Putin delivers annual address to Federal Assembly

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Putin delivers annual address to Federal Assembly

April 21, 2021

Putin’s speech comes amid a period of diplomatic confrontation with Western nations and a stand-off over the situation in Ukraine and Russian troop movements.

The address to the Federal Assembly is often used to announce major changes in Russian domestic and foreign policy.

This is the current live stream.

The full and complete transcript is now posted.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly

The President of Russia delivered the Address to the Federal Assembly. The ceremony took place at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall.

April 21, 202113:20

Moscow

The ceremony was attended by members of the Federation CouncilState Duma deputies, members of the Government, the heads of the Constitutional and Supreme courts, regional governors, speakers of regional legislatures, the heads of traditional religious denominations and public activists.

* *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies,

Citizens of Russia,

Today’s Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly will be dedicated mostly to internal issues. These include, naturally, healthcare, social policy and the economy. Of course, I will say a few words about external affairs and literally a few words about security issues.

It stands to reason that I will begin with last year’s events, when our country and, actually, the entire world faced a new, previously unknown and extremely dangerous infection.

It that period, including during our meetings with experts and conversations with the leaders of many states, I often heard the following description of the situation: we are faced with total uncertainty. And this is how it really was.

I could see this from the information I received from the regions. The number of people who contracted the disease and needed to be rushed to hospital kept growing. Actually, all of you are very well aware of this. Many hospitals were filled to capacity and reported that they could run out of oxygen soon, including in intensive care units. Ventilators, protective masks and PPE were actually distributed by the piece. Shops were running out of basic products, such as cereals, butter and sugar, due to increased demand.

The epidemic was on the offensive. But although there was great concern, I personally had no doubt that we would pull through.

Citizens, society and the state acted responsibly and in unison. We rallied, managed to take preventive action, to create conditions that would reduce the risk of infection, and to provide medical personnel and citizens with personal protective equipment. We increased the number of hospital beds for coronavirus patients more than five times over, to 280,000 beds.

The brief outline of measures conceals the tremendous and intensive work of millions of people in all regions of the Russian Federation. I would like to cordially thank all of you for this. Everyone worked quickly, efficiently and conscientiously.

At that time and later on, we were analysing the situation practically non-stop. I recall vividly my visit to the hospital in Kommunarka. It was necessary to experience, to see at first hand the danger facing us and to assess the working conditions of medical specialists. They immediately found themselves in the thick of events and fought for every life, while risking their own.

Today, doctors, paramedics, medical nurses and members of ambulance teams are sitting here in this hall. Once again my heartfelt thanks to you and your colleagues from all the Russian regions.

Russian researchers made a real breakthrough, and Russia now has three reliable coronavirus vaccines. These and many other achievements of the past few years highlight the country’s growing science and technological potential.

I would like to thank everyone, every person who contributed to the fight against infection, including the workers at the plants manufacturing medications, medical equipment, personal protective equipment, and enterprises working 24 hours a day, housing and utility agencies, trade companies, the Russian business community that quickly converted entire sectors so that they could manufacture essential goods, civilian and military builders, agriculture workers who gathered a record-breaking harvest, one of the biggest in the country’s history, that is, over 130 million tonnes.

The personnel of law enforcement agencies and the special services continued to carry out their duty, and the Russian Armed Forces reliably ensured our country’s security.

I would like to underscore the selfless behaviour of people working for social services, orphanages, boarding schools, retirement homes and hospices who stayed and who continue to stay with their charges. You will certainly agree with me that, while analysing developments at these institutions, one feels proud of people who are carrying out their duty there in such a responsible manner. It could move you to tears. I would like to thank them once again.

I would also like to convey my sincere gratitude to school teachers and the lecturers at universities and other education institutions. You did everything possible to enable your students and pupils to gain knowledge and successfully pass their exams, with the involvement and support of their parents.

Russia’s cultural life continued unabated. Theatres, museums and concert halls remained open to audiences online thanks to modern technology. Everyone who works in this crucial sphere rose to the occasion.

Our people showed discipline and managed to observe, let’s face it, quite exhausting, but vital precautions. Thus, acting together, we have put up an effective barrier to the pandemic.

The people’s solidarity showed in concrete actions, in caring for the loved ones and in willingness to help people in need. Millions became volunteers and engaged in building person-to-person help routes. The nationwide We Are Together campaign brought together people from different walks of life and ages. As always during challenging times, our traditional religions stepped up to provide spiritual support to the society. I see the leaders of our religions here and I would like to bow deeply to you, thank you very much

Throughout history, our people have come out victorious and overcome trials thanks to unity. Today, family, friendship, mutual assistance, graciousness and unity have come to the fore as well.

Spiritual and moral values, which are already being forgotten in some countries, have, on the contrary, made us stronger. And we will always uphold and defend these values.

Colleagues,

The pandemic broke out at a time when the aftermath of the demographic shocks of the 1940s and 1990s converged. We realise that the current demographic situation is an emergency. Unfortunately, this is how things are. We must accept and admit it and do something about it based on our understanding of this situation.

Saving the people of Russia is our top national priority. This priority underlies the stipulations of the updated Constitution concerning the protection of the family, the important role parents play in bringing up their children, strengthening social guarantees, and further developing the economy, education and culture.

Our strategy is to return to sustainable population growth to make sure that the average life expectancy in Russia increases to 78 years in 2030.

Unfortunately, the statistics show us sad and disappointing numbers. We are even seeing a certain decline. It is clear what is happening because of the pandemic, but we will keep our strategic goals in this critical sphere unchanged.

I fully realise that this is no small feat, the more so as the coronavirus has not yet been completely defeated and remains a direct threat. We see the dramatic developments in many countries where the cases of infection continue to grow. We need to keep in check the defence barriers designed to slow down the spread of the virus along our external borders and within our country.

I would like to address all citizens of Russia once again. Friends, please stay alert. I am asking you to take care of yourselves and your loved ones and to comply with the doctors’ and sanitary services’ recommendations as closely as possible.

Vaccination is of crucial importance. I would like to ask the Government, the Healthcare Ministry and the heads of the regions to monitor this process on a daily basis. The opportunity to take the jab must be available everywhere, so that we achieve the so-called herd immunity by the autumn.

The attainment of this goal depends on everyone, on all our citizens. Please, I am asking all citizens of Russia once again to get vaccinated. This is the only way to stop this deadly epidemic. There is no alternative. The other choice is much worse: to contract the disease with unpredictable consequences.

I would like to say once again that the disease is still with us. But we must start thinking already now about healing the wounds it has inflicted and restoring people’s health.

During the peak periods, our hospitals and outpatient clinics had to reduce or even suspend scheduled visits. This increased the risk of the aggravation of chronic illnesses or the risk of missing the first signs of or correctly diagnosing new illnesses.

I would like to ask the Government, the Healthcare Ministry and the constituent entities of the Russian Federation to expand the system of medical check-ups and periodic screenings, taking into account the current epidemiological situation, and to relaunch them in full measure on July 1, 2021 for people of all ages. They must involve the largest number of people possible. This is why we will increase the supply of mobile medical diagnostic systems to the regions in the near future.

One of the targets of the coronavirus is the cardiovascular system. These diseases have always been the leading cause of death. Therefore, special attention during periodic screenings must be given to people with cardiovascular diseases. I would like to instruct the Government to take additional measures to prevent the diseases that are the main causes of premature death. As I have already mentioned, these are cardiovascular diseases plus malignant tumours and respiratory system diseases.

Hepatitis C claims many young lives. Decisions must be made to reduce this threat to the health of the nation to a minimum within 10 years.

To ensure that as many people as possible can restore their health at sanatoriums and health resorts, I propose that the 20 percent rebate programme for domestic travel is extended at least until the end of the year.

Children’s health is our special priority. Indeed, the foundation for good health for many years to come is laid during childhood. Children’s rest and recreation activities must be made as affordable as possible. In this regard, this year, I propose reimbursing half of what parents spend on their children’s summer camps.

In addition, we need to expand opportunities for student tourism. Already this year, we must launch several pilot projects, including accommodation on university campuses and in dormitories in other regions for students who travel around the country during the summer.

And, of course, we must reward the young people who have done well in academic competitions and in volunteer and creative initiatives as well as the projects operated by the Russia – Land of Opportunity platform. For them, the partial reimbursement programme for tourist vouchers will remain valid during the holidays, aka the high season. This is a ground-breaking decision.

I wish to thank all the parliamentary groups which supported the decision on the taxation of high incomes, or rather, a portion of high incomes. These proceeds will go to the dedicated Circle of Kindness fund and have already been released to help children affected by rare and serious diseases, to purchase expensive medicines and medical equipment, and to cover the costs of surgeries.

On April 28, we will celebrate Ambulance Worker Day which was established as a show of respect to those who arrive first to save lives. These specialists must be provided with all necessary supplies. Within the next three years, we will make another 5,000 new ambulances available to rural communities, urban-type localities and small towns, which will replace the ambulance fleet almost in full.

I want to emphasise that public healthcare authorities in many leading countries – we are well aware of it and, in fact, they themselves are saying so – were unable to deal with the challenges of the pandemic as effectively as we did in Russia. At the same time, global health care is on the cusp of a genuine revolution. This must be recognised and clearly seen. We cannot miss it.

The pandemic has exponentially sped up the introduction of telemedicine, artificial intelligence and new approaches in diagnostics, surgery, rehabilitation and the production of medicines everywhere. We must put these technologies at the service of the people of our country.

We must build our healthcare system around this ground-breaking technology, and keep an eye on pressing everyday problems in the process. As we are all aware, they abound, mostly in primary care. There must be no such thing as waiting lines, no hassle making a diagnostics appointment or a specialist doctor appointment, or obtaining prescriptions and sick leaves, for that matter. This has often come up in our discussions lately. The funds have been set side and allocated. It is time to move quickly and efficiently to make it happen.

We have a backlog to deal with in healthcare and other social sectors, including many technical, financial and managerial challenges. However, what people need is qualified and timely medical help. I propose reviewing public healthcare problems from this perspective at an expanded meeting of the State Council some time soon. We will prepare for it and hold it shortly.

I repeat: we have gained some fundamentally new experience in fulfilling our social commitments. During the pandemic, we made direct payments to families bringing up almost 28 million children, and they received their benefits without any unnecessary paperwork or other kinds of red tape – they got the money they needed and were entitled to automatically. I know Government members have been working on this, focusing deliberately, not without some failures, but they have made every effort to accomplish this task, and coped with it. This is great, this is a good example. This approach should become the norm at all levels of government.

This is the essence of the National Social Initiative, which was discussed at a recent joint meeting of the State Council Presidium and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives.

I am calling on the regional governors: it is your direct responsibility to organise the work of local clinics, daycare nurseries and schools, and employment centres, based on the daily needs of families, of each and every person. In many regions, I have seen with my own eyes that such work has already been launched in certain areas. This needs to be done everywhere and in all social sectors.

As soon as in 2022, we must introduce the ‘social treasury’ principles. This means that all federal benefits, pensions and other social payments and services will be provided and paid in a one-stop mode, without having to visit dozens of different agencies, but simply upon marriage, the birth of a child, retirement or other life milestones. Within three years, the vast majority of public and municipal services should be provided to Russian citizens remotely, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that is, on an ongoing basis.

Separately, we will have to discuss child-support payments, which are a sensitive topic for many families. Unfortunately, this is a problem in our country. This procedure should not be humiliating for anyone. Most issues here need to be resolved remotely and, most importantly, in the interests of the affected party. A mother with a child should not have to camp on the doorstep of various authorities to collect official documents, carrying her baby in her arms, and this is what usually happens. A system of interagency communication needs to be built, with banks included, in such a way as to ensure the unconditional execution of court decisions on the recovery of child-support payments. The state is obliged to protect the rights of the child; this is what we are talking about. I will return to this topic again later.

Colleagues,

We understand the heavy toll that the pandemic has taken on people’s welfare. Statistics show the aggravating effects of this outbreak on social inequality and poverty. It has been a challenge for all countries around the world – remember, all countries, not only Russia, are experiencing the same consequences. Certainly, we should be primarily concerned about the situation in our own country.

We are now facing price hikes that are undercutting people’s incomes. Some urgent decisions have been made, of course, but we cannot solely rely on targeted and essentially directive measures. We remember potential outcomes. Back in the late 1980s and the 1990s in the Soviet Union, they resulted in empty store shelves. But today, even when the pandemic was at its worst, we did not allow the same thing to happen.

The Government’s goal is to create conditions that will be long-term and which, I want to stress this part, colleagues, can, thanks to market mechanisms (which we have), guarantee the predictability of prices and quality replenishment of the domestic market. Nobody is saying that we will be setting prices from the top. There’s no need to muddy the waters and scare people. There are market regulatory mechanisms and they must be employed – promptly and to the extent required and appropriate to a specific situation in the economy and social sphere. We need to stimulate investment activity by reducing business risks. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Surely, the main goal right now is to ensure that people’s real incomes grow – that is, to restore them and secure their further growth. As I said, we need tangible changes in our fight against poverty.

Before anything else, the Government must provide direct support to families with children who are experiencing hardships. This has been our consistent policy and we will continue to pursue it.

We already have a system of benefits paid to parents of one or two children from the time the children are born and until they reach the age of three. Families with incomes below two subsistence minimums per family member are entitled to such benefits. The average monthly amount paid across the country is 11,300 rubles per child. Seventy-eight Russian regions pay benefits for the third child, also 11,300 rubles on average.

Please note that we are making consistent progress in this area, step by step. Last year, we introduced benefits for children aged three to seven. They range from 5,650 to 11,300 rubles per month depending on the region.

I instruct the Government to develop, by July 1, a comprehensive system of support for families with children. Our goal is to minimise the risk of poverty for such families.

But a number of new decisions need to be taken immediately, already today. It is always difficult for a single parent to raise a child. There are plenty of reasons for that. And this is not about the reasons but about supporting children. It is particularly difficult when a single-parent family is having financial problems, especially when children start going to school and family expenses objectively rise.

