Sayyed Nasrallah’s Full Speech in the “Renewing Media Discourse and Managing Confrontation” Conference

July 23, 2021

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Translated by Staff

The Secretary-General of Hezbollah, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, delivered a speech at the opening session of the Renewing Media Discourse and Managing Confrontation Conference on July 5th, 2021

I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan. In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and prayers and peace be upon our Master and Prophet, the Seal of Prophets, Abi al-Qassem Muhammad Bin Abdullah and his good and pure household and his good and chosen companions and all the prophets and messengers.

Peace, mercy, and Allah’s blessings be upon you all. Welcome to you all.

To begin with, I would like to welcome everyone attending this honorable and blessed conference. God willing, we will benefit from the dialogs, discussions, and outcomes of this conference to be used in our media battle, which is an essential and the main part of the great battle – the battle of the comprehensive confrontation. I would also like to thank the organizers of this conference, who made an effort to complete it today, and thanks to all the participants.

My speech will focus on the conference. But at the end of the speech, I will leave a small window, to discuss the political situation. Nevertheless, the bulk of the time will be dedicated to this conference.

First: The importance of the media and media discourse in this confrontation is very clear, and we do not need to talk to the media professionals, and the leaders of the media front in the resistance about this matter.

Second: The necessity and importance of developing and renewing the media discourse in this confrontation is also clear, precisely now and in principle. This is the circle of life; everything must develop and progress. There should be no stagnation. Since the conflict’s capabilities and methods of confrontation in its other forms developed so did the military, security, and political confrontations. It is natural that the media confrontation also develops. Firstly, because it is an integral part of the battle. And secondly, to keep pace with the developments in other arenas.
Another factor requiring this renewal in discourse is the steadfastness of the axis of resistance for ten years and its victory in more than one arena and field. When we say: the steadfastness of the axis of resistance within countries, governments, movements, parties, and peoples, people may see it as simple or small. But a huge number of martyrs, wounded, tears, blood, and pain were given and dangers, challenges, difficulties, obsessions, and battles of existence were fought.

Another reason is the resounding victory of the Palestinian resistance in the Al-Quds Sword battle and the new equations it imposed, in addition to the existing challenges as the battle continues. The battle is not over yet. Rather, it is on the rise and facing new dangers, new challenges, new hopes, and new equations.

Third: The media discourse that we want to renew and develop is in the face of whom? Here, we are not talking about internal problems of internal, local, or national nature. We are talking about a confrontation with the “Israeli” occupation and the American hegemony, with the Zionist project and the American project in the region, the “Israeli” occupation of Palestine, all of Palestine – Gaza is outside the circle of occupation – the occupied Syrian Golan, the Shebaa Farms, the Kafr Shuba Hills, and the Lebanese part of the town of Ghajar, the “Israeli” occupation as well as the American hegemony. 

In this confrontation, dismantling is not correct. The American hegemony is the basis and the most dangerous because this hegemony is, first and foremost, a problem for our countries and people. It is based stealing the decision-making process, plundering goods, imposing regimes, and preventing our people from deciding their fate in any field. This American hegemony is the one that is protecting “Israel.” Palestine cannot be liberated without confronting the American hegemony in our region because it has transformed the regimes and armies into dead structures – there is no movement, no will, and no action. This hegemony provides support and all the survival elements of this usurper entity.

Can you imagine, brothers and sisters, that after only 11 or 12 days of the Al-Quds Sword battle, voices in the Zionist entity began to rise and appeal to the United States of America to support it with what the Iron Dome needs in terms of missiles to confront the missiles of the resistance? After 12 days only! This entity is basically dependent on its existence, survival, continuity, arrogance, and superiority. It depends on American hegemony and support. Therefore, we cannot dismantle or isolate during our speeches and confrontation. Every massacre committed by the “Israeli” army is an American and an “Israeli” massacre as it is. Every “Israeli” aggression is an American as well as an “Israeli” aggression.

So here we are talking about a confrontation with the “Israeli” occupation and the Zionist project with its ambitions, threats, and challenges to all countries and people in the region. We are also facing an American hegemony, which sometimes turns into a direct occupation as in Afghanistan that extended for nearly twenty years. And it is now over, with a humiliating, weak, and failed withdrawal. The US was unable to achieve anything. [The US occupation] turned into a direct occupation in Iraq. The American forces now in Iraq are occupying forces. They claim that they came at the request of the Iraqi government, but they are behaving as occupation forces, with their hegemony over Iraq’s skies, attacks against the Iraqi people, and in its recent aggression against the Popular Mobilization Forces at the Iraqi-Syrian border. These are the practices of occupying forces and not friendly or supportive forces. They also occupied east of the Euphrates in Syria. Hence, we are facing a hegemony that sometimes turns into an occupation, as well as other areas, as it is now said about the presence of US forces in southern Yemen. The speech, then, aims to confront the Zionist project, the American project, the “Israeli” occupation, and the American hegemony.

4- The media rhetoric in the axis of resistance was and still is based on main elements of power, and when we want to develop this discourse or renew it, we must renew and develop it based on these main elements of power, which the other media, the hostile media, lacks most of them. 

First: Relying on righteousness. The media of the resistance and the resistance axis as well as the media discourse here express righteousness, the right to Palestine, the right of the people of Palestine to their land from the sea to the river, Syria’s right to the Golan, and Lebanon’s right to the rest of its occupied territories. I always used to say that one of the features of the Palestinian cause is that today if we go around the world, we will find that the most important and clearest cause when it comes to righteousness, the legal right, the religious right, the humanitarian right, the moral right is the Palestinian cause. We find that the standards of righteousness that we use as a reference is the clearest in the Palestinian cause and in this conflict.

Hence, we rely on righteousness in our discourse and in our position. You stand for righteousness, while the other media outlets express falsehood by all standards – legal, religious, moral, and humanitarian standards. It is the right for our people to decide their fate away from American hegemony. America and the West must not impose on these people regimes and options. It is the right for our people to benefit from their wealth, while America and international actors loot these goods. So, first we rely on righteousness.

Second: We also rely on strength, and this is one of the developments in the struggle with the enemy today. The resistance’s media does not recite poems of lament and reminisce, but rather it recites poems of glory from victories and changing the equations. This is the truth.

Hence, today we also rely on the element of strength. When we talk about the resistance and its discourse, we are talking about achievements and victories, especially in the last two decades, in the past 20 years – the liberation of the south in 2000, the victory in 2006, the liberation of the Gaza Strip, the victories and steadfastness of Gaza in the face of several “Israeli” wars, and finally the last battle of Al-Quds Sword against the Zionists. There are also the achievements and victories of the axis of resistance against the global war and the biggest strife in our region, the rules of engagement imposed by the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine, on the “Israeli” enemy as well as the Americans in Iraq and elsewhere.

The resistance imposed rules of engagement and balance of deterrence in more than one arena and area. The enemy’s army was considered the strongest and an invincible army that assaults, bombs, kills, and commits massacres without taking anyone into account. The resistance imposed new equations in protecting Al-Quds. The project I am talking about is liberating Palestine, and I will return to this point later. Therefore, reliance on strength and from a position of strength, and the media’s contribution in creating victory.

Third: Relying on external facts and realities. This is one of the strengths of the resistance’s media and media discourse. It relies on external facts and realities at the political, cultural, and emotional levels of the nation, its people, the resistance, and the resistance’s environments, and the enemy.

Knowing the enemy is one of the most important features of the discourse of the axis of resistance during the past 20 years. It was not gibberish discourse. I will use the expression scientific discourse, an objective discourse, a discourse based on numbers, facts, realities, studies, and research. Knowing the enemy’s points of strength and weakness, acknowledging them, confronting them, absorbing them, overcoming them, and weakening them. We should also know the enemy’s weaknesses to create victories.

The most important matter in the media discourse for 40 years, since 1982 when the resistance began in Lebanon; then, it escalated in Lebanon and Palestine, even though the Palestinian resistance came before. But now we are talking about our experience. The most important thing in this stage and in our psychological warfare is that it was based on facts, not illusions, fantasies, inventions, dreams, or lies. Of course, we must continue in this manner.

Fourth: Based on the third point, we come to the fourth point. One of the most important elements of strength in the media and the resistance axis is honesty. Honesty, which led to credibility, and credibility does not come for free. Credibility is not created by money, by the abundance of media outlets, or by the increasing expertise of media outlets.

True credibility is made by honesty – honesty in several areas:

1- Honesty in conveying the news of what the resistance is saying to the people and what the resistance’s media and its discourse are saying to the people. Honesty in conveying facts must continue regardless of the difficulties and challenges because this honesty accumulated and led to real credibility. Today, the enemy, its leaders, and settlers – because there is no people. There are occupying settlers, occupation army, and occupied people. There are no real civilians. These people today trust and believe the resistance’s media more than they believe their own leaders and media. How did we reach this conclusion? It is as a result of honesty, the long experience, and the facts that appeared before their eyes. Hence, honesty in conveying news.

2- Honesty in the promise. During all these decades, the resistance did not make promises that are far from reality and far from being achieved. When the resistance in Lebanon was founded – with all its parties and factions whose roles we appreciate – it promised liberation. It fulfilled its promise on May 25, 2000, and before that in 1985. When the resistance promised that we are a people who do not leave our prisoners in prisons, it waged wars for their release. The Palestinian resistance also entered into serious confrontations and challenges until it was able to release large numbers of prisoners, and the Palestinian prisoners are still at the top of the Palestinian resistance’s priorities. The resistance in Gaza promised to defend Al-Quds and start a battle with the enemy if it threatened the Maqdisis, the holy city, and the sanctities. Many in the nation were waiting [for this promise]. Some considered it a worthless threat. Hence, the resistance in Gaza began its battle starting with the defense of Al-Quds to create a new equation. Therefore, honesty in fulfilling a promise is also an element of strength. 

There is also honesty in the hopes you give.     The resistance does not promise dreams as a way of deception or false hopes. Today, when the resistance promises something, sets goals, or talks about equations of protection, it accomplishes the equations, as it did in Lebanon by establishing the rules of engagement and the balance of deterrence. The brothers in Palestine are now trying to do so too.

When we talk today in the axis of resistance about the liberation of Palestine – allow me to be very clear, and this disturbs many in the world – about the removal of this usurping entity that occupies, the cancerous gland, and the main enemy from existence, we are not talking about dreams, fantasies, or false hopes. And when we say that Al-Quds today is closer, yes, it is closer. The Al-Quds Sword battle brought Al-Quds closer, closer than ever before.

So, we’re talking about real hopes. We’re not exaggerating. This is one of the most important elements of the resistance’s strength: not exaggerating, not exaggerating in conveying the facts, being accurate, not exaggerating in portraying events, not exaggerating in describing achievements and victories, not exaggerating the goals achieved or the ones we seek to achieve, and not exaggerating hopes and distant goals.

