The art of being a spectacularly misguided oracle

February 22, 2021

The art of being a spectacularly misguided oracle

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The late Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski for some time dispensed wisdom as an oracle of US foreign policy, side by side with the perennial Henry Kissinger – who, in vast swathes of the Global South, is regarded as nothing but a war criminal.

Brzezinski never achieved the same notoriety. At best he claimed bragging rights for giving the USSR its own Vietnam in Afghanistan – by facilitating the internationalization of Jihad Inc., with all its dire, subsequent consequences.

Over the years, it was always amusing to follow the heights Dr. Zbig would reach with his Russophobia. But then, slowly but surely, he was forced to revise his great expectations. And finally he must have been truly horrified that his perennial Mackinder-style geopolitical fears came to pass – beyond the wildest nightmares.

Not only Washington had prevented the emergence of a “peer competitor” in Eurasia, but the competitor is now configured as a strategic partnership between Russia and China.

Dr. Zbig was not exactly versed in Chinese matters. His misreading of China may be found in his classic A Geostrategy for Eurasia published in – where else – Foreign Affairs in 1997:

Building in Beijing

Although China is emerging as a regionally dominant power, it is not likely to become a global one for a long time. The conventional wisdom that China will be the next global power is breeding paranoia outside China while fostering megalomania in China. It is far from certain that China’s explosive growth rates can be maintained for the next two decades. In fact, continued long-term growth at the current rates would require an unusually felicitous mix of national leadership, political tranquility, social discipline, high savings, massive inflows of foreign investment, and regional stability. A prolonged combination of all of these factors is unlikely.

Dr. Zbig added,

Even if China avoids serious political disruptions and sustains its economic growth for a quarter of a century — both rather big ifs — China would still be a relatively poor country. A tripling of GDP would leave China below most nations in per capita income, and a significant portion of its people would remain poor. Its standing in access to telephones, cars, computers, let alone consumer goods, would be very low.

Oh dear. Not only Beijing hit all the targets Dr. Zbig proclaimed were off limits, but the central government also eliminated poverty by the end of 2020.

The Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping once observed, “at present, we are still a relatively poor nation. It is impossible for us to undertake many international proletarian obligations, so our contributions remain small. However, once we have accomplished the four modernizations and the national economy has expanded, our contributions to mankind, and especially to the Third World, will be greater. As a socialist country, China will always belong to the Third World and shall never seek hegemony.”

What Deng described then as the Third World – a Cold War-era derogatory terminology – is now the Global South. And the Global South is essentially the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on steroids, as in the Spirit of Bandung in 1955 remixed to the Eurasian Century.

Cold Warrior Dr. Zbig was obviously not a Daoist monk – so he could never abandon the self to enter the Dao, the most secret of all mysteries.

Had he been alive to witness the dawn of the Year of the Metal Ox, he might have noticed how China, expanding on Deng’s insights, is de facto applying practical lessons derived from Daoist correlative cosmology: life as a system of interacting opposites, engaging with each other in constant change and evolution, moving in cycles and feedback loops, always mathematically hard to predict with exactitude.

A practical example of simultaneously opening and closing is the dialectical approach of Beijing’s new “dual circulation” development strategy. It’s quite dynamic, relying on checks and balances between increase of domestic consumption and external trade/investments (the New Silk Roads).

Peace is Forever War

Now let’s move to another oracle, a self-described expert of what in the Beltway is known as the “Greater Middle East”: Robert Kagan, co-founder of PNAC, certified warmongering neo-con, and one-half of the famous Kaganate of Nulands – as the joke went across Eurasia – side by side with his wife, notorious Maidan cookie distributor Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland, who’s about to re-enter government as part of the Biden-Harris administration.

Kagan is back pontificating in – where else – Foreign Affairs, which published his latest superpower manifesto. That’s where we find this absolute pearl:

That Americans refer to the relatively low-cost military involvements in Afghanistan and Iraq as “forever wars” is just the latest example of their intolerance for the messy and unending business of preserving a general peace and acting to forestall threats. In both cases, Americans had one foot out the door the moment they entered, which hampered their ability to gain control of difficult situations.

So let’s get this straight. The multi-trillion dollar Forever Wars are “relatively low-cost”; tell that to the multitudes suffering the Via Crucis of US crumbling infrastructure and appalling standards in health and education. If you don’t support the Forever Wars – absolutely necessary to preserve the “liberal world order” – you are “intolerant”.

“Preserving a general peace” does not even qualify as a joke, coming from someone absolutely clueless about realities on the ground. As for what the Beltway defines as “vibrant civil society” in Afghanistan, that in reality revolves around millennia-old tribal custom codes: it has nothing to do with some neocon/woke crossover. Moreover, Afghanistan’s GDP – after so much American “help” – remains even lower than Saudi-bombed Yemen’s.

Exceptionalistan will not leave Afghanistan. A deadline of May 1st was negotiated in Doha last year for the US/NATO to remove all troops. That’s not gonna happen.

The spin is already turbocharged: the Deep State handlers of Joe “Crash Test Dummy” Biden will not respect the deadline. Everyone familiar with the New Great Game on steroids across Eurasia knows why: a strategic lily pad must be maintained at the intersection of Central and South Asia to help closely monitor – what else – Brzezinski’s worst nightmare: the Russia-China strategic partnership.

As it stands we have 2,500 Pentagon + 7,000 NATO troops + a whole lot of “contractors” in Afghanistan. The spin is that they can’t leave because the Taliban – which de facto control from 52% to as much as 70% of the whole tribal territory – will take over.

To see, in detail, how this whole sorry saga started, non-oracle skeptics could do worse than check Volume 3 of my Asia Times archives: Forever Wars: Afghanistan-Iraq, part 1 (2001-2004) . Part 2 will be out soon. Here they will find how the multi-trillion dollar Forever Wars – so essential to “preserve the peace” – actually developed on the ground, in total contrast to the official imperial narrative influenced, and defended, by Kagan.

With oracles like these, the US definitely does not need enemies.

Washington to Organize Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to Challenge Russia in the Black Sea

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research, February 15, 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 27 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

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One of Washington’s main strategic objectives is to consolidate and organize Eastern European states to oppose and contain Russia. Supporting Black Sea countries against Russia has become a major American priority as Turkey is now an unreliable partner, and therefore Washington is attempting to create a new alliance officially outside of the NATO structure but attached to it indirectly. The creation of a military bloc between Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova is a Washington-led initiative, but is unlikely to have any major impact in limiting Russian influence.

Last week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba revealed details of his conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Kuleba said that Kiev, with the support of Washington, will start forming a trilateral military alliance comprising of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Although Moldova is not directly on the Black Sea like Ukraine and Georgia, it does have relatively easy access via the Port of Giurgiulești on the Danube River. The bold statements by Kiev’s leaders do not usually provoke significant global interest, but this is special as the order came directly from the White House. Therefore, it unsurprisingly proves a continuation of Washington’s hostile policies towards Russia under new U.S. President Joe Biden.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, almost immediately after Blinken’s endorsement, began to check the combat readiness of his troops in Donbass and stopped the transmission of “pro-Russian” television stations on February 3. Then a week later on February 10, Ukraine made a provocative proposal to NATO by urging the Alliance to use the airspace in the Simferopol Flight Information Region (FIR) over Russia’s Crimean Peninsula for its operations.

The Simferopol FIR includes Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast, the Crimean Peninsula and the central part of the Black Sea. International air routes over Crimea have been banned by Eurocontrol (European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation) as the Simferopol dispatch center is Russian operated and the only flights to Crimea come from Russia. The sky above the peninsula and the adjacent waters of the Black and Azov Seas are effectively protected by the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Russian Navy. Therefore, Ukraine’s invitation for NATO to fly over Crimea with military aircraft is an insidious military ingenuity and an attempt by Zelensky to force the Alliance into a conflict with Russia.Georgia and Ukraine Joining NATO Will Likely Have the Opposite Effect Against Russia

The intensification of Ukrainian military operations in Donbass, even with the promised support of the U.S., will only lead to a new humanitarian catastrophe, but more importantly a changing of the frontlines that will not be in Kiev’s favor. We cannot overlook that the Donbass People’s Militia defeated the Ukrainian Armed Forces and their advance was only halted because of orders from Moscow. President Vladimir Putin has already announced that he will never allow the repression of Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine to occur, but authorities in Kiev have not shown any sign in ending their hostilities.

Kiev, as well as decisionmakers in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, dream of complete NATO support in any future war against Russia. Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia in 2008 and Ukraine’s military actions against Donbass in 2014 should serve as stark reminders that NATO is not willing to go to war with Russia for their sake. This is even despite Washington’s encouragement for these countries to be openly hostile against Russia.

In the Global Firepower military ranking, Poland ranks 23. The Pentagon has promised to assist Warsaw within five days of any conflict breaking out. However, recent computer simulations of a possible conflict between Poland and an adversary from its east (i.e. Russia) suggest that assistance will be shortcoming. Given the logistical problems, a five-day transfer of U.S. troops to Poland is an overly optimistic forecast. Using the realistic background of Poland which directly borders several friendly states, such as Germany which has a huge contingent of American soldiers, the geographical separation between Ukraine and Georgia is discouraging if they are supposed to be in an alliance to counter and/or contain Russia.

A hypothetical military bloc between Ukraine (ranked 25 by Global Firepower), Georgia (ranked 92) and Moldova (ranked 107) seems extremely unconvincing in being able to contain Russia. Although Moldova has a “non-aligned” Constitution, new Russophobic President Maia Sandu is more than willing to carry out demands made by Washington.

The U.S. and NATO are attempting to turn the post-Soviet space into a state of permanent military hostility and conflict as they believe it is the best guarantee for Western countries to keep Russia distracted and weak. However, close coordination between Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova is unlikely to be a major concern for Russia in security terms as they don’t have navies.

As Turkey has become an unreliable NATO member, the U.S. is hedging their bets on NATO members Bulgaria and Romania, and NATO-friendly states like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, to serve Turkey’s role in pressuring Russia in the Black Sea. Although the U.S. and Turkey conducted military exercises in the Black Sea to the condemnation of Moscow only days ago, there is little suggestion that if a conflict broke out in the Black Sea involving NATO and Russia, Turkey will commit to its Alliance obligations. It is for this reason that Washington is pushing Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to more closely cooperate with NATO against Russia despite not being Alliance members.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

Featured image is from InfoBrics

The Headless Chicken and the Bear

THE SAKER • FEBRUARY 9, 2021 

Introducing the headless chicken

The EU has a major problem: it is run by a comprador class which is entirely dependent on the United States. Okay, that by itself is not the problem I am referring to. The problem I am referring to is one we could call the problem of the decapitated chicken: a decapitated chicken can run without a head, but it sure does not know where it is running or why. This happens to all comprador classes when their beloved masters suddenly vanish. This is exactly what happened to the European ruling classes when Trump came to the White House: they “lost their head” and they began running all over the place, obviously achieving nothing. Now that the Neocons gave Trump the boot, the EU rulers are desperate to show the new US leaders that they only hated Trump, not the US, and what better way to show your complete submission than by barking at the Asiatic Mordor of the East known as “Russia”?

This latest PSYOP was apparently organized in the US last fall, while Trump was still in power, at least nominally. This makes sense, just like the huge “Patriot Act” was carefully prepared months, if not years before 9/11 happened. This time around, some US intelligence agency (probably the CIA) then passed the baby to the German BND which was supposed to act as an intermediary to give the US “plausible deniability”. The big problem is that the Germans apparently screwed things up, and the plan was a flop: the latest sacral victim failed to die (again!). As for Putin, he used his executive power to allow Navalnyi (who was on parole) to immediately fly to Germany for treatment as soon as the Russian medics stabilized him. From there on, everything went south and Navalnyi’s curators scrambled to save whatever could be saved.

They produced a movie about Putin’s palace in Crimea, only to have Russian reporters film the location and prove that this movie was a total fake. Then they sent Navalnyi back to Russia figuring that if the Russian authorities arrested him huge protests would follow or, alternatively, if the Russians did nothing, Navalnyi would be able to create chaos during an important election year in Russia. This resulted in another flop, not only were the crowds in Russia small, their behavior was deeply offensive and even frightening to most Russians who have seen enough Maidans and color revolutions to know how this stuff ends. As for Navalnyi, he was arrested immediately upon landing, and his parole was revoked.

Of course, all this was reported very differently in what I call Zone A, but while this made it possible for the authors of this PSYOP to conceal the magnitude of their failure, in the rest of the world and, especially, in Russia, it was pretty clear that this ridiculous buffoonery had failed. That outcome presented the EU headless chicken with a major problem: on one hand, we protest about “Putin murdering his own people with combat gasses” while on the other we are about to complete North Stream 2 (NS2), which we need to remain competitive; if we continue, we will lose NS2 and we will alienate Russia even further, but if we stop acting like an idiot on suicide watch, our overseas masters will make us pay. EU leaders obviously failed agree on a plan so, just like a headless chicken, they ran in all directions at the same time: they publicly protested, but also sent as top official, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell, to try to appease the Russians. Borrell actually did a decent job trying to placate the Russians, but this time something went very wrong. Not only was Foreign Minister Lavrov very blunt in his public comments, the Russians also expelled 3 EU diplomats for participating in the demonstrations even while Borrell and Lavrov were talking. This is when the proverbial bovine excreta hit the fan, at least in EU whose “watchdog media” (here I use the term “watchdog” as meaning “immediately barking at anybody daring to stray from the official propaganda line”) went crazy and accused Borrell of caving in to the Russians. Some even demanded Borrell’s resignation. As for Borrell himself, he did what all western officials do after a visit to Moscow: he changed his tune as soon as he came back home. Finally, Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, added that “The task [of Borrell] was to carry out a public flogging, which, I think, they planned very carefully, it was a cascade of topics: talks about rallies, talks about journalists, and making [Alexey] Navalny the main theme of the discussion”. According to Zakharova, this plan failed because Russia insisted on discussing the “real issues“.

Interestingly, the Russians did not expel any US diplomats (at least not yet) in spite of the fact that these officials all agreed that the origin of the PSYOP was from overseas and in spite of the quasi-certainty that US officials must have been present, at least in the Moscow and Saint Petersburg protests. To its credit, the US embassy in Moscow did recommend to all US citizens that they stay away from illegal demonstrations. This is an ongoing crisis and by the time this analysis is posted, things might have changed dramatically. My purpose today is not to look at the US or the EU, but at what I believe is a major shift in Russian policy.

At this point, we should not see the expulsions of the 3 EU diplomats as anything more than just a “shot across the bow”, a way to indicate that the winds have changed. But these expulsions are not big enough to qualify as a real, painful, retaliation. Why?

Because the real slap in the collective face of the EU was the press conference of Lavrov and Borrell in which Lavrov was truly uniquely direct and candid. For example, Lavrov bluntly said ” We are proceeding from the assumption that the EU is not a reliable partner, at least at the current stage. I hope that in future strategic attention will be given to the EU’s fundamental interest in its closest neighbours and that the talks we have held today will promote movement to a more constructive trajectory. We are ready for this“.

Translated from diplospeak into plain English, this means 1) we are fed up with you and 2) we don’t need you.

This blunt statement is what triggered all the subsequent hysterics in Brussels about Borrell being ill treated by the Russians and Borrell’s subsequent declaration that “Russia does not want a constructive dialog” and that the EU must now decide if it still wants to get closer to Russia or if it wants to distance itself from a country slipping into authoritarianism.

In western parlance the degree of “democratism” or “authoritarianism” is solely defined by the willingness of a country to be a satrapy of the Empire. Under this definition, all sovereign countries are “dictatorships” and all AngloZionist satrapies are paragons of democracy.

Has the Russian bear had enough?

Just two weeks ago I wrote that With “Biden” in the White House, the Kremlin Now Needs to Change Gear and I believe that this is exactly what we are seeing today. Here is my evidence:

  • The tone of the Russian has changed and is much more direct and blunt
  • The fact that the three EU diplomats were expelled while Borrell was in Moscow was a very deliberate slap in the EU’s collective face
  • The tone of the Russian media has also changed, journalists and experts are all expressing their utter disgust with the EU and are calling for less words and more actions
  • The NS2 lobby in Russia (who advocated a policy of total non-confrontation at least until NS2 was completed) is rather absent from the public discourse. This might mean that this lobby has thrown in the towel or, alternatively, that the block I call “Eurasian sovereignists” does not consider NS2 as vital for Russia (they are correct, by the way) and that putting the squeeze on the EU is much more important (again, I agree with them here too).
  • The EU’s other anti-Russian vendetta, I am referring to the recent attempt at overthrowing Lukashenko, has also failed. However, this PSYOP was so rude and crude, and the EU acted with such arrogance that it really gave Russia no other option than to take action, not only by flying Tu-160s along the Belarussian border or by selling S-400s, but also by using highly symbolic diplomatic countermeasures.
  • The Russian Aerospace Forces (2 Su-24M, 2 Su-27s and 2 Su-30SM) have conducted mock missile strikes against USN ships as soon as they entered the southern waters of the Black Sea. Note: the same day Chinese aircraft conducted a mock attack on a US carrier in the Pacific.
  • Russia has now deployed both the Bal and even the formidable Bastion coastal missile defense systems. This, combined with the formidable capabilities of the Southern Military District and the Black Sea Fleet which turns the entire Black Sea into a shooting range and any hostile ship into an easy target for the Russians. Clearly, the Russians are fed up with the arrogance of the USN.
  • Defense Minister Shoigu has just announced a major increase in the production of high-precision and hypersonic weapons.

These are just a few examples of a much longer list of changes which are taking place before our eyes.

So far, the EU did not get the message at all. At least officially. But witnessing the infighting taking place not only over Borrell’s trip, but also about what to do about vaccines (The Lancet has just posted a major article entitled “Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine candidate appears safe and effective” which basically said that all the western nonsense about Sputnik-V being BOTH 1) unsafe AND 2) ineffective were lies) I can clearly see that the EU rulers are seriously worried. Right now it sure looks like the EU is losing the “COVID propaganda war” and that all these russophobic states (except the hardcore nutcases of 3B+PU) will have to now ask Russia for her vaccines. So far the only official EU reaction was to expel 3 Russian diplomats and somewhat protest. But these are clearly the opening shots of a much longer confrontation between Russia and the EU.

The crucial factor to consider here is this: while the aggregate power of the US+NATO+EU+5EYES is bigger than Russia’s, the mental paralysis of the EU leaders makes the EU alone already much weaker than Russia. Of course, since Biden’s administration is a who’s who of the most hysterical russophobes imaginable, chances are that the US will interfere and attempt to back the anti-Russian factions in the EU. Considering the tone used by Russian officials over the latest USN provocations in the Black Sea and the Sea of Japan, I don’t doubt the Kremlin’s determination to act both in words and with actions.

And then there are the subtle threats which the general public is rarely exposed to. The latest example is a highly specialized article entitled “Rationale for the combat use of aviation to disrupt an integrated massive air strike during a multi-domain operation of the enemy” which explains how Russia could disrupt and defeat a NATO attack. I won’t go into all the (very interesting) details here, but I will just say that the authors declare that Russia can go from a policy of deterrence by nuclear forces to a policy of (conventional) deterrence by having the means to “inflict comprehensive defeat (upon NATO countries) using all types of weapons within the deterrence of inflicting an unacceptable complex defeat on it with all types of weapons within the framework of preventive actions under the conditions of the danger of local war threatening the Russian Federation“. In truth, this is not the only Russian specialized article discussing the future of warfare, and what makes this one truly unique is that RT, of all places, decided to post an article about it entitled “Russian Air Force experts publish plan to neutralize NATO forces in all-out war with bombing strikes“. This really looks like the Kremlin wanted to make absolutely sure that western politicians (as opposed to western military analysts who read that stuff on a daily basis anyway) would think long and hard about what US military plans for NATO really would mean for the EU.

