Sayyed Nasrallah: Response Fast to Any “Israeli” Aggression, Axis of Resistance must Be Ready for Any US Stupidity

Zeinab Essa

Beirut-Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Wednesday a speech on Hezbollah Martyrs Day.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Response Fast to Any “Israeli” Aggression, Axis of Resistance must Be Ready for Any US Stupidity

As His Eminence offered condolences to “the Syrian brothers and sisters for the martyrdom of His Eminence Sheikh Muhammad Al-Afyouni”, he also condoled “the Yemeni people over the martyrdom of the Minister Hassan Zaid.”

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah congratulated the Palestinian detainee Maher Al-Akhras, who emerged victorious over the “Israeli” jailer.

Regarding the occasion, he recalled that “The operation of the Emir of the martyrs, Ahmed Qassir, remains the largest against the “Israeli” enemy.”

“We chose this day to commemorate all our martyrs, by remembering the great self-sacrifice martyr operation when the Emir of the martyrs stormed the “Israeli” military ruler’s headquarters in Tyre,” he added, hailing the sacrifices of the martyrs’ pure and great souls.

According to His Eminence, “After learning the grace given by Allah the almighty, we should learn the value and greatness of these martyrs, as well as the security, power and presence they offered us in the regional equations.”

Commenting on the maritime border negotiations with the “Israeli” entity, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that “Since the 2000 liberation, we announced that we have nothing to do with demarcating borders because this task is the responsibility of the state that decides where the Lebanese land and sea borders are.”

“The resistance is committed to what the state determines regarding the demarcation issue, and thus it helps the Lebanese army in liberating any occupied land,” he viewed, noting that “The Lebanese state is the one that announces the borders, and it is the one that announced that Shebaa Farms, Kfarshouba hills and part of Ghajar are Lebanese.”

In parallel, His Eminence highlighted that “The talk about oil in the Lebanese water dynamically initiated the move towards demarcating the maritime borders with occupied Palestine,” noting that Lebanese “House Speaker [Nabih] Berri was the one who was heading the negotiations, and we as a resistance had agreed to allow demarcation so that oil drilling starts.”

“The negotiations are only limited with demarcating borders away from any other file,” he said, recalling that “We stressed previously that the border demarcation should be only limited to the technical level.”

Explaining that “Recently, a special American interest has emerged over demarcating the borders with the “Israeli” side,” Sayyed Nasrallah underlined that “Speaker Berri was negotiating for 10 years until the American appeared interested in the file.”

Moreover, he confirmed that “Speaker Berri prepared what was called the framework for negotiations, and the responsibility was transferred to President Aoun, and the practical negotiations began. Some have tried to link the issue of border demarcation with normalization with “Israel”. This useless talk aims at covering up some Arab countries’ normalization with the “Israeli” entity.

Sayyed Nasrallah further lamented the fact “Since Berri announced the framework of the negotiations in September, many political parties and the media, especially those of the Gulf, started to link the talks with the normalization agreements of other Arab countries in the region with Israel the talks coincided with.”

“The talk about Hezbollah’s move towards normalization with “Israel” is mere lies and forgery. It does not deserve to be denied by us,” His Eminence said, noting that “Claims that the border talks will lead to a peace agreement or normalization with “Israel” are baseless and out of the question for Hezbollah and Amal.”

In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized that “Leading the negotiation file is in the hands of [Lebanese] President [Michel] Aoun, and we have full confidence in His Excellency, especially that we know his toughness and his keenness on national safety and Lebanon’s rights.”

On this level, His Eminence explained that Hezbollah “disagreed with President Aoun regarding the issue that the Lebanese delegation must be military, as well as the “Israeli” delegation, in order there won’t be any suspicion.”

“The Lebanese delegation must know that it attains elements of strength and is not in a position of weakness,” he stressed, noting that “Whoever wants to prevent us from benefiting from our oil, we can prevent it in return.”

Reiterating Hezbollah’s confidence with the president, Hezbollah Secretary General assured that “The Lebanese delegation is committed to the limits. President Aoun directs it in his own way, and we care that Lebanon gets its rights.”

On another aspect, Sayyed Nasrallah tackled the last “Israeli” military drill as “talks emerged of “Israel’s” readiness to do something in Lebanon or the Golan.”

“For the first time, the Lebanese resistance made “Israel” move from the offensive side to the defensive one. Some of the resistance’s units had been on alert over the past days during the “Israeli” military drill and we meant to let “Israel” know this,” he unveiled.

His Eminence also affirmed that ““Israel” is wary of attacking Lebanon, as its ambition in the field is limited, and it has moved to the ‘defensive’ thinking,” noting that “The enemy’s insistence on drills confirms what the “Israeli” generals have always talked about- the “Israeli” ground forces are suffering from a real and deep crisis, when it comes to readiness as well as the psychological and spiritual level.”

“If the “Israelis” think of waging any aggression, our response will be very fast,” The Resistance Leader asserted, explaining some of “Israel’s” point of military weaknesses: “In any coming war, the “Israeli” navy will be powerless than before. The “Israeli” Air Force alone is not able to win. Rather, the ground forces are essential and decisive, and the “Israeli” army has fundamental problems in this matter.”

On the same level, Sayyed Nasrallah unveiled that “The Syrian leadership took maximum precautions during the “Israeli” military drills,” noting that “The resistance was on alert without making the Lebanese people in the villages and towns feel anything, and this is what specializes this resistance.”

Commenting on the US elections, His Eminence called for learning “lessons from the American elections in order to really study what is being promoted as a US ideal sample. What happened in the American elections is an exposition of democracy, and the matter does not concern Trump only, but the Republican Party.”

Denouncing US President Donald Trump’s administration as among the worst US administrations, he underlined that “It was the most brutal, criminal and bleak one.”

However, he expected no change when things come to the apartheid “Israeli” entity. “[Joe] Biden’s election will not alter the US support for “Israel”.”

“With Trump’s exit, one of the Deal of the Century’s triangle sides has been broken. There remains [Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Mohammad Bin Salman] MBS,” His Eminence reiterated, expressing rejoice over Trump’s loss due to his crimes all over the world. “On the personal level, I rejoice for Trump’s humiliating fall, and we have the right to rejoice, especially after the crime of the era that Trump had committed by assassinating the great leader Hajj Qassem Soleimani and the Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.”

In addition, the Resistance’s Leader praised “the region’s people and the axis of resistance who have stood firm in face of the American attack. Under an aggressive American administration, the axis of resistance has withstood and managed to fail and prevent schemes.”

On the replacement of US War secretary ark Esper, Sayyed Nasrallah warned that “Trump might do anything during his remaining two months.”

“The axis of resistance must be highly prepared to respond to any American or “Israeli” stupidity,” he confirmed, pointing out that “The “Israeli” enemy is anxious and Lebanon is secured by the golden equation, the army, people and resistance.”

Meanwhile, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that “America is not a destiny.”

Moving to the internal Lebanese front, Hezbollah Secretary General hailed the fact that “All schemes targeting the resistance from 2005 until today have failed,” noting that “Over the past 15 years, the Americans have explored ways to get rid of Hezbollah.”

“After their sedition attempts have failed, the Americans began their schemes 3 years ago to incite the environment of resistance against it,” he uncovered as he went on to state: “All events proved that the US embassy was the one that managed and financed the NGOs.”

According to His Eminence, “Faced with the failure of all their tracks, there is nothing left for the Americans but the path of sanctions against Hezbollah’s friends and allies.”

In his first comments on the US sanctions against the head of the Free Patriotic Movement [FPM] former minister Gibran Bassil, Sayyed Nasrallah said “I told Minister Bassil that we did not wish him any harm and asked him to take the stance he sees appropriate.”

In addition, he viewed that “The response to the US sanctions should be improving the relation between Hezbollah and the FPM. I advised him to take any position to avoid getting harmed as we offered to help him in any way we can.”

Narrating some of his discussions with Bassil, His Eminence underscored that “Bassil came to inform me and told me the US gave him two choices and that he wouldn’t comply with the demand [to break ties with Hezbollah], because it would compromise Lebanon’s independence and freedom.”

Praising Bassil’s position as “courageous and patriotic”, Sayyed Nasrallah urged Lebanese sides to stand in unity and solidarity in face of US tyranny. “With what legal and moral right does the US classify who is corrupt or not? A country that is the leader in terrorism and corruption. We won’t be happy if our opponents were sanctioned or listed as terrorists, as this forms a violation to Lebanon’s sovereignty.”

To the allies, His Eminence sent a message of assurance: “In the event you find yourselves under US pressure, you’re are fee to act as you wish. Think of your interests and Lebanon’s interest and act accordingly, and we in Hezbollah will understand.”

To the Americans, he raised the question: “If you are saying that Bassil is corrupt, if he breaks ties with Hezbollah will he stop being corrupt? You are contradicting yourself.”

Regarding the delay in the formation of the Lebanese government, or the delay in the cabinet formation process, Sayyed Nasrallah viewed that “the discussions need further consultations between President Aoun and PM-designate Saad Hariri, hoping that “the talks will be expedited.”

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The Sleeping Giant Awakes And Reveals “The West” as Lilliput

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The Sleeping Giant Awakes And Reveals “The West” as Lilliput

October 27, 2020

This comment was chosen by moderator SA from the post “Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep”.Comment by Ahino Wolf Sushanti

I’m from Malaysia. China has traded with Malaysia for 2000 years. In those years, they had been the world’s biggest powers many times. Never once they sent troops to take our land. Admiral Zhenghe came to Malacca five times, in gigantic fleets, and a flagship eight times the size of Christopher Columbus’ flagship, Santa Maria. He could have seized Malacca easily, but he did not. In 1511, the Portuguese came. In 1642, the Dutch came. In the 18th century the British came. We were colonised by each, one after another.

When China wanted spices from India, they traded with the Indians. When they wanted gems, they traded with the Persian. They didn’t take lands. The only time China expanded beyond their current borders was in Yuan Dynasty, when Genghis and his descendants Ogedei Khan, Guyuk Khan & Kublai Khan concurred China, Mid Asia and Eastern Europe. But Yuan Dynasty, although being based in China, was a part of the Mongolian Empire.

Then came the Century of Humiliation. Britain smuggled opium into China to dope the population, a strategy to turn the trade deficit around, after the British could not find enough silver to pay the Qing Dynasty in their tea and porcelain trades. After the opium warehouses were burned down and ports were closed by the Chinese in ordered to curb opium, the British started the opium I, which China lost. Hong Kong was forced to be surrendered to the British in a peace talk (Nanjing Treaty). The British owned 90% of the opium market in China, during that time, Queen Victoria was the world’s biggest drug baron. The remaining 10% was owned by American merchants from Boston. Many of Boston’s institutions were built with profit from opium.

After 12 years of Nanjing Treaty, the West started getting really really greedy. The British wanted the Qing government:
1. To open the borders of China to allow goods coming in and out freely, and tax free.
2. Make opium legal in China.
Insane requests, Qing government said no. The British and French, with supports from the US and Russia from behind, started Opium War II with China, which again, China lost. The Anglo-French military raided the Summer Palace, and threatened to burn down the Imperial Palace, the Qing government was forced to pay with ports, free business zones, 300,000 kilograms of silver and Kowloon was taken. Since then, China’s resources flew out freely through these business zones and ports. In the subsequent amendment to the treaties, Chinese people were sold overseas to serve as labor.

In 1900, China suffered attacks by the 8-National Alliance(Japan, Russia, Britain, France, USA, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary). Innocent Chinese civilians in Peking (Beijing now) were murdered, buildings were destroyed & women were raped. The Imperial Palace was raided, and treasures ended up in museums like the British Museum in London and the Louvre in Paris.

In late 1930’s China was occupied by the Japanese in WWII. Millions of Chinese died during the occupancy. 300,000 Chinese died in Nanjing Massacre alone.

Mao brought China together again from the shambles. There were peace and unity for some time. But Mao’s later reign saw sufferings and deaths from famine and power struggles.

Then came Deng Xiao Ping and his infamous “black-cat and white-cat” story. His preference in pragmatism than ideologies has transformed China. This thinking allowed China to evolve all the time to adapt to the actual needs in the country, instead of rigidly bounded to ideologies. It also signified the death of Communism in actually practice in China. The current Socialism+Meritocracy+Market Economy model fits the Chinese like gloves, and it propels the uprise of China. Singapore has a similar model, and has been arguably more successful than Hong Kong, because Hong Kong being gateway to China, was riding on the economic boom in China, while Singapore had no one to gain from.

In just 30 years, the CPC have moved 800 millions of people out from poverty. The rate of growth is unprecedented in human history. They have built the biggest mobile network, by far the biggest high speed rail network in the world, and they have become a behemoth in infrastructure. They made a fishing village called Shenzhen into the world’s second largest technological centre after the Silicon Valley. They are growing into a technological power house. It has the most elaborate e-commerce and cashless payment system in the world. They have launched exploration to Mars. The Chinese are living a good life and China has become one of the safest countries in the world. The level of patriotism in the country has reached an unprecedented height.

For all of the achievements, the West has nothing good to say about it. China suffers from intense anti-China propaganda from the West. Western Media used the keyword “Communist” to instil fear and hatred towards China.
Everything China does is negatively reported.

They claimed China used slave labor in making iPhones. The truth was, Apple was the most profitable company in the world, it took most of the profit, leave some to Foxconn (a Taiwanese company) and little to the labor.

They claimed China was inhuman with one-child policy. By the way absolutely recommended by the UN-Health-Organisation at that time. At the same time, they accused China of polluting the earth with its huge population. The fact is the Chinese consume just 30% of energy per capita compared to the US.

They claimed China underwent ethnic cleansing in Xinjiang. The fact is China has a policy which priorities ethnic minorities. For a long time, the ethnic minorities were allowed to have two children and the majority Han only allowed one. The minorities are allowed a lower score for university intakes. There are 39,000 mosque in China, and 2100 in the US. China has about 3 times more mosque per Muslim than the US.
When terrorist attacks happened in Xinjiang, China had two choices:
1. Re-educate the Uighur extremists before they turned terrorists.
2. Let them be, after they launch attacks and killed innocent people, bomb their homes.
China chose 1 to solve problem from the root and not to do killing. How the US solve terrorism? Fire missiles from battleships, drop bombs from the sky.

During the pandemic,
When China took extreme measures to lock-down the people, they were accused of being inhuman.
When China recovered swiftly because of the extreme measures, they were accused of lying about the actual numbers.
When China’s cases became so low that they could provide medical support to other countries, they were accused of politically motivated.
Western Media always have reasons to bash China.

Just like any country, there are irresponsible individuals from China which do bad and dirty things, but the China government overall has done very well. But I hear this comment over and over by people from the West: I like Chinese people, but the CPC is “evil”\’. What they really want is the Chinese to change the government, because the current one is too good.

Fortunately China is not a multi-party democratic country, otherwise the opposition party in China will be supported by notorious NGOs (Non-Government Organization) of the USA, like the NED (National Endowment for Democracy), to topple the ruling party. The US and the British couldn’t crack Mainland China, so they work on Hong Kong. Of all the ex-British colonial countries, only the Hong Kongers were offered BNOs by the British. Because the UK would like the Hong Kongers to think they are British citizens, not Chinese. A divide-and-conquer strategy, which they often used in Color Revolutions around the world.

They resort to low dirty tricks like detaining Huawei’s CFO & banning Huawei. They raised a silly trade war which benefits no one. Trade deficit always exist between a developing and a developed country. USA is like a luxury car seller who ask a farmer: why am I always buying your vegetables and you haven’t bought any of my cars?

When the Chinese were making socks for the world 30 years ago, the world let it be. But when Chinese started to make high technology products, like Huawei and DJI, it caused red-alert. Because when Western and Japanese products are equal to Chinese in technologies, they could never match the Chinese in prices. First world countries want China to continue in making socks. Instead of stepping up themselves, they want to pull China down.

The recent movement by the US against China has a very important background. When Libya, Iran, and China decided to ditch the US dollar in oil trades, Gaddafi’s was killed by the US, Iran was being sanctioned by the US, and now it’s China’s turn. The US has been printing money out of nothing. The only reason why the US Dollar is still widely accepted, is because it’s the only currency which oil is allowed to be traded with. The US has an agreement with Saudi that oil must be traded in US dollar ONLY. Without the petrol-dollar status, the US dollars will sink, and America will fall. Therefore anyone trying to disobey this order will be eliminated. China will soon use a gold-backed crypto-currency, the alarms in the White House go off like mad.

China’s achievement has been by hard work. Not buy looting the world.

I have deep sympathy for China for all the suffering, but now I feel happy for them. China is not rising, they are going back to where they belong. Good luck China.

Russian President Putin Delivers Speech at Valdai Discussion Club -2020 – Update

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The Transcript follows.

Update : October 24th

The formal transcript is now complete

Update : October 23rd

Note that it is not quite complete and we are waiting for the Kremlin resources to complete (as usual correct and accurate) the complete transcript.  Yet, most of it is here, and the most interesting details are in the Questions and Answers.  (Settle in, it was a 3 hour session and nobody wanted to let Mr Putin go, even after 3 hours!)

Fyodor Lukyanov: Friends,

Guests of the Valdai Club,

I am delighted to welcome you to the final session of the 17th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club. It is my special honour and pleasure to welcome our traditional guest for our final meetings, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, friends,

Participants of the 17th plenary meeting of the Valdai Club,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you all to our traditional annual meeting. We are meeting in an unusual format this time; we are videoconferencing. But I can see there are also people in the room. Not as many as usual of course, but nevertheless there are people present, and, apparently, you have had an in-person discussion, and I am delighted that you have.

We are certainly aware, we can see that the coronavirus epidemic has seriously affected public, business, and international affairs. More than that – it has affected everyone’s routine rhythm of life.

Almost all countries had to impose various restrictions, and large public gatherings have been largely cancelled. This year has been challenging for your Club as well. Most importantly, though, you continue to work. With the help of remote technology, you conduct heated and meaningful debates, discuss things, and bring in new experts who share their opinions and present interesting outside-the-box, sometimes even opposing, views on current developments. Such an exchange is, of course, very important and useful now that the world is facing so many challenges that need to be resolved.

Thus, we still have to understand how the epidemic affected and will continue to affect the present and future of humanity. As it confronts this dangerous threat, the international community is trying to take certain actions and to mobilize itself. Some things are already being done as collaborative efforts, but I want to note straight away that this is only a fraction of what needs to be done in the face of this formidable common challenge. These missed opportunities are also a subject for a candid international discussion.

From the onset of the pandemic in Russia, we have focused on preserving lives and ensuring safety of our people as our key values. This was an informed choice dictated by our culture and spiritual traditions, and our complex, sometimes dramatic, history. If we think back to the great demographic losses we suffered in the 20th century, we had no other choice but to fight for every person and the future of every Russian family.

So, we did our best to preserve the health and the lives of our people, to help parents and children, as well as senior citizens and those who lost their jobs, to maintain employment as much as possible, to minimise damage to the economy, to support millions of entrepreneurs who run small or family businesses.

Perhaps, like everyone else, you are closely following daily updates on the pandemic around the world. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has not retreated and still poses a major threat. Probably, this unsettling background intensifies the sense, like many people feel, that a whole new era is about to begin and that we are not just on the verge of dramatic changes, but an era of tectonic shifts in all areas of life.

We see the rapidly, exponential development of the processes that we have repeatedly discussed at the Valdai Club before. Thus, six years ago, in 2014, we spoke about this issue when we discussed the theme The World Order: New Rules or a Game Without Rules. So, what is happening now? Regrettably, the game without rules is becoming increasingly horrifying and sometimes seems to be a fait accompli.

The pandemic has reminded us of how fragile human life is. It was hard to imagine that in our technologically advanced 21st century, even in the most prosperous and wealthy countries people could find themselves defenceless in front of what would seem to be not such a fatal infection, and not such a horrible threat. But life has shown that not everything boils down to the level of medical science with some of its fantastic achievements. It transpired that the organisation and accessibility of the public healthcare system are no less, and probably much more important in this situation.

The values of mutual assistance, service and self-sacrifice proved to be most important. This also applies to the responsibility, composure and honesty of the authorities, their readiness to meet the demand of society and at the same time provide a clear-cut and well-substantiated explanation of the logic and consistency of the adopted measures so as not to allow fear to subdue and divide society but, on the contrary, to imbue it with confidence that together we will overcome all trials no matter how difficult they may be.

The struggle against the coronavirus threat has shown that only a viable state can act effectively in a crisis – contrary to the reasoning of those who claim that the role of the state in the global world is decreasing and that in the future it will be altogether replaced with some other forms of social organisation. Yes, this is possible. Everything may change in the distant future. Change is all around us, but today the role and importance of the state do matter.

We have always considered a strong state a basic condition for Russia’s development. And we have seen again that we were right by meticulously restoring and strengthening state institutions after their decline, and sometimes complete destruction in the 1990s.

Then, the question is: what is a strong state? What are its strengths? Definitely, not total control or harsh law enforcement. Not thwarted private initiative or civic engagement. Not even the might of its armed forces or its high defence potential. Although, I think you realise how important this particular component is for Russia, given its geography and the range of geopolitical challenges. And there is also our historical responsibility as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to ensure global stability.

Nevertheless, I am confident that what makes a state strong, primarily, is the confidence its citizens have in it. That is the strength of a state. People are the source of power, we all know that. And this recipe doesn’t just involve going to the polling station and voting, it implies people’s willingness to delegate broad authority to their elected government, to see the state, its bodies, civil servants, as their representatives – those who are entrusted to make decisions, but who also bear full responsibility for the performance of their duties.

This kind of state can be set up any way you like. When I say “any way,” I mean that what you call your political system is immaterial. Each country has its own political culture, traditions, and its own vision of their development. Trying to blindly imitate someone else’s agenda is pointless and harmful. The main thing is for the state and society to be in harmony.

And of course, confidence is the most solid foundation for the creative work of the state and society. Only together will they be able to find an optimal balance of freedom and security guarantees.

Once again, in the most difficult moments of the pandemic, I felt pride and, to be honest, I am proud of Russia, of our citizens, of their willingness to have each other’s backs. And of course, first of all, I am proud of our doctors, nurses, and ambulance workers – everyone, without exception, on whom the national healthcare system relies.

I believe that civil society will play a key role in Russia’s future. So, we want the voice of our citizens to be decisive and to see constructive proposals and requests from different social forces get implemented.

This begs the question: how is this request for action being formed? Whose voice should the state be heeding? How does it know if it is really the voice of the people and not some behind-the-scenes messages or even someone’s vocal yelling that has nothing to do whatsoever with our people and that at times becomes hysterical?

Occasionally, someone is trying to substitute self-serving interests of a small social group or even external forces for a genuine public request.

Genuine democracy and civil society cannot be “imported.” I have said so many times. They cannot be a product of the activities of foreign “well-wishers,” even if they “want the best for us.” In theory, this is probably possible. But, frankly, I have not yet seen such a thing and do not believe much in it. We see how such imported democracy models function. They are nothing more than a shell or a front with nothing behind them, even a semblance of sovereignty. People in the countries where such schemes have been implemented were never asked for their opinion, and their respective leaders are mere vassals. As is known, the overlord decides everything for the vassal. To reiterate, only the citizens of a particular country can determine their public interest.

We, in Russia, went through a fairly long period where foreign funds were very much the main source for creating and financing non-governmental organisations. Of course, not all of them pursued self-serving or bad goals, or wanted to destabilise the situation in our country, interfere in our domestic affairs, or influence Russia’s domestic and, sometimes, foreign policy in their own interests. Of course not.

There were sincere enthusiasts among independent civic organisations (they do exist), to whom we are undoubtedly grateful. But even so, they mostly remained strangers and ultimately reflected the views and interests of their foreign trustees rather than the Russian citizens. In a word, they were a tool with all the ensuing consequences.

A strong, free and independent civil society is nationally oriented and sovereign by definition. It grows from the depth of people’s lives and can take different forms and directions. But it is a cultural phenomenon, a tradition of a particular country, not the product of some abstract “transnational mind” with other people’s interests behind it.

The duty of the state is to support public initiatives and open up new opportunities for them. This is exactly what we do. I consider this matter to be the most important for the government’s agenda in the coming decades – regardless of who exactly will hold positions in that government. This is the guarantee of Russia’s sovereign, progressive development, of genuine continuity in its forward movement, and of our ability to respond to global challenges.

Colleagues, you are well aware of the many acute problems and controversies that have accumulated in modern international affairs, even too many. Ever since the Cold War model of international relations, which was stable and predictable in its own way, began to change (I am not saying I miss it, I most certainly do not), the world has changed several times. Things in fact happened so quickly that those usually referred to as political elites simply did not have the time, or maybe a strong interest or ability to analyse what was really going on.

Some countries hastily ran to divide the cake, mostly to grab a bigger piece, to take advantage of the benefits the end of the cold confrontation brought. Others were frantically looking for ways to adapt to the changes at any cost. And some countries – recall our own sad experience, frankly – just fought for survival, to survive as a single country, and as a subject of global politics, too.

Meanwhile, time increasingly and insistently makes us question what lies ahead for humanity, what the new world order should be like, or at least a semblance of one, and whether we will take informed steps forward, coordinating our moves, or we will stumble blindly, each of us just relying on ourselves.

The recent report of the Valdai Club, your club, reads: “…in a fundamentally changed international setting, the institutions themselves have become an obstacle to building a system of relations corresponding to the new era rather than a guarantee of global stability and manageability.” The authors believe that we are in for a world where individual states or groups of states will act much more independently while traditional international organisations will lose their importance.

This is what I would like to say in this respect. Of course, it is clear what underlies this position. In effect, the post-war world order was established by three victorious countries: the Soviet Union, the United States and Great Britain. The role of Britain has changed since then; the Soviet Union no longer exists, while some try to dismiss Russia altogether.

Let me assure you, dear friends, that we are objectively assessing our potentialities: our intellectual, territorial, economic and military potential. I am referring to our current options, our overall potential. Consolidating this country and looking at what is happening in the world, in other countries I would like to tell those who are still waiting for Russia’s strength to gradually wane, the only thing we are worried about is catching a cold at your funeral.

As a head of state who works directly in an environment that you and your colleagues describe from a position of expertise, I cannot agree with the assumption that existing international structures must be completely rebuilt, if not dismissed as obsolete and altogether dismantled. On the contrary, it is important to preserve the basic mechanisms of maintaining international security, which have proved to be effective. This is the UN, the Security Council and the permanent members’ right to veto. I recently spoke about this at the anniversary UN General Assembly. As far as I know, this position – the preservation of the fundamentals of the international order established after World War II – enjoys broad support in the world.

However, I believe that the idea of adjusting the institutional arrangement of world politics is at least worthy of discussion, if only because the correlation of forces, potentialities and positions of states has seriously changed, as I said, especially in the past 30 to 40 years.

Indeed, like I said, the Soviet Union is no longer there. But there is Russia. In terms of its economic weight and political influence, China is moving quickly towards superpower status. Germany is moving in the same direction, and the Federal Republic of Germany has become an important player in international cooperation. At the same time, the roles of Great Britain and France in international affairs has undergone significant changes. The United States, which at some point absolutely dominated the international stage, can hardly claim exceptionality any longer. Generally speaking, does the United States need this exceptionalism? Of course, powerhouses such as Brazil, South Africa and some other countries have become much more influential.

Indeed, by far not all international organisations are effectively carrying out their missions and tasks. Called to be impartial arbiters, they often act based on ideological prejudices, fall under the strong influence of other states, and become tools in their hands. Juggling procedures, manipulating prerogatives and authority, biased approaches, especially when it comes to conflicts involving rival powers or groups of states, have unfortunately become common practice.

The fact that authoritative international organisations following in the wake of someone’s selfish interests are drawn into politicised campaigns against specific leaders and countries is saddening. This approach does nothing but discredit these institutions, and leads them towards decline and exacerbates the world order crisis.

On the other hand, there are positive developments when a group of interested states joins forces to resolve specific issues, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which for almost 20 years now has been contributing to the settlement of territorial disputes and strengthening stability in Central Eurasia, and is shaping a unique spirit of partnership in this part of the world.

Or, for example, the Astana format, which was instrumental in taking the political and diplomatic process regarding Syria out of a deep impasse. The same goes for OPEC Plus which is an effective, albeit very complex, tool for stabilising global oil markets.

In a fragmented world, this approach is often more productive. But what matters here is that, along with resolving specific problems, this approach can also breathe new life into multilateral diplomacy. This is important. But it is also obvious that we cannot do without a common, universal framework for international affairs. Whatever interest groups, associations, or ad-hoc alliances we form now or in the future – we cannot do without a common framework.

Multilateralism should be understood not as total inclusivity, but as the need to involve the parties that are truly interested in solving a problem. And of course, when outside forces crudely and shamelessly intervene in a process that affects a group of actors perfectly capable of agreeing among themselves – nothing good can come of that. And they do this solely for the purpose of flaunting their ambition, power and influence. They do it to put a stake in the ground, to outplay everyone, but not to make a positive contribution or help resolve the situation.

Again, even amid the current fragmentation of international affairs, there are challenges that require more than just the combined capacity of a few states, even very influential ones. Problems of this magnitude, which do exist, require global attention.

International stability, security, fighting terrorism and solving urgent regional conflicts are certainly among them; as are promoting global economic development, combatting poverty, and expanding cooperation in healthcare. That last one is especially relevant today.

I spoke in detail about these challenges at the UN General Assembly last month. Meeting them will require working together in a long-term, systematic way.