In particular, we must support single-parent families, where a mother or a father is bringing up a child alone, and only one of the parents is registered on the birth certificate – sorry to be speaking of such mundane things, but this is a fact of life – or the parents have divorced and one of them has the right to child-support payments. Therefore, as of July 1 this year, all children in such families aged between 8 and 16, inclusively, will receive a benefit. The national average of such benefit will be 5,650 rubles.

Of course, we must also help women who are expecting a baby and who have financial problems. It is extremely important for a mother-to-be to get support from the state and society, so that they can keep their pregnancy and know that they will receive help in raising and bringing up their child.

I propose approving a monthly subsidy for women who register at a maternity centre during early pregnancy and who have financial problems. The average subsidy for them will be 6,350 rubles a month.

Next, the sick pay for taking care of a child who falls ill depends on the employment record, which is correct, on the whole, and fair. However, young women receive much smaller sick leave payments. We have discussed this issue at the State Council, and it has been raised by the United Russia. We need to adopt legal decisions on this matter without delay, so that payments for taking care of a sick child aged up to 7 years inclusively are approved at 100 percent of the parent’s salary as soon as this year.

You understand what this means. The majority of those in this room know that the longer the employment record the larger the sick pay. Women who have a long work record usually receive full sick pay, but they usually do not have children at their age. Those who have children do not receive full pay. We must definitely help those who are expecting a baby.

I would also like to remind you that we have expanded and extended the maternity capital programme up until 2026. This benefit will now be paid already for the first child. We could not afford this before. The maternity capital has been adjusted to inflation and is almost 640,000 rubles

Free hot meals for all primary school children were approved as of January 1, 2020, and this measure has become a great help for families.

I would like to point out that all our decisions were designed to support our people. I know that many and very many people have financial problems now. The labour market and real disposable income of the people will be certainly restored, and we will move on. This has not happened yet. Therefore, I suggest approving one more one-off payment for the families that have school children, namely, 10,000 rubles per schoolchild. Moreover, this payment will also be made for the children who will only start school this year. We will transfer the money in mid-August, so that parents can get their children ready for school.

The updated Constitution of Russia includes clauses on demographic development, and protection of the family and childhood. They should be implemented in practice at all levels of government. I propose including a section aimed at supporting young people in each national project.

Friends,

During the pandemic, many young doctors and nurses, recent graduates as well as residents and students of medical universities worked courageously in the so-called red zones, joining their senior colleagues. In that extraordinary situation, teachers, schoolchildren, college and university students continued to teach and study, to have exams. Young family members supported their parents and older relatives. The youth of Russia proved to be extremely worthy during that period of trials. We can be proud of them.

We will do everything to open up as many life opportunities as possible for the younger generation. Their journey certainly begins at school, and I am sure that school will always be a second home for children; a new home, comfortable and modern.

Under the existing federal programme and with additional resources provided by the VEB Development Bank, we will build at least 1,300 new schools for more than a million children by the end of 2024. We will also purchase at least 16,000 school buses over the next four years. All school buses must be modern and safe.

Classroom teachers have been receiving a monthly addition to their salaries since last year. A very necessary and, I am sure, fair decision. I remember how we held discussions on this matter last year.

However, I have received requests, letters from teachers in secondary vocational institutions who say they have been forgotten. This is actually true. Justice must be restored. We have to fix this and establish the same additional payment of 5,000 rubles for supervisors of educational groups at technical schools and colleges.

I propose allocating an additional 10 billion rubles in the next two years for major repairs and technical equipment of our pedagogical universities. I ask the Government to pay close attention to up-to-date training of future teachers. The future of Russia largely depends on them.

Furthermore, school teaching teams should be expanded with teaching assistants, mentors and counsellors, whose job will be to organise exciting projects for children at schools.

It is very important that our young people should look to and be inspired by the achievements and victories of our outstanding ancestors and contemporaries, by their love for our Motherland and aspiration to make a personal contribution to its development. Children should have the opportunity to explore the national history and the multinational culture, our achievements in science and technology, literature and art in advanced formats. You know, I still open certain school textbooks occasionally and am surprised at what I see there – as if what is written there has nothing to do with us at all. Who writes such textbooks? Who approves them? It is unbelievable. They mention everything, the ‘second front’ and a lot of other facts, but not the Battle of Stalingrad – how is that possible? Amazing! I do not even want to comment.

I propose allocating an additional 24 billion rubles within the next three years to renovate cultural centres, libraries and museums in rural areas and small historical towns. This is another crucial area.

It is important to resume the activities of the Knowledge Society – we all remember well what it is – based on a modern digital platform. It seems to have been operational lately, but no one seems to notice it is there, either. Also, in order to support projects in culture, art and creative activities, we will set up a Presidential fund for cultural initiatives. Already this year, we will use its competitive grants to finance over 1,500 creative teams.

Colleagues,

A month from now, 11th grade students will be taking exams. Based on the results, most of them, about 60 percent, will enrol in universities and have their tuition covered from the budget. It can be safely stated that practically no country in the world apart from Russia has this kind of broad and free access to higher education.

In the next two years, we will make an additional 45,000 state-funded places available at our universities. At least 70 percent of them will go to the regions which need university graduates.

Starting this year, at least 100 universities in the constituent entities of our Federation will receive grants in the amount of 100 million rubles or more for opening student technoparks and business incubators, upgrading academic and laboratory facilities, and running training programmes. All state universities will be eligible for this support, including the ones that train future teachers, medical doctors, transport and culture workers. I am confident that the young generation of Russians, Russian scientists, will make their names known in the meaningful research projects that are yet to come.

This year was declared Science and Technology Year in our country. We realise that science is absolutely key in the modern world. Until 2024, Russia will allocate 1.63 trillion rubles from the federal budget alone for civil, including fundamental, research. But that is not all.

We are about to launch ground-breaking programmes in areas that are critical to our country. They will be given the status of nationwide projects. I would like to discuss some of them separately just to give you a sense.

First, we must have a solid and reliable shield to give us sanitary and biological safety. We now understand what it is about. It is imperative to ensure Russia’s independence in the production of the entire range of vaccines and pharmaceutical substances, including medications against infections that are resistant to the current generation of antibiotics. Importantly, this must be achieved with the maximum engagement of Russian-made equipment and domestic components.

In the event of an infection as dangerous as the coronavirus, or, God forbid, even more dangerous, Russia must be prepared to develop its own test systems within four days, precisely four days, and to create an efficacious domestic vaccine and start its mass production as soon as possible. These are the goals that we are setting for ourselves. The timeframe for achieving these goals is 2030. But the sooner we get there, the better.

Second, we need new comprehensive approaches to the development of our energy sector, including new solutions for nuclear generation in the promising areas of hydrogen energy and energy storage.

Third, we must find answers to the climate change challenges, adjust our agriculture, industry, the housing and utilities sector and the entire infrastructure to them, create a carbon utilisation sector, bring down emissions and introduce strict control and monitoring measures.

Over the next 30 years, the cumulative emissions in Russia must be smaller than in the EU. It is an ambitious goal, considering the size of our country and the specific features of its geography, climate and economic structure. However, I have no doubt whatsoever that it is a perfectly realistic goal in light of our research and technological potential.

Our new energy and pharmaceutical sectors and the solution of climate problems must provide a powerful boost to a comprehensive modernisation of all economic sectors and the social sphere. It is a direct path to the creation of modern and well-paid jobs.

The efforts taken by each level of government, business, development institutions and the Russian Academy of Sciences must have in view the main, central task: to improve the quality of life for our people. I would like to point out that our position on environmental protection is a matter of principle in this respect, and it will definitely remain unchanged.

The dangers of the alternative position have been recently exemplified by the events in Norilsk, Usolye-Sibirskoye and several other places. We will certainly help the people who live there, but we must also preclude a repetition of such environmental disasters.

I would like to ask those responsible to accelerate the adoption of a law on the financial responsibility of enterprise owners for clearing up the accumulated pollution and for the reclamation of industrial sites. This is a very simple approach. Here it is: if you have benefited from polluting the environment, clean up after yourself. We must act harshly. Rosprirodnadoz [the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources] and other regulatory authorities must do their jobs.

I would like to add that the “polluter pays” principle must also be employed in full in the waste disposal sector to ensure transition to the so-called closed-loop economy. With this aim in view, we must launch a mechanism of extended producers and importers’ responsibility for the management of products and packaging wastes as soon as this year.

I also propose marking environmental payments to the federal budget. I know that experts and financial specialists do not like such special marks, but I see this as a vital sphere of our activity. We can make an exception in this case, and invest these funds in clearing up accumulated pollution and improving the environment.

Also, as I said, the amount of hazardous emissions in Russia’s 12 largest industrial centres must be reduced by 20 percent by 2024. We have already discussed this. Obviously, this goal must be accomplished through a comprehensive modernisation of the industrial sector, the housing and utilities sector, transport and energy.

Moreover, I propose expanding the emission quota system to all Russian cities with major air quality problems and introduce strict liability for non-compliance with environmental regulations. Of course, this requires transparent monitoring.

We will definitely support the efforts of businesses to upgrade their facilities up to current environmental standards. For example, upgrading will begin this year at aluminium plants in Bratsk, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and Novokuznetsk based on the state guarantee mechanism. I will later name other cities and towns in other contexts but it does not mean that our work is limited to those areas. They only serve as examples.

Colleagues,

Last year, we allocated unprecedented resources for supporting the economy. Among other things, we managed to preserve over 5 million jobs through subsidised loans for wage payments. I want to stress that this programme succeeded but it succeeded precisely because businesses acted responsibly and did everything they could to keep their employees. We could see that.

Unfortunately, it was not possible to prevent layoffs completely. I understand how hard it is for those who lost their jobs. The Government was instructed to ensure that the labour market recovers by the end of the year. Still, this problem must be solved sooner so that people can have a stable income again. The Government will be encouraging entrepreneurial initiatives and stimulate private investments that create new jobs.

As you know, last year, social insurance contributions for small and medium-sized businesses were reduced by half, from 30 to 15 percent. This decision will remain in force permanently and is not subject to review.

I instruct the Government to present, within the next month, additional proposals on supporting small and medium-sized businesses, such as tax incentives, accessible loans and expanding product distribution and sales, including to major state-run companies.

As for other decisions in the economic sphere, I would like to mention the following.

First, we have already scrapped many archaic norms and requirements in construction and other fields and discontinued many unnecessary control inspections, but we also need to increase the momentum to achieve substantive, clear and tangible results in improving the business climate. For example, building a turnkey factory in Russia should be faster, more economically efficient and easier than in other regions of the world, including countries with developed economies.

Furthermore, we need to simplify the working conditions for non-commodity exporters. We have certainly been pursuing this policy line for a few years now, but we still need to remove all excessive restrictions in forex control for these exporters. This is one of the problems. The new procedure should start functioning in July. We have discussed this matter more than once. All amendments to the legislation must be adopted as quickly as possible during the spring session.

Secondly, the talent of an entrepreneur is primarily the talent of a creator, an aspiration to change life for the better, to create new jobs. The state will definitely support this attitude.

In the modern world where the market situation sometimes changes almost every day, businesses have to deal with high risks, especially when investing in long-term projects. To address this, we will be adjusting the entire private investment support system. We will evaluate how effective the projects are by the new products, services, and technologies they provide people with and how they improve the potential of Russia and each individual region.

The Special Investment Contract mechanism has already been improved; we have implemented a new instrument – Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements. We have consolidated development institutions on the basis of VEB. Their job is to reduce the risks for investing private capital, to help in the creation of new markets and investment mechanisms, the same as with the Project Finance Factory mechanism already in place. It is currently supporting more than 40 commercial projects with a total investment of 3 trillion rubles.

I am waiting for proposals from the Government on the implementation of the ideas proposed in March at a meeting with Russian businesses. Colleagues, you are well aware of this.

Third, we are making all major decisions concerning the economy through a dialogue with the business community. This is the practice established over many years. Of course, we have the right to expect that the auxiliary financial instruments and support mechanisms will bring the most desired result, which is converting profit into investment and development.

There is an important thing I want to say although it is nothing new to businesses. They know it already. The corporate sector is expected to make a record profit this year, despite all the problems that we are dealing with. Despite these problems, this is the real picture. We will take note of how this profit will be used and, based on the annual results, we may decide to calibrate the tax legislation. I want to see specific proposals from the Government. Off the record, I should note: some withdraw dividends while others invest in the development of their companies and entire industries. We will be encouraging those who invest.

Last year, we substantially increased budget expenditure while managing to maintain the stability of state finances. The Government and the Central Bank must continue to pursue a responsible financial policy. Ensuring macroeconomic stability and containing inflation within set parameters is an extremely important task. I assume that it will definitely be accomplished.

At the same time, thanks to our budget capacity and our reserves, we can allocate more funds to support investment in infrastructure and provide regions with new development instruments. Launching these instruments will require the law to be amended. I expect that all parliamentary parties – A Just Russia, the Liberal Democratic Party, the Communist Party and United Russia – will uphold these amendments.

In this regard, I want to thank all constructive public forces in the country for their responsible and patriotic attitude during this difficult epidemic. These are not just meaningless words because it was this attitude and its practical significance that helped all of us preserve the balance and stability of Russia’s government and political system. This is always important but it is especially relevant because we are preparing for the elections to the State Duma and other government bodies, considering the extensive work we will have to carry out. I hope that this competitive mindset that unites us in the face of common goals will persist.

Colleagues,

The country is developing and moving forward, but this is only taking place when the regions of the Russian Federation are developing. A striving of the heads of constituent entities to make their regions successful and self-sufficient must be and will be encouraged in every way.

We will support those who assume responsibility and launch constructive projects. I am confident that every Russian region has huge potential. To help make positive and productive use of this potential, what must we reduce first of all? The governors know what I am referring to: we must reduce the debt burden. These topics must be thoroughly discussed once again.

I ask the Government to submit by June 1 the proposals on ensuring long-term stability of regional and municipal finance and on increasing the regions’ self-sufficiency. We will discuss them in summer at a State Council meeting, and we will do so with due regard for the priority decisions about which I will tell you now.

