St. Petersburg sets the stage for the War of Economic Corridors

In St. Petersburg, the world’s new powers gather to upend the US-concocted “rules-based order” and reconnect the globe their way

June 18 2022

The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

At St. Petersburg on Friday, backers of multipolarity pushed forward integration of their networksPhoto Credit: The Cradle

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum  has been configured for years now as absolutely essential to understand the evolving dynamics and the trials and tribulations of Eurasia integration.

St. Petersburg in 2022 is even more crucial as it directly connects to three simultaneous developments I had previously outlined, in no particular order:

First, the coming of the “new G8” – four BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China), plus Iran, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico, whose GDP per purchasing parity power (PPP) already dwarfs the old, western-dominated G8.

Second, the Chinese “Three Rings” strategy of developing geoeconomic relations with its neighbors and partners.

Third, the development of BRICS+, or extended BRICS, including some members of the “new G8,” to be discussed at the upcoming summit in China.

There was hardly any doubt President Putin would be the star of St. Petersburg 2022, delivering a sharp, detailed speech to the plenary session.

Among the highlights, Putin smashed the illusions of the so-called ‘golden billion’ who live in the industrialized west (only 12 percent of the global population) and the “irresponsible macroeconomic policies of the G7 countries.”

The Russian president noted how “EU losses due to sanctions against Russia” could exceed $400 billion per year, and that Europe’s high energy prices – something that actually started “in the third quarter of last year” – are due to “blindly believing in renewable sources.”

He also duly dismissed the west’s ‘Putin price hike’ propaganda, saying the food and energy crisis is linked to misguided western economic policies, i.e., “Russian grain and fertilizers are being sanctioned” to the detriment of the west.

In a nutshell: the west misjudged Russia’s sovereignty when sanctioning it, and now is paying a very heavy price.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, addressing the forum by video, sent a message to the whole Global South. He evoked “true multilateralism,” insisting that emerging markets must have “a say in global economic management,” and called for “improved North-South and South-South dialogue.”

It was up to Kazakh President Tokayev, the ruler of a deeply strategic partner of both Russia and China, to deliver the punch line in person: Eurasia integration should progress hand in hand with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Here it is, full circle.

Building a long-term strategy “in weeks”

St. Petersburg offered several engrossing discussions on key themes and sub-themes of Eurasia integration, such as business within the scope of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); aspects of the Russia-China strategic partnership; what’s ahead for the BRICS; and prospects for the Russian financial sector.

One of the most important discussions was focused on the increasing interaction between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and ASEAN, a key example of what the Chinese would define as ‘South-South cooperation.’

And that connected to the still long and winding road leading to deeper integration of the EAEU itself.

This implies steps towards more self-sufficient economic development for members; establishing the priorities for import substitution; harnessing all the transport and logistical potential; developing trans-Eurasian corporations; and imprinting the EAEU ‘brand’ in a new system of global economic relations.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk was particularly sharp on the pressing matters at hand: implementing a full free trade customs and economic union – plus a unified payment system – with simplified direct settlements using the Mir payment card to reach new markets in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Persian Gulf.

In a new era defined by Russian business circles as “the game with no rules” – debunking the US-coined “rules-based international order” – another relevant discussion, featuring key Putin adviser Maxim Oreshkin, focused on what should be the priorities for big business and the financial sector in connection to the state’s economic and foreign policy.

The consensus is that the current ‘rules’ have been written by the west. Russia could only connect to existing mechanisms, underpinned by international law and institutions. But then the west tried to  “squeeze us out” and even “to cancel Russia.” So it’s time to “replace the no-rules rules.” That’s a key theme underlying the concept of ‘sovereignty’ developed by Putin in his plenary address.

In another important discussion chaired by the CEO of western-sanctioned Sberbank Herman Gref, there was much hand-wringing about the fact that the Russian “evolutionary leap forward towards 2030” should have happened sooner. Now a “long-term strategy has to be built in weeks,” with supply chains breaking down all across the spectrum.

A question was posed to the audience – the crème de la crème of Russia’s business community: what would you recommend, increased trade with the east, or redirecting the structure of the Russian economy? A whopping 72 percent voted for the latter.

So now we come to the crunch, as all these themes interact when we look at what happened only a few days before St. Petersburg.

The Russia-Iran-India corridor

A key node of the International North South Transportation Corridor (INTSC) is now in play, linking northwest Russia to the Persian Gulf via the Caspian Sea and Iran. The transportation time between St. Petersburg and Indian ports is 25 days.

This logistical corridor with multimodal transportation carries an enormous geopolitical significance for two BRICs members and a prospective member of the “new G8” because it opens a key alternative route to the usual cargo trail from Asia to Europe via the Suez canal.

The International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC)

The INSTC corridor is a classic South-South integration project: a 7,200-km-long multimodal network of ship, rail, and road routes interlinking India, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia all the way to Finland in the Baltic Sea.

Technically, picture a set of containers going overland from St. Petersburg to Astrakhan. Then the cargo sails via the Caspian to the Iranian port of Bandar Anzeli. Then it’s transported overland to the port of Bandar Abbas. And then overseas to Nava Sheva, the largest seaport in India. The key operator is Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (the IRISL group), which has branches in both Russia and India.

And that brings us to what wars from now will be fought about: transportation corridors – and not territorial conquest.

Beijing’s fast-paced BRI is seen as an existential threat to the ‘rules-based international order.’ It develops along six overland corridors across Eurasia, plus the Maritime Silk Road from the South China Sea, and the Indian Ocean, all the way to Europe.

One of the key targets of NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine is to interrupt BRI corridors across Russia. The Empire will go all out to interrupt not only BRI but also INSTC nodes. Afghanistan under US occupation was prevented from become a node for either BRI or INSTC.

With full access to the Sea of Azov – now a “Russian lake” – and arguably the whole Black Sea coastline further on down the road, Moscow will hugely increase its sea trading prospects (Putin: “The Black Sea was historically Russian territory”).

For the past two decades, energy corridors have been heavily politicized and are at the center of unforgiving global pipeline competitions – from BTC and South Stream to Nord Stream 1 and 2, and the never-ending soap operas, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipelines.

Then there’s the Northern Sea Route alongside the Russian coastline all the way to the Barents Sea. China and India are very much focused on the Northern Sea Route, not by accident also  discussed in detail in St. Petersburg.

The contrast between the St. Petersburg debates on a possible re-wiring of our world – and the Three Stooges Taking a Train to Nowhere to tell a mediocre Ukrainian comedian to calm down and negotiate his surrender (as confirmed by German intelligence) – could not be starker.

Almost imperceptibly – just as it re-incorporated Crimea and entered the Syrian theater – Russia as a military-energy superpower now shows it is potentially capable of driving a great deal of the industrialized west back into the Stone Age. The western elites are just helpless. If only they could ride a corridor on the Eurasian high-speed train, they might learn something.

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

The ‘New G8’ Meets China’s ‘Three Rings’

June 15, 2022

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China.

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

The speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, may have created the defining acronym for the emerging multipolar world: “the new G8”.

As Volodin noted, “the United States has created conditions with its own hands so that countries wishing to build an equal dialogue and mutually beneficial relations will actually form a ‘new G8’ together with Russia.”

This non Russia-sanctioning G8, he added, is 24.4% ahead of the old one, which is in fact the G7, in terms of GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP), as G7 economies are on the verge of collapsing and the U.S. registers record inflation.

The power of the acronym was confirmed by one of the researchers on Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sergei Fedorov: three BRICS members (Brazil, China and India) alongside Russia, plus Indonesia, Iran, Turkey and Mexico, all non adherents to the all-out Western economic war against Russia, will soon dominate global markets.

Fedorov stressed the power of the new G8 in population as well as economically: “If the West, which restricted all international organizations, follows its own policies, and pressures everyone, then why are these organizations necessary? Russia does not follow these rules.”

The new G8, instead, “does not impose anything on anyone, but tries to find common solutions.”

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China. Argentina is very much interested in becoming part of the extended BRICS and those (informal) members of the new G8 – Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Mexico – are all likely candidates.

The intersection of the new G8 and BRICS + will lead Beijing to turbo-charge what has already been conceptualized as the Three Rings strategy by Cheng Yawen, from the Institute of International Relations and Public Affairs at the Shanghai International Studies University.

Cheng argues that since the beginning of the 2018 U.S.-China trade war the Empire of Lies and its vassals have aimed to “decouple”; thus the Middle Kingdom should strategically downgrade its relations with the West and promote a new international system based on South-South cooperation.

Looks like if it walks and talks like the new G8, that’s because it’s the real deal.

The revolution reaches the “global countryside”

Cheng stresses how “the center-periphery hierarchy of the West has been perpetuated as an implicit rule” in international relations; and how China and Russia, “because of their strict capital controls, are the last two obstacles to further U.S. control of the global periphery”.

So how would the Three Rings – in fact a new global system – be deployed?

The first ring “is China’s neighboring countries in East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East; the second ring is the vast number of developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; and the third ring extends to the traditional industrialized countries, mainly Europe and the United States.”

The basis for building the Three Rings is deeper Global South integration. Cheng notes how “between 1980-2021, the economic volume of developing countries rose from 21 to 42.2 percent of the world’s total output.”

And yet “current trade flows and mutual investments of developing countries are still heavily dependent on the financial and monetary institutions/networks controlled by the West. In order to break their dependence on the West and further enhance economic and political autonomy, a broader financial and monetary cooperation, and new sets of instruments among developing countries should be constructed”.

This is a veiled reference to the current discussions inside the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), with Chinese participation, designing an alternative financial-monetary system not only for Eurasia but for the Global South – bypassing possible American attempts to enforce a sort of Bretton Woods 3.0.

Cheng uses a Maoist metaphor to illustrate his point – referring to ‘the revolutionary path of ‘encircling the cities from the countryside’”. What is needed now, he argues, is for China and the Global South to “overcome the West’s preventive measures and cooperate with the ‘global countryside’ – the peripheral countries – in the same way.”

So what seems to be in the horizon, as conceptualized by Chinese academia, is a “new G8/BRICS+” interaction as the revolutionary vanguard of the emerging multipolar world, designed to expand to the whole Global South.

That of course will mean a deepened internationalization of Chinese geopolitical and geoeconomic power, including its currency. Cheng qualifies the creation of a “three ring “ international system as essential to “break through the [American] siege”.

It’s more than evident that the Empire won’t take that lying down.

The siege will continue. Enter the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), spun as yet another proverbial “effort” to – what else – contain China, but this time all the way from Northeast Asia to Southeast Asia, with Oceania thrown in as a bonus.

The American spin on IPEF is heavy on “economic engagement”: fog of (hybrid) war disguising the real intent to divert as much trade as possible from China – which produces virtually everything – to the U.S. – which produces very little.

The Americans give away the game by heavily focusing their strategy on 7 of the 10 ASEAN nations – as part of yet another desperate dash to control the American-denominated “Indo-Pacific”. Their logic: ASEAN after all needs a “stable partner”; the American economy is “comparatively stable”; thus ASEAN must subject itself to American geopolitical aims.

IPEF, under the cover of trade and economics, plays the same old tune, with the U.S. going after China from three different angles.

– The South China Sea, instrumentalizing ASEAN.

– The Yellow and East China Seas, instrumentalizing Japan and South Korea to prevent direct Chinese access to the Pacific.

– The larger “Indo-Pacific” (that’s were India as a member of the Quad comes in).

It’s all labeled as a sweet apple pie of “stronger and more resilient Indo-Pacific with diversified trade.”

BRI corridors are back

Beijing is hardly losing any sleep thinking about IPEF: after all most of its multiple trade connections across ASEAN are rock solid. Taiwan though is a completely different story.

At the annual Shangri-La dialogue this past weekend in Singapore, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe went straight to the point, actually defining Beijing’s vision for an East Asia order (not “rules-based”, of course).

Taiwan independence is a “dead end”, said General Wei, as he asserted Beijing’s peaceful aims while vigorously slamming assorted U.S. “threats against China”. At any attempt at interference, “we will fight at all costs, and we will fight to the very end”. Wei also handily dismissed the U.S. drive to “hijack” Indo-Pacific nations, without even mentioning IPEF.

China at it stands is firmly concentrated on stabilizing its western borders – which will allow it to devote more time to the South China Sea and the “Indo-Pacific” further on down the road.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi went on a crucial trip to Kazakhstan – a full member of both BRI and the EAEU – where he met President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and all his counterparts from the Central Asian “stans” in a summit in Nur-Sultan. The group – billed as C+C5 – discussed everything from security, energy and transportation to Afghanistan and vaccines.

In sum, this was all about developing much-needed corridors of BRI/ New Silk Roads – in sharp contrast to the proverbial Western lamentations about BRI reaching a dead end.

Two BRI-to-the-bone projects will go on overdrive: the China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline Line D, and the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway. Both have been years in the making, but now have become absolutely essential, and will be the flagship BRI projects in the Central Asian corridor.

The China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline Line D will link Turkmenistan’s gas fields to Xinjiang via Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. That was the main theme of the discussions when Turkmen President Berdimuhamedow visited Beijing for the Winter Olympics.

The 523 km China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway for its part will crucially link the two Central Asian “stans” to the China-Europe freight rail network, via the existing rail networks in Turkmenistan.

Considering the current incandescent geopolitical scenario in Ukraine, this is a bombshell in itself, because it will enable freight from China to travel via Iran or via Caspian ports, bypassing sanctioned Russia. No hard feelings, in terms of the Russia-China strategic partnership: just business.

The Kyrgyz, predictably, were ecstatic. Construction begins next year. According to Kyrgyz President Zhaparov, “there will be jobs. Our economy will boom.”

Talk about China acting decisively in its “first ring”, in Central Asia. Don’t expect anything of such geoeconomic breadth and scope being “offered” by IPEF anywhere in ASEAN.

The Empire Strikes Back: Imperialism’s global war on multipolarity

June 15, 2022

This is a series of talks where each talk is short and one can enjoy the long video in shorter pieces.  An absolute must-listen is the convenor’s (Radhika Desai) opening statement which explains so clearly the concept of multi-polarity or pluripolarity.

The second one by Victor Gao brings a new view to how China perceives these changes in our world.

Ben Norton from Multipolarista takes a look at the influence of socialism in the Belt and Road Initiative.

All of these are worth listening to, and it is easy as the presentations are short, and one can come back to it.

Topics include: * NATO, AUKUS and the military infrastructure of the New Cold War * The evolving China-Russia relationship and the West’s response * The Biden administration’s undermining of the One China Principle * Solomon Islands and the West’s plan for hegemony in the Pacific * NATO’s plan for Ukraine and how this impacts China * Prospects for sovereign development in the Global South

Speakers: * Victor Gao (Vice President, Center for China and Globalization) * Ben Norton (Editor, Multipolarista) * Li Jingjing (Reporter, CGTN) * Jenny Clegg (Author, ‘China’s Global Strategy: Toward a Multipolar World’) * Danny Haiphong (Author, ‘American Exceptionalism and American Innocence’) * Chris Matlhako (SACP Second Deputy General Secretary) * Mustafa Hyder Sayed (Executive Director, Pakistan-China Institute) * Professor Ding Yifan (Senior Fellow, Taihe Institute, China) * Ju-Hyun Park (Writer and organizer, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development) * Rob Kajiwara (President, Peace For Okinawa Coalition) * Sara Flounders (United National Antiwar Coalition, International Action Center) * Yury Tavrovsky (Chairman, Russian-Chinese Committee for Friendship, Peace and Development)

THE FIRST HIGHWAY BRIDGE BETWEEN RUSSIA AND CHINA

 11.06.2022 

The first bridge connecting Russia and China was opened in the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk and Chinese city of Heihe. The opening ceremony was held on June 10, 2022. The bridge was planned to open back in 2016, but the coronavirus pandemic was to blame.

The ceremony was remotely attended by Yuri Trutnev, Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Envoy to the Russian Far East; Hu Chunhua, Deputy Premier of the State Council of China; Vitaly Saveliev, Minister of Transportation, and Alexei Chekunkov, Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic.

Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yuri Trutnev commented on the opening of the bridge: “In today’s fractured world, the Blagoveshchensk – Heihe bridge between Russia and China has a special, symbolic meaning. It will become another thread of friendship that connects the peoples of Russia and China. Construction of the bridge began in 2016, thousands of people were involved in the construction, working around the clock from both the Chinese and Russian sides.”

Hu Chunhua, deputy premier of China’s State Council, also commented that the opening of the bridge shows the readiness of both countries to deepen all-around cooperation.

He said: “The Chinese side is ready to jointly use the opportunities of the launching of the bridge crossing with the Russian side, constantly promote transport interconnection, provide better logistics services for personnel movement, and consolidate trade communication.”

