Anatomy of the EU “gas crisis”

August 05, 2022

Source

by Jorge Vilches

Europe today does not have – or possibly never had – an effective vision of the no-nonsense existential strategy it required to subsist in peace. Furthermore, as if not aware of the coming debacle, EU leaders firmly insist on their failed policies. Now, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder proposes to solve the EU’s self-inflicted ´gas crisis´ by launching the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) gas pipeline… although German authorities have repeatedly rejected the idea.

Today the EU is governed by childish impulses necessarily leading to confusion and self-harm. First the EU imposes highly crippling sanctions on its Russian partner and then demands from her full natural gas delivery — even under the current most special situation — while flagrantly violating well-known contract clauses. Accordingly, it is obvious that the assumed European ´energy crisis´ does not really exist as such, be it for natural gas, oil, distillates, coal, uranium rods… or whatever others for that matter. Because if a genuine “energy crisis” truly existed, Europe would not have full access to tangible energy from Russia, which is not the case. Actually, Europe has an enviable, excellent access to high quality, decades-proven, swift, trouble-free, close-by, door-to-door delivery of truly cheap energy from fully-vetted Russian vendors willing and able to reliably deliver the goods as they always have since decades yonder.

contract violations

But besides being immature, the EU can also be highly creative. For instance, by playing games with sacrosanct contractual requirements for the famous peripatetic Siemens NS1 turbine # 073… now stranded at Mülheim an der Ruhr after a yet unfinished maintenance episode at very distant Siemens Canada facilities of all places. Accordingly, Russia´s Gazprom has now officially rejected to accept delivery of turbine # 073 on the basis that

The sanctions regimes of Canada, the EU, the UK and a mismatch of the current situation with the existing contractual obligations by the Siemens side make delivery of the 073 engine to the [ Russian ] Portovaya compressor station impossible”. Gazprom claims that essential documents have not been presented stating that turbine 073 is not under sanctions. “Words are not enough”.

Ref #1 https://www.rt.com/business/560216-kremlin-responds-german-turbine-accusation/

Furthermore, the Minister of Natural Resources of Canada Jonathan Wilkinson declared that “Canada grants a time-limited and revocable permit for Siemens Canada to allow the return of repaired Nordstream 1 turbines to Germany…” So, no direct return to Russia — which is a clear breach of contract — and also under time-limited and revocable conditions which is an additional contract violation simply because turbine # 073 is still not sanctions-free and thus uninsurable. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov made clear that the turbine had been sent to Germany without Russia’s consent and that in the current situation Moscow should now have to make sure that the turbine “cannot be stopped remotely”… Sabotage cannot be excluded while Germany is actively sending weapons to Ukraine to kill Russians.

Ref #2 https://nationworldnews.com/gazprom-repeats-west-bloks-nord-stream-turbine-shipments/

Ref #3 https://www.ft.com/content/d926a768-f976-4bee-823c-0f255afb7087

Ref #8 https://tass.com/economy/1477929

Ref #4 https://www.reuters.com/article/ukraine-crisis-gas-nordstream/update-1-russias-gazprom-sanctions-make-delivery-of-nord-stream-turbine-impossible-idUKL8N2ZF6SQ

Ref #5 https://news.yahoo.com/turbine-works-germanys-scholz-points-083241601.html

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what happened ?

EU sanctions have shut down several Russian pipelines thus completely tying down Gazprom´s hands. Ukraine and Poland effectively closed off the Yamal-Europe pipeline. Ukraine did it overtly for strictly political reasons while Poland by refusing to pay under the new gas-for-Roubles scheme. Also, the NS1 pipeline is still suffering the Siemens-Canada tumultuous service problems. Besides, Gazprom is unable to fully use another pipeline route as Ukraine has been rejecting its transit applications. In sum, Europe has pro-actively shut itself off from Russian gas. Go figure…

et tu Siemens ?

Siemens Energy is the NS1 turbine manufacturer squarely and contractually responsible for the regular maintenance and proper functioning of all NS1 turbines, property of Russia. Siemens has now officially declared what Gazprom has been saying all along, namely that only one of five NS1 turbines is truly operational and able to deliver gas. Of course, this means that Europe is able to receive only 20% of Russia´s badly-needed natural gas as the condition of the four other remaining NS1 turbines is still undefined. According to former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the reduction in the NS1 flow rate capacity is entirely Siemens’ fault, not Gazprom´s. Sanctions obviously still apply to turbine # 073 and surely to any other Russian-related piece of equipment or produce or program or whatever Russian.

et tu Gazprom ?

Vitaly Markelov, deputy head of Gazprom, said that Siemens has not fulfilled its obligations to adequately maintain NS1 engine and thusly several pieces of equipment are currently idle. Besides, Gazprom claims it has not received from Siemens the required, well-known, complete package of documents allowing transportation, maintenance service and repairs of Russian-owned equipment. The EU keeps playing lots of childish games while winter gets ever closer. If Gazprom were to accept the turbine it would be liable for illegally breaking the EU sanctions regime plus other unfavorable complications. Lots of tricky lawfare involved while the EU can’t stop digging an ever deeper hole for itself. What´s bloody wrong with Europeans ? Why do they insist in choking down on their own vomit ? EU sanctions were rolled back regarding insurance on freight vessels with Russian oil, right ? So go for it you ignorant fools, now.

Gazprom says: “The current anti-Russian sanctions are hindering the successful resolution of the issue of the transportation and repair of Siemens gas turbine engines for the Portovaya compressor station, which supplies gas to European consumers through the Nord Stream pipeline.”

Ref #6 https://www.rt.com/business/560144-turbine-manufacturer-explains-gas-shortfall/

Ref #7 https://www.rfi.fr/en/business-and-tech/20220803-gazprom-says-gas-turbine-delivery-to-russia-impossible-due-to-sanctions

Ref #8 https://www.rt.com/business/560232-gazprom-explains-turbine-complications/

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the NS2 “solution”

In the whole history of worldwide warfare, no help was ever made readily available by any enemy. Let alone would such help ever include the life-blood of Europe´s economy, including vital products and energy. So Russia right now is not Europe´s “enemy”. Today European industry and households are simply undergoing a fake ´energy crisis´ (not) of their own making by decisions made by un-elected EU politicians who do not represent Europe´s best interests. Now, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder insists in a Stern Magazine interview the NS2 pipeline with Russian-made turbines would immediately solve Europe´s — possibly terminal — ´energy crisis´ come winter 2022 – 2023.

Ref #9 https://www.rt.com/business/560125-gerhard-schroeder-nord-stream-gas/

three NS2 problems

But there are three major “problems” to be solved. Number one problem is the absurdly required US political approval of the idea as broadly explained below. Problem number two is time is up as the NS2 certification and commissioning process would have to start right now — meaning yesterday – in order to possibly make it soon enough as neither problem #1 or #2 are simple nor quick to solve. Why so ? Well, one reason the dependency on US authorization of anything meaningful for Europe which is now clearly exposed for all to see. This also includes among other things any European trade and investment decisions with Russia. Furthermore, due to serious and most valid technical reasons, several weeks are required before any natural gas can flow from Russia to Germany through the NS2. Otherwise, the risks of serious accidents and/or malfunctioning could mean the sudden end to any possible successful solution of the problem at hand. People at large – and even top ranking specialized politicians – many times think that oil & gas feedstock flows can be turned on and off with the flip of a switch (not). Of course, all of the above furthermore requires German cooperation and correct decisions such as not using NS2 terminal facilities for any other purposes than those originally intended with specific design criteria and construction technology in mind. This is of utmost importance because German officials have already announced their idea of ´speeding up´ and supplementing the installation of LNG terminals with available NS2 hub-heads to support non-Russian LNG gas imports.

And problem number three is that at this very late stage of the game Gazprom could only deliver 25% of its nominal design capacity. In May, Russia´s President Putin specifically advised German Chancellor Scholz that Gazprom had contractually reserved the NS2 delivery capacity which needed to be effectively purchased as it could not remain suspended in mid-air indefinitely. Thus, President Putin then also warned Chancellor Scholz that Russia was forced to soon redirect half of the NS2 volume for domestic consumption and processing. Therefore, even if Gazprom were to be duly authorized to launch NS2 tomorrow morning, it would pump only 50% of its original nominal design capacity. And given that we are already more than halfway through 2022, that would be just be 20-25%…or less.

Ref # 10 https://www.aa.com.tr/en/energy/general/germany-unable-to-use-second-nord-stream-2-line-before-2028-gazprom/35291

US interference

The US does not leave Europe free to make rational decisions, simply because Europe constitutes a heterogeneous group of vassal states still under US military occupation. The NS2 natural gas pipeline runs under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany right besides the currently problematic NS1. Its construction was recently completed but the pipeline was denied certification and commissioning by German authorities prior to the crisis in Ukraine. Despite former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder´s insistence, the German government has repeatedly said that launching NS2 now is absolutely out of the question. It is impossible to make this stuff up…

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the EU perfect storm

Europe is facing a perfect storm: energy prices are up, economic growth is down and winter is coming ” officially stated by Mr. Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Add to that the ever-lower Rhine River water levels – almost impassable by barges of any draft — and you get the idea. This ultra-low Rhine level tremendously restricts – and may possibly cut-off altogether – the very badly-needed coal shipments to the now absurdly RE-commissioned coal-fueled power stations. Of course, also this impacts the physical delivery of everything – not just fuels and inputs thereof — with necessarily much higher costs requiring non-available trucking freight. “The risk here is the trade of huge quantities of commodities that would otherwise be used to stave off an economic crisis become logjammed on the Rhine as low water levels make certain parts impassible. Shipment costs for coal are therefore increasing, which in turn inflates the costs of operating coal plants.”

The low water levels are already forcing “irregular operation” at a Uniper 510-megawatt Staudinger-5 coal-fired power plant through the first half of September because fewer and fewer barges have been able to deliver coal as stockpiles dwindle. Rhine water levels below 40 centimeters at Kaub would halt shipments via inland waterways to the power plant, forcing highly expensive and inefficient shipments by land. Many other key industries are seriously affected.

Gazprom explains complications in turbine row

The Rhine River directly affects trade and industrial logistics of several key European countries namely, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands while indirectly affecting many others or, in some cases, all the others. In particular, the über-important German inland transportation system – and therefore its entire supply chains network – depends upon normal levels of Rhine River waters. Because it´s not only a matter of sourcing the right quality, quantity and price of any produce. It is just as important to receive it Just-In-Time at process destinations such as refineries or power plants as explained later. Simultaneously, all European stakeholders are competing with each other tooth and nail struggling to find, contract and retain exactly the same resources in order to solve the same unexpected problems all at once and by the same date.

Ref #11 https://www.eeas.europa.eu/eeas/europe%E2%80%99s-energy-balancing-act_en

Ref #12 https://www.zerohedge.com/commodities/german-barge-traffic-shrinks-rhine-water-levels-fall

Ref #13 https://thesaker.is/europe-hypnotized-into-war-economy/

Ref #14 https://www.zerohedge.com/commodities/germanys-uniper-warns-irregular-operation-power-plant-rhine-river-dries

Beggaring Europe: switching cheap Russian gas for expensive American LNG

EU steps to significantly reduce Russian gas imports will see Europe newly dependent on much pricier US liquefied natural gas

June 15 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Daoud Baalbaki

Europe’s dependency on Russian natural gas has been a contentious issue for European Union (EU) policy makers for decades. Dozens of policies have been proposed over the years to diversify the continent’s gas supply, or to switch to green energy sources in order to minimize reliance on Russian gas.

There are only two ways to transport natural gas – via pipelines, or by liquifying the gas, transporting it as cargo, then re-gasifying it at the destination. Both processes require time and considerable infrastructure investment.

Pipelines: In 2021, Russian natural gas accounted for about 46 percent of the EU’s total natural gas imports with an amount of 155 bcm (billion cubic meters). Figure 1 shows that Russian pipelines provided about 41 percent (about 139 bcm) of these gas imports to the EU over the same period.

Norway is Europe’s second-biggest natural gas supplier, followed by pipelines from North Africa and Azerbaijan.

LNG: Imports of LNG constitute about 21 percent of total European natural gas imports.

Figure 2 shows the sources for the LNG shipments that were imported by the EU in 2021. It is important to note that the United States represents the main supplier for LNG to the EU, and is likely to be the main beneficiary if Russian gas pipelines cease operations. The US only commenced exports of LNG to the EU in 2016, but rapidly reached 22.3 bcm in 2021, representing 23 percent of all LNG exports from the US.

Europe’s dependency

Before the conflict in Ukraine, Russia was still a major supplier for LNG in Europe with about 20 percent of the total LNG imports (equivalent to 16 bcm). This means the EU imported a total of 155 bcm of natural gas from Russia annually – 139 bcm via pipelines and 16 via LNG. This accounts for almost half of all European natural gas imports.

This strategic failure in achieving independence from Russian natural gas was mainly due to lack of a coherent and unified strategy among EU members. As shown in Figure 3 the dependency on Russian natural gas varies from one European country to another.

Countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Hungary are fully dependent on Russian natural gas, while the countries that import the largest quantities like Germany, France, Italy Poland, and Greece are semi-dependent, and countries like Portugal are quasi-independent.

With intense pressure from Washington, this issue of over-reliance on Russian resources became further securitized following the conflict in Ukraine. Even after the west announced sanctions on Russian imports, the EU imported 39 billion euros worth of fossil fuel from Russia, until as recently as mid-May.

Reducing reliance on Russia

According to a Flash Eurobarometer survey for the European Commission (EC), 85 percent of Europeans believe that the EU should reduce its dependence on Russian gas and oil as soon as possible to support Ukraine. Meanwhile the EC, international agencies, and independent think tanks have proposed short term plans to decrease the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels by the end of 2022.

The main three short term plans are the EC’s REPowerEU Plan under which two-thirds of Russian gas (101.5bcm/155bcm) could be replaced by next winter; the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) ten-point plan which proposes a one-third (50bcm / 155bcm) reduction of the Russian natural gas imports, finding alternative sources, and switching to renewable energy; and economic think tank Bruegel’s plan which says, in theory, the EU should be able “to replace Russian [gas] flows entirely,” even in the short term, by calculating Europe’s spare gas import capacity. Realistically, however, Bruegel calls for a reduction (86 bcm/155 bcm) by possibly switching electricity production to nuclear and coal, while applying energy saving policies.

What’s the plan?

Essentially, what these plans all have in common is a call for the EU to diversify its natural gas imports portfolio, switch to renewable energy, and apply policies for energy saving. Of the aforementioned plans, the REPowerEU strategy appears to be the most feasible.

The plan suggests cutting Russian natural gas imports to 101.5 bcm from 155 bcm in 2021 – in theory, by increasing non-Russian gas supply by 63.5 bcm, and reducing gas demand by 38 bcm.

To increase non-Russian gas supply by 63.5 bcm, the plan assumes the following can be achieved:

  1. Increase non-Russian LNG imports by 50 bcm
  2. Increase non-Russian pipeline imports by 10 bcm.
  3. Increase biomethane production by 3.5 bcm.

Complimentary to this, they also recommended reducing gas demand by 38 bcm. For this, they proposed 4 points:

  1. Energy savings to cut demand by 14 bcm
  2. Rooftop solar power to reduce gas demand by 2.5 bcm
  3. Heat pumps to reduce gas demand by 1.5 bcm
  4. Deploying wind and solar in the power sector to reduce gas demand by 20 bcm.

The first problem with the EC study is that it expects the demand for gas in Europe in 2022 to remain the same as in 2021. Studies shows that the continent may need around 20-25 bcm more than in the same period last year. So, the target gas requirement is actually 121.5 – 126.5 bcm – not just replacing the Russian imports of 101.5 bcm.

Increasing non-Russian LNG

By far the most important metric here is the EU’s current regasification capacity. As mentioned above, when imported as LNG, the liquified gas needs to be regasified by specialized plants in ports in order to be reinjected into pipelines. All combined, the EU countries had around 74 bcm spare regasification capacity last year.

The problem is that about half this spare capacity is concentrated in Spain and Portugal, which are linked to the rest of the EU with a pipeline of just 7.5 bcm/year capacity. Therefore, the EU has insufficient re-gasification plants to import an additional 50 bcm of LNG.

The proposed solution is to use the UK (now, officially outside the EU) – which has around 29 bcm spare regasification capacity – as a land bridge to import LNG and then reexport it to the EU via pipelines. In this scenario, the EU may succeed in importing an extra 50 bcm of LNG.

But even if Europe overcomes the regasification obstacle, is there enough LNG supply in the world to cover the demand?

Switching dependency from Russia to the US 

Due to many export plants struggling with technical and feed gas issues during the year, global LNG export capacity actually declined in 2021, despite the continued rise in capacity in the US. At the beginning of 2022, it was estimated that the LNG global export capacity will increase by some 43 bcm if all plants that had technical issues and shutdowns were to come back online.

In the second quarter of this year, the International Energy Agency’s gas market report estimated that the EU’s LNG imports may increase by a maximum of 25 bcm and that 65 percent of this quantity will be supplied by the US.

If this transpires, US LNG exports will increase by a whopping 19 percent, making it the global leader of LNG exports overnight. Meanwhile, Africa, Europe, Central and South America and Eurasia will have smaller contributions to global LNG supply growth in 2022, while the supply of the Asia Pacific and West Asian regions are expected to decline.

If we take Qatar as an example, despite its leading role in LNG markets and close relations with western states, Qatar is unable to supply Europe with extra large quantities in the short term because it suffers from a lack of spare LNG export capacity. Furthermore, over 70 percent of these exports are sold to Asian buyers via long term contracts. Europe would have to wait until 2024-25 to be able to count on Qatari LNG supplies.

This high-level demand for LNG projected by Europe will saturate the market and increase the competition for flexible LNG cargoes. In order to attract more LNG cargoes, spot prices in Europe should be $2-3/MMBtu higher than the Asian markets. This is leveling now at $35/MMbtu for the rest of 2022 which is more than five times their five-year average.

The bottom line is that it will be impossible for the EU to increase their LNG imports by the crucial 50 bcm milestone. Even if the EU overcomes the technical issues represented by the regasification capacities and the interconnections between the EU countries and Britain, the supply in the global LNG market simply cannot meet the demand.

Although Europe may receive an extra 25 bcm of LNG, it will come attached to a very high price tag, while prices in North America will be largely unaffected. The US is the big winner in this scenario, raking in exorbitant profits while establishing itself as the world’s biggest LNG exporter.

Where are the non-Russian gas pipelines?

Norway: As the main non-Russian gas supplier of natural gas to Europe via pipelines, Norway’s total capacity of supply is 94.3 bcm per year. Only 86.3 percent of this capacity was used in 2021, theoretically leaving 12.9 bcm of spare annual capacity.

However, in the first two quarters of 2022, the pipelines have been working close to effective full capacity, and this capacity is expected to be lower in the summer, as previous records indicate.

North Africa: The other source of pipeline natural gas to Europe is via three pipelines from North Africa: The Medgaz pipeline from Algeria to Spain, the Trans-Mediterranean Pipeline (also known as Transmed which carries Algerian gas from Tunisia to Italy), and the Green Stream pipeline, from Libya to Italy. A fourth pipeline, the Gas Pipeline Maghreb-Europe (GME), runs from Algeria to Spain via Morocco, but has not been used since 1 November 2021, following the breakdown of diplomatic relations between Algeria and Morocco that August.

The flow in Medgaz pipeline to Spain can increase by around 2 bcm, after increasing its capacity.  These extra quantities can cover a part of the quantities that have been delivered via GME in 2021. However, Algeria has also recently suspended trade ties with Spain over the latter’s decision to side with Morocco over the disputed Western Sahara territory, which has exacerbated tensions between Rabat and Algiers.

The Transmed pipeline to Italy has around 10 bcm spare capacity, but recent analysis shows that Algeria will not be able to offer additional gas quantities since reaching its production capacity and needing to address its own growing domestic demand.

Exports in Libya ranged around 5 bcm before 2020 but declined to 3.2bcm in 2021. A recovery can offer the extra 1-2 bcm, but ongoing political instability in Libya can offer no such guarantees.

As a result, North Africa is not foreseen to provide any extra-large quantities of gas to Europe in 2022.

Azerbaijan: In 2021, the EU started receiving natural gas from Azerbaijan via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The capacity of TAP is around 11 bcm, and flows in 2021 totaled 8.1 bcm, meaning there is extra capacity of around 2.5 bcm.

Overall, the EU plan is based on making a year-on-year increase of 2-3 bcm from Azerbaijan, 2-3 from Algeria, and 4-5 bcm from Norway. These appear to be achievable with regards to the pipelines’ spare capacities, but ambitious in terms of gas production quantities for the suppliers.

Trading dependencies

This European demand for non-Russian gas will mainly be covered by the United States which is the only player that stands to gain economically. It is therefore in Washington’s interests that Europe converts a big part of its gas imports from Russian pipelines into LNG. It is also why the US has remained determined for years to stop the Russia-to-Germany NordStream 2 pipeline from becoming operational – which it succeeded in doing in February, as tensions over Ukraine worsened.

As the US has its own independent pricing system, it is not affected by the international gas prices, which are expected to rise significantly in the European and Asian markets, bringing instant value to LNG production activities in the US.

The EU plan to cut two-thirds of its Russian gas imports and replace it elsewhere – by the end of 2022 – is very optimistic. Closer scrutiny shows it will come with a very high cost – around five times the price that Europe used to pay. Whichever plan the EU implements, Europe will have to acknowledge that it will be neither an energy independent or politically independent continent for the foreseeable future.

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

Empire of Bioweapon Lies

May 13, 2022

Pepe Escobar

An ongoing U.S. bioweapons program in Ukraine was one of the Top Three reasons that led to the launch of Operation Z, Pepe Escobar writes.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow / Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, / You cannot say, or guess, for you know only / A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, / And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, / And the dry stone no sound of water. Only / There is shadow under this red rock, / (Come in under the shadow of this red rock), / And I will show you something different from either / Your shadow at morning striding behind you / Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; / I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land: I. The Burial of the Dead, 1922

This glimpse of “fear in a handful of dust” already ranks as one the prime breakthroughs of the young 21st century, presented this week by Chief of Russian Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Protection Force Igor Kirillov.

The provisional results of evidence being collected about the work of U.S. bioweapons in Ukraine are simply astonishing. These are the main takeaways.

  1. U.S. bioweapon ideologues comprise the leadership of the Democratic Party. By linking with non-governmental biotechnology organizations, using the investment funds of the Clintons, Rockefellers, Soros and Biden, they profited from additional campaign financing – all duly concealed. In parallel, they assembled the legislative basis for financing the bioweapons program directly from the federal budget.
  2. COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, as well as Merck and Gilead – of Donald “known unknowns” fame, and affiliated with the Pentagon – were directly involved.
  3. U.S. specialists tested new drugs in the Ukraine biolabs in circumvention of international safety standards. According to Kirillov, acting this way “Western companies seriously reduce the costs of research programs and gain significant competitive advantages.”
  4. According to Kirillov, “along with U.S. pharmaceutical companies and Pentagon contractors, Ukrainian government agencies are involved in military biotechnology activities, whose main tasks are to conceal illegal activities, conduct field and clinical trials and provide the necessary biomaterial.”
  5. The Pentagon, Kirillov pointed out, expanded its research potential not only in terms of producing biological weapons, but also gathering information on antibiotic resistance and the presence of antibodies to certain diseases among the population in specific regions. The testing ground in Ukraine was practically outside the control of the so-called “international community”.