Then there is the outcome of the Polish military command staff exercise Winter-20 which resulted in, I kid you not, Russia completely defeating the Polish military in 5 days only! (For details, see herehere or here). Again, there is nothing really new here, the US and/or NATO have conducted plenty of exercises which had the “Russian hordes” defeating the “forces of democracy and progress”. And, again, the real difference was in the Russian coverage of this news: for the first time the Russians openly made fun of NATO and of the (always paranoid and insanely russophobic) Poles. In truth, the Russians always knew that the Polish military is as good on pompous ceremonies and parades as it is inept on the battlefield, but that kind of open contempt is something new, at least from the state supported media.

So far, the EU clearly is not coming to terms with this new reality. The latest (breathtakingly stupid) EU plan to try to scare “Putin” (here “Putin” is the collective Kremlin boogeyman, not necessarily VVP): Svetlana Tikhanovskaia has appealed to the wife of Navalnyi, Iulia, to become the “she president of Russia”. Yes, seriously. Iulia Navalnaia as President of Russia!

As for Navalnyi’s supporters in the EU, they have decided to create a Russian government in exile. Again, this is not a joke. By the way, the “Minister of Foreign Affairs” of this “Russian Government in Exile”, Leonid Volkov, initially declared that the illegal riots should be halted, only to be told otherwise by his handlers. He immediately made a required 180 and declared that protests will resume. This is how Maria Zakharova bluntly, and very officially, reacted on Facebook to his “change of mind”: (minimally fixed machine translation)

NATO doubles down

On February 4, 2021, Volkov declared that the protests in Russia were canceled and will resume in the spring and summer. “We will not hold a rally next weekend…The wave of protest must end at a high point. Because if we continue to decline, it will be terribly demotivating and frustrating for everyone… We will prepare well and hold something big both in the spring and in the summer. We will never give up our demands.” Then, on February 9, 2021, Volkov changed his mind and announced that the campaign will continue in February. “We’ll make it much trickier” he added. What happened between February 4 and 9 and forced the “opposition” to radically change tactics? Everything is quite simple – on February 8, 2021, an online meeting with Volkov and Ashurkov took place at the Permanent Mission of Poland to the EU in Brussels, in which EU countries, the United States, and Britain took part. And in fact-this was a meeting of the NATO countries. The NATO members instructed the “opposition”, and in fact their agents of influence, how to continue “more cunning” to conduct subversive work. Too much money and resources have already been invested by the West in this story to wait until spring. They clearly understand: in the spring, the information campaign pumped up by Westerners will be blown away. They can no longer juggle the topic of “chemical weapons” without presenting the facts – they are pinned to the wall. So they double down.

As for Navalnyi and his supporters, Zakarova was even more direct, saying “stop calling them opposition, they are NATO agents!”.

As I have explained many times, western politicians double down not when they feel strong, they double down when they feel weak and when they place their hopes in the willingness of the other side not to seriously further escalate.

And, just to make sure that the Empire can win the battle for the “hearts and minds” of the Russian people, the Brits are now counting (again) on Pussy Riot to release a song in support of protests. Again, while this does sound like a joke, it is not.

Now comes the best part: there are a lot of signs that the EU will, again under the pious pretext of “solidarity” follow the 3B+PU politicians and, if not recognize such a government in exile, at least treat its members as real officials. That is also supposed to also terrify the Kremlin, I guess. But if that is the best the EU can come up with, VVP and the people of Russia, can sleep in peace.

So where do we go from here?

Making predictions is a tricky thing when dealing with both 1) countries with limited agency/sovereignty and 2) countries led by incompetent/delusional politicians. The many theories of deterrence out there all assume what is called a “rational actor” and a truly sovereign state. What is certain is that the Empire and its EU protectorates will only increase what I call “petty harassment measures” to try to offend and humiliate Russia (stuff like this crap). In response to such “ankle biting” Russia will do two things: drop any pretense of diplomacy and denounce these “ankle bites” for what they are (provocations) and further turn to Zone B (aka “reliable partners”) for partnerships. Russia will also bluntly spell out to the Europeans the risks they are taking with their ill-conceived sabre rattling along the Russian border. Sadly, this probably means that, just as the Chinese Navy recently, the Russian Aerospace Forces and Navies will have order to engage any aircraft or vessel threatening Russia (so far these are only rumors, but they are persistent and seem to have strong backing in the Duma). This is a very dangerous development as western politicians, being primarily ideological (and, therefore, delusional) creatures will always prefer to play a game of (headless) chicken hoping that the other guy will back down. The fact that the “other guy” (both Russian and Chinese) in the past did, indeed, back down and show restraint only further encourages western politicians to double down forever no matter what. For these reasons I would call the probability of an actual military clash between US/NATO and/or Russia/China as “likely in 2021”. As for the future of NS2, I always assumed that EU politicians can count their Euros and realize that the EU needs that project way more than Russia. Frankly, I am not so sure now: counting on the mental abilities of a headless chicken is probably not a good idea! Neither is counting on the courage of the type of politicians whom Boris Johnson once called “supine invertebrate protoplasmic jellies“.

It appears that Russia and the EU are on a direct collision course. Frankly, I welcome it, in spite of the obvious dangers. Why? Because nothing except a real confrontation can bring EU politicians down to the real world back from the La-La land they currently live in. The Russian bear needs to smack down the headless chicken. Hard.

The West uses trustfulness of Russians

The Saker

The West uses trustfulness of Russians

The Russians should hate their state, their authorities, and then Russia will sink into chaos and become weaker. It seems the Russians had to develop an antidote against such a primitive approach.

original text by Petr Akopov
translated for the Saker blog by Olga
source: https://m.vz.ru/opinions/2021/1/20/1080946.html

Among the loud and quite predictable campaign in the West in response to detention of Alexei Navalny – with declaring him a “prisoner of conscience”, demands to free him immediately b threats of sanctions – the most indicative is this one: “Kremlin attacks on Navalny is not simply violation of human rights? It’s an insult of the people of Russia, who want their voice to be heard/

This is the statement by Jack Sallivan who becomes an advisor on national security for POTUS. This is the core of Western policy towards Russia.

Here is what they sell us: “friends of Russian people” (the most russophobic-minded western politicians always specify that their claims are not to the people, but to the authorities, and the poor people moan under the yoke of authorities) want to convince the people of Russia that they give them a helping hand. It’s not necessary to be an expert in history in relationships between Russia and the West, not necessary even to know Russian history to see this endlessly repeated approach – “tyranny regime” in Russia is dangerous for the world and its own citizens and is seeking to suppress all neighbouring people and oppresses its own people, only true heroes challenge it, so the West helps them with all means in their hard but noble struggle/

This is such a stable structure that it doesn’t change for many centuries. And it is considering that during the last 104 years in Russia there were three absolutely different forms of government and ideological patterns of power. That is to believe that Russian authorities threatened the world and its own people under the tzars, under bolshevics and under Putin the person should be either typical russophobe or typical idiot.

We won’t remind the times of Ivan Groznyi or Peter the Great – at that time they also tried to frighten the children but media and communications didn’t allow to address to “suffering Russian people” directly. However, the last two hundred years they apply this very pattern – “Russian authorities do not express the opinion of the people, so we will speak on his behalf” – we mean the West.

Yes, the is here because nor Herzen, nor Lenin, nor white immigrants, nor Solzhenitsyn were of any interest for our western “friends”. That is their real views, aspirations, struggles, tosses, and searches – all of it is just the pretext to confirm the simple propaganda thesis: the authorities in Russia have nothing to do with people, the power is a tyrany and it’s occupational that’s why the people should (no – they dream of!) to overthrow it and we’ll help them with the best of our abilities. All this structure serves absolutely pragmatic geopolitical interests of deterrence or even submission of Russia. That’s why the help to Russian people in its nature always turns out to be a military intervention and sometimes is limited to information war.

Russians should hate their authorities, their state (even better – their history). And then Russia will sink in unrest and become weaker. It seems Russians should develop an antidote against such a primitive method long ago. But there is a problem – one of the main our qualities is very strong self-reflection, empathy, doubt in everything and everybody. Together with our civilizational pursuit of justice it makes us exceptionally trusting nation. It isn’t gullibility of fools. It is trustfullness of honest people searching for truth and considering every person who speaks about fairness to be an honest and good man.

Many times it backfired us, but the main deterring factor was always the same – reasonable and responsible authorities. Though only till the moment when in authority and elite in general there was no critical mass (not the majority, even some minority) of people who had no experience of working through the consequences of imposing “starry-eyed dreams”. Then there happened a division during which the most irresponsible and adventurous part of elite took over speculating on people’s aspirations. The country fell into unrest, division and nearly perished.

But how much the West loved and praised it! What praises to “people’s authority” were sung by the “friends of Russian people” – both after February 1917 and August-December 1991. At last Russian people threw off the tzar (communist) yoke, at last the best people came to power! Now Russia will become a part of civilized world which gladly will hold it in its arms!

These were the moments when Russia fell apart and perished and its geopolitical rivals divided it into spheres of influence and bought its treasures cheap. But when Russia began to restore that very moment it was declared a threat to humanity and its authorities were claimed tyranny and anti-popular. This fairy tale is old enough – it’s time to repeat it?

The Destructive Plan Behind the Biden Russia Agenda

January 31, 2021

[Note by the Saker: as most of you know, I don’t do reposts (see here why).  This time, however, I decided to make a small exception to this rule and I emailed William and asked him for the permission to repost his excellent article on the hardcore russophobic elements inside Biden’s team.  William has very kindly allowed me to do so, so here it is below]

The Destructive Plan Behind the Biden Russia Agenda

by William Engdahl, reposted by special permission

source: http://www.williamengdahl.com/englishNEO29Jan2021.php

The new Biden Administration has from day one made it clear it will adopt a hostile and aggressive policy against the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin. The policy behind this stance has nothing to do with any foul deeds Putin’s Russia may or may not have committed against the West. It has nothing to do with absurd allegations that Putin had pro-US dissident Alexei Navalny poisoned with the ultra-deadly Novichok nerve agent. In has to do with a far deeper agenda of the globalist Powers That Be. That agenda is what is being advanced now.

The Cabinet choices of Joe Biden reveal much. His key foreign policy picks–Tony Blinken as Secretary of State and Victoria Nuland as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Bill Burns as CIA head; Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor ; Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence—all are from the Obama-Biden Administration and all have worked closely together. As well, all see Russia, not China, as the prime security threat to the United States’ global hegemony.

As candidate, Joe Biden stated this often. His key foreign policy choices underscore that the focus with the Biden Administration, regardless how fit Biden himself is, will shift from the China threats to that of Putin’s Russia. Biden’s CIA head, Bill Burns, is a former Ambassador to Moscow and was Deputy Secretary of State during the Obama CIA coup d’etat in Ukraine in 2014. Notably, when Burns left State in November 2014 he was succeeded by Tony Blinken, now Secretary of State. Blinken reportedly formulated the US State Department response to Russia’s Crimea annexation.

Nuland is key

All Biden choices are uniformly clear in blaming Putin’s Russia for everything from US election interference in 2016 to the recent SolarWinds US government computer hack, to every other claim aired against Russia in recent years, whether proven or not.

In trying to determine what the new Biden Administration and the US intelligence agencies have in store towards Putin and Russia, however, the best indication is the prominent role being given to Victoria Nuland, the person, together with then-Vice President Joe Biden, who ran the political side of the US coup d’etat in Ukraine in 2013-14. She infamously was wire-tapped in a phone call to the US Ambassador in Kiev during the Maidan Square 2013-14 protests, telling the Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, regarding EU choices for a new Ukraine regime, “F**k the EU.” Her husband, Robert Kagan is a notorious Washington neocon.

On leaving government on Trump’s election in 2016, Nuland became a Senior Counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group, headed by former Clinton Secretary of State Madeline Albright who is also chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) affiliate, National Democratic Institute. Nuland also joined the Board of the NED, after 2016, keeping in close contact with NED regime change operations. She is a Russia expert, fluent in Russian and a specialist in toppling regimes.

As Obama Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasian and European Affairs in 2013, Nuland worked closely with Vice President Joe Biden to put into power Arseniy Yatsenyuk in a US-friendly and Russia-hostile Ukraine coup. She fostered months of protest against the regime of the elected President of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovych, to force his ouster after his decision to join the Russian Eurasian Economic Union. Founder of the private intelligence group Stratfor, George Friedman, in an interview just after the February 2014 coup in Kiev, called it “the most blatant coup in (US) history.”

New Initiatives

In a major article in the August, 2020 Foreign Affairs, journal of the New York Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Nuland outlines what most likely will be US strategy for undermining Russia in the coming months. She complains that, “resignation has set in about the state of US-Russian relations, and Americans have lost confidence in their own ability to change the game.” In other words, she is about “changing the game” with Putin. She charges that in the past 12 years, “Russia has violated arms control treaties; fielded new, destabilizing weapons; threatened Georgia’s sovereignty; seized Crimea and much of the Donbass; and propped up despots in Libya, Syria, and Venezuela. It has used cyber-weapons against foreign banks, electrical grids, and government systems; interfered in foreign democratic elections; and assassinated its enemies on European soil.”

She goes on to say the repeated US economic sanctions on select Russian banks and companies as well as Putin backers have done little to change Russian policy, claiming that, ”US and allied sanctions, although initially painful, have grown leaky or impotent with overuse and no longer impress the Kremlin.”

But Nuland suggests that Putin’s Russia today is vulnerable as never in the past 20 years: “the one thing that should worry the Russian president: the mood inside Russia. Despite Putin’s power moves abroad, 20 years of failing to invest in Russia’s modernization may be catching up with him. In 2019, Russia’s GDP growth was an anemic 1.3 percent. This year, the coronavirus pandemic and the free fall in oil prices could result in a significant economic contraction…Russia’s roads, rails, schools, and hospitals are crumbling. Its citizens have grown restive as promised infrastructure spending never appears, and their taxes and the retirement age are going up. Corruption remains rampant, and Russians’ purchasing power continues to shrink.”

In her CFR article Nuland advocates using, “Facebook, YouTube, and other digital platforms… there is no reason why Washington and its allies shouldn’t be more willing to give Putin a dose of his own medicine inside Russia, while maintaining the same deniability.” She adds that because Russians widely use the Internet and it is largely open, “Despite Putin’s best efforts, today’s Russia is more permeable. Young Russians are far more likely to consume information and news via the Internet than through state-sponsored TV or print media. Washington should try to reach more of them where they are: on the social networks  Odnoklassniki and VKontakte; on Facebook, Telegram, and YouTube; and on the many new Russian-language digital platforms springing up.”

Navalny

Around the time Nuland submitted her July-August Foreign Affairs article, perennial Putin opponent, Alexey Navalny was in Berlin, ostensibly recovering from what he claims was an attempt by Putin’s intelligence to kill him with highly toxic nerve agent, Novichok. Navalny, a US-educated opposition figure who was a Yale University Fellow in 2010 has been trying to gain a strong following for well over a decade, has been documented receiving money from Nuland’s National Endowment for Democracy, whose founder in the 1990s described it as doing, “what the CIA used to do, but privately.” In 2018 according to NPR in the US, Navalny had more than six million YouTube subscribers and more than two million Twitter followers. How many are bots paid by US intelligence is not known. Now, five months after exile in Berlin, Navalny makes a bold return where he knew he faced likely jail for past charges. It was obviously a clear calculation by his Western sponsors.

The US government’s NGO for Color Revolution regime change, the NED, in a piece published on January 25 echoes Nuland’s call for a social media-led destabilization of Putin. Writing about the Moscow arrest of Navalny just three days before the Biden inauguration, the NED states that, “By creating a model of guerrilla political warfare for the digital age, Navalny has exposed the regime’s utter lack of imagination and inability….” They add, “Putin is in a Catch-22: If Putin kills Navalny, it could draw more attention to the problem and exacerbate unrest. If Putin lets Navalny live, then Navalny remains a focus for resistance, whether he is in prison or not… Navalny has very much outmaneuvered Putin at each turn since the poisoning. It’s becoming a bit humiliating for him.”

Since his alleged botched poisoning in August in Russian Far East, Navalny was allowed by the Russian government to fly to Berlin for treatment, a strange act if indeed Putin and Russian intelligence had really wanted him dead. What clearly took place in the intervening five months in exile suggests that Navalny’s return was professionally prepared by unnamed Western intelligence regime change specialists. The Kremlin has claimed intelligence that shows Navalny was directly being tutored while in exile by CIA specialists.

On Navalny’s Moscow arrest January 17, his anti-corruption NGO released a sophisticated YouTube documentary on Navalny’s channel, purporting to show a vast palace alleged to belong to Putin on the Black Sea, filmed with use of a drone, no small feat. In the video Navalny calls on Russians to march against the alleged billion dollar “Putin Palace” to protest corruption.

Navalny, who clearly is being backed by sophisticated US information warfare specialists and groups such as the NED, is likely being told to build a movement to challenge United Russia party candidates in the September Duma elections where Putin isn’t a candidate. He has even been given a new tactic, which he calls a “smart voting” strategy, a hallmark NED tactic.

Stephen Sestanovich, New York Council on Foreign Relations Russia expert and former board member of the NED, suggested the likely game plan of the new Biden team. On January 25 Sestanovich wrote in the CFR blog, “The Putin regime remains strong, but nationwide protests in support of Alexei Navalny are the most serious challenge to it in years. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny is showing a political creativity and tactical skill that Putin has not previously faced. If the protests continue, they could reveal vulnerabilities in his decades-long hold on power.” This was two days after Russia-wide protests demanding Navalny’s release from jail. “With his bold decision to return to Moscow and the release of a widely viewed video purporting to expose regime corruption, Navalny has shown himself to be a capable and imaginative political figure—even from jail, perhaps the most formidable adversary Putin has faced,” he wrote. “The strategic sophistication of Navalny’s team is underscored both by its video release and, before that, by its exposé of the Federal Security Services (FSB) personnel who poisoned him last summer.”

The clear decision of the Biden team to name a former Moscow ambassador to head the CIA and Victoria Nuland to No. 3 position at the State Department, along with his other intelligence choices indicate that destabilizing Russia will be a prime focus of Washington going forward. As the NED gleefully put it, “Navalny’s arrest, three days before Biden’s inauguration former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says, has all the makings of “Biden’s first foreign policy crisis. Whatever was in their transition documents, this is now front and center for them.”

The reason however is not because of domestic corruption by Putin’s inner circle, true or not. Biden could care less. Rather it is the very existence of Russia under Putin as an independent sovereign nation that tries to defend that national identity, whether in military defense or in defense of a traditionally conservative Russian culture. Ever since the US-backed NED destabilization of the Soviet Union in 1990 during the Bush Administration, it has been NATO policy and that of the influential financial interests behind NATO to break Russia into many parts, dismantle the state and loot what is left of its huge raw materials resources. The globalist Great Reset has no room for independent nation states like Russia is the message that the new Biden team will clearly convey now.
——-
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei

November 27, 2020

Source

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei

While this press conference contains a shorter Belarus update, it has a wider context and is posted to illustrate Foreign Minister Lavrov’s clear expression of irritation with the west, which he now covers in each of his routine press conferences.  In this one, he handles among other topics, protests across the world, Heiko Maas, Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CMCE), International agencies, including the Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner being silent and not doing their jobs, as well as strategic stability.