The transport bridge connects the Russian village of Kanikurgan near Blagoveshchensk and the Chinese village of Changfa near Heihe. The first cargoes, such as oil, lumber, car parts, and electrical equipment, have already crossed the river.

The bridge between Russia and China has enormous economic potential. According to preliminary data, the trade turnover between Russia and China may increase up to 1 million tons of cargo a year. The bridge will reduce transport costs for businesses and enable neighboring regions to more than triple the path of exports and imports.

The capacity of the bridge is 630 trucks, 164 buses and 68 cars. The length of the access roads is 18 km. It is two-lane, and the total width of the roadway is 11 meters. It includes six kilometers of road in China and 13 kilometers of access roads in Russia, in which another 278 meters is a bridge across the Kanikurgan channel. The price to cross the bridge is $150. The local administration wants to lower the price, but only after 20 years. The Russian authorities have invested 14 billion rubles in the construction of the bridge, while the Chinese donated 4 billion rubles. However, the bridge was built equally, 540 meters each, and the headquarters was built in Heihe, while the branch was located in Blagoveshchensk.

Passenger cars will also be allowed to cross the bridge after Beijing facilitates COVID restrictions.

Previously, when there was no bridge, all trade, and transportation of people was carried out by ships. For the first time since 1995, the countries began to cooperate in the construction, although the idea of the bridge existed in the 1980s. The Chinese completed the bridge faster, and in 2019 the parts were connected. Although bridges between China and Russia have been built before. For example, they previously built a railroad between Nizhelensky and Tongjiang in the Amur region, but later suspended construction.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Sergei Lavrov: Sixth International Conference Russia and China: Cooperation in a New Era

June 03, 2022

Mr Wang Yi,

Mr Ivanov,

Colleagues, friends,

The further development of strategic partnership with China is one of our  top priorities. It is stipulated in the Foreign Policy Concept, which President of Russia Vladimir Putin approved in November 2016. We are grateful to our colleagues from the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) for organising a regular, sixth joint conference. We regard it as an opportunity to review the current state and development outlook of our bilateral cooperation and its increasing influence on global developments.

This is a special year for us: 20 years ago on July 16, 2001, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Jiang Zemin met in Moscow to sign the Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation. By turning this new page in their relations, the parties demonstrated their resolve to pass their friendship down through the generations. The treaty formalised the previously applied political definition of bilateral relations as “a partnership of (…) equality and trust and strategic collaboration.” In other words, this truly historical international document has put on record the development of a new model of our interstate relations and their progress to a fundamentally new stage.

I would like to note that the Treaty is based on the universally recognised norms of international law, first of all the goals and principles of the UN Charter. It seals the parties’ agreement on mutual support in the defence of the national unity and territorial integrity, as well as their commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons against each other and not to target strategic nuclear missiles on each other. The document also formulated the principle of “respecting each other’s choice of the course of political, economic, social and cultural development.” The parties pledged to immediately contact and consult each other in the event of the threat of aggression and not to allow their territory to be used by third countries to the detriment of the national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other party. In this way, Russia and China provided a legal framework for the closest possible collaboration on strategic matters bearing on their fundamental interests without creating a formal military-political alliance. In fact, a comprehensive Russian-Chinese partnership is more than just a classical military-political union.

Another vital provision mentions the absence of any territorial claims to each other and the parties’ resolve…“to make the border between them into one where everlasting peace and friendship prevail from generation to generation.” The incorporation of this principle promoted the final settlement of the so-called border dispute and greatly strengthened mutual trust.

Colleagues,

The Treaty played a huge role in boosting mutual trade and economic interaction.  We can report positive results to the public. During the past 20 years, our mutual trade increased more than thirteen times, from $8 billion to $104 billion in 2020. Work is underway within the framework of the Intergovernmental Russian-Chinese Commission on Investment Cooperation on 70 projects worth in total more than $120 billion.

Our energy partnership has acquired a strategic dimension. A Russian-Chinese oil pipeline has been functioning for nearly 10 years now, and the Power of Siberia gas pipeline was launched in late 2019. China is taking part in large-scale LNG projects in the Russian Arctic zone. Just a few days ago, on May 19, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Xi Jinping launched the construction of four new Russian-designed power units for the Tianwan and Xudapu nuclear power stations in China.

Our industrial and agricultural cooperation is developing constantly. Our interaction in science and innovation is especially important in light of the continued Western attempts to contain our countries’ technological progress. It is for this reason that we are holding the Years of Science, Technology and Innovation in 2020-2021 as part of the successful practice of themed cross-years.

The Treaty also has a great role to play in promoting cultural and humanitarian ties. These activities are helping to maintain the relations of good-neighbourliness and reinforce the social basis of strategic partnership between Russia and China.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has impaired contacts between our citizens. I am sure that, as the epidemiological situation becomes normalised, we will be able to quickly restore and expand them. In our opinion, efforts to promote Russian language studies in China and Chinese language studies in Russia should become an unconditional priority. The same concerns dialogue with young people, who will soon carry on efforts to develop and expand the traditions of Russian-Chinese friendship.

The Treaty, which is ahead of its time in some respects, is not limited to bilateral ties. Its provisions help expand our foreign policy cooperation. Bilateral dialogue is becoming particularly important on the international scene today, when some Western states are trying to demolish the UN-centric system of international law and to replace it with their own rules-based order. Moscow and Beijing consistently advocate the creation of a more equitable, democratic and therefore stable polycentric international order. This system should reflect the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world and the natural striving of nations to independently determine their development path.The very fact of the Russian-Chinese accord on this issue serves to stabilise and balance the entire system of international relations.It opens up broad opportunities for truly equitable and free cooperation between large and small countries jointly shaping their historical destiny.

I am satisfied to note the coinciding or largely similar approaches of Moscow and Beijing towards an absolute majority of challenges facing the world today, including efforts to maintain global strategic stability, arms control and counterterrorism operations. We cooperate successfully and fruitfully at such multilateral venues as the UN, the SCO, BRICS, RIC, the G20, APEC and the EAS. We coordinate our steps during the Syrian and Afghan peace processes, the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and on the Iranian nuclear programme. Russia and China advocate the peaceful development of the Asia Pacific region and the creation of reliable regional mechanisms for ensuring equal and indivisible security there based on non-bloc approaches.

Today, the Eurasian region is implementing a number of innovative integration projects, including the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Work to combine their potentials has good prospects. Notably, it [The Treaty] … lays a solid foundation for establishing a new geo-strategic contour of peace, stability and economic prosperity based on principles of international law and transparency on our shared continent from Lisbon to Jakarta.This contour would be open for all countries, including members of the Eurasian Economic Union, the SCO, ASEAN and, in the future, the EU. The initiative of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on establishing a Greater Eurasian Partnership aims to accomplish this truly historic task. We highly value cooperation with our Chinese friends on its well-coordinated implementation together with the Belt and Road Initiative.

Colleagues,

The Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation, whose 20th anniversary we are going to mark in July 2021, is an unshakeable foundation of Russian-Chinese relations. We are convinced that it remains a living and working document that makes it possible to expand, finetune and adjust our strategic cooperation in line with the changing realities of the new epoch. This epoch demands that all of us, including experts, diplomats and politicians, always pay attention to new challenges and opportunities, trends and forecasts. Your conference is a good platform for a calm, detailed and professional exchange of opinions and ideas, without which is it is hard to chart the road forward and to determine a joint algorithm of subsequent actions.

Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to wish you fruitful discussions and intellectual insights and revelations for the benefit of strengthening neighbourly relations and friendship between Russia and China.

Thank you.

Make Nazism Great Again

March 24, 2022

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

The supreme target is regime change in Russia, Ukraine is just a pawn in the game – or worse, mere cannon fodder.

All eyes are on Mariupol. As of Wednesday night, over 70% of residential areas were under control of Donetsk and Russian forces, while Russian Marines, Donetsk’s 107th batallion and Chechen Spetsnaz, led by the charismatic Adam Delimkhanov, had entered the Azov-Stal plant – the HQ of the neo-Nazi Azov batallion.

Azov was sent a last ultimatum: surrender until midnight – or else, as in a take no prisoners highway to hell.

That implies a major game-changer in the Ukrainian battlefield; Mariupol is finally about to be thoroughly denazified – as the Azov contingent long entrenched in the city and using civilians as human shields were their most hardened fighting force.

Meanwhile, echoes from the Empire of Lies all but gave the whole game away. There’s no intention whatsoever in Washington to facilitate a peace plan in Ukraine – and that explains Comedian Zelensky’s non-stop stalling tactics. The supreme target is regime change in Russia, and for that Totalen Krieg against Russia and all things Russian is warranted. Ukraine is just a pawn in the game – or worse, mere cannon fodder.

This also means that the 14,000 deaths in Donbass for the past 8 years should be directly attributed to the Exceptionalists. As for Ukrainian neo-Nazis of all stripes, they are as expendable as “moderate rebels” in Syria, be they al-Qaeda or Daesh-linked. Those that may eventually survive can always join the budding CIA-sponsored Neo-Nazi Inc. – the tawdry remix of the 1980s Jihad Inc. in Afghanistan. They will be properly “Kalibrated”.

A quick neo-Nazi recap

By now only the brain dead across NATOstan – and there are hordes – are not aware of Maidan in 2014. Yet few know that it was then Ukrainian Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov, a former governor of Kharkov, who gave the green light for a 12,000 paramilitary outfit to materialize out of Sect 82 soccer hooligans who supported Dynamo Kiev. That was the birth of the Azov batallion, in May 2014, led by Andriy Biletsky, a.k.a. the White Fuhrer, and former leader of the neo-nazi gang Patriots of Ukraine.

Together with NATO stay-behind agent Dmitro Yarosh, Biletsky founded Pravy Sektor, financed by Ukrainian mafia godfather and Jewish billionaire Ihor Kolomoysky (later the benefactor of the meta-conversion of Zelensky from mediocre comedian to mediocre President.)

Pravy Sektor happened to be rabidly anti-EU – tell that to Ursula von der Lugen – and politically obsessed with linking Central Europe and the Baltics in a new, tawdry Intermarium. Crucially, Pravy Sektor and other nazi gangs were duly trained by NATO instructors.

Biletsky and Yarosh are of course disciples of notorious WWII-era Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, for whom pure Ukrainians are proto-Germanic or Scandinavian, and Slavs are untermenschen.

Azov ended up absorbing nearly all neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine and were dispatched to fight against Donbass – with their acolytes making more money than regular soldiers. Biletsky and another neo-Nazi leader, Oleh Petrenko, were elected to the Rada. The White Führer stood on his own. Petrenko decided to support then President Poroshenko. Soon the Azov battalion was incorporated as the Azov Regiment to the Ukrainian National Guard.

They went on a foreign mercenary recruiting drive – with people coming from Western Europe, Scandinavia and even South America.

That was strictly forbidden by the Minsk Agreements guaranteed by France and Germany (and now de facto defunct). Azov set up training camps for teenagers and soon reached 10,000 members. Erik “Blackwater” Prince, in 2020, struck a deal with the Ukrainian military that would enable his renamed outfit, Academi, to supervise Azov.

It was none other than sinister Maidan cookie distributor Vicky “F**k the EU” Nuland who suggested to Zelensky – both of them, by the way, Ukrainian Jews – to appoint avowed Nazi Yarosh as an adviser to the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Gen Valerii Zaluzhnyi. The target: organize a blitzkrieg on Donbass and Crimea – the same blitzkrieg that SVR, Russian foreign intel, concluded would be launched on February 22, thus propelling the launch of Operation Z.

All of the above, in fact just a quick recap, shows that in Ukraine there’s no difference whatsoever between white neo-Nazis and brown-colored al-Qaeda/ISIS/Daesh, as much as neo-Nazis are just as “Christian” as takfiri Salafi-jihadis are “Muslim”.

When Putin denounced a “bunch of neo-Nazis” in power in Kiev, the Comedian replied that it was impossible because he was Jewish. Nonsense. Zelensky and his patron Kolomoysky, for all practical purposes, are Zio-Nazis.

Even as branches of the United States government admitted to neo-Nazis entrenched in the Kiev apparatus, the Exceptionalist machine made the daily shelling of Donbass for 8 years simply disappear. These thousands of civilian victims never existed.

U.S. mainstream media even ventured the odd piece or report on Azov and Aidar neo-Nazis. But then a neo-Orwellian narrative was set in stone: there are no Nazis in Ukraine. CIA offshoot NED even started deleting records about training members of Aidar. Recently a crappy news network duly promoted a video of a NATO-trained and weaponized Azov commander – complete with Nazi iconography.

Why “denazification” makes sense

The Banderastan ideology harks back to when this part of Ukraine was in fact controlled by the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Russian empire and Poland. Stepan Bandera was born in Austro-Hungary in 1909, near Ivano-Frankovsk, in the – then autonomous – Kingdom of Galicia.

WWI dismembered European empires into frequently non-viable small entities. In western Ukraine – an imperial intersection – that inevitably led to the proliferation of extremely intolerant ideologies.

Banderastan ideologues profited from the Nazi arrival in 1941 to try to proclaim an independent territory. But Berlin not only blocked it but sent them to concentration camps. In 1944 though the Nazis changed tactics: they liberated the Banderanistas and manipulated them into anti-Russian hate, thus creating a destabilization force in the Ukrainian USSR.

So Nazism is not exactly the same as Banderastan fanatics: they are in fact competing ideologies. What happened since Maidan is that the CIA kept a laser focus on inciting Russian hatred by whatever fringe groups it could instrumentalize. So Ukraine is not a case of “white nationalism” – to put it mildly – but of anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalism, for all practical purposes manifested via Nazi-style salutes and Nazi-style symbols.

So when Putin and the Russian leadership refer to Ukrainian Nazism, that may not be 100% correct, conceptually, but it strikes a chord with every Russian.

Russians viscerally reject Nazism – considering that virtually every Russian family has at least one ancestor killed during the Great Patriotic War. From the perspective of wartime psychology, it makes total sense to talk of “Ukro-nazism” or, straight to the point, a “denazification” campaign.

How the Anglos loved the Nazis

The United States government openly cheerleading neo-Nazis in Ukraine is hardly a novelty, considering how it supported Hitler alongside England in 1933 for balance of power reasons.

In 1933, Roosevelt lent Hitler one billion gold dollars while England lent him two billion gold dollars. That should be multiplied 200 times to arrive at today’s fiat dollars. The Anglo-Americans wanted to build up Germany as a bulwark against Russia. In 1941 Roosevelt wrote to Hitler that if he invaded Russia the U.S. would side with Russia, and wrote Stalin that if Stalin invaded Germany the U.S. would back Germany. Talk about a graphic illustration of Mackinderesque balance of power.

The Brits had become very concerned with the rise of Russian power under Stalin while observing that Germany was on its knees with 50% unemployment in 1933, if one counted unregistered itinerant Germans.

Even Lloyd George had misgivings about the Versailles Treaty, unbearably weakening Germany after its surrender in WWI. The purpose of WWI, in Lloyd George’s worldview, was to destroy Russia and Germany together. Germany was threatening England with the Kaiser building a fleet to take over the oceans, while the Tsar was too close to India for comfort. For a while Britannia won – and continued to rule the waves.

Then building up Germany to fight Russia became the number one priority – complete with rewriting of History. The uniting of Austrian Germans and Sudetenland Germans with Germany, for instance, was totally approved by the Brits.

But then came the Polish problem. When Germany invaded Poland, France and Britain stood on the sidelines. That placed Germany on the border of Russia, and Germany and Russia divided up Poland. That’s exactly what Britain and France wanted. Britain and France had promised Poland that they would invade Germany from the west while Poland fought Germany from the east.

In the end, the Poles were double-crossed. Churchill even praised Russia for invading Poland. Hitler was advised by MI6 that England and France would not invade Poland – as part of their plan for a German-Russian war. Hitler had been supported financially since the 1920s by MI6 for his favorable words about England in Mein Kampf. MI6 de facto encouraged Hitler to invade Russia.

Fast forward to 2022, and here we go again – as farce, with the Anglo-Americans “encouraging” Germany under feeble Scholz to put itself back together militarily, with 100 billion euros (that the Germans don’t have), and setting up in thesis a revamped European force to later go to war against Russia.

Cue to the Russophobic hysteria in Anglo-American media about the Russia-China strategic partnership. The mortal Anglo-American fear is Mackinder/Mahan/Spykman/Kissinger/Brzezinski all rolled into one: Russia-China as peer competitor twins take over the Eurasian land mass – the Belt and Road Initiative meets the Greater Eurasia Partnership – and thus rule the planet, with the U.S. relegated to inconsequential island status, as much as the previous “Rule Britannia”.

England, France and later the Americans had prevented it when Germany aspired to do the same, controlling Eurasia side by side with Japan, from the English Channel to the Pacific. Now it’s a completely different ball game.