These findings, amply documented, suggest a vast “legitimized” bioweapon racket reaching the highest levels of the American body politic. There’s no doubt the Russians plan to thoroughly unmask it for the benefit of world public opinion, starting with a War Crimes Tribunal to be set up this summer, most probably in Donetsk.

An ongoing U.S. bioweapons program in Ukraine was one of the Top Three reasons that led to the launch of Operation Z, side by side with preventing an imminent NATO-managed blitzkrieg against Donbass and Kiev’s desire to re-start a nuclear weapons program. These are Top Three red lines for Russia.

The strength of the collected evidence may directly correlate with what was largely interpreted as a carefully measured Victory Day speech by President Putin. The Kremlin does not bluff. It will certainly privilege the meticulous presentation of – bioweapon – facts on the ground over grandstanding rhetoric.

The return of Nord Stream 2

Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyaniskiy announced Russia’s demand for an open meeting of the UN Security Council to present further evidence related to U.S. biolabs in Ukraine. Even if the meeting would be vetoed by the U.S., the evidence will be entered by Russia on the UN records.

These developments provide an extra indication there’s absolutely no space left for diplomacy between Russia and the U.S./collective West, as Polyaniskiy himself suggested when commenting the possible accession of Ukraine to the EU: “The situation has changed after Mr. Borrell’s statement that ‘this war should be won on the battleground’ and after the fact that the European Union is the leader in deliveries of arms [to Ukraine].”

It gets worse. The next chapter is Finland’s drive to join NATO.

The Americans gamble that Finland – and Sweden – joining NATO will totally discredit Putin’s Operation Z as having accomplished next to nothing strategically: after all, in the near future, potential U.S. hypersonic missiles stationed in Finland and Sweden will be very close to Saint Petersburg and Moscow.

Meanwhile, Russian unmasking of the bioweapon racket will drive a toxic section of American political elites to turbo-charge their warmongering. It’s all following a carefully calculated script.

First, these bioweapon-supervising “elites” ordered the massive Kiev shelling of Donbas in early February. That forced the Kremlin’s hand, pushing it to launch Operation Z.

We should always remember that the ultimate goal in the U.S. plan of training Ukrainians for war since 2014 was to alienate Germany from Russia – as Germany de facto controls Euroland economically.

Imperial control of the oceans allows the Empire to strangle Germany at will into subservience by cutting them off from Russian energy – as the British did to Germany in WWII when Britannia ruled the waves. The Wehrmacht could not supply their mechanized army with fuel. Now, in theory, Germany and the EU will have to look to the seas – and total U.S. dependency – for their natural resources.

The remote-controlled Kiev regime dominated by SBU fanatics and Azov neo-Nazis is making it even harder – by shutting off all natural gas from Russia through Ukraine into Europe, reducing the flow by more than one third.

That translates as U.S.-enforced blackmail to force the EU to increase the Ukro-weaponizing against Russia. The practical consequences for Germany and the EU will be dire – in terms of shut down industries and cost of home heating and electrical power.

Russia, meanwhile, will rely on a bolstered Pipelineistan maze to China and East Asia as well as high-speed rail to transport all its natural resources.

Blowback against the Americans though is not off limits. Stranger things have happened. If gas transit to Europe via Ukraine is totally cut off, there are no alternatives. And that – assuming there are working IQs in Berlin – would open the way for a renegotiation on the future of Nord Stream 2.

As the head of the Energy Development Center Kirill Melnikov notes, “the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline is practically idle and one of the Nord Stream 2 lines is also ready for operation though the German regulator has not issued permission for its launch yet.”

That prompted Melnikov to a priceless comment: “If purchases remain the same, Germany will probably need to urgently allow the launch of one of the Nord Stream 2 lines in order to replace the Ukrainian transit route.”

No one ever lost money betting on the astonishing stupidity permeating EUrocrat decision levels. Even facing economic suicide, the EU is desperate to “abandon” Russian oil. Yet a full ban is impossible, because of energy-deprived Eastern Europe.

Every impartial energy analyst knows replacing Russian oil is D.O.A., for a number of reasons: the OPEC+ deal; the ghastly divide between Washington and Riyadh; the never-ending JCPOA renegotiation, where the Americans behave like headless chickens; and the crucial fact – beyond the understanding of EUrocrats – that European oil refineries are designed to use oil from the Urals.

So just when we thought we could enjoy the summer by watching Europe commit hara-kiri, it’s time to stock up on those Aperol Spritz. Get ready for a new hit series, season 1: Inside the American bioweapon racket.

Megalopolis x Russia: Total War

May 07, 2022

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

After careful evaluation, the Kremlin is rearranging the geopolitical chessboard to end the unipolar hegemony of the “indispensable nation”.

But it’s our fate / To have no place to rest, / As suffering mortals / Blindly fall and vanish / From one hour / To the next, / Like water falling / From cliff to cliff, downward / For years to uncertainty.

Holderlin, Hyperion’s Fate Song

Operation Z is the first salvo of a titanic struggle: three decades after the fall of the USSR, and 77 years after the end of WWII, after careful evaluation, the Kremlin is rearranging the geopolitical chessboard to end the unipolar hegemony of the “indispensable nation”. No wonder the Empire of Lies has gone completely berserk, obsessed in completely expelling Russia from the West-centric system.

The U.S. and its NATO puppies cannot possibly come to grips with their perplexity when faced with a staggering loss: no more entitlement allowing exclusive geopolitical use of force to perpetuate “our values”. No more Full Spectrum Dominance.

The micro-picture is also clear. The U.S. Deep State is milking to Kingdom Come its planned Ukraine gambit to cloak a strategic attack on Russia. The “secret” was to force Moscow into an intra-Slav war in Ukraine to break Nord Stream 2 – and thus German reliance on Russian natural resources. That ends – at least for the foreseeable future – the prospect of a Bismarckian Russo-German connection that would ultimately cause the U.S. to lose control of the Eurasian landmass from the English Channel to the Pacific to an emerging China-Russia-Germany pact.

The American strategic gambit, so far, has worked wonders. But the battle is far from over. Psycho neo-con/neoliberalcon silos inside the Deep State consider Russia such a serious threat to the “rules-based international order” that they are ready to risk if not incur a “limited” nuclear war out of their gambit. What’s at stake is nothing less than the loss of Ruling the World by the Anglo-Saxons.

Mastering the Five Seas  

Russia, based on purchasing power parity (PPP), is the 6th economy in the world, right behind Germany and ahead of both the UK and France. Its “hard” economy is similar to the U.S. Steel production may be about the same, but intellectual capacity is vastly superior. Russia has roughly the same number of engineers as the U.S., but they are much better educated.

The Mossad attributes Israel’s economic miracle in creating an equivalent of Silicon Valley to a base of a million Russian immigrants. This Israeli Silicon Valley happens to be a key asset of the American MICIMATT (military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academia-think tank complex), as indelibly named by Ray McGovern.

NATOstan media hysterically barking that Russia’s GDP is the size of Texas is nonsense. PPP is what really counts; that and Russia’s superior engineers is why their hypersonic weapons are at least two or three generations ahead of the U.S. Just ask the indispensable Andrei Martyanov.

The Empire of Lies has no defensive missiles worthy of the name, and no equivalents to Mr. Zircon and Mr. Sarmat. The NATOstan sphere simply cannot win a war, any war against Russia for this reason alone.

The deafening NATOstan “narrative” that Ukraine is defeating Russia does not even qualify as an innocuous joke (compare it with Russia’s “Reach Out and Touch Someone” strategy). The corrupt system of SBU fanatics intermingled with UkroNazi factions is kaput. The Pentagon knows it. The CIA cannot possibly admit it. What the Empire of Lies has sort of won, so far, is a media “victory” for the UkroNazis, not a military victory.

Gen Aleksandr Dvornikov, of Syria fame, has a clear mandate: to conquer the whole of Donbass, totally free up Crimea and prepare the advance towards Odessa and Transnistria while reducing a rump Ukraine to the status of failed state without any access to the sea.

The Sea of Azov – linked to the Caspian by the Don-Volga canal – is already a Russian lake. And the Black Sea is next, the key connection between the Heartland and the Mediterranean. The Five Seas system – Black, Azov, Caspian, Baltic, White – enshrines Russia as a de facto continental naval power. Who needs warm waters?

Moving “at the speed of war”

The pain dial, from now on, will go up non-stop. Reality – as in facts on the ground – will soon become apparent even to the NATOstan-wide LugenPresse.

The woke Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Mark Milley, expects Operation Z to last years. That’s nonsense. The Russian Armed Forces may afford to be quite methodical and take all the time needed to properly demilitarize Ukraine. The collective West for its part is pressed for time – because the blowback from the real economy is already on and bound to become vicious.

Defense Minister Shoigu has made it quite clear: any NATO vehicles bringing weapons to Kiev will be destroyed as “legitimate military targets”.

A report by the scientific service of the Bundestag established that training of Ukrainian soldiers on German soil may amount, under international law, to participation in war. And that gets even trickier when coupled with NATO weapons deliveries: “Only if, in addition to the supply of weapons, the instruction of the conflict party or training in such weapons were also an issue would one leave the secure area of ​​non-warfare.”

Now at least it’s irretrievably clear how the Empire of Lies “moves at the speed of war” – as described in public by weapons peddler turned Pentagon head, Lloyd “Raytheon” Austin. In Pentagonese, that was explained by the proverbial “official” as “a combination of a call center, a watch floor, meeting rooms. They execute a battle rhythm to support decision-makers.”

The Pentagonese “battle rhythm” offered to a supposedly “credible, resilient and combat-capable Ukraine military” is fed by a EUCom system that essentially moves weapons orders from Pentagon warehouses in the U.S. to branches of the Empire of Bases in Europe and then to the NATO eastern front in Poland, where they are trucked across Ukraine just in time to be duly incinerated by Russian precision strikes: the wealth of options include supersonic P-800 Onyx missiles, two types of Iskander, and Mr. Khinzal launched from Mig-31Ks.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has stressed Moscow is perfectly aware the U.S., NATO and UK are transferring not only weapons but also loads of intel. In parallel, the collective West turns everything upside down 24/7 shaping a new environment totally geared against Russia, not caring for even a semblance of partnership in any area. The collective West does not even consider the possibility of dialogue with Russia.

Hence talking to Putin is “a waste of time” unless a “Russian defeat” in Ukraine (echoing strident Kiev P.R.) would make him “more realistic”. For all his faults, Le Petit Roi Macron/McKinsey has been an exception, on the phone with Putin earlier this week.

The neo-Orwellian Hitlerization of Putin reduces him, even among the so-called Euro-intelligentzia, to the status of dictator of a nation chloroformed into its 19th century nationalism. Forget about any semblance of historical/political/cultural analysis. Putin is a late Augustus, dressing up his Imperium as a Republic.

At best the Europeans preach and pray – chihuahuas yapping to His Master’s Voice – for a hybrid strategy of “containment and engagement” to be unleashed by the U.S., clumsily parroting the scribblings of denizens of that intellectual no-fly zone, Think Tankland.

Yet in fact the Europeans would rather “isolate” Russia – as in 12% of the world’s population “isolating” 88% (of course: their Westoxified “vision” completely ignores the Global South). “Help” to Russia will only come when sanctions are effective (as in never: blowback will be the norm) or – the ultimate wet dream – there’s regime change in Moscow.

The Fall

UkroNazi P.R. agent Ursula von der Lugen presented the sixth sanction package of the Europoodle (Dis)Union.

Top of the bill is to exclude three more Russian banks from SWIFT, including Sberbank. Seven banks are already excluded. This will enforce Russia’s “total isolation”. It’s idle to comment on something that only fools the LugenPresse.

Then there’s the “progressive” embargo on oil imports. No more crude imported to the EU in six months and no more refined products before the end of 2022. As it stands, the IEA shows that 45% of Russia’s oil exports go to the EU (with 22% to China and 10% to the U.S.). His Master’s Voice continues and will continue to import Russian oil.

And of course 58 “personal” sanctions also show up, targeting very dangerous characters such as Patriarch Kirill of the Orthodox Church, and the wife, son and daughter of Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov.

This stunning display of stupidity will have to be approved by all EU members. Internal revolt is guaranteed, especially from Hungary, even as so many remain willing to commit energy suicide and mess up with the lives of their citizens big time to defend a neo-Nazi regime.

Alastair Crooke called my attention to a startling, original interpretation of what’s goin’ on, offered in Russian by a Serbian analyst, Prof. Slobodan Vladusic. His main thesis, in a nutshell: “Megalopolis hates Russia because it is not Megalopolis – it has not entered the sphere of anti-humanism and that is why it remains a civilization alternative. Hence Russophobia.”

Vladusic contends that the intra-Slav war in Ukraine is “a great catastrophe for Orthodox civilization” – mirroring my recent first attempt to open a serious debate on a Clash of Christianities.

Yet the major schism is not on religion but culture: “The key difference between the former West and today’s Megalopolis is that Megalopolis programmatically renounces the humanistic heritage of the West.”

So now “it is possible to erase not only the musical canon, but also the entire European humanistic heritage: the entire literature, fine arts, philosophy” because of a “trivialization of knowledge”. What’s left is an empty space, actually a cultural black hole, “filled by promoting terms such as ‘posthumanism’ and ‘transhumanism’.”

And here Vladusic gets to the heart of the matter: Russia fiercely opposes the Great Reset concocted by the “hackable”, self-described “elites” of Megalopolis.

Sergey Glazyev, now coordinating the draft of a new financial/monetary system by the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) in partnership with the Chinese, adapts Vladusic to the facts on the ground (here in Russian, here in an imperfect English translation).

Glazyev is way more blunt than in his meticulous economic analyses. While noting the Deep State’s aims of destroying the Russian world, Iran and block China, he stresses the U.S. “will not be able to win the global hybrid war”. A key reason is that the collective West has “put all independent countries in front of the need to find new global currency instruments, risk insurance mechanisms, restore the norms of international law and create their own economic security systems.”

So yes, this is Totalen Krieg, Total War – as Glazyev spells it out with no attenuation, and how Russia denounced it this week at the UN: “Russia needs to stand up to the United States and NATO in its confrontation, bringing it to its logical conclusion, so as not to be torn between them and China, which is irrevocably becoming the leader of the world economy.”

History may eventually register, 77 years after the end of WWII, that neocon/neoliberalcon psychos in Washington silos instigating an inter-Slavic war by ordering Kiev to launch a blitzkrieg against Donbass was the spark that led to the Fall of the U.S. Empire.

The fog of war and the global paradigm shift

April 13, 2022

Source

By Fabio Reis Vianna

Perhaps the maxim of the Brazilian thinker José Luís Fiori that “expansionism and war are two essential parts of the machine that produces power and wealth in the interstate system” has never been so pertinent and seems to be confirmed at the exact historical moment we are witnessing.

The extraordinary events that resulted from the Russian intervention in Ukraine, which began on February 24, leave indelible marks and confirm some of the perceptions that have already been mentioned in other articles by us.

The western-led international order is clearly being questioned in its hierarchy of power, and the war in Ukraine is a clear symptom of this questioning.

What really causes astonishment, however, is the perception that this war aims at something much bigger than it might seem at first sight, because it would not be a regional war, but a war of global proportions: a hegemonic war.

The paradigm shift represented by the Russian intervention in Ukraine consolidates, therefore, the path of a new international system, more fragmented, and where Western power is weakened. In this scenario, the tectonic plates of the international system are slowly moving in the face of the new, and unprecedented, world that is unfolding.

Therefore, like it or not, the elites of countries like Brazil, so subservient to the security strategy of the United States, are being pushed towards a consensual solution in the direction of the Eurasian experience through the BRICS. In this way, the brazilian military, so reactionary and obedient to Washington, is facing a new world, apparently already understood by the diplomatic tradition of “Itamaraty”, and even by the powerful Brazilian agrobusiness lobby.

In the opposite direction, the blindness of the European elites causes astonishment by feeding a game that plunges Europe back into what it has always been: the great stage of military interstate competition of the last 500 years.

Therefore, taking this terrible premise into consideration, the armistice that made possible the creation of the European Union, as well as the common currency, would have been a mere interregnum of peace, until the next war.

Retaking its tragic place in the classical international system, Europe is once again the scene of the old theater of death, and the maxim that “peace is almost always a truce which lasts for the time imposed by the expansive compulsion of the winners, and the need for revenge of the losers,” has never been more apposite.

In this context, the german humiliation represented by the American veto of the Nord Stream II gas pipeline is paradigmatic. On February 7, in the middle of the White House, and even before the Russian intervention in Ukraine, Joe Biden publicly disavows the newly appointed german chancellor Olaf Scholz, stating categorically that the Nord Stream II pipeline would be stopped.

This attitude could be considered the trigger for Russian intervention and the opening of Pandora’s Box for the new world that is opening. Besides representing, in symbolic terms, the humiliation of Germany as a sovereign country, it consolidates the definitive “Coup d’Etat” in the European integration project.

With Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky being a kind of spokesman of a script written in Washington – or, who knows, Hollywood – the repeated attacks on European leaders who have worked so hard for the normalization of Russian-European Union relations, as is the case of the recent attack on former chancellor Angela Merkel, indicate that the instruments of fourth generation war, already used by the United States in other regions of the planet, are intensifying in the heart of the western alliance.

Not only the maintenance, but the deepening of the continuous and unlimited reproduction and expansion of the American military empire is a reality that became even clearer after the first Russian tank entered Ukrainian territory, even if this meant destabilizing, or even destroying, old and loyal allies.

In this sense, the old premise carried by many scholars of the “realist” school of International Relations, as well as by great thinkers of the World System, that the concentration of global power in a single state would be an essential condition for lasting world peace, falls to the ground.

The “Hyperpower Paradox” is confirmed as a slap in the face of the enormous theoretical consensus developed since the mid-1970s of the last century.

In other words, since the first minute of the US bombing of Iraq in 1991, which followed the 48 military interventions of the 1990s, and the 24 interventions in the first two decades of the 21st century – which in turn culminated in 100,000 bombings around the globe – the International System is immersed in a somber process of permanent, or infinite, war, which contradicts the Kantian utopia of perpetual peace reflected in the idea of hegemonic stability.

Thus, it was a mistake to consider that the unipolar global power that emerged with the victory in the cold war could exercise its hegemony in the name of peace and global stability, assuming, therefore, a responsible leadership and in the name of a great global governance.

On the contrary, what we have witnessed over the last 30 years is the escalation of interstate competition, with the reaction of other states to the insane and inconsequential process of power expansion carried out by the American military empire.

As a result, we find ourselves before a world that seemed to belong only to the history books; where the national interests of the great powers return with the force that, as it turns out, they never stopped having, but were only dormant.

This new (old) geopolitics of nations, therefore, leaves its clearest mark with what Russia imposes in its intervention in Ukraine: contesting the primacy that only westerners have the legitimacy to impose their will through war.

This is the novelty that shakes the structures of the International System.

In the face of this imminent war of global proportions, resulting from the Russian challenge and the intensification of the arms race – with the alarming return of Germany and Japan to the game – we are inexorably heading for a deepening of the interstate systemic chaos, as well as the escalation of systemic social conflict, particularly in Europe.

As in other moments in the history of the World System, Europe is once again the nerve center of the global power struggle. And as in other tragic moments in history, the behavior of European leaders is once again irrational; in the midst of a negative-sum game. The Europeans lose.


Fabio Reis Vianna, lives in Rio de Janeiro, is a bachelor of laws (LL.B), MA student in International Relations at the University of Évora (Portugal), writer and geopolitical analyst. He currently maintains a column on international politics at the centennial Brazilian newspaper Monitor Mercantil.

The Dollar Devours the Euro

April 08, 2022

By Michael Hudson and posted with the author’s permission

It is now clear that today’s escalation of the New Cold War was planned over a year ago, with serious strategy associated with America’s plan to block Nord Stream 2 as part of its aim of blocking Western Europe (“NATO”) from seeking prosperity by mutual trade and investment with China and Russia.

As President Biden and U.S. national-security reports announced, China was seen as the major enemy. Despite China’s helpful role in enabling corporate America to drive down labor’s wage rates by de-industrializing the U.S. economy in favor of Chinese industrialization, China’s growth was recognized as posing the Ultimate Terror: prosperity through socialism. Socialist industrialization always has been perceived to be the great enemy of the rentier economy that has taken over most nations in the century since World War I ended, and especially since the 1980s. The result today is a clash of economic systems – socialist industrialization vs. neoliberal finance capitalism.

That makes the New Cold War against China an implicit opening act of what threatens to be a long-drawn-out World War III. The U.S. strategy is to pry away China’s most likely economic allies, especially Russia, Central Asia, South Asia and East Asia. The question was, where to start the carve-up and isolation.

Russia was seen as presenting the greatest opportunity to begin isolating, both from China and from the NATO Eurozone. A sequence of increasingly severe – and hopefully fatal – sanctions against Russia was drawn up to block NATO from trading with it. All that was needed to ignite the geopolitical earthquake was a casus belli.

That was arranged easily enough. The escalating New Cold War could have been launched in the Near East – over resistance to America’s grabbing of Iraqi oil fields, or against Iran and countries helping it survive economically, or in East Africa. Plans for coups, color revolutions and regime change have been drawn up for all these areas, and America’s African army has been built up especially fast over the past year or two. But Ukraine has been subjected to a U.S.-backed civil war for eight years, since the 2014 Maidan coup, and offered the chance for the greatest first victory in this confrontation against China, Russia and their allies.

So the Russian-speaking Donetsk and Luhansk regions were shelled with increasing intensity, and when Russia still refrained from responding, plans reportedly were drawn up for a great showdown to commence in late February – beginning with a blitzkrieg Western Ukrainian attack organized by U.S. advisors and armed by NATO.

Russia’s preemptive defense of the two Eastern Ukrainian provinces and its subsequent military destruction of the Ukrainian army, navy and air force over the past two months has been used as the excuse to start imposing the U.S.-designed sanctions program that we are seeing unfolding today. Western Europe has dutifully gone along whole-hog. Instead of buying Russian gas, oil and food grains, it will buy these from the United States, along with sharply increased arms imports.

The prospective fall in the Euro/Dollar exchange rate

It therefore is appropriate to look at how this is likely to affect Western Europe’s balance of payments and hence the euro’s exchange rate against the dollar.

