Our Children, Lockdowns, And The Great Reset

By Kevin Smith

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Our Children, Lockdowns, And The Great Reset

Over recent years, I’ve found that relying on life experience, critical thinking and instinct has served me well. I feel I can now think on so many levels than before. Children have this in abundance which we need to learn from. But too much academic learning at an early age often means they leave school with their critical thinking abilities seriously impaired by a system designed to turn out compliant robots.

Many of us will by now have heard of ‘The Great Reset’ and considered how this could affect the future of their children.

I’m sure most parents can recall big or important events and fond memories of their children growing up. My most vivid memories are the funny ones.

These are true stories.

In 1998, my son at the age of 5 was knocked down by a car. He broke his femur bone but had no other injuries.

He had just weeks earlier started school. His teacher at the time described him as ‘chatterbox’ but an intelligent one.

Yet, following the accident, for 6 weeks his leg had to remain in traction in hospital. My wife and I had to spend alternative nights sleeping there beside him.

When it was my turn, after my wife went home, I recall my son shared my love of the Simpsons and Bruce Lee movies, which we watched on TV in the evening.

Due to the time he was in hospital, he was assigned a personal tutor.

Generally, he responded well to probably what was better teaching than he would receive in his class of 30.

But I will never forget one scene in the hospital. My family were all there, including my 3-year old younger son, who permanently wore a Fireman Sam outfit with the helmet.

That day the teacher told my son off for being a chatterbox. She turned her back for a moment and my son took his willy out of his pants and waved it around in defiance. Not appropriate behaviour for this day and age, but he was just 5, it was over 20 years ago – and the teacher didn’t see it.

Watching this scene and of Fireman Sam bursting into hysterical fits of laughter remains with me to this day.

Another funny memory was not long after when he was back home. I used to spend a lot of time watching films with my older son. I remember we sat together for 90 minutes watching the cartoon type version of ‘Hercules’. We were both engrossed throughout.

As the credits rolled, he turned me yawning and said “Dad, what the hell was that all about?”

That same Christmas my mum recalls saying to him, “What do you think Father Christmas will bring you this year”? He turned to her with a look of amazement and said “I’m sorry to tell you Nanna, but Father Christmas doesn’t exist”

At 10, my younger son wanted to play football. He was very tall and quite big for his age and a little clumsy but loved to play sports.

Anyway, I signed him up to Saturday football. With all the smaller, fast and nimble footballers on the field, he rarely saw sight of the ball. The other kids gave him a hard time but he never complained or retaliated.

But the best and most comical moment was when one Saturday the ball was amazingly passed to him. He took it with skill.

He was immediately surrounded by about 3 or 4 of the nimble kids who like skittles at the same moment, fell in a heap, claiming a foul. There was some contact, but not much. My son scored and the goal stood.

I’m so proud that for his perseverance against these smaller bullies, he won ‘most improved footballer of the year award’. He could easily have given up.

Just recently I’ve been picking up my 13-year niece from school. She has an amazing, enquiring mind but is clearly bored with school.

So, I try and draw out her strengths and every day I’d explain the meaning of a new word or provide some wisdom. For example, recently I explained to her what the word ‘discerning’ meant and the importance of keeping an open mind.

The other day I explained about the word ‘incentive’. I explained it as positivity as I could and in terms of well-earned bonuses I received at work. Her response “Uncle Kevin, that rather sounds like bribery.”

My elder niece now has children of her own, but I still regard her from the same generation. Her message to her children is if the school try to jab them with Covid-19 vaccine to refuse and ‘punch the lights out’ of anyone approaching with a needle.

I’m sure many readers will relate to the above stories.

Parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents will always relate to the funny, innocent and incredible insight and resolve of their young relatives.

Our children are special. Right now, there are things we should learn from them. But it’s also our responsibility to wake up and think how we can shield them from the on-going madness.

I read a quote somewhere that children are so bright because they have not yet learnt. That is so true and why we need to protect them in these times.

To some extent, many children are shielded by their parents from the fallout of Covid-19 and lockdowns.

Yet children aren’t being shielded enough from the general madness being inflicted on us all. The madness that affects them directly such as the fear of passing Covid-19 to granny, mask-wearing and school closures. Mental health concerns all of a sudden swept aside during lockdowns.

Most children have spent much of the last year home schooling, away from that all important social interaction, vital for their development. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are going through the roof.

As we’ve all discussed here, adults in general have retreated into a shell. They’ve stopped thinking, and when I venture out on to the streets of suburbia, they resemble a kind of zombie-land.

Ivor Cummins summed it up well in several interviews when asked why he continues his fight to bring out the truth about Covid-19. He gave two reasons. One, the fight for science. But first and foremost, to protect the future of his 5 children.

So, what can we take from the memories described above and similar experiences all parents have of their children? And positively apply these to life now to fight the reset agenda? Perhaps quite a bit.

Learning From Our Children

Be sceptical and question everything

Like my 5-year old son, raising grave doubts about Father Christmas and my niece’s insightful interpretation, as adults we need to raise our game. In a way, Covid-19 is like Father Christmas. Yes, contrary to my son’s scepticism, he may exist, but he’s not a big threat to young children.

But seriously, history is littered with examples of where being lazy and complacent in our thinking ends badly.

Be a bit rebellious and draw your red line.

I don’t suggest waving one’s willy around the place or to punch anyone’s lights out, although it might come to that one day. But there are various ways of making a stand My red line is when they make masks mandatory outdoors. For now, I’ll go along with indoor wearing pointless masks in shops as for certain personal reasons, it’s just not worth the bother. Find your red line and fight tooth and nail when it’s breached.

Always stand up to bullies

This is something I learned, too late in life.

My older niece is an example of someone who won’t compromise on her core beliefs. Perhaps this a result of having a more difficult childhood. Nevertheless, we should instil values in our children to fight for our beliefs on the main matters.

The imminent threat is one of tyranny with the Great Reset which threatens all our futures. There are various ways of standing up to bullying, as my younger son discovered.

He fought from within and become a better person by participating and refusing to be side-lined.

In terms of modern-day challenges, adults are often forced to take on a more outside activist role. Either way, history always rewards those who resolve to remain independent and determined. Such people will determine our future rather than those who simply follow the crowd.

Instinct, creativity and education.

Over recent years, I’ve found that relying on life experience, critical thinking and instinct has served me well. I feel I can now think on so many levels than before.

Children have this in abundance which we need to learn from. But too much academic learning at an early age often means they leave school with their critical thinking abilities seriously impaired by a system designed to turn out compliant robots.

Occasionally when I’m stuck with a problem or idea, I ask my young niece what she would do. More often than not she comes back with an instant solution or a great idea, something I’d never thought of.

Parents need to balance the value of qualifications against drawing out their natural strengths to produce well rounded, creative children with a good overall understanding of the core subjects and life.

This is possibly a good example of the creative approach my young relatives then or a child now might take to solving a problem. This is an exchange of readers on the site ‘Off Guardian’ recently. The replies put the entire onus on an employer proposing a ridiculous request of their employees, and in my experience is an effective strategy.

Protecting our children.

Above all, we need to put concern about our kids as our top priority. Although this is obvious, I think in the present climate of fear our priorities have not always focused on this. So, it’s about creating a new sense of self-awareness.

I suppose at this stage we can only protect our children if we learn a few lessons from them. And wake up to the potential nightmare which threatens their future.

One lesson I learned, and everyone will have experienced, is being in a bad situation and wondering how you will recover. My son being in the hospital took me down that road. Yet 6 weeks later, he was better, and I now have nothing but lovely memories of that time. Things usually get better if you take things one day at a time.

But we must not be complacent. Major life-changing events, wars, etc., always happen in a lifetime. We can’t assume we can permanently carry on as usual as there’s always a threat to deal with.

To fight we have to realise that we are in a fight and that’s the challenge right now. Realisation of the reset agenda is the first goal. Then the fight starts and we have tools at our disposal.

And during these times, we need to draw upon the type of memories of children as I’ve mentioned.

Innocence, honesty, being inquisitive, humour, rebelliousness, determination and creative thinking. All things if you look at in your children today, or in the memories of the past, you will find in plentiful supply. We need to defend these things like mad to deal with all the imminent challenges now facing us.

Russian President Putin Delivers Speech at Valdai Discussion Club -2020 – Update

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The Transcript follows.

Update : October 24th

The formal transcript is now complete

Update : October 23rd

Note that it is not quite complete and we are waiting for the Kremlin resources to complete (as usual correct and accurate) the complete transcript.  Yet, most of it is here, and the most interesting details are in the Questions and Answers.  (Settle in, it was a 3 hour session and nobody wanted to let Mr Putin go, even after 3 hours!)

Fyodor Lukyanov: Friends,

Guests of the Valdai Club,

I am delighted to welcome you to the final session of the 17th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club. It is my special honour and pleasure to welcome our traditional guest for our final meetings, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, friends,

Participants of the 17th plenary meeting of the Valdai Club,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you all to our traditional annual meeting. We are meeting in an unusual format this time; we are videoconferencing. But I can see there are also people in the room. Not as many as usual of course, but nevertheless there are people present, and, apparently, you have had an in-person discussion, and I am delighted that you have.

We are certainly aware, we can see that the coronavirus epidemic has seriously affected public, business, and international affairs. More than that – it has affected everyone’s routine rhythm of life.

Almost all countries had to impose various restrictions, and large public gatherings have been largely cancelled. This year has been challenging for your Club as well. Most importantly, though, you continue to work. With the help of remote technology, you conduct heated and meaningful debates, discuss things, and bring in new experts who share their opinions and present interesting outside-the-box, sometimes even opposing, views on current developments. Such an exchange is, of course, very important and useful now that the world is facing so many challenges that need to be resolved.

Thus, we still have to understand how the epidemic affected and will continue to affect the present and future of humanity. As it confronts this dangerous threat, the international community is trying to take certain actions and to mobilize itself. Some things are already being done as collaborative efforts, but I want to note straight away that this is only a fraction of what needs to be done in the face of this formidable common challenge. These missed opportunities are also a subject for a candid international discussion.

From the onset of the pandemic in Russia, we have focused on preserving lives and ensuring safety of our people as our key values. This was an informed choice dictated by our culture and spiritual traditions, and our complex, sometimes dramatic, history. If we think back to the great demographic losses we suffered in the 20th century, we had no other choice but to fight for every person and the future of every Russian family.

So, we did our best to preserve the health and the lives of our people, to help parents and children, as well as senior citizens and those who lost their jobs, to maintain employment as much as possible, to minimise damage to the economy, to support millions of entrepreneurs who run small or family businesses.

Perhaps, like everyone else, you are closely following daily updates on the pandemic around the world. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has not retreated and still poses a major threat. Probably, this unsettling background intensifies the sense, like many people feel, that a whole new era is about to begin and that we are not just on the verge of dramatic changes, but an era of tectonic shifts in all areas of life.

We see the rapidly, exponential development of the processes that we have repeatedly discussed at the Valdai Club before. Thus, six years ago, in 2014, we spoke about this issue when we discussed the theme The World Order: New Rules or a Game Without Rules. So, what is happening now? Regrettably, the game without rules is becoming increasingly horrifying and sometimes seems to be a fait accompli.

The pandemic has reminded us of how fragile human life is. It was hard to imagine that in our technologically advanced 21st century, even in the most prosperous and wealthy countries people could find themselves defenceless in front of what would seem to be not such a fatal infection, and not such a horrible threat. But life has shown that not everything boils down to the level of medical science with some of its fantastic achievements. It transpired that the organisation and accessibility of the public healthcare system are no less, and probably much more important in this situation.

The values of mutual assistance, service and self-sacrifice proved to be most important. This also applies to the responsibility, composure and honesty of the authorities, their readiness to meet the demand of society and at the same time provide a clear-cut and well-substantiated explanation of the logic and consistency of the adopted measures so as not to allow fear to subdue and divide society but, on the contrary, to imbue it with confidence that together we will overcome all trials no matter how difficult they may be.

The struggle against the coronavirus threat has shown that only a viable state can act effectively in a crisis – contrary to the reasoning of those who claim that the role of the state in the global world is decreasing and that in the future it will be altogether replaced with some other forms of social organisation. Yes, this is possible. Everything may change in the distant future. Change is all around us, but today the role and importance of the state do matter.

We have always considered a strong state a basic condition for Russia’s development. And we have seen again that we were right by meticulously restoring and strengthening state institutions after their decline, and sometimes complete destruction in the 1990s.

Then, the question is: what is a strong state? What are its strengths? Definitely, not total control or harsh law enforcement. Not thwarted private initiative or civic engagement. Not even the might of its armed forces or its high defence potential. Although, I think you realise how important this particular component is for Russia, given its geography and the range of geopolitical challenges. And there is also our historical responsibility as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to ensure global stability.

Nevertheless, I am confident that what makes a state strong, primarily, is the confidence its citizens have in it. That is the strength of a state. People are the source of power, we all know that. And this recipe doesn’t just involve going to the polling station and voting, it implies people’s willingness to delegate broad authority to their elected government, to see the state, its bodies, civil servants, as their representatives – those who are entrusted to make decisions, but who also bear full responsibility for the performance of their duties.

This kind of state can be set up any way you like. When I say “any way,” I mean that what you call your political system is immaterial. Each country has its own political culture, traditions, and its own vision of their development. Trying to blindly imitate someone else’s agenda is pointless and harmful. The main thing is for the state and society to be in harmony.

And of course, confidence is the most solid foundation for the creative work of the state and society. Only together will they be able to find an optimal balance of freedom and security guarantees.

