Germany’s Century-Long Plot To Capture Control Of Europe Is Almost Complete

July 20, 2022

By Andrew Korybko

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Germany was waiting this whole time for a major crisis, which ultimately turned out to be the latest phase of the Ukrainian Conflict that US-led NATO is entirely responsible for provoking, in order to make its two interconnected power plays that are now actively unfolding.

The German elite has consistently remained hellbent on capturing control of Europe for over a century, with the only thing changing over the decades being their means after military ones horribly failed twice already. The former West Germany came to believe after World War II that the best bet for fulfilling this plot was to play it cool by abandoning unilateralism in favor of US-led multilateralism. That in turn enabled it to strategically disarm the rest of the continent, especially in the run-up to reunification with the former East Germany, after having tricked everyone into thinking that its elite finally changed their ways even though the only change was the means employed to this end.

The strategic patience practiced by the German leadership in the decades since World War II and especially the end of the Old Cold War was impressive since it certainly did indeed seem as though their elite finally abandoned their hegemonic plans. Even President Putin, who established extremely close relations with former Chancellor Merkel and arguably seemed to trust her, was duped to an extent despite his former career in intelligence. After all, he took her government’s word that it would resolve the ”EuroMaidan” crisis that soon thereafter led to a Berlin-backed coup and then still continued to believe that she’d succeed in getting Kiev to implement the UNSC-endorsed Minsk Accords.

These observations speak to how convincing the German elite’s act had been that even this world-class professional largely fell for it, which resulted in Russia losing almost eight years’ worth of time before it was finally compelled to commence its ongoing special military operation in Ukraine. This whole time, Germany was playing everyone for fools by plotting behind the scenes to capture control of Europe exactly as it’s sought to do for a century, albeit through different means than what observers had come to expect from Berlin. Instead of military ones, superficial multilateralism was employed via EU institutions and associated hyper-liberal ideology in order to disguise these hegemonic ambitions.

Germany was waiting this whole time for a major crisis, which ultimately turned out to be the latest phase of the Ukrainian Conflict that US-led NATO is entirely responsible for provoking, in order to make its two interconnected power plays that are now actively unfolding. The first concerns Chancellor Scholz’s plans for his country to have the “biggest conventional army” in Europe and the second involves his latest proposal to abandon national vetoes in order for the EU to compete with other Great Powers. About the last-mentioned, he predictably added that Germany should “assume responsibility for Europe and the world in these difficult times”, which exposed the whole charade as a hegemonic power play.

Russia finally seems to have wised up to Germany’s complicity in provoking the latest phase of the Ukrainian Conflict, with Foreign Minister Lavrov blaming it and France for killing the Minsk Accords in a recent op-ed. From there, it’s only a proverbial hop, skip, and a jump away from realizing that this was all part of Germany’s plan to capture control of Europe by “passively facilitating” the major crisis that was required to unveil the two interconnected power plays that were mentioned in the preceding paragraph. This hegemonic plot is so important for the German elite that they’re even willing to accept massive self-inflicted economic damage in pursuit of it as proven by their anti-Russian sanctions.  

In hindsight, this latest phase of the Ukrainian Conflict was the only scenario that could prompt Germany to unveil this long-plotted power play in a “plausibly deniable” way. The 2015 Migrant Crisis concerned unconventional security threats and wouldn’t have realistically necessitated Germany openly aspiring to build the biggest conventional army in Europe, nor would it have been the proper pretext for proposing an end to the EU’s policy of national vetoes. Only a conventional security crisis could have created the conditions for superficially “justifying” that, hence why Berlin “passively facilitated” this outcome for the past eight years after earlier duping everyone into thinking its elite had finally changed.

What’s different from the last two World Wars and what many have begun describing as a hybrid form of the so-called “Third World War” is that the former saw Germany truly aspiring for independent hegemony over everyone else while the latter sees it willingly behaving as the US’ “Lead From Behind” proxy for managing Europe on Washington’s behalf. In fact, this all seems to have been part of the larger plan too since Germany learned the hard way twice already that America will never let it truly become an independent hegemon, ergo why its elite modified their plot after World War II by incorporating their “junior partner” status vis-à-vis that superpower into everything from the get-go.

Where Russia got it wrong for so long is that its passionately sovereign leadership subconsciously projected their independent aspirations onto Germany, naively believing that the EU’s de facto leader sought to strive for the same Great Power status that their own civilization-state has while also falling for the charade of thinking that its elite abandoned their hegemonic plans. What really happened is that this same elite simply duped everyone through their embrace of superficial multilateralism via EU institutions and associated hyper-liberal ideology into thinking that they changed when the only thing that’s different is the means through which they’ve consistently pursued the same end.

France doesn’t feel militarily threatened by Germany anymore so it won’t seek to sabotage its neighbor’s militarization plans, and while its famous perception of itself as the bastion of European culture might be bruised by Berlin proposing that the bloc abandon national vetoes, Paris could always redirect its grand strategic focus away from Europe in response and towards Françafrique (West-Central Africa) where it’s struggling to retain its declining hegemony there in the face of newfound multipolar trends embodied by the Malian junta. This observation suggests that only Poland could stand in the way of Germany’s century-long hegemonic plot, though it’s unrealistic to expect it to succeed.

Its faux “conservative-nationalist” ruling party already submitted to hyper-liberalism by actively advancing the Ukrainization of their country, plus it’s powerless to indefinitely rebuff Germany’s pressure for Poland to adopt the euro, which gray cardinal Kaczynski just warned would kill its economy once that happens. This aspiring Great Power in its own right might become a nuisance to Germany, but it’s incapable of stopping the latter’s hybrid economic-institutional-military capture of the continent. Poland might temporarily prevent Germany from exerting its envisioned hegemony over the Baltics and especially Ukraine, but Warsaw was ultimately Berlin’s “useful idiot” as it’s finally beginning to realize.

For these reasons and barring any black swan events such as the consequences of President Putin’s prophesized populist-driven “elite change” across the continent that he made in mid-June while speaking at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), it should therefore be taken for granted that Germany will inevitably capture control of the continent sooner or later. This poses a complex array of geostrategic challenges for the emerging Multipolar World Order and Russia in particular, though the silver lining is that they can at least be better predicted than previously now that Moscow finally acknowledges Berlin’s hegemonic ambitions.

Gilad Atzmon: Putin’s War

March 13, 2022

BY GILAD ATZMON

Putin is not a military general. He is a modernist leader, a trained spymaster and strategist who understands that war is a continuation of politics by other means (Clausewitz). Accordingly, if we want to grasp Putin’s motives we should refrain from trying to assess Russia’s military campaign in terms of ‘strict military objectives.’  We should instead look at the military campaign as a political instrument that is set to mobilize a global  and regional geopolitical shift and on a mammoth scale.

It is clear that Putin’s army is doing its best to avoid civilian casualties. It uses siege tactics as opposed to the barbarian American  ‘Shock and Awe’  doctrine. Furthermore, the Russian military works hard not to dismantle the Ukrainian military.  Instead it encircles cities and is cutting out the Ukrainian army in the East and South of the country.

The Russian military has dismantled Ukraine’s ability to regroup, let alone counter attack.  Western military analysts have agreed that clear evidence of the Ukrainian army’s growing disability is that Ukraine’s army didn’t manage to seriously damage the 60 km Russian convoy on its way to Kyiv despite the fact that the convoy stood still for more than 10 days.

In the last 24 hours, Russia has made it clear to the West that any Western military supply to Ukraine will be treated as a legitimate  military target. In other words, the elite Ukrainian army in the East is now a defunct military force; it can defend the cities, it can mount guerrilla attacks on stretched Russian military logistics but it cannot regroup into a fighting force that can alter the battleground.

Putin’s army, as military experts agree, enjoys massive firepower. It is hardly a secret that Russia’s artillery is a deadly force and there is no force that can match it anywhere in the world. The military rationale for this is plain. The USSR never trusted the quality and the loyalty of its foot soldiers. While it counted on the soldiers’ mass impact, their sheer numbers, it also invented the means, the technology, the tactics and the doctrine  to win the battle from afar in preparation for the masses to move in.

It was Red artillery that knocked down the 3rd Reich Army. Similarly, flattening enemy cities is something the USSR and modern Russia are famous for. Russia enjoys this power, but it has refrained, so far,  from deploying this ability in Ukraine. Russia has displayed this  capability rather than deploying it. According to military analysts, Russia hasn’t  even begun to utilize its superior air power other than assuring its total air superiority over Ukraine.

The Russian army’s tactic has been to mount pressure on cities’ outskirts, demonstrating Russian military might and then opening  corridors for humanitarian convoys. And this is the trick. Russia is creating a flood of refugees to the west. Due to the Ukrainian government ban on men 18-60 leaving the country, we are talking about women and children.

So far there are about 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees but this number could increase dramatically. And the question follows: will Germany be happy to accept another million refugees that aren’t a working force? What about France and Britain, the USA, Canada, all those countries that pushed Zalansky and Ukraine into a war but were quick to leave the Ukrainian people to their fate?

Sooner or later, Putin believes, Europe will accept his entire list of demands and will lift the list of sanctions, and may even compensate him for his losses on oil sales all in a desperate attempt to stop the tsunami of Ukrainian refugees. By the time the guns cool down, many Ukrainians may actually prefer to stay in Germany, France, Britain and Poland. This will lead, at least in Putin’s mind, to a demographic shift in the ethnic balance in favor of the Russian ethnic groups in Ukraine. Within the context of such a shift, Putin will be able to dominate the situation in his neighbour state by political and even democratic means.

Putin’s plan is not new.  It already succeeded in Syria.

When the West realised that Syria was on foot to Europe, it was very quick to allow Putin to win the battle for Assad at the expense of America’s hegemony in the Middle East. Putin now deploys basically the same tactics. He may be cruel or even barbarian but stupid or irrational he isn’t.

The main question is how is it possible that our Western political and media elite are clueless about Putin and Russia’s moves?  How is it possible that not one Western military analyst can connect the dots and see through the fog of this horrid war? The reason is obvious: no gifted people see a potential career in military or public service these days.

Gifted people prefer the corporate world, banks, high tech, data and media giants. The result is that Western generals and intelligence experts are not very gifted. The situation of our Western political class is even more depressing. Not only are our politicians those who weren’t gifted enough to join the corporate route, they are also uniquely unethical. They are there to fulfil the most sinister plans of their globalist masters and they do it all at our expense.

I have little doubt that an experienced politician like Angela Merkel wouldn’t have let the Ukraine situation escalate into a global disaster. She, like Putin, was properly trained for her job, understanding the deep distinction between strategy and tactics.  She, like Putin, was trained to think five steps ahead. As far as I can tell there is no one in the West who understands Putin, who can read his mind. Instead they attribute to the Russian leader psychotic characteristics in a desperate attempt to hide the depth of the  hopeless and tragic  situation the West inflicted on itself and on Ukraine in particular.

Meanwhile Putin is taking the most spectacular measures to protect his life and his regime. We in the west find it ‘laughable,’  but Putin knows very well that the only way the West can deal with its own incapacity is to eliminate him and his regime one way or another.

A matter of self-defence

MARCH 03, 2022

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by Ghassan Kadi

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

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

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

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

But there are wars and there are wars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have we forgotten Iraq’s WMD blunder?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Germany: After 73 Years of US Occupation, Not Much To Work With How Washington Afflicted The Germans

March 02, 2022

Source

By Thorsten J. Pattberg

  • “Biden Imposes Sanctions on Nord Stream 2” –The Hill
  • “Pentagon sending 7,000 more troops to Germany” –Politico
  • “Germany’s own forces more or less blank” –Tagesspiegel

BERLIN. After the German Reich was defeated in World War Two in 1949, its borders were redrawn, some territories went to France and Poland, and Austria was completely separated.

The core German territory, however, was split into two halves.

The smaller half, located to the east and including the capital city, Berlin, became East Germany; and the Soviet Union installed a puppet regime, called the GRD.

The larger half was known as Trizone and split among the victorious Western powers, so it became West Germany. The British, the French and the Americans also installed a puppet regime, called the BRD.

In 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved and set East Germany free. The GRD lost its purpose, and the Germans sought unification.

However, America had no intention to set West Germany free. Washington emboldened the BRD regime to annex East Germany.

History is a great writer who avoids US Guantanamo Bay detention camps. So, the official story line was that of Wiedervereinigung – reunification. It was not a reunification though. It was a take-over.

The BRD is not Germany. The BRD is the post-war interim solution, not a country. It operates on all levels – economically, culturally, militarily – as Washington‘s state department in Europe.

BRD’s top cadres need America’s blessings. Angela Merkel for example was a former GDR cadre and CIA asset. She was selected as next German chancellor in 2005, after Gerhard Schröder refused to support America’s invasion of Iraq.

The propaganda about “democracy” is a charade. The BRD is a socialist regime. Germans cannot elect their leaders.

US president Barack Obama visited Berlin in 2013 and 2017 and simply announced Angela Merkel’s re-election. Her party got barely 12% of the votes, but of course she got the job.

Before Germany became a US colony, it had a share in the world economy of 12%. Today, it is 3.4%. For comparison, AppleAmazon and Tesla, just 3 US technology companies, have a combined net-worth ($2.08 trillion + $1.5 trillion + $1.01 trillion) higher than the BRD’s entire GDP ($3.5 trillion).

Of the top German companies, 2/3 are at least 50% foreign owned. Traditional firms such as Siemens or Adidas or Deutsche Bank are 70% foreign owned.

The German Reich once was a knowledge powerhouse. The BRD’s best university now ranks just No 65 in the world – Munich in Bavaria, in the post-war US zone. Its scientists must speak American, because German science is dead.

Millions of Germans feel humiliated, but when they dare to suggest that the BRD, just like the GDR, really ought to be flushed down the toilet of bad ideas, they will be destroyed.

The entire BRD is a state security prison, with guards, sneaks and informants on every floor. Dissidents are immediately smeared as terrorists, communists, neonazis or antisemites.

After generations of brainwash, many Germans actually beg America not to withdraw its 36,000 soldiers and nuclear bombs and NSA spies. America is not so bad, they say. America cares for its slaves – it gave us Michael Jackson and McDonald’sMicrosoft computers and cheap dealson eBay. Besides, America protects us from evil Russia and China and Iran, all of whom are clearly sovereign, independent countries and therefore must be hell on earth.

Most Germans refuse to believe that they are colonial subjects, that America keeps German gold, that the BRD must buy American securities, must pay in dollars, that America runs the Internet, runs German foreign policy and dictates global media.

The lying press is complicit. It hails the BRD as an economic success model, because, until 2013, it was for some reason the world’s largest exporter of goods* [*services and rents and wealth creation not included]. The average Germans do not understand that this triumph of the will is actually akin to winning a gold medal in the Paralympics. Only China and India produced cheaper stuff in bulk.

Next is genocide. By 2015, the number of living Germans was the same as in 1936, about 60 million. So, for the last 79 years, the number of Germans was exactly maintained, brutally so, by over 30 million abortions, mass sterilizations and childlessness propaganda. Meanwhile, the world‘s population has quadrupled, from 2 billion to 8 billion.

But when you ask the average German, you will hear the most insane cultish babble, like that children are bad for the climate, or that the 20.5 million non-Germans in the BRD are cultural enrichment.

It is heart-breaking to see ethnic Germans called a “dog race” by a German High Court, and that “they need be exterminated” by a sitting parliamentarian, or that “they must be removed like an appendix” by the regime media. All children are indoctrinated with ‘Hitler shame’ and ‘Nazi guilt’ and must worship America as the liberator.

The BRD regime should have been dismantled alongside the GDR in 1991. Germany should have become its own independent nation. There can be no sovereign European Union with a US satellite in its midst. The BRD is not Germany.


Dr. Pattberg is the author of ShengrenDiary of a Mad ImperialistThe East-West Dichotomy, and The Menticide Manual.

America Defeats Germany for the Third Time in a Century: The MIC, OGAM and FIRE Sectors Conquer NATO

February 28, 2022

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By Michael Hudson

My old boss Herman Kahn, with whom I worked at the Hudson Institute in the 1970s, had a set speech that he would give at public meetings. He said that back in high school in Los Angeles, his teachers would say what most liberals were saying in the 1940s and 50s: “Wars never solved anything.” It was as if they never changed anything – and therefore shouldn’t be fought.

Herman disagreed, and made lists of all sorts of things that wars had solved in world history, or at least changed. He was right, and of course that is the aim of both sides in today’s New Cold War confrontation in Ukraine.

The question to ask is what today’s New Cold War is trying to change or “solve.” To answer this question, it helps to ask who initiates the war. There always are two sides – the attacker and the attacked. The attacker intends certain consequences, and the attacked looks for unintended consequences of which they can take advantage. In this case, both sides have their dueling sets of intended consequences and special interests.

The active military force and aggression since 1991 has been the United States. Rejecting mutual disarmament of the Warsaw Pact countries and NATO, there was no “peace dividend.” Instead, the U.S. policy executed by the Clinton and subsequent administrations to wage a new military expansion via NATO has paid a 30-year dividend in the form of shifting the foreign policy of Western Europe and other American allies out of their domestic political sphere into their own U.S.-oriented “national security” blob (the word for special interests that must not be named). NATO has become Europe’s foreign-policy-making body, even to the point of dominating domestic economic interests.

The recent prodding of Russia by expanding Ukrainian anti-Russian ethnic violence by Ukraine’s neo-Nazi post-2014 Maiden regime was aimed at (and has succeeded in forcing a showdown in response the fear by U.S. interests that they are losing their economic and political hold on their NATO allies and other Dollar Area satellites as these countries have seen their major opportunities for gain to lie in increasing trade and investment with China and Russia.