So Ukraine, with its pathetic neo-Nazi gangs, is just an – expendable – pawn in the desperate drive to stop something that is beyond anathema, from Washington’s perspective: a totally peaceful German-Russian-Chinese New Silk Road.

Russophobia, massively imprinted in the West’s DNA, never really went away. Cultivated by the Brits since Catherine the Great – and then with The Great Game. By the French since Napoleon. By the Germans because the Red Army liberated Berlin. By the Americans because Stalin forced to them the mapping of Europe – and then it went on and on and on throughout the Cold War.

We are at just the early stages of the final push by the dying Empire to attempt arresting the flow of History. They are being outsmarted, they are already outgunned by the top military power in the world, and they will be checkmated. Existentially, they are not equipped to kill the Bear – and that hurts. Cosmically.


Pepe on Telegram:  https://t.me/+Uxbn8mAJx2971eDI

ما هي النتائج الاستراتيجيّة لحرب أوكرانيا؟

الاربعاء 23 03 2022

 ناصر قنديل

يعتقد الكثير من المتابعين العسكريين والاستراتيجيين خطأ أن تقييم النتائج الاستراتيجية للحروب، غير ممكنة إلا بعد أن تضع الحرب أوزارها، والصحيح أن النتائج التي يمكن استخلاصها على الصعيد الاستراتيجيّ للحروب هي تلك التي تظهر قبل أن تنتهي الحرب، فما تظهره سياقات الحروب من تأثيرات في الجغرافيا السياسية، ومن تبدّلات في مواقع الدول، وحدود الحركة السياسية والعسكرية والاقتصادية لردّات فعلها تجاه تداعيات الحروب، تكون أحياناً أهم من تلك التي يمكن تسجيلها مع نهاية الحروب، وفي الحرب الأوكرانيّة تدور الحرب على ساحة الأفكار والمواقف والعقول بصورة أشدّ شراسة من تلك الدائرة في الميدان. ومن موقع التفوّق الاستثنائي للآلة الغربيّة الإعلاميّة، ولقدرة التحكم بضخ المعلومات والتحليلات والأخبار، نجح الغرب بتوظيف عناصر تفوّقه لتحديد مواضيع النقاش بما يناسب خطته للتعامل مع الحرب، ولذلك يبدو النقاش الذي نجريه خرقاً لهذا السياق السائد. فالغرب عموماً والأميركي خصوصاً يريدان عبر توجيه النقاش نحو تحويل البحث حول سرعة موسكو وبطئها في تحقيق الإنجازات العسكرية من كونه بحثاً تكتيكياً الى عنوان استراتيجي، بل إلى العنوان الاستراتيجي الوحيد الذي يستقطب النقاش.

أولى النتائج الاستراتيجية للحرب هو إظهار معادلة دولية جديدة قوامها، أن دول حلف الناتو المكونة أصلا من أميركا وكندا و29 دولة أوروبية بما فيها تركيا من أصل 48 دولة أوروبية منها روسيا وروسيا البيضاء وعدد من الجزر الصغيرة والفاتيكان وسويسرا والنمسا خارج الحلف، لن تخوض حرباً مع دولة عظمى كروسيا والصين على الأقل إذا تعرضت أية دولة أخرى خارج الحلف لأي عمل عسكري شبيه بالذي تعرّضت له أوكرانيا، التي تمثل بمعيار الأهميّة والقرب الجغرافي من مركز ثقل الحلف في أوروبا، أعلى درجات المخاطر لعدم التدخل، وبالقياس فإن أية دولة خارج الحلف تقع على جوار روسيا والصين، تتعرض لخطر حرب لن تكون تحت مظلة تدخل الحلف الافتراضية. وهذا يعني في الجوار الروسيّ دولاً مثل أوكرانيا هي السويد وفنلندا ومولدوفا وفي جوار الصين دولاً مثل تايوان ولاوس وبورما وتايلاند وفيتنام، والحاصل الاستراتيجيّ لهذه الخلاصة، سيكون حكماً فتح الطريق لإخضاع هذه الدول لمعادلة الاسترضاء للجار القويّ بقوة الردع الذي ينجم عن معادلة الغزو المحتم دون رادع، ولو امتدّت فترة ترقب هذه الدول لما بعد نهاية الحرب، فهي بدأت تقيم حساباتها وتبني استخلاصاتها قبل أن تنتهي الحرب.

ثانية النتائج الاستراتيجية للحرب ثبات حجم التماسك في الحلف الروسي الصيني. والحرب هي أول تجربة جدية ومفصلية يجري خلالها إخضاع هذه العلاقة لامتحان بهذا الوضوح، بوضع الصين بين خياري التعرض للعقوبات أو المشاركة بالعقوبات المفروضة من الغرب على روسيا. وقد صار ثابتاً أن الدولتين تتصرّفان في مواجهة سطوة الغرب الدولية سياسياً واقتصادياً وعسكرياً كحليفين استراتيجيين، يدركان أن أحدهما ركيزة لا غنى عنها لقوة الآخر، وإن استفراد أحدهما ليس إلا مقدمة لاستفراد الآخر، وبالتالي سقوط المعادلة التي صاغها هنري كيسنجر منذ أيام الحرب الباردة تحت عنوان الاستثمار على التنافس الروسي الصيني وتحويله إلى تناقض تأسيسي في المشهد الاستراتيجي، ولهذا الثبات نتائج هائلة على أية قراءة لموازين القوى الدولية السياسية والاقتصادية والعسكرية، فجمع ما تمثله روسيا والصين على هذه الأصعدة، ومن تستطيعان استقطابه للتحالف بينهما، يجعل الحديث عن هيمنة غربيّة على المشهد الدولي حماقة كبرى. وهذا سيجعل الاستقطاب الموضوعي داخل المشهد الدولي محكوماً بظهور متانة هذا الثنائي للمرة الأولى.

ثالثة النتائج الاستراتيجية للحرب أن المكانة المحورية لسوق الطاقة تتغلب على الحسابات السياسية للعداء ومقتضيات الحروب والنزاعات. فموقف أوروبا المتمسّك بالحفاظ على إمدادات النفط والغاز من روسيا، رغم إدراك أن أولى نتائجه تعطيل كل الرهان على فعاليّة العقوبات على روسيا، وأميركا تفتح قنوات تسريع الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، ومثلها رفع الحصار عن فنزويلا أملاً بتسريع انضمامهما إلى سوق النفط والغاز سعياً لتفادي النتائج السلبيّة للعقوبات على روسيا في أسواق الطاقة. وهي تعلم أنها تستجير من الرمضاء بالنار، وتطلق يد قوى تعلم حجم العداء الاستراتيجي الذي يحكم علاقتها بها، وهذا سيفتح عيون الدول المؤثرة في أسواق الطاقة على مكانتها، وخطورة قدرتها على التأثير بعدما تمّ إخضاعها بأكاذيب استغناء العالم عن النفط والغاز، وبدائل موارد الطاقة الجديدة، ويظهر للعرب ودول الخليج خصوصاً، بعد عقود من الكلام عن عدم جواز استخدام النفط كسلاح سياسيّ، أن أصحاب هذا الخطاب يجاهرون بهذا الاستخدام.

رابعة نتائج الحرب على الصعيد الاستراتيجي، ظهور التفكك والارتباك على حلفاء واشنطن في الشرق الأوسط، الذي بدا بوضوح أنه خارج نطاق السيطرة الأميركية، بعد عقود من ظهوره كولاية أميركية منضبطة. فالضغوط التي مورست لضمان التصويت مع مشروع القرار الأميركي لم تحجب حقيقة مشهد التمرّد على المشاركة بالعقوبات على روسيا. والأمر ليس هنا بالحديث عن إيران وسورية ودول كالعراق والجزائر، بل نتحدّث عن تركيا والسعودية والإمارات ومصر و»إسرائيل»، والمعنيون يمثلون وفقاً للقراءة الأميركية وجهات بديلة في السياحة والمصارف لروسيا عن أوروبا، وتحوّل الشرق الأوسط الى خاصرة أميركية رخوة هو بداية مرحلة ستتبلور أكثر مع العودة الأميركية والأوروبية للاتفاق النووي مع إيران، وبدء صعود الحضور الإيراني كقطب جاذب لمعادلات المنطقة، قادر على تشكيل شريك ثالث إقليمي للثنائي الروسي الصيني، ومن أولى النتائج العربية تصدُّر سورية للمشهد كما بدا من زيارة الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد إلى دولة الإمارات قبل أيام قليلة.

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Renegade interviews Michael Hudson: Sanctions, the blowback

March 23, 2022

Posted with Michael Hudson’s permission

https://www.rt.com/shows/renegade-inc/552236-michael-hudson-sanctions-ukraine/

Ross [00:00:29] Welcome to Renegade Inc. Whatever the outcome in Ukraine, one thing is for sure the economic reverberations will be felt by everyone for years to come as the world divides between the West and a rapidly reshaping Eurasia.

Ross [00:00:49] Michael Hudson, always a pleasure to have you on the programme, welcome to Renegade Inc.

Michael Hudson [00:00:53] Thank you for inviting me.

Ross [00:00:55] Michael, sanctions, sanctions, sanctions is all we hear now. We’re sanctioning people. The West sanction people back to the Stone Age. What are the unintended consequences of sanctions?

Michael Hudson [00:01:05] Well, one is to serve very much like a protective tariff on the sanctioned country. For instance, when America made sanctions on European trade with Russia, Lithuania dutifully stopped exporting cheese to Russia. Well, the result is that Russia set up its own cheese’s sector, and now it’s self-sufficient in cheese. If you sanction a country, you force it to become more self-reliant and across the board, from agriculture to dairy products to technology, Russia is forced to become more self-reliant and at the same time to depend much more on trade with China for the things that it is still not self-reliant in. So America is bringing about exactly the opposite of what it intended. It’s hopeless to somehow isolate Russia and then be able to go after China without Russia. And instead, what it’s doing is integrating the Eurasian core, Russia and China, exactly the policy that Henry Kissinger warned against going all the way back to Mackinder a century ago that said, Eurasia is the world island, Russia and China could be the whole world centre. That’s what the fight is all about. Well, American sanctions are driving Russia and China together, and America has gone to China and said, Please don’t support Russia. It most recently, on Monday, March 14, Jake Sullivan came out and told China, we will sanction countries that break our sanctions against Russia. And basically, China said, fine. You know, we’ll just break off all the trade between East and West now and the East, Eurasia is pretty much self-sufficient. The West is not self-sufficient since it began to industrialise, and it’s heavily dependent on Russia for not only oil and gas, but palladium and many raw materials. So the sanctions are ending up driving a wedge between the European countries.

Ross [00:03:31] Don’t people who apply these sanctions think this through? Are they so short-sighted they don’t understand that these sanctions are going to build further capacity within Russia, push Russia further towards China, make that economic alliance concrete and, ultimately, you’re not going to be able to keep the lights on in in Europe? All the while underestimating the fact that from a food security point of view – take the U.K., for instance, a net importer of food – not appreciating the fact that, for instance, Russia/Ukraine, they create twenty five percent, a quarter, of all wheat annually. The estimation this year is one hundred and two million tonnes Russia and Ukraine, wheat. Don’t people realise that there’s going to be a massive knock on effect?

Michael Hudson [00:04:23] Yes, they do realise it. Yes, they’ve thought it all through. I worked with these people for more than 50 years.

Ross [00:04:31] Who are these people?

Michael Hudson [00:04:32] The neocons, basically, the people who are in charge of U.S. foreign policy? Victoria Nuland and her husband, Robert Kagan, the people that President Biden has appointed all around him, from Blinken to Sullivan and right down the line. They are basically urging people around the New American Century. They’re the people who said America can run the whole world and create its own reality. And yes, they know that this is going to cause enormous problems for Germany. They know that not only will it block the energy that Germany and Italy and other countries in Europe need through their oil and gas, but also it’ll block the use of gas for fertiliser, upping their fertiliser production and decreasing their food production. They look at this and they say, How can America gain from all of this? There’s always a way of gaining what something looks to be bad. Well, one way they’ll gain is oil prices are going way up. And that benefits the United States whose foreign policy is based very largely on oil and gas. The oil industry controls most of the world’s oil trade, and that explains a lot of the US diplomacy. This is a fight to lock the world energy trade into control by U.S. companies, excluding not only Iran and Venezuela, but also excluding Russia.

Ross [00:06:16] So as Europe pushes towards more and more green and renewable energy and this for the Americans they must think it’s a dreadful scenario insofar as they can’t sell the oil as Europe becomes or wants to become more self-sufficient. So ultimately, and Britain net zero, whatever that means. But but going down the renewables path, going down the solar path takes America’s dependency or dependency on America out the game, doesn’t it?

Michael Hudson [00:06:49] This is exactly the point that the European public has not realised. While most of the European public wants to prevent global warming and prevent carbon into the atmosphere, U.S. foreign policy is based on increasing, and even accelerating, global warming, accelerating carbon emissions because that’s the oil trade. Suppose that Europe got its way. Suppose if the Greens got what they wanted and Germany and Europe were completely dependent on solar energy panels, on wind energy and to some extent, on nuclear power, perhaps? Well, if they were completely self-sufficient in energy without oil or gas or coal, America would lose the primary lever. It has over the ability to turn off the power and electricity and oil of any country that didn’t follow U.S. diplomatic direction.

Ross [00:07:48] So when we take your analysis here and we think about how the sanctions are going to build capacity, push Russia and China together, when we start to look at sort of piggy in the middle, if you like the EU, when we’re thinking about America, the EU has had a sort of abusive relationship with the Americans for quite some time now, hasn’t it?

Michael Hudson [00:08:06] Well, that’s that’s true in the sense that EU foreign policy has basically been turned over to NATO. So instead of European voters and politicians making their policy, they’ve relinquished European foreign policy to NATO, which is really an arm of the US military. So yes, Europe has had a decent relationship with the United States diplomatically by saying yes, yes, please or yes, thank you by not being independent. Of course, if it were independent, the relationship would not be so friendly and decent.

Ross [00:08:46] So for countries that are net importers of food, need to keep the lights on, need heating and need cheap oil. How does this pan out? What does it look like for the UK? What does it look like for the EU?

Michael Hudson [00:08:59] Well, Vice President, Kamala Harris the other day said to Americans, Yes, life is going to be much more expensive. Our oil prices are going up and squeezing families. But think of the poor Ukrainian babies that we’re saving. So take it on the chin for the Ukrainian babies. So basically the United States is presenting horror stories of the Ukraine and saying, if you don’t willingly suffer now by isolating Russia, then Russia is going to roll over you with tanks just like it rolled over Central Europe after World War Two. I mean, it’s waving the flag of Russian aggression, as if Russia or any country in today’s world has an army that’s able to invade any other industrial nation. All military can do today of any country is bomb and kill other populations and industrial centres. No nation is able to occupy or rollover any industrial country. And the United States keeps trying to promote this mythology that we’re still in the world of 1945. And that world ended really with the Vietnam War when the military draft ended. And no country is able to have a military draft to raise the army with necessary to fight to invade. Russia can’t do it any more than Europe or the United States could do it. So all the United States can do is wave warnings about how awful Russia is and somehow convince Europe to follow the US position. But most of all, it doesn’t really have to. Europe doesn’t really have a voice, and this is what the complaint by Putin and Foreign Secretary Lavrov have been saying. They say that Europe is just following the United States and it doesn’t matter what the European people want or what European politicians want. The United States is so deeply in control that they really don’t have much of a choice.

Ross [00:11:15] When does the consumer start to feel this? When does the European or British consumer start to feel the pinch when these sanctions are enacted? And what does that look like?

Michael Hudson [00:11:25] Well, it depends on how fast the sanctions work. The United States said Well, in another year and a half, we’ll be able to provide Europe with liquefied natural gas. Well, the problem is, first of all, they’re not the ports to handle the liquefied natural gas to go into Europe. Secondly, there are not enough ships and tankers to carry all of this gas to Europe. So unless there are very warm winters, Europe is not going to have a very easy time for the next few years. And that’s only for oil and gas. It’s dependent on raw materials that Russia produces. For instance, palladium is necessary for catalytic converters. Titanium is necessary to make the screws that are especially used on aeroplanes that are strong enough not to buckle and break when winds go up and down and when they’re full. Russia even produces the neon and the crypton that are necessary for making some kind of electronic uses and also for many components that go into computers and information technology. There’s a whole range of exports that Europe is highly dependent on, and the United States has provided Putin with a whole list of these exports, saying, Well, OK, we’re going to fight against Europe buying your oil and gas but you can certainly sell us your heavy oil that we need since we’re not buying it from Venezuela. We certainly need the following list of critical materials that we need, like helium and crypton. These are our pressure points. Please don’t press on them. Well, you can imagine what Putin and his advisers are saying. Thank you for giving us this list of the pressure points that you’re exempting from the trade sanctions. I think if you really want a break in the unilateral, unipolar world, I think we should break now and see whether you really want to get along without trading.