Once again, in the most difficult moments of the pandemic, I felt pride and, to be honest, I am proud of Russia, of our citizens, of their willingness to have each other’s backs. And of course, first of all, I am proud of our doctors, nurses, and ambulance workers – everyone, without exception, on whom the national healthcare system relies.

I believe that civil society will play a key role in Russia’s future. So, we want the voice of our citizens to be decisive and to see constructive proposals and requests from different social forces get implemented.

This begs the question: how is this request for action being formed? Whose voice should the state be heeding? How does it know if it is really the voice of the people and not some behind-the-scenes messages or even someone’s vocal yelling that has nothing to do whatsoever with our people and that at times becomes hysterical?

Occasionally, someone is trying to substitute self-serving interests of a small social group or even external forces for a genuine public request.

Genuine democracy and civil society cannot be “imported.” I have said so many times. They cannot be a product of the activities of foreign “well-wishers,” even if they “want the best for us.” In theory, this is probably possible. But, frankly, I have not yet seen such a thing and do not believe much in it. We see how such imported democracy models function. They are nothing more than a shell or a front with nothing behind them, even a semblance of sovereignty. People in the countries where such schemes have been implemented were never asked for their opinion, and their respective leaders are mere vassals. As is known, the overlord decides everything for the vassal. To reiterate, only the citizens of a particular country can determine their public interest.

We, in Russia, went through a fairly long period where foreign funds were very much the main source for creating and financing non-governmental organisations. Of course, not all of them pursued self-serving or bad goals, or wanted to destabilise the situation in our country, interfere in our domestic affairs, or influence Russia’s domestic and, sometimes, foreign policy in their own interests. Of course not.

There were sincere enthusiasts among independent civic organisations (they do exist), to whom we are undoubtedly grateful. But even so, they mostly remained strangers and ultimately reflected the views and interests of their foreign trustees rather than the Russian citizens. In a word, they were a tool with all the ensuing consequences.

A strong, free and independent civil society is nationally oriented and sovereign by definition. It grows from the depth of people’s lives and can take different forms and directions. But it is a cultural phenomenon, a tradition of a particular country, not the product of some abstract “transnational mind” with other people’s interests behind it.

The duty of the state is to support public initiatives and open up new opportunities for them. This is exactly what we do. I consider this matter to be the most important for the government’s agenda in the coming decades – regardless of who exactly will hold positions in that government. This is the guarantee of Russia’s sovereign, progressive development, of genuine continuity in its forward movement, and of our ability to respond to global challenges.

Colleagues, you are well aware of the many acute problems and controversies that have accumulated in modern international affairs, even too many. Ever since the Cold War model of international relations, which was stable and predictable in its own way, began to change (I am not saying I miss it, I most certainly do not), the world has changed several times. Things in fact happened so quickly that those usually referred to as political elites simply did not have the time, or maybe a strong interest or ability to analyse what was really going on.

Some countries hastily ran to divide the cake, mostly to grab a bigger piece, to take advantage of the benefits the end of the cold confrontation brought. Others were frantically looking for ways to adapt to the changes at any cost. And some countries – recall our own sad experience, frankly – just fought for survival, to survive as a single country, and as a subject of global politics, too.

Meanwhile, time increasingly and insistently makes us question what lies ahead for humanity, what the new world order should be like, or at least a semblance of one, and whether we will take informed steps forward, coordinating our moves, or we will stumble blindly, each of us just relying on ourselves.

The recent report of the Valdai Club, your club, reads: “…in a fundamentally changed international setting, the institutions themselves have become an obstacle to building a system of relations corresponding to the new era rather than a guarantee of global stability and manageability.” The authors believe that we are in for a world where individual states or groups of states will act much more independently while traditional international organisations will lose their importance.

This is what I would like to say in this respect. Of course, it is clear what underlies this position. In effect, the post-war world order was established by three victorious countries: the Soviet Union, the United States and Great Britain. The role of Britain has changed since then; the Soviet Union no longer exists, while some try to dismiss Russia altogether.

Let me assure you, dear friends, that we are objectively assessing our potentialities: our intellectual, territorial, economic and military potential. I am referring to our current options, our overall potential. Consolidating this country and looking at what is happening in the world, in other countries I would like to tell those who are still waiting for Russia’s strength to gradually wane, the only thing we are worried about is catching a cold at your funeral.

As a head of state who works directly in an environment that you and your colleagues describe from a position of expertise, I cannot agree with the assumption that existing international structures must be completely rebuilt, if not dismissed as obsolete and altogether dismantled. On the contrary, it is important to preserve the basic mechanisms of maintaining international security, which have proved to be effective. This is the UN, the Security Council and the permanent members’ right to veto. I recently spoke about this at the anniversary UN General Assembly. As far as I know, this position – the preservation of the fundamentals of the international order established after World War II – enjoys broad support in the world.

However, I believe that the idea of adjusting the institutional arrangement of world politics is at least worthy of discussion, if only because the correlation of forces, potentialities and positions of states has seriously changed, as I said, especially in the past 30 to 40 years.

Indeed, like I said, the Soviet Union is no longer there. But there is Russia. In terms of its economic weight and political influence, China is moving quickly towards superpower status. Germany is moving in the same direction, and the Federal Republic of Germany has become an important player in international cooperation. At the same time, the roles of Great Britain and France in international affairs has undergone significant changes. The United States, which at some point absolutely dominated the international stage, can hardly claim exceptionality any longer. Generally speaking, does the United States need this exceptionalism? Of course, powerhouses such as Brazil, South Africa and some other countries have become much more influential.

Indeed, by far not all international organisations are effectively carrying out their missions and tasks. Called to be impartial arbiters, they often act based on ideological prejudices, fall under the strong influence of other states, and become tools in their hands. Juggling procedures, manipulating prerogatives and authority, biased approaches, especially when it comes to conflicts involving rival powers or groups of states, have unfortunately become common practice.

The fact that authoritative international organisations following in the wake of someone’s selfish interests are drawn into politicised campaigns against specific leaders and countries is saddening. This approach does nothing but discredit these institutions, and leads them towards decline and exacerbates the world order crisis.

On the other hand, there are positive developments when a group of interested states joins forces to resolve specific issues, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which for almost 20 years now has been contributing to the settlement of territorial disputes and strengthening stability in Central Eurasia, and is shaping a unique spirit of partnership in this part of the world.

Or, for example, the Astana format, which was instrumental in taking the political and diplomatic process regarding Syria out of a deep impasse. The same goes for OPEC Plus which is an effective, albeit very complex, tool for stabilising global oil markets.

In a fragmented world, this approach is often more productive. But what matters here is that, along with resolving specific problems, this approach can also breathe new life into multilateral diplomacy. This is important. But it is also obvious that we cannot do without a common, universal framework for international affairs. Whatever interest groups, associations, or ad-hoc alliances we form now or in the future – we cannot do without a common framework.

Multilateralism should be understood not as total inclusivity, but as the need to involve the parties that are truly interested in solving a problem. And of course, when outside forces crudely and shamelessly intervene in a process that affects a group of actors perfectly capable of agreeing among themselves – nothing good can come of that. And they do this solely for the purpose of flaunting their ambition, power and influence. They do it to put a stake in the ground, to outplay everyone, but not to make a positive contribution or help resolve the situation.

Again, even amid the current fragmentation of international affairs, there are challenges that require more than just the combined capacity of a few states, even very influential ones. Problems of this magnitude, which do exist, require global attention.

International stability, security, fighting terrorism and solving urgent regional conflicts are certainly among them; as are promoting global economic development, combatting poverty, and expanding cooperation in healthcare. That last one is especially relevant today.

I spoke in detail about these challenges at the UN General Assembly last month. Meeting them will require working together in a long-term, systematic way.

However, there are considerations of a more general nature that affect literally everyone, and I would like to discuss them in more detail.

Many of us read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry when we were children and remember what the main character said: “It’s a question of discipline. When you’ve finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend your planet. … It’s very tedious work, but very easy.”

I am sure that we must keep doing this “tedious work” if we want to preserve our common home for future generations. We must tend our planet.

The subject of environmental protection has long become a fixture on the global agenda. But I would address it more broadly to discuss also an important task of abandoning the practice of unrestrained and unlimited consumption – overconsumption – in favour of judicious and reasonable sufficiency, when you do not live just for today but also think about tomorrow.

We often say that nature is extremely vulnerable to human activity. Especially when the use of natural resources is growing to a global dimension. However, humanity is not safe from natural disasters, many of which are the result of anthropogenic interference. By the way, some scientists believe that the recent outbreaks of dangerous diseases are a response to this interference. This is why it is so important to develop harmonious relations between Man and Nature.

Tensions have reached a critical point. We can see this in climate change. This problem calls for practical action and much more attention on our part. It has long stopped being the domain of abstract scientific interests but now concerns nearly every inhabitant of the planet Earth. The polar ice caps and permafrost are melting because of global warming. According to expert estimates, the speed and scale of this process will be increasing in the next few decades.

It is a huge challenge to the world, to the whole of humanity, including to us, to Russia, where permafrost occupies 65 percent of our national territory. Such changes can do irreparable damage to biological diversity, have an extremely adverse effect on the economy and infrastructure and pose a direct threat to people.

You may be aware that this is very important to us. It affects pipeline systems, residential districts built on permafrost, and so on. If as much as 25 percent of the near-surface layers of permafrost, which is about three or four metres, melt by 2100, we will feel the effect very strongly. Moreover, the problem could snowball into a crisis very quickly. A kind of chain reaction is possible, because permafrost melting will stimulate methane emissions, which can produce a greenhouse effect that will be 28 times (sic!) larger than in the case of carbon dioxide. In other words, the temperature will continue rising on the planet, permafrost will continue melting, and methane emissions will further increase. The situation will spiral. Do we want the Earth to become like Venus, a hot, dry and lifeless planet? I would like to remind you that the Earth has an average surface temperature of 14°C while on Venus it’s 462°C.

Another subject, completely different. I would like to say a few words on a different subject. Let us not forget that there are no longer just geographical continents on Earth. An almost endless digital space is taking shape on the planet, and people are mastering it with increasing speed every year.

The restrictions forced by the coronavirus have only encouraged the development of remote e-technology. Today, communications based on the internet have become a universal asset. It is necessary to see that this infrastructure and all cyberspace operates without fail and securely.

Thus, remote, distance work is not just a forced precaution during a pandemic. This will become a new form of organising labour, employment, social cooperation and simply human communication. These changes are inevitable with the development of technological progress. This recent turn of events has merely precipitated these processes. Everyone appreciates the opportunities and conveniences provided by new technology.

But, of course, there is a reverse side as well – a growing threat to all digital systems. Yes, cyberspace is a fundamentally new environment where, basically, universally recognised rules have never existed. Technology has simply moved ahead of legislation and thus, judicial oversight. At the same time, this is a very specific area where the issue of trust is particularly urgent.

I think that at this point we must return to our historical experience. What do I mean? Let me recall that the established notion of “confidence-building measures” existed during the Cold War. It applied to relations between the USSR and the US, and between the Warsaw Pact and NATO, that is, military-political relations.

That said, let me emphasise that now, competition is usually “hybrid” in character. It concerns all areas, including those that are just taking shape. This is why it is necessary to build confidence in many areas.

In this sense, cyberspace can serve as a venue for testing these measures, like at one time, arms control paved the way for higher trust in the world as a whole.

Obviously, it is very difficult to draft a required “package of measures” in this area, cyberspace. However, it is necessary to start on it. This must be done now.

As you may be aware, Russia is actively promoting bilateral and multilateral cyber security agreements. We submitted two draft conventions on this subject at the UN and established a corresponding open-ended working group.

Recently, I proposed starting a comprehensive discussion of international cybersecurity issues with the United States. We are aware that politicians in the United States have other things to focus on now because of the election campaign. However, we hope that the next administration, whatever it may be, will respond to our invitation to start a discussion of this subject just like other items on the Russia-US agenda such as global security, the future of the strategic arms reduction treaty and a number of other issues.

As you are aware, many important matters have reached the point that they require candid talks, and we are ready for a constructive discussion on an equal footing.

Of course, the times when all important international matters were discussed and resolved by essentially just Moscow and Washington are long gone, lost to the ages. However, we see the establishment of a bilateral dialogue, in this case on cyber security, as an important step towards a much broader discussion involving many other countries and organisations. Should the United States choose not to take part in this work, which would be regrettable, we will still be willing to work with all interested partners, which I hope will not be lacking.

I would like to point out another important aspect. We live in an era of palpable international shocks and crises. Of course, we are used to them, especially the generations which lived during the Cold War, let alone World War II, for whom it is not just a memory, but a part of their lives.

It is interesting that humanity has reached a very high level of technological and socioeconomic development, while at the same time facing the loss or erosion of moral values and reference points, a sense that existence no longer has meaning and, if you will, that the mission of humankind on planet Earth has been lost.

This crisis cannot be settled through diplomatic negotiations or even a large international conference. It calls for revising our priorities and rethinking our goals. And everyone must begin at home, every individual, community and state, and only then work toward a global configuration.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which we have all been dealing with this year, can serve as a point of departure for such a transformation. We will have to reassess our priorities anyway. Trust me, we really will have to do it, sooner or later. All of us are aware of this. Therefore, I fully agree with those who say that it would be better to start this process now.

I mentioned history and the older generations who went through all the trials of last century for a reason. Everything we are discussing today will soon become the responsibility of young people. Young people will have to deal with all of the problems which I mentioned and you discussed today. Speaking about Russia, its young citizens, who are still growing up and gaining experience, will have to do this as soon as in the 21st century. They are the ones who will have to confront new and probably even more difficult challenges.