First of all, we must help regions with large commercial debts. Here is what I suggest: the amount of a region’s commercial debt that exceeds 25 percent of the given region’s own revenues will be replaced with budgetary loans that will mature in 2029.

In addition, I propose restructuring the budgetary loans, yes, budgetary loans that were issued to the regions last year for taking measures to combat the pandemic. I believe that this would be fair. I would like to remind everyone that these loans will mature in two months, on July 1. I suggest extending them to 2029 as well.

I would like to emphasise that the restructuring of accumulated debts should be used as a mechanism of increasing the self-sufficiency of regional economies, especially considering that we will be offering a fundamentally new development tool to our constituent entities. I am referring to the so-called budgetary infrastructure loans with an interest rate of not more than 3 percent per annum and with maturity in 15 years. We intend to allocate a total of at least 0.5 trillion rubles, that is, 500 billion rubles of such infrastructure loans by the end of 2023.

Regional debt restructuring must be based on the concept of justice, which has always been the case, actually. Some constituent entities have large accumulated commercial debts, while other entities did not take out many loans. The latter may feel neglected in this case. This will not do, and we will not permit this. We will support those who have always pursued and continue to pursue a balanced financial policy. The principle of the distribution of infrastructure loans will be as follows: the fewer debts a region had, the more it will be able to receive in infrastructure loans.

We are one country. All levels of government and business must work to one end. Debt restructuring and an innovative investment resource in the form of infrastructure loans will allow us to expand the planning horizon and to launch new solutions that are tied in with the implementation of national projects, sector-specific strategies and a comprehensive plan for upgrading the backbone infrastructure.

Federal infrastructure loans are a powerful resource, but whether they will help us get ahead or attract private investment hugely depends on what regional management teams do and on their ability to conduct an open and candid dialogue with businesses, investors, and, of course, primarily, individuals.

The infrastructure projects in the regions must be implemented, primarily, in the interests of the people, and serve as investment in the creation of new jobs and in promoting the well-being of millions of Russian households and securing the future of our children. The priorities will be building motorways and bypasses in urban areas, upgrading the housing and utilities sector infrastructure and the public transport system, as well as conducting integrated development of territories and building tourist facilities.

Please note that the infrastructure and budget loans will be fully under the control of the Federal Treasury and will be provided exclusively for specific projects that have been thoroughly analysed by experts at the federal level. While we are at it, I would like to say something to regional leaders and the Government: listen, let’s work in a rhythmic and business-like manner. I do not want to use harsh or rude language at this rostrum, but things must be done on time and projects must be prepared, not just pictures shown to the Government. In turn, the Government must quickly process the projects and help the regions deal with things they have problems dealing with. You must help your colleagues, you understand that? Not trash what they have brought to you and say they did a bad job. Some of them are unable to do what you ask of them. Help them, and then things will be on the path forwards.

The scale of the projects may vary, but most importantly, as I said, they must benefit our people and open up new opportunities. For example, in conjunction with our major companies and using the proposed mechanism, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area will begin the construction of the Northern Latitudinal Railway. This is the railway that will spur the development of the richest resources of the Arctic. This project has been in the works for a long time now, and it’s time to launch it, since we can do so now. For example, as a result, Nizhny Novgorod will be able to continue building the metro and to start renovating the city centre. Chelyabinsk, another city with a million-plus residents, will also have the opportunity to upgrade its transport system through a long-standing metro construction project. I am aware of other similar projects in Krasnoyarsk and other regions.

And, of course, the construction of new facilities must be at a qualitatively higher level. I want the Government to draft a clear step-by-step plan for the end-to-end and widespread use of digital design, and the production and introduction of cutting-edge energy-efficient materials. This is also important if we want to tackle the climate and environmental challenges.

Large-scale infrastructure development sets fundamentally new tasks before the construction industry. In the difficult past year, it worked smoothly and built over 80 million square metres of housing. This is a good result. The more we build, the more affordable housing will there be for Russian families.

Therefore, we have an ambitious goal. We have already discussed it as well and this ambitious goal has not disappeared– we plan to build 120 million square metres of housing every year. That said, we must certainly envisage a special mechanism for supporting private housing construction.

As for large-scale construction, the DOM.RF development institute will attract financial resources through the placement of bonds. This is a tried and tested mechanism that generally works well. These resources must go to developers as targeted loans.

I would like to emphasise that federal budget subsidies will allow DOM.RF to issue loans to developers at a minimal annual rate of about 3–4 percent. The construction of residential neighbourhoods in Tula, Tyumen, the Sakhalin Region and Kuzbass will be pilot projects for developing this model.

Improvement of cities and towns and housing construction growth play a major role in the development of the regions. We must take care of the urgent, daily problems of local residents. Quite a few Russian families live in areas connected to gas networks but their homes still have no access to gas for some reason. It seems the pipe is there but there is no gas at home.

I would like to ask the Government to work out, in cooperation with the regions, a clear-cut plan for bringing gas to such households. In this context, I support United Russia’s initiative, notably, that people do not have to pay for laying gas pipes directly to the border of their land plots in a residential area.

As I have already said, the Government must analyse all details in cooperation with Gazprom and other companies and agencies that work in this area to prevent any setbacks. Otherwise, I will say something from this rostrum and people will be waiting for it but because you don’t put some squiggles or commas in the right place everything will get bogged down again. This is unacceptable, and I will check on it myself, so please pay attention. Mosoblgaz and other companies must understand what they must do, in what timeframe and how much money they have at their disposal.

The goal is certainly more extensive. We must offer every region our solutions on public access to reliable and clean energy sources. This may be electricity, including from renewable sources, or environmentally friendly use of coal, which is also an option in the modern world, pipeline or liquefied gas. I instruct the regional heads to prepare, in coordination with the Government, detailed plans of action and start implementing them next year.

For example, in Kamchatka we must envisage the creation of local gas-receiving infrastructure to ensure reliable long-term gas supplies to the residents and companies of the Kamchatka Territory.

Colleagues,

We will not only give fundamentally new development tools to the regions, but will also directly invest federal resources into the settlement of the worst systemic problems, which will have a compound effect on boosting the regions’ growth and improving the quality of people’s lives.

We will begin with allocations from the National Welfare Fund for building mainline motorways. First of all, we should finance the ongoing construction of the Moscow-Kazan high-speed road and, more than that, extend it all the way to Yekaterinburg, completing this project within three years.

This way, together with the existing Moscow-St Petersburg high-speed road and the Central Ring Road, this will ensure safe high-speed motorway transit across the entire European part of Russia, from the Baltic Sea to the Urals, by 2024.

However, it is not enough to simply connect the end-of-line destinations. What good will this do, if it does not change anything about life in villages or small towns but only gives the people there an opportunity to watch high-speed trains and vehicles rush past? The backbone infrastructure must definitely lead to the development of all the territories where it has been built, giving rise to the development of a modern regional network.

The constituent entities will now be able to use infrastructure loans to speed up the implementation of these construction projects. But in their development plans, our colleagues should remember and take into account that the federal and regional mainlines must function as a unified system in the interests of our citizens, businesses and regions. In this way, the infrastructure loans and the resources of the National Welfare Fund will be working for the benefit of all Russian regions.

The same goes for our new national project in the tourist sphere. A programme of easy loans will be launched soon to finance the construction and renovation of hotels and other tourist infrastructure. The interest rate on these loans will be 3–5 percent as well, and the loans will mature in 15 years.

There are many other pilot projects. I will only mention some of them: the development of Sheregesh, the leading mountain ski resort in Kuzbass; the creation of a yachting resort in the Bay of Balaklava in Sevastopol; and the development of the tourist industry on the Altai and in the Kaliningrad Region.

The infrastructure loans project will give a new impetus to entire tourist clusters. In particular, several regions in Central Russia will be able to modernise and expand the Golden Ring route at a fundamentally new level, realising the tourist potential of small towns such as Tarusa, Palekh, Murom, Gorokhovets, Tutayev and Borovsk. Development projects will be launched in the Volga Region cities, the Crimean resorts, the Black Sea and Pacific coast areas, as well as in our resort towns such as Staraya Russa in the Novgorod Region and Kavkazskiye Mineralnye Vody in the Caucasus, including its gem, Kislovodsk.

Russia is a hospitable country that is open to its good friends. You surely remember what happened during the 2018 football championships. As soon as the epidemiological situation allows, we will lift the remaining restrictions and millions of tourists from all over the world will come to Russia again. We have a practical task at hand: to ensure that e-visas for travel to Russia are available remotely and without undue formalities within a matter of four days in the majority of countries.

Colleagues,

The meaning and purpose of Russia’s policy in the international arena – I will just say a few words about this to conclude my address – is to ensure peace and security for the well-being of our citizens, for the stable development of our country. Russia certainly has its own interests we defend and will continue to defend within the framework of international law, as all other states do. And if someone refuses to understand this obvious thing or does not want to conduct a dialogue and chooses a selfish and arrogant tone with us, Russia will always find a way to defend its stance.

At the same time, unfortunately, everyone in the world seems to be used to the practice of politically motivated, illegal economic sanctions and to certain actors’ brutal attempts to impose their will on others by force. But today, this practice is degenerating into something even more dangerous – I am referring to the recently exposed direct interference in Belarus in an attempt to orchestrate a coup d’état and assassinate the President of that country. At the same time, it is typical that even such flagrant actions have not been condemned by the so-called collective West. Nobody seemed to notice. Everyone pretends nothing is happening.

But listen, you can think whatever you like of, say, Ukrainian President [Viktor] Yanukovych or [Nicolas] Maduro in Venezuela. I repeat, you can like or dislike them, including Yanukovych who almost got killed, too, and removed from power via an armed coup. You can have your own opinion of President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko’s policy. But the practice of staging coups d’état and planning political assassinations, including those of high-ranking officials – well, this goes too far. This is beyond any limits.

Suffice it to mention the admission made by the detained participants in the conspiracy about a planned siege of Minsk, including plans to block the city infrastructure and communications, and a complete shutdown of the entire power system in the capital of Belarus! This actually means they were preparing a massive cyberattack. What else could it be? You know, you cannot just do it all with one switch.

Clearly, there is a reason why our Western colleagues have been stubbornly rejecting Russia’s numerous proposals to establish an international dialogue on information and cyber security. We have come up with these proposals many times. They avoid even discussing this matter.

What if there had been a real attempt at a coup d’état in Belarus? After all, this was the ultimate goal. How many people would have been hurt? What would have become of Belarus? Nobody is thinking about this.

Just as no one was thinking about the future of Ukraine during the coup in that country.

All the while, unfriendly moves towards Russia have also continued unabated. Some countries have taken up an unseemly routine where they pick on Russia for any reason, most often, for no reason at all. It is some kind of new sport of who shouts the loudest.

In this regard, we behave in an extremely restrained manner, I would even say, modestly, and I am saying this without irony. Often, we prefer not to respond at all, not just to unfriendly moves, but even to outright rudeness. We want to maintain good relations with everyone who participates in the international dialogue. But we see what is happening in real life. As I said, every now and then they are picking on Russia, for no reason. And of course, all sorts of petty Tabaquis are running around them like Tabaqui ran around Shere Khan – everything is like in Kipling’s book – howling along in order to make their sovereign happy. Kipling was a great writer.

We really want to maintain good relations with all those engaged in international communication, including, by the way, those with whom we have not been getting along lately, to put it mildly. We really do not want to burn bridges. But if someone mistakes our good intentions for indifference or weakness and intends to burn or even blow up these bridges, they must know that Russia’s response will be asymmetrical, swift and tough.

Those behind provocations that threaten the core interests of our security will regret what they have done in a way they have not regretted anything for a long time.

At the same time, I just have to make it clear, we have enough patience, responsibility, professionalism, self-confidence and certainty in our cause, as well as common sense, when making a decision of any kind. But I hope that no one will think about crossing the “red line” with regard to Russia. We ourselves will determine in each specific case where it will be drawn.

I will now say, just as I always do during the annual addresses to the Federal Assembly, that the improvement and qualitative strengthening of Russia’s Armed Forces continues on a regular basis. In particular, special attention will be given to the development of military education both at military school and academies and at military training centres at civilian universities.

By 2024, the share of modern weapons and military equipment in the armed forces will reach nearly 76 percent, which is a very good indicator. This share in the nuclear triad will be over 88 percent before this year is out.

Standing on combat duty are the latest Avangard hypersonic intercontinental missile systems and the Peresvet combat laser systems, and the first regiment armed with Sarmat super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles is scheduled to go on combat duty in late 2022.

The number of combat air systems with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, and warships armed with precision hypersonic weapons such as Kinzhal that I mentioned, and with the Kalibr missiles, is increasing. The Tsirkon hypersonic missiles will be put on combat duty soon. Work is underway on other modern combat systems, including Poseidon and Burevestnik, in accordance with the development plans of the Armed Forces.

As the leader in the creation of new-generation combat systems and in the development of modern nuclear forces, Russia is urging its partners once again to discuss the issues related to strategic armaments and to ensuring global stability. The subject matter and the goal of these talks could be the creation of an environment for a conflict-free coexistence based on the security equation, which would include not only the traditional strategic armaments, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, heavy bombers and submarines, but – I would like to emphasise this – all offensive and defensive systems capable of attaining strategic goals regardless of the armament.

The five nuclear countries bear special responsibility. I hope that the initiative on a personal meeting of the heads of state of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, which we proposed last year, will materialise and will be held as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.

Russia is always open to broad international cooperation. We have consistently advocated the preservation and strengthening of the key role of the United Nations in international affairs, and we try to provide assistance to the settlement of regional conflicts and have already done a great deal to stabilise the situation in Syria and to launch a political dialogue in Libya. As you know, Russia played the main role in stopping the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

It is on the basis of mutual respect that we are building relations with the absolute majority of the world’s countries: in Asia, Latin America, Africa and many European countries. We are consistently expanding as a priority contacts with our closest partners in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and our allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

Our common projects in the Eurasian Economic Union are aimed at ensuring economic growth and the wellbeing of our people. There are new, interesting projects here, such as the development of transport-and-logistics corridors. I am sure they will become a reliable infrastructure backbone for large-scale Eurasian partnership. The Russian ideas of this broad, open association are already being put into practice, in part, via alignment with other integration processes.