European trade and investment prior to the War to Impose Sanctions had promised a rising mutual prosperity between Germany, France and other NATO countries vis-à-vis Russia and China. Russia was providing abundant energy at a competitive price, and this energy was to make a quantum leap with Nord Stream 2. Europe was to earn the foreign exchange to pay for this rising import trade by a combination of exporting more industrial manufactures to Russia and capital investment in developing the Russian economy, e.g. by German auto companies and financial investment. This bilateral trade and investment is now stopped – and will remain stopped for many, many years, given NATO’s confiscation of Russia’s foreign reserves kept in euros and British sterling, and the European Russophobia being fanned by U.S. propaganda media.

In its place, NATO countries will purchase U.S. LNG – but they will need to spend billions of dollars building sufficient port capacity, which may take until perhaps 2024. (Good luck until then.) The energy shortage will sharply raise the world price of gas and oil. NATO countries also will step up their purchases of arms from the U.S. military-industrial complex. The near-panic buying will also raise the price for arms. And food prices also will rise as a result of the desperate grain shortfalls resulting from a cessation of imports from Russia and Ukraine on the one hand, and the shortage of ammonia fertilizer made from gas.

All three of these trade dynamics will strengthen the dollar vis-à-vis the euro. The question is, how will Europe balance its international payments with the United States? What does it have to export that the U.S. economy will accept as its own protectionist interests gain influence, now that global free trade is dying quickly?

The answer is, not much. So what will Europe do?

I could make a modest proposal. Now that Europe has pretty much ceased to be a politically independent state, it is beginning to look more like Panama and Liberia – “flag of convenience” offshore banking centers that are not real “states” because they don’t issue their own currency, but use the U.S. dollar. Since the eurozone has been created with monetary handcuffs limiting its ability to create money to spend into the economy beyond the limit of 3 percent of GDP, why not simply throw in the financial towel and adopt the U.S. dollar, like Ecuador, Somalia and the Turks and Caicos Islands? That would give foreign investors security against currency depreciation in their rising trade with Europe and its export financing.

For Europe, the alternative is that the dollar-cost of its foreign debt taken on to finance its widening trade deficit with the United States for oil, arms and food will explode. The cost in euros will be even greater as the currency falls against the dollar. Interest rates will rise, slowing investment and making Europe even more dependent on imports. The eurozone will turn into an economic dead zone.

For the United States, this is Dollar Hegemony on steroids – at least vis-à-vis Europe. The continent would become a somewhat larger version of Puerto Rico.

The dollar vis-à-vis Global South currencies

The full-blown version of the New Cold War triggered by the “Ukraine War” risks turning into the opening salvo of World War III, and is likely to last at least a decade, perhaps two, as the U.S. extends the fight between neoliberalism and socialism to encompass a worldwide conflict. Apart from the U.S. economic conquest of Europe, its strategists are seeking to lock in African, South American and Asian countries along similar lines to what has been planned for Europe.

The sharp rise in energy and food prices will hit food-deficit and oil-deficit economies hard – at the same time that their foreign dollar-denominated debts to bondholders and banks are falling due and the dollar’s exchange rate is rising against their own currency. Many African and Latin American countries – especially North Africa – face a choice between going hungry, cutting back their gasoline and electricity use, or borrowing the dollars to cover their dependency on U.S.-shaped trade.

There has been talk of IMF issues of new SDRs to finance the rising trade and payments deficits. But such credit always comes with strings attached. The IMF has its own policy of sanctioning countries that do not obey U.S. policy. The first U.S. demand will be that these countries boycott Russia, China and their emerging trade and currency self-help alliance. “Why should we give you SDRs or extend new dollar loans to you, if you are simply going to spend these in Russia, China and other countries that we have declared to be enemies,” the U.S. officials will ask.

At least, this is the plan. I would not be surprised to see some African country become the “next Ukraine,” with U.S. proxy troops (there are still plenty of Wahabi advocates and mercenaries) fighting against the armies and populations of countries seeking to feed themselves with grain from Russian farms, and power their economies with oil or gas from Russian wells – not to speak of participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative that was, after all, the trigger to America’s launching of its new war for global neoliberal hegemony.

The world economy is being enflamed, and the United States has prepared for a military response and weaponization of its own oil and agricultural export trade, arms trade and demands for countries to choose which side of the New Iron Curtain they wish to join.

But what is in this for Europe? Greek labor unions already are demonstrating against the sanctions being imposed. And in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has just won an election on what is basically an anti-EU and anti-U.S. worldview, starting with paying for Russian gas in roubles. How many other countries will break ranks – and how long will it take?

What is in this for the Global South countries being squeezed – not merely as “collateral damage” to the deep shortages and soaring prices for energy and food, but as the very objective of U.S. strategy as it inaugurates the great splitting of the world economy in two? India has already told U.S. diplomats that its economy is naturally connected with those of Russia and China. Pakistan finds the same calculus at work.

From the U.S. vantage point, all that needs to be answered is, “What’s in it for the local politicians and client oligarchies that we reward for delivering their countries?”

From its planning stages, U.S. diplomatic strategists viewed the looming World War III as a war of economic systems. What side will countries choose: their own economic interest and social cohesion, or submission to local political leaders installed by U.S. meddling like the $5 billion that Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland bragged of having invested in Ukraine’s neo-Nazi parties eight years ago to initiate the fighting that has erupted into today’s war?

In the face of all this political meddling and media propaganda, how long will it take the rest of the world to realize that there’s a global war underway, with World War III on the horizon? The real problem is that by the time the world understands what is going on, the global fracture will already have enabled Russia, China and Eurasia to create a real non-neoliberal New World Order that does not need NATO countries and which has lost trust and hope for mutual economic gains with them. The military battlefield will be littered with economic corpses.

Youtube Censors Truth on Bucha

April 5, 2022

By  VT Editors

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/Mn4ht0GfZe3f/

and the censored version from youtube..

VT Editors

VT Editors is a General Posting account managed by Jim W. Dean and Gordon Duff. All content herein is owned and copyrighted by Jim W. Dean and Gordon Duff

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: Leaders of Russia management competition, Moscow, March 19, 2022

March 22, 2022

Ed Note:  This is an important document and answers most of the confused questions that I see come up in the comments still.  A careful read and even study is recommended – Amarynth


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during his meeting with finalists of the International Track as part of the Leaders of Russia management competition, Moscow, March 19, 2022

Dear friends,

I would like to greet you and express my gratitude for your continuing to invite me even though I chair the Supervisory Board. It is important for me to see you, listen to your questions and understand what worries you in this uneasy period.

This meeting takes place against the backdrop of events now occurring in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken at length about the origins of this crisis. I would like to briefly reiterate: this is not about Ukraine. This is the end-result of a policy that the West has carried out since the early 1990s. It was clear back then that Russia was not going to be docile and that it was going to have a say in international matters. This is not because Russia wants to be a bully. Russia has its history, its tradition, its own understanding of the history of its peoples and a vision on how it can ensure its security and interests in this world.

This became clear in the late 1990s-early 2000s. The West has repeatedly attempted to stall the independent and autonomous development of Russia. This is rather unfortunate. From the start of President Vladimir Putin’s “rule” in the early 2000s, we were open to the idea of working with the West in various ways, even in a form similar to that of an alliance, as the President has said.  Sadly, we were unable to do this. We repeatedly suggested that we should conclude treaties and base our security on equal rights, rejecting the idea of strengthening one’s security at the expense of another.

Neither were we able to promote economic cooperation. The European Union, which back then showed some signs of independent decision-making, has now devolved toward being completely dependent on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the US. The story of Nord Stream 2 was the highlight of this change. Even Germany, which defended its interests in the project to the very end, was persuaded that the “project was not in its interests.” Germany and its people were told what their interests were by people on the other side of the Atlantic. Many other international areas were blocked despite our commitment to close cooperation on an equal basis.

The West did not want equal cooperation and, as we can now see, has kept true to the “will and testament” of Zbigniew Brzezinski who said that Ukraine should not be allowed to side with Russia. With Ukraine, Russia is a great power, while without Ukraine, it is a regional player. We understand that this is a mere exaggeration. But it fits nevertheless the philosophy and the mentality of western leaders. No effort was spared to turn Ukraine into an instrument to contain Russia. Into an “anti-Russia,” as President Putin said. This is neither a metaphor nor an exaggeration.

What has been happening all these years is the significant accumulation of physical, military, ideological, and philosophical threats to the security of the Russian Federation. The militarisation of Ukraine, which was injected with weapons (including assault weapons) worth many billions of dollars over these years, was accompanied by the Nazification of all spheres of society and the eradication of the Russian language. You know the laws that were passed there concerning education, the state language, and the indigenous peoples of Ukraine that made no mention of Russians. It was not only the language that was being edited out, but simply everything Russian. They banned the mass media, which broadcast from Russia and transmitted in Ukraine. Three Ukrainian television channels that were considered disloyal to the current government were shut down. Neo-Nazi battalions with insignia of Hitler’s SS divisions held marches; torchlight processions took place with a presidential regiment assigned as an official escort; fighters were trained in camps by instructor programmes from the US and other Western countries. All this was done with the connivance of civilised Europe and with the support of the Ukrainian government.

To my great regret and shame, President Zelensky has been asking how he could be a Nazi if he has Jewish roots. He said this on the exact day when Ukraine demonstratively withdrew from the Agreement on Perpetuating the Memory of the Courage and Heroism of the Peoples of the CIS Countries During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. When he personally patronises the tendencies I have mentioned, it is difficult to take the policy of the Ukrainian leadership seriously. Just as in the early stages of his presidency, and even earlier, when he was a stage and soap opera star, he assured me in every possible way that it was unthinkable for him that the Russian language could be infringed upon. So here we are: life demonstrates what a person’s word is worth.

These accumulated tendencies took on a new form following the coup d’etat in February 2014. Despite the guarantees of the EU countries — France, Germany and Poland — that were part of the agreement between the opposition and the then-President of Ukraine, they tore up that agreement the morning after, disregarded the guarantees, humiliated the nations above, and the EU as a whole, before announcing their new regime. In our conversations with our western partners, including the Germans and the French, we have been asking them how they could allow this to happen.  We kept reiterating, you provided guarantees to this agreement. They say this happened because Yanukovich left Kiev. Yes he did, but he left for Kharkov to take part in his party’s congress. Yes, he faced a number of issues and did not enjoy broad support, but he never fled. Still, this is not about Yanukovich.

The first point of the Agreement read that the Government of National Accord was to be established as an interim stage for early presidential elections. Most likely, the then president would not have won, and everyone knew this. All the opposition had to do was to wait and fulfil what it agreed to.  Instead, they immediately ran back to “Maidan.” They seized the government building and said, “congratulate us, we have created a government of winners.” And this is how their instincts were immediately manifested. Winners. First of all, they demanded that the Verkhovna Rada abolish any privileges granted to the Russian language. This, despite the fact that the Russian language was and is still enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine, which declares that the state must guarantee the rights of Russians and other ethnic minorities. They demanded that Russians get out of Crimea because they would never think like Ukrainians, speak Ukrainian or honour Ukraine’s heroes Bandera and Shukhevich. They sent combat battalions and “friendship trains” to that peninsula to storm the Supreme Council building. At this point, Crimea rebelled, and Donbass refused to accept the coup d’état and instead asked to be left alone. But they were not left alone. Donbass didn’t attack anyone. But they were declared terrorists and an anti-terrorist operation was launched, with troops being sent in, with nearly all of the West applauding the move. That’s when it became evident exactly what plans were in store for the future role of Ukraine.

The massacre was stopped with enormous effort and through Russia’s active participation. The Minsk agreements were signed. You know what happened to them next. For seven long years, we tried to appeal to the conscience of those who signed the agreements, above all, to France and Germany. The end was tragic.

We held several summits and meetings at other levels, and Ukraine, either under Poroshenko or under Zelensky, just did not want to comply with the agreements. First of all, they refused to open a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk. We asked the Germans and the French why they would not make their proteges at least sit down at the negotiation table. The answer was that they did not think that the republics were independent, and that it was all Russia’s fault. End of conversation. Contrary to its commitments under the Minsk agreements, late last year and early this year, Kiev began to build up its forces along the line of contact up to 120,000 troops. Contrary to the ceasefire agreements that had been signed and violated many times prior, they dramatically increased their heavy shelling, always targeting residential areas. The same has been happening for all these eight years, with varying degrees of intensity, amid complete silence from all the international “human rights” organisatons and Western “civilised democracies.”

Shelling intensified at the start of this year. We received information that Ukraine wanted to implement their Plan B, which they had long threatened, to take the regions by force. This was made worse by the West’s stonewalling of Russia’s initiative to reach an agreement on an equal and indivisible security architecture in Europe. President Vladimir Putin put forward this initiative in November 2021, we drafted the necessary documents and relayed them to the US and NATO in December 2021. They responded that they were willing to negotiate certain issues, including where missiles could not be deployed, but that Ukraine and NATO was none of our business. Ukraine was said to have reserved its right to appeal to join NATO, which would then deliberate whether to admit it, and all this without asking anyone else (likely ending up granting Ukraine’s membership). This was the essence of what they told us.

This is why when Ukraine commenced its shelling, signifying a clear sign of preparations to launch a military offensive in Donbass, we had no other choice but to protect Russian people in Ukraine. We recognised the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. President Vladimir Putin responded to their request by ordering the launch of a special military operation. I am certain that you are following the events and know that the operation has brought to light our worst fears about Ukraine’s military plans and has helped us derail them.

You know that facts have been uncovered of a dangerous bioweapons programme that the Pentagon has been carrying out in many cities of Ukraine. Now that Russia’s armed forces have acquired access to these documents, the US has been trying to cover its tracks. We will be fighting for the truth to come out. This bioweapons research is not limited to Ukraine and is being conducted in over 300 laboratories in various countries, most of them located in former Soviet Union nations along the borders of Russia and the People’s Republic of China.

This was not our choice. We saw how the West’s attitude was communicating one simple truth – if you were a Russophobe; if you were set on eradicating Katsaps and Moskals (a quote from statements made by Ukrainian politicians); if you were to say that anyone who considers themselves Russian and is a citizen of Ukraine should get out for the sake of their future and their children, (as President Vladimir Zelensky said in September 2021); if you obediently fulfill Western bidding so as to constantly irritate, unnerve and unbalance Russia, then you have the universal green light to do anything.

The unprecedentedly hysterical reaction in the West to our military operation, the way they are encouraging and indulging everything anti-Russia and anti-Russian is sad news indeed. I regularly read about the ill treatment that Russian people face in other countries, including citizens of those countries who are of Russian origin. It appears anyone can demand that these people be persecuted in the West now, even on social media. I cannot wrap my mind around this.

But this all proves one thing: the anti-Russia project has failed. President Vladimir Putin has listed the goals of the operation, and the first on the list is to ensure the safety of people in Donbass, and the second one, to eliminate the growing threats to the Russian Federation from the militarisation and Nazification of Ukraine. When they realised that our policy line had helped to thwart their plans, they literally went ballistic.

And yet, we have always supported diplomatic solutions to any problems. Over the course of hostilities, President Vladimir Zelensky proposed negotiations. President Vladimir Putin agreed. The talks are underway, although the Ukrainian delegation did start by, as we say, simply going through the motions. Then dialogue actually began. Even so, there is always the feeling that the Ukrainian delegation is manipulated by the West (most likely, the Americans), and is not allowed to agree to our demands, which are bare minimum, in my opinion. The process is underway.

We continue to be open to cooperation with any countries, including Western ones. However, given how the West has behaved, we are not going to propose any initiatives. Let’s see how they will get themselves out of this self-imposed impasse. They have got themselves into this impasse along with their “values,” “free market principles,” rights to private property and the presumption of innocence. They have trampled on all of this.

Many countries are already beginning to rack their brains in search of ways to slowly “creep away” from the dollar in international settlements. Look what has happened. What if they do not like something else tomorrow? The United States is sending its diplomats around the world, its ambassadors in every country have orders to demand that these countries end cooperation with Russia under the threat of sanctions. We would understand if they did this with small countries. But when such ultimatums and demands are given to China, India, Egypt, or Turkey, it looks like our American colleagues have totally lost touch with reality, or their superhuman complex has overwhelmed their sense of normalcy. We have seen such complexes in human history, and we do know about this.

I do not want to be the only speaker, though. I would like to hear from you. What questions do you have, what are you interested in?

Question: For those who do not know, Riga was part of the Russian Empire longer than Sevastopol was. How long will Russian people need a visa to travel to Russia? Is it possible to issue maybe a card or something for compatriots from the Baltics and European countries, so that they could travel or work in Russia? There is a residence permit, but if you leave for more than six months you lose your residency. In the current situation, when Russophobia is on the rise, this would be especially relevant.

The mistakes made by the public, the “soft power,” then have to be corrected by the army (as we see in Ukraine). Perhaps in countries where Russia faces direct opposition it would make sense to work not through Russian Community Councils (which quickly find themselves under the control of local authorities), but rather to decentralise work. For example, Americans have 20 different funds. You can be anything – green, blue, light blue, whatever, but if you are anti-Russia, this opens all the necessary doors.

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with you about visas. This is an old problem. We have a complicated bureaucracy. This discussion between liberals and conservatives has been going on since the late 1990s and early 2000s. The liberals believed we needed to remove as many barriers as possible so that people with Russian roots, who speak Russian and are involved in cultural and humanitarian events, enjoyed a preferential entry regime. The debate was quite lively when the law on compatriots was adopted, and they discussed the “compatriot card” option. This was one of the most important matters discussed. However, no agreement was reached, including for legal reasons – because it is not a passport or a half-passport. For example, Poland issues Pole’s Cards. These can essentially be used as passports. There are other instruments to liaise with their diasporas in Western countries (with ethnic Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians), and in the Middle East, too. Even in Syria, there is an entire ministry (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates). We are currently working on additional steps that we can take in this direction.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin has appointed me to head the Commission for International Cooperation and Support for Compatriots Abroad. The commission will meet at the end of March. This question will be one of the main ones on the agenda. We will discuss it in the context of a broader approach called repatriation. I believe that repatriation must be legally formalised with all the necessary formalities and the with all legal norms observed. This must be done in order to dramatically facilitate the procedure for those who identify as Russians to relocate or come to stay in Russia. We will try to consider your question as well as part of this approach.

As for the soft power, the Russian Community Councils and the American method – there must be some school of thought that prompts such action. As we promoted the movement of compatriots, we sought to make their actions transparent, so that they did not arouse any suspicion of being involved in underground activities. Unfortunately, that was all in vain. All this transparency backfired. What they are doing with the management of the Russian Community Council in the United States is pure McCarthyism. Its leaders had to return to Russia, otherwise the FBI threatened to imprison them for a long time because they promoted projects between compatriots who maintained cultural and humanitarian ties with Russia. Recall how the Americans treated Maria Butina. She worked openly and completely freely in the United States, promoting joint projects. In the US, all NGOs for the most part explicitly declare they are supported and funded by the Agency for International Development. Other Western countries have many projects that prefer to keep this information to themselves. I wouldn’t want us to act like this. First, it would be dangerous for the people concerned. Secondly, these are the methods of the intelligence services, not soft power methods. On the other hand, American soft power relies heavily on the CIA and other special services.

We will think of ways to support our compatriots in situations where a true witch hunt has been unleashed against them. I think more flexible forms of support could be implemented, including the Foundation for Supporting and Protecting the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad. The essence of this is the provision of legal assistance to those who find themselves in a difficult situation. There is also the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund. We will think about some additional formats, naturally, fully legitimate ones.

Russia needs to toughen its policy with regard to shadow agencies engaged in things that do not coincide with their charter and other documents. Thank you for showing such an interest. We will certainly try to take this into account.

Question: What contribution do you think representatives of other states can make to the development of international relations with the Russian Federation?

Sergey Lavrov: We will support any public initiatives aimed at developing cooperation in the post-Soviet space. There are many forms for interaction in the CIS, in the CSTO, and in the EAEU, which are of interest to public movements and organisations and that can be used to organise events.

I sincerely would not want to give you any specific ideas here. You know better. You have a feel for what life is like in your country, and how it is affected by relations with Russia on the official, investment, and trade tracks.

As for the Russian Community Councils, in some countries our compatriots are beginning to create alternative councils. It is possible that people are just being competitive, which is only natural, but if you have an interest in doing something on the ground, we will only welcome this. If you need some advice, I am available to listen to your ideas and see how we can support them together with our Kazakhstani colleagues.

Question: I have a proposal, not a question. We have set up a pressure group on this track, and we have already drafted our own proposals. We are ready to help promote Russian culture and the Russian language in Germany, the Baltics and other countries. We would like to become independent analysts and experts and to develop culture, the Russian language and to support compatriots and foreigners who love the Russian language, and who aspire to culture. We would be happy to take part in this process.

Sergey Lavrov: That’s wonderful. Could you please leave your proposals and contacts with the organisers? The Foreign Ministry exercises various functions within the framework of the Government Commission for Compatriots Abroad, and I head this Commission. Our Ministry is also the main body responsible for the implementation of a new federal targeted programme to promote international cooperation. This is what soft power is all about. We also have a programme for supporting the Russian language abroad. In effect, opportunities still exist for the kind of projects you mentioned. I look forward to reading your letter.

Question: As of late, many Western activists, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, have addressed the people of Russia. If you were able to address all the peoples of the world in the West, the East and in Latin America, what would you tell them to make sure they hear you?

Sergey Lavrov: I would tell them that all peoples should be true to themselves, and that they should not abandon their traditions, history, aspirations and world outlook.

Getting back to Ukraine, the Americans are gloating over this situation and rubbing their hands with glee. In all, 140 countries voted against Russia at the UN General Assembly. We know how these countries reached this decision: US ambassadors have been shuttling from capital to capital and demanding that even the great powers comply with their demands, and they don’t shy away from speaking about it in public. They either want to offend others, or they have completely lost all sense of proportion, while comprehending their own superiority. However, out these 140 countries voting on US orders, not one imposed any sanctions except the West. An overwhelming majority of countries did not impose any sanctions on Russia. It appears that, by voting, some of them wanted to minimise damage, but they don’t want to shoot themselves in the foot, and they will continue to develop their economy. Many independent leaders are saying openly that they don’t want to fulfil US instructions to their own detriment.

So, people of the world, be true to yourselves.

Question: What should the West do now that events have dramatically escalated to move things back towards a realm of peace, tranquility, kindness and cooperation?

Sergey Lavrov: The West should start minding its own business and stop lecturing others. Because right now, all we hear is “Russia must..” Why must we do anything, and how have we so upset the West? I really do not understand. They’ve dragged out our security guarantees initiatives. They told us not to worry about NATO expansion because it does not threaten our security. Why do they get to decide what we need for our security? This is our business. They do not allow us anywhere near discussions of their own security. We are constantly reminded that NATO is a defensive organisation. First, this defensive alliance bombed Yugoslavia. We only recently recalled how in 1998 Joe Biden was so proud that he personally contributed to the decision to bomb Belgrade, and bridges over the Drina River. It was fascinating to hear this from someone who claims Russia is led by war criminals.