Fifth: The popular base – on which the resistance media and the resistance discourse are based – is the broad popular base in our Arab and Islamic world and in the world as well. Among the characteristics of this base is that it is religiously diverse – Muslims, Christians, and even Jews who reject Zionism and have a real presence – intellectually, culturally, ideologically, nationally, and ethnically diverse. It extends throughout the region and in the world and is united by Al-Quds, its sanctities, and the grievances of the Palestinian people. It is the most important common denominator upon which followers of religions and ideas can agree because they agree on truth, justice, and confronting injustice. This broad base receives the discourse, accepts it from you, and interacts with it on more than one level.

Interaction can happen through the media or the people. It may be by being present in the field, by expressing a position in the media or on social media, by financial support, by going to the border with occupied Palestine, by participating in the battle fronts, by the willingness to sacrifice all that is precious and valuable, or by martyrdom.

There are people whose houses were destroyed, and yet they stand patiently over the wreckage, expressing their determination to continue resisting.

There are those whose family members are killed, as we have recently seen in Gaza and see every day in Al-Quds and the West Bank in Palestine as well as in the occupied Palestinian territories in 1948. There are similar scenes in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and many places. Therefore, this base exists. It needs your discourse, the facts that you report, as well as your interaction because the word that comes from the heart enters the heart. In many events, battles, and wars, when we used to see, for example, the commentator, the analyst, or the broadcaster emotionally interacting and shedding tears, the fighters on the battlefronts cried.

So, this level of interaction exists. When media outlets are launched, they search and want to establish an audience for themselves. I always used to say that when the resistance’s media was launched, it was based on an existing audience base. But the media must address the audience, preserve it, develop its culture and awareness, strengthen its will, respect its emotions and feelings, and increase its strength, momentum, and determination. It is also the responsibility of the media here to address the others who are still neutral, expanding this base. It should also address the others who lined up behind the enemy, championing it, normalizing with it, or conspiring against the resistance. This is a hard and difficult task, but it is possible. No one must despair, not those who are neutral or those who stood with the enemy.  

The historical facts in many wars show us – there is not enough time to mention examples – how true, honest, and logical discourse bring or push large numbers of people from the enemy’s front to join the front of the friend. This transformation was caused by logical and scientific discourse, truthful and persuasive discourse. This also falls under the domain of strength that bears responsibility.

Sixth: The great human and material capabilities that the axis of resistance enjoys these days. This, of course, has no precedent. It is as they say: It is what it is. If we compare between the resistance’s media in the past and now, there is a very big development – compared to the capabilities of the enemy is another research. There is no proportionality in quantity. Yes, there is a balance. The axis of resistance can sometimes dominate in its influence because it is based on elements of real strength. These capabilities include the television, radio, magazines, newspapers, social networking sites, popular platforms, various popular discourse platforms, and all other means. This, of course, today is one of the important points of strength of the resistance axis and in the battle of the resistance. These means were able, during all wars, to participate in creating victory.

Allow me to say that it did not only report or cover news of the victory, but it also participated in creating victory in every sense of the word. There is no exaggeration in it at all. In the latest battle, the Al-Quds Sword, the unbeatable enemy supported by the first superpower in the world, after days of military failure in the face of the besieged resistance and the besieged people in Gaza, what was it looking for? It was looking for an image of victory, an image of victory, and not for a real achievement of victory. As for the resistance front, there were real achievements of victory and real images of victory, and the media of the resistance participated in creating this victory. During all the previous stages, I believe that the media participated in creating victory, preserving it, and showing it. Without the media, victory would have been lost. This is one of the challenges that I will return to talk about shortly. This is possible thanks to the elements of strength as well as the human and material capabilities available to the resistance today, in addition to your blessed presence – there are distinguished human minds, experiences, and capabilities; there are creative people. This is a fact and not a compliment. We say this knowing that there is no proportionality between the material and financial capabilities available to the resistance media and the other camp’s media. We must be objective since we are examining. 

Unfortunately, we sometimes rush to focus on the elements of weakness, on the negatives, on the gaps, on the mistakes, and this is not objective. Objectivity in any evaluation assumes that we talk about achievements and failures, and not only about failures. We must talk about elements of strength and elements of weakness. We must talk about everything. Hence, we confirm, strengthen, and develop our strengths and achievements, address the weaknesses, and fill in our shortcomings and gaps.

Putting ourselves down as we always do is wrong. In the military field, there have always been gaps and mistakes, but they usually do not appear. What appears is the achievement, which is the field victory. The same applies to the security field where everything is even more concealed. When a failure occurs, only those concerned know about it. In the media, however, since it is clear and is public, yes, the failures, gaps, and errors appear and are highlighted. I tell you that the achievements of the resistance’s media are great and very important during the past decades. We must build on them. Focusing on the weaknesses only and beating down oneself does not lead to an objective evaluation nor does it open up prospects for development and renewal. Rather, it leads us to frustration, despair, and weakness. We can’t do anything; we’re weak and powerless – if we always think like this in the fields of media, the military, politics, and economy, we are choosing death, demise, and loss for ourselves. This should not happen at all. The first and most important sign of the influence of these media outlets is the position of the enemy front. Why are they taking down channels from satellites? If these channels have no effect, let them be.

There are hundreds of satellite channels, maybe thousands of satellite channels, I don’t know. Here, there is a hundred on the cable, at the very least. There is a thousand or more elsewhere. There are many satellite channels in the world. Let them forget and ignore these satellite channels the way they do with the rest of the channels in the world. But they take certain satellite channels, I will not name any so as not to leave some of the channels out, in more than one Arab and Islamic country and take them down. Today, the rest of the satellite channels live under the threat of being taken down from the satellites. The same goes for radio stations. Newspapers are prohibited from entering, even if we are now in the age of the Internet, because the issue is difficult. The same goes for the websites of some media outlets. A few days ago, the Americans shut down more than 33 websites. If these had no influence and were ineffective, why would the enemy bother taking them down?

This is evidence of influence, that it has a positive effect on the nation and is a source of disturbance to the enemy, regardless of the degree of disturbance. I’m getting close to the last part. We need to strengthen these means. They should complement each other. There should be positive not negative competition between them. We need to benefit from each other’s experiences in the media field the way we are doing it in the military field. One of the most important strengths in the armed resistance today is that there is an exchange of experience and expertise. There is no dismantled military front, but rather there is a continuous, cooperating, and integrated military front that will expand in terms of integration, God willing, in the future. The same goes for media.

What we need today which also requires your guidance and your expertise is to make the most of the great potential available via social media platforms and whatever reasons the enemy has in opening this door to the world. This is because we can turn threats into an opportunity. I looked over some statistics that asked why the world interacted more with the Al-Quds Sword battle than any other battle. Some studies credited the effectiveness of social media platforms for this. You can ban satellite channels, radio stations, and newspapers and bring them down. But you can’t do that with social media since it reaches the whole world today. It was able to transmit images and sounds of the battle in a way that wasn’t possible during past confrontations, injustices, and massacres in occupied Palestine.

This is a very great opportunity in which every human being, every individual, not only the elites, thinkers, analysts, intellectuals, and the media, but every individual in this axis and in this nation can become a creator and address the whole world and convey images, facts, and positions. Brothers and sisters, today we are waging the battle of revealing righteousness, reviving the people, and resurrecting sincere hopes. On the other hand, in the media, we are waging a battle against misinformation, distortion, fake news, and deception. This is a harsh battle.

This needs a plan on its own. This is in the defensive field, and all we talked about is included in the attack plan. Yes, today there are a lot of capabilities invested in this, especially in Lebanon, the Arab world, and the Islamic world. These people cannot defend the enemy. They cannot talk about the right of the enemy because it is false; they cannot talk about the humanity of the enemy, even if some Gulf media outlets tried to do so during the past year. However, the Al-Quds Sword battle erased these lies. Thus, they cannot defend the enemy, its behavior, brutality, crimes, falsehood, massacres, ugly face, past, or its present. And they cannot convince the nation that this enemy has no ambitions in the future. Hence, they turn their weapons toward the resistance in order to distort its image, distort its truth, falsify its positions. But the central focus is distortion, distortion in every sense of the word. So, today we see when we keep up with other hostile media outlets, I am not saying the opposite [media outlets], but hostile, that they are waging a media war day and night. Many human cadres and billions of dollars are provided for them, by their own admission. What for? For the purpose of distortion.

But in general, the focus is first on the Palestinian cause – intellectually, culturally, and religiously. We have been hearing lately – here it also needs a cultural and religious effort –  from some Gulf media outlets, especially religious theorizations that yes, Palestine is a right of the Jews, it is the right of the “Israelites” – Allah Almighty says they believe in part of the Scripture and disbelieve in part.

Focusing on the ability of the enemy – this enemy cannot do anything, so we have to accept the wreckage – and the inability of the nation. But the most dangerous is the focus on distorting the image of the resistance. Today, for example, the resistance fighters in Iraq are accused of being Iran’s tail by some hostile Iraqi media outlets and on social media. When you are a jihadi resistance fighter and want the sovereignty, independence, and freedom of Iraq and Iraq’s oil to belong to the Iraqi people, you are a tail. But when you are an agent of the American embassy and a servant at its gates, you are a patriot. The same applies to the resistance in all the region, in Lebanon, in Palestine – you are tails, you are agents, you are Iran’s agents, you are an Iranian community, etc.

This is all easy – communities and agents, especially in this time. Accused of being an agent has become a normal thing. But the worst is when the resistance movements are accused of being mafias, mafias that steal, drug-trafficking mafias, crime mafias, without presenting a single evidence. They work on this night and day, and some people believe it. They even hold the resistance movements responsible for the dangerous situations in their countries – the economic and living conditions in Lebanon and elsewhere – even though they have nothing to with them. In any case, they even deny the victories created by the resistance and work to deny them. This happened in Lebanon in 2006. 

But after the Al-Quds Sword battle, I was watching some Arab satellite channels. While the Palestinians were talking about their victory and how the world and the Zionists recognized their victory. These channels were focusing on the numbers of the wounded, on the job opportunities that were lost, and on the pain and suffering of the people, even though the owners of the destroyed homes and the families of the martyrs and those who lost job opportunities were expressing their belief and their pride in victory. Just like what happened in Lebanon. The enemy was unable to create an image of victory. Yet, the hostile Arab media outlets created an image of a victory for it out of the bones and limbs of children, women, martyrs, and the wounded in the Gaza Strip and in occupied Palestine. This, of course, needs to be confronted. This is a tough battle that needs to a planned and follow up. But, first, allow me to say we need self-confidence. First, we must not be shaken by this distortion. We must have great confidence in ourselves, in our brothers and sisters, in our environment, in our people, in the resistance movements. These people are not infallible. They make mistakes, but the resistance movements enjoy credibility, sincerity, a high level of willingness to sacrifice, and loyalty. But these qualities do not prevent them from having some who make mistakes and commit sins. We must work to address mistakes and sins. They exaggerate the mistakes, but in general, they are fabricating lies and fake news that have nothing to do with the resistance and the resistance movements.

Today, you are invited to study this discourse on the basis of these elements of strength and to develop and renew it on every level in line with all the developments taking place in our region, with all the capabilities available in our hands – militarily, politically, culturally, socially, financially, etc. Development should also be in accordance with the threats, challenges, and opportunities. We must work to transform threats into opportunities. We need to review our rhetoric, our discourse, our literature, the terminology, methods, means, tools, ideas based on these constants. We do not want to start from scratch, but we want to take this great amount of quantitative and qualitative achievements in the axis of resistance, including achievements in the media, as a basis. We all must benefit from the results of your discussions and dialogues, God willing.