All these projects are not just geopolitical ideas but strictly practical instruments for resolving national development tasks.

Colleagues,

I began today’s Address with urgent healthcare issues, and concluding it, I would like to say the following. Nobody in the world knew what misfortune we would have to face. However, we, citizens of Russia, have already done much and will do all we can to counter the threat of the epidemic. Our country has reliable resources for this. We created them in healthcare, science, education and industry in previous years.

However, we must definitely move forward. We have mapped out national development tasks. Naturally, the challenge of the epidemic has made objective adjustments to our work. Today’s Address contains instructions on demography and family support, as well as on efforts to fight poverty, increase incomes, create jobs, improve the business environment and raise state management to a new level.

I would like to ask the Government to focus on these tasks in preparing new initiatives on Russia’s socioeconomic development and instruct it to present them by July 1 of this year.

What do I have in mind? Doing everyday work, we must certainly not forget about our strategic development goals and our national development goals, and we must improve the mechanisms for reaching them.

We will discuss the Government’s proposals with the participation of the relevant State Council commissions, our business associations, experts and the Civic Chamber. Following such a broad discussion, we will make final decisions on further financial and organisational actions at the meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects.

Now I would like to address all citizens of Russia once again to say that we will do everything in our power to achieve the goals set. I am sure we will move forward together and accomplish all the tasks that we have set for ourselves.

Thank you very much for your attention.

The National Anthem of the Russian Federation is played.

New US admin stands for same grotesque & brutal policies against Venezuela, shows just how little they actually CARE for people

moi

Eva Bartlett

Mar 4, 2021, RT.com

Venezuelan non-president, Juan Guaido, is back in headlines after the new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called him to discuss America’s favorite talking points: “a return to democracy” via “free and fair elections.”

I’m sure the irony will not be lost on those who question the legitimacy of the US election that saw Biden take power.

Anyway, you would have to have been offline or in a coma for the past couple of years to not be aware of some key facts about ‘interim president’ Guaido and US “concern” for Venezuelans.

Venezuelans didn’t vote for Guaido to be president, he hasn’t even stood for president. Venezuelans voted for Maduro. America can huff and puff and whine, but that won’t change the reality.

Guaido named himself ‘interim president’, to the support of only roughly 50 countries – leaving a glaring nearly 150 countries not recognizing this Western-groomed stooge as Venezuela’s leader.

Further, Guaido not only isn’t president of the country, he is no longer president of the National Assembly. As a result, recently, even the EU dropped its recognition of Guaido as interim president. He is a Western-groomed thug who fully backs America’s aggression and sanctions against his own country.

Venezuela’s election process has been recognized as transparent and effective, with former US President Jimmy Carter in 2012 calling it “the best in the world.” On the other hand, Venezuelan opposition, as well as Western nations, have interfered with and attempted to sabotage elections.

As for America’s grave “concern” for Venezuelans, the US in February 2019 staged a “humanitarian aid” delivery via Colombia (“aid” which contained nails and wire, likely meant for opposition barricades), blaming Maduro for “burning food & medicine,” when in fact the trucks were burned by “opposition” supporters. That same month, President Trump threatened military intervention against Venezuela.

The US allegedly sabotaged Venezuela’s power grid in March 2019 (and then blamed the Maduro government for the power failure).

And two former US Special Forces soldiers were in May 2020 arrested in a failed invasion (with the goal of capturing Maduro) which allegedly the Trump administration and Guaido himself were involved in.

President Maduro blamed the August 2018 drone assassination attempt on Colombia and elements in the US. The US was also linked to the kidnapping and coup against former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

But aside from those and many other provocations against Venezuela, it is the brutal sanctions against the country that is a clear indicator of just how little America cares for the people.

As many have already surmised, the Biden administration is a continuation of the previous admin’s policies, and Blinken is the new Pompeo. They even sound the same.

  • Blinken to Ukraine’s foreign minister: “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” “Russian aggression...”
  • Pompeo to the same“support for #Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is ironclad,” “Russia and its proxies’ intransigence, aggressive actions...”
  • Blinken on Crimea: “Russia’s invasion and seizure,” “we call on Russia to end its occupation,” “#CrimeaisUkraine” (newsflash: it’s not, and there was no invasion).
  • Pompeo on the same: “#Crimea is #Ukraine,” “We call on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea.

And of course, their American speak on Guaido is also the same, with both Blinken and Pompeo feigning concern for the lives of the Venezuelan people.

Flogging a dead horse named Guaido

The guy just isn’t popular in Venezuela, not now, not back in early 2019 when America & allies tried to foist him onto Venezuelans.

When I traveled to Venezuela in March 2019, aside from documenting the lack of chaos that Western pundits and media insisted was ongoing at the time, I also tried to find evidence of the massive support the same pundits and media claimed Guaido had.

I had seen on various occasions massive demonstrations of solidarity with President Maduro, the man who average Venezuelans support, particularly impoverished indigenous and Afro-Venezuelans who are conveniently ignored by Western media.

On March 30, I spent a good chunk of the day riding around on motorcycle taxi trying to find pro-Guaido protests which had been advertised, instead at designated sites and times finding none, a trickle, or pro-Maduro protesters instead.

Later the same day, I saw another massive pro-Maduro demonstration.

In encounters with Venezuelans during my few weeks in Caracas, I met people who made clear they didn’t support Guaido and what they were fighting for.

In a hilltop community, one such man told me:

We are poor people, but we are proud, we have dignity. We are fighting against Imperialism, against rich people that want our country, that want us as slaves, that want our oil, our water. But we will win.

The governments of the United States and other nations want to tell everybody that we are starving, we are dying in the streets, we are being oppressed by our government. But we’ve never been more free than now, in spite of all the problems we do have.”

He and others spoke of the extreme racism and discrimination Afro-Venezuelans and indigenous Venezuelans faced before Chavez came to power.

Before, we were treated like nothing, we were treated only as workers, that was it. Say to your governments, this isn’t a fight against Maduro, this is a fight against the people that are trying to be free.”

I won’t even repeat some of the unbelievable racist slurs they were subject to.

Some months later, back in Ontario, I met Ronald Abache, an Afro-Venezuelan who attended a lecture I gave. During the question period, he was so articulate about racism in Venezuela, “very alive, but hidden under class status,” that I asked to record his words.

In 1999, for the first time ever in any country in South America, a law was passed to not discriminate against people of color. People that never had a voice now have one and will never give it up again. You can go to the remotest area in my country and everybody can read. Everybody knows their rights and knows that their voice counts.”

He also challenged the opposition to answer one question:

What would they do different? What is their plan? If they’re planning to go back to those great old days (sarcasm), the people are not having it. Two million militias, old people, young people, everybody knows what the United States is doing. My mother is 70, she’s about to join the militia!

These are just some of the people marginalized by Western media and politicians. The ones who claim concern for Venezuela.

As Mr. Abache noted, Venezuelans themselves aren’t going to accept US hegemony, not only the leadership. I got a powerful sense of that in the demonstrations I observed and from the people I spoke with.

The new Biden administration may want to pressure Venezuela into compliance, but the people won’t accept that.

RELATED:

US is manufacturing a crisis in Venezuela so that there is chaos and ‘needed’ intervention 

Venezuela playlist

Biden Continues US War on Venezuelan Social Democracy

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, March 06, 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 27 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

***

Let’s not mince words.

Biden and hardliners around him are like their predecessors.

They’re hostile toward virtually everything just societies hold dear — notably democracy the way it should be.

The US and West have fantasy versions, the real thing virtually banned.

Established by Hugo Chavez in 1999, continued by Nicolas Maduro, Venezuelans have governance of, by, and for everyone equitably — social democracy.

US policymakers consider it a threat of a good example — why they’ve gone all out to replace it with fascist tyranny short of hot war that remains an ominous possibility.

Since establishment of Venezuelan social democracy, US regimes from the Clinton co-presidency to Obama/Biden, then Trump, and now Biden/Harris aim to return the country to client state status.

They seek control over its vast oil resources, the world’s largest.

In 2013, Obama/Biden killed Chavez. Poisoned or infected with cancer causing substances, four major surgeries in 18 months couldn’t save him.

At the time, William Blum explained that the CIA worked diligently to develop substances that could kill without leaving a trace.”

“I Personally believe that Hugo Chavez was murdered by the United States,” he said.

Coup plots against him and Maduro failed. Other dirty tricks worked no better, including intermittent, US orchestrated, street violence.

Virtually everything US regimes threw at Venezuela to eliminate its model social democracy failed.

Further attempts are virtually certain. The US is hellbent to transform all sovereign independent nations into subservient client states.

It’s likely just a matter of time before another attempted regime change plot surfaces.

At the same time, endless US war by other means continues.

In 2015, Obama/Biden declared Bolivarian social democracy an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States (sic).”

On Wednesday, Biden/Harris reaffirmed the above, saying the following:

“(C)ircumstances described in Executive Order 13692 (2015), and subsequent executive orders issued with respect to Venezuela, have not improved (sic), and they continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States (sic).”

“Therefore in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 USC 1622(d), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13692 (sic).”

Bolivarian Venezuela prioritizes peace, stability, and cooperative relations with other countries — threatening no one, surely not the USA, armed and dangerous with nuclear and other super-weapons.

Biden’s new executive order maintains a US state of war by other means on the Bolivarian Republic.

No US national emergency exists with Venezuela or any other countries. No US enemies exist.

So time and again they’re invented by US policymakers to justify what’s unjustifiable under international and US constitutional law.

On March 2, Tony Blinken’s spokesman Ned Price said the following:

His boss spoke with widely despised, usurper-in-waiting, self-declared Venezuelan president with no legitimacy Guaido.

“Blinken stressed the importance of a return to democracy in Venezuela through free and fair elections (sic).”

After Maduro’s PSUV party won an overwhelming legislative majority last December with over two-thirds public support — a landslide triumph — the EU withdrew support for Guaido as (self-declared) interim president (with no legitimacy).

Jimmy Carter called Venezuela’s electoral process “the best in the world” for good reason. Elections when held are scrupulously open, free and fair.

When Maduro was reelected in May 2018, over 150 members of the International Electoral Accompaniment Mission said the following:

“The technical and professional trustworthiness and independence of the National Electoral Council of Venezuela are uncontestable.”

The Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America, one of the observer groups, said “results communicated by the National Electoral Council reflect the will of the voters who decided to participate in the electoral process.”

Similar assessments follow all Bolivarian elections.

They shame US fantasy democracy — a totalitarian police state, masquerading as democratic.

According to Price, Blinken is “increas(ing) multilateral pressure… for a peaceful, democratic transition (sic).”

Longstanding US policy calls for eliminating Bolivarian social democracy, wanting Venezuela transformed into a vassal state under US-installed puppet rule.

The above is how the scourge of US imperialism operates worldwide.

All nations free from its control are targeted for regime change — wars by hot and/or other means its favored strategies.

Illegal sanctions are weapons of war by other means.

Blinken said they’ll remain in place to continue US maximum pressure on the country.

Venezuelan social democracy conflicts with US imperial aims to dominate planet earth, control its resources, and exploit its people everywhere.

As long as Bolivarianism exists, both right wings of the US war party won’t likely cease trying to eliminate it.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

VISIT MY WEBSITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

My two Wall Street books are timely reading:

“How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion, and Class War”

https://www.claritypress.com/product/how-wall-street-fleeces-america/

“Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity”

https://www.claritypress.com/product/banker-occupation-waging-financial-war-on-humanity/

Featured image: Protest against U.S. intervention on Venezuela, in front of the White House, Washington DC. (Credit)

Venezuela Wins, While Trudeau’s Foreign Policy Continues to Fail Canadians

By Arnold August

Global Research, December 13, 2020

“Venezuelan voters turn their backs on Chavismo after 17 years.”  This was the international corporate media headline of choice five years ago after Chavismo lost the National Assembly elections.

During the following five years, and since 2019 using the imposed National Assembly president figurehead of the then-elected Juan Guaidó, the US and its allies (including the European Union and the Lima group led by Canada and Colombia), carried out a ferocious hybrid war. The goal was to overthrow the Maduro government by any means necessary and convert Venezuela into a satellite of the US and the West.  

However, according to the latest report of the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela, released December 8, the ruling Chavistas of the PSUV/GPP gained 91 per cent of seats in the National Assembly, or 253 of the 277 seats contested. Other parties: 11 seats for Democratic Action (AD), three for Avanzada Progresista (AP), three for El Cambio, two for Primero Venezuela, one for Copei and one for the Communist Party (PCV). The Chavistas won 69.43 per cent of the votes cast. Participation or voter turn-out was 30.50 per cent.

The hard-core extremist Trump-Guaidó forces could not win as they had five years ago, because they boycotted the National Assembly elections completely. The reason for this is painfully obvious: they knew their support for US sanctions and military intervention has left them completely discredited. The US-led game plan to disrupt the elections thus backfired, and the fact that the elections were held at all has strengthened Chavismo.

The participation rate on December 6 was 30.50 per cent. On the surface this may seem to represent a defeat, or even a refutation of the Chavismo. Yet the concerted effort by the US and its allies to provoke a major abstention rate of at least 80% did not go as planned. Franco-Argentinian Marco Teruggi, one of the most respected and consistent journalists on Venezuela, has provided a balanced assessment:

“[….] There was neither an 80% abstention, nor was the abstention the result of a call from Guaidó and Pompeo, but rather the result of a series of variables, such as, for example, the situation of prolonged economic difficulties in the framework of an economic blockade that, during 2020, took on even greater dimensions within the ‘maximum pressure’ deployed from the United States. The economic variable, with its consequent impact on discontent and exhaustion, was not the only explanation for the participation rate. Another reason can be found in a complex political conflict that generated an erosion among the population, where some sectors no longer feel represented in any of the existing political options.”