To understand just what U.S. aims and interests are threatened, it is necessary to understand U.S. politics and “the blob,” that is, the government central planning that cannot be explained by looking at ostensibly democratic politics. This is not the politics of U.S. senators and representatives representing their congressional voting districts or states.

America’s three oligarchies in control of U.S. foreign policy

It is more realistic to view U.S. economic and foreign policy in terms of the military-industrial complex, the oil and gas (and mining) complex, and the banking and real estate complex than in terms of the political policy of Republicans and Democrats. The key senators and congressional representatives do not represent their states and districts as much as the economic and financial interests of their major political campaign contributors. A Venn diagram would show that in today’s post-Citizens United world, U.S. politicians represent their campaign contributors, not voters. And these contributors fall basically into three main blocs.

Three main oligarchic groups that have bought control of the Senate and Congress to put their own policy makers in the State Department and Defense Department. First is the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) – arms manufacturers such as Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, have broadly diversified their factories and employment in nearly every state, and especially in the Congressional districts where key Congressional committee heads are elected. Their economic base is monopoly rent, obtained above all from their arms sales to NATO, to Near Eastern oil exporters and to other countries with a balance-of-payments surplus. Stocks for these companies soared immediately upon news of the Russian attack, leading a two-day stock-market surge as investors recognized that war in a world of cost-plus “Pentagon capitalism” (as Seymour Melman described it) will provide a guaranteed national-security umbrella for monopoly profits for war industries. Senators and Congressional representatives from California and Washington traditionally have represented the MIC, along with the solid pro-military South. The past week’s military escalation promises soaring arms sales to NATO and other U.S. allies, enriching the actual constituents of these politicians. Germany quickly agreed to raise is arms spending to over 2% of GDP.

The second major oligarchic bloc is the rent-extracting oil and gas sector, joined by mining (OGAM), riding America’s special tax favoritism granted to companies emptying natural resources out of the ground and putting them mostly into the atmosphere, oceans and water supply. Like the banking and real estate sector seeking to maximize economic rent and maximizing capital gains for housing and other assets,, the aim of this OGAM sector is to maximize the price of its energy and raw materials so as to maximize its natural-resource rent. Monopolizing the Dollar Area’s oil market and isolating it from Russian oil and gas has been a major U.S. priority for over a year now, as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline threatened to link the Western European and Russian economies more tightly together.

If oil, gas and mining operations are not situated in every U.S. voting district, at least their investors are. Senators from Texas and other Western oil-producing and mining states are the leading OGAM lobbyists, and the State Department has a heavy oil-sector influence providing a national-security umbrella for the sector’s special tax breaks. The ancillary political aim is to ignore and reject environmental drives to replace oil, gas and coal with alternative sources of energy. The Biden administration accordingly has backed the expansion of offshore drilling, supported the Canadian pipeline to the world’s dirtiest petroleum source in the Athabasca tar sands, and celebrated the revival of U.S. fracking.

The foreign-policy extension is to prevent foreign countries not leaving control of their oil, gas and mining to U.S. OGAM companies from competing in world markets with U.S. suppliers. Isolating Russia (and Iran) from Western markets will reduce the supply of oil and gas, pushing up prices and corporate profits accordingly.

The third major oligarchic group is the symbiotic Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector, which is the modern finance-capitalist successor to Europe’s old post-feudal landed aristocracy living by land rents. With most housing in today’s world having become owner-occupied (although with sharply rising rates of absentee landlordship since the post-2008 wave of Obama Evictions), land rent is paid largely to the banking sector in the form of mortgage interest and debt amortization (on rising debt/equity ratios as bank lending inflates housing prices). About 80 percent of U.S. and British bank loans are to the real estate sector, inflating land prices to create capital gains – which are effectively tax-exempt for absentee owners.

This Wall Street-centered banking and real estate bloc is even more broadly based on a district-by-district basis than the MIC. Its New York senator from Wall Street, Chuck Schumer, heads the Senate, long supported by Delaware’s former Senator from the credit-card industry Joe Biden, and Connecticut’s senators from the insurance sector centered in that state. Domestically, the aim of this sector is to maximize land rent and the “capital’ gains resulting from rising land rent. Internationally, the FIRE sector’s aim is to privatize foreign economies (above all to secure the privilege of credit creation in U.S. hands), so as to turn government infrastructure and public utilities into rent-seeking monopolies to provide basic services (such as health care, education, transportation, communications and information technology) at maximum prices instead of at subsidized prices to reduce the cost of living and doing business. And Wall Street always has been closely merged with the oil and gas industry (viz. the Rockefeller-dominated Citigroup and Chase Manhattan banking conglomerates).

The FIRE, MIC and OGAM sectors are the three rentier sectors that dominate today’s post-industrial finance capitalism. Their mutual fortunes have soared as MIC and OGAM stocks have increased. And moves to exclude Russia from the Western financial system (and partially now from SWIFT), coupled with the adverse effects of isolating European economies from Russian energy, promise to spur an inflow into dollarized financial securities

As mentioned at the outset, it is more helpful to view U.S. economic and foreign policy in terms of the complexes based on these three rentier sectors than in terms of the political policy of Republicans and Democrats. The key senators and congressional representatives are not representing their states and districts as much as the economic and financial interests of their major donors. That is why neither manufacturing nor agriculture play the dominant role in U.S. foreign policy today. The convergence of the policy aims of America’s three dominant rentier groups overwhelms the interests of labor and even of industrial capital beyond the MIC. That convergence is the defining characteristic of today’s post-industrial finance capitalism. It is basically a reversion to economic rent-seeking, which is independent of the politics of labor and industrial capital.

The dynamic that needs to be traced today is why this oligarchic blob has found its interest in prodding Russia into what Russia evidently viewed as a do-or-die stance to resist the increasingly violent attacks on Ukraine’s eastern Russian-speaking provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, along with the broader Western threats against Russia.

The rentier “blob’s” expected consequences of the New Cold War

As President Biden explained, the current U.S.-orchestrated military escalation (“Prodding the Bear”) is not really about Ukraine. Biden promised at the outset that no U.S. troops would be involved. But he has been demanding for over a year that Germany prevent the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from supplying its industry and housing with low-priced gas and turn to the much higher-priced U.S. suppliers.

U.S. officials first tried to stop construction of the pipeline from being completed. Firms aiding in its construction were sanctioned, but finally Russia itself completed the pipeline. U.S. pressure then turned on the traditionally pliant German politicians, claiming that Germany and the rest of Europe faced a National Security threat from Russia turning off the gas, presumably to extract some political or economic concessions. No specific Russian demands could be thought up, and so their nature was left obscure and blob-like. Germany refused to authorize Nord Stream 2 from officially going into operation.

A major aim of today’s New Cold War is to monopolize the market for U.S. shipments of liquified natural gas (LNG). Already under Donald Trump’s administration, Angela Merkel was bullied into promising to spend $1 billion building new port facilities for U.S. tanker ships to unload natural gas for German use. The Democratic election victory in November 2020, followed by Ms. Merkel’s retirement from Germany’s political scene, led to cancellation of this port investment, leaving Germany really without much alternative to importing Russian gas to heat its homes, power its electric utilities, and to provide raw material for its fertilizer industry and hence the maintenance of its farm productivity.

So the most pressing U.S. strategic aim of NATO confrontation with Russia is soaring oil and gas prices, above all to the detriment of Germany. In addition to creating profits and stock-market gains for U.S. oil companies, higher energy prices will take much of the steam out of the German economy. That looms as the third time in a century that the United States has defeated Germany – each time increasing its control over a German economy increasingly dependent on the United States for imports and policy leadership, with NATO being the effective check against any domestic nationalist resistance.

Higher gasoline, heating and other energy prices also will hurt U.S. consumers and those of other nations (especially Global South energy-deficit economies) and leave less of the U.S. family budget for spending on domestic goods and services. This could squeeze marginalized homeowners and investors, leading to further concentration of absentee ownership of housing and commercial property in the United States, along with buyouts of distressed real estate owners in other countries faced with soaring heating and energy costs. But that is deemed collateral damage by the post-industrial blob.

Food prices also will rise, headed by wheat. (Russia and Ukraine account for 25 percent of world wheat exports.) This will squeeze many Near Eastern and Global South food-deficit countries, worsening their balance of payments and threatening foreign debt defaults.

Russian raw-materials exports may be blocked by Russia in response to the currency and SWIFT sanctions. This threatens to cause breaks in supply chains for key materials, including cobalt, palladium, nickel and aluminum (the production of which consumes much electricity as its major cost – which will make that metal more expensive). If China decides to see itself as the next nation being threatened and joins Russia in a common protest against the U.S. trade and financial warfare, the Western economies are in for a serious shock.

The long-term dream of U.S. New Cold Warriors is to break up Russia, or at least to restore its Yeltsin/Harvard Boys managerial kleptocracy, with oligarchs seeking to cash in their privatizations in Western stock markets. OGAM still dreams of buying majority control of Yukos and Gazprom. Wall Street would love to recreate a Russian stock market boom. And MIC investors are happily anticipating the prospect of selling more weapons to help bring all this about.

Russia’s intentions to benefit from America’s unintended consequences

What does Russia want? Most immediately, to remove the neo-Nazi anti-Russian core that the Maidan massacre and coup put in place in 2014. Ukraine is to be neutralized, which to Russia means basically pro-Russian, dominated by Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea. The aim is to prevent Ukraine from becoming a staging ground of U.S.-orchestrated anti-Russian moves a la Chechnya and Georgia.

Russia’s longer-term aim is to pry Europe away from NATO and U.S. dominance – and in the process, create with China a new multipolar world order centered on an economically integrated Eurasia. The aim is to dissolve NATO altogether, and then to promote the broad disarmament and denuclearization policies that Russia has been pushing for. Not only will this cut back foreign purchases of U.S. arms, but it may end up leading to sanctions against future U.S. military adventurism. That would leave America with less ability to fund its military operations as de-dollarization accelerates.

Now that it should be obvious to any informed observer that (1) NATO’s purpose is aggression, not defense, and (2) there is no further territory for it to conquer from the remains of the old Soviet Union, what does Europe get out of continued membership? It is obvious that Russia never again will invade Europe. It has nothing to gain – and had nothing to gain by fighting Ukraine, except to roll back NATO’s proxy expansion into that country and the NATO-backed attacks on Novorossiya.

Will European nationalist leaders (the left is largely pro-US) ask why their countries should pay for U.S. arms that only put them in danger, pay higher prices for U.S. LNG and energy, pay more for grain and Russian-produced raw materials, all while losing the option of making export sales and profits on peaceful investment in Russia – and perhaps losing China as well?

The U.S. confiscation of Russian monetary reserves, following the recent theft of Afghanistan’s reserves (and England’s seizure of Venezuela’s gold stocks held there) threatens every country’s adherence to the Dollar Standard, and hence the dollar’s role as the vehicle for foreign-exchange savings by the world’s central banks. This will accelerate the international de-dollarization process already started by Russia and China relying on mutual holdings of each other’s currencies.

Over the longer term, Russia is likely to join China in forming an alternative to the U.S.-dominated IMF and World Bank. Russia’s announcement that it wants to arrest the Ukrainian Nazis and hold a war crimes trial seems to imply an alternative to the Hague court will be established following Russia’s military victory in Ukraine. Only a new international court could try war criminals extending from Ukraine’s neo-Nazi leadership all the way up to U.S. officials responsible for crimes against humanity as defined by the Nuremberg laws.

Did the American blob actually think through the consequences of NATO’s war?

It is almost black humor to look at U.S. attempts to convince China that it should join the United States in denouncing Russia’s moves into Ukraine. The most enormous unintended consequence of U.S. foreign policy has been to drive Russia and China together, along with Iran, Central Asia and other countries along the Belt and Road initiative.

Russia dreamed of creating a new world order, but it was U.S. adventurism that has driven the world into an entirely new order – one that looks to be dominated by China as the default winner now that the European economy is essentially torn apart and America is left with what it has grabbed from Russia and Afghanistan, but without the ability to gain future support.

And everything that I have written above may already be obsolete as Russia and the U.S. have gone on atomic alert. My only hope is that Putin and Biden can agree that if Russia hydrogen bombs Britain and Brussels, that there will be a devil’s (not gentleman’s) agreement not to bomb each other.

With such talk I’m brought back to my discussions with Herman Kahn 50 years ago. He became quite unpopular for writing Thinking about the Unthinkable, meaning atomic war. As he was parodied in Dr. Strangelove, he did indeed say that there would indeed be survivors. But he added that for himself, he hoped to be right under the atom bomb, because it was not a world in which he wanted to survive.

Russia says Nord Stream 2 ready for commissioning

Dec 30 2021

Net Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen

After several western attempts to block its construction, citing “dependence on Russia”, Russia’s Nord Stream 2 is complete and ready for commissioning.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the SPIEF in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 4, 2021 (Reuters)

Russian Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline is ready for commissioning after its second line from Russia to Germany has been filled with gas, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller announced Wednesday.

According to Miller, the Russian energy giant has met all long-term gas supply contracts.

“Today at 12:58 Moscow time [09:58 GMT], Gazprom completed the filling of the second thread of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with gas. The first and second threads of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline are under operational pressure and are fully ready for operation,” Miller declared.

The CEO also revealed that the company had fulfilled its obligations to transit gas through Ukraine.

“Gazprom fully fulfilled its obligations under the contract for gas transit via Ukraine, our planned volume of 40 billion cubic meters of gas. Today we have already transited 41.5 billion cubic meters through Ukraine,” he said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia ready to supply gas to Europe

President Putin announced that Russia would be ready to immediately start supplying Europe with Gas if the European countries decide to launch Nord Stream 2.

Now, of course, he said, everything depends on Moscow’s partners, European consumers, and Germany.

“As soon as they decide to start work, large volumes, additional volumes of Russian gas will immediately begin to flow to Europe. Let me remind you that this is 55 billion cubic meters per year.”

According to Putin, the launch of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will see gas prices decreasing, not only for Europe but also for Ukraine.

The Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of Economic Cooperation said Wednesday Washington’s sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 project were pointless, as the construction of the gas pipeline had been completed.

“To be honest, we see no point in Washington’s sanctions policy in conditions when the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has already been built,” the diplomat declared.

In light of the Russian-Ukrainian tensions, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Sunday Russia’s Nord Stream 2 would not be allowed to operate in Ukraine, citing an agreement between Washington and Berlin.

The pipeline, which has been backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the one hand and Scholz’s predecessor Angela Merkel on the other in recent years, has been criticized by several sides. 

The US and several Eastern European countries are worried that Europe would be too dependent on Russia. 

In mid-November, the German energy regulator had suspended the certification procedure for Nord Stream 2 by requiring the Swiss-based consortium in charge of its operation to create a company under German law.

Related

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

September 02, 2021

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

Ed: This is a wide ranging discussion of international affairs

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

Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News conference following Russian-German talks

August 20, 2021

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66418

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With Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel at a news conference following Russian-German talks. Photo: TASS

With Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel at a news conference following Russian-German talks. Photo: TASS

(The formal transcript is not fully released yet, but this page will be updated as it gets released.)

Update: The formal transcript is now complete on this page.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Today’s talks with Madam Federal Chancellor were traditionally constructive and business-like.

We had an in-depth discussion, including with the participation of the delegations, on the current state of Russian-German relations and their prospects and exchanged views on a wide range of issues.

As you are aware, this visit by Ms Merkel is special since she is about to step down as Federal Chancellor after the parliamentary elections in the Federal Republic in September. But I want to say right away that we will always be delighted to see Ms Merkel in Russia as a welcome guest.

The fact that Angela Merkel has been heading the government of the Federal Republic for as long as 16 years inspires respect. She has been leading one of the largest, leading European countries with confidence, and she is rightfully among the most authoritative European and world leaders.

Over many years of working side by side, we have developed a good business relationship. We maintained regular contacts and close communication, discussed pressing bilateral matters and strived to coordinate our positions on challenges of global politics.

Occasionally, of course, we saw thing differently, but our dialogue has always been candid and meaningful and was aimed at reaching compromises and solving the most complicated challenges.

Importantly, Germany is indeed one of Russia’s priority partners in politics and the economy.

Speaking about Russian-German trade and economic ties, I would like to note that despite the coronavirus pandemic, which remains a major hindrance to restoring our business contacts in full, mutual trade has begun to expand. In January-May, this figure reached almost 33 percent to exceed $21 billion. Counter capital investment has come close to the $30 billion mark.

Russian-German Economy and Sustainable Development years are being held in 2020–2022. Businesspeople and entrepreneurs of the two countries are communicating at numerous events held as part of this campaign, and a number of promising joint projects in trade, the manufacturing industry and agriculture are being discussed in the process.

We have major projects that everyone is aware of. They are being implemented, and we very much hope that we will have more of them.

Of course, many pressing issues of international politics were touched upon during today’s talks.

Due to the rapidly unfolding events in Afghanistan, we prioritised this issue. The Taliban now controls almost the entire territory of that country, including its capital. This is the reality, and we must proceed from this reality as we strive to avoid the collapse of the Afghan state.

It is imperative to put an end to the irresponsible policy of imposing outside values ​​on others, to the desire to build democracies in other countries according to other nations’ “patterns” without regard to historical, national or religious specifics and totally ignoring the traditions of other nations.

We know Afghanistan, and we know it well enough to understand how this country functions and have had the opportunity to learn first-hand the extent to which trying to impose unusual forms of government or social life on it is counterproductive.