They have their own views on the past, present and future. But I believe that our people will always retain their best qualities: patriotism, fortitude, creativity, hard work, team spirit and the capacity to surprise the world by finding solutions to the most difficult and even seemingly insoluble problems.

Friends, colleagues,

I touched on a wide range of different issues today. Of course, I would like to believe that despite all the current difficulties the international community will be able to join forces to combat not imaginary but very real problems, and that we will eventually succeed. After all, it is within our power to stop being egoistical, greedy, mindless and wasteful consumers. Some may wonder if this is utopia, a pipe dream.

To be sure, it is easy to wonder if this is even possible considering what some individuals are doing and saying. However, I believe in reason and mutual understanding, or at least I strongly hope that they will prevail. We just need to open our eyes, look around us and see that the land, air and water are our common inheritance from above, and we must learn to cherish them, just as we must cherish every human life, which is precious. This is the only way forward in this complicated and beautiful world. I do not want to see the mistakes of the past repeated.

Thank you very much.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, thank you for this detailed statement. You have said that COVID-19 can serve as a point of departure for a reassessment. I can see that you are indeed reassessing things, because it is not everyone who speaks now about trust, harmony, the meaning of life and our mission on the planet Earth, and it was rarely so in the past as well.

I would like to say a few things in follow-up to what you have said. Of course, such a rethinking is ongoing, and we are trying to contribute to this process at the Valdai Club. However, the shocking spring developments, when we thought that the world would never be the same again, were followed by a degree of stabilisation. When global politics awoke from the mental torpor, it turned out that the agenda has hardly changed at all: we are facing the same problems, the conflicts are back and their number has even increased. But you continue with your active work despite the strained situation in global politics. Do you think that this shock had any effect on us? Do you feel any change in the sentiments of your counterparts at the top level?

Vladimir Putin: You said that the conflicts resumed when the situation improved a bit. In fact, they never abated. There is much talk about a second wave, and that the situation is back to where we were in the spring. But just look at what is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh: the conflict is still with us. And it is not just the conflicts that matter. I believe that no matter how the necessity to combat the pandemic can rally the international community, we still need to take systemic measures to settle recurring problems. This concerns the Middle East, the Syrian crisis, Libya and a great number of other problems, including terrorism and the environment. In other words, the pandemic will not help us to deal with them.

However, the pandemic is playing into our hands when it comes to raising our awareness of the importance of joining forces against severe global crises. Unfortunately, it has not yet taught humanity to come together completely, as we must do in such situations. Just look at the crises I have mentioned. We have already proposed, at the UN, among other places, that all economic and cultural restrictions be lifted for humanitarian reasons, at least temporarily.

I am not referring now to all these sanctions against Russia; forget about that, we will get over it. But many other countries that have suffered and are still suffering from the coronavirus do not even need any help that may come from outside, they just need the restrictions lifted, at least in the humanitarian sphere, I repeat, concerning the supply of medicines, equipment, credit resources, and the exchange of technologies. These are humanitarian things in their purest form. But no, they have not abolished any restrictions, citing some considerations that have nothing to do with the humanitarian component – but at the same time, everyone is talking about humanism.

I would say we need to be more honest with each other and abandon double standards. I am sure that if people hear me now on the media, they are probably finding it difficult to disagree with what I have just said, difficult to deny it. Deep down in their hearts, in their minds, everyone is probably thinking, “Yes, right, of course.” However, for political reasons, publicly, they will still say, “No, we must keep restrictions on Iran, Venezuela, against Assad.” What does Assad even have to do with this when it is ordinary people who suffer? At least, give them medicines, give them technology, at least a small, targeted loan for medicine. No.

Therefore, on the one hand, it seems like there is a tendency to unite, but, frankly speaking, by and large, I do not see any practical steps to bring it to reality. Although this trend does exist.

As for technology, it is another side of the matter. As for technology, of course, online education, telemedicine and other advanced solutions – all the modern digital technologies that had been increasingly penetrating all spheres, of course, with the pandemic have made a breach in the existing regulatory systems. They are forcing politicians, legal professionals, and administrative regulators, to move towards decision-making at a faster pace than they used to. And this is certainly, definitely changing the world.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Here is one more question related to what you have said.

Speaking about the strategy of combating the epidemic, you clearly and unequivocally stated that people’s life and safety are the main values. This strategy is understandable, but tactics differ. Last spring, the countries that chose a different path were sharply criticised.

For example, Sweden and Belarus did not introduce an economic lockdown or a tight quarantine. There were many pro and contra arguments. Six months later, we can see that the world is largely following in the footsteps of these countries instead of doing what we did in spring. I believe that you also said yesterday that there would not be any economic lockdown.

Does this mean that the balance is changing and that the balance should sometimes change in favour of the economy?

Vladimir Putin: I would say that nothing is changing in our country. I do not know about Sweden. On the other hand, I do know some things, and I will say a few words about them. The same is true about Belarus and other countries, where the decisions are made by their leadership. As for us, nothing has changed: people’s lives and health remain our priorities, without a doubt.

On the other hand, life and health are directly connected to healthcare, which must receive serious support from the federal and other budgets. For these budgets to be replenished, we need a working economy. Everything is closely interconnected. One needs to find a balance. I believe that we found this balance at the very beginning. We took a number of serious steps to support the economy. This support amounted to 4.5 percent of the GDP. Some other countries allocated even more funds for this purpose.

The point is actually not so much the amount of allocated funds but their effective use. I believe (we discussed several related issues with the Government today) that we disposed of these funds quite effectively, in a selective way and using the considerable resources we accumulated in the past years, as well as relying on the macroeconomic health of our economy, macroeconomic indicators and all the other positive achievements of the past years, to support our people, families with children, small and medium-sized businesses, and even large companies and whole industries.

Overall, there is no need in the current situation, at least in Russia, to reintroduce such restrictions as we had in spring, when we sent our people on paid leave and closed down whole enterprises. There is no need for this also because our healthcare system performed quite efficiently. We have also built up reserves, including a reserve of hospital beds, created new medicines and developed treatment guidelines. Our medics have learned how to deal with this disease, they know what and when needs to be done. In other words, we have become confident that we can deal with these problems. This is the first thing I wanted to say.

The second thing. We said from the beginning – I would just like to remind you, keeping in mind the vastness of our territory – that we were handing down a considerable part of authority for decision-making to the level of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. Incidentally, all major countries, have, in fact, followed this path somewhat later. This has proven to be the right approach.

There is no such need today. The economy is recovering. The processing industry is recovering, the agro-industrial sector is performing quite well and is even growing, exports are recovering… Yes, we have issues that we should target. But look, we have basically acceptable macroeconomic indicators. Russia’s second-quarter economic contraction was 8 percent, and, say, the US economy, declined by 9 [percent], and the Euro zone, if I am not mistaken, by 14.5 – 14.7 [percent].

You have mentioned Sweden that imposed no restrictions, but they also happened to face an economic downturn. At first, they went public with the figure of 8.3 [percent], which was later adjusted to less than 8 [percent] – 7.7 [percent], if my memory serves me correctly. Here we go: they have introduced no restrictions, nor have they done what we have in supporting people and the economy, but their result is the same as ours. The modern world is extremely interconnected. But an economic decline is inevitable, the first thing to do is to take care of the people. This logic is immaculate. I am certain that you will agree on this point.

Now, regarding Belarus. President Lukashenko – I had many conversations with him – is fully aware of the COVID-19 threat. But Belarus has no comparable gold and currency reserves, nor such a diverse economic landscape, and he, as he says, simply had to keep the economy viable. But on the whole, the situation there is not worse, in fact, than in many other countries.

Therefore we face – and faced – no choice of this sort; our priorities are people, health, and life. We are not going to impose tough restrictions, there is no such need. There is no need to close businesses. What is needed is to adjust support for certain sectors, for example, for small and medium-sized businesses. Certain parts of this work require additional support, maybe the extension of tax benefits and some other measures that are due to expire shortly. It is necessary to take a closer look at transportation, the transport sector, and the services. We are aware of all this, we see this, and we will continue to work in these areas, no matter how difficult this might be. As I have repeatedly said, we will get through this difficult period together, with the people’s support and trust.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Colleagues, we are moving on to our traditional conversation. This time the setup of this discussion will be quite complex, since we have people sitting in the audience here, and I am also receiving questions from those who are watching online, and some of our colleagues will be able to ask their questions in person. Therefore, I will try to act as an impartial moderator and manage this conversation, and I apologise for any possible hiccups.

Let us begin. Timofei Bordachev, our colleague from the Valdai Club.

Timofei Bordachev: Good evening, and thank you for this unique opportunity.

Mr President, there has been much talk and debate, in the context of the global economic upheavals, about the fact that the liberal market economy has ceased to be a reliable tool for the survival of states, their preservation, and for their people.

Pope Francis said recently that capitalism has run its course. Russia has been living under capitalism for 30 years. Is it time to search for an alternative? Is there an alternative? Could it be the revival of the left-wing idea or something radically new? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Lenin spoke about the birthmarks of capitalism, and so on. It cannot be said that we have lived these past 30 years in a full-fledged market economy. In fact, we are only gradually building it, and its institutions. Russia had to do it from the ground up, starting from a clean slate. Of course, we are doing this taking into consideration developments around the world. After all, after almost one hundred years of a state-planned economy, transitioning to a market economy is not easy.

You know, capitalism, the way you have described it, existed in a more or less pure form at the beginning of the previous century. But everything changed after what happened in the global economy and in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, after World War I. We have already discussed this on a number of occasions. I do not remember if I have mentioned this at Valdai Club meetings, but experts who know this subject better than I do and with whom I regularly communicate, they are saying obvious and well-known things.

When everything is fine, and the macro economic indicators are stable, various funds are building up their assets, consumption is on the rise and so on. In such times, you hear more and more that the state only stands in the way, and that a pure market economy would be more effective. But as soon as crises and challenges arise, everyone turns to the state, calling for the reinforcement of its supervisory functions. This goes on and on, like a sinusoidal curve. This is what happened during the preceding crises, including the recent ones, like in 2008.

I remember very well how the key shareholders of Russia’s largest corporations that are also major European and global players came to me proposing that the state buy their assets for one dollar or one ruble. They were afraid of assuming responsibility for their employees, pressured by margin calls, and the like. This time, our businesses have acted differently. No one is seeking to evade responsibility. On the contrary, they are even using their own funds, and are quite generous in doing so. The responses may differ, but overall, businesses have been really committed to social responsibility, for which I am grateful to these people, and I want them to know this.

Therefore, at present, we cannot really find a fully planned economy, can we? Take China. Is it a purely planned economy? No. And there is not a single purely market economy either. Nevertheless, the government’s regulatory functions are certainly important. For example, consider major industries such as aircraft construction. Without some regulatory function from the top – or from the left, right, bottom, for that matter, whether this regulatory function is visible or not – without it, it is impossible to operate in this market. And we can see that all the countries that claim respect as aircraft-building powers (contextually, I would say), their governments provide assistance to their aircraft manufacturers, all of them. And there are plenty of support methods.

By the way, the situation is much the same in the automotive industry, and in other industries. We just need to determine for ourselves the reasonable level of the state’s involvement in the economy; how quickly that involvement needs to be reduced, if at all, and where exactly. I often hear that Russia’s economy is overregulated. But during crises like this current pandemic, when we are forced to restrict business activity, and cargo traffic shrinks, and not only cargo traffic, but passenger traffic as well, we have to ask ourselves – what do we do with aviation now that passengers avoid flying or fly rarely, what do we do? Well, the state is a necessary fixture, there is no way they could do without state support.

So, again, no model is pure or rigid, neither the market economy nor the command economy today, but we simply have to determine the level of the state’s involvement in the economy. What do we use as a baseline for this decision? Expediency. We need to avoid using any templates, and so far, we have successfully avoided that. As I have said, the so-called developed economies, in Europe, have seen their GDP plummet by more than 14 percent. How high has unemployment grown in the eurozone? As far as I know, by over 10 percent. Ours has grown, too, but only by 6.3 percent. This is the result of government regulation. Or take inflation. We have been fighting it desperately. Is this not a regulatory function of the state?

Of course, the Central Bank and the Government are among the most important state institutions. Therefore, it was in fact through the joint efforts of the Central Bank and the Government that inflation was reduced to 4 percent, because the Government invests substantial resources through its social programmes and national projects and has an impact on our monetary policy. It went down to 3.9 percent, and the Governor of the Central Bank has told me that we will most likely keep it around the estimated target of around 4 percent. This is the regulating function of the state; there is no way around it. However, stifling development through an excessive presence of the state in the economy or through excessive regulation would be fatal as well. You know, this is a form of art, which the Government has been applying skilfully, at least for now.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, since you mentioned greed, I have to ask you the following. A lively discussion began the other day on the Finance Ministry’s proposal to reduce the staff at security-related agencies and to adjust their salaries and pensions. Is this a good time for this proposal? Or is it that the crisis is forcing us to cut expenses?

Vladimir Putin: The Finance Ministry regularly makes such proposals, crisis or no crisis. It is always in favour of reducing expenditure. In general, nearly all finance ministries in other countries do this as well. There is nothing unique in the proposal of the Russian Finance Ministry.

We do not envisage making any decisions yet. We have no term reduction or extension plans. It was just one of the Finance Ministry’s proposals. It has not even been reported to me yet. It is still at the level of discussion among Government agencies. When we need to make a final decision, I will take into account the economic realities and the real situation regarding people’s incomes, including in the security and military spheres, and a comparison of the levels of income in the country’s military and civilian sectors. There are many factors we need to take into account to prevent an imbalance on the labour market, and so on. I would like to repeat that these issues have not been discussed on the practical level. These discussions are ongoing within the framework of the Government.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Great. Our meeting has produced at least one result: the military can breathe out.

