US Sanctions: Shooting Blanks Against the Resiliency of Targeted Nations

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, October 27, 2020

As explained many times before, Security Council members alone may legally impose sanctions on nations, entities and individuals.

When used by countries against others, they breach the UN Charter, how the US, NATO and Israel operate time and again.

The Charter’s Article II mandates all member states to “settle…disputes” according to the rule of law.

US/Western sanctions are weapons of war by other means — used to pressure, bully and terrorize targeted nations into submission.

Though widely used, most often they fail to achieve intended objectives.

US sanctions war and other hostile actions against Cuba for 60 years, Iran for 40 years, Venezuela for 20 years, and against countless other nations largely shot blanks.

Most often, they’re counterproductive.

Hardships imposed on people in targeted nations fuel anti-US sentiment — blaming Washington, not their governments, for what they endure.

Under international law, nations are prohibited from intervening in the internal affairs of others.

Military action against an adversary is only legal in self-defense if attacked — never preemptively for any reasons.

Hardcore US bipartisan policy targets all independent nations unwilling to subordinate their sovereign rights to its interests.

That’s what US hostility toward China, Russia, Iran, and other targeted countries is all about.

Since WW II, no nations threatened the US militarily or politically.

Like all other empires in world history now gone, a similar fate awaits the US — because of its counterproductive geopolitical policies, over time making more enemies than allies, weakening, not strengthening, the state.

Last week in response to US sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the following:

“(T)his unfriendly and destructive policy of constant introduction of various restrictions in relation to us, our economic operators, our economy, unfortunately, this has already become an integral part of unfair competition, undisguised hostile takeover competition on the part of Washington.”

Last month, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova slammed the US, saying:

“We condemn (US) calls for forging a certain coalition against the pipeline, wherein German and other companies have already made multi-billion dollar investments.”

In response to EU sanctions on Russia over the Navalny novichok poisoning hoax, its Foreign Ministry demanded to know “who is behind the anti-Russian provocation,” adding:

“In response, we get aggressive rhetoric and outright manipulation of the facts” — by the EU in cahoots with the US.

Sergey Lavrov slammed Berlin for being in breach of its international obligations for failing to provide Moscow with information it claims to have about the Navalny incident — because none exists.

In mid-October, protesters outside the US embassy in London accused Washington of attempting to “strangle” Cuba’s economy by a virtual blockade on the island state.

The so-called Rock Around The Blockade solidarity campaign called for breaking the illegal action, chanting “Cuba si! Yankee no! Abajo el bloqueo/Down with the blockade!”

Despite annual UN General Assembly measures against US blockade of the island state, it’s been in place for decades without success because of Cuban resiliency.

Trump regime Office of Foreign Assets Control threatened to sue “anyone who trades with Cuba” or has property in the country.

Despite decades of US war on Cuba by other means, aiming to regain imperial control over the island state, policies of Republicans and Dems consistently failed.

US war on China by sanctions and other means widens the breach between both countries.US Sanctions: Weapons of War by Other Means on Targeted Nations

On October 21 in a Foreign Affairs article titled “How China Threatens American Democracy” (sic), Trump regime national security advisor Robert  O’Brien invented nonexistent threats.

Instead of fostering productive bilateral relations with all nations, policies of both right wings of the US one-party state go the other way against nations Washington doesn’t control — how the scourge of imperialism operates.

China fosters cooperative relations with other nations, threatening none — polar opposite longstanding US policy, seeking dominance over planet earth, its resources and populations.

Undeclared US initiated Cold War against China, Russia, and other targeted nations threatens to turn hot by accident or design — especially in East Asia, the Middle East, and near Russia’s borders.

On Sunday, O’Brien expressed frustration, saying:

“One of the problems that we have faced with both Iran and Russia is that we now have so many sanctions against these countries that we have very little (opportunity) to do anything about it,” adding:

“But we are looking at all possible deterrent measures that we can apply to these countries, as well as others…”

Last Thursday, the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions on Iran’s IRGC, its Quds Force, and Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute “for having directly or indirectly engaged in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in foreign interference” in US November 3 elections.

Fact: Throughout US history, no evidence showed that any foreign nations ever interfered in its electoral process — a US specialty against scores of nations throughout the post-WW II period.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh slammed the hostile action, saying:

Its government “strong(ly) reject(s) baseless and false claims” by the US, adding:

“(I)t makes no difference for Iran who wins the US election.”

On core domestic and foreign policy issues, both right wings of the US one-party state operate largely the same way.

Rare exceptions prove the rule.

On Monday, Pompeo announced more illegal sanctions on Iran — part of longstanding US war on the country by other means.

Tehran’s “Ministry of Petroleum and Minister of Petroleum, the National Iranian Oil Company, the National Iranian Tanker Company, and 21 other individuals, entities, and vessels” were targeted for unjustifiable reasons.

Iran, its ruling authorities, and entities foster cooperative relations with other countries — hostile actions toward none, except in self-defense if attacked, the legal right of all nations.

US imperial policy targets all countries, entities and individuals not subservient to its rage to rule the world unchallenged.

US maximum pressure on Iran and other nations is all about wanting them transformed into vassal states.

Separately on Monday, convicted felon/US envoy for regime change in Iran and Venezuela Elliott Abrams said the following:

“The transfer of long-range missiles from Iran to Venezuela is not acceptable to the United States and will not be tolerated or permitted,” adding:

“We will make every effort to stop shipments of long-range missiles, and if somehow they get to Venezuela they will be eliminated there.”

Was the above threat a possible US declaration of hot war on Venezuela, on Iran as well?

Last week, Pompeo announced new US sanctions on “the State Research Center of the Russian Federation FGUP Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM).”

He falsely claimed the research institute conducts “malware attacks (that threaten) cybersecurity and critical infrastructure (sic).”

No evidence was cited because none exists, including alleged Russian malware against “a petrochemical plant in the Middle East,” along with “scann(ing) and prob(ing) US facilities.”

Pompeo falsely accused Russia of “engag(ing) in dangerous and malicious activities that threaten the security of the United States and our allies (sic).”

The above is what the US and its imperial partners do time and again — falsely blaming others for their own high crimes.

The Trump regime also imposed unlawful sanctions on Iran for supplying Venezuela with gasoline — the legal right of both nations to conduct bilateral trade relations.

Last month, former Trump regime acting DNI Richard Grenell met secretly with Venezuelan Vice President for Communications Jorge Rodriguez in Mexico, according to Bloomberg News.

It was a futile attempt to get President Maduro to step down ahead of US November 3 elections, Trump seeking a foreign policy success to tout that failed.

US war on Venezuela by other means, notably by Trump, imposed great hardships on its people alone — failing to achieve regime change.

US-designated puppet-in-waiting Guaido’s involvement in the scheme made him widely despised by the vast majority of Venezuelans.

Separately, Russia’s US embassy responded to unacceptable tightening of visas for its journalists by the Trump regime, creating “artificial barriers (that impede) their normal work,” adding:

“In particular, the limitation of the period of stay for foreign media employees to 240 days (with the possibility of extension up to 480 days) will not allow them to consistently cover local events.”

Journalists “will have to leave the United States for a considerable time to obtain a new visa.”

This new policy flies in the face of what “freedom of speech and equal access to information” is supposed to be all about.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova slammed US accusations of alleged Moscow cybersecurity threats, calling them “unfounded,” adding:

“(T)his time (the US outdid itself) in anti-Russia rhetoric with extremely harsh statements occasionally bordering on bizarre rudeness.”

“Such an approach will not benefit the State Department and is indicative of the fact that they treat the culture and norms of state-to-state communication with disdain.”

Businessman Trump sought improved relations with Russia — the aim thwarted by surrounding himself with Russophobic hardliners.

The same holds for US hostility toward China, Iran, and other countries on its target list for regime change.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from podur.orgThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2020

قراءة في الموقف الروسي: مقابلة سيرغي لافروف

زياد حافظ

إذا كان قرار الصين على لسان رئيسها بأنّ الصين ستردّ على الاستفزازات الأميركية قراراً لافتاً للنظر وخارجاً عن مألوف الدبلوماسية الصينية التقليدية الهادئة، فإنّ أهمية التصريح لا تكمن فقط في أنه صادر عن قوّة عظمى وعظيمة في آن واحد، بل لأنه يعبّر عن موقف لمحور أصبح يملأ الفراغ الدولي الذي يسبّبه التراجع الاستراتيجي للغرب، بشكل عام، وللولايات المتحدة بشكل خاص. والأهمّ من كلّ ذلك هو سقوط نظرية ملكية الولايات المتحدة لأوراق اللعبة بنسبة 99 في المئة. وما يعزّز ذلك التحوّل هو ما أتى به وزير خارجية الاتحاد الروسي سيرغي لافروف في مقابلة طويلة ومثيرة لراديو «سبوتنيك» منذ بضعة أيام شرح فيها بصراحة موقف روسيا من كافة القضايا الساخنة في العالم.

من يطلّع على نصّ المقابلة يشعر بأنّ العالم في موقع جديد وأنّ «الفعل» أصبح خارج إطار التحكّم للغرب وللولايات المتحدة حيث أصبحوا في موقع «ردّ الفعل». وما يميّز المقابلة تواضع اللهجة في إبراز عمق الرؤية الروسية للعالم ومرتكزاتها. فهناك مزيج من المرتكزات المبدئية والواقعية الذرائعية، أيّ البراغماتية، في المقاربة الروسية للعالم. فهي تعلن بوضوح أنّ روسيا مهتمّة بالعالم، بمقدار ما يحفظ ذلك الاهتمام مصالح روسيا ومكانتها. وحرص الوزير الروسي على التأكيد أنّ الأولوية هي حماية النفوذ الروسي في دول جوارها. هذا يستدعي مقاربة للمواقف الغربية بشكل عام والولايات المتحدة بشكل خاص. قد يكون الأمر بديهياً لولا التركيز على مبادئ في أسس التعاطي الروسي في مختلف الملفّات كالقانون الدولي، ما يدلّ على أنّ مصالحها ليست بالضرورة متناقضة مع مصالح العالم. ففي رأينا لا تعتمد روسيا، ومعها الصين، قاعدة اللعبة الصفرية حيث ربح فريق هو خسارة للفريق الآخر، بينما الولايات المتحدة والغرب عموماً لا يستطيعان التعاطي إلاّ على القاعدة الصفرية، فطبيعة الغرب طبيعة عدوانية بامتياز ولم يبنِ رخاءه إلاّ عبر العدوان والتوسّع واستعباد الشعوب، لكنّ تاريخهما الاستعماري والهيمنة الشمولية وضعتهما في حالة إنكار للتحوّلات في العالم. فبدلاً من الإقرار بتلك التحوّلات، يعمد الغرب والولايات المتحدة إلى الهروب إلى الأمام والإمعان في المغامرات غير المحسوبة. لذلك فإنّ الغرب بقيادة الولايات يعتبر أنّ مصالحه هي أولاً وأخيراً الهيمنة، بينما الرؤية الروسية هي التعاون عبر الندّية والاحترام المتبادل. لذلك تخلّلت المقابلة مع الوزير الروسي عبارات كالاحترام المتبادل والكرامة والإقرار بمصالح الآخرين ومفاهيم غير مألوفة في التعاطي الغربي الذي لا يتورّع عن إعلان استعلائه وعنجهيته و«تفوّق قيمه». والرؤية الروسية تعطي أولوية للقانون الدولي ومؤسساته التنفيذية كقرارات مجلس الأمن، بينما الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد الأوروبي يختبئان وراء عنوان فضفاض كـ»المجتمع الدولي» أو التحالفات المتعدّدة الأطراف في المغامرات العسكرية دون الارتكاز إلى القانون الدولي.

ففي العديد من الملفّات التي طرحها الصحافيون حول ما يمكن أن يكون الردّ الروسي في عدد من الملفّات كملف سيل الشمال 1 و2 الذي يوصل الغاز الروسي إلى دول الاتحاد الأوروبي والابتزاز الذي تقوم به بعض الدول تجاه روسيا. من ضمن الإجابات كان ردّه أنه آن الأوان أن لا تهتمّ روسيا بما في أحكام الغرب على سلوكها. بمعنى آخر، لم تعد روسيا ساعية إلى الحصول على «رضى» الغرب كما كان في السابق! هذا الموقف يتكامل مع الموقف الصيني الذي أشرنا إليه في مقدمّة هذه المقاربة أيّ أنّ الصين لن تقف مكتوفة الأيدي أمام الاستفزازات الأميركية، ما يدلّ على أنّ المحور دخل في فرض الندّية بالتعامل مع الغرب.

قد يكون من المفيد الاطّلاع على الرؤية الروسية لعدد من الملفّات الساخنة، وإن تباينت درجات السخونة فيها. بالنسبة إلى روسيا، كما جاء في الحوار، فإنّ العلاقات مع أوروبا والولايات المتحدة أخذت حيّزاً كبيراً، سواء بسبب عدد الأسئلة الموجّهة في هذا الموضوع أو في إسهاب الوزير الروسي في الردّ عليها. هذا يدلّ على أنّ الغرب ما زال يشكّل موضع اهتمام رئيسي للقيادة الروسية وإن كان أسلوب التعاطي الروسي مختلفاً كلّياً عن الأسلوب الأوروبي أو الأميركي. لكنّ هناك منعطفاً في التعاطي، حيث التساهل لم يعد قائماً، وفقاً للموقف المستجّد عند القيادة الروسية.

لم تكن العلاقة مع الولايات المتحدة مدخل الحديث مع وزير الخارجية بل الوضع في ناغورنو كاراباخ، حيث شرح الوزير الروسي دور الرئيس بوتين في المفاوضات ودور وزير الدفاع شويغو. لم يُبدِ أيّ قلق حيال التوتر في ما يمكن اعتباره الحديقة الجنوبية لروسيا ودور الأميركيين فيه، حيث اعتبر أنّ الأميركيين قد يساهمون في الحلّ عبر انسحابهم من المنطقة! شرح كيف تمّ الوصول إلى وقف إطلاق النار والآليات لتثبيته. كما أكّد أنّ احتمالات الحلّ السياسي موجودة وأنه في آخر المطاف لا بديل عن ذلك. الدبلوماسية الروسية معطوفة على موقف عسكري واضح وحازم ساهم في إجبار الطرفين، الأذري والأرمني على وقف إطلاق النار، ما يعزّز الدور الإقليمي لروسيا رغم الانتكاسات بسبب التدخّلات الأميركية والتركية.

وبالتالي يعرض لافروف رؤيته للعلاقة مع تركيا، فهذه العلاقة لا يصفها بالتحالف الاستراتيجي بل بالشراكة الاستراتيجية في عدد من القطاعات فقط. وهذا التوصيف الدقيق للعلاقة يكشف وجود تباينات عميقة في عدد من الملفّات الاستراتيجية كموضوع ناغورنو كاراباخ، وسورية وقبرص حيث اعتبر الدور التركي دوراً سلبياً زاد من تعقيدات الموقف المعقّد أصلاً.

في المقابل، يقرّ لافروف بأنّ لتركيا مصالح متعدّدة ومشروعة، بينما لا يقرّ بمصالح دول على بعد ألوف الكيلومترات كالولايات المتحدة، وفي ذلك إشارة إلى اهتمام تركيا بليبيا والخليج والبحر الأحمر. كما يقرّ بحق تركيا في موضوع جامع آيا صوفيا. لكن رغم كل ذلك، شدّد على أنّ تجنُّب الحرب أولوية في السياسة الخارجية الروسية وعدم اللجوء إليها إلاّ في حال العدوان، أي كدفاع عن النفس إلاّ أنه لفت الانتباه إلى أنّ الدبلوماسية الروسية تستند أيضاً إلى «رأي» وزير الدفاع شويغو لمن لا يفهم مغزى الموقف الروسي بالالتزام بالاتفاقات والقانون الدولي. هنا تتميّز روسيا عن السياسة الأميركية التي لجأت إلى سياسة الحرب الاستباقية لدرء أيّ تهديد على زعامتها في العالم وذلك منذ 2002، وفقاً للسياسة «الدفاعية» الشهيرة في أيلول/ سبتمبر من ذلك العام.

قراءتنا للموقف الروسي تجاه تركيا لم تتغير بعد الاطّلاع على مقابلة لافروف. فروسيا حريصة، في الحدّ الأدنى، على تحييد تركيا من دورها في الحلف الأطلسي وفي الحدّ الأقصى على إخراجها من ذلك الحلف. من هنا نفهم الإصرار على تفاهمات سوتشي وأستانا، رغم مناورات الرئيس التركي. فسياسة النفس الطويل والتقدّم تدريجياً هي التي تحرّك روسيا تجاه تركيا، ويساعدها في تلك الاستراتيجية سياسة الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران في ضرورة احتواء تركيا وتحييدها عن الحلف الأطلسي. هذا يعني في كثير من الأحيان غضّ النظر عن تخلّف تركيا في تنفيذ التزاماتها وتطعيم ذلك ببعض الإنذارات والإجراءات التي تعيد الرئيس التركي إلى السّير ضمن الخطوط المرسومة من قبل الحليفين الروسي والإيراني. هذا ما يحصل في الملف السوري وما يحصل في الملف الليبي ومؤخّراً في ملف ناغورنو كراباخ.

تطرّق الوزير الروسي إلى الدور الأميركي في عدد من القضايا، بدءاً من سورية، إلى ليبيا، إلى أوكرانيا، إلى «النزاع الإسرائيلي الفلسطيني». فبالنسبة إلى سورية يرى لافروف أنّ الأساس في التحرّك الأميركي هو زعزعة قرار مجلس الأمن رقم 2254 الذي أكّد على وحدة الأراضي السورية، والأميركيون نشطوا على خلق دولة على الأراضي السورية عبر دعمهم للوحدات الكردية. ويعتبر الوزير الروسي أنّ التدخّل التركي في شمال سورية «أكثر مشروعية» من التدخّل الأميركي. فتركيا لها مخاوف واضحة على أمنها الحدودي. في المقابل ليس للوجود الأميركي في شرق الفرات ما يبرّر ذلك إلاّ البعد النفطي وضرورة «إضعاف تركيا ومن بعدها روسيا». كذلك هو الأمر في ليبيا حيث زعزعة مكانة تركيا تصيب مكانة روسيا، على حدّ قوله، مستنداً إلى التصريحات العلنية للمسؤولين الأميركيين. فبالنسبة إلى تركيا والولايات المتحدة هناك عامل النفط الذي يلعب دوراً كبيراً في الصراع القائم كما لتركيا وجهة نظر في الصراع العربي الصهيوني، خاصة في ما يتعلّق بمستقبل مدينة القدس. ويعتقد الوزير الروسي أنّ الموقف التركي من قضية القدس جزء من الصراع حول زعامة العالم الإسلامي. فتركيا تتنافس مع بلاد الحرمين وإندونيسيا التي هي أكبر الدول الإسلامية في عدد السكّان على تلك الزعامة. التنافس داخل العالم الإسلامي يأخذ طابع الحدّية رغم محاولات بعض الزعماء، مشيراً إلى مبادرة الملك عبد الله الثاني وإعلان عمان سنة 2004 حول وحدة المسلمين. فهذه الوحدة غير موجودة والتفاهم غير موجود داخل العالم الإسلامي.

أما في ما يتعلّق بالملفّ الفلسطيني، فموقف روسيا واضح ولم يتغيّر وهو يدعم حلّ الدولتين. وأثنى الوزير الروسي على جهود الكيان (المصطلح من عندنا!) لـ «تحسين العلاقة» مع دول الجوار، ولكن ليس على حساب حقوق الشعب الفلسطيني التي تؤكدها قرارات الأمم المتحدة 181. هذا الموقف يستدعي بعض الملاحظات. الملاحظة الأولى أنّ الموقف الروسي يتنافى مع موقف محور المقاومة. الملاحظة الثانية هي أنّ الحرب الكونية التي شُنّت على سورية سببها الرئيس دعم المقاومة التي تشّكل خطراً وجودياً على الكيان المحتلّ. الملاحظة الثالثة هي أنّ الحلّ السياسي في سورية لا يمكن أن ينفصل عن حلّ القضية الفلسطينية، وبما أنه لا أفق جاداً لذلك الحلّ غير ما تعمل عليه المقاومة في فلسطين ولبنان، فهناك معضلة روسية لا نرى كيف يمكن تجاوزها بالنسبة إلى الحلّ السياسي المقترح روسياً لسورية. لا نملك الإجابة على ذلك ولكن نعتقد أنّ هذا الموضوع يستوجب البحث في العمق من قبل قيادات محور المقاومة. أما على الصعيد الداخلي السوري، فلا نستطيع أن نتكلّم نيابة عن الشعب السوري وقيادته في ما يتعلّق بالمقترحات الروسية. لكنّ كل ذلك لا ينفي طبيعة العلاقة الاستراتيجية بين سورية وروسيا التي تستطيع أن تتجاوز المعضلات، وإن كان بعضها أقرب للاستعصاء، كالموقف من الحل للقضية الفلسطينية. ففلسطين قضية داخلية في كلّ الأقطار العربية وفي طليعتها سورية وحتى في دول الخليج التي يحاول بعض قادتها تغيير الأولويات. فلا أحد يستطيع أن يقفز فوقها كما أنّ مقترح «حلّ الدولتين» أصبح في خبر كان بسبب تعنُّت قيادات وقاعدة الكيان الصهيوني المحتلّ. لكن ماذا سيكون الموقف إذا ما تدهور الوضع الداخلي في الكيان الصهيوني؟ عندئذ سيكون في رأينا لكلّ حادث حديث!

تناولت المقابلة مواضيع عدة كمفهوم الإمبراطورية والعلاقات الثنائية مع عدد من الدول. فهذه العلاقات يحكمها احترام المصالح والندّية والابتعاد عن قاعدة اللعبة الصفرية. كما أكّد الوزير الروسي أكثر من مرّة في المقابلة على تمسّك روسيا بالقانون الدولي. ففي ردّ على سؤال صريح حول جدوى ذلك التمسّك بالقانون الدولي الذي لا تحترمه الولايات المتحدة، أجاب أنّ الفوضى والدمار يصبحان سيّدي الموقف. كما تناول قضية إعادة كتابة التاريخ، خاصة تاريخ الحرب العالمية الثانية التي يعمل عليها قادة الدول الغربية، بدءاً من الولايات المتحدة مروراً بفرنسا (عدم دعوة الرئيس الروسي إلى احتفالات الإنزال للقوى الحليفة 2019 دليل مثال على ذلك) وكأنّ المنتصرة في الحرب في المسرح الأوروبي كانت الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا وفرنسا فقط، بينما الذي دفع الثمن الأكبر في الأرواح وتحمّل عبء المعارك العسكرية الطاحنة كان الاتحاد السوفياتي. هذه مسألة في غاية الحساسية عند الرئيس الروسي الذي تكلّم في مواقع كثيرة عن التزوير القائم في إعادة كتابة تاريخ الحرب العالمية الثانية. والمقابلة مع الوزير الروسي لم تخلُ من مقاربة ذلك الموضوع.

في الجزء الأخير من المقابلة، تناول الوزير الروسي العلاقات مع الولايات المتحدة. فقال إنّ العلاقة ستزداد سوءاً بغضّ النظر عمن سيربح الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية. واستشهد بمقال كتبه المخرج السينمائي سميون سليباكوف حيث اعتبر أنّ «أميركا لا تحبّنا». وندّد بالتدخّل الأميركي والغربي بشكل عام في الشؤون الداخلية الروسية عندما يلتقون ويشجّعون المعارضة الداخلية. لذلك قرّرت روسيا اللقاء مع المعارضة لكافة دول الغرب التي تتدخّل في الشأن الروسي كلقاء مع مارين لوبان المعارضة للرئيس الفرنسي ماكرون. كما اعتبر أنّ الخلاف الصيني الأميركي ليس فرصة للتقرّب من الولايات المتحدة كما يعتقد البعض، بل العكس فإنّ أيّ ابتعاد لن يكون لمصلحة روسيا. المسألة التي تهمّ روسيا في العلاقة مع الولايات المتحدة في المرحلة الراهنة هي الوصول إلى اتفاق حول الأسلحة الاستراتيجية. يعتبر الوزير الروسي أنّ الالتزام الأميركي بالحدّ من إنتاج أسلحة استراتيجية قد انتهى عملياً. الأميركيون يريدون فقط الحدّ من وسائل إيصال الأسلحة النووية إلى أهدافها أي الصواريخ والغوّاصات والطائرات إلخ. ويضيف أنّ الأميركيين يريدون فقط تعداد الترسانة وليس الحدّ منها كما أنّ المطلب الروسي هو سحب السلاح التكتيكي النووي من دول الجوار. واتهم الولايات المتحدة بخرق الاتفاقات عبر توريط دول الحلف الأطلسي في مناورات عسكرية نووية خلافاً للمعاهدات المعقودة. ويضيف أنّ الأميركيين يريدون العودة إلى آليات التحقّق التي وُضعت في مطلع التسعينات والتي اعتبرها مذلّة وخلص إلى أنّ الشروط الأميركية لن يوافقوا عليها مطلقاً.