I would like to personally ask you for your own effort to help consolidate the new regional equation that we are proposing, to make it the regional equation for the protection of the Holy City. The resistance in Gaza wanted to indicate that they will meet any threat against al-Quds. The entire region will protect Al-Quds against any threat. This talk is not for media consumption, not for scoring points. We didn’t do that in the past, and we won’t do it now. This is a serious and real project that can be used as a basis. It is now being used as a basis – even if it has not yet been translated into practice. When the Zionists are convinced, and they are convinced, that threating the Holy City as well as the Islamic and Christian sanctities in the Holy City will lead to a regional war, they will reconsider and tread carefully when taking such a step. Launching the equation can impose a deterrent rule, let alone working to stabilizing it or even translating it into reality in the near or medium future.

We are working to link the elements of strength – states, governments, movements, and people – to this equation in the axis of resistance. We stay up at nights, hold meetings, coordinate, communicate, study, make plans, and put possible and hypothetical scenarios and various plans, etc. But this also needs the creating of a new public opinion, as we are emerging from a difficult stage during the past ten years. We need a new public opinion. If we were talking about an equation that will protect a geographical area in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, or Yemen, the idea of a regional equation or a regional war might not be acceptable to many of our people. But when we talk about the Holy City and the sanctities that concern everyone – the entire nation, the governments in the nation, all the free people of the world, and all the followers of the heavenly religions – this idea must be accepted and appreciated and has fertile ground, and we must work strongly for it. This requires focused effort during the next stage.

The last part of my speech is a look into the local situation. It will be said that O Sayyed and brothers – the speech can be addressed to you and me – now you are gathered to discuss the media discourse and its renewal in the face of occupation and domination, assessment, investment, and appreciation of the victory in Palestine.  We were expecting you to talk to us about the queues at gasoline stations, absence of medicines and baby formula, and the internal problems we suffer from. I would like to comment on this point and conclude with a couple of words.

In fact, it is required of those who conspire and lay plans in the region, in our Arab and Islamic world is to make all the people of this region preoccupied with internal issues, political problems, bread, gasoline, fuel, a bottle of gas in their homes and the milk of their children, their salary, and the national currency, so that there will be no place in their minds and hearts nor will they have the will, determination, concern, planning, and following on matters that concern the nation, including Palestine and Al-Quds. This is well known, and there is nothing new. But I am only reminding you. This has been in the works for decades, in one form, other than regional wars, wars between brothers, wars between friends, tearing up the nation, tearing up countries, etc. This is what is taking place in every country; the siege and economic sanctions on our countries, especially on countries and people belonging to the axis of resistance. In fact, their goal is for us to reach the point where there is no place for Palestine – in our minds, hearts, emotions, sentiments, our media follow-ups, our interests, our participation in the battle at any level. This is where they wanted people to be, and they are relatively successful. Let’s be realistic, and they are relatively successful. We have to acknowledge this and face it.

The correct thing to do is to work on two tracks or paths at the same time. The first path is to remain fighting this main conflict, not to lose sight of it, not to leave it, not to neglect it. The second path is to address our internal problems in our local, national society. We must do our utmost to address our political, living, financial, and economic crises and not abandon them. But we have to – here is our problem – work on both tracks, and I admit to you that working on both tracks is stressful, tiring, confusing, and difficult. However, with will and determination, we can advance. The first path does not make us abandon our internal interests, and the second path should not drown us and cause us to fall into our internal problems at the expense of the first path. This is the complexity of our battle that we must continue and fight.

Today, the Lebanese people and all those who queue in front of petrol stations and pharmacies must know what is happening with their currency and salaries. They must not lose sight of all the real causes of the crisis. The same goes for the countries in the region. Yes, there are real reasons that are frankly related to the crisis of the system in Lebanon. We are not only facing a government crisis. The government crisis in Lebanon expresses the crisis of the system. It is the product of the crisis of the system. There is a crisis of the system in Lebanon. There is a political crisis in Lebanon. There is rampant corruption. There are a lot of thefts. There is limitless monopoly. Until now, it is incomprehensible what is happening with the  gasoline and diesel and in renewing its causes. Sometimes some reasons are being exaggerated. They talk to you about smuggling. Control the issue of smuggling. How much is the percentage of smuggling? But look at the percentage of protected and abandoned monopoly. Well, we have a problem. True! It is a political crisis, corruption, a crisis of administration, a crisis of government, monopoly, a crisis in responsibility. Allow to speak at the popular level. There is a crisis of awareness among the people. We are not beating our people down. There are many people who are aware. But there are people take things where the enemy really wants. We need a little patience. It doesn’t make sense for people to shoot and attack each other with knives at the gasoline station. This is ignorance. This is ignorance beyond ignorance.

In any case, there is another reason, a real reason, a very big reason –  it’s America and its policies. It besieges, punishes, and prevents any help that can come from anyone in the world, whether it comes in the form of deposits in the Central Bank, donations, or loans. The US is the one that is preventing [them from reaching Lebanon]. You are America’s friends in Lebanon, don’t you know that? Aren’t you ashamed of that? The US ambassador makes appearances every day and sheds crocodile tears. Isn’t her government and administration the one preventing any country in the world from providing assistance, gifts, a deposits, or loans to Lebanon for political goals that are not related to Lebanon? Rather, it they are in the service of the “Israeli” occupation, in the service of the project to stabilize “Israel”, in the service of the settlement project, in the service of usurping gas and oil from our territorial waters, in the service of for “Israel’s” security. Isn’t it? Is it not the US administration that is preventing Lebanese banks from bringing their money and dollars from abroad? Is it not the US administration that is imposing sanctions and threatening sanctions? Is it not the US administration and its policies that are preventing the Lebanese, the Lebanese governments, the Lebanese state from seeking the assistance of any friend from the East? It is forbidden to ask assistance from China. Here, we are not just talking about arguments. There are real opportunities to address the economic and living situation in Lebanon. Real opportunities. Lebanon needs investments. This does not require a lot of philosophizing, either deposits to strengthen the Lebanese pound a little, gifts, aids, loans, or investments. The best are gifts and investments because they do not have effects on the budget and the Lebanese people. There are major Chinese and Russian companies that are ready to invest in Lebanon based on the BOT method, and without the Lebanese state paying anything. Then, these companies are told: No, no, no.

Don’t the Lebanese officials know that this will revive the Lebanese economy and the country, address a large part of our crisis, and secures tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of job opportunities? They know, but I tell you frankly, there is the American veto and fear of the Americans. They do not fear that the US will include the Lebanese state and the Central Bank on the list of sanctions. Rather, there is personal fear – they fear that they, their people, their wives and children, be included in the list of sanctions. 

The Lebanese people in various areas and from various parties and factions offered their best youth, men, and women, as martyrs to save Lebanon and liberate it. In order to save them financially and economically, don’t Lebanon and the Lebanese people deserve that the politicians in Lebanon sacrifice and bear, even if that means they will be included in America’s list of sanctions? Why don’t we have the courage?!

Otherwise, tell me what are the solutions? What are we waiting for? The Lebanese are waiting for a slow death; everyone is talking about collapse. They only differ on the timing of the collapse. Well, these are real solutions, these are realistic solutions. America is threatening to put Lebanon, the officials, or political figures in Lebanon on the sanctions lists. Reality is telling us that all of Lebanon is heading toward death. What will you do? How will you act?

This should not be forgotten while facing the internal confrontation. This is part of the main conflict. This is basically their goal. They tried for years in Gaza to incite the people against the resistance. They besieged Gaza. 

After more than two years of calm, stability, and security in most of the Syrian regions and governorates, and when Syria was calling on companies from all over the world, from the east and elsewhere, from the Arab world, even Lebanese companies to invest, America’s Caesar Act came to impose a siege on Syria. It threatened any company that invests in Syria within a certain scope with sanctions. So, the companies retreated. They got frightened and retreated, even countries friendly to Syria. This is in order to put pressure on Syria.

Iraq is still suffering. Iran is still suffering. Yemen is besieged. Gaza is still under siege. This is the logic of the sanctions in Lebanon. The Americans are frankly saying that our goal in Lebanon is to incite the Lebanese people against the resistance in general and specifically the environment of the resistance against it. These people have no shame. They do not hide their goals. They said years ago that we spent 500 million dollars in 2005 and 2006 just to tarnish the image of Hezbollah. Today, the Americans are saying we want to incite the Lebanese people and the environment of resistance against the resistance.

O Lebanese, the main partner in destroying your national currency, the reason for the crises and calamities you are also experiencing, the high prices, hunger, and the loss of job opportunities is the US administration, the US policies, and the US embassy in Lebanon, which deceives you by giving you two or three masks here and malicious smiles. Yes, there are other problems – I don’t want to defend – but other problems have always been there, corruption, banditry, wrong policies for decades. But the difference is that these practices were protected by American policies and by successive American administrations. The most prominent thieves, spoilers, and corrupt people in Lebanon are America’s friends in Lebanon as well. Why did America remain silent about them during all the past years and now came out to fight corruption? It is not even honest when it talks about corruption. This is a cover for the real economic battle.

Today, we find them clearly speaking in “Israeli”-American discussions. Following their failure in the July 2006 war – so far, they have failed, and we are in 2021 – they threatened us with war. They threatened us with bombing, bombing our places, our camps, and our factories if we do not stop with precision missiles. All their threats were in vain because they know the nature of the equation. They know that war with Lebanon is not a picnic. They keep on threatening, but they also know the price in return. Well, what are they betting on? Today, all the “Israeli” enemy’s research centers are pinning their hopes om the economic and living crisis in Lebanon. So, I tell our people to, first, arm yourselves with awareness, patience, and determination – yes, with hard work, you can address these crises – to, at the very least, persevere during these crises.

In conclusion, the issue of the government. Now, the prime minister-designate has returned. These days are supposed to be decisive. I do not want to say anything now because there are meetings that will be held today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow that can clearly paint a picture of the government scene.

We also have the news that we heard in the media about allegations against the caretaker prime minister, a number of former ministers, and a number of military and security leaders. We did not read names of judges, and it was not said that there were judges. Of course, it is unfortunate that the defendants find out about the allegations against them from the media. Until this moment, I think – at least this morning – no one has been officially informed that they are the defendants or wanted for investigating over the Beirut Port case. Of course, this is one form of political exploitation of the issue. We previously rejected this, and we reiterate our rejection of this issue.

Today, I will not comment. I will leave the comment for a later time until the real judicial information comes out to see whether the information circulated and leaked in the media is true or not. We previously talked about the standards and the difference in standards. What we are seeking as the anniversary of the explosion and this horrific massacre nears is justice and truth. Until now, justice is still far away, and the truth is hidden. For a year and for months, we called on the former investigative judge and the current judge to publish the file of the technical investigation regarding this horrific incident. So far, our demands have fallen on deaf ears. Was what happened an explosion? Was it intentional? Was it caused by negligence? Were there rockets owned by the resistance in the Beirut Port? Were there resistance weapons stores Beirut Port as was said in the first few days and weeks?