NATO also acted in Iraq without a UN Security Council resolution. In Libya, it did have a resolution, but it only covered establishing a no-fly zone, so that Muammar Gadaffi’s aircraft could not take off from their airfields. They didn’t. On the other hand, NATO bombed all the army positions from the air, which the UN Security Council did not warrant, and brutally killed Muammar Gadaffi without trial or investigation. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went live on air to celebrate the event.

Strategically speaking, there was indeed a collective defence alliance when the Berlin Wall and the Warsaw Pact existed.  It was clear where the line of defence was then. When the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist, NATO foreswore not to expand to the East, but began to do just that. We have seen five waves of expansion by now, contrary to its assurances. And each time, the imaginary Berlin Wall was moved further east. The alliance assumed the right to determine the boundary of its line of defence. Now Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has declared that NATO must bear global responsibility and is obliged to ensure security in the Indo-Pacific region. It is their name for the Asia-Pacific region. So, NATO is ready to “defend itself” in the South China Sea now. They are building defence lines against China now, so China, too, needs to be on the alert for that. A really unusual type of defence.

As for the Indo-Pacific region, which we have always called the Asia-Pacific region, there is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) there, as well as mechanisms created around the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN has a dozen partners. We participate in holding the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Security Forum, and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, a platform for ASEAN and its twelve partners which include China, Russia, the West (including Australia) and India – all the key players. Those formats work on the basis of consensus. This does not suit the Americans though, because to pursue their policy to contain China, they need an anti-China mechanism. But no platform where China is a member can produce such a result. They proclaimed the Indo-Pacific strategies and created Quad – a group of four nations including the United States, Australia, Japan, and they also lured India into this group. Our Indian friends are well aware of what we are talking about. They said they would participate in this only in the context of economic and infrastructure projects, but not military ones. So, because they needed to build up the military component, they created a parallel format, AUKUS, which included Australia, the UK and the United States. Now they want to expand it by adding Japan and South Korea, and even some ASEAN countries. This will lead to the collapse of the ASEAN ten.

When the Indo-Pacific concept was announced, we asked what was wrong with the Asia-Pacific label. We were told it mixed two different things because Asia did not refer to an ocean, but the Pacific did. Hence the Indian Ocean and Asia. We asked, if this includes the Indian Ocean, does this mean the whole of East Africa will be involved in this cooperation? They said no. That region had too many problems they did not want to deal with as they had enough on their plate. Is the Persian Gulf also part of the Indian Ocean? They said no to that too, disowning it. This makes it clear that the Indo part has been included with the sole purpose of cozying up to India and trying even harder to turn it into an anti-China player.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India in early February 2022. I spoke frankly with them. Our Indian friends understand everything perfectly and will never be open to such “cooperation” or play someone else’s games. India is a great country. Making such provocations against great powers is simply disrespectful.

Back to our discussion – we tried to negotiate with the West up to the last minute. But relations with the EU were destroyed back in 2014. All mechanisms, and there were plenty of them: biannual summits, annual meetings of the Russian Government and the European Commission, four common spaces being developed under four roadmaps, 20 industry-based dialogues – all that was derailed simply because the people in Crimea, faced with a radical neo-Nazi threat, voted for reunification with Russia.

Our Western colleagues do have this curious approach towards politics – when considering any problem in international politics, they cut off periods of time that are not favourable to them. When we discussed Ukraine with them, they said that we “annexed” Crimea. Wait, but what happened before that? They failed to make the opposition do what they themselves had signed on to. The opposition violated all guarantees and, contrary to the agreements, carried out a coup d’état and proclaimed an openly anti-Russia policy line. They began trying to suppress everything Russian. But Westerners called it “the price one has to pay for democratic processes.” They could not even say the word coup.

Last autumn, I asked the Germans and the French, how is this so? It is the Minsk Agreements we are talking about. Why are you so stubborn about this annexation part? It all started then. “This is the price one has to pay for democratic processes.” You see, this is their approach – they ignore what is unfavourable to them. They just single out one of the symptoms and begin to build their entire policy on it.

Question: Politics is about forestalling. I would like to take a look into the future. How do you, as an absolute professional in this area, see the future of the Slavic peoples’ coexistence in this space? I am sure that everything will be well. However, the forms of such coexistence may differ. What is your opinion of its stability and preferred forms?

Sergey Lavrov: We should follow the lines dictated by life itself. We have reached an extremely important milestone. I am referring to the 28 union programmes. They are described as roadmaps. These programmes are being actively and efficiently transformed into normative acts. We need to have many of them. The majority have already been drafted, and the rest are at the advanced stage of preparation. They will ensure not just our rapprochement but the creation of a common economic foundation, which is necessary to level out rights in absolutely all spheres, including trade, investment, the implementation of economic projects, access to state orders and more.

As for the political superstructure, we have the union parliament, the union cabinet of ministers, and the Supreme State Council chaired by our presidents. These bodies will deal with economic business development to see if our political bodies should be additionally adjusted to our superstructure. I am sure that we will rely on the opinion of our peoples, who regard each other as fraternal and truly close peoples.

Question: I have a question about soft power. School education concerns not only the external but also the internal contours. For the past seven years, I have been closely monitoring developments in children’s culture, which can be described as extremely pro-liberal. Today we need to overhaul the cultural space here and to quickly launch the introduction of our cultural codes abroad. Here is a simple example: the animated television series Masha and the Bear has done more in the external contour to improve Russia’s image abroad than many official programmes. Are there any programmes, or plans to launch programmes to change the cultural code both in the internal and the external contours? I have a proposal, which I would like to formulate and to submit through this event’s organisers tomorrow, if I may.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, of course. I would like to urge everyone, including those who don’t have formulated proposals, to share their ideas with us. We will discuss all of them.

You have touched upon a very important issue. I am not directly involved in these efforts, but we have always been speaking about the need to start promoting our culture from the cradle, primarily in Russia. There is too much external influence now, and internal influence is not always effective in shaping the right worldview in our children. I am not talking about brainwashing people. But we need to prevent the brainwashing of our children by other forces. This is the issue. Children’s access to information must not be limited to one source. Do please submit your ideas. We will look at them together with the Culture Ministry.

Question: A colleague has mentioned the issue of visas. The lady from Kazakhstan has said what we should do abroad and how we should do it. Can you say what Russia’s priority is: to collect as many compatriots as possible in Russia, or to form a cordon or a barrier of compatriots outside the country?

Sergey Lavrov: I know that some political analysts are pondering this idea. I believe that people have a free choice. We must create the right conditions for those who want to return. I have already mentioned repatriation today. We will certainly deal with this matter at the United Russia’s Commission [on International Cooperation and Support for Compatriots Living Abroad]. I will do my best to help draft a law on this matter.

As for the interests of those who want to live where they are living, we must work with the authorities of their countries of residence to prevent discrimination against Russians, Russian education, [Russian] media outlets, etc. It will be more difficult to do this now, because our Western colleagues are encouraging Russophobia in all areas. Regrettably, they are trying to set the Georgian people on this track. When they recklessly adopted these horrible, inhuman sanctions, leaving 200,000 people outside the national territory, preventing them from using national airlinesand prohibiting Western air carriers from bringing these people home, the Prime Minister of Georgia announced that they were ready, in view of that humanitarian situation, to allow Georgian airlines to bring Russians from Europe and the EU closer to their home country. You remember how fiercely he was attacked for this. It was an elementary human desire to help people in difficult circumstances. If you have any complaints about your authorities, please write to us.

Question: There are no complaints. We will submit the proposals regarding possible support for our compatriots in foreign countries.

Sergey Lavrov: We have a channel for communication. We are interested in normal relations with our Georgian colleagues.

Question: All states are playing the same game: the author has trump cards and a support team in case there are dissenters. I am referring to the UK and the United States. This will go on until one of the parties ceases to exist. Is it not high time Russia started its own game within the framework of the Eurasian continent and friendly countries to promote peace, justice and security? Given its nuclear arsenal, Russia could guarantee the security of states (where it has been confirmed – Syria, Ukraine) for countries that currently depend to some or other extent on big, major players so that they can feel they are also involved.

Sergey Lavrov: I wouldn’t call it a game in the sense implied by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s terms “great Game” and “grand chessboard”. We proceed from the premise that our friends are people, states, and political parties which are our equals. Unlike the Western organisations, where there is little democracy. They invented consensus, but in NATO and the EU this consensus is a sham.

They adopted sanctions in instalments even before the current stage in the development of our geopolitical space (there has been a series of sanctions for no reason at all since 2014).   Everything seems to have happened – Crimea, Donbass, the Minsk agreements… But every six months, they imposed new sanctions. Many of my European counterparts tell me confidentially: we understand that this is stupidity and a dead end, but we have consensus. I told one of them: a consensus means that a decision is not taken if there is even one “nay” vote.     If you object, say so! This is a case of collective responsibility. Everyone says: I am against it, but all of them want a consensus.  This consensus is shaped by an aggressive, Russophobic minority, primarily by the Baltic states (to my great regret), Poland, and recently Denmark.

Today, it is a sign of good manners for them to demonstrate that you are more of a Russophobe than your neighbours. In NATO, it is the United States that rules the roost. The EU is being dominated by the alliance. The neutral countries, which are not NATO members – Sweden, Finland, and Austria – are being drawn into cooperation under the cloak of “collective mobility.” This means that the neutral countries will allow NATO to use their roads and territories when it needs to move its military infrastructure east. This is being palmed off as NATO-EU partnership. I have mentioned Nord Stream 2 as an example. There is no longer any independence in Europe. They were just told: Stop taking care of your energy security on the terms that are beneficial to you; we will guarantee your security at a much higher price, but we will be in chips. President of France Emmanuel Macron is the only politician who continues to focus on strategic autonomy. Germany has resigned itself to the fact that they will have no such autonomy. There is no diktat of this sort in our country.

The difficulties arising in the work of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are contingent on and explained by the democratic nature of these organisations rather than their weakness. They decide all matters by consensus and nothing can be imposed on them from outside. We have allied relations with Syria and good relations with Iran. I don’t think it will be a good idea to “knock together” a bloc. This will tie everyone’s hands, if we look at the situation pragmatically. It is better to have allied relations or an unprecedentedly close relationship of the kind we have with China. Our leaders said in one of the [bilateral] documents: relations have reached an unprecedentedly high level that in some respects even exceeds the traditional allied relations. That is absolutely true and hence we have multivariance.

The Russian Empire was created as follows. There was no melting-pot like in the United States. They have melted everyone into Americans. Generally, all Americans favour human rights. Practically all the states have an equal balance of rights. In the Russian Empire, as ethnic groups joined, Moscow and St Petersburg always sought to have regard for their unique identities and made efforts to preserve their cultures and religions. Multivariance in relations with foreign partners seems more effective and enables greater freedom of action in cases where such actions will be necessary.

Question: I am a citizen of the People’s Republic of China. I was born and grew up there. For many years, I have been involved in humanitarian cooperation (education) between China and Russia. I believe that Russia and China are two great powers that enjoy historical and cultural affinity. What areas of cooperation between China and Russia have best prospects?

Sergey Lavrov: It would be impossible to list the promising areas of cooperation between Russia and China. It would need an entire session of its own. Through Moscow and Beijing, we disseminate detailed information on what our two countries are working on together. Currently, this cooperation will be growing stronger. At a time when the West is most flagrantly eroding the entire bedrock that the international system stands on, we as two great powers have to think about our future in this world.

For the first time in many years, China has been declared the main target, previously it was Russia. Now we are targets on rotation. At this stage, their proclaimed goal is to deal with Russia and then go after China. When we communicated with the Western countries during less turbulent times, we asked them why they were allowing the American course against China to be built up and why was everyone being dragged into it? What did China do? “China is a threat.” What makes China a threat? “They are starting to defeat everybody economically.”

If you look at the beginning of China’s economic elevation, China started by simply accepting the rules of the game, which had been essentially created by the West, led by Americans. These rules included the international monetary system, the international trade system, the Bretton Woods System and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). China started playing by their rules and is now outplaying them on their home field by their rules. Is it a reason for changing the rules? It appears so. Who is proposing to reform the WTO? The West. Because the World Trade Organisation in its current form is providing rules that are fair. Therefore, if we just forget about the situation in Ukraine and the sanctions for a minute, the actions of the West confirm it is not reliable, either as a part of the world that generated the major reserve currencies, or as economic partners or as countries to store gold and currency reserves. We have things to work on. Our leaders and other members of the Government, foreign affairs agencies are working on this extensively as part of our traditionally regular dialogue.

Question: Russia is conducting an operation in Ukraine. It is not a secret that Russia is building a Greater Eurasia. Can you clue us in a little: is Sergey Shoigu going to stop at the border with Poland? Or are we going into Transnistria and Moldova? What is the plan? Are we going to unite further?

Sergey Lavrov: We declared our goals. They are fully legitimate and clear: to protect the people of Donbass (with which we are now allies) that are subject to blatant aggression. For these purposes and based on our treaties, we applied Article 51 of the UN Charter on collective self-defence. Another goal is to eliminate any threats to Russian security posed by the militarisation of Ukraine that is carried out by the West. There must be no strike weapons in the country or threats in the form of Ukraine’s nazification, for obvious reasons. The aggressive spirit of the Ukrainian elite has been consciously created to be like this by Western instructors throughout these decades. They trained neo-Nazi battalions, showing them how to conduct aggressive combat operations, etc. We have no other goals beyond these.

Alternatively, the other side may come up with some curious goals. For example, Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki has proposed an idea that will be discussed soon, which is to send NATO peacekeeping forces to Ukraine. It is possible that, should this decision be made all of a sudden, it will entail that Polish personnel will make up the core of these peacekeeping forces and they will take control over Western Ukraine, including the major city of Lvov, to remain there for a prolonged period of time. It appears to me that this is the plan.

I believe this initiative is doublespeak. NATO will realise they should be reasonable and realistic.

Question: It is now clear to everyone that the world will never be the same again. There is much talk these days about the new global architecture and the fact that its foundations are now being laid. I do agree with the notion that we have no need of a world without Russia. But what kind of a world do we want to build? What place will Russia and the Union State have in the new international order?

Sergey Lavrov: What we want is an equitable world, free from war, aggressive projects or attempts to pitch one country against another. Equitable is also the way we see Russia’s place in the world. Similarly, the Union State must enjoy all the benefits of this ideal world as you have described it.

What we want is to discuss how to live on this planet in the future. Too many problems have been piling up, and the existing institutions have been unable to resolve them. This is the gist of the initiative President of Russia Vladimir Putin put forward two years ago to convene a summit of UN Security Council permanent members. Almost everyone supported it but the West will now drag its feet. There is a preliminary agenda. We have coordinated it with our Chinese friends, while the others are reviewing it. But now everything will be put on hold. This is not about the P5 reimagining a “new Yalta,” as some claim. Under the UN Charter, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have primary responsibility for maintaining international peace.

When we express the need for more democracy in international relations, this does not mean cancelling the UN Charter. It means stopping violations of the UN Charter. The sovereign equality of states and the requirement to respect territorial integrity and the right of nations to self-determination – it is all in the Charter. Had all its provisions been respected, this would have ensured peace and cooperation in good faith among all countries. However, the West manipulates them for its own benefit.

For example, we stand accused of violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity, starting with Crimea and Donbass. Crimea held a referendum. Everyone knew that this was an open, honest process when people expressed their will. The Americans know this too. Let me share a secret with you (I hope that no one will get cross at me). In April 2014, after the Crimea referendum then US Secretary of State John Kerry told me that they understood that this was an honest vote. However, he noted that we fast-tracked it by announcing the referendum and holding the vote in a matter of just one week. I explained to him that the Ukrainian radicals posed a direct threat at the time. All the formalities had to be completed in order to protect this territory. He suggested that we hold another referendum in the summer or autumn, announce it about two months in advance and invite foreign observers. The result would be all the same but they would be there to “bless” and verify it. This was not a matter of substance, since everyone understood where it was all heading, but about creating a favourable image for the outside world in order to be able to report that the people of Crimea cast their ballots in a referendum, while the Western “comrades” verified the results.

As for sovereignty and territorial integrity, ever since the founding of the UN in 1945, it has been debating whether sovereignty takes priority over the right to self-determination or vice-versa. A negotiating process was put into motion, paving the way for the adoption by consensus in 1970 of a Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States under the UN Charter. This is a lengthy document with an entire section on the relationship between sovereignty, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination. It says that everyone must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states whose governments ensure the right to self-determination and represent the people living in their territory. Has the Ukrainian leadership ensured Crimea’s right to self-determination? All they did was curtail Crimea’s rights within Ukraine. Did the Petr Poroshenko regime or the current leadership represent all the people of Ukraine, including Crimea, as they pretend? No. They did not represent Donbass either. They have been ignoring all these principles.

According to the principle of indivisible security, everyone is free to choose alliances but no one can reinforce their security at the expense of others. They say that only alliances matter and nothing else. However, when it suits their interests, the principle of self-determination comes to the fore, relegating Yugoslavia’s territorial integrity into the background, as happened with Kosovo. Its self-determination took place without a referendum. They engineered the creation of a parliamentary structure of sorts, and it voted on the matter. Serbia took the case to the International Court, which issued a curious ruling, saying that consent from the central government was not required for a declaration of independence. President of Russia Vladimir Putin has quoted this landmark ruling by the International Court on multiple occasions.

Question: The West is planning to replace Russian oil and gas in the coming years. What is Russia’s interest in participating in the Iran-US nuclear deal? Iran will have an opportunity to increase oil production and replace the Russian market in Europe. How ready are our Venezuelan partners for a deal with the Americans to replace Russian oil?

Sergey Lavrov: We never betray our friends in politics. Venezuela is our friend. Iran is a close state. Unlike the Americans, we do not act only out of selfish interests. If they need to “teach the Russians a lesson,” then it’s okay to agree with the regime in Caracas (as they called it). The United States would rather restore the programme with Iran, just to punish Russia. This reflects problems not so much with international institutions as with “liberal democracy.” As it turns out, it is not “liberal” at all, and it is not “democracy” at all.

When the leading country of the world (which the United States is) solves the problem of global, planetary importance, primarily on the basis of its own domestic interests, which are determined by two-year electoral cycles, then the biggest problems are sacrificed to these electoral cycles. What we can see now in US actions is a desire to prove that a Democratic president and administration are doing well and feel strong enough ahead of the November congressional elections. China does not understand this. What is two years? Nothing. Although the Chinese say that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” they see the horizon of that great journey. Here, in addition to the US desire to command everything, there are no more horizons. They will act the way they need to today.

It has been noted that the Americans are running around with the issue of oil and gas, turning to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar. All these countries, like Venezuela and Iran, have made it clear that when they consider new entrants to the oil market, they are committed to the OPEC+ format, where quotas for each participant are discussed and agreed upon by consensus. So far, I see no reason to believe that this mechanism will be broken in any way. No one is interested in that.

Question: What formats do you see for post-crisis settlement and intra-Ukrainian dialogue? What role might the DPR and LPR play? Ukraine’s governance and education system are permeated with Ukrainian nationalism. Several generations have grown up with this discourse. War criminals will be held accountable under criminal law. What about cultural aspects?

Sergey Lavrov: We have announced the goals we are working to achieve. As for the intra-Ukrainian dialogue, this will be up to the Ukrainians after the special operation ends – I hope, with the signing of comprehensive documents on security issues, Ukraine’s neutral status with guarantees of its security.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, commenting on our initiatives on the non-expansion of NATO, said: we understand that every country needs security guarantees. We are ready to negotiate and work them out for ourselves, for Ukrainians and Europeans outside the framework of NATO expansion. Therefore, a neutral status, security guarantees and bringing the legal framework to a civilised level with regard to the Russian language, education, the media, and laws that encourage the country’s nazification, as well as the adoption of a law prohibiting this. Most European countries have such laws, including Germany.

As for the DPR and LPR’s involvement in the all-Ukrainian dialogue, it should be a sovereign decision of the people’s republics.

Question: Why was the military operation launched now and not eight years ago? At that time, a pro-Russian “anti-Maidan” movement emerged in Odessa and Kharkov, which installed the Russian flag on top of the Kharkov regional administration without firing a shot. The city supported Russia. Now these people are hiding from shelling.

Sergey Lavrov: A lot of factors influence developments at each specific historical moment. Back then, it was a shock, primarily because the West turned out to be an absolutely unreliable guarantor of the things that we supported. US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the French leaders called Russian President Vladimir Putin and asked him not to interfere with the agreement between Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition. Vladimir Putin said that if the incumbent president was signing something, it was his right, and he had the authority to negotiate with the opposition. But the West dumped us and immediately began to support the new government because they announced an anti-Russian policy line.

People got burned alive in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa; combat aircraft fired at the centre of Lugansk. You must remember the Novorossiya movement better than anyone else. We also had a public movement for support.

We certainly relied too much on what remained of our Western colleagues’ conscience. France initiated the Normandy format; we were asked not to state categorically that we refused to recognise Petr Poroshenko’s election at the end of May 2014. The West assured us they would do everything to normalise the situation, so that Russians could live normally.

We must have trusted them because of some naivety and kindness of heart, which is something Russians are known for.

I have no doubt that lessons will be learned.

البعض يأكلون الحصرم ونحن مَن يضرس…

الخميس 17 آذار 2022

 سعادة مصطفى أرشيد _

شكلت أزمة المناخ العالميّة تهديداً يمسّ سلامة الكوكب ومَن يعيش عليه من بشر وما ينمو عليه حيوان ونبات، وذلك لما يحدث من احترار في الجو، الأمر الذي أدّى إلى عقد أول قمة عالمية للمناخ في ستوكهولم/ السويد عام 1972، بلغ عدد القمم ستاً وعشرين قمة، وكان آخرها القمة التي عُقدت لشهور مضت في غلاسكو/ اسكتلندة.

الأسباب التي أدّت إلى هذا الاحترار والثقوب الثاقبة لطبقة الأوزون في الغلاف الجوي للكوكب تعود إلى الانبعاثات الصادرة عن استخدام مصادر غير نظيفة للطاقة مثل الفحم الحجريّ والبترول، وقد رأت بعض الدول والشعوب في ذلك الزمن في قمة المناخ الأولى أنّ بها نوعاً من الترف وشيئاً من التكلف الزائد، فيما أدركت دول أخرى وبشكل مبكر أهمية البحث عن مصادر طاقة أكثر نظافة.

وبما أنّ المعرفة قوة، فإنّ الدول التي امتلكت المعرفة ـ القوة، قدرت ذلك وبحثت عن مصادر نظيفة للطاقة وأجرت أبحاثها ومسوحها، ثم طوّرت من صناعاتها بما يتواءم معها، فكانت هي الأسرع بالمبادرة والعمل على حجز مواقعها وأماكنها، فعلى سبيل المثال لا الحصر، تركيا التي امتلكت معلومات عن توفر احتياطي ضخم من الغاز في شرق المتوسط، تحركت مبكراً فقامت بغزو قبرص عام 1974 وقسّمتها وأطاحت برئيسها المطران مكاريوس، بالطبع تذرّعت تركيا بذرائع عدة ومنها ذريعة الدفاع عن القبارصة الأتراك وحقوقهم، ولكن الغاز هو السبب الحقيقي وهو السر وراء ذلك الغزو الذي لم يُعرف إلا مؤخراً، مثال آخر وهو معرفة شركات النفط الأميركية بمخزون الغاز في قطر دفعها لتحريض السعودية على محاولة غزوها في مطلع التسعينيات من القرن الماضي، ولطرد شركة توتال الفرنسية.