وأخيراً، في ما يتعلّق بالصين، أكّد الوزير الروسي مواقف سابقة وهي أنّ الصين لها أهداف اقتصادية تسعى إلى تحقيقها على صعيد القارة الآسيوية، وهي أهداف مشروعة وأنّ روسيا تشاركها في النهضة الاقتصادية التي تقوم بها الصين. لم يعتبر أنّ هناك طموحات هيمنة بل تعاون مع كلّ المشتركين.

في الخلاصة، عرض الوزير الروسي أسس العلاقات الدولية كما يجب أن تكون والتي ذكرناها في مطلع المقاربة. كما أكّد على ضرورة تجنّب الحرب مهما كلّف الأمر إلاّ في حال العدوان. فالسياسية الروسية العسكرية هي سياسة دفاعية عن الأرض الروسية، أوّلاً وأخيراً، وأيّ اعتداء أو محاولة اعتداء سيواجه بالحزم المطلوب. ذاكرة الحرب العالمية والكلفة الباهظة الذي تحمّلها الاتحاد السوفياتي تحكم سلوك القيادة الروسية وذلك يفسّر الحساسية الكبيرة لمحاولات الدول الغربية إعادة كتابة لتاريخ والتقليل من دور روسيا. كلام الوزير الروسي نابع من ثقة بالنفس وثقة بدور روسيا ولم يُبد قلقاً من المحاولات الأميركية لزعزعة الوضع في دول الجوار سواء في أوكرانيا أو في منطقة القوقاز. كما أبدى امتلاك سياسة النفس الطويل الذي يقارب الأمور بهدوء ويأخذ بعين الاعتبار مصالح الصديق والخصم، في آن واحد، وبالتالي يتجنّب ارتكاب أخطاء سوء التقدير.

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كاتب وباحث اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي

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CIA-Linked WaPo Endorses Biden/Harris

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Most establishment media are lining up for Biden/Harris over Trump.

In 2016, the WSJ was an exception to the rule, calling Trump’s candidacy a “political disruption (that challenges a) broken Washington (that) needs to be shaken up and refocused…”

“(W)ho better to do it than an outsider beholden to neither political party?”

On Saturday, the Journal headlined:

“Trailing in the Polls and Time Running Out, Trump Looks for One More Comeback”

He defied pollsters in 2016. Can he do it again on November 3?

He accumulated lots of nicknames in office, mostly unflattering.

If he beats long odds a second time around next month, he’ll be a comeback kid twice over.

Newspaper endorsements once mattered, no longer as much with voters able to follow political and other news digitally.

According to The Hill, “research suggests that endorsements have greater importance with local races and local issues than at the national level.” 

“And newspaper endorsements don’t seem to help very much.” 

“When Donald Trump was the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, he received fewer endorsements from the editorial boards of the nation’s largest newspapers than any major party presidential candidate in (US) history. He won.”

The anti-Trump NYT endorsed Hillary in 2016, Biden/Harris this year.

In 2020, so did the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times, the LA Times, the Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and numerous other broadsheets so far.

Many newspapers haven’t published an endorsement so far.

The CIA-linked Washington Post announced for Biden/Harris on September 28.

Calling Trump “the worst president of modern times,” WaPo reinvented Joe Biden like the NYT and other broadsheets.

Ignoring his long history of shilling for powerful interests at the expense of peace, equity, justice and the rule of law, WaPo defied reality saying:

Biden “is exceptionally well-qualified, by character and experience, to meet the daunting challenges that the nation will face over the coming four years (sic).”

He never met a US war of aggression he didn’t wholeheartedly endorse.

As US senator, one of his aides once said he directed his team “to think up excuses for new hearings on drugs and crime every week—any connection, no matter how remote.” 

“He wanted cops at every public meeting. You’d have thought he was running for chief of police.”

He co-sponsored the repressive 1984 Comprehensive Crime Control Act.

It abolished parole for federal prisoners convicted after November 1987, limiting how much time sentences could be reduced for good behavior, among other repressive provisions.

He once boasted about legislation he backed for mandating five years imprisonment without parole for anyone caught with crack cocaine “no bigger than a quarter.”

Racist contempt for people of color and the nation’s most disadvantaged drove his repressive war on drugs and war on crime — most offenses targeted no greater than misdemeanors too minor to matter.

He once argued that Roe v. Wade (a woman’s right to control her own body) “went too far.”

Throughout his public life, he one-sidedly supported privileged interests over public health and welfare.

Like the NYT, WaPo falsely claimed Biden “would restore decency, honor and competence to America’s government” — what he failed to do through his near-half century as US senator and vice president.

His record in office is polar opposite “offer(ing) a deep commitment to finding common ground in service to making government work for the greatest number.”

WaPo reinvented Kamala Harris. Calling her Biden’s “most qualified choice” for running-mate ignored her disturbing prosecutorial and political history — a figure disdainful of due process and equal justice under law.

On domestic and geopolitical issues, they offer no “positive vision,” as WaPo claimed, just the opposite.

Time and again, US presidential aspirants endorse peace and stability over endless wars.

If elected, longstanding dirty business continues like always before without missing a beat.

Belligerence Biden supported as US senator and vice president will carry over to the White House if elected.

How he and Obama operated destructively for eight years will continue with him as president and commander-in-chief.

I oppose aspirants for high office from both right wings of the one-party state.

At the same time, I fear Biden in the White House more than Trump.

The incumbent continued wars he inherited and wages them by other means on China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

His regime orchestrated Evo Morales’ ouster in Bolivia, fascist tyranny replacing him.

His failed color revolution attempt in Belarus continues.

So does his regime’s plot to undermine Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Russia, along with falsely accusing the Kremlin of poisoning Navalny with novichok.

No matter who serves as US president or in high congressional posts, privileged interests are served exclusively at the expense of ordinary people everywhere.

It’s the American way, a fantasy democracy from inception, never the real thing.

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

My two Wall Street books are timely reading:

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

Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity”

Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the meeting with members of the Association of European Businesses in Russia, Moscow, October 5, 2020

Source

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the meeting with members of the Association of European Businesses in Russia, Moscow, October 5, 2020

October 08, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Mr Vanderplaetse,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Colleagues,

Thank you for the opportunity to address once again the members of the Association of European Businesses in the Russian Federation. First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the 25th anniversary of your association. We appreciate your efforts to promote our economic, investment and trade ties, laying a solid foundation for building good relations between us and the countries you represent.

Here at the Foreign Ministry we value opportunities for dialogue with European entrepreneurs aimed at pushing forward a pragmatic, politics-free and mutually beneficial agenda. At the end of the day, these efforts are designed to improve the wellbeing of the people in Russia and in your countries. Holding regular meetings in this format has become a good tradition, testifying to our mutual commitment to keeping this dialogue going.

Since our previous meeting last year, in fact more than a year ago, the overall global environment has not become any easier, seriously affecting business activity. For many years now, the problems of international terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime have been escalating around the world. Regional conflicts continue unabated and their number is growing. Recently, the coronavirus infection emerged as a new and a very serious challenge for all of humanity. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it changed the lives of billions of people overnight. Today, no one can say with certainty when the pandemic will end. I will not elaborate here on how the interruption of global supply chains affects global trade. Unemployment is on the rise in many countries. All this weighs on the global economy, which will have to go through a lengthy and probably challenging recovery.

Speaking broadly, in the global context, the pandemic has yet again highlighted what we have long been talking about, that all countries without exception are interconnected, regardless of their geography, size and the level of economic development. All of them have been affected. This is how the pandemic has shown again that cross-border issues cannot be disregarded in this globalised world.

We believed that the conclusion was obvious, that the common tasks and challenges should bring all of us together based on the universally recognised norms of international law. Regrettably, this has not happened so far.  Quite to the contrary, some of our Western colleagues led by the United States have tried to take advantage of the novel coronavirus crisis to promote their narrow interests even more energetically and to settle scores with their geopolitical rivals. The appeals by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to suspend the illegitimate unilateral sanctions at least during the pandemic, primarily to allow the delivery of medicines and medical equipment as well as the necessary financial transactions, have fallen on deaf ears. Likewise, they have paid no heed to the initiative, put forth by President Vladimir Putin at the online G20 meeting, for setting up green corridors free from trade wars and sanctions to supply medications, food, equipment and technologies. This attitude to unifying initiatives is seriously poisoning the atmosphere of international cooperation and increasing the lack of mutual trust, damaging not only ordinary people, who have been affected first of all, but also the business circles. You know this better than anyone.

These alarming trends have also affected Russia-EU relations. There are hardly any positive achievements to speak about. Since 2014, when the European Union flagrantly violated its own pledge to guarantee the agreement between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition, it has not just accepted the coup but has actually been encouraging those who seized power in Ukraine illegally and in violation of the Constitution. In particular, the EU has turned a blind eye to the fact that the coup plotters’ policy is based on Russophobia, and that they threatened to oust Russians from Crimea and tried to browbeat the Russian-speaking regions which refused to recognise the coup and said they wanted to sort out the situation. They were denounced as terrorists, even though they had not attacked anyone, and the army and Ukrainian security forces were sent to fight them. As I said, they have been designated terrorists for refusing to recognise the coup.

Since then, the EU, probably becoming aware of its negative role in these processes but still trying to shift the blame onto someone else. Since 2014, it has ruined the multilevel architecture of interaction between Brussels and Moscow, from summit meetings to over two dozen sectoral dialogues. The programme of four common spaces has been abandoned. To this very day, the normalisation of our relations is being artificially conditioned on the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Moreover, they say openly that it is the Russian Federation that must do this. Meanwhile, our Ukrainian colleagues have announced once again through their leaders, as you probably know, that the Minsk agreements should be preserved as the basis of the EU and US sanctions against Russia. This is their logic.

Of course, we will insist on the implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures, which has been approved by the UN Security Council, but we will not do this because we want the EU to lift its sanctions. We will do this above all in the interests of the fraternal Ukrainian people, who are suffering from what has been recently going on in Kiev and other parts of their country.

Restrictions are still retained on Russian economic operators’ access to external financial markets. European producers, too, continue to sustain multi-billion losses. The other day, we became aware that Sweden has taken yet another discriminatory step. A Swedish company, Quintus Technologies AB, has refused to supply spare parts for GAZ Group’s industrial press, under an absolutely far-fetched pretext. Allegedly, the equipment is of a military nature and has a dual purpose. This is absolutely artificial logic. This press has been in use since 2009, and never before, including the entire period of crisis in our relations after the coup in Ukraine, have the Swedish regulators entertained any doubts. Judging by all appearances, this is by far not the last example, where the wish to curry favour with those who lay down the West’s geopolitical line prevails over commonsense and own interests. Of course, this will also affect Swedish businesses that cooperate with the GAZ Group and the company’s employees.

Regrettably, we have to state that the EU agencies continue their shortsighted policies. In particular, this refers to the EU member countries that have proclaimed themselves “frontline” states. Their mood is also “frontline” and they pursue “frontline” policies. Let me note that in July, the EU set into motion, under an absolutely far-fetched pretext, its 2019 framework for unilateral sanctions against violations of certain “rules” in the cyberspace, which rules have not yet been coordinated on a universal basis. Invented last year, this generic regime, as they decided, should be “test-driven” in practice over Russian citizens. Without providing any real evidence, they have accused them of launching a cyber attack against the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. Created in 2019, this regime is not the only one of its kind. The EU has spawned, also within its “inner circle,” yet another generic regime punishing violations in the field of employment of toxic chemicals, or, to put it in a nutshell, the use of prohibited types of chemicals that are chemical weapons. It is intended to be used in specific situations. I have no doubt that they will be attempting to apply this regime to the situation involving Alexey Navalny. Moreover, there is no need to “test-drive” or discuss the facts for this on a universal basis either.

Our French colleagues, again unilaterally, have established the so-called “partnership against impunity for the use of chemical weapons,” a structure outside of the UN or any universal and generally approved international legal framework. But a narrow circle of soul-mates will establish so called “facts,” whereupon a unilaterally created EU organisation intended to punish those who are allegedly guilty of violations will approve sanctions, based on these unilaterally established “facts.” All of this is sad and makes one think that our Western colleagues’ talk of the need for everyone to respect the rules-based order is not just a figure of speech or a synonym of the need to respect international law, but a conscious policy to substitute unilateral and illegitimate actions for the universal international legal framework that requires a consensus of all states in order to approve relevant conventions.

We are interested in establishing the truth regarding Alexey Navalny. That said, this is an outrageous situation that is unfolding following the exact same scenario as in the so-called Skripal case, when accusations were made without presenting any evidence. As you are aware, Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office sent requests under the 1959 European Convention for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters to the relevant agencies in Germany, France and Sweden, where the required tests were allegedly carried out. Under the protocols to this convention they were asked to share information on the results of these tests. We were told that no action will be taken under this convention, which in itself is a violation, and that the results were handed over to the OPCW. They told us to wait for this organisation to release the results of its tests. However, the OPCW informed us that they continue investigating this matter and the samples they collected (it is unclear who collected them and when). We were told that once they are finished, they will communicate the results to Germany, since the request came from there, leaving it to Germany to decide whether to share this information with us. This is a travesty of common sense, and I believe that everyone understands this, including our Western colleagues who deny our requests that are based on a binding international convention. It seems that their Russophobic fervour is so strong that it prevents them from exercising good judgement.

We regret that trade and economic cooperation is becoming increasingly politicised. I have just cited some examples. Trade and economy have always been viewed as a safety net in relations among nations. Nowadays though, things seem to have shifted into a somewhat different phase. I remember so well that in 2014 German businesses called on the European Union and its agencies not to place politics above the economy in its approach to Ukrainian affairs. At the time it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said that there are cases when politics must be above economics. This is regrettable.

We are now witnessing another example. The European Commission has drafted a report with a long title: Report on Significant Distortions in the Economy of the Russian Federation for the Purpose of Trade Defence Investigations. You probably understand what this is all about. The document is clearly biased and can lead to new restrictions on the access of Russian goods to the EU market. You know that this will definitely prompt us to reply. In particular, this report presents regulatory measures that are totally legitimate, including in energy, transport and labour resources, as distortions in the Russian economy. We also have questions regarding another EU initiative. I am referring to the key element of the European Green Deal, the so-called carbon border adjustment mechanism. Brussels said that it will be enacted not later than on January 1, 2023 in one form or another. For now, we are looking into what this initiative actually means. We do hope that this mechanism would not contradict the World Trade Organisation (WTO) norms and will not lead to “trade protectionism on climate issues.” We would like to avoid having to take retaliatory measures. I believe now is not the time for trade wars, even in the current politicised environment.

I will not elaborate too much on the games with Nord Stream 2. It all started quite a few years ago when the EU retrospectively amended the gas directive within its Third Energy Package just to make it harder to carry out this project. This ran counter to all legal norms and established practices approved by all countries. It was with great difficulty that compromises were found. This did not prevent things from going awry afterwards. When the end of the project was on the horizon, a new factor emerged in the form of the heavy hand of the United States that stated its open and unscrupulous intention to derail this project for Russia and the Europeans in order to force the US LNG on the Europeans. They are franticly creating LNG capabilities. Washington claims that these measures are designed to support US producers. This is a gloves-off approach free from any ethical boundaries. They do not seem to be concerned with the fact that higher costs for buying expensive gas will undermine the competitiveness of entire European manufacturing sectors. In fact, this suits the US.

Politicised energy cooperation is yet another blow at the foundations of what we call European security. Energy is the area of cooperation dating back over 50 years. We recently marked the anniversary with our Austrian colleagues. Energy was always left outside any forms of confrontation during the Cold War. Our joint energy programme and cooperation have survived the dissolution of some states and the formation of others; they have always served the long-term interests of all European nations, including the Russian Federation.

Protectionism and other barriers and restrictions will only aggravate the economic situation, which is already complicated. By the way, we noted that the BusinessEurope Confederation of European Business recently published recommendations aimed at protecting European businesses amidst sanctions-related restrictions. The document directly states that the weaponisation of the sanctions policy to pursue economic interests is unacceptable. It may seem obvious but as things go nowadays, it takes a lot of courage to say something as obvious as this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Russian leadership is implementing measures to support the public and businesses in the face of COVID-19 related problems. We are doing everything we can, considering certain minimum requirements of the epidemiological authorities, to help return foreign workers to Russia, which you are well aware of. You have made respective requests and requests continue to come in. We will continue to process them promptly. We expect that, according to the forecasts made in Russia and foreign capitals (including multilateral institutions), the depth of the economic decline in our country will not be as significant as in many other countries, including the eurozone.

Our potential for countering infectious diseases is becoming increasingly more effective. We have learned a lot while taking practical measures to fight this challenge. Relying on our past experience in countering various pandemics, we managed to develop a series of test systems to diagnose the coronavirus and launch the production of drugs to treat it efficiently. As you know, we registered the Sputnik V vaccine. Registration of one or two more vaccines developed by the Vector Research Centre is being finalised. We support sharing experience in this area and cooperating with all interested countries because it is important for overcoming the consequences of our common emergency once and for all. As you know, speaking at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly via videoconference, President Vladimir Putin proposed an initiative of holding a high-level online conference involving the states interested in cooperation on developing coronavirus vaccines. We hope to receive a constructive response to this important proposal.

Before concluding my opening remarks, I would just like to say a few more words about the main subject on our agenda today: as we have already seen more than once, economic interdependence can be both a boon and a bane. I don’t really think that anything good will come out of this if the EU continues to see its partners as some “appendages” of the Eurocentric world. The world that was based on the central role of Europe has become history, not regrettably or happily but objectively. The drivers of economic growth and political influence are now in the East. The new polycentric reality calls for new approaches in politics and the economy. The “leader-follower” relationship is no longer tenable. What we need now is respect for the fundamental principle of equality.

Nowadays we must help the global economy through this difficult period and ensure its consistent post-COVID development. This goal should unite all of us, because this is about the welfare of all nations. We call for finding new growth points in order to overcome the global recession. It is crucial in this respect to combine the potentials of the various integration initiatives that are being implemented throughout Eurasia. This is the objective of President Putin’s initiative on the Greater Eurasian Partnership based on the universal principles of international law and transparency and open to all countries of our huge common continent without exception. You are aware that we are actively promoting dialogue on this subject within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), as well as in relations with ASEAN nations. While doing so, we point out that we would like all countries of our common continent to join this process, both members of regional associations and the unaligned countries. This means that the EU countries could also take a look at this initiative with regard to their own interests, the interests of European businesses, including the possibility of easy access to the rapidly growing markets and new transit routes within the framework of this project. We have a starting point for launching this work in earnest. I am referring to the contacts created at the technical level between the European Commission and the Eurasian Economic Commission. We would like these contacts to break out of the restrictions of technical and regulatory issues. We would like our discussions to move over to a political level and to acquire a political vision of the development of Eurasia, which will become a global economic driver – there is no doubt about this.

We firmly believe that it is in our common interests to prevent the appearance of undesirable dividing lines in the new economic spheres created by the new technological paradigm. Energy and industry are becoming ever greener and all spheres of human activity, including the work of economic operators, are being digitalised. It is our strong conviction that this calls for combining efforts rather than trying to play zero sum games again, as was the case in the past. We are ready for cooperation on the broadest possible basis.

Thank you. I am now ready for the interactive part of our meeting.

Question: There is a saying in my native German language that smart people give way in a dispute. What steps would Russia be ready to make in this regard? What opportunities do you see for giving an impetus to this process and putting it back on a more constructive trajectory? What mechanisms and measures do you see for shielding small islands of cooperation from the collateral damage caused by geopolitical rivalry?

Sergey Lavrov: As far as I can see, the way you used this German saying (smart people giving way in a dispute) suggests that you are certain that the West will never give way.

I also see this in the way many of the ongoing developments are unfolding. In particular, this refers to the complaints we hear. Russia invariably owes something regardless of the international matter, be it Syria, Libya or Belarus. The same goes for Alexey Navalny, any cyber affairs and poisonings. But no evidence is presented. Moreover, when we question their claims and findings, in this case I am referring to the Bundeswehr laboratory, or to the Porton Down laboratory in the Skripal case, they see this as an insult. But no evidence was presented. Our German colleagues are now telling us that this is our problem and that the poisoning took place on Russian territory, so they don’t know anything. Go ahead and open a criminal case, but we will not give you anything, they tell us.

By the way, I remember a rather gruesome episode in our relations with Germany when there was a problem in 2016 with Yelizaveta Fesenko, a Russian underage girl. She disappeared and the search continued for quite a long time. She later resurfaced and said that she had been raped. It turned out that she had not been raped but Germany still opened a criminal case on child sexual abuse charges. One of the defendants received a suspended sentence. But when we tried to become involved to help the girl (apart from a German citizenship she also is a citizen of the Russian Federation) and asked our German colleagues to explain what happened, we faced an outpouring of resentment, including a statement by then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said that Russia should not interfere in Germany’s domestic affairs or use this incident for propaganda purposes. This is a similar case. Something happened to a Russian national on German territory. When we asked to explain what had happened they told us that it’s not our business and asked us not to interfere in their domestic affairs. When now we asked our German colleagues to share their findings after analysing Alexey Navalny’s test samples, they referred us to the OPCW. The OPCW referred us to Germany, arguing that it was Germany that filed the request, while Russia should have had the same findings as Berlin. However, the doctors in Omsk passed on to the Germans the results of all the tests they ran and everything they did. When the Germans came to transport Alexey Navalny to Germany, they signed papers confirming that they received all the information. Moreover, Alexey Navalny’s spouse signed a document assuming responsibility for all the consequences of his transfer to Germany, since our doctors were not convinced that this was safe. It is true that they did not find any traces of weapon-grade toxic substances. They honestly said so. Let me draw your attention to the fact that the Charite clinic did not find any toxic agents from the so-called Novichok group in Navalny’s samples either. It was the Bundeswehr clinic that made these findings. We still do not know whether the French and the Swedes collected the samples themselves or the Germans simply passed on these samples to them. The fact that our partners are trying to keep this secret, muddying the waters, is a matter of serious concern for us. We want to get to the truth and will pursue this objective. I don’t know what to do with this. Now we are being accused of the developments in the Central African Republic, and they are trying to pin the blame for something that happened in Mozambique on us as well. We stand accused of everything no matter where it occurs.

When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his deputies and other members of the US administration travel around the world, they openly call on their partners during news conferences in Africa, Greece or elsewhere to stop cooperating with Russia and China. These statements are being made officially and unceremoniously, for everyone to hear. It is difficult for me to say now what concessions we can make when it comes to this situation.

As your board chairman has already mentioned, it is good that the ties with the EU are being revived. Yes, they are indeed being revived, but only in specific areas, such as Syria, Libya and Africa – we have recently held such consultations. However, we do not see a systemic approach to our relations on the global and hugely important political plane.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell is a good friend of mine. We spoke with him earlier  this year on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. In June, we talked for two hours via videoconference. We discussed all topics in great detail. There is a common understanding that we need to review the situation, at least so as to see if the EU policy based on sanctions is really effective. This is for the EU to do. In our opinion, it is a flawed policy. Sanctions damage both those against whom they are applied and those who apply them. You are aware that we are trying to abandon all forms of cooperation that can strengthen our dependence on Europe, including in the fields of technology and agricultural goods. I believe that we have achieved good results with this. We are probably doing this because we are no longer sure that our European partners will honour their commitments. I have cited the example of Nord Stream 2. It would seem that the EU’s Legal Service has long analysed this project and concluded that it is good and does not contradict any EU norms. Nevertheless, the question has been reopened and the rules have been changed. Is this how reliable partners act? Moreover, this is being done contrary to the fact that companies from the five respected “old” EU members were fully interested, and continue to be interested, in the Nord Stream 2 project. But politics has prevailed over business.