There has not been a single time when socio-political experiments of this kind succeeded. All they do is destroy states and degrade their political and social fabric.

At the same time, we see that the Taliban has already put an end to hostilities and is now seeking to ensure order, promising to guarantee safety for both local residents and foreign missions. I hope that this is how things will go.

The international community should keep a close eye on these developments with the UN Security Council playing a coordinating role.

There is one more point I wanted to make in this regard. We believe that it is essential at this point to prevent terrorists of all kinds from spilling over into Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours, including under the guise of refugees.

Among other international topics, we had a detailed discussion on promoting a settlement in southeastern Ukraine. As you know, Ms Merkel has done a lot to bring about a resolution to Ukraine’s internal crisis. She was at the origins of the Normandy Format, and we all worked together on ways of restoring peace in Donbass.

Unfortunately, so far we have not been able to accomplish this. Today, the Russian and German side expressed serious concern about the growing tension along the line of contact. We talked this over, and I hope that we follow up on this conversation in the nearest future. More than a thousand ceasefire violations have been reported since the beginning of August, and Donbass towns and villages face artillery fire every day.

Another matter of concern is that Ukraine has adopted a number of laws and regulations that essentially contradict the Minsk agreements. It is as if the leadership of that country has decided to give up on achieving a peaceful settlement altogether. In this connection, we ask Ms Federal Chancellor once again to exercise her influence over Ukraine, including during her upcoming visit to Kiev, to see that Ukraine honours its obligations.

Of course, we covered the situation in Belarus. Madam Chancellor touched on this issue as well. We believe that the differences in Belarusian society can only be resolved within the constitutional and legal framework and solely by the Belarusians themselves without any external interference.

When discussing the situation with the Iranian nuclear programme, Madam Chancellor and I expressed hope that once the new government in Iran has been formed, vigorous efforts to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will resume. I informed Madam Federal Chancellor of my recent telephone conversation with the newly elected President of Iran.

As you are aware, Ms Merkel is committed to promoting an intra-Libyan settlement. Last January, I also took part in the Berlin Conference on Libya, which was convened on the initiative of Madam Chancellor, and the decisions it adopted helped improve the situation on the ground.

We believe that the international community should maintain a dialogue with all influential political forces in Libya in order to retain and build on the positive achievements that have yet to come.

We shared our vision of the state of affairs in Syria with our German partners. The ceasefire is in force throughout most of the country; the ruined economy and infrastructure are being rebuilt, but the terrorist threat still persists. Due to the illegal sanctions imposed on Damascus and the coronavirus pandemic, the socioeconomic situation there remains challenging.

We attach great importance to UN Security Council Resolution 2585, which was approved in July, on providing comprehensive humanitarian assistance to Syria. This is largely the outcome of the agreements reached during the Russia-US summit held in Geneva in June. We hope that the European countries, including the Federal Republic, will join in the efforts to help the Syrian people.

I would like to close by once again thanking Madam Federal Chancellor for our productive joint work – not only during today’s talks, but also during the previous years. I said it before, and I will say it again: we will always be delighted to see Ms Merkel in Russia.

Thank you.

Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (retranslated)Thank you.

President Putin, dear Vladimir, ladies and gentlemen,

Earlier today, at the beginning of my visit, I laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to honour the memory of the fallen and as a reminder that 80 years ago Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union.

Today, we are very pleased to know that there is a dialogue going on between our governments, and our dialogue is constructive. Of course, we talked about different views and approaches to our joint decisions.

With regard to the nature of our bilateral relations, it is important to highlight a number of positive developments. I would like to mention economic relations, namely, the Year of Germany in Russia, which Mr President mentioned, during which a large number of meetings have taken place. In addition, there is an economic initiative involving the 1,000 Trainees project, which makes it possible for thousands of young Russians to take internships at German enterprises. These are the relationships that are very gratifying to have.

But, of course, we discussed the very depressing situation with Alexei Navalny. From our perspective, his sentence and imprisonment in a correctional facility were based on a court ruling that the ECHR found unobvious and disproportionate. This is unacceptable to us. I once again demanded that the President of Russia release Alexei Navalny and stressed that we would continue to monitor this case.

I also said that we are disappointed to see three German NGOs that have done a lot of work as part of the Petersburg Dialogue for cooperation between civil societies included on the list of objectionable organisations. I would like to know if it is possible to take these organisations off the list and to have the Petersburg Dialogue continue as before. From my perspective, this would send a very important message.

We also talked about bilateral economic relations, which are moving forward. In this regard, of course, we talked about Nord Stream 2. I would like to emphasise that this is not a bilateral German-Russian project, but a project of European dimension, because companies from other countries are also part of it.

In this context, we talked about the document concluded between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany, and Mr President and I emphasised that Georg Graf Waldersee would act as a highly experienced negotiator with regard to gas transit through Ukraine beyond 2024. This is his assignment. We bear certain responsibility in this regard despite the economic developments that need to be taken into account.

In this context, we also discussed relations between Russia and the EU. It became clear that Russia is interested in entering an exchange with the EU on the “Fit for 55” climate package with account taken of cross-border carbon regulation and other problems. And I also noted that I am in favour of this approach.

Afghanistan was also among the current issues that we discussed today. This is a very important issue. We exchanged views, and I emphasised that it is very unfortunate that the Taliban are back in power in the country. However, this is how things stand. I also said that Germany believes helping people who had worked with Germany over the 20 years of NATO operations and missions in Afghanistan is currently a priority. We need to provide them refuge and ensure their safety in Germany and to take as many people as possible to Germany over the next few days.

I asked the Russian side to raise during the talks with the Taliban the question of UN humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, to make sure that it can be provided. The people who helped us, including those who assisted the Bundeswehr and the federal police, should be able to leave Afghanistan.

We also discussed developments in Ukraine. The Normandy Format is the only political framework we have for discussing these contentious issues. Currently the situation is in a deadlock. Unfortunately, Ukrainian service personnel are dying on the line of contact. I have always advocated reviving this format and giving it more weight. The last meeting was in December 2019, in Paris, and the goals we set back then were achieved both by the separatists in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and by Ukraine.

I pointed out that I am ready to make further progress on this matter in the interest of the people of Ukraine, so that everyone can live in peace in Ukraine. This is what we stand for.

For us, the annexation of Crimea constitutes a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, we will insist on this point, and I will continue supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Speaking of Belarus, I stated that I firmly condemn the use of people, refugees from other countries who find themselves in a dire situation, as a hybrid weapon of sorts. I am referring to the situation on the border between Belarus and Lithuania.

Of course, we discussed developments in Libya and Syria. On Libya, we need to implement the outcomes of the Libyan conference, which called for a proportionate and reciprocal withdrawal of foreign mercenaries, while empowering Libyan forces to shape a future for the country they want. On this issue, Germany and Russia have a number of points in common.

We also talked about the challenges posed by climate change. Both Germany and Russia have suffered from natural disasters. In Russia, Siberia, even north of the Arctic circle, was especially hard hit. For this reason alone, we are convinced that we need to fight climate change, which calls for close cooperation. The same applies to a number of other international matters.

I wanted to say that over the past 16 years I have been to Russia 16 times, which is to say that I was open to contact. Talks between us have not always been easy. There has been a lot of debate and controversy around them, including on the international stage, but I always sought compromise. I think that there is no alternative, at least no reasonable one, to dialogue and the exchange of opinion. This invariably requires a lot of work. Everything could have been a lot easier, but our dialogue should continue. I have no doubts about this.

Thank you.

Question (retranslated): Madam Chancellor, you said you spoke in support of Alexei Navalny and in favour of his release today. Here is a question for you, President Putin: what is needed to set Alexei Navalny free and what is needed to put an end to the persecution of Alexei Navalny’s supporters?

And a question for both of you. Today is the anniversary of the attempted poisoning of Alexei Navalny. He published an article in which he demands fighting corruption, since it is the root of all evil. What do you think about this proposal, Mr Putin? For example, he demands imposing sanctions on the oligarchs that are close to you.

Vladimir Putin: With regard to the person you just mentioned, he was not convicted for his political activities, but a criminal offense against foreign partners.

As far as political activity goes, no one should be using political activity as a front to carry out business projects, which, on top of that, violate the law. This is the first part of what I have to say to your question.

Second, with regard to non-systemic opposition in general. I don’t remember seeing in Western countries, Europe or the United States – Occupy Wall Street in the United States or the Yellow Vests in France – these people enjoying much support on their way to representative bodies, including parliament. We do not see anything like that. Moreover, when, following the US elections, people entered Congress with political demands, more than 100 criminal cases were brought against them. And judging by the charges brought against them, they are facing long prison terms anywhere from 15 to 20–25 years, maybe even more. To be completely objective, please pay attention to this side of the problem as well.

As for us, our political system is evolving, and all citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to express their opinions on political issues, form political organisations, and participate in elections of all levels. However, this must be done within the limits of applicable law and the Constitution. We will do our best to keep the situation in Russia stable and predictable. Russia exhausted its limit on revolutions back in the 20th century. We do not want revolutions. What we want is evolutionary development of our society and state. I hope that this will be so. As for the decision of the judicial authorities of the Russian Federation, please treat these decisions with respect.

Fighting corruption is critically important, but it should not be used as a tool in a political struggle. We, as well as you, are well aware that this toolkit is used to achieve political goals and is recommended for achieving political goals by the organisations that are in charge of activities by people of this kind. Indeed, fighting corruption is critically important in and of itself, and it is our top priority, and we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to eradicate corruption in the broadest sense of the word.

Angela Merkel: I would like to emphasise that we have talked at length about the way we understand political systems and freedoms. I believe that the questions of good governance and fighting corruption are actually entwined.

Regarding Alexei Navalny’s call for more sanctions, I would like to say that today the European Union imposes sanctions in the face of the relevant facts but linking economic corruption to sanctions is never easy. Still, within the European Union we believe in the need to discuss these matters, since there is a genuine link between corruption and political activity, no matter where it takes place. This includes Germany, I believe. Fighting corruption requires independent courts, a free press, as well as non-profit organisations that refuse to play along.

Vladimir Putin: Overall, who should be fighting corruption? People who fully abide by the law themselves. This is an essential prerequisite for ensuring that these efforts are effective.

Question: Taking into consideration the ongoing developments in Afghanistan, what is your assessment of the 20-year operation by the US and its allies and its outcome? Can this be called a total failure and will it result in the US-led West to rethink its approach to imposing democracy on third countries?

I also have a question or rather a request for Madam Chancellor. You probably know that RT is preparing to launch a German-language channel, but unfortunately, the German authorities are doing everything they can to obstruct this project. First, the German banks were advised to close all RT accounts and not to open new ones. Now the German government is pressuring Luxembourg not to issue RT a broadcasting licence, and everyone knows this since the German media have been reporting on this issue.

Madam Federal Chancellor, please, help us enjoy freedom of expression.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding the operation in Afghanistan, it can hardly be described as a success. Quite the contrary, but concentrating on it for too long, emphasising this failure does not serve our interests.

We were interested in having stability in this country. But the situation is what it is. I think that many politicians in the West are beginning to realise what I just said in my opening remarks: you cannot impose political standards or behaviour on other countries and peoples, while ignoring their special nature, which includes the ethnic and religious structure and historical traditions. I think that eventually they will understand this, and this understanding will become the guiding principle in their realpolitik.

We saw what happened during the Arab Spring, now Afghanistan. However, it is important for our partners to make this rule universal and treat their partners with respect and be patient, whether they like something or not, they should still give these peoples the right to determine their future, no matter how long it may take them to bring democracy to their countries and regardless if they like what is happening in these countries or not. They must build neighbourly relations and respect each other’s interests in the international arena.

I think that this is the lesson we should learn from Afghanistan, and we should team up with our other partners – the United States and the European countries – we, that is Russia, must do whatever it takes to join our efforts today in order to support the Afghan people with the aim of normalising the situation in that country and establishing neighbourly relations with it.

Angela Merkel: With regard to Afghanistan, I would like to remind everyone about the starting point – the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago, in 2001. Back then, terrorist attacks on the United States were masterminded from Afghanistan. This started the fight against terrorism followed by NATO operations and missions.

The situation with terrorism in Afghanistan has improved since then, but the international community must fight the resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan. With regard to the other project, that is, the Afghan people’s overall stance regarding their own future, we failed to achieve our goals; I am openly admitting this.

In December 2001, [German] Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer convened a conference with all Afghan representatives at the Petersberg hotel and urged Afghans to find a common shared solution. While trying to cooperate for development, we did not want to impose our position on the Afghan people, but we saw millions of happy girls who were allowed to go to school and empowered women. Many people find the current situation upsetting. However, it should be noted that the Taliban received more support than we would like. We will now need to talk with them and try to save the lives of the people who are now in harm’s way so they can leave the country, and we can continue to work for the benefit of Afghanistan.

It would be disappointing to see progress in these areas taper off. I hope we will find entities that can help Afghanistan find a path of its own, and that we will not be exposed to the threat of international terrorism.

As for RT, Germany did not put any pressure on Brussels or the decisions it made. In Germany, neither the federal government nor the state governments engage in matters like that.

Question (retranslated): Madam Federal Chancellor, the Minsk agreements are 6 years old now, but Ukraine remains divided, and you yourself said that people along the demarcation line in Donbass are dying. Following your talks today, are there any concrete plans to hold new talks at the heads of state or government level, or should we conclude that the Normandy format has failed?

And a question for you, Mr President. Once the Nord Stream 2 is completed, can you guarantee that gas transit across Ukraine will remain in place, and if so, will this arrangement remain in force after Ms Merkel leaves the post of chancellor?

Angela Merkel: With regard to the Minsk agreements: we have failed to achieve the goals that we wanted to achieve. But this is the format we have, including the trilateral contact group, and talks with the separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

So, this format needs to be handled with care, but progress is not as good as I would like it to be. However, if we identify an agenda, we can make arrangements for high-level meetings and talks. But we need to know what to discuss. During my visit to Ukraine, I will be pushing for identifying this agenda, because any minor progress can be decisive. However, this represents a very ambitious goal and a very challenging task. There are many inputs here. I still recommend this format, even though it is taking more time than we wanted, but we still need to avoid a dead end.

Vladimir Putin: I agree with the Federal Chancellor regarding the Minsk agreements and the Normandy format. We have no other tool to achieve peace, and I believe that it should be treated very carefully and with respect, despite the fact that we have so far failed to achieve the ultimate goals of the settlement.

The Minsk agreements are enshrined in a corresponding UN Security Council resolution, and in this sense, the Minsk agreements have become international law.

We are concerned that during the official talks and in their contacts with the media, the Ukrainian side says one thing, but inside the country it says something very different. In fact, and I want to emphasise this, it is enough to look at what the top public officials are saying, and they are saying that they are not going to comply with the Minsk agreements.

Today, I informed the Federal Chancellor that another draft law has been submitted by the Ukrainian government. If this law is adopted – please read it, it is not a classified document, it is probably available online – it means that Ukraine will, in fact, withdraw from the Minsk process unilaterally. Because it is not just that only certain things contradict the Minsk agreements, everything there contradicts the Minsk agreements. This will mean Ukraine’s de facto withdrawal from these agreements. I hope that during her visit, the Federal Chancellor will use some of her influence and exert some pressure on the Ukrainian authorities, and that this law will not be adopted.

Now, with regard to gas transit. Indeed, the Federal Chancellor has always advocated this approach. Always, mind you, even during construction, which is about to be completed. There are 44 or 45 kilometres left to go. (Addressing Alexei Miller.) How many, Mr Miller? 15? There are 15 more kilometres across the sea to go. We can safely assume that this project is nearing completion. But the Federal Chancellor has always raised the issue of continuing transit across Ukrainian territory even after the expiry of the transit contract.

The first thing I want to say in this regard. First, today this issue was raised again by the Federal Chancellor during the talks. I assured the Federal Chancellor that we will fully comply with our obligations under the transit contract even after she leaves the office of Federal Chancellor. Russia will fulfil all its obligations. We are doing so now and we will continue to do so going forward.

Next, Nord Stream 2. Some people claim the project is politically motivated. This is a fallacy or an attempt to mislead people. It is 2,000 kilometres shorter than the Ukrainian transit route. And it is a modern environmentally friendly system, and I mean it. It uses innovative equipment which, I believe, cuts carbon emissions into the atmosphere during the transit of our hydrocarbons to Europe by five times. We just need to be aware of it and know it. And it is much cheaper than transit across Ukraine.

However, we stand ready, and I’ll say it again, I have already said it publicly before and I want to make a point of it now, that we stand ready to transit gas across Ukraine beyond 2024. But we must understand the timeframe and volumes. And for this, we must know, and our European partners must tell us, how much they are willing to buy from us. This is obvious.

We cannot sign a transit contract if we have not signed supply contracts with our consumers in Europe. With the green agenda, which is already underway in Europe, we are wondering whether anyone will be buying gas from us altogether and, if so, how much. This needs to be discussed.

In any case, this is a purely business matter. I mean there is yet another component that is the technical condition of the pipeline system. To reiterate, we are not only willing to discuss this, we are really willing to get there. This is especially true of our supplies to Southern Europe. Consumption is on the rise, and I hope it will keep rising in the years ahead. Today, there is no other, more reliable source than Russian gas for German and other European consumers.

Question: Mr President, Ms Merkel,

You have been in close contact during the past 16 years: you have met and have spoken by phone. There have been ups and downs in relations between Russia and Germany during those 16 years. In general, what is your appraisal of the results achieved over 16 years and what is your vision of the future of Russian-German relations?