Joint session of the collegiums of the Russian and Belarusian Foreign Ministries, November 26, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have held a joint session of the collegiums of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Belarusian Foreign Ministry. By tradition, it took place in a confidential and truly friendly atmosphere.

Using this opportunity, I would like to thank again our Belarusian friends for their traditional hospitality and excellent organisation of work. We highly value these annual meetings in the format of members of the collegiums and other representatives of the two ministries’ top management. They allow us to discuss in detail the most urgent international issues that involve the interests of our countries and need to be addressed.

Despite the complicated epidemiological situation, we managed to meet offline and talk face to face. We had four items on our agenda: relations of our countries with the European Union, participation in UN peacekeeping missions (in part, in the context of the prospects of the CSTO’s involvement in the UN peacekeeping activities), cooperation in the EAEU on forming the Greater Eurasian Partnership and ways of ensuring international information security.

We achieved specific agreements on all of these issues. They are reflected in a resolution that we signed in addition to the plan of consultations between our foreign ministries in 2021. We also spoke about broader cooperation in international organisations, including the CIS, CSTO, EAEU, UN and OSCE.

We and our Belarusian colleagues had to state that unfortunately our US-led Western partners continue persistently promoting their narrow selfish interests in a bid to preserve their hegemony in the world arena. They are using the concept of the “rules-based” world order, setting it directly against universal, commonly recognised standards of international law, including the UN Charter.

We are concerned about the attempts by the Western countries to establish control over international organisations, up to and including privatisation of their secretariats. When this fails, they try to replace collective work in universal formats with private get-togethers where all those who agree with the Western policy make decisions that are later presented as multilateral and binding. It is hardly possible to make us follow these rules. The overwhelming majority of countries are firmly committed to the old, tried-and-tested principle – respect for international law, primarily the UN Charter.

We noted numerous facts of crude interference by the US and those who follow in its wake (I am referring to some European capitals) in the internal affairs of sovereign states. The dirty methods of colour revolutions continue to be used. These include manipulation of public opinion, instigation and support of overtly anti-government forces and contribution to their radicalisation. We are seeing how these methods are being applied to the Republic of Belarus. We spoke about this in detail today both with Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei and President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, who received us before this meeting.

We were informed in great detail about the current developments in Belarus. We are not indifferent to them. The Republic of Belarus is our ally and strategic partner and also a fraternal nation. We are interested in a calm and stable situation in that country. This will be facilitated by the Constitutional reform that was launched by the Belarusian leadership as a major transformation of the political, economic and legal systems.

We believe the Belarusian people are wise and always act in a balanced manner. They are capable of resolving their problems without any outside prompting or obtrusive proposals on unwanted mediation. It is obvious that attempts to jeopardise normalisation are being made. There are many examples of this: a desire to radicalise the protesters, encouraging people to engage in subversion and high treason, which are made, in part, from abroad.

Today we again reviewed in detail the entire range of our ties and ways of protecting the interests of each of our countries, as well as the interests of the Union State of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation.

I would like to emphasise again that we are content with our joint discussion. We will carry out everything we have agreed on today.

Question (addressed to both ministers): On November 18, 2020, your German counterpart Heiko Maas accused the authorities of Belarus of violently suppressing peaceful protests. Having said this, he urged the Council of Europe to use its instruments for monitoring the situation even in those European countries that do not want to join the organisation. Could you comment on this, please?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Vladimir Makei):  We took note of how Germany took over the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CMCE). German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas first made a speech at a closed CMCE meeting and then held a news conference. His speech was unconventional for the presidency of this pan-European body because the main goal of the Council of Europe, which is recorded in its statute, is to promote greater unity of all European countries. By definition, the President, all the more so in the Council of Europe, must focus on enhancing unity in his future work rather than stir up confrontation.

It is no secret that at the CMCE meeting prior to that news conference, Heiko Maas presented his programme for the next sixth months in a politicised vein and unacceptable tone, in a crude, undiplomatic manner. He made a number of Russophobic statements. He had grievances not only as regards the Republic of Belarus but also made groundless Russophobic accusations in respect of Crimea, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria and southeastern Ukraine. His opinion on the Nagorno-Karabakh agreement also sounded rather strange.

At the news conference Mr Maas urged everyone “to respect the rules-based order.” Our Western colleagues are not going to respect international law as a matter of principle. He did say that the principles of the Council of Europe must be imposed by using relevant instruments, including on those countries that are not members of the Council of Europe. I consider this absolutely unacceptable.

It is indeed strange that of all countries it is Germany that has recently decided to act as a driver of aggressive approaches to the countries that are not NATO or EU members.

Those who are objective and pay attention to double standards will note that neither Mr Maas, nor other Western representatives or UN human rights agencies have said a word about rather serious incidents in France and Germany. There were protests by yellow vests in France, demonstrations against COVID restrictions in Germany and some other countries, and protests against a ban on abortions in Poland. They were dispersed in a very tough manner.

International agencies, including the Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner, stayed silent. Human rights champions in France covered the yellow vests protests in a completely different manner than they cover events in Russia and Belarus. Only in the beginning did they cautiously urge the sides to overcome their differences. But later the yellow vests began to encounter a tough police response. In the estimate of French human rights activists, almost 15,000 rubber bullets were shot at the protesters; 2,500 people were wounded and 12,000 detained, including 2,000 who were sentenced, in part, to real prison terms. But nobody speaks about this. This is considered normal because these are their compatriots. It is necessary to get rid of this attitude, especially for those who head the Council of Europe.

About a month ago, Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric asked us in Moscow about our assessments of the events in the Republic of Belarus. She received our answers and inquired whether the Council of Europe can contribute to normalisation there in some way. We promised do convey her wish to those concerned. She emphasised that this will be possible only if the Republic of Belarus makes this request itself. But as you can see, the German Presidency has different plans in this respect. This is regrettable.

We will try to compel the Council of Europe, all the more so under the German Presidency, not to forget about the issues that the West is trying to hush up in many different ways. This applies to discrimination against Russian speakers in the Baltic states, the disgraceful lack of citizenship, and the so-called reforms in the field of education and language in Ukraine that are aimed only against the Russian language, as distinct from the languages of other national minorities because they are EU languages. We will not accept the efforts of the Council of Europe (or some of its members) to hush up the facts of the purposeful harassment of the Russian media, not to mention the glorification of Nazism. The German Presidency must remember all this and must not divert the Council of Europe to the discussion of issues that are more comfortable for the West and justify its positions, while ignoring the problems that have become chronic for our Western colleagues.

Question: What are the prospects for concluding new strategic stability treaties with the United States once the new administration is in office? Last year, President Trump mentioned a new trilateral document involving Russia, the United States and China. What will happen now?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a long-standing matter. True, the Trump administration was consumed (I can’t come up with any other word) by a desire to involve the People’s Republic of China in disarmament talks. Initially, they talked about the need to include the PRC in the START Treaty which is still in force, although this is impossible by definition. Then, they proposed creating a new treaty and not renewing the current one, because it’s outdated and bilateral, whereas they would like to take a step towards multilateral disarmament and arms control. Their position was erratic. As a result, they came up with a proposal to extend the treaty for another year, but on the condition that we recount each other’s warheads and put in overseers at the defence plants’ checkpoints. Counting warheads and ignoring carriers and innovative technologies that directly affect strategic stability is a frivolous and unprofessional approach.

Earlier this year, we made proposals to our US colleagues about structuring our future dialogue on arms control and non-proliferation. They stood their ground and insisted on warheads alone. They have long been interested in Russian tactical nuclear weapons, hence their interest in warheads at the expense of everything else. We say we will be ready to discuss non-strategic nuclear weapons, including warheads, when the Americans withdraw their tactical weapons from other countries. In Europe, these weapons are deployed in five NATO countries. Also, NATO structures conduct training in handling nuclear weapons for military personnel from non-nuclear countries in flagrant violation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

With regard to the People’s Republic of China, President Putin has repeatedly stated that we have nothing against it, but the decision is up to the PRC. China has officially and publicly stated on several occasions that it is not going to join the talks with Russia and the United States, since its nuclear arsenal is an order of magnitude smaller than the corresponding arsenals of Moscow and Washington. We respect this position. If and when the Americans persuade China to join multilateral talks, we will have no objection to that. We will be willing to participate in them if the PRC agrees to this of its own accord. But we are not going to persuade Beijing to do so just at the whim of the Americans. But if and when a multilateral format in disarmament and arms control talks is created, we will push for France and the United Kingdom to join it as well.

When we told the Americans about this, they told us that these counties are their allies and they vouch for them. Precisely because they are allies of the United States, we would like to see them at the negotiating table, if the talks become multilateral. Washington’s absolutely hostile doctrine towards Russia cannot but raise questions about the motives of the US allies, whether in Europe or Asia. When they enter into a military alliance with a country that declares us a hostile state, we must draw our own conclusions regarding these allies.

I don’t see how we can seriously discuss anything related to the continuation of the arms control process with the Trump administration. We do not know yet what kind of administration will move into the White House or what kind of policy it will conduct. The voting results have not yet been announced officially, but there’s already an understanding that the change-of-command process is underway. Let’s wait and see what kind of assessments will eventually form in the minds of those who will shape the US strategic stability policy after January 21, 2021.

Question (addressed to both ministers): Popular protests have been growing around the world for various reasons, including political ones. The law enforcement reaction is the same everywhere, going as far as the use of force and special equipment. At the same time, such events in Belarus are receiving heightened attention from foreign politicians. What do you think is the reason?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already cited examples of protests being suppressed in France. Those drastic figures are rarely revealed to the general public. Human rights agencies in the UN system, as well as numerous human rights rapporteurs are trying their best to avoid any topics that are uncomfortable for Western representatives.

Speaking of the protests in Paris, there is a huge wave of protest against the global security bill, which includes a ban on photographing, filming or otherwise identifying law enforcement officers. I can imagine the kind of racket a bill like that would have sparked if it were proposed in Russia or Belarus. The French public and human rights groups are concerned, yet we can see no reaction from international bodies. The police used water cannons and noise grenades during rallies against the bill. The protesters, too, provoked the police, using stones and sticks. One police officer was injured. And yet, I repeat, this does not prevent the West from lecturing anyone who is not their ally.

Voting processes in Russia and Belarus have been scrutinised through a magnifying glass. When a similar story happens in the United States, it is declared “normal, it’s democracy, and everything is just fine.” Though, even respected and influential think tanks in the United States openly write about “the problems with the US electoral system.” To put it mildly, that system does not fully comply with the principles of democracy or the rule of law. They write these things themselves, but our international partners prefer to ignore them and concentrate on the countries whose “regimes” they find undesirable.

When UN rapporteurs, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, describe violent clashes in Western capitals, they urge everyone to find a solution through dialogue. When they criticise us or Belarus, they demand a change of the system. This difference is visible to the naked eye. We have long lost any illusions about what kind of standards the West is promoting and how they use double standards. We will fight, and will defend our position at the UN bodies, where these issues should be considered. We will not allow the vices that the Western community is demonstrating to be forgotten.

Question (addressed to both ministers): How can you comment on Pavel Latushko’s last interview, where he spoke about the possibility of unofficial contacts with Moscow?

Sergey Lavrov: Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has just shown me part of that interview. Not only did he mention the possibility of unofficial contacts with Moscow – he said such contacts were underway and were coordinated. He shamelessly declared he could not cite any names, but mentioned “contacts at a sufficiently high level.” He speculated whether I will be allowed to tell my Belarusian friends about it. I will answer briefly: this is a blatant lie, and it once again says something about those trying to make some kind of career with foreign handouts.

Why Did RT Hire Liberals That Are Bringing Harm to Russia? (Ruslan Ostashko)

Source

Translated and captioned by Leo.

Guess who started the cycle of documentaries about the “main people of the country” on the state channel RT Russia? From the editor-in-chief of the disgusting Russophobic radio station Echo of Moscow, Alexei Venediktov. It is this person who, in violation of the law, does not liquidate the media despised by the people, according to RT, is worthy of the title of “the main person of Russia.” The question arises: maybe it was for this that Margarita Simonyan recruited liberals like Anton Krasovsky on RT?

No matter how politically active a Russian is, they will not say a few sweet words after hearing the name of the most odious liberal media of the country. The same editor-in-chief whose editorial office apparently gets saved from closing due to pressure on shareholders. Against this background, personally for me it was disgusting to see the TV channel RT bends to Venediktov along with Anton Krasovsky. “And here is the first non-related directly with me product by RT Russia. This is a series of documentaries about the most important people of Russia. Starting off with Venediktov. Watch it.”

It turns out by the opinion of editors at RT Russia, the liberal leader of Echo of Moscow stands first on the list of important people in the country. And in order to film a movie about it, a whole week was wasted of workers time which was paid by the state budget.

RT Russia’s description on the video: “For a whole work week, we followed Alexei Venediktov with cameras. We filmed how he conducts meetings on Echo of Moscow, comes up with new radio shows, follows the live broadcast, threatens to fire employees, jokes with Tina Kandelaki, criticizes Stanislav Belkovsky, meets with Moscow prefects, meets in the Moscow public chamber, generates ideas and new projects. And from this video you will learn why Venediktov lives in a hotel, how he raises his son and why, as he himself says, ‘arranges the fate of the world.’”

Like a Pathos. Look at that, Venediktov not only arranges the fate of the world, but he also raises his adult yet dodging-the-army-conscription son. As if the society is not aware of the product of this raising. Tell me, respectable subscribers, if it was up to you regarding what work time should be spent on for the RT journalists, would you have approved the filming of movie about a liberal as one of the most important people in the country? I would say that not only would it not be approved, but they would get a loaf stuffed in them for those trying to approve it. However, you political Russian media managers like Margarita Simonyan do not depend on us. Which is why they do what they want.

For example, they bring to work specific people like Krasovsky himself. In the past I was calmly reacting to him, sometimes even citing his attacks on other quacks. But just like with the other ones, I think he has a lower side to himself. While journalist Krasovsky was doing documentaries about the Coronavirus epidemic and the problems with medicine, he was in his own spot. But as soon as he was assigned to do an interview with the press secretary of the president of Russia [Dmitry Peskov], then that was it, he went down a pediment. And for me, it’s hard to not agree with what the publicist Alexander Rogers wrote about it:

Zhurnalistskaya Pravda (Journalist Truth), Alexander Rogers: “Now explain to me, I sincerely do not understand. In Russia there are thousands of journalists, tens of thousands, but for some reason they sent the only openly gay one to interview the president’s press secretary. Why?! Is he an outstanding journalist, a shining interviewer? Never once! This interview is impossible to listen to the end. It is impossibly boring, and not because of Peskov, but namely because of Krasovsky. He came to the interview with fishnet socks, laid his leg on his other leg, rolled his shoe around, and for more than an hour licked the earpiece of his glasses. Generally, he behaved like ‘not even a man with reduced social responsibility.’ Thank you Putin for the precision of wording.”

Sitting and having your mouth on the earpiece of glasses in front of an interviewee is what? An increase in journalistic professionalism? Or is it a method to show your orientation? What is this new form of interviewing state officials? The content however is even worse:

Alexander Rogers: “This interview is absolutely liberal in essence, and completely not interesting to the Russian people. For almost 15 minutes discussing the ‘poisoning’ of Navalny. Despite half of the Russian population in general does not know who that is! And the rest will say ‘Oh, this is some kind of schmuck that they want to use for imposing new sanctions against Russia.’ Then the tying attempts by Krasovsky to make Russia look extreme. From betraying the Armenians, to betraying Ukrainians and Belarussians. Everything was made into a stupid template according to a boring manual. Peskov also burned in certain points. On his words about the political wisdom of Pashinian, I almost hit myself with a facepalm. And about what kind of talks that Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] is carrying out there.But at the end, a little talk on an actual topic – how the fight against the pandemic is going. Although this topic actually needs to be discussed not with Peskov, but with relevant ministries and specialists.”

So like in the case of the film about Venediktov, the work time by journalists which was paid by Russian state money was wasted on the promotion of the anti-Russian liberal narrative. Do you need that content? I definitely don’t. If it went in that direction, then Rogers wrote it correctly. Peskov like a PR spokesman should have been asked not about the ‘wisdom of the crapped-pants Pashinian’, but instead about the information war of the West against Russia. There is a whole section of hot topics there:

Alexander Rogers: “For example, how does Mr. Peskov feel about the censorship in Western social networks and platforms? Or to the fact that ‘The New York Times’ journalists calls to ban even truthful information if it can be used against the US Democratic Party? Or even how Twitter censors the acting US president? And how TV channels cutoff the broadcast to his statements, because ‘we don’t like what he’s saying.’ Or how for example, YouTube deleted the channel ‘News-Front’, which had 460,000 subscribers and almost half a billion views on their videos, without any explanation for it? And also, why Google and other Western search engines cut from their search results many Russian medias. (Including Zhurnalistskaya Pravda in that regard)?

But Krasovsky did not ask about any of the named subjects. He only continuously licked the earpiece of his glasses, rolled his shoe around and broadcasted an anti-Russian agenda. Does RT need such employees like him, Maria Baronova, or other liberals picked by Margarita Simonyan? In my opinion, no. What do you think, respectable subscribers?

The 4-year (neoliberal) radicalisation of US media & Bidenites’ ‘unradical radicalism’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file photo, Joe Biden speaks during a press conference at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on November 16, 2020. (AFP photo)
The 4-year (neoliberal) radicalisation of US media & Bidenites’ ‘unradical radicalism’
(Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.)

Monday, 23 November 2020 6:50 AM  [ Last Update: Monday, 23 November 2020 7:01 AM ]

By Ramin Mazaheri

For four years The New York Times editorial page has been unreadable because into every column – no matter the subject – an anti-Trump diatribe was inserted. For the world’s many billions who think there actually are issues other than the president of the United States, their obsession was incredibly tedious.

It reminded me of how the World Socialist Web Site ends every column with a reminder that the only solution – no matter the subject – is Trotskyist revolution. At least they keep that at the bottom, so you can avoid it if you want.

The difference between the two is that one is openly opposed to neoliberalism and neo-imperialism, while the other censors any discussion of these enormously crucial and socially-devastating concepts.

Joe Biden recently made waves for snapping at a reporter asking a difficult question, and it reminded us of how very coddled he was during the presidential campaign. But a possible change from Sleepy Joe to Cranky Joe may or may not be a problem – that depends on if his apparent election win survives the judicial oversight of the vote, something which is supported by 46% of America (per a poll by The Economist) but 0% of their mainstream media.

The bigger potential issue – and it’s a global one, because foreign journalists often ape the US, in what Iranians have called for 75 years “Westoxification” (being intoxicated by Westernism) – is what the US media actually evolves into post-Trump (if he loses).

In one of the many positive unintended consequences of Donald Trump, the US media went from the slavish sucking up to power during the Dubya Bush era of “wars without bodybags”, to “everybody loves Obama (even though in 2012 he beat Mitt Romney just 51% to 47%), to rediscovering that the press is not actually merely the public relations team of the government.

If Biden wins, will the US mainstream media quickly revert to sucking up to power? Will it be still only softball questions for President Biden?

Or does four years of decent reporting – sadly combined with a concurrent journalistic era of hysterical fear-mongering, Russophobia, urging hatred of one’s differently-voting neighbour and a moral outrage which rested upon a wilful ignorance regarding what Trump supporters really believe – actually have an impact?