Of course, selective dialogue is underway on some specific matters, as you mentioned. We are not abandoning it. But we can see that the EU has been trying to preserve the five guiding principles and only to modernise them (and they are based on the fact that the normalisation of EU’s relations with Russia is conditioned by the implementation of the Minsk agreements by Russia, not by Ukraine). While these futile discussions are underway in the EU and the very aggressive and loud Russophobic minority is preventing any efforts to reassess relations with Russia, very serious analytical processes are gathering momentum in Germany. As far as we know (this information is based on German media reports), experts close to the German Government are developing what they describe as “a new Eastern policy,” which actually amounts to removing the remaining positive parts on our agenda.  Their main arguments, as cited by the press, are that strategic partnership is a thing of the past; that the Partnership for Modernisation, which used to be a symbol of our cooperation with Germany and subsequently with the EU as a whole, has not materialised; and that Russia refused to become an ally for the EU and NATO and hence became their opponent when it comes to fundamental political and ideological aspects of the new international order. I have already said that our Western friends want the new international order to be based on rules rather than international law, and on rules invented in a narrow circle of confederates.

As for selective cooperation, the circles close to the Government who are formulating a new agenda say that such cooperation will be possible only after Russians mend their ways. Amid mental stagnation in Brussels, these processes are gathering momentum first of all in Germany. Geopolitical analysts have probably seen that Germany is becoming the lead player in ensuring a strong and lasting anti-Russia charge in all processes underway in the EU.

We have seen this before. The first sanctions were adopted after an absolutely transparent referendum was held in Crimea and nobody questioned their outcome – US representatives told me so immediately after the referendum. Nobody doubted then, and nobody doubts now, that it was a sincere desire of the Crimean residents. But as soon as this happened, we were told in a quite superior manner that Russia should know that there would be no “business as usual.” We replied that yes, there will be no “business as usual.” You yourself have ruined your standing and reputation when you were spit in the face – excuse my French – by those who terminated the agreement guaranteed by France, Germany and Poland. We know very well that there will be no “business as usual,” but we are nevertheless ready to look for spheres of constructive interaction. But take a look at the current situation. Just a small but telling example regarding Nord Stream 2: the Swedish authorities have cancelled their companies’ permit for cooperation with GAZ. There are more examples of this kind too. The question now is not that there will be no “business as usual,” but that there may be no reliable basis for doing business with Europe in the long term and we cannot be sure that our European partners will honour their commitments. I am not talking about companies. They want to do business, but it is the politicians who are ruling over business now. This is the problem. As I have already said, there is no lack of goodwill or desire to develop normal relations on our part. Just read President Putin’s message of greetings to Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel on Germany’s reunification. It clearly says everything. But goodwill cannot be unilateral. It is said that he who is smarter and stronger should take the first step. We probably have grounds to believe that our partners are strong and smart. I really do hope that they think about us in the same way. If there is goodwill on both sides, we can turn the tide. But we do not see any reciprocity so far.

Question: We have noticed these concerns regarding the recent trends that you mentioned, and the articles claiming that the partnership has come to an end. We share these concerns. As an association, we agree that it takes two to tango.

Sergey Lavrov: These days, some prefer breakdancing and you don’t need a partner.

Question: Let’s hope that partner dancing will not go out of style. As an association, we adhere to the principle of independence. We communicate both with Brussels, by voicing our concerns with the current situation, and with officials in Russia. I was very happy to hear your greetings on our anniversary. This year we marked 25 years. We planned to organise a conference using the motto “Russia and Europe in the world of tomorrow: looking back on the past to move towards the future.” How do you see Russia and Europe in the world of tomorrow? What are the most promising areas for continuing the cooperation that has not always been easy but has undoubtedly been productive over these 25 years? What are the key areas for you?

Sergey Lavrov: We spoke about this at length today. If we talk about specific areas, these include, of course, the digital economy, the green economy and everything related to the new types of energy (the Russian-Italian-French thermonuclear reactor project). We have many hi-tech projects with Germany. There is mutual interest. But, again, the political course pursued right now, mainly by the United States, is aimed at preventing any mutually beneficial, promising and competitive economic projects in Europe to be carried out without the American involvement – be it Russia or China. This has been stated openly. Politics is the art of the possible but perhaps, in the current circumstances, the economy is also the art of the possible. As long as the leaders of your countries are capable of protecting the core interests of European businesses, as long as they can protect your competitiveness and as long as they can withstand this pressure.

But, of course, besides the economy, we are deeply concerned about the military and political situation. It is not improving in Europe and, on the contrary, it is becoming more disturbing. By the way, there have been many reports, analysis pieces and articles recently marking the anniversary of the German reunification. Russian television filmed a two-hour documentary, The Wall, which came to a rather sad conclusion: the Berlin Wall was never destroyed; it simply became virtual and moved to the East very close to the Russian border, despite all the promises and assurances. I will not comment on this film right now. I hope you watched it. If you did not, I recommend it because you will understand a lot about the current conditions for the Russia-Europe relations, how the Russian leadership and Russian people remember the times when – and we all know this very well – Russia played the decisive role in the German reunification, by making a huge sacrifice. I am not exaggerating. The withdrawal of our troops was conducted in absolutely cruel and inhumane conditions. We know the real (financial) cost Germany paid for this. We also know that, not that our Western colleagues tried to persuade the Soviet leaders against it but they asked whether they [the Soviet leaders] had thought carefully and whether everybody needed a united Germany. You know the outcome. I find the manner used by some representatives of the German leadership in communication with the Russian Federation not only unacceptable but fully indicative of the fact that the era everybody considered a historic victory of Germans and Russians and eventually the victory of the entire Europe is now completely forgotten. This is unfortunate. I really hope that this anomaly goes away. It cannot reflect the Germans’ true attitude towards Russia. Speaking of which, in a recent public opinion poll, half of the German people across the Federal Republic of Germany, including Western Germany, expressed a positive attitude towards the Russian people. I think the number of people in our country supporting cooperation with Germans will not be less than that. Our historic victory is in overcoming all phobias and focusing on the constructive process in the interests of our nations. Of course, it would be a crime to lose it.

Question: I would like to get back to the issue of highly skilled professionals returning to Russia. We are very grateful for the help we received from the Government of the Russian Federation and, in particular, from the Foreign Ministry. We know that the rules currently in place, the Government Directive No. 635-r of March 16, 2020, is greatly appreciated by our members because it opens a channel for returning highly skilled professionals. However, on the other hand, this process is still complicated and there are many unresolved matters. What are the prospects of relaxing the border crossing regime, especially ahead of the New Year days off?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already spoken on this matter multiple times. The Foreign Ministry will play a secondary role there. Public health is the top priority. Therefore, the epidemiological and sanitary authorities are calling all the shots. We have an Emergency Response Centre headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, the Federal Supervision Service for Consumer Protection and Welfare, the Healthcare Ministry and the Federal Medical-Biological Agency. All these experts are working on the best measures to protect our citizens and our visitors from the danger of contracting the coronavirus.

It is in the interests of the Foreign Ministry to establish contacts as quickly as possible. As you are aware, the aviation authorities are also interested in this – as are the airline companies which are suffering losses and hoping to resume air services as quickly as possible. Once again, the decisions are up to the epidemiologists.

Question: I can see that Russia is trying to shut itself off from the rest of the world by demanding that production facilities be more localised.  We invested about 2 billion and are one of the largest companies. Seventy percent of our products will not be considered Russia-made products in two years. I am urging you to do everything you can to make sure that Russia does not isolate itself from the rest of the world and cooperates with Western companies. Do not force us to resort to localisation which puts us at a disadvantage and which will seem rather strange after we invested 2 billion.

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with the idea that we should not destroy the global forms of cooperation and build barriers. If we look at localisation as a barrier, this logic probably applies here. But again, we need to remember about the strategic goals set for our economy by President Vladimir Putin and the Government. To a great extent, they have to do with the events in our relations of the past six or seven years and with the fact whether the West demonstrated itself as reliable and capable of negotiating in relations with us.

When it comes to localisation, we are not alone. For example, India is rather actively pursuing its Make in India policy and I think it is much more demanding than the localisation policy in the Russian Federation. Overall, I understand your production-related concerns and assume that these issues should be raised with the Government Foreign Investment Advisory Council that is in charge of these matters.

Question: The Government of the Russian Federation adopted new rules that prevent us from investing for the next two years. We do not know whether we can invest in the future because in two years there will be no benefits in this for us.

Sergey Lavrov: The Foreign Ministry is interested in continuing pragmatic and mutually beneficial economic cooperation; therefore, let’s agree that following this meeting, following our discussion, your chairman, the Director General, will send me a proposal outlining the steps which, in your opinion, would allow our cooperation to continue on a mutually beneficial basis.

I know that you cooperate with the GAZ Group. I meant exactly the same thing that you are talking about when I said that some small European countries are trying to run before the American hounds because the seizures by the United States were once again extended. The Americans are thinking about themselves, too. Many American jobs depend on continuing this cooperation. Our Swedish neighbours decided that they will be more American than the Americans themselves.

Question: When we discuss relaxing the border crossing regime for highly skilled professionals, please do not forget about their family members because it is a major part of their lives here. I would like to ask you to consider this issue.

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, their comfort is important. We will make sure to support requests concerning their family members as well.

Question: We are witnessing the US administration purposefully dismantling the international relations system that took shape after World War II. How much have they managed to accomplish in this regard? Is this an irreversible process? What can we expect from the upcoming election?

Sergey Lavrov: As I mentioned earlier, the current international relations system is collapsing under the banner of the “rules-based world order.” It became part of the political vocabulary, or narrative, in modern parlance, about three to four years ago. We took note of it immediately. When we began to talk about this term which was proposed to be included in the declarations of international forums, we were told that “this is the same as international law.” When we proposed replacing this term with “respect for international law,” we were told, by hook or by crook, that “we need to use some fresh language.” And then everything that I was talking about came to the surface.

Two parallel processes are underway that are directly related to the erosion of the system that was created after World War II, which suited everyone, made it possible to avoid another world war and, as we all hoped, would be ridding itself of confrontational components after the Cold War ended. We have already talked about the Berlin Wall and everything that followed and what we are witnessing now.

There are two obvious areas where this system is being eroded. The first is the privatisation of the existing international organisations’ secretariats. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is based on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), is a case in point. It was adopted unanimously (any convention can only be adopted unanimously) and is binding exclusively for the countries that have ratified this Convention, 193 in all. The OPCW is one of the most universal organisations. The Convention can only be amended by way of talks, and the language must be agreed upon by a consensus, after which the amendments are adopted and ratified. Under the convention, the OPCW Technical Secretariat (TC) has the competence to conduct a probe in response to an inquiry by any CWC member country. This should be done by an onsite visit by the experts to a location designated by the corresponding party to take samples that are then taken to certified labs. Then, a report is compiled which says whether a substance prohibited by the special lists attached to the CWC was found in these samples. That’s all there is to it. The OPCW Secretariat began to grossly violate the Convention. For example, in Syria, they were making decisions and compiling reports without onsite visits. They just said that they managed to get samples from, say, Great Britain or France (there was such an episode in Khan Shaykhun), since it was “unsafe” for them to go there. We insisted that, under the Convention, they must go there themselves. The answer was “it’s unsafe.” Then, we asked the British and the French, since they were able to obtain the samples in unsafe circumstances, to use their contacts to ensure the safety of the OPCW inspectors so that they comply with the convention. We were told there was nothing they could do, and it’s “classified.” The Syrian government was accused of airstrikes using bombs filled with toxic agents. This “classified” information was used to conclude that a poisonous agent was used in Khan Shaykhun. End of story. Nobody knows who took these samples, or who took them to which laboratory, because it’s “classified.”

There are many questions. When we started asking them and stopped accepting such reports in the UN Security Council (only the UNSC can decide who is right and who is wrong under international law and the UN Charter), our Western colleagues at the OPCW convened an extraordinary session of all parties to the Convention. They put to the vote a proposal that, in addition to what is allowed for the OPCW Technical Secretariat under the Convention (to determine whether a prohibited poisonous agent was used or not), it should also be authorised to identify the perpetrators and to carry out the attribution. Less than half of the countries members of the convention voted in favour of the proposal. The rest voted against it or abstained. However, according to the rules of procedure, the decision was declared adopted. Thus, instead of an international law instrument, which any universal convention is, we got an instrument of the “rules-based order.” Of course, we will not be paying for the portion of the Secretariat’s activities that focuses on these purposes. China and a number of other countries are doing the same, but that doesn’t make the problem disappear. This is an outright privatisation of the Secretariat, which can now be seen in the way the senior officials of this body (Western countries hold the posts of Director-General and his “right hand”) react to our inquiries on many issues (Syria, Navalny, etc.). Concurrently, privatisation is carried out in less aggressive forms, when the Western employees of the respective secretariats conduct blatantly one-sided policies at the UN organisations.

The second area is about the propensity to move “inconvenient” matters outside the UN system. In my opening remarks, I mentioned that our French colleagues had created the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. We asked why we can’t discuss this at the UN or the OPCW, which they are trying to manipulate. Why do this somewhere else? We were told that this is just a “group of like-minded people.” Today, I spoke on the phone with my French colleague, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, and asked him why they were not responding to a request filed by the General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia regarding Alexey Navalny’s tests. Mr Le Drian told me they were waiting for the OPCW to respond. The OPCW has not yet responded (today is October 5). However, already on September 24, our French colleagues initiated the distribution, among their closest partners at the very same organisation in The Hague, of a draft statement by the countries participating in the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. The draft of this statement is already saying that, as confirmed by the OPCW Secretariat, Mr Navalny was poisoned with Novichok. The Secretariat has not confirmed or said anything. We have an official letter from the OPCW Director General Fernando Arias Gonzalez saying that the process is still underway.

This “privatisation,” as we call it, creates quite serious problems in other areas of the universal institutions’ work as well. Instead of once again provoking scandals at the conferences of the parties to the relevant universal conventions, they are now making decisions in a narrow circle of “like-minded people” and then present this as an example of multilateralism. This approach forms the basis of the Franco-German initiative for a new multilateralism, which they are promoting and which was proclaimed not so long ago. It was stated that the EU is an example of multilateralism. We asked again why multilateralism is being considered outside the framework of the UN multilateral organisation. There’s no answer, but we know it. There will be more cases like this. Along with this International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, the French have created a similar partnership on the freedom of journalism and information in cyberspace.

Question: The impact of geopolitics on de-globalisation. Modern equipment has a very broad built-in functionality for data collection and transmission. At the same time, requirements for a mandatory local hosting are being tightened, in particular, with regard to data collection and transmission. Some forecasts say that by 2030, many countries will close their markets to each other. What do you think could promote the opening of a common economic space?

Sergey Lavrov: For 15 years, if not longer, we have been actively promoting the initiative (it has gained a large number of supporters now) to figure out how the internet should work so that everyone feels comfortable. This question was raised at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an organisation dealing with all forms of information and communication technologies, and in the UN, where it was proposed to agree on the rules of responsible behaviour in the information landscape. It is about international information security. At the same time, we are promoting initiatives at the UN to combat crime in cyberspace. There is one part that relates to processes affecting national security, and the other is crime proper – drug trafficking, paedophilia, pornography, and so on. But things are moving with difficulty at the ITU. All these years of discussions have led us nowhere. The Americans do not seem interested in making this topic the subject of agreements. The discussion continues, but you know how the internet is governed, how it all works. It suits them. The Americans are actually pushing forward the idea that there is no need for any anti-cybercrime conventions or rules of conduct to ensure security in the information landscape. There is international law and it is applicable. This also reflects our Western partners’ policy to declare cyberspace an arena of potential confrontation, including the possibility of hostilities (and the outer space for good measure).

As we have seen from hours of discussions with the Americans and other Westerners, they are reluctant to introduce new regulations and cite applicable international law because the West again wants to reserve some extra rights. I mentioned the partnership to protect freedom in cyberspace. If it is established that someone has violated “freedom in cyberspace,” they will not have to prove anything to anyone, because international law is already in place. The Americans are primarily interested in Article 51 of the UN Charter (the right to self-defence and the possible use of weapons). They do not hide this and want to reserve the right to strike. More precisely, not reserve, but actually obtain the right to use military force in response to what they might consider an encroachment in cyberspace that affects their national interest. You can implicate just about anything there.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin proposed reopening the existing channels on cybersecurity issues. On October 2, Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev met with US President Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, who said that so far, Washington has not seen any Russian interference attempts in the 2020 United States elections. Well, they kind of expected Moscow to interfere, but “Mr Patrushev assured them they won’t.” What the Russian Security Council Secretary proposed – we actually lived through all this many years ago with the Obama administration, and later it resumed with Donald Trump – was a proposal to sign a deal on non-interference in each other’s affairs, including in cyberspace, concerning elections or other processes. The US does not want to, because they really interfere in our internal affairs. After Kiev events in 2014, they passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which explicitly ordered the State Department to spend $20 million a year to liaise with Russian civil society, to support certain “independent” and “non-governmental” organisations. You are certainly well aware of this. Indeed, a cutting-edge sphere like cyberspace and information and communication technologies in general, where progress is rapidly gaining momentum, is a field for competition. Look at what is happening with 5G networks now, how the Americans prohibit Europe and the rest of the world from cooperating with China; look at how these policies affect the atmosphere of international relations. Consider artificial intelligence. I think competition will continue, as we are seeing a new industrial revolution – or rather, not an industrial, but a technological one.

If we consider the US policy line they are pursuing today, it is difficult to predict how and when it will end, whether it will even come to a close in our lifetime, because anything’s possible. Who knows what will happen on this planet in 50-100 years. There are many people who believe the current US policy line is irrevocable, and from now on, they refuse to put up with it. The most interesting thing is that they actually achieve their goals in some cases. As we say, might is right. But it seems to me that the United States should and will try to pay more attention to its internal problems. I would say what we can see there now has very deep roots. There are many forecasts that any empire will reach a crisis at some point and become smaller and quieter. As Vladimir Vysotsky wrote, “it goes at random, all over the place, and downhill.”

I am not trying to make any predictions about the US elections now; I do not want to be blamed again for supporting someone or not supporting someone else. Vladimir Putin has said many times that we will work with anyone they elect. We are watching the squabbles between Democrats and Republicans. No silver lining, of course. Destabilisation in the United States is unlikely to do any good to any of us. We are actually all interested in the United States being a responsible player in the international arena; but for that, they should at least have some internal stability, which is now being tested. We want them to be a responsible player, which means they should follow the rules, not those invented by them, consistently rather than occasionally, and not change those rules at their whim or use loopholes (like we say, every law has a loophole). This is rules-based order. Unfortunately, the trend is quite steady – they have left the UNESCO, the UN Human Rights Council, and withdrawn from nearly all treaties; now the last one, the New START, is going to die. The conditions they set are absolutely unilateral and do not take into account either our interests or the experience of many decades, when arms control was enforced to everyone’s satisfaction and was welcomed by all countries. I cannot rule out that the World Trade Organisation will be next. They are also complaining about it, as I understand it, and continue blocking the dispute resolution body, preventing the appointment of the necessary participants for a quorum.

This question causes everyone’s concern, but I have no answer to give you. Some expound on how empires grow old and new ones emerge, like when you all play together as kids, and there is always the main bully in the sandbox who hits the younger ones. But later, when they grow up, they get even. This probably happens in different forms on a bigger scale, like centuries-long cycles.

Question: As you may be aware, Turkey and Libya have certain agreements regarding the Mediterranean Sea. We’re amid an abnormal situation, where Turkey, a NATO member, has a run-in with Europe, where most countries are NATO members as well. Clearly, in addition to the economic interests, there are geopolitical and military reasons as well. What’s your view about a potential increase in the number of clashes in this region and Russia’s role?

Sergey Lavrov: Here, too, we need to look through the lens of geopolitical interests. The situation in Libya, Syria and a number of other countries is far from being alright, but hydrocarbons are among the factors that clearly influence politics. At least what the Americans are doing with oil having illegally occupied the eastern coast of the Euphrates River in Syria and making a decision allowing their company to produce oil. Together with the Kurds, they are trying to “cobble up” a Kurdish autonomy, which will have quasi-state functions. It is well known that they are also trying to talk the Turks into not objecting to the idea of creating such autonomy, assuring them that the Americans will ensure the Kurds’ loyalty. Flirting with a country’s territorial integrity is a gross violation of international law. In this case, this applies not only to Syria, but also to the Kurdish problem, which can be so explosive that the current situation will appear much less serious. It affects a number of countries in the region. An invitation to separatism and its active promotion can end very badly. This is being done by a distant overseas country, but the countries of the region and Europe will have to deal with the consequences. We are not far away from there, either. So, we have come up with an initiative to develop a security concept in the Gulf with the participation of all Arab countries, Iran, the League of Arab States (LAS), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the UN Security Council permanent members, and the European Union.

The time has come when too many problems have piled up in and around the Gulf, including the Middle East and North Africa. We need to sit down and talk.

The Americans are also departing from international law and moving to the rules on which they want to establish the world order, I mean a Middle East settlement. They are turning the Arab Peace Initiative upside down, which proclaimed the creation of the Palestinian state followed by the normalisation of relations between the Arab countries and Israel. Now, the process has reversed.

We welcome any agreements that normalise relations between the states, but we cannot agree to this being done to the detriment of the Palestinian people’ interests which are enshrined in numerous consensus resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

Question: More than a year ago now, President of Russia Vladimir Putin met with President of France Emmanuel Macron in Bregancon. How would you assess the results of that meeting? I know that recently in Lithuania, President Macron said he would continue cooperating with Russia because it is crucial for Europe. What do you have to say  on this score?

Sergey Lavrov: In August 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron had a very good and productive meeting in Bregancon. France is the only state whose government responded to Vladimir Putin’s address circulated in autumn 2019, when it became known that the INF Treaty had finally “died.” That long letter went to all NATO members and a number of other states, in which Vladimir Putin spelled out the history of the issue, explained how important the INF Treaty was, how its termination would increase the risks and wipe out any control over such missiles, and proposed to declare a voluntary moratorium. He said that Russia has already announced it and will not build or deploy any such missiles until such US-made systems are deployed in some part of the world. The President of Russia asked his NATO partners to consider the possibility of a counter moratorium without concluding any agreement – just pure goodwill, similar to the previous nuclear test ban. Only a few of them even bothered to respond, usually “thank you and we’ll read it later.” Some just declined. French President Macron was the only one who actually wrote he was ready to discuss the proposal, and who noticed that we were not just proposing two counter-moratoriums in that letter – a Russia-NATO and a wider one – but we were ready to discuss specific ways to verify compliance. Western Europeans as well as our American colleagues said the “cunning” Russia was proposing a moratorium when it allegedly had such missiles in Kaliningrad. They believe our Iskander systems violate this Treaty, but never provided a single fact that proved it. If they say that an Iskander missile has been tested at a prohibited range, then obviously, they should have satellite images, but they never showed any, just as they have not shown any satellite images when it comes to the Malaysian Boeing shot down over Donbass. They have some pictures, but they just don’t show them to anyone. So Vladimir Putin proposed, if they have any such concerns, to discuss what verification measures we can agree upon to make everyone feel comfortable. The only one who responded to that was Emmanuel Macron.

Unlike our selective cooperation with EU’s Brussels on specific conflict matters, sporadically, from time to time, what we have with France is a stable dialogue, including the two-plus-two format with the foreign and defence ministers. In September 2019, our French colleagues were in Moscow. We also established cooperation in more than ten working groups on various strategic tracks. The working groups on combating terrorism and cybersecurity met recently – these topics should obviously be of interest to everyone, but the Americans and most other Westerners, including the Germans, have shown little interest in cooperating on them, to put it mildly.

Emmanuel Macron also makes critical statements. We can hear those. We also have some questions for France. I have just mentioned some of the steps they are taking that undermine the legitimacy of universal organisations, attempts to isolate some issues to be addressed by a narrow circle of participants they find comfortable. But we are having a dialogue, whatever disagreements we might have cannot be a reason to refuse to discuss serious matters, and limit interaction to some selective, elective topics, as the European Union does.

Question: The international community failed to prevent two global catastrophes in the 20th century: the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. Today we are witnessing the escalation of a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in which Turkey has become involved. Do we have any mechanisms for preventing genocide in the 21st century?

Sergey Lavrov: We have the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention), which is effective. Genocide has been denounced as a crime against humanity. There are different types and forms of genocide. What is happening today to the Russian language and Russian education in the Baltic countries (in Latvia and Estonia), in Ukraine and several other places clearly amounts to infringement on the fundamental rights of a very large group of people.