However, there are considerations of a more general nature that affect literally everyone, and I would like to discuss them in more detail.

Many of us read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry when we were children and remember what the main character said: “It’s a question of discipline. When you’ve finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend your planet. … It’s very tedious work, but very easy.”

I am sure that we must keep doing this “tedious work” if we want to preserve our common home for future generations. We must tend our planet.

The subject of environmental protection has long become a fixture on the global agenda. But I would address it more broadly to discuss also an important task of abandoning the practice of unrestrained and unlimited consumption – overconsumption – in favour of judicious and reasonable sufficiency, when you do not live just for today but also think about tomorrow.

We often say that nature is extremely vulnerable to human activity. Especially when the use of natural resources is growing to a global dimension. However, humanity is not safe from natural disasters, many of which are the result of anthropogenic interference. By the way, some scientists believe that the recent outbreaks of dangerous diseases are a response to this interference. This is why it is so important to develop harmonious relations between Man and Nature.

Tensions have reached a critical point. We can see this in climate change. This problem calls for practical action and much more attention on our part. It has long stopped being the domain of abstract scientific interests but now concerns nearly every inhabitant of the planet Earth. The polar ice caps and permafrost are melting because of global warming. According to expert estimates, the speed and scale of this process will be increasing in the next few decades.

It is a huge challenge to the world, to the whole of humanity, including to us, to Russia, where permafrost occupies 65 percent of our national territory. Such changes can do irreparable damage to biological diversity, have an extremely adverse effect on the economy and infrastructure and pose a direct threat to people.

You may be aware that this is very important to us. It affects pipeline systems, residential districts built on permafrost, and so on. If as much as 25 percent of the near-surface layers of permafrost, which is about three or four metres, melt by 2100, we will feel the effect very strongly. Moreover, the problem could snowball into a crisis very quickly. A kind of chain reaction is possible, because permafrost melting will stimulate methane emissions, which can produce a greenhouse effect that will be 28 times (sic!) larger than in the case of carbon dioxide. In other words, the temperature will continue rising on the planet, permafrost will continue melting, and methane emissions will further increase. The situation will spiral. Do we want the Earth to become like Venus, a hot, dry and lifeless planet? I would like to remind you that the Earth has an average surface temperature of 14°C while on Venus it’s 462°C.

Another subject, completely different. I would like to say a few words on a different subject. Let us not forget that there are no longer just geographical continents on Earth. An almost endless digital space is taking shape on the planet, and people are mastering it with increasing speed every year.

The restrictions forced by the coronavirus have only encouraged the development of remote e-technology. Today, communications based on the internet have become a universal asset. It is necessary to see that this infrastructure and all cyberspace operates without fail and securely.

Thus, remote, distance work is not just a forced precaution during a pandemic. This will become a new form of organising labour, employment, social cooperation and simply human communication. These changes are inevitable with the development of technological progress. This recent turn of events has merely precipitated these processes. Everyone appreciates the opportunities and conveniences provided by new technology.

But, of course, there is a reverse side as well – a growing threat to all digital systems. Yes, cyberspace is a fundamentally new environment where, basically, universally recognised rules have never existed. Technology has simply moved ahead of legislation and thus, judicial oversight. At the same time, this is a very specific area where the issue of trust is particularly urgent.

I think that at this point we must return to our historical experience. What do I mean? Let me recall that the established notion of “confidence-building measures” existed during the Cold War. It applied to relations between the USSR and the US, and between the Warsaw Pact and NATO, that is, military-political relations.

That said, let me emphasise that now, competition is usually “hybrid” in character. It concerns all areas, including those that are just taking shape. This is why it is necessary to build confidence in many areas.

In this sense, cyberspace can serve as a venue for testing these measures, like at one time, arms control paved the way for higher trust in the world as a whole.

Obviously, it is very difficult to draft a required “package of measures” in this area, cyberspace. However, it is necessary to start on it. This must be done now.

As you may be aware, Russia is actively promoting bilateral and multilateral cyber security agreements. We submitted two draft conventions on this subject at the UN and established a corresponding open-ended working group.

Recently, I proposed starting a comprehensive discussion of international cybersecurity issues with the United States. We are aware that politicians in the United States have other things to focus on now because of the election campaign. However, we hope that the next administration, whatever it may be, will respond to our invitation to start a discussion of this subject just like other items on the Russia-US agenda such as global security, the future of the strategic arms reduction treaty and a number of other issues.

As you are aware, many important matters have reached the point that they require candid talks, and we are ready for a constructive discussion on an equal footing.

Of course, the times when all important international matters were discussed and resolved by essentially just Moscow and Washington are long gone, lost to the ages. However, we see the establishment of a bilateral dialogue, in this case on cyber security, as an important step towards a much broader discussion involving many other countries and organisations. Should the United States choose not to take part in this work, which would be regrettable, we will still be willing to work with all interested partners, which I hope will not be lacking.

I would like to point out another important aspect. We live in an era of palpable international shocks and crises. Of course, we are used to them, especially the generations which lived during the Cold War, let alone World War II, for whom it is not just a memory, but a part of their lives.

It is interesting that humanity has reached a very high level of technological and socioeconomic development, while at the same time facing the loss or erosion of moral values and reference points, a sense that existence no longer has meaning and, if you will, that the mission of humankind on planet Earth has been lost.

This crisis cannot be settled through diplomatic negotiations or even a large international conference. It calls for revising our priorities and rethinking our goals. And everyone must begin at home, every individual, community and state, and only then work toward a global configuration.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which we have all been dealing with this year, can serve as a point of departure for such a transformation. We will have to reassess our priorities anyway. Trust me, we really will have to do it, sooner or later. All of us are aware of this. Therefore, I fully agree with those who say that it would be better to start this process now.

I mentioned history and the older generations who went through all the trials of last century for a reason. Everything we are discussing today will soon become the responsibility of young people. Young people will have to deal with all of the problems which I mentioned and you discussed today. Speaking about Russia, its young citizens, who are still growing up and gaining experience, will have to do this as soon as in the 21st century. They are the ones who will have to confront new and probably even more difficult challenges.

They have their own views on the past, present and future. But I believe that our people will always retain their best qualities: patriotism, fortitude, creativity, hard work, team spirit and the capacity to surprise the world by finding solutions to the most difficult and even seemingly insoluble problems.

Friends, colleagues,

I touched on a wide range of different issues today. Of course, I would like to believe that despite all the current difficulties the international community will be able to join forces to combat not imaginary but very real problems, and that we will eventually succeed. After all, it is within our power to stop being egoistical, greedy, mindless and wasteful consumers. Some may wonder if this is utopia, a pipe dream.

To be sure, it is easy to wonder if this is even possible considering what some individuals are doing and saying. However, I believe in reason and mutual understanding, or at least I strongly hope that they will prevail. We just need to open our eyes, look around us and see that the land, air and water are our common inheritance from above, and we must learn to cherish them, just as we must cherish every human life, which is precious. This is the only way forward in this complicated and beautiful world. I do not want to see the mistakes of the past repeated.

Thank you very much.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, thank you for this detailed statement. You have said that COVID-19 can serve as a point of departure for a reassessment. I can see that you are indeed reassessing things, because it is not everyone who speaks now about trust, harmony, the meaning of life and our mission on the planet Earth, and it was rarely so in the past as well.

I would like to say a few things in follow-up to what you have said. Of course, such a rethinking is ongoing, and we are trying to contribute to this process at the Valdai Club. However, the shocking spring developments, when we thought that the world would never be the same again, were followed by a degree of stabilisation. When global politics awoke from the mental torpor, it turned out that the agenda has hardly changed at all: we are facing the same problems, the conflicts are back and their number has even increased. But you continue with your active work despite the strained situation in global politics. Do you think that this shock had any effect on us? Do you feel any change in the sentiments of your counterparts at the top level?

Vladimir Putin: You said that the conflicts resumed when the situation improved a bit. In fact, they never abated. There is much talk about a second wave, and that the situation is back to where we were in the spring. But just look at what is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh: the conflict is still with us. And it is not just the conflicts that matter. I believe that no matter how the necessity to combat the pandemic can rally the international community, we still need to take systemic measures to settle recurring problems. This concerns the Middle East, the Syrian crisis, Libya and a great number of other problems, including terrorism and the environment. In other words, the pandemic will not help us to deal with them.

However, the pandemic is playing into our hands when it comes to raising our awareness of the importance of joining forces against severe global crises. Unfortunately, it has not yet taught humanity to come together completely, as we must do in such situations. Just look at the crises I have mentioned. We have already proposed, at the UN, among other places, that all economic and cultural restrictions be lifted for humanitarian reasons, at least temporarily.

I am not referring now to all these sanctions against Russia; forget about that, we will get over it. But many other countries that have suffered and are still suffering from the coronavirus do not even need any help that may come from outside, they just need the restrictions lifted, at least in the humanitarian sphere, I repeat, concerning the supply of medicines, equipment, credit resources, and the exchange of technologies. These are humanitarian things in their purest form. But no, they have not abolished any restrictions, citing some considerations that have nothing to do with the humanitarian component – but at the same time, everyone is talking about humanism.

I would say we need to be more honest with each other and abandon double standards. I am sure that if people hear me now on the media, they are probably finding it difficult to disagree with what I have just said, difficult to deny it. Deep down in their hearts, in their minds, everyone is probably thinking, “Yes, right, of course.” However, for political reasons, publicly, they will still say, “No, we must keep restrictions on Iran, Venezuela, against Assad.” What does Assad even have to do with this when it is ordinary people who suffer? At least, give them medicines, give them technology, at least a small, targeted loan for medicine. No.

Therefore, on the one hand, it seems like there is a tendency to unite, but, frankly speaking, by and large, I do not see any practical steps to bring it to reality. Although this trend does exist.

As for technology, it is another side of the matter. As for technology, of course, online education, telemedicine and other advanced solutions – all the modern digital technologies that had been increasingly penetrating all spheres, of course, with the pandemic have made a breach in the existing regulatory systems. They are forcing politicians, legal professionals, and administrative regulators, to move towards decision-making at a faster pace than they used to. And this is certainly, definitely changing the world.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Here is one more question related to what you have said.

Speaking about the strategy of combating the epidemic, you clearly and unequivocally stated that people’s life and safety are the main values. This strategy is understandable, but tactics differ. Last spring, the countries that chose a different path were sharply criticised.

For example, Sweden and Belarus did not introduce an economic lockdown or a tight quarantine. There were many pro and contra arguments. Six months later, we can see that the world is largely following in the footsteps of these countries instead of doing what we did in spring. I believe that you also said yesterday that there would not be any economic lockdown.

Does this mean that the balance is changing and that the balance should sometimes change in favour of the economy?

Vladimir Putin: I would say that nothing is changing in our country. I do not know about Sweden. On the other hand, I do know some things, and I will say a few words about them. The same is true about Belarus and other countries, where the decisions are made by their leadership. As for us, nothing has changed: people’s lives and health remain our priorities, without a doubt.

On the other hand, life and health are directly connected to healthcare, which must receive serious support from the federal and other budgets. For these budgets to be replenished, we need a working economy. Everything is closely interconnected. One needs to find a balance. I believe that we found this balance at the very beginning. We took a number of serious steps to support the economy. This support amounted to 4.5 percent of the GDP. Some other countries allocated even more funds for this purpose.

The point is actually not so much the amount of allocated funds but their effective use. I believe (we discussed several related issues with the Government today) that we disposed of these funds quite effectively, in a selective way and using the considerable resources we accumulated in the past years, as well as relying on the macroeconomic health of our economy, macroeconomic indicators and all the other positive achievements of the past years, to support our people, families with children, small and medium-sized businesses, and even large companies and whole industries.

Overall, there is no need in the current situation, at least in Russia, to reintroduce such restrictions as we had in spring, when we sent our people on paid leave and closed down whole enterprises. There is no need for this also because our healthcare system performed quite efficiently. We have also built up reserves, including a reserve of hospital beds, created new medicines and developed treatment guidelines. Our medics have learned how to deal with this disease, they know what and when needs to be done. In other words, we have become confident that we can deal with these problems. This is the first thing I wanted to say.

The second thing. We said from the beginning – I would just like to remind you, keeping in mind the vastness of our territory – that we were handing down a considerable part of authority for decision-making to the level of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. Incidentally, all major countries, have, in fact, followed this path somewhat later. This has proven to be the right approach.

There is no such need today. The economy is recovering. The processing industry is recovering, the agro-industrial sector is performing quite well and is even growing, exports are recovering… Yes, we have issues that we should target. But look, we have basically acceptable macroeconomic indicators. Russia’s second-quarter economic contraction was 8 percent, and, say, the US economy, declined by 9 [percent], and the Euro zone, if I am not mistaken, by 14.5 – 14.7 [percent].

You have mentioned Sweden that imposed no restrictions, but they also happened to face an economic downturn. At first, they went public with the figure of 8.3 [percent], which was later adjusted to less than 8 [percent] – 7.7 [percent], if my memory serves me correctly. Here we go: they have introduced no restrictions, nor have they done what we have in supporting people and the economy, but their result is the same as ours. The modern world is extremely interconnected. But an economic decline is inevitable, the first thing to do is to take care of the people. This logic is immaculate. I am certain that you will agree on this point.

Now, regarding Belarus. President Lukashenko – I had many conversations with him – is fully aware of the COVID-19 threat. But Belarus has no comparable gold and currency reserves, nor such a diverse economic landscape, and he, as he says, simply had to keep the economy viable. But on the whole, the situation there is not worse, in fact, than in many other countries.

Therefore we face – and faced – no choice of this sort; our priorities are people, health, and life. We are not going to impose tough restrictions, there is no such need. There is no need to close businesses. What is needed is to adjust support for certain sectors, for example, for small and medium-sized businesses. Certain parts of this work require additional support, maybe the extension of tax benefits and some other measures that are due to expire shortly. It is necessary to take a closer look at transportation, the transport sector, and the services. We are aware of all this, we see this, and we will continue to work in these areas, no matter how difficult this might be. As I have repeatedly said, we will get through this difficult period together, with the people’s support and trust.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Colleagues, we are moving on to our traditional conversation. This time the setup of this discussion will be quite complex, since we have people sitting in the audience here, and I am also receiving questions from those who are watching online, and some of our colleagues will be able to ask their questions in person. Therefore, I will try to act as an impartial moderator and manage this conversation, and I apologise for any possible hiccups.

Let us begin. Timofei Bordachev, our colleague from the Valdai Club.

Timofei Bordachev: Good evening, and thank you for this unique opportunity.

Mr President, there has been much talk and debate, in the context of the global economic upheavals, about the fact that the liberal market economy has ceased to be a reliable tool for the survival of states, their preservation, and for their people.

Pope Francis said recently that capitalism has run its course. Russia has been living under capitalism for 30 years. Is it time to search for an alternative? Is there an alternative? Could it be the revival of the left-wing idea or something radically new? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Lenin spoke about the birthmarks of capitalism, and so on. It cannot be said that we have lived these past 30 years in a full-fledged market economy. In fact, we are only gradually building it, and its institutions. Russia had to do it from the ground up, starting from a clean slate. Of course, we are doing this taking into consideration developments around the world. After all, after almost one hundred years of a state-planned economy, transitioning to a market economy is not easy.

You know, capitalism, the way you have described it, existed in a more or less pure form at the beginning of the previous century. But everything changed after what happened in the global economy and in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, after World War I. We have already discussed this on a number of occasions. I do not remember if I have mentioned this at Valdai Club meetings, but experts who know this subject better than I do and with whom I regularly communicate, they are saying obvious and well-known things.

When everything is fine, and the macro economic indicators are stable, various funds are building up their assets, consumption is on the rise and so on. In such times, you hear more and more that the state only stands in the way, and that a pure market economy would be more effective. But as soon as crises and challenges arise, everyone turns to the state, calling for the reinforcement of its supervisory functions. This goes on and on, like a sinusoidal curve. This is what happened during the preceding crises, including the recent ones, like in 2008.

I remember very well how the key shareholders of Russia’s largest corporations that are also major European and global players came to me proposing that the state buy their assets for one dollar or one ruble. They were afraid of assuming responsibility for their employees, pressured by margin calls, and the like. This time, our businesses have acted differently. No one is seeking to evade responsibility. On the contrary, they are even using their own funds, and are quite generous in doing so. The responses may differ, but overall, businesses have been really committed to social responsibility, for which I am grateful to these people, and I want them to know this.

Therefore, at present, we cannot really find a fully planned economy, can we? Take China. Is it a purely planned economy? No. And there is not a single purely market economy either. Nevertheless, the government’s regulatory functions are certainly important. For example, consider major industries such as aircraft construction. Without some regulatory function from the top – or from the left, right, bottom, for that matter, whether this regulatory function is visible or not – without it, it is impossible to operate in this market. And we can see that all the countries that claim respect as aircraft-building powers (contextually, I would say), their governments provide assistance to their aircraft manufacturers, all of them. And there are plenty of support methods.

By the way, the situation is much the same in the automotive industry, and in other industries. We just need to determine for ourselves the reasonable level of the state’s involvement in the economy; how quickly that involvement needs to be reduced, if at all, and where exactly. I often hear that Russia’s economy is overregulated. But during crises like this current pandemic, when we are forced to restrict business activity, and cargo traffic shrinks, and not only cargo traffic, but passenger traffic as well, we have to ask ourselves – what do we do with aviation now that passengers avoid flying or fly rarely, what do we do? Well, the state is a necessary fixture, there is no way they could do without state support.

So, again, no model is pure or rigid, neither the market economy nor the command economy today, but we simply have to determine the level of the state’s involvement in the economy. What do we use as a baseline for this decision? Expediency. We need to avoid using any templates, and so far, we have successfully avoided that. As I have said, the so-called developed economies, in Europe, have seen their GDP plummet by more than 14 percent. How high has unemployment grown in the eurozone? As far as I know, by over 10 percent. Ours has grown, too, but only by 6.3 percent. This is the result of government regulation. Or take inflation. We have been fighting it desperately. Is this not a regulatory function of the state?

Of course, the Central Bank and the Government are among the most important state institutions. Therefore, it was in fact through the joint efforts of the Central Bank and the Government that inflation was reduced to 4 percent, because the Government invests substantial resources through its social programmes and national projects and has an impact on our monetary policy. It went down to 3.9 percent, and the Governor of the Central Bank has told me that we will most likely keep it around the estimated target of around 4 percent. This is the regulating function of the state; there is no way around it. However, stifling development through an excessive presence of the state in the economy or through excessive regulation would be fatal as well. You know, this is a form of art, which the Government has been applying skilfully, at least for now.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, since you mentioned greed, I have to ask you the following. A lively discussion began the other day on the Finance Ministry’s proposal to reduce the staff at security-related agencies and to adjust their salaries and pensions. Is this a good time for this proposal? Or is it that the crisis is forcing us to cut expenses?

Vladimir Putin: The Finance Ministry regularly makes such proposals, crisis or no crisis. It is always in favour of reducing expenditure. In general, nearly all finance ministries in other countries do this as well. There is nothing unique in the proposal of the Russian Finance Ministry.

We do not envisage making any decisions yet. We have no term reduction or extension plans. It was just one of the Finance Ministry’s proposals. It has not even been reported to me yet. It is still at the level of discussion among Government agencies. When we need to make a final decision, I will take into account the economic realities and the real situation regarding people’s incomes, including in the security and military spheres, and a comparison of the levels of income in the country’s military and civilian sectors. There are many factors we need to take into account to prevent an imbalance on the labour market, and so on. I would like to repeat that these issues have not been discussed on the practical level. These discussions are ongoing within the framework of the Government.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Great. Our meeting has produced at least one result: the military can breathe out.

I would like to give the floor to our long-time friend who has been helping the Valdai Club a lot. Please meet Sam Charap from Washington, D.C. Usually, we had him here, but now he is at his workplace. We can get him on air now.

Sam, please.

Sam Charap: Hello, Mr. President,

I would like to return to your initiative to restore trust in cyberspace, which you mentioned in your remarks. Many argue whether there is trust in the outcome of the talks or the premises for holding them. It is not only about the election campaign, but the firm belief of many in Washington (and outside of it) that Russia is actively interfering in this area, and so on.

Can we ponder some kind of truce in this sphere in order to create proper grounds for talks and a minimum level of trust as a prerequisite for achieving more during ensuing talks? How do you think such a digital truce, so to say, may look like?

Vladimir Putin: Listen, as far as cybercrime is concerned, it always went hand in hand with digital technology and will probably always be there just like other offences. However, when we talk about relations between states, it is no coincidence that in my opening remarks I mentioned the dialogue on limiting offensive arms between the Soviet Union and the United States.

We agreed among ourselves to keep these weapons at a certain level. We propose reaching agreements in the sphere that is taking shape now right before our eyes and which is extremely important for the entire world and our countries. We need to discuss these matters in a broad context and come up with solutions.

I am not quite sure what kind of truce you are talking about. I believe it is already in place. You said that Russia is actively interfering. But I say: “We are not interfering in anything.” Moreover, the official probes conducted in the United States, including with the involvement of a special counsel, did not bring any results. They led to admitting the fact that there was no evidence of Russia’s interference. Therefore, I believe there is no need to set any preliminary conditions for us to start this dialogue. We must immediately sit down and talk. What is wrong with that approach? We are not proposing anything that does not meet our partners’ interests. If someone thinks that someone else is interfering in their affairs, well, let us come up with some general rules and develop verification tools to monitor compliance. Frankly, I do not understand where this persistence is coming from.

During the last months of President Obama’s presidency, his administration sent us a message to the effect that, indeed, it had taken them a while to review this matter, but they are now ready for a dialogue. Unfortunately, this ended quickly, and another president came to office. We started from centre-field with the new administration. Again, almost four years later now, we have not accomplished much.

I strongly hope that when the elections are over, our partners will return to this issue and respond positively to our proposals.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Fyodor Voitolovsky, Director of IMEMO, our flagship institute of international relations. Please.

Fyodor Voitolovsky: Mr President, in your statement today you mentioned one of the most burning issues of global politics, arms control. During the Cold War and especially at its final stage, the Soviet Union and the United States both applied a huge amount of efforts to create a network of treaties and a system of confidence-building measures, which limited the quantitative growth of their arsenals and reduced the risk of a conflict. Over the past 20 years, our American partners have consistently and very easily dismantled this system: first the ABM Treaty, and then the INF and Open Skies treaties. As of now, there are problems with extending the New START Treaty. Hence my question. Do you think the arms control system has a future? What new moves can be taken in this sphere?

Thank you.

Fyodor Lukyanov: I would like to add that we have a great number of questions about strategic offensive arms and especially the latest initiative advanced two days ago, and also a great deal of bewilderment over what this may mean and whether Russia has made excessive concessions.

Vladimir Putin: You asked if such arms control treaties have a future. I think that the world will have no future unless limits are put on the arms race. This is what all of us should think about, and this is what we are urging all of our partners to think about.

All of us are well aware of the problem, and you have mentioned this just now: withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, the INF Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty (the United States has not officially pulled out of it yet, but it has stated that it had launched the withdrawal process). Why? What is the reason for this decision? They do not even try to explain. They simply do not explain. Our European colleagues tell us, “Let them withdraw, but you should not do the same.” I reply, “All of you are NATO members, and so you will make flights and forward the data you collect to the Americans, while we will be unable to do this because we will remain committed to the Treaty. Let us not play dumb. Let us be honest with each other.” In fact, as far as I am aware, the United States’ European partners would like it to remain a member of the Open Skies Treaty, to keep it intact.

With regard to the INF Treaty, we have spoken about it many times, and I do not want to go over it again. When withdrawing from the ABM Treaty, the United States acted openly, directly and bluntly, but honestly. Here, though, they came up with an excuse and accused Russia of some violations, and then withdrew from the Treaty. If this were the case, if everything were just like our American partners are saying, they could also go ahead and violate it without much ado. Who was stopping them? Instead, they took this step publicly for everyone to see.

Just do not tell me that they are white and fluffy goody two-shoes who are not into underhand dealings. We are aware of what is happening with verification, in the sphere of nuclear weapons among other thing, where they weld the lids or tamper with the aircraft. They get away with it and do not let us in there. Okay, we keep quiet, but the experts know what I am talking about. They just made it a point to take these steps, and to do so publicly, with broad coverage. Clearly, they are pursuing a political goal. I just do not see any military purpose here. But the best solution is for the verification and monitoring to be implemented by all contracting parties, so that our agreements are reliably protected by these monitoring systems.

Now, START-3.We took account of all the problems when we were negotiating these issues. Only one thing was left out. It is what Russia acquired in response to the United States withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. Precisely in response to the withdrawal. I am referring to our innovative high-precision hypersonic weapons. Indeed, neither the United States nor other countries have access to such weapons, although they are working on it, and someday they will have them as well. They are telling us, “You have it, we do not, so we must take this into account.” Well, we do not mind, let us take it into account. Both regarding the number of carriers and the number of warheads. We do not mind.

There are other issues that we can discuss. But what choice do we have? The treaty expires in February. After all, my proposal is very straightforward. It lies on the surface. Nothing will happen if we extend this agreement, without any preconditions, for one year and persistently work on all the issues of concern both to us and the Americans. We will work on it together and look for solutions.

After all, the trick is that we have had hardly any constructive discussions about this so far. Our partners, to put it bluntly, shied away from a direct and substantive professional discussion. The treaty will expire in February 2020, and that is all we have left now.

Question: What is better: to preserve the current treaty as it is, to start discussing it in detail and try to find some compromise during the year or to lose it altogether and leave us, the US and Russia, and the entire world practically without any legal foundation that limits the arms race? I believe the second option is much worse than the first.

I think it is simply unacceptable but I have said, and I want to emphasise it once again, that we are not holding on to this treaty. If our partners decide it is not necessary – all right, let it be, there is nothing we can do to prevent them. Our security, Russia’s security will not be damaged by this, especially because we have the latest weapons systems. This is the first part.

The second part boils down to making these agreements multilateral by including our Chinese friends in them. But are we against this? Russia is not against this but just do not shift on us the responsibility of making this treaty multilateral. If someone wants to do this, it is fine to try to achieve this. We do not object to this. Are we an obstacle on this road? No.

But the arguments quoted by our Chinese friends are very simple. China is an enormous country, a great power with an enormous economy and 1.5 billion people. But the level of its nuclear potential is almost twice, if not more lower than that of Russia and the US. They are asking a lawful question, “What will we limit? Or will we freeze our inequality in this area?” What can you reply to this? It is the sovereign right of a 1.5 billion strong nation to decide on the best way of building its policy on ensuring its own security.

Of course, it is possible to turn this into a subject of an argument or discussion and simply block any agreement. But may I ask why would only China be pressed to be involved in this process and in signing this treaty? Where are the other nuclear powers? Where is France that, as the press reports, has just tested another submarine-launched cruise missile? Great Britain is also a nuclear power. There are other nuclear states that are not officially recognised as such, as it were, but the whole world knows that they have nuclear arms. So, are we going to behave like ostriches? Hide our heads in the sand and pretend that we do not understand what is going on? What we need is not a checkerboard pattern on our car. We need to drive it, therefore we need to ensure security. So, let us get them involved as well. Let us do it. We are not against this. The only question is whether there is any reason for this, a goal to strive for, whether there is any positive example to follow such as the agreements between the US and Russia? Or is there nothing at all?

We are ready to work from scratch, from centre-field, fine. If you ask about our position, I believe it is better not to lose what was achieved before, to move forward from the positions that have already been reached by previous generations, by the leaders of our countries. However, if our partners decide on something different, we are willing to work in any format and on any of these tracks.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Anatol Lieven, another one of our veterans, who could not come to this meeting but is taking part in it via videoconference. Please.

Anatol Lieven: Thank you very much, Mr President, for speaking to us. And I would also like to thank you personally for your very strong statement on climate change and the environment.

My question, however, relates to the new outbreak of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia, like other members of the international community, has been trying very hard to bring about a peaceful solution to this conflict, but so far these efforts have failed. If they continue to fail, given Russia’s old historic links and given Russia’s military alliance with Armenia, will it be necessary in the end for Russia to take sides against Azerbaijan and Turkey?

On the other hand, could this perhaps provide a positive opportunity for Russia, given the increasing confrontation which we see between France and Turkey over Turkey’s claims in the Eastern Mediterranean? Could this perhaps be an opportunity for a rapprochement between Russia and France and other West European countries? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I did not quite understand the last part of the question. What does the [Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict have to do with this?

Fyodor Lukyanov: Maybe he meant the possibility of rapprochement with France and Europe, since Turkey is now opposed to both them and, to a degree, to us?

Vladimir Putin: I see.

Let us begin at the beginning, with Nagorno-Karabakh and who to support in this conflict. You said that Russia has always had special relations with Armenia. But we have also always had special ties with Azerbaijan as well. There are over 2 million Armenians and some 2 million Azerbaijanis living in Russia, both those who have come to Russia in search of jobs and those who live here permanently. They send billions of dollars to their families back home. All these people have stable and close ties with Russia at the humanitarian level, person-to-person, business, humanitarian and family ties. Therefore, Armenia and Azerbaijan are both equal partners for us. And it is a great tragedy for us when people die there. We would like to develop full-scale relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Yes, there are some individual elements in each case, and some things in our relations with one partner differ from our relations with the other partner. In the case of Armenia, it is Christianity. But we also have very close ties with Azerbaijan in other spheres.