This is part of the campaign of lies that we did not spare time to give evidence for. And you know it doesn’t need evidence. So far, no one told the truth yet, not even to the families of the martyrs. We do not want you to hold a press conference, my brother. Just gather the families of the martyrs and tell them how their children were martyred. Was there an “Israeli” missile? Was there an “Israeli” aggression? Were there explosives? Did the resistance use the warehouses in the port? Was there negligence? And secondly, we want to see whether there is a unity of standards or not, a real judicial action or political targeting. Then based on this, action will be taken.

As for the living conditions, we must all continue to work towards real solutions, effective solutions, not small or simple actions. This can only happen through a courageous will and a high willingness to sacrifice to open the doors to save the Lebanese economy.

Thank you for giving me your attention. You are used to listening to me for an hour and maybe I go further to an hour and a quarter. I wish that your conference will be productive and useful, God willing. And we will certainly benefit from all your ideas, opinions, and creations. May God grant you wellness. Thank you for all your efforts from now and in the past. And thank you, in advance, for your sincerity and loyalty in this battle. 

May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you.

The US warplans for the Ukraine (OPEN THREAD # 12) UPDATED

The US warplans for the Ukraine (OPEN THREAD # 12) UPDATED

April 16, 2021

Frankly, Biden’s address to the US nation (the first one in his life) was probably the lamest most clueless political speech I ever heard.  And I am not referring to Biden calling Putin “Clutin” or confusing “deescalation” with “vaccination”, I am talking about the actual contents of his speech.  I would sum it up as so: we will continue to constantly hurt and humiliate you, we will treat you like a misbehaving 10 year old in need of a good spanking, but we do want peace and good relations.  Clearly, Biden has zero understanding of things Russian.  But for “Biden” (collective “Biden”, no the confused veggie) does have a plan.  What could it be?

I already explained what the US plan for the Ukraine is: to encourage the Ukronazis to attack Russia while not involving the USA in a shooting war with Russia.

How would the US do that?  One example:

First announce with great fanfare that the US is sending 2 (according to some version 5!) USN ship into the Black Sea to “deter” Russia, show “support” to the Ukies and give them the feeling that when they attack they would be under US “cover”.  This is not unlike what the USA did with Saakashvili in 08.08.08 or what the USA did during the “Prague Spring”.  Frankly, this is an old trick the West has used innumerable times in its history.  And once the Ukies feel elated from being under Uncle Shmuel’s protection, quietly withdraw your plan to send any ships into what is de facto a Russian lake.

The US is walking a fine line here – they need to egg on the Ukies to attack, but the Ukies are terrified, so they have to give them as sense of “the world is with you!!”, “we will protect you”, “we will fight with you” and then when things appear to be coming to a head, ditch the Ukies and run to safety.  Of course, the united West will support the Ukronazis politically and economically (just to keep the Ukie economy barely alive), but most definitely not militarily as that would create a risk of a devastating war which the US+NATO would either lose or decide to go nuclear, which would be simply suicidal.

There is a chorus profoundly misguided opinions in both Russia and the West which now declares that Biden “blinked”, Russia won and peace will now break out.  That is a very naive point of view which mostly comes from not understanding the nature of modern warfare and psychological operations.

Again, what some can see as a zig-zagging “Biden” policy towards Russia mistakenly think that since “Biden” did not promise fire and brimstone for Russia that means that “Biden” folded.  That is an extremely dangerous misconception and I am confident that the Russian decision-makers see through this ruse (even while they say nothing about it, at least, those in office and, at least, so far).

Putin has still not announced what counter-measures (I prefer that notion to the idea of counter-sanctions, which are symmetrical) Russia will take next (against the US, UK and Poland primarily).  I have no idea what the Kremlin might decide, but I do observe very high levels of outrage and determination in the Russian media (both in the traditional media and the Runet).  The Russian society is clearly fed up and, again, Putin if facing a mounting levels of criticisms for being too soft and indecisive.  I hope and expect that Russia’s response this time around will be much less meek (and, therefore, ambiguous) than in the past.   We will soon find out.

The Saker

UPDATE: just as I was posting this, I saw the Sputnik article about the Russian counter-measures.  Frankly, I am utterly unimpressed and I believe that most Russians will feel the same way.  Of course, we don’t know what is going on behind the scenes and the Russians are under no obligation to divulge what else they might be doing.  However, I believe that measures such as closing the Kerch strait is a much better approach.  Let’s wait a few days before passing a final judgement on the quality of the Russian counter measures.

Iran-China deal hailed as geopolitical game changer

By VT Editors -April 8, 2021

Carl Zha is an American-Chinese social media activist with an extensive knowledge of Chinese foreign policies. He tells Press TV about the importance of the Iran-China economic pact and its possible ramifications for the region and beyond.

This article is based on an episode of Presscast, a podcast by Press TV

Carl Zha is an American-Chinese social media activist with an extensive knowledge of Chinese foreign policies. He tells Press TV about the importance of the Iran-China economic pact and its possible ramifications for the region and beyond.

This article is based on an episode of Presscast, a podcast by Press TV

Very little has been published on the Iran-China agreement and its possible outcome for the region since it was announced last year.

How important is this deal?

So, we know approximate figure, 400, billion (dollar value of agreement), it’s a pretty big number, and it’s touted as a strategic partnership between China and Iran, where both sides committed to broaden the economic cooperation that both sides already have but increasing investment, increasing cooperation in developing infrastructures. So I think it’s a really big deal because we have all the usual outlets in the mainstream media talking about it or the conservative media in the US are, are taking the stance, oh, you know, like the “Biden’s screwed up. He made Iran and China get together, now they have formed the axis of evil, now we are screwed!” You know it’s a good thing when these people are starting to talk like that.

What are the western media criticisms of the deal?

Um, actually I hear a lot of, you know, I saw a lot of criticism for like the, the Iranian dissidents in the diaspora, I mean a lot of them are posing this as somehow Iran selling out to China. You know I see like an astroturf Twitter campaign about you, Iran, get out of “China, get out of Iran”, right, which is totally overblown because as far as I know, you know China is not is not, you know, posting its military to Iran and China. China is in Iran to do business. Right and it’s a deal, agreed by two sovereign governments between the sovereign government of Iran and China. It’s not like one side is pointing a gun to the other side, say hey, sign at the dotted line, and as a matter of fact, it has nothing to do with the United States.

Iran and China have long standing ties through the Silk Road

The fact that people in the US media are getting worked up about it is rather ridiculous, (since) this is a deal between two nations with long standing ties through the Silk Road, I mean Iran and China have had a historical relationship for over 1000 years, you know, way longer than United States even existed. The fact that the people in Washington, who can barely find Iran and China on a map, are worked up about a deal of cooperation, mind you have a deal of cooperation and friendship between Iran and China. It says a lot more about them than about the deal itself it’s, it’s this fear that oh my god you know all these people are ganging up on us. It’s like no, this has nothing to do with the US.

US foreign policy hostile toward both nations

Iran and China are just continuing their historical relationship. There’s every reason for the two nations to work together, especially when both are being put under pressure by US foreign policy, you know, US foreign policy has been very hostile toward Iran since 1979. US foreign policy has been increasingly hostile toward China since 2010. So I mean, when, when US policymakers realize, China now is in a position strong enough to challenge the US hegemony, and that’s what they’re really worried about they’re worried about the position of the US as a hegemon [sic] in the world; they are worried that US hegemony is going to disappear and be replaced by a multipolar, multilateral world, which, I don’t understand why that’s a bad day, for them it is.

Ever since the United States pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018, and reapplied sanctions China remained the sole buyer of Iranian petroleum, the sole lifeline that Iran could rely on at the time was coming from China and what they’re doing now is just a continuation of their previous businesses dealings which has now been made official.

China and Iran Cooperation goes a long way. I mean not just, just, historically, but also in the modern time, you know China has always dealt with Iran and in the latest round of sanctions  the US placed on Iran, China continue to do business (with Iran) despite the US sanctions because, you know, the, the US sanctions rely on the premise that the US has dominate the global finance right and because US threatened to sanction, any company, any government that has dealing with Iran, but China is in a position today where you can basically ignore the US sanction and continue to, to work on its traditional relationship, normal relationship, with Iran. And I think that is what has upset people in Washington, because they see the US is losing its grip.

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)

This deal comes in the backdrop of the broader Belt and Road initiative, if I’m not mistaken, please give us more information if you available. This corridor that China has been trying to build through Pakistan and now it connects Iran to this road and maybe later Turkey can, you know, get added to this, how do you view this?

Yeah, I mean, actually the Belt and Road Initiative serves two purposes. The first, the most important purpose is to build up infrastructures throughout the world, throughout especially the global south. So, people there can be increased interconnectivity in the world, that that, you know, people make it seems like, oh, China is building a port So China’s increasing its inputs, but look, a port is is open, a port sits on the ocean, It’s open to anyone. You know Chinese can use the Japanese can use, anybody who wants to do business in Iran can use that board. So that’s a point that’s increasingly global interconnectivity includes the increase of global trade, which for some weird reason the US is trying to oppose. I mean, they, they’re the real reason is really about preserving the USA, Germany, but they, they’re really bending backwards to perform all kinds of mental gymnastics to justify why that’s, that’s a bad thing. And I think he shows how desperate they are. But, as you mentioned the Belt and Road Initiative, there’s another purpose of building a road initiative, it is to bypass the US Navy’s chokehold on the, the world, shipping, trade, because, you know, US Navy, makes no, they do not even disguise the fact that they, they, they always talk about the chokehold on the Malacca Strait, which is where most of the Middle East oil flows to East Asia like two countries like China, Japan and Korea, and, and what China is doing is kind of diversify its energies, by, by building pipelines and building roads and rails through, you know through Central Asia through Pakistan to Iran so they, the oil or gas doesn’t have to go, get on tankers and goes through the Strait of Malacca to China, they can maybe go overland and then the trade can also be carried on overland, not having to route to avoid a possible US Navy blockade, you know like what they’re currently doing right now, sending warships to the Persian Gulf, sending worships to the South China Sea, that’s basically the US demonstrating “look I can, I can, you know choke off your lifeline, anytime”, and the Belt and Road Initiative bypasses that by building alternative routes.

Peking is increasing its influence with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka which may give India cause for consternation.

https://if-cdn.com/ubIRQ9A?v=1&app=1

Do you think that Delhi may feel left out as the route is not to go through India but through Pakistan or maybe Sri Lanka?

Yeah, I mean, India, feels like the South Asian subcontinent is its own backyard, you know, it feels like you know it feels pressure when China builds a relationship with its neighbors like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal.  But China actually very much want to include India in the Belt and Road Initiative, because India is a huge nation with 1.3 billion people, it’s a large market, and China very much want India to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, by having deepened economic engagement with India. But the problem with India is that if you wants to keep China at arm’s length, because they see this rather than as an opportunity of cooperation and engagement, they see this as some kind of, you know Chinese influence encroaching on other nations. India is also  participating in the so called plod the, you know the cloud of democracy that’s promoted by the United States that’s the US, Japan, Australia, India to form this circle of containment around China, and that will just increase the kind of the friction between, between India and China, but like I said, you know, like, I think Chinese government will be very happy if India just suddenly says we’re going to be on board with the Belt and Road Initiative, you know we love to trade with China, but that’s not happening right now, India has recently banned all the Chinese apps in their market. So, so they’re, they’re following the kind of the US led initiative to decouple from the Chinese economy, and also India had, you know that Iran and India, they had a deal concerning the port of Chabahar. So, so, like India did have this opportunity to, you know, engage with Iran, engage with China, it’s really up to India to decide what they really want.

