. 

Erdogan made it clear that Russia is a “powerful” state and commended its “great resistance”.

The response came exactly 24 hours later. Turkish intelligence cut to the chase, pointing out that the terrorist bombing in the perpetually busy Istiklal pedestrian street in Istanbul was designed in Kobane in northern Syria, which essentially responds to the US.

That constitutes a de-facto act of war and may unleash serious consequences, including a profound revision of Turkiye’s presence inside NATO.

Iran’s multi-track strategy

A Russia-Iran strategic alliance manifests itself practically as a historical inevitability. It recalls the time when the erstwhile USSR helped Iran militarily via North Korea, after an enforced US/Europe blockade.

Putin and Raeisi are taking it to the next level. Moscow and Tehran are developing a joint strategy to defeat the weaponization of sanctions by the collective West.

Iran, after all, has an absolutely stellar record of smashing variants of “maximum pressure” to bits. Also, it is now linked to a strategic nuclear umbrella offered by the “RICs” in BRICS (Russia, India, China).

So, Tehran may now plan to develop its massive economic potential within the framework of BRI, SCO, INSTC, the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), and the Russian-led Greater Eurasia Partnership.

Moscow’s game is pure sophistication: engaging in a high-level strategic oil alliance with Saudi Arabia while deepening its strategic partnership with Iran.

Immediately after Patrushev’s visit, Tehran announced the development of an indigenously built hypersonic ballistic missile, quite similar to the Russian KH-47 M2 Khinzal.

And the other significant news was connectivity-wise: the completion of part of a railway from strategic Chabahar Port to the border with Turkmenistan. That means imminent direct rail connectivity to the Central Asian, Russian and Chinese spheres. 

Add to it the predominant role of OPEC+, the development of BRICS+, and the pan-Eurasian drive to pricing trade, insurance, security, investments in the ruble, yuan, rial, etc.

There’s also the fact that Tehran could not care less about the endless collective West procrastination on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as Iran nuclear deal: what really matters now is the deepening relationship with the “RICs” in BRICS. 

Tehran refused to sign a tampered-with EU draft nuclear deal in Vienna. Brussels was enraged; no Iranian oil will “save” Europe, replacing Russian oil under a nonsensical cap to be imposed next month.

And Washington was enraged because it was betting on internal tensions to split OPEC.  

Considering all of the above, no wonder US ‘Think Tankland’ is behaving like a bunch of headless chickens.  

The queue to join BRICS

During the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand last September, it was already tacit to all players how the Empire is cannibalizing its closest allies.

And how, simultaneously, the shrinking NATO-sphere is turning inwards, with a focus on The Enemy Within, relentlessly corralling average citizens to march in lockstep behind total compliance with a two-pronged war – hybrid and otherwise – against imperial peer competitors Russia and China.

Now compare it with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Samarkand presenting China and Russia, together, as the top “responsible global powers” bent on securing the emergence of multipolarity.

Samarkand also reaffirmed the strategic political partnership between Russia and India (Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it an unbreakable friendship).

That was corroborated by the meeting between Lavrov and his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar last week in Moscow.

Lavrov praised the strategic partnership in every crucial area – politics, trade and economics, investment, and technology, as well as “closely coordinated actions” at the UN Security Council, BRICS, SCO and the G20.

On BRICS, crucially, Lavrov confirmed that “over a dozen countries” are lining up for membership, including Iran: “We expect the work on coordinating the criteria and principles that should underlie BRICS expansion to not take much time”.

But first, the five members need to analyze the ground-breaking repercussions of an expanded BRICS+. 

Once again: contrast. What is the EU’s “response” to these developments? Coming up with yet another sanctions package against Iran, targeting officials and entities “connected with security affairs” as well as companies, for their alleged “violence and repressions”.

“Diplomacy”, collective West-style, barely registers as bullying.

Back to the real economy – as in the gas front – the national interests of Russia, Iran and Turkiye are increasingly intertwined; and that is bound to influence developments in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, and will be a key factor to facilitate Erdogan’s re-election next year.

As it stands, Riyadh for all practical purposes has performed a stunning 180-degree maneuver against Washington via OPEC+. That may signify, even in a twisted way, the onset of a process of unification of Arab interests, guided by Moscow.

Stranger things have happened in modern history. Now appears to be the time for the Arab world to be finally ready to join the Quad that really matters: Russia, India, China, and Iran.

(The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

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Reflections on the Coup in Ukraine – 2014-2022

October 25, 2022

Part I

Victor Yanukovich was elected President of the Ukraine in 2010 narrowly defeating Yulia Timoshenko with 49% of votes cast to Timoshenko’s 45%. The Ukrainian Presidential term of office lasts for five years. Yanukovich’s party, the Party of the Regions, together with its coalition partner, the Communist party of the Ukraine, also had a majority in the Ukrainian Parliament, with Mykola Azarov as Prime Minister. The membership of the European Union was one of the more salient issues during this time and was the trigger for subsequent upheavals.

Negotiations for Ukraine’s initial stage of eventual membership of the EU – the Association Agreement – had been dragging on since 2011, with both Yanukovich and Azarov favorably disposed, although the communist coalition partners were not.

This did not go down at all well in Moscow and Azarov tried to assuage Russian misgivings by urging Russia “to accept the reality of Ukraine signing the EU agreement”. The commitment of Yanukovich was eventually to be tested to destruction since he was being pulled in two directions: by Russia on the one hand, and the EU on the other. For their part the Russians offered the Ukraine a $15 billion loan, a discount on gas prices, and membership of the customs union of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. But the EU was having none of it: President of the Euro-pean Commission José Manuel Barroso stated that the EU will not tolerate “a veto of a third country” (Russia) in their negotiations on closer integration with Ukraine. Thus, Yanukovich was forced into a choice which would be certain to alienate and anger one of the powerful interested partners on his borders.

Negotiations dragged on into 2013. Yanukovich was invited to sign the Association Agreement, but there were a number of conditions. The most significant of these were those concerning an IMF loan. The conditions were very much in the tradition of IMF Structural Adjustment Programmes (the scourge of the developing world). This was enough to scupper the EU deal. Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov stating that ‘’the issue that blocked the signature of the EU deal were the conditions proposed by the IMF loan being negotiated at the same time as the Association Agreement, which would require large budget cuts and a 40% increase in gas bills. This, for a country already verging on bankruptcy. In store for the Ukraine was the usual neo-liberal IMF austerity package, deregulation, privatization, and liberalization. The Greek treatment. Yanukovich took the Russian offer instead.

This seemed like a normal business decision, but it was not perceived as such in the western Ukraine backed by the EU and US. The whole episode then kicked-off.

The battle in Kiev and the Interim Government

Immediately this became known as the mass protest in Kiev and the west was on the world’s TV screens, with demonstrators waving Ukrainian and EU flags (where they got all these EU flags is a mystery to this day). This seemed to be a mass popular protest and the demonstrators were to set up camps in Independence Square, but the carnival atmosphere was not to last.

Ultra-nationalist groups (inveterate fascists, in the shape of Right Sector and Svoboda and even more exotic neo-nazi grouplets) began to appear among the generally moderate majority and battles with the Berkut (riot police) began on a daily basis which the opposition forces finally won. A victory for democracy and ‘people’s power’ as stated in the Guardian editorial? Not quite. For nobody should be in any doubt about the political complexion of these ultra-nationalist groups who went on to hold six portfolios in the new government based in Kiev. Nor should anybody be in any doubt about both the overt and covert role played by both US and EU officials in the formation of the future interim ‘government’. Throughout this period the EU and high-ranking US officials were openly engaged in Ukraine’s internal affairs. The US Ambassador, Geoffrey Pyatt and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs – Victoria Nuland – were strolling around Independence square reassuring the protestors that America stood behind them. Also basking in the limelight were US NGOs such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Although in the case of NED it should be called a GO rather than an NGO since it was not officially funded by the US government. Also involved was Human Rights Watch (HRW); and of course, not forgetting the ineffable George Soros and the Open Society Foundation (OSF). US expenditure on this colour revolution amounted to some $5 billion. This was later made public at a talk given by Ms Nuland to the press club in Washington. These actions could never have taken place without being sanctioned at the highest level of the US government. Additionally, the EU representative – Catherine Ashton – a total nonentity and a complete airhead of the type which is the machine-produced by the British Labour party, carried out much the same function for the EU although at a more official level.

But other important things were taking shape in Ukraine itself.

The ultra-right Svoboda Party had scored six major cabinet ministries in the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk approved by the Ukrainian parliament on Thursday. Svoboda is the Neo-Nazi, ultra-right, anti-Semitic, Russophobic party with its base of support in the Western Ukraine, with links to the Front Nationale in France and the BNP in the UK … The most important post was claimed by a co-founder of Svoboda, Andriy Parubiy. He was named Secretary of the Security and National Defense Committee, which supervised the defense ministry and the armed forces. The Parubiy appointment to such an important post should, alone, be cause for international outrage. He led the masked Right Sector thugs who battled riot police in the Independence Maidan in Kiev.”

Dmitry Yarosh was Leader of Right Sector. The Ukraine’s own Ernst Roehm – one-time leader of German Brownshirt radicals – the (SA) Sturm Abteilung – Storm Troopers.

The Right Sector is an openly fascist, anti-Semitic and anti-Russian organization. Most of the snipers and bomb throwers in the crowds were connected with this group. Right Sector members have been participating in military training camps for the last two years or more in preparation for street activity of the kind witnessed in the Ukraine over the last events.

The Right Sector, as can be seen by the appointment of Parubiy, was now in a position to control major appointments to the provisional government and succeeded in achieving its long-term goal of legalizing discrimination against Russians. The new parliament has passed legislation that declared Russian speakers no longer have equal rights with Ukrainians.

He is also associated with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk’s Fatherland Party and Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector delegation in parliament, was named Parubiy deputy. These appointments of those openly fascist groups to positions of control over the armed forces are particularly alarming given the possibility of provocations against the Russian naval base in Sevastopol.

Oleksandr Sych, a Svoboda parliamentarian from Ivano-Frankivsk best known for his attempts to ban all abortions in Ukraine, including those resulting from rape, was named deputy prime minister for economic affairs. Svoboda was also rewarded with the Education Ministry under Serhiy Kvit, as well as the Ecology Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry under Andriy Makhnyk and Ihor Shvaiko, respectively. Earlier in the week Svoboda Member of Parliament Oleh Makhnitsky was named prosecutor-general of the Ukraine.

(I hope I got those names right – FL!)

Others with ultra-right associations with the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO) also received cabinet posts. Tatyana Chernovol was portrayed in the Western press as a crusading investigative journalist without reference to her past involvement in the anti-semitic UNSO, was named chair of the government’s anti-corruption committee. Dmytro Bulanov known for his alleged kidnapping by police, but also with UNA-UNSO connections, was appointed minister of youth and sports.

Yatsenyuk’s Fatherland Party, and figures close to it, obtained ten cabinet posts, including deputy prime minister for EU integration, interior, justice, energy, infrastructure, defense, culture, social issues, and a minister without portfolio. Yegor Sobolev, leader of a civic group in Independence Maidan and politically close to Yatsenyuk, was appointed chair of the Lustration Committee, which was charged with purging followers of President Yanukovich from government and public life.

In a society where oligarchs play such an important political and economic role it is unsurprising that Volodymyr Groysman, mayor of Vinnytsia and close associate of oligarch Petro Poroshenko – one time finance minister in Yanukovich’s government – was chosen as deputy prime minister for regional affairs. Groysman was also close to former President Viktor Yushchenko. The new finance minister, Oleksander Shlapak, is a representative of oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskiy, the second wealthiest man in the Ukraine.

“The remaining cabinet posts went to technocrats, a doctor who organized medical services for the Maidan protestors, and a retired police general.’’

(Global Research 02/03/2014)

The interim cabinet matches exactly the government Victoria Nuland recommended in her intercepted call with the U.S. ambassador in Kiev where she revealed the U.S. plan for a coup in Ukraine. Vitali Klitschko and his UDAR party were excluded, likely because of their close relationship with German chancellor Angela Merkel. Yatseniuk’s Fatherland Party received the majority of portfolios. And as Nuland demanded, so long as Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok did not receive a major cabinet post, Svoboda could receive several ministries.

­FALLOUT

After the assumption of power by the new regime in Kiev the former government parties, namely the Party of the Regions and the Communist Party were both banned in 10 of the western regions of the Ukraine. Additionally party offices were burned down and former members of Yanukovich’s coalition and supporters were intimidated, verbally and physically assaulted by supporters of the new regime.

Then came the bombshell, though not entirely unexpected – and now a virtual coup – to be formalized in the referendum 16th March. This regarding the Crimea’s secession from the Ukraine, an event which stoked up an international crisis with the big beasts getting involved in geopolitical positioning and a propaganda war.

One can only speculate about the consequences –national, regional, and international – of the events in Kiev and the future reaction to these events in the Eastern and southern Oblasts of the Ukraine: an arc stretching from Odessa, through Crimea, East to Mariupol, on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, and east and north up to Donetsk, Lugansk and the old Ukrainian capital of Kharkov. This is about half the country where most of the industry was situated, particularly in the Don Bass area. Will they, the staunch and solid electoral base for Yanukovich, be willing to be governed by the new regime in Kiev? Or will they follow the Crimean secession?

We shall wait and we shall see. Well, we did see. What happens next one wonders!?

Reflections on the Revolution in Ukraine 2014-2022

Part II

Francis Lee reports on the Crimean Referendum, the double-standards of western government & media reactions and the challenges facing the unelected Kiev regime

The ongoing crisis in the Ukraine has reached another point of (perhaps unexpected) development. It was obvious to most impartial observers that the parliament of the Crimea had staked its position very early – namely, that they were unwilling to accept the authority of the unelected Kiev regime. The first calls for a referendum came as early as February and March 2014. This seemed to chime with what the majority of Crimea’s population, mostly ethnic Russians, also seemed to think, and so it turned out. The arrival of Russian troops would probably not have made any difference to the eventual outcome, but just to make sure Putin sent his special forces to protect his military assets in Sevastopol. Under a prior arrangement with the Ukraine Russia held a 25-year lease on the Sevastopol naval base, for which it also paid a rental of US$500 million per annum. Moreover, the conditions of Russia’s leasehold also included the right to station up to 16,000.00 naval and military personnel in the Crimea.

Having said this, the results of the referendum – which did not come as any great surprise – was rather tarnished by the obvious presence of Russian soldiers at checkpoints, Simferopol airport, railway stations and other strategic locations. This caused the spokespersons for the western alliance – EUSA for short – to go into propaganda overdrive and drive its media sycophants into a state of near apoplexy. It was argued that the referendum was illegal since it violated the constitution of the Ukraine. However, whatever the legal position in the Crimea, the upholders of the Ukrainian constitution – the Kiev regime – were undoubtedly illegal, having come to power by mob violence, so that it was scarcely in a position to declare the Crimean referendum illegal. It has also been pointed out that the referendum in Kosovo resulted in a secession from the disintegrating state of Yugoslavia, took place in the presence of a foreign occupying force, as did the referendum in the Falkland Islands.

What the whole Ukrainian imbroglio was clearly demonstrating was the barefaced hypocrisy and double standards of the western media – including the soi-disant doyen of the liberal-left, the Guardian. No lie it seems is big enough as long as it serves the noble cause of the western alliance. Whether these neo-con foreign policies and neo-liberal economic policies are ‘noble’ remains something of a moot point, however.