Ross [00:13:51] Michael Hudson, welcome back, second half, Renegade Inc. Wonderful to have you. In that first half we followed the money, if you like. We talked about sanctions and the unintended consequences. I just want to pull back a little further if we can and just talk about the sort of tectonic shifts that are going on in the world. I spoke to somebody from Russia recently and what he said was very straightforward. He said, now what we have to do is begin to learn to live without the West. Do you think that that sentiment is proliferating across Russia now? Is that the mindset?

Michael Hudson [00:14:22] Well, if you read President Putin’s speeches, that’s exactly what’s happening. And Secretary Lavrov has voiced exactly the same feeling. There’s almost a disgust with the West and a feeling from Putin, Lavrov and the other Russian spokesmen, how could we everhave hoped to have an integration with Europe after 1991? Europe really was not on our side at all, and we didn’t realise that Europe is really part of the U.S. diplomatic sphere. It’s like all of Europe is now backing the attack on Russia. The best to do is reorient our economy towards China, Asia and Eurasia and become our own self-sufficient, independent centre

Ross [00:15:15] De-dollarisation and the amassing of plenty of gold by both the Russians and the Chinese. Just talk us through that.

Michael Hudson [00:15:21] Well, Ross, you asked in the first half of this interview how has American sanctions worked against it? I should have mentioned what you just mentioned, the dollar. The United States just grabbed all of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves, just as England a few months ago grabbed all of Venezuela’s gold that was held in the Bank of England when Venezuela tried to spend this gold on buying medical supplies to cope with the COVID virus. So basically, the United States have said, if any foreign country holds its reserves in the United States or accounts in U.S. banks. If a country in the global south tries to pay its foreign debt by holding its reserves in US banks in order to be the paying agent on the interest on its foreign debt. And if that foreign country does something we don’t like, like trade with Russia or permit more labour unionisation or try to become independent in food, we’re just going to do what we did to Venezuela, what we did to Iran when we grabbed its foreign exchange reserves or what we did to Russia. And that means that other countries all of a sudden see what they thought was their flight to security, what they thought was their most secure savings, their holdings in U.S. banks, US treasury bill, all of a sudden, is holding them hostage and is a high risk. Even the Financial Times of London has been writing about this, saying, how can the United States that was getting a free ride off the dollar standard for the last 50 years, ever since 1971, when foreign countries held dollars instead of gold and basically holding dollars means you buy U.S. Treasury bonds to finance the US budget deficit and the balance of payments deficit. How can the United States kill the goose that’s giving it the free ride? Well, the answer is that other countries can only move into gold and there’s an alternative to the dollar because that’s something that all the countries of the world have agreed upon is an asset, not a liability. If you hold any foreign currency, that currency is a liability of a foreign country, and if you hold gold, it’s a pure asset. There’s no country that can cancel it, the Americans can’t cancel Russia’s gold supply that’s held in Russia, although it can grab Russian gold supply if it were to hold it in the New York Federal Reserve Bank or the Bank of England. So other countries are not only moving to gold, Germany is bringing its gold back from New York, the Federal Reserve, in aeroplanes back to Germany, so it’ll have its own gold just in case German politicians would do something the United States didn’t like and the United States would simply grab Germany’s gold. The United States sanctions, and it’s especially it’s grabbing on foreign reserve, has started a war that is dividing the world between the West and Eurasia.

Ross [00:18:40] A technical part to all of this because let’s face it, it is an information war and it’s also an economic war. Is it the FIRE sector that you point out – the financial, insurance and real estate sector. Is it that they want to continue the exorbitant privilege of credit creation, because ultimately, if you think about gold, there’s no counterparty risk. Gold is gold and it has been for millennia. Far from being a barbarous relic, by the way now, people are starting to realise the intrinsic value, especially as crypto falls apart. Can you just talk a little bit about this, the FIRE sector wanting the exorbitant privilege of creating credit?

Michael Hudson [00:19:19] This is really what the new world division and global fracture is all about. You’re right, Ross. If you look at after World War One, the American fight against Soviet communism, was basically a fight of industrial capitalism against the threat of socialism. But after 1991, and especially in the last two decades, America deindustrialised. So the fight is not by industrial capitalism against countries pushing their labour up. It’s a fight of neoliberalism against industrial capitalism or socialism abroad. It’s against industrial capitalism evolving into socialism. It’s a belief that, well, now that America’s be industrialised, how is it going to control the world economy? Well, it’ll control it through a financial means by being the creditor and foreign countries debt payments to America will enable it to make its military payments abroad and finance its trade deficit. But also, America’s purchase of key natural resources will give it natural resources when its purchase of takeover of real estate is going to essentially make the United States the landlord class and monopoly class, that mediaeval Europe had to hold the rest of the population in serfdom. That basically is the American strategy of neoliberalism fighting against countries that reject privatisation and financialization of their economy, and specifically financialization under the control of U.S. banks, U.S. private capital and allied satellite banks and capital from England or France or Germany. This is exactly the fight. Will banking and finance control the world economy or will other countries try to build up their own economies through labour and tangible capital formation?

Ross [00:21:27] Where do you stand on that? And I’m only asking you to predict the future, Michael. How do you think this plays out? Because the way you’ve depicted it is the rent seekers, the neoliberal rent seekers on one hand, and there are value creators on the other. And by the way, those two things don’t sit very well together, as we know. How does that play out?

Michael Hudson [00:21:51] Even though the United States is the largest debtor economy in the world, it’s a creditor vis-a-vis the global south and other countries and it uses its creditor position to take over their natural resources, real estate, oil and gas, mineral rights and public utilities and natural monopolies and that are being privatised in government infrastructure. It’s becoming basically the landlord monopoly class of the entire world. That’s the U.S. strategy, and that’s the key to why the world is fracturing globally. And in the past, the global south countries were unable to fight against this tendency in the 70s and 80s with the Vendome conference on. But now that China and Russia threatened to be a self-sufficient core in Eurasia, this is the great threat to the American dream of becoming a landlord and financier of the world.

Ross [00:22:50] How do you think this pans out?

Michael Hudson [00:22:52] Well, the question is whether the United States is if we can control the world, who wants to live in a world like that, let’s blow it up. The question is whether the United States will actually go to war. The only lever that it has left is to drop bombs and to destroy and make the world look like Ukraine. So from the U.S. point of view, Europe’s future and Eurasia’s future is the Ukraine. Look at what we will do to you if you don’t follow our policy. America has just moved al Qaeda very heavily in the Ukraine to sort of repeat in Ukraine and Europe what it was doing in Syria and Libya. And the United States says this is what we can do. What are you going to do about it? Do you really want to fight. But the rest of the world, certainly China and Russia says, Well, we’re ready to fight. So there is no telling what you. And it comes down to personalities. Putin has said, well, do we really want to live in a world without Russia? If the United States is to attack us, we might as well end the world. The United States says, Do we really want to live in a world that we can’t control? If we’re not completely in control, we feel very insecure and we’re going to blow up the world. So you have this countervailing position in a world where all the arms control has been dismantled by the United States in the last few years. The United States has withdrawn from all of the agreements that Russia and China have tried to promote. And Europe is standing by and apparently is willing to be the sacrificial lamb in all of this as Ukraine is being the sacrificial lamb. So the United States and Russia say, let’s fight to the last European. And Russia initially didn’t want that because it was hoping that Europe and Russia would have a mutual gain in trade and investment relationships. But now it doesn’t feel that way. And there may be a proxy war between the United States over the European economy, not necessarily bombing Europe, but trade sanctions, energy sanctions, the kind of disruption that Europe is going to be seeing in the next year is if it loses Russian oil and gas and minerals and also, I think Chinese exports.

Ross [00:25:25] Is there a moment where cooler heads prevail and suddenly the West and other places realise that they’re dependent from a food security point of view, from an energy security point of view that we are dependent? And is there a moment at that point that you can thaw a frozen conflict by saying, actually, if we both meet, we just take a step toward each other, actually, we can do something in a collaborative way? Now I get what you’ve said throughout the rest of the programme, and I give this a percentage possibility of about three percent, but isn’t there a strategy to say, actually, we’ve had all the grandstanding, we’ve had all the brinksmanship, we should now sit around the table and try and work something out?

Michael Hudson [00:26:03] I don’t see any cooler heads in the United States. The surprising thing is that here it’s the right wing channel, the Republican Fox Channel, is the only channel that’s taking the anti-war stand and is saying we shouldn’t be at war in Ukraine. It’s the only channel that’s talking about here is how Russia sees the world. Do we really want to take a one sided perspective or do we want to see the actual dynamics at work? So it was the Republicans and the right wing that is now primarily against the NATO war in the Ukraine. The left wing seems to be all for it, but the left wing of the Democratic Party is in office and I don’t see any cooler heads in the Democratic Party at all. And I’ve known many of these people for many decades, and they are willing to go to war for a death. There are still back in the world of World War Two when the fight was against the Nazis and anti-Semitism. They’re still living in a kind of mythology world, not in the real world. And the thought that the world can come to an end either doesn’t have a reality to them or as Herman Cain said, Well, somebody is going to survive.

Ross [00:27:29] Michael Hudson always a pleasure, a great insight. And, you know, it’s just refreshing to hear. Thank you very much for your time.

Michael Hudson [00:27:38] Well, thank you very much for having me, Ross.

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Don’t Fall For The Carter Center’s Psy-Op That’s Trying To Divide Russia & China

13 MARCH 2022

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Those influential Western accounts that shared Hu’s article without specifying that it was written for the Carter Center and misportrayed him as a prominent force in shaping the foreign policy of the People’s Republic owe it to their audience to clarify everything as soon as possible otherwise they’ll be complicit in carrying out a literal psy-op aimed at misleading their audience.

An article written by a Chinese scholar went viral on social media over the weekend due to the author’s urging of the People’s Republic to “cut off” Russia as soon as possible. Titled “Possible Outcomes Of The Russo-Ukrainian War And China’s Choice”, it was written by Hu Wei, who’s described as “the vice-chairman of the Public Policy Research Center of the Counselor’s Office of the State Council, the chairman of Shanghai Public Policy Research Association, the chairman of the Academic Committee of the Chahar Institute, a professor, and a doctoral supervisor.” Perhaps because of his titles, plenty influential Western accounts that are critical of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine shared his article, with a significant share of them falsely implying or claiming that he represents the Chinese state.

That’s not true, though. In fact, Hu actually represents none other than the Carter Center, which runs the “U.S.-China Perception Monitor” that published his article according to its own “About Us” page. Nevertheless, falsely presenting him as the voice of China like those influential Western accounts did is tantamount to a psychological operation (psy-op) intended to manipulate its targeted audiences’ perceptions about Russian-Chinese relations. These folks would like nothing more than to see Hu’s political fantasies come true. Since there’s no realistic chance of that happening, though, most of them are content with misportraying his influence in the People’s Republic in order to mislead as many people as possible about the future of relations between those two multipolar Great Powers.

China is politically neutral in the ongoing conflict but has also rebuffed American demands to jump on the declining unipolar hegemon’s anti-Russian sanctions bandwagon. These two also agreed to a reaffirmed strategic partnership pact early last month during President Putin’s trip to the People’s Republic to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics. That document is officially titled the “Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development”. Upon reading it, any objective observer will realize that Hu’s proposal will never come to fruition since it contradicts the very essence of the detailed agreement that both parties just concluded.

Those influential Western accounts that shared Hu’s article without specifying that it was written for the Carter Center and misportrayed him as a prominent force in shaping the foreign policy of the People’s Republic owe it to their audience to clarify everything as soon as possible otherwise they’ll be complicit in carrying out a literal psy-op aimed at misleading their audience. Hu’s proposal has absolutely zero chance of being promulgated in practice, but pretending that it might constitutes an abuse of the trust that these people’s audience placed within them by following their work on social media. They deserve to be made aware of February’s reaffirmed Russian-Chinese strategic partnership pact as well as to be informed of the fact that he published his piece at a US think tank, not a Chinese one.

In Ukraine crisis, will Iran emerge a winner and Israel a loser?

West Asian developments play second fiddle to the Great Power battle over Ukraine. But regional states must pick a side because events in Kiev will trickle

February 15 2022

Even in West Asia there will be winners and losers over the stand-off in Ukraine.

By Abdel Bari Atwan

If we look at the developments of the Ukrainian crisis through a West Asian lens, and measure up the potential profit and loss scenarios for regional players, it is likely that Iran may be the biggest winner, and Israel the biggest loser.

Let’s start with Iran. This worsening crisis between the Russian-Chinese axis on the one hand, and the American-European alliance on the other, could not come at a better time for Tehran.

The Ukraine stand-off, which has captured the world’s attention, has significantly reduced Iran’s ranking on the list of US priorities by several degrees, and in turn, eased western pressures in the Vienna nuclear negotiations, which is barely a blip these days on the evening news.

Moreover, the blanket western disinformation campaign against a yet-unseen ‘Russia invasion’ really bolsters Moscow’s – and even Beijing’s – desire to strengthen strategic relations with Iran and other US-sanctioned states to fortify a rival axis that can challenge American aggression everywhere.

Let’s then consider Israel – Iran’s arch-enemy – and most Arab states in West Asia, who although clearly pro-US, have strived for decades to maintain a healthy ‘public’ neutrality in great power conflicts. In the event of an actual Russia-NATO clash, directly or through proxies, this fragile balance will now be tested rigorously, for it seems no state can remain neutral in times like these.

Names and numbers will be taken, alliances will be questioned, and silence will be punished. This is a certainty where Washington is concerned – as witnessed when Jordan was punished for staying neutral in the first Iraq war, and France in the second.

***

Let’s look at how this works in reality. Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government made a request for military assistance from Israel, as revealed by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid after his Sunday meeting with Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Amina Gavrova. Lapid promised to study the request, and herein lies Tel Aviv’s biggest test:

If the Israelis agree to send weapons to Kiev, the Russians will be angered. If Israel remains silent and ignores the response, it will lead to a frigid resentment from the western camp, and NATO specifically.

In the past, Tel Aviv has managed to easily walk the tightrope between the great powers by invoking the Holocaust, concentrations camps, Russia’s role in defeating the Nazi army in WWII, preservation of Jewish interests in Ukraine (50,000 Jews) and Russia (230,000) – but those arguments have little relevance in the coming conflict.

Tel Aviv will want to prevent any war in order to avoid making the hazardous choice between the Russians and Americans – where neutrality is forbidden. It tried to offer up a mediation summit in Jerusalem to resolve the crisis, but was ignored by Moscow or Washington, who could care less about West Asia at this moment.

Iran, meanwhile, stands satisfied in the shadows, neither aggravating nor weighing in on Ukrainian matters. Tehran resolved its position early on by standing in the Russian-Chinese trench, while Israel, to its utter mortification, really has only one choice.

Tel Aviv will have to stand in the US-European trench eventually, which will lead to the loss of its privileged relations with Russia, the consequences of which it will ultimately bear in Syria, Iran, and the entire West Asian region.

Some argue that the crisis in Ukraine could benefit Israel which may use the pretext of an impending war to lure Ukrainian Jews there for their ‘safety.’

But there are already one million Russian immigrants in occupied Palestine, half of them either non-Jews or non-practicing, and a large proportion of these lean toward Moscow, and President Putin in particular. In the event of a large influx of Ukrainian Jews, sponsored by Israel, the Russians already there for several decades could transform into a “fifth column” for Russia, their motherland.

In recent days, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to adopt the intermediary role – that Israel is now seeking – to extract himself from a similar dilemma. He tried to cloak his bias towards Ukraine by presenting himself as a mediator in this crisis, but was also ignored.

Erdogan is already too neck-deep in his Ukraine faux pas for Putin to forgive. In recent months, Turkey and Ukraine have been discussing the joint production of ships, turbine engines and military aircraft. The Turkish president has sent around 500 Turkish Bayraktar drones worth $69 million to Ukraine, condemned the Russian annexation of Crimea, and dropped into Kiev for a photo op at the height of the crisis.

***

There were two messages addressed to Israel in the past seven days, both intended to impart serious warnings:

The first missive was the firing of a Syrian missile into Israel, which landed in the northern city of Um al-Fahm in retaliation for an Israeli missile strike on southern Damascus. This Syrian response could only have been sent with advance coordination with Moscow, and possibly even at its behest.

The second missive came from Iran, in a statement by the nation’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary-General Ali Shamkhani, who said: “The nuclear negotiations have reached a critical stage, and it depends on an Iranian political decision to accept or reject the conditions.”