I would like to give the floor to our long-time friend who has been helping the Valdai Club a lot. Please meet Sam Charap from Washington, D.C. Usually, we had him here, but now he is at his workplace. We can get him on air now.

Sam, please.

Sam Charap: Hello, Mr. President,

I would like to return to your initiative to restore trust in cyberspace, which you mentioned in your remarks. Many argue whether there is trust in the outcome of the talks or the premises for holding them. It is not only about the election campaign, but the firm belief of many in Washington (and outside of it) that Russia is actively interfering in this area, and so on.

Can we ponder some kind of truce in this sphere in order to create proper grounds for talks and a minimum level of trust as a prerequisite for achieving more during ensuing talks? How do you think such a digital truce, so to say, may look like?

Vladimir Putin: Listen, as far as cybercrime is concerned, it always went hand in hand with digital technology and will probably always be there just like other offences. However, when we talk about relations between states, it is no coincidence that in my opening remarks I mentioned the dialogue on limiting offensive arms between the Soviet Union and the United States.

We agreed among ourselves to keep these weapons at a certain level. We propose reaching agreements in the sphere that is taking shape now right before our eyes and which is extremely important for the entire world and our countries. We need to discuss these matters in a broad context and come up with solutions.

I am not quite sure what kind of truce you are talking about. I believe it is already in place. You said that Russia is actively interfering. But I say: “We are not interfering in anything.” Moreover, the official probes conducted in the United States, including with the involvement of a special counsel, did not bring any results. They led to admitting the fact that there was no evidence of Russia’s interference. Therefore, I believe there is no need to set any preliminary conditions for us to start this dialogue. We must immediately sit down and talk. What is wrong with that approach? We are not proposing anything that does not meet our partners’ interests. If someone thinks that someone else is interfering in their affairs, well, let us come up with some general rules and develop verification tools to monitor compliance. Frankly, I do not understand where this persistence is coming from.

During the last months of President Obama’s presidency, his administration sent us a message to the effect that, indeed, it had taken them a while to review this matter, but they are now ready for a dialogue. Unfortunately, this ended quickly, and another president came to office. We started from centre-field with the new administration. Again, almost four years later now, we have not accomplished much.

I strongly hope that when the elections are over, our partners will return to this issue and respond positively to our proposals.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Fyodor Voitolovsky, Director of IMEMO, our flagship institute of international relations. Please.

Fyodor Voitolovsky: Mr President, in your statement today you mentioned one of the most burning issues of global politics, arms control. During the Cold War and especially at its final stage, the Soviet Union and the United States both applied a huge amount of efforts to create a network of treaties and a system of confidence-building measures, which limited the quantitative growth of their arsenals and reduced the risk of a conflict. Over the past 20 years, our American partners have consistently and very easily dismantled this system: first the ABM Treaty, and then the INF and Open Skies treaties. As of now, there are problems with extending the New START Treaty. Hence my question. Do you think the arms control system has a future? What new moves can be taken in this sphere?

Thank you.

Fyodor Lukyanov: I would like to add that we have a great number of questions about strategic offensive arms and especially the latest initiative advanced two days ago, and also a great deal of bewilderment over what this may mean and whether Russia has made excessive concessions.

Vladimir Putin: You asked if such arms control treaties have a future. I think that the world will have no future unless limits are put on the arms race. This is what all of us should think about, and this is what we are urging all of our partners to think about.

All of us are well aware of the problem, and you have mentioned this just now: withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, the INF Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty (the United States has not officially pulled out of it yet, but it has stated that it had launched the withdrawal process). Why? What is the reason for this decision? They do not even try to explain. They simply do not explain. Our European colleagues tell us, “Let them withdraw, but you should not do the same.” I reply, “All of you are NATO members, and so you will make flights and forward the data you collect to the Americans, while we will be unable to do this because we will remain committed to the Treaty. Let us not play dumb. Let us be honest with each other.” In fact, as far as I am aware, the United States’ European partners would like it to remain a member of the Open Skies Treaty, to keep it intact.

With regard to the INF Treaty, we have spoken about it many times, and I do not want to go over it again. When withdrawing from the ABM Treaty, the United States acted openly, directly and bluntly, but honestly. Here, though, they came up with an excuse and accused Russia of some violations, and then withdrew from the Treaty. If this were the case, if everything were just like our American partners are saying, they could also go ahead and violate it without much ado. Who was stopping them? Instead, they took this step publicly for everyone to see.

Just do not tell me that they are white and fluffy goody two-shoes who are not into underhand dealings. We are aware of what is happening with verification, in the sphere of nuclear weapons among other thing, where they weld the lids or tamper with the aircraft. They get away with it and do not let us in there. Okay, we keep quiet, but the experts know what I am talking about. They just made it a point to take these steps, and to do so publicly, with broad coverage. Clearly, they are pursuing a political goal. I just do not see any military purpose here. But the best solution is for the verification and monitoring to be implemented by all contracting parties, so that our agreements are reliably protected by these monitoring systems.

Now, START-3.We took account of all the problems when we were negotiating these issues. Only one thing was left out. It is what Russia acquired in response to the United States withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. Precisely in response to the withdrawal. I am referring to our innovative high-precision hypersonic weapons. Indeed, neither the United States nor other countries have access to such weapons, although they are working on it, and someday they will have them as well. They are telling us, “You have it, we do not, so we must take this into account.” Well, we do not mind, let us take it into account. Both regarding the number of carriers and the number of warheads. We do not mind.

There are other issues that we can discuss. But what choice do we have? The treaty expires in February. After all, my proposal is very straightforward. It lies on the surface. Nothing will happen if we extend this agreement, without any preconditions, for one year and persistently work on all the issues of concern both to us and the Americans. We will work on it together and look for solutions.

After all, the trick is that we have had hardly any constructive discussions about this so far. Our partners, to put it bluntly, shied away from a direct and substantive professional discussion. The treaty will expire in February 2020, and that is all we have left now.

Question: What is better: to preserve the current treaty as it is, to start discussing it in detail and try to find some compromise during the year or to lose it altogether and leave us, the US and Russia, and the entire world practically without any legal foundation that limits the arms race? I believe the second option is much worse than the first.

I think it is simply unacceptable but I have said, and I want to emphasise it once again, that we are not holding on to this treaty. If our partners decide it is not necessary – all right, let it be, there is nothing we can do to prevent them. Our security, Russia’s security will not be damaged by this, especially because we have the latest weapons systems. This is the first part.

The second part boils down to making these agreements multilateral by including our Chinese friends in them. But are we against this? Russia is not against this but just do not shift on us the responsibility of making this treaty multilateral. If someone wants to do this, it is fine to try to achieve this. We do not object to this. Are we an obstacle on this road? No.

But the arguments quoted by our Chinese friends are very simple. China is an enormous country, a great power with an enormous economy and 1.5 billion people. But the level of its nuclear potential is almost twice, if not more lower than that of Russia and the US. They are asking a lawful question, “What will we limit? Or will we freeze our inequality in this area?” What can you reply to this? It is the sovereign right of a 1.5 billion strong nation to decide on the best way of building its policy on ensuring its own security.

Of course, it is possible to turn this into a subject of an argument or discussion and simply block any agreement. But may I ask why would only China be pressed to be involved in this process and in signing this treaty? Where are the other nuclear powers? Where is France that, as the press reports, has just tested another submarine-launched cruise missile? Great Britain is also a nuclear power. There are other nuclear states that are not officially recognised as such, as it were, but the whole world knows that they have nuclear arms. So, are we going to behave like ostriches? Hide our heads in the sand and pretend that we do not understand what is going on? What we need is not a checkerboard pattern on our car. We need to drive it, therefore we need to ensure security. So, let us get them involved as well. Let us do it. We are not against this. The only question is whether there is any reason for this, a goal to strive for, whether there is any positive example to follow such as the agreements between the US and Russia? Or is there nothing at all?

We are ready to work from scratch, from centre-field, fine. If you ask about our position, I believe it is better not to lose what was achieved before, to move forward from the positions that have already been reached by previous generations, by the leaders of our countries. However, if our partners decide on something different, we are willing to work in any format and on any of these tracks.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Anatol Lieven, another one of our veterans, who could not come to this meeting but is taking part in it via videoconference. Please.

Anatol Lieven: Thank you very much, Mr President, for speaking to us. And I would also like to thank you personally for your very strong statement on climate change and the environment.

My question, however, relates to the new outbreak of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia, like other members of the international community, has been trying very hard to bring about a peaceful solution to this conflict, but so far these efforts have failed. If they continue to fail, given Russia’s old historic links and given Russia’s military alliance with Armenia, will it be necessary in the end for Russia to take sides against Azerbaijan and Turkey?

On the other hand, could this perhaps provide a positive opportunity for Russia, given the increasing confrontation which we see between France and Turkey over Turkey’s claims in the Eastern Mediterranean? Could this perhaps be an opportunity for a rapprochement between Russia and France and other West European countries? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I did not quite understand the last part of the question. What does the [Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict have to do with this?

Fyodor Lukyanov: Maybe he meant the possibility of rapprochement with France and Europe, since Turkey is now opposed to both them and, to a degree, to us?

Vladimir Putin: I see.

Let us begin at the beginning, with Nagorno-Karabakh and who to support in this conflict. You said that Russia has always had special relations with Armenia. But we have also always had special ties with Azerbaijan as well. There are over 2 million Armenians and some 2 million Azerbaijanis living in Russia, both those who have come to Russia in search of jobs and those who live here permanently. They send billions of dollars to their families back home. All these people have stable and close ties with Russia at the humanitarian level, person-to-person, business, humanitarian and family ties. Therefore, Armenia and Azerbaijan are both equal partners for us. And it is a great tragedy for us when people die there. We would like to develop full-scale relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Yes, there are some individual elements in each case, and some things in our relations with one partner differ from our relations with the other partner. In the case of Armenia, it is Christianity. But we also have very close ties with Azerbaijan in other spheres.

Speaking about religion, I would like to point out that nearly 15 percent of Russian citizens are Muslims. Therefore, Azerbaijan is not an alien country to us in this sense either.

But what we certainly cannot forget is what happened in the destiny of the Armenian people, the Armenian nation during World War I. This is an enormous tragedy for the Armenian people, This is the second part.

The third part is based on the fact that this conflict broke out not just as an interstate conflict or struggle for territories. It started with ethnic confrontation. Regrettably, it is also a fact that violent crimes against the Armenian people were also committed in Sumgait and later in Nagorno-Karabakh. We must consider all this in a package.

At the same time, we understand that a situation where Azerbaijan has lost a substantial part of its territory cannot continue. Over the years, we have suggested many diverse options for settling this crisis with a view to stabilising the situation in the long-term historical perspective.

I will not go into detail at this point but believe me, this was intensive work on bringing the positions of the parties closer. Sometimes it seemed like a bit more effort, another small step and we would find the solution. Regrettably, it did not happen, and today we are seeing the worst-case scenario in this conflict. The death of people is a tragedy. There are heavy losses on both sides. According to our information, there are over 2,000 dead on either side. The total number of victims is already approaching 5,000.

Let me emphasise that the Soviet Union, the Soviet army lost 13,000 people during the ten years of war in Afghanistan. Now the toll is almost 5,000 in such a short span of time. And how many are wounded? How many people, how many children are suffering? This is why it is a special situation for us.

Yes, the Minsk Group was established, I believe, in 1992. As its co-chairs, Russia, France and the US are responsible for organising the negotiating process. It is clear, and I am 100 percent confident of this, that all participants in the process are sincerely striving to settle the situation. That said, nobody is interested in this as much as Russia is, because this is a very sensitive issue for us. This is not just happening before our eyes, but in a broad sense, it is happening with our people, our friends and our relatives. This is why we are in a position that allows us to be trusted by both sides and play a substantial role as a mediator on the rapprochement of positions in settling this conflict. I would very much like to find a compromise here.

As you may be aware, I maintain close contacts with both President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan. I speak to them on the phone several times a day. Our respective foreign ministers, defence ministers and heads of special services are constantly in contact. Foreign ministers of both countries came to us again. Today, or rather on October 23, they will have a meeting in Washington. I strongly hope that our American partners will act in unison with us and promote a settlement. Let us hope for the best. This covers the first part.

The second part concerns disputes within NATO between Turkey and France. We never take advantage of frictions between other states. We have good and stable relations with France. I would not say they are full-fledged, but they hold a lot of promise and, in any case, have a good track record.

Our cooperation with Turkey is expanding. Turkey is our neighbour, and I can tell you in more detail how important interaction between our states is for both Turkey and Russia.

I do not think anyone needs our mediation. Turkey and France are perfectly capable of regulating relations between themselves. No matter how tough President Erdogan’s stance may look, I know that he is a flexible person, and finding a common language with him is possible. Therefore, I hope the situation will get back to normal here as well.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, a follow-up if I may, since it is a hot topic.

Still, Turkey’s much more active role than ever before is what makes the current crisis in the South Caucasus different. You said President Erdogan is flexible. That may well be the case as you spent a lot of time with him. However, many experts believe that Erdogan’s policy is actually about expanding his zone of influence to the borders of the former Ottoman Empire. These borders stretched far and wide, as we know, and they enclosed a lot of territory, including Crimea, which was part of it at some point. It was a long time ago, but nonetheless.

Should we not fear that if this becomes a consistent policy, we would have certain differences with Ankara?

Vladimir Putin: Russia is not afraid of anything. Thank goodness, we are not in a position where we should be afraid of anything.