UKRAINIAN DOMESTIC POLITICS

What next? The problems facing the Kiev regime are considerable. Firstly, there is the ongoing embarrassment of the neo-fascist element now entrenched in the government, and it’s all too ubiquitous presence on the streets, where Svoboda and Right Sector paramilitaries swagger around in Kiev as if they own the place, and in a certain sense they do. After all they spearheaded the revolution, notwithstanding the fact that they probably only represented a minority in the general protest movement. As has already been made clear they now hold six ministerial portfolios some in extremely sensitive areas. How far does the regime control these ultra-radicals?

It was all very reminiscent of Italy earlier in the 20th century and the emergence of the fasci (Blackshirts) under the leadership of Benito Mussolini which styled themselves as the united front against Bolshevism, and a little later in Germany in 1934, where the Nazi paramilitaries, the (SA)-Brownshirts under the command of the leader and notorious homosexual Ernst Roehm, were calling for a second revolution, which is exactly what Dmitry Yarosh, leader of Right Sector was also calling for. Moreover, he called for nationalization of selected industries – classic fascist economic policy – in the Ukraine and has gone on record that he will blow up the gas pipeline (sic!) from Russia to western Europe if Russia invades the Ukraine. This coming from a minister in a ‘government’ duly recognized by the west. Recent incidents have brought to light this acute PR problem for the new order not only for the head of the Kiev regime. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and also his western backers spilt the beans when one such incident is reported as follows:

“When state-owned Ukrainian TV broadcast celebrations of Russia’s annexation of Crimea on Moscow’s Red Square, a group of nationalist politicians cried betrayal. They burst into the office of the channel’s executive, accused him of being a Russian stooge, punched him and forced him to sign a resignation letter.

The assault, which prompted condemnation in the West presents an important test for Ukraine’s new pro-western government. … For Ihor Miroshnichenko, a lawmaker with the nationalist Svoboda party, those scenes of Russian domination were all too much. Moreover, the broadcast of Russian celebrations seemed to add insult to injury.

To vent his rage, he led a group of Svoboda colleagues in storming the office of the First National channel’s chief, Oleksandr Panteleymonov, used an insulting term used to describe Russians and punched him repeatedly, while an aide recorded the scene on video.

“His position is complicated by the fact that Svoboda, a vocal force in parliament that took part in the protests that ousted the pro-Russian government, received several key posts in the Cabinet – including prosecutor general, the very figure who will be in charge of investigating the TV station attack.’’

(Maria Danilova, Associated Press Kiev)

But they were the methods by which, whether by design or default, Yatsenyuk and his regime came to power. This is the problem with revolutions, they open a Pandora’s Box of unforeseen and unwelcome outcomes. And this particular incident is just one among many.

Of course Hitler had a short method of dealing with the SA paramilitaries: their leadership was wiped out by the SS during the infamous ‘’Night of the Long Knives’’ in June 1934 and the rank and file drafted into the army. Unfortunately for Yatsenyuk he doesn’t have an SS to do the requisite dirty work, even if he wanted.

The Upcoming election in May for the Ukrainian Parliament provided another litmus test for the Kiev regime. Given the fact that there has been a de facto ban on both the Communist Party and The Party of the Regions, Yanukovich’s party, in the western Ukraine, and a process of ratification to make the ban legal which is now before the Parliament, how fair and free is this forthcoming election likely to be? It would also be a good bet that parties favouring separatism in the past – the Progressive Socialist Party of the Ukraine, for example – or openly separatist parties, will wish to contest the election. Noises coming from Kiev would seem to suggest that this will not be allowed. Thus, the whole swathes of the Ukrainian electorate will be effectively disenfranchised.

This last point brings up yet another problem: what will happen in the Eastern Oblasts. There have al- ready been mass demonstrations in Kharkov and Donetsk for a Crimean style referendum, and this has led to a number of arrests including one Pavel Gubarov, a leading separatist from the Donetsk region and member of the Progressive Socialist Party of the Ukraine. He is now awaiting trial in Kiev. This fissure in Ukrainian politics is not likely to go away any time soon and could lead to open conflict.

THE UKRAINIAN ECONOMY

Turning to the economics, the regime in Kiev has further deep-going problems to deal with; problems which look frankly intractable. Namely, the country is effectively bankrupt. It is now being bounced into a fast-tracked membership of the EU by a non-elected government in the belief that EU membership is, for some obscure reason, thought to be the deus ex machina. In fact, EU membership could simply exacerbate the situation as has been the case in the peripheral regions of western Europe. We need to pose the question as to why, a predominantly, poor, agricultural country, with an industrial base which is basically technologically obsolescent, and which could not compete with the industries of western Europe, wishes to join, and open its markets to the EU. This would be the right royal road to under-development, as local industries would simply disappear, or be subject to take-over by foreign multinationals. The Ukraine would join a long list of East European states which now form a low-wage, outsourcing hinterland for western multinationals.

Additionally, since Ukraine will need considerable credits and loans, it can expect a man from the IMF to come knocking on the door and insisting that the country ‘reforms’ its economic and financial structures before Ukraine gets any cash. – for ‘reforms’ read the dreaded Structural Adjustment Programme: cuts in public expenditure, devalue the currency, privatize state assets, end subsidies, deregulate, open the economy to financial flows (‘hot money’’) lower wage costs … the usual and devastating neo-liberal package which we have seen operationalized from Chile, to Thailand, to Greece.

This destabilization process of Ukraine will not be easily reversed. If only the protest movement had waited until the democratic presidential elections in 2015, much of this might have been avoided. But outside forces wished to force the issue and had no time for such fuddy-duddy notions such as democratic elections. These geopolitical issues will be dealt with in the next bulletin.

Reflections on the Revolution in Ukraine

Part III

It’s the geopolitics stupid!

At an important meeting held in Paris to discuss the future of Ukraine, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Secretary Sergey Lavrov, were unable to find sufficient common ground to come to any firm decisions regarding the future of the country. Kerry rejected the legality of the referendum in the Crimea and, for his part, Lavrov, was firm in his stance on the dubious legality of the present regime in Kiev. It was always going to be tough for the two interlocutors to come to any productive outcomes in this diplomatic context.

Additionally, Lavrov insisted upon the virtual semi- detachment of Ukraine’s eastern oblasts which did not go down at all well in Kiev. The Russian plan was to essentially impose a political solution where Ukraine’s eastern and southern provinces have greater autonomy, the right to speak the Russian language and the ability to pursue much more independent policies from the central government. U.S. and Ukrainian officials say they worry such a formula could provide the Kremlin with a virtual veto over Kiev’s political system.

The plan was briefly outlined by Lavrov as follows:

“We are certain that Ukraine needs profound constitutional reform. In all, fairness, we can’t see any other way to ensure the stable development of Ukraine but to sign a federal agreement,” Mr. Lavrov said in an interview on Saturday (29/03/14) with Russian state media. “Some may know better and are, perhaps, capable of finding some magic spell to ensure living in a unitary state with people in the West, on the one hand, and the southeast, on the other.”

All of which illustrates the position of Ukraine as being on the geo-political fault-lines between the US and its EU allies and Russia. It seems that national sovereignty is now off the agenda for both sides as they jockey for position. It would now appear that the Ukraine which was, is no more, partition and separation are beginning to look inevitable. Had the Presidential elections in Ukraine taken place as they were scheduled, and which Yanukovich would probably have lost, the story might have been very different. Unfortunately, there were outside forces who had little patience with Presidential elections and were more interested in regime change.

Which brings me to one Ms. Victoria Jane ‘f**k the EU’ Nuland (born 1961) the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State. She who along with US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt were strolling around among the crowds at the Maidan offering cookies, doughnuts, as well as encouraging and comforting words. As I said at the time, this could have only taken place with clearance from the White House.

Why do I see fit to mention her and why is she of any importance? Well for one she was engaged in determining the personnel of the interim Ukrainian administration. In a bugged telephone conversation with Pyatt, Nuland argued that boxing champion Klitschko of the Udar (Punch in English) party was not to be included in any forthcoming administration but that the Deputy (and acting) leader of the Fatherland Party, Yatsenyuk (Timoshenko’s party) should be included. Apart from this faux pas there was the admission whereby Ms. Nuland that the US has invested $5 Billion in The development of Ukrainian, ‘Democratic Institutions’.

But perhaps most importantly is the fact that Ms Nuland is the wife of one Robert Kagan. Mr Kagan is an American historian and is important in as much as he was one of the co-founders of The Project for the New American Century, (PNAC) an international relations think-tank based in Washington DC, established in 1997 together with arch US foreign policy hawks, Richard Perle and William Kristol. Their stated goal was to ‘promote American global leader- ship’. Their position that ‘American leadership was both good for America and good for the world’ and that this should be vigorously asserted as a main plank of US foreign policy. Kagan himself was to state that ‘the US is an empire and should be an empire.’ The position of these neo-conservatives, or neo-cons as they became known, was frankly comparable to jihadist ambitions to reshape the world to conform to Sharia law. The neo-cons wanted to shape the world to the American way, which is presumably good in the sight of God. If this took regime change, then so be it. Nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of the great crusade.

If these people had merely been some eccentric fringe group – of which there are many on the other side of the pond – it would not have much mattered. But it becomes clear that with its members in many key administrative positions in the department of State, that the PNAC has exerted influence on high level government officials in the administration of both Bush and Obama. This fact notwithstanding its organization was much reduced by 2006. The worldview had by now become embedded in American strategic thinking. The Westphalian doctrine that no state shall attack another state unless the other state directly threatened its interests, was now considered passé, and regime change, as we have seen in Iraq, Libya and possibly Syria, is now regarded as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy. As Guardian columnist George Monbiot was to write, ‘’to pretend that this battle begins and ends in Iraq requires a willful denial of the context in which it occurs. That context is a blunt attempt by a super-power to reshape the world to suit itself. (The Guardian 11 March 2003)

The collapse of communism in the Soviet Union in 1990/91 and the touted ending of the Cold War, saw the imposition of a virtual Treaty of Versailles on Russia under the puppet dictator and buffoon, Boris Yeltsin. Russia, like Germany in 1919, was to be kept down, humiliated, and have its nose rubbed into its new status at every opportunity. Moreover, its economy was almost destroyed by the economic shock therapy imposed by the IMF/World Bank, under the tutelage of one Jeffrey Sachs. The various ex-Warsaw Pact states – Poland, Hungary, DDR, the Baltics, Czech Republic – were drawn into the EU and then NATO. NATO itself was expanded rather than wound down.

This was an interesting development since the EU’s foreign policy orientation underwent a profound change (its economic policies had already changed – for the worse). Initially the EU was supposed to be a third force standing between American capitalism, and Soviet communism. This at least is how De Gaulle saw it: non-aligned with an independent foreign policy akin perhaps to Yugoslavia under Tito. Additionally, the policy outlined by Jacques Delors was one of managed capitalism of the Germany sozialemark- twirtschaft variety and French etatisme seemed more attractive than the deregulated, financialized systems of the US and UK.

As things unfolded, however, the Delors’ model was discarded, and a neo-liberal regime foisted upon European regardless. The drive to the east meant that EU widening prevented the type of EU deepening that De Gaulle and Delors had had in mind. But now foreign policy was also to become Americanized. The UK, of course had always been incorrigibly Atlanticist, but it would have been safe to assume that continental powers – particularly France – would be less so. After denouncing the Iraq War – along with Russia and Germany – France now (under a socialist government!) was actually front-running US imperialism (let’s call it what it is) and taking the initiative in regime change operations in Libya, Mali and almost Syria.

Thus, we now have a situation whereby the EU has effectively become the spearhead of US operations of subversion and regime change (in the name of enlargement) in driving east into Europe right up to the Russian frontier. In the case of Romania US missiles have already been installed, and the plan is for a broader deployment throughout Europe. Europe apparently has a neo-con foreign policy to complement its neo-liberal economic policy.

“… it is not only Great Britain that is Atlanticist. The continental European states are no less so, despite their seeming intention to construct a political Europe. Proof of this is given by the central position of NATO in this political construction. For some European countries (the ex-COMECON states) NATO’s protection, that is that of the US, against their ‘’Russian enemy’’ is more important than their adhesion to the European Union.’’

(The Implosion of Capitalism – Samir Amin – p.203)

And so, the great game continues. One of the principal things to emerge from this has been the absolute spinelessness of European leaders and their willingness to do the US’s dirty work. One wonders whether this EU is any longer worth belonging to – the Ukrainian imbroglio has been a great game-changer in this respect.

Russia to discuss Ukraine ‘dirty bomb’ preparation in UNSC

October 25 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Russia will be raising the issue of Ukraine’s suspected bid to use a dirty bomb on its own soil at the United Nations Security Council.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov holds a news conference on the sidelines of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Ukraine’s preparation of a “dirty” bomb, which Moscow says Kiev is planning to use against Ukrainian civilians to blame the Kremlin, will be discussed in the coming days at the upcoming United Nations Security Council meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

According to credible sources cited on Sunday by Russian news agency Sputnik, Kiev is preparing to use the “dirty bomb” in Ukraine to blame Russia for using nuclear weapons.

Per the sources, Kiev is planning on carrying out provocations on its own land using what is called the “dirty bomb” or a low-power nuclear weapon, with the aim of accusing Moscow of using weapons of mass destruction, which would lead to a smear campaign against Moscow. 

With Western command, the sources said, Kiev has started the practical application, the final stage, as a refinery in Dnepropetrovsk and the Kiev Institute for Nuclear Research are working on assembling the weapon. 

“Regarding our information and the information that we have received, which is quite reliable, that provocations using a nuclear bomb will be planned in Ukraine – detailed information indicating those institutions has been passed through the minister of defense in contact with his colleagues from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Turkey,” the Russian Foreign Minister said.

“There are more contacts planned through our military departments. I can also say that this issue will also be discussed today or tomorrow in the Security Council,” Lavrov added on the sidelines of the 19th session of the Valdai Discussion Club.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Sunday expressed his concerns about Ukraine’s provocations with his French, British, and Turkish counterparts, saying that Kiev might resort to using a so-called dirty bomb, a conventional bomb that contains radioactive material.

Sources familiar with the matter said Kiev was planning on carrying out provocations on its own land using what is called the “dirty bomb”, with the aim being to accuse Russia of using weapons of mass destruction, which would lead to a smear campaign against Moscow. 

“The baseless denials by our Western colleagues that this is all fiction and that Russia itself is planning to do something like this in order to then blame the Zelensky regime is not serious talk,” Lavrov underlined.

Konstantin Vorontsov, Deputy Director at the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Arms Nonproliferation and Control, previously confirmed that Russia did not and does not threaten Kiev with using nuclear arms, while Lavrov highlighted that Ukraine was generating risks tied to using nuclear weapons of mass destruction which is clear from Zelensky’s use of “nuclear first strike” indicating NATO’s hit against Russia. 

“Some of our interlocutors did offer to discuss the information we have on a professional, military level. This is an approach that we supported,” Lavrov added.

Zelensky even underlined that NATO must carry out a preemptive strike against Russia instead of waiting for Russia’s nuclear attacks. 

Foreign ministers of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in a joint statement, rejected Russia’s assertions on Monday. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba rejected the accusations as well.

It is worth noting that Ukraine has a stockpile of radioactive material that can be used for its “dirty bomb”, including spent nuclear fuel storage facilities at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, according to the official.

Meanwhile, reports about Kiev preparing to use a dirty bomb in Ukraine to blame Russia for using nuclear weapons have been circulating for about a month now.

Despite not seeing any preparations for the deployment of such weapons, the United States is taking seriously concerns that Kiev may use a so-called “dirty bomb,” according to White House Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby on Monday.

“All I can assure you is that we are taking that seriously, and we are monitoring as best as we can. I can also say, we just see no indication of preparations at this point,” Kirby stated during a press briefing.