I think they had payment issues due to US sanctions and that stopped them from developing further. Iran certainly needed this agreement, for certain reasons that you might be aware of. But do you think that China also needed this agreement to happen?

Oh sure, I mean, you know, the whole point of the Belt and Road initiative is, you know, China was to engage more deeply with the global south countries and Iran is a very important strategic country in the Middle East. It sits right by the Persian Gulf, but you know, it sits right across Hormuz Strait, a very strategic point. And so, you know China very much would like to deepen its engagement with Iran, especially right now, when both China and Iran face heavy diplomatic pressure from the United States it makes even more sense for the two sides to to cooperate and, you know, China also wanted, like, kind of, you know, make more inroads into the broader Middle East market because you know, traditionally China imports its energy from the Middle East, including Iran. But right now, you know, China has, has built up a lot of capacity in the past decades, just building out its own domestic infrastructure. And now, China has acquired all this expertise, and all these capacity but China is is being built out in China are people seeing videos of Chinese high speed rails and bridges. Now, all these Chinese companies they have all these expertise and all this capacity. The whole point of the Belt and Road initiative is to invest abroad, you know, to continue to provide opportunities for these Chinese companies to do business abroad, and to export the excessive Chinese capacity, and Iran is a very important country in the Middle East; traditionally Iran is like the centrepiece of the Middle East. It sits right, square, in the middle of the Silk Road and culturally, politically, economically Iran has always been important. So, so for this (reason), I think it’s a major win for China as well.

How do you think this deal can change the geopolitical alignment in the region, what do you think things will change in the region in the next five years?

Yeah, I think, like you said there has always been a relationship between Iran and China. This just makes it more official, you know, traditionally, China has always traded with Iran buying energy, selling everything including weapons. So, but, but it’s more of an ad hoc basis, because there’s almost never like any kind of formal alliance between the two nations, despite both facing the Western pressures, but not now. I think they, this is like the official blessing of the relationship like, let’s, let’s get together, I think it provides a more supportive network, a framework for them to be engaged in a more productive, cooperation.

Now, maybe this deal can give Iran, another bargaining chip by telling the United States okay you’re not going to buy our oil anymore. No problem. We sold it to China. Do you think this is going to help Iran in it negotiations?

Oh yeah, definitely no doubt I mean what China did in a lot of places was to provide an alternative to the World Bank, in that to all these US dominated international institutions, and, now Iran can play that China card like luck. You know it’s not; we’re not coming to you because you are our only option, you know, you can give us a better deal, or we can walk away.  You are totally right that you give yourself a stronger negotiation position at the table.

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Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Source

April 02, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview given to Channel One’s Bolshaya Igra (Great Game) talk show, Moscow, April 1, 2021

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The word “war” has been heard increasingly more often lately. US and NATO politicians, even more so the Ukrainian military, have no trouble saying it. Do you have more reasons to be concerned now than ever before?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes and no. On the one hand, the confrontation has hit bottom. On the other, deep down, there’s still hope that we are adults and understand the risks associated with escalating tensions further. However, our Western colleagues introduced the word “war” into the diplomatic and international usage. “The hybrid war unleashed by Russia” is a very popular description of what the West perceives as the main event in international life. I still believe that good judgment will prevail.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Recently, the United States has ratcheted the degree of confrontation up to never-before-seen proportions. President Joe Biden said President Vladimir Putin is a “killer.” We have recalled Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov.

Sergey Lavrov: He was invited for consultations.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Hence, the question: How do we go about our relations now? How long will this pause last? When will Mr Antonov return to Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: What we heard President Biden say in his interview with ABC is outrageous and unprecedented. However, one should always see the real actions behind the rhetoric, and they began long before this interview back during the Barack Obama administration. They continued under the Trump administration, despite the fact that the 45th US President publicly spoke in favour of maintaining good relations with Russia, with which he was willing to “get along,” but was not allowed to do so. I’m talking about the consistent degradation of the deterrent infrastructure in the military-political and strategic spheres.

The ABM Treaty has long since been dropped. President Putin has more than once mentioned how, in response to his remark that George W. Bush was making a mistake and there was no need to aggravate relations, the then US President said that it was not directed against Russia. Allegedly, we can take any steps that we deem necessary in response to the US withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. Allegedly, the Americans will not take these actions as directed against them, either. But then they started establishing anti-missile systems in Europe which is the third missile defence position area. It was announced that it was built exclusively with Iran in mind. Our attempts to agree on a transparency format received support during the visit to Moscow by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, but were later rejected. We now have a missile defence area in Europe. Nobody is saying that this is against Iran now. This is clearly being positioned as a global project designed to contain Russia and China. The same processes are underway in the Asia-Pacific region. No one is trying to pretend that this is being done against North Korea.

This is a global system designed to back US claims to absolute dominance, including in the military-strategic and nuclear spheres.

Dimitri Simes can also share his assessment of what is said and written in the United States on that account. A steadfast course has now been taken towards deploying intermediate and shorter-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.

The INF Treaty was discarded by the Americans on far-fetched pretexts. This was not our choice. In his special messages, President Vladimir Putin suggested agreeing, on a voluntary basis and even in the absence of the INF Treaty, on a mutual moratorium with corresponding verification measures in the Kaliningrad Region, where the Americans suspected our Iskander missiles of violating restrictions imposed by the now defunct treaty, and at US bases in Poland and Romania, where the MK-41 units are promoted by the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, as dual-purpose equipment.

To reiterate, this rhetoric is outrageous and unacceptable. However, President Putin has reacted to it diplomatically and politely. Unfortunately, there was no response to our offer to talk live and to dot the dottable letters in the Russian and English alphabets. All of that has long since gone hand-in-hand with a material build-up in the confrontational infrastructure, which also includes the reckless eastward advance of NATO military facilities, the transformation of a rotational presence into a permanent presence on our borders, in the Baltic States, in Norway, and Poland. So everything is much more serious than mere rhetoric.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: When will Ambassador Antonov return to Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s up to President Putin to decide. Ambassador Antonov is currently holding consultations at the Foreign Ministry. He has met with the members of the committees on international affairs at the State Duma and the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly. He has had conversations at the Presidential Executive Office as well.

It is important for us to analyse the current state of our relations, which did not get to this point overnight, and are not just because of this interview, but have been going this way for years now. The fact that inappropriate language was used during President Biden’s interview with ABC shows the urgency of conducting a comprehensive analysis. This does not mean that we have just been observers and have not drawn any conclusions over the past years. But now the time has come for generalisations.

Dimitri Simes: Now that I am in Moscow, after a year in Washington, I see a striking contrast between statements by the leaders of the two countries. I think you will agree that when officials in Washington talk about relations with Russia, their pattern is simple and understandable: “Russia is an opponent.” Sometimes, Congressmen are more abrupt and call it “an enemy.” However, political leaders from the administration still call it “an opponent.” They allow cooperation with Russia on some issues that are important to the US, but generally it is emphasised that militarily Russia is “the number one opponent,” while politically it is not just a country with objectionable views but a state that “tries to spread authoritarian regimes throughout the world,” that “opposes democracy” and “undermines the foundations of the US as such.”

When I listen to you and President of Russia Vladimir Putin, I have the impression that in Moscow the picture is more complicated and has more nuances. Do you think the US is Russia’s opponent today?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not go into analysing the lexicon of “opponent,” “enemy,” “competitor” or “rival.” All these words are juggled in both official and unofficial statements. I read the other day that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that for all the differences with Russia and China, the US does not have anything against these countries. As for what the US is doing, it is simply “promoting democracy” and “upholding human rights.” I don’t know how seriously one can take this description of US policy towards Moscow and Beijing. However, if they are promoting democracy, practice must justify theory.

George W. Bush announced that democracy was established in Iraq in May 2003. Aboard an aircraft carrier, he declared that Iraq’s liberation from its totalitarian regime was completed and democracy was established in the country. There is no point in elaborating. It is enough to mention the toll of the US-unleashed war – hundreds of thousands of people. We should also remember that the “rule” of the notorious Paul Bremer resulted in the birth of ISIS, which was rapidly joined by members of the Baath Party, employees of Saddam Hussein’s secret services, who had lost their jobs. They simply needed to provide for their families. ISIS emerged not because of ideological differences. Relying on US mistakes, the radicals actively used this fact. This is what democracy in Iraq is all about.

“Democracy” in Libya was established by bombs, strikes and the murder of Muammar Gaddafi which was accompanied by Hillary Clinton’s cry of admiration. This is the result: Libya is a black hole; refugee flows bound for the north are creating problems for the EU that does not know what to do about them; illegal arms and terrorists are being smuggled through Libya to the south, bringing suffering to the Sahara-Sahel Region.

I do not wish to describe what the Americans feel towards the Russian Federation. If their statements about us being their “opponent,” “enemy,” “rival” or “competitor” are based on the desire to accuse us of the consequences of their reckless policy, we can hardly have a serious conversation with them.

Dmitri Simes: When officials in Washington, the Joseph Biden administration or Congress, call Russia an opponent and emphasise this, I think they would not agree that it is simply rhetoric. Nor would they agree that it is designed solely for domestic consumption. The Biden administration is saying that the US did not have a consistent policy towards Russia and that former US President Donald Trump let Russia “do everything the Russian Government of Vladimir Putin wanted.” Now a new sheriff has come in and is willing to talk in a way he sees fit without paying much attention to how Moscow will interpret it; and if Moscow doesn’t like it, this is good. This is being done not to evoke discontent, of course, but to show that Russia is finally realising that it cannot behave like this anymore. Is there any chance that this new Biden administration policy will compel Russia to show some new flexibility?

Sergey Lavrov: The policy you mentioned, which is promoted in the forms we are now seeing, has no chance to succeed. This is nothing new: Joseph Biden has come in, started using sanctions against Russia, toughening rhetoric and in general exerting pressure all along the line. This has been going on for many years. The sanctions started with the Barack Obama administration and, historically, even earlier. Like many other restrictions, they have simply become hypertrophied and ideology-based starting in 2013, before the events in Ukraine.

Dimitri Simes: They will tell you, and you know this better than I do, that this policy has not been pursued sufficiently consistently, that it was not energetic enough, and that now they and their NATO allies will get down to dealing with Russia seriously so as to show us that we must change our behaviour fundamentally not just when it comes to foreign policy but also our domestic policy.

Sergey Lavrov: Dimitri, you are an experienced person, you know the United States better than Vyacheslav Nikonov or I do. What else can they do to us? Which of the analysts has decided to prove the practicability of any further pressure on Russia? How well do they know history? This question is for you.