مصادر الطاقة النظيفة التي يتمّ العمل عليها في المدى المتوسط والبعيد تشمل توليد الكهرباء من الطاقة النووية ومن أشعة الشمس وحركة الرياح وما إلى ذلك، أما الغاز فهو البديل قصير المدى والمعمول به الآن.

 لإنتاج الغاز عمالقته الكبار ومن هؤلاء العمالقة عالمياً مجموعة من شركات النفط الأميركية المتشاركة مع قطر عبر شركة (كيوتل)، وهؤلاء يصدّرون الغاز من خلال تحميله على ناقلات (بواخر) وبتكلفة نقل عالية ويحتاج وصوله للأسواق لزمن طويل نسبياً، أما العملاق الغازيّ الثاني فهو الاتحاد الروسي وشركته الحكومية (غاز برووم) التي تصدّر الغاز إلى أوروبا عبر خط أنابيب نورد ستريم 1 السريع ومنخفض التكلفة.

روسيا الناهضة من رماد ما بعد مرحلتي غورباتشوف ويلتسين، سرعان ما أصبحت هدفاً للغرب تجب محاصرته، وضرب تجارته بالغاز التي تمثل الداعم الأكبر للاقتصاد ولعملية النهوض الروسي، فكان لا بدّ من إيجاد منافس للغاز الروسي وذلك بمدّ خطوط غاز برية للغاز القطري عبر الأراضي السورية إلى ساحل المتوسط ومن هناك إلى أوروبا، الأمر الذي رفضته دمشق وفاء والتزاماً مع الحليف الروسي برغم ما في ذلك من فوائد وإغراءات. فكانت حرب الغاز الأولى، الحرب على سورية وفي سورية، وإنْ ألبست ثوب الديمقراطية والحريات وما تهافت من قصص طلاب مدرسة في درعا، وقد كشف عن ذلك مؤخراً بصراحة (أو بوقاحة) حمد بن جاسم، أحد أكبر مهندسي تدمير سورية.

ما تقدم ومقادير الغاز التي تستبطنه السواحل السورية، لا بدّ أن تؤكد للقيادة الروسية ما للعلاقة مع سورية من أهمية للأمن القومي الروسي، والتي لا تتوقف عند ميناء طرطوس وقاعدة «حميميم»، ولهذا أيضاً يمكن فهم مشاريع إقلاق وتجويع لبنان التي تفتعلها (إسرائيل) عبر أدواتها في قضية ترسيم الحدود البحرية، وتحريضها لتلك الأدوات لإخراج روسيا من التنافس على الغاز لصالح الشركات الأميركية، كما محاولتها التهام 850 كلم مربعا من المياه الإقليمية للبنان والتي كانت ستأخذها لقمة سائغة لولا وجود المقاومة القويّ، فيما تقترح الوساطة الأميركية أن تقوم شركاتها باستثمار الغاز في الحقول المشتركة وإسالته وبيعه ثم توزيع الأرباح بين لبنان و(إسرائيل).

يعمل الحلف الأميركي الغربي على تنظيم سوق الغاز، فتمّ في عام 2019 تشكيل منتدى غاز شرق المتوسط من الأعضاء المؤسّسين مصر والأردن وفلسطين و(إسرائيل) واليونان وإيطاليا وقبرص اليونانية، وفي العام التالي تمّ التوقيع على اتفاقية تجعل منه منظمة إقليميّة، حدّد وزير الطاقة (الإسرائيلي) في حينه أهدافاً إضافية لها: أن هذه المنظمة الإقليمية ـ المنتدى ستساعد في إحلال السلام ودفع عجلة التطبيع مع دول عربية، وهي ستعزز من دور بلاده الرائد في تجارة الغاز مع جيرانها العرب وأوروبا .

هكذا نرى أنّ الغاز هو عنوان القرن الحادي والعشرين، وكلما تقدّم الزمن تزداد أهميته وتعقيداته أكثر فأكثر. الجميع أصبح عارفاً بمقدار أهمية هذه السلعة التي تستحق شنّ الحروب من اجلها عند من يستطيع، أو ابتلاع اللسان عند من لا يستطيع كحال ألمانيا، التي ارتفع صوتها حيناً بالهجوم على روسيا وعلى عمليتها العسكرية في أوكرانيا، ولكن خط نورد ستريم 1 لا يزال يعمل بكامل طاقته مزوّداً ألمانيا بالغاز الروسي بسعره الجديد، ومزوّداً روسيا بما يقارب ملياري دولار كلّ صباح، وهو الشريان الذي يمدّها بالقوة على مقاومة أشكال الحصار الأخرى وعلى تمويل جيشها في أوكرانيا .

قبل عقدين من الزمن كان النفط، وللتذكير أنّ الأميركي عندما دخل بغداد، لم يكن على رأس أولوياته المقار الرئاسية للرئيس العراقي أو قيادة الجيش والأمن ووزارة الدفاع وإنما توجه أول ما توجه لوزارة البترول. أما في العالم اليوم فإنه الغاز، أما حالنا فهو يشابه القول إن هنالك من يأكل الحصرم فيما نحن… شعوباً وقبائل من تضرس بأحماضه، فنصيبنا من النفط والغاز هو طبقات حكم متهافتة وتقسيم أوطان…!

*سياسي فلسطيني مقيم في الكفير ـ جنين ـ فلسطين المحتلة

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RBC TV channel, Moscow, March 16, 2022

March 17, 2022

https://www.mid.ru/en/press_service/minister_speeches/1804655/

Question: Initially, the in-person talks were held in Belarus followed by online talks. You met with Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba in Antalya, Turkey, on March 10. What’s your take on the negotiating process?

Sergey Lavrov: I did not fly to Turkey in order to forestall the Belarusian negotiating track agreed upon by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky which is now being implemented via video conference. President Zelensky asked President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to speak with President Putin in order to set up a meeting between Dmitry Kuleba and me in Antalya, since we both planned to take part in the Antalya Diplomacy Forum.

Based on this request, President Vladimir Putin instructed me to hold a meeting and find out what Dmitry Kuleba has to offer (which is what I asked him to do). He stated that he did not arrive there to reiterate public statements. This statement got my attention. Dmitry Kuleba failed to vocalise any new ideas during the 90-minute conversation in the presence of Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu, despite multiple reminders to the effect that I wanted to hear things that had not been said publicly. I did my part and made myself available to listen to what he had to say. Anyway, we had a conversation, which is not a bad thing. We are ready for such contacts going forward. It would be good to know the added value derived from such contacts and how the proposals to create new channels of interaction correlate with the functioning of an existing and steady negotiating process (the Belarusian channel).

I’m not going to comment on the details, which are a delicate matter. According to head of the Russian delegation Vladimir Medinsky, the talks focus on humanitarian issues, the situation on the ground in terms of hostilities, and on matters of political settlement. Overall, the agenda is known (it was repeatedly and publicly announced by President Vladimir Putin in his elaborate remarks) and includes matters of security and saving lives of the people in Donbass; preventing Ukraine from becoming a permanent threat to the security of the Russian Federation; and preventing the revival in Ukraine of neo-Nazi ideology, which is illegal around the world, including civilised Europe.

I base my opinion on the assessments provided by our negotiators. They state that the talks are not going smoothly (for obvious reasons). However, there is hope for a compromise. The same assessment is given by a number of Ukrainian officials, including members of President Zelensky’s staff and President Zelensky himself.

Question: President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky said that the positions of Russia and Ukraine during the talks have become more “realistic.”

Sergey Lavrov: This is about a more realistic assessment of the ongoing events coming from Vladimir Zelensky. His previous statements were confrontational. We can see that this role and function has been reassigned to Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, who started saying that Russia’s demands are “unacceptable.” If they wish to create additional tension (as if the current tension were not enough) in the media space, what can we do?

We saw a similar tendency with respect to the Minsk agreements. Dmitry Kuleba was riding ahead on a dashing horse, along with those who were hacking the Minsk agreements into pieces. He publicly stated that the agreements would not be fulfilled. I would give negotiators an opportunity to work in a calmer environment, without stirring up more hysteria.

Question: President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky said that they are “reasonable people” and they realise that they are no longer welcome in NATO. What made him change his rhetoric? NATO aspirations are stated in one of the articles of the Ukrainian Constitution. They have been saying it all along that Kiev actually wants to be part of the alliance.

Sergey Lavrov: The rhetoric has changed because more reasonable thinking is paving its way to the minds of the Ukrainian leaders. The issue of dissolving the Soviet Union was resolved in a very odd manner: very few parties were asked; the decision was split “between three,” so to speak, and it was done. Later, certain common ground was achieved in the form of the Commonwealth of Independent States. It is good that the other former Soviet republics were shown some respect, at least post factum.

In the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, adopted before the Belovezh Accords, it was stated in black and white that Ukraine would be a non-aligned and militarily neutral state. In all the subsequent documents characterising the formation of Ukrainian statehood, the declaration was always listed among fundamental documents. After the anti-constitutional coup in February 2014, the Ukrainian Constitution was amended to include statements on continuous movement towards NATO (in addition to the European Union). That undermined the integrity of the previous process and the fundamental documents that the Ukrainian state is based on – because the Declaration of Sovereignty and the Act of Ukraine’s Independence are still listed among the founding documents of the Ukrainian state.

This is not the only inconsistency. The provision of the Ukrainian Constitution on ensuring the rights of the Russian and other ethnic minorities remains intact. However, a huge number of laws have been adopted that run counter to this constitutional provision and flagrantly discriminate against the Russian language, in particular, against all European norms.

We remember that President Zelensky recently said that NATO must close the sky over Ukraine and start fighting for Ukraine, recruiting mercenaries and sending them to the frontline. That statement was made very aggressively. The reaction of the North Atlantic Alliance, where some clear-headed people still remain, had a cooling effect. This reasonable approach in the current situation deserves to be welcomed.

Before the final decision was made to begin the special military operation, President Vladimir Putin spoke about our initiatives concerning the security guarantees in Europe at a news conference in the Kremlin, explaining that it is unacceptable that Ukraine’s security be ensured through its NATO membership. He clearly said that we are ready to look for any ways to ensure the security of Ukraine, the European countries and Russia except for NATO’s expansion to the east. The alliance has been assuring us that we should not be worried as it serves a defensive purpose and nothing threatens us and our security. The alliance was declared as defensive in its early days. During the Cold War, it was clear who was defending whom, where and against which party. There was the Berlin Wall, both concrete and geopolitical. Everybody accepted that contact line under the Warsaw Pact and NATO. It was clear which line NATO would protect.

When the Warsaw Pact and later the Soviet Union were dissolved, NATO started, at its own discretion and without any consultations with those who used to be part of the balance of power on the European continent, working its way to the east, moving the contact line further to the right each time. When the contact line came too close to us (and nobody took our reasoning seriously in the past 20 years), we proposed the European security initiatives which, to my great regret, were also ignored by our arrogant partners.

Question: Many people in Russia and Ukraine are asking themselves whether the situation could not have been resolved peacefully. Why didn’t this work out? Why did it become necessary to conduct a special operation?

Sergey Lavrov: Because the West did not want to resolve this situation peacefully. Although I have already discussed this aspect, I would like to highlight it once again. This has absolutely nothing to do with Ukraine. This concerns the international order, rather than Ukraine alone.

The United States has pinned down the whole of Europe. Today, some Europeans are telling us that Russia started behaving differently, that Europe had its own special interests differing from those of the United States, and that we have compelled Europe to share the United States’ fervour for the cause. I believe that what has happened is entirely different. Under President Joe Biden, the United States set the goal of subordinating Europe, and it has succeeded in forcing Europe to implicitly follow US policies. This is a crucial moment, a landmark in contemporary history because, in the broad sense of the word, it reflects the battle for a future international order.

The West stopped using the term “international law,” embodied in the UN Charter, many years ago, and it invented the term “rules-based order.” These rules were written by members of an inner circle. The West incentivised those who accepted these rules. At the same time, narrow non-universal organisations dealing with the same matters as the universal organisations were established. Apart from UNESCO, there is a certain international partnership in support of information and democracy. We have international humanitarian law and the UN Refugee Agency dealing with related issues. The European Union is setting up a special partnership for dealing with the same matter. However, decisions will be based on EU interests, and they will disregard universal processes.

France and Germany are establishing an alliance for multilateralism. When asked about the reason for setting it up at a time when the UN – the most legitimate and universal organisation – embodies multilateralism, they gave an interesting reply that the UN employed many retrogrades, and that the new alliance prioritised avantgardism. They also stated their intention to promote multilateralism in such a way that no one would hamper their efforts. When asked what the ideals of this multilateralism were, they said that they were EU values. This arrogance and misinterpreted feeling of one’s own superiority also rule supreme in a situation that we are now reviewing, namely, the creation of a world where the West would a priori manage everything with impunity. Many people now claim that Russia has come under attack because it remains virtually the only obstacle that needs to be removed before the West can start dealing with China. This straightforward statement is quite truthful.

You asked why it was impossible to peacefully resolve the situation. For many years, we suggested resolving the matter peacefully. Many reasonable politicians from the US and Europe responded in earnest to Vladimir Putin’s proposal at the 2007 Munich Security Conference. Unfortunately, decision-makers in Western countries ignored it. Numerous assessments by world-famous political analysts, published in many leading US magazines, such as Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs, and European magazines, were also ignored. A coup took place in 2014. The West unconditionally backed Ukraine and the coup’s perpetrators who had gained power in Kiev. The West emphatically refuses to set any framework in relations between NATO and the territory of Russian interests. These warnings were also voiced but were disregarded, to put it mildly.

You should read the works of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who said back in the 1990s that Ukraine would become a key issue. He said openly that a friendly Ukraine would make Russia a great power, and that a hostile Ukraine would turn it into a regional player. These statements concealed geopolitical implications. Ukraine merely acted as a tool for preventing Russia from upholding its legitimate and equal rights on the international scene.

Question: Not long ago, I heard the current adviser to the President of Ukraine, Alexey Arestovich, speak. A couple of years ago, he said that neutral status was too expensive for Ukraine. “We can’t afford it,” he said. What do you think about this statement? Is that true? Following up on what worries ordinary Ukrainians – security guarantees – what is Russia ready to do? What kind of guarantees can it provide?

Sergey Lavrov: Neutral status is being seriously discussed in a package with security guarantees. This is exactly what President Vladimir Putin said at one of his news conferences: there are multiple options out there, including any generally acceptable security guarantees for Ukraine and all other countries, including Russia, with the exception of NATO expansion. This is what is being discussed at the talks. There is specific language which is, I believe, close to being agreed upon.

Question: Can you share it with us yet or not?

Sergey Lavrov: I’d rather not, because it is a negotiating process. Unlike some of our partners, we try to adhere to the culture of diplomatic negotiations, even though we were forced to make documents public that are normally off-limits. We did so in the situations where our communication with the German and French participants of the Normandy format was misrepresented to the point where it was the opposite of what really happened. Then, in order to expose the culprits before the international community, we were forced to make things public. No attempts at provocation are being made now as we discuss the guarantees of Ukraine’s neutrality. Hopefully, the first attempts at a businesslike approach that we are seeing now will prevail and we will be able to reach specific agreements on this matter even though simply declaring neutrality and announcing guarantees will be a significant step forward. The problem is much broader. We talked about it, including from the point of view of values such as the Russian language, culture and freedom of speech, since Russian media are outright banned, and the ones that broadcast in Ukraine in Russian were shut down.

Question: But they can always tell us that they are an independent country and it’s up to them to decide which language to speak. Why are you – Russia and Moscow – forcing us to speak Russian?

Sergey Lavrov: Because Ukraine has European obligations. There is the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. There are multiple other commitments, including in the Council of Europe, which we are leaving (this has been announced officially). However, we will never renounce our obligations regarding the rights of ethnic minorities, be they linguistic, cultural, or any other. We will never “withdraw from the documents” that guarantee freedom of access to information.

In the 1990s, everyone was rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the Soviet Union becoming an absolutely obedient and obsequious partner of the West. Back then, we did our best to show that perestroika and new thinking were opening up a groundbreaking chapter in the history of our state. We signed everything that the West wanted us to sign at the OSCE, including the declaration proposed by the West and supported by us which contained obligations to ensure freedom of access to information in each country and to transboundary information sources. Now, we are unable to get through to the West so that it itself starts fulfilling this obligation, which they themselves initiated.

This Russian language-related requirement is enshrined in the obligations. Ukraine did not turn them down. Can you imagine the consequences of Finland banning the Swedish language? There are 6 percent of Swedes in Finland, and Swedish is the second official language. Or, Ireland banning English, or Belgium banning French? The list goes on and on. All these minority languages ​​are respected, regardless of the fact that they have a parent state, whereas our case represents an exception. This is a case of outright discrimination, and what is known as enlightened Europe is just keeping quiet about it.

Question: We have decided to withdraw from the Council of Europe before being expelled. Why?

Sergey Lavrov: By and large, this decision was formulated long ago. Not because of a series of suspension and reinstatement of our rights, but because that organisation has fully degenerated. It was established as a pan-European organisation of all countries, with the exception of Belarus which was given observer status. We did our best to help Belarus participate in several conventions, which is possible in the Council of Europe. In general, Belarus was considering the possibility of joining it.

However, over the years the Council of Europe has turned into a kind of OSCE, (excuse my language), where the initial idea of interaction and consensus as the main instruments of attaining the goal of common European cooperation and security was superceded by polemics and rhetoric, which was becoming increasingly Russophobic and was determined by the unilateral interests of the West, in particular, NATO countries and the EU. They used their technical majority in the OSCE and the Council of Europe to undermine the culture of consensus and compromise and to force their views on everyone, showing that they have no regard whatsoever, do not care one iota for our interests and only want to lecture and moralise, which is what they have actually been doing.

Our intention to withdraw matured long ago, but our decision to withdraw has been accelerated by the recent events and the decision enforced through voting. The Parliamentary Assembly issued recommendations for the Committee of Ministers, which has voted to suspend our rights. They told us not to worry, that we would only be unable to attend the sessions but can still make our payments to the budget.  This is what they have openly said.

The Foreign Ministry pointed out in a statement that our withdrawal from this organisation will not affect the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens under the European Convention on Human Rights, from which we are withdrawing as part of our withdrawal from the Council of Europe. First of all, there are constitutional guarantees and guarantees under the international conventions to which Russia is a party. These universal conventions are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (which the United States has not signed); the Convention on the Rights of the Child (the US is not among its signatories) and many other conventions and covenants most of which have been incorporated into the national legislation. Our lawyers are working with the Constitutional Court and the Justice Ministry on additional amendments to Russian laws to prevent any infringement on the rights of our citizens as the result of our withdrawal from the Council of Europe.

Question: Several counties have been trying to develop dialogue between Moscow and Kiev. France was the first to do this, followed by Israel, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will come to Moscow today. Turkey has stepped up its activity. Why are these three countries so active on this issue?

Sergey Lavrov: They are not the only ones to offer their services. The President of Russia had a telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel yesterday. He has had contacts with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President of France Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett. My foreign colleagues have contacted me as well. For example, Switzerland, which has traditionally posed as a country where compromises are reached, is ready to mediate.

In this context, it is strange that mediation services are being offered by the countries which have joined the unprecedented sanctions against Russia and have proclaimed the goal (they make no bones about stating this openly) of setting the Russian people against the Russian authorities. We take a positive view on the mediation offers coming from the countries which have refused to play this Russophobic game, which are aware of the root causes of the current crisis, that is, the fundamental and legitimate national interests of Russia, and which have not joined this war of sanctions. We are ready to analyse their proposals. Israel and Turkey are among these states.

Question: Do they come with proposals, asking if they could help establish dialogue?  Or how is this taking place in reality?

Sergey Lavrov: This happens in different ways. Right now, I cannot go into detail, but both want to help achieve accord at the talks conducted via the “Belarusian channel.”  They know the state of the talks, what proposals are on the table, and where there is a bilateral rapprochement.   They are sincerely trying to speed up the rapprochement. We welcome this, but I would like to stress once again that the matter of key importance is having a direct dialogue between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations and  solving what we consider fundamental issues related to the effort not only to ensure the physical security of people in eastern Ukraine and for that matter in other parts of Ukraine, but also to enable them to live normal, civilised lives in the country that has a duty to ensure the rights of  those who are known as ethnic minorities, rights that have been trampled underfoot in every sense.

Let us not forget about the tasks of demilitarisation. Ukraine cannot have weapons that create a threat to the Russian Federation. We are ready to negotiate on the types of armaments that do not present a threat to us. This problem will have to be solved even regardless of the situation’s NATO aspect. Even without NATO membership, the United States or anyone else can supply offensive weapons to Ukraine on a bilateral basis, just as they did with the anti-missile bases in Poland and Romania. No one asked NATO. Let us not forget that [Ukraine] is perhaps the only OSCE and European country that has legislatively legalised the neo-Nazis’ right to promote their views and practices.

These are matters of principle. I hope that the realisation of their legitimacy, justifiability and key importance for our interests and therefore the interests of European security will enable those, who are graciously offering their good offices, to promote relevant compromises in contacts with Ukraine, among others.

Question: We have named certain countries that are helping to settle this crisis. Has the United States offered any services in this connection, like “let us help to establish contacts?” After all, it is no secret to anyone that Russia-US relations were at a very low level. Now they have hit rock bottom, haven’t they?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, there is such a figurative expression. Of course, the situation is unprecedented. I can’t recall anything like the frenzied policy that Washington is conducting right now. To a considerable extent, this policy is generated by Congress whose members have lost all sense of reality and are throwing all conventions to the winds. I am not even mentioning the diplomatic proprieties that have long since been abandoned.

The United States certainly has played the decisive role in shaping the position of the Kiev authorities. The Americans have maintained a huge “presence” in Kiev’s “corridors of power” for many years, including the uniformed agencies, the security service, and the top brass. Everyone knows this. The CIA and other US secret services have their missions there.

Like other NATO members (the Canadians, the British), they have sent hundreds of their instructors to train combat units not only within the Armed Forces of Ukraine but also in the so-called volunteer battalions, including Azov and Aydar. However, some seven or eight years ago, in 2014, immediately after the coup d’etat, the Azov battalion was officially struck off the list of recipients of US aid.  This was done precisely because it was regarded as an extremist, if not terrorist, organisation. Today, all pretences have been removed.

Now any person or group in Ukraine that declares Russia its enemy is immediately taken under the wing of overseas and Western patrons.