One of the topics we discussed with Josep Borrell was discrimination against Russian speakers, in particular, in Ukraine. We regularly raise the question of the Baltics with the EU. They seem unable to do anything, and it even looks to me as if they are unwilling to do anything about it. They only speak in favour of naturalisation. The process is underway, they claim, adding that everything will be just fine, in time. Nothing good is taking place there though. And in Ukraine they adopted several laws on education and language, following which they have adopted amendments that stipulate exemptions for EU languages, which has placed the Russian language in conditions of double discrimination, even though the Ukrainian Constitution stipulates the protection of national minority rights. And it directly mentions Russians.

We have informed the EU that there are Hungarian, Bulgarian and Polish communities in Ukraine and called on them to join forces to protect the rights of the national minorities at the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. We sense a trend in each of these countries to settle the problems of their national minorities in Ukraine unofficially, and they don’t care what happens after that. I asked Josep Borrell if Brussels would support this policy. Absolutely not, he replied, adding that they would equally protect all national minority languages and that the EU would never be content with exemptions for their minorities. But these exemptions have already been made. A law prohibiting primary school tuition in any language other than Ukrainian was to become effective as of September 1. A three-year exemption has been approved for the EU languages, but not for the Russian language. I asked Josep Borrell why this was so. He answered that they were working on this problem.

I don’t think a repetition of genocide in its classical form is possible today, but regrettably, discrimination trends will be gathering momentum. Speaking about Karabakh, we maintain contact with Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as with Turkey and Iran as their neighbours. Today I had a telephone conversation with [French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs] Jean-Yves Le Drian, during which we also spoke about Karabakh. The presidents of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – Russia, France and the United States – have made a very strong statement. We are now preparing a statement of the three countries’ foreign ministers.  However, what we need is not only statements but practical moves that can be made to end the bloodshed and resume negotiations.

You have mentioned that Emmanuel Macron said in Vilnius that cooperation with Russia was crucial for finding solutions to problems. We fully share this view. He also met with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya there; she has met with a number of high-ranking officials from EU countries.

This has jogged my memory regarding a situation, I think it was in 2017, when Jean-Marc Ayrault held the post of foreign minister. In March 2017, Marine Le Pen came to Russia at the invitation of our parliament. She met with President Putin. Mr Ayrault criticised that meeting between the President of Russia and the leader of a large French party. He interpreted it as “an attempt to interfere in the election process.” “We would like to understand if this is so. France is not interfering in Russia’s internal affairs, and we hope that Russia will not interfere in our affairs either,” he said. This is how he commented on President Putin’s meeting with the leader of a French political party who had been invited to visit Russia by our parliament. Now look at the [Western] reaction to what is taking place in Vilnius and other places. This is double standards.

Question: First of all, I would like to point out the importance of [foreign] professionals returning to Russia so that they can resume their operations here. As for our exports to Russia, we would like to say that we account for 25 percent of them, and we would like to continue to increase our share. We can see great potential here, in particular, when it comes to raw materials. We should start with renewable materials and discuss recycling. We also need to coordinate certification issues and think about improving the furniture industry in Russia so as to be able to export more IKEA products from Russia.

Sergey Lavrov: I hope your products will not be designated as military or dual-purpose items, as was the case with Sweden’s Quintus Technologies, and that you will continue to supply us with affordable, solid and reliable furniture.

Navalny Incident – A Made-in-the-USA False Flag to Harm and Contain Russia?

Stephen Lendman | Author | Common Dreams

By Stephen Lendman

Source

The US has much to gain from Navalny’s illness.

Most obvious is its aim to block Nord Stream 2’s completion.

If Russia’s gas pipeline to Germany becomes operational next year, it will double what Gazprom can supply Germany and other Western countries.

If the project is suspended or halted altogether, it will advantage US LNG producers — despite the much higher cost of this energy supply.

Republicans and Dems have greater aims.

They want Russia harmed economically, geopolitically and strategically. 

They want the country marginalized, weakened, and isolated.

The above objectives have been US policy throughout the Cold 

War and after its aftermath to the present day — no matter which right wing of its one-party state runs things.

Post-WW II, containing Russia became official US policy. 

US diplomat/envoy to Soviet Russia/presidential advisor George Kennan (1904 – 2005) was “the father of containment.”

He was a core member of so-called foreign policy “wise men” in Washington. 

His 1946 “Long Telegram” from Moscow and 1947 “Sources of Soviet Conduct” claimed its government was inherently expansionist. 

In February 1948, his “Memo PPS23” said the following:

“(W)e have 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. (It makes us) the object of envy and resentment. 

“Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships (to let us) maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national society.” 

“We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction…”

“We should dispense with the aspiration to ‘be liked’ or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism.”

“We should (stop talking about) unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization.” 

“The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts.” 

“The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans (ideas and practices), the better.”

In July 1947, his so-called “X” article on the “Sources of Soviet Conduct urged countering it “effectively.”

The US “can never be on Moscow’s side,” he stressed.

In March 1948, NSC 7 detailed “The Position of the United States with Respect to Soviet-Directed World Communism,” saying:

“(A) defensive policy cannot be considered an effective means of checking the momentum of Soviet expansion.”  

“Defeat(ing)” communism was considered “vital to the security of the United States.”

NSC 68 (April 1950 — issued weeks before Harry Truman’s preemptive war on nonbelligerent North Korea) officially inaugurated anti-Soviet Russia containment.

It called the country an enemy “unlike previous aspirants to hegemony…animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own (wishing to) impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world.” 

Ignored was the scourge of Nazi Germany and imperial Japan — or that WW II devastated Soviet Russia, requiring years of rebuilding.

Its government posed no threat to the US — not then, notably not now.

After Soviet Russia’s dissolution in December 1991, capitalism replaced its communist system.

It remains Russian Federation policy today. 

Because Moscow is independent of US control, made-in-the-USA adversarial relations continue.

No Russian threat to US/Western interests exists so it was invented, notably since Vladimir Putin became president.

Bipartisan hostility toward Russia in Washington is all about wanting the country transformed into a US vassal state.

It’s about gaining control over its vast resources and population, along with eliminating a strategic rival — whose overtures for normalized relations are consistently spurned.

The Trump regime is using the Navalny incident to further its strategic interests.

It’s pressuring Germany and the EU to punish Russia for an incident no evidence suggests it had anything to do with.

Last week, German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass said that if the chemical watchdog OPCW — an imperial lapdog serving Western interests — says Navalny was poisoned by novichok exposure, “I am convinced that (EU) sanctions will be unavoidable” on Russia, adding:

“(S)uch a grave violation of the International Chemical Weapons Convention cannot go unanswered.”

Earlier, a German military lab and facilities in France and Sweden claimed that the deadly nerve agent caused his illness.

Unmentioned by these countries was that exposure to novichok — the deadliest known toxin — causes death in minutes.

Navalny is very much alive over a month after falling ill. 

Discharged from hospitalization in Berlin, German doctors expect him to recovery fully or near-fully.

If poisoned by novichok, he’d have died before boarding a flight from Tomsk, Russia to Moscow.

What’s obvious is suppressed in the West by hostile-to-Moscow political officials and media.

Heroic efforts by Russian doctors in Omsk that saved Navalny’s life was erased from the EU’s historical record.

So was their biological analysis — finding no toxins in his blood, urine, liver, or elsewhere in his system.

According to former German diplomat Frank Elbe, Europe is “making a giant step backwards – back to the Cold War” by allying with US hostility toward Russia instead of normalizing relations, adding:

US policymakers are furious about an alliance by Germany and other EU countries with Russia to construct Nord Stream 2, “pursu(ing) their own independent policy.”

Elbe urged Europe to break from the US when their interests diverge — to uphold their sovereign independence.

Most often, European countries bend to Washington’s will — even  when harming their interests.

So far, opposing the Trump regime’s pressure to abandon the landmark JCPOA nuclear deal is an exception to the rule — if it sticks.

Will Nord Stream 2 be another? 

Will Germany support its completion or shoot itself in the foot by allying with US interests against its own?

The World Has Gone Absolutely Insane!

THE SAKER • SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

We all know that we are living in crazy, and dangerous, times, yet I can’t help being awed at what the imperial propaganda machine (aka the legacy ziomedia) is trying to make us all swallow. The list of truly batshit crazy stuff we are being told to believe is now very long, and today I just want to pick on a few of my “favorites” (so to speak).

First, of course, comes the “Novichok Reloaded” scandal around the alleged poisoning of the so-called “dissident” Alexei Navalnyi. I already mentioned this absolutely ridiculous story once, so I won’t repeat it all here. I just want to mention a few very basic facts:

  • Navalnyi is pretty much a discredited non-entity in Russia. “Putin” (because this is how the imperial propaganda machine always personalizes the evils of Russia: “Putin” did this or that, as if Putin was personally in every alleged Russian evil deed) had absolutely and exactly zero reasons to harm Navalnyi in any way. I would even add that IF Navalnyi was poisoned in Russia (which I do not believe) then the FSB screwed up by not offering him 24/7 protection, especially in the current political climate (i.e. struggle for the completion of North Stream 2).
  • The Empire always likes to produce a “sacrificial lamb” to symbolize the putative evil of the nation which dares to resist. In Iran it was Neda, in Kuwait the infamous “incubator babies”, in Syria anonymous kids killed by Russian gas, and in Russia it was Nemtsov (did not really work) and now Navalnyi (I wonder who the sacrificial lamb will be in Belarus (Tikhanovskaia?). The FSB should have seen this coming, especially after Nemtsov.
  • There is exactly zero evidence that the mineral water bottle which the Germans claim contained traces of, what else, “Novichok”, ever was anywhere near Navalnyi or even that it ever was in Russia. No such bottle was found by, or mentioned to the Russian investigators. This bottle was, allegedly, hidden from the FSB by Navalnyi supporters, and secretly brought to Germany. What that means in terms of “chain of custody” is self-evident.
  • As I have mentioned in my past article, if what the German authorities are claiming is true, then the Russians are truly the dumbest imbeciles on the planet. Not content to use this now famous “Novichok” gas against Skripal in the UK and after failing to kill Skripal, these stupid Russians decided to try the very same gas, only “improved”, and they failed again: Navalnyi is quite alive and well, thank you!
  • Then there is this: according to the imperial propaganda machine, Novichok was so horribly dangerous, that the Brits had to use full biosuits to investigate the alleged poisoning of Skripal. They also said that they would completely destroy the dangerous Skripal home (though they never did that). The self same propaganda machine says that the Novichok used on Navalnyi was a more powerful, improved version. Okay. Then try to answer this one: why did the Russians NOT put on biosuits, why did not a single passenger suffer from any side effects (inside a closed aircraft cabin!)? How is it that this super-dooper Novichok not only failed to kill Navalnyi (who, allegedly, ingested it!) but also failed to even moderately inconvenience anybody from the many people Navalnyi was surrounded by on that day?

I could continue to deconstruct all this nonsense, but that would take pages. I will mention two thing though:

First, the Russians have requested any and all evidence available to the Germans and to the Organization for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – but they got absolutely nothing in return. Yet the EU is demanding an investigation (which is already under way in Russia anyway!) as if the Russians did not want the exact same!

After being exposed to an improved Novichok and after weeks in coma in intensive care, here is Navalnyi trotting down stairs feeling great

After being exposed to an improved Novichok and after weeks in coma in intensive care, here is Navalnyi trotting down stairs feeling great

Second, Navalnyi apparently has an immunity to otherwise deadly Russian biological agents, just take a look at him on this post-Novichok photo:

[By the way, the first time around the Brits also never gave the Russians any information, nevermind any kind of evidence. Apparently, to hide some super-secret secrets. Yeah, right!]

Next, I absolutely have to mention the absolutely insane situation around Belarus.

To make a long story short, the EU wants to sanction Russia for intervening in Belarus while that self-same EU is intervening in every possible imaginable manner: from the Poles who treat Tikhanovskaia as a modern False Dmitri the Fifth (see here for a summary of Polish-run False Dmitris), to the promise of a special “Marshall Plan for Belarus”, to the coordination of all the protests from Poland. The EU refuses to recognize Lukashenko as the winner (in spite of the fact that there is exactly zero evidence suggesting that Lukashenko lost) and refers to Tikhanovskaia as the “Leader of Belarus” (whatever that means).

As for our US American friends, having learned exactly nothing from the abject failure of their Guaido coup in Venezuela, they now want to repeat exactly the same with Tikhanovskaia in Belarus. As a result, Tikhanovskaia has been re-christened “Juanita Guaido”

But the worst are still the Europeans. Not only are they prostituting themselves to the leaders of the Empire, the following countries were the first to declare that they will not recognize Lukashenko as the leader of Belarus: Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia (which is no surprise, they all compete for the title of most pro-US colony on the planet), but also putatively mentally sane countries such as Germany, Czechia, Slovakia, Denmark. The case of Germany is particularly amazing, because Germany will now be placed under immense pressure to cancel North Stream 2, something which the entire German industry opposes. Eventually, the US, Canada, the Ukraine, the UK and the entire EU joined in and also refused to recognize Lukashenko as the leader of Belarus.

What is especially amazing to me is that these EU imbeciles apparently don’t care that without North Stream 2 they will have to purchase US gas, at much higher prices, which will make the EU economy less effective than the US one. And I thought that prostitutes are always acutely aware of the money they can make: not the European ones, apparently.

Still, I think that the “top honor” in this category goes to Poland which, while condemning some undefined Russian intervention in Belarus, runs the NEXTA Telegram channel which runs videos like this one: (in Russian – no, not in Belarusian, they know that 99.9999% Belarussians speak Russian):

Oh, but it gets better.

NATO seems to be trying to frighten Russia with maneuvers in Poland and B-52 flights over the Ukraine and the Black Sea (see here for a full analysis). As for the Poles and Ukronazis, they apparently believe that the Russian bear covered himself in poop and ran away at full speed.

What I am going to say next is not a secret, every military person who looked into this issue knows and understands this: NATO, and I mean the combined power of all NATO member states, simply does not have the hardware needed to wage a war against Russia in Europe. What NATO does have is only sufficient to trigger a serious incident which might result in a shooting war. But once this war starts, the chances of victory for NATO are exactly zero. Why?

Well, for one thing, while coalitions of countries might give a thin veneer of political legitimacy to a military action (in reality, only a UNSC resolution would), in purely military terms you are much better off having a single national military. Not only that, but coalitions are nothing but the expression of an often held delusion: the delusion that the little guy can hide behind the back of the big guy. Poland’s entire history can be summarized in this simple principle: strike the weak and bootlick (or even worse!) the powerful. In contrast, real military powers don’t count on some other guy doing the heavy lifting for them. They simply fight until they win.

Yes, the Europeans, being the cowards that they are, do believe that there is safety in numbers. But each time these midgets gang up on Russia and start barking (or, to use Putin’s expression, start oinking) all together, the Russians clearly see that the Europeans are afraid. Otherwise, they would not constantly seek somebody to protect them (even against a non-existing threat).

As a direct result of this delusion, NATO simply does not have the equivalent of the First Guard Tank Army in spite of the fact that NATO has a bigger population and much bigger budgets than Russia. Such a tank Army is what it would take to fight a real war in Europe, Russia has such an Army. NATO does not.

The other thing NATO does not have is a real integrated multi-layered air defense system. Russia does.

Lastly, NATO has no hypersonic weapons. Russia does.

(According to President Trump, the US does have super-dooper “hydrosonic” weapons, but nobody really knows what that is supposed to mean).

I would even argue that the comparatively smaller Belarusian military could make hamburger meat of the roughly three times larger Polish armed forces in a very short time (unlike the Poles, the Belarusian are excellent soldiers and they know that they are surrounded by hostile countries on three sides).

As for the “armed forces” of the Baltic statelets, they are just a sad joke.

One more example: the Empire is now sending ships into the Black Sea as some kind of “show of force”. Yet, every military analyst out there knows that the Black Sea is a “Russian lake” and that no matter how many ships the US or NATO sends into the Black Sea, their life expectancy in case of a conflict would be measured in minutes.

There is a popular expression in Russia which, I submit, beautifully sums up the current US/NATO doctrine: пугать ежа голой задницей, which can be translated as “trying to scare a hedgehog with your naked bottom”.

The truth is that NATO military forces currently are all in very bad shape – all of them, including the US – and that their only advantage over Russia is in numbers. But as soon as you factor in training, command and control, the ability to operate with severely degraded C3I capabilities, the average age of military hardware or morale – the Russian armed forces are far ahead of the West.

Does anybody sincerely believe that a few B-52s and a few thousand soldiers from different countries playing war in Poland will really scare the Russian generals?

But if not – why the threats?

My explanation is simple: the rulers of the Empire simply hope that the people in the West will never find out how bad their current military posture really is, and they also know that Russia will never attack first – so they simply pretend like they are still big, mighty and relevant. This is made even easier by the fact that the Russians always downplay their real capabilities (in sharp contrast to the West which always brags about “the best XYZ in the world”). That, and the fact that nobody in the Western ruling classes wants to admit that the game is over and that the Empire has collapsed.

Well, they apparently can hide these truisms from most of their public opinion: Trump promises super-dooper missiles and big red buttons, and his supporters immediately wave (Chinese made) US flags! But I assure you that the Russians (political leaders and even the general public) know what the real score is.

Yet the Empire still refuses to deal with Russia in any other way except insults, bullying, threats, accusations, sanctions, and constant sabre-rattling. This has never, and I mean never, worked in the past, and it won’t work in the future. But, apparently, NATO generals simply cannot comprehend that insanity can be defined as “doing the same thing over and over again, while hoping to achieve different results”.

Finally, I will conclude with a short mention of US politicians.

First, Trump. He now declares that the Russians stole the secret of hypersonic weapons from Obama. This reminds me of how the Brits declared that Russia stole their vaccine against the sars-cov-2 virus. But, if the Russians stole all that, why is it that ONLY Russia has deployed hypersonic weapons (not the US) and ONLY Russia has both two vaccines and 2 actual treatments (and not the UK)? For a good laugh, check out Andrei Martyanov’s great column “Russia Steal Everything”.

And then there is Nancy Pelosi who, apparently, is considering, yes, you guessed it – yet another impeachment attempt against Trump? The charge this time? Exercising this Presidential prerogative to nominate a successor to Ruth Ginsburg. Okay, Pelosi might be senile, but she also is in deep denial if she thinks impeaching Trump is still a viable project. Frankly? I think that she lost it.

In fact, I think that all the Dems have gone absolutely insane: they are now considering packing both the Supreme Court and the Senate. The fact that doing so will destroy the US political system does not seem to bother them in the least.

Conclusion: quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat!

We live in a world where facts or logic have simply become irrelevant and nobody cares about such clearly outdated categories. We have elevated “doubleplusgoodthinking” into an art form. We have also done away with the concepts of “proof” or “evidence” which we have replaced with variations on the “highly likely” theme. We have also, for all practical purpose, jettisoned the entire corpus of international law and replaced it with “rules-based international order“. In fact, I can only agree with Chris Hedges who, in his superb book the “Empire of illusions” and of the “triumph of spectacle”. He is absolutely correct: not only is this a triumph of appearance over substance, and of ideology over reality, it is even the triumph of self-destruction over self-preservation.

There is not big “master plan”, no complex international conspiracy, no 5D chess. All we have is yet another empire committing suicide and, like so many before this one, this suicide is executed by this empire’s ruling classes.

Venezuela – A Tribute for Endless Pursuit of Democracy

Venezuela – A Tribute for Endless Pursuit of Democracy

September 19, 2020

by Peter Koenig for The Saker Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia – Nord Stream 2 vs. Poisoning of Alexei Navalny

By Peter Koenig

Global Research, September 07, 2020

Wednesday, 2 September – all German TV channels – mainstream media were focused unilaterally on the alleged Novichok poisoning of Russian opposition critique, Alexei Navalny. This “breaking-news” poison discovery was made in Germany two weeks after he has been flown from Tomsk in Siberia to Moscow, when he fell ill on the plane and the airliner had to return to Tomsk for an emergency landing.

Navalny was hospitalized in Tomsk, put in an artificial coma and closely observed. His family wanted him immediately to be flown out of Russia to Berlin, Germany, to get western attention and western treatment. So, the story goes. At first the medical staff at Tomsk hospital said that Navalny’s health was not stable enough for a transport of this kind. A few days later they gave the green light for flying him to Germany. Berlin sent a hospital plane – at German taxpayer’s cost – to fly the “poisoned” political patient to Berlin, where during the last 14 days he has been in an artificial coma in Berlin’s University Hospital “Charité”. At least that’s what the government reports.

After 11 days, finally “scientists” – supposedly military toxicologists, have discovered that Navalny was poisoned with military grade nerve gas Novichok.

Military grade! – It reminds vividly of the other bizarre Novichok case – Sergei and Yulia Skripal, father and daughter, who were found on March 12, 2018 on a park bench in Salisbury, Britain, unconscious. The location was about 12 km down the road from the British top-secret P-4 security military lab Porton Down in Wiltshire, one of the few labs in the world that still are capable to produce Novichok. The immediate reaction of Britain and the world was then, like today: Putin did it! Sergei Skripal was a Russian double agent, who was released from Russia more than a decade earlier and lived peacefully in England.

What interest would Mr. Putin have to poison him? However, the UK and Big Brother Washington had all the interest in the world to invent yet another reason to bash and slander Russia and President Putin. The same as today with Alexei Navalny.

Isn’t it strange that the Skripals as well as Navalny survived? And that after having been poisoned with what military experts claim to be the deadliest nerve agent ever? Although nobody has seen the Skripals after they were hospitalized 2 years ago, it seems they are still alive. Were they perhaps given US-British shelter under the guise of the so-called US-witness protection program – a full new identity, hiding in plain view?

The immediate question was then and is today, why would Mr. Putin poison his adversaries? That would be the most unwise thing to do. Everybody knows much too well that Mr. Putin is the world’s foremost perceptive, incisive and diplomatic statesman. Alexei Navalny wasn’t even a serious contender. His popularity was less than 5%. Compare this with Mr. Putin’s close to 80% approval rating by the Russian population. Navalny is known as a rightwing activist and troublemaker. Anybody who suggests such an absurdity, that the Kremlin would poison Navalny, is outright crazy.

If there would have been a plot to get rid of Navalny – why would he be poisoned with the deadliest nerve gas there is – and, as he survives, being allowed to be flown out to the west- literally into the belly of the beast? That would be even more nonsensical.

Yet the mainstream media keep hammering it down without mercy, without even allowing for the slightest doubt – down into the brains of the suspected brainwashed Germans and world populations. But the German population is the least brainwashed of all Europe. In fact, Germans are the most awaken of the globe’s wester populace. It clearly shows when they resist their government’s (and the 193 nations governments’ around the world) covid tyranny with a peaceful Berlin protest of 1 August of 1.3 million people in the streets and a similar one on 29 August.

Nevertheless, Madame Merkel’s reaction was so ferocious on September 2 on TV and with the media, as well as talking to leaders from around the world on how to react to this latest Russian atrocity and how to punish and sanction President Putin, that even conservative politicians and some mainstream journalist started wondering – what’s going on?Navalny Poisoning – The Real Target Is Russian-German Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

It’s a debateless accusation of Russia. There is no shred of evidence and there are no alternatives being considered. The simplest and most immediate question one ought to ask in such circumstances is “cui bono” – who benefits? – But no. The answer to this question would clearly show that President Putin and Russia do not benefit from this alleged poisoning at all. So, who does?

The evolving situation is so absurd that not a single word coming out of the German Government can be believed. It all sounds like a flagrant lie; like an evil act of smearing Russia without a reason, and that exactly at the time when Europe, led by Germany was about to improve relations with Russia. The gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 is a vivid testimony for closer relations between Germany, and by association Europe – with Russia – or is it?

One of Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s propaganda Minister) famous sayings was, when a lie is repeated enough it becomes the truth.

Peculiarly enough, and without any transit-thought, the German rightwing, the CDU-party in particular, came immediately forward with recommending – no, demanding – an immediate halt of the Nord Stream 2 project – canceling the contract with Russia. The “biggest punishment” for Putin. “It will hurt Russia deep in their already miserable down-trodden economy”, were some comments. Those were angry anti-Russian voices. Another lie. The Russian economy is doing well, very well, as compared to most western economies, despite covid.