Speaking about religion, I would like to point out that nearly 15 percent of Russian citizens are Muslims. Therefore, Azerbaijan is not an alien country to us in this sense either.

But what we certainly cannot forget is what happened in the destiny of the Armenian people, the Armenian nation during World War I. This is an enormous tragedy for the Armenian people, This is the second part.

The third part is based on the fact that this conflict broke out not just as an interstate conflict or struggle for territories. It started with ethnic confrontation. Regrettably, it is also a fact that violent crimes against the Armenian people were also committed in Sumgait and later in Nagorno-Karabakh. We must consider all this in a package.

At the same time, we understand that a situation where Azerbaijan has lost a substantial part of its territory cannot continue. Over the years, we have suggested many diverse options for settling this crisis with a view to stabilising the situation in the long-term historical perspective.

I will not go into detail at this point but believe me, this was intensive work on bringing the positions of the parties closer. Sometimes it seemed like a bit more effort, another small step and we would find the solution. Regrettably, it did not happen, and today we are seeing the worst-case scenario in this conflict. The death of people is a tragedy. There are heavy losses on both sides. According to our information, there are over 2,000 dead on either side. The total number of victims is already approaching 5,000.

Let me emphasise that the Soviet Union, the Soviet army lost 13,000 people during the ten years of war in Afghanistan. Now the toll is almost 5,000 in such a short span of time. And how many are wounded? How many people, how many children are suffering? This is why it is a special situation for us.

Yes, the Minsk Group was established, I believe, in 1992. As its co-chairs, Russia, France and the US are responsible for organising the negotiating process. It is clear, and I am 100 percent confident of this, that all participants in the process are sincerely striving to settle the situation. That said, nobody is interested in this as much as Russia is, because this is a very sensitive issue for us. This is not just happening before our eyes, but in a broad sense, it is happening with our people, our friends and our relatives. This is why we are in a position that allows us to be trusted by both sides and play a substantial role as a mediator on the rapprochement of positions in settling this conflict. I would very much like to find a compromise here.

As you may be aware, I maintain close contacts with both President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan. I speak to them on the phone several times a day. Our respective foreign ministers, defence ministers and heads of special services are constantly in contact. Foreign ministers of both countries came to us again. Today, or rather on October 23, they will have a meeting in Washington. I strongly hope that our American partners will act in unison with us and promote a settlement. Let us hope for the best. This covers the first part.

The second part concerns disputes within NATO between Turkey and France. We never take advantage of frictions between other states. We have good and stable relations with France. I would not say they are full-fledged, but they hold a lot of promise and, in any case, have a good track record.

Our cooperation with Turkey is expanding. Turkey is our neighbour, and I can tell you in more detail how important interaction between our states is for both Turkey and Russia.

I do not think anyone needs our mediation. Turkey and France are perfectly capable of regulating relations between themselves. No matter how tough President Erdogan’s stance may look, I know that he is a flexible person, and finding a common language with him is possible. Therefore, I hope the situation will get back to normal here as well.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, a follow-up if I may, since it is a hot topic.

Still, Turkey’s much more active role than ever before is what makes the current crisis in the South Caucasus different. You said President Erdogan is flexible. That may well be the case as you spent a lot of time with him. However, many experts believe that Erdogan’s policy is actually about expanding his zone of influence to the borders of the former Ottoman Empire. These borders stretched far and wide, as we know, and they enclosed a lot of territory, including Crimea, which was part of it at some point. It was a long time ago, but nonetheless.

Should we not fear that if this becomes a consistent policy, we would have certain differences with Ankara?

Vladimir Putin: Russia is not afraid of anything. Thank goodness, we are not in a position where we should be afraid of anything.

I do not know about President Erdogan’s plans or his attitude towards the Ottoman legacy. You should ask him about it. But I know that our bilateral trade exceeds $20 billion. I know that Turkey is really interested in continuing this cooperation. I know that President Erdogan is pursuing an independent foreign policy. Despite a lot of pressure, we implemented the TurkStream project together rather quickly. We cannot do the same with Europe; we have been discussing this issue for years, but Europe seems unable to show enough basic independence or sovereignty to implement the Nord Stream 2 project, which would be advantageous to it in every respect.

As for Turkey, we implemented our project quite quickly, despite any threats. Erdogan, who was aware of his national interests, said that we would do it, and we did it. The same is true of our ties in other areas, for example, our military-technical cooperation. Turkey decided it needed a modern air defence system, and the world’s best is the S-400, a triumph of Russian industry. He said he would do it, and he bought it. Working with such a partner is not only pleasant but also safe.

As for aspirations, regarding Crimea or anything else, I know nothing about them, and I do not care about them because the interests of Russia are reliably protected, take my word for it. I am sure that our other partners are fully aware of this.

Regarding Turkey’s refusal to recognise Crimea as part of Russia, well, we do not see eye to eye on all subjects. For example, we are not always on the same page regarding the situation in the South Caucasus. But we also know about the positions of Europe and the United States. They claim to be true dyed-in-the-wool democrats, but they do not even want to hear about the people of Crimea voting for their future in a referendum, which is the highest form of direct democracy.

As I said, they adopted sanctions against the Crimean people. If Crimea was annexed, then they are the victims. Why are sanctions adopted against the victims? But if they voted freely, it was democracy in action, so why are they being punished for democracy? This is all rubbish and nonsense, but it is also a fact of life. So why point the finger at Erdogan? Just take a look at what is happening in other countries.

This is a consistent stand: he does not recognise Crimea, and he does not recognise Nagorno-Karabakh. What should we do? We must continue working with everyone and remain calm. This is exactly what we have been doing: trying to prove that our position is correct, and we will continue to uphold it, and when positions diverge, we look for compromise.

For example, as far as I know, our views on the developments in the South Caucasus do not coincide, because we believe that conflicts should be settled diplomatically at the negotiating table rather than with the use of armed force. Of course, one could say that talks have been ongoing there for 30 years, but to no avail. Well, I do not see this as a reason to start shooting.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much.

Of course, Mr Erdogan has been consistent. For example, he recognises Northern Cyprus. But this is perhaps part of the flexibility that you were talking about.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, you are right. I agree. I was supposed to say this but it slipped my mind. But you are correct. Northern Cyprus, yes. However, as far as I know, Turkey does not object to the country finally being unified. The principles of this unification are the problem. But, overall, you are right.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Anatoly Torkunov, President of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Anatoly Torkunov: Mr President,

Although there are still more than two months left in 2020, I think all of us see this year as one of very dramatic and unpredictable events. So of course, there is a joke that goes, if by the end of the year we encounter aliens, nobody will be surprised.

Never mind the aliens, we will see how it goes. My question is, of course, not about them. It is related to the developments around our borders. Thank you for such a detailed and interesting account. As an expert, I was very curious to hear your remarks on the South Caucasus.

But in general, developments around our borders seem to be rather dramatic. Let us take the events in Kyrgyzstan. The elections in that country have always prompted some kind of turbulence, although this year the civil disturbances have been particularly rough. The situation in Belarus is somewhat complicated. There is also the problem of Donbass. I understand that you must be tired of talking about this. We know your firm and consistent stance on this issue.

My question is what are Russia’s current fundamental foreign policy goals in the post-Soviet space, considering that it directly concerns our security and humanitarian links? Today you have stressed several times that these people are not foreigners to us – meaning the Caucasus but also our friends in Central Asia and our friends in Belarus and Ukraine.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You know this better than anyone else, you are a very experienced person and a professional with a capital “P”. Our policy in the post-Soviet space within the CIS framework is the main component of our overall foreign policy. This is obvious because all the countries you listed and every other country with which we have good, very good multilateral relations, as well as those with whom our ties seem to be in a stalemate in some cases – they are not foreign countries to us all the same. These are not remote countries somewhere overseas about which we know little.

It is obvious that we lived in a single country, and not just for many years but for centuries, We have strong ties and very deep cooperation in the economy, humanitarian ties. We all speak a common language. In a sense, to a greater or lesser degree, we are essentially people of the same cultural space, not to mention our history. We have a common history and a common victory over Nazism. Our predecessors – our fathers and grandfathers – validated our special relations with their blood.

Regardless of the current events and today’s political environment, I am sure that this community of interests will eventually pave the way to the restoration of our ties with all these countries, no matter how difficult our ties with them are.

At the same time, and this is also an obvious fact, when our common state, the USSR began disintegrating, the people who dealt with this did not think about the consequences this would lead to, something they should have thought about. But it was clear that our neighbours did not always have identical interests. Sometimes their interests diverged and rope pulling was always possible. I believe we must and will find solutions to complicated issues in any way we can, but we need to avoid fueling or exaggerating anything or emphasising disputed issues. On the contrary, we must look at what can and must unite us and what does unite us. What is this? Our common interests.

Look, with respect to economic integration, who is not interested in this? Only our competitors. And the post-Soviet countries are bound to understand, at least smart people are bound to understand that a concerted effort, considering we have a common infrastructure, common transport and energy system and a common language that unites rather than divides us, etc., is our distinct competitive advantage in achieving the things for which some economic associations and structures have been fighting for decades, while we have received all this from our predecessors. We must use this, and this brings benefits to all of us. It is absolutely obvious that this is simply beneficial.

Look, Ukraine saw a revolution in 2004, and then in 2014 another revolution, a state coup. What happened as a result? Read the statistics published by the Ukrainian statistical services: shrinking production, as if they had more than one pandemic. Some of the local industries, ones the entire Soviet Union and Ukraine itself were proud of – the aircraft industry, shipbuilding, rocket building – developed by generations of Soviet people, from all Soviet republics, a legacy Ukraine, too, could and should be proud of – are almost gone. Ukraine is being de-industrialised. It was perhaps the most industrialised Soviet republic, not just one of them. There was of course the Russian Federation, Moscow, St Petersburg, Siberia, the Urals – all right, but Ukraine still was one of the most industrialised republics. Where is all this now and why is it lost?

It was just the stupidity of those who did it, just stupidity, that is all. But I hope that these common interests will still pave the way for common sense.

You just mentioned Belarus – indeed, we have witnessed these turbulent processes there. But there is something I would like to highlight As you may have noticed, Russia did not interfere in what was happening there. And we expect no one else to interfere either. No one should be stirring up this conflict to promote their own interests and impose any decisions on the Belarusian people. I already said in my opening remarks that nothing introduced from the outside without taking into account the peculiarities, culture and history of the people will ever work for that culture, those people.

The Belarusians themselves should be given the opportunity to calmly handle their situation and make appropriate decisions. The decisions they will make could pave the way for amending the country’s Constitution or adopting a new Constitution. President Lukashenko said this publicly. True, people can say, well, he will just write something for his own benefit, this kind of constitution will have nothing to do with democracy. But, you know, it is possible to slander just about anything, and there are always sceptics. But I already said this, so I will not go into more detail.

But what happened in Belarus compares favourably with what happened on the streets of some big cities in developed democracies, do you see that? There has been some harsh action indeed, I give you that, and maybe even unjustified, but then, those who allowed it should be made responsible. But in general, if you compare and look at the pictures – in Belarus, no one shot an unarmed person in the back, that is what I mean. So let us just calmly deal with this.

The same goes for Kyrgyzstan. I think current developments there are a disaster for Kyrgyzstan and its people. Every time they have an election, they practically have a coup. What does this mean? This is not funny. It means that many of these countries are taking the first steps towards their own statehood and the culture of state development.

I have told my colleagues many times that the post-Soviet countries should be treated with special attention, and we must carefully support these new sprouts of statehood. In no case should we be pressing advice or recommendations on them, and even more so, avoid any interference, because this will destroy the fragile, nascent institutions of sovereignty and statehood in those countries. It is necessary to give these nations the opportunity to carefully build these relations within society leading by example, but not acting like an elephant in a china shop with advice and piles of money to support one or the other side.

I strongly hope that we have helped Kyrgyzstan, as a member of the CSTO and the EAEU, to get on its feet, invested hundreds of millions of dollars to support the Kyrgyz economy and various industries and to help Kyrgyzstan adapt so it can join the EAEU. This also goes for phytosanitary services, customs systems, individual sectors of the economy and enterprises. We have recently implemented projects valued at up to $500 million. I am not even talking about grants that we provide annually in the amount of tens of millions of dollars.

Of course, we cannot look at what is happening there without pity and concern. Please note that we are not pressing our advice or instructions on them. We are not supporting any particular political forces there. I strongly hope that things in Kyrgyzstan will get back to normal, and that Kyrgyzstan will get on the path to progress and we will maintain excellent relations with them.

The same goes for Moldova. We can see the developments related to Moldova, and we know the Moldovan people’s needs for promoting democracy and economy. But who is buying Moldovan wine? Will France buy Moldovan wine? Who needs it in the European markets? They have more than enough of their own. When they ship wine from country to country, even within the European Union, the farmers dump it into ditches just to get rid of the cargo.

This is not just about wine. Other sectors of the economy are so closely tied to Russia that they simply cannot exist without it, at least for now. They can only sell their products in Russia. This is exactly what happened to Ukraine. Therefore, we hope that during the next election in Moldova, the Moldovan people will appreciate the efforts that the current President of the republic is undertaking to build good relations with Russia.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much.

Hans-Joachim Spanger has joined us from Frankfurt.

Hans-Joachim Spanger: Mr President,

Allow me to turn to an issue which is connected with a person whose name reportedly is not really used in the Kremlin, at least not in public – Alexei Navalny.

A renowned Russian scholar, Dmitry Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, recently stated, let me quote: “The poisoning of the opposition activist Alexei Navalny has become a turning point in Russo-German relations.” And this, according to him, essentially means that, another quote, “this special role performed by Germany and its Chancellor in recent years is now a thing of the past. From now on, Germany will have the same attitude to Russia as all the other countries in Western Europe.”

My question is whether you share this view that a) there was such a special role of Germany in bilateral German-Russian relations, and b) whether you also detect such a turning point now, and if so, what Russia can do to avoid it happening, or, conversely, to turn the turning point around again? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I will start with the first part of your question, about the poisonings. First, we have heard about poisonings here and there many times. It is not the first time.

Second, if the authorities had wanted to poison the person you mentioned or to poison anybody, it is very unlikely they would have sent him for medical treatment to Germany. Don’t you think so? As soon as this person’s wife contacted me, I immediately instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office to see if it was possible to allow him to travel abroad for medical treatment. They could have prohibited it because he was under restrictions due to an investigation and a criminal case. He was under travel restrictions. I immediately asked the Prosecutor General’s Office to allow that. And he was taken to Germany.

Then we were told that they found traces of this infamous Novichok that is known around the world. I said, “Please give us the materials.” Primarily, the biological material and the official report so that we can do more research that can give us official and formal legal grounds for initiating criminal proceedings. What was unusual about this request? Our Prosecutor General’s Office, in keeping with the agreements we have with Germany, has repeatedly forwarded official requests for these materials. Is this unusual? In addition, in a conversation with a European leader, I suggested that our specialists go to Germany and together with French, German and Swedish experts work on site to obtain the necessary materials, which we could use to initiate criminal proceedings and, should this incident prove to be a crime, investigate it. But they would not give us anything. How can you explain why? There is no explanation, there is just no explanation. This all looks strange.

Well, they said that they had found traces of Novichok. Later they passed whatever they had on to the OPCW – the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Then quite unexpectedly, they said, it is not Novichok – it is something else. So, is it Novichok or not? This has cast doubt on what was said before. Well, let us investigate the incident together. I say, as I have said several times, that if this is really true, we will definitely conduct an investigation. Unfortunately, there have been attempts on the lives of public figures and businessmen in our country. These cases were investigated in Russia, the culprits were found and punished and, what is important, all of them were punished. We are prepared to spare no effort in this case as well.

As for specific individuals, we have quite a few people like Saakashvili, but I do not think that currently these people have influence to speak of… They may also change, why not? They may undergo some transformation – which, in principle, is not bad – and will also get involved in realpolitik instead of making noise in the street. Take Occupy Wall Street – where is it? Where? Where is all the informal opposition in many European countries or the United States, for that matter? There are many parties there. Where are they? Two parties dominate the political stage and that is it. However, look what is going on in the streets.

This is why we are developing the Russian political system and will continue to do so, offering all political forces – seriously-minded, sincere and patriotic ones – the opportunity to work in compliance with the law.

Now, regarding Germany’s role. We have had very good relations with Germany in the post-war years. I think this was largely due to the German Democratic Republic, the GDR, which was the Soviet Union’s key and main ally in Europe, at least during the time that state existed. We have developed very good relations at the personal and political levels, and in the economic sphere. I know there are still a lot of people there now who sympathise with Russia. And we appreciate that.

Incidentally, the Soviet Union did play a decisive role in the reunification of Germany. It was indeed a decisive role. Some of your current allies, allies of Germany, in fact, objected to the unification of Germany, no matter what they said. We know this; we still have it in our archives. While the Soviet Union played this role. I personally believe that it was the right thing to do, because it was wrong to break a single whole into parts, and if the people there really want something, in Germany’s case they wanted unity, reunification, their pursuit should not be contained by force, as it will not do anyone any good. As for building relations between East and West Germany – this should be up to the Germans, of course. Has Germany played any special role, say, as a mediator between Russia and the rest of the world or Russia and the rest of Europe? I do not think so. Russia is a country that does not need intermediaries.

At the same time, we have always had very special economic, and even humanitarian ties with Germany. Why? Because Germany wanted to play a special role? Well, no, I think it had more to do with Germany’s own interests. Even now, Germany is Russia’s second largest trade partner, in gross volume. It used to be the first, by the way, but it is second to China now, as our trade with China is twice the volume it is with Germany. Nevertheless, there are more than 2,000 companies with German capital in our market. We have a fairly large volume of German investment and German businesses are interested in working in Russia. We are happy about this, because we know these are sincere people interested in expanding ties with our country. I regularly meet with representatives of German business; they are all our friends, or I would like to think so, anyway. This cooperation provides millions of jobs in the Federal Republic of Germany as well, because goods produced by German enterprises go to the Russian market; they enjoy demand here, which means jobs there.

Incidentally, many industries have been seeing a high level of cooperation in recent years. All the above are manifestations of the special nature of our relations, of a mutual interest, I would say. Mutual interest is at the heart of this relationship – not an ambition to play some special role. And this mutual interest will not go away, regardless of the current political situation, and we will maintain such relations, no matter what anyone does.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much.

We will stay in Europe for now.

Nathalie Tocci from Rome has joined us. Nathalie, please go ahead.

Nathalie Tocci: Thank you, Mr President, for your extremely candid remarks.

You spoke very eloquently about the importance and centrality of the state, but at the same time the importance of international cooperation, and, in particular, highlighted areas like security as well as climate, which I would associate also with energy transition.

Now, when it comes to security, perhaps a follow-up question on the Caucasus and the resumption of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At some point, hopefully very soon, there will be a new ceasefire. At the same time, the conflict itself won’t be resolved. Given that the current configuration of the three Minsk Group co-chairs has been unable to deliver a settlement in all these 26 years, does Russia think that this is the setup that should be reconsidered?

And then, perhaps, if I may, a question on climate change and, in particular, energy transition. Now, energy transition requires funding. The European Union, for instance, will dedicate approximately 40 percent of its next-generation new fund to the Green Deal. Now, when it comes to Russia, it is clear that, being a country that has depended quite importantly on its fossil fuel exports, stabilising energy markets is obviously going to be key for Russia in order to obtain the funds to move forward.

In your speech you highlighted the importance OPEC Plus had in that stabilisation of the market, and I think Russia itself played an extremely important role in ensuring that supplies were cut so as to stabilise prices. But at the same time, we are now in a second wave of the pandemic, and we are likely to see demand continuing to be rather sluggish. Would you expect, or would you like to see in 2021, a further cut in supplies to ensure a further stabilisation of prices?

Vladimir Putin: I will start with the first part of your question regarding the Minsk Group negotiation format and whether it should be changed. Unfortunately, Nathalie, I cannot answer your question. This is for a number of objective reasons, not because I want to emphasise Russia’s role, we all understand that Russia is where it is, nearby. These are our neighbours, and we have special relations with these countries and these peoples. The influences are very strong. I have already said that 2.4 million Armenians and about 2 million Azerbaijanis live in Russia. They wire tens of billions of dollars to support their families. But this is just one factor. I am not even mentioning many others, including the use of markets, cultural ties, and so on. That is, in our case, the situation is very different from relations between the United States and Armenia, or the United States and Azerbaijan, or even Turkey and Azerbaijan. Therefore, of course, we bear special responsibility and must be very careful in what we do.

In this context, the support of the United States, France and other members of the Minsk Group – 10 or 12 countries – matters a lot to us. There are European countries there, and Turkey as well. Do we need to change anything in this regard? I am not sure. Maybe the format could be tweaked a little, but it is imperative to find constructive and acceptable compromises for both sides.

To reiterate, for many years we have been looking for these compromises. We have proposed, believe me, very persistently, a variety of compromises, down to minute details and kilometres, to tell you the truth. All sorts of “corridors” were suggested, as well as an exchange of territories. All the things that were suggested… Unfortunately, we were unable to identify a solution, which eventually led to this tragedy. I hope these hostilities will come to an end soon. I agree with those who believe, including you, that the first thing is to immediately stop the hostilities. We, in fact, agreed to this during the meeting in Moscow. Unfortunately, we were unable to avoid this situation. We will continue to strive for this.

Now I would like to say a few words about oil and everything connected with it, the demand for oil and so on. We are working on alternative energy sources ourselves. We are one of the richest countries in hydrocarbons, oil and gas, but this does not mean at all that we should not think about the future. We are thinking about it and about solar energy and hydrogen energy. We are working on this. Moreover, we are working on this with a view to improving the current situation.

You know for sure that we have adopted a decision in line with which in 2022 we must make our 300 largest contaminators, that is, 300 major companies that are the biggest emitters of these gases, switch to the most accessible, latest technology that would minimise emissions into the atmosphere and into the environment in general of any pollutants, and reduce these emissions by 20 percent by 2024. But we understand that by dealing with these 300 companies and 12 cities where most of them are located, we will not drastically improve the situation. Our strategy in this respect is aimed at halving all anthropogenic emissions by 2030. We must move towards this goal. We have set it for ourselves and will pursue it consistently. We will work on it.

That said, I do not think it will be realistic, provided every country wants to be competitive, to abandon hydrocarbons in the near future. I believe the near future embraces several decades: 30, 40 and 50 years from now. This is simply unrealistic.

Therefore, when we hear about European novelties on hydrocarbons and relevant restrictions, I do not know on what basis these proposals, conclusions and decisions are made. Are they explained by domestic political struggle? Later they are followed by restrictions in international trade and cooperation, right? I do not think this will lead to anything good. It is necessary to achieve a result in this respect not through restrictions but through cooperation and a striving to reach common goals.

We have done what we ought to do under the Kyoto agreement. We have fulfilled everything we did. We are active participants in the Paris agreement and intend to do all this. We are not shutting down from it. On the contrary, we think this is the way to go.

I spoke in my opening remarks about the speed at which permafrost is disappearing and the consequences this may have for all humankind. And what about us? We have a lot of transport systems in this zone: oil and gas pipelines and railways. Our residential districts and whole cities are located on this territory. This is a huge problem for us, and that is why we are willing to work and will work, both ourselves and at the international level, for a clean environment and a reduction in anthropogenic emissions. That said, it is impossible to do without hydrocarbons.

But there is also natural gas as a hydrocarbon source. It is actually the cleanest of hydrocarbons. And what about nuclear energy? Despite what anyone says or the scare tactics around nuclear power and nuclear power stations, it is one of the cleanest kinds of energy. So what are we talking about? Take automobiles, what is the primary energy source there? Even now, Europe and the entire world still use coal to produce electricity. Yes, coal’s share is falling but it is still used.

Why should any fiscal constraints be placed on using natural gas and even diesel fuel? By the way, it can be made to be extremely clean with modern purification and usage standards. So what is the point? To give competitive advantages to certain sectors of the economy in this or that country, with politicians standing behind it. That is the only way I can explain it, not as a simple desire to improve the environment. Nevertheless, I hope sound decisions will be taken here and we will be able to find a proper balance between environmental and economic interests.

As for the demand for oil and work within OPEC+, we maintain contacts with all our partners – both the Americans and the Saudis. We do so regularly at the ministerial level. Literally just the other day I spoke to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, we consult with one another. We believe there is no need to change anything in our agreements as of yet. We will be closely tracking the recovery of the market. You said it was sluggish. It was but is recovering, I will note, it is growing.

The world economy did indeed contract due to the pandemic but consumption is on the rise. That has something to do with our decisions as part of OPEC+. We are of the opinion that nothing needs to change right now. However, we are not ruling out either maintaining existing production limits or not lifting them as soon as we had intended earlier. And if necessary, we will make further reductions. But currently we do not see the need. We have agreed with all our partners that we will closely monitor the situation.

Russia is not interested in higher or lower prices necessarily. Here, our interests overlap with those of our US partners, perhaps primarily with them, because if oil prices drop significantly, shale production will experience great difficulties, to put it mildly. However, although it did not join the OPEC+ deal in a meaningful way, the United States has, in fact, reduced output.

So, almost all market participants, all players have close or overlapping interests, as diplomats say. We will proceed based on the actual situation so as not to make a negative impact on the market. As you are aware, it is important not to impact geological exploration and the preparation of new wells. If we treat the energy sector like a stepchild and keep saying it is not good enough and does nothing but pollute, investment will dry up, and prices will skyrocket.

That is why it is necessary to act responsibly and not politicise this issue or chatter idly, especially for those who know nothing about it, but to act based on the interests of the global economy and their own countries’ interests and find a compromise between protecting nature and growing the economy, so our people can earn enough to support themselves and their families. We will succeed only if we manage to balance these interests. Anything less will lead to ruin.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, we at the Valdai Club have the pleasure to meet with you regularly and so we have a basis for comparison. If I may say so, I think you have learned something from the pandemic. You sound at peace when you talk about it. I have to ask. You speak so well of Europe, but does it bother you that you are considered almost a murderer there, that those closest to you in government are sanctioned and you are always called on to justify something? And yet I can hear absolution in what you say.

Vladimir Putin: You know, there is little that bothers me, because to a certain extent, when I carry out my official duties, I become the function of protecting the interests of the Russian people and the Russian state. Everything else I try to shut out, so that it does not interfere with the performance of this function. I have had a long time to get used to these attacks, since 2000, when we fought international terrorists in the Caucasus. I heard and saw everything. They portrayed me with fangs and in every other way imaginable. So, it has no effect on me.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Let us jump to the other side. Zhao Huasheng, Shanghai.

Zhao Huasheng: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Zhao Huasheng: Thank you very much for this great opportunity.

This year’s theme at this Valdai Club session is The Lessons of the Pandemic and the New Agenda: How to Turn a World Crisis into an Opportunity for the World. I will paraphrase this: how can we turn a world crisis into an opportunity for Sino-Russian relations?

The world is rapidly changing now. Given these conditions, how do you think Sino-Russian relations should develop? I am referring to political and economic ties and regional and international cooperation. What new approaches can be expected? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I would give a very brief answer to the question on how to further develop Sino-Russian relations: the same way we have been doing it and are doing it now. Russian-Chinese relations have reached an unprecedented level.

I am not even mentioning the term “specially privileged” relations, etc. What matters is not the name but the quality of these ties. As for the quality, we treat each other with deep trust; we have established durable, stable, and most importantly, effective ties across the board.

My friend – and I have every reason to call him a friend –President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and I continuously consult each other on what and how things need to be done based on what has already been achieved, but we always find a way to move forward.

You know that we are working together in aviation and nuclear power engineering, as I have just mentioned, and further developing trade ties. Last year, our trade was over 111 billion. This is far from the highest figure that we can achieve. We will certainly achieve more.

We are developing infrastructure, building bridges that unite us in the literal meaning of the word. We are developing humanitarian ties and seeking implementation rather than simply planning large projects in the areas where we supplement each other effectively, including energy.

China is a big shareholder in a number of large Russian projects on gas production, and later, on liquefaction (LNG). Where are these projects carried out? Not on the border with China but in the north of the Russian Federation. We work together in a variety of other areas. And, as we have said many times, there is no doubt that international cooperation is a very important factor in stabilising world affairs; this is absolutely obvious.

To say nothing of our military and defence industry cooperation. We have traditionally maintained relations in this area on a significant scale. I am not only talking about buying and selling, I also mean the sharing of technologies. We hope to maintain this working relationship with our Chinese friends – a friendly relationship based on mutual respect, oriented toward achieving the best results for the people of both China and Russia.

As for Shanghai, it happens to be a sister city of St Petersburg, where I am from. I have been to Shanghai on more than one occasion. It is a magnificent and beautiful city, and I wish the people of Shanghai all the best.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Here is a follow-up question from China to clarify a bit what you just said. Professor Yan Xuetong wants to ask you a very simple and straightforward question: Is it possible to conceive of a military alliance between China and Russia?

Vladimir Putin: It is possible to imagine anything. We have always believed that our relations have reached such a level of cooperation and trust that it is not necessary, but it is certainly imaginable, in theory.

We hold regular joint military exercises – at sea and on land in both China and the Russian Federation – and we share best practices in the build-up of the armed forces. We have achieved a high level of cooperation in the defence industry – I am not only talking about the exchange or the purchase and sale of military products, but the sharing of technologies, which is perhaps most important.