They are talking about the supremacy of law and about democracy. What supremacy of law, if the EU, in violation of its own law on the inadmissibility of arms supplies to conflict zones, takes the decision to do the opposite and send offensive arms to Ukraine?

We do not see any sign that the United States is interested in settling the conflict as soon as possible. If they were interested, they would have every opportunity, first, to explain to the Ukrainian negotiators and President Zelensky that they should seek compromises. Second, they need to make it clear that they are aware of the legitimacy of our demands and positions, but do not want to accept them, not because they are illegitimate but because they would like to dominate the world and are unwilling to restrain themselves with any commitments to take into consideration the interests of others. They have already brought Europe to heel, as I have said.

The US has been telling Europe for years that Nord Stream 2 could undermine their energy security. Europe responded that they should find out that on their own. They took the decision and their companies invested billions of euros. The Americans were claiming that this was contrary to the EU’s interests. They offered to sell them their liquefied gas. If there are no gas terminals, they should be built.  The Germans told me this a few years ago. It was during President Trump’s administration. Europe was complaining that this would considerably increase gas prices for their consumers. Donald Trump replied that they were rich guys and will compensate the difference from the German budget. That’s their approach.

Today, Europe was shown its place. Germany eventually said that its regulator was taking a break, and this precisely defines the FRG’s place in the arrangements that the Americans are making on the world scene.

Question: Has Germany become a less independent state under the new chancellor? Would it have acted the same under Angela Merkel?

Sergey Lavrov: The Nord Stream 2 was commissioned, albeit temporarily suspended afterwards, under the new chancellor. I hope that experience will bring an understanding of the need to uphold national interests, rather than to fully rely on the overseas partner who will make all the decisions for you and then do everything for you as well. Clearly, the enormous number of US troops on German soil is also a factor that interferes with independent decision-making.

Articles are being published to the effect that the “politics of memory” is vanishing. It has always been considered a sacred thing in Germany and meant that the German people would never forget the suffering they brought during World War II, primarily to the peoples of the Soviet Union. After I read this, I realised that many people are aware of it. These are open publications. German political scientists are talking about this and, of course, ours do so as well. Several years ago, I spotted something that was probably the early phase of this emerging trend. We were holding ministerial and other consultations with the Germans (I’m talking about foreign policy talks) at the level of department directors and deputy ministers. I never saw this at the ministerial level. The thought that was conveyed to us during the talks was that “we, the Germans, have paid our dues to everyone and owe nothing to anyone, so stop bringing this up.”

Speaking of the Germans, there is a thing that is worth mentioning. We are now talking a lot about attributes of genocide or racial discrimination. Take, for instance, the siege of Leningrad. For many years and with all my colleagues, starting with Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Guido Westerwelle, Heiko Maas, and most recently Annalena Baerbock, I very persistently, with each of them, raised the topic of paying compensations to the Leningrad siege survivors. The German government has made two one-time payments but only to Jewish survivors. We asked why only Jews, because many ethnic groups, including Russians and Tatars, lived in Leningrad and continue to live there. Many of them are still alive. How are they supposed to understand the fact that only the Jews have received some kind of help from the German government when at the time they were boiling shoes, burying children and transporting corpses on sleds together? The payments in question are not big. But, first, for many of them they matter, and second, they serve as the recognition of the fact that everyone has been impacted by the siege. Their answer was interesting. The Jews, they said, are victims of the Holocaust. These payments cannot be made to other survivors, because they are not Holocaust victims. Our attempts to reach out to the German legislators and politicians and tell them that the siege of Leningrad was an unparalleled event in the history of WWII, where there was no distinction between Jews, Russians or other ethnic groups, failed. We reached out to Jewish organisations. It is a matter of honour for them as well. We will continue this work going forward. January marked yet another anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Leningrad. The President of Russia signed an executive order on one-time payments to all siege survivors, including the Jews. We have not seen any sign of conscience awakening in Germany so far.

To be continued…

A world at war

13 Mar 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Alastair Crooke 

External actors removed from the frenzy that is largely focused in Europe must be shaking their heads in disbelief at Europe’s zeal to join in this ‘war’. Was it deliberately provoked? Is there an escalation ‘in the works’ somewhere? 

A World at War

What constitutes the most important geostrategic event of the week? Well, it was India insisting to remove the US dollar in trade with Russia and replacing it with the local currency (whilst the US reacts by threatening India with separate sanctions). The list of ‘recalcitrants’ is lengthening: China too has been threatened by US sanctions for not joining in sanctioning Russia. Other states, including Turkey, Brazil (a skeptical Bolsonaro) and Gulf States are boycotting the ‘war on Russia’. In effect, it is mostly Europe who has gone the ‘whole hog’ on the lines of French Finance minister Le Maire’s comments in “waging an all-out economic and financial war on Russia. We will cause the collapse of the Russian economy”. The rest of the world remains notably ‘cool’ and aloof.

I recall being told by a senior British panjandrum in 2006 — well before its actual outset — that war with Iraq had already been decided, and it would transform the Middle East (to the US advantage). When I demurred, I was told either ‘get with it’, or be removed (in the event I was exiled).  

I recall this incident because it seems to me that something rather similar must have been said to Olaf Scholz in Washington in the run-up to his February meeting with Putin in Moscow: Something like, we’re going to cause the collapse of the Russian economy, which will likely see President Putin evicted from office in the turmoil that would ensue. ‘Get with it’. 

Scholz did just that — and more — ultimately sacrificing Nord Stream 2, promising a big spike in Germany’s military size, and even endorsing sending weapons to conflict zones (such as Ukraine).

Boris Johnson already was using the Ukraine conflict to try to reclaim a ‘world role’ for a post-Brexit Britain; and possibly Scholz decided to make a ‘virtue of necessity’ — similarly to fulfill a wish to see Germany again becoming a “forceful” participant in global politics by jettisoning the German guilt-complex from WWII and becoming “combat ready” — all of which Scholz’ party aspires to – predating Ukraine.

In any event, Europe has embraced an all-out economic war on Russia with un-customary zeal. The West has taken its economic war on Russia to new heights, never before experienced: Russian Central Bank foreign reserves were seized; its financial institutions frozen out of external capital markets, certain Russian banks expelled from SWIFT, and the Rouble suffered a concerted ‘sell’ operation mounted out of New York (as in 2014).

However, it is not the detail that matters. Not even the means by which Russia avoided its preordained economic demise (early wargaming war prospects). No, its salience lies with a state’s foreign reserves being expropriated; its institutions paralyzed; and its currency assaulted — at ‘the flick of a switch’.

Then, just as suddenly, Europe re-erected an Iron Curtain (but this time against Russia) via a PSYOPS media narrative, which when superimposed upon emotion-jerking imagery, has evoked a moral outrage which insists on certain retaliation.  

President Putin becomes the cold, inhuman irrational antithesis to the rational liberal order, necessitating a moral crusade – perhaps even a military one – to confront such inhumanity. All this sprung into a Europe-wide frenzy, at the ‘flick of a switch’.

And – at the ‘flick of a switch’ – Russian discourse and perspectives are canceled across the western information space: Singularity and unity of messaging is Brussels’ goal.

Again, it is the context that matters. In one sense, the tragedy in Ukraine is a distraction: The point – not lost on the rest of the world – is how this all ‘was switched on’ against a major power in a day. It could just as easily happen to them, they realize.

That’s why India’s decision to trade in Rupees and Roubles is a harbinger of things to come. In throwing the ‘kitchen sink’ at Russia, the West has starkly highlighted the risks to the rest of the world that are inherent through participation in this Western-led ‘rules-based global order’.

And in triggering through media management the outrage which demands certain punitive retaliation, and outlawing alternative views, they send a shiver through many non-western leaderships — whose civilizational and value distinctions clearly mean nothing to the West. We will see many of these countries increasingly ‘abandon ship’.

Finally, external actors removed from the frenzy that is largely focused in Europe must be shaking their heads in disbelief at Europe’s zeal to join in this ‘war’. Was it deliberately provoked? Is there an escalation ‘in the works’ somewhere? 

A ‘world at war’ – whether kinetic or the full-monty financial – will be a disaster for Europe. War is inflationary. War is contractionary (and inflationary too).  It acts as a tax on any big importer such as Europe. Energy and commodities prices are currently higher – relatively – than any year since 1915. Wheat prices (25% of global supplies are sourced from Ukraine and Russia) are at their highest since 2008. Everything is going up vertically. The whole production chain for food is under pressure from every side. 

Why did Europe say ‘yes’?

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

The Last American War … will be in Europe

Two weeks into the Ukraine conflict, the Atlantic alliance is already fraying. Europe, which helped destroy much of West Asia, is now the battlefield for the Last American War.

March 09 2022

By Abdel Bari Atwan

During the second US-led war on Iraq in 2003 and its resulting invasion and occupation, I wrote an article in the British daily, The Observer, commissioned by its editor-in-chief, entitled ‘America is an expert in destruction not construction.’ That title proved to be dismally accurate as US warplanes bombed all Iraqi infrastructure facilities from water and electricity stations to bridges, and killed more than a million Iraqis, according to the international medical journal Lancet.

Joe Biden said he would target Russia when he became US president. But, his war with Russia will have mainly European casualties.Photo Credit: The Cradle

Nearly 20 years later, the article springs to mind again as I follow the developments of the Ukrainian war, the associated military and diplomatic posturing of global stakeholders, and the potential ignition of a nuclear war that could lead to catastrophic consequences for the world – starting with Europe.

Battlefield: Europe

It is Europe, after all, which will be the main theater of a nuclear clash unless current mediation efforts bear fruit. And any ‘political solution’ of the conflict spells victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country, as Moscow will not accept anything short of a complete purging of NATO’s strategic depth in Ukraine.

It was the United States that instigated and ignited this war, and Ukraine and its good people were merely victims of US President Joe Biden’s declaration upon entering the White House that Russia is the number one enemy of the United States, followed by China. He simply made Ukraine the “poisoned bait” to draw the Russians into a long war of attrition that could sap their economy and cause sedition from within.

The US-European threat of “sanctions from hell” was a double plan: these would either deter Putin from invading Ukraine, or provoke him into doing exactly that. The former would be paraded as a Russian defeat, and the latter would be used to financially bankrupt the Russian state, turn its citizens against their government, and isolate Moscow.

But, about two weeks after the first Russian tank entered Ukrainian territory, the naivety of the western plan was fully exposed. Not only did it incorrectly assess the speed at which Moscow might achieve its aims, but it thoroughly underestimated Russia’s ability to counter western punishments with its own.

The western plan has instead triggered a backlash of monumental proportions, whose first line of victims will be residents of both Europe and the United States.

Ukraine, the flint to start a fire

As the dust settled, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky began to show signs of shock and hysteria, lashing out at NATO’s “weakness,” amassing battalions of right-wing neo-Nazis to replace deserting Ukrainian army soldiers, and putting out a global call for foreign fighters to come to Ukraine and fight the Russians.

Zelensky has by now realized that NATO was only prepared to stand by his side and provoke his anti-Moscow rants until the Russian armored vehicles rolled in. He discovered quickly that he was abandoned by all, especially the United States, whose representative to the United Nations said yesterday that it would not send a single soldier or plane to Ukraine.

As oil prices skyrocketed to around US $130 per barrel this week, European countries, including Germany, Bulgaria, and France have said that they cannot manage without Russian oil and gas imports. Those words are the first tangible indication of a crack in the Atlantic alliance, and should be expected to extend to the NATO alliance as the fissures grow.

Europe ostensibly derives its strength from the power of its economy, and the so-called “common values” of the waning liberal order premised on democracy, human rights and social justice. Now, these elements are being eroded one by one as censorship, authoritarianism and war-profiteering take hold within western governance.

The masks have dropped. Those “values” are instead being rapidly replaced by overt racist sensibilities, favoring the “blond-haired and blue-eyed” citizen over all others, and mobilizing neo-Nazi and extremist movements to maintain the western “rules-based order.”

Economy is power: the western alliance collapse

The economic prosperity, security and stability enjoyed by the west since the end of the Second World War will be the first victim of this confrontation taking shape in Ukraine, and it looks near certain that financial collapse, political chaos and intra-state geographic fragmentation may ensue.

The decades of punishing sanctions imposed by the United States as an alternative to direct military intervention in North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela have not achieved their goals. They have not caused the ‘regime-change’ that was intended, and it is highly unlikely that the current sanctions on Russia, if imposed (so far, Russian oil and gas flow is paid for through the SWIFT financial system) in whole or in part, will prove an exception.

Alexander Novak, Russia’s deputy prime minister in charge of energy, warned late Monday of “catastrophic” consequences for world oil and gas markets if the US implements its threats to impose a ban on energy exports from his country.

These actions, he predicted, would result in a ten-fold rise in the price per cubic meter of natural gas and an unprecedented US $300 dollars per barrel for oil. Novak further threatened that Moscow would retaliate by halting gas supplies to Europe through their Nord Stream 1 pipeline, especially if Germany continues to suspend its Nord Stream 2 counterpart in response to US pressure and if Washington imposes a ban on Russian oil.

Nord Stream 1 currently operates at 100 percent and pumps nearly 60 billion cubic meters per year to Europe.

The United States destroyed Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya, and has not participated in the reconstruction of any of its destruction.

But the victim now will be Europe, which, while able to bully those weaker states, will not be able to do so with a much bigger, stronger global power like Russia, led by a shrewd geopolitical strategist like Vladimir Putin.

Europe is now lending its territories to this last American war. It is facing a nuclear power that is allied with other nuclear states like China, North Korea and, potentially, India. This time, the magic may be turned on the magician, and the destruction on the USA.

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

Snapshot

March 10, 2022

Source

By Fred Reed

Everybody and his goat are talking about the Ukraine. Why not me? You might ask, But Fred, what do you know about it? To which I would respond, Look, this is journalism. You don’t need to know anything, just wing it, preferably using words you can spell. Admittedly this is more of a limitation than it used to be. Anyway, here goes:

Why did Russia invade the Ukraine? Contrary to American media, the invasion was not unprovoked. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, America has been pushing NATO, which is a US sepoy operation, ever closer to Russian borders in what, to anyone who took fifth-grade geography, is an obvious program of military encirclement. Of the five countries other than Russia littoral to the Black Sea, three, Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria, are now in NATO. America has been moving toward bringing in the Ukraine and Georgia. After Georgia would have come Azerbaijan, putting American forces on the Caspian with access to Iran and Kazakhstan. This is calculated aggression over the long term, obvious to the—what? Ten percent? Fifteen percent?—of Americans who know what the Caucasus is.

Putin has said, over and over, that Russia could not allow hostile military forces on its border any more than the US would allow Chinese military bases in Mexico and China or missile forces in Cuba. Washington kept pushing. Russia said, no more. In short, America brought on the war.

Among people who follow such things, there are two ways of looking at the invasion. First, that Washington thought Putin was bluffing, and he wasn’t. Second, that America intentionally forced Russia to choose between allowing NATO into the Ukraine, a major success for Washington’s world empire; or fighting, also a success for Washington as it would cause the results it has caused.

From the latter understanding, America pulled off, at least at first glance, an astonishing geopolitical victory over Russia. Nordstream II blocked, crippling sanctions placed on Russia, many of its banks kicked out of SWIFT, economic integration of Europe and Asia slowed or reversed, Germany to spend 113 billion on rearming (largely meaning buying American costume-jewelry weaponry), Europe forced to buy expensive American LNG, and Europe made dependent on America for energy. All this in a few days without loss of a single American soldier. This presumably at least in part engineered by Virginia Newland who, though she looks like a fireplug with leprosy, seems effectively Machiavellian.

Next victim, China. Divide and conquer. Or at least that’s the theory. At the same time reinstate the JCPOA and use economic baubles to try to pry Iran away from Beijing.

Here we need some context. Everything Washington does internationally aims at maintaining America’s largely military near-hegemony over the world. This involves several elements:

First, military dominance. This includes the many hundreds of bases around the world, naval supremacy, and the huge military expenditure. Thy latter will be maintained at any cost to domestic needs, and apparently it is going to be increased.

Second, control of the world’s supply of energy. Washington is trying to starve Venezuela, with its vast reserves of petroleum, into submission. Submission means letting American-dominated oil majors exploit the country’s oil. Washington is doing the same with Iran and its enormous reserves. It has troops in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, has confiscated Syria’s oil lands, crushed Libya, and so on. Keeping the European vassals from buying more Russian gas through Nordstream II is part of this energy control and an important part.

Third, and crucial, keep Eurasia—note the “EU”—from coalescing into a vast continent-spanning trade zone, which is exactly what China contemplates in its BRI, Belt and Road initiative. This is too much subject for a few paragraphs, but some thoughts: China is a manufacturing juggernaut in explosive growth. Economic power is the basis of all power. China has the advantage of inner lines of communication: it can build rail, fiber optics, highway,s and pipelines in Asia, where America has little access. China has money because it has a for-profit economy, and America doesn’t. The pull of China’s gigantic market and manufactures was beginning to loosen America’s control of Europe. Eurasian integration had to be stopped.

Fourth, the dollar. Washington controls the dollar, the IMF, SWIFT, and in general the international financial system. It uses this control brutally as a weapon to impose sanctions, crippling the economies of such countries as Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and now Russia. Seeing this intimidates other countries. Washington may have gone too often to this well. Having made England, its chief bootlicker, confiscate Venezuela’s gold reserves, and now freezing Russia’s reserves, Washington has served notice that no country is secure from this treatment. Here I speculate freely, but this may prove America’s worst mistake since 1619 as it may greatly accelerate the search for other payment systems—CIPS from China, SPFS from Russia, and the upcoming digital yuan. Washington, methinks, is betting the farm.

So much for the world. Meanwhile, America seems to be sinking into irreversible decadence that muss eventually—I would say soon—affect its international position. As the world’s economic and, laggingly, technological center of gravity moves east to Asia, an internally collapsing America will be less able to maintain the empire. Consider:

Washington’s printing of money, equivalent to the debasing of the coinage characteristic of failing societies, has resulted in high inflation and a potentially catastrophic national debt. This will cause political perturbation as voters seek to find which of the two essentially identical parties will not behave like the other one. Unrest will grow. Trust abroad in the dollar will decrease.

America suffers from a massive and growing trade deficit, largely with China, about which nothing can be done, certainly not soon, because America no longer makes things it needs. Manufacturing cannot be brought back, excep perhaps in niche markets like semiconductors, because the US no longer has the necessary engineers and trained work force, and American labor costs more than Chinese, so reshoring would increase inflation. The importation of cheap Chinese products keeps inflation down,.

The heavy flow of national wealth into Wall Street and the military in addition to offshoring has led to real poverty in Appalachia, the Rust Belt, and the rural Deep South. This has produced some 100,000 opioid deaths annually in despairing populations. Simultaneously large and growing homeless aggregations appear in LA, Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, St. Louis, on and on, estimated at 60,000 in LA and 50,000 in New York, making the subways dangerous. Bush world conditions presumably do not make for political stability, as neither does the governmental inattention to them.

Crime is out of control, not a sign of a healthy polity. Some 700 homicides annually in Chicago, 300 in Baltimore, and similar numbers elsewhere are now routine, almost all of the killers and killed being black. To countries like Japan and South Korea this must seem barbaric. The situation is not First World.

America’s racial problem is grave. The southern border is open, the southwestern states either majority Latino or soon to be. This is not as bad as it could be as the races seem to get along, but it imposes heavy economic and other costs. At the same time across the country cities have huge black ghettos with appalling semiliteracy, no prospects for the young, all of this apparently irremediable. Racial attacks on whites and Asians grow in number and so, almost everywhere, do racial killings, mostly by blacks. Governments at all levels fear blacks who they know will burn cities if provoked, which leads tax bases to flee from cities, making things worse.

This adds to potentially explosive resentment. There is a substantial White Nationalist movement, that wants no non-whites in America (a bit late for this), Republican Chambers of Commerce, that want more illegal Latinos for the cheap labor but won’t say so, and the high-tech sector, which wants more East Asian and Indian immigrants on which America, with a failing educational system, increasingly depends.

Overall, government is weak, unable to prevent crime, riots, and looting. Washington does not control, but is controlled, being a storefront operation for special interests. Elections do not change policy but only the division of the spoils. Presidents perform their three essential duties, protecting Wall Street, Israel, and the military budget, but not much else.

Schooling is being dumbed down in stark contrast with China. Excellence everywhere is discouraged in the name of equity. Native white talent dwindles in the elite schools, from high-end high schools through CalTech, as Asian majorities predominate. Measures of talent, such as SATs and Medcats, are dropped or downplayed. English grammar and arithmetic are dropped as racist. None of this seems likely to improve America’s future competitiveness.

Finally, the media are controlled. This allows Washington freedom of action abroad as enough of the public will believe anything they are told by television (The Russians are coming, the Chinese are coming, the Iranians are coming, the Guatemalans….) Internally censorship may keep the lid on, for now anyway, by keeping enough of the population from knowing what is going on. By preventing discussion of problems, or their mention, it assures that nothing will be done. I suspect this is having the effect of winding a spring.

Where is all of this leading?

Biden is playing as if this were 1960 and the US enjoyed rock solid military and economic superiority and the population were firmly behind him. This is the world he remembers, being an aging cold warrior. He seems to believe that he consequently can do what he pleases with no repercussions for America. This may be true, or true enough. Perhaps he believes that Russia will collapse in domestic rebellion or simply surrender to the US. It is not how I would bet.

But—and this is sheer speculation—it is not clear what would happen if Russia cut off gas and petroleum and wheat and such things as neon gas from Europe. The West is accustomed to bombing remote countries, not to going without. Would Russia collapse under privation before Europe decided it wanted to trade with Moscow after all?

If Biden and the hawks decide to play hardball with China, they may realize that America is an economic dependency of Beijing. If—again, very hypothetically—China cut off all trade with America, the US economy would die instantly. Almost everything on American shelves is made in China. An American public already very unhappy would explode, which it is on the point of doing for various reasons. Reflect on the Floyd riots. China would be hurt, but it has other markets and a nationalistic population more united than the American.

Them’s my thoughts, probably worth what you pay for them.

Russian Judo Tears the West Apart

Washington’s sanctions on Moscow will destroy Europe, not Russia

MARCH 8, 2022

Washington’s ‘replacement strategy’ for sanctioned Russian oil and gas imports appears to be to cozy up to its oil-producing arch-enemies Iran and Venezuela. Photo Credit: The Cradle

PEPE ESCOBAR  

The official Russian blacklist of hostile sanctioning nations includes the US, the EU, Canada and, in Asia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore (the only one from Southeast Asia). Notice how that ‘international community’ keeps shrinking.

The Global South should be aware that no nations from West Asia, Latin America and Africa have joined Washington’s sanctions bandwagon.

Moscow has not even announced its own package of counter-sanctions. Yet an official decree “On Temporary Order of Obligations to Certain Foreign Creditors,” which allows Russian companies to settle their debts in rubles, provides a hint of what’s to come.