In dealing extensively with the low participation rate, Argentinian political analyst Atilio Boron also offers a balanced view. He confirms and elaborates on many points raised by Marco Teruggi. Firstly, he considers that “the plans of the subversive right and imperialism have been defeated, in a pyrrhic battle.” That being said, on the issue of the turn-out, he writes:

“Among the factors that had a negative impact on him not going to the polls en masse are undoubtedly the effects of the pandemic. This situation discourages leaving home, getting on public transport, queuing to vote, being in close proximity with strangers, and so on. Such deterrents cannot be underestimated. This, of course, does not remove the need to review the popular mobilization devices that were always so important in Chavismo and that give the impression of being in need of an urgent overhaul.”

According to Leonardo Flores of Code Pink, “migration is another factor that artificially reduced turnout. Only citizens who currently reside in the country can vote in legislative elections, but most who left in recent years still appear on voter rolls as living in Venezuela.”

In addition, December 6 reports from the ground by The Grayzone indicate that Guaidó was “running a COVID-19 scare campaign through messaging apps & spending all day telling Venezuelans to stay in their homes. Yet, 6.251 million Venezuelans went to the polls, irrespective for whom they voted.  They are the heroes of this chapter in Venezuelan history.

Nevertheless, on December 10, President Nicolás Maduro declared in summing up the elections and he results that “There are many things to learn, modify, study and fathom”

A Reconfiguration in Venezuelan Politics 

The election has also led to a reconfiguration in Venezuelan politics. The US have shot themselves in the foot. There are no longer any pro-US-Guaidó forces in the National Assembly. One of the American electoral observers in Venezuela, Margaret Flowers of People’s Dispatch, reports.

“We just met with candidates from the ‘Democratic Alliance [Alianza Democratica],’ the opposition parties in Venezuela who have been in negotiations with the Maduro government and who are participating in the National Assembly election this year despite US pressure to boycott them. They believe in peace, democracy and that Venezuelans can solve their problems by using the legal institutions.

Maduro: Venezuela Has Right to Buy Weapons from Any Country, Even US

Maduro: Venezuela Has Right to Buy Weapons from Any Country, Even US

By Staff, Agencies

Venezuela can buy weapons from any country that wants to sell them, even the United States, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told reporters.

During a press conference, broadcast on Twitter, Maduro was again asked to comment on the words of Colombian President Ivan Duque, that Venezuela bought missiles from Iran.

“Venezuela can buy bullets, weaponry, tanks, planes and missiles from a country that wants to sell them, be it the United States, Colombia, Iran, Russia, China, India – any country”, Maduro said.

Maduro also said Venezuela and Iran had long-term relationships in many sectors.

“Duque said that Venezuela had bought missiles from Iran. And I replied that this was not true, but it seemed to me a very good idea”, he said, adding that if necessary, Venezuela would consider such an issue.

The political situation in Venezuela worsened in January 2019, when opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido illegally proclaimed himself interim president in a bid to oust reelected President Maduro from power.

Guaido was quickly endorsed by the United States and its allies in Latin America, while Russia, China, Turkey and several other nations only recognize Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela. Maduro himself has characterized the events in the country as an attempted coup so that the US could take control of Venezuela’s rich resources, especially oil.

Since then, the Trump administration has been extending support to Guaido, while slapping Caracas with a set of sanctions, the most painful of which turned out to be the freezing of the country’s accounts in Europe and the blocking of assets and interests of the oil and gas company PDVSA within US jurisdiction.

Third Iranian Tanker Docks at Venezuelan Port, Maduro Promises Fuel Supply

Third Iranian Tanker Docks at Venezuelan Port, Maduro Promises Fuel Supply

By Staff, Agencies

The final tanker in a flotilla of three Iranian fuel tankers docked at eastern Venezuela’s Guaraguao port on Sunday, Refinitiv Eikon data and a person familiar with the matter reported, as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro promised to normalize fuel supply in the gasoline-starved country.

The three tankers, which began arriving last week, brought some 820,000 barrels of fuel to the South American country, where severe shortages of gasoline — as well as unreliable power, water and cooking gas supplies — have led to a wave of protests in the neglected interior in recent weeks.

The shortages come as state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela’s once-formidable 1.3 million barrel per day [bpd] refining network has all but collapsed, although two refineries have for the past week been producing around 50,000 bpd of gasoline.

Maduro last week announced a new rationing plan, set to begin on Monday, in which authorities would distribute fuel according to motorists’ license plate numbers.

“Tomorrow, October 5, the plan to normalize and restart the gasoline distribution situation begins,” Maduro said in a Sunday state television address. “We have in the last week managed to produce the gasoline and other products Venezuela needs, in addition to the good quantity of gasoline that has arrived from abroad.”

The Faxon entered Venezuelan waters on Saturday and docked at the Guaraguao fuel port, which is connected to the Puerto La Cruz refinery, on Sunday afternoon, according to the person familiar with the matter. The other tankers are docked at refineries in the west and central regions of Venezuela.

Iran and Venezuela intensified economic cooperation this year as the United States ramped up sanctions on both countries’ oil industries.

Maduro Accuses US of Allowing CIA to Carry Out “Terrorist” Actions in Venezuela

Maduro Accuses US of Allowing CIA to Carry Out “Terrorist” Actions in Venezuela

By Staff, Agencies

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that US President Donald Trump’s administration gave its approval to the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] to carry out recent “covert and terrorist operations” against an array of targets in the country.

“They have given the CIA the green light to come with direct agents to covert and terrorist operations against oil, electricity, military, electoral targets and other dirty covert actions like those used by the CIA,” he told state television in Spanish on Tuesday, speaking of the Trump administration. 

This comes amid a series of developments that followed the capture of an alleged US spy near Venezuela’s largest oil refinery earlier this month.

Following an investigation into the matter, the Venezuelan president claimed that the spy, who was arrested alongside three others in Falcon State, served as a communications operator at a CIA base in Iraq between 2006 and 2016.

Maduro also reiterated accusations against the US Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA], which he claims has been used by the White House to attack Venezuela and overthrow Caracas.

“It has placed the DEA as the operator agency of the attack against Venezuela, what is new today is not that the DEA is involved with the Colombian drug trafficking group to attack Venezuela, the new thing is that they have approved that the CIA get involved in operations terrorist attacks against Venezuela,” he stated on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, a group of 13 individuals were captured by Venezuelan security forces. Two of the 13 detainees were later identified as US citizens Luke Denman and Airan Barry.

A testimony published soon after showed a detainee claiming the group was made up of “intermediaries of the security chief of the USA president, they say they are from the security advisory of Donald Trump,” according to a translated tweet.

Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol claimed that one of the men was a DEA agent. However, the DEA has denied these allegations.

Maduro also warned on Tuesday that Colombian President Ivan Duque has been recruiting drug smugglers ahead of a planned attack on Venezuela.

“Ivan Duque is directly articulating the drug trafficking gangs and has placed the drug trafficking gangs of La Guajira and other places to prepare his group of hit men and terrorists to come and attack Venezuela in the coming weeks,” he claimed.

Maduro’s announcement of this anticipated attack comes a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new sanctions against the Venezuelan president, as well as against the Iranian Defense Ministry and other Iranian officials.

“For nearly two years, corrupt officials in Tehran had worked with the illegitimate regime in Venezuela to flout the UN arms embargo,” Pompeo said on Monday.

The Venezuelan president and 14 present and past government officials were previously indicted by the US Department of Justice on narcoterrorism charges.

The Trump administration has also offered a $15 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Maduro. Allies of the president, like Supreme Tribunal of Justice President Maikel Moreno, also had multi-million-dollar bounties placed on them by the US government.

Venezuela – A Tribute for Endless Pursuit of Democracy

Venezuela – A Tribute for Endless Pursuit of Democracy

September 19, 2020

by Peter Koenig for The Saker Blog

Venezuela is again the shining light of Democracy – pushing ahead with the 6 December National Assembly (NA) elections – despite the endless challenges of covid – of sanctions, of embargos, of confiscation of foreign assets, and even of a totally illicit blockage of reserve currencies – Venezuela’s gold – naturally in the world’s protectorate of international financial fraud, The City of London.

This unique drive for democracy against all odds succeeds to a great degree thanks to President Maduro, who relentlessly resists not only the attempts against his life, but the lies and vilifications about Venezuela from most of the western world, led, of course, by the United States, followed closely by the European Union which, it seems, dominated by NATO, can’t break loose from being at Washington’s bidding.

It is sad to see European states – hands and minds still dripping of colonial blood, not being able to break the stranglehold of their genocidal past – and step onto a new plate, into a new history – fighting for justice and human rights. An example how far from this eye-opening conscientious awakening Europe is, was again demonstrated today by the EU Commission’s call to “sanction” Russia for the totally unproven Navalny poisoning, by stopping the almost completed Nord Stream 2 German-Russian gas pipeline project.

Never mind the absurdity, that Germany and the EU are punishing themselves, not only because alternative badly needed gas supplies will be considerably more expensive – and god forbid – may be coming from US fracking sources. In other words, the EU would approve of an environmental disaster. Many of EU member countries are by their Constitution barred from using fracking gas or oil.

And again, the EU vassalhood – to call it what it is – refused President Maduro’s invitation to observe the December 6 elections. Mr. Maduro went out of his way to invite all the important opinion makers to come and observe the fairness of the elections, including the UN and the Europeans. The latter prefer not to see the correctness with their own eyes, but being able to criticize what they have not seen. There is no darker blindness than that emanating from not wanting to see.

And that of course only, because the European leaders (sic) – all shoe-ins by an international deep state elite – will do whatever it takes to preserve as long as possible the unsustainable – an unfettered, neoliberal no holds barred capitalism. The WEF (World Economic Forum) calls it best: The Great Reset – the upwards reorganization of assets. After the very elite-made global covid hoax has destroyed and continues to devastate most of what was the world economy, what gave work and food to billions of people – people are dwelling in the gutters with nothing left – no health care, no shelter, no food – no hope. The latter is the killer.

Venezuela is the antidote to this western usurping approach to civilization – what’s left of it. Venezuela pursues justice and fights for equality. By the way, Venezuela is in the honorable company of Cuba, Syria, Iran, Russia and China. The US, alias the west, cannot tolerate an example of ethics in its hegemonic orbit. Western allies – united under the boot of NATO – pretend freedom is their cause, while their own people suffer from unfathomable injustice every day – poverty and famine of children is skyrocketing in the Global North, the so-called developed or industrialized world – the bankers world, the world of those who indebt the Global South into dependence, into the Global North’s neo-colonies.

Venezuela, on the contrary, aims at eradicating poverty famine and misery – and that despite her constant strangulation by Washington and their western allies, and even by some of what should be their Latin Brothers, the Lima Group, formed in August 2017 in Lima, Peru (12 members as of December 2019: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Guyana, Saint Lucia, Bolivia and Haiti).

Imagine – how much pressure these Lima Group countries are under to accuse, boycott, denigrate and speak out in international fora against their fellow Latin Americans of Venezuela. Once upon a time there was a United Latin America – united under the leadership of Venezuela’s Simon Bolivar. With the onset of the British Empire’s transatlantic move of its power center to become the United States of America, the southern part of the America’s became what recent US Presidents called “our backyard” – ready to be usurped in any way possible, mostly in the form of military dictatorships and lately by Washington-induced coups against democratically elected heads of states.

However, the spirit of Simon Bolivar, El Libertador, lives on. Together with Nicolas Maduro’s tenacious will for freedom, for autonomy, for full sovereignty for Venezuelans, their use and destiny over natural resources, may prevail and influence upcoming elections in Bolivia (October 2020), Chile (October 2020 referendum on whether a new Constitution ought to be drafted, replacing the one dating back to Pinochet), Brazil (municipal election in November 2020) and Ecuador (general elections in February 2021).

Venezuela’s overarching strength by solidarity and endless fight for justice and Human Rights, brought the opposition to its knees. The right-wing Washington supported opposition, led by self-nominated “president” Juan Guaidó, boycotted past elections, so as not to show their weakness vis-à-vis the rest of the world. Now, perhaps the real head of opposition, Henrique Capriles, is changing tactics. Realizing that the only way to have any say in the political arena of Venezuela is by participating in it, he is calling for participation in the 6 December National Assembly elections.

President Maduro has always invited participation of the opposition in elections and will welcome their presence for the December 2020 NA elections too. Because Democracy is at the heart of Chavismo, the very socialist thought being carried forward – steadily, without wavering, by President Maduro and his Government. – Viva! Venezuela’s Democracy – a shining light for the Americas and for the world.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.  Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Maduro: EU Demand to Delay Election in Venezuela ‘Impossible

Source

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has dismissed as “impossible” the EU’s suggestion to postpone the country’s December 6 election to meet the bloc’s conditions to dispatch an observer mission, blaming the idea on US pressure.

“It is impossible because there is a very clear constitutional mandate,” Maduro said Thursday in a nationally televised address. “We want to have a good relationship with the European Union, but Washington does not let them.”

Maduro has repeatedly maintained that the administration of hawkish US President Donald Trump is persistently plotting to topple his government in a coup to seize control of the oil-rich nation’s huge crude oil reserves.

Relations between Caracas and Washington have drastically deteriorated in recent years amid multiple efforts by the US government to impose sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company and other industries in its bid to destabilize the country.

Venezuela’s constitution requires a new poll every five years while US-backed opposition parties have vowed to boycott the election.

European and Latin American ministers in the International Contact Group (ICG) declared after their video conference on Thursday that conditions were not ripe to send observers to Venezuela’s parliamentary elections next December.

“ICG members concluded that conditions are not met, at the moment, for a transparent, inclusive, free and fair electoral process,” the group announced in a statement following the conference chaired by EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell.

The ICG groups European countries including Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as well as a number of Latin American countries. Argentina is back in the group while Bolivia has left it.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza invited observers from the United Nations and the European Union, in letters addressed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Borrell early this month, to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections in the country.