There are also very sensitive issues here. I will not speak publicly about them now, but our Chinese friends are aware of them. Undoubtedly, cooperation between Russia and China is boosting the defence potential of the Chinese People’s Army, which is in the interests of Russia as well as China. Time will tell how it will progress from here. So far, we have not set that goal for ourselves. But, in principle, we are not going to rule it out, either. So, we will see.

Anyway, we are satisfied with the current state of relations between Russia and China in this area. Unfortunately, we have to confront new threats. For example, the intention stated by our American partners to possibly deploy medium- and short-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific Region, of course, raises alarm, and we undoubtedly will have to take reciprocal steps – this fact is self-evident.

Of course, before it comes to that, we have to see what if anything is going to happen, what threats it will pose to us, and, depending on that, we will take reciprocal measures to ensure our security.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Piotr Dutkiewicz from Canada, please.

Piotr Dutkiewicz: Mr President, thank you so much for this unique opportunity to talk to you.

You mentioned in your speech that the youth will have to push the future of Russia, the development of Russia forward. But young people are very unhappy with the world. Look at what is happening in the US, France and Israel. They are saying we have shut the door to a good future for them. According to international opinion polls, over half of young people think they will live worse than their parents do. But they are not impressed by any of this. So, I would like to ask you as the President of the Russian Federation, what you can advise and offer to Russian youth?

Vladimir Putin: I touched on this in my opening remarks, but I can say it again. Of course, the future belongs to the youth, This is the first thing.

Second, young people are usually discontent not with what is happening but with what they have achieved for today, and they want more. And this is right, this is what underlies progress. This is a foundation for the young people to create a better future than the one we have built. And there is nothing surprising or new in this idea. We can understand this from classic Russian literature. Read Fathers and Sons, it is all there.

But what can we offer? We believe we will give young people more opportunities for professional growth and create more social lifts for them. We are building up these instruments and creating conditions for people to receive a good education, make a career, start a family and receive enough income for a young family.

We are drafting an increasing number of measures to support young families. Let me emphasise that even during the pandemic, most of our support measures were designed for families with children. What are these families? They are young people for the most part.

We will continue doing this in the hope that young people will use their best traits – their daring striving to move ahead without looking back at formalities that probably make older generations more reserved – for positive, creative endeavours. Eventually, the younger generation will take the baton from the older generation and continue this relay race, and make Russia stronger.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

We have an unusual connection with Australia today. I do not remember anything like this before.

Anton Roux, Please, go ahead.

Anton Roux: Thank you, Mr President, for the opportunity to ask you a question. I really appreciated your insightful, heartfelt and considered remarks during your speech; and I come to you from our second state lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, which is also a sister city to St Petersburg. I embrace also your urging to cast aside silo mentalities.

My question is the following: How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be as a world leader and the President of the Russian Federation during the first half of the 21st century? How would you like international historians across the world to write about you and your legacy as a leader, a man and a human being at the end of the 21st century? And how might you shape this any differently during the next phase of your leadership as President of the Russian Federation?

Vladimir Putin: If the translation is correct, you said “who lived in the 21st century.” But, thank God, we are alive and keep living in the 21st century. To be honest, I never think in terms of the areas you mentioned. I do not think about my role in history; those who are interested can decide. I never read a single book about myself.

I just keep working day in, day out, trying to resolve current issues and looking into the future so that these current issues do not stand in the way of achieving our strategic goals. It is, in fact, routine work. I proceed from what I must accomplish today, tomorrow, this year, or in three years given that we plan the budget of the Russian Federation three years in advance.

Of course, as I have said, we do consider strategic goals; this is why we have drafted and continue pursuing national development plans and national projects. But this totally unrelated to any desire to mark my place in history in some way. It is related to something completely different – ensuring the interests of the Russian people, the Russian state, strengthening Russia.

How I will be seen by future generations, I would rather leave to them and their judgment. But then, I do not think I would be interested in these judgments when they are made. In this sense I am a pragmatic person, and I am trying to work not for my image as a world leader, and I do not think I am one (I do not think I am any different from my colleagues – the heads of other states), I work to strengthen my country. This my priority and the meaning of my life.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you. I remember your interview a few months ago, ahead of the constitution referendum, when you openly said that an opportunity to remain in office after 24 years is a guarantee against bureaucratic intrigue, the people around you, so they would not look around in search of a successor.

But if this is true, it is an endless circle; they will always be searching, even while you remain in office.

Vladimir Putin: No, it must definitely end one day, I am perfectly aware of that. And the changes in the Constitution you mentioned are aimed not only at granting the incumbent head of state the right to be elected in 2024 and later, but these amendments are basically aimed at reinforcing the sovereignty of the Russian Federation, outlining our development prospects and building up the fundamental constitutional foundation for progress in the economy, the social sphere and enhancing our sovereignty.

I expect it will all work.

As to what will happen in 2024 or later – we will see when the times comes. Now we all just have to work hard like St Francis, everyone at his or her place.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Alexander Rahr, please.

Alexander Rahr: Mr President, my question is about nostalgia as well. I remember your historical speech at the German Bundestag 20 years ago, where you actually proposed building a common space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Do you regret that?

Here is my point. The French and the Germans supported the idea. The Eastern Europeans did not. America will not, either. Actually, that keeps us from building our relations with Russia, which, I think, many Europeans would like.

If you had the opportunity to address the Bundestag again, would you also propose working together in the digital sphere or, perhaps, the environment, which would unite Europe and Russia in terms of energy? I think this is a promising idea for the future.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding what I would say if I were speaking there now, here is what happened back then.

At that time (it was 2007, correct?), many of my colleagues told me it was a bit harsh and it was not very good.

What did I actually say? I will refresh your memory. I said it is unacceptable for one country to extend its law beyond its national borders and try to subject other states to its regulations. Something along these lines.

What is happening now? Is it not Western European leaders who are saying that secondary sanctions and extending US jurisdiction to European companies are unacceptable?

If only they had enough guts to listen to what I said back then and to try to at least change the situation, do it carefully, without destroying Atlantic solidarity or the structural arrangement in NATO or elsewhere. I was not talking about that, but about the fact that it is unacceptable and bad for everyone, including those who do this.

Back then, our European partners seemed not to care and everyone looked the other way. Here again, what happened then is happening now. I am saying that this is still bad for everyone, including those who are pursuing or trying to pursue a policy of exceptionalism, because this actually destroys relations and interaction between Europe and the United States, and ultimately causes damage to the United States itself. Why do this?

This fleeting tactical gain that the United States is seeking may lead to negative strategic consequences and the destruction of trust. This is not my business, but since we are having an exchange at the discussion club, I will go ahead and philosophise. This is an absolutely obvious thing.

So, I did not say anything unusual, harmful or aggressive in Munich in 2007. But if I were to speak there now, I would not, of course, say I told you so. I would not do that just out of respect for my colleagues. I am fully aware of the realities back then and today. We do not live in a vacuum, but in real life conditions, our relationships are real and our interdependence is strong.

We understand everything perfectly well, but we need to change things. We are talking about a new world order, so these realities must be taken into account when building modern international relations, which must, of course, be based on consideration for each other’s interests and mutual respect, and respect for sovereignty.

I hope we can build our relations carefully and calmly, without destroying what has been created over previous decades, but while taking into account today’s needs. These relations will meet present requirements and the interests of all participants in international communication.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Alexei Yekaikin. Since we have talked a lot about ecology today, we cannot go without this.

Vladimir Putin: What time is it?

Fyodor Lukyanov: Yes, we are finishing up, Mr President. We feel we have already exceeded our time, but we cannot do without ecology in the end.

Vladimir Putin: No, we cannot. I agree.

Alexei Yekaikin: Thank you, Fyodor.

Good evening, Mr President.

Maybe, this question will seem a bit surprising to you although we have met several times over the years and talked about this. I would like to raise it again. It is about the Antarctic. We spoke about this at the climate session and, in general, this is an anniversary year for us – 200 years since the discovery of the Antarctic.

This is what my question is about. Russia has adopted or is adopting a strategy for developing activities in the Antarctic. A new Vostok station is under construction in the Central Antarctic as part of this strategy. You know this.

It would seem that everything is fine, investment in the infrastructure and the like. So, you may get the impression that we are doing well in the Antarctic. Alas, this is not the case, because the policy is about infrastructure but does not say a word about science. This is a fairly paradoxical situation. I would call it strange because we invest in the infrastructure whereas the main goal for which we need it, that is, science, remains somewhere backstage.

At our Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, we have prepared a draft federal programme for studying the area around the Vostok station for the next 15 years. It has been drafted in detail. It consists of two main themes. The first is the study of the past climate based on ice core data, and this study is very closely connected with the climate theme. Yes, this is drilling the ice, that is right.

The second theme concerns the subglacial lake Vostok. You also know about this. It is one of the most unique phenomena on the planet.

These are two subjects in which we, Russian scientists, are generally strong; we are not trying catch up with anyone in this respect. We are at the proper level and even ahead of some of our colleagues. Nonetheless, there is no government support for research in the Antarctic. I find this strange.

We sent this draft programme to the Ministry of Natural Resources, our relevant ministry. I do not know where exactly it is now. We do not know what happened to it. My question is very simple: does the Russian Government have the opportunity to support our efforts to study the Antarctic or will this topic go down the drain?

After all, it would be a pity to lose our priority in this area.

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Alexei, first of all, the fact that your colleagues and you made it to Lake Vostok and made this discovery, got to this water that is thousands of years old and that was not connected in any way with the world, remaining under the ice, this, of course, is of great interest to people like you, researchers, who study what eventually became the Earth and how the climate was changing.

I saw this; they brought me the core samples and the water. It is exciting. However, the fact that the infrastructure is being created means that preparations for research are underway. I do not know the plans regarding the allocation of funds for these purposes. You said that money was allocated for the infrastructure, but not scientific research. I doubt this is a lot of money. If the Ministry of Natural Resources …unfortunately, budget cuts are underway, which are caused by certain economic difficulties.

I am not sure if it was necessary to cut the already small expenses associated with Antarctic research. I promise I will look into it. We will punish anyone who made a mistake.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, you mentioned in your speech that you do not miss the Cold War. Do you miss anything at all?

Vladimir Putin: My children, I rarely see them.

Fyodor Lukyanov: We at the Valdai Club miss the opportunity to get together in person. With all the great advances in technology that allow us to hold almost complete meetings, we would still very much like to talk in person to you and each other next year.

We have not broken the record; there was a forum where the President spent more time with us, but we are close. We talked with the President of the Russian Federation for almost three hours, for which we are sincerely grateful.

Thank you very much. We will try to quickly get back to our normal schedule, and we look forward to seeing you next year.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much for hosting this.

I want to address all members of the Valdai Club, the analysts, politicians and journalists who work with this entity. It is an entity, because it has been operational for many years now. I hope you find it interesting and useful.

I am grateful to you for showing interest in Russia, in our development plans, in us today and in our history. This means that you are engaged, and it is important for us to know your opinion.

I am saying this sincerely, because by comparing what we are doing, by comparing our own assessments of our progress and our economic and political plans, comparing them with your ideas about what is good and what is bad, we find the best solutions and can adjust our plans.

I want to thank you for this and to wish you every success. I also hope for a personal meeting next time.

Good luck to you. Thank you very much.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much. Good-bye.

Vladimir Putin: Good-bye.

اعتذار أديب… بين خطة هجوم 14 آذار والردّ المطلوب من التحالف الوطني!

حسن حردان

أعلن الرئيس المكلف لتشكيل الحكومة الدكتور مصطفى أديب اعتذاره عن عدم مواصلة العمل على تأليف حكومة جديدة.. وجاء في حيثيات اعتذاره، أنه «مع وصول المجهود الى مراحله الأخيرة تبيّن لي أنّ التوافق لم يعد قائماً»، مشيراً إلى أنه «سبق وأعلنتُ للكتل أنني لست في صدد الولوج في أيّ شأن سياسي وأبلغت الكتل أنني لست في صدد طرح أسماء تشكل استفزازاً لها».

وما أن انتهى أديب من تلاوة بيان اعتذاره، حتى شهدنا هجوماً منسّقاً ومحضّراً مسبقاً على فريق الأكثرية، وخصوصاً تحالف حزب الله أمل، شنّته قيادات فريق ١٤ آذار ومجموعات الانجيؤز، مصحوباً بالضغط على معيشة المواطنين، واتخذ الهجوم المنسّق عدة مستويات…

اولاً، اتهام التحالف الأكثري، لا سيما حزب الله وأمل، بالمسؤولية عن تعطيل تشكيل الحكومة وإفشال المبادرة الفرنسية وإضاعة ما وُصف بأنه الفرصة الأخيرة للإنقاذ وإخراج لبنان واللبنانيين من الأزمة الخانقة.

ثانياً، التلاعب بسعر العملة عبر القيام بدفع الأدوات المضاربة في السوق المالية إلى رفع سعر صرف الدولار والقول إنّ هذا الارتفاع الذي سيؤثر سلباً على القدرة الشرائية للمواطنين ويلهب الأسعار، إنّما هو نتيجة تصلّب أمل حزب الله في رفض تسهيل مهمة الرئيس أديب في تشكيل الحكومة مستقلة، ودفعه إلى الإعتذار.

ثالثاً، مسارعة مجموعات الأنجيؤز للنزول إلى الشارع ورفع شعارات تحمّل مسؤولية ارتفاع سعر الدولار وتدهور الوضع المعيشي لفريق الأكثرية بهدف تحريض المواطنين على العودة إلى الساحات وإحياء المطالبة بتشكيل حكومة مستقلة تتولى تنفيذ الانقلاب الأميركي.

لكن أيّ مدقق في ما تقدّم من اعتذار أديب إلى الحملة المنسّقة ضدّ فريق الأكثرية، يلحظ مدى الزيف وعدم الصدقية في توجيه الاتهامات، وأنها تستهدف التعمية على حقائق ما حصل فعلياً، ومن يقف وراء تعطيل تشكيل الحكومة… وبالتالي التهرّب من المسؤولية عن الأزمات التي يعاني منها اللبنانيون…

1

ـ إنّ الرئيس المكلف أديب، على عكس ما أوحى في بيان اعتذاره، لم يبذل أيّ جهد حقيقي لتشكيل حكومة توافقية، بل انه لم يتشاور مع الكتل النيابية وظلّ طوال الوقت على التشاور والانصات فقط لتوجيهات نادي رؤساء الحكومات السابقين، وإصراره على فرض تشكيلة حكومية «مستقلة» ينفرد هو في تسمية وزرائها، وعندما التقى أخيراً، بعد أن أحرج، بممثلي تحالف أمل وحزب الله، بقي على موقفه من دون أن يتزحزح قيد أنملة رافضاً الموافقة على أن يسمّي التحالف وزراءه من ذوي الاختصاص ومن غير الحزبيّين، وتمسك أديب بموقفه، وهو أمر لم يكن من ضمن أيّ اتفاق، كما زعم في بيان اعتذاره، حيث لم تتخلّ كتلتا أمل وحزب الله عن تسمية وزرائهما من الاختصاصيين غير الحزبيّين، في حين أنّ الرئيس أديب نفسه ليس مستقلاً منزلاً من السماء، وكان أول من سمّاه هو نادي رؤساء الحكومات السابقين، واتفق معهم فقط على تشكيلة حكومته، التي لم يعلنها ولم يسلم مسودة عنها لرئيس الجمهزرية العماد ميشال عون، لعدم حصول أديب على موافقة تحالف أمل حزب الله، واستطراداً لإدراكه أنّ رئيس الجمهورية سيكون له أيضاً رأي معاكس باعتباره شريكاً في عملية التأليف، والذي ظهر في انتقاده أديب والطلب منه التواصل والتشاور مع الكتل، وعندما لم يستجب أديب لذلك، تولى الرئيس عون مهمة الوقوف بنفسه على رأي الكتل بشأن طبيعة وشكل الحكومة…

2

ـ إنّ فريق 14 آذار ركز في حملته على دعم أديب في تشكيل حكومة مستقلين لا يسمّيها أحد غيره، وطبعاً من ورائه نادي الرؤساء، الذين كانوا يتولّون الإشراف على عملية تشكيل حكومة أديب بالاتفاق مع واشنطن والرياض… بحيث تكون حكومة مستقلين ويكون هواها أميركياً.

3

ـ إنّ اعتذار أديب يأتي من ضمن خطة منسقة مع نادي الرؤساء لشنّ حملة منظمة لخلق مناخ عام محلي لزيادة منسوب الضغط على حزب الله وحركة أمل ورئيس الجمهورية، معززاً بالمزيد من العقوبات الأميركية ومفاقمة الأزمة المعيشية للمواطنين في محاولة لإعادة تحرك الشارع… للضغط على التحالف الوطني لدفعه إلى الموافقة على تشكيل حكومة اختصاصيين «مستقلين» لا يشارك في تسمية وزرائها.. لأنّ ذلك هو الشرط الأميركي الذي وضع منذ البداية… إما الموافقة على حكومة من هذا النوع، تنفذ الشروط الأميركية، أو عليكم أن تواجهوا المزيد من الحصار والعقوبات والتجويع…

انطلاقاً من ذلك، فإنّ الفريق الأميركي السعودي لا يريد تسهيل تشكيل حكومة وفاق تؤدّي الى إحياء المساكنة التي كانت سابقاً مع الفريق الوطني، وإنما يريد تنفيذ انقلاب سياسي على المعادلة القائمة من خلال محاولة فرض حكومة موالية بالكامل للفريق الأميركي السعودي تحت اسم حكومة اختصاصيين «مستقلين»… وهو الأمر الذي صرفت من أجله واشنطن الأموال الطائلة، وتحديداً على منظمات الأنجيؤز ووسائل الإعلام، حيث اعترف مساعد وزير الخارجية الأميركي ديفيد هيل في شهادة له أمام الكونغرس قبل أيام، بأنّ الإدارات الأميركية المتعاقبة صرفت في لبنان منذ عام 2005 وحتى الآن عشرة مليارات دولار على القوى المسلحة ومنظمات المجتمع المدني…

أمام هذه الخلاصة، التي تأكدت مجدّداً من خلال اعتذار أديب والحملة الممنهجة التي بدأها الفريق الأميركي السعودي، بعد الاعتذار مباشرة…

ما هو الردّ المطلوب من قبل التحالف الوطني؟

في هذا السياق يمكن القول…

1

ـ إنّ الخطوة الأولى الأساسية الواجبة إنّما هي اقتناع كلّ أطراف التحالف الوطني بأنّ الفريق الأميركي يريد إقصاءهم عن السلطة، وإضعافهم وتفرقة صفوفهم وصولاً إلى استمالة بعضهم، اذا تمكّن، لإبعادهم عن حزب الله المقاوم… وبالتالي عزل المقاومة والعمل على نزع سلاحها باعتبار ذلك هو السبيل لتحقيق أمن كيان العدو الصهيوني، وفرض الهيمنة الأميركية الكاملة على لبنان، وتحويله إلى محمية أميركية صهيونية وجعله قاعدة لإعادة التآمر ضدّ الدولة الوطنية السورية المقاومة…

2

ـ إنّ هذا الاقتناع يستدعي الاتفاق على بلورة رؤية موحدة لمواجهة خطة الانقلاب التي يعمل، الفريق الأميركي السعودي، على تنفيذها، رؤية تضع في الأولوية كيفية مواجهة التحديات الراهنة التي يتمّ الاتفاق عليها، وتحييد كلّ ما عداها من قضايا ومسائل خلافية ليست أولوية ولا هي أولويات راهنة.

3

ـ إنّ الرؤية الموحدة للمواجهة تتطلب أن يحسم التحالف الوطني أمره بأن لا مخرج من الأزمة وإحباط خطة الإنقلاب الأميركية من دون تشكيل حكومة منسجة ومتماسكة وفق رؤية انقاذية اقتصادية ومالية تقوم على إعادة نظر جذرية بالسياسات الريعية المسبّبة للأزمة، ومغادرة سياسة إبقاء لبنان بعلاقة اقتصادية أحادية مع دول الغرب، التي تستخدم هذه العلاقة لابتزاز لبنان وفرض شروطها على لبنان… وبالتالي حسم القرار بتنويع خيارات لبنان الاقتصادية عبر أخذ قرار قبول عروض المشاريع والمساعدات الصينية والإيرانية والعراقية والروسية لمساعدة لبنان من دون شروط، وبالتالي تكريس توازن جديد في علاقات لبنان الاقتصادية مع الخارج انطلاقاً من أن لبنان يحتلّ موقعاً جغرافياً مميزاً كصلة وصلة وصل بين الشرق والغرب وهو ما لا يمكن أن يقوم به إلاّ إذا ترجم ذلك بالانفتاح اقتصادياً على الشرق، كما هو منفتح على الغرب… وإذا كانت الفعاليات الاقتصادية حذرة أو خائفة من تضرّر مصالحها من الإقدام على مثل هذا الخيار، فيجب أن تدرك أنها ستكون أول المستفيدين من ذلك وأنّ الغرب سوف يعمد إلى المسارعة لوقف حصاره وتقديم المساعدات للبنان للحفاظ على نفوذ فيه، انطلاقاً من أهمية لبنان في المنطقة والصراع العربي الصهيوني…

إنّ مثل هذا الردّ هو السبيل لوضع حدّ لتفاقم الأزمة الاقتصادية والمالية، والعمل على إعادة انعاش الاقتصاد من خلال البدء عمليا بمشاريع إقامة معامل الكهرباء والنفايات وسكك الحديد والسدود وغيرها من المشاريع التي عرضت الصين القيام بها، وفق نظام BOT، في حين أنّ لبنان يستطيع أيضاً وقف النزف الحاصل في احتياطه، من الدولارات في مصرف لبنان، من خلال قبول العروض العراقية والإيرانية للحصول على احتياجاته من النفط ومشتقاته مقابل الدفع بالليرة والمقايضة بالمنتجات الزراعية والصناعية..وهذا سوف يؤدّي إلى إنعاش قطاعات الإنتاج وتوسّعها وتوّفير فرص العمل للعاطلين، وبالتالي الحدّ من البطالة، وكذلك تنشيط حركة البناء وعمل المهن الحرة على اختلافها، مما ينعكس بتنشيط مجمل الحركة الاقتصادية…

فهل يحسم التحالف الوطني، الذي يمتلك الأكثرية النيابية، خياراته في هذا الاتجاه، الذي كان أمين حزب الله سماحة السيد حسن نصرالله قد دعا إليه، وأكد أنه حاضر لتوظيف كلّ جهوده لإنجاحه، من خلال توظيف علاقاته مع الصين وإيران والعراق وروسيا…

أما في حال عدم سلوك هذا الخيار، فالأرجح أن تستمرّ حكومة تصريف الأعمال إلى أن تنضج التسوية، وهو أمر غير منظور قبل انتهاء انتخابات الرئاسة الأميركية وإعلان نتائجها، والتي قد تأخذ وقتا غير معلوم، خصوصاً إذا لم يضمن الرئيس دونالد ترامب الفوز وامتناعه عن تسليم السلطة للرئيس الفائز، تحت عنوان، التشكيك بنزاهة الانتخابات… وهو ما مهّد له مسبقاً من خلال التشكيك بالتصويت عبر البريد…

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لماذا أنفق الأميركيون 10 مليار دولار في لبنان؟

ناصر قنديل

الكلام الذي قاله نائب وزير الخارجية الأميركية ديفيد هيل أمام لجنة الشؤون الخارجية في الكونغرس هو كلام رسميّ موثّق يُقال في مناسبة مدوّنة ضمن علاقة دستورية بين الإدارة والكونغرس، فلا يحتمل الارتجال، ولذلك فإن كلام هيل لجهة الكشف عن إنفاق مبلغ عشرة مليارات دولار خلال السنوات الماضيّة لدعم القوى المسلحة، ومنظمات المجتمع المدني، يستحقّ وحده التساؤل عن وجهة إنفاق هذا المبلغ الضخم، والأهداف من إنفاقه.

تقدّم واشنطن مساعدات للجيش اللبناني، وغالب هذه المساعدات مسقوف بما لا يتيحُ للجيش امتلاك ما يتيح مواجهة الاعتداءات “الإسرائيلية”، يُقدّر سنوياً وفقاً لما يُنشَر على ألسنة المسؤولين الأميركيين، وما تتضمّنه تقارير المساعدات العسكرية الأميركيّة لبلدان العالم على مواقع عسكرية أميركيّة، بمئة مليون دولار، منذ العام 2005، وأقلّ من ذلك بكثير قبلها، ما يعني أن سقف هذه المساعدات لا يصلُ الى ثلاثة مليارات دولار خلال ثلاثين عاماً، فأين ذهبت السبعة مليارات دولار الأخرى؟

أن تكون الإدارة الأميركيّة قد أنفقت سبعة مليارات دولار خلال أربعة عشر عاماً، يعني نصف مليار دولار سنوياً، على ما أسماه هيل بمنظمات المجتمع المدني، وهي وفقاً لما يمكن للمتابع أن يعرفه، موزعة بين ثلاثة مستويات، مساهمات ومشاريع لمنظمات تتعاقد بتمويل أميركي مع الوزارات والمؤسسات الحكومية، وقد بات معلوماً أنها أكبر مصادر الفساد في الدولة، حيث يتقاضى مستشارون مبالغ طائلة خارج أي إطار رسمي وأية رقابة رسمية، وأغلبهم لا يقدم شيئاً يذكر، والأهم أنهم بلا استثناء محسوبيات لزعامات، ينطبق على توظيفهم مفهوم المشاركة الأميركيّة بتوفير الاحتياط المالي لإعادة إنتاج نظام الفساد السياسي والمالي من خارج الموازنات الرسميّة.

المستوى الثاني هو مساهمات تقدّمها المؤسسات الأميركيّة الماليّة لمؤسسات لبنانيّة خاصة يسمّيها هيل بمنظمات المجتمع المدني، وهي جمعيات سياسية تابعة لزعامات مناطقية وطائفية تساعد هذه الزعامات بإعادة إنتاج زعامتها بصورة منافية لأبسط شروط التكافؤ والمنافسة الديمقراطية، عبر تقديم خدمات مموّلة من الخارج لمواطنين حرمتهم الدولة من حقوقهم، ووفّرها لهم الزعيم المدعوم من التمويل الأميركي.

المستوى الثالث هو مساهمات تستفيد منها مؤسسات ناشطة سياسياً وإعلامياً، عبّر عنها التحالف الذي تصدّى لقيادة انتفاضة تشرين، والذي لم يعُد خافياً انضباط أغلبه الإعلاميّ والسياسي، بما في ذلك أحزاب ناشئة، ومنظمات بعناوين إنسانية وسياسية ولدت تحت عنوان تعزيز الديمقراطية أو حماية حقوق الإنسان أو الاهتمام بالنازحين السوريين، وبمثل ما ينضح سجل أغلب هذه المؤسسات بالفساد، فإن دورها السياسي كأدة للسياسة الأميركيّة ليس خافياً ولا مخفياً.

بعض وسائل الإعلام المستفيدة من برامج عنوانها التشجيع على الديمقراطيّة، لم يتأخر عن إعداد تقارير ترويجيّة للتطبيع الذي قامت واشنطن برعايته بين كيان الاحتلال والإمارات والبحرين، والتزم بقرارات أميركيّة لمنع بث خطابات الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، تحت حجج واهية، بمثل ما التزم بلا مبرّر بنقل خطابات شخصيات منضوية تحت العباءة الأميركيّة وتخدم المشروع الأميركي.

الأميركيون الذين يحجبون الأموال عن الشعب اللبناني وينفذون سياسة خنق وحصار وتجويع، يجدون المال بوفرة عندما يكون المطلوب تجنيد عملاء خمس نجوم، وهم يفرضون العقوبات تحت عناوين ملاحقة الفساد يقيمون ويشجعون قيام إمبراطوريات الفساد المنتشرة في كل المناطق وكل القطاعات.

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Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Statement About the Situation in Belarus

Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Statement About the Situation in Belarus

September 19, 2020

SVR RF Press Bureau – September 16, 2020

(Italics and bolding added for emphasis.)

The Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation, Sergey Naryshkin stated:

“The events in Belarus show clearly visible Western traces. The protest actions from the very beginning carry a well organized character and is coordinated from abroad.

It’s remarkable that the West began preparing the protests long before the elections. In 2019 – early 2020 alone, the United States allocated about $20 million through various NGOs to organize anti-government protests. This money was used to form a network of ‘independent bloggers’ and informational accounts in social networks, to prepare activists for street actions. The most promising of them were trained abroad, in particular in Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine, where they were trained by experienced American instructors in ‘non-violent protest’.

According to information available to the SVR, the United States plays a key role in the current events in Belarus. Although Washington is trying to stay ‘in the shadows’ in the public space, after the start of mass street protests, the Americans have multiplied their funding of Belarusian anti-government forces. Its volumes are estimated in tens of millions of dollars. The United States has taken under close guardianship the former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and other opposition activists who are being promoted as ‘people’s leaders’ and future leaders of ‘democratic Belarus’.

In our contacts with European allies, Washington insists on the need to increase pressure on Minsk to induce the legitimate leadership of Belarus to launch a dialogue with the so-called Coordination Council on the ‘transfer of power’. In fact, we are talking about a poorly veiled attempt to organize another ‘color revolution’ and an anti-constitutional coup, the goals and objectives of which have nothing to do with the interests of Belarusian citizens.”