The question reminded of an ancient Chinese aphorism: “The murder of a ruler by his minister, or of a father by his son, is not the result of events of one morning or one evening.”

The radicalisation of fake-leftists into faker fake-leftists? Or will the US truly reform its imperialist ways?

The larger point of that aphorism is that actions have consequences, and that if we allow things to go too far down the wrong road an unjust ruler gets murdered, or a country becomes as incredibly internally divided as the US now is.

Journalists are supposed to be combative and even provocative, but the problem here is entirely with the never-stated ideology of Bidenism. (Please note that is entirely different from me writing: the problem is with the rabidity of the never-Trumper ideology.)

Because actions have consequences, we should grasp that Bidenism is not just a “return to (the 2015) normal” but also includes a vindictive, ever-more flaming evangelical insistence that US-led Westernism (neoliberalism and neo-imperialism) is the one true religion, which Donald Trump was heretically and treasonously wrong to even partially call into question.

Who are these unreadable new and old columnists of The New York Times? I can tell you what they are not: they are not journalists who openly denounce imperialism, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the oppression of the Wall Street high finance class or the other key ideas which differentiate leftism from centrism and rightism.

No, the loudest Bidenites are people who are upset that Trump is now trying to pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq; are upset that Trump did not bomb Syria; could not care less about the famine in Yemen; and who would not have expressed outrage at all for the assassination of Iranian anti-terror hero Qasem Soleimani if Barack Obama had killed him.

The idea that Biden’s foreign policy is going to be less belligerent than Trump’s is something based only on hope and not on the past four years (nor Biden’s 47 years in public service). Just look at how Bidenites are preparing to deal with Trumpers and ask yourself: is the neo-imperial hegemon really going to treat foreigners – especially Muslims in oil-rich areas – better than their very own neighbors?

Bidenites essentially want to criminalise working for Trumpism, censor Trumpist analyses, and make Trump the very first president to ever be prosecuted (what happened to the outrage of Trump’s calls to prosecute “crooked Hillary”?). These are all “radical” in the very worst sense of the word. The obstacle in implementing such radical policies is that Trumpism won at every level on November 3rd except the presidency, in a total concretisation and not repudiation of Trumpism, whether one likes that or not; the problem is that Bidenites at this time in 2016 were, incredibly, already talking publicly about impeaching the then-president-elect Trump, gutting their credibility.

These do not seem like the people who are going to herald a new era of tolerance for non-American ideas because they can’t even tolerate half of America’s ideas. Bidenism may turn out to be “Western universal values” on steroids because Bidenites realise there truly is a threat to the 2015 status quo, which they are obviously hell-bent on suppressing.

These do not seem like the people who are going to become more tolerant of those who do not accept America’s fake-leftist and divisive identity politics, which are entirely based around one thing: distracting from opposition to and the discussion of both neo-imperialism and neoliberalism.

Like Obama, will Biden get a Nobel Peace Prize for his election campaign?

Many of us are old enough to have seen the failure of this idea, currently held by many non-Americans, that the switching from a Republican to a Democrat will herald an entirely new era free from American belligerence.

The younger class may not remember the intense hatred Democrats had for George W. Bush, but the proof of it is in that shocking, totally unmerited Nobel. In 2013 Obama would be credibly quoted as saying, “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”

If things really do change for the better if Biden wins, journalists will have to have changed as well. Of course, we cannot expect their publishers and editors to allow them to be towards Biden but a fraction of how oppositional they were with Trump, but the younger generation of reporters have now been weaned on journalistic ideas which may prove hard for neoliberal and neo-imperialist forces to rein in.

However, the problem of their essential fake-leftism – of Bidenism – remains, no?

And this is a problem for journalists worldwide, who often read the US mainstream media and are so proud that they can understand a foreign language so well that they may fail to realise they are also imbibing Biden’s latent, never-stated neoliberalism and neo-imperialism; they are so happy Trump is gone they forget the corruption and anti-“universal values” stances which got him elected in the first place. 

The worry is that instead of a genuine move away from American rightism, journalists in the US and abroad only imbibe a key hallmark of Bidenism: intolerance for dissent and the refusal to engage in dispassionate conversation about vital societal issues. The worry is that they become accepting of Bidenism’s flaming insistence that Western liberalism is the only acceptable form of human society worldwide – this is all adds up to the “unradical radicalism” of Bidenism.

Journalists must be skeptical, but they must be accurate – refusing to report on the reality of American Trumpism is as bad as those Americans whose family relations who have become frozen because of their inability to tolerate their relative’s right to vote as they wish.

That’s an American problem, but the idea that Bidenism is actually an anti-imperial and anti-neoliberal movement, or that it will continue Trump’s relative drawdown of American forces worldwide – that’s something you’ve never actually heard from Bidenites.

Think you will (if Biden wins)?


Tucker: Media hates Trump with an all-consuming mania

October 31, 2020

Guess what? Russia also interferes in Kiwi elections!

Nuking Itself… How Russophobia Led the U.S. to Bomb its Own Citizens

Finian Cunningham October 26, 2020

Generations of countless Americans have been contaminated and sickened by the first-ever atomic bomb test. The Trinity explosion on July 16, 1945, was carried out in the New Mexico desert. Three weeks later, two A-bombs were dropped on Japan, killing up to 200,000 people.

But the number of American victims caused by radiation fallout from the Trinity test is reckoned to be also imponderably high. The American government conducted the explosion in secret, unbeknownst to the population of New Mexico. That was in spite of warnings from Manhattan Project scientists of a high risk to public health from the extreme radiation. Without a warning to the public and because of a cover-up about the event, countless Americans were exposed to carcinogenic radiation.

In a recent interview with Karl Grossman, New Mexican resident Tina Cordova tells how her community has been campaigning for decades to find out the truth behind the Trinity test and to seek reparations from the federal government. Incredibly, there has never been a federal investigation into establishing the human health impact from that atomic test explosion. But Cordova and her community estimate that the number is huge. She is the fourth generation in her family to have suffered from cancer. Countless others tell of high numbers of infant mortality over the decades and other morbidities that stretch across the entire state of New Mexico.

A combination of factors conspired to wreak a heavy toll on the people of New Mexico. It is one of the poorest states in the U.S., with large numbers of native Americans and Latinos. In selecting the test site for the A-bomb, there was a tacit racism among planners in Washington who viewed the area and its population as expendable. By not warning the people of the explosion, local populations were given no chance to take protective measures such as evacuation or avoiding consumption of contaminated water and food produced from the soil. The people were deceived into continuing their livelihoods as normal following the explosion, drinking contaminated water and breathing radioactive air. The New York Times was instrumental in the cover-up, issuing reports that the explosion was due to a conventional munitions incident. It was only after the horrific bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 an 9 that the people of New Mexico realized what had really happened at the Trinity site. Even then they were kept in the dark by Washington stonewalling about the event for decades to come.

Still another factor that maximized the damage on public health was the rush by the American government to weaponize the A-bomb technology. As Karl Grossman points out, the rationale behind the Manhattan Project was said to be to preempt Nazi Germany. But by July 1945, Nazi Germany was defeated and imperial Japan was on its knees. The inescapable implication is that President Harry Truman and the Pentagon wanted to display the new awesome weapon of mass destruction to the Soviet Union in what would be a chilling demarcation of the postwar globe according to American power.

Truman eagerly awaited the news of the Trinity test while attending the Potsdam allies’ conference in Germany along with Britain’s Winston Churchill and the Soviet Union’s Josef Stalin. On receiving news of the successful explosion, Truman immediately adopted a more strident attitude towards Stalin. In that moment, a new Cold War was born.

Thus, it was Russophobia among the American ruling class that rushed the Trinity A-bomb explosion, even though that event would lead to generations of American citizens stricken with fatal diseases from the fallout. In a very real and frightening way, the U.S. rulers took a decision to “nuke” their own people such was their obsession with confronting the Soviet Union.

Subsequent U.S. nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 60s was conducted in remote areas of Nevada and in the Pacific Ocean. Those tests also took a deadly toll on the environment and local populations on Pacific islands.

But the recklessness and callous conditions of the New Mexico test is unparalleled in the toxic exposure it imposed on unsuspecting populations.

The stone-cold willingness to, in effect, bomb its own citizens by the federal government is a shuddering testimony as to the nefarious lengths the planners in Washington were prepared to go in their obsessive Russophobia.

When we survey the relentless fixation today in Washington and the U.S. political class with blaming Russia for all sorts of alleged malign intent, one can easily discern that this endemic Russophobia among America’s rulers has not waned.

The barbarity of what happened in New Mexico 75 years ago is alive and well. If it can be inflicted without apology on American citizens, then what does that say about the danger to the rest of the world?

Mail-in ballots: US elites’ ‘plausible deniability’ ploy to retain power

Sunday, 25 October 2020 7:09 AM  [ Last Update: Sunday, 25 October 2020 7:09 AM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Mail-in ballots are processed and counted for the upcoming presidential election in Denver, Colorado, US, October 22, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

By Ramin Mazaheri

Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

The US obsession with mail-in voting is incomprehensible to the rest of the world, but the true reason behind this nonsense is never openly admitted: Mail-in balloting has been a way to ensure that the elites of both parties can contest the election if they lose, thus giving them a way to deny ultimate responsibility for their loss via presenting a way to question the integrity of the election.

Of course this phony debate should be incomprehensible – there have already been dozens of major elections worldwide in 2020 already. The data available to the US is clear: safe in-person voting is easily assurable despite the minor challenges. There has been no correlation between elections and a post-Covid spike, and some elections have even been able to increase voter turnout despite the pandemic.

Therefore, the hysteria which swept the United States in March is not at all logically supportable in October: the need for mail-in ballots, much like the alleged mortality rate of Covid-19, was wildly overstated back then.

Yet the horse is out of the barn: nearly 40% of the US electorate (going by 2016 totals) has already voted early, and this will have a catastrophic effect on the United States because it seemingly guarantees that they will have a disputed election.

To be concise: nobody should expect a declared victor on the night of November 3rd because of the difficulty in counting all these slow-arriving and even late-arriving mail-in ballots, which are already tainted with dispute anyway. Furthermore, we should expect perhaps 1 million ballots to be thrown out for errors, which will obviously create further disputes – mail-in ballots will be an update of the “hanging chads” from 2000’s disputed election.

This is on top of the reality that the US general election is merely a statistical fun fact, anyway, as they vote for their president indirectly via an electoral college: look at five of the eight key “swing” states and polls show the lead of either Donald Trump or Joe Biden is 3 points or less, which is within the margin for error. Furthermore, US pollsters have also likely not solved the “hidden/shy” Trump voter issue, making polls perhaps as unreliable as 2016’s polls obviously were.

Given the certainty of this already equally-divided electorate, increasing the logistical challenges posed by mail-in voting, which will only increase the number of spoiled ballots, made no sense.

But that’s true only if we analyse it from a perspective which gives primacy to the average American citizen – it made perfect sense if we look at mail-in balloting from the point of view of the very elite of Washington’s most-privileged politicians.

What mail-in voting does is give the party elite “plausible deniability” – if Trump loses he will say the election was rigged because of mail-in balloting, and if Democrats lose they will wildly allege that mail-in balloting has drastically reshaped how this election must be counted. This way, no matter who loses the party elite do not have to relinquish power as a result of being genuinely voted out due to their terrible policies, results and platform.

Democrats, for example, will have to make exactly as many changes at the top and concessions to the rising Bernie Sanders faction as they did after 2016’s loss: zero. The Clintonista faction, Nancy Pelosi and their coastal media sycophants all now have a way to achieve the only thing they want – to cling to their privileges.

The accuracy of this analysis is proven by the Russophobia campaign they concocted to deflect blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016. If they would waste three years of America’s time on a phony “Russian meddling” campaign – which concluded with a “Mueller Report” that indicted zero Americans on charges of collusion or election conspiracy – how less preposterous and how less energy-consuming is making constant exhortations to vote by mail?

How much easier is it to instruct lower-rank party officials to keep sending Americans unsolicited government letters encouraging them to vote by mail, or which even chide citizens for not having voted by mail yet? I do not lie when I write that at the very point of submitting this article for publication I got an email from a food home delivery service – a totally apolitical entity, seemingly – asking me, “Want to vote early?” and offering to help me do so. That is how widespread and deep this unnecessary, destructive mail-in balloting campaign has gone in today’s US culture.

Republicans insist that voting by mail is more susceptible to fraud, and while this is true on the surface, the reality is that proven voter fraud is exceptionally small in the US. Republicans oppose mail-in balloting probably, I would guess, because they would secretly like to keep as many of the aristocratic vote restrictions America is founded upon as possible. However, they are far more cognisant of the problems posed by mail-in balloting than Democrats.

The reality is that Donald Trump is by far the loudest Republican objecting to mail-in ballots precisely because he, too, needs a reason to contest the election and deflect blame for a possible loss.

Trump, even though his “outsider populism” – which proved to be fascist (pro-corporate) in nature rather than a genuine and patriotic populism – has been swallowed up by the Republican Party “Washington Swamp” extremely effectively, that actually on this issue reverted back to the early-2016 assertion that his interests are actually quite in opposition to those of one-half of the duopoly which is quite clearly proscribed by the US Constitution – the Republican Party. This open opposition is a huge reason he won the 2016 election – that he is a political outsider who will drain the Swamp – and if Trump does lose a large reason will be that he too-tardily remembered this cause for his original victory: seemingly not until the 2nd and final presidential debate two days ago.

Studies prove that mail-in balloting does not lean Democrat or Republican (at least prior to 2020), so Trump has joined with the covert cause of the Democratic elite to fabricate mail-in balloting into an issue where there was none. Again, it is not a true issue after so many other countries have held successful elections in 2020.

The mail-in balloting controversy makes sense for all the wrong reasons: because the US system prefers to focus attention to issues which are of no consequences to their lower classes, who are also hurt by rabid American capitalism-imperialism; because Americans have a short attention span, and also one guided by sensationalism since the 1960s; but mainly because the very elite factions in power in Washington do not want to give up power if they lose as a justified consequence for their terrible records as public servants.

Even though 2020 has forced us to accept as “normal” so many things which are not normal, we must remind ourselves that a disputed election is not some minor occurrence. And yet there is an acceptance of this inevitability here, mainly because – appallingly – there is very little public discussion permitted of just how bad a disputed election is on any society. (Again, this is precisely because the US elite – uncertain of the outcome – actually wants a disputed election.)

A disputed election necessarily has enormous financial and economic ramifications due to the instability it provokes; it has equally important political ramifications – we cannot understate how many Americans were permanently alienated from the system via the handling of the 2000 disputed election, and how at the same time it also deeply polarised those who remained politically engaged; and it also has huge, long-term cultural and social impacts due to the way it provokes so much rawness on such a personally-sensitive topic.

A disputed election is akin to a bloodless, short-term civil war.

A civil war is easily defined as when brothers fight brothers – a disputed election will make late November’s Thanksgiving national holiday a decidedly unpeaceful affair in many households… and for reasons of no profit to anyone but the US elite, sadly.

Lastly, when we grasp why the US elite desired and orchestrated a disputed election we understand how they have to try and cover their tracks, somewhat. This reality explains the ridiculous, pathetic, preposterous assertion stunningly made on the very eve of the 2nd presidential debate: that Iranian operatives are secretly posing as far-right “Proud Boys” to intimidate Democrats in four states into changing their party affiliation, a scam as obvious as it was insignificant. It’s really a shame Iranian diplomats and journalists have to spend a half-second discussing such absurdities – adults have better things to do – but the reality is that Washington’s elite wants to blame other countries for shaking domestic confidence regarding the integrity of the vote when this confidence has been shaken entirely because of domestic flaws and issues. Of course, concocting the mail-in ballot faux-dispute is merely one of the many integrity-questioning events. Iran is very, very powerful no? They were discussed just 20 minutes into a history-deciding debate even though the US is in the middle of an unprecedented social and economic catastrophe, but this what the moderator/journalist Kristen Welker (widely touted as the “winner” of the final debate) foolishly and irresponsibly chose to focus upon, or was ordered to focus upon. What a shame that such propaganda genuinely does lay sinister groundwork for deadly war (like with Iran), or cold war (like with Russia since 2016), and is not a laughing matter. Welker and all the other US journalists who discussed this laughable and (as always) unproven propaganda at length should consider how dangerous their behavior truly is.

Mail-in balloting has unnecessarily guaranteed election chaos in a year which continues to be economically and socially devastating to the United States, which just started an 8th month of uneven, ineffective and economically unsupportable Great Lockdowns. It’s an utter debacle which the US political and media elite pushed into place – we should understand fully these real reasons why, none of which are hinted at in their mainstream or government media.


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Reforming the EU – Like waiting for Godot!

Reforming the EU – Like waiting for Godot!

October 22, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

There is a human tendency to cling on to cherished beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. There was a time, during the heady days of Jacques Delors and the Social Chapter, when the EU appeared to represent a social-democratic and neutral geopolitical bloc; a third force between the USSR as it then was and the US/NATO – this, however, is no longer the case. The EU has long since transmuted into part of an aggressive neo-liberal and neo-conservative imperial alliance under US command. The liberal, centre-left Remainers such as Yanis Varoufakis seem to think that it is possible to reverse this development and get the EU back to its original prototype, presumably by dint of political will. In view of historical developments this view seems increasingly difficult to sustain.

EU/NATO PUSHES EAST.

In particular since the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty of 2005 the EU Defence and Security Policy has been aligned with NATO. Indeed, EU membership has become a stalking horse for NATO membership and vice versa. NATO’s geopolitical drive to Russia’s western borders has been concurrent with the EU’s economic expansion – a strategic partnership between a military push and an economic push.

Not surprisingly perhaps the Russians see the siting of US anti-ballistic missile systems on their western borders in Romania and Poland, together with ongoing NATO military exercises involving tens of thousands of alliance troops as something of a provocation. Little wonder we now have a second cold war.

The position of the EU is, in geopolitical terms, completely subordinated to US interests. If there is a Russian-NATO conflict it will be fought on Europe’s turf not on America’s; Europe is ultimately expendable. This much can be inferred from facts on the ground, though this must be kept assiduously secret from the electorates of western Europe. Eastern Europe, however, seems only too willing to serve as the cannon-fodder for the US imperial designs; witness the incessant baying for war on the part of Russophobic states such as Poland and the Baltics, as well as NATO-EU wannabees like Ukraine and Georgia. It was precisely this expansion to the East (or new Europe as it was called by Donald Rumsfeld) which served as the essential prerequisite for the NATO takeover of the whole of Europe. The change has been noted:

EUROPE FROM LISBON TO VLADIVOSTOCK – AN IMPOSSIBLE DREAM.