In the letters, Arreaza outlined “the broad electoral guarantees agreed for the upcoming parliamentary elections.”

Maduro pardoned over 100 legislators and associates of US-sponsored opposition figure Juan Guaido to promote national reconciliation ahead of the congressional elections in December.

Guaido pushed Venezuela into political turmoil by dismissing the results of the 2018 presidential election after Maduro won nearly 70 percent of the votes. The opposition figure declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January last year and later launched a US-backed abortive coup to oust Maduro’s elected government.

Source: Agecnies

Reasons why Iran backs Venezuela

Source

July 8, 2020 – 13:48

As two oil-producing countries under U.S. sanctions, Iran and Venezuela have been working in recent years to strengthen geopolitical ties to relieve U.S. pressure and find a solution to improve their economies.

A significant expansion in Iran-Venezuela relations would allow the presidents of both countries – Hassan Rouhani in Tehran and Nicolas Maduro in Caracas – to challenge the United States’ imperialist policies.

 This relationship will calm down sentiments of anti-American groups inside Iran and Venezuela and shows their strong ties and alliance as two members of the Non-Aligned Movement. 

Over the past weeks, Tehran has come to the aid of Caracas in various ways, sending fuel, refinery parts, and more recently humanitarian aid. Fuel delivery is a lifeline for the Maduro government. Venezuela has been suffering from a shortage of gasoline, basic foodstuffs, and medicine amid the economic crisis. 

American sanctions and pressure on the left-wing government in Venezuela have led to a sharp decline in public services and a spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Through supporting Maduro, Iran tries to turn Venezuela into a foothold to challenge U.S. hegemony and revive anti-imperialist policies in the world.

 Besides, Iran is working hard to increase its influence in Latin America, which has long been considered U.S. “backyard” and increase its access to various resources in the continent. 

“Iran flew out some $500 million in gold bullion as payment for services rendered,” according to a Bloomberg report. However, officials in Iran dismissed the report.

The gradual increase in U.S. sanctions against Caracas even pushed back Maduro’s loyal ally Russia. Pressure from Washington caused Rosneft, the Russian state-controlled oil firm, to cease operations in Venezuela in March and sell all of its assets in the country.

That’s why the Maduro government needs Iran’s collaboration to strengthen its hand against U.S. sanctions, as the country is grappling with harsh U.S. restrictions on its oil exports and international financial transactions.

 Iran is experiencing worse economic sanctions. This happened after the U.S. under the Trump presidency unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA and returned the previous sanctions and imposed new ones.

Although Russia and China have continued to support Venezuela by sending humanitarian aid to the country to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, analysts say Caracas no longer can request multibillion-dollar loans from its international allies as the country has pre-sold its oil for the coming year, which caused the price of this product to fall to its lowest level in history.

But, Tehran-Caracas relations made a fuss, when Western media focused on Iran’s flights to Venezuela in recent weeks; the flights which were reportedly carrying Iranian oil industry equipment and technology for unused Venezuelan refineries.

In mid-May, the news of five Iranian tankers carrying 1.5 million barrels of fuel to Venezuela dominated the headlines. The measure raised concerns if the U.S. Navy would stop the cargo.

It caused both Iranian and Venezuelan leaders to warn the U.S. about any wrong step which may threaten global peace and security.

Iranian oil tankers were eventually escorted into Venezuelan territorial waters by planes and ships from the Venezuelan armed forces to temporarily solve the country’s shortage of fuel.

This collaboration was described as a political victory over U.S. sanctions and bullying in the world.

With officials promising to ship more fuel and food from Tehran to Caracas, it seems that Iran is going to be the greatest help to the Venezuelan economy; It would be enough to turn up the heat on the United States and its allies, especially if Latin America’s political pendulum swings back to the radical left.

UK denying Maduro access to Venezuelan gold is not only THEFT, it’s MURDER of London’s reputation as trusted financial center

Source

George Galloway

George Gallowaywas a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years.

He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator. Follow him on Twitter @georgegalloway

©  Getty Images / Vitoria Holdings LLC

The standards are poor at the Bank of England these days, I don’t know why anyone would want to do business with them. George Galloway gives British banking, and justice, a triple-fail rating.

It used to be “a thing” when I was growing up. “As safe as the Bank of England” was the acme of trustworthiness and security. But as Venezuela – and any other Global South country foolish enough to entrust the British with their sovereign wealth just found out in the High Court in London – the Bank of England isn’t any longer safe at all.

Almost a billion dollars worth of Venzuelan gold bullion has just been stolen by the British government, theft has just been legalized, and the thieves didn’t even bother to wear a mask.

The gold was deposited in London by the then internationally recognized government of Venezuela. But the now internationally recognized government of Nicolas Maduro has been refused permission to have its value transferred to the United Nations in New York for work they wish the UN Development Program to conduct against the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE

Venezuela in legal battle to get its gold back from Bank of England

Venezuela in legal battle to get its gold back from Bank of England

Instead, a man off the street in Caracas by the name of Juan Guaido – who has not only never been elected to power in Venezuela, he’s no longer even elected as the leader of the opposition – is the legal owner of the gold, says Justice Alice-in-Wonderland. After all, words mean whatever the British government wants them to mean.

The elected president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, is recognized by the great majority of countries in the world. More importantly, his government is recognized at the United Nations. It is not true, as the British government told the High Court, that they “do not recognize” the Maduro government – they recognize it every day at the UN, in discussions in the canteen as well as in the chamber.

Moreover, it is the principle of British diplomacy that they “recognize” whomsoever is in effective control of a territory – whether they like them or not. Though, come to think of it, they did breach that “principle” once before – when they continued to recognize the Cambodian genocidal murderer Pol Pot  and insist that Comrade Number 1 remains in his seat in New York long after he was actually overthrown and while the mountain of corpses in Cambodia were being counted.

By any standards, Maduro is in effective control of Venezuela and Juan Guaido is not. Maduro controls every square inch of Venezuela, is the elected president, is recognized by the United Nations and by most countries in the world. Guaido is not elected, is not recognized by the United Nations, nor by most countries in the world and doesn’t control one single inch of Venezuelan territory. But he is now the proud owner of the gold in the Bank of England. It makes the Great Train Robbery look like a mere bagatelle, Guaido makes the Thief of Baghdad look like an amateur. It is the greatest single act of theft ever to take place on British soil. And that’s saying something.

ALSO ON RT.COMMystery of the Venezuelan gold: Bank of England is independent of UK govt – but not of foreign govt

But away from the scene of the crime, away from Venezuela, British officials in their ivory tower should take note. It wasn’t just theft which took place in the Strand this week – it was murder. The murder of London’s reputation as a financial center you can trust.

Certainly, any sovereign government which has invested its sovereign wealth in London should examine their head if not the current state of their balance. This decision has given a green light to the Pirates of the Caribbean, and you could be next. Fall out with the British government and they can now hand all your country’s wealth they can grab, over to your opposition, however discredited.

Quite a day’s work in financial standards, a triple-A fail.

If I ever won the National Lottery (which I don’t enter) the last place on Earth that I would deposit my millions would be in London. Standards here just went down the rabbit-hole and will never re-emerge. The City of London has fallen.

When I was young I told my Irish grandfather that the teacher had told me that the British had an empire so vast that the Sun never set upon it. He answered “that’s because God would never trust the British in the dark.” I knew he was telling the truth. And now so does Venezuela.

©  Getty Images / Vitoria Holdings LLC

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/493718-uk-maduro-venezuela-gold/

US Attempts to Seize Four Iranian Tankers Headed to Venezuela

Source

US Attempts to Seize Four Iranian Tankers Headed to Venezuela

By Staff, Agencies

US federal prosecutors are seeking to seize four tankers sailing towards Venezuela with gasoline supplied by Iran.

It is the latest attempt to disrupt ever-closer trade ties between the two heavily-sanctioned anti-US allies.

The Trump administration has been stepping up pressure on ship owners to abide by sanctions against US adversaries like Iran, Venezuela and North Korea, Al-Jazeera reported.

In May, Maduro celebrated the arrival of five Iranian tankers delivering much-needed fuel supplies to alleviate shortages that have led to days-long gas lines even in the capital, Caracas, which is normally spared such hardships.

The flotilla’s arrival angered the Trump administration, which struck back by sanctioning the five Iranian captains of the vessels.

The four tankers named in the complaint filed on Wednesday – the Bella, Bering, Pandi and Luna – are currently transporting 1.1 million barrels of gasoline to Venezuela, the report added.

Related News

Maduro Orders EU Envoy to Leave Within 72 Hours Over New Sanctions

Source

Maduro Orders EU Envoy to Leave Within 72 Hours Over New Sanctions

By Staff, Agencies

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered EU envoy Isabel Brilhante Pedrosato to leave within 72 hours after the EU sanctioned a group of Venezuelan officials.

“I have decided to give the European Union ambassador 72 hours to leave the country,” Maduro said in a televised address, also noting that Pedrosato will be allowed to use a plane to leave the country.

“Enough of European colonialism against Venezuela,” Maduro added.

Maduro’s order comes hours after the Council of the European Union on Monday sanctioned 11 additional Venezuelan officials, including parliamentarians, a magistrate and a senior military chief, for acting against the National Assembly, which is dominated by the opposition, Reuters reported. The individuals sanctioned are recognized by the Maduro government but not by the members of the Assembly.

The sanctions include a travel ban and an asset freeze. So far, 36 Venezuelan officials linked to the Maduro government face sanctions.

According to the Council, the 11 newly-sanctioned individuals “are particularly responsible for acting against the democratic functioning of the National Assembly, including stripping the parliamentary immunity of several of its members,” Reuters reported. The Council also accused the individuals of “creating obstacles to a political and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela.”

The United States itself has imposed numerous rounds of sanctions against Venezuela in response to the political developments in the country. On January 23, 2019, opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself Venezuela’s interim president, denouncing Maduro’s government as undemocratic and calling for Maduro’s ouster. Since then, several failed attempts have been made to remove Maduro from power.

Last year, the US also imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil and natural gas company PDVSA. Recently, the Trump administration sanctioned three Mexico-based individuals for selling crude oil from Venezuela.

“The illegitimate Maduro regime created a secret network to evade sanctions, which Treasury has now exposed,” US Deputy Secretary Justin G. Muzinich said in a statement at the time. “The United States will continue to relentlessly pursue sanctions evaders, who plunder Venezuela’s resources for personal gain at the expense of the Venezuelan people.”

Last Wednesday, Washington also imposed sanctions on the captains of five Iranian tankers over oil deliveries to Venezuela.

“Today, the United States is sanctioning five Iranian ship captains who delivered around 1.5 million barrels of Iranian gasoline to Venezuela in support of the illegitimate Maduro regime,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Maduro has repeatedly stated that the US is using sanctions to choke out his government and gain access to the country’s oil reserves, which are the largest in the world.

“Let’s not allow a Vietnam in Latin America,” Maduro said last year, warning against the dangers of US intervention.”If the United States intends to intervene here, they will have a Vietnam worse than what they can imagine. Let’s not allow violence.”

If Trump Is Thinking About a Meeting with Maduro, What About Trudeau?

By Arnold August

Global Research, June 23, 2020

Based on an interview held in the White House last Friday, June 19, the U.S. website Axios reported:

“Asked whether he would meet with Maduro,” Trump said, “I would maybe think about that…. Maduro would like to meet. And I’m never opposed to meetings — you know, rarely opposed to meetings. I always say, you lose very little with meetings. But at this moment, I’ve turned them down.”

The context of what may appear to be a sudden reversal in Trump’s Venezuelan policy is to be found in John Bolton’s recently released memoir on life under Trump, The Room Where It Happened. According to Bolton (cited by Axios), after throwing the full diplomatic weight of the U.S. government behind Juan Guaidó, Trump’s private feelings about his protégé were ambivalent:

“He thought Guaidó was ‘weak,’ as opposed to Maduro, who was ‘strong.’”

“By spring [of 2019], Trump was calling Guaidó the ‘Beto O’Rourke of Venezuela,’ [Democratic Party candidate for the 2016 presidential elections won by Hilary Clinton] hardly the sort of compliment an ally of the United States should expect.”

In the Trump lexicon, the honorific applied to O’Rourke generally means “loser,” a term to deprecate political opponents. It may be that this tentative reaching out to Maduro, as opposed to hanging on to what was appearing even in Trump’s eyes as a lost cause, has its roots in previous discussions among Trump’s Cabinet.

Any eventual contact between Trump and Maduro is an ongoing but controversial story emerging from U.S. corporate media, the White House and perhaps Bolton. In fact, only one day after Trump seemed to have opened the door to discussing with Maduro, he tweeted on June 22.

“I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!“

However, “meeting” and “discussing” is still in the news. Moreover, the fact remains, following the latest divulgations cited above, that Trump is evaluating “discussion” from a position of weakness. As Trumps has admitted, his anointed “president“ is a complete failure to date.

The situation in Canada is different. Action can be taken now as there is nothing to wait for. The Trudeau government plays a leading role in carrying forward Trump regime-change policy through the right-wing Lima group, with its avowed intention of overthrowing Maduro and installing Guaidó.

The time is ripe, because on June 17 the Trudeau government suffered a humiliating defeat in its high profile bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. In the spotlight during the weeks leading up to the vote, we saw just how close Trudeau’s relationship is to Trump. In fact, many Canadians viewed it as subservience. This evaluation even found its way into some corporate editorials on the defeat. Also under scrutiny in the UNSC debacle was the Trudeau government’s lack of respect for international law and UN resolutions.

In a word, since June 17, Trudeau does not have either an international or domestic mandate to conduct foreign policy as he has carried out since winning office. Along with other grassroots organizations and personalities, the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute was instrumental in pushing for the NO vote and creating domestic support to back up the international appeals.