S.N. Ivanov

Head of the SVR Press Bureau

لهذه الأسباب يرفض أديب احترام الآليات الدستورية للطائف

حسن حردان

بات من الواضح أنّ عملية تشكيل الحكومة اللبنانية، من قبل الرئيس المكلف الدكتور مصطفى أديب، لا تسلك طريق الآليات الدستورية، التي كرّسها اتفاق الطائف، والتي يجب أن تقوم على احترام نتائج الانتخابات… عبر القيام بالخطوات الإلزامية التالية…

أولاً، التشاور مع الكتل النيابية في البرلمان لتحديد شكل ومضمون وبرنامج الحكومة، وتسمية الشخصيات التي تقترح تمثيلها في الحكومة.

ثانياً، الحرص على أن تكون تشكيلة الحكومة التي ستشكل تحوز على…

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ـ تمثيل الكتل النيابية وفق أحجامها في البرلمان…

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ـ ضمان تمتع الحكومة بالميثاقية، أيّ تمثيل الطوائف اللبنانية تمثيلاً عادلاً حسب الدستور.. لأنّ النظام يقوم على المحاصصة الطائفية بموجب المادة 95، طالما لم يتمّ إلغاء الطائفية…

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ـ الاتفاق مع رئيس الجمهورية بشأن التشكيلة الحكومية وأسماء الوزراء، حسب الدستور الذي يقول بوضوح إنّ رئيس الجمهورية «يصدر بالاتفاق مع رئيس مجلس الوزراء مرسوم تشكيل الحكومة» (الفقرة 4). وكلمة بالاتفاق تعني دستورياً انّ لديه صلاحية التعديل والاعتراض على التشكيلة إذا كانت لا تلبّي شروط التمثيل الحقيقي أو الميثاقية…

لماذا يتمّ القفز فوق هذه الآليات الدستورية؟

لا شيء يدفع الرئيس المكلف إلى تجاهل الكتل النيابية لا سيما الأغلبية، التي من دونها لا تستطيع حكومته أن تنال الثقة في البرلمان.. لا شيء يدفعه إلى ذلك سوى خضوعه لضغط مباشر من رئيس تيار المستقبل الرئيس سعد الحريري ونادي رؤساء الحكومات السابقين الذين سمّوه قبل الاستشارات النيابية، والذين استغلوا تسمية أديب، من دون وجود اتفاق مسبق على تشكيلة وطبيعة ونوعية الحكومة وبرنامجها، لأجل محاولة فرض تأليف حكومة من الاختصاصيين تؤمّن لهم ولسيّدهم الأميركي إقصاء حزب الله المقاوم وحلفائه عن السلطة التنفيذية.. وهو أمر يتعارض مع الموقف المعلن للرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون، لكنه يلبّي المطلب الأميركي المعلن والواضح منذ استقالة حكومة الرئيس الحريري اثر انتفاضة ١٧ تشرين الأول.. وذلك بهدف تمكن هذه الحكومة من تحقيق هدفين مهمّين لواشنطن…

الهدف الأول، فرض اتفاق لترسيم الحدود البحرية والبرية وفق الصيغة التي وضعها الموفد الأميركي فريدريك هوف خلال زيارته لبنان عام 2012 واقترح خلالها أن يتمّ تقاسم المنطقة المتنازع عليها بين لبنان وكيان العدو الصهيوني عند الحدود البحرية الجنوبية. التي تمتدّ على حوالى 860 كلم 2، والاقتراح يريد إعطاء لبنان مساحة 500 كلم2 مقابل أن تحصل تل أبيب على 360 كلم2. أي أن يتخلى لبنان عن 40% من هذه المساحة التي تحتوي على ثروة نفطية هامة… لكن لبنان رفض رفضاً قاطعاً التنازل وأصرّ على ترسيم يحفظ كامل حقه، وهذا الموقف أبلغه دولة الرئيس بري مراراً وتكراراً إلى جميع الموفدين الأميركيين الذين زاروا لبنان منذ ذلك التاريخ وحاولوا، دون جدوى، الحصول منه على تنازل…

الهدف الثاني، الاستجابة لشروط صندوق النقد الدولي التي تربط تقديم قروض ميسّرة للبنان بتخصيص ما تبقى من مؤسسات ومنشآت للدولة تدرّ عائدات هامة على الخزينة، وفي المقدمة الهاتف الخليوي والمرافئ وغيرها.. إلى جانب فرض ضرائب جديدة غير مباشرة على عامة المواطنين وتقليص حجم الدولة بتسريح عدد كبير من الموظفين…

هذان الهدفان، الأول يحقق الأطماع الصهيونية على حساب المصلحة الوطنية.. والثاني يجعل لبنان أكثر ارتهاناً اقتصادياً ومالياً للولايات المتحدة لإخضاعه بالكامل لهيمنتها انطلاقاً من سياسة معروفة وهي الإمساك باقتصاديات الدول التي ترفض الهيمنة الاستعمارية الأميركية والعمل على ابتزازها وإخضاعها بوساطة السلاح الاقتصادي والمالي، الذي اطلق عليه احد الكتاب الأميركيين وصف «القاتل الاقتصادي».. وطبعاً الهدف الذي تسعى إليه واشنطن من وراء ذلك هو محاصرة المقاومة والعمل على نزع سلاحها، لا سيما الصواريخ الدقيقة التي تقلق كيان العدو الصهيوني وتردعه وتشلّ قدرته على شنّ العدوان على لبنان، وتشكل قوة دعم أساسية للمقاومة الفلسطينية وعموداً أساسياً من أعمدة محور المقاومة، الذي أحبط المشروع الأميركي الصهيوني للشرق الأوسط الجديد، تهيمن فيه «إسرائيل» باعتبارها أداة الغرب لتأبيد الهيمنة الاستعمارية على المنطقة، ومواصلة نهب ثرواتها وتحويلها إلى مجرد سوق استهلاكية لمنتجاته…

لأجل تحقيق هذين الهدفين عمدت واشنطن إلى وضع خطة لتفجير «ربيع لبناني» من خلال تشديد الحصار المالي على لبنان ودفع الأزمة المالية والاقتصادية للانفجار، واستطراداً التسبّب بانهيار القدرة الشرائية للمواطنين مما يدفعهم إلى الاحتجاج في الشارع ضدّ سياسات الحكومة.. طبعاً الأدوات الأميركية، لتنفيذ الانقلاب، كانت جاهزة لاستغلال وركوب موجة الاحتجاج الذي انفجر في ١٧ تشرين الأول من عام 2019… إعلام، مال، منظمات الأنجيؤز، وشعارات موجهة تحرّض ضدّ حزب الله وحلفائه، لا سيما رئيس الجمهورية العماد ميشال عون، والرئيس نبيه بري، والتيار الوطني الحر، وتحمّلهم المسؤولية الأساسية عن الفساد والأزمة تحت شعار «كلن يعني كلن».. بما يذكر بشعار «الشعب يريد إسقاط النظام» لمصلحة تجديد شباب الأنظمة العربية الرجعية في مصر وتونس، ومن ثم استخدامه لإسقاط الدول الوطنية، وخصوصاً الدولة الوطنية السورية، التي تواجه الاحتلال وتدعم المقاومة وترفض الهيمنة الاستعمارية الأميركية الغربية..

هذا هو بيت القصيد من المحاولات الأميركية لتدبير الانقلاب على المعادلة السياسية في لبنان عبر السعي لفرض تشكيل حكومة اختصاصيين «مستقلة» لكنها في الحقيقة حكومة تابعة تنفذ التوجيهات الأميركية..

إذا عاد وسلم الرئيس أديب، وطبعاً من خلفه نادي رؤساء الحكومات السابقين، بتشكيل حكومة وفاق وطني، كما ينص اتفاق الطائف، فهذا معناه فشل الخطة الأميركية الانقلابية…

ولأنّ واشنطن، لا تزال تراهن على أنه بإمكانها تحقيق الانقلاب السياسي في لبنان، تعمل على الضغط لمنع تأليف مثل هذه الحكومة، وتستخدم سلاح العقوبات الاقتصادية ضدّ شخصيات وطنية حليفة لحزب الله المقاوم، لأجل محاولة إرهابها ودفعها إلى الاستسلام للشروط الأميركية المذكورة وعدم الوقوف حائلاً دون تشكيل حكومة أميركية الهوى..

غير أنّ الحلم الأميركي بتحقيق هذا الانقلاب كحلم ابليس بالجنة.. فما كان ممكناً جزئياً عام 2005، لم يعد ممكناً عام 2020، لا سيما في ظلّ تنامي قوة المقاومة وحلفها الوطني والعربي والإقليمي، على خلفية فشل الحروب الأميركية الصهيونية الإرهابية في تحقيق أهدافها، ونجاح حلف المقاومة في تحقيق الانتصارات في مواجهة هذه الحروب وتعميق مأزق المشروع الأميركي الصهيوني.. ولولا وجود بعض القوى والأطراف السياسية في لبنان، التي تشكل حصان طروادة للتدخل الأميركي الغربي، وتحاول الاستقواء به لاستعادة هيمنتها على السلطة، لما كان بإمكان واشنطن إثارة الاضطراب والانقسام في البلاد وتستمرّ في المراهنة على محاولة تحقيق أهدافها الاستعمارية، التي هي، في الوقت نفسه، أهداف صهيونية…

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

September 18, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Question: I’ll start with the hottest topic, Belarus. President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko visited Bocharov Ruchei. Both sides have officially recognised that change within the Union State is underway. This begs the question: What is this about? A common currency, common army and common market? What will it be like?

Sergey Lavrov: It will be the way our countries decide. Work is underway. It relies on the 1999 Union Treaty. We understand that over 20 years have passed since then. That is why, a couple of years ago, upon the decision of the two presidents, the governments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus began to work on identifying the agreed-upon steps that would make our integration fit current circumstances. Recently, at a meeting with Russian journalists, President Lukashenko said that the situation had, of course, changed and we must agree on ways to deepen integration from today’s perspective.

The presidential election has taken place in Belarus. The situation there is tense, because the opposition, backed by some of our Western colleagues, is trying to challenge the election outcome, but I’m convinced that the situation will soon get back to normal, and the work to promote integration processes will resume.

Everything that is written in the Union Treaty is now being analysed. Both sides have to come to a common opinion about whether a particular provision of the Union Treaty is still relevant, or needs to be revised. There are 31 roadmaps, and each one focuses on a specific section of the Union Treaty. So, there’s clearly a commitment to continue the reform, a fact that was confirmed by the presidents during a recent telephone conversation. This is further corroborated by the presidents’ meeting in Sochi.

I would not want that country’s neighbours, and our neighbours for that matter, including Lithuania, for example, to try to impose their will on the Belarusian people and, in fact, to manage the processes in which the opposition is unwittingly doing what’s expected of it. I have talked several times about Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s situation. Clearly, someone is putting words in her mouth. She is now in the capital of Lithuania, which, like our Polish colleagues, is strongly demanding a change of power in Belarus. You are aware that Lithuania declared Ms Tikhanovskaya the leader of the Republic of Belarus, and Alexander Lukashenko was declared an illegitimate president.

Ms Tikhanovskaya has made statements that give rise to many questions. She said she was concerned that Russia and Belarus have close relations. The other day, she called on the security and law-enforcement forces to side with the law. In her mind, this is a direct invitation to breach the oath of office and, by and large, to commit high treason. This is probably a criminal offense. So, those who provide her with a framework for her activities and tell her what to say and what issues to raise should, of course, realise that they may be held accountable for that.

Question: Commenting on the upcoming meeting of the presidents of Russia and Belarus in Sochi, Tikhanovskaya said: “Whatever they agree on, these agreements will be illegitimate, because the new state and the new leader will revise them.” How can one work under such circumstances?

Sergey Lavrov: She was also saying something like that when Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin went to Belarus to meet with President Lukashenko and Prime Minister Golovchenko. She was saying it then. Back then, the opposition was concerned about any more or less close ties between our countries. This is despite the fact that early on during the crisis they claimed that they in no way engaged in anti-Russia activities and wanted to be friends with the Russian people. However, everyone could have seen the policy paper posted on Tikhanovskaya’s website during the few hours it was there. The opposition leaders removed it after realising they had made a mistake sharing their goals and objectives with the public. These goals and objectives included withdrawal from the CSTO, the EAEU and other integration associations that include Russia, and drifting towards the EU and NATO, as well as the consistent banning of the Russian language and the Belarusianisation of all aspects of life.

We are not against the Belarusian language, but when they take a cue from Ukraine, and when the state language is used to ban a language spoken by the overwhelming majority of the population, this already constitutes a hostile act and, in the case of Ukraine, an act that violates its constitution. If a similar proposal is introduced into the Belarusian legal field, it will violate the Constitution of Belarus, not to mention numerous conventions on the rights of ethnic and language minorities, and much more.

I would like those who are rabidly turning the Belarusian opposition against Russia to realise their share of responsibility, and the opposition themselves, including Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and others – to find the courage to resist such rude and blatant manipulation.

Question: If we are talking about manipulation, we certainly understand that it has many faces and reflects on the international attitude towards Russia. Internationally, what are the risks for us of supporting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko? Don’t you think 26 years is enough? Maybe he has really served for too long?

Sergey Lavrov: The President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, did say it might have been “too long.” I believe he has proposed a very productive idea – constitutional reform. He talked about this even before the election, and has reiterated the proposal more than once since then. President of Russia Vladimir Putin supports this attitude. As the Belarusian leader said, after constitutional reform, he will be ready to announce early parliamentary and presidential elections. This proposal provides a framework where a national dialogue will be entirely possible. But it is important that representatives of all groups of Belarusian society to be involved in a constitutional reform process. This would ensure that any reform is completely legitimate and understandable for all citizens. Now a few specific proposals are needed concerning when, where and in what form this process can begin. I hope that this will be done, because President Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly reaffirmed carrying out this initiative.

Question: Since we started talking about the international attitude towards Russia, let’s go over to our other partner – the United States. The elections in the US will take place very soon. We are actively discussing this in Russia. When asked whether Russia was getting ready for the elections in the US at the Paris forum last year, you replied: “Don’t worry, we’ll resolve this problem.” Now that the US elections are around the corner, I would like to ask you whether you’ve resolved it.

Sergey Lavrov: Speaking seriously, of course we, like any other normal country that is concerned about its interests and international security, are closely following the progress of the election campaign in the US. There are many surprising things in it. Naturally, we see how important the Russian issue is in this electoral process. The Democrats are doing all they can to prove that Russia will exploit its hacker potential and play up to Donald Trump. We are already being accused of promoting the idea that the Democrats will abuse the mail-in voting option thereby prejudicing the unbiased nature of voting. I would like to note at this point that mail-in voting has become a target of consistent attacks on behalf of President Trump himself. Russia has nothing to do with this at all.

A week-long mail-in voting is an interesting subject in comparing election systems in different countries. We have introduced three-day voting for governors and legislative assembly deputies in some regions. You can see the strong criticism it is subjected to, inside Russia as well. When the early voting in the US lasts for weeks, if not months, it is considered a model of democracy. I don’t see any criticism in this respect. In principle, we have long proposed analysing election systems in the OSCE with a view to comparing best practices and reviewing obviously obsolete arrangements. There have been instances in the US when, due to its cumbersome and discriminatory election system, a nominee who received the majority of votes could lose because in a national presidential election the voting is done through the Electoral College process rather than directly by the people. There have been quite a few cases like that. I once told former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in reply to her grievances about our electoral system: “But look at your problem. Maybe you should try to correct this discriminatory voting system?” She replied that it is discriminatory but they are used to it and this is their problem, so I shouldn’t bother.

When the United States accuses us of interference in some area of its public, political or government life, we suggest discussing it to establish who is actually doing what. Since they don’t present any facts, we simply recite their Congressional acts. In 2014, they adopted an act on supporting Ukraine, which directly instructed the Department of State to spend $20 million a year on support for Russian NGOs. We asked whether this didn’t amount to interference. We were told by the US National Security Council that in reality they support democracy because we are wreaking chaos and pursuing authoritative and dictatorial trends abroad when we interfere in domestic affairs whereas they bring democracy and prosperity. This idea is deeply rooted in American mentality. The American elite has always considered its country and nation exceptional and has not been shy to admit it.

I won’t comment on the US election. This is US law and the US election system. Any comments I make will be again interpreted as an attempt to interfere in their domestic affairs. I will only say one thing that President Vladimir Putin has expressed many times, notably, that we will respect any outcome of these elections and the will of the American people.

We realise that there will be no major changes in our relations either with the Democrats or with the Republicans, as representatives of both parties loudly declare. However, there is hope that common sense will prevail and no matter who becomes President, the new US Government and administration will realise the need to cooperate with us in resolving very serious global problems on which the international situation depends.

Question: You mentioned an example where voters can choose one president and the Electoral College process, another. I even have that cover of Time magazine with Hillary Clinton and congratulations, released during the election. It is a fairly well-known story, when they ran this edition and then had to cancel it.

Sergey Lavrov: Even the President of France sent a telegramme, but then they immediately recalled it.

And these people are now claiming that Alexander Lukashenko is an illegitimate president.

Question: You mentioned NGOs. These people believe that NGOs in the Russian Federation support democratic institutions, although it is no secret to anyone who has at least a basic understanding of foreign and domestic policy that those NGOs act exclusively as institutions that destabilise the situation in the country.

Sergey Lavrov: Not all of them.

Question: Can you tell us more about this?

Sergey Lavrov: We have adopted a series of laws – on public associations, on non-profit organisations, on measures to protect people from human rights violations. There is a set of laws that regulate the activities of non-government organisations on our territory, both Russian and foreign ones.

Concepts have been introduced like “foreign agent,” a practice we borrowed from “the world’s most successful democracy” – the United States. They argue that we borrowed a practice from 1938 when the United States introduced the foreign agent concept to prevent Nazi ideology from infiltrating from Germany. But whatever the reason they had to create the concept – “foreign agent” – the Americans are still effectively using it, including in relation to our organisations and citizens, to Chinese citizens, to the media.

In our law, foreign agent status, whatever they say about it, does not prevent an organisation from operating on the territory of the Russian Federation. It just needs to disclose its funding sources and be transparent about the resources it receives. And even that, only if it is engaged in political activities. Initially, we introduced a requirement for these organisations that receive funding from abroad and are involved in political projects to initiate the disclosure process. But most of them didn’t want to comply with the law, so it was modified. Now this is done by the Russian Ministry of Justice.

Question: Do you think that NGOs are still soft power?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course. In Russia we have about 220,000 NGOs, out of which 180 have the status of a foreign agent. It’s a drop in the ocean. These are probably the organisations, funded from abroad, that are more active than others in promoting in our public space ideas that far from always correspond to Russian legislation.

There is also the notion of undesirable organisations. They are banned from working in the Russian Federation. But there are only about 30 of them, no more.

Question: Speaking about our soft power, what is our concept? What do we offer the world? What do you think the world should love us for? What is Russia’s soft power policy all about?

Sergey Lavrov: We want everything that has been created by nations and civilisations to be respected. We believe nobody should impose any orders on anyone, so that nothing like what has now happened in Hollywood takes place on a global scale. We think nobody should encroach on the right of each nation to have its historical traditions and moral roots. And we see attempts to encroach upon them.

If soft power is supposed to promote one’s own culture, language and traditions, in exchange for knowledge about the life of other nations and civilisations, then this is the approach that the Russian Federation supports in every way.

The Americans define the term “soft power” as an attempt to influence the hearts and minds of others politically. Their goal is not to promote their culture and language, but to change the mood of the political class with a view to subsequent regime change. They are doing this on a daily basis and don’t even conceal it. They say everywhere that their mission is to bring peace and democracy to all other countries.

Question: Almost any TV series out there shows the US president sitting in the Oval Office saying he’s the leader of the free world.

Sergey Lavrov: Not just TV series. Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that America is an exceptional nation and should be seen as an example by the rest of the world. My colleague Mike Pompeo recently said in the Czech Republic that they shouldn’t let the Russians into the nuclear power industry and should take the Russians off the list of companies that bid for these projects. It was about the same in Hungary. He then went to Africa and was quite vocal when he told the African countries not to do business with the Russians or the Chinese, because they are trading with the African countries for selfish reasons, whereas the US is establishing economic cooperation with them so they can prosper. This is a quote. It is articulated in a very straightforward manner, much the same way they run their propaganda on television in an unsophisticated broken language that the man in the street can relate to. So, brainwashing is what America’s soft power is known for.

Question: Not a single former Soviet republic has so far benefited from American soft power.

Sergey Lavrov: Not only former Soviet republics. Take a look at any other region where the Americans have effected a regime change.

QuestionLibya, Syria. We stood for Syria.

Sergey Lavrov: Iraq, Libya. They tried in Syria, but failed. I hope things will be different there. There’s not a single country where the Americans changed the regime and declared victory for democracy, like George W. Bush did on the deck of an aircraft carrier in Iraq in May 2003, which is prosperous now. He said democracy had won in Iraq. It would be interesting to know what the former US President thinks about the situation in Iraq today. But no one will, probably, go back to this, because the days when presidents honestly admitted their mistakes are gone.

QuestionHere I am listening to you and wondering how many people care about this? Why is it that no one understands this? Is this politics that is too far away from ordinary people who are nevertheless behind it? Take Georgia or Ukraine. People are worse off now than before, and despite this, this policy continues.

Will the Minsk agreements ever be implemented? Will the situation in southeastern Ukraine ever be settled?

Returning to what we talked about. How independent is Ukraine in its foreign policy?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think that under the current Ukrainian government, just like under the previous president, we will see any progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements, if only because President Zelensky himself is saying so publicly, as does Deputy Prime Minister Reznikov who is in charge of the Ukrainian settlement in the Contact Group. Foreign Minister of Ukraine Kuleba is also saying this. They say there’s a need for the Minsk agreements and they cannot be broken, because these agreements (and accusing Russia of non-compliance) are the foundation of the EU and the US policy in seeking to maintain the sanctions on Russia. Nevertheless, such a distorted interpretation of the essence of the Minsk agreements, or rather an attempt to blame everything on Russia, although Russia is never mentioned there, has stuck in the minds of our European colleagues, including France and Germany, who, being co-sponsors of the Minsk agreements along with us, the Ukrainians and Donbass, cannot but realise that the Ukrainians are simply distorting their responsibilities, trying to distance themselves from them and impose a different interpretation of the Minsk agreements. But even in this scenario, the above individuals and former Ukrainian President Kravchuk, who now heads the Ukrainian delegation to the Contact Group as part of the Minsk process, claim that the Minsk agreements in their present form are impracticable and must be revised, turned upside down. Also, Donbass must submit to the Ukrainian government and army before even thinking about conducting reforms in this part of Ukraine.

This fully contradicts the sequence of events outlined in the Minsk agreements whereby restoring Ukrainian armed forces’ control on the border with Russia is possible only after an amnesty, agreeing on the special status of these territories, making this status part of the Ukrainian Constitution and holding elections there. Now they propose giving back the part of Donbass that “rebelled” against the anti-constitutional coup to those who declared these people terrorists and launched an “anti-terrorist operation” against them, which they later renamed a Joint Forces Operation (but this does not change the idea behind it), and whom they still consider terrorists. Although everyone remembers perfectly well that in 2014 no one from Donbass or other parts of Ukraine that rejected the anti-constitutional coup attacked the putschists and the areas that immediately fell under the control of the politicians behind the coup. On the contrary, Alexander Turchinov, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and others like them attacked these areas. The guilt of the people living there was solely in them saying, “You committed a crime against the state, we do not want to follow your rules, let us figure out our own future and see what you will do next.” There’s not a single example that would corroborate the fact that they engaged in terrorism. It was the Ukrainian state that engaged in terrorism on their territory, in particular, when they killed [Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic] Alexander Zakharchenko and a number of field commanders in Donbass. So, I am not optimistic about this.

Question: So, we are looking at a dead end?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, we still have an undeniable argument which is the text of the Minsk Agreements approved by the UN Security Council.

QuestionBut they tried to revise it?

Sergey Lavrov: No, they are just making statements to that effect. When they gather for a Contact Group meeting in Minsk, they do their best to look constructive. The most recent meeting ran into the Ukrainian delegation’s attempts to pretend that nothing had happened. They recently passed a law on local elections which will be held in a couple of months. It says that elections in what are now called the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics will be held only after the Ukrainian army takes control of the entire border and those who “committed criminal offenses” are arrested and brought to justice even though the Minsk agreements provide for amnesty without exemptions.

Question: When I’m asked about Crimea I recall the referendum. I was there at a closed meeting in Davos that was attended by fairly well respected analysts from the US. They claimed with absolute confidence that Crimea was being occupied. I reminded them about the referendum. I was under the impression that these people either didn’t want to see or didn’t know how people lived there, that they have made their choice. Returning to the previous question, I think that nobody is interested in the opinion of the people.

Sergey Lavrov: No, honest politicians still exist. Many politicians, including European ones, were in Crimea during the referendum. They were there not under the umbrella of some international organisation but on their own because the OSCE and other international agencies were controlled by our Western colleagues. Even if we had addressed them, the procedure for coordinating the monitoring would have never ended.

Question: Just as in Belarus. As I see it, they were also invited but nobody came.

Sergey Lavrov: The OSCE refused to send representatives there. Now that the OSCE is offering its services as a mediator, I completely understand Mr Lukashenko who says the OSCE lost its chance. It could have sent observers and gained a first-hand impression of what was happening there, and how the election was held. They arrogantly disregarded the invitation. We know that the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is practically wholly controlled by NATO. We have repeatedly proposed that our nominees work there but they have not been approved. This contradicts the principles of the OSCE. We will continue to seek a fairer approach to the admission of members to the organisation, but I don’t have much hope for this. Former OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger made an effort with this for the past three years but not everything depended on him – there is a large bloc of EU and NATO countries that enjoy a mathematical majority and try to dictate their own rules. But this is a separate issue.

Returning to Crimea, I have read a lot about this; let me give you two examples. One concerns my relations with former US Secretary of State John Kerry. In April 2014, we met in Geneva: me, John Kerry, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and then Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andrey Deshchitsa. We compiled a one page document that was approved unanimously. It read that we, the representatives of Russia, the US and the EU welcomed the commitments of the Ukrainian authorities to carry out decentralisation of the country with the participation of all the regions of Ukraine. This took place after the Crimean referendum. Later, the Americans, the EU and of course Ukraine “forgot” about this document. John Kerry told me at this meeting that everyone understood that Crimea was Russian, that the people wanted to return, but that we held the referendum so quickly that it didn’t fit into the accepted standards of such events. He asked me to talk to President Vladimir Putin, organise one more referendum, announce it in advance and invite international observers. He said he would support their visit there, that the result would be the same but that we would be keeping up appearances. I asked him why put on such shows if they understand that this was the expression of the will of the people.

The second example concerns the recent statements by the EU and the European Parliament to the effect that “the occupation” of Crimea is a crude violation of the world arrangement established after the victory in World War II. But if this criterion is used to determine where Crimea belongs, when the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic joined the UN after WWII in 1945, Crimea did not belong to it. Crimea was part of the USSR. Later, Nikita Khrushchev took an illegal action, which contradicted Soviet law, and this led to them having it. But we all understood that this was a domestic political game as regards a Soviet republic that was the home to Khrushchev and many of his associates.

Question: You have been Foreign Minister for 16 years now. This century’s major foreign policy challenges fell on your term in office. We faced sanctions, and we adapted to them and coped with them. Germany said it obtained Alexey Navalny’s test results. France and Sweden have confirmed the presence of Novichok in them. Reportedly, we are now in for more sanctions. Do you think the Navalny case can trigger new sanctions against Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with our political analysts who are convinced that if it were not for Navalny, they would have come up with something else in order to impose more sanctions.

With regard to this situation, I think our Western partners have simply gone beyond decency and reason. In essence, they are now demanding that we “confess.” They are asking us: Don’t you believe what the German specialists from the Bundeswehr are saying? How is that possible? Their findings have been confirmed by the French and the Swedes. You don’t believe them, either?

It’s a puzzling situation given that our Prosecutor General’s Office filed an inquiry about legal assistance on August 27 and hasn’t received an answer yet. Nobody knows where the inquiry has been for more than a week now. We were told it was at the German Foreign Ministry. The German Foreign Ministry did not forward the request to the Ministry of Justice, which was our Prosecutor General Office’s  ultimate addressee. Then, they said that it had been transferred to the Berlin Prosecutor’s Office, but they would not tell us anything without the consent of the family. They are urging us to launch a criminal investigation.

We have our own laws, and we cannot take someone’s word for it to open a criminal case. Certain procedures must be followed. A pre-investigation probe initiated immediately after this incident to consider the circumstances of the case is part of this procedure.

Some of our Western colleagues wrote that, as the German doctors discovered, it was “a sheer miracle” that Mr Navalny survived. Allegedly, it was the notorious Novichok, but he survived thanks to “lucky circumstances.” What kind of lucky circumstances are we talking about? First, the pilot immediately landed the plane; second, an ambulance was already waiting on the airfield; and third, the doctors immediately started to provide help. This absolutely impeccable behaviour of the pilots, doctors and ambulance crew is presented as “lucky circumstances.” That is, they even deny the possibility that we are acting as we should. This sits deep in the minds of those who make up such stories.

Returning to the pre-investigation probe, everyone is fixated on a criminal case. If we had opened a criminal case right away (we do not have legal grounds to do so yet, and that is why the Prosecutor General’s Office requested legal assistance from Germany on August 27), what would have been done when it happened? They would have interviewed the pilot, the passengers and the doctors. They would have found out what the doctors discovered when Navalny was taken to the Omsk hospital, and what medications were used. They would have interviewed the people who communicated with him. All of that was done. They interviewed the five individuals who accompanied him and participated in the events preceding Navalny boarding the plane; they interviewed the passengers who were waiting for a flight to Moscow in Tomsk and sat at the same bar; they found out what they ordered and what he drank. The sixth person, a woman who accompanied him, has fled, as you know. They say she was the one who gave the bottle to the German lab. All this has been done. Even if all of that was referred to as a “criminal case,” we couldn’t have done more.