‘’The destructive Russophobia of the new Europe undermined the credibility and cohesion of Europe as a whole. It had been anticipated that the new members’’ – Poland, the Baltics. etc. – would be ‘socialised’ into the ways of the EU, but, instead, the EU was in danger of reverse socialization incorporating the axiological (ethical – FL) dynamics and virulent neo-liberalism of some of the newer members, accompanied by their prioritisation of Atlantic Security over EU social solidarity.’’ (1)

In its original quasi-Gaullist form the EU might have played a constructive part in the Ukrainian crisis as a third party and disinterested broker between Russian and American interests, but by 2014 the EU had been transformed into something very different from its original configuration: it had become joined at the hip to the US imperial juggernaut. Moreover, the EU’s status in this relationship was subaltern rather than equal. It should be understood that the United States does not do ‘partnerships’ only master and flunkey slave relationships. It is further commented that:

‘’Instead of a vision embracing the whole continent it (the EU) it has become little more than the civilian wing of the Atlantic security alliance … The drift toward a merger with the Atlantic Security system left it bereft of autonomy and policy instruments when it really mattered – maintaining peace on the European continent.’’ (2)

COSTS IN EUROPE OF US FOREIGN POLICY

The terrorism and refugee crisis in Europe – the blowback – was unquestionably traceable to the US bull-in-a-china-shop foreign policy in the middle east, this much is obvious to even an impartial observer; but answering the call of duty the western media has strained every nerve and muscle in an attempt to deny what was a blatant fact. Terrorism and refugee flows were ripped out of the wider context in an attempt to obfuscate any causal connexions with these phenomena and US/EU/NATO foreign policy. The media propaganda tsunami notwithstanding the electorates of Europe were able to put 2 and 2 together, and this resulting in an ongoing political crisis in Europe which shows no signs of stabilization and, if anything, seems to be intensifying including the Brexit vote which committed the UK to leaving the EU, and, the electoral advances for the AfD in Germany as well as anti-EU sentiments which in Hungary and Poland has gained significant support from the population of those states. Propaganda and economic stagnation seems to have its limits; like Abe Lincoln said: ‘You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

So much for the geopolitics.

WASHINGTON CONSENSUS CROSSES THE POND

Perhaps as significant is the shift in economic policies and development which has taken place within the EU. Without doubt there has taken a sharp right turn since the 1980s.This policy consists of full-on neo-liberal economic and social imperatives involving the imbibing of a ruthless, winner-takes-all orthodoxy and its equally brutal imposition; Greece is perhaps the most egregious victim of this frugal economic diet, followed by Latvia, Estonia, Ireland, Portugal, Greece and even Italy, all of which are being forced into penury and debt-peonage courtesy of the Troika’s relentless austerity programme.

THE EURO – A NON-OPTIMAL CURRENCY WITHOUT A STATE.

Piling on the agony the creation of the Euro single currency (the key problem) since 1992 has put the Euro member states into an economic strait-jacket. The currency value cannot be changed or devalued to boost national exports during economic downturns such as that experienced since 2008. The result has been that the largest industrial power in the Eurozone, Germany, has benefited from the stable euro while weaker economies on the periphery of the EU, including most notably, France, have endured catastrophic consequences to the rigid Euro rate. The cost and productivity structures of Germany and the northern bloc in the EU, means that its goods will be cheaper than the higher costs and lower productivity levels in the southern belt. It follows therefore that the northern bloc runs permanent trade surpluses whilst the south has permanent trade deficits.

In a new report, the Dutch think-tank, Gefira Foundation, notes that French industry has been contracting since the adoption of the euro. “It was not able to recover after either of the 2001 or 2008 and present crisis because the euro, a currency stronger than the French franc would be, has become a burden to France’s economy. The floating exchange rate works like an indicator of the strength of the economy and like an automatic stabilizer. A weaker currency helps to regain competitiveness during a crisis, while a stronger currency supports consumption of foreign goods.

The only reason that the Germans were prepared to abandon their beloved deutschmark was that it would be replaced by a hard euro whose exchange rate was fixed and overvalued. The euro is an orphan, a currency without a state, and thus a foreign currency to all the European states in Europe.

EASTERN EUROPE:

TWO COLLAPSES. 1. COMMUNISM, 2. NEOLIBERAL CAPITALISM

The EU’s eastern periphery also has problems, but of a different kind. However only the Baltics, Slovenia and Slovakia actually use the euro. It is planned to include them into the euro in the fullness of time. Apart, that is, from basket cases like the Baltics whose government, unlike the people, went where angels feared to tread – into the Eurozone and the euro.

Excluding Russia, of course, these Eastern European states – termed ‘transitional economies’ – have become stalled in economic stagnation which so far has been difficult if not impossible to overcome. These obstacles have been specific to the Eastern periphery. The European Union now consists of 28 states. No fewer than 10 of these are former states of the Eastern Bloc, and this proportion is set to grow with the impending accession with some minor Balkan nations. Although Georgia and Ukraine are in line for membership of the EU, they are also expected to join NATO as has become customary for aspirant EU states.

Whether they obtain either is a matter of conjecture, however, as this would be almost certain to cross Russia’s red lines and result in a major geopolitical flareup. Europe’s centre of gravity is shifting. And while the process of joining the European Union is driving change within these countries, it is also changing the nature of Europe itself. Those Eastern European states which emerged from the break-up of the Soviet Union had been led to believe that a bright new world of West European living standards, enhanced pay levels, high rates of social mobility and consumption were on offer.

Unfortunately, they were sold an illusion: the result of the transition so far seems to have been the creation of a low-wage hinterland, a border economy on the fringes of the highly developed European core; a Euro version of NAFTA and the maquiladora, i.e., low tech, low wage, low skills production units on the Mexican side of the US’s southern borders. Moreover there are acute demographic problems confronting the ‘new Europe’.

Eastern Europe is bleeding people. With low fertility rates, higher death rates, and emigration. Case study:

‘’IN THE Lithuanian town of Panevezys, a shiny new factory built by Devold, a Norwegian clothing manufacturer, sits alone in the local free economic zone. The factory is unable to fill 40 of its jobs, an eighth of the total. That is not because workers in Panevezys are too picky, but because there are fewer and fewer of them. There are about half as many students in the municipality’s schools as there were a decade ago, says the mayor.

Such worries are increasingly common across central and eastern Europe, where birth rates are low and emigration rates high. The ex-communist countries that joined the European Union from 2004 dreamed of quickly transforming themselves into Germany or Britain. Instead, many of their workers transported themselves to Germany or Britain. Latvia’s working-age population has fallen by a quarter since 2000; a third of those who graduated from university between 2002 and 2009 had emigrated by 2014. Polls of Bulgarian medical students show that 80-90% plan to emigrate after graduating.

Lithuania’s loss of workers is costly, says Stasys Jakeliunas, an economist. Remittances and EU money for infrastructure upgrades have helped, but labour shortages discourage foreign investment and hurt economic growth. According to the IMF, in some countries in eastern Europe emigration shaved 0.6-0.9 percentage points from annual GDP growth in 1999-2014. By 2030 GDP per person in Bulgaria, Romania and some of the Baltic countries may be 3-4% lower than it would have been without emigration.

All of this imperils public finances. Pensions, which take up about half of social spending in eastern Europe, are the biggest worry. In 2013 Latvia had 3.3 working-age adults for each person older than 65, about the same as Britain and France; by 2030 that is projected to fall to just over two, a level Britain and France will not reach until 2060. Countries are raising the retirement age (apart from Poland, which is recklessly lowering it). Benefits are already meagre, leaving little room for cuts. As a share of GDP, social spending in Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic states is roughly half of that in many richer European countries.

Unable to dissuade people from leaving, governments are trying instead to lure them back, inspired by successful efforts in Ireland and South Korea. Daumantas Simenas, project manager of the Panevezys free economic zone, credits his return from Britain to the country’s “Create for Lithuania” programme, which matches educated professionals from the diaspora with government jobs. Having a job already lined up made the decision to return easier, he says. Plus, he adds, “home is home.”

Whether such efforts can turn the tide seems doubtful. “Create for Lithuania” has brought back more than 100 people since its launch five years ago, says Milda Darguzaite, who started the programme after leaving an investment-banking career in America for a government post in Vilnius. Returnees include an MP, a deputy mayor and several advisers to the prime minister. Bringing back doctors and engineers, however, is trickier. Studies show that skilled workers from eastern Europe are attracted abroad primarily by the quality of institutions such as good schools; better social benefits matter more for unskilled migrants. Data on return migration are scanty, but a recent report by the IMF suggests it has been “modest”, in some countries as low as 5% of those who left.’’ (3)

In more general terms figures for Eastern and central Europe as a whole are as follows. With the exception of the Czech Republic and Slovakia and Russia, every eastern European country has a declining population. Population declines as follows from 2006 to 2018:

Latvia and Lithuania = 12%

Ukraine = 9%

Hungary = 8.5%

Romania = 7%

Bulgaria = 6%

Estonia = 1.5%

Poland = 0.3%

The comprador vassal elites on the wrong side of the Oder-Neisse Line have been caught in the trap of dependency and semi-development, and in some cases under-development, and this was partly of their own making due to their rush to throw themselves into the arms of the US-NATO-EU alliance and an expected pay-off/bribe. The only states to avoid this have been Czechia, Slovakia and Russia. In the Balkans the same devastating NATO coalition engineered the destruction and break-up of what was once the sovereign state of Yugoslavia.

Thus In both economic and foreign policy the European political and financial elites have acted as overseas branch managers of a multinational enterprise whose HQ is on the other side of the pond (the US) where policy is determined and exported. Quislingism might be an appropriate word in this context.

DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT – THE FINAL ACT.

Finally, we come to the democratic deficit. This is important since the only way that change is possible is through the EU institutions. In order of importance these institutions comprise 1. The Council of Ministers, 2. The European Central Bank, 3. The European Commission. The last of these institutions consists of a President, at present, Ursula Von der Leyen, and formerly, Jean-Claude Juncker, seven, Vice-Presidents, whose identities are not known to me, and twenty Commissioners, equally obscure. Juncker succinctly enunciated the process of EU’s decision making as follows: ‘’If it’s Yes, we will say on we go, and if it is a No, we will say we will continue.’’ So much for open and flexible debate on policy.

The Council of Ministers and the ECB also pull various levers, often in tandem with extra-European global institutions such as NATO, WTO and IMF. Of course there is absolutely no sign that the current policies of the EU are not continuing along their present reactionary trajectory; and since the electorates of the EU have no control of the Council of Ministers and ECB there seems no way to break into this closed system of rule by a technocratic oligarchy. Once again political unrest in Europe suggests a causal connexion between the nature of the EU’s political and economic structures and the policies and outcomes emanating thereof.

This is not the EU we (the UK) signed up to in 1976, and there comes a time in politics where it is judicious to give up flogging a dead horse. A ‘progressive’ Labour government – if such a political animal is possible – would not be allowed by EU law to implement its economic reforms, cancel Trident, leave or even modify its NATO membership. Democracy is impossible without some measure of sovereignty, and nations must get control of their own foreign and economic policies since if they don’t the globalisers and Bilderbergers will and have done. There is nothing wrong with a volte face in politics.

It was J.M. Keynes who once said: ‘’When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?’

NOTES

(1) Richard Sakwa – Frontline Ukraine.

(2) Sakwa, Ibid. pp.227/228)

(3) The Economist – 19/01/2017. It should be added that the Economist is very much the house journal of the British elite. Yet even they have their doubts about the Euro project.

USA SITREP: FBI indicted Russian trombone player as a “GRU hacker”

October 20, 2020

By Lilia Shumkova, a Moscow based independent journalist, for The Saker Blog

A federal grand jury sitting in the Western District of the US state of Pennsylvania without citing any laws domestic or international, basing it’s decision purely on an opaque act of “violation of accepted norms” indited six Russian citizens. All six, as the FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich claims, are Russian military intelligence officers and their “crimes” go back to 2015.

In Russia, people immediately went on searching for any information about named individuals and they truly dug up something interesting about one of those indited, YURIY SERGEYEVICH ANDRIENKO.

https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/cyber/yuriy-sergeyevich-andrienko

A Russian citizen born in Minsk, says the indictment, he is a GRU officer. “Andrienko is alleged to have been a Russian military intelligence officer, assigned to Unit 74455. He was last known to be located in Moscow, Russia.” He is being accused by the Pennsylvania judges in “Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States; False Registration of a Domain Name; Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud; Wire Fraud; Intentional Damage to Protected Computers; Aggravated Identity Theft.”

According to the liberal radio Komsomolskaya Pravda, a group of bloggers decided to find these “cybercriminals” using the Findface service.

https://brl.mk.ru/politics/2020/10/20/yuriy-ili-mikhail-belorusa-ili-barnaulca-obvinila-amerika-v-khakerskikh-atakakh.html

According to their search for Yuri’s photo, the service most likely gives out the pages of Barnaul based trombonist Mikhail Nekhoroshev, who graduated from AGIK or the Altai Academy of Culture and Arts, who used to play in the military orchestras and over the past couple of years performs in bars with live music

https://www.agik22.ru/

The closest Mikhail Nekhoroshev came to the Russian Army was while playing his trombone in the military orchestra, see his vKontakte profile. See, Mikhail Nekhoroshev

https://vk.com/id103503697

Images from Mikhail Nekhoroshev’s vKontakte profile

It’s not clear how a provincial musician could “break” the world internet, but now we know that Russophobic Pennsylvania judges would indite an imaginary ham sandwich claiming it came from Russia.

What’s obvious from this glaring example of malicious prosecution and legal malpractice, the FBI just makes up persons to claim that they commit crimes all over the world by grabbing random images of random Russian people off the net.

You can be the judge and see that the musician Mikhail Nekhoroshev is the person on the FBI most wanted list.

Has a trombone player pockets deep enough to battle the FBI’s frivolous accusation in the US court? Doubtful. What would happen if this innocent man travels abroad? He will undoubtedly be arrested, handed to the US, convicted in fairy-tale made-up crimes and sentenced to life in American prison. Russian Foreign Ministry previously stated that the US is conducting a hunt of Russians all over the world, and Washington seems to pay no price for their kidnapping and human trafficking across state borders.

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

Source

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

October 08, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Mr Vanderplaetse,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ladies and Gentlemen,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unipolar Spin: Why Imperial Leftists Vilify Russia’s Social Democracy

Unipolar spin game: Why imperial Leftists vilify Russia's social democracy  -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net

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Joaquin Flores

September 14, 2020

A lie told a thousand times becomes the truth. In reading countless articles from the Atlantic Council press outlets (NYT, WaPo, VICE News, et al), we take for granted that modern Russia is a right-wing regime controlled by an authoritarian personality bent on total domination. As a result, the debate then gets framed on why or whether its right for leftists to attack it as such, since this is used to further justify collective punishment (sanctions) against a whole people.

What escapes us is why creating propaganda that will result in collective punishment is in any way the business of self-declared leftists in the first place. Historically, it hadn’t been, which raises big questions about who is really controlling the narrative and providing career paths and publishing opportunities for those who posture on the radical, even ‘anarchist’ left. We all know what happened to the self-imploded reputation of the Trotskyist Christopher Hitchens, that war-criminal scoundrel who offered some kind of left-cover for the crown’s imperial pretensions in Iraq. Millions died in part as a direct product of his work. Those who didn’t attend his funeral will tell you why.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that Russia is a social democracy, a fact erased from the collective understanding as a result of the insidious psychological operation being carried out on western audiences and Russians alike.

The End of Globalization: Unipolar Panic at the Rise of Multipolarity

The broader geopolitical problem for unipolar trans-Atlanticism is that much of the rest of the world has nearly caught up to the U.S. The unipolar moment is over, and multipolarity has arrived. This is a growing success and a great achievement for the people of Asia, Latin America, the Middle-East, and Sub-Saharan Africa. All wars and coups the U.S. has engaged in since the end of WWII were aimed at suppressing this multipolar eventuality. And yet multipolarity, as explained through the Atlantic Council and its imperial leftist scribes, is deceitfully presented as a neo-fascist threat to the people of the world, and one promoted uniquely by Russia. This would come as a surprise to the BRICS countries, and all those in their peripheries. It would defy the logic of Mercosur and the Sucre that these were established by sovereign state in Latin America at great cost, through the decades of surviving Washington Consensus dictatorships and the rule of U.S. Steel and the United Fruit Company, only to hand it to Moscow for now particular reason.

And yet this stands at the heart of vilifying Russia’s social democracy.

That multipolarity is a ‘Russian project’ is truly the most incoherent and chauvinistic geopolitical conspiracy theories in modern times, reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Narcissist Gaslighting

The rampant xenophobia that is allowed in the toxic Atlanticist press will no doubt be the subject of debate when those individuals soon lose their careers and livelihoods, because being a talentless hack makes one highly expendable. And this border-line racism and national chauvinism against a whole people and their representative government is increasingly being aired in broad daylight.

No, the waters won’t part, up will not become down, and the elites promoting a soft-power war on Russia won’t be overthrown. But their replaceable media-minions, who become too much of a liability with all the bad PR, will certainly be disappeared and erased.

We can set aside that Russophobic hate scribbling performed concertedly appears like a Operation Mockingbird psy-op, and yes, we can even ignore that over forty years ago the Church Commission revealed that the legacy newspapers have the international sections and editorials of their publications reviewed, approved, and even directly written by CIA agents and assets.

We can leave even alone that these are seemingly managed through a network of seemingly independent news and opinion outlets which nevertheless parrot each other’s talking points on the righteousness of NATO expansionism, the evils of Russia and Putin, and are organized under an Atlantic Council mandate.

What a perfect match, one no doubt made in heaven – to posture as some holier than thou concerned citizen of abuses around the world while in fact doing little more than feeding a crypto-nationalist media ecosystem bent on weapons sales and big ticket contracts for the U.S. military industrial complex. With enough self-delusion or narcissistic supply, they can even imagine that this is not what’s going on. One would imagine that it’s Russia, not the U.S. with 800 bases around the world. This is truly sick gaslighting, and all the well-paid flying monkeys are deployed with the named aim of doing just that.

Follow the Money – Promote Russophobia, Win Prizes

The Atlantic Council related publications which continue these Operation Mockingbird-like methods, have employed a number of ethically compromised imperial left-wing radicals to do the dirty work of gaslighting the American public on the political and socio-economic nature of countries being targeted by the U.S.

We can see from the evidence that the motley crew of imperial leftist Russophobes are those who aspire to be blue-check mark people on twitter and have regular opportunities at Atlantic Council approved publications. They want to be fast-tracked to full tenure in the increasingly partisan humanities and social sciences departments of various colleges and universities, and do the book writing and speaking tour gig. This is a relatively easy formula: virtue signal on domestic wedge issues like gender and race while ignoring class issues that would otherwise cause discomfort for their financiers, simultaneously doubling down on Atlantic Council approved Russophobia using those wedge issues – meanwhile ignoring or obfuscating the larger socioeconomic and geopolitical questions that provide more context and clarity.

After this storm has passed, it will be the subject of many books written by numerous historians, how and why it came to be that in the climate of virtue signaling political correctness, the only approved form of national chauvinism and borderline-racist conspiracy theories was Russophobic in nature. Those who engaged in it, while being creatures of their time and place, will be condemned and marginalized for the xenophobes that they were.

Their method, which is as dangerous to the left as it is misinformative to the public at large, is to use radical left criticisms of countries the U.S. is targeting for regime change and sanctions, even though there are effectively no countries (including most obviously the plutocratic U.S.) that meet their anarchoid standard. But by arbitrarily using an anarchist yard stick to measure the political correctness of some other country, they can issue these leftoid fatwas and make it so appear that Russia is uniquely problematic.

And the personal motivations of egomania aside, we only need to follow the money. And for our purposes today, just a fraction of it. Between George Soros’ Open Societies Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy’s lucrative grantsThe MacArthur Foundation, there are hundreds of millions of dollars being thrown at this soft-power endeavor.