Vladimir Putin: The question is not quite pertinent. I would rather not appraise the performance of the Federal Chancellor, as only the German people can do this, including at the upcoming elections to the Bundestag.

Indeed, our relations have lived through different times. We just noted that we have taken different approaches to assessing various situations. Nevertheless, cooperation between us over these years, despite the difficulties we faced throughout this fairly lengthy period, has expanded and become more diverse.

Today, we talked about the economic aspect [of our relations]. The Federal Republic is our second largest trade and economic partner next to China – over $7 billion… We invested about $7.5 billion – it is even $9.5 billion – in Germany, while our German partners invested $18 billion [in our economy]. Importantly, German companies largely operate in the industrial sector. We appreciate this.

Today, Madam Chancellor put forth some concrete questions in connection with – I understand this, as I do the same on our behalf – the need to safeguard the interests of German businesses in the Russian market. This has to do with the level of domestic content and the like. All these are current issues. Generally, the quality of our relations has changed fundamentally, getting, of course, better. Hopefully, after the elections and the change of government, this trend will remain in place.

Angela Merkel: I believe that, despite different political systems, we need to keep communications channels open and exchange opinions. This is evidenced by the global situation and the history of relations between Germany and Russia. Our countries have lived through different periods, some of them terrible and some very pleasant.

Of course, during my term as chancellor, the political systems in our two countries have developed in different directions, so there are some vital matters that need to be discussed. All these differences notwithstanding, we have always managed to keep the negotiating channel open. I hope I have managed to contribute to this. I will always say that a failure to maintain dialogue is a poor choice.

Buy a brick! The USA is selling Ukraine

July 28, 2021

Buy a brick! The USA is selling Ukraine

by Rostislav Ishchenko

Source

https://ukraina.ru/opinion/20210723/1031902943.html

Translated by Eugenia

As we all know, to sell soothing useless one first has to buy something useless. At some point, Washington bought Ukraine – for a high price. The process of buying took a long time, as Ukraine was bought part by part.

When finally in 2014 all of Ukraine became the property of the US, White House quickly realized, to its horror, that several US administrations had been investing significant amounts of money in a completely useless product.

The Americans did not feel it necessary to hide their emotions. That is why as far as in 2015 some of the “Maidan heroes” guided by some emotional reactions of their American owners, overheard but not understood a proposed theory that Putin organized Maidan himself with the aim to take Crimea and burden the Americans with the rest of Ukraine. While the residents of the controlled territory entertained themselves with the conspiracy theories, the Americans were thinking about who they could unload Ukraine on.

At first, they though that Russia absolutely had to show interest in Ukraine. The reasons were obvious:

Long common history;

Personal and family connections;

Importance of cooperation in the industry and of the Ukrainian gas transit for the Russian economy;

Solution of the Crimea problem (with the disappearance of Ukraine, the claimant for the peninsula would disappear as well).

The US intended to trick Russia into buying Ukraine at the exchange for a free hand in Syria and the Middle East. They thought that the sanctions introduced for “the occupations of Crimea” would be left in place, this time under the guise of the sanctions for “the occupations of Ukraine”. In short, Washington planned to exchange something useless for something quite useful, preserving at the same time all the means of pressuring Russia. The Americans would not be the Americans if they did not manage to make money, even when faced with a potential loss.

However, this time the US was doomed to disappointment. Moscow did not show any interest in that useless product. It was not even clear whether Moscow would take Ukraine if it were paid to do so. As to paying something to get Ukraine – that was out of question. The next series of sanctions, aimed at creating a situation for Kremlin when annexing Ukraine would be less ruinous than keeping the status quo, also did not solve the problem. It turned out that Russia, although suffering short-term financial losses from the sanctions, learned how to use them to win strategic victories in the long-term game.

In 2016, Ukraine stopped playing a significant role in the American initiatives with regard to Russia. Ukraine was kept ready for sale, but it was understood that it was necessary to look for a new buyer. Furthermore, since by that time even pigmies in Africa realized just how useless Ukraine really was, it was critical to find a buyer that would not be able to refuse the offer. The sale of the Kiev colony of the US empire entered the mode “buy a brick” (1), which allowed to present an ordinary robbery as a voluntary purchase.

Obama during his term failed to find an appropriate “buyer”. Trump was not much interested in the Ukrainian problem, preferring to intrigue against China and fight against Nordstream-2 for the benefit of the US gas industry. However, in the end it were the Trump policies that helped the Biden administration to bind a “buyer” that would not be able to refuse the offer of a brick.

Fighting against Nordstream-2 and trying to minimize the cost of the American global hegemony, Trump seriously damaged the relationships with Germany. The Germans, finding themselves in an unexpected situation when the US turned from an ally to an economic competitor and stopped guaranteeing the military and political protection, had not dared to sharply change gears and go under the Russian wing. Besides, that could have easily caused an irreversible split in the EU. Berlin started to look for ways to restore the good relations with the US.

As a result, the Biden administration was able to execute a turnaround. Not being bound by the interest of the US oil and gas industry (Biden favors “green” energy instead of the traditional one) and with full understanding that the Germans were determined to complete Nordstream-2 at all costs, Washington pretended that it was super-concerned about the fate of Ukraine. A talk with Germany on the subject was presented as essentially a prerequisite for the normalization of relations. At the same time, the US made an unusual move refusing to impose sanctions against the German politicians and companies involved in the Nordstream-2 project.

Normally Washington never yields anything first during negotiations demanding concessions from its partners instead. In this case, however, the Americans were remarkably constructive. The real reason for that attitude was soon revealed: the Americans made Germany sign onto a deal purportedly serving the interests of Ukraine.

The celebrations in Kiev turned out to be short. When the details of the deal were revealed, it became quite clear that nobody guarantees anything to Ukraine or intends to compensate it for anything. Germany made a vague promise to fight for the interests of Ukraine and to push Gasprom to negotiate with Ukraine the extension of the transit contract. This, by the way, the Russian government never refused to do, provided Ukraine could offer competitive transit conditions. But this is precisely what Kiev does not want to do dreaming about continuing to profit from the “exclusiveness” of its transit capabilities. That is why Ukraine is fighting so fiercely against Nordstream-2. But nobody promised to force Moscow into an unprofitable deal. This was finally understood in Ukraine, and loud whine about betrayal immediately followed.

Ukraine is mistaken: it has not been betrayed; it has been sold. Furthermore, in spite what Biden’s opponents say, Biden did not sell it to Putin. Putin is using the Ukraine situation to serve Russian interests quite effectively, but he has not paid a dime or made a single political concession. On the contrary, Gasprom and Russia are planning to make a profit from all this, compensating for forced losses of the previous period. Biden sold the Ukrainian “brick” to Merkel.

In order to go away in style and leave her party a chance to remain in power, Bundeskanzlerin needed to restore mutual understanding with the US. However, the Nordstream-2 was such an important project that in this case Merkel was not prepared to make a single concession. The Americans are tough negotiators, though, so they did manage to make her an offer she could not refuse.

They have removed Nordstream-2 from the equation. The existing sanctions were left in place, for they did no harm, whereas no new sanctions, particularly against the Germans, will be imposed. All Germany’s obligations towards Ukraine would be expressed as vaguely as possible. It would be up to Berlin to decide what exactly these obligations are.

The only specific promise was that the US would collect money in the West in the amount of 1 billion dollars, which would be given to Ukraine to develop “green” energy in order to be able to compensate any potential problems with natural gas supplies. Germany would serve as a manager of the “green” energy development in Ukraine contributing 150-200 million dollars to that 1 billion (a tiny sum for Germany).

Biden killed two birds with one stone. First, he demonstrated to his supporters in the US how effectively he fights for ecology introducing “green” energy even in such a distant and God forsaken place as Ukraine.

Second, the Germans that have been fighting nuclear and coal power stations at home for years, could apply their experience in Ukraine at the same time making use of a billion dollars. They would, of course, have to share some with the aboriginies, but not that much. Besides, the Germans would be in a position to solve the problem of a dozen of nuclear blocks in Ukrainian nuclear plants all potential Chernobyls – that are still in the playful Ukrainian paws.

Thirdly, since after this “support” and “reforms”, Ukraine would inevitably face a deficit of electric power, the EU would be able to sell it not only natural gas “via reverse”, but also electricity.

Fourthly, the US finally got rid of the Ukrainian “suitcase without the handle” successfully forcing it onto Germany. Now it is time for the Merkel’s successors to think how to sell Ukraine back to Russia even if with added financial compensation.

Merkel herself has no cause to complain. She bought a “brick”, of course, but a brick nicely packaged in golden foil. While the purchase is being unwrapped, the elections will be over and the Chancellor will retire. If CDU/CSU fail to remain in power, that would definitely not be her fault. Merkel is passing on a solid well cared for country without debt or problems. The promises, which Kiev troublemakers would cling to, will surface later when the fate of the elections and the coalition will have been decided.

We have to give the honor where the honor is due: the Americans never discard anything and manage to get their pennies for the most useless and unattractive product.

As far as Ukraine is concerned… Well, nobody concerns himself with Ukraine anymore. The Ukrainian citizens are left with the only hope that at some time in the future, after a series of re-sales, this invalid, which is Ukraine, in spite of its obnoxious personality, a habit to gnaw at the owner’s furniture, damage wallpaper, and crap all over the place, would end up an good hands.

But this is very unlikely.

(1) “Buy a brick” – a common Russian joke. A big guy holding a brick approaches a passerby: “Ah, dude, buy this brick”. The person responds: “No, thank you, I don’t need it”. When the big guy waives the brick menacingly over the head of the other: “You’d better buy this brick and not tempt your fate”.

The Feminization of Western Men

May 05, 2021

By Paul Craig Roberts and posted with permission

In a remarkable interview published on Russia Insider in March 2019, RT’s Anissa Naouai interviewed Danish journalist Iben Thranholm about the disappearance of Western manhood: Dear European Men: You Are Pathetic Pussies.  This is a Danish woman’s conclusion.

Thranholm says that Western men have been feminized and Western women defeminized. She says feminists have destroyed men, who are now raised to be women. Consequently, there is no one to protect white women from the sexually aggressive immigrant-invaders brought into all European countries by the anti-white European Union, an enemy of national sovereignty that wants the destruction of European ethnic nationalities.  The EU is heavily supported by Washington and American money.

Thranholm’s conclusion resonated with me. For a number of years I have noticed that unless I am among older men I often only hear males with women’s voices, speaking like girls, the same intonation and the same words, “like,”  “really.”  I hear males who sound like Valley Girls. When you look at them you don’t see male strength, and neither does Camille Paglia who says androgyny is historically a sign of cultural collapse–https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/05/no_author/lesson-from-history-transgender-mania-is-sign-of-cultural-collapse-camille-paglia/.  When I hear idiots in Washington and European capitals issuing threats to Russia, I wonder where they are going to find any men capable of fighting a Russian army.

Iben Thranholm says Western men have been deprived of strength and confidence by feminism.  All over Europe, white women of European ethnicity, French, German, Danish, Swedish are raped openly in public by the privileged people of color welcomed in by scum like Merkel, the corrupt French governments, the bought-and-paid-for Italians, the dumbshit British, and the white men just look away and walk on by. Not only has feminism deprived men of any sense of obligation to their women, they are scared to death of being arrested for offending a person of color by interfering with his rape of a white woman.  Indeed, in Scandanavia women are not only afraid to leave their homes, they are afraid to report their rape, because the police might charge them with a hate crime for claiming rape by a protected person of color. In Sweden the protection of Swedish women is so nonexistent that it is becoming a right for a person of color to rape a Swedish woman.  The treasonous governments, treasonous against their ethnic populations, will not confront the mistake they made by overwhelming their nations with immigrant-invaders whom they refuse to hold accountable. Therefore, they blame the raped white women.  And the Swedes are such sheep that they reelect governments that favor immigrant invaders over ethnic Swedes. Who can imagine a Swedish army confronting a Russian army? It would be a five minute war.

The same for all of Europe.  The immigrant-invaders have shown that they can walk through European authority like a wet paper bag.  There is nothing there but self-doubt and self-hate.  Europe exists only as a geographical location. To understand Europe and the collapsing US, read Jean Raspail’s The Camp of the Saints.

How ironic it is. NATO has an army, in name if not in fact, to protect against Russia, which presents no threat.  Yet nothing can be done to protect the women of Europe from immigrant-invaders welcomed in by the excrement that comprises European governments. Does anyone less represent German ethnicity than Merkel?  Does anyone less represent French ethnicity than Macron?  Where in European politics is there any sign of concern for European ethnicities?

Iben Thranholm says that by destroying manhood, the feminists have unbalanced society and left themselves at peril.  There are no longer any men.

Here is the interview.  Everyone, especially feminists, will do very well to listen. The RT interviewer leaves something to be desired, but Iben Thranholm gets her point across.  https://russia-insider.com/en/dear-european-men-you-are-pathetic-pussies-iben-thranholm-video/ri12471

Will the allies have to die for Kiev?

Thierry Meyssan Political consultant, President-founder of the Réseau Voltaire (Voltaire Network). Latest work in English – Before Our Very Eyes, Fake Wars and Big Lies: From 9/11 to Donald Trump, Progressive Press, 2019.

by Thierry Meyssan

The Ukrainian population is divided between a part of European culture and another of Russian culture.

This singularity offers Washington a playground against Moscow. For several weeks now, the drums have been beating, sounding war.

But none of the allies want to die for Kiev or sacrifice themselves to Russia.

VOLTAIRE NETWORK | PARIS (FRANCE) | 20 APRIL 2021

The US armed forces

Joe Biden has always been the “Pentagon’s man”.

1- The Anglo-Saxons have a hereditary enemy: the Russians. For them, Russians are despicable people, destined since Otto I (10th century) to be nothing but slaves, as their name indicates (‘Slavic’ means both ethnicity and slave). In the 20th century, they were against the USSR, allegedly because it was communist, and are now against Russia without knowing why.

2- Second adversary, enemies they have created for themselves by waging an “endless war” against them since September 11, 2001: the populations of the wider Middle East, whose state organisation they are systematically destroying, whether they are allies or adversaries, in order to “send them back to the stone age” and exploit the riches of their region (Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy).

3- Third adversary: China, whose economic development threatens to relegate them to second place. In their eyes, they have no other choice than war. This is at least what their political scientists think, and they even speak of the “Thucydides trap” in reference to the war that Sparta waged against Athens, frightened by its flight [1].

4 – The issues of Iran and North Korea are far behind the first three.

Joe Biden’s Interim National Security Strategy [2] or their Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community [3] keep repeating this from different angles.

Fighting three wars at once is extremely difficult. The Pentagon is currently looking at how to prioritise these. It will report in June. There is absolute secrecy about the commission that is doing this assessment. No one even knows who the members are. Yet without delay, the Biden administration is focusing on Russia.

Whether we are independent or subservient to the “American Empire”, we must stop trying to avoid seeing. The United States of America has no other objective than to destroy Russian culture, Arab state structures, and – eventually – the Chinese economy. This has absolutely nothing to do with the legitimate defence of their people.

There is no other way to explain why the United States spends astronomical sums on its military that bear no relation to the budgets of those it describes as its “friends” or “enemies”. According to the Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the US military budget is at least equal to the sum of the budgets of the other 15 most armed

states [4].

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Military budgets of the 15 largest states (in billions of US dollars).Source: Institute for Strategic Studies

Issues for confrontation with Russia

The US is concerned about Russia’s recovery. After experiencing a sharp drop in life expectancy between 1988 and 1994 (5 years less), it has recovered, then largely surpassed that of the Soviet era (12 years more), although its healthy life expectancy remains one of the lowest in Europe. Their economy is diversifying, particularly in agriculture, but remains dependent on energy exports. Their army has been renewed, their military-industrial complex is more efficient than the Pentagon’s, and it has acquired experience in Syria.

For Washington, the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline threatens to free Western Europe from its dependence on US oil. While the attachment of Crimea to the Russian Federation, and even that of Donbass, is at least partially a blow to Ukraine’s dependence on the American Empire (Crimea and Donbass are not of Western culture). Finally, the Russian military presence in Syria is slowing down the project of political destruction of all the peoples of this region.

“When you want to drown your dog, you say it has rabies”

It was undoubtedly President Biden who opened the hostilities by calling the Russian president a “killer”. The two powers had never exchanged insults, even in the Gulag era. His interlocutor replied politely and offered to discuss the matter publicly, which he refused.

The United States has a short-term view of the world. They do not see themselves as responsible for their legacy. According to them, the evil Russians have amassed more than 100,000 troops in the vicinity of Ukraine and are preparing to invade it, as the Soviets did in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. But then it was not Russia, but the USSR; not the Putin doctrine, but the Brezhnev doctrine; and Leonid Brezhnev himself was not Russian, but Ukrainian.

The Russians, on the contrary, have a long-term view of the world. In their view, the barbaric Americans challenged the balance of power with the attacks of 11 September 2001. Immediately afterwards, on December 13, 2001, President Bush announced the withdrawal of the United States from the ABM Treaty. The United States then brought into NATO, one by one, almost all the former members of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR in violation of their promise at the time of the dissolution of the latter. This policy was confirmed by the Bucharest Declaration in 2008 [5].

Everyone knows the peculiarity of Ukraine: Western culture in the West, Russian culture in the East. For about fifteen years, the country was politically frozen, until Washington organised a pseudo-revolution and put its puppets, in this case neo-Nazis, in power [6]. Moscow reacted quickly enough for Crimea to declare its independence and join the Russian Federation, but it hesitated for the Donbass. Since then, it has been handing out Russian passports to all the inhabitants of this Ukrainian region for which it is the only hope.