If Trudeau would like to make up for his past errors and show the world there is indeed a difference between the U.S. and Canada, and that we do not perhaps stand behind every Trump move, what better opportunity that to build on Trump’s short-lived opening to Maduro? Why should Trudeau not declare that, unlike Trump, he would like to have fair and open discussions with Maduro, as anyone who believes in an “international rules-based order” should do? Surely it would take courage to do so. But this is far closer to “Canadian values” than what Trudeau has been repeating over the last few weeks. Such a courageous stand would also constitute a rebuttal of Trump’s heavy-handed, dictatorial methods. Since the vote on the 17th, the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, encouraged by its and others’ success in breaking through the usual mainstream media blackout, is following up on what many see as a mandate from the grassroots. It is calling for a popular discussion and consultations on foreign policy in these terms:

“Dear PM Trudeau,

Time to Fundamentally Reassess Canadian Foreign Policy

One of the 10 subjects raised is:

  • Why is Canada involved in efforts to oust Venezuela’s UN-recognized government, a clear violation of the principle of non-intervention in other country’s internal affairs?

Trudeau has admitted that he has to take stock of a foreign policy that has been so soundly rejected by United Nations’ member states. By revising its failed and harmful policy toward the Venezuelan people, it would contribute to a much-needed atmosphere of discussion and consultation on Canada’s outdated and unpopular foreign policy.

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Featured image is from The Santiago TimesThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Arnold August, Global Research, 2020

Venezuela To Take US Sanctions To ICC

Venezuela To Take US Sanctions To ICC

By Staff, Agencies

Venezuela vowed to take the United States to the International Criminal Court [ICC] in response to new unilateral sanctions imposed by Washington on the Latin American nation.

The administration in Washington introduced sanctions on Thursday that targeted Mexican companies and individuals for allegedly attempting to evade US restrictions on Venezuela’s oil sector.

“Washington continues to narrow the circle around Venezuela. They [the United States] believe that we cannot export oil and the Venezuelan people are left without food products, medicines, and petrol,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza wrote on his Twitter page later in the day.

“The UN multipolar system must respond. We will go the International Criminal Court over this case,” he added.

Venezuela descended into political turmoil after opposition figure Juan Guido unilaterally declared himself “interim president” of the country in January last year, and with Washington’s assistance and help from a small number of rogue soldiers, later launched a botched putsch against the elected government. There was also an attempt at assassinating the legitimately-elected President Nicolas Maduro with a drone in 2018.

Guaido’s self-proclamation and his coup received backing from the US administration.

Washington has imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions against the oil-rich nation aimed at ousting Maduro and bringing Guaido to power instead.

The sanctions, which include the illegal confiscation of Venezuelan assets abroad and an economic blockade, have caused enormous suffering for millions of people in the country.

In yet another show of animosity toward the government in Caracas, a group of US-backed mercenaries attempted to intrude into the northern Venezuelan state of La Guaira on speedboats last month, but the country’s military foiled the attack, killing eight of the armed men and arresting several others.

One of the two US citizens arrested during the marine incursion said in a public interrogation on Venezuelan state TV that the purpose of the military operation had been to seize an airport in Caracas, kidnap Maduro, and take him to the US.

The contract under which the mercenaries carried out the attack bore Guaido’s signature as well as those of other opposition figures.

In a similar move, Iran, which is also under harsh US sanctions, opened a case at the Hague-based court in 2018, calling on the organization to suspend unilateral economic sanctions imposed by Washington after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 international nuclear deal.

Maduro Thanks Iran for Sending Oil Tankers, Slams US for Disrupting Shipments

Maduro Thanks Iran for Sending Oil Tankers, Slams US for Disrupting Shipments

By Staff, Agencies

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for sending three oil tankers to the energy-hungry and sanction-hit nation while slamming the US for disrupting international fuel shipments headed to the Latin American country. 

During a speech held in Caracas, Maduro thanked Leader of Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, the people of Iran and the government of President Hassan Rouhani for “their availability, their solidarity, [and] their courage, which has allowed three ships to arrive to Venezuela with gasoline and supplies for the recovery of the refineries.”

He, however, criticized the US government for having persecuted for more than a year all the ships and imports of supplies to produce gasoline in Venezuela.

“[The US government] has persecuted for more than a year all the ships, all the imports of supplies to produce gasoline in Venezuela. All the ships which were bringing in gasoline,” Maduro said.

He then added that the situation reached its climax recently, in February and March, but stressed,” We have resisted with a plan, we have resisted for the fundamental services, but we have not been left alone in the resistance, we have gone to the battle on a counter-offensive to guarantee the people their supply of gasoline, and we are going to guarantee it.”

“Venezuela and the people of the world have the right to economic freedom, freedom of trade, to buy and sell everything we need in the world,” Maduro stressed.

Three Iranian oil-laden ships have so far reached Venezuelan shores, and two other ships are expected to arrive on May 27 and June 1, according to local sources.

Venezuela is facing difficulties with the supply of gasoline due to sanctions unilaterally imposed by the United States which has also slapped unilateral sanctions on Iran to end its oil exports.

The shipments have created a fresh diplomatic standoff between the US and Iran, with an American official saying Washington is considering measures in response without providing further details.

Cuban President: Iranian Tankers Break ‘Criminal’ US Blockade on Venezuela

Cuban President: Iranian Tankers Break ‘Criminal’ US Blockade on Venezuela

By Staff, Agencies

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said that the Iranian oil tankers’ arrival in Venezuela broke the US “unacceptable and criminal” blockade against the country.

The official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina quoted Diaz-Canel as making the remarks on Monday.

Earlier, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro thanked Iranian support, stressing that Caracas and Tehran are both after peace, and have right to do free trade.

Iran’s second oil tanker, Forest, arrived in Venezuela amid the US threats.

Forest entered the Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ] of Venezuela early Sunday, met by the country’s navy.

It follows the first of five Iranian vessels carrying an estimated total of 1.53 barrels of gasoline between them, Sputnik reported.

The first vessel, ‘Fortune’, successfully reached Venezuela the day before and was escorted into the port by the Bolivarian Navy.

Three more oil tankers are expected to arrive in Venezuela from Iran. The five vessels are carrying an estimated 1.53 million barrels of gasoline between them.

Iran has warned of repercussions from the potential interception of Iranian tankers by the US.

On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country is always entitled to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and warned that if his country’s oil tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world get into trouble by the Americans, Tehran will definitely retaliate.

American Mercenaries Soiled Themselves In Failed Venezuela Coup (Ruslan Ostashko)

American Mercenaries Soiled Themselves In Failed Venezuela Coup (Ruslan Ostashko)

Translated by Sasha and subtitled by Leo.

For anybody wondering why there are two links, we are trying to get into the habit of posting videos on both YouTube and Dailymotion. Since the subtitle process is different on Dailymotion than on YouTube, it may take a while to perfect it.

Translated by Sasha and subtitled by Leo.

For anybody wondering why there are two links, we are trying to get into the habit of posting videos on both YouTube and Dailymotion. Since the subtitle process is different on Dailymotion than on YouTube, it may take a while to perfect it.

Over 1,200,000 infected, 70,000 dead by COVID-19, food shortage – the US has serious problems. But the democracy peddlers from Washington don’t have time for that. Instead of fighting the epidemic, the American elite keeps trying to establish marionette regimes in the countries where they can carve up natural resources, and they soiled themselves, as it happened again in Venezuela.

The less opportunity the US has to solve problems in their customary manner – by flooding it all with money, the more often they result in all sorts of embarrassments. For instance, the recent disgrace of the supposedly 5th generation aircraft F-35. This is the very case of whatever the amount of money you pour in it doesn’t help. Because the school of engineering has degraded and the real achievements have been replaced by imitation for the sake of redistribution of billions.

The American foreign policy is in a similar situation. Washington has always relied on force, and on a usual scheme of buying out parts of the local elites, so they would help to overthrow the unwanted government. Very recently this again yielded results in the South American Bolivia. Because the overthrown president Evo Morales behaved exceedingly vegetarian. But there is also Venezuela which for the US plays the role of a bone in their throat. Our [Russian] strategic bombers fly over there. Rosneft is working there. There also sits Nicolas Maduro, whom they attempted to overthrow by force a few times but to no avail. And now we have more public self-soiling.

RIA Novosti: “On 3 May, the Interior Minister Nestor Reverol announced that a naval invasion staged by Colombian militants from the direction of La Guiara in the north of the country was thwarted. According to him, the militants tried to invade the country on high speed boats. The Speaker of Venezuelan National Assembly Diosdado Cabello clarified that 8 attackers were killed and two captured.” “He also announced that one of the captured was an agent of the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Later Cabello informed that on Monday, the military and the police in the Northern Sate of Aragua captured another 8 participants of the Sunday naval invasion, including their leader Antonio Sikea.”

The mercenaries were recruited by the Americans among the former members of Venezuelan security forces, who had deserted earlier to the side of the so-called pro-Western opposition, while their American leader has rich experience of participation in conflicts unleashed by the US; from invasion of Iraq to operations in Libya and Syria. Is it then surprising that in Washington they immediately sang denial – the man wasn’t theirs and the US had nothing to do with it?

The American DEA denies that its operative was detained during an armed assault attempt in Venezuela, asclaimed by the country’s authorities.” “The Agency did not take any part in the events of the past weekend, stated the agency’s press service, having advised to also inquire in the State Department.”

The humor in the situation is such that the US media themselves already wrote about the US’ part in yet another attempt to overthrow Maduro.

Iron Curtain (Telegram account): “The Head of PMC ‘Silvercorp USA’ Jordan Goudreau claimed that on Sunday, 3 May he initiated the operation of overthrowing President Nicolas Maduro. However it failed. As The New York Times stated, the group was tasked with penetrating into Venezuela ‘with heavy weapons’, seizing the government buildings within 96 hours, and arresting of the country’s president Nicolas Maduro. The bet was made on ‘demoralization’ of the army, but the Venezuelans managed to defeat the mercenaries.”

It’s no matter whether the American was a DEA operative or had a different ‘roof’. It is clear that now, as he got caught, he is being retroactively removed from any US governmental structure and they will claim that it was his private initiative. Although, if the published information about his work in the White House Secret Service is correct, it is also clear that the operation was sanctioned by the highest ranks of the American state. And that the US has been trying to openly overthrow Maduro for two years is a generally recognised fact. The events demonstrate that the American capabilities for forcible influence over uncomfortable governments are withering away. And the American elites themselves contribute to it enormously while preparing for the autumn battle for the presidential post.

This is why it is not surprising that The New York Times quickly seized the topic of the failure in Venezuela. This will be presented as Donald Trump’s failure and he, in turn, will surely remind the Democrats their disgrace in Benghazi, where during Obama, the American nurtured terrorists killed US citizens. In general, they keep gnawing on each other in Washington. In the meantime, the star-stripped hegemony weakens month by month. And this is good, because the world will be able to breath more freely, when the democracy exporters will spend all their efforts on fighting each other inside their own state.

AMERICA’S MEDDLING IN VENEZUELA HAS NO BOUNDARIES. AFTER A FAILED COUP ATTEMPT, TRYING TO INSTALL A BOGUS PRESIDENT AND IMPOSING CRIPPLING SANCTIONS, WILL IT EVER BE HELD TO ACCOUNT?

May 21, 2020, RT.com

-by Eva K Bartlett

America’s meddling in Venezuela has no boundaries. After a failed coup attempt, trying to install a bogus president, and imposing crippling sanctions, will it ever be held to account?

Venezuela is back in the news again, just weeks after yet another failed coup attempt that was almost certainly backed by the US. This time, it’s the American sanctions against the country that are making the headlines – measures that caused US company AT&T to shut down satellite TV provider, DirecTV, thereby depriving Venezuelans of a number of foreign channels.

The irony, of course, is that while it’s US sanctions that are the cause of this shutdown, had it been President Nicolás Maduro who closed DirecTV, you can bet Western media headlines would be screaming about censorship of the media (although most were rather quiet when Estonia shut down Sputnik.).

The impact of this latest development will be a major inconvenience for most of Venezuela’s poorest – another example of how the sanctions are not merely targeting the administration but the people themselves. US sanctions against Syria, Venezuela, Iran and a long list of other targeted nations have deprived them of access to vital medicines, medical equipment, income and more.

As I noted in a prior article, the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that a staggering 40,000 Venezuelans died in 2017 and 2018 due to sanctions. This shameful statistic lends weight to former UN expert Alfred de Zayas naming sanctions as a form of terrorism, “because they invariably impact, directly or indirectly, the poor and vulnerable.”

So well done, America, for adding another layer of misery to the heap you’ve already created.

The plan to abduct Maduro

Just a couple of weeks beforehand, on May 3 and 4, Venezuelan forces had prevented 60 paramilitaries on two speedboats – including Americans – from carrying out their plan to kidnap Venezuela’s president and replace him with Juan Guaido, who the US and Canada have been attempting to install as president since early 2019.

Guaido, the self-appointed ‘interim president’, was aware of the plot, which involved a contract of $213million according to documents that have entered the public domain. The US and Canadian authorities were most likely in the loop, too. 

Guaido first announced himself as ‘interim president’ in January 2019, to the surprise of most Venezuelans and with no election. Most countries rejected this breach of Venezuela’s sovereignty, with only a smattering of Western terrorist supporting countries that advocate regime change – and some nations that they bully – endorsing him. 

A month later, there were failed Western-backed attempts to ram ‘aid trucks’ (loaded with wires and nails) through Colombia’s border with Venezuela, the goal being to vilify the government for failing to accept what was clearly not aid (and was not coming via a proper channel either).

In March, the unpopular Guaido was booed and fled from a pro-government area in Caracas, ironically with Venezuelan security protecting him from an angry crowd. In the same month, I tried to see the supposedly massive pro-opposition rallies I had heard of in the capital, but instead came across huge pro-government demonstrations

In April, Guaido and a violent right-wing opposition leader, with the backing of the US, attempted a coup— an attempt clearly rejected by masses of Venezuelans. Fast forward to January this year and Guaido failed to be re-elected as president of the country’s National Assembly.gwedo

Guaido attempted to scale a fence before the vote took place. His claims that he was barred from entering have been disputed. (Reuters) via Venezuelanalysis.com

In spite of the absurd amount of backing Guaido has received from Western governments, it seems even some opposition within Venezuela don’t want him, and would prefer to return to dialogue with Maduro’s government.