UN responds

The UN’s only response in light of the ongoing concerns over the usage of nuclear weapons was to call on all involved parties to avoid any steps that could lead to miscalculation and escalation.

“Our position … is that all parties should avoid any action that could lead to miscalculation and escalation in what’s already a devastating conflict,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Monday, commenting on Russia’s reports that Ukraine may use a “dirty bomb”.

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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.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s introductory remarks at the opening of the exhibition of archive records on the 250th anniversary of the reunification of the peoples of Russia and Belarus

September 20, 2022

This year, Russia and Belarus are celebrating the 250th anniversary of the reunification of our fraternal peoples. In Soviet historiography, this event is referred to as the First Partition of Poland in 1772 that took place against the background of incessant wars in Europe.

Count Nikita Panin and Vice Chancellor Prince Alexander Golitsyn conducted talks on Russia’s behalf. They reached an agreement with Prussian envoy Count Solms and Austrian envoy Prince Lobkowitz and signed the relevant conventions in St Petersburg on August 5, 1772. The agreement between the great European powers provided for a peaceful transition (without bloodshed) for the greater part of the Vitebsk and Mogilev regions in present-day Belarus (92,000 sq km and a population of 1.3 million) becoming part of the Russian state.

This epoch event determined the destiny for a common Russian and Belarusian homeland and the course of European history. These primordial Slavic lands returned to the Russian Empire. The populations of these regions had been subjected to artificial Polonising for centuries. I think it would be appropriate to recall that this year we marked 1,030 years since the advent of Orthodoxy to Belarusian lands. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia coordinated his visits to Polotsk and Minsk with this anniversary.

Due to reunification with Russia in 1772, Belarusians managed to preserve their national identity and language and create conditions for shaping their own statehood. Since then – for a quarter of a millennium now – the Russian and Belarusian people have lived in peace and friendship. They are proud of their great common past and common victories. Together – in the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and now in the Union State, they have efficiently resolved and will continue to resolve their urgent tasks and problems. We look to the future with confidence and optimism.

Today, under the Union State’s programmes of coordinated foreign policy actions, Russia and Belarus hold identical positions on the key issues of our time. They support each other at international venues and closely cooperate at the UN and the OSCE.

Under conditions of unprecedented pressure from the collective West, our two countries are strengthening their integration union and are working to create a common socio-economic, migration and defence space. We have something to present to the Russian and Belarusian public. We have fulfilled 50 percent of our goals under 28 union programmes for 2021-2023. We are drafting new cooperation programmes for the next three years. We are implementing our upgraded Military Doctrine and the Union State’s Migration Policy Concept.

I’d like to repeat that Russia and Belarus are inseparably tied by their common culture and history. We are united by common and memorable dates. These include Day of the Baptism of Russia, Day of Slavic Writing and Culture, Day of Unity between the Peoples of Russia and Belarus, February 23, March 8, Easter, Christmas and, of course, Victory Day on May 9, the dearest and holiest holiday for all of us.

This year we will time a meeting of the foreign ministry collegiums of our countries in Minsk in November to another common date – the 210th anniversary of the Battle of Berezina and the victory in the 1812 Patriotic War. I’d like to emphasise that this was a victory not only over the French but actually over all of Europe that was united under Napoleon.

On September 22-23 of this year, our Belarusian friends will hold one more important event in cooperation with the Russian Military Historical Society – the international scientific conference “Partitions of Poland in the historical memory of the peoples of Belarus and Russia.” This work is aimed at ensuring the continuity of our common history and bringing the truth about centuries-old cultural, historical, spiritual, moral and family ties to our people. It deserves respect and support.

In conclusion, I would like to thank once again the organisers of this event, the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire, which prepared a thematic exhibition of original documents related to the partition of Poland. These originals have never left the archives. They are the Russian-Prussian and Russian-Austrian conventions on the first partition of Poland, the Warsaw extraordinary peace treaty on the accession of some Polish lands to Russia, and notes on Polish affairs by Alexander Bezborodko, member of the Collegium of Foreign Affairs, to Catherine the Great, which bear her handwritten resolution. We have prepared replicas of these unique documents and will present them to our Belarusian friends as a gift.

Haniyeh lands in Russia to discuss int’l changes, effects on Palestine

10 Sep 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

Head of Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh arrives in Moscow to discuss international developments and their effects on the Palestinian cause.

Ismail Haniyeh arrives in Moscow heading a delegation from Hamas

    The head of the Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh arrived on Saturday in the Russian capital, Moscow, accompanied by a delegation from the movement’s leadership.

    In a press statement, the media advisor to Hamas political bureau chief, Taher Al-Nono, said that Haniyeh “has arrived in Moscow on a visit during which he intends to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and a number of Russian leaders and officials.”

    The movement’s delegation includes the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, Saleh Al-Arouri, in addition to the two members of the Political Bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk and Maher Salah, according to the statement.

    Al-Nono indicated that “this visit, which comes at the invitation of the Russian Foreign Ministry, will last for several days and aims to discuss prospects for bilateral relations to serve the Palestinian cause.”

    The visit comes “at a very important time at the level of the region and the world, as international developments and changes related to the region and their effects on the Palestinian cause will be discussed,” Al-Nono added, praising at the same time the relationship with Russia and its stances on Palestine.

    This visit comes after a high-level delegation from Hamas, headed by the Head of the Hamas’ international relations office Moussa Abu Marzouk, visited Moscow last May and aimed to hold talks with Russian officials on a number of important files related to the developments of the Palestinian cause.

    Read: Exclusive: Moscow plays key role in preserving Palestinian interests

    Al Mayadeen correspondent in Moscow had indicated that Haniyeh would visit Moscow soon. Haniyeh headed to Moscow and met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in March 2020.

    Moscow had criticized the stances of Western countries in dealing with the recent Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, indicating at the time that “the West is very concerned about the situation in Ukraine… while it is indifferently watching the Israelis kill the Palestinians and destroy the Gaza Strip,” describing the matter as a continuation of the “Western propaganda machine.”

    Erdogan Asks Russia to Return the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine: Who Does Turkey Support?

    Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

    Yoselina Guevara Lopez

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently pointed out in a video message that “The return of Crimea to Ukraine, of which it is an inseparable part, is essentially a requirement of international law”, statements he made within the framework of the second international summit of the Crimean Platform. Erdogan added that “ensuring the safety and well-being of our Crimean Tatar compatriots is also among Turkey’s priorities”.  The president again called for the release of Nariman Dzhelyal, deputy speaker of the Crimean Tatar “parliament”, and at least 45 other Tatars who remain detained on the peninsula.

    The Crimean Platform Summit, which Kiev held online,  bringing together the leaders of Western countries, more strongly maintained its anti-Russian character this year, without losing one iota of the characteristics with which last year Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described it as a witches’ meeting (Sabbat, coven) in which “the West will continue to cultivate the neo-nazi and racist sentiments of the current Ukrainian authorities.”

    For this reason the position of the skilled politician that is Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not surprising. In fact, since the beginning of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, Ankara has been able to play with two hands, maintaining a balance between the West, represented by the United States and its NATO allies, and the Russian Federation. It is precisely this quality of expert balancing act that has led it to play the role of mediator because Turkey has powerful interests on both sides of the conflict.

    At the level of Moscow, Ankara is one of the main commercial partners of the gas giant Gazprom, with which it has established a series of agreements for energy supplies from the Russian Federation. For example, in 2021 Russia supplied Turkey with 5 million 800 thousand cubic meters of gas. Moscow has also sold Ankara the famous S-400 missile systems. On the other hand, if we analyze Turkey’s relationship with the West, it cannot be overlooked that since 1952, Ankara has been a member of NATO, and hosts numerous bases, including the Incirlik Air Base which has served as a command base for NATO operations in the Middle East. There is no doubt that for NATO, staying on Turkish territory gives it a geostrategic advantage. As for the migration problem, Ankara functions as a containment wall for the numerous migrants seeking to enter Europe through the Balkan Route.

    But Turkey, independently of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, has other objectives on the table that indirectly affect what happens between Kiev-Moscow. In the Balkans, for example, Erdogan wants to start bilateral collaboration with Belgrade, especially in the area of arms exports, which on the one hand, will allow modernizing the Serbian armed forces and, on the other hand, will give Turkey the opportunity to exercise a greater presence, both military and of its war industry, in the heart of Europe; with a turnover that, according to some analysts, would be close to 15 million euros. Just as it is no secret that Turkey also wants to expand its sphere of influence and investments towards Asia; the decisions it has taken amply demonstrate this willingness to expand diplomatic and political relations with this area. It is no coincidence that Ankara has made huge investments with the aim of being able to connect Central Asia with Anatolia through major infrastructures: railroads, ports in the Caspian Sea and energy facilities, through Kazakhstan to China, which can reinforce its role as an energy hub.

    If Erdogan succeeds in his role as mediator, he will gain international recognition as a “peacemaker” or “the one who achieved world peace”, which could mean that Erdogan will continue to play his role as a mediator in the coming days. This could mean for Erdogan, in addition to going down in history, being rid, once and for all,  of the image of dictator placed on him after he imposed strict policies against dissidents of his government in 2013, without disdaining all his warlike wanderings in different places. The chessboard is still open, the game has not been closed, the political players are still moving the pieces.


    Yoselina Guevara L.(@lopez_yoselina)is an international policy political analyst, correspondent and recipient of the Simón Bolívar 2022 National Journalism Award (Opinion) and Anibal Nazoa 2021 (Venezuela).

    The United States responded to Griner’s sentence by kidnapping a Russian

    August 06, 2022

    Vinnik faces virtually life imprisonment in the United States

    source: https://m.vz.ru/society/2022/8/5/1171157.html

    A Russian national, Alexander Vinnik, who now faces more than 50 years in prison, has been arrested in the United States. On Thursday, he was actually fraudulently taken out of Europe to San Francisco in violation of all international legal norms. Apparently, this is how Washington responded to the verdict of the Brittney Griner, convicted in the Russian Federation for drug smuggling. Why is Washington abducting Russian citizens and is there a way to stop this, in fact, hostage-taking?

    Alexander Vinnik, whom the United States accuses of cybercrime, was taken from Greece to the United States. “Everything happened and was staged as a kidnapping,” RIA Novosti reports the words of one of Vinnik’s family members. Relatives reported that the Russian citizen was taken from Greece to Boston on a private plane in violation of all legal procedures. “Alexander was allowed to call home from Boston,” a member of Vinnik’s family said. Later, the Russian was transported on a company plane to San Francisco.

    The police at the Athens airport on Thursday evening claimed that they knew nothing about Vinnik’s extradition and that he had been taken to Athens. Employees of the consular department of the Russian Embassy in Greece were not allowed to see a Russian citizen, although he asked for a meeting. The Kremlin is monitoring the fate of Vinnik, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

    The procedural norms of Greek law did not allow to immediately send Vinnik from Greece to the United States, but in Athens “they turned a blind eye to this,” a relative of the captured Russian told RIA Novosti. “The Greeks will again say that they did not know, forgot, were confused, that they are sorry. As before, there was an extradition document with a fake signature of the Minister of Justice, and then it turned out that he did not sign anything,” the source said.

    From an international legal point of view, the entire mechanism of Vinnik’s deportation to the United States via Greece is inadequate, so Russia equates such cases with kidnappings, Pavel Gerasimov, Honored Lawyer of the Russian Federation, Vice President of the Union of Lawyers of Russia, explained to the newspaper VIEW. “In any case, foreign security forces had to appeal to the representatives of Russia in Interpol with the justification for sending Vinnik to the United States. But no one contacted either our Foreign Ministry or law enforcement officers,” the lawyer stated.

    It should be noted that simultaneously with the American operation to kidnap a Russian from Greece, Joe Biden complained about the “unlawful” detention in Russia of US citizen Brittney Griner and the “unacceptable” sentence. Recall that a Russian court on Thursday found Griner guilty of smuggling drugs into our country. The judges sentenced the American to nine years.

    Biden promised that the US authorities would use “all possible means” to return Griner and another American serving time in Russia, Paul Whelan, to their homeland. In mid-June, the Moscow City Court found this former Marine guilty of espionage and sentenced him to 16 years in a strict regime penal colony.

    It can be assumed that the American side will try to use Vinnik captured in Greece (along with another compatriot of ours serving time in the USA – Viktor Bout) to bargain for the extradition of Griner and Whelan. Note that at the end of July, reports appeared in the American press that Biden approved a plan to exchange Whelan and Griner for Booth. Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken discussed the exchange of prisoners in a telephone conversation. Lavrov urged the head of the State Department to return to “quiet diplomacy” on this issue, the Foreign Ministry said.

    It is also worth noting the briefing held on Thursday by the Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council (NSC) USA by John Kirby. According to TASS, a White House official was asked whether Washington believes that Russia will accept the American proposal, which does not involve an equal exchange of prisoners – one for one or two for two? That is, it was initially assumed that the United States intended to offer one Russian in exchange for two Americans. “I can say that we have made a serious offer… I won’t go into details, but we urge them (the Russians) to accept it,” Kirby replied evasively. It can be assumed that Vinnik, who was taken by private plane to the United States, may become this second Russian, who is supposed to be exchanged for convicted drug smuggler Griner and spy Whelan.

    Regardless of whether a person is guilty (in this case, a Russian Vinnik) or not, the law must act, but the absolute arbitrariness on the part of the United States is comparable to extortion,

    State Duma deputy Oleg Morozov told the newspaper VIEW. “This practice is on a par with the bombing of Iraq, when the United States didn’t care what others thought about it. They are detaining a Russian citizen on the territory of a third country and they don’t care what the law says and the world community thinks about it,” the politician stressed. Incidents like the capture of Vinnik have long been part of the international practice of the United States, stated Deputy Morozov. “There are many cases when Russian citizens are detained on the territory of third countries, and then absolutely illegally and secretly extradited to the territory of the United States, where they are put on trial,” the source said.

    Let’s explain – several countries are involved in the Vinnik case, which has been going on for more than five years, and the Strasbourg Court was involved. In July 2017, a Russian IT specialist was arrested in Greece at the request of the United States. The American investigation accused Vinnik of creating a BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange without a license from the United States authorities, through which, according to the American side, billions of dollars were laundered. The Russian was also accused of failing to register his activities with the US Financial Intelligence Service (FINCEN) and failing to comply with anti-money laundering requirements. In the United States, 33-year–old Vinnik faces 55 years in prison – in fact, life imprisonment.

    In January 2020, Greece extradited Vinnik, not to the United States but to France. Here, a Russian IT specialist was charged with 19 criminal offenses. A French court acquitted Vinnik of all charges brought by France and sentenced him to five years on one American charge. Moreover, the judges considered that the Russian had committed not a criminal offense, but a misdemeanor. The term of imprisonment ended, but Vinnik remained in prison. He was already supposed to be returned to Greece for extradition to the United States. However, the European Court of Human Rights banned the transfer of Vinnik to Greek justice. On Thursday, a Paris court decided to release Vinnik as part of the extradition case to the United States – Paris formally refused to transfer the Russian to the Americans. But the same French court immediately ordered to detain the Russian citizen and redirect him under escort to Greece. The very next day, a private plane took Vinnik from Athens to Boston.

    As lawyer Gerasimov explained, the normal scheme from the point of view of international law should have looked like this: Greece detains Vinnik at the request of the French, since the case against him was opened in France. Further, in the French court, the process takes place with the participation of a representative of Russia, and the Russian consulate had to respect the rights of our citizen. Including consideration of the issue of Vinnik’s extradition to Russia.