Dimitri Simes: Mr Minister, you probably know that I am not a fervent supporter of the policy of the Biden administration.

Sergey Lavrov: I am asking you as an observer and an independent expert.

Dimitri Simes: In my opinion, the Biden administration still has a sufficient set of tools it can apply against Russia, including new sanctions, the promotion of NATO infrastructure in Europe, a more “harmonised” pressure on Russia together with its allies, the advance of the US policy not closer to the traditional Old Europe (I am referring to Britain and especially to France and Germany) but to Poland, and lastly, the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine. It is now believed in Washington that it is very important to show Russia that its current policy in Ukraine has no future and that unless Russia changes its behaviour it “will pay a price.”

Sergey Lavrov: My views on the current developments range from an exercise in absurdity to a dangerous play with matches. You may know that it has become trendy to use examples from ordinary life to describe current developments. All of us played outdoors when we were children. Kids of different ages and with different kinds of family upbringing played in the same places. In fact, we all lived as one big family then. There were two or three bad boys on every street; they humiliated other kids, disciplined them, forced them to clean their boots and took their money, the few kopecks our mothers gave us to buy a pie or breakfast at school. Two, three or four years later, these small kids grew up and could fight back. We don’t even have to grow up. We do not want confrontation.

President Putin has said more than once, including after President Biden’s infamous interview with ABC that we are ready to work with the United States in the interests of our people and the interests of international security. If the United States is willing to endanger the interests of global stability and global – and so far peaceful – coexistence, I don’t think it will find many allies for this endeavour. It is true that the EU has quickly towed the line and pledged allegiance. I regard the statements made during the virtual EU summit with Joe Biden as unprecedented. I don’t remember ever hearing such oaths of allegiance before. The things they said publicly revealed their absolute ignorance of the history of the creation of the UN and many other events. I am sure that serious politicians – there are still some left in the United States – can see not just futility but also the absurdity of this policy. As far as I know, the other day 27 political organisations in the United States publicly urged the Biden administration to change the rhetoric and the essence of the US approach to relations with Russia.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: This is unlikely to happen. I believe that your example with “tough guys” on every street is too mild. The United States has gone beyond the pale, let alone the street ethics, which have always been respected. We can see this happening in Ukraine. President Biden is one of those who created modern Ukraine, the Ukrainian policy and the war in Donbass. As I see it, he takes the situation very personally, and he will try to keep it in its current tense state. How dangerous is the situation in Ukraine in light of the ongoing US arms deliveries, the decisions adopted in the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday, and the statements made by the Ukrainian military, who are openly speaking about a war?  Where do we stand on the Ukrainian front?

Sergey Lavrov: There is much speculation about the documents that the Rada passed and that President Zelensky signed. To what extent does this reflect real politics? Is it consistent with the objective of resolving President Zelensky’s domestic problem of declining ratings? I’m not sure what this is: a bluff or concrete plans. According to the information published in the media, the military, for the most part, is aware of the damage that any action to unleash a hot conflict might bring.

I very much hope this will not be fomented by the politicians, who, in turn, will be fomented by the US-led West. Once again, we see the truth as stated by many analysts and political scientists, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, being reaffirmed. They look at Ukraine from a geopolitical perspective: as a country that is close to Russia, Ukraine makes Russia a great state; without Ukraine, Russia does not have global significance. I leave this on the conscience of those who profess these ideas, their fairness and ability to appreciate modern Russia. Like President Vladimir Putin said not long ago; but these words are still relevant, – those who try to unleash a new war in Donbass will destroy Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The US and Western diplomacy have definitely accomplished one thing: they put Russia and China in one boat. Indeed, we have already become strategic partners in deeds not just in words. You have just come back from China. You go there more often than once a year, for sure. During this trip, was there anything new that you sensed from Chinese leadership, which has recently come under unprecedented and rude attacks from the Americans? How strong are the bonds that are being established between Russia and China? How high is the bar that we can or have already reached in our relationship?

Sergey Lavrov: Like Russians, the Chinese are a proud nation. They may be more patient historically. The Chinese nation’s national and genetic code is all about being focused on a historical future. They are never limited to 4 or 5- year electoral cycles. They look further: “a big journey begins with a small step” and many other maxims coined by Chinese leaders go to show that they appreciate a goal that is not just on the horizon, but beyond the horizon. This also applies to reunifying Chinese lands – incrementally and without haste, but purposefully and persistently. Those who are talking with China and Russia without due respect or look down on us, or insult us are worthless politicians and strategists. If they do this to show how tough they are for the next parliamentary election in a couple of years, so be it.

Winston Churchill famously said that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” A big debate is underway about which one is more effective. The coronavirus infection has taken the debate up a notch. To what extent the Western democracies have shown themselves capable of opposing this absolute evil and to what extent countries with a centralised, strong and “authoritarian” government have been successful. History will be the judge. We should wait to see the results.

We want to cooperate; we have never accused anyone of anything, or mounted a media campaign against anyone, even though we are being accused of doing this. As soon as President Putin announced the creation of a vaccine, he proposed establishing international cooperation. You do remember what was being said about Sputnik V. At first, they said that it was not true, and then that this was propaganda and the only purpose was to promote Russia’s political interests in the world. We can see the ripple effect of this. On March 30, Vladimir Putin held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. We sensed a more realistic commitment to cooperate rather than try to engage in “vaccine discrimination” or “vaccine propaganda.”

Getting back to the heart of the matter, by and large, no one should be rude to other people. But what we see instead is a dialogue with a condescending tone towards great civilisations like Russia and China. We are being told what to do. If we want to say something, we are asked to “leave them alone.” This was the case in Anchorage when the discussion came to human rights. Antony Blinken said that there were many violations in the United States, but the undercurrent was clear – they would sort it out themselves and are already doing so. However, in Xinjiang Uygur, Hong Kong and Tibet, to name a few, things should be approached differently. It’s not just about a lack of diplomatic skills. It runs much deeper. In China, I sensed that this patient nation, which always upholds its interests and shows a willingness to find a compromise, was put in a stalemate. The other day, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson made a relevant comment. I don’t remember that ever happening before.

With regard to whether we are being pushed into the arms of China or China is being pushed into our arms, everyone remembers Henry Kissinger’s words that the United States should have relations with China which are better than relations between China and Russia, and vice versa. He saw this historical process and knew which way it could go. Many are writing now that the United States is committing a huge strategic mistake making efforts against Russia and China at a time, thereby catalysing our rapprochement. Moscow and Beijing are not allying against anyone. During my visit to China, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I adopted a Joint Statement on Certain Issues of Global Governance in Modern Conditions, where we emphasised the unacceptability of violating international law or substituting it by some secretly drafted rules, of interference in other countries’ internal affairs and, overall, everything that contradicts the UN Charter. There are no threats there. The documents signed by the leaders of Russia and China always emphasise the fact that bilateral strategic interaction and multifaceted partnership are not directed against anyone, but focus exclusively on the interests of our peoples and countries. They build on a clear-cut and objective foundation of overlapping interests. We look for a balance of interests, and there are many areas where it has been achieved and is being used for the benefit of all of us.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Have you noticed any change in China’s position? It is clear that Beijing is in a very tight situation. How far is China willing to go in its confrontation with the United States? It is obvious that they are now responding harshly. Sanctions are being introduced against Beijing, so it responds with tough counter-sanctions, and not only against the United States, but also against its allies, who are also joining the sanctions. Europe has joined this confrontation. Are we prepared to synchronise our policies with China, for example, our counter-sanctions, as we did with Belarus? Do we have a common strategy to counter the increasing pressure from the so-called alliance of democracies?

Sergey Lavrov: There is a general strategy, and I just mentioned it. Along with the Statement signed during my visit to China, a comprehensive Leaders’ Statement was adopted last year. Now we are preparing the next document, which will be signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation. Our strategic treaty will be renewed.

These documents spell out our line of conduct. We are not planning, and will not plan, any schemes to retaliate for what they are doing to us. I do not think that we will synchronise our responses to any new sanction acts against China and Russia.

Our level of cooperation continues to grow qualitatively.

You mentioned military alliances. There is popular speculation out there that Russia and China might conclude a military alliance. First, one of the documents signed at the highest level underscored that our relations are not a military alliance, and we are not pursuing this goal. We regard NATO as an example of a military alliance in the traditional sense, and we know that we do not need such an alliance. NATO clearly breathed a sigh of relief after the Biden administration replaced Donald Trump. Everyone was happy to again have someone to tell them what to do. Emmanuel Macron still occasionally tries to vainly mention the EU’s strategic autonomy initiative, but no one else in Europe even wants to discuss it. It’s over, the boss is here.

That kind of alliance is a Cold War alliance. I would prefer thinking in terms of the modern era where multi-polarity is growing. In this sense, our relationship with China is completely different from that of a traditional military alliance. Maybe in a certain sense, it is an even closer bond.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The “alliance of democracies” will be created. This is obvious although fewer people in Russia still believe that it’s about democracy. In its election, its attitude towards freedom of the media and opportunities to express opposing views, the US has made it very clear that it has big problems with democracy. Europe also gives examples that compel us to doubt its efforts to promote a strong democratic project. After all, it still holds a position as a player under a big boss.

Vladimir Putin had a conversation with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel via videoconference on March 30 of this year. Without Vladimir Zelensky, by the way. This is the Normandy format minus Ukraine, which resulted in a bitter response from Kiev.

They discussed a broad range of issues. Meanwhile, you have said more than once that our relations with the EU are frozen or absent altogether. Do you mean that we stay in contact or that contact is possible with individual EU members but not with the EU as a whole?

Sergey Lavrov: This is exactly the case, and this was also mentioned during the March 30 talks, and during Vladimir Putin’s conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel. We are surprised that this assessment offends the EU. This is simply an objective fact.

It took years to develop relations between Moscow and the EU. By the time the state coup in Ukraine took place these relations included: summits twice a year; annual meetings of all members of the Russian Government with all members of the European Commission; about 17 sectoral dialogues on different issues, from energy to human rights; and four common spaces based on Russia-EU summit resolutions, each of which had its own roadmap.

We were holding talks on visa-free travel. It is indicative that the EU broke them off back in 2013, long before the crisis in Ukraine. As some of our colleagues told us, when it came to a decision on signing the proposed agreement, the aggressive Russophobic minority adamantly opposed it: Russia cannot receive visa-free travel status with the EU before Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova do. This is the entire background. What the EU did after that, braking all channels of systematic dialogue was a burst of emotion. They took it out on us because the putschists insulted the West by throwing out the document signed by Yanukovich and the opposition the day before, this despite the fact that Germany, France and Poland had endorsed this document. The first actions of the new authorities were to remove the Russian language from daily life and to expel Russians from Crimea. When Russian-speakers and Russians in Ukraine opposed this and asked to be left alone, a so-called “anti-terrorist operation” was launched against them.

In effect, the EU imposed sanctions on us and broke off all communication channels because we raised our voice in defence of Russian citizens and ethnic Russians in Ukraine, Donbass and Crimea. We try to discuss issues with them when they start making claims against us. They probably understand this; I hope they are still seasoned politicians. But if they understand this but don’t want to consider it in their practical policy, it means that they are being charged with Russophobia or cannot do anything about the aggressive Russophobic minority in the EU.