The Biden administration

President Biden was known, when he was a senator, for introducing legislation in the Senate that was devised by the Pentagon. When he became president, he surrounded himself with neo-conservative figures. We cannot repeat it enough: the neo-conservatives were Trotskyite militants who were recruited by Republican President Ronald Reagan. Since then, they have always remained in power, except during the parenthesis of Jacksonian President Donald Trump, switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party and back again.

During the colourful Maïdan ’revolution’ (2013-14), Joe Biden, then vice-president, took up the cause of the neo-Nazis who were agents of Nato’s stay-behind networks [7] He ran the operation with one of the then assistant secretaries of state, Victoria Nuland (whose husband, Robert Kagan, is a founder of the Project for a New American Century, the fundraising arm of Republican George W. Bush). President Biden decided to make her the deputy to his new Secretary of State. She relied on the then US ambassador to Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, now posted in Athens, Greece. As for President Biden’s new Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, he is both judge and jury because his mother is of Ukrainian origin. Although he was raised in Paris by his mother’s second husband, te lawyer Samuel Pisar (advisor to President Kennedy), he is also a neo-conservative.

Preparing for the confrontation with Russia

In mid-March 2021, the United States and its Nato partners organised the Defender-Europe 21 manoeuvres. These will continue until June. This is a repeat of the mega-exercise Defender-Europe 20, which was reduced and shortened due to the Covid-19 epidemic. It is a huge deployment of men and equipment to simulate a confrontation with Russia. These manoeuvres are joined by a nuclear bomber exercise in Greece, attended by the aforementioned Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.

On March 25, President Volodymyr Zelensky published the new Ukrainian Security Strategy [8], three weeks after President Joe Biden published the US one.

Responding to Nato, Russia undertook its own manoeuvres on its western border, including its border with Ukraine. It was even sending additional troops to Crimea and as far as Transnistria.

On 1 April, the US Secretary of Defense called his Ukrainian counterpart about a possible increase in tension with Russia [9]. President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a statement saying he was monitoring Russian moves that could be provocative [10].

On 2 April, the United Kingdom organised a meeting of the British-Ukrainian Defence and Foreign Ministries, under the responsibility of British Minister Ben Wallace [11] (who was very active in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict [12]).

On April 2, President Joe Biden called his Ukrainian counterpart to assure him of his support against Russia. According to the Atlantic Council, he announced his decision to give him a hundred combat aircraft (F-15, F-16 and E-2C) currently based at Davis-Monthan air base [13].

On April 4, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Democrat Adam Smith, negotiated with Ukrainian parliamentarians to provide large subsidies to the Ukrainian army in exchange for the Ukrainian commitment to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline [14]

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Discreet return trip to Qatar by President Zelensky and the head of the Ukroboronprom arms factories on April 5, 2021.

On April 5, President Volodymyr Zelensky paid a visit to Qatar. The official purpose was to develop trade relations. Qatar is the main supplier of weapons to the jihadists and, according to our information, the question of possible financing of fighters was discussed. The director general of the military manufacturer Ukroboronprom, Yuriy Gusev, was on the trip. It was he who had supplied weapons to Daesh on order from Qatar [15].

On April 6, Lithuania, which in the past protected the western part of Ukraine in its own empire, enquired about the military situation [16]

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President Zelensky receives the Chairman of the Nato Military Committee on April 7, 2021.

On 6 and 7 April, British General Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the Nato Military Committee, visited Ukraine to clarify the reforms necessary for the country to join Nato [17].

On 9 April, in accordance with the Montreux Convention, the Pentagon informed Turkey of its intention to transit warships through the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits.

After discussing weapons and money with Sheikh Tamin in Qatar, President Zelinski came to talk about men with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on 10 April 2021.

On April 10, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in Istanbul as part of regular consultations between the two nations [18]. In view of the Qatari endorsement, Nato member Turkey immediately began recruiting international jihadists in Syria to fight in the Ukrainian Donbass. Turkish military instructors were also sent to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, the headquarters of the International Islamist Brigade [19], created by President Erdoğan and his then Ukrainian counterpart with Tatars loyal to Washington against Russia.

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Logically, the Russian Federation was amassing troops on the Ukrainian border. So its partners in the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) questioned it about its manoeuvres. The Russian side only answered evasively. The Vienna Document (1999) obliges OSCE members to provide each other with all information on the movements of their troops and equipment. But we know that the Russians do not operate like the West. They never inform their people or their partners during an operation, only when their deployments are over.

Two days later, the G7 issued a statement expressing concern about Russian movements, but ignoring those of Nato and Turkey. It welcomed Ukraine’s restraint and called on Russia to “stop its provocations” [20].

On April 13, on the occasion of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting with the Ukraine/NATO Commission, the United States pulled out all the stops. All the allies – none of whom wanted to die because the Ukrainians could not get a divorce – were invited to support Kiev and denounce Russia’s “escalation” [21]. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held extensive talks with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kouleba [22]. War was inexorably on the way.

Suddenly, President Joe Biden lightened the mood by phoning his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. He proposed a summit meeting, whereas Putin had dismissed the proposal for a public debate when he had insulted him [23]. After this initiative, war seemed avoidable.

On April 14, Antony Blinken, however, summoned his main allies (Germany, France, Italy and the UK) to mobilize them [24]

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.President Biden clarified his position on Russia on April 15, 2021.

On April 15, President Joe Biden gave his vision of the conflict, expelled ten Russian diplomats [25] He imposed sanctions on Russia, which was accused not only of rigging elections to get President Donald Trump elected, but also of offering bounties for the assassination of US soldiers in Afghanistan and of attacking federal computer systems using SolarWinds software.

Predictably, Russia expelled a similar number of US diplomats. In addition, it set a trap for a Ukrainian diplomat, who was caught in the act of espionage with classified documents in his hand.

Continuing on his path, President Volodymyr Zelensky went to meet his French and German counterparts, President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel. While deploring the Russian escalation and reaffirming their moral support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, they were evasive about what would happen next. In the end, if the United States and Russia are to meet and discuss, it is a bit early to die for Kiev.

Thierry Meyssan

Translation

Roger Lagassé

[1Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, Graham Allison, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2017).

[2Interim National Security Guidance, White House, March 3, 2021. “President Biden’s National Security Strategy”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Roger Lagassé, Voltaire Network, 9 April 2021.

[3Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, Director of National Intelligence, April 9, 2021.

[4The Military Balance 2021, Institute for Strategic Studies, Routledge (2021).

[5] “Bucharest Summit Declaration”, Nato, April 3, 2008.

[6] “Who are the Nazis in the Ukrainian government?”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 3 March 2014.

[7NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe, Daniele Ganser, Routledge (2005).

[8] Presidential Order 121/2021.

[9] “Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s Call With Ukrainian Minister of Defence Andrii Taran”, US Department of Defense, April 2, 2021.

[10] “Zelensky on Russian troops near border: Ukraine is ready for any provocations”, Ukrinform, April 2, 2021.

[11] “UK defense secretary initiates talks with Taran due to escalation in eastern Ukraine”, Ukrinform, April 2, 2021.

[12] “Nagorno-Karabakh: victory of London and Ankara, defeat of Soros and the Armenians”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Roger Lagassé, Voltaire Network, 24 November 2020.

[13] “U.S. Should Provide Lend-Lease Type of Aid Package for Ukraine to Help it Upgrade its Air Force – Atlantic Council”, Defense Express, April 7, 2021.

[14] “Arakhamiya, Congressman Smith discuss expanding military support for Ukraine”, Ukrinform, March 5, 2021.

[15] “Qatar and Ukraine come to deliver Pechora-2D to ISIS”, by Andrey Fomin, Oriental Review (Russia) , Voltaire Network, 22 November 2015.

[16] “Ukrainian, Latvian defense ministers discuss security situation on Ukraine’s borders”, Ukrinform, April 7, 2021.

[17] “NATO Military Committee Chairman visits Ukraine”, NATO, April 6, 2021.

[18] “Turkey recruiting jihadists to send them to Ukraine ”, Voltaire Network, 18 April 2021.

[19] « L’Ukraine et la Turquie créent une Brigade internationale islamique contre la Russie », par Thierry Meyssan, Télévision nationale syrienne , Réseau Voltaire, 12 août 2015.

[20] “G7 Foreign Ministers statement on Ukraine”, Voltaire Network, 12 April 2021.

[21] “NATO-Ukraine Commission addresses security situation in and around Ukraine”, NATO , Voltaire Network, 13 April 2021.

[22] “Meeting of Antony Blinken and Dmytro Kouleba”, USA (Department of State) , Voltaire Network, 13 April 2021.

[23] “Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Call with Vladimir Putin”, USA (White House) , Voltaire Network, 13 April 2021.

[24] “Main allies meeting on Ukraine”, United States (Department of State) , Voltaire Network, 14 April 2021.

[25] “Remarks on Russia”, by Joseph R. Biden Jr., Voltaire Network, 15 April 2021.

https://www.voltairenet.org/article212801.html

Telephone conversation with Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel

Source

Telephone conversation with Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel

April 08, 2021

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/65325

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel.

April 8, 202114:30

The two leaders had a detailed discussion on a number of topical international matters.

While exchanging opinions on ways of resolving the intra-Ukrainian crisis, the Russian President and the German Chancellor voiced concern in connection with the escalation of tensions in southeastern Ukraine. Vladimir Putin drew attention to the provocative actions of Kiev which is now deliberately aggravating the situation along the line of contact. The parties noted the need for the Kiev authorities to implement earlier agreements without fail, in particular those aimed at the launch of direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk and at legally formalising the special status of Donbass.

They urged the parties to the conflict to display restraint and to invigorate the negotiating process in order to fully implement the 2015 Minsk Package of Measures as the only legal foundation for a peace settlement. They reaffirmed their commitment to further close coordination of Russian and German efforts, including within the Normandy Format, between political advisers and foreign ministers.

Mr Putin and Ms Merkel continued to exchange opinions on the subject of Syria and noted the high priority of tasks to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria. The Russian party underscored the unacceptability of politicising issues as regards the provision of foreign assistance to the people of Syria, the restoration of the socioeconomic infrastructure and the return of refugees.

While discussing the situation in Libya, both leaders praised the establishment of interim national institutions of state authority in the country. They voiced readiness to help normalise the domestic situation and to facilitate Libya’s peaceful development. They agreed to continue coordinating their efforts in this direction.

The two leaders touched upon the situation in the Balkans and noted the importance of further well-coordinated steps to ensure stability and inter-ethnic accord, including with due consideration for the decisions of the Steering Committee of the Council to fulfil the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or the Dayton Agreement.

In connection with the interest displayed by the Federal Chancellor, the situation regarding Alexei Navalny was touched upon.

At Vladimir Putin’s initiative, certain matters regarding the activities of foreign media outlets and NGOs in both countries were reviewed.

It was agreed to maintain close working contacts through various channels.

Ukraine redux: war, Russophobia and Pipelineistan

Ukraine redux: war, Russophobia and Pipelineistan

April 07, 2021

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Ukraine and Russia may be on the brink of war – with dire consequences for the whole of Eurasia. Let’s cut to the chase, and plunge head-on into the fog of war.

On March 24, Ukrainian President Zelensky, for all practical purposes, signed a declaration of war against Russia, via decree No. 117/2021.

The decree establishes that retaking Crimea from Russia is now Kiev’s official policy. That’s exactly what prompted an array of Ukrainian battle tanks to be shipped east on flatbed rail cars, following the saturation of the Ukrainian army by the US with military equipment including unmanned aerial vehicles, electronic warfare systems, anti-tank systems and man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS).

More crucially, the Zelensky decree is the proof any subsequent war will have been prompted by Kiev, debunking the proverbial claims of “Russian aggression.” Crimea, since the referendum of March 2014, is part of the Russian Federation.

It was this (italics mine) de facto declaration of war, which Moscow took very seriously, that prompted the deployment of extra Russian forces to Crimea and closer to the Russian border with Donbass. Significantly, these include the crack 76th  Guards Air Assault Brigade, known as the Pskov paratroopers and, according to an intel report quoted to me, capable of taking Ukraine in only six hours.

It certainly does not help that in early April US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, fresh from his former position as a board member of missile manufacturer Raytheon, called Zelensky to promise “unwavering US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.” That ties in with Moscow’s interpretation that Zelensky would never have signed his decree without a green light from Washington.

Controlling the narrative

Sevastopol, already when I visited in December 2018, is one of the most heavily defended places on the planet, impervious even to a NATO attack. In his decree, Zelensky specifically identifies Sevastopol as a prime target.

Once again, we’re back to 2014 post-Maidan unfinished business.

To contain Russia, the US deep state/NATO combo needs to control the Black Sea – which, for all practical purposes, is now a Russian lake. And to control the Black Sea, they need to “neutralize” Crimea.

If any extra proof was necessary, it was provided by Zelensky himself on Tuesday this week in a phone call with NATO secretary-general and docile puppet Jens Stoltenberg.

Zelensky uttered the key phrase: “NATO is the only way to end the war in Donbass” – which means, in practice, NATO expanding its “presence” in the Black Sea. “Such a permanent presence should be a powerful deterrent to Russia, which continues the large-scale militarization of the region and hinders merchant shipping.”

All of these crucial developments are and will continue to be invisible to global public opinion when it comes to the predominant, hegemon-controlled narrative.

The deep state/NATO combo is imprinting 24/7 that whatever happens next is due to “Russian aggression.” Even if the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) launch a blitzkrieg against the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. (To do so against Sevastopol in Crimea would be certified mass suicide).

In the United States, Ron Paul has been one of the very few voices to state the obvious:  “According to the media branch of the US military-industrial-congressional-media complex, Russian troop movements are not a response to clear threats from a neighbor, but instead are just more ‘Russian aggression.’”

What’s implied is that Washington/Brussels don’t have a clear tactical, much less strategic game plan: only total narrative control.

And that is fueled by rabid Russophobia – masterfully deconstructed by the indispensable Andrei Martyanov, one of the world’s top military analysts.

A possibly hopeful sign is that on March 31, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, talked on the phone about the proverbial “issues of mutual interest.”

Days later, a Franco-German statement came out, calling on “all parties” to de-escalate. Merkel and Macron seem to have gotten the message in their videoconference with Putin – who must have subtly alluded to the effect generated by Kalibrs, Kinzhals and assorted hypersonic weapons if the going gets tough and the Europeans sanction a Kiev blitzkrieg.

The problem is Merkel and Macron don’t control NATO. Yet Merkel and Macron at least are fully aware that if the US/NATO combo attacks Russian forces or Russian passport holders who live in Donbass, the devastating response will target the command centers that coordinated the attacks.

What does the hegemon want?

As part of his current Energizer bunny act, Zelensky made an extra eyebrow-raising move. This past Monday, he visited Qatar with a lofty delegation and clinched a raft of deals, not circumscribed to LNG but also including direct Kiev-Doha flights; Doha leasing or buying a Black Sea port; and strong “defense/military ties” – which could be a lovely euphemism for a possible transfer of jihadis from Libya and Syria to fight Russian infidels in Donbass.

Right on cue, Zelensly meets Turkey’s Erdogan next Monday. Erdogan’s intel services run the jihadi proxies in Idlib, and dodgy Qatari funds are still part of the picture. Arguably, the Turks are already transferring those “moderate rebels” to Ukraine. Russian intel is meticulously monitoring all this activity.

A series of informed discussions – see, for instance, here and here – is converging on what may be the top three targets for the hegemon amid all this mess, short of war: to provoke an irreparable fissure between Russia and the EU, under NATO auspices; to crash the Nord Steam 2 pipeline; and to boost profits in the weapons business for the military-industrial complex.

So the key question then is whether Moscow would be able to apply a Sun Tzu move short of being lured into a hot war in the Donbass.

On the ground, the outlook is grim. Denis Pushilin, one of the top leaders of the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics, has stated that the chances of avoiding war are “extremely small.” Serbian sniper Dejan Beric – whom I met in Donetsk in 2015 and who is a certified expert on the ground – expects a Kiev attack in early May.

The extremely controversial Igor Strelkov, who may be termed an exponent of “orthodox socialism,” a sharp critic of the Kremlin’s policies who is one of the very few warlords who survived after 2014, has unequivocally stated that the only chance for peace is for the Russian army to control Ukrainian territory at least up to the Dnieper river. He stresses that a war in April is “very likely”; for Russia war “now” is better than war later; and there’s a 99% possibility that Washington will not fight for Ukraine.

On this last item at least Strelkov has a point; Washington and NATO want a war fought to the last Ukrainian.

Rostislav Ischenko, the top Russian analyst of Ukraine whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Moscow in late 2018, persuasively argues that, “the overall diplomatic, military, political, financial and economic situation powerfully requires the Kiev authorities to intensify combat operations in Donbass.

“By the way,” Ischenko added, “the Americans do not give a damn whether Ukraine will hold out for any time or whether it will be blown to pieces in an instant. They believe they stand to gain from either outcome.”

Gotta defend Europe

Let’s assume the worst in Donbass. Kiev launches its blitzkrieg. Russian intel documents everything. Moscow instantly announces it is using the full authority conferred by the UNSC to enforce the Minsk 2 ceasefire.

In what would be a matter of 8 hours or a maximum 48 hours, Russian forces smash the whole blitzkrieg apparatus to smithereens and send the Ukrainians back to their sandbox, which is approximately 75km north of the established contact zone.