    “But the participation of American representatives in this case without substantiating the cross–border nature of the crime in general would be impossible by law, since Vinnik is not a US citizen,” the lawyer pointed out. – Another justification for American involvement could be that it was the United States that suffered the main damage from Vinnik’s alleged crime. But Washington has not provided any justification.” Moreover, at the stage of discussing extradition, the American side did not contact Moscow in any way, so the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a note of protest.

    Now, in order to be able to exchange Vinnik or simply extradite him to Russia, he must be convicted in the United States, Gerasimov explained. “After that, Moscow tells Washington that the Russian side is ready to accept Vinnik to serve his sentence in Russia. This starts a two-way dialogue. If the two states agree, and if Vinnik arrives in Russia, then here he has the right to appeal for a judicial review and try to prove that the American court made an unfair decision,” the lawyer detailed.

    At the same time, lawyer Gerasimov added, it cannot be ruled out that the arrested Russian may be transported to Puerto Rico or to the base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where a special prison is still operating. “Legally, this will not be an American territory, but the same US law enforcement agencies will “work” with the detainee there,” the lawyer noted. “You can only be safe without committing crimes. But in any case, it is better to rest in the Crimea, and not abroad,” the interlocutor added, not without sarcasm.

    The issue of countering American international racketeering is primarily a political issue, said Deputy Morozov. “It’s impossible to live by the principle of “what if the Americans accuse me of something, so I can’t move beyond the Ural Mountains.” The only way to answer is what Russia, China and many other countries are doing now: they break the world order established by the Americans, refuse to participate in an unfair world order and will offer the world completely different norms and rules,” the interlocutor stressed. – Sooner or later we will come to a world where Americans will no longer be allowed to engage in extortion. In the meantime, the United States, unfortunately, acts on the principle of might is right, that they themselves are the law.”

    In the meantime, the Russian Foreign Ministry has outlined Moscow’s position: our side is ready to discuss the exchange of prisoners with the United States, but only within the framework of the channel that was approved by the presidents of the two countries at a meeting in Geneva last June. This was stated on Friday by the head of Russian diplomacy Sergey Lavrov, commenting on reports about the plan approved by Biden to rescue Griner and Whelan.

    Going to Samarkand

    July 31, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How comfortable are you with the US dollar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Those Afghan and Arab lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov : Member countries of the African Union

    July 29, 2022

    Editorial Comment: Mr Lavrov’s visits to Arab states, the Arab League, and African states can only be described as a stunning victory and a complete triumph for diplomacy. A short overview is included in the second part of this Operation Z situation report: http://thesaker.is/sitrep-operation-z-collapses-and-progress/
    All of the various transcripts can be read at the MFA site: https://www.mid.ru/en/
    Short comments and summaries can be found on the MFA Telegram Channel: https://t.me/MFARussia



    Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to the questions during a meeting with permanent representatives of the member countries of the African Union and the diplomatic corps, Addis Ababa, July 27, 2022

    Your Excellencies,

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    Representatives of the media,

    Thank you very much for coming here at our invitation. I believed that being in Addis Ababa, it is absolutely important to meet with the African Union members, like I did during all my previous visits. We could not do this at the headquarters for, as far as I understand, scheduling reasons. And I’m glad that you’ve accepted our invitation to come here to the Russian Embassy to discuss issues which are on the top of international agenda.

    Many of our Western colleagues try to send the message that the key, if not the only, problem in international relations is the situation around Ukraine. I tend to disagree with such an assertion and during my visit here and  in my previous encounters with my foreign colleagues, I sense a broad understanding that the issue is much more complex and complicated.

    What we witness now, especially as the West launches an unprecedented campaign of sanctions, accusations, threats, vis-à-vis Russia and anybody who dares to support Russia or even not to condemn Russia. This campaign indicates that we are living through a very important historical period, a period where we will all be deciding what kind of universe we are going to have and to leave for our children and grandchildren. The universe which is based on the United Nations Charter, which says that the United Nations is founded on the principle of sovereign equality of states, or we will have the world where the right of force, the right of the strongest dominates.

    Actually, what it is all about can be described on the following example. Is it our choice to have the world where we have the so-called collective West, totally subordinated to the United States and feeling free, feeling that it has the right to decide when and how to promote its own interests without following the international law, without any respect to the sovereign equality of states?

    When our American colleagues felt in the past that there was a threat to their interests, tens of thousands kilometers from the American coast, be it Yugoslavia in 1999, be it Iraq in 2003, be it Libya in 2011, and many other occasions, without any hesitation, without explaining anything to anybody, very often on false pretexts, they just started military operations levelling cities, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, like it happened in Iraq in the city of Mosul which was literally levelled. The same happened to Raqqa in Syria, where dozens and hundreds of corpses have been lying for weeks unattended and I don’t recall the progressive civilized community raising any big noise about that situation.

    When the Russian Federation, not just overnight, but for the last ten long years has been drawing the attention of the United States and its allies to the unacceptable policy which they have been promoting on Ukraine, building Ukraine as a stronghold to contain Russia, pumping more and more modern arms in Ukraine, planning to build naval and military bases in that country and encouraging in all possible ways Russophobic policies of its leaders; when in 2014 we categorically protested to the West that in spite of its guarantees, the opposition in Ukraine staged a bloody coup and when they came to power, the first thing they did was to demand to cancel the status of the Russian language which has been the historical language of Ukraine from the very beginning. They also demanded the Russians to get out of Crimea. They sent armed groups to storm the Parliament of Crimea and then the eastern part of Ukraine protested against the coup.

    The putchists called them separatists, terrorists and started a full-fledged military operation against them. And the West as I’ve said, which had guaranteed only a few days before that – guaranteed a peace deal between the former president and the opposition, the deal which provided for creation of a government of national unity and early elections, – this deal was disrupted overnight and the opposition bragged that they created the government of the winners.

    See the difference: the government of national unity and the government of the winners. This was an invitation for the civil war because the opposition called part of its own citizens “losers” while the opposition became “winners”.

    So when this all started we managed, together with some other countries, to stop it in February 2015 – Minsk Agreements were signed – keeping Ukraine one-piece.

    The eastern territories of Ukraine that originally after the coup declared independence were persuaded not to insist on independence and to agree to stay inside Ukraine by these Minsk Agreements, provided they are given a special status. First of all, the right to use the Russian language.

    This was endorsed by the Security Council and this was systemically and totally ignored and sabotaged by the Kiev regime with the encouragement of the West.

    There was no direct dialogue between Kiev and those territories in spite of the fact that this was directly demanded from the Ukrainian regime by the Security Council.

    And few weeks ago the former President of Ukraine P.Poroshenko who signed the Minsk Agreements, proudly stated to the media that “When I was signing it, I never intended to implement it. We just needed more time to get more weapons from the West in order to enable us to resolve the problem of Ukrainian East by the use of force.” Very honestly.

    But this is totally neglected by the West. So we have been knocking on the door of our Western colleagues at least since 2013, telling them that this is absolutely a red line when you create a direct threat to the Russian Federation just on our borders. When you create a Russophobic state, which during all these years, managed to pass series of laws, prohibiting – physically, literally, – the use of Russian language in education, in culture, in media, and even in day-to-day life.

    And at the same time, legislation was passed to legalize neo-Nazi theories and practices. Neo-Nazi battalions with swastikas and insignias of Waffen-SS, have been mushrooming in Ukraine and becoming the cornerstone of the Ukrainian Army.

    It’s a very radicalized country. They glorify the collaborators of Hitler condemned by the Nuremberg Tribunal and all this is being done with silent encouragement by the United States and the European Union. And the process which I’ve described was accompanied by the Western attempts, not attempts – policy – to pull Ukraine into NATO.

    Dozens of military exercises of NATO with Ukraine were held on Ukrainian territory with an obvious anti-Russian dimension. The efforts of Russia during all these years – it was not just, you know, we say today that this is a threat and excuse us, but we need to remove this threat. It has been happening for at least ten years.

    When we’ve told our Western colleagues, “Guys, why are you pulling Ukraine to NATO? You know that this is a hostile organization vis-a-vis Russia, they were telling us, ‘Don’t worry, it will not be detrimental to your security.’”

    Russia, as any other self-respectful country has the right to determine itself what is good for its security and what is not. In that case, NATO members led by the United States, opted to decide for us what is good for the Russian Federation.

    We reminded them that many years ago in 2010, they all signed up a declaration saying that the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe will be based on the principle of equal and indivisible security, which means that any country can choose alliances, but no country has the right in choosing alliances to increase its security at the expense of the security of other countries. And that no single organization in Europe can pretend to dominate the security space.

    NATO is doing exactly this. And NATO, of course, is strengthening the security of its own at the expense of the security of the Russian Federation, because the borders of NATO have been moved just to the borders of Russia.

    So we told them, “Guys, political commitments to which your presidents and prime ministers put the signatures don’t work. Let’s make this principle that the security is indivisible and must be equal for all, let’s make it legally binding.”

    And we suggested to them respective treaties several times. First, back in 2009 and the last attempt was in December of 2021. And they told us, “Look gentlemen, first there would be no legally binding security guarantees except for NATO members. And second, as regards Ukraine, the relations between NATO and Ukraine are none of your business.” And that was the end of it.

    And parallel with this absolute rejection of constructive efforts we have been undertaking for many, many years, parallel to this the Ukrainians, in violation of the Minsk Agreements, started to accumulate huge military force on the line of contact with the eastern part of the country where the two republics have been under siege, basically. They intensified radically the shelling and bombing of those territories.

    When we understood that there would be no agreement on security guarantees in Europe which would be equal, when we understood that there would be no implementation of the Minsk Agreements because the Ukrainian leadership publicly renounced this, and when we understood that the only way to save the people in the east of Ukraine was to recognize these two republics, we did so.

    We signed the Treaty on Mutual Assistance with them and at their request, we are now exercising a special military operation aimed at saving lives of the citizens of the Donbass and removing any possibility for Ukrainian territory to be used to threaten the security of the Russian Federation.

    I am sure that you have been following the events. I know that the Western media presents the situation in a totally distorted manner. If only to mention the so-called food crisis, as if nothing was of concern before February this year.

    If you read the reports of the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, you will refresh your memory and establish the fact that the problems in the world food market started at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when in an attempt to fight this virus and the pandemic consequences the US, the EU and Japan have made an emission for eight trillion dollars’ worth without any economic substantiation, and they use this empty money to buy food and all other goods which they believe would be necessary in case pandemic takes long and there will be closure of countries.

    Then there were, of course, increases, long ago, of the price of fertilizers because of the reckless policy of the Western countries on the so-called Green Transition, because the energy supplies, the classical energy resources were more or less discriminated and all this has brought the price of fertilizers high, which of course affected the price of food, and so on and so forth. And then there were not very conducive climate conditions for a couple of years.

    And yes, the situation in Ukraine did affect, additionally, negatively affected food markets. But not because of the Russian special operation, rather due to the absolutely inadequate reaction of the West, which announced sanctions, undermining the availability of the food on the markets.

    When we explain this to them, they say, “Food and fertilizers are not covered by sanctions”. Yes, but you know, half-truth is worse than a lie. And the truth is that the list of sanctions does not contain an item saying “food”, but what it does contain is prohibition for the Russian ships to call to the ports in the Mediterranean, prohibition for the foreign ships to call on the Russian ports, to pick up food and other cargo, prohibition to insure the Russian ships, because of which insurance prices quadrupled overnight. And of course, prohibition for the main Russian bank, Russian Agricultural Bank, which has always served the payments for Russian food exports – it was listed in the European Union sanctions.

    So the latest attempt by our Turkish friends and the Secretary General of the United Nations resulted in a deal between Russia and the United Nations, whereby Secretary General Guterres committed himself to press the Western countries to lift those restrictions, which I just quoted. We’ll see whether he can succeed.

    And the same deal as you know, provided for Ukraine an obligation to demine its coastal line for the ships which have been locked there, I think 70 ships from 16 countries since February, to allow them out of the Ukrainian territorial waters, after which Turkish and Russian fleet will ensure their safe travel to the straits and then to the Mediterranean.

    So those were the agreements, which could have been announced long, long ago, if not for the Western stubbornness in insisting that they are always right, and all those who don’t agree with them, of course, are always wrong.

    A similar situation is taking place with the energy markets. Many years ago, before February this year, the West started discriminating Russian energy projects. First, the project called Nord Stream 1 was limited by 50% of its capacity for no good reason at all. Europe deprived itself of 50% of Russian cheap, accessible gas.

    Then Nord Stream 2 was blocked by absolutely illegal action when the legal committee of the European Union ruled that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was built and financed and invested, fully aligned with the existing European norms.

    But after that, the European Commission changed the rules retrospectively and applied the new rules to the investment which took place legally several years ago.

    So Nord Stream 2 is also not available. Poland, several months ago, stopped taking gas from a direct pipeline from Russia. Ukraine stopped one of the two transit lines through its territory from Russia. And there was some hassle with that turbine which went for maintenance to Canada, then Canada didn’t want to bring it back.

    I listed five or six factors which immediately negatively affected gas supplies to Europe volume-wise. And, of course, the less you buy from Russia through a pipeline, which is a price established for long-term, the more expensive prices on the spot.

    It reached yesterday, I think, $2,200 for a thousand cubic meters. So the attempts to blame us for everything which goes wrong is an attempt with not very clean purposes and intentions.

    What is my point? My point is that it’s a period of history where we will have to choose either to go down the current, which the West tries to move, saying that the world must be run not by international law, but by the rules.

    They coined an expression “rules-based world order”. And if you analyze the behavior of our Western colleagues in the international arena, you will understand that these rules differ from case to case. There is no single criteria. There is no single principle, except one. If I want something, you have to obey. If you don’t obey, you would be punished.

    This is the picture for the future offered to us by the rules-based world order promoted by the West. Basically, this is the unipolar world where the United States, which subordinated to its own will everybody else in the European Union and allies in Asia… This is the offer. Not even an offer, it is an ultimatum actually.

    The alternative to this, and I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of the world countries do not want to live as if the colonial times came back, that the vast majority of the states want to be independent, want to rely on their own tradition, to rely on their own history, to rely on their old friends, don’t want to betray their old friends.

    And this is basically evident from the fact that except two or three developing countries, no one else in Africa, Asia or Latin America joined the illegal American and European sanctions.

    And back to the United Nations Charter. I believe, when we speak about more just, more democratic world order, we don’t need to invent anything. Once again, I quote the Charter which says that the United Nations is based on the principle of sovereign equality of states.

    And to recognize that each state is independent, each state has the right to determine how it wants to live, what kind of economic, social, political system it wants to choose on the basis of the will of its people. And I have no slightest doubt that any normal state wants to be like this. Nobody wants to have enemies. This is also an absolute truth. Neither Russia nor any other country present in this hall – I have no doubt.

    But if countries, like we witness now the behavior of the West, if they do want to have enemies, as they publicly declared in their doctrines, in the decisions of the latest NATO summit in Madrid – they do want enemies, they appoint enemies, they appoint the order in which they handle these enemies. Now Russia is the first, China is earmarked as the existential challenge for the long term. And all this manifests in renewed thinking about how the world economy and the world system operates.

    If the US and the European Union – under the demand of the US – decided to freeze the Russian reserves – and now they seriously start a legal process to prepare the basis to confiscate the Russian money – who knows… If they become irritated by somebody else tomorrow or the day after, they might do the same.

    In other words, the reliance on dollar as the instrument supporting the world economy is not very promising, frankly speaking. And it is not by incident that more and more countries are shifting to using alternative currencies, shifting to use national currencies more and more, and this process will be gaining momentum.