Outside of philanthropy are the huge sums paid to ‘journalists’ and ‘authors’ directly by the billionaire blogs themselves, no doubt doing their part for Operation Mockingbird. You can bet your bottom dollar that the life of a collective-punishment-advocating ‘leftist’ in the employ of empire is neither a difficult nor impoverished one. They may appear homely, bookish, even shabby in their social media presentation, but that is part of the illusion, the veneer. Within the demented aesthetic-sphere of Anglophone left-radicalism, projecting depressiveness is akin to projecting virtue – an odd carryover from Puritanism. But in truth, they are neither hungry nor intellectual. They are well paid actors, and those who believe them have been duped.

Russia is the target of an ongoing campaign to vilify its leadership, with no shortage of tropes and dog whistling that this is an inherent feature of Russian culture itself. Like black-face, comedic ethnic impersonations are all but banned in the public sphere, unless it is of a Russian. The trope is so pervasive that even those trying to speak in the name of decreasing tensions, often frame their commentary in the name of peace by accepting that premise; that Russianness is inherently corrupt, misogynistic, authoritarian, and aggressive.

It is this very premise which must be challenged. The funny thing is, this task isn’t too difficult.

The Elastic Overton Window

By which rubric, by which method, do we compare the reality of targeted country like Russia to what is possible or even desirable?

Anarchist theory is ‘fantastic’ because anything one compares it to will necessarily fall short. It is reminiscent of Trotskyist criticisms of nominally socialist states, or Salafist criticisms of countries already within the Ummah. These societies, by definition, have to fall short because the self-declared ‘revolutionary’ nature of these belief systems must characterize anything short of their unattainable ideal as being a critical failure.

When it comes to assessing the reality of Russia’s cultural and sociopolitical system, the Overton Window of social acceptability is magically moved to the radical end of the anarchist left when Russia is the subject, for the forced result that we find Russia to be double-plus ungood, despite that those penning these pieces come from a country (the U.S.) far to the right on the socioeconomic matters which effect real working people.

The U.S. is Far to the right of Russia? Yes, we’ll explain

The fact that ski mask wearing anarchists are not free to run naked whilst flinging frozen chickens through kindergartens or Easter church services, is presented as evidence that Russia is an authoritarian state. The fact that Russia is a country, with a culture and history it finds worthy of being taught in schools, and with borders, and a standing army (!!) are taken as proof positive that Russia fulfills most of Umberto Eco’s ’14 Signs of Fascism’. And yet until last Tuesday, these were just understood of part of the fabric that makes a UN member-state … a UN member-state.

Every other country on earth has a school curriculum, has laws on public decency, and teaches the country’s narrative in its school system. When every other country is looked at, we are encouraged to see ‘normal’, and we apply a non-anarchist yard stick to measure it up. When it’s Russia, everything is problematized using every epithet from the critical school glossary. It is interesting, but upon close examination not strange, that these writers are able to get away with it. They do after all have the full support of the world’s last unipolar empire behind them.

The job of these writers is to misinform the left, and to turn the politics of class struggle into the politics of xenophobic national rivalry – a quintessential aspect of classical fascism. That they use apparently politically correct talking points couched within the framework of human rights, and terms borrowed from the vocabulary of the new-left is beside the point.

We must look instead at the perennial meta-political essence of that endeavor and not the particular forms it takes based upon the political or linguistic fashions of the day. The fact that we are better informed to understand fascism through the lens of a meta-political essence, points to a very big theoretical problems in the work of both Umberto Eco and Roger Griffin, as their entire composite heuristic explanatory paradigm is challenged in so doing.

It probably escapes people after that barrage of disinformation and national chauvinism parading as left-wing critique, that Russia is a social-democratic society.

It is Russia, not the United States that has universal healthcare and university education, vast public housing and useful programs for the disadvantaged, a multi-party parliamentary democracyearly retirement (60 m, 55 f), nearly two years leave with pay for new mothers. Russia, like any other social democracy also strong workplace protections against discrimination, a vigorous labor movement (35% union density in a formal workforce of 70 million), and codified rights for ethnic, linguistic and religious groups, and a no-holds barred private/citizen media complex that regularly attacks the country’s leaders and exposes the inevitable corruption that comes with large-scale societies and market systems.

Putin Serves the Russian Oligarchy Poorly – A Question of Democracy

While less-than-honest critics would say that Russia’s social democracy is merely a ‘carry-over’ from Russia’s former Soviet system, it begs the question: why nearly thirty years later, twenty-some of which being under Putin’s ‘right-wing oligarchy’, are these still soundly in place?

We are pressed with a difficult dilemma in the Russophobic narrative: Either Putin is the tyrannical tool of a rapacious oligarchy that has nevertheless failed to destroy Russia’s social democracy in 20 years, or Putin uses his vast powers to maintain its progressive social system against the right-wing oligarchy. In either event, the Swiss cheese that is the imperial left’s Russophobic narrative is evidently pungent.

Putin has been elected – and continues to win elections – for the past two decades. Isn’t this indicative of some large problem in the narrative? This is a question we have to turn on its head: why, in the U.S., have we taken for granted that our elected leaders should expectedly let us down and fail in their mandate with such prejudice that we want to throw them out every four or eight years? Why, in the west, has democracy been defined as dissatisfaction built upon betrayal?

How would a democratic society respond to a government that has, on the balance, solved and continued to solve the problems arising from the collapse of its former authoritarian self? Would they respond by throwing that government out, or by re-electing it?

This is not to view Russia through rose-tinted glasses, or to ignore the problems that it has: largely similar problems that face the world in the context of global capitalism. Russia has problems in wealth inequality, as well as too high an incarceration rate – though still one that pales in comparison to the U.S. by nearly half. But our view is offered knowing that such criticisms are so vast in their abundance, and so mandatory in every western publication, that not fixating on these here in no way obstructs audiences from accessing them elsewhere. What we bring is some balance and perspective.

What characterizes Russia’s social democracy are things which the left-most wing of the Democrat Party in the U.S., led by figures like Bernie Sanders, would consider absolute victories to achieve. And yet nevertheless we are confronted with a media barrage that blindsides us with misinformation to the extent that this basic truth is lost upon us. Fortunately, that tide is turning and will turn all the faster as we understand the reality of modern Russia through a sober and honest lens.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a news conference following an online meeting of the BRICS Foreign Ministers Council, Moscow, September 4, 2020

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a news conference following an online meeting of the BRICS Foreign Ministers Council, Moscow, September 4, 2020

September 05, 2020

A full-format online meeting of the BRICS foreign ministers has ended. This is the second such meeting this year under Russia’s chairmanship.

The first was dedicated exclusively to mobilising efforts to effectively prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection.

Today, we discussed a wide range of international issues and key items on the agenda of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly as well as our practical cooperation among the five member states.

We have adopted a detailed and appropriate final communiqué. You can read it, so I will not dwell on the key international matters that the communiqué covers in detail.

I would like to note that the communiqué reaffirms the BRICS’ commitment to the principles of multilateralism, reliance on international law and resolving conflicts exclusively through political and diplomatic means and according to the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. Once again, we resolutely supported the central role of the UN in the search for collective answers to the challenges and threats facing humanity.

In this year of the 75th anniversary of Victory in World War II, we noted the importance of preserving the historical memory of this tragedy’s lessons in order to avoid repeating it in the future. We unanimously condemned any and all manifestations of Nazism, racism and xenophobia. The corresponding resolution that is adopted annually by the UN General Assembly is traditionally supported by all BRICS countries.

We agreed to strengthen and promote our strategic partnership in all key areas of BRICS activities, such as politics and security, the economy and finance, and cultural ties.

We are grateful to our friends for supporting Russia’s chairmanship of the Five under rather difficult circumstances, when direct international communication, face-to-face communication, has, in fact, been put on hold. Nevertheless, using modern technology, we have managed to carry out most of the planned activities. We have had over 50 activities and as many will take place before the end of the year. We have every reason to believe (our partners also mentioned this today) that all of the Russian chairmanship’s plans with regard to the BRICS activities will be fulfilled.

We have reached a number of practical agreements, including the one to promote investment and to support the effective participation of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in international trade. Our respective ministries have adopted a joint statement in support of the multilateral trade system and WTO reform. Another important document, the Memorandum of Cooperation in the Competition Policy, was renewed for another term. Our development banks have agreed on an action plan for innovation and blockchain working groups. Other ministries and departments continue to work energetically.

Most of these initiatives are being drafted with an eye to approving them during the next summit, which is scheduled to be held in Russia in the autumn. We will determine the dates later based on the epidemiological situation.

These are the main results. Once again, the communiqué that we have circulated will provide a great deal of interesting information.

Question: The year in which Russia was the BRICS chair has been fairly difficult. The pandemic has taken its toll on every area. What did you manage to accomplish this year in BRICS? What kind of meetings and statements can we expect before 2020 runs out?

Sergey Lavrov: I partially talked about these issues when I presented the main results of our meeting today. To reiterate, we consider it critically important to have reached an agreement on a number of issues.

This includes a package of documents devoted to trade and investment, encouraging small-, medium- and micro-businesses to participate in international trade, strengthening cooperation between banks (central banks and development banks in our respective countries), and the active work of the New Development Bank, which was created by the leaders of the BRICS countries and is operating successfully.) By the way, the Eurasian Regional Centre of the New Development Bank will open in Russia in October.

The agreements concerning the prevention of new challenges and threats are notable as well. A very powerful document on counter-terrorism has been agreed upon and will be submitted for approval by the heads of state. The activities to combat drug trafficking and drug crime have been resumed. Our joint cybersecurity efforts are on the rise. This is a critical area to which we pay special attention.

Notably, special attention was paid to Russia’s initiatives, which were presented a year ago, and that supplemen BRICS’ activities with two new formats. I’m referring to the Women’s Business Alliance (it has been effectively created and is about to go live) and the Energy Research Platform, which is designed to encourage the research community’s involvement in the practical activities on drawing up energy resource plans. Two major events have taken place as part of the Energy Research Platform. Their results will also be submitted for consideration by the heads of state.

Question: You have repeatedly mentioned the importance of international cooperation in combating the coronavirus. China and Russia are now working to develop their own COVID-19 vaccine. China has officially announced its plans to strengthen cooperation in vaccine research and development.

What is your take on the prospects for possible cooperation between China and Russia in vaccine development and production? To what extent will cooperation between the two countries help ensure access to vaccines for other countries in need of support, including the BRICS members?

Sergey Lavrov: Today, we confirmed that this area remains a BRICS priority. Russia and China’s partners (India, Brazil and South Africa) actively supported Moscow and Beijing’s efforts in this regard. All of them appreciated the statements made by our Chinese colleague and myself to the effect that we are interested in the broadest possible cooperation, including with the participation of our BRICS friends. Notably, the coronavirus has by no means initiated the motivation for BRICS cooperation in this area. Interaction began much earlier. The first document on this subject was adopted at the BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, in 2015, when the heads of the BRICS states put forward an initiative to establish cooperation in combating infectious diseases. Then, at the 2018 South Africa Summit, our South African partners advanced an initiative to establish a vaccine development and research centre. So, this work has been ongoing for the past five years, even before the coronavirus infection posed very difficult problems for us.

Thanks to the visionary decisions adopted at the earlier summits, the BRICS countries were well prepared and are now able to mobilise their full potential in the face of the coronavirus infection.

Russia’s additional initiatives introduced this year have been reviewed and approved. One of them concerns the creation of an early warning system for epidemiological threats. The other proposes developing specific steps for the legal regulation of medical products which will certainly improve our ability to cope with the coronavirus now and prepare for the fact that we will most likely have to deal with similar challenges more than once in the future. So, BRICS is among the leaders in developing measures to prevent such epidemics and to deal with the aftereffects.

Question:  How will statements that we’ve heard in the past two days from Berlin on the issue of Alexei Navalny influence the strategic dialogue between Russia and Europe? Today, NATO urged Russia to fully open its file on Novichok to the   OPCW. Who is now interested in a crime scenario on Navalny’s poisoning?

Sergey Lavrov: Representatives of the Presidential Executive Office and the Foreign Ministry have already made statements on this issue. We have nothing to hide. Let me recall again that as soon as Navalny felt unwell on the plane it landed immediately. An ambulance was waiting for him in the airport and he was instantly taken to hospital, switched to an artificial lung ventilator and given other necessary measures. As I understand it, Navalny spent a bit more than a day and a half there. During this time, we were urged every hour to explain what happened and report any information immediately.

For over a week after he was taken to Germany, no one who raised a concern during his stay in Omsk has expressed interest in his case or loudly demanded information from the German doctors. We don’t have new information on this up to this day. It’s the same old story: we are publicly accused of something and our official requests for answers to specific questions from the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office, under legal assistance treaties, remain unanswered. German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has been accusing us for two days of this action (ostensibly, the poisoning) but cannot present anything specific. Today, we once again asked our colleagues in the EU and Germany whether Ms Merkel plans to instruct her staff to send the German Justice Ministry’s response to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office inquiry.

I already have to say out loud that we have information that this reply is being delayed due to the position of the German Foreign Ministry. We have instructed the Russian Ambassador to Germany to ask for a reason for the delay. Today we were at least promised that the reply would come soon. We will react when we receive it with specific facts. As I see it, the Germans believe their reply will contain these facts. Let me repeat that, regrettably, all this brings to mind what happened with the Skripals and other incidents where Russia was groundlessly accused and the results of the investigation (that took place in Britain in the latter case) remain classified. Nobody sees the Skripals themselves.

I would like to remind you that when, on the wave of this Russophobic hysteria over the Skripals, our British colleagues compelled most EU countries to expel our diplomats (to which Moscow certainly responded), we confidentially asked the EU members whether the Brits presented any facts in addition to what they publicly reported in the media. We received a negative answer. Facts were not presented but they asked to expel our diplomats and promised that specific information would be provided later. I am not being lazy and whenever I meet with my colleagues, I ask them about the Skripals case when they expelled Russian diplomats based on London’s parole of honour and followed its appeal. I ask them whether they were given the promised specific information in addition to what was publicly mentioned and they again said “no.” Nobody has given any information to anyone.

This is why we now approach such high-flown, dramatic statements by our Western colleagues with a large dose of scepticism. We’ll see what facts they present. I think this public conduct and such haughty, arrogant demands made in a tone that our Western partners allow themselves shows that there is little to present except artificially fueled pathetics.

Question: The Ukrainian foreign minister said that the foreign ministers of Germany and France seek to hold a Normandy format foreign minister meeting in September. According to him, you have no objections to this. Is that right?

Sergey Lavrov: The Foreign Ministry has already responded to this question. If someone wants to meet, let them meet. We have not discussed any such matter. We are now talking about preparing a meeting of foreign policy advisers to the Normandy format leaders. Nobody said anything specific about a meeting of foreign ministers, because, I think, they are well aware of our position. First, we need to act upon what the leaders of our countries agreed on in Paris in December 2019. There has been little progress so far. We only see more problems in connection with the constant worsening of the Ukrainian authorities’ position with regard to their commitment to implementing the Minsk agreements.

Question: Yesterday, it became known that the Democrats in the United States demanded immediate imposition of sanctions on Russia in connection with the upcoming US presidential election in November. They are referring to intelligence that says that Russia can allegedly intervene. What can you tell us about this?

Sergey Lavrov: We have been hearing accusations that Russia is interfering in US presidential elections for many years now. It has now become a kind of a game of who is interfering more: Russia, China or Iran? A US national intelligence official recently said that China is interfering more than Russia or Iran. So, grown-up people have been playing these games for a long time now, and this does not surprise us. Sometimes, though, we can’t help but be surprised. I’m referring to recent accusations against Russia to the effect that we are trying to abuse or use in the interest of a particular candidate the planned voting by mail in the United States. I was surprised by this accusation, because until then I thought that voting by mail was part of the differences between President Trump, who outright refuses to allow this type of vote to be held, and the Democrats, who want to use voting by mail as much as possible.

Truth be told, we are used to these attacks. In this case, as in the case of poisonings and other situations in different countries, we will respond to specific facts, if they are presented to us. We keep telling our partners – Americans and Europeans alike – if you have any concern about anything, especially cybersecurity, which has become a particularly common subject for accusations and reproaches against us, let’s sit down and review your facts. We are ready to do so. Unfortunately, our partners in the United States and the EU shun direct conversations based on professional analysis of available facts. We are ready for this, and we encourage our colleagues to do so. They should stop living in the past reminiscing about the colonial era and considering themselves smarter and mightier than others and start working on the basis of what they signed in 1945, namely, the UN Charter principles, including equality, balance of interests and joint and honest work. We are ready for this.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Relentless March

August 30, 2020

Relentless March

by Katerina for the Saker Blog

I left Russia at the tender age of 24, left not because I wanted to leave my country, just simply happened to marry a foreigner who was there at the time and for several years now been living and working in three very different countries, including Scotland and England. Now I am living in yet another English-speaking country that is equally unique and different. I like to think that my experience of these four different cultures, outlooks, attitudes, not to mention systems, had most definitely expanded my horizons. I also want to think that such experience had allowed me to make certain assessments and analysis which hopefully could be translated into informed opinions.

I have been coming to this site for over two years now since it is rather “pro Russian” and therefore my interest was obvious. I have been reading Saker’s and his contributors posts with great interest, although reading some comments was at times bewildering. There are of course some very intelligent analytical comments and commentators on Saker’s blog, after all that is one of the reasons why we want to come here – for the knowledge we might not yet have, for the insight, for an intelligent analyses by someone who took the trouble and for someone’s else point of view that perhaps can make us think – that’s how I see this blog, and I am sure so does Saker. What compelled me to write this piece, a belief that most people coming to this blog are also looking for that same thing, otherwise why bother. On the other hand some of their expressed comments are not opinions but attitudes. Let me explain the difference. Opinion is something that is based on knowledge and at least some research, an attitude is something that expresses a person’s individual take on some particular issue, which has been shaped by picking up some information possibly from MSM, or from social media or wherever without really ANALYZING it but accepting it because it fits with that person’s mentality. See the difference?

I also see in some comments an understandable ignorance of things Russian and I cannot blame them for that, at least they are interested enough to be on this site, which is commendable. Except some obvious troll like creatures, who try to have some facade but most people here I think are a fairly intelligent lot and can see thru that.

In this my small contribution I would like to try and help with a bit more understanding of Russian side of things, which I suppose is rather difficult for people in the West to really understand, as we have lots of pervasive Western media that does not give one a true picture of Russia. Also, I would endeavor to provide some analysis or at least some explanation on the seemingly ingrained animosity of the West towards Russia and it’s possible origins.

So, let’s start.

“Things Russian”. Here I can try to give you some information that you will not get in your Western MSM, for sure. Having Russian as your first language is a great advantage when you can watch, read and listen to what is happening in Russia at present, what is the general mood that comes across, what worries and concerns them, what they think. One can get a pretty clear picture of all of that through their news channels, daily talk shows, expert’s opinions, people’s comments, etc on practically a daily basis. My knowledge on the subject, I can assure you, is up to date.

First, here are some myths that I want to blow apart for some people – Russia and Russians are NOT that greatly enamored with the West that they are so desperately wanting to be “accepted” and “approved” by this West. FAR FROM IT!