Dimitri Simes: I believe when we talk about the EU, it’s important to look at what the EU is and to what extent it has changed compared to what it used to be and what it was supposed to be when it was founded. The EU was primarily designed as an organisation for economic cooperation.

No political component was even envisioned at the start. It was about the EU contributing to European economic integration. The possibility was even mentioned of Russia playing some associated role in that process. But then they said the EU should also have some common values. At first, the idea was that those common values were the cement of the EU itself. Then a new idea emerged in Warsaw that it would be nice for those European values ​​(since they are actually universal) to spread to other regions, as well as for Russia to respect them, or even to obey them. When I look at the EU’s approach to Ukraine, the conflict in Donbass and the demands to return Crimea to Kiev, it seems to me that the EU is becoming a missionary organisation. When you deal with crusaders, trying to reckon with them or appealing to their logic and conscience is probably useless. Do you not think that the EU has journeyed to a place where there are limited opportunities for partnership and great potential for confrontation? Or am I being too pessimistic?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I agree with you, absolutely. This is a missionary style – lecturing others while projecting superiority. It is important to see this tendency, as it has repeatedly brought Europe to trouble.

This is actually the case. Established as the Coal and Steel Community, then the European Economic Community – if you look at the EU now, look at their values, they are already attacking their own members like Poland and Hungary, just because these countries have somewhat different cultural and religious traditions. You said it originated in Poland. I actually forget who started this…

Dimitri Simes: I first heard it from Polish delegates at a conference.

Sergey Lavrov: Now Poland itself is facing the consequences of its ideas, only not outside the EU, but within the organisation.

When anyone tries to impose any values on Russia, ​​related, as they believe, to democracy and human rights, we have this very specific response: all universal values ​​are contained in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that everyone signed. Any values invented now, which they try to impose on us or other countries, are not universal. They have not been agreed upon by the entire international community. Even inside the EU, look at those street protests! A couple of years ago, they had protests in France in defence of the traditional family, the concepts of “mother,” “father,” and “children.” This lies deep. Playing with traditional values ​​is dangerous.

As to the EU once inviting Russia as an associate member, we never agreed to sign an association document. Now the same is being done with regard to the Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Ukraine, and Moldova. As for Russia’s relations with the EU, which Brussels destroyed, only one thing remained – the basic document on the terms of trade and investment. It was indeed the subject of negotiation between the Brussels Commission and the Russian Federation. This is a document that remains valid. We cooperate with individual countries, but not with the EU, because those were the terms agreed upon, and their practical implementation is going through bilateral channels. The only thing the EU is doing in this respect now is imposing sanctions and banning its members from fulfilling some parts of this agreement because they want to “punish Russia.” That’s it, there are no other ties.

We are being told that we are deliberately derailing our relations (although the facts are simply outrageous), trying to shift our ties with Europe to bilateral channels, wanting to “split up” the European Union. We don’t want to split anyone up. We always say that we are interested in a strong and independent European Union. But if the EU chooses a non-independent position in the international arena, as we just discussed, this is their right. We cannot do anything about it. We have always supported its independence and unity. But in the current situation, where Brussels broke off all relations, when certain European countries reach out to us (we have not tried to lure anyone) with proposals to talk, to visit any of the sides and discuss some promising projects in bilateral relations, how can we refuse our partners? It is quite unfair (even a shame) to try to present such meetings as part of a strategy to split up the EU. They have enough problems of their own that split them up.

Dimitri Simes: This is a philosophical issue in Russia’s relations with the EU. When the EU has imposed anti-China sanctions, China made a tough response. This was an unpleasant surprise for the EU and caused indignation. Meanwhile, Brussels does not expect such a response from Russia in the firm belief that Russia has no economic levers to oppose the EU. To my knowledge, Russia has not imposed any serious sanctions on the EU.

This is an interesting situation. Russia supplies Europe with 33 percent of its gas. The figures for oil are about the same. I think during all this time Russia has proved convincingly that it won’t use energy for political leverage in Europe. Understandably, Russia has been interested in this, especially when it comes to the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It seems to me that certain people in Europe have forgotten that if Russia does not do something, it doesn’t mean that it cannot do it, or won’t be compelled to do it if the EU’s pressure on Russia crosses a line. Do you think this is possible in theory? Or does Russia completely rule out such actions?

Sergey Lavrov: You are saying (metaphorically) that they either have not read (which is most likely) or have forgotten the epic about Ilya Muromets who slept on the stove while nobody paid attention? This is not a threat. We will never use energy supplies or our oil and gas routes in Europe to this end. This is a position of principle regardless of anything else.

Dimitri Simes: Even of you are disconnected from SWIFT and everything else?

Sergey Lavrov: We will not do that. This is a position of principle for President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We will not create a situation where we force EU citizens “freeze.” We will never do this. We have nothing in common with Kiev that shut down water supplies to Crimea and takes delight in it. This is a disgraceful position in the world arena. Frequently accusing us of using energy as an instrument of influence, as a weapon, the West keeps silence on what Kiev is doing with water supplies to Crimea. I believe the provision of basic needs on which the daily life of common citizens depends, should never be an object of sanctions.

Dimitri Simes: In this case, what do you mean by referring to “the phenomenon” of Ilya Muromets?

Sergey Lavrov: It is possible to respond in different ways. We have always warned that we will be ready to respond. We will respond to any malicious actions against us but not necessarily in a symmetric manner. By the way, speaking about the impact of the sanctions on civilians, look what is taking place in Syria under the Caesar Act. My colleagues in Europe and, incidentally, in the region, whisper that they are horrified by the way this act has eliminated any opportunity to do business with Syria. The goal is clear – to stifle the Syrians to make them revolt and overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

Now a few words about our and China’s responses to the European sanctions. After all, China also avoided suspending economic activity. It simply imposed sanctions on a number of individuals and companies that held certain anti-China positions. We are doing basically the same.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: As we know, Ilya Muromets did not shut down oil and gas supplies. He used other methods that were often symmetrical. I think we also have a solid set of instruments.

Don’t we exaggerate the importance of the EU in the modern world? It has an identity and there are European values. I know this since I have dealt with European MPs and experts for many years.

However, I have the impression that there are two main values: the first one is the euro and the second is LGBT and 60 more letters that describe this notion linked with sexual identity, their presence, absence, or mix.

The EU is undergoing a crisis – Brexit. Britain has left the EU. The economic crisis is very bad. Probably, in Europe it is worse than elsewhere. The economy has dropped by up to 10 percent in many countries. The vaccine-related crisis has shown that Europe cannot counter the virus and adopt a common policy. These problems are emerging at all levels. It cannot draft a common economic policy, migration rules, and so on. Maybe, we are really paying too much attention to Europe? Maybe we can act without looking back at this “falling” structure?

Sergey Lavrov: But where are we paying too much attention to Europe? We have a very simple position that President of Russia Vladimir Putin has set forth many times: we do not feel hurt. As we know, hurt people get the short end of the stick, or as we say in Russia, hurt people are made to carry water, something we are short of in Crimea. We will always be willing to revive our relations, practically to raise them from the ashes, but to do this we must know what the EU is interested in. We will not knock on a locked door. They are well aware of our proposals, just as the Americans know our proposals on strategic stability, cyber security and many other things. We have said to all of them: “Our friends and colleagues, we are ready for this. We understand that you will have some reciprocal ideas but we have not yet heard them. As soon as you are ready, let’s sit down and discuss them, seeking a balance of interests.” Meanwhile, now we are being accused of neglecting policy on the EU, so I don’t think we are courting this alliance or exaggerating its importance. It determines its place in the world itself. We have already talked about this today.

As for European values, we have many ongoing debates. Some people need European price tags more than European values. They want to travel there for shopping, recreation, buy some property and return home. As I said, our common values lie in our history, the mutual influence of our cultures, literature, art and music. They are great.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: As for modern European culture and art, have they really…

Sergey Lavrov: I am referring to our historical roots.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Because I think today’s Europe is pretty empty in terms of culture.

Sergey Lavrov: There are some funny songs; we can listen to them in the car sometimes.

Dimitri Simes: Speaking of relations with the United States, I would like to ask you a personal question because you lived and worked there for a long time when you were Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Of course, you have also been dealing with the US as the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. I lived in the US for almost 50 years.

Sergey Lavrov: Why past tense?

Dimitri Simes: I am now in Moscow. When I look at the United States today, I have the impression that it is undergoing a cultural revolution. I think that if many people in the Joseph Biden administration or the Democrats in Congress are told this, they would not feel offended in any way. They will say that a cultural revolution is long overdue, that it is finally necessary to eradicate racism, give equal and not-so-equal prevailing opportunities to sexual orientation minorities because they were also discriminated against and to develop a true democracy that requires that all those who want to vote can vote. In practice, this means that millions of people will have an opportunity to vote without necessarily being US citizens at all. This is why the Democrats emphatically oppose a ban on voting on Sundays. As you know, there was never any voting in the US on Sundays. Sunday is called God’s day. The Democrats wanted Sunday elections so that buses could go to Afro-American churches and take people to the polling stations.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Why take them by bus? They can vote by mail.

Dimitri Simes: Both options are available.

Sergey Lavrov: Why not put a ballot box right in a church?

Dimitri Simes: Exactly. Do you believe the United States is, in many respects, evolving into a different country and that this is not necessarily an irreversible process, though a momentous one? Also, would you agree that this process is not a purely American internal matter because it goes hand in hand with the emergence of a new revolutionary ideology that requires that American values spread around the world and that these American models should not be resisted as they are now in Russia and China? Can this lead to an existential conflict?

Sergey Lavrov: We will talk about this but, first, let me finish what I was saying about European culture. Here is, in my view, a telling illustration of the state of European culture today. If we talk about revolutions, including a cultural revolution, the Eurovision  contest speaks volumes.  What they are doing now to the Belarusians is repulsive. This is sheer censorship that goes like this: since we – nobody knows who exactly, some anonymous individuals – fancy that we heard some innuendoes in your song, we will not allow you to take part in the contest unless you have another song. But then the same fate befalls another Belarusian song. What does this have in common with art, culture or democracy?

As for a cultural revolution in the United States, I do feel that processes which deserve to be described like this are unfolding there. Everyone probably wants to eradicate racism and, as for us, we have never had any doubt regarding this. We were trailblazers behind the movement to secure equal rights for all people, regardless of the colour of their skin. However, we should beware that we do not slip into another extreme, the one we have observed during the Black Lives Matter events, and into aggression against white people, white US citizens.

The other day we marked an international day designated to increase awareness of this issue and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking at a General Assembly meeting, said that the previous year had been a year of the most serious and numerous manifestations of white supremacy. I have asked to be given the full text of his speech, as I want to understand what specifically he had in mind. If this is about having a sense of a trend you talked about and the willingness to follow this trend, it is lamentable. This is still the United Nations Organisation and not a venue for promoting US concepts, some US trends.