    This is not to say that we are suggesting some kind of revolution against the dollar, against the United States – this is to state the obvious: the West created a system which was based on certain principles – free market, fair competition, sanctity of private property, presumption of innocence, and something else. All these principles have been thrown down the drain when they needed to do what they believe is to punish Russia.

    And I don’t have the slightest doubt that, if need be, they will not hesitate to do the same in relation to any other country which would irritate them one way or another.

    I mentioned China as the next target. It’s a very interesting example of how the Americans consider fair competition in practice. Actually, China developed into the number one world economy – everybody recognizes this – and China did so, China achieved those results, working and acting on the basis of the rules established by the West. The IMF, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the rules to settle disputes, competition and the stuff. China accepted those rules in developing its own economy and China defeated the West, economically and trade-wise, investment-wise, on its own turf, on the basis of the rules invented by the West.

    And what happened next? Already a couple of years ago, the Secretary of Treasury of the United States and some other officials started saying, “We need to reform the Bretton Woods Institutions, we need to reform the WTO and we need to organize this reform between the US and Europe not to allow anybody else to participate in developing new rules.”

    Guys, it is absolutely obvious, how they want this world to be operated. And I believe, as long as it is not too late, we would be ready to talk to our Western friends when they come back to their senses about how they think they should live together with all of us in the future. But this conversation can only be made on full equality, with full respect to the legitimate interests of all of us.

    If I took too long of your time, I apologize. And I understand there might be a couple of questions, right?

    Question: Your Excellency, Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation,

    On behalf of the people of South Sudan, the Government and on my own behalf, I wish to take this opportunity to express my personal gratitude to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ethiopia for inviting me and my delegation here.

    We are grateful that our two countries, the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Sudan enjoy cordial bilateral relations, dating back to the day of our declaration of independence, where the Russian people and their Government were among those who recognized our statehood on July 9, 2011. Since then Your Excellency, the people and the governments of two countries have stood with the people and the Government of South Sudan in many ways.

    The people of South Sudan wish to express their gratitude for your immense support in the UNSC, the Human Rights Council in Geneva and other activities where you supported us. First of all, as you explained, Your Excellency, you outlined your view on sanctions. Now we know what’s really going on.

    On the current political situation in my country I would like to inform Your Excellency the Minister that the signed revitalized peace agreement of 2018 is holding despite the challenges that you have mentioned. These include numerous sanctions by Western countries and their allies, and an arms embargo. Other factors of concern are natural disasters, such as heavy rains…

    Sergey Lavrov: I apologize, can you pass on this text? Because it would be useful and more polite to the others. Ok? Please, pass it. Thank you!

    Just one remark. We are against those sanctions which are intended to punish people. And don’t forget that the initiators of these sanctions against you are exactly the same countries who wanted to create South Sudan out of Sudan.

    Question: Thank you very much for giving a very detailed and covering all important aspects in your briefing. A short question: How the hegemony of dollar can be controlled by international community because right now the countries like Pakistan and many developing countries are suffering from huge debt that continues to grow. The problem is getting worse. I would like you to clarify the situation.

    Sergey Lavrov: I am not an expert in monetary affairs. What I said was it’s an obvious feeling by many countries that the dollar is not reliable, because the capricious behavior could be aimed at anyone in the future.

    I know that you can feel this on yourself, if you compare the situation of 20-30 years ago and now. So, it’s life. It’s life. And nobody wants to go to war because of the dollar and I believe this is crazy.  But people want to have some insurance as regards the reliability of their economic and trade relations with their partners. And there are examples, including the use of national currencies, including barter, including clearing mechanisms. Some might say this is going back to the past instruments of conducting trade. But there would be digital currencies, I don’t have the slightest doubt, which are already being developed in China, for example, in Venezuela, in Iran.

    We are thinking about this as well. It’s the beginning of a process. Now we have accumulated the elements of the problem and we know that it must be addressed.

    Question: With an approach of winter during which gas importations increase. How does Russia going to export its gas and circumvent the sanctions imposed? 15 African countries import more than 50% of their grain from Russia. The situation also affected the exports from African countries to Russia. How does Russia intend to manage trade relations with Africa?

    Sergey Lavrov: I think I addressed both issues in my remarks. I hope you listened to me. Antonio Guterres personally promised to make sure that the US and EU remove any obstacles to the export of Russian grain. If you add your noble voice to his efforts, I think it would be useful.

    And on gas prices – I also explained how Europe systemically, during the last almost ten years, was creating barriers on the way of bringing to European countries cheap and accessible Russian gas.

    I listed five or six specific decisions which were cutting more and more of Russian exports, vacating the room in Europe for much more expensive LNG from the United States, just like, you know, the US insists that Europe sends all its weapons to Ukraine, vacating the arms market in Europe for the import of American weapons. It’s “nothing personal, it’s business.”

    As regards your country (Algeria), the Europeans are now thinking of alternative sources of supply. They have suffocated themselves with their own hands the pipeline routes from Russia. Now they are  looking for alternatives. And I know that the Mediterranean, including Algeria, is one of those sources.

    They would be asking you to help, and it’s up to your companies to decide, it’s up to your government to decide.

    In our case, according to our experiences that when we had long-term contracts with Europe, these long-term contracts protected our interests. But, a few years ago, Europe started cutting long-term contracts saying, “Let’s shift to the spot market”. And the spot market does not guarantee that you will have a long-term investment justified.

    So, what we see now is not a scientific, not a responsible approach to the energy markets – it’s a hectic search for something which can save you this winter, with the green agenda shelved for the time being.

    The coal is coming back, polluting the atmosphere – it’s a mess, if you take a look at the energy and environment policy that Europe is promoting. I am sorry to say this. We are not getting any happiness or joy from what Europe is experiencing, but they have been doing this to themselves for quite some time already.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I have to apologize because the minister – my colleague from Ethiopia – is   waiting for me for the next event. Once again I want to thank you whole-heartedly for accepting our invitation. I hope it was not a waste of time. I tried to be as frank as I can, and we would be ready to promote dialogue with the African Union.

    Unfortunately, we could not meet at the headquarters. And we would be ready for a dialogue on all these and any other issues of interest and of importance with you bilaterally. With all of you we have good relations and channels of communication.

    I wish you all the best and keep healthy. Thank you very much.

    Russia’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, talks with RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan in an exclusive interview about the challenges Russia faces amid the Ukraine conflict

    July 20, 2022

    Highlights as seen by Pepe Escobar:

    🇷🇺The highlights of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Sputnik and RT:

    🔹The EU is forced to make amendments to sanctions against Russia as they have exceeded their potential;

    🔹Russia is not happy about energy issues that Europe is currently facing, but “will not worry about it too much”;

    🔹Western countries are trying to drag UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres into their “games” around Ukrainian grain;

    🔹Moscow has sent a signal to Guterres about the need to include a clause on Russian grain in the Istanbul agreements;

    🔹It can hardly be in Europe’s interests to fully cut off ties with Russia and switch to liquefied natural gas supplies from the US;

    🔹If the EU suddenly changes its position and proposes Russia to restore relations, Moscow needs to decide if this is beneficial to the country;

    🔹The geographical area of the special operation has changed and expanded beyond Donbas due to Kiev receiving the US-made HIMARS and other weapons.

    Full Transcript now available

    Question: You just returned from a trip and are about to leave again soon. This “international isolation” is so tight that you are almost never home.

    Here’s a question from our subscribers. At different levels, from the deputies to public officials, our talks with Ukraine are on and off. We say it’s impossible to hold talks now, but the next thing you know someone is saying it would be good to start them. Does it make sense or is it just a diplomatic ritual?

    Sergey Lavrov: It doesn’t make any sense given the circumstances. Yesterday, the President touched on this while speaking at the news conference following talks with the leaders of Iran and Türkiye in Tehran.

    Vladimir Putin once again made it clear that the Ukrainian leadership asked for talks early on during the special military operation. We didn’t say no. We approached this process honestly, but the first rounds of talks held in Belarus showed that the Ukrainian side didn’t really want to seriously discuss anything. Then, we passed our assessment of the situation over to them noting that if Kiev was serious about the talks, they should give us something “on paper” so we could understand what kind of agreements they had in mind. The Ukrainian side gave us a document that we found agreeable (yesterday the President again cited this fact) and were ready to conclude a treaty based on the principles outlined in it. Building on their logic, we drafted a corresponding document, which we made available to the Ukrainian side on April 15. Since then, we’ve heard nothing from them, but we hear other people such as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Olaf Scholz, Boris Johnson (though, not now for obvious reasons), President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Chief Diplomat Josep Borrell say that Ukraine must “win on the battlefield” and should not engage in talks, because it has a weak position on the front. First, they need to improve the situation and start dominating the Russian armed forces and the Donetsk and Lugansk militias, and only then start talks “from a position of strength.” I don’t think this approach holds water.

    Question: It doesn’t hold water because Ukraine will fail to do so?

    Sergey Lavrov: It won’t work. They will never be able to formulate “things” that really deserve people’s time. We understood this. It is no secret that Kiev is being held back from taking any constructive steps, and they are not just flooding it with weapons, but making it use those weapons in an increasingly risky manner. Foreign instructors and specialists are there servicing these systems (HIMARS and others).

    With strong support from the Germans, Poles, and Balts, our US and British (Anglo-Saxon) “colleagues” want to make this an actual war and pit Russia against the European countries. Washington and London are sitting far away, across oceans and straits, but will benefit from this. The European economy is impacted more than anything else. The stats show that 40 percent of the damage caused by sanctions is borne by the EU whereas the damage to the United States is less than 1 percent, if you look at the cumulative negative impact of the restrictions.

    I do not doubt that the Ukrainians will not be allowed to hold talks until the Americans decide they have created enough destruction and chaos. Then, they will leave Ukraine alone and watch it get out of this mess.

    Question: Do you think this plan is actionable? A big war, a clash between Russia and the European countries? In fact, it’s about a nuclear war.

    Sergey Lavrov: The Americans are not thinking about this. Ambitious people who want to reach new heights in their careers have come to the White House. I’m not sure how they will try to fulfill these goals as part of this administration. They are acting irresponsibly and building plans and schemes that are fraught with major risk. We are talking about this publicly. We could have told them, but the Americans don’t want to talk to us, and we will not chase them.

    The dialogue we had before was not meaningless if only because we could look into each other’s eyes and lay out our approaches. As soon as the special military operation started, the United States tore this dialogue down. I think that Washington hasn’t yet understood that it is playing a dangerous game, but many people in Europe are beginning to realise this.

    Question: Is a Russia-US clash, a nuclear war possible in our view?

    Sergey Lavrov: We have initiated several statements (Russian-American statement and statement by the leaders of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) to the effect that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and that it cannot ever be unleashed. This is our position and we will firmly stick to it.

    Moreover, we have an endorsed doctrine that clearly explains in what cases Russia will be compelled to use nuclear arms. Our partners, colleagues, rivals or enemies (I don’t know how they refer themselves with regard to us) know this very well.

    Question:  We consider Vladimir Zelensky the legitimate representative of Ukraine. Why is that? We say with good reason that everything happening in that country is a result of the coup, a forced change of power. This did not happen under Zelensky, but he became president because of these events. Why did we acknowledge this initially?

    Sergey Lavrov: Guided by his own ethical considerations, President of France Emmanuel Macron recently let everyone listen to a recording of his February telephone conversation with President of Russia Vladimir Putin in which the  Russian leader expressed himself clearly. President Macron tried to persuade him not to bother too much with implementing the Minsk Agreements. He said that Donetsk and Lugansk were illegal entities and that it was necessary to work in the context of the suggested interpretations – allegedly Zelensky wanted this. Vladimir Putin replied that Vladimir Zelensky was the product of a state coup and that the established regime hadn’t gone anywhere.

    Do you remember how events developed after the coup? The putschists spat in the face of Germany, France and Poland that were the guarantors of the agreement with Viktor Yanukovych. It was trampled underfoot the next morning. These European countries didn’t make a peep – they reconciled themselves to this. A couple of years ago I asked the Germans and French what they thought about the coup. What was it all about if they didn’t demand that the putschists fulfil the agreements? They replied: “This is the cost of the democratic process.” I am not kidding. Amazing – these were adults holding the post of foreign ministers.

    Crimeans and the east of Ukraine refused to recognize the results of the coup. In Crimea, this led to the holding of a referendum on reuniting with Russia and in Donbass to a refusal to deal with the new, illegitimate central authorities that started a war. Then Pyotr Poroshenko began a presidential campaign. The election took place in late May, 2014. President of France François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders tried to persuade the President of Russia to say nothing in advance about his refusal to recognise the results of the Ukrainian elections. Vladimir Putin replied: since Poroshenko is holding the election with the slogans of peace, promises to restore the rights of all Ukrainians, including the residents of Donbass, we will not question the legitimacy of this process.

    It turned out that Poroshenko quickly forgot his election promises. He cheated his voters, lied to them and his Western sponsors, and unleashed another round of war that was stopped with great difficulty in February 2015. Later the Minsk Agreements were signed. He recently admitted that he had no intention of fulfilling the agreements and signed them only because Ukraine had to build up its strength economically and militarily to “win back its land,” including Crimea. This is why he concluded these agreements.

    Question: We did not realise this, did we?

    Sergey Lavrov: Well, I still hoped that some conscience was left there. Poroshenko revealed his true attitude towards the Minsk Agreements: he would not fulfil a document endorsed by the UN Security Council. Thus, he confirmed once again, this time in public, that he was not a legitimate president, one that relies on the foundations of international law.

    Vladimir Zelensky came to power with slogans of peace as well. He promised to return peace to Ukraine. He said all citizens of the country who wanted to speak Russian would be able to and nobody would harass them or discriminate against them. Listen to what he is saying now.

    In the role of Servant of the People Zelensky played a democrat, a glad-hander, a teacher, one of the people, who defeated the oligarchs and paid off the IMF. The people became free. He dissolved the corrupt parliament and the government. There are video recordings that cannot be hidden. They show how Zelensky upheld the rights of the Russian language and Russian culture…

    Question: He is an actor, Mr Lavrov!

    Sergey Lavrov: Yes, an actor under the Stanislavsky system – quickly turns coat. He was recently asked about his attitude towards the people of Donbass. Mr Zelensky replied that there are people and there are species. He also said that if people feel Russian, let them go to Russia “for the sake of the future of their children and grandchildren.” This is exactly what Dmitry Yarosh said the first day after the coup in February 2014: “A Russian will never think like a Ukrainian, will not speak Ukrainian and will not glorify Ukrainian heroes. Russians need to leave Crimea.”

    The elite that came to power after the coup have already established their national genetic code. Arseny Yatsenyuk “in between” Dmitry Yarosh, Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky called the residents of Donbass “subhuman.”

    Question: Do you remember Petr Poroshenko saying that Ukrainian children would go to school, while Russian children would sit in basements? He said this to the people he considered to be their own.

    Sergey Lavrov: Now they say that they will liberate their lands…

    Question: Without any people?

    Sergey Lavrov: I don’t know how Kiev is planning to treat these people. They would start an uprising.

    Question: What people? They will try to wipe them out in HIMARS strikes. You mentioned conscience, but you can’t judge others by your own standards. If you have a conscience, this doesn’t mean that your “partners” have it as well.

    Before you entered the room, we talked with Maria Zakharova about those whom you have described as seemingly serious people. Of course, we poked fun at them, which was bound to happen. Take the recent comment by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who has replaced our beloved Jen Psaki. When asked what President Joe Biden was doing the previous two days, she replied that he was thinking about the American people.

    I mean that Western leaders are crumbling. Many of them have symptoms of “limited adequacy” and sometimes even “limited sanity.” They are going to be replaced. Are there grounds to believe that those who will replace them will display fewer symptoms of “limited adequacy”?