Our Western partners are looking down on us as if we have no right to question what they are saying or their professionalism. If this is the case, it means that they dare to question the professionalism of our doctors and investigators. Unfortunately, this position is reminiscent of other times. Arrogance and a sense of infallibility have already been observed in Europe, and that led to very regrettable consequences.

Question: How would you describe this policy of confrontation? When did it start (I mean during your term of office)? It’s simply so stable at the moment that there seems no chance that something might change in the future.

Sergey Lavrov: President of Russia Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken on this topic. I think that the onset of this policy, this era of constant pressure on Russia began with the end of a period that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, a time when the West believed it had Russia there in its pocket – it ended, full stop. Unfortunately, the West does not seem to be able to wrap its head around this, to accept that there is no alternative to Russia’s independent actions, both domestically and on the international arena. This is why, unfortunately, this agony continues by inertia.

Having bad ties with any country have never given us any pleasure. We do not like making such statements in which we sharply criticise the position of the West. We always try to find compromises, but there are situations where it is hard not to come face to face with one another directly or to avoid frank assessments of what our Western friends are up to.

I have read what our respected political scientists write who are well known in the West. And I can say this idea is starting to surface ever stronger and more often – it is time we stop measuring our actions with the yardsticks that the West offers us and to stop trying to please the West at all costs. These are very serious people and they are making a serious point. The fact that the West is prodding us to this way of thinking, willingly or unwillingly, is obvious to me. Most likely, this is being done involuntarily. But it is a big mistake to think that Russia will play by Western rules in any case – as big a mistake as like approaching China with the same yardstick.

Question: Then I really have to ask you. We are going through digitalisation. I think when you started your diplomatic career, you could not even have imagined that some post on Twitter could affect the political situation in a country. Yet – I can see your smile – we are living in a completely different world. Film stars can become presidents; Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook can become drivers of political campaigns – that happened more than once – and those campaigns can be successful. We are going through digitalisation, and because of this, many unexpected people appear in international politics – unexpected for you, at least. How do you think Russia’s foreign policy will change in this context? Are we ready for social media to be impacting our internal affairs? Is the Chinese scenario possible in Russia, with most Western social media blocked to avoid their influence on the internal affairs in that country?

Sergey Lavrov: Social media are already exerting great influence on our affairs. This is the reality in the entire post-Soviet space and developing countries. The West, primarily the United States, is vigorously using social media to promote their preferred agenda in just about any state. This necessitates a new approach to ensuring the national security. We have been doing this for a long time already.

As for regulating social media, everyone does it. You know that the digital giants in the United States have been repeatedly caught introducing censorship, primarily against us, China or other countries they dislike, shutting off information that comes from these places.

The internet is regulated by companies based in the United States, everyone knows that. In fact, this situation has long made the overwhelming majority of countries want to do something about it, considering the global nature of the internet and social media, to make sure that the management processes are approved at a global level, become transparent and understandable. The International Telecommunication Union, a specialised UN agency, has been out there for years. Russia and a group of other co-sponsoring countries are promoting the need to regulate the internet in such a way that everyone understands how it works and what principles govern it, in this International Union. Now we can see how Mark Zuckerberg and other heads of large IT companies are invited to the Congress and lectured there and asked to explain what they are going to do. We can see this. But a situation where it will be understandable for everyone else and, most importantly, where everyone is happy with it, still seems far away.

For many years, we have been promoting at the UN General Assembly an initiative to agree on the rules of responsible behaviour of states in the sphere of international information security. This initiative has already led to set up several working groups, which have completed their mandate with reports. The last such report was reviewed last year and another resolution was adopted. This time, it was not a narrow group of government experts, but a group that includes all UN member states. It was planning to meet, but things slowed down due to the coronavirus. The rules for responsible conduct in cyberspace are pending review by this group. These rules were approved by the SCO, meaning they already reflect a fairly large part of the world’s population.

Our other initiative is not about the use of cyberspace for undermining someone’s security; it is about fighting crimes (pedophilia, pornography, theft) in cyberspace. This topic is being considered by another UNGA committee. We are preparing a draft convention that will oblige all states to suppress criminal activities in cyberspace.

QuestionDo you think that the Foreign Ministry is active on this front? Would you like to be more proactive in the digital dialogue? After all, we are still bound by ethics, and have yet to understand whether we can cross the line or not. Elon Musk feels free to make any statements no matter how ironic and makes headlines around the world, even though anything he says has a direct bearing on his market cap. This is a shift in the ethics of behaviour. Do you think that this is normal? Is this how it should be? Or maybe people still need to behave professionally?

Sergey Lavrov: A diplomat can always use irony and a healthy dose of cynicism. In this sense, there is no contradiction here. However, this does not mean that while making ironic remarks on the surrounding developments or comments every once in a while (witty or not so witty), you do not have to work on resolving legal matters related to internet governance. This is what we are doing.

The Foreign Ministry has been at the source of these processes. We have been closely coordinating our efforts on this front with the Security Council Office, and the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media and other organisations. Russian delegations taking part in talks include representatives from various agencies. Apart from multilateral platforms such as the International Telecommunication Union, the UN General Assembly and the OSCE, we are working on this subject in bilateral relations with our key partners.

We are most interested in working with our Western partners, since we have an understanding on these issues with countries that share similar views. The Americans and Europeans evade these talks under various pretexts. There seemed to be an opening in 2012 and 2013, but after the government coup in Ukraine, they used it as a pretext to freeze this process. Today, there are some signs that the United States and France are beginning to revive these contacts, but our partners have been insufficiently active. What we want is professional dialogue so that they can raise all their concerns and accusations and back them with specific facts. We stand ready to answer all the concerns our partners may have, and will not fail to voice the concerns we have. We have many of them.

During the recent visit by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to Russia, I handed him a list containing dozens of incidents we have identified: attacks against our resources, with 70 percent of them targeting state resources of the Russian Federation, and originating on German territory. He promised to provide an answer, but more than a month after our meeting we have not seen it so far.

Question: Let me ask you about another important initiative by the Foreign Ministry. You decided to amend regulations enabling people to be repatriated from abroad for   free, and you proposed subjecting the repatriation guarantee to the reimbursement of its cost to the budget. Could you tell us, please, is this so expensive for the state to foot this bill?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, these a substantial expenses. The resolution that provided for offering free assistance was adopted back in 2010, and was intended for citizens who find themselves in situations when their life is at risk. Imagine a Russian ambassador. Most of the people ask for help because they have lost money, their passport and so on. There are very few cases when an ambassador can actually say that a person is in a life-threatening situation and his or her life is in danger. How can an ambassador take a decision of this kind? As long as I remember, these cases can be counted on the fingers of my two hands since 2010, when an ambassador had to take responsibility and there were grounds for offering this assistance. We wanted to ensure that people can get help not only when facing an imminent danger (a dozen cases in ten years do not cost all that much). There were many more cases when our nationals found themselves in a difficult situation after losing money or passports. We decided to follow the practices used abroad. Specifically, this means that we provide fee-based assistance. In most cases, people travelling abroad can afford to reimburse the cost of a return ticket.

This practice is designed to prevent fraud, which remains an issue. We had cases when people bought one-way tickets knowing that they will have to be repatriated.

Question: And with no return ticket, they go to the embassy?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, after that they come to the embassy. For this reason, I believe that the system we developed is much more convenient and comprehensive for dealing with the situations Russians get into when travelling abroad, and when we have to step in to help them through our foreign missions.

Question: Mr Lavrov, thank you for your time. As a Georgian, I really have to ask this. Isn’t it time to simplify the visa regime with Georgia? A second generation of Georgians has now grown up that has never seen Russia. What do you think?

Sergey Lavrov: Georgians can travel to Russia – they just need to apply for a visa. The list of grounds for obtaining a visa has been expanded. There are practically no restrictions on visiting Russia, after obtaining a visa in the Interests Section for the Russian Federation in Tbilisi or another Russian overseas agency.

As for visa-free travel, as you know, we were ready for this a year ago. We were actually a few steps away from being ready to announce it when that incident happened with the Russian Federal Assembly delegation to the International Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, where they were invited in the first place, seated in their chairs, and then violence was almost used against them.

I am confident that our relations with Georgia will recover and improve. We can see new Georgian politicians who are interested in this. For now, there are just small parties in the ruling elites. But I believe our traditional historical closeness, and the mutual affinity between our peoples will ultimately triumph. Provocateurs who are trying to prevent Georgia from resuming normal relations with Russia will be put to shame.

They are trying to use Georgia the same way as Ukraine. In Ukraine, the IMF plays a huge role. And the IMF recently decided that each tranche allocated to Ukraine would be short-term.

Question: Microcredits.

Sergey Lavrov: Microcredits and a short leash that can always be pulled a little.

They are trying to use Georgia the same way. We have no interest in seeing this situation continue. We did not start it and have never acted against the Georgian people. Everyone remembers the 2008 events, how American instructors arrived there and trained the Georgian army. The Americans were well aware of Mikheil Saakashvili’s lack of restraint. He trampled on all agreements and issued a criminal order.

We are talking about taking their word for it. There were many cases when we took their word for it, but then it all boiled down to zilch. In 2003, Colin Powell, a test tube – that was an academic version. An attack on Iraq followed. Many years later, Tony Blair admitted that there had been no nuclear weapons in Iraq. There were many such stories. In 1999, the aggression against Yugoslavia was triggered by the OSCE representative in the Balkans, US diplomat William Walker, who visited the village of Racak, where they found thirty corpses, and declared it genocide of the Albanian population. A special investigation by the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found they were military dressed in civilian clothes. But Mr Walker loudly declared it was genocide. Washington immediately seized on the idea, and so did London and other capitals. NATO launched an aggression against Yugoslavia.

After the end of the five-day military operation to enforce peace, the European Union ordered a special report from a group of invited experts, including Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini. She was later involved in the Minsk process, and then she was asked to lead a group of experts who investigated the outbreak of the military conflict in August 2008. The conclusion was unambiguous. All this happened on the orders of Mikheil Saakashvili, and as for his excuses that someone had provoked him, or someone had been waiting for him on the other side of the tunnel, this was just raving.

Georgians are a wise nation. They love life, perhaps the same way and the same facets that the peoples in the Russian Federation do. We will overcome the current abnormal situation and restore normal relations between our states and people.


In addition, if you follow the Minister, follow up on this interview with Sputnik

Exclusive: Sergei Lavrov Talks About West’s Historical Revisionism, US Election and Navalny Case

WHAT DOES FRANCE WANT FROM LEBANON AND HEZBOLLAH, AND WILL IT ACHIEVE ITS GOALS? 3/3

Posted on  by Elijah J Magnier

Written by Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

From Lebanon, French President Emmanuel Macron has transmitted messages in multiple directions. It is clear that America did not object to his attempt to intervene directly. Lebanon is a very complex country and that France does not have the necessary base to bring about the changes it desires. But France wants to regain a strong foothold in the Land of the Cedars, starting from the Port and ending with oil, gas, electricity and infrastructure agreements to build a robust popular base, if it succeeds in its endeavour.

However, there is another reason for the presence of France in the Middle East, from which it has been absent for a long time, and that is the Turkish presence that is building for itself fixed positions in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. After the Port blew up on the 4th of August, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay arrived in Lebanon at the head of a delegation that also included Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, expressing to President Michel Aoun “Turkey’s readiness to build the port and the adjacent buildings.” 

Turkey did not stop at this point, but announced its willingness to grant “Turkish citizenship to anyone who declares that they are Turkish or Turkmen and who wishes to become a citizen.” This has huge implications, because the presence of Turkish citizens in a nearby Middle Eastern country offers the leadership in Ankara an excuse to intervene directly to “protect its citizens” whenever it thinks fit. The Turkish expansion in Libya, Iraq, Cyprus and Syria clearly doesn’t stop President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who visited the Turkmen Lebanese community in the northern Lebanese town of Kawasha, Akkar, in 2020 – from putting his arms out towards Lebanon.

The foothold of Turkey appeared in North Lebanon through assistance provided by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) in the northern regions of Denniyeh, Tripoli and Akkar. Remarkable activity by Turkish associations has been recorded in other Lebanese locations, particularly in Ketermaya, Burj Al-Barajneh camp, Debbieh, and other Palestinian camps.

It has been the practice for the states behind the relief agencies and non-governmental agencies (NGO) to pave the way for building an incubator environment for those who fund these agencies. Lebanon has been open to foreign “interference” and, for decades, had embraced multiple foreign countries’ intervention in its domestic affairs, especially after the retreat of Syria (in 2005), which had had a major influential role in Lebanon. Following the harbour explosion this August 2020, several hundred NGOs officially registered to be able to receive the $290 million world donation to (apparently) distribute the moneys to the most damaged areas of Beirut.

Turkey has an interest in investing its companies in Lebanon to explore for gas and oil, and sees Lebanon as fertile ground with opportunities for establishing itself more robustly in the country. The existing and potential allies of Turkey in Lebanon are more than ready to adopt the Turkish line after the decline of Saudi Arabia’s influence in this country in particular and in the Middle East in general. Moreover, the decline of the popularity of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri who used to enjoy the support of the majority of the Sunni, and the sharp differences in the Lebanese Sunni arena that is divided into multiple sections under a multiplicity of leaders from different backgrounds is offering a perfect environment for Turkey. There are strong signs and visual indications that the former Minister of Justice Ashraf Rifi has switched loyalty…

The French President’s visit caused a storm in a teacup. The Lebanese political class are still strong notwithstanding the dismal failure to rebuild the country for many decades, and, when accused of corruption, they seek shelter behind their sects. However, a vacuum has been created between these politicians and the people, who have begun to slowly wake up slowly. What President Macron is proposing to do represents only temporary steps to compensate for the current US void. But France is far from succeeding to cover even a small part of the $81 billion deficit. All that President Macron was able to collect was an amount of less than $300 million dollars, insufficient to repair even part of what was destroyed by the Beirut Port explosion. Hence, if we include this financial shortfall and the US role after November 3d election, it is very unlikely that Paris will achieve its desired goals in Lebanon.

Proofread by:   Maurice Brasher and C.G.B.

 

كلمات صادقة للرئيس المكلف

ناصر قنديل

ما نعرفه ونسمعه عنك دولة الرئيس مشجّع لجهة انفتاحك السياسيّ على جميع الأطراف، وعدم انخراطك في مهمّتك كسفير في سلوك لم يتجنّبه سفراء آخرون تملقاً لخارج أو تعصباً لداخل في شيطنة المقاومة والتبرؤ منها، رغم دخولك السياسة من بوابة مواقع انزلق بعضها نحو هذا المسار. وأن تحظى وأنت كذلك بثقة دولية حصدها الرئيس الفرنسي لتكليفك ودعم تأليفك للحكومة، فهو رصيد يضاف لرصيدك، لكنه قد يكون سقف ما يمكن الحصول عليه من خلال لعبة العلاقات العامة، وأوان اختبار الحكم يدق الباب بقوة وقسوة معاً، حيث الضرورات ستفرض خيارات لم تكن مضطراً لها في مهمتك السابقة، وليس خافياً أن لبنان الواقع في قعر أزمات اقتصادية ومالية واقف على فالق أزمات سياسية داخلية وإقليمية ودولية، والمرور بين مطباتها لا تكفي فيه الحذاقة ولا الاعتماد على دعم خارجي ليس مجانياً في لعبة مصالح الأمم التي تدور بعنف لا يرحم على شواطئ المتوسط المليء بالغاز والنفط والمهدد بتمدد الإرهاب، وحيث تحتشد الأساطيل، وحيث مصالح «إسرائيل» خط أحمر فاصل على ضفتي التنازع الإقليمي الكبير وخط أحمر فاصل في كل شيء.

تأليف الحكومة هو الاختبار الأهم، والأصعب، حيث مغريات الاستقواء بالدعم الفرنسي لفرض حكومة تسمّى حكومة مستقلين، هم في النهاية مجموعة مستشارين لشركات تتوزعها الدول التي تضعها مصالحها فوق كل اعتبار وشركاتها تنتظر الفرص نحو المرفأ والمطار والمصارف، وحيث بالمقابل مخاوف إغضاب الداخل وقواه الفاعلة وضغوط محاصصة جربت واختبرها اللبنانيون ولم تفلح لا في تأمين كهرباء ولا في حفظ ودائع ولا في بناء دولة، وحيث بعيداً عن هذه وتلك شارع تائه ضائع بين الغضب من الفساد، والحاجة للحلول، والشعارات البراقة الفارغة المضمون، وطائفية متجذرة تقسم صفوفه عند كل مفترق يحتاج فيه لتظهير وحدته الافتراضية التي ظهرت مرة يتيمة في 17 تشرين قبل أن تغيب، ويطول الغياب بعد خيبات الرهانات على ما يُسمّى بمجتمع مدني لا يختلف أغلب مكوناته بفساده عن فساد أغلب مكوّنات اللعبة السياسية والطائفية، ولا يختلف بولاءاته الخارجية عن ولاءات أهل السياسة.

الوقوع يا دولة الرئيس في أحد الخيارات الثلاثة سقوط مريع، فالخيار الأول بيع للبلد لخارج نهم مهما بدا صديقاً، وتكرار هزيل لتجربة كانت ذهبية في التسعينيات مع مجيء الرئيس رفيق الحريري، الأقوى منك في صد تطلعات الخارج، والأشد نجاحاً من كل مَن سيُقال إنهم ناجحون في القطاع الخاص ويجلبون نجاحاتهم معهم إلى الوزارة، ورغم ذلك تعرف ونعرف أنه مهما كانت الأسباب التي أدت إلى عدم نجاح التجربة، فإن عدم النجاح في الظروف الأفضل والإمكانات الأوفر، والمؤهلات الأعلى، والشعبية الأكثر للخيار نفسه تعني فشله الحتمي في تجربة ثانية، وقد ضمر وتراجع كل شيء من أسباب النجاح وتراكم وتجذر كل شيء من أسباب الفشل؛ أما الخيار الثاني فتجربة الرئيس سعد الحريري مثال حاضر لنموذج المحاصصة الصافية ومآلاتها، أما الثالث فتجربة الرئيس حسان دياب مثال لما يمكن أن تفعله مجرد محاكاة شارع يسهل انقلابه والتلاعب بخياراته في ظل توحش وسائل الإعلام، وحضور المصالح الطائفية والخارجية لخلفيات أقواها، فتقع الحكومة يتيمة بين مَن جاء بها ومن جاءت بوهم تمثيلهم ومحاكاتهم.

السير بين النقاط وعلى حد السكين بين الخيارات الثلاثة هو الأمثل والأشد حذراً، واستعداداً لما هو آتٍ، وهو أسوأ وأصعب من ورود الأيام الأولى، فمراعاة ضوابط التمثيل السياسي والطائفي والنيابي بوليصة تأمين لسلاسة التقدم، والتقدم يحتاج حماية سياسية وتوازنات طائفية وتغطية نيابية، وهذا هو نظامنا الدستوري، لكنها مراعاة ممكنة باشتراط حق الاختيار بين مرشحين تنطبق عليهم معايير الأهلية والكفاءة والخبرة والنزاهة وليعرض كل فريق عشرات البدائل لكل حقيبة وليترك لك الاختيار، والبلد مليء بالكفاءات، وليكن هذا ثلث التوجه الحكومي، فيما ثلثه الآخر محاكاة الحاجة للدعم الخارجي الذي تتولى قيادته فرنسا، بمعرفة وثيقة بحدود الطلبات التي تحقق المصالح بعيداً عن إلحاق الأذى بمصلحة لبنان، وسيطرته السيادية على ثرواته، التي يكثر الحديث عن مشاريع تحت الطاولة لبيعها، ولعب يسيل على المرفأ والمطار والهاتف والمصارف وسك العملة والذهب والعقارات، والتي يجب أن تبقى ملكيتها للدولة خطاً أحمر، أما الثلث الثالث فليكن لمحاكاة شارع غاضب وجائع ومحبط، يحتاج للإنجازات، ولكنه يحتاج للتقدم نحو مشروع دولة ضائعة، حيث لا مساءلة ولا محاسبة ولا قضاء فاعل ومستقل وحازم، والتفاعل بين الأثلاث الثلاثة ليس بتوزيع الحكومة لثلاثة حصص تصير جزر فساد متناحرة، بل لمحاكاة الأبعاد الثلاثة في كل اسم يتم اختياره لحقيبة وزارية، وهذا ممكن. فلديك اليوم قوة الأمل وقسوة الإحباط، الأمل بخشبة خلاص تمثلها حكومتك، وإحباط الفشل والخوف من السقوط ما لم تولد حكومة تلبي المتطلبات وتلاقي الاحتياجات.

هذه الكلمات صادقة لأنها لا تنبع من مصلحة، ولا من عصبية، فلا كاتب هذه السطور معني بكليهما، ولا الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي صاحب الجريدة التي تحمل هذه الكلمات وقف في كل سيرته السياسية يقيس بغير المبادئ والمصلحة الوطنية العليا موقفه وحساباته تجاه الحكومات المتعاقبة، وليكن زادك الحكمة والشجاعة معاً؛ فواحدة منهما لا تكفي، الشجاعة في التأقلم مع ما يشكل ضمانة الاستقرار ويشكل السعي لتغييره تفجيراً في توقيت خاطئ، والشجاعة لتغيير ما يجب وما يمكن تغييره لأن التأقلم معه تأبيد لمساوئ ربما لن تأتي فرصة ثانية للتخلص منها، والحكمة للتمييز بين ما يجب التأقلم معه وما يجب تغييره، بعيداً عن الوقوع تحت ضغط فرضيات التعليقات والتوصيفات التي ستقال وأغلبها سيقال مهما كانت خياراتك، فالذي يسعى لإرضاء الجميع لن يرضي أحداً وسيغضب ضميره حكماً وقد خانته الحكمة والشجاعة، أما الذي لا يغضب أحداً فقد امتلك الحكمة ومن يرضي ضميره فقد امتلك الشجاعة، ومن فاز بالجمع بينهما جمع الحكمة والشجاعة وفاز بالرهان.

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مأزق خطاب جعجع وجماعة شينكر

ناصر قنديل

خلال أسبوع واحد كانت اللقاءات التي عقدها معاون وزير الخارجية الأميركيّة ديفيد شينكر مع النواب المستقيلين، وعدد من الجمعيات التي تقدم نفسها كقيادة للحراك الشعبي الذي انطلق ضد الفساد في 17 تشرين من العام الماضي، وخطاب رئيس حزب القوات اللبنانية سمير جعجع، تحاول إقامة توازن سياسي وإعلامي مع المناخ الذي خلقته حركة الرئيس الفرنسي أمانويل ماكرون، التي شكل حدثها الأبرز الانفتاح على العلاقة بالمقاومة، والتخلي عن رهانات العزل والحصار، وبات معلوماً أن حركة ماكرون تحظى بدعم أميركي يشبه التكليف أكثر من الدعم، وقد حاولت هذه الأطراف الإيحاء بالتلاقي مع أهدافها والتشكيك بجدواها في آن واحد، على خلفية خطاب تلاقت هذه الجماعات على مضمونه، وعبر عنه بوضوح رئيس القوات سمير جعجع في كلمته أمس.

الخطاب الموازن في الشكل يحمل الكثير من المزاعم والمبالغات، سواء لجهة الحجم أو لجهة الدور والموقف، فمدعاة للسخرية أن يصير هؤلاء آباء ثورة تشرين ويملك كل منهم منفرداً حق التصرف بأبوتها لينسبها كل منهم إلى من يشاء، وأن يحاضروا بعفة سياسية ومالية، وقد كان بعضهم شريكاً حتى نخاعه الشوكي في النظام قبل الطائف وخلاله وبعده، وبعضهم الآخر يمثل ميليشيات قام تاريخها على اغتصاب حقوق الدولة، ويروي لنا الرئيس السابق أمين الجميل في كتاب مذكراته فضيحة الاسترداد المنقوص للحوض الخامس لمرفأ بيروت إلى عهدة الدولة في عهده، بعد مفاوضات شاقة مع القوات انتهت لتخصيص مبلغ مقطوع من المالية العامة للدولة لصندوق القوات، بصفتها خوة نظامية مشرعنة بالجملة بدلاً من خوات تفرض على المواطنين بالمفرق، أما بعضها الثالث فجمعيات تعتاش على التمويل الخارجي بداعي العمل الإنساني أو التبشير بالإصلاح، لكن التحقيقات الأممية في كيفية تعاملها مع أموال مخصصة لدعم النازحين السوريين تكشف ما يندى له الجبين من لصوصية وسرقات، والحكايات المتداولة حول ما يرافق المساعدات المخصّصة لمتضرّري تفجير مرفأ بيروت لا تبدو مختلفة.

افتقاد الخطاب وأصحابه إلى الصدق والمصداقية لا تعوّضه النبرة العالية، ولا يُخفيه الصراخ، ولا لغة التحدي الميليشياوي من جهة، أو إنكار التاريخ من جهة موازية، لكن الأهم هو مأزق الخطاب الموحّد من حيث المضمون، وبعيداً عن التوابل التي يقوم برشها على صحن المائدة كل فريق ليضفي نكهته على الصحن الموحّد، يتكون هذا الصحن من عنصرين، على طريق «ملوخية» سامي الجميل، وهما برغل ولحم لصناعة «كبة نية» سيكتشف من يتذوّقها أنها رغم كل أنواع الكمون والبهارات وزيت الزيتون، تسبّب عسر الهضم ويصعب ابتلاعها، والعنصران هما، «برغل» مسؤولية السلاح و«لحمة» الانتخابات المبكرة، وسرعان ما يكتشف المتذوق أنهما عنصران غير قابلين لتكوين جبلة واحدة، فمقدّمة الخطاب الصادر عن جميع أصحاب الصحن الموحّد لطبق شينكر، ترتكز على فكرة مكررة يتم تلخيصها وتوسيعها وشرحها ومقاربتها من باب «مار مخايل» أو من باب «مرفأ بيروت» أو من باب خسارة الدعم الدولي والعربي، وتقول الفكرة إن سلاح المقاومة هو علة العلل وهو اصل المشاكل، والفكرة الثانية التي تشكل جوهر الحل وفق الخطاب الموحّد، تقول بكل اللغات واللهجات تقوم على الدعوة لانتخابات نيابية مبكرة تعيد تشكيل السلطة السياسية، وينتظر منها تغيير التوازنات، مرّة تحت عنوان تغيير وجهة الأغلبية النيابية وفقاً لخطاب جعجع، ومرة تحت شعار إسقاط «الطبقة السياسيّة الفاسدة» والمجيء بممثلين مدنيين للشعب من صفوف «الثوار».

المشكلة ليست بنصفَيْ صحن شينكر الموحّد، كل على حدة، بل بجمعهما معاً، ففي النصف الأول، لا شرعية للانتخابات في ظل السلاح، وفي النصف الثاني نزع شرعية السلاح تتم عبر الانتخابات، ولا تشبه هذه الثنائية الملفقة إلا ثنائية الحياد والتوافق، فلا توافق إلا على الحياد، ولا حياد بدون توافق، وعلى أصحاب دعوتي إنهاء عهد السلاح والحياد أن يخبرونا، هل لديهم خطة لتحقيق الهدفين عبر الحوار مع حلفاء السلاح وأصحابه وجمهوره أم بكسرهم وكيف، وهل يرون الانتخابات طريقة مناسبة للكسر، وهل يعتبرونها شرعية رغم وجود السلاح وقبل كسر التحالف السياسي المؤمن بدور السلاح و المتمسك ببقائه، وإذا كانت هذه خريطة طريقهم فهذا يعني أنهم يثقون بأن السلاح ديمقراطي، ولا يتدخل في شؤون تكوين السلطة، ولا يسبب علة للطعن بنتائج الانتخابات وشرعيتها؟ وهذا يعني أن هذا السلاح لا يقلقهم، وأن أصحاب السلاح صادقون بأنه لا يستخدم إلا لوجهة واحدة هي من يجب أن يشعر نحوه بالقلق، وهو لا يشكل مصدراً للقلق إلا لعدو يحتل أرضاً ويتربّص شراً بالبلد، فلماذا يقيمون قيامتهم عليه إذن ويعتبرونه علة العلل، فيشاركون هذا العدو حملته للتخلص من هذا السلاح ليطمئن هو ويرتاح، ويقلق لبنان على أمنه وسيادته، بينما هم بكل عنفوان ونبرة عالية واثقون من الانتصار على ما يسمونه بحلف السلاح في انتخابات حرة ونزيهة وشفافة رغم وجود هذا السلاح؟

Beirut Port Blast Latest Toll: 190 Killed and $15 Billion in Material Losses

Beirut Port Disaster Situation Report 30 August 2020 - Lebanese Government

September 5, 2020 Arabi Souri

The latest official update available on the losses of the catastrophe of the Beirut Port explosion last month reveals more shocking figures exceeding the worst estimates reached before.

The losses include a heavy toll of deaths and triple the first estimate in material losses which was by itself overwhelming for the small country Lebanon, already marred with decades of corruption and numerous wars waged against it by Israel, terrorists, feudal warlords, and the lengthy civil war they never recovered from its consequences, in addition to the latest COVID 19 consequences.