Lots of them, having seen the West’s insane, reckless and criminal behavior such as what it has done to Ukraine, hysterics regarding Crimea going back to Mother Russia, MH17 hideous crime, made-up Scripal garbage, expulsion of Russian Diplomats, criminal seizing of Russian diplomatic property, endless sanctions and relentless demonization of Russia and it’s President – feel it’s enough to start a war! No, whatever warm feelings they might have had in the past towards the West after break- up of USSR and hopes of being friendly at last – all these feelings have been killed and long gone. Now, just as it was back in history, they want to keep the distance. Some of the Western poison seeps thru occasionally but that does not get much traction. The so called “opposition” in Russia mostly survives on Soros’s grants and in Russia they even have a name for them -“sorosyata”, which roughly translates as a Soros’s little piglets. These who join them in their various protests are usually mindless youth looking for a bit of excitement. Too much of that excitement can land them with a heavy fine or expulsion from whatever learning establishment they attend. That cools a lot of hot heads. So, whatever one reads in western media regarding strong Russian “opposition” to Putin’s “dictatorship”, bear in mind he has as much fear of this opposition as an elephant of a flea on it’s back. Besides, if he was such a dictator this lot would not be allowed even to exist as an “opposition”, but they even have their own media channels – I reckon the government sees that as the best way to keep an eye on them.

No, there are no censorship, dictatorship or any other “ship” in Russia that does not allow people, however deluded, to express themselves, but in a civilized fashion. Cities are spotlessly clean, excellent infrastructure, every restaurant you could wish for, great bars and nightclubs, same make of cars on the roads as in any European city, friendly people and no homeless on the streets. Those football fans that arrived in Russia from all over the world for the World Cup couple of years ago, had to “pick their jaws off the pavement”. They could not believe what they were seeing as it was so totally different to what they were expecting from the images shaped for them by western media.

This is modern Russia.

In the last 25 years lots of Russians have traveled around Europe, UK, States, etc – something they could not do so easily before – they had a look, and what most of them discovered is that the grass definitely wasn’t greener on the other side. They were interested to have a look and quite content to get back home.

There were some who fled Russia during the terrible 90s when what was going on in Russia at the time was hell on wheels, as it was being robbed and pillaged by the West, whose wet dream at last came true, unfortunately for them only for a brief moment. Quite a number of Russians who left Russia at the time are now returning back home. The West now has got it’s own version of hell on wheels, so let’s call it KARMA.

What Russians also find distasteful are bad manners on the part of the West, showing up in rather unpleasant and uncalled for displays of arrogant lecturing and attempts to show some inexplicable “superiority” with regard to Russia. I have experienced this myself when in England, but NEVER in Scotland, I will hasten to add. Scotland and Scots for me were always “home from home”.

I was buying a train ticket at the Waterloo station in London and the ticket seller, an Englishman in his 40s, seeing my name, muttered under his breath “bloody Russian”. I was looking at him and wondering what made him say that. Here was someone who probably hardly finished secondary school, selling a ticket to someone who is a highly qualified professional, with two degrees, one of which is Masters, attained from one of the best Scottish Universities (writing a dissertation in second language is not easy, believe me!) and yet, he felt somehow “superior” to this Russian and that compelled him to mutter these words. And I suddenly realized that it was CONDITIONED in him, he didn’t even pause to think, it came out because he couldn’t help it. Attitude!

This negative conditioning in the West towards things Russian obviously had roots at some stage and later, reflecting on it I could see how it might have come about. We will leave religion aside for the moment, although it does play some part. The main culprit in my opinion, is the colonial mindset, combined with actual ignorance. To people in the West, meaning Western Europe and Britain, throughout centuries Russia has always been something dark and unknown and therefore to be feared and distanced from. There were few very sparse contacts but on the whole Russia and the West kept themselves to themselves. And until Peter the Great came along, that arrangement absolutely suited Russians as well. They regarded the West as heinous and un-Godly and much preferred to keep that distance. Tsar Peter has changed all of that in his drive to “open a window into Europe” as he put it.

What is not widely known about “superior” Europe of these days and that includes Britain, is that people there never bathed, fearing that it would kill them. When Tsar Peter arrived there with his entourage for their big Euro tour, they were absolutely shocked at the smell and stink of unwashed bodies, even in the palaces. Russians, before baths and showers were ever invented, for centuries had a wonderful tradition of having a “banya” once a week. Sort of like a nice steamy sauna but with an addition of hot water to actually wash yourself. Now, tell me, what nation is more civilized here?

The Russian Tsar, on the other hand was viewed in the West as some strange and fascinating curiosity. When the average person height in those days was shorter than it is now, Tsar Peter, being a young man, virile, handsome, did not wear wig, full of energy AND at 6’8” tall, of course, towered above everyone. At least now the West had a real chance to see a real Russian.

The tour was a great success. Tsar Peter brought back with him some craftsmen, some interesting new inventions, like the sextant and some experienced boat builders. His burning ambition was for Russia to have a Navy, although at that time it was totally landlocked from both Baltic and Black seas.

At some stage Peter also had to fight and defeat the Swedish King who at the time was trying to expand his kingdom into the rest of Europe. Peter had to get him off the land where he wanted to build his new capital, St Petersburg (he never liked Moskva) and that, of course, gave him an access to the Baltic Sea. In the process he also liberated these parts of Europe that the war-addicted Swedish King had managed to grab. Sweden still cannot forgive Russia for that. Afterwards the energetic Russian Tsar set out to build his new capital, laid foundations for his Navy and among many other things made his Boyars in court shave their beards and wear European attire, complete with powdered wigs. Those who refused to obey and shave Tsar himself did it for them and then fined them heavily. One does not trifle with Imperial orders! Eventually he got himself named an “anti-Christ” by the Russian Church, that passionately believed that Russia should not be “westernized”, that it had it’s own destiny and it’s own path. I tend to agree with them there. Meanwhile Europeans had discovered that they had nothing to fear from Russia and that bathing did not kill them after all and everything went rather swimmingly for a while between Russia and the West.

Until the start of the Industrial revolution.

The West suddenly realized that for such one needs lots of resources, which the West did not have but others did. Everyone went busily sailing around the world looking whom they can easily colonize and loot. Britain, one has to say, outdid every other European rival in those pursuits. Then, when the supply of countries to loot started to dwindle, the collective West turned it’s gaze upon… Russia. And this, in my opinion, was the moment when that animosity had taken root. Here was a country, with hardly any population to speak of, occupying huge territory and not just that, full of everything one can only dream about, every great resource imaginable, including gold and diamonds…

There was only one problem. Those “bloody Russians” in the way!

So, that was the start of it – fueled by greed, envy, resentment and hatred. The rest we all know. The “relentless marches” on Russia, mostly in gangs. Both Napoleon and Hitler had lots of willing European accomplices, all wanting a share of the spoils. Well, they all got what they deserved and here we are now, in 21st century and they are STILL at it! Lessons not learned. Only this time they got themselves a big bully that they can all hide behind but unfortunately for them this bully cannot fight. At least not a serious opponent. Some little helpless nations around the world, no problem, drop few bombs, show up with one of your “carrier groups” and it’s all honky dory. Here, it is facing RUSSIA, a nation that NEVER lost a war.

And now we have this NATO – another gang, controlled by this bully. The problem for them is that NONE of them can really fight, even as a gang and so, what we now have is a circus show, called exercises, each one with more ferocious name than the last. Russia is watching these clowns prancing on her borders and has left them in no doubt whatsoever that just one step over that border and there will be nothing left of them, INSTANTLY. They can also install their missile bases in Romania and Poland, or in any other little euro vassal, sorry, NATO ally, that wants to make itself a prime target – anything fired from those will be immediately shot down and the place from where it was fired will be just one large smouldering crater, several kilometers in diameter. No, Russia does not consider NATO a big threat. Just a nuisance. The game that is being played here is as follows: “we”, NATO allies have to scream very loud and very often about “Russian aggression” and “Russian treat”- failing that this NATO becomes irrelevant and the big MIC will not be able to suck up trillions of taxpayers money to line some very, very deep pockets. And while we are at it, we will force our “allies” to buy our military junk at exorbitant prices. So, here you have it.

I think people in the West hearing this Russophobic propaganda garbage 24/7 start believing it and start imagining that perhaps all of this is true, but remember what Goebbels, Hitler’s chief of propaganda advocated – keep repeating a lie often enough and they will eventually believe you.

Russia is not your enemy. All it wants from the West is to be left alone and also to be shown some respect. This arrogant, talking down to, insulting approach has no place in dealings with an old civilized and cultured nation like Russia, which is also extremely well-armed. That attitude actually reflects very badly on the West and on state of mental midgetry of their politicians, who do not seem to have any grasp that such approach will lead them nowhere. Most of course are puppets, just doing what Uncle Sam is telling them but here is a word of warning – following Uncle Sam might lead one to the cliff edge…

Another bit of info that you will not find in western MSM – RF (Russian Federation) Immigration Services are inundated with applications from people in the West, including USA, (and I am not talking about expats), who want to move to Russia. These people see it as some kind of Noah’s Ark, compared to what is coming to their countries. Living in Russia they feel they can be free to be a normal family with normal family values, not parent1 and parent2, but Mum and Dad and where their children can grow up in a normal environment, without being subjected to creepy gender selections.

In conclusion I will say this – in my experience most people are not that different from each other, after all we are ALL human and we all want the same in life – love, appreciation, family and a future for our children. It’s not that hard to get along if you want to. But what we also have in common is a common enemy that hates humanity and wants us culled (their expression) and what’s left, subjugated. So, rather than facing each other with hands in a fist, how about we direct our attention and all our energies to fighting THAT evil, the one that wants to destroy us all.

Russian-Belarusian Relations: Back To Being Brothers?

16 AUGUST 2020

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Russian-Belarusian Relations: Back To Being Brothers?

Several recent developments in Russian-Belarusian relations — in particular, Belarus’ return of 32 suspected Wagner mercenaries to Russia, Belarusian opposition leader Tsepkalo’s departure from Russia, and the two phone calls between Presidents Putin and Lukashenko — hint that bilateral ties might soon return to their formerly fraternal level, though the fact of the matter is that Minsk simply doesn’t have any realistic option other than to re-engage Moscow (albeit on the latter’s terms) after the dramatic failure of the former’s “balancing” act and is thus destined to be Russia’s “little brother” instead of its “equal brother”.

A Russian-Belarusian Rapprochement?

Some notable developments occurred since the author’s analysis on Friday about how “Belarus’ ‘Democratic Security’ Operation Shouldn’t Be Exploited For Russophobic Purposes“. That piece painted a bleak picture of Russian-Belarusian relations, one in which Russia’s hosting of Belarusian opposition leader Tsepkalo could have potentially been instrumentalized to protect its national security interests. That’s no longer the case, however, since recent events have changed that calculation. Some observers are nowadays a bit more optimistic about their ties, even believing that they might soon return to their formerly fraternal level, though the fact of the matter is that Minsk simply doesn’t have any realistic option other than to re-engage Moscow (albeit on the latter’s terms) after the dramatic failure of the former’s “balancing” act and is thus destined to be Russia’s “little brother” instead of its “equal brother”.

Resolving The Wagner Incident

The first major development that occurred in the past few days was twofold and concerns both Belarus’ return of 32 suspected Wager mercenaries to Russia on Friday and Tsepkalo’s (subsequent?) departure from Russia. It certainly seems that the two are linked considering the timing in which they occurred, so it might very well have been the case that this was a quid pro quo. To explain, Belarus’ detainment of those nearly three dozen Russians can be seen in hindsight not simply as an anti-Russian provocation and “sign of good faith” about its intent to continue improving relations with the West after the election (before they decided to overthrow its leader), but also a misguided “insurance policy” against what Lukashenko had previously alleged was Moscow’s meddling in its internal affairs. In other words, those Russians were essentially political hostages to ensure that their homeland didn’t allow anti-government figures like Tsepkalo to operate from its territory.

The Tsepkalo Intrigue

His arrival there wasn’t anything that Moscow could have prevented considering the visa-free travel regime in place between the two members of the so-called “Union State”, but Minsk obviously felt uncomfortable with the fact that he fled to the Russian capital at the end of last month a few days prior to the Wagner provocation. In fact, the aforementioned provocation might have even been launched in response to that development considering the very acute “strategic dilemma” between the two nominal “allies” after Lukashenko stopped trusting Russia upon falling for the Western information warfare narrative that his neighbor harbored malicious intentions towards his country. The cover for this speculative quid pro quo of returning the suspected mercenaries in exchange for Tsepkalo’s departure from Russia was that the latter was added to an international wanted persons list upon Minsk’s request, hence why Moscow could no longer allow him to remain there.

Quid Pro Quo

This enabled both sides to “save face” and not appear as though they were enacting any “concessions” towards the other during this unprecedentedly tense period of their relations. Both sides therefore got what they wanted. Russia’s political hostages were released, while Belarus no longer had to worry about the possibility of Russia instrumentalizing Tsepkalo’s presence in its capital. Everything could thus return to how it was before late-July when Tsepkalo fled to Russia and the Wagner provocation occurred shortly thereafter. While ties were still tense up until that time, they weren’t as bad as they were afterwards following those two incidents. It’s premature to call this a “reset” though since a rapprochement is more accurate at this point. This quid pro quo indicates that each side understands the necessity of restoring trust and confidence in one another. As such, their leaders then spoke with one another the next day, Saturday, to take their rapprochement even further.

Two Phone Calls In Two Days

The official Kremlin website didn’t say much about the details of their talk but nevertheless sounded upbeat about the future of their relations. Lukashenko, however, later revealed that “I and he agreed that we will receive comprehensive assistance in ensuring Belarus’ security whenever we request it”. The Belarusian leader also warned against what he described as NATO’s threatening buildup along his borders, implying that the alliance might try to attack his country. The next day, Sunday, Presidents Putin and Lukashenko spoke again, and this time the official Kremlin website reported that they discussed possible security assistance through the CSTO mutual defense pact of which both states are members. This dimension of the crisis adds some more intrigue to the rapidly developing situation by making it seem like a Russian military intervention along the lines of the Crimean one might be imminent, though that scenario more than likely won’t come to pass.

Crimea 2.0 Is Unlikely

Firstly, foreign forces are ineffective for carrying out “Democratic Security” operations since the target nation’s own ones are required in order for the state to retain legitimacy except in situations where Color Revolutionaries and/or military defectors seize control of military bases and/or cities, which seems unlikely to happen. Secondly, NATO’s reported military buildup is probably just for show and isn’t anything serious. The alliance knows that attacking Belarus would trigger Russia’s mutual defense commitments, thus potentially worsening the crisis to the level of World War III in the worst-case scenario. And thirdly, Belarus previously balked at Russia’s prior request to establish an air base within its borders since it knows that its ally’s increased military presence there would be perceived real negatively by NATO and thus lead to even more pressure upon it. For these reasons, a forthcoming Russian military intervention in Belarus is unlikely.

Lukashenko’s Signals

The question thus becomes one of why Lukashenko is even flirting with this possibility in the first place if it probably won’t happen, with the answer likely being that he intends to send signals to Russia and the West with his words. About the first-mentioned, he’s reaffirming his country’s commitment to its traditional ally in an attempt to shore up support from its media after they’ve been uncharacteristically critical of him in response to his failed “balancing” act of the past year. Regarding the second, the West, he wants them to realize that he’s no longer as naive as before and no longer trusts them after they ordered their Color Revolution cadres to oust him. In other words, he’s trying to recalibrate his “balancing” act by moving closer to Russia in response to the Western pressure being put upon him from above (sanctions threats) and below (Color Revolution). Domestically, these dramatic statements are also intended to distract people by hyping up an external enemy.

Belarus’ Official Position On “Balancing”

A casual observer might be inclined to think that Belarus once again wants to return to its former brotherly relations with Russia, but the situation isn’t as simple as that. After all, Lukashenko declared earlier this month that “it is impossible” to strengthen his country’s “Union State” relations with Russia. “Even if I agreed to the reunification on the most favorable terms for Belarus, the people of Belarus would not accept it. The nation is not ready for this and will never be. The people are overripe. It was possible 20 or 25 years ago when the Soviet Union collapsed. But not now.” Nevertheless, he also said on Sunday that “Belarus does not want to be a ‘buffer zone’…to separate Russia from the West”, which essentially rules out its participation in the Polish-led and US-backed “Three Seas Initiative” (TSI) and related frameworks like the “Lublin Triangle“, at least for now. Put another way, Belarus wants closer relations with Russia, but not formal incorporation into a single state. While it wishes to retain friendly relations with the West, it won’t do so at the expense of Russia either.

Russia > West

The way that the situation is developing, it looks like Belarus has chosen to abandon its “balancing” act in favor of realigning itself with Russia, though it lost whatever previous leverage it thought that it had throughout the course of the past year after it so terribly failed to take advantage of its newfound relations with the West to bargain for better terms from Moscow in the run-up to the ongoing Color Revolution. Lukashenko is therefore at President Putin’s mercy when it comes to any potential Russian assistance to his government, which is unlikely to be military aid for the earlier mentioned reasons but would most probably be deeper integration through the “Union State” framework despite the Belarusian leader’s hesitancy. In a “perfect world”, his “balancing” act would have turned Belarus into the New Cold War’s version of Tito’s Yugoslavia, but in the imperfect reality in which everyone lives, Belarus has little choice but to accept Russia’s “Union State” terms.

“Saving Face”

It’s of the highest importance for Lukashenko to “save face” while commencing this policy pivot (provided of course that he remains in office long enough to see it through), which is where the wording of the Kremlin’s statement on Saturday following the first phone call between him and Putin comes in. The last sentence speaks about the “fraternal nations of Russia and Belarus”, which is a symbolic narrative “concession” to Lukashenko after he complained earlier in the month about “Russia switching from a brotherly relationship to a partnership — suddenly.” The Belarusian leader can therefore claim that the two countries are once again “brothers”, which could be relied upon by him as the pretext for agreeing to resume integration within the “Union State” framework even though it’ll likely be on Russia’s terms instead of his own. That would in effect formalize Belarus’ status as Russia’s “junior partner”, which it’s always been but he’d been loath to acknowledge it.

A True “Brotherhood” Or A “Fraternal Hierarchy”?

This brings the analysis back to the question posed in the title about whether Russian-Belarusian relations have returned back to their formerly fraternal nature. The answer is yes and no. On the one hand, they’ll probably continue to repair their relations after Lukashenko’s failed “balancing” act threatened to ruin them once and for all, but on the other, they won’t ever have equal relations given the hierarchy involved. To use Lukashenko’s own metaphor, President Putin is his “elder brother“, and in traditional family arrangements, seniority carries with it certain perks. So too can the same be said about the relations between a Great Power like Russia and a comparatively smaller and much weaker state like Belarus. Regardless of the rhetoric that politicians love to espouse, there can never be true equality between such vastly different states. What there can be, however, is respect of each other’s core interests but recognition that there still exists a “fraternal hierarchy” among them.

Concluding Thoughts

The Belarusian Crisis is still very serious, though the positive developments of the past two days in respect to bilateral relations with Russia inspire cautious optimism about the future. If Lukashenko can survive the Hybrid War against him, which he’d more than likely have to do on his own without any Russian military support considering the fact that foreign military forces are ineffective in dealing with most manifestations of such wars, then there’s a high chance that Belarus will agree to strengthen its integration with Russia through the “Union State” framework on Moscow’s terms. Lukashenko can still “save face” by claiming that he restored his country’s “brotherhood” with Russia, though that would only be half-true since no true “brotherhood” would exist (or ever has) since what’s really in force is a “fraternal hierarchy”. In any case, Lukashenko seems to have finally learned his lesson about “balancing”, but it’ll remain to be seen whether he learned it too late.