    Sergey Lavrov: I would put it differently. The current political establishment that has been raised in the West can be said to have “adequate limitations.” They consider themselves to be adequate, but they have limited competence in terms of political experience and knowledge.

    Question: Why is that?

    Sergey Lavrov: I don’t know, but many people have taken note of this. Henry Kissinger mentioned this recently when speaking about Gerhardt Schroeder and Jacques Chirac. He didn’t put it bluntly, but he clearly hinted at the stark contrast.

    There is a tendency towards the average in political processes. You should elect people who are easy to understand and who will focus on simple, banal subjects. They invented the green transition, shouting that everyone will have no air to breathe soon and will die, and that dolphins and fish will disappear, leaving human beings alone in a desert. They have to deal with the effects of the green transition now. President Vladimir Putin explained the details of this mechanism in Western politics and how it has led to a painful flop because of the lack of proper calculations.

    I don’t know the reason for their inadequacy. Maybe the absence of strong leaders is convenient for someone?

    Question: For whom exactly?

    Sergey Lavrov: For the bureaucrats in the European Commission. There are 60,000 of them, which is a lot. They have become a thing-in-itself. It is no coincidence that Poland, Hungary and other countries have asked why they should listen to these people, in particular in the areas where they have no competence. This is really so.

    Question: In other words, it is a kind of a “deep state” in Europe, isn’t it?

    Sergey Lavrov: Yes, it seems so. But it is not quite a “deep state” but the elite, the European Commission.

    Question: Is it a “shallow state” then?

    Sergey Lavrov: Yes, and the pendulum is moving away from the side that was associated with rapid integration. The requirements that are being enforced by Brussels, which are not always based on formal arrangements, are becoming annoying and are preventing countries from living in accordance with their own traditions and religious beliefs. Today they are pestering Budapest with their propaganda of non-traditional values, but Hungarians don’t want this, just as we don’t want this and many other nations. The European Commission demands that Budapest must revise its position, or it will not receive the approved funding.  I believe that this is bad for the EU.

    Question: But good for us?

    Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think so. I believe that we should stay aloof. We cannot be happy that people in Europe will suffer from the cold and lower living standards.

    Question: I agree about suffering from the cold. But maybe the Europeans will finally have enough of being forced? Maybe pro-nation politicians will come to power, those who will care about their own people and therefore will not quarrel with Russia? No country can benefit from quarrelling with Russia.

    Sergey Lavrov: This is true. It is a proper process of recovery. People are abandoning the illusion that Brussels should decide everything for them, that everything will be the same every day with cheap energy and food, that everything will be fine. This would be in the interests of Europe and European nations, but I don’t know how it will happen.

    We will not be happy, but we won’t feel overly concerned either. I believe we should stay aloof. They have created these problems for themselves; they have opted for living in these conditions and for abandoning the natural and beneficial ties, which have been created over decades in energy, logistics and transport links. This is their choice. Love cannot be forced. This process, when they complete it, if at all, because it is incompatible with unilateral profiteering, will cost the subsequent economic development in Europe dearly. They should not ask us to revive agreements. They have been proved unreliable. We cannot rely on such “partners” when planning long-term strategic investment in the development of our country and its foreign ties. We will work with other partners who are predictable. They have always been there for us in the East, in the South and on other continents. Now that the share of the West in our foreign economic ties has been reduced dramatically, the share of our other partners will increase commensurately.

    As for trends in Europe, there is also total lack of responsibility when it comes to explaining the reasons for the current crisis to their own people. Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz says he has no doubt that there are political rather than technical reasons for Russia’s intention to limit gas deliveries via Nord Stream. He has no doubt! As if the facts, which we have made public on numerous occasions and which President Putin has mentioned, do not prove that Europe has been systematically and consistently reducing the capabilities of Nord Stream 1 and has  suspended Nord Stream 2, and how it retrospectively adopted restrictions on the operation of Nord Stream after all the investments had been made and the financing rules could not be changed. Nevertheless, the European Commission insisted on its decision, and it was adopted. Instead of using the pipeline to its full capacity, we have halved the transit of gas through it.

    We are being accused of using hunger as a weapon. Ursula von der Leyen has said this.

    Question: Cold and hunger. Do you remember General Frost? Now we have General Grain and General Heating.

    Sergey Lavrov: US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has made a pompous statement that the United States would not allow Russia, China or anyone else to break the international economic order, which has allegedly been approved by the international community. She said that economic integration has been weaponised by Russia. This is going much further than the other rubbish we have been hearing and looks like an agony. They don’t know how else to explain their own failure.

    Question: You mentioned the green transition and how they are trying to force the LGBT agenda on some East European countries for which, like for us, it is completely alien. For you, an experienced person who has observed many processes for decades, it must be clearer than for us, the ordinary people. This agenda includes green transition, LGBT, MeToo, BLM, cancelling ballet at Britain’s biggest dance school, the ban on math exams in some schools because the minorities would not be able to learn it, the ban on using the words “breast milk” and “mother”. People are contemplating but cannot understand what the idea is and who benefits from it. Who do you think is behind it?

    Sergey Lavrov: We cannot step in their shoes and see why they are doing what they are doing. It is incomprehensible. If a person has some inclinations, why shouldn’t they be left with that? Let them have these inclinations. Why is it necessary to make a movement banner out of it?

    Question: Why did the new White House Press Secretary openly declare that she is gay and black?

    Sergey Lavrov: I am also interested to see how and where the Western political thought has been evolving. Some progressive philosophers, from the point of view of imperialism and colonialism, believe that the gold billion, or those who lead it and make political decisions, want to reduce the population of the planet because the resources are limited. Too many people, too few resources. As Mikhail Zhvanetsky joked, there should be fewer of us. He said it in Soviet times, when there was not enough food and goods. And now I read this explanation in some Western publications. It is horrifying.

    Question: Which is not very logical, because the golden billion is reducing its own ranks this way, while the population in Africa is increasing. In Nigeria, which now wants to be friends with us, there are seven children per woman.

    Sergey Lavrov: No, all these ways are constantly promoted there.

    Question: It will take some time for them to get there… Look at the Hollywood elite: every second child is transgender or something, or non-binary, and they will have no grandchildren. Yes, it seems that they have started with themselves.

    Sergey Lavrov: Maybe it is part of the plan, to reproduce less. I said that I cannot explain this, and shared with you one of the conspiracy theories.

    Question: Both before the special military operation and today, people have believed that the West cannot manage without Russia. This is true in many respects, as the fact that they have lifted some of the sanctions clearly shows. What is less clear is whether the new package of sanctions passed this week contains new restrictions or lifts the sanctions adopted earlier. But what if they can manage without Russia after all? What prospects do you see? Can the West do completely without Russian energy carriers in the future, if not during the upcoming winter but in 2023 or 2024? Will it refuse to launch Nord Stream 2 and stop using the resources of Nord Stream 1? Is it possible? What do you think about this?

    Sergey Lavrov: The new package of restrictions includes both the sanctions and various exceptions from them because the West has already run out of spheres where it can inflict damage on Russia. Now they have to think about what they have done and how it affects them. As far as I know, the West has now introduced some clarifications, and this will help facilitate Russian food exports. For many months, they told us that Russia was to blame for the food crisis because the sanctions don’t cover food and fertiliser. Therefore, Russia doesn’t need to find ways to avoid the sanctions and so it should trade because nobody stands in its way. It took us a lot of time to explain to them that, although food and fertiliser are not subject to sanctions, the first and second packages of Western restrictions affected freight costs, insurance premiums, permissions for Russian ships carrying these goods to dock at foreign ports and those for foreign ships taking on the same consignments at Russian harbours. They are openly lying to us that this is not true, and that it is up to Russia alone. This is foul play.

    Unfortunately, the West has been trying to involve UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in these games. He became concerned about the food crisis and visited Russia, and he advocated a package deal at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is necessary to lift the artificial and illegitimate restrictions on Russian grain, and action should be taken to clear mines at Ukrainian ports where Ukrainian grain is stored. Antonio Guterres said that he would persuade Europe and the United States to remove all obstacles hampering Russian grain deliveries, and that Russia would cooperate with them, Türkiye and Ukraine in clearing mines at Black Sea ports, to facilitate grain shipments.  We replied that, in principle, it was possible to demine Black Sea ports without Russia, but that we would be ready to cooperate if they asked us. The UN Secretary-General actively promoted this package.

    Last week, our colleagues visited Istanbul in order to coordinate this mechanism. We agreed on the basic principles for exporting Ukrainian grain. However, when members of the Russian delegation reminded those present about the second part of the package deal, the Ukrainian side flatly refused, and the UN delegation simply blushed and kept quiet.

    Yesterday, we indicated to the UN Secretary-General that this was his initiative to begin with. In reply, Antonio Guterres proposed first resolving the issue of Ukrainian grain shipments, and said that Russian grain deliveries were next in line. This is foul play. People engaged in big politics should not behave in such a way. This means only one thing: I am convinced that the UN Secretary-General has come under tremendous pressure, first of all, from representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom who have settled in around him in the UN Secretariat in the posts of undersecretary-generals and who are actively using this “privatised” structure in their own interests. This is highly regrettable.

    Question: How are they putting pressure on him, exactly? Technically, how do we explain this to people? Do as you’re told, or… what? Go to jail?

    Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think they are using any personal methods of blackmail. Just, when the UN General Assembly is voting, they come up to the ambassadors, inform them that an anti-Russia resolution has been put to the vote while reminding them, for example, about their account in Chase Manhattan Bank or their daughter at Stanford. Things like that.

    Question: But it’s kind of the same thing.

    Sergey Lavrov: It happens. Well, of course, they don’t act with such arrogance here. Members of the UN Secretariat (the majority of them are from Western countries because the number of delegated secretariat seats depends on each state’s contribution) aren’t always neutral, as required by the UN Charter and the Regulations on the Secretariat. That’s life. I can assure you, it has always been like this.

    Regarding the second part of your question, I think that Western politicians are now making every effort to avoid showing they have been mistaken. The ruling parties will try to do this by hook or by crook – they have no other way. But the opposition – in Austria, voices are increasingly heard (there’s the Austrian Freedom Party, which Brussels does not favour very much, but it’s a legitimate party). In other countries, the opposition is rising their heads: why are we doing this? Why can’t we just look at things and reach agreement? Many people have questions.

    Developing countries don’t view the situation as Russia having crossed some “red line.” They remember what the Americans did in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Yugoslavia in 1999. With no notice, no warning that American interests were being infringed on, no calls to do something about it…

    Question: No eight years of trying to reach agreement…

    Sergey Lavrov: The United States bombed countries located 10,000 kilometres away from its coastline and razed cities to the ground. Europe never even dared to make a sound.

    Question: No need to protect large communities of American compatriots living there…

    Sergey Lavrov: That’s right. Our situation is totally different. There is a real threat, not something invented in order to spread our imperialist tentacles across the ocean – there’s a threat on our borders. For many years, we have been cautioning the West against turning Ukraine into an anti-Russia, with NATO infiltrating that country, against creating direct military threats to our security. Everyone is perfectly aware of this.

    Returning to Europe, I don’t think that it is in European interests to completely cut off all ties with us and switch to LNG, which the Americans are trying to…

    Question: …foist on them.

    Sergey Lavrov: I wanted to use a less polite term, but foist will do. It will be their choice. Serious scientists write that Germany’s entire economic activity, its prosperity of the past decades was due primarily to Russian energy resources they bought at affordable, reasonable and predictable prices. True, LNG is a more flexible commodity. Gas has to be bought at the “end” of the pipeline, while LNG can be redirected. But this is also a disadvantage. When demand rose in Asia, the Americans sent their LNG there, because it was a better deal. This can lead not only to higher prices, but also to a shortage of supplies at a certain stage. But if they do this, we won’t have any particular problems.

    President of Russia Vladimir Putin said that, given what they are doing with Nord Stream 2 (we’re ready to launch it, it is under operating pressure), in the current situation, 50 percent of the volume intended for that pipeline are already reserved for internal consumption: for heating purposes, for the chemical industry and for other industrial projects.

    We will redirect supplies without any serious losses. I do not doubt it. We have buyers, we have demand; after all, there are applications within the country too – connecting households and facilities and developing the chemical industry.

    Question: And thousands of villages without gas…

    Sergey Lavrov: That’s why I mentioned connecting them.

    So it will be their choice. I would like to say again: we should not (and, thank God, no one is trying to) invent any solutions implying the possibility, the probability, or even desirability of returning to the situation we had six months ago, where it was possible to restore the old supply chains. I think that they need to be discarded and new ones should be built that will be more reliable. This is what we are doing now, including the North-South corridor from St Petersburg to the Indian Ocean, and from India to Vladivostok. Several projects are already halfway through implementation. If and when, at some stage, Europe suddenly says that they have overreacted and are interested in restoring our economic relations and trade, we shouldn’t push them away. We will see how good the offer is, and only then react.

    Question: We say if they duped you once, they’ll do it again. You mentioned the diversification of our areas of cooperation. We have covered the East (China, India) extensively. This time, you are going to Africa, which is south. What are you going to do there? What are your expectations? What should we expect?

    Sergey Lavrov: We have long-standing good relations with Africa since the days of the Soviet Union which pioneered and led a movement that culminated in decolonisation. We provided assistance to the national liberation movement and then to the restoration of independent states and the rise of their economies. Hundreds of enterprises were built, which now form the basis of many African economies. At the UN, we led the movement to have decolonisation formalised as an integral part of international law and everyday life.

    Then, there was the period when the Soviet Union disappeared and the Russian Federation emerged. We were confronted with major problems, not in Africa, but much closer, in our country.

    We have been rebuilding our positions for many years now. The Africans are reciprocating. They are interested in having us. We never engaged in teaching them anything, but helped them overcome their problems so that they could live in their country the way they wanted to.

    Question: They think we did teach them something, but in a good sense.

    Sergei Lavrov: No. We helped them fulfil their goals. That’s how it was. We never told them not to be friends with America or anyone else. To this day, we are not lecturing them, unlike the Americans who go around Africa telling everyone “do not talk with the Chinese or the Russians. All they care about is their selfish interests, even when they trade with you.”

    We visit each other every year. Once a year or every two years, the Foreign Minister visits African countries. We’re trying to cover as many countries as possible in a period of two to three years. This year, it will be Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo. We have good traditions and economic foundations in these countries.

    Egypt is our number one trade and economic partner in Africa with trade just under $5 billion. The first nuclear power plant is being built. The construction of a Russian industrial area on the banks of the Suez Canal is nearing completion. Our relations with Africa have even brighter prospects now that the African Union decided last year to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area. Specific criteria and tariffs for this area are being agreed upon, which will take some time. This will benefit Russia as Africa’s rising partner in terms of boosting our trade and investment which are quite modest compared to the United States, China and the EU. We must work hard, with our colleagues, to prepare for the second Russia-Africa summit. The first one took place in Sochi in 2019. The second one is planned to be held next year.

    Question: Maybe in Odessa?

    Sergey Lavrov: No, probably not in Odessa. We will announce the venue later. An economic forum will be held concurrently with the summit with round table discussions on trade, energy, cybersecurity, agriculture, outer space and nuclear energy.

    It is important to step up our efforts. Africa has a population of 1.4 billion people, which is comparable to China and India. This is a great portion of the modern world and probably the most promising market. That is why companies and countries with good vision are building long-term strategies with regard to Africa, which is the continent of the future. We have an excellent political foundation underlying our relations and a good mutual understanding based on the fact that thousands of Africans who hold positions in their respective governments have studied in Russia and continue to do so. We need to use this human and political capital to achieve economic advancement.