In the Black Sea, incidentally, there’s no contact zone. This means Russia may send out all its advanced subs plus the surface fleet anywhere around the “Russian lake”: They are already deployed anyway.

Once again Martyanov lays down the law when he predicts, referring to a group of Russian missiles developed by the Novator Design Bureau: “Crushing Ukies’ command and control system is a matter of few hours, be that near border or in the operational and strategic Uki depth. Basically speaking, the whole of the Ukrainian ‘navy’ is worth less than the salvo of 3M54 or 3M14 which will be required to sink it. I think couple of Tarantuls will be enough to finish it off in or near Odessa and then give Kiev, especially its government district, a taste of modern stand-off weapons.”

The absolutely key issue, which cannot be emphasized enough, is that Russia will not (italics mine) “invade” Ukraine. It doesn’t need to, and it doesn’t want to. What Moscow will do for sure is to support the Novorossiya people’s republics with equipment, intel, electronic warfare, control of airspace and special forces. Even a no-fly zone will not be necessary; the “message” will be clear that were a NATO fighter jet to show up near the frontline, it would be summarily shot down.

And that brings us to the open “secret” whispered only in informal dinners in Brussels, and chancelleries across Eurasia: NATO puppets do not have the balls to get into an open conflict with Russia.

One thing is to have yapping dogs like Poland, Romania, the Baltic gang and Ukraine amplified by corporate media on their “Russian aggression” script. Factually, NATO had its collective behind unceremoniously kicked in Afghanistan. It shivered when it had to fight the Serbs in the late 1990s. And in the 2010s, it did not dare fight the Damascus and Axis of Resistance forces.

When all fails, myth prevails. Enter the US Army occupying parts of Europe to “defend” it against – who else? – those pesky Russians.

That’s the rationale behind the annual US Army DEFENDER-Europe 21, now on till the end of June, mobilizing 28,000 soldiers from the US and 25 NATO allies and “partners.”

This month, men and heavy equipment pre-positioned in three US Army depots in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands will be transferred to multiple “training areas” in 12 countries. Oh, the joys of travel, no lockdown in an open air exercise since everyone has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Pipelineistan uber alles

Nord Stream 2 is not a big deal for Moscow; it’s a Pipelineistan inconvenience at best. After all the Russian economy did not make a single ruble out of the not yet existent pipeline during the 2010s – and still it did fine. If NS2 is canceled, there are plans on the table to redirect the bulk of Russian gas shipments towards Eurasia, especially China.

In parallel, Berlin knows very well that canceling NS2 will be an extremely serious breach of contract – involving hundreds of billions of euros; it was Germany that requested the pipeline to be built in the first place.

Germany’s energiewende (“energy transition” policy) has been a disaster. German industrialists know very well that natural gas is the only alternative to nuclear energy. They are not exactly fond of Berlin becoming a mere hostage, condemned to buy ridiculously expensive shale gas from the hegemon – even assuming the hegemon will be able to deliver, as its fracking industry is in shambles. Merkel explaining to German public opinion why they must revert to using coal or buy shale from the US will be a sight to see.

As it stands, NATO provocations against NS2 proceed unabated – via warships and helicopters. NS2 needed a permit to work in Danish waters, and it was granted only a month ago. Even as Russian ships are not as fast in laying pipes as the previous ships from Swiss-based Allseas, which backed down, intimidated by US sanctions, the Russian Fortuna is making steady progress, as noted by analyst Petri Krohn: one kilometer a day on its best days, at least 800 meters a day. With 35 km left, that should not take more than 50 days.

Conversations with German analysts reveal a fascinating shadowplay on the energy front between Berlin and Moscow – not to mention Beijing. Compare it with Washington: EU diplomats complain there’s absolutely no one to negotiate with regarding NS2. And even assuming there would be some sort of deal, Berlin is inclined to admit Putin’s judgment is correct: the Americans are “not agreement-capable.” One just needs to look at the record.

Behind the fog of war, though, a clear scenario emerges: the deep state/NATO combo using Kiev to start a war as a Hail Mary pass to ultimately bury NS2, and thus German-Russian relations.

At the same time, the situation is evolving towards a possible new alignment in the heart of the “West”: US/UK pitted against Germany/France. Some Anglosphere exceptionals are certainly more Russophobic than others.

The toxic encounter between Russophobia and Pipelineistan will not be over even if NS2 is completed. There will be more sanctions. There will be an attempt to exclude Russia from SWIFT. The proxy war in Syria will intensify. The hegemon will go no holds barred to keep creating all sorts of geopolitical harassment against Russia.

What a nice wag-the-dog op to distract domestic public opinion from massive money printing masking a looming economic collapse. As the empire crumbles, the narrative is set in stone: it’s all the fault of “Russian aggression.”

GERMANY’S POLITICAL CRISIS AND THE FUTURE OF NORD STREAM 2

South Front

April 03, 2021

Germany’s Political Crisis and the Future of Nord Stream 2

To make matters worse, at the EU summit Blinken pointed out that his threats aimed at Nord Stream 2 are a reflection of US Congress laws demanding any and all firms participating in its construction to be sanctioned, though omitting that the Executive Branch has considerable freedom of action in implementing legislation impinging on the presidential foreign policy prerogatives.

It does not appear as if Blinken’s “shock and awe” show on three continents has had the desired results. Germany’s Foreign Ministry pointedly refused to endorse Biden’s characterization of Vladimir Putin as a “killer”, in contrast to several other European countries traditionally adhering to an anti-Russia stance. Moreover, there is no evidence that German companies are about to drop their work on Nord Stream 2. Doing so would be a fatal blow to Germany’s position as the leading EU member state and would introduce a greater degree of chaos into EU power struggles. Factors putting a certain degree of steel into Germany’s spine is the apparent realization that, emboldened by the effectiveness of a mere threat of sanctions against Germany, the US State Department will grow accustomed to using that instrument on a routine basis with Germany and other members of the EU. United States’ apparent desire to denigrate Germany’s international status seems to have led to a few other snubs, such as the failure to invite it to a high-level meeting on Afghanistan that Russia, China, and even Turkey will attend.

Germany’s Green Hell

If the United States has an ace in a hole that might yet reverse the decline of its fortunes, it is the gradual ascendancy of Germany’s Green Party. German and indeed international public opinion have come a long way from the heady days of Spring 2020, when Angela Merkel was roundly hailed as the “scientist” whose combination of empirical astuteness and political savvy would bring COVID-19 to heel, in stark contrast to the ignorant fools that Boris Johnson and Donald Trump were supposed to be. Back in May or June 2020, it certainly did not appear as if anything could threaten Merkel’s political fortunes. Yet it is Merkel who is now facing calls for a Bundestag vote of confidence. The botched pandemic response, the puzzling back-and-forth of lockdowns, relaxations, then new lockdowns, and a number of corruption scandals associated with pandemic response contracts that implicated a number of CDU/CSU deputies, have undermined the public’s confidence in the ruling party and its leadership. It certainly did not help matters that the EU official most closely associated with the botched vaccine procurement at the Union level is the President of the European Commission Ursula van der Leyen who previously occupied several ministerial posts, including that of Defense, in the various Merkel governments.

It is therefore unsurprising that Germany is potentially facing a major electoral upheaval that threatens to significantly rearrange the country’s political landscape. As of March 27, 2021, a Kantar opinion poll attempting to ascertain the level of support each of Germany’s parties might enjoy during this year’s Bundestag elections showed CDU/CSU still in the lead with potentially 25% of the vote, with the Greens in close second at 23%. The other political parties posted notably weaker figures. The once-dominant SPD scored only 17%, Alternative for Germany (AfD) and FDP 10% apiece, Die Linke 9%, with 6% distributed among the remaining parties. Other German opinion polls delivered roughly similar results, varying only by a couple percentage points.

Its rise is driven by several factors, including the exhaustion with the ruling CDU/CSU coalition, the SPD suffering from the abandonment of its leftist principles in favor of Blair/Clinton-like “third way” neoliberal policies, Die Linke still lingering under a cloud of suspicion due to its German Democratic Republic ancestry, and of course the Alternative for Germany attracting unwanted attention from Germany’s own “Deep State” which, like its US and British counterparts, is playing an increasingly active role in the country’s politics.

Gruen Nach Osten

That the Greens’ coming to power is bound to result in Germany becoming more militaristic and interventionist on the world stage is also suggested by the curious case of Tareq Alaows, a Syrian man born in Damascus who came to Germany in 2015 and, only six years later, was declared a Bundestag candidate from the Green Party already as a German citizen. Given that the rest of the 1.5 million refugees who arrived in Germany at roughly the same time are still not German citizens and are likely never to become them, Alaows’ rapid elevation suggest that the Greens have friends within Germany’s “deep state”, and are interested in following US and British lead in “weaponizing” social issues such as gender rights, environmentalism, and other issues in order to justify aggression against countries deemed insufficiently dedicated to what the West claims to be “universal values”. They would not be Europe’s first “Green” party to go neo-conservative. Sweden’s Greens have likewise inducted many Islamists into their ranks in order to press for greater foreign interventionism. Moreover, since Germany’s Green Party is a relatively recent invention and is therefore not associated with Germany’s earlier military aggressions (and here one should note that even the SPD was staunchly supportive of Germany’s aggression in World War I, and likely would have been in World War II had it not been banned by the Nazis),  they are the most logical front for Germany’s neo-cons. One can readily imagine empowered Greens declaring Germany has a sacred mission to rid the world of coal, oil, and natural gas as sources of energy which naturally means a confrontation with China and Russia in order to install governments in those countries that naturally share the Greens’ priorities and incidentally also enact policies highly favorable to German business interests. While the Green Party began its existence as a radical party of the Left, by the end of the Cold War it began to reinvent itself along neo-conservative lines. Its support for NATO’s wars against Yugoslavia and other military adventures, its peculiar interest in Aleksey Navalny who is not exactly known as an environmentalist, combined with strident opposition to Nord Stream 2, collectively make it very attractive to the Bidens and Blinkens of the world interested in making Germany a US client state. What remains to be seen is whether German and US “deep states” are capable of smoothing the Greens’ path into power, and whether the German people will accept the Green regime that is being prepared for them.

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Munich-esque Davos

January 31, 2021

Munich-esque Davos

Rostislav Ishchenko – Crossposted with permission from Stalker Zone

Vladimir Putin’s speech, delivered in the format of remote participation in the annual Davos forum, is already being actively compared with his Munich speech of 2007.

Well, there is something in common. It is about the same general as between Stalin’s “Brothers and Sisters!” in 1941 and the toast “To the great Russian people!” in 1945.

The Munich Speech of 2007 stated Russia’s acceptance of the challenge posed by the west. We didn’t attack, we were attacked. We offered peace, but the enemy chose war. We are not going to capitulate, we will win the war. We suggest, before it’s too late, to come to your senses and stop the aggression. The Emperor Aleksandr the Blessed conveyed similar words to Napoleon through the Adjutant-General Balashov in June 1812, adding that if necessary, he would retreat to Kamchatka, but would not lay down his weapons as long as at least one enemy was on Russian soil.

So Putin’s Munich speech is evidence of Russia’s entry into a new (hybrid, informational) Patriotic War. And here is his Davos speech – summing up the results of this war. A kind of new Yalta (the Yalta Conference also took place before Germany finally capitulated).

The people who came up with this move and worked on organising the speech of the President of Russia at the Davos Forum in 2021 should be given the hero of Russia title in full force. It’s also possible to erect a monument. Thanks to their efforts, unlike Yalta in 1945, today Russia has found itself at the origins of a new post-war world in the singular, without any allies/competitors. At the same time, the same China can not be offended — no one has removed it. Somehow it just happened. And its interests are not being violated.

Let’s look at the Davos speech from the point of view of diplomatic art.

Everyone knows that the Davos Forum is a gathering of the global financial and industrial elite, people who have a significant, and sometimes decisive, influence on the policies of their (and sometimes neighboring) states. Politicians, even the most prominent ones, serve only as a condiment there. Their presence is evidence of the importance of the non-political part of the guests. Those who speak from the stage mean much less there than those who are silent and listen on the sidelines. In addition, in terms of information, any speech will be blocked by a dozen others, blocked in a panel discussion. The journalists present at the forum are more interested in showing their own importance by interviewing at least a minor oligarch (Ukrainian, for example, from year to year discuss the colour of dumplings and the size of portions at Pinchuk‘s “Ukrainian Breakfast”, without being distracted by anything else). In general, it is almost impossible to give a speech on this platform an appropriate political and informational sound.

That is why Putin did not go to Davos for 12 years — there was no need.

It was then that the coronavirus pandemic came, which forced the forum to be held remotely. As a result, a huge number of narcissistic peacocks, who previously proudly wore their shiny tails on the sidelines of the forum, remained at home. On Skype, you can’t take a picture against the background of someone from the powerful of this world and you can’t exchange a few words with anyone during a coffee break. The forum was almost forgotten.

But it didn’t die. Its organisers did not want to chop up the chicken that lays the golden eggs, because of some pandemic. If the motley retinue that gave the picture is cut off, and there are only a few dozen people who really make serious decisions, then the problem lies only behind the topic that would captivate everyone so much that it would put the forum held on Skype at the centre of the world information agenda.

Nothing could be better than Putin’s speech to solve this problem.

Firstly, as a result of the crisis in the US, it became obvious even to the deepest skeptics that Washington had lost its leadership in the modern world. Moreover, the Biden coup made the US a pillar of the liberal left and a threat to right-wing conservative forces around the world. The right-wing conservative traditionalist Trump, considered by western conservatives as a potential leader, has been knocked out of politics for a long time, if not forever. At best, he will be able to return to American politics after some time, but he is still far from returning to global politics.

Secondly, there is also no leader among European politicians capable of leading the right-conservative resistance to the left-liberal globalists. Merkel herself is a liberal (though pragmatic), and is also retiring. Macron is ambitious, but he works in the style of “both yours and ours”, he can not be trusted — at any time he can go to the other side. The rest neither came out in caliber, nor the countries they represent can claim to be a leader.

Thirdly, Xi Jinping in China is certainly a conservative leader in Asia, but due to the huge cultural and historical differences, he cannot claim leadership in Europe.

Putin in Davos came to a popular position in the conditions of a complete absence of competitors. It is designed for the world’s financial and industrial elite, was the only offer of a “bright future”, which should come after the final demolition of the American-centric system (and for this reason it turned out to be the number one information topic of the week that no one can ignore).

Putin elegantly demonstrated the inevitability of its final disintegration with a few figures, which showed that while over the past 15-20 years the number of poor people (living on less than $5 a day) in the US has increased by 1.5-fold, in China the number of such people has decreased by 4-fold, and in Russia – 12-fold. At the same time, in Russia today the number of people living on less than $5 a day is already less than in the US.

For people who are used to buying and selling, who know well what the purchasing power of the population is, who are able to calculate processes in dynamics, these figures are a verdict for the US. Moreover, they already know that in military terms, Russia has also overtaken the west forever. The US and Europe do not have the technology to catch up with Moscow in the field of weapons, and there are no resources to develop such technologies in the next decade.

I.e., on the computer screens of about 100 of the most influential people on the planet, the president of Russia appears and offers a model of a new post-American world without an alternative (in the absence of at least some competitor). Putin points out that the loose liberal leftists pose a threat to any statehood, and gently unobtrusively hints that Russia will not just fight this, but is also ready to lead an alliance of healthy conservative forces around the world, ensuring the protection of national statehood from the encroachments of TNCs.

To the natural question in return, without waiting for it to be asked, Putin explains that no one is going to demolish the system to the ground, just in the conditions of a severe systemic crisis, the role of the state in economic life should be strengthened. The state is not going to replace a private initiative. It only plans to smooth out the rough edges and make sure that the private pursuit of profit maximisation does not conflict with public interests and conservative values. What remains behind the scenes is that it is the Russian state that should become the guarantor and leader of this process.

Another unasked question, “How to defeat the left-liberal destroyers of the state in the interests of the transnational financial oligarchy?” was answered on January 23rd and in the following days on the streets of Russian cities. Without excessive violence, without totalitarian prohibitions, but also without liberalism with outright hooliganism. Those who can be negotiated with — an agreement will be made. And those leopards who will change their spots will be jailed (but alive). In general, against the background of what is happening in the world (from Belarus to the US), Russian protective measures are indeed the softest, but at the same time the most effective.

In general, for the global money that really wants to work within the framework of a classical market economy, which doesn’t want to wait for the “golden billion” to turn into a “golden million”, then into a “golden thousand”, and then into a gang of crazy bankers fighting on the ruins of the planet, Putin proposed a way out of the crisis, drew the outline of the “post-Yalta world” (guaranteed by Russian power) and suggested that we begin discussing its final format.

And look, 80 people from among the most influential people on the planet did not laugh in Putin’s face, as it was in 2007 in Munich, and without noise and dust immediately after his open speech signed up for a closed conference with him.

Honest liberals and ordinary urban lunatics can laugh quite sincerely and free of charge at the claims (and evidence) of Russian power and global authority. This queue of those who run the global economy for a private meeting with Putin is the best evidence that what seemed incredible yesterday has become obvious today. Russia has put the terms of a new world on the table. And the world reached out to discuss these conditions.

Finally, once again, I want to draw your attention to the inconspicuous feat of the people who prepared this speech of Putin. In terms of scale and impact on historical processes, this is steeper than the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk combined. In addition, the victory was achieved with little blood and on foreign territory. The effect of the bomb explosion is achieved by surprise. This is already the corporate identity of Russia. Putin’s speech in Munich was sudden, and the crushing defeat of the presumptuous Saakashvili regime in August 2008 was sudden. The return of Crimea was sudden. And now the same sudden Davos.