As for why they need this, yes, they want to spread this to the rest of the world. They have a huge potential to achieve this goal. Hollywood has also started to change its rules, so that everything reflects the diversity of contemporary society, which is also a form of censorship, art control and the way of imposing some artificial restrictions and requirements on others. I have seen black actors perform in Shakespeare’s comedies. The only thing I do not know is when a white actor will play Othello. You see, this is nothing less than absurdity. Political correctness reduced to absurdity will lead to no good.

The other tool is social networks and internet platforms, as well as servers located in the United States. The US flatly refuses to discuss ways of either making internet governance more democratic or establishing common rules regulating social networks for the sake of avoiding the recurrence of the situation with TikTok and other social networks we encountered during the recent events in Russia, including the spread of abominable information, like personal abuse, pedophilia and many other things. We have already approached TikTok and other social networks about the need to establish elementary rules of respect and propriety but the Americans are unwilling to make these types of rules universal.

In Anchorage, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken lectured the Chinese on human rights, ethnic minorities and democracy in China. Indeed, Mr Blinken said they [in the US] also had to address certain issues in this field but they would do it on their own. During talks with the Americans – the same goes for the Europeans – as soon as you start offering to discuss ways of democratising international relations or the supremacy of law on an international scale, they invariably get away from the subject. They want to replace international law with their own rules, which have nothing in common with the supremacy of law globally, on a universal scale. I already talked about large-scale rallies in France in defence of traditional family values. It appears that to secure the rights of one group of people, the rights of another group have to be infringed upon. That is, promoting these values around the world is not an end in itself, but rather a tool for ensuring their dominance.

Dimitri Simes: Richard Nixon once told Nikita Khrushchev that there would be no true harmony or true partnership between the Soviet Union and America unless the Soviet Union stops spreading its ideology. And that was a big problem in the Brezhnev era, I must say, because they discussed a détente while at the same time supporting a continued international class struggle. As I see it, Leonid Brezhnev was doing it without much conviction. But now, things have turned the other way around. Now the collective West is eager to proliferate its ideology and values. And they seem to be doing so with far greater conviction and perseverance than the Soviet Union under Leonid Brezhnev ever tried. Does this pose a risk of collision?

Sergey Lavrov: Under Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet Union saw no threat to its existence. One can argue whether that stance was far-sighted enough, but that is how it was. Today’s West senses a threat to its dominance. It is a fact. So all those wiggling moves, including the invention of some ‘rules’ – as in the rules-based international order, something the West has come up with to replace the UN Charter – they reflect precisely this tendency.

I agree that we have swapped positions, or rather the Soviet Union and the modern West have. I don’t think this will offend anyone since this is not a big secret. I spoke with Rex Tillerson when he was US Secretary of State. He is a thoughtful and experienced politician and diplomat. It was good to work with him. We disagreed on most things, but we always wanted to continue the dialogue to bring our positions just a little bit closer at least. When he first told me they were concerned about Russia’s interference in some elections, I said they had not proved anything to us yet, and all we heard was accusations. When they began to accuse us of interfering in their elections, we repeatedly proposed using the special channel we had for exchanging information about threats to information networks and organisations. They refused. We had repeatedly offered dialogue even before that, when Barack Obama was president, from October 2016 until Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. They always refused.

I pointed out to Tillerson that they had in fact directly stipulated in legislation that the US State Department should spend $20 million a year to support Russian civil society and promote democracy. That was not even a suspicion on our part as they did it openly (for example, the Ukraine Support Act). There was nothing to prove – they just announced that they would interfere. He told me that was totally different. I asked him why, and he said because we promoted authoritarianism, and they spread democracy. That was it.

Dimitri Simes: And he said it with sincere conviction, didn’t he?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Mr Lavrov, naturally, this policy leads to a drastic polarisation. The polarisation of international relations is a dangerous thing. We remember the early 19th century, and the early 20th century. It always ended in wars. The Americans, losing their global dominance, will create (they have already announced this) a new ‘alliance of democracies.’ I mean create American and pro-American alliances, compelling everyone else to make their choice. This polarisation will increase. What will this mean for the world and for the alliances where Russia is a member? I mean BRICS (which I think they will try to split up), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). How far can this go? How dangerous is it?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a deliberate policy and an extension of the agenda we are talking about – about the United States promoting democracy and spreading benefit. The Americans and Europe are very active (but the Americans are especially active) in Central Asia. They are trying to create their own formats such as C5+1. Russia is also part of a 5+1 format in Central Asia, in addition to the SCO, CIS, EAEU and CSTO – one that involves the foreign ministers of five Central Asian countries and your humble servant. That format is useful. True, the volume of economic ties that the US and the EU are now building with Central Asia is still incomparable with our economic interpenetration, but they are pursuing an unambiguous goal to weaken our ties with our allies and strategic partners in every possible way.

The numerous initiatives around the Afghan reconciliation and around the Indo-Pacific region envision Central Asia’s reorientation from its current vector to the South – to help rebuild Afghanistan and at the same time weaken its ties with the Russian Federation.

I could talk for a long time about the Indo-Pacific region and the Indo-Pacific concept. That multi-layered initiative is aimed at hindering China’s Belt and Road Initiative and limiting the Chinese influence in the region, creating constant irritants for that country. There have been some slips about creating an ‘Asian NATO.’ Although in the US interpretation the Indo-Pacific region is described as ‘free and open,’ the chances that positions will be worked out through an equal or open process there are slim. It is already obvious that it isn’t ‘open’. China has not been invited; rather, that country is declared a target for containment. We have not been invited either, which means the attitude to Russia is similar. I would say those are long-term trends. We are talking about this frankly with our neighbours and closest allies. I am confident that they understand all these threats. None of them even considers the possibility of anyone telling them who to talk or not talk to. It is their sovereign right to choose their partners.

The term ‘multi-vector’ has become semi-abusive, but we are not giving up the multi-vector approach. We are open to cooperation and friendship with everyone who is ready for relations based on equality, mutual respect, compromise and balance of interests. That our Western colleagues are clearly abusing this approach, especially in post-Soviet countries, is an obvious fact.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Is it possible to avoid the actual military scenario in these circumstances? Isn’t it time to create an alliance of free countries given the role reversal that has taken place in the modern world? An alliance, perhaps, of genuine democracies that will oppose the ongoing all-out attack?

Sergey Lavrov: We will not get involved in this kind of political engineering. Russia is committed to the United Nations. When France and Germany put forward the effective multilateralism concept, we asked them what it meant. There was silence followed by joint articles written by the foreign ministers of France and Germany stating that the European Union is an example of effective multilateralism, and everyone needs to adapt to the European processes. Our question why the readily available and universal UN multilateral platform is not a good option remained unanswered. However, the answer is there, and we mentioned it more than once today. They are making up the rules that the international order is supposed to be based on.

Dimitri Simes: Mr Minister, we have taken up much of your time and we appreciate it. But we cannot let you go without asking you one more personal question. What is it like to be Russia’s Foreign Minister in this rapidly changing world?

You have worked in several completely different eras. When you were Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, it was a period of Russia’s “romantic infatuation” with the United States, though perhaps not quite on the terms that were beneficial for Russia. In the early 21st century, Russia was in search of partnerships. Well, then we got what we are witnessing now. How do you, a person who, in many ways, is the architect of this era, a witness and a participant of this process, find your work in this very complex role?

Sergey Lavrov: To put it short, I never get bored. That is if we are talking about the different eras in my career. We all lived in these eras, and we have seen these transitions. You asked me earlier whether the United States has changed. It has. A lot.

Dimitri Simes: Have you changed?

Sergey Lavrov: Probably. It’s not for me to say. A person perceives the environment as a constantly evolving process. People grow up, get smarter or dumber, but they have no way of seeing it.

Dimitri Simes: Do you think we have all become disappointed in many ways, but we have grown, too, as a result of these experiences, and, of course, in the first place, a person holding such positions as yours?

Sergey Lavrov: This is true, of course. How can this not influence the formation of a person? The personality never stops to evolve. It is something that lasts until the end of our lives. Those revolutionary developments had a strong influence on me. I believe the 9/11 attacks were the turning point in the American life. I was in Manhattan, in New York, at the time, and I felt that odour. I was having a hard time trying to make a phone call, because the phones went dead. Since then, New York has become a different city. This free city, living its own life around the clock and enjoying it, became wary and started looking over its shoulder to see if there was someone around who could hurt it.

This suspicion then spread deeply into American society. There were probably serious reasons for that. I have to commend the US intelligence services, because since then, apart from the Boston Marathon, which we had warned them about, there have been no other terrorist attacks. However, wariness and aloofness can still be felt. Perhaps, there are people who want to take advantage of this in order to do things that you just mentioned. If 11 million Americans become eligible to vote, welcome to the one-party system, Back in the USSR.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Mr Lavrov, thank you very much for the interview. Now that we are within the historic walls of the Foreign Ministry’s Mansion on Spiridonovka, a place where history and great diplomacy were made, including the diplomacy of the great powers, I would like to wish us all the return of diplomacy. If it comes back, as President Vladimir Putin is conveying to President Joe Biden, in the form of a live-stream dialogue, then The Great Game will be at your service and at the service of the two presidents.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you. President Biden has already said that diplomacy has returned to US foreign policy. Your dream has come true.

source: https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4662534

هل صحيح ان لبنان ليس مهما لأميركا؟

البناء

المأخوذون بالإعجاب بالسياسات الأميركية يرغبون في استحقار بلدهم وتعظيم أميركا فتلازمهم جملة التسخيف لمكانة لبنان ويردون على مَن يقول إن السياسات الأميركية تستهدف لبنان بقولهم إن لبنان في آخر سلم الأولويات الأميركية، فهل هذا صحيح؟

يمكن التساؤل عن حجم الأهمية بالوقائع وليس بالتخمين، فنضع لبنان بمعايير الأحجام مع أي دولة أخرى في العالم، من حيث عدد السكان والمساحة والحجم الإجمالي للاقتصاد، ونقارن بالتوازي معايير الاهتمام التي تعكسها الوقائع.

كم مرة ذكر المسؤولون الأميركيّون في بيانات الرؤساء والوزراء وسائر مستويات القرار، وكم هو عدد الأشخاص اللبنانيين الذين أنزلت بهم عقوبات، وكم من مسؤول أميركي زار لبنان، وكم من موفد خاص كلفه الأميركيون بمهام تتعلق بلبنان، ولنقارن ذلك فقط في عهد الرئيس دونالد ترامب بدولة كاليابان مثلاً.

ما شهدته مفاوضات ترسيم الحدود البحريّة وحده يكفي لاختصار الموقع الذي يحتله لبنان في الحسابات الأميركية رغم أنف المتذاكين، ولماذا يهتم الأميركي بالتوسط مع لبنان حول مفاوضات الترسيم، إن لم يكن لبنان مهماً؟

الذي يريد المستنكرون إنكاره هو أن لبنان منذ صار بلداً للمقاومة يؤرق ليل الرؤساء الأميركيين كلما تعاظمت قوة هذه المقاومة وقدرتها على التسبب بإثارة القلق على مستقبل كيان الاحتلال وبعد ظهور حجم ثروات الغاز في الساحل اللبناني تجمّعت في لبنان أولويات الثنائية الأميركيّة، أمن «إسرائيل» ومصادر الطاقة.

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