The Lebanese governmental weekly report issued on 30 August 2020 titled ‘Beirut Port Disaster Situation Report’ (full pdf report here) counted the following in losses:

• 190 martyrs, 43 of them were Syrians.
• More than 6,500 injured.
• 3 are still missing.
• 300,000 homeless.
• More than 50,000 houses impacted.
• 9 major hospitals affected, of which one is completely non-functioning.
• 49 healthcare centers affected, of which 8 are completely non-functioning.
• 178 public and private schools are damaged.
• 99 public building assessed, of which 2% completely damaged and 18% highly
damaged.
• 235 lots in the affected areas need structural strengthening.
• 113 lots need evacuation.
• 52 lots need isolation.
• 70 heritages buildings required immediate intervention.
• 329 different entities (national, international) are currently active stakeholders
in the Beirut response area.
The report concluded that US$ 15 billion are the cost of direct damages.

Beirut Port Explosion - انفجار مرفأ بيروت
Beirut Port Explosion – 04 August 2020

It’s noticeable that the United States of America, the main actor in all tragedies Lebanon went through and still going through, is bragging about the aid it provided to the country and putting further conditions to deliver that aid has only offered $17 million humanitarian aid. That’s a tiny percentage compared with any other country that offered and already delivered aid to Lebanon.

Furthermore, and to reveal the evil mentality of the US officials, which they do not hide anyway, a top US official visiting Lebanon stated that the tiny aid his country will offer will go through NGOs only bypassing the Lebanese government. NGOs, non-governmental organizations, that were created, trained, groomed, and polished by US federal agencies working as a front for the CIA and the Pentagon, agencies as NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and USAID (United States Agency for International Development), bright names for malign practices, such agencies behind the miserable suffering of human beings around the world wherever the USA force exported its ‘values’ to.

Amb. Jaafari Slams Liars at UN Meeting: SAMS Illegals Embedded with Terrorists

https://www.syrianews.cc/amb-jaafari-slams-liars-un-meeting-sams-illegals-embedded-terrorists/embed/#?secret=LPgygZ3lA6

It’s the remarks conveyed by the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker to his beloved NGO members in Lebanon during his current visit that triggered us to write about the report and compare with the response of the US officials and how they tend to abuse human suffering to further their political agendas, which are always against the interests of the people affected and not at all in the interests of the US citizens, in general, and individually.

The investigations in the port explosion continue with more than two dozen officials are being questioned, most of them are detained, and the main guidelines in the investigations so far imply that there was no areal bombing that triggered the explosion and that a small portion of the 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate only exploded, not the full quantity, yet the explosion is categorized as the fourth largest explosion mankind has witnessed around the globe. The quantity that did not contribute to the blast has either been spoiled due to the longevity of storage unprofessionally and other quantities were stolen, or leaked, from the port and given to terrorist groups operating mainly in Syria, and to a lesser extent in Lebanon, hence the non-stop cries of former Lebanese officials calling for an international investigation in the explosion to help them cover their traces.

Forty-Three Syrians Killed in the Beirut Port Explosion

فرصة الذهاب نحو نظام جديد

   ابراهيم الأمين 

الثلاثاء 1 أيلول 2020

لا أعرف ما الذي كان الناس يتوقعونه. الدهشة تعلو الوجوه من جراء التوافق على تسمية مصطفى أديب رئيساً للحكومة. بعد أيام ستكون هناك تشكيلة حكومية تتوافق مع الأرضية السياسية للاتفاق على رئيسها. لن يكون هناك وزراء يثيرون حفيظة القوى الكبيرة، وسيحاولون الإتيان بشخصيات يعتقدون بأنها تناسب الرأي العام الغاضب. لكن النقاش الجدي الذي يريد الراعي الفرنسي حصوله يتعلق بمهام الحكومة. يتصرف الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون على أساس أن هناك إمكانية لفرض برنامج عمل على الطريقة الفرنسية؛ أي إن المجلس النيابي لن يكون عنصر عرقلة. وبدلاً من الحديث عن صلاحيات استثنائية، يكون الحديث عن ثقة مطلقة وكبيرة، لكنها محصورة بنقاط محددة، وهذا يتيح المجال أمام الحكومة للعمل على مهام مختارة وضمن جدول زمني محدد… أما النتائج، فما علينا جميعاً إلا الانتظار..

السؤال المحيّر حول حيرة الناس، سببه أن كثيرين في لبنان يتمثلون بجحا. يطلقون العنان لفكرة وكذبة، ثم يتصرفون على أساس أنها حقيقة. مثل النطق باسم الشعب اللبناني ومعرفة ميوله والقول إنه يريد كذا وكذا، ومن ثم يخرج علينا هؤلاء، عبر شاشات ومنابر، ويتصرفون على أساس أنهم يمثلون غالبية الرأي العام. لكن ما يحصل هو أنه عندما تنعقد طاولة البحث، يجلس من بأيديهم القرار، والأنكى أنهم يتصرفون على أساس أن هذا «الناطق» غير موجود أصلاً. ولا يقتصر ذلك على الداخل. فحتى الخارج المتدخل لـ«إنقاذنا»، لا يتصرف بطريقة مختلفة. صحيح أن ماكرون وديفيد هيل وغيرهما يلتقون بممثلي المجتمع المدني والهيئات الأهلية ومندوبين عن الثوار و… لكنهم يستمعون اليهم فقط، كوسيط «روحاني» يسجل الملاحظات. وعندما يعود هذا الخارج الى الطاولة، يبدأ بالبحث عن سبل انتزاع موافقات من أركان المنظومة الحاكمة؛ أي إن الخارج يعود الى حيث يوجد القرار والقدرة على تحويل الفكرة الى خطة عمل… هذه حقيقة قاسية مع الأسف!

ما يحصل، الآن في لبنان، قد يكون مناسبة لإعادة النظر في الشعارات التغييرية عند المعترضين. لا أعرف إذا كان صار واضحاً للجميع أن المشكلة لم تعد في سلطة أو إدارة أو أشخاص، بل هي في النظام. وكل عاقل لا يحتاج الى من يدله على برنامج عمل واقعي يدار بنفَس طويل جداً، وهدفه الفعلي تغيير جوهري في النظام القائم. وإذا كان السياسيون يكذبون حينما يتحدثون عن رغبتهم في إقامة دولة مدنية، فما على الجمهور إلا أن يلحق بهم الى باب دارهم، وأن يرفع شعاراً واضحاً بالعمل لتغيير جدي في النظام. تغيير لا يقتصر على جانب واحد، مثل طبيعة التمثيل السياسي، بل يشتمل على ما هو أهم، أي النظام الاقتصادي والمالي الحاكم، وتالياً طبيعة القوانين التي تدير هذه القطاعات. هذا هو جوهر الأزمة. ومتى تمّ التوصل الى فكرة تحظى بموافقة غالبية لبنانية معتبرة، يمكن لهذا الهيكل العظمي الجديد أن يكون جاهزاً لإلباسه ما تيسر من الأثواب السياسية ومتمماتها الخاصة بالحسابات والطوائف والأقليات وغير ذلك.

البعض يعتقد بأن المسألة مرتبطة بالسلاح. هم، هنا، يرفضون الإقرار بأن مشكلة النظام الحالي ليست في كونه لا يوفر عدالة اجتماعية وسياسية للناس، بل أصل مشكلته في أنه لا يقدم شرحاً عملانياً لمعنى السيادة، ولا هو وفّر يوماً هوية وطنية يمكن للناس أن تدافع عنها مجتمعة. ها هم أبناء لبنان الكبير يعيشون في حنين فارغ. وجلّ ما يريدون هو عودة الاستعمار. هؤلاء لا يمكنهم تقديم حل لمشكلة السيادة. ولكن عندما يكون لدينا نظام واضح، وعاقل، سيكون عنوان السيادة والدفاع الوطني بنداً رئيساً، وساعتها سنكون أمام الاستحقاق الكبير حول مصير الأدوات العسكرية والأمنية في البلاد.

الذين يحتجّون فعلياً على الفساد والاضطهاد ونقص الحقوق، والذين انتشروا مبعثرين في الشوارع والساحات أو في المنازل، أمامهم اليوم فرصة حقيقية لإعادة تنظيم أمورهم. لا ضير في الإقرار بأن تجربة 17 تشرين فشلت في أن تكون عنواناً جامعاً للتغيير. ويجب على هؤلاء الإقرار – وليس القبول – بحقيقة أن الكتل الاجتماعية للقوى الطائفية تتفوّق عليهم. ومن لا يريد المراجعة، ليس سوى مكابر جديد، يسعى فعلياً الى احتلال موقع في السلطة النافذة. وهذه السلطة لا تقتصر اليوم فقط على من يحتلون المقاعد النيابية والوزارية، بل أيضاً من يحتل مقعداً على المنبر العام، ويتصرف على أنه يتمتع بشرعية شعبية، حتى ولو لم تخرج من صناديق الاقتراع.

من كان يتوهم أن الخارج مهتم بإصلاح النظام جاءه الجواب من خلال تركيبة الحكومة، أما خطر المنظمات غير الحكومية فصار مطابقاً لخطر السلطة الحاكمة


أمام اللبنانيين فرصة لفهم أن التغيير لا يعني الهدم، وأن إعادة التأسيس لا تعني الهدم أيضاً، وأن الثورة على النظام وممارسة حتى العنف ضد رموزه لا تعنيان الهدم. والهدم، هنا، ليس مسموحاً بأن يطال فكرة الدولة. وإذا كانت انتفاضة 17 تشرين قد أسقطت الهيبة والفعالية عن السلطة السياسية، وجاء انفجار المرفأ ليسقط الهيبة والفعالية عن الإدارة اللبنانية، فإن ما يجري اليوم هو محاولة لإسقاط فكرة الدولة نهائياً. وما الانتشار الفطري والمشبوه لكل ما يسمى جمعيات أهلية ومنظمات غير حكومية في الشوارع، سوى عمل عصابات تستهدف القضاء على فكرة الدولة. كل الذين أرادوا إسقاط السلطة من دون بديل، هم أنفسهم الذين أرادوا ثورة من دون قيادة، وهم أنفسهم الذين يرفضون تولي الادارة العامة للدولة ملف الأضرار في بيروت، وهم أنفسهم الذين بدأوا يرفضون التعامل مع جميع مؤسسات الدولة، وهؤلاء هم المرتزقة المنتشرون باسم المنظمات غير الحكومية والجمعيات الأهلية. وهؤلاء، برفضهم لفكرة الدولة، يبررون لأنفسهم كل أعمال السرقة التي يقومون بها، من تلقّي الأموال من دون رقيب، الى إنفاقها من دون حسيب، الى رفض التصريح عنها للجهات الرسمية، الى عدم التنسيق وترك الأمور فالتة، وكأننا في زمن الفوضى الشاملة. هؤلاء هم المجرمون الجدد الذين يعملون عند خارج يهتم فقط بتدمير الدولة لا بإسقاط السلطة السياسية. وهذا الخارج فعل الأمر نفسه في مصر وسوريا والعراق واليمن وليبيا وفلسطين، وهو يريد ذلك في لبنان، لأنه يتوهم أنه في هذه الحالة يمكنه احتلال مساحة من ناس لبنان وأرضه لتصفية حسابه الوحيد مع المقاومة…

ليس أمام العاقلين سوى التمسك برفضهم لهذه السلطة، لكن الأساس في عملهم هو الذهاب سريعاً نحو اقتراح نظام سياسي واقتصادي واجتماعي ومالي جديد. وغير ذلك، لن ينتح سوى مزيد من هذه الحكومات.

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مقالات متعلقة

Belarus: Why Is Lukshenko Being Color Revolutioned Just Now?

By F. William Engdahl

Global Research, August 21, 2020

The globalist Powers That Be have clearly decided to topple the long-standing sole-ruler of Belarus, President Aleksander Lukashenko. The question is why at just this time? There is a case to be made that one reason is he is being destroyed for his unforgivable coronavirus defiance. In any case Belarus is being hit with a full force West-led Color Revolution. The protests over the August 9 election show every sign of the usual Color Revolution destabilization protests, manufactured by the usual Western NGOs, as well as private contractors using social media to steer the protests.

Under Lukashenko’s regime, the country defied WHO and the global coronavirus lockdown demands. He refused to order lockdown of his citizens or the economy. As of August 13 the country had recorded a total of 617 covid19 related deaths. Belarus stood together with Sweden and the US State of South Dakota as one of the very few places in the world to successfully disprove the bizarre and dangerous WHO demands for a global lockdown to control the pandemic. Belarus ordered no lockdown so most industry continued. Schools remained open other than a 3 week closing during Easter. There were no mask requirements, though volunteer groups distributed masks to some and in June the EU sent a shipment of PPE including masks to Health officials for distribution. Football and the May 9 Victory parade went as normal. And now the country stands as an example the WHO and friends do not want.

One very important point is that the Health Ministry ignored the very flawed WHO recommendations on loosely classifying deaths as Covid19 when only a “suspicion” is there. The basis for the Belarus pathologists to state the cause of death from coronavirus is the presence of a patho-morphological picture with laboratory confirmation of Covid-19.i

This all did not sit well with the globalist Powers That Be. The manifestly corrupt WHO, whose main private donor is the Gates Foundation, criticized Lukashenko’s government for lack of quarantine and in June, when announcing it would grant Belarus a $940 million loan, the IMF said it was conditional on the country imposing quarantine, isolation and closed borders, demands Lukashenko rejected as “nonsense.” He noted in a widely-quoted statement, “the IMF continues to demand from us quarantine measures, isolation, a curfew. This is nonsense. We will not dance to anyone’s tune.”

Color Revolution Begins

Clearly NATO and the Western globalist circles have been working on toppling Lukashenko well before the covid19 events. That coronavirus defiance may only have helped galvanize events. The West and its “democracy” NGOs have long had Lukashenko in their targets. During the Bush Administration in 2008 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denounced Lukashenko as Europe’s “last dictator.” After that, Russia created the Eurasian Economic Union along with Kazakhstan and Belarus as members. Until now Lukashenko has refused Putin’s proposal to merge with Russia in one large Union State. That may soon change.

The protests broke out in Belarus after elections on August 9 gave Lukashenko some 80% of the vote against his last-minute opposition candidate, the ‘western’ candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Those protests are being run using the same model that the CIA and its various “democracy” NGOs, led by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) developed in Serbia, Ukraine, Russia and numerous other states whose leaders refused to bow to the globalist dictates. A co-founder of the NED, Allen Weinstein, declared in the Washington Post in 1991, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” The NED gets its financing from the US government, but poses around the world as a “private” democracy-promoting NGO, where it was instrumental in most every Washington-backed regime change destabilizations since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

In 2019, the NED listed on its website some 34 NED project grants in Belarus. All of them were directed to nurture and train an anti-Lukashenko series of opposition groups and domestic NGOs. The grants went for such projects as, “NGO Strengthening: To increase local and regional civic engagement… to identify local problems and develop advocacy strategies.” Another was to “expand an online depository of publications not readily accessible in the country, including works on politics, civil society, history, human rights, and independent culture.” Then another NED grant went, “To defend and support independent journalists and media.” And another, “NGO Strengthening: To foster youth civic engagement.” Another large NED grant went to, “training democratic parties and movements in effective advocacy campaigns.”ii Behind the innocent-sounding NED projects is a pattern of creating a specially-trained opposition on the lines of the CIA’s NED model.

Belarus Kicks Off Large-scale Military Drills Near Poland, Lithuania

The Murky Nexta

A key role in coordinating the “spontaneous” protests was played by a Warsaw-based texting and video channel called “Nexta,” based on the Telegram messaging app. Nexta, which is Belarusian for “somebody,” is nominally headed by a 22-year old Belarus exile based in Poland named Stepan Putila. With the Belarus Internet shut by the government since days, Nexta, operating from Poland, has posted numerous citizen videos of protest and police crackdown and claims now to have 2 million followers. It quickly became the heart of the Color Revolution once Belarus shut its Internet access.

Stepan Putila is also known under the moniker Stepan Svetlov. Putila previously worked for the Warsaw-based Belsat channel which broadcasts propaganda into Belarus and is funded by the Polish Foreign Ministry and USAID. The co-founder and Editor in Chief at Nexta since March, 2020 is a Belarus exile named Roman Protasevich who used to work for the US Government’s propaganda media, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Protasevich also worked for the Polish-based Euroradio which is partly funded by USAID. He was active in the CIA’s 2013-14 Maidan Square demonstrations in Kiev and according to his Facebook likes is close to Ukrainian neo-nazi Pahonia Detachment. In April 2018, Protasevich ends up at the US State Department in Washington, a notable contact. On his Facebook then he noted, “The most important week in my life begins.” The same day he posted a picture of himself inside the US State Department, stating “Never had so many important and interesting encounters in my life.”iii After he left Washington he went to work for the USAID-funded radio in Belarus Euroradio.fm on August 31, 2018. Two years later Protasevich is coordinating the anti-Lukashenko events from Warsaw via Nexta. Coincidence?

Nexta which uses the London-registered Telegram, and is in NATO-member Poland, outside the country, so far has eluded shutdown. Nexta has been sending out, via social media, such information as plans for protests, at what time and where to gather for a rally, when to start a strike, where police are assembled and so on. Nexta has also circulated texts of protesters’ demands, updates about arrests, locations of arrests by riot police, and contacts for lawyers and human rights defenders as well as maps showing where police are located and addresses for protesters to hide in.

It has also advised subscribers how to bypass internet blocking by using proxies and other means. As Maxim Edwards, a pro-opposition British journalist at Global Voices, describes Nexta, “It is clear that the channel does not merely report on the protests, but has played a substantial role in organising them.”iv

No doubt such coordination from abroad would not be possible unless Nexta had some very sophisticated assistance from certain intelligence services. Nexta claims it depends on “donations” and ads for funding, but claims to get no “grants” from governments or foundations. Whether true or not, it is an answer that gives little clarity. Is USAID one of their “donors” or the Open Society Foundations? The relevant point is that Nexta uses cyber technology that Belarus is not able to shut down. In 2018 the Russian governments unsuccessfully tried to ban Telegram for refusing to reveal their source codes.

Global Stakes

The opposition political candidates to Lukashenko is also surprisingly clever in tactics, suggesting they are being guided by professionals. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya the alleged “political novice” who stepped in when her husband was arrested and forbidden to run, claims she won the election based on exit pollers. On August 14 Tikhanovskaya announced that she was forming a “coordination council” to secure a peaceful transfer of power. It echoed the earlier call by another opposition candidate, Valery Tsepkalo, a former Belarus Ambassador to Washington who, like Tikhanovskaya’s husband Sergei Tikhanovsky, was barred from running for president. Tsepkalo called it a “national salvation front.”

Though Belarus is a small country of less than 10 million, the stakes of this destabilization effort of the West are enormous. In 2014 the Obama CIA head John Brennan led a US-backed coup d’etat in Ukraine to prevent Ukraine joining Russia’s economic union. That coup has not given Ukraine anything positive. Instead it has resulted in rule but by other corrupt oligarchs, but friendly with Washington, especially under Obama.

The NED tried in 2018 to destabilize Armenia, another part of the Russian Eurasian Economic Union. Were they now to break off Belarus, the military and political consequences for Russia could be severe. Whether or not the Lukashenko defiance of the WHO coronavirus dictates had a role in the timing of the ongoing Minsk Color Revolution attempt, clearly some powers that be in the West, including the EU and Washington would love to collapse Belarus as they did in Ukraine six years ago. If they succeed we can be sure they will be emboldened to try Russia after.

*

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

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site, williamengdahl.com.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. 

Notes

Natalya Grigoryeva, How Belarus Ignored the WHO and Beat Coronavirus, FRN, June 21, 2020, https://fort-russ.com/2020/06/covid-19-psychosis-defeated-how-belarus-ignored-the-who-and-beat-coronavirus/

NED, Belarus 2019, https://www.ned.org/region/central-and-eastern-europe/belarus-2019/

Anonymous, Roman Protasevich, August 17, 2020, https://www.foiaresearch.net/person/roman-protasevich

Maxim Edwards, How one Telegram channel became central to Belarus protests, August 19, 2020, https://radioeonline.com/2020/08/19/how-one-telegram-channel-became-central-to-belarus-protests/

Featured image:  Protest rally against Lukashenko, 16 August. Minsk, Belarus License: The Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license Under Some Conditions https://bit.ly/325WwSw


seeds_2.jpg

Seeds of Destruction: Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation

Author Name: F. William EngdahlISBN Number: 978-0-937147-2-2Year: 2007Pages: 341 pages with complete index

List Price: $25.95

Special Price: $18.00

This skilfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread. “Control the food and you control the people.”

This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO. Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms.

The author cogently reveals a diabolical world of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © F. William Engdahl, Global Research, 2020

Canada today slipped beneath the waves, like the Titanic, but into deep dictatorship.

Canada today slipped beneath the waves, like the Titanic, but into deep dictatorship.

August 18, 2020

By Marcel Woland for The Saker Blog

Today, the Minister of Finance, Morneau, was forced by Trudeau to resign, after he and Trudeau were caught (*see below) diverting one billion dollars to personal, non-governmental, associates. George Soros, through an Ukrainian agent/mole, is now the de facto head of Canada.

George Soros’s designated ‘biographer’ (hagiographer) Ukrainian-Canadian Fascist, Chrystia Freeland, becomes Minister of Finance, (presumably de facto keeping her duties as Minister of InterGovernmental Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister) as parliament is dissolved amidst the cover-up of a billion dollar scandal.

With Canada rudderless, in a time of alleged pandemic and economic collapse, the new Minister of Finance, DPM and Intergovernmental Affairs-in-one, has already promised to “help women” using money-printing and the almost empty Treasury of Canada. Women voters are likely the last hope for the oligarch playboy, thrice found guilty of ethics violations, minority PM Trudeau. His support at the last election was 30%. By now it is likely down to 20% of die-hard, mostly female, fans.

Shutting down Parliament completely, which he has partially done for months under cover of the alleged pandemic, will prevent a motion of non-confidence being brought, even if the Sikh leader of the NDP, who keeps Trudeau in power, remembers suddenly that his allegiance is to the country and not to the ‘white Sahib’ PM.

* Our Prime Minister and his ex-Finance Minister were caught recently attempting to siphon one billion dollars to an alleged pedophile cult and real estate assembly crime family(the Kielburgers), with which both their families had business dealings, called The WE Foundation. So far we know that the WE Foundation, or its subsidiaries, had paid the PM  and the former Finance Minister and their families over 500 thousand dollars in ‘free vacations’ and ‘speaker fees’. 

Here ​(below) ​is the new de facto Queen of Canada, Chrystia Freeland who concealed her family’s Nazi past.  “Look upon her​ works​, ye ​M​ighty, and despair.”​ (apology to Percy Shelley) ​ She was instrumental in the coup d’etat in the former The Ukraine, working with various Soros NGOs and the USSD as well as other quasi-criminal organizations. In this time of collapsing trade, and nuclear proliferation, she has long been banned from Russia in any capacity for Russophobia and crazed antagonism towards one of the world’s three “superpowers”. She of course makes no apology for this and the Canadian press dares not pressure her, even if they wanted to. She has also accelerated the destruction of the Canadian economy by the arrest, requested by the USA, of Meng Wan Zhou, CFO of Huawei, in the West’s il-thought out and failing trade war with China.

Meet the new Queen of Canada

And here, for some comic relief, on this bleak day for Canada indeed, is the eternal inspiration of crooked, low-potential, high-achievers (though a bit taller than the micro-Mini-Me Freeland) Pooh-Bah from The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan  https://youtu.be/jbpUzCFCy_8?t=889  (to 18:13) …but the whole of The Mikado in this Stratford Ontario Canadian production is often delightful and yet quite a dark and timely tale of misrule. Perfect viewing for a luxurious solitary confinement.

Preview in new tab(opens in a new tab)

Meanwhile, under cover of press silence and collusion, as in Russia, in 1917, the attack on the Church is  advancing at full speed:

VIDEO: Holy Communion BANNED at Churches in Toronto Canada

Lebanon economic crisis: Sovereignty and solidarity are the keys to prevent collapse

Source

9 July 2020 11:14 UTC | 

By Hicham Safieddine, He is a lecturer in the History of the Modern Middle East at King’s College London. He is author of Banking on the State: The Financial Foundations of Lebanon (Stanford University Press, 2019).

As the US ramps up financial pressure, a political struggle is underway over whether Lebanon should turn eastwards to China, Russia and Iran for relief

Lebanese protesters take part in a symbolic funeral for the country in Beirut on 13 June (AFP)

Lebanon has joined the club of sanctioned nations by proxy. Limited sanctions were already in place, but the US Caesar Act targeting Syria has cast its net over Lebanon’s entire economy. 

The country’s crumbling financial system had been gasping for fresh foreign funds. It is now stuck between the anvil of morbidly corrupt Lebanese elites obstructing reform, and the hammer of financial coercion by western powers.

On top of accelerating inflation that has rippled into Syria, the spectre of sanctions in the wake of failed International Monetary Fund talks has triggered a political tussle inside Lebanon over turning eastwards to China, Russia and Iran for relief.

Wedded to the West

This is not the first time that Lebanon has been unhinged by shifts in the global and regional balances of power. But it is one of the most dangerous crises. Sanctions on top of financial bankruptcy, oligarchic manipulation, regional instability, coronavirus and a global slump, are a recipe for total collapse.

There is no denial of the impending calamity. But the undignified media spectacle of apocalyptic suffering, divorced from a serious discussion of the tough choices Lebanon faces, borders on sanctions-mongering and accentuates this very suffering.

Aside from being a historic fiction, Lebanese neutrality today is wishful thinking

The first choice is clinging to the West and forgetting the rest through negative neutrality. In real terms, this means passive normalisation with Israel and active distancing from Syria, both of which meet western expectations. Aside from being a historic fiction, Lebanese neutrality today is wishful thinking. 

Firstly, calls for neutrality underestimate the nature and extent of the ongoing geo-economic war, of which the Caesar Act is the latest salvo. Having lost the proxy war militarily, Washington is flexing its powerful financial muscle – powered by dollar supremacy in global markets – to spoil reconstruction efforts in Syria by its lesser rivals, Russia, China and Iran. 

More broadly, financial sanctions are now a fixture of US foreign policy, with the majority of affected states in the Middle East. These sanctions are part of a multi-front war that involves tertiary actors such as Turkey, Egypt and the Gulf states and are tied to reconstruction in Iraq and Syria, geo-military rivalries in Yemen and Libya, settler-colonial expansion in Palestine, and control over gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean. Lebanon is engulfed by these conflicts from all four cardinal directions.

Political suicide

Secondly, neutrality vis-a-vis Syria in particular is economic euthanasia and political suicide given the two countries’ shared borders, common history, interdependent economies, joint threat of Israeli aggression, oligarchic and authoritarian governing elites, and – as these sanctions have shown – converging financial crises. 

Neutrality would cut Lebanon off from its only land lifeline to Syria and the wider region at a time when air and sea travel are grounded thanks to Covid-19. It would also revive animosity between the two peoples while doing little to alleviate the crisis or topple ruling elites. 

Lebanon protests: We should not let the ruling class reproduce itself again Read More »

In addition, western powers continue to play the game of double standards, feigning concern while tightening the noose. While Washington slapped criminal sanctions on the entire population of Lebanon, its ambassador in Beirut singled out the usual suspect, Hezbollah, for destabilising the country. The accusation was parroted by her British counterpart, while a sniffer dog at London’s Heathrow Airport – as this author witnessed firsthand – frisked Lebanese expatriates carrying much-needed cash back home. Travellers caught “red-handed” were interrogated without cause. 

To top it off, Gulf states within the western orbit are also withholding aid while awash with trillions of dollars in sovereign funds.

Finally, US allies themselves, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are anticipating a decline in the global role of the US. More to the point, European states, as well as the US, have multibillion-dollar trade and financial ties with China and the rest of the east – but they have no qualms about denying Lebanon and the region their sovereign share of ties.

Going East

Despite these realities, resistance to seeking eastern alternatives persists. Dependency on western and Gulf capital runs deep within Lebanese society, beyond the banking and business sectors. 

The private education and NGO sectors, home to large segments of highly visible pro-uprising activists, are heavily reliant on western funding. These material ties are augmented by an internalised cultural affinity to all things western and prejudice against all things eastern. Some resistance is also driven by a blind rejection and immature ridicule of any proposals uttered by status-quo forces.

A man walks past a money exchange company in Beirut on 1 October (AFP)
A man walks past a money exchange company in Beirut on 1 October (AFP)

In theory, turning eastwards increases bargaining power vis-a-vis the West, diversifies sources of foreign investment, and could offer practical and quick solutions to pressing problems such as power generation, waste management and transportation infrastructure. But in reality, it is not the easy way out it is being portrayed to be.

Firstly, its current proponents reduce the turn eastwards to a tool against western intervention that would strengthen ties with the Syrian regime without holding the latter accountable for its role in the killing, displacement and destruction in Syria, or curbing the stranglehold of Syrian oligarchs associated with the regime on the country’s economic future. 

Nor is the turn eastwards preconditioned by cleaning house in Lebanon itself. The oligarchs who looted public wealth for so long will not bear the costs of financial loss, let alone face justice for their crimes. Without these corrective measures, Chinese or other foreign investments are likely to turn into dividing up the spoils of sanctions. It will reinforce existing structures of oppression, clientelism and inequality.