The late Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin would have remarked with satisfaction: “This has never happened before, and here it is again!”

China’s Economy of Peace

China’s Economy of Peace

December 14, 2020

by Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

In the context of China’s webinar on 14 December 2020, on the topic of “China’s New Development Paradigm and High-Quality Belt and Road Cooperation”, organized by the China Center for Contemporary World Studies, International Department of CPC Central Committee and the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, my presentation was on China’s Economy of Peace.
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China, about a decade ago, has deliberately embarked on an Economy of Peace. A strategy that China pursues, unimpressed by constant aggression from the west, which are mostly led by the United States. Is it perhaps this Chinese steadfast, non-aggressive way of constant forward-creation and embracing more and more allies on her way – that has made China such a success story? Overcoming violence by non-violence is engrained in 5000 years of Chinese history.

Despite relentlessly repeated assertions by the west, China’s objective is not to conquer the world or to “replace” the United States as the new empire. Quite to the contrary. The alliance China-Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is seeking a multipolar world, with more justice for all – i. e. fairer trade in the sense of “win-win”, where all parties are benefitting equally. This is also a policy pursued by the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, the 15-country trade agreement signed at the 37th ASEAN Summit – 11 November 2020, in Vietnam, as well as by President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 by the President himself.

China does not coerce cooperation – but offers peaceful cooperation. In 2014, Mr. Xi traveled to Germany to offer Madame Merkel for Germany to become – at that time – the western most link to the BRI, or the New Silk Road. This would have been an opening for all of Europe. However, Madame Merkel, having to follow Washington’s mandates – did not respond positively. President Jinping returned to Beijing, no hard feelings. And China continued her persistent course of connecting the countries of our Mother Earth with transport infrastructure, inter-country industrial ventures, education and research projects, as well as cultural exchanges to enrich the world – all the while respecting individual countries’ monetary and political sovereignty.

Many country leaders from Africa and the Global South in general express openly their contentment and satisfaction to have China as a partner and for dealing with China on the basis of equals. With the west, especially the US, there is bullying and coercion, unequal contracts, and often total disrespect for legally signed contracts.
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Meanwhile, the west lives in a permanent state of hypocrisy. It bashes China – actually without any reason, other than that the dying Anglo-Saxon-American empire mandates it to its partners, especially the European NATO allies – under threats of sanctions. Unfortunately, spineless Europe mostly complies.

Yet, having outsourced – for economic and profit reasons – most production processes to reliable, efficient and cheaper-labor China, the west depends very much on China for its supply chains. The covid-crisis, first wave, has clearly shown how dependent the west is on goods produced in China from sophisticated electronic equipment to pharmaceuticals.

As an example: About 90% or more of antibiotics or ingredients for antibiotics are Made in China. Similar percentages apply to other vital western imports. – But China does not “punish” or sanction. China creates and moves forward offering her alliance to the rest of the world.

China has also developed a new digital international Renminbi (RMB) or Yuan that may soon be rolled out for use of monetary transactions – of all kinds, including transfers, trade and even as a reserve currency. The yuan is already an ever-stronger reserve currency. This trend will be further enhanced through the RCEP and BRI.

Of course, the US is afraid that their dollar-hegemony they have built up since WWII with Fiat money backed by nothing, may suffer as international trading currency which the Anglo-American banking cartel practically imposed on the world, will come to an end; and the US-dollar’s standing as a reserve currency may rapidly decline.

And yes, the yuan will gradually replace the US dollar as reserve currency – and this – because countries’ treasurers realize that the yuan is a stable, gold-backed currency, also supported by a solid economy – the only economy of any importance in the world that will grow in the covid-year 2020, by perhaps as much as 3.5%, while western economies will falter badly. Predictions are dire for the US and Europe, between 12% (EU predictions) and up to 30% / 35% (US FED prediction).

The US dollar and its dominion over the international transfer system through SWIFT – has been used massively for sanctioning non-compliant countries, including totally illegal confiscation of assets – even countries reserve assets – case in point is Venezuela.

Escaping this coercive dollar dominion is the dream of many countries. Therefore, trading, investing and dealing with the Chinese currency, will be a welcome opportunity for many sovereign nations.
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China’s economic achievements and forward-looking perspectives may be summarized in two major events or global programs, the just signed free trade agreement with 14 countries – the 10 ASEAN countries, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, altogether, including China 15 countries. The so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was in negotiations during eight years – and achieved to pull together a group of countries for free trade, of some 2.2 billion people, commanding about 30% of the world’s GDP. This is a never before reached agreement in size, value and tenor.

In addition to the largest such trade agreement in human history, it also links to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), or One Belt, One Road (OBOR), which in itself comprises already more than 130 countries and more than 30 international organizations. Also, China and Russia have a longstanding strategic partnership, containing bilateral agreements that too enter into this new trade fold – plus the countries of the Central Asia Economic Union (CAEU), consisting mostly of former Soviet Republics, are also integrated into this eastern trade block.

The myriad of agreements and sub-agreements between Asian-Pacific countries that will cooperate with RCEP, is bound together by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai as an intergovernmental organization, composed of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO is little known and little talked-about in the west.

The purpose of the SCO is to ensure security and maintain stability across the vast Eurasian region, join forces to counteract emerging challenges and threats, and enhance trade, as well as cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

Much of the funding for RCEP and BRI projects may come in the form of low-interest loans from China’s Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and other Chinese and participating countries’ national funding sources. In the hard times emerging from the covid crisis, many countries may need grant assistance to be able to recover as quickly as possible from their huge socioeconomic losses, created by the pandemic. In this sense, it is likely that the new Silk Road may support a special “Health Road” across the Asian Continent.

The RCEP may, as “byproduct”, integrate the huge Continent of Eurasia that spans all the way from western Europe to what is called Asia and covering the Middle East as well as North Africa, of some 55 million square kilometers (km2), and a population of about 5.4 billion people, close to 70% of the world population – See map (Wikipedia).

The crux of the RCEP agreement’s trade deals is that they will be carried out in local currencies and in yuan – no US-dollars. The RCEP is a massive instrument for dedollarizing, primarily the Asia-Pacific Region, and gradually the rest of the world.

Much of the BRI infrastructure investments, or New Silk Road, may be funded by other currencies than the US-dollar. China’s new digital Renminbi (RMB) or yuan may soon become legal tender for international payments and transfers, and will drastically reduce the use of the US-dollar.

The US-dollar is already in massive decline. When some 20-25 years ago about 90% of all worldwide held reserve-assets were denominated in US-dollars, this proportion has shrunk by today to below 60% – and keeps declining. The emerging international RMB / yuan, together with a RCEP- and BRI-strengthened Chinese economy, may further contribute to a dedollarization, as well as dehegemonization of the United States in the world. And as said before, the international digital RMB / yuan may progressively also be replacing the US-dollar, as well as euro reserves in countries’ coffers around the globe. The US-dollar may eventually return to be just a local US-currency, as it should be.

Under China’s philosophy, the unilateral world may transform into a multi-polar world. The RCEP and New Silk Road combination are rapidly pursuing this noble objective, a goal that will bring much more equilibrium into the world.

Maybe for a few years more to come, the west, led by the US – and always backed by the Pentagon and NATO, may not shy away from threatening countries participating in China’s projects, but to no avail. Under Tao philosophy, China will move forward with her partners, like steadily flowing water, constantly creating, avoiding obstacles, in pursuit of her honorable goal – a world in Peace with a bright common future.

*****
Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; New Eastern Outlook (NEO), Information Clearing House (ICH) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and  co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

CHICKEN KIEV MEETS COLD TURKEY: BLACK SEA AXIS EMERGES?

South Front

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

On the face of it, an alliance between Turkey and Ukraine seems like a rather odd creation, yet one that may surprisingly durable simply because neither country has anywhere else to turn. What practically dooms them to a partnership if not an outright alliance is their unenviable geographic and geopolitical position of occupying the strange “no man’s land” between Russia, NATO, and the Middle East. It is, of course, largely a predicament of their own making. Ukraine, with considerable Western backing and encouragement but nevertheless mostly through efforts of a faction of its own oligarchy, opted out of the Russia-centered network of loose alliances, trade partnerships, and other forms of cooperation that were mutually beneficial to the two in the previous two decades. But that defection was not rewarded by the West in a way the likes of Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk, Avakov, Parubiy, and other architects of the Maidan coup expected. Merely being stridently anti-Russian did not prove enough to warrant a shower of US and European cash, only onerous IMF loans which moreover come with conditions Kiev elites are in no hurry to abide by. EU foreign policy chief Josef Borrel lecturing Kiev that the European Union is not an “ATM machine” delivered that point loud and clear: Kiev is supposed to privatize whatever crown jewels its economy still has (at this point, mainly agricultural land), fight corruption of its own elites and facilitate the corruption of Western elites. Joseph Robinette Biden Junior is hardly the only Western politician with a talentless son in need of a lucrative sinecure. There are entire Western companies eager to participate in the thinly disguised plunder that the privatization of Ukraine’s economy will inevitably turn into. A Kiev court’s recent decision to declare the country’s anti-corruption institutions that were painstakingly stood up with considerable aid and tutelage from Western governments, down to screening appropriately-minded individuals for the job, looks as if it were calculated to send a middle-finger gesture to Borrel in terms even dense EU bureaucratic hacks will comprehend. Pro-EU newspapers like Kiev Post were quick to label this a “death of democracy”, presumably with the intent of interesting EU and NATO in sponsoring yet another Maidan since last one seems not to be delivering the goods. The expected shower of Western weaponry has not materialized, probably because NATO is afraid to give Ukraine so much aid that it will risk a full-blown war with Russia.

Erdogan’s Turkey, by contrast, is in process of de-facto opting out of NATO, though neither Turkey nor the alliance itself want to take the final step of severing ties completely. NATO membership is still beneficial to Turkey. While the procurement of Russian S-400 air defense systems angered NATO and US in particular, resulting in the expulsion of Turkey from the F-35 program and the cancellation of F-35 sale to the country, evidently Ankara hopes that by nominally remaining in the alliance it limits NATO and EU sanctions that would no doubt be far harsher if it were totally out of the alliance. The hope that Turkey, possibly post-Erdogan, will yet see the error of its ways and return to the fold, prevents NATO from adopting harsher stances that would definitely push Ankara away. Yet the drifting apart is unmistakable, and the animosity between Turkey’s leaders and their Western European counterparts is so intense as to beggar belief. While Germany’s Merkel is careful to tip-toe around the issue due to fear of another wave of refugees as well as unrest among the large Turkish diaspora in Germany, France’s Macron seems to have taken a personal affront to Erdogan’s suggestion he might need a mental evaluation and will press the issue of EU sanctions against Turkey at future Union summits.

But from Turkey’s perspective, getting a cold shoulder from the EU is par for the course. Its own migration to the geopolitical gray zone of Eurasia was motivated by EU’s failure to admit Turkey as a member after decades of leading it by the nose and promising neighborhood in some nebulously distant future right after Hell froze over. Like Ukraine, Turkey was not seeking EU membership because of some mythical “shared values”. It, too, saw EU as an ATM machine that would shower Turkey, one of the poorest countries on the continent, with development assistance and moreover allow Turks to freely travel and work throughout the Union. Needless to say, neither of these prospects appealed to pretty much any European country, no matter how close or distant it was geographically. So after decades of leading Turkey by the nose, EU politely put an end to the charade citing problems with Turkey’s democracy. Thus snubbed, Erdogan opted to chart an independent course and appears to be finding a similarly snubbed oligarch clique in Kiev looking for ways the two countries could extract mutual benefit from their isolated status.

There are plenty of those to be had, as limited as Ukraine’s and Turkey’s resources are, compared to such patrons as EU, NATO, US. Faced with isolation and even a potential ban on arms exports, Turkey has a strong incentive to exploit the resources of the Ukrainian defense industry and engage in some export substitution in case vital supplies are no longer available from the West. Canada’s and Austria’s ban on exports of optronics and engines needed for the Bayraktar TB2 combat drones means Ukraine’s ability to provide substitutes would be most welcome. Ukraine, for its part, would not be against deploying a huge attack drone fleet of its own in the hopes of replicating Azerbaijan’s successful offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh on the Donbass, though there Ukraine’s drones would probably run afoul of Novorossiya’s air defenses in the same way Turkish drones were brought to heel over Idlib. Turkey’s Altay main battle tank is likewise little more than an assembly of components imported from other countries, particularly Germany. Since Germany has already placed a ban on export of powerpacks and transmissions for the Altay, Turkey has been casting about for replacements, looking as far as China. Whether Ukraine’s developments in this realm can be adopted to rescue the Altay project remain to be seen. However, the Oplot powerpacks and transmissions can probably be adapted to Altay use, resulting in Turkey realizing its goal of a home-grown MBT. Ultimately, the greater the contribution of Ukrainian defense industry to Turkey’s military modernization, the more freedom of action it would bestow on Turkey and make it less dependent on other foreign sources of military hardware who can exert influence over Turkey simply by withholding future technical support. If the United States were to follow up on the F-35 expulsion with a ban on servicing Turkish F-16s which form the mainstay of its airpower, the result would be crippling of the country’s air combat capabilities that drones cannot compensate for and which would be sorely missed in any confrontation with another comparable power like Greece. Turkey’s efforts to develop an indigenous fighter aircraft would benefit from Ukraine’s technological contributions and its own interest in indigenous aircraft designs. For Ukraine, the relationship would be an opportunity to acquire NATO-compatible weaponry with the caveat that it would have to pay in full for every last drone, either with cash or in kind. Turkey’s economic situation is not so strong as to allow largesse in the form of free military aid to anyone.

Mitigating against the long-term development of what Zelensky referred to as “strategic partnership” with Turkey is the erratic behavior of Erdogan who seeks to dominate any and all partners and tries to see how far he can push before the partners push back. This practice has led to the confrontations in Syria, Libya, and eastern Mediterranean. Ukraine, in contrast to Russia, France, and even Greece, is hardly in a position to push back. The most dangerous aspect of Turkish politics, from Ukraine’s perspective, is the ideology of Pan-Turkism that just might transform Ukraine’s Tatar community into a proxy force for Turkey right inside Ukraine, adding yet another fissure to the already fractured political picture. On the plus side, Erdogan does not appear interested in “combating corruption” in Ukraine, though that does not preclude the possibility Turkey’s military collaboration with Ukraine might not cost Ukraine dearly, though not to the same extent as EU-promoted privatization efforts.

ما هي تغييرات السياسة الأميركيّة في حال خسارة دونالد ترامب

باريس – نضال حمادة

تظهر النتائج شبه النهائية للانتخابات الرئاسية في أميركا تقدّم المرشح الديمقراطي جو بايدن على الرئيس المنتهية ولايته دونالد ترامب، وإنْ كان بفارق ضئيل يجعل ترامب يحاول عرقلة هذه النتيجة عبر الاعتراض وتقديم الشكاوى، دون أن يكون لذلك تأثير مباشر على عملية الانتقال في الحكم التي سوف تحصل بعد شهرين من الآن في حال ثبتت النتائج الحالية بفوز بايدن.

الآن ومع اقتراب موعد ذهاب ترامب كما تشير صناديق الاقتراع، ما الذي سوف يتغيّر في السياسة الأميركية في العالم وفي الشرق الأوسط بخاصة؟

لا شك في أنّ أوّل المتغيّرات سوف يكون في السعودية على صعيد صراع أطراف آل سعود على السلطة ودعم ترامب المباشر لمحمد بن سلمان الذي مكّنه من السيطرة على مقاليد الحكم في السعودية وزجّ كلّ أطراف آل سعود الأقوياء من أبناء عمومته في السجون، ودعمه لإبن سلمان في حرب اليمن التي ربما لن تغيّر إدارة بايدن الموقف منها بقدر ما سوف تسحب الدعم الكبير داخلياً لإبن سلمان في وجه أبناء عمومته الذين يتحيّنون الفرص للثأر منه.

تركيا سوف تتأثر بسبب كره جو بايدن الشخصي لأردوغان، وهو لم يتورّع (أيّ بايدن) عن التصريح مرتين أنّ أميركا يجب أن تعمل على إسقاط أردوغان من حكم تركيا، وهذا ما سوف يزيد اعتماد أردوغان على روسيا وقد يخلق أجواء إيجابية أكثر في سورية.

روسيا سوف تفتقد ترامب الذي حفلت ولايته بتعاون بينه وبين بوتين في أكثر من مكان، منها سورية التي قرّر ترامب مغادرتها لكن ضغوط الجمهوريّين عليه وأموال العرب التي دفعت له جعلته يتراجع عن قراره هذا ثلاث مرات.

إيران التي وعد بايدن بإعادة العمل بالاتفاق النووي معها، وقد تكون غلطة ترامب القاتلة إلغاء هذا الاتفاق من دون إعطاء أيّ بديل عنه للعالم ولإيران، التي ترى أنّ بايدن بعكس ترامب لن ينسحب من سورية ولا من أفغانستان ولا من العراق، وبالتالي فإنّ أجواء التوتر مع أميركا في ظلّ حكمه سوف تستمرّ، كما أنّ كلام بايدن عن ضرورة إسقاط أردوغان لا يصبّ في مصلحة إيران التي ترى أنّ أميركا سوف تعود من باب إسقاط أردوغان إلى سياسة إسقاط الأنظمة في المنطقة.