Russian counter-measures all revolve around this new presidential decree, signed last Saturday, which economist Yevgeny Yushchuk defines as a “nuclear retaliatory landmine.” .

It works like this: to pay for loans obtained from a sanctioning country exceeding 10 million rubles a month, a Russian company does not have to make a transfer. They ask for a Russian bank to open a correspondent account in rubles under the creditor’s name. Then the company transfers rubles to this account at the current exchange rate, and it’s all perfectly legal.

Payments in foreign currency only go through the Central Bank on a case-by-case basis. They must receive special permission from the Government Commission for the Control of Foreign Investment.

What this mean in practice is that the bulk of the $478 billion or so in Russian foreign debt may “disappear” from the balance sheets of western banks. The equivalent in rubles will be deposited somewhere, in Russian banks, but western banks, as things stand, can’t access it.

It is debatable whether this straightforward strategy was the product of those non-sovereignist brains gathered at the Russian Central Bank. More likely, there has been input from influential economist Sergei Glazyev, also a top former advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin on regional integration: here is a revised edition, in English, of his groundbreaking essay Sanctions and Sovereignty, which I have previously summarized.

Meanwhile, Sberbank confirmed it will issue Russia’s Mir debit/credit cards co-badged with China’s UnionPay. Alfa-Bank – the largest private bank in Russia – will also issue UnionPay credit and debit cards. Although only introduced five years ago, 40 percent of Russians already have a Mir card for domestic use. Now they will also be able to use it internationally, via UnionPay’s enormous network. And without Visa and Mastercard, commissions on all transactions will remain in the Russia-China sphere. De-dollarization in effect.

Mr. Maduro, gimme some oil

The Iran sanctions negotiations in Vienna may be reaching the last stage – as acknowledged even by Chinese diplomat Wang Qun. But it was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who introduced a new, crucial variable into Vienna’s final discussions.

Lavrov made his eleventh-hour demand quite explicit: “We have asked for a written guarantee…that the current [Russian sanctions] process triggered by the United States does not in any way damage our right to free and full trade, economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with the Islamic Republic.”

As per the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement of 2015, Russia receives enriched uranium from Iran and exchanges it for yellowcake, and in parallel, is reconverting Iran’s Fordow nuclear plant into a research center. Without Iranian enriched uranium exports there’s simply no JCPOA deal. It boggles the mind that US Secretary of State Blinken does not seem to understand that.

Everyone in Vienna, sidelines included, knows that for all actors to sign on the JCPOA revival, no nation must be individually targeted in terms of trading with Iran. Tehran also knows it.

So what’s happening now is an elaborate game of Persian mirrors, coordinated between Russian and Iranian diplomacy. Moscow’s Ambassador to Tehran, Levan Jagaryan, attributed the fierce reaction to Lavrov in some Iranian quarters to a “misunderstanding.” This will all be played out in the shade.

An extra element is that according to a Persian Gulf intel source with privileged Iranian access, Tehran may be selling as many as three million barrels of oil a day already, “so if they do sign a deal it will not affect supply at all, only they will be paid more.”

The US administration of President Joe Biden is now absolutely desperate: today it banned all imports of oil and gas from Russia, which happens to be the second-largest exporter of oil to the US, behind Canada and ahead of Mexico. The US’ big Russian-energy ‘replacement strategy’ is to beg for oil from Iran and Venezuela.

So, the White House sent a delegation to talk to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, led by Juan Gonzalez, the White House’s top Latin America adviser. The US offer is to “alleviate” sanctions on Caracas in exchange for oil.

The United States government has spent years – if not decades – burning all bridges with Venezuela and Iran. The USG destroyed Iraq and Libya, and isolated Venezuela and Iran, in its attempt to take over global oil markets – just to end up miserably trying to buy out both and escape from being crushed by the economic forces it has unleashed. That proves, once again, that imperial ‘policy makers’ are utterly clueless.

Caracas will request the elimination of all sanctions on Venezuela and the return of all its confiscated gold. And it seems like none of this was cleared with ‘President’ Juan Guaido, who since 2019, was the only Venezuelan leader “recognized” by Washington.

Social cohesion torn apart

Oil and gas markets, meanwhile, are in total panic. No western trader wants to buy Russian gas; and that has nothing to do with Russia’s state-owned energy behemoth Gazprom, which continues to duly supply customers that signed contracts with fixed tariffs, from $100 to $300 (others are paying over $3,000 in the spot market).

European banks are less and less willing to grant loans for energy trade with Russia because of the sanctions hysteria. A strong hint that the Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 may be literally six feet under is that importer Wintershall-Dea wrote off its share of the financing, de facto assuming that the pipeline will not be launched.

Everyone with a brain in Germany knows that two extra Liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals – still to be constructed – will not be enough for Berlin’s needs. There is simply not enough LNG to supply them. Europe will have to fight with Asia over who can pay more. Asia wins.

Europe imports roughly 400 billion cubic meters of gas a year, with Russia responsible for 200 billion of this. There’s no way Europe can find $200 billion anywhere else to replace Russia – be it in Algeria, Qatar or Turkmenistan. Not to mention its lack of necessary LNG terminals.

So obviously the top beneficiary of all the mess will be the US – which will be able to impose not only their terminals and control systems, but also profit from loans to the EU, sales of equipment, and full access to the whole EU energy infrastructure. All LNG installations, pipelines and warehouses will be connected to a sole network with a single control room: an American business dream.

Europe will be left with reduced gas production for its – dwindling – industry; job losses; decreasing quality of life standards; increased pressure over the social security system; and, last but not least, the necessity to apply for extra American loans. Some nations will go back to coal for heating. The Green Parade will be livid.

What about Russia? As a hypothesis, even if all its energy exports were curtailed – and they won’t be, their top clients are in Asia – Russia would not have to use its foreign reserves.

The Russophobic all-out attack on Russian exports also targets palladium metals – vital for electronics, from laptops to aircraft systems. Prices are skyrocketing. Russia controls 50% of the global market. Then there are noble gases – neon, helium, argon, xenon – essential for production of microchips. Titanium has risen by a quarter, and both Boeing – by a third – and Airbus – by two thirds – rely on titanium from Russia.

Oil, food, fertilizers, strategic metals, neon gas for semiconductors: all burning at the stake, at the feet of Witch Russia.

Some Westerners who still treasure Bismarckian realpolitik have started wondering whether shielding energy (in the case of Europe) and selected commodity flows from sanctions may have everything to do with protecting an immense racket: the commodity derivatives system.

After all, if that implodes, because of a shortage of commodities, the whole western financial system blows up. Now that’s a real system failure.

The key issue for the Global South to digest is that the “west” is not committing suicide. What we have here, essentially, is the United States willfully destroying German industry and the European economy – bizarrely, with their connivance.

To destroy the European economy means not allowing extra market space for China, and blocking the inevitable extra trade which will be a direct consequence of closer exchanges between the EU and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s biggest trade deal.

The end result will be the US eating European savings for lunch while China expands its middle class to over 500 million people. Russia will do just fine, as Glazyev outlines: sovereign – and self-sufficient.

American economist Michael Hudson has concisely sketched the lineaments of imperial self-implosion. Yet way more dramatic, as a strategic disaster, is how the deaf, dumb and blind parade toward deep recession and near-hyperinflation will rip what’s left of the west’s social cohesion apart. Mission Accomplished.

(Republished from The Cradle by permission of author or representative)

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 ما هي رسالة بوتين لأوروبا؟

ناصر قنديل

خارج إطار النقاش السجاليّ حول شرعية ومشروعية العملية العسكرية الروسية في أوكرانيا، وتبرير العقوبات على روسيا او إدانتها، لا يستطيع الأوروبيون إنكار حقيقتين كبيرتين حملتهما حرب أوكرانيا؛ الأولى هي فشل أوروبا في محاولة صناعة مساحة وسطية قابلة للحياة وسط التجاذب الحاد بين واشنطن وموسكو، بعد محاولات بدأتها ألمانيا وفرنسا في سياق تداعيات الأزمة الأوكرانية منذ العام 2014، وترجمتها اتفاقات مينسك صيغة النورماندي، والثانية هي أن المواجهة الدائرة ليست مجرد أزمة روسية أوكرانية سقطت معها الحلول السياسية وتحولت حرباً، تستقطب دول العالم على ضفاف الصراع. فهي حرب عالمية كبرى تتوج سنوات من التراجع الأميركي والسعي الروسي لملء الفراغ أملاً باستعادة بعض المواقع التي خسرتها أمام عدائية أميركية متوحشة بعد انهيار جدار برلين واستضعاف روسيا بمعونة أوروبية. وفي هذه الحرب التي يكون ميدانها أوروبا للمرة الأولى منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية، سترسم خرائط العالم الجديد، ومنها خريطة أوروبا، وانطلاقاً من أوروبا.

سعت أوروبا على ضفاف الأزمة الأوكرانية خلال سنوات لبناء المنطقة الوسطى تحت شعار ينطلق من تشخيص تحفل به الوثائق الأوروبية للأمن الاستراتيجي، ويضعها بين معادلتي صناعة موازين القوى العسكرية، وضمان التدفق السلس للطاقة، وانطلقت النظرية الأوروبية من فرضية الجمع الممكن بين علاقة حوار وتفهم وطمأنة مع روسيا مقابل انضواء نظري في الحلف الأطلسي الذي تقوده واشنطن، على أن يترجم بحدود ضيقة عملياً، صار الميل لجعلها أضيق بعد الانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان بصورة مهينة للأوروبيين، أثارت شكوكهم علناً حول قدرة واشنطن على تمثيل الحليف الموثوق والجهة التي يمكن الاعتماد عليها، وخرجت في سياقها أصوات تطالب ببناء قوة اوروبية مستقلة عن التبعية لمعادلة الحماية الأميركية المفترضة.

أجاب الأوروبيون، وفي طليعتهم الألمان، على سؤال التدفق السلس لموارد الطاقة بالصيغة المتممة لمعادلة منتصف الطريق بين واشنطن وموسكو، وجاء انبوب الغاز الجديد الذي انشئ بشراكة ألمانية روسية باسم ستريم الثاني أو السيل الشمالي، الذي عارضته واشنطن منذ البدء بتأسيسه والسير بتنفيذه وصولا للحظة التمهيد لوضعه قيد الخدمة. وأوروبا التي ستستفيد من هذا الأنبوب بضمان تدفق موارد الطاقة، وليست ألمانيا وحدها. وقد وضعت ألمانيا شرطاً على روسيا بمواصلة العمل بالسيل الجنوبي الآتي عبر تركيا وستريم الأول الآتي عبر روسيا البيضاء فبولندا، وخصوصاً الأنبوب الثالث الآتي عبر أوكرانيا والذي يرتب أكلافاً عالية على روسيا كعائدات مقطوعة لأوكرانيا، وقبلت روسيا سعياً منها للتسهيل في بناء هذه المساحة الوسطية الأوروبية.

جاءت الحرب وأطاحت كل ذلك دفعة واحدة، ووجدت أوروبا نفسها تنساق في حملة هيستيرية شعواء ضد روسيا، وصولاً لحد التعبئة العنصرية ضد كل ما هو روسي، طلاباً وفناً وأدباً، وطالت العقوبات إقفال الأجواء الأوروبية أمام الطيران الروسي وإلغاء عقود تأجير أكثر من خمسمئة طائرة ايرباص، بالتوازي مع أكثر من مئتي طائرة بوينغ ألغى الأميركيون تأجيرها. وبدون حساب نسبة حجم الخسارة على من يصدر العقوبات ومن يتلقاها، لا تزال أوروبا في لحظة السكرة، فماذا عندما تأتي الفكرة؟

لا يبدو الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين راغباً بالدخول في سجال مع الأوروبيين، تاركاً للأيام أن تصب مزيداً من الماء البارد على الرؤوس الحامية، وتبدو القيادة الروسية صفاً واحداً بتركيز المواجهة مع الأميركيين، واعتبار الحرب حرباً أميركية روسية على أرض أوكرانيا، التي خذلت حكومتها الأوروبيين كما ضحت ببلدها لتقدم لواشنطن ساحة الاشتباك، وتبدو الرسالة التي يثق الرئيس بوتين بأن الأوروبيين سيقرأونها ويفهمونها جيداً، ولو بعد حين، هي أن واشنطن التي هربت من ساحة الحرب، وقرّرت أن تقاتل حتى آخر أوكراني، واذا اقتضى الأمر حتى آخر أوروبي، هي ليست واشنطن التي يتوهم الأوروبيون أنها تحميهم، وهم ان كانوا يتحدثون عن الحماية الأطلسية فيقصدون الحماية من روسيا، مهما ناوروا وداوروا، وان لم تكن تحمي في مثل هذه الحالة التي تدور الحرب فيها على الأرض الأوروبية مع روسيا، فمتى ستحمي وما جدوى الرهان على هذه الحماية؟ والشق الثاني من الرسالة هو ان واشنطن القوية والغنية والتي توهمهم بأنها الممسكة بالاقتصاد العالمي، قد تمسك بلعبته المصرفية التي لا يحتاجها الأوروبيون، رغم أنها تلزمهم بالعقوبات التي تفرضها حتى على الشركات الأوروبية، لكنها لا تمسك بقطاع الطاقة، ولا بموارده، ولا هي قادرة على ضمان استقرار أسواقه، ولا ضمان تدفق سلس لموارده الى أوروبا، وموارد الطاقة عصب الاقتصاد والنمو والاستقرار الاجتماعي في أوروبا، وها هي حرب الأسعار تشتعل فماذا عسى الأوروبيين يفعلون، وتجيب موسكو على السؤالين بالقول، إن قدر أوروبا بقوة الجغرافيا ان تضمن أمنها والتدفق السلس لموارد الطاقة الى أسواقها، من بوابة حتمية وحيدة هي البوابة الروسية، وفقاً لمعادلة “جارك القريب ولا أخوك الأخ البعيد”.

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الغرب بين الربح التكتيكي والخسارة الاستراتيجية

الإثنين 7 آذار 2022

 زياد حافظ

لا يمكننا فهم الأحداث الدموية في أوكرانيا إنْ لم نتوقف عند أسبابها وبطبيعة الحال عند تداعياتها. وهذا هو ما سنحاول مقاربته في عرضنا لأنّ نتائج ما حصل لن يكون منحصراً بالأطراف المتصارعة ولكن سيؤثّر بشكل واضح على موازين القوّة في العالم، وعلى ملامح النظام العالمي الجديد الذي سيلد من رحم المعارك القائمة على أرض أوكرانيا (وهي بالمناسبة استكمال للمعارك التي بدأت في المشرق العربي وشمال أفريقيا والجزيرة العربية). كما أنها ستؤثّر على مسار الحرب الكونية على سورية والصراع مع الكيان الصهيوني وبطبيعة الحال على الأوضاع في لبنان ومستقبله.

إنّ ما يجري في أوكرانيا ليست حرباً بالمعنى المألوف وإن كان طابعها عسكري. فهي أقرب لعملية عسكرية واسعة لتحقيق أهداف محدّدة وليس لتغيير معالم جغرافية ولا لتغيير نظام حكم، وإنْ كانت نتيجتها ستؤدّي إلى ذلك، ولا لسحق أو تدمير بنى تحتية وجيوش ومجتمع كما يفعل الكيان الصهيوني مع فلسطين وسورية ولبنان. ولفهم ما يجري يجب أن نقارب ولو بشكل سريع أسباب العملية العسكرية الواسعة.

منطلق المقاربة هو أن العملية العسكرية التي تقوم بها روسيا هي خطوة دفاعية وليست هجومية رغم الظاهرة لاحتلال بلد مجاور. والخطوة العسكرية أتت في سياق طويل بدأ بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي وتولي الحلف الأطلسي خلال التسعينات من القرن الماضي التوسّع شرقاً رغم الوعود «الشفهية» ولكن الموثّقة وفقاً لشهود أعيان من ان الأطلسي لن يتقدّم «اينشا» أي 2،54 سنتيمتر تجاه الشرق. فوجود قواعد عسكرية ومنصّات صاروخية في دول كانت ضمن حلف وارسو أصبح أمراً يهدّد مباشرة الأمن القومي الروسي. حذّر الرئيس الروسي تكراراً ومراراً منذ 2007 في خطاب شهير له في مؤتمر الأمن الذي عُقد في مدينة ميونيخ بأنّ القطبية الواحدة ليست مقبولة وأن الأمن في أوروبا أمن مشترك لا يمكن تجزئته. تجاهل الأطلسي، أيّ الولايات المتحدة، ذلك التحذير فقام بالثورات الملوّنة التي أطاحت بحكومات قريبة من موسكو. وفي مؤتمر بوخارست في 2008 كان القرار لدول الأطلسي بفتح باب انتساب جورجيا وأوكرانيا للحلف. ففي ذلك القرار تمّ زرع جذور الأزمة الحالية. كما حاولت جورجيا في نفس السنة والتي حصلت فيها «ثورة» ملوّنة اجتياح إقليم اوسييتيا فكان الردّ الروسي صاعقاً ومفاجئاً علماً أنه قبل ذلك كان قد قضى على تمرّد الشيشان.

ردّ روسي غير متوقّع

لم يتوقع الأطلسي قوّة الرد الروسي وفعّاليته ولم يكترث لذلك واعتبره انتكاسة يمكن التعويض عنها عبر الانقلاب الذي دفعت به في أوكرانيا 2014 والاتيان بحكومة شديدة العداء لروسيا تسيطر عليها اقلّية نيو نازية. ثم حاول الأطلسي في أواخر 2021 تغيير النظام في بلاروسيا وفي 2022 تكرار السيناريو في كازاخستان لاستكمال محاصرة روسيا فنجحت الأخيرة بوأد التمرّد والقضاء عليه في البلدين بسرعة فائقة أذهلت العالم. لكن الردّ الأميركي/ الأطلسي على مطلب روسيا بتحييد أوكرانيا وعدم ضمّها للحلف الأطلسي كان التجاهل المطلق وعدم الاكتراث. ثم جاء تصريح الرئيس الأوكراني بضرورة تزويد أوكرانيا بسلاح نووي. فكانت بمثابة الشعرة التي كسرت ظهر البعير. لذلك كان الهجوم «الدفاعي» الذي بدأ في 25 شباط/ فبراير 2022 وما زال قائماً عند إعداد هذه المقاربة.

لم تضع العملية العسكرية الروسية الواسعة في أوكرانيا أوزارها لكن يمكننا أن نستخلص بعض العبر التي ستكون أساسية لفهم المستقبل العالمي. فأولى هذه العبر هي أنّ الولايات المتحدة والحلف الأطلسي والاتحاد الأوروبي نجحا في جرّ روسيا إلى مواجهة عسكرية في أوكرانيا مع القوّات المسلّحة الأوكرانية والكتائب النيونازية التي تسيطر على مقدّرات البلاد. وهذا النجاح التكتيكي الطابع سيكون له تداعيات استراتيجية سلبية كما سنشرحها لاحقاً.

ثاني النجاحات هي ضرب التقارب الأوروبي الروسي بشكل عام ومنع التقارب الروسي الألماني عبر تجميد تشغيل خط سيل الغاز الشمالي الثاني (نورستريم 2). والمعلوم أنّ روسيا تزوّد ألمانيا وأوروبا بحوالي من 40 بالمائة من احتياجاتها في الغاز لكن مع تعثّر خط الغاز الذي يمرّ بأوكرانيا أصبحت ألمانيا وأوروبا مكشوفة بشكل كبير تجاه الغاز. ونذكّر هنا أن خطا نورستريم 2 تمّ بناؤه بناء على طلب ألمانيا بعد الانقلاب الذي حصل في أوكرانيا سنة 2014. لذلك يصبح إقفال ذلك الخط نجاحاً تكتيكياً آخر لكن مردوده الاستراتيجي سيكون كارثياً على المانيا وأوروبا التابعة للولايات المتحدة.

ثالث النجاحات هو فرض إجراءات تحاصر روسيا مالياً واقتصادياً لعزلها عن العالم ولإخضاعها بغية قلب النظام القائم واستيلاد حكومة تابعة للغرب تمهيداً لاستيلاب الثروات الاقتصادية الضخمة الموجودة في روسيا. لكن هذا النجاح التكتيكي في الحصار سيكون كارثياً على الولايات المتحدة حيث ينذر بتسريع نهاية هيمنة الدولار في التداول العالمي.

رابع النجاحات هو السيطرة على السردية الإعلامية بشكل مطلق في الدول الغربية. لكن بالمقابل كرّس سقوط الاعلام المهيمن الذي لم ينقل وقائع العملية العسكرية بشكل صحيح بل اكتفى بسرد الأكاذيب والتضليل والتلفيق ما أنهى مصداقيته في الولايات المتحدة حيث الاعلام الموازي اكتسب شرعية متنامية في معركة «المصداقية».

نكتفي بهذه «النجاحات» التي تستدعي تدقيقاً لمعرفة يقينها واستخلاص العبر.

هذه المقاربة السريعة لخلفية وسياق العملية العسكرية في أوكرانيا كانت ضرورية لفهم الموقف الروسي الدفاعي. فتجاهل المطلب الروسي من قبل الأطلسي وخاصة من الولايات المتحدة سواء كان متعمّداً لأسباب عقائدية أو نتيجة عنجهية وغرور هو سبب العملية. هناك من يعتبر أنّ التجاهل كان متعمّداً لجرّ روسيا إلى «المستنقع» الأوكراني واستنزافها عسكرياً وفرض إجراءات اقتصادية قاسية هدفها عزل روسيا وإحداث اضطرابات في روسيا تتوّج بانقلاب على الرئيس بوتين والإطاحة به وتغيير النظام والإتيان بنظام شبيه بالنظام الذي كان قائماً في ولاية بوريس يلتسين الذي سيسهّل الاستيلاء على الثروات الروسية وتفكيك روسيا. ففي عقيدة المحافظين الجدد والمتدخلين الليبراليين المهيمنين على القرار السياسي الخارجي الأميركي الهدف هو إنهاء روسيا كمنافس محتمل للهيمنة الأميركية في العالم.

أهداف غربية عديدة لكن بلا نتيجة!

لكن ما هي النتيجة حالياً ومستقبلياً للموقف الغربي (الأطلسي والأميركي) من جرّاء الإجراءات التي اتخذها تجاه روسيا؟

من الواضح انّ الولايات المتحدة وسائر دول الحلف الأطلسي لن يتدخلوا عسكرياً بشكل مباشر بل سيكتفون بالحصار الإعلامي أولاً والدبلوماسي ثانياً، والاقتصادي والمالي ثالثاً، إضافة إلى تمويل عمليات التخريب في أوكرانيا وربما في روسيا عبر شبكات من العملاء. وهذا دليل على الضعف العسكري وفقدان القدرة على تحمّل ضريبة الدم فلذلك يلجأ الغرب إلى هدر دم الآخر بما فيه الدم الأوكراني كما فعل في سورية.