Secondly, Chinese capital is not manna from heaven or a communist free lunch. Reports of plans for nine development projects worth more than $12bn sound promising and may offer some respite, but these come with strings attached.

They include possible privatisation of state assets, government guarantees to compensate potential losses that will ultimately come out of citizens’ pockets, continued – even if partial – reliance on dollar-based banking systems, and access to energy resources, which in the case of Lebanon are confined to potential energy reserves in a hotly contested sea zone. 

Sovereignty deficit

Formal state-to-state protocols are preconditions for all of the above, the same way they are for requesting legal assistance to return stolen assets deposited in Switzerland or other offshore financial havens. 

Whether turning west, east or inwards, fixing Lebanon’s political regime is crucial to restoring external and internal sovereignty

Government decrees are also needed internally to to implement the basic demands of the uprising and resolve the crisis in a fair and expedited manner. These include legislating capital controls, forcing the oligarchs and their banking agents to bear the costs of collapse, implementing universal healthcare, redistributing wealth through progressive taxation, clearing up violations of coastal beaches to revive tourism in a competitive neighbourhood, reforming unjust labour and personal status laws, and subsidising productive economic activity. 

In other words, whether turning west, east or elsewhere, fixing Lebanon’s political regime is crucial to restoring external and internal sovereignty, without which major change is unlikely to happen.

Since its founding, Lebanon has had a sovereignty deficit in relation to foreign powers and its ruling oligarchy. It is now facing the twin challenge of restoring both amid unfavourable conditions. 

The path to sovereignty does not place all foreign actors in the same basket. Aware of its own economic limitations and position as part of the Global South, and in the face of US threats, Lebanon should adopt a strategy of positive neutrality that plays on the contradictions of the ongoing geo-economic war to maximise the gains of its people – not its usurping elites or neocolonial masters, old or prospective. 

Dignity and social justice

Fighting for sovereignty on both fronts, external and internal, in the face of global powers, requires the mustering of tremendous political strength. This is not possible without a well-organised mass movement that is still missing in Lebanon, let alone the absence of regional solidarity stretching from Iraq to Palestine, which incorporates geopolitics into revolutionary struggle. 

In Lebanon, the starting point is necessarily Syria. Whatever the sensitivities, prejudices and complications associated with Syrian-Lebanese relations, they need to be reconfigured in a manner that serves rather than sidelines the fundamental demands of both uprisings for political dignity and social justice. 

Lebanon protests: The people want the downfall of the banks Read More »

This includes, first and foremost, confronting the contradictions of fighting against the two major historical forces impacting them today: oppressive regimes on the one hand and Zionist colonisation and occupation on the other.

All proclamations to the contrary, this is not a straightforward matter given the alignments on the ground. 

Another would be redrawing the terms of struggle across class, rather than nationalist, lines. This means finding common cause with Syrian and Palestinian workers in Lebanon, beyond the liberal paradigm of refugee rights, as well as uniting efforts to dislodge the ruling elite in both countries without further foreign intervention.

A third would be a united vision of managing the global shift from West to East in coordination with fellow Global South nations.

Devising solutions to these and other thorny issues that are both morally defensible and politically viable is not an obvious or easily achievable task. But with street mobilisation on the wane and community solidarity in the face of hardship taking a front seat, they may be the necessary rites of passage for both struggles beyond the current stalemate.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Idlib Terrorists Plot Chemical False Flag after US Diplomat Chirps about ‘Mass Graves’

Source

July 9, 2020 Miri Wood

OPCW manipulated Douma chemical attack report - mass grave

A new false flag chemical attack plan in the al Qaeda haven of Idlib has been uncovered, days after American diplomat Kelly Craft warned of (threatened?) “mass graves” in Syria, unless UNSCR 2504 was extended by the Security Council, and one day after part of the new Sykes-Picot project was vetoed by Russia and China.

Security Council Resolution 2504 (2020) was a 6-month extension on 2449 (2018) which was an extension on 2165 (2014).

Trump’s top diplomat at the Security Council of the UN was threatening with an outbreak of COVID 19 in the areas the terrorists control (link above), seems there is also a plan B, and maybe more for false flags; ‘all options on the table’ as the US warlords prefer to say.

Via 2165 (2014), poisoned vaccines were brought into Syria from Turkey.

As reported in SANA, the Russian Coordination Center in Hmeimim announced that under the direction of European special intelligence operatives illegally in Syria, terrorists “are preparing to stage a false flag chemical attack in a number of towns in Idleb countryside.”

chemical-attacks
White Helmets and the UN – OPCW

Intelligence sources informed the Coordination Center that fifteen “explosive devices filled with unknown toxic materials” were produced in a laboratory in Sarmada, with plans to explode them in Sfouhen, Fatira, and Flaifel in order to blame the Syrian Arab Army and the government of using chemical weapons.

Is it some stunning coincidence that a new false flag chemical attack comes on the heels of Craft’s warning/threat of imminent mass graves, given that the previous false flag — thwarted when the incompetent al Qaeda terrorists injured themselves — was in early March, when Craft, Raab, Jeffrey, and Lowcock were in Turkey, to give moral support to Madman Erdogan, for his war crimes against Syria?

How utterly bereft of human decency is the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, practically salivating over the fantasy of ”mass graves.” One might wonder if she enjoyed “The War of Terror Through Forensic Medicine.”

How utterly bereft of human decency is this diplomat, sadistically implying that the UN’s NATO Klan has a backup plan to unleash COVID into the Syrian Arab Republic — because burning wheat fields, and attempting to starve the population via criminal Caesar and stealing Syrian oil is not enough war criminal activity.

This is a precarious time for another false flag chemical attack against Syria. The world’s human garbage that has been dumped into the Levantine republic are at each other’s throats. Foreign terrorists in Idlib are now kidnapping each other and someone has just released pervy nude selfies of the American illegal Bilal Abdul Kareem, the degenerate who legitimized the beheading of 12 year old Syrian-Palestinian Abdullah Issa by the al Zinki division of the FSA, and who has glorified the butchery of savages on the US Treasury SDN list.

Such a false flag would also give Trump a bit of respite from ongoing media attacks. After all, the transatlantic warmongering NATO stenographers did give him a standing ovation when he bombed Syria for al Qaeda, on 7 April 2017.

— Miri Wood

UPDATE:

On cue for another false flag to legitimize another war criminal bombing of the SAR by NATO colonialists, the contemptible OPCW has entered with another round of vicious Goebbels Lies. As Syria News has meticulously dissected several of its previous propaganda missives, this author refers our readership to them.

The organization betrayed its noble cause when it ejected Jose Bustani per the demand of Dick Cheney, via his lapdog, the neocon’s neocon, John Bolton — now deified by Operation Mockingbird liberals.

Related:

Trump Threatens Syria for al-Qaeda Occupiers of Idlib

https://www.syrianews.cc/trump-threatens-syria-for-al-qaeda-occupiers-of-idlib/embed/#?secret=4P6V6AsRiT

On Tuesday’s Massive Criminal Chemical Weapons Lies against Syria

https://www.syrianews.cc/tuesdays-criminal-chemical-weapons-lies-syria/embed/#?secret=GoiFtgQ7f9

Nobody Noticed Trump Followed CNN against Syria?

https://www.syrianews.cc/nobody-noticed-trump-followed-cnn-against-syria/embed/#?secret=vshQgBy8Bz

True History of FSA Chemical Weapons Threats against Syria

https://www.syrianews.cc/true-history-fsa-chemical-weapons-threats-syria/embed/#?secret=RP3jP0wTsC

The War of Terror on Syria Through Forensic Medicine – GRAPHIC

America’s Own Color Revolution

By F. William Engdahl

Global Research, June 17, 2020

Color Revolution is the term used to describe a series of remarkably effective CIA-led regime change operations using techniques developed by the RAND Corporation, “democracy” NGOs and other groups since the 1980’s. They were used in crude form to bring down the Polish communist regime in the late 1980s. From there the techniques were refined and used, along with heavy bribes, to topple the Gorbachev regime in the Soviet Union. For anyone who has studied those models closely, it is clear that the protests against police violence led by amorphous organizations with names like Black Lives Matter or Antifa are more than purely spontaneous moral outrage. Hundreds of thousands of young Americans are being used as a battering ram to not only topple a US President, but in the process, the very structures of the US Constitutional order.

If we step back from the immediate issue of videos showing a white Minneapolis policeman pressing his knee on the neck of a black man, George Floyd, and look at what has taken place across the nation since then, it is clear that certain organizations or groups were well-prepared to instrumentalize the horrific event for their own agenda.

The protests since May 25 have often begun peacefully only to be taken over by well-trained violent actors. Two organizations have appeared regularly in connection with the violent protests—Black Lives Matter and Antifa (USA). Videos show well-equipped protesters dressed uniformly in black and masked (not for coronavirus to be sure), vandalizing police cars, burning police stations, smashing store windows with pipes or baseball bats. Use of Twitter and other social media to coordinate “hit-and-run” swarming strikes of protest mobs is evident.

What has unfolded since the Minneapolis trigger event has been compared to the wave of primarily black ghetto protest riots in 1968. I lived through those events in 1968 and what is unfolding today is far different. It is better likened to the Yugoslav color revolution that toppled Milosevic in 2000.

Gene Sharp: Template for Regime Overthrow

In the year 2000 the US State Department, aided by its National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and select CIA operatives, began secretly training a group of Belgrade university students led by a student group that was called Otpor! (Resistance!). The NED and its various offshoots was created in the 1980’s by CIA head Bill Casey as a covert CIA tool to overthrow specific regimes around the world under the cover of a human rights NGO. In fact, they get their money from Congress and from USAID.

In the Serb Otpor! destabilization of 2000, the NED and US Ambassador Richard Miles in Belgrade selected and trained a group of several dozen students, led by Srđa Popović, using the handbook, From Dictatorship to Democracy, translated to Serbian, of the late Gene Sharp and his Albert Einstein Institution. In a post mortem on the Serb events, the Washington Post wrote, “US-funded consultants played a crucial role behind the scenes in virtually every facet of the anti-drive, running tracking polls, training thousands of opposition activists and helping to organize a vitally important parallel vote count. US taxpayers paid for 5,000 cans of spray paint used by student activists to scrawl anti-Milošević graffiti on walls across Serbia.”

Trained squads of activists were deployed in protests to take over city blocks with the aid of ‘intelligence helmet’ video screens that give them an instantaneous overview of their environment. Bands of youth converging on targeted intersections in constant dialogue on cell phones, would then overwhelm police. The US government spent some $41 million on the operation. Student groups were secretly trained in the Sharp handbook techniques of staging protests that mocked the authority of the ruling police, showing them to be clumsy and impotent against the youthful protesters. Professionals from the CIA and US State Department guided them behind the scenes.

The Color Revolution Otpor! model was refined and deployed in 2004 as the Ukraine Orange Revolution with logo and color theme scarves, and in 2003 in Georgia as the Rose Revolution. Later Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used the template to launch the Arab Spring. In all cases the NED was involved with other NGOs including the Soros Foundations.

After defeating Milosevic, Popovic went on to establish a global color revolution training center, CANVAS, a kind of for-profit business consultancy for revolution, and was personally present in New York working reportedly with Antifa during the Occupy Wall Street where also Soros money was reported.

Antifa and BLM

The protests, riots, violent and non-violent actions sweeping across the United States since May 25, including an assault on the gates of the White House, begin to make sense when we understand the CIA’s Color Revolution playbook.

The impact of the protests would not be possible were it not for a network of local and state political officials inside the Democratic Party lending support to the protesters, even to the point the Democrat Mayor of Seattle ordered police to abandon several blocks in the heart of downtown to occupation by protesters.

In recent years major portions of the Democratic Party across the US have been quietly taken over by what one could call radical left candidates. Often they win with active backing of organizations such as Democratic Socialists of America or Freedom Road Socialist Organizations. In the US House of Representatives the vocal quarter of new representatives around Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib and Minneapolis Representative Ilhan Omar are all members or close to Democratic Socialists of America. Clearly without sympathetic Democrat local officials in key cities, the street protests of organizations such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa would not have such a dramatic impact.

To get a better grasp how serious the present protest movement is we should look at who has been pouring millions into BLM. The Antifa is more difficult owing to its explicit anonymous organization form. However, their online Handbook openly recommends that local Antifa “cells” join up with BLM chapters.

FRSO: Follow the Money

BLM began in 2013 when three activist friends created the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to protest the allegations of shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin by a white Hispanic block watchman, George Zimmermann. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi were all were connected with and financed by front groups tied to something called Freedom Road Socialist Organization, one of the four largest radical left organizations in the United States formed out of something called New Communist Movement that dissolved in the 1980s.

On June 12, 2020 the Freedom Road Socialist Organization webpage states, “The time is now to join a revolutionary organization! Join Freedom Road Socialist Organization…If you have been out in the streets this past few weeks, the odds are good that you’ve been thinking about the difference between the kind of change this system has to offer, and the kind of change this country needs. Capitalism is a failed system that thrives on exploitation, inequality and oppression. The reactionary and racist Trump administration has made the pandemic worse. The unfolding economic crisis we are experiencing is the worst since the 1930s. Monopoly capitalism is a dying system and we need to help finish it off. And that is exactly what Freedom Road Socialist Organization is working for.”

In short the protests over the alleged police killing of a black man in Minnesota are now being used to call for a revolution against capitalism. FRSO is an umbrella for dozens of amorphous groups including Black Lives Matter or BLM. What is interesting about the self-described Marxist-Leninist roots of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) is not so much their left politics as much as their very establishment funding by a group of well-endowed tax-exempt foundations.

Alicia Garza of BLM is also a board member or executive of five different Freedom Road front groups including 2011 Board chair of Right to the City Alliance, Board member of School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), Forward Together and Special Projects director of National Domestic Workers Alliance.

The Right to the City Alliance got $6.5 million between 2011 and 2014 from a number of very established tax-exempt foundations including the Ford Foundation ($1.9 million), from both of George Soros’s major tax-exempts–Open Society Foundations, and the Foundation to Promote Open Society for $1.3 million. Also the cornflake-tied Kellogg Foundation $250,000, and curiously, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation (ice cream) for $30,000.

Garza also got major foundation money as Executive Director of the FRSO front, POWER, where Obama former “green jobs czar” Van Jones, a self-described “communist” and “rowdy black nationalist,” now with CNN, was on the board. Alicia Garza also chaired the Right to the City Alliance, a network of activist groups opposing urban gentrification. That front since 2009 received $1.3 million from the Ford Foundation, as well as $600,000 from the Soros foundations and again, Ben & Jerry’s ($50,000). And Garza’s SOUL, which claimed to have trained 712 “organizers” in 2014, when she co-founded Black Lives Matter, got $210,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation and another $255,000 from the Heinz Foundation (ketchup and John Kerry family) among others. With the Forward Together of FRSO, Garza sat on the board of a “multi-racial organization that works with community leaders and organizations to transform culture and policy to catalyze social change.” It officially got $4 million in 2014 revenues and from 2012 and 2014, the organization received a total of $2.9 million from Ford Foundation ($655,000) and other major foundations.

Nigeria-born BLM co-founder Opal Tometi likewise comes from the network of FRSO. Tometi headed the FRSO’s Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Curiously with a “staff” of two it got money from major foundations including the Kellogg Foundation for $75,000 and Soros foundations for $100,000, and, again, Ben & Jerry’s ($10,000). Tometi got $60,000 in 2014 to direct the group.

The Freedom Road Socialist Organization that is now openly calling for a revolution against capitalism in the wake of the Floyd George killing has another arm, The Advancement Project, which describes itself as “a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization.” Its board includes a former Obama US Department of Education Director of Community Outreach and a former Bill Clinton Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. The FRSO Advancement Project in 2013 got millions from major US tax-exempt foundations including Ford ($8.5 million), Kellogg ($3 million), Hewlett Foundation of HP defense industry founder ($2.5 million), Rockefeller Foundation ($2.5 million), and Soros foundations ($8.6 million).

Major Money and ActBlue

By 2016, the presidential election year where Hillary Clinton was challenging Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter had established itself as a well-organized network. That year the Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy announced the formation of the Black-Led Movement Fund (BLMF), “a six-year pooled donor campaign aimed at raising $100 million for the Movement for Black Lives coalition” in which BLM was a central part. By then Soros foundations had already given some $33 million in grants to the Black Lives Matter movement. This was serious foundation money.

The BLMF identified itself as being created by top foundations including in addition to the Ford Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation and the Soros Open Society Foundations. They described their role: “The BLMF provides grants, movement building resources, and technical assistance to organizations working advance the leadership and vision of young, Black, queer, feminists and immigrant leaders who are shaping and leading a national conversation about criminalization, policing and race in America.”

The Movement for Black Lives Coalition (M4BL) which includes Black Lives Matter, already in 2016 called for “defunding police departments, race-based reparations, voting rights for illegal immigrants, fossil-fuel divestment, an end to private education and charter schools, a universal basic income, and free college for blacks.”

Notably, when we click on the website of M4BL, under their donate button we learn that the donations will go to something called ActBlue Charities. ActBlue facilitates donations to “democrats and progressives.” As of May 21, ActBlue had given $119 million to the campaign of Joe Biden.

That was before the May 25 BLM worldwide protests. Now major corporations such as Apple, Disney, Nike and hundreds others may be pouring untold and unaccounted millions into ActBlue under the name of Black Lives Matter, funds that in fact can go to fund the election of a Democrat President Biden. Perhaps this is the real reason the Biden campaign has been so confident of support from black voters. What is clear from only this account of the crucial role of big money foundations behind protest groups such as Black lives Matter is that there is a far more complex agenda driving the protests now destabilizing cities across America. The role of tax-exempt foundations tied to the fortunes of the greatest industrial and financial companies such as Rockefeller, Ford, Kellogg, Hewlett and Soros says that there is a far deeper and far more sinister agenda to current disturbances than spontaneous outrage would suggest.

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F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from NEO

Protesting, corona-conscience, a good dole: the US is doing things it can’t & it’s chaos

June 03, 2020

Protesting, corona-conscience, a good dole: the US is doing things it can’t & it’s chaos

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

The US has recently been trying to become a modern, humane society – and this is one of the many great hard-won and predictable consequences from electing a corporate fascist like Trump – but the results are chaos.

The US cannot protest

Look at these tiny, piddling protests, rarely over 1,000 people. Millions of Iranians can march in silence, unity and respect; China has 3-500 protests a day; today at least 20,000 people in Paris protested against police brutality but no US city has even come close to that figure. Why is that?

Answer: There are no unions, no political parties, no NGOs, no churches who dare to join these protests to flesh it out and give it structure, leadership, a soul, determination, solidarity, history, etc.

Indeed, what on earth is the point of listening to US clergy, who limit their political activism to putting down Trump? They won’t get involved, they won’t get dirty, they won’t put themselves at risk – at best they might go pick up the rubble the day after. Similarly, France’s clergy is only on the streets when it’s about nonsense like gay marriage.

Unions and political parties showing up en masse with banners and flags to question the political status quo, which they game expertly and support to the hilt? In the US you probably have to go back to 1913 to find that.

The US and the West (especially Emmanuel Macron) talk so much about civil society and NGOs, precisely because they are almost always explicitly apolitical, and in America would never join any protest which had the remotest chance of violence. Are you really banking on the Shriners or the YMCA, LOL?

The US cannot protest because it just devolves to violence

What’s crystal clear is that the US police cannot handle what is going on, and that is really the most significant long-term development here. When a society cannot provide safety, it is not much of a society at all. (May I note here that Cuban journalists said I was the first non-Cuban journalist they ever personally saw who reported about the total physical security Cubans enjoy at all times.)

US cops are not used to anybody resisting, and because they don’t have overwhelming numerical superiority they are just standing around agape; people see this and that is why they are brazenly looting in broad daylight. When cops do actually try to earn their good pay, their early retirement, their incredible guaranteed pensions, their drooling adulation from the Mainstream Media – it is against peaceful protesters and not apolitical looters.

Contrarily, France has a dedicated squad of riot police who are terribly brutal, but in the US their police are not trained to handle protests at all because: why waste time – the US cannot protest. Again, US cops are showing just how cowardly they are, and this has huge long-term cultural implications in a country which has so many guns and soon even more willingness to use them.

The US is sending in piddling amounts of National Guard like it’s 1968 – you know, back when the army was actually drawn from all sections of society – and assuming that will solve everything. A big LOL to those who think a dentist or teacher with zero combat experience is going to go hand-to-hand with looters. The US doesn’t have an army since 9/11 – it has mercenaries and 18-year olds. Incredibly, calling out the National Guard is the “ace in the hole” US governors are relying on. Again, a big LOL to this hugely, hugely outdated Boomer notion.

The cops are scared, the Marines can’t be used, the National Guard may or may not show up: this is why the only defense against looters is now in neighbourhood committees.

Ohhhhhhhhhhh… so now the Basij isn’t looking so terrible, huh? Huh?

Or a Cuban Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. Or a Chinese Communist Party. Or ANYTHING which was a pre-existing grassroots organisation of concerned citizens who have the organisation to quickly defend their neighbourhood and stores from people who are not protesters but looters.

The difference between the Basij and these thrown together US neighbourhood watch gangs is that in Iran an Azeri neighbourhood is not laying in wait for an unknown Assyrian, Kurd or Turkman to cross to their side of the street – there is unity and 20th-century politics. In the US tonight Whites and Latinos are likely pouncing on an African-American first and asking questions later – that is the extent of American political knowledge and ideology: identity politics, racial politics and “you and me against the world, babyeeee!”

Just like in France during every protest, of course: all the resources are being sent to defend the downtown and the rich areas – this is why those areas are so very, very rarely touched.

Americans are being reminded that politics is on the ground and defending your rights, community and nation – the Basij say: “You really would be wise to not invade Iran, you know.…”

The US cannot give good unemployment

Half the county is making better income by being unemployed than they ever did at their abusive job with wages which have been depressed for four decades. The US 1% made an enormous tactical error during the corona hysteria by giving nearly $1,000 per week in unemployment benefits because this admitted the fact that the money IS there – my God is it there, America is such a rich country – but it is being hoarded by the 1%.

Huge, huge anger is only going to build as this realisation grows firmer, and it will firm even if the US MSM continues to totally ignore this issue.

But you have people who – thank God! – are finally getting a living income without working like a dog, and thus they have the time and latitude to get political: they can afford to protest. People in France can afford to protest; and thus they realise they can’t afford to NOT protest. See how it’s a vicious cycle (from a 1%er’s view)?

So count on people – especially the student/youth class, whom nostalgic Boomer Westerners so foolishly assume will do all the heavy lifting to carry their society to the promised land – to take these decent wages as a license to protest until at least August 1.

After that, when the dole goes back to $400 and the 40 million lost jobs don’t come back by half but bills remain the same – expect more protests!

The US cannot grow a conscience

The first article I wrote about corona was: Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience?

It’s like when some people meditate for the first time: they finally take an honest look inward and they are overwhelmed with guilt and shame over what jerks they were for so long. The US is a system which is proudly, brazenly, defiantly, dog-eat-dog, yet the Great Lockdown was based around an idea of humanely protecting the vulnerable. Moral awakening can be a very violent process, internally – the US 1% shouldn’t have given their debt-slaves this time to reflect.

The US is such a hyper-militarised culture that demanding an hyper-policed Great Lockdown despite having none of the collective unity, grassroots structures and pre-existing mechanisms of redistribution which socialist-inspired countries like Iran, China and others have (to repeat an idea I have boringly used at least 40 times in the past few months), naturally created enormous pent-up aggression. The US system is based around aggression, competition and instability – lock that up and deny an outlet – the dog will bite, because he has been chained for so long.

What was the US 1% thinking? That if everyone was ordered to stay at home to protect Grandma, that other classes wouldn’t get uppity and start to think that maybe they deserved some protection too? Spell it out with me: h-y-s-t-e-r-i-a. But like electing Trump: sometimes you gotta go backwards to go forward.

The US cannot end these rebellions anytime soon, much less permanently solve them

The West, despite their arrogance, is not strong enough to do whatever China does, and politics is not science but morality – the US cannot all of a sudden go from 1865 to 1949 (or in Iran’s case, 1979). This dog will chase its tail until at least the November election, and the rest of the world can truly be glad that the dog is not biting them for the time being.

It is not about race nor police brutality – but this old idea is so familiar and comfortable, which is why the MSM pushes it so hard: this is something entirely new. How can anybody look at the US and think that 2020 isn’t going to be a year of total chaos for them?

Which is why it’s so funny to hear the solution proffered by so many “woke” Americans during these rebellions: get out and vote.

Hahahahahahahaha, if you think telling “Joe Biden will save us” is a good answer to a protester, to a looter, to the half of the nation which is totally politically apathetic, to the quarter of the nation which is now unemployed, to the other quarter which is fed up with lousy wages, zero stability, skyrocketed costs to health care, tuition, rent, etc., then you are part of the reason why people are letting the US burn – because you foolishly believe in the Western liberal democratic aristocratic/bourgeois system.

The US system has no answer for what is going on, and this list was far from extensive.

Trump is not Huey Long but a hardcore corporate fascist, and he was so necessary to vote into office because he pulled the sheet off the American system.

How’s it look where you are?

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Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20,

2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26,

2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona – May 13, 2020

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists? – May 15, 2020

Why haven’t we called it ‘QE 5’ yet? And why we must call it ‘QE 2.1’ instead – May 16, 2020

‘Take your stinking paws off me, you damned, dirty public servant!’ That’s Orwell? – May 17, 2021

The Great Lockdown: The political apex of US single Moms & Western matriarchy? May 21, 2021

I was wrong on corona – by not pushing for a US Cultural Revolution immediately – May 25, 2021

August 1: when the unemployment runs out and a new era of US labor battles begin – May 28, 2021


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Why I No Longer Read Facebook

 BY GILAD ATZMON

fb hitler_edited-1.jpg

Source

by Eve Mykytyn

In an effort to stem the torrent of ‘false’ cures and conspiracy theories about COVID-19, Facebook announced it would begin informing users globally who have liked, commented on, or shared “harmful” misinformation about the coronavirus, that the content they reacted to was incorrect and  pointing them in the direction of what Facebook considers to be a  ‘reliable’ source. The reliable source?  The World Health Organization. Here’s the distinctly noninformative WHO Covid 19 website . 


I don’t know what caused Covid 19 to become our disease du jour. Was it a bat? A natural or laboratory mutation? Not only do I not know, but I don’t believe that Facebook, or the WHO know either. Why not let theories abound? Perhaps free speech means that we trust the people to evaluate the source and sort out the facts for themselves. 

The general rule in the US is that no publisher has an obligation to print any particular view: that rule dates from  when ‘publisher’ meant print and print was inexpensive. The founders intentionally strove to open a ‘marketplace of ideas,’ a ‘public square’ with pamphleteers and speeches. Published content was restricted only  by the threat of litigation over libel or defamation which requires publishing material known (or should have known) to be false.

Exceptions to the general rule came about when publishing was through a limited medium regulated by the government. When television stations were a limited resource obtained through government licensing of the  few channels, the government imposed  free speech requirements including an equal time rule, requiring television stations to present both sides of an issue. The rule was dropped, considered unnecessary only when television began to offer a plethora of stations.

So now we get to Facebook( youtube, twitter, etc.). Which is it most like, television or freely available printing?

For many years, including the time that these major platforms became monopolies, the internet depended on cable service which due to the physical nature of cable was a limited resource for which the government issued licenses to certain cable companies. In 1965 , the FCC established rules for cable systems and the Supreme Court affirmed the FCC’s jurisdiction over cable. I believe that  Facebook is also subject to regulation as a monopoly as the government has authority to interfere with monopolies, particularly when they are successful (which is, admittedly another issue) ask AT&T. 

But Facebook wants it both ways.  They don’t admit liability for defamatory statements published on their site. They argue that they behave simply as a platform, a means of transmission. But they also reserve the right to censor content by restricting or deleting material they deem incorrect. So which is it? If they have the power to censor what we see why shouldn’t they be liable for the content?

This censoring of free speech applies broadly. Google favors some content over others in its search engine, Youtube has been on a tear not only deleting videos but replacing videos with others that express an alternative view.   See where they plan to ban holocaust  ‘denial’ (revisionist in any way)  videos and offer wikipedia instead.  Further they intend to offer the banned videos to researchers and NGOs “looking to understand hate in order to combat it,” thereby providing content only to a restricted class of their own choosing.  Twitter inserts a page when a ‘controversial’ link is clicked warning the user that the link has been identified as  malware although Twitter admits that malware warnings are posted based on content. 

What is it that compels these platforms to come down on both sides of the free speech issue?  After all, by editing content Facebook becomes more like a  publisher and less like a mere  platform. Facebook does so because it regularly gets brought before Congress to explain free speech congress doesn’t like. Facebook also defers to European countries that regulate speech.

Facebook argues that internet companies aren’t governments and they can restrict what they like. That’s why they don’t follow the First Amendment and instead enforce more restrictive rules in response to criticism of their content.  See, for ex., The New Yorker on the ‘free speech excuse.’  

I believe that major platforms have become the public square. Yet we allow Facebook to restrict our speech and they do so effectively. As owners of the public square they are uniquely positioned to and do silence  dissenters. Platforms take down posts that don’t fit their ‘standards, and they do so swiftly. Perhaps before we allow Facebook to be the arbitrator of free speech, we should rethink the present day meaning of a marketplace of ideas.

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