I do not know about President Erdogan’s plans or his attitude towards the Ottoman legacy. You should ask him about it. But I know that our bilateral trade exceeds $20 billion. I know that Turkey is really interested in continuing this cooperation. I know that President Erdogan is pursuing an independent foreign policy. Despite a lot of pressure, we implemented the TurkStream project together rather quickly. We cannot do the same with Europe; we have been discussing this issue for years, but Europe seems unable to show enough basic independence or sovereignty to implement the Nord Stream 2 project, which would be advantageous to it in every respect.

As for Turkey, we implemented our project quite quickly, despite any threats. Erdogan, who was aware of his national interests, said that we would do it, and we did it. The same is true of our ties in other areas, for example, our military-technical cooperation. Turkey decided it needed a modern air defence system, and the world’s best is the S-400, a triumph of Russian industry. He said he would do it, and he bought it. Working with such a partner is not only pleasant but also safe.

As for aspirations, regarding Crimea or anything else, I know nothing about them, and I do not care about them because the interests of Russia are reliably protected, take my word for it. I am sure that our other partners are fully aware of this.

Regarding Turkey’s refusal to recognise Crimea as part of Russia, well, we do not see eye to eye on all subjects. For example, we are not always on the same page regarding the situation in the South Caucasus. But we also know about the positions of Europe and the United States. They claim to be true dyed-in-the-wool democrats, but they do not even want to hear about the people of Crimea voting for their future in a referendum, which is the highest form of direct democracy.

As I said, they adopted sanctions against the Crimean people. If Crimea was annexed, then they are the victims. Why are sanctions adopted against the victims? But if they voted freely, it was democracy in action, so why are they being punished for democracy? This is all rubbish and nonsense, but it is also a fact of life. So why point the finger at Erdogan? Just take a look at what is happening in other countries.

This is a consistent stand: he does not recognise Crimea, and he does not recognise Nagorno-Karabakh. What should we do? We must continue working with everyone and remain calm. This is exactly what we have been doing: trying to prove that our position is correct, and we will continue to uphold it, and when positions diverge, we look for compromise.

For example, as far as I know, our views on the developments in the South Caucasus do not coincide, because we believe that conflicts should be settled diplomatically at the negotiating table rather than with the use of armed force. Of course, one could say that talks have been ongoing there for 30 years, but to no avail. Well, I do not see this as a reason to start shooting.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much.

Of course, Mr Erdogan has been consistent. For example, he recognises Northern Cyprus. But this is perhaps part of the flexibility that you were talking about.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, you are right. I agree. I was supposed to say this but it slipped my mind. But you are correct. Northern Cyprus, yes. However, as far as I know, Turkey does not object to the country finally being unified. The principles of this unification are the problem. But, overall, you are right.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Anatoly Torkunov, President of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Anatoly Torkunov: Mr President,

Although there are still more than two months left in 2020, I think all of us see this year as one of very dramatic and unpredictable events. So of course, there is a joke that goes, if by the end of the year we encounter aliens, nobody will be surprised.

Never mind the aliens, we will see how it goes. My question is, of course, not about them. It is related to the developments around our borders. Thank you for such a detailed and interesting account. As an expert, I was very curious to hear your remarks on the South Caucasus.

But in general, developments around our borders seem to be rather dramatic. Let us take the events in Kyrgyzstan. The elections in that country have always prompted some kind of turbulence, although this year the civil disturbances have been particularly rough. The situation in Belarus is somewhat complicated. There is also the problem of Donbass. I understand that you must be tired of talking about this. We know your firm and consistent stance on this issue.

My question is what are Russia’s current fundamental foreign policy goals in the post-Soviet space, considering that it directly concerns our security and humanitarian links? Today you have stressed several times that these people are not foreigners to us – meaning the Caucasus but also our friends in Central Asia and our friends in Belarus and Ukraine.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You know this better than anyone else, you are a very experienced person and a professional with a capital “P”. Our policy in the post-Soviet space within the CIS framework is the main component of our overall foreign policy. This is obvious because all the countries you listed and every other country with which we have good, very good multilateral relations, as well as those with whom our ties seem to be in a stalemate in some cases – they are not foreign countries to us all the same. These are not remote countries somewhere overseas about which we know little.

It is obvious that we lived in a single country, and not just for many years but for centuries, We have strong ties and very deep cooperation in the economy, humanitarian ties. We all speak a common language. In a sense, to a greater or lesser degree, we are essentially people of the same cultural space, not to mention our history. We have a common history and a common victory over Nazism. Our predecessors – our fathers and grandfathers – validated our special relations with their blood.

Regardless of the current events and today’s political environment, I am sure that this community of interests will eventually pave the way to the restoration of our ties with all these countries, no matter how difficult our ties with them are.

At the same time, and this is also an obvious fact, when our common state, the USSR began disintegrating, the people who dealt with this did not think about the consequences this would lead to, something they should have thought about. But it was clear that our neighbours did not always have identical interests. Sometimes their interests diverged and rope pulling was always possible. I believe we must and will find solutions to complicated issues in any way we can, but we need to avoid fueling or exaggerating anything or emphasising disputed issues. On the contrary, we must look at what can and must unite us and what does unite us. What is this? Our common interests.

Look, with respect to economic integration, who is not interested in this? Only our competitors. And the post-Soviet countries are bound to understand, at least smart people are bound to understand that a concerted effort, considering we have a common infrastructure, common transport and energy system and a common language that unites rather than divides us, etc., is our distinct competitive advantage in achieving the things for which some economic associations and structures have been fighting for decades, while we have received all this from our predecessors. We must use this, and this brings benefits to all of us. It is absolutely obvious that this is simply beneficial.

Look, Ukraine saw a revolution in 2004, and then in 2014 another revolution, a state coup. What happened as a result? Read the statistics published by the Ukrainian statistical services: shrinking production, as if they had more than one pandemic. Some of the local industries, ones the entire Soviet Union and Ukraine itself were proud of – the aircraft industry, shipbuilding, rocket building – developed by generations of Soviet people, from all Soviet republics, a legacy Ukraine, too, could and should be proud of – are almost gone. Ukraine is being de-industrialised. It was perhaps the most industrialised Soviet republic, not just one of them. There was of course the Russian Federation, Moscow, St Petersburg, Siberia, the Urals – all right, but Ukraine still was one of the most industrialised republics. Where is all this now and why is it lost?

It was just the stupidity of those who did it, just stupidity, that is all. But I hope that these common interests will still pave the way for common sense.

You just mentioned Belarus – indeed, we have witnessed these turbulent processes there. But there is something I would like to highlight As you may have noticed, Russia did not interfere in what was happening there. And we expect no one else to interfere either. No one should be stirring up this conflict to promote their own interests and impose any decisions on the Belarusian people. I already said in my opening remarks that nothing introduced from the outside without taking into account the peculiarities, culture and history of the people will ever work for that culture, those people.

The Belarusians themselves should be given the opportunity to calmly handle their situation and make appropriate decisions. The decisions they will make could pave the way for amending the country’s Constitution or adopting a new Constitution. President Lukashenko said this publicly. True, people can say, well, he will just write something for his own benefit, this kind of constitution will have nothing to do with democracy. But, you know, it is possible to slander just about anything, and there are always sceptics. But I already said this, so I will not go into more detail.

But what happened in Belarus compares favourably with what happened on the streets of some big cities in developed democracies, do you see that? There has been some harsh action indeed, I give you that, and maybe even unjustified, but then, those who allowed it should be made responsible. But in general, if you compare and look at the pictures – in Belarus, no one shot an unarmed person in the back, that is what I mean. So let us just calmly deal with this.

The same goes for Kyrgyzstan. I think current developments there are a disaster for Kyrgyzstan and its people. Every time they have an election, they practically have a coup. What does this mean? This is not funny. It means that many of these countries are taking the first steps towards their own statehood and the culture of state development.

I have told my colleagues many times that the post-Soviet countries should be treated with special attention, and we must carefully support these new sprouts of statehood. In no case should we be pressing advice or recommendations on them, and even more so, avoid any interference, because this will destroy the fragile, nascent institutions of sovereignty and statehood in those countries. It is necessary to give these nations the opportunity to carefully build these relations within society leading by example, but not acting like an elephant in a china shop with advice and piles of money to support one or the other side.

I strongly hope that we have helped Kyrgyzstan, as a member of the CSTO and the EAEU, to get on its feet, invested hundreds of millions of dollars to support the Kyrgyz economy and various industries and to help Kyrgyzstan adapt so it can join the EAEU. This also goes for phytosanitary services, customs systems, individual sectors of the economy and enterprises. We have recently implemented projects valued at up to $500 million. I am not even talking about grants that we provide annually in the amount of tens of millions of dollars.

Of course, we cannot look at what is happening there without pity and concern. Please note that we are not pressing our advice or instructions on them. We are not supporting any particular political forces there. I strongly hope that things in Kyrgyzstan will get back to normal, and that Kyrgyzstan will get on the path to progress and we will maintain excellent relations with them.

The same goes for Moldova. We can see the developments related to Moldova, and we know the Moldovan people’s needs for promoting democracy and economy. But who is buying Moldovan wine? Will France buy Moldovan wine? Who needs it in the European markets? They have more than enough of their own. When they ship wine from country to country, even within the European Union, the farmers dump it into ditches just to get rid of the cargo.

This is not just about wine. Other sectors of the economy are so closely tied to Russia that they simply cannot exist without it, at least for now. They can only sell their products in Russia. This is exactly what happened to Ukraine. Therefore, we hope that during the next election in Moldova, the Moldovan people will appreciate the efforts that the current President of the republic is undertaking to build good relations with Russia.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much.

Hans-Joachim Spanger has joined us from Frankfurt.

Hans-Joachim Spanger: Mr President,

Allow me to turn to an issue which is connected with a person whose name reportedly is not really used in the Kremlin, at least not in public – Alexei Navalny.

A renowned Russian scholar, Dmitry Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, recently stated, let me quote: “The poisoning of the opposition activist Alexei Navalny has become a turning point in Russo-German relations.” And this, according to him, essentially means that, another quote, “this special role performed by Germany and its Chancellor in recent years is now a thing of the past. From now on, Germany will have the same attitude to Russia as all the other countries in Western Europe.”

My question is whether you share this view that a) there was such a special role of Germany in bilateral German-Russian relations, and b) whether you also detect such a turning point now, and if so, what Russia can do to avoid it happening, or, conversely, to turn the turning point around again? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I will start with the first part of your question, about the poisonings. First, we have heard about poisonings here and there many times. It is not the first time.

Second, if the authorities had wanted to poison the person you mentioned or to poison anybody, it is very unlikely they would have sent him for medical treatment to Germany. Don’t you think so? As soon as this person’s wife contacted me, I immediately instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office to see if it was possible to allow him to travel abroad for medical treatment. They could have prohibited it because he was under restrictions due to an investigation and a criminal case. He was under travel restrictions. I immediately asked the Prosecutor General’s Office to allow that. And he was taken to Germany.

Then we were told that they found traces of this infamous Novichok that is known around the world. I said, “Please give us the materials.” Primarily, the biological material and the official report so that we can do more research that can give us official and formal legal grounds for initiating criminal proceedings. What was unusual about this request? Our Prosecutor General’s Office, in keeping with the agreements we have with Germany, has repeatedly forwarded official requests for these materials. Is this unusual? In addition, in a conversation with a European leader, I suggested that our specialists go to Germany and together with French, German and Swedish experts work on site to obtain the necessary materials, which we could use to initiate criminal proceedings and, should this incident prove to be a crime, investigate it. But they would not give us anything. How can you explain why? There is no explanation, there is just no explanation. This all looks strange.

Well, they said that they had found traces of Novichok. Later they passed whatever they had on to the OPCW – the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Then quite unexpectedly, they said, it is not Novichok – it is something else. So, is it Novichok or not? This has cast doubt on what was said before. Well, let us investigate the incident together. I say, as I have said several times, that if this is really true, we will definitely conduct an investigation. Unfortunately, there have been attempts on the lives of public figures and businessmen in our country. These cases were investigated in Russia, the culprits were found and punished and, what is important, all of them were punished. We are prepared to spare no effort in this case as well.

As for specific individuals, we have quite a few people like Saakashvili, but I do not think that currently these people have influence to speak of… They may also change, why not? They may undergo some transformation – which, in principle, is not bad – and will also get involved in realpolitik instead of making noise in the street. Take Occupy Wall Street – where is it? Where? Where is all the informal opposition in many European countries or the United States, for that matter? There are many parties there. Where are they? Two parties dominate the political stage and that is it. However, look what is going on in the streets.

This is why we are developing the Russian political system and will continue to do so, offering all political forces – seriously-minded, sincere and patriotic ones – the opportunity to work in compliance with the law.

Now, regarding Germany’s role. We have had very good relations with Germany in the post-war years. I think this was largely due to the German Democratic Republic, the GDR, which was the Soviet Union’s key and main ally in Europe, at least during the time that state existed. We have developed very good relations at the personal and political levels, and in the economic sphere. I know there are still a lot of people there now who sympathise with Russia. And we appreciate that.

Incidentally, the Soviet Union did play a decisive role in the reunification of Germany. It was indeed a decisive role. Some of your current allies, allies of Germany, in fact, objected to the unification of Germany, no matter what they said. We know this; we still have it in our archives. While the Soviet Union played this role. I personally believe that it was the right thing to do, because it was wrong to break a single whole into parts, and if the people there really want something, in Germany’s case they wanted unity, reunification, their pursuit should not be contained by force, as it will not do anyone any good. As for building relations between East and West Germany – this should be up to the Germans, of course. Has Germany played any special role, say, as a mediator between Russia and the rest of the world or Russia and the rest of Europe? I do not think so. Russia is a country that does not need intermediaries.