في سياسات الحصار التي عمل عليها ترامب لا شيء يوحي أنّ بايدن سوف يوقف العمل بها أو بجزء منها من دون مقابل، هو طوال حملته الانتخابية لم ينتقد قوانين الحصار التي فرضها ترامب على إيران وسورية وغيرها من البلدان، وبالتالي لن يكون التخلي عن هذه السياسات من دون مقابل.

على صعيد دول الغرب تترقب كلّ من ألمانيا وفرنسا بفارغ الصبر ذهاب ترامب الذي عمل على تفكيك أوروبا ودعم بوريس جونسون في خروج بريطانيا من الاتحاد الأوروبي، وكانت علاقات ترامب مع ماكرون وميركل سيئة على الصعيد الشخصي بعكس علاقته الشخصيّة مع بوتين مثلاً.

الصين تنظر بارتياح لخروج ترامب من البيت الأبيض وهو الذي دخل معها في حرب تجارية من دون هوادة، واتهمها بتصنيع ونشر فيروس كورونا، وكانت علاقته بها عبارة عن حفلات من الكره وتوجيه الشتائم.

أخيراً الخاسر الأكبر على الصعيد الشخصي سوف يكون بنيامين نتنياهو صنو محمد بن سلمان الذي سوف يفقد ترامب الداعم الكبير لكلّ اليمين المتطرف الأميركي و»الإسرائيلي» رغم أنّ بايدن أعلن مرة أنه صهيوني لكن علاقته بنتنياهو كانت سيئة إبان وجوده في الحكم مع باراك أوباما ولا شيء يوحي بتحسّنها لحدّ الآن…

Why Is Europe Courting Revolution?

Source

Why Is Europe Courting Revolution? - CORONA stocks

Alastair Crooke

November 2, 2020

All eyes remain on the U.S. election, and on fathoming its consequences. But in the shadow of ‘The Election’, there are other ‘moving parts’: Germany just offered Washington ‘a sweetheart deal’ in which, Europe – with Germany leading – accepts to leverage America’s full-spectrum strategy of isolating and weakening Russia and China. And in return it is asking the U.S. to acquiesce to German leadership of a ‘power-political’, European entity that is raised to parity with the U.S. That, bluntly, is to say, Germany is angling for ‘superpower’ status, atop an EU ‘empire’ for the new era. Putin recognised such a possibility (Germany aspiring to be a superpower) during his recent speech to Valdai.

But the other ‘moving parts’ to this bid are very much in motion, too: Firstly, Germany’s ploy is contingent on their hopes for a Biden win, which may, or may not, occur. And then, too, President Macron seeks for himself, and for France, the leadership of Europe – with this latter – to an extent – being contingent on a ‘no deal’ Brexit taking place at the end of the year, that would further weaken a dis-animated and fading Merkel. France rather, plots the ‘Great Reset’ of Europe: A regulatory and values enforced ‘space’, underpinned by a common fiscal and debt regime that would rebuild France’s economic infrastructure.

All this raises many questions: Should Trump win, he can be expected to puncture any German (or French) aspiration to drain away some of America’s power, however nicely the German FM wraps it, as the U.S. not so much losing power, but as gaining “a strong partner on equal terms”. Huh!

The idea that Europe can leverage this partnership through sweet-talking Germany’s commitment “to the West as a system of values”, which is “at risk in its entirety”, and which, only Germany and the U.S. together can keep strong – does seem a bit of a daydream. Even when sugar-wrapped with “defending against the unmistakable Russian thirst for power, and Chinese ambitions for global supremacy”. Firstly, there is still Trump, and secondly —

China and Russia clearly see the game. Yet European leaders seem to expect that the former will continue as if nothing is awry. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer seems to think so (she is both Defence Minister, and Chair of the CDU, Merkel’s own party). In terms of containing “China’s aggressively controlled state capitalism”, she suggests creating a European trade sphere that is open only to those who want to strengthen and support the liberal, rules-based order – and to which other states must ‘submit’ (Macron’s words). These are the bones to how Brussels proposes to achieve ‘strategic autonomy’ (Charles Michel’s term).

Here are some extracts of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s ‘deal’ given in a 23 October speech:

“… Most of all, America has given us what we call ‘Westbindung’ … Westbindung, to me, is and remains, a clear rejection of the historic temptation of equidistance. Westbindung anchors us firmly in NATO and the EU and ties us closely to Washington, Brussels, Paris and London. It clearly and rightly positions us against a romantic fixation on Russia – and also against an illiberal corporative state that rejects parties and parliaments [i.e. China] … Westbindung is the answer to the famous “German question”, the question of what Germany stands for … Only America and Europe together can keep the West strong, defending it against the unmistakable Russian thirst for power and Chinese ambitions for global supremacy … To be the giver [in a process of ‘give and take with the U.S.] would require us to take a firm power-political stance. To ambitiously play the geopolitical game. But even looking at all this, there are still some Americans who are not convinced that they need NATO. I understand that. Because there is one thing still missing: That is for the Europeans to take powerful action themselves, when push comes to shove. So that the United States can see Europe as a strong partner on equal terms, not as a damsel in distress. As you can see: the German dilemma is a European dilemma as well. We stay dependent [on the U.S.], but at the same time, we must come into our own. In strengthening Europe like this, Germany must play a key role … enabling it to operate more independently of, and more closely with, the United States at the same time …”.

Three major geo-political issues here are intersecting: Firstly, Germany is metamorphosing politically, in a way that holds disturbing parallels with its transition in the pre-WW1, European setting. In short, the ‘German Question’ is surfacing again (but not in AKK’s way): When the Berlin Wall fell, Russia supported the reunification of Germany and pinned hopes on Germany being a partner for the wider unification project: the construction of a ‘Greater Europe’.

It proved to be a chimaera: Germany, far from supporting Russia’s inclusion, instead, favoured the expansion of Europe and NATO to Russia’s borders. The EU – under U.S. pressure – was forming a Greater Europe that would eventually include all the states of Europe, except Russia.

But in so doing, West Europe absorbed into the EU the tumour of East European neuralgia on Russia. Berlin, all the while, has played on America’s visceral hostility towards Russia – more as a tool to build out its European space up to the Russian border. Germany thus has prioritised assuaging Eastern European ancient antipathies, above any real attempt at a relationship with Russia. Now Germany wants to ‘play it again’: In a July interview, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said that the Russian leadership must be “confronted with a clear position: We are well-fortified, and in case of doubt, ready to defend ourselves. We see what Russia is doing, and we will not let the Russian leadership get away with it”.

Well: Fool me once … but fool me twice …? The Navalny episode was the last straw. It was a blatant lie. Merkel and Macron knew it to be a lie. And they knew that Moscow knew it, too. Yet they both preferred to toss the Russophobes another ‘bone’. Moscow gave up with them.

The real puzzle is why Moscow put up with this play for so long. The answer perhaps, lies with the Russian two-headed eagle, whose heads face in opposite directions: one toward Europe, and the other toward Asia. Merkel’s obvious deceit is stretching and testing social trust in Russia, just too far. The Russian élites may lean towards Europe, but their base looks East. Navalny was the humiliating straw that broke the camel’s back

Now Macron – still energised, but himself politically weakened – hopes to drain further Merkel’s strength (in mercantilist terms), through engineering a UK no-deal Brexit that would damage Germany’s huge trade surplus with Britain, at the very moment that Germany is losing markets in Russia (and now possibly in China); and when America, if Trump is re-elected, would likely embark on a trade war with Europe.

Weakening Merkel’s hand – that is – in opposing an European joint debt instrument, together with a common fiscal policies, is the aim, so that France might draw down on German fiscal resources placed within a ‘common pot’, and then deployed to revamp the French economy.

The Brussels plan for a ‘Great Reset’ – transforming the European economy, and the social sphere – through automation and technology is, as Tom Luongo has noted delusional: “[W]hat’s been pretty clear to me is Europe’s delusions that it can subjugate the world under its rubric, forcing its rules and standards on the rest of us, including China, [whilst] again allowing the U.S. to act as its proxy – [as Europe] tries to maintain its [‘power-political’] standing is delusional”.

Why?

‘Delusional’, as although China may be an “aggressively controlled state capitalism” in Euro-speak, it is also a major ‘civilisational state’, with its own distinct values. Brussels may call their regulatory space ‘open’, but it is clearly exclusionary, and not multilateral. The action of this politics is only pushing the world towards a separation of distinct regulatory spheres – and toward deeper recession.

On the practical plane, whereas first phase Covid tended to provide support to Europe’s incumbent governments, this present infection spike is shredding support for incumbents. Protests and riots are increasingly taking place across Europe. Episodes of violence have been met with horror by the authorities, which suspect that organized crime and radical groups are at work to spark a political wildfire. And that potential is very much there.

To the structural unemployment already incurred in phase one, now must be added another wave of possibly irreversible unemployment, (again) in the services sector. For small businesses and the self-employed, it is a nightmare. Not surprisingly, the anger grows as those losing their means of living observe that civil servants and the middle classes more generally, are passing through this episode, virtually unscathed.

European governments have been caught off-guard. There is absolute confusion as governments try to square keeping the economy alive, with containing the infected from overwhelming hospitals – achieving neither. This represents the cost of the ‘summer opening’ to save the tourist season. No one is on their balcony these evenings banging cooking pots in communal solidarity. Today, protests and riots have taken their place.

Into this mounting anger is inserted dark suspicion. Some may view Covid as pure conspiracy; others will not. Yet it is not ‘conspiracy’ to believe that European governments may knowingly have used the pandemic to increase their tools of social control, (despite ‘distancing’ being a genuine medical containment strategy). Was this concerted in anticipation of the changes implicit to the ‘Great Reset’? We do not know. Yet, from the outset, western governments couched their measures as ‘war’ – and as war that required war-time state-directed economics, and war-time public compliance.

Rightly or wrongly, it is becoming a culture war. Overtones of the anger on U.S. streets. Again, dark suspicions that cultural life is being closed down in order to prepare Europeans for the drowning of their cultural identities into a big Brussels-made, melting-pot. These fears may be misplaced, but they are ‘out there’, and viral.

It is Europe’s political fabric and societal cohesion that is in play – and its leaders are not just confused: They fear.

It would indeed be hubristic delusion then, were European leaders to proceed with the automation ‘Great Reset’, and add yet more structural unemployment to a pile, already threatening to topple, under its growing weight (into mass protest). Do they want revolution?

CHICKEN KIEV MEETS COLD TURKEY: BLACK SEA AXIS EMERGES?

South Front

Chicken Kiev Meets Cold Turkey: Black Sea Axis Emerges?

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

Kiev’s Unrequited Love

On the face of it, an alliance between Turkey and Ukraine seems like a rather odd creation, yet one that may surprisingly durable simply because neither country has anywhere else to turn. What practically dooms them to a partnership if not an outright alliance is their unenviable geographic and geopolitical position of occupying the strange “no man’s land” between Russia, NATO, and the Middle East. It is, of course, largely a predicament of their own making. Ukraine, with considerable Western backing and encouragement but nevertheless mostly through efforts of a faction of its own oligarchy, opted out of the Russia-centered network of loose alliances, trade partnerships, and other forms of cooperation that were mutually beneficial to the two in the previous two decades. But that defection was not rewarded by the West in a way the likes of Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk, Avakov, Parubiy, and other architects of the Maidan coup expected. Merely being stridently anti-Russian did not prove enough to warrant a shower of US and European cash, only onerous IMF loans which moreover come with conditions Kiev elites are in no hurry to abide by. EU foreign policy chief Josef Borrel lecturing Kiev that the European Union is not an “ATM machine” delivered that point loud and clear: Kiev is supposed to privatize whatever crown jewels its economy still has (at this point, mainly agricultural land), fight corruption of its own elites and facilitate the corruption of Western elites. Joseph Robinette Biden Junior is hardly the only Western politician with a talentless son in need of a lucrative sinecure. There are entire Western companies eager to participate in the thinly disguised plunder that the privatization of Ukraine’s economy will inevitably turn into. A Kiev court’s recent decision to declare the country’s anti-corruption institutions that were painstakingly stood up with considerable aid and tutelage from Western governments, down to screening appropriately-minded individuals for the job, looks as if it were calculated to send a middle-finger gesture to Borrel in terms even dense EU bureaucratic hacks will comprehend. Pro-EU newspapers like Kiev Post were quick to label this a “death of democracy”, presumably with the intent of interesting EU and NATO in sponsoring yet another Maidan since last one seems not to be delivering the goods. The expected shower of Western weaponry has not materialized, probably because NATO is afraid to give Ukraine so much aid that it will risk a full-blown war with Russia.

Ankara’s Burning Hate

Chicken Kiev Meets Cold Turkey: Black Sea Axis Emerges?

Erdogan’s Turkey, by contrast, is in process of de-facto opting out of NATO, though neither Turkey nor the alliance itself want to take the final step of severing ties completely. NATO membership is still beneficial to Turkey. While the procurement of Russian S-400 air defense systems angered NATO and US in particular, resulting in the expulsion of Turkey from the F-35 program and the cancellation of F-35 sale to the country, evidently Ankara hopes that by nominally remaining in the alliance it limits NATO and EU sanctions that would no doubt be far harsher if it were totally out of the alliance. The hope that Turkey, possibly post-Erdogan, will yet see the error of its ways and return to the fold, prevents NATO from adopting harsher stances that would definitely push Ankara away. Yet the drifting apart is unmistakable, and the animosity between Turkey’s leaders and their Western European counterparts is so intense as to beggar belief. While Germany’s Merkel is careful to tip-toe around the issue due to fear of another wave of refugees as well as unrest among the large Turkish diaspora in Germany, France’s Macron seems to have taken a personal affront to Erdogan’s suggestion he might need a mental evaluation and will press the issue of EU sanctions against Turkey at future Union summits.

But from Turkey’s perspective, getting a cold shoulder from the EU is par for the course. Its own migration to the geopolitical gray zone of Eurasia was motivated by EU’s failure to admit Turkey as a member after decades of leading it by the nose and promising neighborhood in some nebulously distant future right after Hell froze over. Like Ukraine, Turkey was not seeking EU membership because of some mythical “shared values”. It, too, saw EU as an ATM machine that would shower Turkey, one of the poorest countries on the continent, with development assistance and moreover allow Turks to freely travel and work throughout the Union. Needless to say, neither of these prospects appealed to pretty much any European country, no matter how close or distant it was geographically. So after decades of leading Turkey by the nose, EU politely put an end to the charade citing problems with Turkey’s democracy. Thus snubbed, Erdogan opted to chart an independent course and appears to be finding a similarly snubbed oligarch clique in Kiev looking for ways the two countries could extract mutual benefit from their isolated status.

Quid pro Quos

There are plenty of those to be had, as limited as Ukraine’s and Turkey’s resources are, compared to such patrons as EU, NATO, US. Faced with isolation and even a potential ban on arms exports, Turkey has a strong incentive to exploit the resources of the Ukrainian defense industry and engage in some export substitution in case vital supplies are no longer available from the West. Canada’s and Austria’s ban on exports of optronics and engines needed for the Bayraktar TB2 combat drones means Ukraine’s ability to provide substitutes would be most welcome. Ukraine, for its part, would not be against deploying a huge attack drone fleet of its own in the hopes of replicating Azerbaijan’s successful offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh on the Donbass, though there Ukraine’s drones would probably run afoul of Novorossiya’s air defenses in the same way Turkish drones were brought to heel over Idlib. Turkey’s Altay main battle tank is likewise little more than an assembly of components imported from other countries, particularly Germany. Since Germany has already placed a ban on export of powerpacks and transmissions for the Altay, Turkey has been casting about for replacements, looking as far as China. Whether Ukraine’s developments in this realm can be adopted to rescue the Altay project remain to be seen. However, the Oplot powerpacks and transmissions can probably be adapted to Altay use, resulting in Turkey realizing its goal of a home-grown MBT. Ultimately, the greater the contribution of Ukrainian defense industry to Turkey’s military modernization, the more freedom of action it would bestow on Turkey and make it less dependent on other foreign sources of military hardware who can exert influence over Turkey simply by withholding future technical support. If the United States were to follow up on the F-35 expulsion with a ban on servicing Turkish F-16s which form the mainstay of its airpower, the result would be crippling of the country’s air combat capabilities that drones cannot compensate for and which would be sorely missed in any confrontation with another comparable power like Greece. Turkey’s efforts to develop an indigenous fighter aircraft would benefit from Ukraine’s technological contributions and its own interest in indigenous aircraft designs. For Ukraine, the relationship would be an opportunity to acquire NATO-compatible weaponry with the caveat that it would have to pay in full for every last drone, either with cash or in kind. Turkey’s economic situation is not so strong as to allow largesse in the form of free military aid to anyone.

Chicken Kiev Meets Cold Turkey: Black Sea Axis Emerges?

Match Made in Hell

Mitigating against the long-term development of what Zelensky referred to as “strategic partnership” with Turkey is the erratic behavior of Erdogan who seeks to dominate any and all partners and tries to see how far he can push before the partners push back. This practice has led to the confrontations in Syria, Libya, and eastern Mediterranean. Ukraine, in contrast to Russia, France, and even Greece, is hardly in a position to push back. The most dangerous aspect of Turkish politics, from Ukraine’s perspective, is the ideology of Pan-Turkism that just might transform Ukraine’s Tatar community into a proxy force for Turkey right inside Ukraine, adding yet another fissure to the already fractured political picture. On the plus side, Erdogan does not appear interested in “combating corruption” in Ukraine, though that does not preclude the possibility Turkey’s military collaboration with Ukraine might not cost Ukraine dearly, though not to the same extent as EU-promoted privatization efforts.

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