What do Russian health and toxicology authorities say, especially those who treated Mr. Navalny in the hospital of Tomsk?

RT reports, according to Alexander Sabaev, the chief toxicologist who cared for him in Siberia, if Alexey Navalny’s condition were caused by a substance from the ‘Novichok’ group, the people accompanying him should also be suffering from the fallout. Instead, Dr. Sabaev believes that Navalny’s condition was caused by an “internal trigger mechanism.” Novichok is an organophosphorus compound, and, due to its high toxicity, it is not possible to poison just one person. He explained, “As a rule, other accompanying people will also be affected.”

Doctors in the Tomsk Emergency Hospital, where activist Navalny lay in a coma for almost two days, found no traces of toxic substances in his kidneys, liver, or lungs, Alexander Sabaev, leading the investigation, concluded that Navalny was not poisoned.

So – why was Dr. Alexander Sabaev not interviewed on German TV – or by the western mainstream media?

Neither were members of other German parties interviewed, for example Die Linke (the Left), or the SPD – the Social Democratic Party. None. None of the medical doctors or “scientists” who were treating Alexei Navalny at Charité, and who allegedly discovered the deadly poison (but not deadly enough) in Navalny’s body, were interviewed.

Nor was the former Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder (Ms. Merkel’s predecessor, 1998-2005) interviewed about his opinion. Schroeder, a member of the SPD, is one of the master minds of Nord Stream 2 and is currently the chairman of the board of Nord Stream AG and of Rosneft. Would he think that Mr. Putin was as foolish as to kill this German-Russia unifying project by poisoning a right-wing activist, a non-adversary?

Of course not.

Therefore, who benefits?

The United States has for years been objecting vividly and voraciously against this pipeline. Trump: “Why should we pay for NATO to defend Germany, when Germany buys gas from Russia and makes herself dependent on Russia?” – He added, “We offer Germany and Europe all the gas and energy they need.” Yes, the US is offering “fracking gas” at much higher cost than the Russian gas. There are countries in Europe whose Constitution would not allow buying fracking gas, due to the environmentally damaging fracking process.

Is it possible that this was another one of those brilliant acts of the CIA or other US intelligence agencies? – Or a combination of CIA and the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (German Federal Intelligence Service) – or an EU-NATO trick? By now it’s no longer a secret that NATO runs Brussels, or at least calls the shots on issues of US interests concerning the European Union or its member states.

Is it possible that Angela Merkel was chosen by the deep-deep state to combat President Putin and Russia? This time by bashing and smearing them with lies – lies as gross as poisoning an opposition activist? To kill the pipeline? What will it be next time?

Today, the first time, official Germany through Mr. Heiko Maas, Foreign Minister, has questioned and threatened the Nord Stream 2 German-Russian joint venture – “if Moscow does not collaborate.” Mr. Haas knows very well, there is nothing to collaborate, as Russia was not involved. It is the same argument, if Moscow does not collaborate (in the case of the Skripals) that was used by Theresa May, then British PM, to punish Russia with further sanctions.

Indeed, all is possible in today’s world, where the Washington empire is faltering by the day and the Powers that Be are desperate that their international fraud base – the US-dollar – may be disappearing. Because, not only are Nord Stream 1 and 2 delivering Russian gas to Germany and Europe, but the gas is traded in euros and rubles and not in US-dollars.

Think about it. Killing (or – so far – poisoning) a Russian opposition leader to demolish the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 project? – This is certainly a crime within the realm and “competence” of the US Government and its western allies.

*

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This article was originally published on New Eastern Outlook.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO); RT; Countercurrents, Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; Greanville Post; Defend Democracy Press; The Saker Blog, the and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from Land Destroyer ReportThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Peter Koenig, Global Research, 2020

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THE NAVALNY CASE: MERKEL VS. GERMAN DEEP STATE

The Navalny Case: Merkel vs. German Deep State

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

What happened to Navalny?

The short answer is we don’t know. Open-source information is contradictory in the extreme. However, both the course of events and Russian expert opinions make the allegation that Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent  Russian doctors, including world-renowned toxicologists who have ran analyses on Navalny’s biological samples, are adamant there were no signs of poisoning, and instead hypothesized he has suffered from a rare metabolic disorder. Chemical weapons specialists are similarly incredulous that Navalny supposedly transferred traces of the nerve agent to a water bottle in his possession (as alleged by German politicians) but managed not to poison anyone on that flight, in spite of throwing up in the airplane bathroom and having to be manhandled by passengers and crew after losing consciousness. Nor was the Omsk hospital staff affected—evaluations performed afterwards showed no presence of toxic substances consistent with nerve agents. The absence of nerve agent in Navalny while in Russia is also indirectly confirmed by the Russian government’s willingness, even eagerness, to have him fly to Germany in order to not have his potential death on their hands. That permission would have never been given had nerve agent poisoning been detected in Russia or, worse, Russian leadership actually ordered Navalny killed by poison, which is an extremely unlikely proposition for a wide range of reasons. Moreover, had that order been given, Navalny would have died in the Omsk hospital that actually saved his life—a fact that is hardly consistent with the Putin-ordered assassination theory. Poisoning Navalny, then saving his life and allowing him to go to a NATO country with traces of the poison still in his body, in order to enjoy the inevitable international scandal, simply flies in the face of logic and common sense.

The Navalny Case: Merkel vs. German Deep State
Alexey Navalny

The German version is of course the one Western media portrayed as unalloyed truth. Navalny was poisoned with a “novichok family” nerve agent, with traces of it found in Navalny’s skin and blood samples, and the aforementioned water bottle that remained in the possession of Navalny’s relatives (who likewise suffered no ill effects from handling it). However, according to German news reports, it took several days to isolate the tocsin, and moreover, in contrast to Russian doctors and specialists who spoke on the record, German experts and physicians are entirely anonymous. No German toxicologists have yet come forward and put their reputations on the line. Apart from anonymous press releases, the only Germans to have voiced the allegation of Navalny poisoning are politicians, including Angela Merkel and her Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. To make matters worse, the Bundeswehr biochemical warfare lab that delivered the diagnosis refuses to release a detailed report on how it analyzed the samples, citing “secrecy”.

All in all, in the absence of evidence and given the lack of transparency of the German investigation, combined with the unwillingness to provide Russia with any official documents on the matter, suggests the German version is the less credible of the two by far. What might account for this disparity?

Der Merkelbunker

Considering the state of affairs described above, it would appear that Angela Merkel was set up, with the main question here being, by whom? Even though from the perspective of “cui bono” United States is the obvious suspect, it does not appear “highly likely” it was the reason German labs may have found byproducts of a nerve agent in Navalny’s system. One can also rule out a British or US intelligence operation in the Russian Federation. US agents would have risked capture, and entrusting Navalny’s entourage with such a mission would be a recipe for disaster. Moreover, were Navalny poisoned in Russia by US or British agents, signs of poisoning would have been quickly detected, and an investigation launched against the most likely suspects in Russia.

The Navalny Case: Merkel vs. German Deep State

It appears more “highly likely” that Angela Merkel’s own government factions played a really nasty trick on her, by opportunistically using Navalny’s illness in order to exert pressure on Merkel and force her to scuttle North Stream 2 which is, after all, one of her signature projects. This would not only fatally weaken her politically, but also force a reorientation of Germany’s foreign policy toward a higher state of confrontation with both Russia and China, incidentally fully subordinating its not only foreign but also domestic economic policy to the United States. Angela Merkel’s relatively measured approach to Russia is not due to her being some sort of a Russophile. There is no evidence suggesting such a set of beliefs. She is, however, a German nationalist who is aggressively pursuing the goal of expanding Germany’s power through the domination of the EU, and extensive economic contacts with Eurasia. These policies naturally made her enemies in both Europe and the United States.

But her luster as a leader has worn down over time, making the maintenance of the ruling coalition an ever more difficult task. While her position as Chancellor is still secure, Merkel was not able to avoid being surrounded by ministers who do not share her worldview, and instead have an Atlanticist orientation. The two German politicians who are prime candidates for this betrayal of Merkel are Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (or AKK), the current Defense Minister and chairwoman of CDU who ousted Merkel from that post in 2018, and Heiko Maas, the Foreign Minister. Both of them have been critical of North Stream 2 in the past, have espoused hard-line anti-Russia and pro-US views to the point of advocating the dispatch of German warships to the South China Sea, and who moreover control the relevant entities in the investigation of the Navalny “poisoning”. Maas, for his part, has been speaking in terms of ultimatums leveled at Russia, demanding that it explain how Navalny was poisoned with Novichok in Russia and prove its innocence, a task that he surely knows is impossible to fulfill. It is not difficult to imagine that as soon as the Navalny saga unfolded, Maas and AKK worked behind the scenes to have Navalny flown to Germany as soon as possible, with a German intelligence agent introducing a tiny dose of cholinesterase inhibitors, possibly Novichok-related ones, upon his arrival in Germany. When Charite apparently refused to play ball and limited itself to an inconclusive “cholinesterase inhibitor” funding, the matter was promptly handed over to AKK’s Bundeswehr lab where the desired result was duly produced.

https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/6867604717028117766?lang=en-GB

Since Germany is refusing to release the results of Bundeswehr’s testing or to have Navalny re-examined by Russian or international doctors and compare the results of German and Russian analyses (with Merkel tellingly unable to compel her institutions to actually participate in an effort that would almost certainly exonerate Russia), one can now predict that Russia will fail to “convince” AKK and Maas of its innocence, with the outcome being termination of North Stream 2, “coronation” of AKK as the next Chancellor of Germany, and a crackdown on political parties like AfD and Die Linke who have been vocal in questioning the official narrative. Indeed, with the German military and intelligence services playing an active “behind the scenes” role in German politics, one cannot even rule out a “Reichstag fire” style scenario.

Lessons Learned and Crises to Come

The Russian government clearly miscalculated in allowing Navalny to go to Germany, expecting that Angela Merkel still had sufficient political pull to override her hawkish entourage and force a transparent investigation that would reveal the nature of Navalny’s illness. The more appropriate course of action would have been to keep Navalny in Omsk and invite German doctors to perform analyses of Navalny’s blood samples right there in Omsk, where there was no danger of chain-of-custody violation by third parties determined to plant evidence pointing at Npvichok.

But what is even more worrisome is that Western intelligence services, apparently after being burned by the inept staging of the Douma false flag, have found an almost surefire way to stage “Novichok” false flags. From now on literally every loss of consciousness by a prominent figure can be transformed into an international scandal, as long as there is a compliant NATO biochemical warfare laboratory willing to deliver the required diagnosis, without ever having to reveal how it reached that conclusion.  We should expect this tactic will be used many times in the future.

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Market Friday: The Pipeline and the Poison


Date: September 4, 2020

Author: Tom Luongo

Pipeline politics, like electoral politics, knows no limits.

With Nordstream 2’s completion on schedule to happen around the same time Donald Trump will ‘appear to be re-elected,‘ the amping up of anti-Russian rhetoric and political pressure was to be expected.

The poisoning of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s supposed chief critic, Alexei Navalny, is the latest sad attempt to stop the Nordstream 2 pipeline. Laying aside the reality that Navalny isn’t any real threat to Putin, the basic question you should be asking is if Putin truly wanted him dead why not just create a pretext for it and shoot him?

This is the first and only reason you need to prove that this story is a bad Ian Fleming short story concocted in the bowels of MI6.

Navalny gets arrested and released in Moscow as often as most people change their socks. So, if Putin the Gangsta’ wanted him dead, he’d be dead.

But Navalny as a political asset for the West as Putin’s gadfly was completely spent. The proof of this is Navalny’s inability to marshal any opposition to the recent referendum in Russia blessing the proposed changes to the constitution.

While the Democrats and the media try to keep the dream of Russian interference into our elections alive we are distracted from what the real operation is — to stop Trump’s re-election and delay until the coup is complete in the U.S. to bury all the evidence of Obamagate during a restoration.

That’s all Russiagate and Ukrainegate and Skripalgate and now Navalnygate are — comfort food lies to angry shitlibs who are still haven’t fully processed the 2016 election and Brexit, kept on a drip feed of social media dopamine hits in a state of perpetual Bargaining so that they never move on to Acceptance

And if The Davos Crowd can put the screws to Russia’s future gas supplies to Europe and stunt its growth with all of this nonsense, all the better. The motivations of the factions pro and con to the Nordstream 2 pipeline have grown so murky it’s almost too much to outline anymore.

There is no simple throughline to this story since it encompasses so many different angles and potential motivations of the players, many of whom have competing agendas.

Merkel wanted Nordstream 2 to make Germany the gas transit hub for the European Union. German businesses reached out to Russia to supply them this gas after the EU destroyed South Stream in 2014. It would give the Germans a lot more control over the Poles while placating the German industrialists who are the source of her power. Her motivation on this has been very clear.

She has also allowed Russia and Turkey to go forward with the second leg of the Turkstream pipeline which goes through Bulgaria, Serbia and into Hungary.

What’s new is that Merkel is finally getting push back from people within her own party over Nordstream 2 which adds to the pressure the Trump administration is putting on her.

Merkel’s modus operandi is always status quo. So, she will always try to placate both sides while still advancing her own plans. For the most part Trump sees right through her and never gives her any wiggle room.

That’s why Nordstream 2 is so important to him, but it is more symbolic than it is about the gas itself. I suspect it is more about the growing influence of the EU and the mission creep of NATO more than any antipathy he has to Putin and/or Russia.

And it wouldn’t surprise me at all for this Nordstream 2 pressure from him to be more about remaking the U.S.’s relations with the post-WWII institutional order — the U.N., NATO, etc. — than it is about a paltry 55 bcm annually of natural gas.

Europe’s future gas needs are so big, with the shuttering of all nuclear power and this putsch towards Green Energy, that, in the end, this isn’t about Germany’s reliance on Russia but rather about Russia profiting from its relationship to Germany.

This tweet says it all and the interview excerpt says a lot more.

The last point is very important because whenever there is about to be a chat between Trump and Putin the well has to be poisoned, as it were, to ensure nothing of substance can change.

And this, to me, makes the most sense as to why Merkel came out so forcefully about the Navalny poisoning, it serves to shut down internal opposition to the pipeline, which no German in his right mind would object to, while appearing to appease Trump and the U.S. by standing tall to Putin.

But this is all nonsense. Merkel will not shut down Nordstream 2 or block its completion over Alexei Navalny any more than I’m going to dress in black bloc and join Antifa.

And that brings me back to the 800 lb. faction in the room, the intelligence agencies who helped create this mess in the first place, which ties us right back to the election.

Who has motive, means and opportunity to create an international incident like this on the eve of the election?

The very people who were caught red-handed in a treasonous intelligence operation used to justify spying on a political opponent during the 2016 election campaign.

Who is desperately trying to push all changes to the current state of play until after the election on November 3rd?

Why is Judge Emmet Sullivan purposefully delaying resolution of the Michael Flynn trial until after the election?

Who is behind the riots in the U.S.?

Who is conducting war games on the election outcome, publishing them in their mouthpieces (here and here) and stating the election will be compromised to the point of having to be resolved in the courts reversing what the result will be on election night?

Who stands to lose the most if Trump is re-elected and a No-Deal Brexit goes through?

British Intelligence, the holdover members of the CIA and Barack Obama, that’s who.

Forget Hillary Clinton, she’s dirty but you shouldn’t care about her. Obama is the one who’s head is actually on the chopping block here, since it’s him the evidence is pointing to as to signing off on all of this.

It’s Obama that was chosen by The Davos Crowd to implement the destruction of Trump, not Hillary.

That’s why we’ve been treated to the greatest show on earth about how the U.S. is going to fail, how the U.S. dollar is going the way of the dodo and the European Union is inevitable.

The only problem with this is it’s completely not true.

This Friday we are seeing what it looks like when you push markets and the political narratives supporting them well past their ‘Best if Used By’ date. A violent snap back which sees stocks fall, safe havens like gold and bitcoin get whacked with the ugly stick and even bond yields rising.

We’re staring at a milder version of what we experienced in March, a sell-everything-not-nailed-down-and-get -to-dollars day. All across the markets we’re seeing a turn towards deflation as the mad scramble for dollars begins now that the odds of Donald Trump winning the election have risen sufficiently to cast doubt on the outcome in the minds of traders.

And the canary in the coal mine for this deflation has, for weeks now, been the inability of oil to rally into this high in stocks. If there has been one thing that I’ve learned in my years of watching markets it is that oil prices never flat line.

That is exactly what’s been going on for the past eight weeks.

So no we have a market correction, long delayed from June, lining up with the height of the election campaign. Everyone is exerting maximum political pressure on each other and it won’t get any better.

With follow-through downside action today after Thursday’s massacre markets all over have thrown technical reversals at the weekly level. Expect more follow through next week as a full-blown panic is likely to emerge here.

But, be especially on the lookout for a crash in oil prices as that will be used to construct a new version of a Trump/Putin bromance that goes something like this:

Now that oil prices have collapsed, Putin will put extra pressure on Trump to steal the election because Putin needs higher oil prices while Biden will go after Big Oil if he’s elected.

The reality is that the global economy was broken by these lock downs and the now indisputable over-reaction by governments to effect fundamental political change and oust Trump from power.

But they are also continuations of decades-long policies of pipeline politics dictating where capital is allowed to flow. In the grand scheme of things Trump and Putin are near-equals as enemies to the people behind these policies.

And that’s why whenever things look good for them, sacrifices must be made. This time it was Alexei Navalny.


By Tom Luongo
Source: Gold Goats ‘n Guns

White House Kosovo meeting: crossing the Atlantic, for this?

White House Kosovo meeting: crossing the Atlantic, for this?

by Eric Vögelin[1] for the Saker blog

The President of Serbia and Avdullah Hoti, the Prime Minister (perhaps it would be more correct to say “self-styled Prime Minister”) of NATO’s 1999 war booty, the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo were hosted for a conference at the White House on 3 and 4 September. The ostensible purpose of the meeting was to iron out their economic relations, as if anything were there to iron out given the devastated condition of both their economies. Putting aside the sensible question of why anybody at the White House would even care about this very local issue enough to devote the good part of two days to it, and bearing in mind that nothing in the Balkans is as it appears at first glance, the real agenda was, of course, quite a bit different. It had to do with putting finishing touches on legitimizing Kosovo as a separate state with international attributes, and economic concerns only served to camouflage that intention.

When the dust settled, the Serbian President had signed what must appear as one of the weirdest documents in the history of international relations. Before making any further editorial comments, here it is:

C:\Users\hp\Desktop\Serbia-Kosovo Agreement 2020 - 1.jpg
C:\Users\hp\Desktop\Serbia-Kosovo Agreement 2020 - 2.jpg

What is so bizarre about it? It is a scrap of paper adorned with the signature of a head of state, but without any heading or logo, or place where it was signed. To add insult to injury, the signatory is identified merely as “President.” President of what, the local Rotary Club or Hunters’ Association? Would a statesman who cares about the dignity of his office or the prestige of his country sign something like this? And what is this, anyway? Is it a diplomatic document or the signatory’s private notes, written out to himself? Interesting questions, worth pondering.

For a contrast, here is President Donald Trump’s letter to his Kosovo Albanian guest, Avdullah Hoti, commemorating the occasion:

C:\Users\hp\Desktop\Trump letter to Hothi.jpg

That looks a lot better and more dignified, doesn’t it?

For an economic agreement between two Balkan entities that few in the West have heard of, care about, or could locate on the map, reached with the involvement of President Trump and members of his staff, the strangely laid out document, it must be said, contains some even stranger provisions.

It says, among other things, that the parties will “diversify their energy supplies.” What does this Aesopian language mean? Are the parties unhappy with their current sources of energy and in need of assistance to secure new ones? Hardly. In light of (a) America’s bitter opposition to North Stream 2, and (b) Secretary of State Pompeo’s recent attempts to “diversify” Belarus’ energy supplies by pushing on it US products that would have to be brought from 10,000 miles away in order to block nearby Russian energy supplies, this phrase can mean only one thing. It is an order to Serbia to abandon any thought of relying on convenient and reasonably priced Russian energy supplies. It also puts an end to Serbia’s role in the Russian European energy distribution scheme, and potentially deprives it of its lucrative position as the South Stream distribution hub. What a great deal for Serbia!

Serbia further accepts to “prohibit the use of 5G equipment supplied by untrusted vendors.” Public health advocates would at this point say “Great, the trip to Washington was not in vain after all, because the scourge of 5G will no longer endanger the health of Serbia’s population, already being decimated by dire cancer generating radioactive consequences of the 1999 NATO bombing.” But the removal of this indisputably noxious Chinese equipment (and that is the whole point of this provision) will not end the scourge but will merely lead to “other mediation efforts in a timely fashion,” e.g. to the substitution of US manufactured deadly 5G networks for those of Huawei.

So the “economic normalization agreement with Kosovo” signed by the president of Serbia’s Hunter’s Association is actually a huge slap to both Russia and China, Serbia’s important geopolitical partners, and incidentally a shot in Serbia’s own foot as well.

Next, there is a provision which Ambassador Richard Grenell, who mediated the talks, might have inserted himself: “Both parties will work with the 69 countries that criminalize homosexuality to push for decriminalization.” What has that got to do with economic relations? And why stop there and not also mandate transgender toilets in Serbian grammar schools?

Serbia is also mandated to transfer its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In parallel fashion, “Kosovo” and Israel will establish diplomatic relations, i.e. Israel recognizes Kosovo. Another great deal for Serbia. By moving its embassy to Jerusalem, Serbia will reward Israel for recognizing the illegal separation of 15% of its territory containing some of its most significant cultural and spiritual sites. That would be analogous to Israel ceding Temple Mount and the Wailing wall to the Arabs and opening embassies in their capitals. And, slap number three, this time to the Arab and Muslim world, for reasons that are impossible to rationally fathom, Serbia obliges itself to “implement measures to restrict Hizballah´s operations and financial activities” on its territory. Whatever position one chooses to take toward “Hizballah” there is nothing for Serbia to restrict because that organization does not conduct any activities on Serbian territory, unless the reference is to “Kosovo” which happens to be a Hizballah stronghold. So why aren´t things called by their real name, and why does a person purporting to represent Serbia consent to being strong-armed into signing such a ludicrous provision, needlessly putting his country in a bad light and courting the contempt of hundreds of millions of Muslims throughout the world?

The next to last point of the Agreement is highly indicative of the political context of the entire affair. It says that in return for “Kosovo” not seeking membership in international organizations for a year, Serbia will “agree to a one-year moratorium on its de-recognition campaign, and will refrain from formally or informally requesting any nation or International Organization not to recognize Kosovo as an independent state.” The formulation is ambiguous but it is framed to support the interpretation that Serbia will refrain from obstructing the recognition of “Kosovo as an independent state” without any time limitations. The sentence is cleverly written by Anglo-Saxon lawyers, including tricky punctuation, to obfuscate that point, but the comma after the word “year” gives the game away. The clause that follows is grammatically separate from the language that precedes it. If President Trump was in a hurry and retyping the whole thing was not an option, any prudent signatory on Serbia’s behalf would have quickly inserted in his own hand after the word refrain the phrase “for the duration of one year,” thus clearly matching the period of “Kosovo’s” commitment to refrain. But as the matter stands, “Kosovo’s” duty to refrain will expire in one year, while Serbia’s obligation to do the same will continue indefinitely after that. Pacta sunt servanda.

Did Serbia’s representative at this meeting have a legal team to assist him? Probably not, because he presumes to be a lawyer himself.

What is the political implication of this provision? It is that the US and EU sponsored process of “Kosovo” legitimation as an “independent state” shall continue unabated, culminating in UN membership, with Serbia renouncing in advance the right to oppose it in any effective way. It is a demonically clever scheme. In the end, Serbia’s de iure recognition of “Kosovo” will become irrelevant because there will no longer be a need to seek its consent or opinion on the subject.

The thought that President Trump arranged this meeting because he needed a foreign policy win before the elections is grossly exaggerated. In his press briefing on 4 September, the same day these discussions were concluded, he did not even mention them or intimate that some spectacular accords which might influence his electoral chances were signed in the Oval Office. That is a clue to the significance he attributes to the visit of his Balkan guests.

For the outlaw “government of Kosovo,” however, this is an important phase in the relentless process of legitimation that is being conducted under the auspices of its US deep state sponsors, whether Trump personally is aware of what is going on or not. For Serbia, the trans-Atlantic trip definitely was not worth it. It was another broad strategic retreat and humiliation. It demonstrates the readiness of Serbia’s leadership to needlessly abase themselves and trade the country’s crown jewels for another lease on their political life, betting on the foreign support they now think they have secured by brown-nosing the global powers-that-be. They better think again, however, and analyse realistically the trajectory of their Montenegrin colleagues.