At the same time, we have always had very special economic, and even humanitarian ties with Germany. Why? Because Germany wanted to play a special role? Well, no, I think it had more to do with Germany’s own interests. Even now, Germany is Russia’s second largest trade partner, in gross volume. It used to be the first, by the way, but it is second to China now, as our trade with China is twice the volume it is with Germany. Nevertheless, there are more than 2,000 companies with German capital in our market. We have a fairly large volume of German investment and German businesses are interested in working in Russia. We are happy about this, because we know these are sincere people interested in expanding ties with our country. I regularly meet with representatives of German business; they are all our friends, or I would like to think so, anyway. This cooperation provides millions of jobs in the Federal Republic of Germany as well, because goods produced by German enterprises go to the Russian market; they enjoy demand here, which means jobs there.

Incidentally, many industries have been seeing a high level of cooperation in recent years. All the above are manifestations of the special nature of our relations, of a mutual interest, I would say. Mutual interest is at the heart of this relationship – not an ambition to play some special role. And this mutual interest will not go away, regardless of the current political situation, and we will maintain such relations, no matter what anyone does.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much.

We will stay in Europe for now.

Nathalie Tocci from Rome has joined us. Nathalie, please go ahead.

Nathalie Tocci: Thank you, Mr President, for your extremely candid remarks.

You spoke very eloquently about the importance and centrality of the state, but at the same time the importance of international cooperation, and, in particular, highlighted areas like security as well as climate, which I would associate also with energy transition.

Now, when it comes to security, perhaps a follow-up question on the Caucasus and the resumption of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At some point, hopefully very soon, there will be a new ceasefire. At the same time, the conflict itself won’t be resolved. Given that the current configuration of the three Minsk Group co-chairs has been unable to deliver a settlement in all these 26 years, does Russia think that this is the setup that should be reconsidered?

And then, perhaps, if I may, a question on climate change and, in particular, energy transition. Now, energy transition requires funding. The European Union, for instance, will dedicate approximately 40 percent of its next-generation new fund to the Green Deal. Now, when it comes to Russia, it is clear that, being a country that has depended quite importantly on its fossil fuel exports, stabilising energy markets is obviously going to be key for Russia in order to obtain the funds to move forward.

In your speech you highlighted the importance OPEC Plus had in that stabilisation of the market, and I think Russia itself played an extremely important role in ensuring that supplies were cut so as to stabilise prices. But at the same time, we are now in a second wave of the pandemic, and we are likely to see demand continuing to be rather sluggish. Would you expect, or would you like to see in 2021, a further cut in supplies to ensure a further stabilisation of prices?

Vladimir Putin: I will start with the first part of your question regarding the Minsk Group negotiation format and whether it should be changed. Unfortunately, Nathalie, I cannot answer your question. This is for a number of objective reasons, not because I want to emphasise Russia’s role, we all understand that Russia is where it is, nearby. These are our neighbours, and we have special relations with these countries and these peoples. The influences are very strong. I have already said that 2.4 million Armenians and about 2 million Azerbaijanis live in Russia. They wire tens of billions of dollars to support their families. But this is just one factor. I am not even mentioning many others, including the use of markets, cultural ties, and so on. That is, in our case, the situation is very different from relations between the United States and Armenia, or the United States and Azerbaijan, or even Turkey and Azerbaijan. Therefore, of course, we bear special responsibility and must be very careful in what we do.

In this context, the support of the United States, France and other members of the Minsk Group – 10 or 12 countries – matters a lot to us. There are European countries there, and Turkey as well. Do we need to change anything in this regard? I am not sure. Maybe the format could be tweaked a little, but it is imperative to find constructive and acceptable compromises for both sides.

To reiterate, for many years we have been looking for these compromises. We have proposed, believe me, very persistently, a variety of compromises, down to minute details and kilometres, to tell you the truth. All sorts of “corridors” were suggested, as well as an exchange of territories. All the things that were suggested… Unfortunately, we were unable to identify a solution, which eventually led to this tragedy. I hope these hostilities will come to an end soon. I agree with those who believe, including you, that the first thing is to immediately stop the hostilities. We, in fact, agreed to this during the meeting in Moscow. Unfortunately, we were unable to avoid this situation. We will continue to strive for this.

Now I would like to say a few words about oil and everything connected with it, the demand for oil and so on. We are working on alternative energy sources ourselves. We are one of the richest countries in hydrocarbons, oil and gas, but this does not mean at all that we should not think about the future. We are thinking about it and about solar energy and hydrogen energy. We are working on this. Moreover, we are working on this with a view to improving the current situation.

You know for sure that we have adopted a decision in line with which in 2022 we must make our 300 largest contaminators, that is, 300 major companies that are the biggest emitters of these gases, switch to the most accessible, latest technology that would minimise emissions into the atmosphere and into the environment in general of any pollutants, and reduce these emissions by 20 percent by 2024. But we understand that by dealing with these 300 companies and 12 cities where most of them are located, we will not drastically improve the situation. Our strategy in this respect is aimed at halving all anthropogenic emissions by 2030. We must move towards this goal. We have set it for ourselves and will pursue it consistently. We will work on it.

That said, I do not think it will be realistic, provided every country wants to be competitive, to abandon hydrocarbons in the near future. I believe the near future embraces several decades: 30, 40 and 50 years from now. This is simply unrealistic.

Therefore, when we hear about European novelties on hydrocarbons and relevant restrictions, I do not know on what basis these proposals, conclusions and decisions are made. Are they explained by domestic political struggle? Later they are followed by restrictions in international trade and cooperation, right? I do not think this will lead to anything good. It is necessary to achieve a result in this respect not through restrictions but through cooperation and a striving to reach common goals.

We have done what we ought to do under the Kyoto agreement. We have fulfilled everything we did. We are active participants in the Paris agreement and intend to do all this. We are not shutting down from it. On the contrary, we think this is the way to go.

I spoke in my opening remarks about the speed at which permafrost is disappearing and the consequences this may have for all humankind. And what about us? We have a lot of transport systems in this zone: oil and gas pipelines and railways. Our residential districts and whole cities are located on this territory. This is a huge problem for us, and that is why we are willing to work and will work, both ourselves and at the international level, for a clean environment and a reduction in anthropogenic emissions. That said, it is impossible to do without hydrocarbons.

But there is also natural gas as a hydrocarbon source. It is actually the cleanest of hydrocarbons. And what about nuclear energy? Despite what anyone says or the scare tactics around nuclear power and nuclear power stations, it is one of the cleanest kinds of energy. So what are we talking about? Take automobiles, what is the primary energy source there? Even now, Europe and the entire world still use coal to produce electricity. Yes, coal’s share is falling but it is still used.

Why should any fiscal constraints be placed on using natural gas and even diesel fuel? By the way, it can be made to be extremely clean with modern purification and usage standards. So what is the point? To give competitive advantages to certain sectors of the economy in this or that country, with politicians standing behind it. That is the only way I can explain it, not as a simple desire to improve the environment. Nevertheless, I hope sound decisions will be taken here and we will be able to find a proper balance between environmental and economic interests.

As for the demand for oil and work within OPEC+, we maintain contacts with all our partners – both the Americans and the Saudis. We do so regularly at the ministerial level. Literally just the other day I spoke to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, we consult with one another. We believe there is no need to change anything in our agreements as of yet. We will be closely tracking the recovery of the market. You said it was sluggish. It was but is recovering, I will note, it is growing.

The world economy did indeed contract due to the pandemic but consumption is on the rise. That has something to do with our decisions as part of OPEC+. We are of the opinion that nothing needs to change right now. However, we are not ruling out either maintaining existing production limits or not lifting them as soon as we had intended earlier. And if necessary, we will make further reductions. But currently we do not see the need. We have agreed with all our partners that we will closely monitor the situation.

Russia is not interested in higher or lower prices necessarily. Here, our interests overlap with those of our US partners, perhaps primarily with them, because if oil prices drop significantly, shale production will experience great difficulties, to put it mildly. However, although it did not join the OPEC+ deal in a meaningful way, the United States has, in fact, reduced output.

So, almost all market participants, all players have close or overlapping interests, as diplomats say. We will proceed based on the actual situation so as not to make a negative impact on the market. As you are aware, it is important not to impact geological exploration and the preparation of new wells. If we treat the energy sector like a stepchild and keep saying it is not good enough and does nothing but pollute, investment will dry up, and prices will skyrocket.

That is why it is necessary to act responsibly and not politicise this issue or chatter idly, especially for those who know nothing about it, but to act based on the interests of the global economy and their own countries’ interests and find a compromise between protecting nature and growing the economy, so our people can earn enough to support themselves and their families. We will succeed only if we manage to balance these interests. Anything less will lead to ruin.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, we at the Valdai Club have the pleasure to meet with you regularly and so we have a basis for comparison. If I may say so, I think you have learned something from the pandemic. You sound at peace when you talk about it. I have to ask. You speak so well of Europe, but does it bother you that you are considered almost a murderer there, that those closest to you in government are sanctioned and you are always called on to justify something? And yet I can hear absolution in what you say.

Vladimir Putin: You know, there is little that bothers me, because to a certain extent, when I carry out my official duties, I become the function of protecting the interests of the Russian people and the Russian state. Everything else I try to shut out, so that it does not interfere with the performance of this function. I have had a long time to get used to these attacks, since 2000, when we fought international terrorists in the Caucasus. I heard and saw everything. They portrayed me with fangs and in every other way imaginable. So, it has no effect on me.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Let us jump to the other side. Zhao Huasheng, Shanghai.

Zhao Huasheng: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Zhao Huasheng: Thank you very much for this great opportunity.

This year’s theme at this Valdai Club session is The Lessons of the Pandemic and the New Agenda: How to Turn a World Crisis into an Opportunity for the World. I will paraphrase this: how can we turn a world crisis into an opportunity for Sino-Russian relations?

The world is rapidly changing now. Given these conditions, how do you think Sino-Russian relations should develop? I am referring to political and economic ties and regional and international cooperation. What new approaches can be expected? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I would give a very brief answer to the question on how to further develop Sino-Russian relations: the same way we have been doing it and are doing it now. Russian-Chinese relations have reached an unprecedented level.

I am not even mentioning the term “specially privileged” relations, etc. What matters is not the name but the quality of these ties. As for the quality, we treat each other with deep trust; we have established durable, stable, and most importantly, effective ties across the board.

My friend – and I have every reason to call him a friend –President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and I continuously consult each other on what and how things need to be done based on what has already been achieved, but we always find a way to move forward.

You know that we are working together in aviation and nuclear power engineering, as I have just mentioned, and further developing trade ties. Last year, our trade was over 111 billion. This is far from the highest figure that we can achieve. We will certainly achieve more.

We are developing infrastructure, building bridges that unite us in the literal meaning of the word. We are developing humanitarian ties and seeking implementation rather than simply planning large projects in the areas where we supplement each other effectively, including energy.

China is a big shareholder in a number of large Russian projects on gas production, and later, on liquefaction (LNG). Where are these projects carried out? Not on the border with China but in the north of the Russian Federation. We work together in a variety of other areas. And, as we have said many times, there is no doubt that international cooperation is a very important factor in stabilising world affairs; this is absolutely obvious.

To say nothing of our military and defence industry cooperation. We have traditionally maintained relations in this area on a significant scale. I am not only talking about buying and selling, I also mean the sharing of technologies. We hope to maintain this working relationship with our Chinese friends – a friendly relationship based on mutual respect, oriented toward achieving the best results for the people of both China and Russia.

As for Shanghai, it happens to be a sister city of St Petersburg, where I am from. I have been to Shanghai on more than one occasion. It is a magnificent and beautiful city, and I wish the people of Shanghai all the best.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Here is a follow-up question from China to clarify a bit what you just said. Professor Yan Xuetong wants to ask you a very simple and straightforward question: Is it possible to conceive of a military alliance between China and Russia?

Vladimir Putin: It is possible to imagine anything. We have always believed that our relations have reached such a level of cooperation and trust that it is not necessary, but it is certainly imaginable, in theory.

We hold regular joint military exercises – at sea and on land in both China and the Russian Federation – and we share best practices in the build-up of the armed forces. We have achieved a high level of cooperation in the defence industry – I am not only talking about the exchange or the purchase and sale of military products, but the sharing of technologies, which is perhaps most important.

There are also very sensitive issues here. I will not speak publicly about them now, but our Chinese friends are aware of them. Undoubtedly, cooperation between Russia and China is boosting the defence potential of the Chinese People’s Army, which is in the interests of Russia as well as China. Time will tell how it will progress from here. So far, we have not set that goal for ourselves. But, in principle, we are not going to rule it out, either. So, we will see.

Anyway, we are satisfied with the current state of relations between Russia and China in this area. Unfortunately, we have to confront new threats. For example, the intention stated by our American partners to possibly deploy medium- and short-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific Region, of course, raises alarm, and we undoubtedly will have to take reciprocal steps – this fact is self-evident.

Of course, before it comes to that, we have to see what if anything is going to happen, what threats it will pose to us, and, depending on that, we will take reciprocal measures to ensure our security.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Piotr Dutkiewicz from Canada, please.

Piotr Dutkiewicz: Mr President, thank you so much for this unique opportunity to talk to you.

You mentioned in your speech that the youth will have to push the future of Russia, the development of Russia forward. But young people are very unhappy with the world. Look at what is happening in the US, France and Israel. They are saying we have shut the door to a good future for them. According to international opinion polls, over half of young people think they will live worse than their parents do. But they are not impressed by any of this. So, I would like to ask you as the President of the Russian Federation, what you can advise and offer to Russian youth?