The first message is that a firmer Syrian response to the Israeli raids may be imminent, and it may depend on Israel’s position on the Ukraine crisis. The second message confirms that Tehran is sticking to its guns on all its international positions, including the Vienna negotiations that Israel has tried hard to sabotage, and that Iran is immovable regardless of whether an agreement is reached or not. Maintaining its nuclear edge and ambiguity suits Iran just fine.

The global spotlight moving to Ukraine has only strengthened the Resistance Axis in West Asia and provided it with a greater variety of hard and soft cards to play – cards that the Russians will appreciate, but Israel may come to regret.

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

The Russians Are Coming: Are Beijing and Moscow at the Cusp of a Formal Alliance?

February 11, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Photo: Russia’s Presidential Press and Information Office, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ramzy Baroud & Romana Rubeo

It should matter little to the Chinese that American diplomats and a handful of their western allies will not be attending the Beijing Winter Olympics in February. What truly matters is that the Russians are coming.

The above is not an arbitrary statement. It is supported with facts. According to a survey conducted by China’s Global Times newspaper, the majority of the Chinese people value their country’s relations with Russia more than that of the EU and certainly more than that of the United States. The newspaper reported that such a finding makes it “the first time in 15 years that China-US ties did not top the list of the important bilateral relations in the Global Times annual survey.”

In fact, some kind of an alliance is already forming between China and Russia. The fact that the Chinese people are taking note of this and are supporting their government’s drive towards greater integration – political, economic and geostrategic – between Beijing and Moscow, indicates that the informal and potentially formal alliance is a long-term strategy for both nations.

American hostilities towards China, as seen by the Chinese, have become unbearable, and the Chinese people and government seem to have lost, not only any trust, however modest, of Washington, but of its own political system as well. 66 percent of all Chinese either disapproved of the US democratic system – or whatever remains of it – or believe that US democracy has sharply declined. Ironically, the vast majority of Americans share such a bleak view of their own country, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2019 and again by the Michigan Public Policy Survey in 2021.

This leads us to two possible conclusions: First, the Chinese people will not be pushing for an American-style democracy any time soon and, second, the Chinese trust in the US does not hinge on what political party controls the White House or Congress.

While the Chinese negative view of the US is unmistakably clear, Beijing remains hopeful that existing divisions with the European Union would allow it to expand economically in a region that is rife with financial and political opportunities, thus strategic growth. This fact offers China and Russia yet another area of potential cooperation, as Russia is also keen to expand into the European markets using its recently completed Nord Stream 2 gas project. Though Europe is already struggling with gas shortages, Europeans are divided on whether Russia should be allowed to claim a massive geostrategic influence by having such sway over the EU energy needs.

Germany, which already receives nearly a third of its gas supplies from Russia – through Nord Stream 1 – is worried that allowing Nord Stream 2 to operate would make it too dependent on Russian gas supplies. Under intense pressure from Washington, Germany is caught between a rock and a hard place:  it needs Russian gas to keep its economy afloat, but is worried about American retaliation. To appease Washington, the German government threatened, on December 16, to block the new pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine. But is Germany in a position that allows it to make such demands?

Meanwhile, Washington is keeping a close watch on Russia’s and China’s strategic expansion westward, and it views the ‘threat’ posed by both countries with great alarm. In his recent visit to Scotland to take part in the COP26, US President Joe Biden accused China and Russia of “walking away” on “a gigantic issue”, referring to climate change. China has “lost the ability to influence people around the world and here in COP. The same way I would argue with Russia,” Biden said on November 3.

But will such rhetoric make any difference, or sway traditional US allies to boycott the lucrative deals and massive economic opportunities presented by the two emerging Asian giants?

According to Eurostat, in 2020, China overtook the US as Europe’s largest import and third-largest export partner. Moreover, according to Nature magazine, most European countries largely depend on Russian energy sources, with the European Union estimated to import nearly 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia.

In the face of these vastly changing realities, the US seems to be running out of options. The Summit for Democracy, orchestrated by Washington last December, seemed like a desperate cry for attention as opposed to celebrating the supposed democratic countries. 111 countries participated in the conference. The participants were handpicked by Washington and included such countries as Israel, Albania and Ukraine. China and Russia were, of course, excluded, not because of their lack of democratic credentials – such notions are often of no relevance to the politicized US definition of ‘democracy’ – but because they, along with others, were meant to be left isolated in the latest US hegemonic move.

The conference, expectedly, turned out to be an exercise in futility. Needless to say, the US is in no position to give democracy lessons to anyone. The attempted coup in Washington by tens of thousands of angry US militants on January 6, 2021 – coupled with various opinion polls attesting to Americans’ lack of faith in their elected institutions – places the US democracy brand at an all-time low.

As the US grows desperate in its tactics – aside from increasingly ineffectual sanctions, aggressive language and the relentless waving of the democracy card – China and Russia continue to draw closer to one another, on all fronts. In an essay entitled ‘Respecting People’s Democratic Rights’, written jointly by the ambassadors of Beijing and Moscow in Washington, Qin Gang and Anatoly Antonov wrote in the National Interest magazine that the democracy summit was “an evident product of (US’s) Cold-War mentality,” which “will stoke up ideological confrontation and a rift in the world, creating new ‘dividing lines’.”

But there is more than their mutual rejection of American hostilities that is bringing China and Russia closer. The two countries are not motivated by their fear of the American military or some NATO invasion. Russia’s and China’s militaries are moving from strength to strength and neither country is experiencing the anxiety often felt by smaller, weaker and relatively isolated countries that have faced direct or indirect US military threats.

To push back against possible NATO expansion, the Russian military is actively mobilizing in various regions at its western borders. For its part, the Chinese military has made it clear that any US-led attempt aimed at altering the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait would provoke an immediate military retaliation. In a virtual meeting with the US President, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Biden on November 16 that the US was “playing with fire”. “Whoever plays with fire will get burnt,” he threatened.

The Chinese-Russian alliance aims largely at defending the two countries’ regional and international interests, which are in constant expansion. In the case of China, the country is now a member of what is considered the world’s largest economic pact. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which was officiated on January 1, covers a global market that caters to around 30 percent of the world’s population.

Russia, too, operates based on multiple regional and international alliances. One of these military alliances is the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is currently involved in ‘peacekeeping’ operations in Kazakhstan. From Syria in the Middle East, to Venezuela in South America to Mali in West Africa and beyond, Russia’s military influence has increased to the extent that, in September 2021, Moscow signed military cooperation agreements with Africa’s two most populous nations, Nigeria and Ethiopia, challenging the traditional dominance of the US and France on the African continent.

Informally, China and Russia are already operating according to a regional and global model that can be compared to that of the now-defunct Warsaw Treaty Organization (1955-91), a political and military alliance between the Soviet Union and several Eastern European countries that aimed at counter-balancing the US-led NATO alliance. The Warsaw Pact pushed back against US-led western hegemony and labored to protect the interests of the pact’s members throughout the world. History seems to be repeating itself, though under different designations.

Historically, the two countries have had a difficult and, at times, antagonistic relationship, dating back to the 19th century. During the Nikita Khrushchev era, Beijing and Moscow even broke their ties altogether. The Sino-Soviet split of 1960 was earth-shattering to the extent that it transformed the bipolarity of the Cold War, where China operated as an entirely independent party.

Though diplomatic relations between Beijing and Moscow were restored in 1989, it was not until the collapse of the Soviet Union that cooperation between both nations intensified. For example, the decision, in 1997, to coordinate their diplomatic positions in the United Nations gave birth to the Joint Declaration on a Multipolar World and the Establishment of a New International Order. That agreement between Russia and China laid the foundations for the actively evolving multi-polar world that is currently transpiring before our eyes.

Present reality – namely US, NATO, EU pressures – has compelled Russia and China to slowly, but surely, cement their relationship, especially on the economic, diplomatic and military fronts. Writing in Carnegie Moscow Center, Alexander Gabuev explained that, according to data provided by the Russian Federal Customs Service, “China’s share in Russian foreign trade grew from 10.5 percent in 2013 (before the Ukraine crisis and sanctions) to 16.7 percent in 2019 and 18.3 percent in the pandemic-struck 2020.”

Moreover, the two countries are holding regular large-scale joint military exercises, aimed at strengthening their growing security and military cooperation.

This already close relation is likely to develop even further in the near future, especially as China finds itself compelled to diversify its energy sources. This became a pressing need following recent tensions between Australia, a NATO member, and China. Currently, Australia is the main natural gas supplier to Beijing.

On its own, Russia cannot conclusively defeat Western designs. China, too, despite its massive economic power, cannot play a geopolitical game of this caliber without solid alliances. Both countries greatly benefit from building an alternative to US-led political, economic and military alliances, starting with NATO. The need for a Russian-Chinese alliance becomes even more beneficial when seen through the various opportunities presenting themselves: growing weakness in the US’s own political system, cracks within US-EU relations and the faltering power of NATO itself. Turkey, for example, though a NATO member, has for years been exploring its own geopolitical alliances outside the NATO paradigm. Turkey is already cementing its ties with both Russia and China, and on various fronts. Other countries, for example Iran and various South American countries, that have been targeted by the US for refusing to toe Washington’s political line, are desperately seeking non-western alliances to protect their interests, their sovereignty and their heavily sanctioned economies.

While it is still too early to claim that China and Russia are anywhere near a full-blown alliance of the Warsaw nature, there is no reason to believe that the cooperation between both countries will be halted, or even slow down anytime soon. The question is how far are Beijing and Moscow willing to go to protect their interests.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His forthcoming book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

– Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

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Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development

February 04, 2022

Source

At the invitation of President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir V. Putin visited China on 4 February 2022. The Heads of State held talks in Beijing and took part in the opening ceremony of the XXIV Olympic Winter Games.

The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, hereinafter referred to as the sides, state as follows.

Today, the world is going through momentous changes, and humanity is entering a new era of rapid development and profound transformation. It sees the development of such processes and phenomena as multipolarity, economic globalization, the advent of information society, cultural diversity, transformation of the global governance architecture and world order; there is increasing interrelation and interdependence between the States; a trend has emerged towards redistribution of power in the world; and the international community is showing a growing demand for the leadership aiming at peaceful and gradual development. At the same time, as the pandemic of the new coronavirus infection continues, the international and regional security situation is complicating and the number of global challenges and threats is growing from day to day. Some actors representing but the minority on the international scale continue to advocate unilateral approaches to addressing international issues and resort to force; they interfere in the internal affairs of other states, infringing their legitimate rights and interests, and incite contradictions, differences and confrontation, thus hampering the development and progress of mankind, against the opposition from the international community.

The sides call on all States to pursue well-being for all and, with these ends, to build dialogue and mutual trust, strengthen mutual understanding, champion such universal human values as peace, development, equality, justice, democracy and freedom, respect the rights of peoples to independently determine the development paths of their countries and the sovereignty and the security and development interests of States, to protect the United Nations-driven international architecture and the international law-based world order, seek genuine multipolarity with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role, promote more democratic international relations, and ensure peace, stability and sustainable development across the world.

I

The sides share the understanding that democracy is a universal human value, rather than a privilege of a limited number of States, and that its promotion and protection is a common responsibility of the entire world community.

The sides believe that democracy is a means of citizens’ participation in the government of their country with the view to improving the well-being of population and implementing the principle of popular government. Democracy is exercised in all spheres of public life as part of a nation-wide process and reflects the interests of all the people, its will, guarantees its rights, meets its needs and protects its interests. There is no one-size-fits-all template to guide countries in establishing democracy. A nation can choose such forms and methods of implementing democracy that would best suit its particular state, based on its social and political system, its historical background, traditions and unique cultural characteristics. It is only up to the people of the country to decide whether their State is a democratic one.

The sides note that Russia and China as world powers with rich cultural and historical heritage have long-standing traditions of democracy, which rely on thousand-years of experience of development, broad popular support and consideration of the needs and interests of citizens. Russia and China guarantee their people the right to take part through various means and in various forms in the administration of the State and public life in accordance with the law. The people of both countries are certain of the way they have chosen and respect the democratic systems and traditions of other States.

The sides note that democratic principles are implemented at the global level, as well as in administration of State. Certain States’ attempts to impose their own ”democratic standards“ on other countries, to monopolize the right to assess the level of compliance with democratic criteria, to draw dividing lines based on the grounds of ideology, including by establishing exclusive blocs and alliances of convenience, prove to be nothing but flouting of democracy and go against the spirit and true values of democracy. Such attempts at hegemony pose serious threats to global and regional peace and stability and undermine the stability of the world order.

The sides believe that the advocacy of democracy and human rights must not be used to put pressure on other countries. They oppose the abuse of democratic values and interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states under the pretext of protecting democracy and human rights, and any attempts to incite divisions and confrontation in the world. The sides call on the international community to respect cultural and civilizational diversity and the rights of peoples of different countries to self-determination. They stand ready to work together with all the interested partners to promote genuine democracy.

The sides note that the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights set noble goals in the area of universal human rights, set forth fundamental principles, which all the States must comply with and observe in deeds. At the same time, as every nation has its own unique national features, history, culture, social system and level of social and economic development, universal nature of human rights should be seen through the prism of the real situation in every particular country, and human rights should be protected in accordance with the specific situation in each country and the needs of its population. Promotion and protection of human rights is a shared responsibility of the international community. The states should equally prioritize all categories of human rights and promote them in a systemic manner. The international human rights cooperation should be carried out as a dialogue between the equals involving all countries. All States must have equal access to the right to development. Interaction and cooperation on human rights matters should be based on the principle of equality of all countries and mutual respect for the sake of strengthening the international human rights architecture.

II

The sides believe that peace, development and cooperation lie at the core of the modern international system. Development is a key driver in ensuring the prosperity of the nations. The ongoing pandemic of the new coronavirus infection poses a serious challenge to the fulfilment of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is vital to enhance partnership relations for the sake of global development and make sure that the new stage of global development is defined by balance, harmony and inclusiveness.

The sides are seeking to advance their work to link the development plans for the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative with a view to intensifying practical cooperation between the EAEU and China in various areas and promoting greater interconnectedness between the Asia Pacific and Eurasian regions. The sides reaffirm their focus on building the Greater Eurasian Partnership in parallel and in coordination with the Belt and Road construction to foster the development of regional associations as well as bilateral and multilateral integration processes for the benefit of the peoples on the Eurasian continent.

The sides agreed to continue consistently intensifying practical cooperation for the sustainable development of the Arctic.

The sides will strengthen cooperation within multilateral mechanisms, including the United Nations, and encourage the international community to prioritize development issues in the global macro-policy coordination. They call on the developed countries to implement in good faith their formal commitments on development assistance, provide more resources to developing countries, address the uneven development of States, work to offset such imbalances within States, and advance global and international development cooperation. The Russian side confirms its readiness to continue working on the China-proposed Global Development Initiative, including participation in the activities of the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative under the UN auspices. In order to accelerate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the sides call on the international community to take practical steps in key areas of cooperation such as poverty reduction, food security, vaccines and epidemics control, financing for development, climate change, sustainable development, including green development, industrialization, digital economy, and infrastructure connectivity.

The sides call on the international community to create open, equal, fair and non-discriminatory conditions for scientific and technological development, to step up practical implementation of scientific and technological advances in order to identify new drivers of economic growth.

The sides call upon all countries to strengthen cooperation in sustainable transport, actively build contacts and share knowledge in the construction of transport facilities, including smart transport and sustainable transport, development and use of Arctic routes, as well as to develop other areas to support global post-epidemic recovery.

The sides are taking serious action and making an important contribution to the fight against climate change. Jointly celebrating the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, they reaffirm their commitment to this Convention as well as to the goals, principles and provisions of the Paris Agreement, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The sides work together to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, remain committed to fulfilling the obligations they have undertaken and expect that developed countries will actually ensure the annual provision of $100 billion of climate finance to developing states. The sides oppose setting up new barriers in international trade under the pretext of fighting climate change.

The sides strongly support the development of international cooperation and exchanges in the field of biological diversity, actively participating in the relevant global governance process, and intend to jointly promote the harmonious development of humankind and nature as well as green transformation to ensure sustainable global development.

The Heads of State positively assess the effective interaction between Russia and China in the bilateral and multilateral formats focusing on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, protection of life and health of the population of the two countries and the peoples of the world. They will further increase cooperation in the development and manufacture of vaccines against the new coronavirus infection, as well as medical drugs for its treatment, and enhance collaboration in public health and modern medicine. The sides plan to strengthen coordination on epidemiological measures to ensure strong protection of health, safety and order in contacts between citizens of the two countries. The sides have commended the work of the competent authorities and regions of the two countries on implementing quarantine measures in the border areas and ensuring the stable operation of the border crossing points, and intend to consider establishing a joint mechanism for epidemic control and prevention in the border areas to jointly plan anti-epidemic measures to be taken at the border checkpoints, share information, build infrastructure and improve the efficiency of customs clearance of goods.