  1. I thank a reader of my previous article for correctly spelling my surname, with the umlaut. I had used the English transliteration in order not to confuse some readers. 

Navalny Poisoning – The Real Target is Russian-German Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

US-NATO continue building “momentum” behind Navalny incident – hope to end Nord Stream 2 pipeline before facts emerge, the pipeline is completed, and as all other options have so-far failed.  
September 6, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – Alexei Navalny is the ideal opposition figure for any incumbent government – he is ineffective, unpopular, and transparently compromised by malign foreign interests.

According to a poll carried out by the Lavada Center – a polling organization funded by the US government itself  via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) – a mere 9% of all Russians look favorably on him and his work, with most Russians unaware of who he even is.

Germany was the one place the US and NATO needed Navalny to be the most – and in a condition of poor health the US and NATO needed him to be in. 

His continued existence and his monopoly over Russia’s equally unpopular opposition ensures that an effective opposition never takes root in grounds choked by his presence.

For Moscow – Navalny’s continued existence is not only not a threat, he occupies space where a real threat might otherwise emerge.

For the United States and its NATO partners who have dumped millions of dollars and political capital into Navalny’s dead-end opposition in Russia – Navalny’s continued existence is an underperforming investment at best.

“Coincidentally” just as the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline nears completion – a pipeline project that will expand Russia’s hydrocarbon exports, increase revenue, and provide cheap energy to Europe in a business deal that would also help draw Europe and Russia closer diplomatically – Navalny was “poisoned.”

He wasn’t just “poisoned.” He was allegedly poisoned with nerve agents called “Novichoks” alleged to be available only in Russia. Navalny was rushed by a shadowy NGO with opaque funding called “Cinema for Peace” to Germany – of all places.

Delivered right to the heart of what is surely one of Russia’s most important economic and diplomatic projects at the moment – it is the perfect excuse for the US and NATO to pressure Germany to abandon Nord Stream 2 – an objective Washington has struggled and failed to achieve for years.

The US and NATO wasted no time accusing Russia even with no evidence presented that Russia was responsible – not to mention lacking any conceivable motive for the alleged “assassination” attempt of such an unpopular opposition figure at such a crucial time for Russia, its economy, and its ties with Western Europe and Germany in particular.

German state media, Deutsche Welle (DW), in an article titled, “Navalny, Novichok and Nord Stream 2 — Germany stuck between a rock and a pipeline,” indirectly lays out not only the real motive behind Navalny’s alleged poisoning, but the most likely culprit as well.

The article admits just how close to completion Nord Stream 2 is, noting (emphasis added):

Many are looking to Germany, whose Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a prominent example of selective cooperation with Russia despite concerns about the country’s approach to human rights both domestically and internationally.

The Nord Stream 2 project, which is more than 90% complete, aims to double Russia’s supply of direct natural gas to Germany. Running under the Baltic Sea, the pipeline bypasses Eastern European states, sending gas from Russia’s Narva Bay to Lubmin, a coastal town adjacent to Merkel’s constituency in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

It’s noted that the pipeline bypasses Eastern Europe where the US has repeatedly toppled governments and installed client regimes hostile to Russia – complicating Russia’s delivery of hydrocarbons to Western Europe – Ukraine being a recent example.

The DW article then admits:

Critics do not view Nord Stream 2 as purely a business affair, instead calling it a major win for Russia’s image and standing at the international level. The Navalny poisoning, which draws strong parallels to the 2018 Novichok attack on a former Russian double agent that the United Kingdom has accused the Kremlin of orchestrating, further complicates Germany’s efforts to keep politics out of Nord Stream 2.“After the poisoning of Navalny we need a strong European answer, which Putin understands: The EU should jointly decide to stop Nord Stream 2,” tweeted Norbert Röttgen, an outspoken Russia critic in Merkel’s conservative party. 

His voice carries particular weight, as Röttgen chairs the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee and he is currently running for the party’s leadership.

It doesn’t take an expert in geopolitics to have understood that an attempt on Navalny’s life would have provided a mountain of political ammunition for the US and NATO in its ongoing attempts to sabotage Nord Stream 2 and prevent “a win for Russia’s image and standing at the international level.”

This is the most compelling reason why the Kremlin would not have ordered it – especially so close to completing Nord Stream 2.

It must also be remembered that Navalny was flown directly to Germany after the alleged attack.

Germany was the one place the US and NATO needed Navalny to be the most – and in a condition of poor health the US and NATO needed him to be in. With Nord Stream 2 over 90% complete – there is little time left to threaten, coerce, and pressure Germany to otherwise abandon the project.

The alleged presence of “Novichok” nerve agents – had the attack been the work of the Kremlin – would have been a smoking gun and a virtual calling card left – all but guaranteeing immense pressure from across the West and in particular – pressure placed on Germany to cancel the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The DW article covers what the US has already done to pressure Germany, noting (emphasis added):

 The Trump administration wants to sell Germany its own gas, which critics say is more expensive than gas from Russia. Sanctions have bipartisan support in Washington, and the US has already imposed them against companies laying pipe in the Baltic Sea, prompting the Swiss-Dutch company Allseas to pull out of the project in 2019. More sanctions are awaiting the US president’s signature.

Then DW quoted Sarah Pagung – a specialist on German-Russian relations for the German Council on Foreign Relations. The article would note her saying (emphasis added):

“We can’t rule [the canceling of Nord Stream 2] out as an option, but it’s unlikely,” Pagung told DW, although she said Germany could use the Navalny poisoning as an “opportunity” to shift its position on the pipeline without appearing to be caving to US pressure. 

DW all but spells out the true motive of Navalny’s alleged poisoning and his “serendipitous” delivery to Germany for treatment – to serve as a catalyst for the cancellation of Nord Stream 2.

Since Moscow has absolutely nothing to gain from this – it is the least likely suspect.

Since it not only fits into the US and NATO’s openly declared agenda of coercing Germany into cancelling the Nord Stream 2 project, it also fits a pattern of staged attacks and fabricated claims used by the US and NATO to advance their collective foreign policy – they are the most likely suspects.

Consider the much worse and absolutely verified crimes against humanity the US and NATO are guilty of – with the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2011-onward military interventions in Libya and Syria as just two examples. Poisoning Navalny – a failed investment as a living, breathing opposition figure and turning him into a martyr – is a relatively small act of false-flag violence to create a difficult impasse for the German government regarding Nord Stream 2.

The fact that the US and NATO are rushing to conclusions without evidence – as they’ve done many times before when pushing now verified lies – only further incriminates both as the most likey suspects in Navalny’s poisoning.

For Navalny himself – his fate – if he was actually poisoned – is tragic. The very people he worked for and whose agenda he served seem to find him more useful dying than healthy in terms of advancing Western foreign policy against Russia.

There are too many “coincidences” surrounding this incident:

  • The attack itself at such a sensitive time for Russia, its economy, and its ties with Germany in particular;
  • The fact that Navalny was flown by a shadowy NGO to Germany itself;
  • The fact that the US has been openly trying to sabotage the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline all along and;
  • The fact that the “attack” was allegedly carried out in such a clumsy, ineffective, and incriminating way specifically to implicate Russia.

For a US and NATO who have sold the world entire wars based on “evidence” and “accusations” of everything from nonexistent “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq to lies about viagra-fuelled rape squads in Libya – one more lie about an unpopular Russian opposition figure poisoned in Russia, picked up by a dubious NGO, and placed down right in the middle of German-Russian relations and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline the US and NATO are desperate to stop – fits a disturbing but all-too-predictable pattern.  
The question is why are people still falling for it? Will Germany fall for it, or at the very least, cave – costing itself economic opportunities in exchange for a deeper and more costly role in US-NATO aggression against Russia? Only time will tell. 
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Shadowplay revisited: how Eurasia is being reshaped

Shadowplay revisited: how Eurasia is being reshaped

AUGUST 27, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission by the author and first posted at Asia Times

We have seen how China is meticulously planning all its crucial geopolitical and geoeconomic moves all the way to 2030 and beyond.

What you are about to read next comes from a series of private, multilateral discussions among intel analysts, and may helpfully design the contours of the Big Picture.

In China, it’s clear the path ahead points to boosting internal demand, and shifting monetary policy towards the creation of credit to consolidate the building of world-class domestic industries.

In parallel, there’s a serious debate in Moscow that Russia should proceed along the same path. As an analyst puts it, “Russia should not import anything but technologies it needs until it can create them themselves and export only the oil and gas that is required to pay for imports that should be severely restricted. China still needs natural resources, which makes Russia and China unique allies. A nation should be as self-sufficient as possible.”

That happens to mirror the exact CCP strategy, as delineated by President Xi in his July 31 Central Committee meeting.

And that also goes right against a hefty neoliberal wing in the CCP – collaborationists? – who would dream of a party conversion into Western-style social democracy, on top of it subservient to the interests of Western capital.

Comparing China’s economic velocity now with the US is like comparing a Maserati Gran Turismo Sport (with a V8 Ferrari engine) with a Toyota Camry. China, proportionately, holds a larger reservoir of very well educated young generations; an accelerated rural-urban migration; increased poverty eradication; more savings; a cultural sense of deferred gratification; more – Confucianist – social discipline; and infinitely more respect for the rationally educated mind. The process of China increasingly trading with itself will be more than enough to keep the necessary sustainable development momentum going.

The hypersonic factor

Meanwhile, on the geopolitical front, the consensus in Moscow – from the Kremlin to the Foreign Ministry – is that the Trump administration is not “agreement-capable”, a diplomatic euphemism that refers to a de facto bunch of liars; and it’s also not “legal-capable”, an euphemism applied, for instance, to lobbying for snapback sanctions when Trump has already ditched the JCPOA.

President Putin has already said in the recent past that negotiating with Team Trump is like playing chess with a pigeon: the demented bird walks all over the chessboard, shits indiscriminately, knocks over pieces, declares victory, then runs away.

In contrast, serious lobbying at the highest levels of the Russian government is invested in consolidating the definitive Eurasian alliance, uniting Germany, Russia and China.

But that would only apply to Germany after Merkel. According to a US analyst, “the only thing holding back Germany is that they can expect to lose their car exports to the US and more, but I tell them that can happen right away because of the dollar-euro exchange rate, with the euro becoming more expensive.”

On the nuclear front, and reaching way beyond the current Belarus drama – as in there will be no Maidan in Minsk – Moscow has made it very clear, in no uncertain terms, that any missile attack from NATO will be interpreted as a nuclear attack.

The Russian defensive missile system – including the already tested S-500s, and soon the already designed S-600s – arguably may be 99% effective. That means Russia would still have to absorb some punishment. And this is why Russia has built an extensive network of nuclear bomb shelters in big cities to protect at least 40 million people.

Russian analysts interpret China’s defensive approach along the same lines. Beijing will want to develop – if they have not already done so – a defensive shield, and still retain the ability to strike back against a US attack with nuclear missiles.

The best Russian analysts, such as Andrei Martyanov, know that the three top weapons of a putative next war will be offensive and defensive missiles and submarines combined with cyber warfare capabilities.

The key weapon today – and the Chinese understand it very clearly – is nuclear submarines. Russians are observing how China is building their submarine fleet – carrying hypersonic missiles – faster than the US. Surface fleets are obsolete. A wolf pack of Chinese submarines can easily knock out a carrier task force. Those 11 US carrier task forces are in fact worthless.

So in the – horrifying – event of the seas becoming un-sailable in a war, with the US, Russia and China blocking all commercial traffic, that’s the key strategic reason pushing China to obtain as much of its natural resources overland from Russia.

Even if pipelines are bombed they can be fixed in no time. Thus the supreme importance for China of Power of Siberia – as well as the dizzying array of Gazprom projects.

The Hormuz factor

A closely guarded secret in Moscow is that right after German sanctions imposed in relation to Ukraine, a major global energy operator approached Russia with an offer to divert to China no less than 7 million barrels a day of oil plus natural gas. Whatever happens, the stunning proposal is still sitting on the table of Shmal Gannadiy, a top oil/gas advisor to President Putin.

In the event that would ever happen, it would secure for China all the natural resources they need from Russia. Under this hypothesis, the Russian rationale would be to bypass German sanctions by switching its oil exports to China, which from a Russian point of view is more advanced in consumer technology than Germany.

Of course this all changed with the imminent conclusion of Nord Stream 2 – despite Team Trump taking no prisoners to sanction everyone in sight.

Backdoor intel discussions made it very clear to German industrialists that if Germany would ever lose its Russian source of oil and natural gas, coupled with the Strait of Hormuz shut down by Iran in the event of an American attack, the German economy might simply collapse.

There have been serious cross-country intel discussions about the possibility of a US-sponsored October Surprise involving a false flag to be blamed on Iran. Team Trump’s “maximum pressure” on Iran has absolutely nothing to do with the JCPOA. What matters is that even indirectly, the Russia-China strategic partnership has made it very clear that Tehran will be protected as a strategic asset – and as a key node of Eurasia integration.

Cross-intel considerations center on a scenario assuming a – quite unlikely – collapse of the government in Tehran. The first thing Washington would do in this case is to pull the switch of the SWIFT clearing system. The target would be to crush the Russian economy. That’s why Russia and China are actively increasing the merger of the Russian Mir and the Chinese CHIPS payment systems, as well as bypassing the US dollar in bilateral trade.

It has already been gamed in Beijing that were that scenario ever to take place, China might lose its two key allies in one move, and then have to face Washington alone, still on a stage of not being able to assure for itself all the necessary natural resources. That would be a real existential threat. And that explains the rationale behind the increasing interconnection of the Russia-China strategic partnership plus the $400 billion, 25-year-long China-Iran deal.

Bismarck is back

Another possible secret deal already discussed at the highest intel levels is the possibility of a Bismarckian Reinsurance Treaty to be established between Germany and Russia. The inevitable consequence would be a de facto Berlin-Moscow-Beijing alliance spanning the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), alongside the creation of a new – digital? – Eurasian currency for the whole Eurasian alliance, including important yet peripheral actors such as France and Italy.

Well, Beijing-Moscow is already on. Berlin-Beijing is a work in progress. The missing link is Berlin-Moscow.

That would represent not only the ultimate nightmare for Mackinder-drenched Anglo-American elites, but in fact the definitive passing of the geopolitical torch from maritime empires back to the Eurasian heartland.

It’s not a fiction anymore. It’s on the table.

Adding to it, let’s do some little time traveling and go back to the year 1348.

The Mongols of the Golden Horde are in Crimea, laying siege to Kaffa – a trading port in the Black Sea controlled by the Genoese.

Suddenly, the Mongol army is consumed by bubonic plague.

They start catapulting contaminated corpses over the walls of the Crimean city.

So imagine what happened when ships started sailing again from Kaffa to Genoa.

They transported the plague to Italy.

By 1360, the Black Death was literally all over the place – from Lisbon to Novgorod, from Sicily to Norway. As much as 60% of Europe’s population may have been killed – over 100 million people.

A case can be made that the Renaissance, because of the plague, was delayed by a whole century.

Covid-19 is of course far from a medieval plague. But it’s fair to ask.

What Renaissance could it be possibly delaying?

Well, it might well be actually advancing the Renaissance of Eurasia. It’s happening just as the Hegemon, the former “end of history”, is internally imploding, “distracted from distraction by distraction”, to quote T.S. Eliot. Behind the fog, in prime shadowplay pastures, the vital moves to reorganize the Eurasian land mass are already on.

“Poisoned” Kremlin Critic Flown to Germany as German-Russian Nord Stream 2 Nears Completion

Source

The perfectly timed poisoning of unpopular, ineffective Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny and the involvement of Germany comes as Washington sought to place maximum pressure on Berlin to cancel the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline. 

August 25, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny – according to German doctors – was allegedly poisoned but is expected to survive. If Navalny was poisoned and the goal was to assassinate him, it was a poorly conceived, poorly executed, and most of all – poorly timed plan. 

Navalny’s sudden reappearance across the Western media comes just at the height of US attempts to place maximum pressure on Germany to cancel a pipeline – Nord Stream 2 – it is jointly constructing with Russia. The pipeline would move Russian hydrocarbons into Western Europe directly, bypassing Ukraine now fully destabilized by US and NATO intervention. 

Just last week German state media DW in an article titled, “US senators threaten Germany’s port town of Sassnitz over Nord Stream 2 gas project,” would highlight the nature of US pressure, reporting that: 

Three US senators are threatening the ferry port on the island of Rügen with “crushing” sanctions to prevent the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Fearing financial ruin, the people of Sassnitz are defiant.

This latest threat from the US against their own German “allies” comes after a long, concerted campaign to pressure Germany into cancelling the joint pipeline with Russia. 

Earlier this year, the New York Times in an article titled, “A Russian Gas Pipeline Increases Tension Between the U.S. and Europe,” would report: 

…the State Department moved to potentially impose economic penalties on investors and other business participants in the project, an expansion of existing sanctions.The new measures were “a clear warning to companies” that “aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence projects will not be tolerated,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters. “Get out now, or risk the consequences.”

The New York Times would note that growing US pressure faced condemnation from European leaders who accused Washington of interference in their sovereign affairs and specifically in regards to European energy policy. 

The pipeline is already well over 90% completed. 

Perfectly Timed Political Stunt 

The New York Times in a more recent article titled, “Aleksei Navalny, Putin Critic in a Coma, Was Poisoned, German Doctors Say,” deliberately trumps up the incident. 

Indeed Navalny is in a coma, but according to the German hospital currently treating him in an official statement, it was a medically induced coma. The statement read: 

Since his admission at the weekend, Alexei Navalny has been receiving treatment at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. The patient is being treated in intensive care and remains in medically induced coma. While his condition is serious, it is not currently life-threatening.

The New York Times in its article notes how unpopular and ineffective Navalny has been as an opposition figure in Russia over the years, admitting that: 

Mr. Navalny’s needling criticism of Mr. Putin has never posed a serious electoral threat to the Russian leader, and Mr. Putin remains popular with many Russians.

It should be noted that Navalny himself and the anemic opposition he leads is a product of the US State Department with virtually ever organization and individual in it the recipient of US government money channeled through Washington’s notorious regime change arm, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).  

Navalny’s US Backing 

Alexey Navalny was a Yale World Fellow – with the Fellowship recently releasing statement in solidarity with Navalny after this latest incident – and in his profile it states (emphasis added):

Navalny spearheads legal challenges on behalf of minority shareholders in large Russian companies, including Gazprom, Bank VTB, Sberbank, Rosneft, Transneft, and Surgutneftegaz, through the Union of Minority Shareholders. He has successfully forced companies to disclose more information to their shareholders and has sued individual managers at several major corporations for allegedly corrupt practices. Navalny is also co-founder of the Democratic Alternative movement and was vice-chairman of the Moscow branch of the political party YABLOKO. In 2010, he launched RosPil, a public project funded by unprecedented fundraising in Russia. In 2011, Navalny started RosYama, which combats fraud in the road construction sector.

The Democratic Alternative, also written DA!, is a US NED-fund recipient, implicating Navalny as an agent of US-funded sedition. The US State Department itself reveals this as they list DA! among many of the “youth movements” they support operating in Russia:

DA!: Mariya Gaydar, daughter of former Prime Minister Yegor Gaydar, leads DA! (Democratic Alternative). She is ardent in her promotion of democracy, but realistic about the obstacles she faces. Gaydar said that DA! is focused on non-partisan activities designed to raise political awareness. She has received funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, a fact she does not publicize for fear of appearing compromised by an American connection.

That this funding is nowhere on NED’s official website and is admittedly withheld from public knowledge by the funding’s recipients indicates that full disclosures are intentionally not being made and that clandestine US funding is most likely much more widespread across Russia’s “opposition” as well as for individuals like Navalny himself.  
Navalny was involved directly in founding a movement funded by the US government and to this day has the very people who funded DA! defending him throughout the Western media. 
The mention of co-founder Mariya Gaydar is also revealing, as she has long collaborated, and occasionally has been arrested with, Ilya Yashin, yet another leader of a NED-funded Russian “activist” opposition group.
Ilya Yashin leads the Moscow branch of the People’s Freedom Party and is a leading member of the “Strategy 31” campaign whose ranks are filled with activists trained and coordinated by US NED-funded NGOs. Deleted from the official NED.org website was Strategy 31’s US funding which read:

Moscow Group of Assistance in the Implementation of the Helsinki Accords $50,000 

To draw greater attention to the issue of freedom of assembly in Russia and to the “Strategy 31” movement, which seeks to protect this fundamental right. The organization will train a network of regional activists and coordinate their activities through mini-seminars and field visits, and conduct an information cam­paign through press conferences, posters, and educational handouts pertaining to freedom of assembly, to be distributed to the general public by regional partners.

Also deleted was a NED “Democracy Digest” article titled “Strategy 31: A sign of civil society’s resilience.” In it, the “Moscow Helsinki Group” is explicitly stated as leading Strategy 31 marches and that the group is a “long-time grantee of the National Endowment of Democracy.”
Martyrdom to Boost a Fading Brand
It is documented fact that Navalny was funded by and specifically to serve US interests through the NED and a variety of other US-based programs and fellowships and clearly promoted throughout the entirety of the Western corporate media. 

His inability to catalyze the sort of disruptive opposition the West seeks to create within Russia to undermine and eventually overthrow the nation’s current political order represents a poor return on investment. 
Navalny’s fading brand is admitted openly even by his most eager supporters in the Western media – most recently in the above mentioned New York Times article describing his alleged poisoning.

German-Russian relations are particularly important for both nations at the moment – and perhaps more so for Moscow which seeks ways to circumvent full spectrum economic warfare waged against it by the United States. 
The completion and use of Nord Stream 2 with its German partners would do much to cement Russian-European ties, perhaps even irreversibly short-circuiting US efforts to sabotage them. 
The notion that the Kremlin would order Navalny’s assassination at this time defies common sense and logic. 
The fact that a Western NGO with opaque funding called “Cinema for Peace” organized Navalny’s transportation out of Russia and to Germany specifically at this critical time for German-Russian relations – according to an article published by the US State Department’s Voice of America – the one European nation whose ties with Russia are under greatest scrutiny at the moment by the Western media – appears more than coincidental.  
An investigation and forthcoming facts may help better shape the full truth around this most recent incident – but at the moment – especially for “activists” backed by a palpably desperate US – they must consider who would benefit most from their harm or demise – the nations they are ineffectively opposing, or the nations who have invested millions into their cause and have not gotten the results they desire.

Then these “activists” must determine whether they are worth more to their disappointed foreign sponsors as living, ineffective, and unpopular opposition figures, or worth more by being potentially impactful – if even for a moment – as martyrs. 

ASSISTING ‘INVISIBLE HAND OF MARKET’: U.S. THREATENS GERMAN COMPANIES OVER NORD STREAM 2

Source

Assisting 'Invisible Hand Of Market': U.S. Threatens German Companies Over Nord Stream 2

In a last-ditch attempt to impede the Nord Stream 2, the Trump administration began to threaten German (and not only) companies who are involved in it with sanctions.

According to German media, this is a showing of a new, and incredible, “low point” in Transatlantic relations.

According to a report by German outlet Die Welt, the United States is increasing pressure on German and European companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline.

In the past few days, US representatives had held video conference calls with contractors of the project to “point out the far-reaching consequences of continuing to work on the project,” the outlet reported.

The company representatives sometimes faced up to twelve representatives of the US government.

They “made it very clear in a friendly tone that they want to prevent the pipeline from being completed,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed observer of the talks:

“I think the threat is very, very serious.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the controversial Baltic Sea pipeline to transport gas from Russia to Germany would now fall under a law that would allow punitive measures, among other things, against companies doing business with Russia or countries like Iran and North Korea.

In response, the German Federal Government declared that it rejected extraterritorial sanctions, since these were “contrary to international law”.

The German economy condemned the threats as an “incredibly low point in transatlantic relations”.

Nord Stream 2 is said to transport gas from Russia to Germany and is particularly controversial in Eastern Europe.

The main fear is a weakening of alternative pipelines and traditional transit countries, such as Ukraine. The US government argues that Europe is becoming energy-dependent on Russia.

The United States had previously tried to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2. Sanctions put into effect by President Donald Trump at the end of 2019 are aimed at the operators of laying ships involved in the construction. The construction of the pipeline therefore had to be interrupted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed optimism that the project would be completed by early 2021, with a delay of only a few months.