Vladimir Putin: I touched on this in my opening remarks, but I can say it again. Of course, the future belongs to the youth, This is the first thing.

Second, young people are usually discontent not with what is happening but with what they have achieved for today, and they want more. And this is right, this is what underlies progress. This is a foundation for the young people to create a better future than the one we have built. And there is nothing surprising or new in this idea. We can understand this from classic Russian literature. Read Fathers and Sons, it is all there.

But what can we offer? We believe we will give young people more opportunities for professional growth and create more social lifts for them. We are building up these instruments and creating conditions for people to receive a good education, make a career, start a family and receive enough income for a young family.

We are drafting an increasing number of measures to support young families. Let me emphasise that even during the pandemic, most of our support measures were designed for families with children. What are these families? They are young people for the most part.

We will continue doing this in the hope that young people will use their best traits – their daring striving to move ahead without looking back at formalities that probably make older generations more reserved – for positive, creative endeavours. Eventually, the younger generation will take the baton from the older generation and continue this relay race, and make Russia stronger.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

We have an unusual connection with Australia today. I do not remember anything like this before.

Anton Roux, Please, go ahead.

Anton Roux: Thank you, Mr President, for the opportunity to ask you a question. I really appreciated your insightful, heartfelt and considered remarks during your speech; and I come to you from our second state lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, which is also a sister city to St Petersburg. I embrace also your urging to cast aside silo mentalities.

My question is the following: How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be as a world leader and the President of the Russian Federation during the first half of the 21st century? How would you like international historians across the world to write about you and your legacy as a leader, a man and a human being at the end of the 21st century? And how might you shape this any differently during the next phase of your leadership as President of the Russian Federation?

Vladimir Putin: If the translation is correct, you said “who lived in the 21st century.” But, thank God, we are alive and keep living in the 21st century. To be honest, I never think in terms of the areas you mentioned. I do not think about my role in history; those who are interested can decide. I never read a single book about myself.

I just keep working day in, day out, trying to resolve current issues and looking into the future so that these current issues do not stand in the way of achieving our strategic goals. It is, in fact, routine work. I proceed from what I must accomplish today, tomorrow, this year, or in three years given that we plan the budget of the Russian Federation three years in advance.

Of course, as I have said, we do consider strategic goals; this is why we have drafted and continue pursuing national development plans and national projects. But this totally unrelated to any desire to mark my place in history in some way. It is related to something completely different – ensuring the interests of the Russian people, the Russian state, strengthening Russia.

How I will be seen by future generations, I would rather leave to them and their judgment. But then, I do not think I would be interested in these judgments when they are made. In this sense I am a pragmatic person, and I am trying to work not for my image as a world leader, and I do not think I am one (I do not think I am any different from my colleagues – the heads of other states), I work to strengthen my country. This my priority and the meaning of my life.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you. I remember your interview a few months ago, ahead of the constitution referendum, when you openly said that an opportunity to remain in office after 24 years is a guarantee against bureaucratic intrigue, the people around you, so they would not look around in search of a successor.

But if this is true, it is an endless circle; they will always be searching, even while you remain in office.

Vladimir Putin: No, it must definitely end one day, I am perfectly aware of that. And the changes in the Constitution you mentioned are aimed not only at granting the incumbent head of state the right to be elected in 2024 and later, but these amendments are basically aimed at reinforcing the sovereignty of the Russian Federation, outlining our development prospects and building up the fundamental constitutional foundation for progress in the economy, the social sphere and enhancing our sovereignty.

I expect it will all work.

As to what will happen in 2024 or later – we will see when the times comes. Now we all just have to work hard like St Francis, everyone at his or her place.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Alexander Rahr, please.

Alexander Rahr: Mr President, my question is about nostalgia as well. I remember your historical speech at the German Bundestag 20 years ago, where you actually proposed building a common space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Do you regret that?

Here is my point. The French and the Germans supported the idea. The Eastern Europeans did not. America will not, either. Actually, that keeps us from building our relations with Russia, which, I think, many Europeans would like.

If you had the opportunity to address the Bundestag again, would you also propose working together in the digital sphere or, perhaps, the environment, which would unite Europe and Russia in terms of energy? I think this is a promising idea for the future.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding what I would say if I were speaking there now, here is what happened back then.

At that time (it was 2007, correct?), many of my colleagues told me it was a bit harsh and it was not very good.

What did I actually say? I will refresh your memory. I said it is unacceptable for one country to extend its law beyond its national borders and try to subject other states to its regulations. Something along these lines.

What is happening now? Is it not Western European leaders who are saying that secondary sanctions and extending US jurisdiction to European companies are unacceptable?

If only they had enough guts to listen to what I said back then and to try to at least change the situation, do it carefully, without destroying Atlantic solidarity or the structural arrangement in NATO or elsewhere. I was not talking about that, but about the fact that it is unacceptable and bad for everyone, including those who do this.

Back then, our European partners seemed not to care and everyone looked the other way. Here again, what happened then is happening now. I am saying that this is still bad for everyone, including those who are pursuing or trying to pursue a policy of exceptionalism, because this actually destroys relations and interaction between Europe and the United States, and ultimately causes damage to the United States itself. Why do this?

This fleeting tactical gain that the United States is seeking may lead to negative strategic consequences and the destruction of trust. This is not my business, but since we are having an exchange at the discussion club, I will go ahead and philosophise. This is an absolutely obvious thing.

So, I did not say anything unusual, harmful or aggressive in Munich in 2007. But if I were to speak there now, I would not, of course, say I told you so. I would not do that just out of respect for my colleagues. I am fully aware of the realities back then and today. We do not live in a vacuum, but in real life conditions, our relationships are real and our interdependence is strong.

We understand everything perfectly well, but we need to change things. We are talking about a new world order, so these realities must be taken into account when building modern international relations, which must, of course, be based on consideration for each other’s interests and mutual respect, and respect for sovereignty.

I hope we can build our relations carefully and calmly, without destroying what has been created over previous decades, but while taking into account today’s needs. These relations will meet present requirements and the interests of all participants in international communication.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Alexei Yekaikin. Since we have talked a lot about ecology today, we cannot go without this.

Vladimir Putin: What time is it?

Fyodor Lukyanov: Yes, we are finishing up, Mr President. We feel we have already exceeded our time, but we cannot do without ecology in the end.

Vladimir Putin: No, we cannot. I agree.

Alexei Yekaikin: Thank you, Fyodor.

Good evening, Mr President.

Maybe, this question will seem a bit surprising to you although we have met several times over the years and talked about this. I would like to raise it again. It is about the Antarctic. We spoke about this at the climate session and, in general, this is an anniversary year for us – 200 years since the discovery of the Antarctic.

This is what my question is about. Russia has adopted or is adopting a strategy for developing activities in the Antarctic. A new Vostok station is under construction in the Central Antarctic as part of this strategy. You know this.

It would seem that everything is fine, investment in the infrastructure and the like. So, you may get the impression that we are doing well in the Antarctic. Alas, this is not the case, because the policy is about infrastructure but does not say a word about science. This is a fairly paradoxical situation. I would call it strange because we invest in the infrastructure whereas the main goal for which we need it, that is, science, remains somewhere backstage.

At our Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, we have prepared a draft federal programme for studying the area around the Vostok station for the next 15 years. It has been drafted in detail. It consists of two main themes. The first is the study of the past climate based on ice core data, and this study is very closely connected with the climate theme. Yes, this is drilling the ice, that is right.

The second theme concerns the subglacial lake Vostok. You also know about this. It is one of the most unique phenomena on the planet.

These are two subjects in which we, Russian scientists, are generally strong; we are not trying catch up with anyone in this respect. We are at the proper level and even ahead of some of our colleagues. Nonetheless, there is no government support for research in the Antarctic. I find this strange.

We sent this draft programme to the Ministry of Natural Resources, our relevant ministry. I do not know where exactly it is now. We do not know what happened to it. My question is very simple: does the Russian Government have the opportunity to support our efforts to study the Antarctic or will this topic go down the drain?

After all, it would be a pity to lose our priority in this area.

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Alexei, first of all, the fact that your colleagues and you made it to Lake Vostok and made this discovery, got to this water that is thousands of years old and that was not connected in any way with the world, remaining under the ice, this, of course, is of great interest to people like you, researchers, who study what eventually became the Earth and how the climate was changing.

I saw this; they brought me the core samples and the water. It is exciting. However, the fact that the infrastructure is being created means that preparations for research are underway. I do not know the plans regarding the allocation of funds for these purposes. You said that money was allocated for the infrastructure, but not scientific research. I doubt this is a lot of money. If the Ministry of Natural Resources …unfortunately, budget cuts are underway, which are caused by certain economic difficulties.

I am not sure if it was necessary to cut the already small expenses associated with Antarctic research. I promise I will look into it. We will punish anyone who made a mistake.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, you mentioned in your speech that you do not miss the Cold War. Do you miss anything at all?

Vladimir Putin: My children, I rarely see them.

Fyodor Lukyanov: We at the Valdai Club miss the opportunity to get together in person. With all the great advances in technology that allow us to hold almost complete meetings, we would still very much like to talk in person to you and each other next year.

We have not broken the record; there was a forum where the President spent more time with us, but we are close. We talked with the President of the Russian Federation for almost three hours, for which we are sincerely grateful.

Thank you very much. We will try to quickly get back to our normal schedule, and we look forward to seeing you next year.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much for hosting this.

I want to address all members of the Valdai Club, the analysts, politicians and journalists who work with this entity. It is an entity, because it has been operational for many years now. I hope you find it interesting and useful.

I am grateful to you for showing interest in Russia, in our development plans, in us today and in our history. This means that you are engaged, and it is important for us to know your opinion.

I am saying this sincerely, because by comparing what we are doing, by comparing our own assessments of our progress and our economic and political plans, comparing them with your ideas about what is good and what is bad, we find the best solutions and can adjust our plans.

I want to thank you for this and to wish you every success. I also hope for a personal meeting next time.

Good luck to you. Thank you very much.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much. Good-bye.

Vladimir Putin: Good-bye.

The Vaccine Race Is The Next Phase Of The COVID World Order

Source

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

24 JULY 2020

The Vaccine Race Is The Next Phase Of The COVID World Order

The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) warned last week that the world is at risk of being further divided by the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccines that leading Great Powers are expected to publicly unveil in the coming future, which would make the vaccine race the next phase of the COVID World Order that’s quickly changing life as everyone knows it, including International Relations.

Welcome To World War C

The planet is in the midst of what the author previously referred to as World War C, which is his neologism for the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes that were catalyzed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and the global community’s uncoordinated efforts to contain it. This is part of what he also earlier called the COVID World Order, which specifically relates to the everyday changes brought about by this development but which are also quickly making their impact felt in the sphere of International Relations as World War C continues.

The Vaccine Race

The latest escalation in this unconventional competition between states occurred last week when Canada, the UK, and the US accused Russian hackers of trying to steal information about a British vaccine, a charge that Moscow promptly denied. The day after, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Kirill Dmitriev, warned the Financial Times in an exclusive interview that the world is at risk of being further divided by the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccines that leading Great Powers are expected to unveil in the coming future.

This would in effect make the vaccine race the next phase of the COVID World Order as countries scramble to carve out exclusive markets for what’s being presented as their life-saving product. It’s neither here nor there how anyone personally feels about vaccines or even the reported lethality of COVID-19 since it should be objectively recognized that this epidemiological situation has already been politicized and is being resultantly instrumentalized for grand strategic purposes.

Necessary Disclaimer

To be clear, the author believes that COVID-19 is real, it’s lethal for certain at-risk members of the population, and is reportedly highly contagious. He also recommends that the reader use their personal discretion in deciding which guidelines to apply to protect themselves, their families, and everyone else in society. Still, this doesn’t mean that governments aren’t fearmongering about COVID-19 in order to expand their powers at home and abroad since that’s precisely the case when it comes to the latest accusations against Russia.

Reputational Ramifications

On the surface, the claims are predictable enough since they correspond with the Mainstream Media’s narrative about the so-called “Russian threat” that’s supposedly lurking behind every corner just waiting to undermine the West at each turn. Accusing Russia of trying to steal vaccine information makes sense from their perspective since many of their people are already scared to death of this disease and it thus serves their governments’ interests to make it seem like Russia is somehow trying to sabotage their inoculation efforts.

There might be a more nefarious motive behind all of this than just attempting to ruin Russia’s international reputation, however, since the country’s rivals are likely thinking a few steps ahead as usual. Firstly, they aim to protect their own reputations at home and abroad since they’ll understandably be embarrassed if the same country that they tried to convince everyone else was “backwards” and “isolated” ends up releasing a COVID-19 vaccine before they do. Saying that Russia stole it helps them “save face” a bit.

No Western Vaccine, No Western Travel?

Secondly, peddling this false narrative could create the basis to sanction those countries that buy Russia’s forthcoming vaccine or receive it free of charge as humanitarian aid. The US and its allies can claim that they’re receiving something that was produced with stolen trade secrets and that they should instead buy “the real thing” from them. If those states don’t comply, then their citizens might be banned from traveling to Canada, the UK, and/or the US if those governments claim that Russia’s vaccine “doesn’t work” or “isn’t reliable”.

To put it another way, the Western countries can implement blanket travel bans on the basis that they can’t be certain that foreign guests are inoculated against COVID-19 unless they receive one of their or their allies’ vaccines. Considering how much more closely connected most of the world is to the Western economies as opposed to Russia’s, this might be sufficient enough of a threat to force their governments to comply under pane of suffering unacceptable economic damage if trade is predictably affected as a result of these bans.