فعلى الصعيد الإعلامي استطاعت الولايات المتحدة وحلفاؤها السيطرة الكاملة على السردية التي يفرضونها على الجمهور الغربي عبر منع المنصات والمنابر لمن يخالف السردية. كما انّ السردية مبنية على الأكاذيب التي يُمنع تفنيدها تساهم في تعميق سوء التفاهم بين الشعوب بل في تعميق الكراهية بين الشرق والغرب. ونعتقد انّ الرقابة المفروضة من قبل المراجع الغربية ومنع المنصات الناقدة هي ظاهرة ضعف وليست ظاهرة قوة كما أنها ظاهرة تؤكّد فقدان الحجة والبرهان. فمن تابع روايات المراسلين الأجانب في أوكرانيا لصالح وسائل الإعلام الغربية يجد أنّ مضمون الرواية مخالف للحقيقة. فسردية «النجاحات» العسكرية الأوكرانية ضدّ الجيش الروسي لا تترجم بدلائل مادية. كما أنّ تلك الوسائل وبشكل جماعي لم تبرز أيّ خارطة للواقع الميداني. فأين توجد القوّات المتصارعة غير معروف في وسائل الإعلام الغربية بينما في وسائل الإعلام الموازي وغير المهيمن نرى خرائط عن التحرّك والتقدّم.

لكن في آخر المطاف الجمهور العام الذي لا يستثمر وقته في البحث عن الحقيقة لا يعرف فعلياً أين أصبحت الأمور. والفطرة الموجودة عند الجمهور الغربي وخاصة في الولايات المتحدة جعلته يشكّك في ما يبثّه الاعلام المهيمن. لذلك لا نجد حتى الساعة موجات من الاحتجاجات ضدّ «الاحتلال» الروسي لأوكرانيا دون أن يعني ذلك التأييد لروسيا وعمليتها العسكرية. وهذه نقطة مهمة يجب التوقف عندها لأنّ في المستقبل القريب ستجد الحكومات الغربية صعوبة كبيرة في تسويق سياسات غير مقبولة لدى الجمهور العام سواء على صعيد الصراع في أوكرانيا وغير أوكرانيا وعلى صعيد مختلف السياسات الداخلية عندما تنكشف حقيقة الوقائع الميدانية والسياسية. فذاكرة الكذب حول سلاح الدمار الشامل في العراق واحتلال العراق وما نتج من مآسٍ ما زال في ذاكرة الجمهور العام.

هذه السيطرة على السردية الإعلامية لم تستطع أن تخفي العنصرية الغربية تجاه الشعوب السمراء والصفراء والسوداء. فـ «زلّات اللسان» للمراسلين الأجانب حول «بيضوية البشرة وزرقاوية العيون» للاجئين الأوكرانيين الفارين من ساحات الاشتباكات والتركيز على «مسيحيّتهم» و»تمدّنهم النسبي» كشف العنصرية الغربية تجاه الشرق. هذا في وسائل الإعلام المهيمن فما بالك في ما ينشر على وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي؟! لم يكن ذلك في الحسبان ومن الصعب تصوّر ما يمكن أن يفعله ذلك الإعلام لتصحيح الصورة عنه. المشكلة أو حتى المصيبة التي تعصف بالنخب الحاكمة في الغرب وخاصة في الولايات المتحدة والمملكة المتحدة أنها أصبحت منقطعة عن الواقع. فهي أصبحت تصدّق الأكاذيب التي أطلقتها وتبني سياساتها ومواقفها من منطلقات عقائدية ورغبوية منقطعة عن التطوّرات الميدانية.

الخطورة في الموقف الغربي هو التحوّل السريع من مواجهة سياسية مع خصم أيّ روسيا إلى محاولة ألغاء مجتمع وثقافة برمّتها. فطبيعة الإجراءات التي اتخذها الغرب ليست لمواجهة الرئيس الروسي وسياساته بل لإلغاء روسيا. فهذا هو الدافع العقائدي الذي يحكم النخب الحاكمة في الغرب وبالتالي تحويل الصراع السياسي على النفوذ إلى صراع وجودي يحمل في طيّاته كافة الاحتمالات النافية للوجود كالحرب النووية. فعندما سئل وزير الخارجية لافروف عن احتمال قيام حرب عالمية ثالثة نووية أجاب «اسألوا بايدن»! لكن موازين القوّة الفعلية على الأرض مختلفة كلّياً عن التقديرات الرغبوية في المحافل الدولية وبالتالي سنشهد في الأسابيع المقبلة وقائع على الأرض لم تكن في الحسبان الغربي.

المناعة الاقتصادية الروسية كبيرة جداً

أما الإجراءات الاقتصادية والمالية فهي سلاح ذو حدّين. الرهان الغربي هو تردّي الأوضاع الاقتصادية في روسيا لخلق بيئة مضطربة تزيد من النقمة على الحكم وتؤدّي إلى ثورات للإطاحة بالنظام والرئيس. ما يغيب عن بال المخطّطين أن القيادة الروسية كانت منذ 2008 تخطّط للحظة المواجهة. لسنا هنا في إطار سرد الخطوات التي أقدمت عليها طيلة السنوات الماضية بل نكتفي بالقول إنّ المناعة الروسية في القطاعات الاقتصادية والمالية الاستراتيجية كبيرة جداً بسبب البدائل التي أقامتها لمواجهة الحصار الاقتصادي والمالي. بل كلاعب الجودو استطاعت القيادة الروسية استعمال قوة الخصم ضده. فالإجراءات المالية والاقتصادية التي اتخذها الغرب تجاه روسيا تظهر مدى انكشاف تلك الاقتصادات تجاه روسيا بما فيها الولايات المتحدة وإنْ كانت بدرجات متفاوتة من الانكشاف.

قراءتنا للعقوبات المفروضة من قبل الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها هي أنها موجّهة فعلياً ضدّ أوروبا الغربية التي كانت تظهر ملامح التململ من الإملاءات الأميركية. فهذه العقوبات فرضت وحدة موقف أوروبية قصرية قد تطيح بأيّ تطلّع استقلالي على المدى القصير. لكن معظم الحكومات الأوروبية التي رضخت للولايات المتحدة تواجه استحقاقات انتخابية في وضع اقتصادي متردّ أصلاً ويزداد تردّياً بسبب العقوبات. فعلى سبيل المثال، العقوبات على روسيا كتوقيف العمل بالسيل الغاز الشمالي الثاني (نور ستريم 2) سيؤدّي إلى أزمة طاقة تضرب البنية الاقتصادية الصناعية الألمانية وتزيد من كلفة التدفئة أضعافاً مما كانت عليها. وهذه قضايا تشكل محور الصراع السياسي الداخلي. فأزمة الطاقة التي بدأت تجتاح أوروبا وارتفاع كلفتها ترافقها أزمة ارتفاع المواد الغذائية. والانكماش الاقتصادي الذي دخلت فيه قد يتحوّل إلى كساد كبير. فالكساد في اقتصاد منتج هو انخفاض مستوى الإنفاق الاستهلاكي الذي يخفّض الطلب الفعلي ويؤدّي إلى تفاقم البطالة فإلى تراجع في الدخل فإلى المزيد من تراجع في الإنفاق الاستهلاكي ليصل بفعل المكرّر الاقتصادي (economic multiplier) إلى حالة جمود فركود لها ارتدادات سياسية واجتماعية قد تقلب الطاولة على رؤوس النخب الحاكمة.

أما في الدول الريعية التي تستورد معظم حاجياتها فارتفاع الأسعار يؤدّي إلى نقمة اجتماعية. وما يزيد الطين بلّة بالنسبة لدول مثل المانيا وفرنسا وإيطاليا التي ما زالت تحافظ على قاعدة إنتاجية صناعية هو فقدان قدراتها التنافسية بسبب ارتفاع كلفة الإنتاج ما سيجعّلها تتخلّى عن القاعدة الصناعية لتدخل في مرحلة ما بعد الصناعة فإلى المزيد من الانكشاف تجاه الدول المصنّعة الصاعدة كالصين والهند ودول أميركا اللاتينية. فإذا كان هدف الغرب بقيادة الولايات المتحدة محاصرة الصين فإنّ الإجراءات التي اعتمدها تجاه روسيا وبشكل غير مباشر تجاه أوروبا ستكون لمصلحة الصين! هذا ما نقصده بالربح التكتيكي القصير المدى الذي يصبح خسارة استراتيجية طويلة المدى!

ضرب ديمومة النظام المالي

من جهة أخرى، فإنّ قرار إخراج روسيا من منظومة «سويفت» ومعاقبة عدد من المصارف الروسية وأهم من كل ذلك تجميد أصول وأموال المصرف المركزي الروسي فإنّ ذلك يضرب في الصميم ديمومة النظام المالي الذي بحاجة إلى استقلال واستقرار بعيداً عن التقلّبات السياسية. كما أنّ مصداقية التعامل مع المراكز المالية الغربية وخاصة الأميركية انتهت إلى غير رجعة. فمن هي الدولة التي ستبقى مطمئنة على أصولها وموجوداتها المالية تحت السيطرة الأميركية والغربية؟ هذا سيؤدّي حتماً إلى التسريع في نظام مدفوعات مالي دولي بديل وخارج عن سيطرة الولايات المتحدة ومنظومتها المالية. توجد الان منظومات موازية ل «سويفت» تعود للصين كنظام «سي أي بي أس (CIPS)، ولروسيا في نظام اس أف بي أس (SFPS)، وللهند في نظام أس أف أم أس (SFMS). الخطر المباشر هو تنامي المنظومة الصينية كما أشار عدد من الخبراء كدافيد برانكاسيو وجنيفر باك وهما خبراء ماليين دوليين. ونضيف ماذا إذا أقدمت كل من الصين والهند وروسيا على تشبيك أنظمتها؟ فلا يجب أن ننسى أن الكتلة البشرية والجغرافية التي تمثّلها هذه الدول الثلاث لها وزنها الاقتصادي في العالم يصعب تجاهله في الحد الأدنى بل هو مؤثر بشكل كبير على مصالح اقتصادات العالم الغربي. ما لفت نظرنا أن قرار إخراج روسيا من منظومة «سويفت» حذّرت منه المؤسسات المالية الأميركية كالاحتياط الاتحادي والمؤسسات الكبرى كغولدمان ساكس وبلومبرغ لأنّ ذلك سيسرّع في تنامي الأنظمة المنافسة بما فيه الشبكات العنكبوتية المالي. والمعلومات الأولية تفيد أنها بدأت فعليا. لكن السياسة أقوى من الاعتبارات الاقتصادية والمالية ما يؤكّد مقولتنا أن السياسة هي المحرّك الأساسي وأنّ الاقتصاد ليس إلاّ وجها للسياسة ولكن بلغة الأرقام.

من تداعيات الإجراءات العقابية على روسيا هو تسريع التخلّي عن الدولار في الدول المنافسة الرئيسية كالصين وروسيا وستلحقها الهند. كما سيتنامى تخفيض الاحتياطات النقدية بالدولار بعدما أقدمت الولايات المتحدة على تجميد أو السطو على الأصول المالية للمصارف المركزية. لا ننسى كيف تمّ الاستيلاء على أموال إيران بعد الثورة الإسلامية ولا على أموال ليبيا ومؤخرا على أموال أفغانستان. فانخفاض الطلب على الدولار عالمياً سيفقد الولايات المتحدة سلاحاً أساسياً استخدمته في تمويل حروبها على شعوب ودول العالم.

في الخلاصة، نستطيع أن نقول إنّ النجاحات التي حققتها الولايات المتحدة على صعيد مواجهة روسيا سترتدّ على حلفائها في الدرجة الأولى كما سيصيبها ارتدادات ذلك. لكن سنفصّل كلّ ذلك في مقاربة منفصلة لاحقة لضيق المساحة المتاحة الآن.

*باحث وكاتب اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي وعضو الهيئة التأسيسية للمنتدى الاقتصادي والاجتماعي

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The importance of the Russian peacekeeping operation in Ukraine

March 02, 2022

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By Batko Milacic

Ukraine is the core of the formation of the Russian state and nation. And much more. In modern circumstances, the question of Ukraine is a question of Russia’s survival. Ukraine is the country that decides on Russia’s destiny because it is in the lobby of the Kremlin. In the modern conditions of modern weapons, it is a springboard for the dismemberment of Russia. These plans have existed for a long time and are even in the scientific literature.

The main goals of the Russian peacekeeping operation are the protection of the Russian people in Ukraine, Ukraine’s commitment to neutrality, and the decentralization of the state in order to prevent an anti-Russian policy in the future in Kiev. Also, President Putin made it clear – that one of the goals is to denazify Ukraine.

For years, we have witnessed the strengthening of neo-Nazi forces in Ukraine, and it is not appropriate for a country like Russia, which has a fight against Nazism in its history, to have a country in its neighborhood that is pro-Nazi. And Ukraine was like that. And imagine what the impact of Ukraine would be if it remained on that course as Russia’s neighbor. The geopolitical goals are recognized in the geopolitics of Russia written in the books, and that is to expel the United States from Eurasia as a whole. That seems like a distant and impossible goal to us, but with the victory in the Second World War, the United States occupied the macro-bridgehead in Europe and after the Cold War, they tried to expand it. They succeeded in that after the fall of the Berlin Wall and reached the borders of Russia itself – Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. Now they are trying to expand that bridgehead even more. The Russians believe that the United States is a foreign body on the territory of Eurasia, under the formula “why would a non-Eurasian power rule Eurasia, where there is one Russia, China, India but also Germany and France.

So goals can be much longer term.

On the other hand, for US, this is a matter of confirming credibility. After several defeats, Washington is facing a new challenge – in Ukraine itself. If Russia succeeds, the United States will be in a cycle of defeat.

Many countries will try to be neutral and give general commitments, their generalized words. But China, like any great power, says one thing – that the security interests of Russia, like any other state, must be respected. In translation, that NATO’s expansion to the east must be stopped.

After independence, Ukraine insisted on decommunization. From the demolition of the monuments, to the change of its orientation and policy. But only to those limits to stay within its borders which were determined by the – communists!

The situation is similar to the Western Balkans, where the Yugoslav communists did the same thing – established inconsistent borders. This has been a problem in the post-Yugoslav space for three decades. And the same is done in the former Soviet Union.

That ideology was on the line to make Russia as weak as possible, to deprive it of as much territory and economic resources as possible, to bring it into a bad geostrategic position in the sense that all its exits to the seas would be called into question. That is how Russia experienced the loss of Crimea and Sevastopol, which was of vital importance for Russia, during the Khrushchev era.

So, if Ukraine wants decommunization – now Russia will not go partially but to the end, that is a strong message from Russia president. It can also be interpreted in the Balkan way.

Crimea is something that Russia fought bloodily for. Sevastopol is an immeasurably important base. Imagine that Crimea remained in Ukraine and that with Ukraine’s entry into NATO, Crimea became a NATO base. The question is whether the West would then recognize Russia even as a regional power.

This crisis will also hit the European Union hard. In the long run, the EU will be in immeasurable damage. It has no energy and gas. Even before the war crisis, Europe was in an energy crisis. Imagine the crisis it will be in now.

Nord Stream 1 and 2 were built with a strong geopolitical connotation. If it weren’t for that, if there wasn’t a lot of geopolitics, they would have been built by land through the Baltic republics to Germany. But geopolitical interest was recognized. And that was recognized by Germany, not Russia.

The threat is that the gas pipeline routes will be cut if they go through the countries that Donald Rumsveld said were the “new Europe”.

It was in Germany’s interest to connect directly with Russia. This caused great fear in US and the Atlantic countries, because they are afraid of the Moscow-Berlin axis. They are afraid of German discipline and capital on the one hand, and Russian resources, human values and the territory on the other.

If an axis is made here, then Atlantic countries have nothing to look for in Europe. That is why the first American reaction was to disrupt the gas pipelines in all possible ways, to close them if necessary. But, without those gas pipelines, Europe, and primarily Germany, would have nothing to expect.

We are far from the Third World War, but the geopolitical repackaging of the world is underway. It is not at its beginning. It started with the empowerment of China, and then Russia. Russia has shown that it will not tolerate the presence of Washington`s vassals in its environment, which will not respect Russian geopolitical interests, but will pursue a pro-Washington policy.

It is enough to imagine that the same thing that US is doing in Ukraine, that Russia is doing in Canada. Hypothetically, imagine that Canada is an anti-American country-exponent of Russia. Washington’s reactions would be lightning fast. It is enough to remember the Cuban crisis.

The Russian message is clear. The world must be repackaged and neoclassical spheres of interest must be formed. Primarily on the Eurasian mainland. All with the aim of establishing long-term peace and prosperity

Author: Batko Milacic

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

March 02, 2022

Source

By Thorsten J. Pattberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

February 28, 2022

Source

By Michael Hudson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia’s campaign against Ukraine: Putin stands up to the world

February 25, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen 

Mohamad Zreik 

The international community looks with caution at the heated situation between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia’s Campaign against Ukraine: Putin Stands Up To the World

On Thursday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the start of a large-scale military action in Ukraine’s Donbas. According to former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Russian soldiers initiated a large military operation in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Russian troops are reportedly prepared to enter into Ukraine from the Crimean Peninsula. A tense border between Ukraine and Russia has been developing for weeks. The US claims Russian President Vladimir Putin planned to attack Ukraine long ago.

Russia-Ukraine tensions date back to the “Middle Ages”. Both Russia and Belarus have roots in the East Slavic kingdom of Kievan Rus’, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Despite their common ancestors, these two countries developed independent languages and civilizations. So while Ukraine couldn’t establish itself, Russia expanded into an empire. Since 1917, when Russia’s empire crumbled, a large section of what is now Ukraine was forcefully reoccupied by Soviet Russia.

Even though Ukraine and Belarus helped overthrow Soviet domination in December 1991, Moscow tried to maintain its status by creating the Commonwealth of Independent States. The Kremlin thought it could influence Ukraine by supplying cheap gas. While Russia and Belarus have a close relationship, Ukraine has traditionally looked west. Contrary to popular belief, Russia was not unhappy with the Ukrainian government’s pro-Western stance in the 1990s since Moscow kept mute, the West did not strive to integrate Ukraine, and the Russian economy was struggling.

Russia was obsessed with the Chechnya conflict. Moscow officially recognized Ukraine’s borders and Crimea’s Russian-speaking population in 1997. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, Ukraine held the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal. They worked together to denuclearize Ukraine in exchange for security guarantees against a potential Russian attack. Kiev handed Russia hundreds of nukes. Moscow and Kiev had their first real diplomatic crisis under Putin. Vladimir Putin began building a dam in the Kerch Strait in Kosa Tusla in 2003.

When the Russian and Ukrainian presidents met, they addressed the issue by agreeing to redraw the country’s borders. When the dam project was stalled, the two countries’ ties began to erode. As a result of the “Orange Revolution,” Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western politician, defeated Viktor Yanukovych in the 2004 Ukrainian presidential elections. To Ukraine’s surprise, Russia cut off gas supply twice in 2006 and 2009.

The Bush administration’s aim to integrate Ukraine and Georgia into NATO and accept their membership through an initial preparation program in 2008 was greeted with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rejection.” Bush’s proposal was foiled by France and Germany, and while Ukraine and Georgia joined NATO during the Bucharest summit, no timeframe was set. Because joining NATO took longer than expected, Ukraine sought a partnership with the EU.

In the summer of 2013, Moscow placed heavy economic sanctions on Kiev and restricted imports. In light of this, the Yanukovych government suspended the pact, sparking a wave of protests. He was detained in Russia in February, and Russia annexes Crimea. A political vacuum in Kiev allowed Moscow to seize Crimea in March 2014, marking the start of an unofficial war. So when Donetsk and Luhansk declared themselves people’s republics, Russian paramilitary forces joined the fight. After the May 2014 presidential elections, the Kiev administration started a major military operation dubbed the “War on Terror.”

The “Normandy Format” was also created at a June 2014 meeting between newly elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day landings. In September, a Minsk peace agreement ended hostilities on a larger front by defeating Ukrainian military elements in Ilovaisk, east Donetsk. A proxy war rages in Donbas and in early 2015 the rebels began an onslaught on Kiev, supported by Russian forces without identification, which Moscow denied. Kiev alleges Russian soldiers assisted the offensive.

The attack on Debaltseve, which compelled the Ukrainian army to leave in a manner close to escape, cost the Ukrainian forces a second loss. Although its conditions have not yet been fully implemented, “Minsk 2” was agreed upon under Western auspices at the time. In the fall of 2019, the two warring sides succeeded in evacuating forces from many battle zones; but no meetings since the December 2019 Normandy conference in Paris. Seeing Ukraine’s current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, would be a waste of time for Putin.

Since December 2021, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has publicly urged the US not to allow Ukraine’s NATO membership or military assistance. President Putin is deeply disturbed by the thought of Ukraine joining NATO. According to Chapter V of the “NATO” pact, any attack on a NATO member constitutes an attack on all 27 members, putting Russia in direct confrontation with the US, UK, and France.

First, in the spring of 2021, Putin gathered military people and equipment along the Ukrainian border, attracting the attention of the US, which sought to meet with Putin and Vice President Biden. Meanwhile, Putin’s views on the US have shifted dramatically, especially after the haphazard US military departure from Afghanistan and the division that followed the previous presidential elections, which Moscow regards as proof of American weakness. Vladimir Putin sees the West as fundamentally split on the role of the United States, and President Biden is still working to mend the transatlantic partnership after the level of distrust established under former US President Donald Trump’s term. In addition, France was surprised by Biden’s nuclear submarine deal with the UK and Australia.

Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO raised concerns about a Western military presence on Russia’s borders. Because, as Putin stated, “we must make this totally definite,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov says Russia “needs a legally binding promise” that NATO would not expand. Most Donbas residents speak Russian; hence 720,000 of the almost 3.5 million residents have Russian passports. In eastern Ukraine, the Russian government has long aided and backed Ukrainian insurgents.

In mid-week polls, Donbas residents favored the Russian government. The next day, the Donetsk and Luhansk parliaments agreed to protect any Russian military operation in eastern Ukraine if Russia recognized the two territories. Averting a financial catastrophe in Europe by blocking “Nord Stream 2,” the gas pipeline linking Russia to Germany and then to the rest of Europe, Western nations may impose pressure on Moscow.

Russia began massing soldiers along the Ukrainian border in November. In his address on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged separatist-controlled areas of Ukraine’s two regions as separate entities. Putin says Ukraine has no history and its leaders are corrupt. When the Russian army topped 100,000 soldiers on February 15, a spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry claimed certain army units “had already started placing their equipment onto trains and wagons; today they will start returning.” After Russia’s statement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance “constantly moves forces forward and backward.” The alliance’s forces have always moved right, left, forward, and backward. Russian military capabilities have progressively increased along Ukraine’s borders in recent months.

The international community looks with caution at the heated situation between Russia and Ukraine. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, as well as China, have called for calm and dialogue. On the other hand, the Russian President considers that this decision was inevitable and Russia is achieving its strategic goals in Ukraine.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

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