On July 16th, the US updated its sanctions regime against the Nord Stream 2.

Until July 15th, the scope of US sanctions legislation excluded direct investors, enhancing Russia’s ability to build export pipelines before August 2nd 2017. That cut-off date was removed, meaning contracts signed for Nord Stream 2 and the second line of TurkStream will be included.

“The US signals that sanctions could potentially be applied retroactively, including in respect of European companies that are Gazprom’s partners in Nord Stream 2. However, it is hard to see how this could be enforceable; this would be against the law and should it happen it would certainly be contested in international courts,” according to Katja Yafimava, researcher at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

“The question is whether the state department has the right to independently enforce the provisions of this law. The state department is formally subordinate to the president, but no separate documents have been issued stating that the president gave the state department the right to impose sanctions from the [sanctions act] package,” according to Igor Yushkov, an expert of the National Energy Security Fund and the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation.

The proposed additional sanctions in the draft national defence act “are unacceptable and contrary to international law, and the EU firmly opposes them,” EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Josep Borrell said on June 25th.

The biggest issue is that the US is concerned that there are no buyers for its liquefied natural gas (LNG) that it wants to sell to Europe at prices, higher than those Russia offers Europe.

Sometimes, the invisible hand of the market requires a tangible attempt at a push for it to properly and “independently” settle the market on a desirable scenario.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

NATO 2020: A COALITION OF THE UNWILLING

 25.07.2020 

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

The problem with alliances is that they ultimately either become victims of their own success, or cannot figure out what to do with themselves once the original rationale disappears. The original Cold War-era NATO was a relatively cohesive entity led by one of the two superpowers, with most of its members being the industrialized democracies of Western Europe, with West Germany being its eastern-most European member, and alliance planning revolving around USSR. But even then there were cracks in the alliance. Italy, for example, had nearly no role to play as it did not border any Warsaw Pact country and did not practice deploying its forces to West Germany to practice its defense against the anticipated Warsaw Pact invasion. And while Greece and Turkey were ostensibly part of that alliance as well, in practice they spent more time clashing with one another than planning for joint action against USSR.

The end of the Cold War made the problem of alliance cohesion far worse, for two reasons. One, it quickly added as many members as possible thus greatly expanding its geographical extent, and two, it lost that single unifying factor in the form of USSR. Today’s NATO is a patchwork of mini-alliances revolving around the United States which is determined to replace the alliance aspect of NATO which assumes that all members have interests that are to be taken into consideration, by patron-client relationships.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the goal of the United States is global domination. This goal is shared by the entire political elite and major portions of the population, though it is nearly never discussed openly or directly. Instead, it is framed in terms of “American Leadership”, “New American Century”, and of course “American Exceptionalism” which is used to justify any policy that violates international law, treaties, or agreements. Given that every country which has not recognized “American Leadership” is described as a “regime”, there is no indication the US elite is interested in anything resembling peaceful coexistence with other sovereign states.

NATO plays a double role in achieving that goal. First, it is a military alliance that projects military power against anyone refusing to accept “American Leadership”. Military contributions by European member states are certainly important, not least by giving America the veneer of international legitimacy, but the presence of US bases on the European continent is far more so. US forces stationed in or staged out of European naval, air, and land bases are indispensable to its efforts to control the MENA region and to promote the US policy of driving a wedge between Europe on the one hand and Russia and China on the other. Secondly, a European country’s membership in NATO means a sacrifice of considerable portion of its sovereignty and independence to the United States. This is a wholly asymmetrical relationship, since US bases its forces in European countries and sells its weapons to them, not the other way around. The penetration of a European country thus achieved allows US intelligence service to develop agent networks and to employ the full range of lobbying techniques which have been particularly visible in the US efforts to press F-35 aircraft into the hands of NATO member states.

America’s self-appointed task is made not easier or harder by the fact that today’s NATO is therefore fragmented along both geographic and national power lines. The geographical divide is plainly easy to see: Norway and Denmark mainly care about the Arctic, Poland and Romania obsess about Russia, Mediterranean countries freak out about what’s happening in North Africa. The wrangling over sending more troops to Mali or to Estonia is the reflection of the differing security concerns of individual members of the far-flung pact. The power divide is less easy to see but more problematic for Washington. V_3 (A2) Of the European powers, only four—Germany, France, Italy, and Great Britain—may be considered to be powerful and independent political actors with which the US has to contend on anything like an equal basis. The first three form the core of the European Union, whereas Great Britain opted for Brexit, likely in part because of the looming big power struggle between the US and the EU that has the potential of degenerating into a destructive trade war. It is doubtful that the skirmishes over Huawei and North Stream 2 are anything but the opening salvoes in the confrontation over whether the EU will emerge as a political actor independent of the US, or be reduced to a collection of client states. Unfortunately, America’s task is made easier by the fact of the intra-European divisions mentioned above.

United States is pursuing development of several hypersonic missile systems with the aim of ultimately fielding very large numbers of them in order to be able to launch disarming first strikes against Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals. Since the weapons themselves are relatively short-ranged (though that may change once the US allows New START to lapse), they require basing close to their intended targets. That means having to find countries willing to base them in Europe, where it is liable to provoke a  political debate of the magnitude comparable to that of the original Euromissile controversy of the 1980s. Since Germany is not interested in being reduced to the status of a US client, it has resisted the US on a variety of fronts, including the North Stream 2, the refusal to buy F-35s, and now also the lack of desire to host the new US missiles. Even the German defense spending increases are intended at least as much to counter US influence in Eastern Europe as the supposed Russian threat to NATO. The United States has responded using the usual array of tools: economic sanctions on any and all European entities participating in the project and even using the gas, apparently launching a cyber-attack that US-friendly German intelligence promptly blamed on Russia, and also threatening to move US troops out of Germany and possibly to Poland. There is even discussion and rumors that US nuclear weapons stationed in Germany might be moved to Poland.

The outcome of this so far is a power struggle between two NATO allies, US and Germany, over the political alignment of a third—Poland. While Germany has the power of EU institutions on its side and massive economic gravitational pull, US has cultivated a cadre of friends, possibly intelligence assets, as a result of post-9/11 collaboration in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in the realm of intelligence-sharing. This has produced a government more than willing to deploy US troops, missiles, and even nukes on Poland’s territory. The power of US influence is visible in Poland’s weapons procurement: Patriot, Javelin, HIMARS, F-35, and not a single comparable European system in recent years. The US weakness in this confrontation consists of the unwillingness to subsidize Poland economically which, combined with the ruling party’s fiscal irresponsibility, will make it difficult for the country to maintain its anti-German course in the longer term.

While in Eastern Europe US national security state is using Poland as a proxy against Germany, in the Mediterranean it has adopted Turkey as a proxy against France and Italy. After some hemming and hawing, the US hawks dropped the Kurds yet again, with Trump happily taking the blame, in order to piggy-back on Erdogan’s Libya ambitions to curtail French and Italian interests there. To be sure, Turkey retains far more autonomy in the relationship than Poland, which was unable or unwilling to play US and Russia and EU against one another in order to secure a measure of freedom of action. But the US Congress measures to allow the purchase of S-400 weapons from Turkey is an indicator that Turkey’s behavior is once again useful to the US. And even though Turkey was excluded from the F-35 program, its firms continue to make components for various assembly plants. The result has been a number of stand-offs between Turkish warships on one hand and French and Italian on the other off the coasts of Libya. And whereas France and Italy are backing the Marshal Haftar’s LNA, Turkey’s preferred proxy is the GNA, leading to a veritable “anti-Turkey” alliance being formed that includes Turkey’s old time NATO adversary Greece. While the US is officially aloof of the entire situation, in practice controlling Libya’s oil is part of the Washington strategy of “energy dominance” every bit as the North Stream 2 sanctions are.

The remarkable part of these two sets of conflicts among NATO powers is that in both cases Russia has sided with Germany and France against the US in both cases. It is Russia’s policies that are more beneficial to French and German interests than America’s, since Russia is not actually seeking to monopolize energy supplies to Europe in the way that the US clearly and openly is.

So far the US strategy consisted of steadily ratcheting up pressure through sanctions and proxies and occasional intelligence-generated anti-Russia provocations (sometimes helpfully delivered by British agencies), trying to find that happy middle of policies that actually force Germany, France, and Italy to change their policies and which do not force a permanent breach in the trans-Atlantic relationship. But the cracks in the relationship are clearly visible and they are not attributable to Trump’s erratic and brusque manner. It is the US Congress which passed the successive rounds of anti-North Stream 2 sanctions, with strong partisan majorities. It means the assertion of US control over European major powers is part of the US agenda. Since that agenda is motivated by a US political and economic crisis of a magnitude not seen since the 1930s, there is little likelihood Biden’s presidency would represent a radical departure from the current trend.

Of course, for Germany, France, and Italy to successfully resist US encroachment they would first need to transform the EU into something closer than a federation. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic crisis already providing considerable impetus for such a transformation, America’s insatiable appetites might provide the rest.

Is Trump Using Nordstream 2 to Exit NATO?

By Tom Luongo
Source: Gold Goats n Guns

July 21, 2020

The one thing I never thought I’d say is that Donald Trump is consistent, and yet on the subject of the Nordstream 2 pipeline he has been.

No single project has caused more wailing and gnashing of teeth than Nordstream 2. And since Nordstream 2 is simply the substitute for South Stream, which was supposed to come across the Black Sea into Bulgaria and then feed eastern Europe, this U.S. opposition to another Russian pipeline spans multiple administrations.

So, this is policy that goes far beyond simple 2020 electoral politics, Trump trying to look tough on the Russians, or his misguided Energy Dominance policy.

With Trump rescinding the sanctions exemption for Nordstream 2 he now has declared open war against Europe, specifically Germany over this project.

But here’s the thing, I think Trump is doing this for updated reasons that fit a different agenda than why the U.S. opposed Nordstream 2 previously, because he knows he can’t stop the pipeline now. All he can do is further alienate Germany, who he has targeted as the main problem in Europe.

Before I go any further, though, I think a little history lesson is in order.

U.S. opposition to Nordstream 2 is deeply ingrained on all sides of the political aisle in D.C. From Republicans still fighting the cold war to Democrats having deep ties to Ukrainian gas transit there are a multitude of reasons why Nordstream 2 is verboten in D.C.

On the other hand, Europe’s relationship with Nordstream 2 is, in a word, complicated.

Russian President Vladimir Putin scuttled South Stream back in late 2014 because the EU changed its pipeline rules during its development after the contracts were in place.

Most of that was U.S. pressure, but some of that was Germany’s Angela Merkel working with then-President Barack Obama to create the worst possible scenario for Gazprom – a pipeline that wasn’t profitable.

Merkel backed Obama’s play in Ukraine in 2014 as a power move to control prices for Russian gas into Europe, putting Soviet-era pipelines under EU gas directive jurisdiction.

The EU was always going to use Ukrainian gas transit as leverage over Putin to drive gas prices below Gazprom’s cost thinking they had no other options.

Putin famously pivoted to China, singing the mega-deal for Power of Siberia in retaliation to that. Since Putin had already brought Crimea in from the cold war and tacitly backed the breakaway of the Donbass Merkel was now the one on her back foot.

At the same time, to salvage the work done on South Stream to that point, Putin cut a deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to replace South Stream’s volumes to eastern Europe with Turkstream’s to Turkey.

The plans for Turkstream include multiple trains into eastern Europe with countries like Serbia, Hungary and the Czech Republic itching for that gas.

Russia’s options were manifest and Putin deftly outmaneuvered Merkel and Obama. These events forced Merkel’s hand after she stupidly caved to the Greens over ending Germany’s use of nuclear power and now she needed Nordstream 2.

And so Nordstream 2 became a big geopolitical football because Merkel saw, as well, the opportunity to bring the recalcitrant Poles and Baltics under her control as well, solidifying long-term EU plans to engulf all of Euope to Russia’s borders.

Nordstream 2 would nominally replace Ukrainian gas supplies and she could set Germany up to be the gas transit hub, supporting political power emanating from Brussels.

This would give her leverage over Poland, who are trapped between their hatred of the Russians and their unwillingness, rightfully, to submit to Germany.

But Merkel, ever the deft three-faced keeper of the status quo, worked with Putin to secure gas flows through Ukraine for another five years, allaying the worst of Poland’s fears while they have courted Trump to bring in over-priced U.S. LNG.

But from the beginning, Nordstream 2 becomes a different animal geopolitically the moment Trump comes to power. Because Trump is opposed to the EU’s consolidating power over Europe while also sucking the U.S. dry on trade and defense.

He’s made this abundantly clear.

Since the beginning of the year Trump has ratcheted up the pressure on both China and the EU. And the only way that makes any sense is if you are willing to see them as allies in undermining the U.S.’s global position.

This isn’t to say that the U.S.’s global position should remain as it is. Far be it for me, of all people, to argue that. But with the insanity of the COVID-19 fake pandemic, the World Economic Forum’s plans for The Great Reset, and the fomenting a cultural revolution in the U.S. the stakes are now as high as they’ve ever been.

The Davos Crowd is making their big move to consolidate power in Europe. Trump is working with Boris Johnson in the U.K. to oppose that. That’s the simplified version of the chess board.

And this is why I think Trump refuses to give up on stopping Nordstream 2. He’s seen the depths to which The Davos Crowd will go to implement this radical change and he’s forcing the moment to its crisis, as T.S. Eliot put it.

He’s making the choice very clear for Merkel and company. If you want Nordstream 2, suffer the consequences of having to do business without the U.S.

This isn’t about Russia anymore, at all. It’s about Germany and the future of the U.S. If Trump loses in November all of the work done to slow down this push for transnational technocratic oligarchy will end.

If he wins then the current policy sticks, the EU is forced to deal with the U.S. retrenching completely, pulling back on commitments to Europe while divorcing U.S. trade from China.

He may actually be courting lower U.S. dollar flow the world over and forcing Europe into real economic crisis by early next year.

This sanctions policy against Nordstream 2 is consistent with his ‘snap’ decision to pull troops out of Germany, his unilateral abrogation of both the INF treaty and the JCPOA while pressuring NATO to do more.

Merkel, meanwhile, is trying to run out the clock on both Trump and Brexit, as I talked about in my podcast from last week. She’s hoping that Trump will be defeated which will set things back to the way they were before him, force U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to knuckle under in trade deal talks and establish the primacy of the EU as the center of Western power.

Putin, for his part, doesn’t care who he deals with in the long run. He can’t afford to. He has to play the cards on the table in front of him with the people in power, since Russia is still a minor player but with big potential.

For Trump, I believe he sees Nordstream 2 as the perfect wedge issue to break open the stalemate over NATO and cut Germany loose or bring Merkel to heel.

This next round of sanctions will target the companies involved directly in the pipeline. Germany can’t afford not to finish Nordstream 2. So, we are headed for an epic clash here.

Trump and Merkel hate each other, with good reason. And while I have mixed feelings about the way Trump does business, I know Angela Merkel is the key to the EU’s future.

I mentioned in a recent article that I feel Trump is a guy with almost nothing left to lose. If he’s going out he’s going out with a bang. Arrest Ghislaine Maxwell, sanction China and threaten war over Hong Kong, ramp up dollar diplomacy on Europe.

He knows that hybrid war is the only war the U.S. can ‘win’ decisively given the relative dominance of the U.S. dollar today.

While the end of dollar hegemony is in sight, do not underestimate how much damage can be done to the status quo while Trump is in power. That status quo isn’t good for anyone except those who currently want that power back.


US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND PROSPECTS OF KIEV ADVANCE IN EASTERN UKRAINE

South Front

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

For the past several years, the war between Ukraine and the breakaway and still-unrecognized Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic has settled into a tense routine of attritional trench warfare, punctuated by sniping, clashes between patrols, small-scale raids, offensive minelaying, and ambushes using anti-tank guided missiles. There have been few operations by units larger than company. The front line has remained almost entirely unchanged. At the same time, both sides have been preparing for the possible next round of high-intensity warfare. What would happen if the fighting were to break out again?

That particular prediction is made more difficult by the very fact of the long lull in high-intensity fighting during which both sides have undergone a certain degree of transformation which remains relatively unknown to the other party. Both sides have seen certain material improvements, though apparently nothing dramatic. Ukraine’s armored vehicle fleet still relies on the same, but now even more worn out vehicles it went to war with in 2014. The planned re-equipment with the Oplot MBT never took place, and even the upgraded T-64BU Bulat was found to be flawed. Therefore the elderly T-64BV remains the main tank of Ukraine’s forces. Light armored vehicle fleet has seen some improvement thanks to domestic production and deliveries from former Warsaw Pact member states. If there is one area where Ukraine’s military may have made a major step forward, it is the artillery, using the large store of inactive weapons for Soviet-era reserve forces. However, artillery munition production continues to be a problem. While the number of Ukraine’s brigades has grown, the military experiences major problems with recruitment and retention, meaning that many of these brigades have the strength of a reinforced combined arms battalion.

On Novorossia’s side the situation is hardly different. DPR and LPR units continue to use the same types of equipment they used during the campaigns of five years ago. The numeric strength does not appear to have changed much, either, and here too recruitment and retention remains a problem.

The other factor making predictions difficult is the level of morale of these two forces that have been bogged down in an apparently endless war that is beyond their power to finish. The combination of trench warfare boredom and terror means it is debilitating to the units’ morale and proficiency if they are forced to remain in the trenches for too long. While the most offensive-capable forces are kept out of the trenches as mobile reserves, they too can only maintain their state of alert for so long before losing their edge.

Paradoxically, this state of affairs give an advantage to the side that intends to go on the offensive, because the preparations for the attack and associated training would imbue the troops with the hope that, after the next big push, the war will finally be over. At the same time, both sides know such an offensive would be an exceedingly risky proposition, because if it fails, it will grind down the attacking side’s most effective units and render the army vulnerable to a counteroffensive to which it would not be able to respond.

Therefore the likelihood of renewed fighting also heavily depends on who actually makes the decision. While local leaders may be cautious enough, foreign ones in distant capitals may have different considerations in mind.

A big unknown hanging over the future of the Donbass is the position of Joe Biden, the Democratic Party nominee and the potential winner of the November elections. Biden has already played a highly destructive role in the politics of Ukraine and the US-Russia relations. It is Biden that blackmailed Poroshenko into firing the Chief Prosecutor Shokin due to his interest in the corrupt dealings of the Burisma energy company which infamously had Joe’s son Hunter on its board of directors. It is also Biden who held a lengthy, 30-45 minute telephone conversation with Poroshenko on the day MH17 was shot down and promptly came out blaming Russia for it, even as the wreckage was still smoking where it fell. Biden identified himself as a Russia foe much earlier, during the 2012 vice-presidential debates where he positioned himself as being “hard on Putin”, which in retrospect proved to be an early indicator of where the second-term Obama administration foreign policy would go. It also goes without saying Biden is an ardent promoter of the “RussiaGate” effort to paint Donald Trump as a Russian agent/stooge/fellow traveler/useful idiot.

At the same time, Biden’s line against China has hardened as well, which may have implications for US-Russia relations during the probable Biden presidency. As late as May 2019, Biden would describe People’s Republic of China as “they are not bad folks”, adding that “they are not competition to us”, comments that may yet come to haunt him on the campaign trail. However, once the COVID-19 broke out of control in the United States, Biden sought to out-do Trump in his accusations the high US death toll was due to China misleading the United States on the nature of the virus and not allowing US public health officials access to Wuhan and China’s epidemiology labs. Even before that, Hunter Biden resigned from boards of directors of China-based firms. While that might have been motivated by his, and his dad’s, desire to keep a low profile due to the scrutiny Hunter’s business dealings have attracted during Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings, it may also have been preparation for Joe Biden’s anti-China pivot.

The emergence of PRC as Biden’s perceived number one international adversary may mean a desire to improve relations with Russia in the way that Trump, compromised from the start by RussiaGate and without a history of own anti-Russia rhetoric to fall back on, could never deliver. Biden, however, is in the same position as Nixon was in the late 1960s. His earlier anti-Russian rhetoric and actions now make him nearly immune from the same sort of accusations which, even though false, nevertheless effectively stuck to Trump. Nixon’s own enthusiastic participation in McCarthyite witch hunts made it possible for him to do what his Democratic Party predecessor Lyndon Johnson could not: end Vietnam War, engage in arms control treaties with USSR and “go to China” in order to exploit the growing divide between the two main Communist powers. Biden has the political capital necessary to repeat the process: end the war in Afghanistan (something he had proposed already as vice president), enter into arms control treaties with China and…go to Moscow, which is currently seen in Washington in the same way that Beijing was in the 1970s, namely the secondary challenger which needs to be peeled away from the primary one. Moreover, just as in the early 1970s, United States of the 2020s is wracked by a massive internal crisis requiring international retrenchment in order to focus on internal reforms.

But that optimistic scenario remains less likely than the prospect of renewed escalation. Nixon-era United States was not suffering from the hubris of American Exceptionalism. On the contrary, it was a country full of self-doubt and under no illusion concerning the limits of its power. It entered into arms control treaties because it did not feel it could win them. Disasters abroad and at home notwithstanding, the US elite still has not been shaken out of its complacency, and it does appear to sincerely believe it can win a strategic and conventional arms race against both China and Russia. We have not seen any indications so far that Biden intends any moderation in the area of foreign policy or returning to a policy of cooperation with Russia. One should expect that, in the event of Biden victory, Ukraine will launch an offensive against the Donbass shortly after the inauguration, in other words, in February or March of 2020. This offensive would accomplish two objectives for Biden. One, it would establish his hawkish, “patriotic” bona fides, make him look “presidential” in the eyes of the mainstream media and the national security establishment. Secondly, it would allow the US to exert even more pressure on Germany and other EU member states concerning North Stream and other areas of cooperation with Russia.

In order to achieve these goals, particularly the second one, the offensive would not need to overrun the Donbass, in fact, that would not be the aim at all. Rather, the goal would be to force Russian forces to intervene directly in support of the Lugansk and Donetsk republics to justify depicting Russia as the aggressor in the matter. And even if the republics’ militaries can cope with the UAF assault on their own, the sheer level of violence will still make enough headlines to satisfy Biden’s requirements. Whether Zelensky wants that kind of escalation for his country is almost irrelevant. Both he and Biden know very well what the balance of power in that relationship is. Ukraine is a failing state seriously dependent on foreign financial assistance in the form of continual IMF loans, debt rescheduling, favorable trade deals, etc. Biden knew how to use these levers to achieve an important change in Ukraine’s politics that benefited him personally, he will not hesitate to use them again.

Moreover, even if Biden were driven by the Nixonian motives described above, it’s doubtful the foreign policy Deep State would allow him to do that. Biden’s own conversations with Poroshenko no doubt contain great many embarrassing moments whose release would instantly embroil him in a massive scandal. The fact that Donald Trump was impeached solely due to the desire of national security apparatchiks to continue their pet war in Ukraine is indicative of their power to make foreign policy quite independently of their supposed civilian bosses.

The situation is further complicated by the widening rift between the Western neo-liberal world and conservative societies of eastern European countries. This includes a large part of the Ukrainian population which is committed to traditional values. The rapidly deteriorating social and economic situation in Ukraine contributes to a further antagonism of this part of the society towards the forcefully imposed Western ideology and its local agents. Another point of tensions is the existing contradictions between the Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchy) and the artificially assembled pseudo-church organizations in Ukraine. The Moscow Patriarchy is returning to its former position among the Ukrainian faithful. In the event of a further dissatisfaction of the society by the declared pseudo-Western way of development, positions of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchy will strengthen even more.

While a Ukrainian offensive is relatively unlikely in 2020, its probability increases considerably in 2021, particularly in the event of a Biden victory. The conflict in Ukraine has lasted this long mainly because Ukraine’s current sponsors in the West are not interested in ending it, irrespective of what the will of the Ukrainian people might be. The situation will get even worse should the US presidency be taken over by someone with a well-established hostility toward Russia who believes his aims would be better served by another bloody campaign on the Donbass.

The next US administration will employ every option that it has in order to prevent the return of Russian influence in the country. Besides furthering the conflict in eastern Ukraine, it will expand efforts against it in the ideological sphere as well, likely including direct provocations.