    Question: What kind of relations do we have with our “exes?” (I understand exes are rarely friends, but it still happens occasionally.) Do we have real friends among our exes, including Belarus? What is going on in Kazakhstan with mixed signals coming from there?  Is there a sense that we ourselves are a little to blame for some things, that we let them go and gave them away to Europe, America, and even Türkiye? What do you think?

    Sergey Lavrov: There was such a period. The Soviet Union ceased to exist. We signed the Belovezh Accords. Of course, the countries that were not invited to Belovezhskaya Pushcha were hurt. No doubt about it. I understand them. Then, some efforts were made to improve this situation (to make amends, so to speak). A special meeting was held in Alma-Ata in late 1991. But it still left a bad taste in the mouth. Most importantly, it was an event followed by some processes.

    Our leadership did little to prevent the cooling of relations with our neighbours, closest allies, and comrades-in-arms during the first years of independence and sovereignty. We have lived together for many hundreds, even thousands of years. I remember that time. I was Deputy Foreign Minister in 1992-1994 before I left for work in New York. My scope of duties included international organisations, but at some point Andrey Kozyrev asked me to take up the CIS matters. I didn’t do it for long, though. The situation did not look too good (clearly, the Foreign Ministry was not the one to decide on building policies in this area, the Presidential Executive Office was). Back then, everyone thought they had no place to go. We lived together all that time and shared the language, the universities and the tastes. So, we thought we’ll just keep on living like that. Of course, over the long decades and centuries, the economy had become intertwined to the point where breaking ties was impossible.

    True, the West wasn’t sitting on its hands. And not only the West. If you look at Central Asia now, you’ll see multiple “Central Asia plus partner” formats there, such as Central Asia plus the United States, or “plus the European Union,” or “plus Japan,” “plus China,” “plus Türkiye,” or “plus India.” “Plus Russia” is there as well. Despite the fact that we have the CIS, the EAEU, the SCO, the CSTO, there was no association where all five Central Asian countries and Russia were together. Now there is.

    This is how things are, not only in foreign ministries, but in our economic agencies as well. It’s an important process. Water and energy were shared. Our Western “partners” are now trying to infiltrate these particular areas. The EU and the United States are coming up with their own programmes which will tailor the ongoing water and energy use processes that rely on the Soviet legacy to their needs, the needs of external players. Clearly, it makes sense to join efforts in this department which is what we are encouraging our partners to do. They agree, but the West is trying in every possible way to disrupt this natural process and meddle in our dealings with our “exes,” as you put it. Poet Andrey Voznesensky once famously said, “Don’t return to those you once loved.” This is the opening line. However, the poem ends with “Anyway, you have nowhere else to go.”

    Question:  A trendy modern poetess Vera Polozkova has the following line, “She is friends with all her exes as if they had never let her down.”

    You, and the Foreign Ministry, said that you knew nothing about the special military operation before it began. At least, you knew nothing about it long before it started. Perhaps, this is not true, but that was the impression. May I ask you how you found out about it? What did you feel? I remember well what Tigran Keosayan and I felt at home at night, when we learned about it. I wonder what you felt back then. What do you think about the people who are now called “frightened patriots” who were frightened and left, those who are “ashamed” etc.?

    Sergey Lavrov: The time and date of when I found out about it is not my secret.

    Question: So, this is not a state secret?

    Sergey Lavrov: This is not a state secret, but it is not my secret, either. If I may, I would like to leave it at that.

    The sense of inevitability is what I felt when this announcement was made. Not joy. Imminent hostilities, with the citizens of your country going to defend justice and risk their lives, are not a reason for joy. It was a sense of inevitability and even relief. For many years we were unable to answer the question posed by the people of Donbass and many of our citizens as to how much longer we would allow them to mock common sense, the people, the UN Security Council resolution and every other aspect of it that was brazenly sabotaged.

    Question: What do you think of those who are ashamed of being Russian?

    Sergey Lavrov: We are now having a big discussion about foreign agents, and whether it was the right thing to do to draft a new law, which some people consider an extension to the old one and ask if it was right or wrong.

    I watch talk shows, including those that you host, where issues are debated that everyone can relate to: so they left, what do we do about them now? How do we feel about them if they return? Or should they even be allowed to return? I don’t have an opinion. Each person is the master of their own destiny. That’s the way it is. But everyone must have a conscience. And everyone has to deal with their own conscience. This is how I see it. But there is something I cannot accept, and that’s people publishing things – I have a duty to read some resources designated as foreign agents in my line of work, and they describe with such lustful pleasure those insurmountable (from their point of view) problems that the Russian Federation is facing. They…

    Question: Gloat.

    Sergey Lavrov: Yes. They predict collapse. One of them wrote that Russia was threatened with death in terms of high technologies, because it has neither brains nor institutions. It is your country you are writing this about!

    There are others. When Roscosmos, in response to the sanctions, told the Americans that, since they did not want our engines anymore, we would discontinue supplies to both the US and the UK, they imposed sanctions on our corporation, making any further contact impossible. A foreign agent site launched into a story about how our corporation had violated every conceivable obligation, and was now irreparably tainted as a dishonest partner that no one would ever deal with. We say double standards. That’s how they work, plain and simple.

    My opinion is that these people should be left alone with themselves and realise what they have done. How to treat them is another matter. Will their former acquaintances stay in touch with them? How will the state go about renewing relations with them? That is another question. What is important is to leave them alone with their own conscience.

    Question: Your trust that every person has a conscience has already done you a disservice with Petr Poroshenko and the Minsk agreements. Maybe you should just stop believing this. Not everyone has a conscience, unfortunately.

    We all wonder, and every person in the country wants to know when “this” will end. We all want the special military operation to end as soon as possible, so that people stop dying – our soldiers, and the civilians that their former Ukraine is hitting every day. Ukraine still considers them its citizens de jure, but this isn’t stopping it, as we know. When will it end? We do not know. I won’t ask you about it. Obviously you don’t have an answer.

    But where do you think it should end? I am not asking about the goals that Vladimir Putin announced at the start – the goals, and hence the potential results of this operation – the demilitarisation and denazification. This much is clear. Where should it end geographically? Where would it be reasonable, right and good for us?

    Sergey Lavrov: As regards any projections or timeframe, I have just recalled an amusing fact. Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmitry Kuleba recently said that Vladimir Zelensky had set a deadline for joining the European Union, but he wouldn’t reveal that deadline, because many in the European Union might get scared and try to slow down their accession to the EU.

    We don’t have any deadlines. As for the special military operation and geographic goals, President Vladimir Putin said clearly (as you quoted him): denazification and demilitarisation, which means no threats to our security, no military threats from the territory of Ukraine. This goal remains. Geography-wise, the situation was different when the negotiators met in Istanbul. Our readiness to accept the Ukrainian proposal was based on the situation as of the end of March 2022.

    Question: That was the DPR and the LPR?

    Sergey Lavrov: Yes, more or less. Now the geography is different. It is more than the DPR, the LPR, but also the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions and a number of other areas. This process continues, consistently and persistently. It will continue as long as the West, in its impotent rage, desperate to aggravate the situation as much as possible, continues to flood Ukraine with more and more long-range weapons. Take the HIMARS. Defence Minister Alexey Reznikov boasts that they have already received 300-kilometre ammunition. This means our geographic objectives will move even further from the current line. We cannot allow the part of Ukraine that Vladimir Zelensky, or whoever replaces him, will control to have weapons that pose a direct threat to our territory or to the republics that have declared their independence and want to determine their own future.

    Question: How can this be arranged, technically? This is our territory. Then there are the republics that will accede to us. In fact they already have – the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. You are diplomats, so you cannot say this. I’m a journalist, and I call a spade a spade. Further west, there is the territory controlled by Vladimir Zelensky. They have a common border. So either there should be a 300 kilometre buffer zone or something between them, or we need to march all the way to Lvov inclusive.

    Sergey Lavrov: There is a solution to this problem. The military know this.

    Question: A secret one? Do you think there is a chance that we will leave half-way? This is something our subscribers and viewers are fearing.

    Sergey Lavrov: I see no reason to question what President Vladimir Putin announced on February 24, 2022, and reaffirmed a few days ago – our goals remain the same. And they will be met.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s article «Staged incidents as the Western approach to doing politics»

    July 18, 2022

    https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1822333/

    Published in Izvestia newspaper

    Today, the Russian Armed Forces, together with the self-defence units of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, are delivering on the objectives of the special military operation with great resolve to put an end to the outrageous discrimination and genocide of the Russian people and eliminate direct threats to the security of the Russian Federation that the United States and its satellites have been creating on Ukrainian territory for years. While losing on the battlefield, the Ukrainian regime and its Western patrons have descended to staging bloody incidents to demonise our country in the eyes of the international community. We have already seen Bucha, Mariupol, Kramatorsk, and Kremenchug. The Russian Defence Ministry has been regularly issuing warnings, with facts in hand, about upcoming staged incidents and fakes.

    There is a distinctive pattern that betrays the provocations staged by the West and its henchmen. In fact, they started long before the Ukrainian events.

    Take 1999 – the village of Račak in Serbia’s Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. A group of OSCE inspectors arrived at the site where several dozen corpses dressed in civilian clothes were discovered. Without any investigation, the mission head declared the incident an act of genocide, even though making a conclusion of this kind was not part of the mandate issued to this international official. NATO immediately launched a military aggression against Yugoslavia, during which it intentionally destroyed a television centre, bridges, passenger trains and other civilian targets. Later, it was proved with conclusive evidence that the dead bodies were not civilians, but militants of the Kosovo Liberation Army, an illegal armed group, dressed in civilian clothes. But by that time the staged incident has already taken its toll, offering a pretext for the first illegal use of force against an OSCE member state since the signing of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975. It is telling that the statement that triggered the bombings came from William Walker, a US citizen who headed the OSCE’s Kosovo Verification Mission. Separating Kosovo from Serbia by force and setting up Camp Bondsteel, the largest US military base in the Balkans, were the main outcomes of the aggression.

    In 2003, there was the infamous performance by US Secretary of State Colin Powell in the UN Security Council with a vial containing white powder of some sort, which he said contained anthrax spores, alleging that it was produced in Iraq. Once again, the fake worked: the Anglo-Saxons and those who followed their lead went on to bomb Iraq, which has been struggling to fully recover its statehood ever since. Moreover, it did not take long before the fake was exposed with everyone admitting that Iraq did not have any biological weapons or any other kinds of WMDs. Later, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was one of the masterminds of the aggression, recognised that the whole affair was a fraud, saying that they “may have been wrong” or something like that. As for Colin Powell, he later tried to justify himself by claiming that he was misled by the underlying intelligence. Either way, this was yet another provocation that offered a pretext for delivering on the plan to destroy a sovereign nation.

    There was also Libya in 2011. The drama had specifics of its own. The situation did not go as far as direct lies, like in Kosovo or Iraq, but NATO grossly distorted the UN Security Council resolution, which provided for a no-fly zone over Libya in order to “ground” Muammar Gaddafi’s air force. It did not fly to begin with. However, NATO started bombing the Libyan army units who were fighting terrorists. Muammar Gaddafi died a savage death, and nothing remains of the Libyan statehood. Efforts to put the country back together have yet to succeed, with a US representative once again in charge of the process, appointed by the UN Secretary General without any consultation with the UN Security Council. As part of this process, our Western colleagues have facilitated several intra-Libyan agreements on holding elections but none of them materialised. Illegal armed groups still reign supreme on Libyan territory, with most of them working closely with the West.

    February 2014, Ukraine – the West, represented by the German, French, and Polish foreign ministers, de facto forced President Viktor Yanukovich into signing an agreement with the opposition to end the confrontation and promote a peaceful resolution of the intra-Ukrainian crisis by establishing a transitional national unity government and calling a snap election, to be held within a few months. This too turned out to be a fraud: the next morning, the opposition staged a coup guided as it was by anti-Russia, racist slogans. However, the Western guarantors did not even try to bring the opposition back to its senses. Furthermore, they switched immediately to encouraging the coup perpetrators in their policies against Russia and everything Russian, unleashing the war against their own people and bombing entire cities in the Donbass region just because people there refused to recognise the unconstitutional coup. For that, they labelled the people in Donbass terrorists, and once again the West was there to encourage them.

    At this point, it is worth noting that, as it was soon revealed, the killing of protestors on the Maidan was also a staged incident, which the West blamed either on the Ukrainian security forces loyal to Viktor Yanukovich, or on the Russian special services. However, the radical members of the opposition were the ones who were behind this provocation, while working closely with the Western intelligence services. Once again, exposing these facts did not take long, but by that time they already did their job.

    Efforts by Russia, Germany, and France paved the way to stopping the war between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk in February 2015 with the signing of the Minsk Agreements. Berlin and Paris played a proactive role here as well, proudly calling themselves as the guarantor countries. However, during the seven long years that followed, they did absolutely nothing to force Kiev to launch a direct dialogue with Donbass representatives for agreeing on matters including the special status, amnesty, restoring economic ties, and holding elections, as required by the Minsk Agreements which were approved unanimously by the UN Security Council. The Western leaders remained silent when Kiev took steps which directly violated the Minsk Agreements under both Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky. Moreover, the German and the French leaders kept saying that Kiev cannot enter direct dialogue with the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, and blamed everything on Russia, although Russia is not mentioned in the Minsk agreements even once, while remaining basically the only country that kept pushing for the agreements to be implemented.

    If anyone doubted that the Minsk Package was anything but yet another fake, Petr Poroshenko dispelled this myth by saying on June 17, 2022: “The Minsk Agreements did not mean anything to us, and we had no intention to carry them out… our goal was to remove the threat we faced… and win time in order to restore economic growth and rebuild the armed forces. We achieved this goal. Mission accomplished for the Minsk Agreements.” The people of Ukraine are still paying the price of this fake. For many years now, the West has been forcing them to accept an anti-Russian neo-Nazi regime. What a waste of energy for Olaf Scholz with his calls to force Russia to agree to an agreement guaranteeing Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. There already had been an agreement to this effect, the Minsk Package, and Berlin with Paris were the ones who derailed it by shielding Kiev in its refusal to abide by the document. The fake has been exposed – finita la commedia.

    By the way, Vladimir Zelensky has been a worthy successor to Petr Poroshenko. During a campaign rally in early 2019, he was ready to kneel before him for the sake of stopping the war.

    In December 2019, Zelensky got a chance to carry out the Minsk Agreements following the Normandy format summit in Paris. In the outcome document adopted at the highest level, the Ukrainian President undertook to resolve matters related to the special status of Donbass. Of course, he did not do anything, while Berlin and Paris once again covered up for him. The document and all the publicity accompanying its adoption turned out to be no more than a fake narrative promoted by Ukraine and the West to win some time for supplying more weapons to the Kiev regime, which follows Petr Poroshenko’s logic to the letter.

    There was also Syria, with the 2013 agreement on eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles in a stage-by-stage process verified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), for which it received the Nobel Peace Prize. After that, however, there were outrageous provocations in 2017 and 2018 staging the use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun and Duma, a Damascus suburb. There was a video showing people calling themselves the White Helmets (a would-be humanitarian organisation which never showed up on territories controlled by the Syrian government) helping alleged poisoning victims, although no one had any protective clothing or gear. All attempts to force the OPCW Technical Secretariat to perform its duties in good faith and ensure a transparent investigation into these incidents, as required by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), failed. This, however, did not come as a surprise. The Western countries have long privatised the Technical Secretariat by having their representatives appointed to the key positions within this structure. They contributed to staging these incidents and used them as a pretext for US, British, and French airstrikes against Syria. Incidentally, they carried out these bombings just a day before a group of OPCW inspectors arrived there to investigate the incidents at Russia’s insistence, while the West did everything to prevent this deployment.