The sides emphasize that ascertaining the origin of the new coronavirus infection is a matter of science. Research on this topic must be based on global knowledge, and that requires cooperation among scientists from all over the world. The sides oppose politicization of this issue. The Russian side welcomes the work carried out jointly by China and WHO to identify the source of the new coronavirus infection and supports the China – WHO joint report on the matter. The sides call on the global community to jointly promote a serious scientific approach to the study of the coronavirus origin.

The Russian side supports a successful hosting by the Chinese side of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2022.

The sides highly appreciate the level of bilateral cooperation in sports and the Olympic movement and express their readiness to contribute to its further progressive development.

III

The sides are gravely concerned about serious international security challenges and believe that the fates of all nations are interconnected. No State can or should ensure its own security separately from the security of the rest of the world and at the expense of the security of other States. The international community should actively engage in global governance to ensure universal, comprehensive, indivisible and lasting security.

The sides reaffirm their strong mutual support for the protection of their core interests, state sovereignty and territorial integrity, and oppose interference by external forces in their internal affairs.

The Russian side reaffirms its support for the One-China principle, confirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan.

Russia and China stand against attempts by external forces to undermine security and stability in their common adjacent regions, intend to counter interference by outside forces in the internal affairs of sovereign countries under any pretext, oppose colour revolutions, and will increase cooperation in the aforementioned areas.

The sides condemn terrorism in all its manifestations, promote the idea of creating a single global anti-terrorism front, with the United Nations playing a central role, advocate stronger political coordination and constructive engagement in multilateral counterterrorism efforts. The sides oppose politicization of the issues of combating terrorism and their use as instruments of policy of double standards, condemn the practice of interference in the internal affairs of other States for geopolitical purposes through the use of terrorist and extremist groups as well as under the guise of combating international terrorism and extremism.

The sides believe that certain States, military and political alliances and coalitions seek to obtain, directly or indirectly, unilateral military advantages to the detriment of the security of others, including by employing unfair competition practices, intensify geopolitical rivalry, fuel antagonism and confrontation, and seriously undermine the international security order and global strategic stability. The sides oppose further enlargement of NATO and call on the North Atlantic Alliance to abandon its ideologized cold war approaches, to respect the sovereignty, security and interests of other countries, the diversity of their civilizational, cultural and historical backgrounds, and to exercise a fair and objective attitude towards the peaceful development of other States. The sides stand against the formation of closed bloc structures and opposing camps in the Asia-Pacific region and remain highly vigilant about the negative impact of the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy on peace and stability in the region. Russia and China have made consistent efforts to build an equitable, open and inclusive security system in the Asia-Pacific Region (APR) that is not directed against third countries and that promotes peace, stability and prosperity.

The sides welcome the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapons States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races and believe that all nuclear-weapons States should abandon the cold war mentality and zero-sum games, reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their national security policies, withdraw nuclear weapons deployed abroad, eliminate the unrestricted development of global anti-ballistic missile defense (ABM) system, and take effective steps to reduce the risks of nuclear wars and any armed conflicts between countries with military nuclear capabilities.

The sides reaffirm that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is the cornerstone of the international disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation system, an important part of the post-war international security system, and plays an indispensable role in world peace and development. The international community should promote the balanced implementation of the three pillars of the Treaty and work together to protect the credibility, effectiveness and the universal nature of the instrument.

The sides are seriously concerned about the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom (AUKUS), which provides for deeper cooperation between its members in areas involving strategic stability, in particular their decision to initiate cooperation in the field of nuclear-powered submarines. Russia and China believe that such actions are contrary to the objectives of security and sustainable development of the Asia-Pacific region, increase the danger of an arms race in the region, and pose serious risks of nuclear proliferation. The sides strongly condemn such moves and call on AUKUS participants to fulfil their nuclear and missile non-proliferation commitments in good faith and to work together to safeguard peace, stability, and development in the region.

Japan’s plans to release nuclear contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean and the potential environmental impact of such actions are of deep concern to the sides. The sides emphasize that the disposal of nuclear contaminated water should be handled with responsibility and carried out in a proper manner based on arrangements between the Japanese side and neighbouring States, other interested parties, and relevant international agencies while ensuring transparency, scientific reasoning, and in accordance with international law.

The sides believe that the U.S. withdrawal from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, the acceleration of research and the development of intermediate-range and shorter-range ground-based missiles and the desire to deploy them in the Asia-Pacific and European regions, as well as their transfer to the allies, entail an increase in tension and distrust, increase risks to international and regional security, lead to the weakening of international non-proliferation and arms control system, undermining global strategic stability. The sided call on the United States to respond positively to the Russian initiative and abandon its plans to deploy intermediate-range and shorter-range ground-based missiles in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. The sides will continue to maintain contacts and strengthen coordination on this issue.

The Chinese side is sympathetic to and supports the proposals put forward by the Russian Federation to create long-term legally binding security guarantees in Europe.

The sides note that the denunciation by the United States of a number of important international arms control agreements has an extremely negative impact on international and regional security and stability. The sides express concern over the advancement of U.S. plans to develop global missile defence and deploy its elements in various regions of the world, combined with capacity building of high-precision non-nuclear weapons for disarming strikes and other strategic objectives. The sides stress the importance of the peaceful uses of outer space, strongly support the central role of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in promoting international cooperation, maintaining and developing international space law and regulation in the field of space activities. Russia and China will continue to increase cooperation on such matters of mutual interest as the long-term sustainability of space activities and the development and use of space resources. The sides oppose attempts by some States to turn outer space into an arena of armed confrontation and reiterate their intention to make all necessary efforts to prevent the weaponization of space and an arms race in outer space. They will counteract activities aimed at achieving military superiority in space and using it for combat operations. The sides affirm the need for the early launch of negotiations to conclude a legally binding multilateral instrument based on the Russian-Chinese draft treaty on the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space and the use or threat of force against space objects that would provide fundamental and reliable guarantees against an arms race and the weaponization of outer space.

Russia and China emphasize that appropriate transparency and confidence-building measures, including an international initiative/political commitment not to be the first to place weapons in space, can also contribute to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space, but such measures should complement and not substitute the effective legally binding regime governing space activities.

The sides reaffirm their belief that the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC) is an essential pillar of international peace and security. Russia and China underscore their determination to preserve the credibility and effectiveness of the Convention.

The sides affirm the need to fully respect and further strengthen the BWC, including by institutionalizing it, strengthening its mechanisms, and adopting a legally binding Protocol to the Convention with an effective verification mechanism, as well as through regular consultation and cooperation in addressing any issues related to the implementation of the Convention.

The sides emphasize that domestic and foreign bioweapons activities by the United States and its allies raise serious concerns and questions for the international community regarding their compliance with the BWC. The sides share the view that such activities pose a serious threat to the national security of the Russian Federation and China and are detrimental to the security of the respective regions. The sides call on the U.S. and its allies to act in an open, transparent, and responsible manner by properly reporting on their military biological activities conducted overseas and on their national territory, and by supporting the resumption of negotiations on a legally binding BWC Protocol with an effective verification mechanism.

The sides, reaffirming their commitment to the goal of a world free of chemical weapons, call upon all parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention to work together to uphold its credibility and effectiveness. Russia and China are deeply concerned about the politicization of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and call on all of its members to strengthen solidarity and cooperation and protect the tradition of consensual decision-making. Russia and China insist that the United States, as the sole State Party to the Convention that has not yet completed the process of eliminating chemical weapons, accelerate the elimination of its stockpiles of chemical weapons. The sides emphasize the importance of balancing the non-proliferation obligations of states with the interests of legitimate international cooperation in the use of advanced technology and related materials and equipment for peaceful purposes. The sides note the resolution entitled ”Promoting international Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security“ adopted at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on the initiative of China and co‑sponsored by Russia, and look forward to its consistent implementation in accordance with the goals set forth therein.

The sides attach great importance to the issues of governance in the field of artificial intelligence. The sides are ready to strengthen dialogue and contacts on artificial intelligence.

The sides reiterate their readiness to deepen cooperation in the field of international information security and to contribute to building an open, secure, sustainable and accessible ICT environment. The sides emphasize that the principles of the non-use of force, respect for national sovereignty and fundamental human rights and freedoms, and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States, as enshrined in the UN Charter, are applicable to the information space. Russia and China reaffirm the key role of the UN in responding to threats to international information security and express their support for the Organization in developing new norms of conduct of states in this area.

The sides welcome the implementation of the global negotiation process on international information security within a single mechanism and support in this context the work of the UN Open-ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) 2021–2025 (OEWG) and express their willingness to speak with one voice within it. The sides consider it necessary to consolidate the efforts of the international community to develop new norms of responsible behaviour of States, including legal ones, as well as a universal international legal instrument regulating the activities of States in the field of ICT. The sides believe that the Global Initiative on Data Security, proposed by the Chinese side and supported, in principle, by the Russian side, provides a basis for the Working Group to discuss and elaborate responses to data security threats and other threats to international information security.

The sides reiterate their support of United Nations General Assembly resolutions 74/247 and 75/282, support the work of the relevant Ad Hoc Committee of Governmental Experts, facilitate the negotiations within the United Nations for the elaboration of an international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes. The sides encourage constructive participation of all sides in the negotiations in order to agree as soon as possible on a credible, universal, and comprehensive convention and provide it to the United Nations General Assembly at its 78th session in strict compliance with resolution 75/282. For these purposes, Russia and China have presented a joint draft convention as a basis for negotiations.

The sides support the internationalization of Internet governance, advocate equal rights to its governance, believe that any attempts to limit their sovereign right to regulate national segments of the Internet and ensure their security are unacceptable, are interested in greater participation of the International Telecommunication Union in addressing these issues.

The sides intend to deepen bilateral cooperation in international information security on the basis of the relevant 2015 intergovernmental agreement. To this end, the sides have agreed to adopt in the near future a plan for cooperation between Russia and China in this area.

IV

The sides underline that Russia and China, as world powers and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, intend to firmly adhere to moral principles and accept their responsibility, strongly advocate the international system with the central coordinating role of the United Nations in international affairs, defend the world order based on international law, including the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, advance multipolarity and promote the democratization of international relations, together create an even more prospering, stable, and just world, jointly build international relations of a new type.

The Russian side notes the significance of the concept of constructing a ”community of common destiny for mankind“ proposed by the Chinese side to ensure greater solidarity of the international community and consolidation of efforts in responding to common challenges. The Chinese side notes the significance of the efforts taken by the Russian side to establish a just multipolar system of international relations.

The sides intend to strongly uphold the outcomes of the Second World War and the existing post-war world order, defend the authority of the United Nations and justice in international relations, resist attempts to deny, distort, and falsify the history of the Second World War.

In order to prevent the recurrence of the tragedy of the world war, the sides will strongly condemn actions aimed at denying the responsibility for atrocities of Nazi aggressors, militarist invaders, and their accomplices, besmirch and tarnish the honour of the victorious countries.

The sides call for the establishment of a new kind of relationships between world powers on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation. They reaffirm that the new inter-State relations between Russia and China are superior to political and military alliances of the Cold War era. Friendship between the two States has no limits, there are no ”forbidden“ areas of cooperation, strengthening of bilateral strategic cooperation is neither aimed against third countries nor affected by the changing international environment and circumstantial changes in third countries.

The sides reiterate the need for consolidation, not division of the international community, the need for cooperation, not confrontation. The sides oppose the return of international relations to the state of confrontation between major powers, when the weak fall prey to the strong. The sides intend to resist attempts to substitute universally recognized formats and mechanisms that are consistent with international law for rules elaborated in private by certain nations or blocs of nations, and are against addressing international problems indirectly and without consensus, oppose power politics, bullying, unilateral sanctions, and extraterritorial application of jurisdiction, as well as the abuse of export control policies, and support trade facilitation in line with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The sides reaffirmed their intention to strengthen foreign policy coordination, pursue true multilateralism, strengthen cooperation on multilateral platforms, defend common interests, support the international and regional balance of power, and improve global governance.

The sides support and defend the multilateral trade system based on the central role of the World Trade Organization (WTO), take an active part in the WTO reform, opposing unilateral approaches and protectionism. The sides are ready to strengthen dialogue between partners and coordinate positions on trade and economic issues of common concern, contribute to ensuring the sustainable and stable operation of global and regional value chains, promote a more open, inclusive, transparent, non-discriminatory system of international trade and economic rules.

The sides support the G20 format as an important forum for discussing international economic cooperation issues and anti-crisis response measures, jointly promote the invigorated spirit of solidarity and cooperation within the G20, support the leading role of the association in such areas as the international fight against epidemics, world economic recovery, inclusive sustainable development, improving the global economic governance system in a fair and rational manner to collectively address global challenges.

The sides support the deepened strategic partnership within BRICS, promote the expanded cooperation in three main areas: politics and security, economy and finance, and humanitarian exchanges. In particular, Russia and China intend to encourage interaction in the fields of public health, digital economy, science, innovation and technology, including artificial intelligence technologies, as well as the increased coordination between BRICS countries on international platforms. The sides strive to further strengthen the BRICS Plus/Outreach format as an effective mechanism of dialogue with regional integration associations and organizations of developing countries and States with emerging markets.

The Russian side will fully support the Chinese side chairing the association in 2022, and assist in the fruitful holding of the XIV BRICS summit.

Russia and China aim to comprehensively strengthen the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and further enhance its role in shaping a polycentric world order based on the universally recognized principles of international law, multilateralism, equal, joint, indivisible, comprehensive and sustainable security.

They consider it important to consistently implement the agreements on improved mechanisms to counter challenges and threats to the security of SCO member states and, in the context of addressing this task, advocate expanded functionality of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.

The sides will contribute to imparting a new quality and dynamics to the economic interaction between the SCO member States in the fields of trade, manufacturing, transport, energy, finance, investment, agriculture, customs, telecommunications, innovation and other areas of mutual interest, including through the use of advanced, resource-saving, energy efficient and ”green“ technologies.

The sides note the fruitful interaction within the SCO under the 2009 Agreement between the Governments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member States on cooperation in the field of international information security, as well as within the specialized Group of Experts. In this context, they welcome the adoption of the SCO Joint Action Plan on Ensuring International Information Security for 2022–2023 by the Council of Heads of State of SCO Member States on September 17, 2021 in Dushanbe.

Russia and China proceed from the ever-increasing importance of cultural and humanitarian cooperation for the progressive development of the SCO. In order to strengthen mutual understanding between the people of the SCO member States, they will continue to effectively foster interaction in such areas as cultural ties, education, science and technology, healthcare, environmental protection, tourism, people-to-people contacts, sports.

Russia and China will continue to work to strengthen the role of APEC as the leading platform for multilateral dialogue on economic issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The sides intend to step up coordinated action to successfully implement the ”Putrajaya guidelines for the development of APEC until 2040“ with a focus on creating a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment in the region. Particular emphasis will be placed on the fight against the novel coronavirus infection pandemic and economic recovery, digitalization of a wide range of different spheres of life, economic growth in remote territories and the establishment of interaction between APEC and other regional multilateral associations with a similar agenda.

The sides intend to develop cooperation within the ”Russia-India-China“ format, as well as to strengthen interaction on such venues as the East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum on Security, Meeting of Defense Ministers of the ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partners. Russia and China support ASEAN’s central role in developing cooperation in East Asia, continue to increase coordination on deepened cooperation with ASEAN, and jointly promote cooperation in the areas of public health, sustainable development, combating terrorism and countering transnational crime. The sides intend to continue to work in the interest of a strengthened role of ASEAN as a key element of the regional architecture.

The West’s two replies, just a few disjointed thoughts

February 02, 2022

Disclaimer: this is not an analysis, just a quick initial reaction.

So we now have both replies.

First, Lavrov was right, compared to the NATO reply, the US reply is a model of diplomatic propriety.

One could be forgiven to think that while the US reply was written by US officials, the NATO reply was written by a Pole.

Except it is quite obvious that NATO member states can’t even take a breath without asking Uncle Shmuel’s permission.

So are these two very different replies prepared by the self same people?

Yup.  That is my guess.

Next, let’s look at the core of the replies:

  • US: let’s talk, and talk, and then talk some more ad aeternam
  • NATO reply: do you clearly see our middle finger Mr Putin?

In reality, it is one and the same reply: the Master Race does not negotiate with Snow Niggers.

By the way, all the quite reasonable confidence building measures now “proposed” by the USA have all been proposed by Russia in the past and proudly rejected by the Master Race.

What effect will that single reply (in two hypostases) will most likely result in.

  • The Russians will act unilaterally and dial up the pain dial, very slowly and deliberately.
  • The EU will act like kids who threw a stone at a window: run like hell, hide, and wait to see what Russia will do.  If the markets read this correctly, they should freak out begin a sharp decline.
  • The US will keep a mostly benevolent facial expression while egging on the EU to further provoke Russia
  • Both Zones A and Zones B will consolidate around, respectively, the US and Russia/China.