America’s Sicilian Expedition

Source

July 10, 2020

America’s Sicilian Expedition

by Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; and from these proceed debt and taxes; and armies, and debts, are taxes of the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few … no nation could reserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.’’ (My emphasis – FL) (1)

Thus was the initial warning by James Madison to the possible development (and dangers) which lie ahead of the great social and political experiment in what was to become the American Republic. In fact these militaristic/ imperial proclivities were also noted by the more astute members and chroniclers of American history and repeated by Alexis De Tocqueville in 1835. He wrote that:

Among democratic nations the wealthiest, best educated, and ablest men seldom adopt a military profession, the army taken collectively, eventually forms a new nation by itself where the mind is less enlarged, and habits are made rude than in the nation at large. Now this small and uncivilized nation has arms in its possession and also knows how to use them; (My emphasis – FL) for indeed the pacific temper of the community increases the danger to which a democratic people is exposed from the military and the turbulent spirit of the Army. Nothing is so dangerous as an army in the midst of an unwarlike nation; the excessive love of the whole community for quiet puts the Constitution at the mercy of the soldiery. (2)

‘Unwarlike’? Well the Republic was to become very warlike for most of its history. Things got started in earnest in 1846-48 with the US/Mexican conflict. This marked the first U.S. armed conflict chiefly fought on foreign soil. It pitted a politically divided and militarily unprepared Mexico against the expansionist-minded administration of U.S. President James K. Polk, who believed the United States had a “manifest destiny” to spread across the continent to the Pacific Ocean. A border skirmish along the Rio Grande started off the fighting and was followed by a series of U.S. victories. When the dust cleared, Mexico had lost about one-third of its territory, including nearly all of present-day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. So the US got the taste of imperial hubris and easy victories early on. This was the beginning of a will to global expansion which has seen the US develop a penchant for global hegemony.

What could be more apposite and sombre of these measured warnings to the present time and the leadership thereof. The United States has transmuted from being an experimental national democracy into a rampaging imperial juggernaut with all the attendant features of empire. In general and in more recent times these imperial conflicts have been wars of choice. No-body had attacked the US since the half-hearted British attempt in 1812 and the Japanese in 1941. The only war of any significance since independence was the internal conflict between the industrial north and the agrarian south.

The Rise of Empire

This awakening of US imperialism was later extended to the Spanish/American war of the late 19th century. New territories in Latin America and East Asia were added through their annexation. The US had thus become the latest newcomer to the imperialist club although it always insisted (rather unconvincingly) that it was different to the more established British, French, Spanish and Portuguese exploitative models. There was a belief, presumably mandated by the deity, in America’s manifest destiny to rule the world. This is the same patter, which is now trotted out by the neo-cons, the Deep State, NSA, MIC, MSM, and political parties. Whether they actually believe in this is something of a moot point.

Yet now the United States finds itself everywhere in a situation of endless simultaneous wars, occupations, blockades (whoops, I mean sanctions), economic warfare, surveillance warfare and one-sided alliances whereby its ‘allies’ are in many ways worse treated than its chosen enemies and are becoming increasingly disenchanted with their subaltern role. This is particularly instanced in the American German falling out over the question of Russian Gas and Nordstream2. Germany has its own national interests which conflict with those of the US. How exactly is this going to play out? It should be understood in this respect that the US does not have ‘allies’ in the generally accepted understanding of the term, but subaltern hierarchies of the ‘Me Tarzan – You Jane’ variety. The ‘Jane’ in the situation are the assembled and invertebrate species of EU vassal regimes who up to this point in their history have always been willing to prostrate themselves at the command of their transatlantic masters.

One of the stranger anomalies of this US global military-economic posture is the influence of Israel – Israel this tiny country, with its tiny population, in the middle east must be obeyed at all costs. And making sure that it is obeyed are the various interest groups in the US which inter alia includes the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) the Anti-Deformation League (ADL) the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). Most, if not all, of the senior members of these organizations are Jewish, Zionists and/or neo-conservatives. To give an example of their influence and reach take the case of uber-hawk and Zionist lackey Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

Amidst the general routine and prevalent corruption in American political and corporate life the Las Vegas gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson – staunch supporter of his particular interests and the Israeli cause – began throwing around tens of millions of dollars to push legislation to ban internet gambling in order to protect his billion dollar oligopoly casino interests against competition. It wasn’t long before Graham introduced a bill to ban internet gambling. When asked about the curious coincidence of timing Graham said that his Southern Baptist constituents in South Carolina (SC) shared Adelson’s aversion to internet gambling so there was no quid pro quo involved.

It should be borne in mind, however, that Graham had held Federal Office in SC since 1995, and yet he had felt no driving urge to introduce such legislation until 2014. This took place when Graham had apparently undergone a Damascene Conversion precisely at the time that Mr Adelson began to shower him with monies. Graham’s transaction with his benefactor apparently did not meet the Supreme Court’s chief Justice, John Roberts’s, narrow definition of an illegal quid pro quo as expressed in the Court’s 2010 Citizens United Decision.

In another unrelated instance involving Graham, which might be considered as being questionable, there were his political liaisons with a foreign state and its leader – Benjamin Netanyahu – whose policies Graham would be disposed to imbibe and support whatever the policies the Israeli Prime Minster might propose, an arresting statement in light of the Senator’s oath to the American Constitution and the voters he represents. (3)

Yet another instance of a corrupt American official in the pocket of Israeli interests. Moreover, it is not merely lower rank officials who willingly take the knee to Israel, the process reaches up to the highest levels of the US political establishment; so much so that It seems difficult to exactly work out who is whose client state in the US/Israel relationship.

Various right-wing think-tanks (see above) most importantly the American Enterprise Institution, or to give it its full name, The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research is a Washington, D.C. based think-tank which researches government, politics, economics, and social welfare. AEI is an independent non-profit organization supported primarily by grants and contributions from foundationscorporations, and individuals. This of course is a rather misleading description of what it actually does, and what its alleged goals are, in what is a vehemently pro-Zionist neo-con outfit. Leading figures include Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Mr and Mrs Wurmser as well as the rest of the Zionist neo-con gang whose entire raison d’etre seems to be unconditional support for Israel. This was instanced in the policy statement, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the “Clean Break” report) was a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith  for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then Prime Minister of Israel. The report explained a new approach to solving Israel‘s security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on “Western values” (i.e., naked imperialism). It has widely been criticized for advocating an aggressive new policy including the removal and murder of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the ongoing war and annexation of parts of Syria by engaging in proxy and actual warfare and highlighting Iraq’s alleged possession of mythical “weapons of mass destruction”.

It would not be an exaggeration to surmise that US foreign policy is now, and has been for some time, subsumed under Israel’s strategic interests and policies in the middle-east. Exactly what the United States gets out of this relationship is not clear other than the mollycoddling and financing of the Zionist apartheid state for no apparent returns.

The US foreign policy enigma:

I think it was Winston Churchill who once described the foreign policy of the Soviet Union as being ‘’ … a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.’’ It seems that much the same is true of the United States and its foreign policy. The cornerstone of the policy was put in place in the 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the expansion of NATO up to Russia’s western frontier and the first and second Iraq wars, as well as the destruction of Libya, ably assisted by the British and French. This period of triumphalism for the Anglo-Zionist empire is ending with the imperial overstretch eventuating from 9/11. This episode has been subject to a myriad of various theories and has never been definitively demonstrated as to who were the brains behind this event. That being said the consequences of the event had deep-going ramifications. As one commentator has noted.

‘’The September 11, 2001, terrorist attack and the botched response to it delivered a twofold lesson: first, perpetual intervention in conflicts abroad is likely to spawn what the CIA calls ’’blowback’’ an unintended negative consequences of an intervention suffered by the party that intervenes. It is irrefutable that America’s funding and arming of religious based (i.e., Jihadis- FL) resistance to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan created a Frankenstein’s monster that little more than a decade later brought the war back to the United States. But we have been largely unwilling to join the dots beyond that. Invading Iraq in 2003 spawned further instability in the middle-east and the emergence of more terrorist groups. Why is it that so few of our pundits have noticed the obvious fact that the civil war in Syria and the rise of ISIS are the direct results of our actions in Iraq? Beyond that the United State’s government’s ham-fisted meddling in internal Ukrainian politics helped to set in motion a predictable chain of events that has sparked a new cold war. Actions such as this have drained our Treasury and destabilized large areas of the World. (4)

It also seems pertinent to enquire as to what extent is the United States carrying out policies which could be defined as being the pursuit of its national interests; this as opposed to the interests of internal and itinerant cosmopolitan groups in the US whose sympathies and interests lie elsewhere in overseas climes and not in the US heartlands. But this should be expected from the aims and objectives of these footloose globalist oligarchies in the key positions at the apex of American institutions and exerting what amounts to a stranglehold on policy-making.

Overstretch, Hubris and Messianism

Generally speaking all empires have recognisable contours of development, maturity, and decline; and there is no reason to suppose that America and its empire will be an exception to this general rule. For all that the American ruling class has taken it upon itself to deny these fundamental conditions and processes of empire. A case study was the fate of the British Empire. At the end of WW2 Britain could no longer bear the costs of holding down 25% of the worlds surface. Moreover the populations of empire – particularly in India – did not wish to be held down. Post 1945 the jig was up: the UK was effectively bankrupt, and the US took full advantage of this.

‘’The US concept of multilateralism was expressed in the Lend-Lease programme in its dealings with the UK. The British loan of 1946 and the Bretton Woods Agreements called for the dollar to supplant sterling as the world’s reserve currency. In effect the Sterling Area was to be absorbed into what would be the dollar area which would be extended throughout the world. Britain was to remain in a weakened position in which it found itself at the end of the war … with barely any free monetary reserves and dependent on dollar borrowings to meet its current obligations. The United States would gain access to Britain’s pre-war markets in Latin America, Africa, the middle-east and the far east … the Anglo-American Loan Agreement spelt the end of Britain as a Great Power.’’ (5)

This is the way empires die, new empires arise, decline, and they in their turn also die, and this process admits of no exceptions.

The Big Push

From a geopolitical viewpoint the most important developments in recent years have been the relative decline of America in economic, political, and cultural terms, the rise of China, and the recovery of Russia from the disastrous years of the Yeltsin ascendancy. That being said it should be acknowledged that America is the most powerful global economic and military alliance – but there has been the undermining of this pre-eminence which is symptomatic of its present state. I remember the scene in the film Apocalypse Now with Martin Sheen playing Captain Willard who sums up his (and America’s) dilemma: ‘’Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger.’’ That pretty much sums up the situation facing America then and now. As for the $ dominance well that worked provided advantage was not taken of its privileged position, but of course, human nature being what it is, advantage was taken. Moreover, the reserve status of the dollar isn’t, as many suppose, a one-way gravy train. Given that the dollar is the world’s global currency demand will fluctuate. Increased demand will push up the value of the greenback meaning that goods and services exported to the US will become cheaper. However a strong dollar will push up the costs of America’s export producers and lead to a hollowing out of US industry. Hence the Rust Belt. The absurdity of having a domestic currency serve as the global reserve currency means that the US monetary authorities need to engineer a situation whereby an equilibrium match of dollar inflows to dollar outflows is attained. A difficult if not impossible trick to perform. Please see the Triffin Paradox.

This is a situation which the US cannot endure. It must act now to reverse its own decline and prevent the rise of other great powers. The ‘Big Push’ mentality whereby the final victorious outcome against an entrenched enemy became a feature of military ‘thinking’ (sic) during WW1. The British and French offensives on the western front, the battles of the Somme 1916, Ypres III 1917 (Wipers 3 as the British soldiers’ called it) and the Nivelle offensives 1917, did not succeed in bringing about a victory over embedded German opposition and cost hundreds of thousands of casualties for a few blood-soaked hundred meters of gain. The situation was reversed in 1918 when the Germans went on the offensive, but the result was a successful counter-offensive by the British, French, and newly arrived American divisions and finally the Armistice of 1918.

Be that as it may this ‘Big Push’ mentality has seemingly insinuated itself into current US’s strategic thinking. This in spite of the fact that the rather inconsistent results of such past policies does not offer a particularly feasible option – but they may just do it anyway. Who knows?

Thumbing through the history books is always a good guide to how the decision makers behave at the inflexion points of history.

The Sicilian Expedition

In the History of the Peloponnesian War the Greek Historian, Thucydides, gives an account of the key moment in the ongoing wars between Sparta and Athens. This was the invasion of Sicily by Athens or more commonly known as the Sicilian Expedition. The view of Pericles in 430 BC was the status quo option: neither expand the Athenian empire nor diminish it. No withdrawal from Afghanistan.

… do not imagine that what we are fighting for is simply the question of freedom or slavery; there is also involved the loss of empire and dangers arising from the hatred we have incurred in the administration of it. Nor is it any longer possible to give up this empire – though there maybe some people in a mood of panic and in the spirit of political apathy actually think that this would be a fine and noble thing to do. Your empire is now like a tyranny; it may have been wrong to take it; it is certainly dangerous to let it go. (6)

Sound familiar? After the acquisition of empire, the costs of this enterprise start to roll in; the process then begins to move and then stagnate under the weight of its own slowing momentum and popular resistance. But like today’s neo-cons the Athenian war party nonetheless prevailed: the empire must at all costs be preserved. In terms of a modern cost-benefit analysis this would in purely rational business terms conclude that the maintenance of empire was not sustainable; it was a loss-making operation.

Sceptics about the wisdom of the Sicilian adventure including Nicias warned about the irrational exuberance of the war party as follows:

It is true that this assembly was called to deal with the preparations to be made for sailing to Sicily. Yet I still think that this is a question that requires further thought … is it really a good thing to send the ships at all? I think that we ought not to give just hasty consideration to so important a matter which does not concern us … I shall therefore confine myself to showing you that this is the wrong time for such adventures and that the objects of your ambitions are not to be gained easily. What I say is this: In going to Sicily you are leaving many enemies behind you, and you apparently want to make new ones there and have them also on your hands. It is with real alarm that I see this young man’s party (i.e., the war party FL) sitting at his (Alcibiades) side in this assembly all called in to support him and I and my side call for the support of the older men among you. If any one of you sits next to one of his supporters do not allow yourself to be browbeaten or frightened of being called a coward if you do not vote for war. (7)

But such reasoned arguments did not move the war party who gave Nicias’ arguments noticeably short shrift. The war party was on heat and there was no stopping the momentum of war pumped up by an adrenalin of mass psychosis. But this was not the end of the matter.

The war 415-413 BC itself turned out to be an absolute disaster for Athens. After achieving early successes the Athenians were checked by the arrival Spartan general, Gylippus, who galvanized the local inhabitants into action. From that point forward, however, as the Athenians ceded the initiative to their newly energized opponents, the tide of the conflict shifted. A massive reinforcing armada from Athens briefly gave the Athenians the upper hand once more, but a disastrous failed assault on a strategic high point and several crippling naval defeats damaged the Athenian soldiers’ ability to continue fighting and also their morale. The Athenians attempted a last-ditch evacuation from Syracuse. The evacuation failed, and nearly the entire expedition were captured or were destroyed in Sicily. Athens never really recovered after this strategic rout.

The whole sorry episode seems remarkably familiar: deadly examples of overestimating your own strength and underestimating the strength of the opposition. This policy (or lack of) has turned out to be a leitmotif in the US wars of choice against small but determined adversaries. The results of deploying the same playbook operationalised by the same incorrigible Neanderthals in the deep state with the same utterly predictable results. This present ongoing American attempt to construct a world empire through political, economic, and military means seems to be gearing up and preparing to launch its own Sicilian Expedition and this process has already been started. A classic example of imperial overreach. Nevertheless, the policy must go on; and it must be soon or never. One is reminded of Einstein’s famous dictum applicable to the PTB who are in charge of US policy. (8) But do the Americans really believe that they can carry this off? Are they actually crazy? Or is the whole thing nothing more than a brilliant bluff. Time will tell.

NOTES

(1) James Madison – ‘Political Observations’ – 1795. Letters and Writings of James Madison – 1865 – Volume IV

(2) Alexis de Tocqueville – Democracy in America – Volume 2 – pp.282/283

(3) ‘Senator Lindsey Graham – Meeting in Israel with PM Netanyahu – Fox News – 27 December 2014.

(4) Mike Lofgren – The Deep State – p.43

(5) Michael Hudson – Super Imperialism – pp.268/269

(6)Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War – The Policy of Pericles – Book 2 – 63

(7) Thucydides – Ibid – Launching of the Sicilian Expedition Book 6 – 8, 9, 10

(8)  “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

روسيا بين القيصريّة والسوفياتيّة على متن قطار الشرق الأوسط!‏

 د. وفيق إبراهيم

الاقتراع الروسي لصالح التعديلات الدستورية الأخيرة في دولتهم تختزن إصراراً شعبياً كبيراً على عودة بلادهم إلى التعددية القطبية!

هذا هو المضمون الفعلي لتأييدها من 78% من المواطنين الروس مقابل اعتراض 21% على تعديلات دستورية تُحدث تطويراً في القيم والمؤسسات، وشارك فيها 65% من مجمل شعوب روسيا، هذا رقم كبير في عالم الديمقراطيات الغربية لا تجب مقارنته أبداً بالاستفتاءات العربية التي تعطي رئيس البلاد 99% فقط! وتصل المخابرات ليلها بالنهار بحثاً عن 0.1% تغيّب عن الانتخابات شديدة الشكلية.أما السؤال القابل للمعالجة، فيتعلق بكيفية الربط بين هذه التعديلات ومكانة روسيا العالمية، علماً أنها لا تتطرق إلى هذا الأمر بشكل علني.أولاً تجب الإشارة إلى أن هذه التعديلات لها جانب كبير يتعلق بتعميم القيم الوطنية والولاء للمؤسسات وحقوق المواطن وأدواره في الدفاع عن بلاده سياسياً واجتماعياً واقتصادياً وصولاً إلى الدفاع الوطني.لكن جانبها «الكوني» يرتدي لبوس تعديلات دستورية تسمح للرئيس الروسي البقاء في ولايتين رئاسيتين متتاليتين ابتداء من تاريخ إقرار هذه التعديلات.وهذا يؤدي إلى «تصفير» العداد الرئاسي السابق وإعادة فتحه بموجب هذه التعديلات الجديدة على ولايتين رئاسيتين مدتهما اثنتي عشرة سنة.

وبما أن ولاية الرئيس الروسي الحالي فلاديمير بوتين تنتهي في 2024 أي بعد عشرين سنة من تنقله بين مجلس رئاسة الوزراء في بلاده، ورئاسة الجمهورية، فيكون بوتين مرشحاً لحكم روسيا 32 سنة متواصلة تشبه حكم القياصرة شكلاً والسوفياتية لناحية المضمون الاستراتيجي الذي يريد انتزاع دور عالمي يماثل الشكل السوفياتي إنما بمضمون معاصر يقترب من العالم الغربي.

من الواضح إذاً أن هذه التعديلات تخدم مباشرة التمديد لبوتين بآليات انتخابيّة ميزتها أنها قابلة للتجديد والتمديد.

فلماذا يريد الشعب الروسي بتنوعاته القومية والعرقية فتح الطريق أمام مَن يعتقدون أنه «بطل روسيا»؟

يقول التحليل التاريخي إن انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي في 1989 عكس التراجع الروسي المخيف بدءاً من الثمانينيات لانخراط الاتحاد السوفياتي في حروب تسلح وفضاء ودعم لمدى جيوبوليتيكي واسع.. منفرداً.. مما أدى إلى سقوط هذه الظاهرة الجيوبولتيكية الهامة التي أدت دوراً محترماً في عرقلة الهيمنة الأميركية على العالم منذ الخمسينيات وحتى أواخر الثمانينيات من القرن العشرين إنما بشكل نسبيّ طبعاً.

لكن روسيا وريثة السوفيات، استسلمت بين 1990 تاريخ إعادة تأسيسها وحتى مطلع القرن العشرين للهيمنة الأميركية وصولاً إلى حدود التبعية الكاملة لها، وهي المرحلة التي تسلم الرئاسة فيها بوريس يلتسن الذي قضى عهوده الرئاسية معاقراً للفودكا إلى حدود السكر والاغتراب عن هموم بلاده، حتى أصبحت روسيا في عداد الدولة المعدومة التأثير ومتراجعة اقتصادياً على مستوى الداخل ولا يهمها تلك التغيرات الجيوسياسية التي اتخذها الأميركيون لتطويقها في أوروبا شرقية كانت متحالفة معها، وإبعادها نهائياً عن الشرق الأوسط وجنوب شرق آسيا ورفع مستوى تناقضاتها مع أوروبا.

هذا ما تسلّمه بوتين في 2004 في رئاسة الوزراء ورئاسة البلاد، إلا أنه لم يقبل بهذه الوضعية الروسية المتقهقرة، فبنى خطة بدأت بتمهيد وضعية سياسية موالية لفكرة استنهاض روسي بمدى جيوبولتيكي، وهذا دعاه للتوطيد السياسي وإعادة دعم الممكن من الاقتصاد المنهار خارجياً. اعتبر يلتسن أن تحصين الحدود الروسية مع أوكرانيا «المتأمركة» وأوسينيا وبعض المناطق الأخرى بانياً شبكة أمان في جواره الإقليمي، لكنه سرعان ما أعاد الحيوية إلى علاقات بلاده بالصين على أساس اقتصادي بين البلدين وجيوبولتيكي خارجي للتعامل مع الحذر مع الهيمنة الأميركية.

للمزيد من التأمين الاقتصادي اخترق بوتين الحظر الأميركي على دور روسي في أوروبا، فأسس لمرور أكبر ثلاثة خطوط لأنابيب الغاز الروسي: واحد إلى ألمانيا مباشرةً عبر بحر البلطيق وآخر إلى أوكرانيا فأوروبا وثالث عبر البحر الأسود إلى تركيا فأوروبا أيضاً، مؤكداً بذلك على الدور المركزي الجيوسياسي للغاز الروسي في العالم، وهذا اختراق كبير للجيوبولتيك الأميركي الذي كان يعمل على تطويق روسيا اقتصادياً واستراتيجياً لمنعها حتى من مجرد التفكير والحلم بالقطبية العالمية.

لم يكتف بوتين بهذه الإنجازات بعد تأكده من عجزها عن استرداد الدور العالمي لبلاده.

هنا نراه أعاد تجديد دور قاعدة حميميم الروسية المنصوبة على الساحل السوري منذ زمن السوفيات.

لذلك كان الغبار يعتريها وتكاد تجسد ذكريات سابقة عن جيوبولتيك سوفياتي منهار.هنا نجح بوتين باتفاقات تمهيديّة مع إيران وحزب الله من تحويل حميميم إلى دور روسي عسكري وسياسي كبير بالتعاون العميق مع الدولة السورية.لقد بدت الحركة العسكرية الروسية في سورية واسعة النطاق وحاربت إلى جانب الجيش السوري وحلفائه على كامل الأرض السورية حتى أنّها نفذت مئة وعشرين ألف غارة جوية في مختلف المناطق من دون احتساب القصف المدفعي والصاروخي والعمليات البرية.لقد ظهرت مرامي بوتين من خلال إمساكه بآليّة أستانة وسوتشي مع الأتراك والإيرانيين وبمهادنته السعودية لأسباب تتعلق بضرورات التنسيق في أسواق النفط. فاتحاً علاقات مع العراق والجزائر ومصر محاولاً البحث عن عناصر للعودة إلى اليمن من بوابة العثور على اتفاق بين أجنحته المتقاتلة، مقدماً للبنان عروضاً في الاقتصاد والتسلّح وحاملاً معه إلى ليبيا ذكريات سوفياتية كانت على علاقات جيدة مع القذافي.

يتضح بذلك أن بوتين الممهّد لأدواره المتواصلة في رئاسة روسيا حتى العالم 2036 يتمتع بتأييد شعبي قوي، يؤهله لأداء دور قيصر أو حاكم سوفياتي بصلاحيات إمبراطورية، يريد العودة إلى الشرق الأوسط لأهداف تتعلق بحرصه على العودة إلى النظام القطبي المتعدد، بما يؤهله لتنظيم علاقات اقتصادية مع العرب والمسلمين وتوريد أسلحة لبلدان الشرق الأوسط والمساهمة في التنافس على الغاز في البحر الأبيض المتوسط، بذلك يجد الأميركيون أنفسهم مضطرين لتسهيل ولادة نظام قطبي جديد، يجسد فيه بوتين الروسي دور النجومية لأهمية بلاده من جهة وإمكاناته الشخصية المنسقة مع أدائه في المرحلة السوفياتية دور ضابط مخابرات ناجح.

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