    The West and the OPCW Technical Secretariat it controls demonstrated their ability to stage fake incidents with the would-be poisonings of the Skripals and Alexey Navalny. In both cases, Russia sent multiple requests to The Hague, London, Berlin, Paris, and Stockholm, all left without a reply, even though they fully conformed with the CWC provisions and required a response.

    Other pending questions have to do with the Pentagon’s covert activities in Ukraine carried out through its Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The traces that the forces engaged in the special military operation have discovered in military-biological laboratories in the liberated territories of Donbass and adjacent areas clearly indicate direct violations of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons (BTWC). We have presented the documents to Washington and to the UN Security Council. The procedure has been initiated under BTWC to demand explanations. Contrary to the facts, the US administration is trying to justify its actions by saying that all biological research in Ukraine was exclusively peaceful and civilian in nature – with no evidence of any of this.

    In fact, the Pentagon’s military-biological activities around the world, especially in the post-Soviet countries, require the closest attention in light of the multiplying evidence of criminal experiments with the most dangerous pathogens in order to create biological weapons conducted under the guise of peaceful research.

    I have already mentioned the staged “crimes” of the Donbass militia and participants in the Russian special military operation. There is one simple fact that clearly shows how much these accusations mean: having shown the “Bucha tragedy” to the world in early April 2022 (we have suspicions that the Anglo-Saxons had a hand in setting the stage for the show), the West and Kiev have not yet answered the very basic questions about whether the names of the dead were established and what post-mortem examinations showed. Just as in the above-described Skripals and Navalny cases, the propaganda production has premiered in the Western media, and now it’s time to sweep it all under the rug, brazen it out, because they have nothing to say.

    This is the essence of the well-worn Western political algorithm – to concoct a fake story and ratchet up the hype as if it’s a universal catastrophe for a couple of days while blocking people’s access to alternative information or assessments, and when any facts do break through, they are simply ignored – at best mentioned on last pages of the news in small print. It is important to understand that this is not a harmless game in the media war – such productions are used as pretexts for very material actions such as punishing the “guilty” countries with sanctions, unleashing barbaric aggressions against them with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, as it happened, in particular, in Iraq and Libya. Or – as in the case of Ukraine – for using the country as expendable material in the Western proxy war against Russia. Moreover, NATO instructors and MLRS aimers are, apparently, already directing the actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and nationalist battalions on the ground.

    I hope there are responsible politicians in Europe who are aware of the consequences. In this regard, it is noteworthy that no one in NATO or the EU tried to reprimand the German Air Force Commander, a general named Ingo Gerhartz, who got carried away higher than his rank and said NATO must be ready to use nuclear weapons. “Putin, do not try to compete with us,” he added. Europe’s silence suggests that it is complacently oblivious of Germany’s role in its history.

    If we look at today’s events through a historical prism, the entire Ukrainian crisis appears as a “grand chess game” that follows a scenario earlier promoted by Zbigniew Brzezinski. All the good relations talk, the West’s proclaimed readiness to take into account the rights and interests of Russians who ended up in independent Ukraine or other post-Soviet countries after the collapse of the USSR turned out to be mere pretence. Even in the early 2000s, Washington and the European Union began to openly pressure Kiev to decide which side Ukraine was on, the West or Russia.

    Ever since 2014, the West has been controlling, hands-on, the Russophobic regime it brought to power through a coup d’état. Putting Vladimir Zelensky in front of any international forum of any significance is also part of this travesty. He makes passionate speeches, but when he suddenly offers something reasonable, he gets a slap on the wrist, as it happened after the Istanbul round of Russian-Ukrainian talks. At the end of March, it seemed that light glimmered at the end of the tunnel, but Kiev was forced to back off, using, among other things, a frankly staged episode in Bucha. Washington, London and Brussels demanded that Kiev stopped negotiating with Russia until Ukraine achieved full military advantage (former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried especially hard, and many other Western politicians did too, still incumbent, although they have already proved just as inept).

    EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s statement about this war having to be “won on the battlefield” by Ukraine suggests that even diplomacy has lost its value as a tool in the European Union’s staged performance.

    In a broader sense, it is curious to see how Europe, lined up by Washington on the anti-Russian front, has been hardest hit by the thoughtless sanctions, emptying its arsenals to supply weapons to Kiev (without even asking for a report on who will control them or where they go), and freeing up its market only to subsequently buy US military products and expensive American LNG instead of available Russian gas. Such trends, coupled with the de facto merger between the EU and NATO, make the continued talk about Europe’s “strategic autonomy” nothing more than a show. Everyone has already understood that the collective West’s foreign policy is a “one-man theatre.” Moreover, it is consistently seeking ever new theaters of military operations.

    One element of the geopolitical gambit against Russia is granting the status of an eternal EU candidate country to Ukraine and Moldova, which, it seems, will also face an unenviable fate. Meanwhile, a PR campaign has been initiated by President of France Emmanuel Macron to promote the “European political community,” which offers no financial or economic benefits, but demands full compliance with the EU’s anti-Russia actions. The principle behind it is not either/or but “who is not with us is against us.” Emmanuel Macron explained the gist of the “community”: the EU will invite all European countries – “from Iceland to Ukraine” – to join it, but not Russia. I would like to stress that we are not eager to join, but the statement itself showcases the essence of this obviously confrontational and divisive new undertaking.

    Ukraine, Moldova and other countries being courted by the EU today are destined to be extras in the games of the West. The United States, as the main producer, calls the tune and devises the storyline based on which Europe writes the anti-Russia screenplay. The actors are ready and possess the skills acquired during their tenure at the Kvartal 95 Studio: they will provide a voice-over for dramatic texts no worse than the now forgotten Greta Thunberg and play musical instruments, if needed. The actors are good: remember how convincing Vladimir Zelensky was in his role as a democrat in the Servant of the People: fighter against corruption and discrimination against Russians and for all the right things in general. Remember and compare it with his immediate transformation in his role as president. It is perfect Stanislavsky Method acting: banning the Russian language, education, media and culture. “If you feel like Russians, then go to Russia for the sake of your children and grandchildren.” Good advice. He called Donbass residents “species” rather than people. And this is what he said about the Nazi Azov battalion: “They are what they are. There is plenty of such people around here.” Even CNN was ashamed to leave this phrase in the interview.

    This prompts a question: what will be the outcome of all these storylines? Staged incidents based on blood and agony are by no means fun but a display of a cynical policy in creating a new reality where all principles of the UN Charter and all norms of international law are attempted to be replaced with their “rules-based order” in an aspiration to perpetuate their dwindling domination in global affairs.

    The games undertaken by the West in the OSCE after from end of the Cold War, where it considered itself a winner, had the most devastating consequences for the modern international relations. Having quickly broken their promises to the Soviet and Russian leadership on the non-expansion of NATO to the east, the United States and its allies nevertheless declared their commitment to building a unified space of security and cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic region. They formalised it at the top level with all OSCE members in 1999 and 2010 within the framework of a political obligation to ensure equal and inseparable security where no country will strengthen its security at the expense of others and no organisation will claim a dominating role in Europe. It soon became evident that NATO members do no keep their word and that their goal is the supremacy of the North-Atlantic Alliance. Even then we continued our diplomatic efforts, proposing to formalise the principle of equal and inseparable security in a legally binding agreement. We proposed this a number of times, the last one in December 2021, but received a flat denial in response. They told us directly: there will be no legal guarantees outside NATO. Which means that the support of the political documents approved at the OSCE summits turned out to be a cheap fake. And now NATO, driven by the United States, has gone even further: they want to dominate over the entire Asia-Pacific region in addition to the Euro-Atlantic. NATO members make no effort to conceal the target of their threats, and China’s leadership has already publicly declared its position regarding such neo-colonial ambitions. Beijing has already responded by citing the principle of indivisible security, declaring its support for applying it on a global scale to prevent any country from claiming its exclusivity. This approach fully coincides with Russia’s position. We will make consistent efforts to defend it together with our allies, strategic partners and many other like-minded countries.

    The collective West should come back to Earth from the world of illusions. The staged incidents, no matter how long they go on, will not work. It is time for fair play based on the international law rather than cheating. The sooner everyone realises that there are no alternatives to objective historical processes where a multipolar world is formed based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality of states, fundamental for the UN Charter and the entire world order, the better.

    If members of the western alliance are unable to live according to this principle, are not ready to build a truly universal architecture of equal security and cooperation, they should leave everyone alone, stop using threats and blackmail to recruit those who want to live on their own wits and acknowledge the right to freedom of choice by independent self-respecting countries. This is what democracy is all about, the real democracy, not one played out on a shabbily built political stage.

    Sergey Lavrov: Roundtable discussion SCO Treaties

    June 30, 2022

    Source

    Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s video address to the organisers of and participants in the roundtable discussion dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the SCO Charter and the 15th anniversary of the SCO Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation, June 29, 2022

    Colleagues, friends,

    I bid a most cordial and hearty welcome to the organisers of and participants in the roundtable discussion dedicated to two landmark events in the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. I am referring to the 20th anniversary of the SCO Charter and the 15th anniversary of the SCO Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation.

    These fundamental documents establish aims and objectives, principles, rights and obligations, whereby the member states are guided in their joint efforts undertaken in the name of a safe and stable common future as well as the well-being and prosperity of their peoples. The values of mutual understanding and trust, equality and consensus, as well as the refusal to participate in hostile actions against each other or directed against third countries serve as a firm foundation for strengthening the spirit of mutual understanding and partnership inherent in the SCO.

    Today, our Organisation is a dynamic international union of a new type, located in vast Eurasian expanses. It is distinguished by a creative philosophy and an ability to constantly generate creative energy in the name of achieving common goals. The SCO is by right perceived in the world as a recognised, authoritative, reliable and attractive partner, which is making a significant contribution to maintaining peace and stability, and ensuring sustainable development in Eurasia.

    Russia’s foreign policy priorities include strengthening the SCO in a comprehensive way and promoting a meaningful dialogue and practical cooperation in the area of security, the economy, and humanitarian ties. We have consistently advocated greater coordination between the member states in international affairs and strengthening the impact of collaboration with observer states, dialogue partners, and interested multilateral organisations. It is important to continue the coordinated policy towards expanding the SCO, while carefully weighing each step, primarily from the point of view of whether it can really strengthen the Organisation.

    Counteracting terrorism, drug trafficking and trans-border organised crime is a matter of particular importance on the SCO agenda.  Given the growing scale of interconnected challenges and threats, we continue the work to implement our leaders’ decisions on improving the mechanisms designed to counteract these risks, this in compliance with the relevant initiatives put forward by member states. Simultaneously, measures are being taken to expand the functional potential of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.

    A firm basis has been created for promoting economic interaction within the SCO. It is necessary to work hard to put the existing plans into practice and implement concrete measures intended to ensure food, transport and energy security, develop remote and rural territories, strengthen inter-regional ties, carry out digital transformation, and introduce high technologies and innovations.  It will be of use to approve, as expected, a roadmap on increasing the share of national currencies in mutual payments.

    Yet another promising vector of joint work is setting up wide-ranging cooperative ties in the interests of creating the Greater Eurasian Partnership through the establishment of an open, mutually beneficial and equitable interaction with partners on our common continent, based on the norms of international law and a balance of national interests.

    We are expanding humanitarian exchanges, including in education, science, culture, healthcare, the fight against epidemics, tourism, and human contacts, including contacts between young people.

    A vast legal and contractual infrastructure, a huge human and resource potential, multilevel practical mechanisms and the accumulated rich experience of multifaceted cooperation remain a guarantee of the SCO’s further strengthening. Amid the continuing tectonic shifts in world politics and the economy, our Organisation can and must become one of the core elements of a new, more just and democratic polycentric world order based on the UN Charter, the principles of sovereign equality of all states, non-interference in internal affairs, and equal and indivisible security.

    Russia has come up with an initiative to modernise the SCO and adapt it to the present-day geopolitical realities.  I am confident that the leaders of our countries will map out the priorities and measures to achieve the said goals at the upcoming September SCO Summit in Samarkand, which will be the culmination of Uzbekistan’s successful chairmanship.

    In conclusion, I would like to wish you interesting and informative discussions and all the best.

    Lavrov gets it right by comparing European Union and NATO to Hitler’s old Axis

    June 28, 2022

    Source

    By Guilherme Wilbert

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated on 06/24/2022 that the European Union and NATO appear to be carrying out a military coalition for a war against Russia. The statement was given in Baku in Azerbaijan during an interview.

    “They are creating a new coalition for fighting, that is, for war with Russia. We will follow this very closely,” the Minister rightly declared, because that is what has been happening anyway. But first let’s go to the archetypes of the entities mentioned.

    The European Union, in its initial design, may have come up with good proposals for the integration of Europeans, with some Balkan countries, for example, applying to be part of the economic and diplomatic bloc, but it so happens that few people pay attention to history, especially during World War II.

    Hitler wanted a union of the European countries, what he called a “Pan-European Union”, a form of closer integration between countries that would naturally be against the Soviet Union and communism in general. No wonder Hitler set up puppet governments in some European countries such as Denmark, for example, which was under the tutelage of Nazi Germany during the period August 1943 until May 1945, after the success of Operation Weserübung.

    As for NATO for example, it is seen as a super aggressive military alliance that causes barbarism in various parts of the world, especially in the former Yugoslavia, which had its territory balkanized after an intervention in the country in 1999 where some war crimes were committed because those bombs would hit civilian buildings, such as the famous bombing of Serbian TV, which was not a legitimate military target, but turned out to be a Yugoslav “propaganda broadcast” (obviously) at the time.

    So it didn’t take much effort on the part of some “non-aligned diplomats” (which is the case of Lavrov) to understand that the European Union and NATO act together to stand up to the former Soviet Union, now Russia.  NATO even characterized the country as an “enemy” several times, emphasized by Vladimir Putin in his speeches.

    It’s not as if they left options for today’s Russia, unfortunately

    After NATO’s expansions into Eastern European countries, even after a verbal agreement made between Soviet and American diplomats at the time that they would not move “an inch east” in the early 2000s, the opposite was seen and this was stated several times before the start of Operation Z, and was characterized in various ways by Kremlin spokespersons that Ukraine’s entry into NATO was a criminal act. And it was.

    And like any criminal act, the police power, even if governed by a country’s Armed Forces, needed to come into effect because after the NATO vs. Russia diplomatic rounds no documentary agreement of truth properly bound by international law was reached. And to make matters worse, Zelensky would state on 02/19/2022 in a speech at the European Security Conference in Munich (just 5 days before the start of Operation Z) that he would no longer ratify the Budapest Memorandum, which is a treaty that denuclearizes Ukraine since 1994.

    This would sound an alarm throughout Russia because its door to Europe would be with nuclear missiles possibly aimed at Moscow with orders coming from Washington for provocation after the fall of Putin’s allied government of Yanukovych.

    With that said, Lavrov’s comparison of Hitler’s Axis with the current European Union and NATO is once again correct, because the current prejudice against Russians was seen against Jews in Nazi Germany, the attempt at various provocations such as the recent case of the Lithuanian blockade of Kaliningrad (Russian exclave) was seen when Hitler spoke of “vital space” putting countries neighboring Germany on invasion alert, and many more are the parallels.

    This is a lost war and Ukraine needs to recognize this or else hardly a resident of Kiev will be able to enjoy the good beaches of the Black Sea.

    References: https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/news/2022/06/24/7354408/

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