Two clicks to midnight

Two clicks to midnight

Two clicks to midnight[1]

by Ken Leslie for The Saker Blog

While I was absent from this esteemed blog focusing on other things, an extremely dangerous situation started to develop and I found myself reaching for the keyboard again. If some of my previous writings were a bit alarmist, the tone was motivated by a genuine angst before an unfeeling and unstoppable machine of conquest and destruction the likes of which the world had never seen. And angst it is—anybody with an ounce of common sense can see that the World is hurtling towards some kind of catastrophe. Whether this occurs in a year or five is less relevant. The point is that we are witnessing a process of rapid implosion of the current global system and are not able to see what will replace it. There is no compelling vision of the future—a universal vessel of hope that would transport us across the turbulent waters of fundamental change. This time I am not anxious but resigned. Resignation does not imply learned helplessness—unlike most people around me I am grateful for the ability to be aware of the danger and to articulate what I see as the truth without fear or self-censorship.

Oh, and if the post sounds like a rant, that’s because it is one.

Some academics (ideologues?) such as Steven Pinker have argued that things are much better than they were a 100 years ago—at least in terms of deaths caused by wars and other hard indicators of well-being. Although it pains me to say that Pinker could be correct, this essay is not about “progress” but about the approach of the ultimate regress—the unavoidable and ultimately catastrophic clash between the “West” and the “East”. A couple of months ago I was writing about the danger of NATO hordes closing in on Moscow from the Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics only to realize that unless a miracle happens, in a few months, Russia will be completely surrounded by enemies. The only exceptions—Norway at the extreme North and Azerbaijan at the extreme South are less relevant at the moment but as we have seen recently, these countries too are being subjected to accelerated weaponization—just yesterday, a Russian diplomat was detained in Norway and Azerbaijan is involved in a tense standoff with a (supposed) ally of Russia.

The fracturing and occupation of the post-Soviet space that began in 1991 is almost complete. More or less willingly, the former Warsaw pact and buffer states of Eastern Europe joined the criminal alliance that is NATO and over the last 30 years gradually prepared for the coming war against Russia. When did it all begin? The blueprint for the current mechanism was established by the Nazi Germany which narrowed the distance between itself and the Soviet Union over a few years. Moreover, the political mechanism behind the new Drang (the European Union) was designed in 1944 by Hitler’s economic experts (and put into practice by the founder of the CIA, William Donovan). It should be noted that on his way to the USSR, Hitler had to “pacify” a few countries including Poland, France, Yugoslavia and Greece. This time around, the whole West is united in its enmity towards Russia (economic links notwithstanding) and ALL European countries with the exception of Serbia and Byelorussia have placed themselves willingly in the anti-Russian camp. This is not to say that the majority of people in those countries hate Russia (in many they do) but that the governing cliques and military juntas inside various NATO satrapies are ready to contribute to the “joint effort to bring freedom and democracy” to the “benighted Rus”.

Of these two pariahs, the Serbs, despite their love of Russia are doomed by geography and by the privilege of being the only nation to have a piece of their country (Kosovo and Metohija) taken away, of being bombed by the combined forces of the West for 78 days and having a quarter of a million of their number cruelly expelled from their homeland in Srpska Krajina (currently occupied by Croatia). Exhausted and surrounded by enemies, the Serbs can do little to stop the clock ticking towards the Armageddon. This leaves Byelorussia, the only post-Soviet country that has not flirted with overt Russophobia and whose president showed many signs of real independence of mind vis-à-vis the West. Alexander Lukashenko’s personal bravery is not in question. In the midst of the NATO bombing in 1999, he visited Belgrade and declared himself openly pro-Serb. He signed the accession to the Union State between his country and Russia that same year.[2] He was somebody who wanted to preserve the positive legacy of the Soviet Union and his unwillingness to toe the EU line (pro-German “democracy” at home and anti-Russian posture abroad) earned him the sobriquet of the “last European dictator”.

But then, things started to go wrong, especially after the Nazi takeover of the Ukraine in 2014. Lukashenko might have started to feel isolated and between Western pressure and ossification of his quasi-socialist system (nothing wrong with it in principle), he began to turn against his only genuine ally—Russia. The reasons for this U turn are complex but at this moment also irrelevant. Whatever the cause of the cooling of the relations between Russia and Byelorussia, the consequences are dire and are fast becoming catastrophic. To understand the gravity of the situation, we should be able to see the “Gestalt”—the whole of the current geopolitical situation and its trends. That a global conflict between the West and the East is in the offing there is no doubt. Not only has Russia been targeted since the mid-1990s, but the total war on China and Iran declared by Trump and his Jesuitical agents provocateurs confirms absolutely that we are facing something unprecedented. I need to remind the reader that nothing like this was even remotely possible only 30 years ago. The brazenness and sheer bloodthirst of the new Operation Barbarossa with its global ambitions dwarfs any conquests known to history. What boggles the mind is how successful it has been.

No bromides about how strong Russia is, how well it’s coping (I repeat—coping) with the cruel sanctions by the West will suffice this time. No empty hope that somehow the miserable quisling statelets from the Balkans to the Baltics will experience a Zen-like enlightenment and disobey their Western masters. No false hope that the push towards Russia’s borders can somehow be reversed and no end in sight to the total war waged by the combined “West” (a dire temporary reconciliation of a resurgent Roman Catholicism, neutered Protestantism and newly respectable Zionism). From this point on, there is no going back. The distance between Moscow and the closest point in the Ukraine is 440 km (as crow flies). In the case of Byelorussia, it is 410 km. Although symbolic, this advance would be hugely important for the would-be conquerors as it is for Russia. Starting with Orsha in Byelorussia, the path to Moscow leads through Smolensk, Vyazma and Mozhaysk—towns that experienced so much suffering in WWII because they were on the road to Moscow. But what about the suffering of Byelorussia? It was probably the worst-suffering Soviet republic with an unknown number of people killed or sent of to Germany as slave labour and uncountable number of villages and towns destroyed.

None of this matters in the upside-down Western world view in which black is white and white is black. It is a world in which the close descendants of the worst war criminals in history are now the unofficial rulers of Europe together with their Gallic poodles and Anglo-Saxon frenemies, while the nation which bore the brunt of the cruellest genocide ever is being attacked by those same criminals again—as if two Vernichtungskriege in 30 years weren’t enough.

Many will point out that we are already at war and this would be true. The threat of a nuclear conflict has prompted Western strategists to think of alternative ways of destroying their opponents. We are talking about a broad-spectrum effort which includes political, economic, intelligence, cultural, psychological, religious and military components. By weaving these different strands into a single coordinated strategy, the West is hoping (and succeeding) in getting closer to Moscow every day without igniting a global nuclear war. This time however, it is different. Not only has the West crossed Russia’s geopolitical red lines, it has given notice that it will stop at nothing until Russia is defeated and destroyed. They are skilfully neutralising Russia’s nuclear deterrent by inflicting a thousand cuts from all sides without suffering any harm themselves. Two days ago, a Russian major general was killed by America’s proxies in Syria while delivering food to the people of Idlib. Today, Alexey Navalny is in a coma after an alleged poisoning attempt. The quickening is palpable but no event demonstrates the current danger better than the attempted colour revolution in Byelorussia which is unfolding as we speak.

The genius of the Western destruction-mongers lies not in their ingenuity and creativity but in their understanding of the lower reaches of human nature (in this respect they have no peer). They know how to exploit weaknesses such as greed, envy and ego and especially people’s susceptibility to vices. Moreover, these agents of darkness know that most people are frightened, helpless, largely ignorant and easily swayed and distracted. With this knowledge and an inexhaustible source of money, the West has settled on a winning scheme of “peaceful” conquest which has brought it all the way from the Atlantic coast to the gates of Moscow after 30 years of colour revolutions, coups and open war. I need to stress the importance and success of this “boiling frog” strategy.[3] There is nothing new or surprising in their latest move on Lukashenko—the same combination of underground CIA-funded networks from Poland, Ukraine and the Baltics and incompetent opposition which is transformed into a “plausible democratic alternative” overnight. Nazi-linked symbols, Russophobic vultures such as the buzzard-faced Bernard Henri-Levi circling above the scene, invented ancient roots… It’s all there.

But that is not why I’m writing. Throughout my years as a keen observer of the latest (and last) Drang, I have been fascinated by the patterns of behaviour (on a geopolitical level) which seem to come straight out of a history book to describe the period circa 1940. While the Western juggernaut hurtles through space, the decorum of “partnership” is maintained to the very last moment. Even though a few lonely voices are screaming that the war is inevitable and that Russia must neutralise any further advances by the new Nazis, most people are distracted by COVID, Joe Biden’s dementia and other nonsense. This could be cowardice but could also be wisdom in the face of an inevitable tragedy.

Even the tone of the Russian diplomacy is slowly changing—as it did in the autumn of 1940 following the cooling of German-Soviet relations. The ever measured and moderate Sergei Lavrov (like Vyacheslav Molotov before him) has started describing the international situation in more realistic terms using noticeably harsher language. Nevertheless, unless Russia does something very quickly, it will find itself completely surrounded and unable to defend itself as it did in 1941—hypersonic weapons notwithstanding.

However, the most fascinating aspect of this latest escalation is the fact that another colour revolution could be attempted at all and that Russia is still unable to assert itself in its neighbourhood, if only in order to save itself. “Unable” is perhaps too strong a word. What I mean is that unlike the West which is achieving its geopolitical goals without shedding blood and even without suffering any significant economic damage (no, Russian countersanctions have not crippled Germany or France), the Russians know that any attempts to stop and reverse the Western push will cost them dearly—primarily in terms of further isolation from all Western countries (already, Russian diplomats are being detained and expelled throughout the EU, as if in anticipation of the Byelorussian endgame). [4]The Western planners know that Russia can survive on its own but they also know that it can’t survive for long if deprived of the oxygen of international exchange—the feeling that it belongs to the family of European nations. No Eurasian ideology can ever replace the esteem in which Europe has been held by Russian intellectuals. While I see this pronounced inferiority complex as Russia’s curse, I have to acknowledge it in order to explain president Putin’s attempts to get various EU countries on his side.

It is not so much about economy but about Russia’s eternal yearning to prove itself worthy of “European standards” despite the fact that it was Europe that has been attacking Russia relentlessly and is guilty of crippling it possibly beyond healing. Hope springs eternal. And yet, president Putin must be aware of the dirty double-dealing game the EU is playing (I am giving the villain du jour a miss this time) by leaning on the United States to re-establish its hegemony over the Eurasian, African and Middle-Eastern space while lecturing Putin and Lukashenko on the merits of democracy. There is something deeply hypocritical—not to say Jesuitical—about EUs posture. It is doing everything in its power to isolate and weaken Russia while offering carrots such as Nord stream 2. This is much more pernicious than the open enmity of Trump and his crude supremacism because it offers the deeply unpleasant EU block an opportunity to play a good cop towards Russia at no cost to itself. Compared with the US’s Berserker-like attack on anything and everything, the EU appears “reasonable” and ready for a compromise by comparison—but this is only a dangerous illusion.

While the EU is wholeheartedly supporting the new Maidan (relying on the nazified pockets in the West of Byelorussia and the usual pro-Western suspects), it has the temerity to issue warnings to Putin not to “meddle” and to Lukashenko not to “oppress”. This coming from a president who has been perpetrating mass violence on the peaceful demonstrators in the centre of Paris for over a year. Even worse, Angela Merkel who is initiating a more muscular foreign policy under the guidance of expansionist hawks who are champing at the bit to replace her (Annegret whatever and Ursula I don’t care) dares lecture Russia on interfering in other countries’ affairs—after her illustrious predecessors. the CDU crypto-Nazis Kohl, Kinkel and Genscher destroyed Yugoslavia (only for Russian top partnyor Gerhardt Schröder to finish the job by sending German bombers, spies and military trainers to Serbia in 1999). And yet, all Russia can do is appeal meekly to the EU in the hope that the Ukrainian scenario will not recur. Promises of military help given to Lukashenko are almost worthless in the light of the cumulative EUs response—which would be nothing short of traumatic. The proof of this is the complete support by Germany for the Ukrainian regime notwithstanding its dirty role in overthrowing Yanukovich and undermining the Minsk accords.

So, what am I trying to say? The moment of reckoning has arrived. Despite the heroic battle by President Putin and his comrades to buy time and delay the inevitable, the time for procrastination and appeasement has passed. Russia must choose between a difficult but sustainable future and no future at all. The Western offensive has destroyed all buffers between Russia and its enemies and although this might not mean much militarily, it has a vast symbolic value.[5] If Byelorussia goes, Russia remains geopolitically isolated like never before. Furthermore, its enemies, far from collapsing as many have been predicting, are strong and more united than ever despite various internecine squabbles.[6] This is not to say that Russia is at the death’s door. On the contrary, it is precisely because it is so resilient and forward-looking that its enemies are compelled to ramp up the pressure.

Even if Lukashenko survives the current jeopardy, he will cease to be a relevant political factor in years to come. The weakening of his rule (however clumsy and obsolescent) can mean only one thing—the infiltration of the Byelorussian political life by various pro-Western agents of influence who will find it easy to corrupt and disrupt by dipping into NED’s and USAID’s seemingly inexhaustible coffers. The moment Russia intervenes in the affairs of Minsk in any detectable way, it will be subjected to a barrage of hatred, military threats and punitive measures that have not been seen before. President Putin has an unenviable choice—act sub rosa (like he has been doing in the Donbass) and watch Byelorussia slowly descend into an orgy of anti-Russian madness or intervene openly and risk alienating the EU further, at a time when the fate of the lifeline pipeline crucially depends on EUs goodwill and willingness to antagonise Trump (a perfect good cop, bad cop scenario played by the USA and EU).

All of this is clear to president Putin and his cabinet and I have no doubt that they are burning midnight oil trying to think of the best ways to counter the Western aggression. Yet, history still holds valuable lessons. Stung by what he saw as the betrayal by the British and the French, Joseph Stalin signed a non-aggression treaty with Hitler in order to delay the inevitable. The period of collaboration involved the USSR shipping oil to Germany, oil which would later power German tanks on the road to Stalingrad. Although he did buy enough time to execute some important war preparations, Stalin waited far too long. Months after having received reports of German reconnaissance planes overflying Byelorussia and Ukraine, Stalin refused to believe that Hitler would betray him and ascribed the “anti-German” panic to the agents of Winston Churchill. Yet, this time he was horribly wrong and his error cost the USSR millions of lives and billions in damage. None of the subsequent amazing victories of the Soviet arms would quite wash away the bitter taste of Stalin’s epic blunder of 1941.

The historical lesson I was alluding to is simple yet devilishly hard to implement because it is “two-tailed”. In other words, the possibility of a deadly miscalculation stretches equally in both temporal directions away from the point that represents a timely decision. In other words, given the huge stakes that are involved, making a correct decision is well-nigh impossible. And although the choice can be defended post-hoc, especially if it results in a victory, we can never know if a better decision could not have been made. Like Stalin, Putin is facing the Scylla and Charybdis of time, only I would argue that he is facing an even more difficult decision. For all its weaknesses, the Soviet Union was much larger than its successor state and possessed by far the largest armed forces in the world (to say nothing about the reserves of raw materials and workforce). The factor that probably decided its fate was a relative weakness of the fifth column inside the country and the ability of the security services to neutralise pro-German networks operating inside the country. President Putin has entered the twilight zone in which the smallest mistake can cost him everything. I don’t envy him but pray for his wisdom and Russia’s preparedness.

Of course, circumstances have changed dramatically and today’s warfare bears scant resemblance to the mass movement of army fronts across thousands of kilometres of chernozem and steppe. These days, the crude manoeuvring of armoured columns has been replaced by silent software attacks on a state’s currency system and infrastructure, covert takeovers and sabotage of its assets, denial of open and free intercourse with other countries, replacement of the indigenous values and goals by the foreign dogma and suborning of its institutions to will of the Empire. This new form of warfare requires sophistication and intercontinental co-ordination. Occasionally, we are made aware of the bloopers of the Western intelligence services and their silly attempts to blame Russia for all their ills, but make no mistake! The cumulative effect of their misdeeds has been a complete homogenisation of the European space along the Russophobic lines prescribed by the behind-the-scene bosses. Let me put it this way: If tomorrow the USA and the EU were to declare a war on Russia, do you believe that any of the Slav vassals would openly defy the clarion call? Again, let me give you a couple of examples from history.

When NATO bombed Serbia, not a single country refused to participate in this egregious war crime and the honour of defying the black criminal cabal of Brussels belongs to a few heroic soldiers from Greece, Spain and France. With Iraq it was different in that Germany and France did not feel sufficiently incentivised to participate in what they saw as a neocon-inspired Anglo-Saxon adventure (for which they have been lauded no end). To pre-empt the possibility of future betrayal by its vassals, the US has shifted to a new strategy which seeks to weaken Russia (or China) without having to mobilise military “coalitions of the willing”. The war is being fought in small, almost invisible increments which do not require absolute allegiance to the cause and payment in blood.

The new army consists of spies, computer and finance specialists, thinktank ideologues, NGO “activists”, “security experts” and other assorted ghouls whose victories are not measured in square kilometres of conquered territory or body counts but in fractions of a percent of damage caused to the currency, prestige or freedom of action of the enemy. This leaves a lot of space for “plausible deniability” and the maintenance of the “business as usual” posture while the deadly blows are administered below the waterline. It also bamboozles the ordinary people into thinking that the war could never happen. It can and it will.

Another consequence will be accelerated squeezing and neutralisation of the semi-impotent Serbia and the final Gleichschaltung of the Eastern wing of NATO in preparation for a more muscular phase of the war. This will involve transferring more troops and missiles to the East (but always under the retaliation threshold), closing down of Russia’s embassies and consulates in Europe while pretending to oppose the United States, closing down financing channels and media outlets, making life miserable for Russian citizens and businessmen abroad plus hundreds more nasty tricks. In many ways, the strategy of sustained pressure is more dangerous than open conflict because it sucks out hope from the people of the affected country—the hope that they will be treated as equals by the “cultured” West. A similar tactic has been used against China but China is in a much better economic position to withstand such pressures.

The fall of Lukashenko and “old Byelorussia” can mean only one thing—an intensified total war which Russia will have to face totally isolated. If Russia’s last real ally (yes, that’s what he is) can be removed with such ease, Russia cannot hope to attract and keep long-term allies and neutral partners. This is only partly Russia’s fault. The power aligned against it is unprecedented in history and I am praying that Russia will be able to overcome the forces of evil again.

One piece of good news though—the dissolute Jesuitical warmonger Bannon has been arrested for fraud—finally showing the Chinese the fruits of a “Christian” education.

Notes:

  1. The illustration has been borrowed from the irreplaceable Colonel Cassad (Boris Rozhin) whose blog most of us visit regularly. The link is: https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/6110832.html 
  2. Generally, I agree with the Saker that Byelorussia should not exist as an independent state. Nor should the Ukraine for that matter, apart from the Uniate appendage of Galicia. 
  3. From Wikipedia: “The boiling frog is a fable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of sinister threats that arise gradually rather than suddenly.” 
  4. A recent episode has infuriated me no end. After helping Italy to stem the spread of COVID in a gesture of friendship and good will, the Russian air force has had to chase an Italian military aeroplane that was approaching the Russian Black Sea coast. Even if this was an attempt by the Americans to poison the relations between the two nations, it is inexcusable and leaves another stain of dishonour on the standard of the much abused battle standard of Italy. 
  5. Actually, it does mean a lot militarily because it allows for all kinds of fast aggressive moves for which Russia cannot find timely countermeasures. In today’s world of nanosecond processing, 10 km is a huge distance. 
  6. If you think that Brexit and Greek-Turkish tensions prove me wrong, remember that modern European history was a never-ending saga of bloody and destructive wars. 
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