I will stop here by adding just a few simple facts:

  • China cannot afford a Western victory in this struggle (anymore than Russia can afford a US victory against China).  Since Putin is going to meet Xi in Beijing, we can expect some interesting statements to come out in the near future.
  • It is extremely likely that the Russian Duma will officially sent major military aid to the LDNR.
  • It is very possible that the Russian Duma will ask the Kremlin to recognize the LDNR.
  • A CIA/MI6 false flag attack in the Ukraine is very likely.
  • Ze is screwed.  He knows it.

That’s it, let’s wait a day or so before making any real analyses.

Andrei

PS: the one thing which really makes me laugh is this: if a big war is about to break up, why are western diplomats being evacuated from Kiev but not from Moscow?  🙂

Russia opens doors for Iran’s Eurasian integration

Raisi and Putin’s January meeting may have seemed anticlimactic, but Russia is now opening doors for Iran’s Eurasian integration

February 01 2022

By Yeghia Tashjian

On 20 January, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi traveled to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow, with the express purpose of advancing bilateral ties between both countries at the highest level.

Among the talking points of the two leaders were their shared regional and international issues, the Vienna negotiations for Iran’s nuclear program, and regional cooperation in Eurasia.https://thecradle.co/Article/analysis/6507

Contrary to expectations and to the positive statements made before the meeting, the visit did not end with the announcement of a grand strategic agreement, such as the one that took place between China and Iran a year ago.

Nevertheless, the visit did push negotiations between both parties to a higher level, and facilitated Iran’s economic integration into the Russian-Chinese Eurasian architecture.

Great expectations, not grand declarations

In recent years, both the improvement of relations between Tehran and Moscow, and a focus on a strategic partnership have become particularly important tasks for Iran.

Besides working to boost trade and economic ties – a priority for sanction-laden Iran – an additional impetus may be given to the development of military-political interaction in the future.

In October 2021, quoting Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Interfax announced that Tehran was ready to forge a strategic partnership with Moscow, and that both parties are expected to sign agreement documents in the coming months.

According to the TASS agency, both sides were close to completing work on a document on comprehensive cooperation for a period of 20 years.

The timing is important for both countries. As the chairman of the Iranian parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, Mojtaba Zulnur, told the Mehr News Agency that in order to overcome US sanctions, Iran seeks a partnership agreement with Russia, one that would be analogous to the agreement between Tehran and Beijing.

However, contrary to expectations and to some statements prior to the Iranian leader’s trip to Russia, President Raisi’s visit has, at least for the time being, failed to achieve a major breakthrough on that front. According to sources, this process may take some time and may, at least for Moscow, be linked to the outcome of Iran’s nuclear negotiations.

However, two recent events involving Russia and Iran had significant resonance: the joint naval exercises between Russia, China, and Iran in the Indian Ocean, and Iran’s relations with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) alongside the materialization of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

Will Iran be joining the EAEU anytime soon?

Iranian political analyst and former Fars News Agency (English) chief editor Mostafa Khoshcheshm says, instead, that Russia looks to be pushing for Iran’s entry into the EAEU. “Negotiations,” he reveals, “are already underway.”

In 2019, the preferential trade agreement (PTA), signed between Iran and the EAEU in 2018, entered into force.

The agreement offered lower tariffs on 862 commodity types, of which 502 were Iranian exports to the EAEU. As a result, in the period between October 2019 and October 2020, trade volume increased by more than 84 percent.

According to Vali Kaleji, the Iranian expert on Central Asia and Caucasian Studies, this volume of trade was achieved at a time when the US, under former president Donald Trump, withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018 and was following the policy of ‘maximum pressure’ against Iran.

In October 2021, Iran and EAEU started negotiating an upgrade of the PTA into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). If achieved, this will set off a massive increase in the volume of trade between Iran and the EAEU, also known as the Union.

Both Moscow and Tehran have reasons to push for the further integration of Iran in the Union.

For Iran, this opportunity will provide improved access to Eurasian and European markets. It will also provide EAEU member states with increased access to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. For this reason, Moscow may be thinking a step ahead.

Moscow views the signing of an FTA agreement with Iran as a crucial step for Iran’s entry into the Union.

Russia has concerns that if Iran reaches an agreement with the US over its nuclear issue, there may be positive Iranian policy shifts towards the west, and this may not serve Russia’s interests in West Asia, especially in Syria.

For Russia, a nuclear Iran is preferable to a pro-western one. For this reason, Russia would be glad to see the acceleration of Iran’s integration into Eurasian regional institutions.

Opening gateways, prudently

Iran’s accession to the nine-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) should be viewed from this perspective. Moreover, with Tehran joining the EAEU, neighboring and friendly countries, such as Iraq and Syria may follow.

Russia would then have a direct railway and highway connection via Iran to its Syrian coastal military base in Tartous. This would serve its military goals on a logistic and operational level in case a crisis occurs in the Black Sea and Russia’s navy faces challenges.

On 27 December 2021, Iran and Iraq agreed to build a railway connecting both countries. The 30km railway would be strategically important for Iran, linking the country to the Mediterranean Sea via Iraq and Syria’s railways.

This would be a win-win situation for both China and Russia; one where China through its Belt and Road Initiative, and Russia through its International North-South Transport Corridor, would have direct railway access to the Mediterranean Sea.

This route also would compete with India’s Arab-Mediterranean Corridor connecting India to the Israeli port of Haifa through the various railways of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

So, for China and Russia, consolidating Iran’s geopolitical and geo-economic position in the region is an important step. From a Russian perspective, having a direct land route through the Levant to the Mediterranean will bolster its power base in Syria and extend its soft power through trade and energy deals within neighboring countries.

It was for this reason that Iran acted prudently against the recent Azerbaijani provocations on the Armenian border. Tehran’s concern was that Turkey would have direct access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia through a possible ‘corridor’ passing from southern Armenia.

This is known as the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route Middle Corridor, connecting Europe to Central Asia through Turkey.

For Iran, this would be equivalent to NATO’s expansion in the Caspian Sea and further towards China. Hence, the west-east trade route would pose a serious threat to Iran and Russia and isolate them in Eurasia.

For the Iranians, this route would not only bypass Iran and Russia but would also impose a serious challenge to the north-south trade route initiated by the Iranians, Russians, and other Asian countries.

According to Khoshcheshm, “animosities by the western block have driven Iran and Eurasia closer to each other and this has given strong motivation for the Russians and Chinese to speed up Iran’s accession to the Eurasian block to hammer joint cooperation in economic and geopolitical areas and prevent US penetration into the region.”

Iran’s entry into the EAEU is therefore a win-win situation for both Moscow and Tehran. Russia would consolidate its geo-economic and geopolitical position in the Middle East, and Iran would have a railway connection to Russia and Europe and further expand Moscow’s influence in the region.

However, this ultimate objective may still need time, and will face challenges from the US and its allies in the region.

Confidence amid uncertainty

Iran’s possible accession to the EAEU would attract investments from neighboring countries to the underdeveloped rail communication between Iran and Russia in the Caucasus region.

The opening of communication channels between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as part of the 9 November trilateral statement, would facilitate trade and cargo transportation in the region as part of the North-South Transport corridor.

In such circumstances, the railway network is very important as the volume of goods transported by rail is far greater and faster than land and truck routes. However, the implementation of these projects is not yet a certainty.

The state-owned Russian Railways ceased implementation of its projects in Iran in April 2020 due to fears over US sanctions. Such a decision would affect other programs within the framework of the Russian-Iranian initiative in creating the North-South Transport Corridor.

Both sides would have to wait to overcome US sanctions, as economic routes are always a win-win situation.

By joining the EAEU and integrating into Eurasian regional organizations, Iran would consolidate its geo-economic position into a regional transport hub, opening the West Asian gate for Moscow’s railway access to the eastern Mediterranean.

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

Putin: Annual Press Conference

December 23, 2021

At the time of posting this is still ongoing.  Mr. Putin takes the podium at time marker 36:58 and proceeds directly to Q&A.  A transcript will be available but will take some time.

Update:  Completed after 3 hours and 56 minutes.  The president fielded the questions of 44 people, focusing on both domestic and international issues.

The long and winding multipolar road

July 01, 2021

The West’s ‘rules-based order’ invokes rulers’ authority; Russia-China say it’s time to return to law-based order

The long and winding multipolar road

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

We do live in extraordinary times.

On the day of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), President Xi Jinping, in Tiananmen square, amid all the pomp and circumstance, delivered a stark geopolitical message:

The Chinese people will never allow foreign forces to intimidate, oppress or subjugate them. Anyone who tries to do this will find themselves on a collision course with a large steel wall forged by more than 1.4 billion Chinese.

I have offered a concise version of the modern Chinese miracle – which has nothing to do with divine intervention, but “searching truth from facts” (copyright Deng Xiaoping), inspired by a solid cultural and historical tradition.

The “large steel wall” evoked by Xi now permeates a dynamic “moderately prosperous society” – a goal achieved by the CCP on the eve of the centennial. Lifting over 800 million people out of poverty is a historical first – in every aspect.

As in all things China, the past informs the future. This is all about xiaokang – which may be loosely translated as “moderately prosperous society”.

The concept first appeared no less than 2,500 years ago, in the classic Shijing (“The Book of Poetry”). The Little Helmsman Deng, with his historical eagle eye, revived it in 1979, right at the start of the “opening up” economic reforms.

Now compare the breakthrough celebrated in Tiananmen – which will be interpreted all across the Global South as evidence of the success of a Chinese model for economic development – with footage being circulated of the Taliban riding captured T-55 tanks across impoverished villages in northern Afghanistan.

History Repeating: this is something I saw with my own eyes over twenty years ago.

The Taliban now control nearly the same amount of Afghan territory they did immediately before 9/11. They control the border with Tajikistan and are closing in on the border with Uzbekistan.

Exactly twenty years ago I was deep into yet another epic journey across Karachi, Peshawar, the Pakistan tribal areas, Tajikistan and finally the Panjshir valley, where I interviewed Commander Masoud – who told me the Taliban at the time were controlling 85% of Afghanistan.

Three weeks later Masoud was assassinated by an al-Qaeda-linked commando disguised as “journalists” – two days before 9/11. The empire – at the height of the unipolar moment – went into Forever Wars on overdrive, while China – and Russia – went deep into consolidating their emergence, geopolitically and geoeconomically.

We are now living the consequences of these opposed strategies.

That strategic partnership

President Putin has just spent three hours and fifty minutes answering non-pre-screened questions, live, from Russian citizens during his annual ‘Direct Line’ session. The notion that Western “leaders” of the Biden, BoJo, Merkel and Macron kind would be able to handle something even remotely similar, non-scripted, is laughable.

The key takeaway: Putin stressed US elites understand that the world is changing but still want to preserve their dominant position. He illustrated it with the recent British caper in Crimea straight out of a Monty Python fail, a “complex provocation” that was in fact Anglo-American: a NATO aircraft had previously conducted a reconnaissance flight. Putin: “It was obvious that the destroyer entered [Crimean waters] pursuing military goals.”

Earlier this week Putin and Xi held a videoconference. One of the key items was quite significant: the extension of the China-Russia Treaty of Good Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, originally signed 20 years ago.

A key provision: “When a situation arises in which one of the contracting parties deems that…it is confronted with the threat of aggression, the contracting parties shall immediately hold contacts and consultations in order to eliminate such threats.”

This treaty is at the heart of what is now officially described – by Moscow and Beijing – as a “comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era”. Such a broad definition is warranted because this is a complex multi-level partnership, not an “alliance”, designed as a counterbalance and viable alternative to hegemony and unilateralism.

A graphic example is provided by the progressive interpolation of two trade/development strategies, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), which Putin and Xi again discussed, in connection with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which was founded only three months before 9/11.

It’s no wonder that one of the highlights in Beijing this week were trade talks between the Chinese and four Central Asia “stans” – all of them SCO members.

“Law” and “rule”

The defining multipolarity road map has been sketched in an essay by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that deserves careful examination.

Lavrov surveys the results of the recent G7, NATO and US-EU summits prior to Putin-Biden in Geneva:

These meetings were carefully prepared in a way that leaves no doubt that the West wanted to send a clear message: it stands united like never before and will do what it believes to be right in international affairs, while forcing others, primarily Russia and China, to follow its lead. The documents adopted at the Cornwall and Brussels summits cemented the rules-based world order concept as a counterweight to the universal principles of international law with the UN Charter as its primary source. In doing so, the West deliberately shies away from spelling out the rules it purports to follow, just as it refrains from explaining why they are needed.

As he dismisses how Russia and China have been labeled as “authoritarian powers” (or “illiberal”, according to the favorite New York-Paris-London mantra), Lavrov smashes Western hypocrisy:

While proclaiming the ‘right’ to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries for the sake of promoting democracy as it understands it, the West instantly loses all interest when we raise the prospect of making international relations more democratic, including renouncing arrogant behavior and committing to abide by the universally recognized tenets of international law instead of ‘rules’.

That provides Lavrov with an opening for a linguistic analysis of “law” and “rule”:

In Russian, the words “law” and “rule” share a single root. To us, a rule that is genuine and just is inseparable from the law. This is not the case for Western languages. For instance, in English, the words “law” and “rule” do not share any resemblance. See the difference? “Rule” is not so much about the law, in the sense of generally accepted laws, as it is about the decisions taken by the one who rules or governs. It is also worth noting that “rule” shares a single root with “ruler,” with the latter’s meanings including the commonplace device for measuring and drawing straight lines. It can be inferred that through its concept of “rules” the West seeks to align everyone around its vision or apply the same yardstick to everybody, so that everyone falls into a single file.

In a nutshell: the road to multipolarity will not follow “ultimatums”. The G20, where the BRICS are represented, is a “natural platform” for “mutually accepted agreements”. Russia for its part is driving a Greater Eurasia Partnership. And a “polycentric world order” implies the necessary reform of the UN Security Council, “strengthening it with Asian, African and Latin American countries”.

Will the Unilateral Masters ply this road? Over their dead bodies: after all, Russia and China are “existential threats”. Hence our collective angst, spectators under the volcano.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s video address to the Sixth International Conference Russia and China: Cooperation in a New Era, Moscow, June 1, 2021

June 01, 2021

Source

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s video address to the Sixth International Conference Russia and China: Cooperation in a New Era, Moscow, June 1, 2021
https://thesaker.is/foreign-minister-sergey-lavrovs-video-address-to-the-sixth-international-conference-russia-and-china-cooperation-in-a-new-era-moscow-june-1-2021/

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4759576

Mr Wang Yi,

Mr Ivanov,

Colleagues, friends,

The further development of strategic partnership with China is one of our  top priorities. It is stipulated in the Foreign Policy Concept, which President of Russia Vladimir Putin approved in November 2016. We are grateful to our colleagues from the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) for organising a regular, sixth joint conference. We regard it as an opportunity to review the current state and development outlook of our bilateral cooperation and its increasing influence on global developments.

This is a special year for us: 20 years ago on July 16, 2001, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Jiang Zemin met in Moscow to sign the Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation. By turning this new page in their relations, the parties demonstrated their resolve to pass their friendship down through the generations. The treaty formalised the previously applied political definition of bilateral relations as “a partnership of (…) equality and trust and strategic collaboration.” In other words, this truly historical international document has put on record the development of a new model of our interstate relations and their progress to a fundamentally new stage.

I would like to note that the Treaty is based on the universally recognised norms of international law, first of all the goals and principles of the UN Charter. It seals the parties’ agreement on mutual support in the defence of the national unity and territorial integrity, as well as their commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons against each other and not to target strategic nuclear missiles on each other. The document also formulated the principle of “respecting each other’s choice of the course of political, economic, social and cultural development.” The parties pledged to immediately contact and consult each other in the event of the threat of aggression and not to allow their territory to be used by third countries to the detriment of the national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other party. In this way, Russia and China provided a legal framework for the closest possible collaboration on strategic matters bearing on their fundamental interests without creating a formal military-political alliance. In fact, a comprehensive Russian-Chinese partnership is more than just a classical military-political union.

Another vital provision mentions the absence of any territorial claims to each other and the parties’ resolve “to make the border between them into one where everlasting peace and friendship prevail from generation to generation.” The incorporation of this principle promoted the final settlement of the so-called border dispute and greatly strengthened mutual trust.

Colleagues,

The Treaty played a huge role in boosting mutual trade and economic interaction.  We can report positive results to the public. During the past 20 years, our mutual trade increased more than thirteen times, from $8 billion to $104 billion in 2020. Work is underway within the framework of the Intergovernmental Russian-Chinese Commission on Investment Cooperation on 70 projects worth in total more than $120 billion.