Perhaps this was down to Guaido staffers’ alleged involvement in embezzling ‘humanitarian aid’ funds. Photos taken with  Colombian drug traffickers and paramilitary leaders probably didn’t help his cause, either.

After so many Guaido false starts and flops, and their failure to bring him an iota of legitimacy, surely it’s time for the US and Canadian administrations to accept they are flogging a dead horse?

What’s the UN doing?

On Tuesday, Venezuela’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, tweeted: “May 20 at 3:00 pm, the UN Security Council will debate the situation in Venezuela. The meeting was requested by Russia after the terrorist armed attack carried out from Colombia on May 3. We will denounce to the world the aggression against our people.”

While I do of course support Venezuela’s desire to denounce the attempted coup, and the bloodshed that could have prevailed – including of civilians – had the paramilitaries been successful, forgive me for being cynical that justice will prevail.

After all, history has shown that nothing is done when the US and allies commit war crimes in Syria. Likewise, they have never been held accountable by the UN for what they did in Iraq. And what about the war crimes of Israel against Palestinian civilians, and the Saudis against the Yemenis?

Sadly, I don’t have an answer as to what’s a better option than attempts for justice and accountability via the UN.

But I know this much: this won’t be the last failed attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s government, and it won’t be the last time the country and its allies have to condemn immoral and illegal US and Canadian acts.

So vile are these governments that even now, while the world is focused on dealing with Covid-19, they are scheming to bring more misery to the people of Venezuela. They should hang their heads in shame, but they’ve got none.  

RELATED LINKS:

My Venezuela 2019 Youtube playlist

-Venezuelan woman: “We didn’t vote for you, Guaido. Trump, stop f*cking us over. [VIDEO]

-Reminder of Corporate Media Lies on Venezuela [VIDEO]

Venezuela isn’t Syria… but America’s war tactics are the same

US is manufacturing a crisis in Venezuela so that there is chaos and ‘needed’ intervention

Western leaders, screw your ‘Sanctions Target the Regime’ blather: Sanctions KILL PEOPLE

Canada and the Coup Attempt Against Venezuela, by Arnold August

Will Trump really start *two* wars instead of “just” one?

May 20, 2020

Will Trump really start *two* wars instead of “just” one?

[Note: this article was written for the Unz Review]

Amidst the worldwide pandemic induced scare most of us have probably lost track of all the other potential dangers which still threaten international peace and stability.  Allow me to list just a few headlines which, I strongly believe, deserve much more attention than what they got so far.  Here we go:

  • Military Times: “5 Iran tankers sailing to Venezuela amid US pressure tactics
  • Time: “5 Iranian Tankers Head to Venezuela Amid Heightened Tensions Between U.S. and Tehran
  • FoxNews: “Iran tankers sailing to Venezuela in effort to undermine US sanctions

Notice that Military Times speaks of “US pressure tactics”, Time of “tensions” and FoxNews of “efforts to undermined US sanctions”?

I don’t think that this is a coincidence.  Folks in the US military are much more in touch with reality than the flag-waving prostitutes which some people call “reporters” or “journalists”.

Furthermore, the USA has embarked on a new policy to justify its acts of piracy on the high seas with something called Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) all under the pretext of the war on drugs.  To get a better understanding of the context of these developments I asked a specialist of Maritime issues of our community, NatSouth, who replied the following: (stress added)

If a ship does not comply with the request to be boarded, it is usual that the pursuing authorities must gain the permission of the ‘flag’ state prior to boarding, on the high seas and the pursuit has to have started in the coastal state’s jurisdictional waters. The caveat here is that in the Caribbean – Caribbean Regional Maritime Agreement (CRA) – (long name: Agreement Concerning Co-operation in Suppressing Illicit Maritime and Air Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in the Caribbean Area).  So, there is an agreement with participating coastal states on boardings and pursuits in EEZs and the like.  You can find more on the legal aspects of boardings at sea here  and more info on so-called “consensual boardings” here

The anti-drug/ counterterrorism angle allows the U.S. Navy and the USCG to carry out interdictions on the high seas. Important point to note whether this approach will be taken to interdict the tankers, given that Venezuela is a declared narco-State. The absurdity is that Venezuela isn’t the primary transit point in the region, Colombia holds that honour. https://orinocotribune.com/narco-state-the-report-that-leaves-venezuela-on-the-sidelines-of-the-cocaine-route/

Tweet threat

If I could add at this point, the origins are that Venezuela didn’t wish to play ball with Washington anymore, specifically with the DEA back in 2005, squaring the circle of sorts, (or should that be a vicious circle cunningly used by Washington, because who is going to argue with that narrative, aka the war on terror). March: SOUTHCOM’s Adm. Faller: “There will be an increase in US military presence in the hemisphere later this year. This will include an enhanced presence of ships, aircraft, & security forces to reassure our partners… & counter a range of threats to include illicit narco-terrorism.” At the same time, the State dept released this https://twitter.com/StateDept/status/1260988270302777350 so the US could effectively carry out boardings under the guise of counterterrorism as well.

While the Iranian tankers were in the Mediterranean, Washington released a (delayed) “Global Maritime Sanctions Advisory”, to the maritime industry, setting out guidelines to shipowners and insurers to enable them to avoid the risks of sanctions penalties related to North Korea, Syria and Iran. This also concerns oil exports from Iran, (but doesn’t apply to Iranian flagged ships).  This came after the State Dept gave warning notice to oil companies  to stop operations, including Rosneft (Russia), Reliance (India) and Repsol (Spain).

Then NatSouth concluded the following:

Under international law, every merchant ship must be registered with a flag state, which has jurisdiction over the vessel.  Hence, this time, the use of Iranian-flagged tankers, as a direct response from Washington’s latest version of restating “maximum pressure” campaign on enforcement of Iran and Venezuela sanctions, (back in Feb, literally the same language as in Aug 2019). There was talk back then of a naval embargo, which would a serious notch up in tensions. There was mention of the 4 U.S. warships in the Caribbean, the U.S. Navy tweeted about, but one the Preble went through the Panama Canal into the Pacific). https://twitter.com/USNavy/status/1261325507473391618

Pretty clear, isn’t it?

What the USA is doing is substituting itself for the United Nations and it is now openly claiming the right to board any vessel under whatever kind of pious pretext like, say, narco-trafficing, nuclear proliferation, sanctions against so-called “rogue states”, etc.   Clearly, the AngloZionists expect everybody to roll over and take it.

How likely is that?

Let’s look at a few Iranian headlines, all from PressTV:

  • PressTV, May 16th: “Iran’s fuel shipment to Venezuela guaranteed by its missile power
  • PressTV, May 17th: “US aware Iran will respond ‘very strongly’ if Venezuela-bound ships attacked: Analyst
  • PressTV, May 18th: “Iran: US bears responsibility for any foolish act against tankers heading to Venezuela

Three days in a row.  I think that it is fair to assume that the Iranians are trying very hard to convince Uncle Shmuel not to mess with these tankers.  Does anybody seriously believe that the Iranians are bluffing?

Before we look at some of the aspects of this potential crisis, let’s just mention a few things here.

First, the US is acting in total and official illegality.  Just like the bombing of Syria, the threats to Iran, or the US murderous sanctions Uncle Shmuel imposes left and right – the blockade of Venezuela is a) totally illegal and b) an act of war under international law.

Second, if USN commanders think they can operate with impunity only because the Caribbean is far away from Iran, they are kidding themselves.  Yes, Iranian forces cannot defend these tankers so far away from home, nor can they take any action against the USN in the Atlantic-Caribbean theater of naval operations.  But what they can and will do is retaliate against any AngloZionist target in the Middle-East, including any oil/gas tanker.

Third, while Venezuela’s military is tiny and weak compared to the immensely expensive and bloated US military, being immensely expensive and bloated is no guarantee of success.  In fact, and depending on how the Venezuelan leadership perceives its options, there could be some very real risk for the USA in any attempt to interfere with the free passage of these ships.

What do I mean by that?

Did you know that Venezuela had four squadrons of Su-30MKV for a total of 22 aircraft?  Did you know that Venezuela also had an unknown number of Kh-31A supersonic anti-shipping missiles?  And did you know that Venezuela had a number of S-300VM and 9K317M2 Buk-M2E long range and medium range SAMs?

True, that is nowhere near the amount of weapons systems Venezuela would need to withstand a determined US attack, but it is more than enough to create some real headaches for US planners.  Do you remember what the Argentinian Air Force did to the British Navy during the Malvinas war?  Not only did the Argentinians sink two Type 42 guided missile destroyers (the HMS Sheffield and the HMS Coventry) which were providing long-range radar and medium-high altitude missile picket for the British carriers, they also destroyed 2 frigates, 1 landing ship, 1 landing craft, 1 container ship.  Frankly, considering how poorly defended the British carriers were, it is only luck which saved them from destruction (that, and the lack of sufficient number of Super Étendard strike aircraft and Exocet missiles).  I would add here that the British military, having been defeated on many occasions, has learned the painful lessons of their past defeats and does not suffer from the cocky-sure attitude of the US military.  As a result, they were very careful during the war against Argentina and that caution was one of the factors which gave a Britain well-deserved the victory (I mean that in military terms only; in moral terms this was just another imperialist war with all the evil that entails).  Had the Argentinians had a modern air force and enough anti-shipping missiles, the war could have taken a very different turn.

Returning to the topic of Venezuela, war is a much more complex phenomenon than just a struggle of military forces.  In fact, I strongly believe that political factors will remain the single most important determinant factor of most wars, even in the 21st century.  And chances are that the Venezuelans, being the militarily weaker side, will look to political factors to prevail.  Here is one possible scenario among many other possible ones:

Caracas decides that the US seizing/attacking the Iranian tankers constitutes an existential threat to Venezuela because if that action goes unchallenged, then the US will totally “strangle” Venezuela.  Of course, the Venezuelan military cannot take on the immense US military, but what they could do is force a US intervention, say by attacking one/several USN vessel(s).  Such an attack, if even only partially successful, would force the US to retaliate, bringing US forces closer not only to Venezuelan air defenses, but also closer to the Venezuelan people which will see any US retaliation as an illegitimate counter-counter-attack following the fully legitimate Venezuelan counter-attack.

Then there is the problem of defining victory.  In the US political “culture” winning is usually defined as pressing a few buttons to fire off some standoff weapons, kill lots of civilians, and then declare that the “indispensable nation” has “kicked the other guy’s ass”.  The problem with that is the following one: if they other guy is very visibly weaker and has no chance for a military victory of his own, then the best option for him is to declare that “surviving is winning” – meaning that if Maduro stays in power, then Venezuela has won.  How would the USA cope with that kind of narrative?  Keep in mind that Caracas is a city of over two million people which even in peacetime is rather dangerous (courtesy of both regular crime and potential guerilla activities).  Yet, for Maduro to “win” all he has to show is that he controls Caracas.  Keep in mind that even if the US forces succeed in creating some kind of “zone of real democracy” somewhere near the Colombian border, that will mean nothing to Maduro, especially considering the terrain between the border and the capital city (please check out this very high resolution map of Venezuela or this medium resolution one).  As for the notion of a USN landing on the shores of Venezuela, all we need to do is to remember how the immense Hodgepodge of units which were tasked with invading Grenada (including 2 Ranger Battalions, Navy Seals, most of an Airborne Division, etc. for a total of over 7,000 soldiers(!) against a tiny nation which never expected to be invaded (for details, and a good laugh, see here for a full list of participating US forces!) was defeated by the waves of the Caribbean and the few Cuban military engineers who resisted with small-arms fire (eventually, most of the 82AB was calling in to fix this mess).

In other words, if Maduro remains in power in Caracas then, in political terms, Venezuela wins even though it would loose in purely military terms.

This phenomenon is hardly something new, as shown by the following famous quote by Ho Chi Minh: “You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours. But even at those odds, you will lose and I will win.”

By the way, this is exactly the same problem the Empire faces with Iran: as long as the Islamic Republic remains an Islamic Republic it “wins” in any exchange of strikes with the USA and/or Israel.

Still, it is pretty obvious that the US can turn much of Venezuela into a smoking heap of ruins.  That is true (just like what the USA did to Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Serbia and Israel what did to Lebanon in 2006).  But that would hardly constitute a “victory” in any imaginable sense of the word.  Again, in theory, the US might be able to secure a number of landing locations and then send in an intervention force which could try to take key locations in Caracas.  But what would happen after that?  Not only would the hardcore Chavistas trigger a guerilla insurrection which would be impossible to crush (when is the last time the USA prevailed in a counter-insurgency war?), but many Venezuelans would expect the US to pay for reconstruction (and they would be right, according to the rules of international law, “once you take it, you own it” meaning that the USA would become responsible for the socio-economic situation of the country).  Finally, there is always the option of an anti-leadership “decapitating” strike of some kind.  I believe that in purely military terms, the US has the know-how and resources to accomplish this.  I do not believe that this option would secure anything for the USA, instead – it would further destabilize the situation and would trigger some kind of reaction by the Venezuelan military both outside and inside Venezuela.  If anything, the repeated failures of the various coup attempts against Chavez and Maduro prove that the the bulk of the military remains firmly behind the Chavistas (and the failed coup only served to unmask the traitors and replace them anyway!).

The bottom line is this: if Uncle Shmuel decides to seize/attack the Iranian tankers, there is not only a quasi certitude of a war between the US and Iran (or, at the very least, an exchange of strikes), but there is also a non-trivial possibility that Maduro and his government might actually decide to provoke the USA into a war they really can’t win.

Is Trump capable of starting a process which will result in not one, but two wars?

You betcha he is!  A guy who thinks in categories like “my button is bigger than yours” or “super-dooper weapons” obviously understands exactly *nothing* about warfare, while the climate of messianic narcissism prevailing among the US ruling classes gives them a sense of total impunity.

Let’s hope that cooler heads, possibly in the military, will prevail.  The last thing the world needs today is another needless war of choice, never mind two more.

The Saker

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