Our energy partnership has acquired a strategic dimension. A Russian-Chinese oil pipeline has been functioning for nearly 10 years now, and the Power of Siberia gas pipeline was launched in late 2019. China is taking part in large-scale LNG projects in the Russian Arctic zone. Just a few days ago, on May 19, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Xi Jinping launched the construction of four new Russian-designed power units for the Tianwan and Xudapu nuclear power stations in China.

Our industrial and agricultural cooperation is developing constantly. Our interaction in science and innovation is especially important in light of the continued Western attempts to contain our countries’ technological progress. It is for this reason that we are holding the Years of Science, Technology and Innovation in 2020-2021 as part of the successful practice of themed cross-years.

The Treaty also has a great role to play in promoting cultural and humanitarian ties. These activities are helping to maintain the relations of good-neighbourliness and reinforce the social basis of strategic partnership between Russia and China.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has impaired contacts between our citizens. I am sure that, as the epidemiological situation becomes normalised, we will be able to quickly restore and expand them. In our opinion, efforts to promote Russian language studies in China and Chinese language studies in Russia should become an unconditional priority. The same concerns dialogue with young people, who will soon carry on efforts to develop and expand the traditions of Russian-Chinese friendship.

The Treaty, which is ahead of its time in some respects, is not limited to bilateral ties. Its provisions help expand our foreign policy cooperation. Bilateral dialogue is becoming particularly important on the international scene today, when some Western states are trying to demolish the UN-centric system of international law and to replace it with their own rules-based order. Moscow and Beijing consistently advocate the creation of a more equitable, democratic and therefore stable polycentric international order. This system should reflect the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world and the natural striving of nations to independently determine their development path. The very fact of the Russian-Chinese accord on this issue serves to stabilise and balance the entire system of international relations. It opens up broad opportunities for truly equitable and free cooperation between large and small countries jointly shaping their historical destiny.

I am satisfied to note the coinciding or largely similar approaches of Moscow and Beijing towards an absolute majority of challenges facing the world today, including efforts to maintain global strategic stability, arms control and counterterrorism operations. We cooperate successfully and fruitfully at such multilateral venues as the UN, the SCO, BRICS, RIC, the G20, APEC and the EAS. We coordinate our steps during the Syrian and Afghan peace processes, the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and on the Iranian nuclear programme. Russia and China advocate the peaceful development of the Asia Pacific region and the creation of reliable regional mechanisms for ensuring equal and indivisible security there based on non-bloc approaches.

Today, the Eurasian region is implementing a number of innovative integration projects, including the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Work to combine their potentials has good prospects. Notably, it lays a solid foundation for establishing a new geo-strategic contour of peace, stability and economic prosperity based on principles of international law and transparency on our shared continent from Lisbon to Jakarta. This contour would be open for all countries, including members of the Eurasian Economic Union, the SCO, ASEAN and, in the future, the EU. The initiative of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on establishing a Greater Eurasian Partnership aims to accomplish this truly historic task. We highly value cooperation with our Chinese friends on its well-coordinated implementation together with the Belt and Road Initiative.

Colleagues,

The Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation, whose 20th anniversary we are going to mark in July 2021, is an unshakeable foundation of Russian-Chinese relations. We are convinced that it remains a living and working document that makes it possible to expand, finetune and adjust our strategic cooperation in line with the changing realities of the new epoch. This epoch demands that all of us, including experts, diplomats and politicians, always pay attention to new challenges and opportunities, trends and forecasts. Your conference is a good platform for a calm, detailed and professional exchange of opinions and ideas, without which is it is hard to chart the road forward and to determine a joint algorithm of subsequent actions.

Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to wish you fruitful discussions and intellectual insights and revelations for the benefit of strengthening neighbourly relations and friendship between Russia and China.

Thank you.

Why Russia is driving the West crazy

Why Russia is driving the West crazy

February 10, 2021

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted on Asia Times

Future historians may register it as the day when usually unflappable Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov decided he had had enough:

We are getting used to the fact that the European Union are trying to impose unilateral restrictions, illegitimate restrictions and we proceed from the assumption at this stage that the European Union is an unreliable partner.

Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, on an official visit to Moscow, had to take it on the chin.

Lavrov, always the perfect gentleman, added, “I hope that the strategic review that will take place soon will focus on the key interests of the European Union and that these talks will help to make our contacts more constructive.”

He was referring to the EU heads of state and government’s summit at the European Council next month, where they will discuss Russia. Lavrov harbors no illusions the “unreliable partners” will behave like adults.

Yet something immensely intriguing can be found in Lavrov’s opening remarks in his meeting with Borrell: “The main problem we all face is the lack of normalcy in relations between Russia and the European Union – the two largest players in the Eurasian space. It is an unhealthy situation, which does not benefit anyone.”

The two largest players in the Eurasian space (italics mine). Let that sink in. We’ll be back to it in a moment.

As it stands, the EU seems irretrievably addicted to worsening the “unhealthy situation”. European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen memorably botched the Brussels vaccine game. Essentially, she sent Borrell to Moscow to ask for licensing rights for European firms to produce the Sputnik V vaccine – which will soon be approved by the EU.

And yet Eurocrats prefer to dabble in hysteria, promoting the antics of NATO asset and convicted fraudster Navalny – the Russian Guaido.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, under the cover of “strategic deterrence”, the head of the US STRATCOM, Admiral Charles Richard, casually let it slip that “there is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons, if they perceived a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state.”

So the blame for the next – and final – war is already apportioned to the “destabilizing” behavior of Russia and China. It’s assumed they will be “losing” – and then, in a fit of rage, will go nuclear. The Pentagon will be no more than a victim; after all, claims Mr. STRATCOM, we are not “stuck in the Cold War”.

STRATCOM planners could do worse than read crack military analyst Andrei Martyanov, who for years has been on the forefront detailing how the new hypersonic paradigm – and not nuclear weapons – has changed the nature of warfare.

After a detailed technical discussion, Martyanov shows how “the United States simply has no good options currently. None. The less bad option, however, is to talk to Russians and not in terms of geopolitical BS and wet dreams that the United States, somehow, can convince Russia “to abandon” China – US has nothing, zero, to offer Russia to do so. But at least Russians and Americans may finally settle peacefully this “hegemony” BS between themselves and then convince China to finally sit as a Big Three at the table and finally decide how to run the world. This is the only chance for the US to stay relevant in the new world.”

The Golden Horde imprint

As much as the chances are negligible of the EU getting a grip on the “unhealthy situation” with Russia, there’s no evidence what Martyanov outlined will be contemplated by the US Deep State.

The path ahead seems ineluctable: perpetual sanctions; perpetual NATO expansion alongside Russia’s borders; the build up of a ring of hostile states around Russia; perpetual US interference on Russian internal affairs – complete with an army of fifth columnists; perpetual, full spectrum information war.

Lavrov is increasingly making it crystal clear that Moscow expects nothing else. Facts on the ground, though, will keep accumulating.

Nordstream 2 will be finished – sanctions or no sanctions – and will supply much needed natural gas to Germany and the EU. Convicted fraudster Navalny – 1% of real “popularity” in Russia – will remain in jail. Citizens across the EU will get Sputnik V. The Russia-China strategic partnership will continue to solidify.

To understand how we have come to this unholy Russophobic mess, an essential road map is provided by Russian Conservatism , an exciting, new political philosophy study by Glenn Diesen, associate professor at University of Southeastern Norway, lecturer at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, and one of my distinguished interlocutors in Moscow.

Diesen starts focusing on the essentials: geography, topography and history. Russia is a vast land power without enough access to the seas. Geography, he argues, conditions the foundations of “conservative policies defined by autocracy, an ambiguous and complex concept of nationalism, and the enduring role of the Orthodox Church” – something that implies resistance to “radical secularism”.

It’s always crucial to remember that Russia has no natural defensible borders; it has been invaded or occupied by Swedes, Poles, Lithuanians, the Mongol Golden Horde, Crimean Tatars and Napoleon. Not to mention the immensely bloody Nazi invasion.

What’s in a word? Everything: “security”, in Russian, is byezopasnost. That happens to be a negative, as byez means “without” and opasnost means “danger”.

Russia’s complex, unique historical make-up always presented serious problems. Yes, there was close affinity with the Byzantine empire. But if Russia “claimed transfer of imperial authority from Constantinople it would be forced to conquer it.” And to claim the successor, role and heritage of the Golden Horde would relegate Russia to the status of an Asiatic power only.

On the Russian path to modernization, the Mongol invasion provoked not only a geographical schism, but left its imprint on politics: “Autocracy became a necessity following the Mongol legacy and the establishment of Russia as an Eurasian empire with a vast and poorly connected geographical expanse”.

“A colossal East West”

Russia is all about East meets West. Diesen reminds us how Nikolai Berdyaev, one of the leading 20th century conservatives, already nailed it in 1947: “The inconsistency and complexity of the Russian soul may be due to the fact that in Russia two streams of world history – East and West – jostle and influence one another (…) Russia is a complete section of the world – a colossal East West.”

The Trans-Siberian railroad, built to solidify the internal cohesion of the Russian empire and to project power in Asia, was a major game-changer: “With Russian agricultural settlements expanding to the east, Russia was increasingly replacing the ancient roads who had previously controlled and connected Eurasia.”

It’s fascinating to watch how the development of Russian economics ended up on Mackinder’s Heartland theory – according to which control of the world required control of the Eurasian supercontinent. What terrified Mackinder is that Russian railways connecting Eurasia would undermine the whole power structure of Britain as a maritime empire.

Diesen also shows how Eurasianism – emerging in the 1920s among émigrés in response to 1917 – was in fact an evolution of Russian conservatism.

Eurasianism, for a number of reasons, never became a unified political movement. The core of Eurasianism is the notion that Russia was not a mere Eastern European state. After the 13th century Mongol invasion and the 16th century conquest of Tatar kingdoms, Russia’s history and geography could not be only European. The future would require a more balanced approach – and engagement with Asia.

Dostoyevsky had brilliantly framed it ahead of anyone, in 1881:

Russians are as much Asiatics as European. The mistake of our policy for the past two centuries has been to make the people of Europe believe that we are true Europeans. We have served Europe too well, we have taken too great a part in her domestic quarrels (…) We have bowed ourselves like slaves before the Europeans and have only gained their hatred and contempt. It is time to turn away from ungrateful Europe. Our future is in Asia.

Lev Gumilev was arguably the superstar among a new generation of Eurasianists. He argued that Russia had been founded on a natural coalition between Slavs, Mongols and Turks. The Ancient Rus and the Great Steppe, published in 1989, had an immense impact in Russia after the fall of the USSR – as I learned first hand from my Russian hosts when I arrived in Moscow via the Trans-Siberian in the winter of 1992.

As Diesen frames it, Gumilev was offering a sort of third way, beyond European nationalism and utopian internationalism. A Lev Gumilev University has been established in Kazakhstan. Putin has referred to Gumilev as “the great Eurasian of our time”.

Diesen reminds us that even George Kennan, in 1994, recognized the conservative struggle for “this tragically injured and spiritually diminished country”. Putin, in 2005, was way sharper. He stressed,

the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. And for the Russian people, it was a real drama (…) The old ideals were destroyed. Many institutions were disbanded or simply hastily reformed…With unrestricted control over information flows, groups of oligarchs served exclusively their own corporate interests. Mass poverty started to be accepted as the norm. All this evolved against a background of the most severe economic recession, unstable finances and paralysis in the social sphere.

Applying “sovereign democracy”

And so we reach the crucial European question.

In the 1990s, led by Atlanticists, Russian foreign policy was focused on Greater Europe, a concept based on Gorbachev’s Common European Home.

And yet post-Cold War Europe, in practice, ended up configured as the non-stop expansion of NATO and the birth – and expansion – of the EU. All sorts of liberal contortionisms were deployed to include all of Europe while excluding Russia.

Diesen has the merit of summarizing the whole process in a single sentence: “The new liberal Europe represented a British-American continuity in terms of the rule of maritime powers, and Mackinder’s objective to organize the German-Russian relationship in a zero-sum format to prevent the alignment of interests”.

No wonder Putin, subsequently, had to be erected as the Supreme Scarecrow, or “the new Hitler”. Putin rejected outright the role for Russia of mere apprentice to Western civilization – and its corollary, (neo) liberal hegemony.

Still, he remained quite accommodating. In 2005, Putin stressed, “above all else Russia was, is and will, of course, be a major European power”. What he wanted was to decouple liberalism from power politics – by rejecting the fundamentals of liberal hegemony.

Putin was saying there’s no single democratic model. That was eventually conceptualized as “sovereign democracy”. Democracy cannot exist without sovereignty; so that discards Western “supervision” to make it work.

Diesen sharply observes that if the USSR was a “radical, left-wing Eurasianism, some of its Eurasian characteristics could be transferred to conservative Eurasianism.” Diesen notes how Sergey Karaganov, sometimes referred to as the “Russian Kissinger”, has shown “that the Soviet Union was central to decolonization and it mid-wifed the rise of Asia by depriving the West of the ability to impose its will on the world through military force, which the West had done from the 16th century until the 1940s”.

This is largely acknowledged across vast stretches of the Global South – from Latin America and Africa to Southeast Asia.

Eurasia’s western peninsula

So after the end of the Cold War and the failure of Greater Europe, Moscow’s pivot to Asia to build Greater Eurasia could not but have an air of historical inevitability.

The logic is impeccable. The two geoeconomic hubs of Eurasia are Europe and East Asia. Moscow wants to connect them economically into a supercontinent: that’s where Greater Eurasia joins China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But then there’s the extra Russian dimension, as Diesen notes: the “transition away from the usual periphery of these centers of power and towards the center of a new regional construct”.

From a conservative perspective, emphasizes Diesen, “the political economy of Greater Eurasia enables Russia to overcome its historical obsession with the West and establish an organic Russian path to modernization”.

That implies the development of strategic industries; connectivity corridors; financial instruments; infrastructure projects to connect European Russia with Siberia and Pacific Russia. All that under a new concept: an industrialized, conservative political economy.

The Russia-China strategic partnership happens to be active in all these three geoeconomic sectors: strategic industries/techno platforms, connectivity corridors and financial instruments.

That propels the discussion, once again, to the supreme categorical imperative: the confrontation between the Heartland and a maritime power.

The three great Eurasian powers, historically, were the Scythians, the Huns and the Mongols. The key reason for their fragmentation and decadence is that they were not able to reach – and control – Eurasia’s maritime borders.

The fourth great Eurasian power was the Russian empire – and its successor, the USSR. A key reason the USSR collapsed is because, once gain, it was not able to reach – and control – Eurasia’s maritime borders.

The US prevented it by applying a composite of Mackinder, Mahan and Spykman. The US strategy even became known as the Spykman-Kennan containment mechanism – all these “forward deployments” in the maritime periphery of Eurasia, in Western Europe, East Asia and the Middle East.

We all know by now how the overall US offshore strategy – as well as the primary reason for the US to enter both WWI and WWII – was to prevent the emergence of a Eurasian hegemon by all means necessary.

As for the US as hegemon, that would be crudely conceptualized – with requisite imperial arrogance – by Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski in 1997: “To prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and keep the barbarians from coming together”. Good old Divide and Rule, applied via “system-dominance”.

It’s this system that is now tumbling down – much to the despair of the usual suspects. Diesen notes how, “in the past, pushing Russia into Asia would relegate Russia to economic obscurity and eliminate its status as a European power.” But now, with the center of geoeconomic gravity shifting to China and East Asia, it’s a whole new ball game.

The 24/7 US demonization of Russia-China, coupled with the “unhealthy situation” mentality of the EU minions, only helps to drive Russia closer and closer to China exactly at the juncture where the West’s two centuries-only world dominance, as Andre Gunder Frank conclusively proved , is coming to an end.

Diesen, perhaps too diplomatically, expects that “relations between Russia and the West will also ultimately change with the rise of Eurasia. The West’s hostile strategy to Russia is conditioned on the idea that Russia has nowhere else to go, and must accept whatever the West offers in terms of “partnership”. The rise of the East fundamentally alters Moscow’s relationship with the West by enabling Russia to diversify its partnerships”.

We may be fast approaching the point where Great Eurasia’s Russia will present Germany with a take it or leave it offer. Either we build the Heartland together, or we will build it with China – and you will be just a historical bystander. Of course there’s always the inter-galaxy distant possibility of a Berlin-Moscow-Beijing axis. Stranger things have happened.

Meanwhile, Diesen is confident that “the Eurasian land powers will eventually incorporate Europe and other states on the inner periphery of Eurasia. Political loyalties will incrementally shift as economic interests turn to the East, and Europe is gradually becoming the western peninsula of Greater Eurasia”.

Talk about food for thought for the peninsular peddlers of the “unhealthy situation”.

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