Challenging China

Looking ahead, this strategy might be experimented with against Russia in order to gauge its success prior to modifying it for use against China. The challenge there, however, is much more formidable since many countries nowadays are even more closely connected to China than they are to the West so such pressure tactics would amount to a de-facto ultimatum forcing their governments to take a clear side in World War C. It’s unclear how many of them will go with the West, but there’s a credible enough chance that some of them will.

Even so, the soft power victory might just be superficial since China is unlikely to make its own similar ultimatum. The People’s Republic probably won’t ban travelers who weren’t inoculated with a Chinese vaccine so the citizens of those countries that feel pressured to choose Western ones for the previously mentioned reasons can still trade with the world’s second superpower without any problems. If Western vaccines are proven to be ineffective and/or dangerous, however, then that policy might of course change.

“Global South” Guinea Pigs

Returning back to the overarching theme of this analysis, the COVID World Order’s vaccine race, it might very well be a fait accompli that people the world over will be compelled to receive some sort of vaccine in order to travel or even use basic services in their home country. This might especially be the case with the more desperate masses of the “Global South” who could be exploited as guinea pigs by some of the leading Great Powers in order to test the safety of these vaccines in exchange for humanitarian aid and preferential trade.

Concluding Thoughts

However it plays out, the global masses should expect the widespread proliferation of COVID-19 vaccines within the next year. This is no longer only an issue of public health, but is now a geopolitical instrument of power for various governments to wield against one another and their own citizens alike. The epidemic has been politicized and there’s no going back to the innocent assumption that the world might work together “for the common good” to fight this disease. That was never true to begin with, and forthcoming events will prove it.

The Hybrid War Of Terror On America Was Decades In The Making

Source

5 JUNE 2020

The Hybrid War Of Terror On America Was Decades In The Making

The spree of urban terrorism that’s exploded in the US over the past week wasn’t a spontaneous outburst of unrest but part of the decades-long Hybrid War of Terror on America that finally turned kinetic in the run-up to Trump’s possible re-election, and an analysis of the origins and gradual development of this conflict could provide a clearer picture of the course that it might take in the coming months.

A Review Of Recent Events

Subversive forces inside the US are waging a Hybrid War of Terror on America, one that’s been decades in the making but finally turned kinetic in the run-up to Trump’s prospective re-election. For those readers who aren’t familiar with the author’s earlier work on this topic, they’re requested to read or at least skim through the following articles in order to obtain an understanding of his interpretation of contemporary events that will frame the present analysis about their origins and their prospective development across the course of this year:

* 1 June: “Mayhem In America: Masks Off, Molotovs Out!

* 2 June: “America Has The Right To Protect Itself From Urban Terrorism

* 3 June: “What Comes After America’s Nationwide Anti-Terrorist Operation?

* 4 June: “Antifa Wants To Lead African-Americans To Their Slaughter To Spark A Race War

To oversimplify, domestic terrorist groups led on the ground primarily by the largely decentralized Antifa network are doing everything they can to encourage angry African-Americans to carry out a nationwide crime wave together with acts of urban terrorism so as to increase the likelihood of them getting killed en masse by the police, National Guard, and/or military as the next step in provoking a “race race”, the resultant chaos of which could then be exploited to advance their ideological agenda of “revolution”.

Education Or Indoctrination?

What’s happening in America today took decades to get to this point since ordinary Americans wouldn’t otherwise react the way that many of them regrettably are unless they were truly enraged at something so intensely to put others’ lives and their own in danger through wanton acts of urban terrorism. Their worldview wasn’t shaped in a day, but over decades, and that initially began in the educational system which was gradually subverted by left-wing radicals to the point where almost all college professors today identify with this ideology or one of its variants. They indoctrinated several generations of Americans “across the color spectrum” into believing that their country is a “racist dictatorship” profiting off of “economic injustice”. There’s definitely some truth to the general point that America is imperfect like all countries are, with its own particular systemic challenges that have made life difficult for some categories of folks more so in the past than in the present day, but that truth has been manipulated in order to radicalize the population according to certain triggers that most directly affect each identity demographic (e.g. racism and the criminal justice system for African-Americans, “reverse-racism” for Caucasians, feminism for women, corruption for the vast majority of the people, etc.).

Trotskyist Terror

This observation makes it relevant to discuss the influence of Trotskyist thought, which in this context simply refers to the concept of a so-called “permanent revolution“. There’s nothing wrong with the idea of continual improvement, but it’s been exploited by radical left-wing ideologies in order to promote the Machiavellian mantra that “the ends justify the means”. That said end is what its adherents truly believe (whether on their own or due to mental manipulation by “vanguard” elements of “the movement”) to be a “better world” for everyone, hence why they think that morality has no place when it comes to means. Thus, even acts of urban terrorism and the tricking of “useful idiots” into being slaughtered are “acceptable”. “The movement” does everything in its power to ensure that “the cause” is always on everyone’s minds so that nobody ever forgets about it but is instead always incited into becoming ever more radicalized so that their anger can then be “constructively” (or rather, destructively) channeled in the direction of their greater goal. Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals“, which he dedicated to “the first radical” Lucifer (Satan) in order to emphasize the amorality of his Machiavellian methods, provides perfect insight into the typical “revolutionary’s” mindset.

Relativism & Deconstructivism

One of the ways through which the educational establishment has indoctrinated Americans has been to have them relativize and deconstruct their society, though not in a purely objective manner (if one can even be applied in theory), but along the lines of whatever will portray “the movement’s” “cause” as “good/legitimate” and the existing system/establishment/everything else as “bad/illegitimate”. That’s not to say that relativism and deconstructivism aren’t useful to practice, but just to point out that they’re one of the more popular means through which generations have been manipulated, with the effects cumulatively building to the point where each generation becomes more radicalized than their predecessors. This is made possible not only by the “perfecting” of such “perception management” techniques, but also by indoctrinated parents forcing their children to believe the same things that they do, thus giving them an “ideological boost” from an early age that they themselves didn’t have and which could make them radicalize faster and more intensely than they ever did. Convinced of the validity of their worldview and the supposed “necessity” of “revolution”, these mass-produced “foot soldiers” then demand maximalist outcomes and unconditional surrenders.

“The Long March Through The Institutions”

The next factor to focus on is the concept of “the long march through the institutions” which seeks to embed “revolutionaries” and their “fellow travelers” (ideological sympathizers who might not be as radicalized as the first-mentioned) into various institutions beyond just the educational one. In practice, this most often takes the form of embedding them in influential places like the church, the media, and “Big Tech”, to say nothing of all levels of government: local/state/federal and executive/legislative/judicial. The purpose is to slowly take control of the state and society without arousing too much suspicion, but as the infiltration begins to succeed, certain signs become visible once these individuals feel comfortable enough in their positions to start actively shaping the country through relevant policies. This also sometimes takes the form of “politically flamboyant” personalities becoming popular in society for their outspoken views such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of “the squad” alongside their “fellow travelers” in “Big Tech” like Twitter’s Jack Dorsey among others for example. The end result is that society realizes that influential people harbor what had previously (and rightly) been considered to be radical ideologies, which contributes to gradually changing the national culture.

Gramsci’s “Cultural Hegemony”

Interwar Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci is credited with pioneering the concept of “cultural hegemony” whereby he basically asserted that “revolutions” can increase their chance of success by capturing the national culture through various means. Nowadays this is seen not only in the public faces of some people who have completed “the long march through the institutions” (especially in the media), but also especially among celebrities. The outcome is that a certain so-called “political correctness” creeps in which pressures individuals to censor themselves from expressing any beliefs that don’t conform with what’s wrongly presented to be the “majority consensus” even though it’s more often than not still only the view of the radical but influential minority. This doesn’t always relate to the purely economic foundations of leftism either but increasingly takes the form of what critics have described as “Cultural Marxism“, or the attempted application of leftism’s common denominator of “equality” into the cultural sphere, which purely economic leftists decry as ideological heresy that discredits their ideas. Consequently, they refuse to associate with that term and those that use it despite many “Cultural Marxists” proudly espousing leftist economic views as well.

“Ideological Subversion”

In parallel with these previously mentioned processes is what KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov described during a 1985 interview as “ideological subversion”. It’s unimportant that he attributed this strategy to the USSR (whether rightly or wrongly) since it can be applied by any ideologically motivated network irrespective of partisanship that doesn’t necessarily have to be state-backed. The four phases of “ideological subversion” are demoralization (making the majority skeptical of the status quo and feeling seemingly powerless to resist the “revolutionaries”), destabilization (a series of incidents that radicalize people and precondition the population to expect a crisis), crisis (the “trigger event” for catalyzing the most active and usually violent part of the campaign), and normalization (“the new normal” once the “revolutionaries” seize complete power even if they don’t officially proclaim victory in the event that they succeeded in secret). As everything that’s been discussed thus far in the analysis unfolds, the “Overton Window” shifts whereby what was previously considered radical is now seen as “normal” and the “old normal” becomes the “new radical” that’s then presented by the “drivers of change” as the “dangerous fringe” that society must continue moving away from.

From Destabilization To Crisis

The phased transition from destabilization to crisis is facilitated by structural preconditioning such as the deliberate mental and economic hardships brought about by the Democrat Governors’ decisions to impose strict COVID-19 lockdowns and the propagandizing of provocative narratives throughout society via the media such as the viral videos of police brutality against African-Americans. The first-mentioned makes the population more desperate and therefore increasingly likely to directly participate in the physical manifestation of the “revolution” even if they were previously having second doubts and preferred to only be “fellow travelers” (passive supporters). The second, meanwhile, incites the “revolutionary vanguard” (the role of which some participants such as criminally inclined African-Americans today aren’t even conscious that they’re playing) into a rage that triggers their prior amoral programming by reminding them that “the ends justify the means” even if it’s only to opportunistically take advantage of the forthcoming crisis for selfish reasons like looting. Taken together, this further the “conscious vanguard’s” cause of chaos that’ll enter into effect upon the commencement of the crisis.

Color Revolution Chaos

The ongoing kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror on America couldn’t have been possible had it not been for the uncontrollable proliferation of the same Color Revolution tactics and strategies that the US government invented over nearly the past two decades then subsequently spread across the internet. It was therefore only a matter of time before “revolutionaries” at home began to apply the same methods against the US government itself in a completely expected twist of fate. The author’s work from half a decade ago about “The Color Revolution Model: An Exposé Of The Core Mechanics” explains these processes at length, while his book from around the same time about “Hybrid Wars: The Indirect Adaptive Approach To Regime Change” explains the phased transition from Color Revolutions (weaponized protests) to Unconventional Wars (terrorism). In short, the terrorist phase begins to emerge after the security services’ reaction to violent protests is caught on camera but deceptively decontextualized and misportrayed. The edited footage is then propagated throughout society to escalate the self-sustaining cycle of unrest by delegitimizing the said security services and their government, which further radicalizes the population into passively or actively supporting terrorism.

Strategic Escalations

The kinetic (physical, violent) phase of the decades-long Hybrid War of Terror on America is greatly aided by the “fellow travelers” who completed their “long march through the institutions” of government, specifically the Democrats in charge of local municipalities and various states. Many of them refuse to order the police and National Guard respectively to properly respond to the Color Revolution for two primary reasons. The first is to radicalize the majority of the population that’s against this destruction so as to precondition them into expecting a “race war”, while the second is to then reinforce the perception of Trump as a “fascist dictator” to the already radicalized “revolutionaries” and their “fellow travelers” once he’s forced to take control of the National Guard and/or dispatch the military with the authority to use lethal force at their discretion to quell the unrest. That seemingly inevitable development will lead to the previously described decontextualization of such a response through edited footage that would become more “credible” to many if the “fellow traveling” peaceful protesters voluntarily use themselves as “human shields” to protect the urban terrorists among them, thus sacrificing themselves for “the cause” as “martyrs” whose deaths will be blamed on Trump personally.

Insubordination & Defection

“The long march through the institutions” also seeks to infiltrate the security services even though they’re typically the most resilient, but the “sleeper cells” among them and their media allies can attempt to get their “moderate” colleagues to seriously consider refusing to fulfill their professional duty to restore law and order, especially if they’re pressured not to “kill their own people” (an oft-abused phrase regularly employed by the US government to delegitimize those foreign governments targeted by its history of Hybrid Wars and which lethally respond to these external provocations in self-defense). “Dog whistles” are already being blown in this respect by former Defense Secretary Mattis and Espers the incumbent one who have both contradicted the President to different degrees regarding his plans to reestablish law and order. This increases the likelihood that the aforesaid “sleeper cells” can deploy other bespoke information warfare narratives against their “fellow” members of the security services such as imploring them to “obey the Constitution and not the fascist dictator who’s ordering the illegal use of force against peaceful protesters out of self-interested political desperation to prevent his inevitable toppling by the people”. If successful, then the result this devious information warfare operation could be game-changing.

Electoral Context

It’s impossible to ignore the fact that the ongoing Hybrid War of Terror on America is occurring in the run-up to the November elections. The Minneapolis “trigger event” (which might be one of many up the seemingly never-ending escalation ladder) wasn’t planned but something of the sort might have been had that not happened in order to catalyze the current chaos. The timing is extremely strategic because it’s intended to totally destabilize the country ahead of its pivotal vote that might prospectively hand Trump his final term, after which he’d be completely “unchained” without any future electoral considerations whatsoever to pursue his own promised “revolutionary” agenda that threatens to reverse the leftists’ “march through the institution” (“draining the swamp”/”fighting the deep state”) in as radical of a manner as he’d want. To stop him, they hope to “hack” the election by exploiting this chaos to convince more people to vote Democrat, but as an “insurance policy”, they also plan to use mail-in ballots in order to steal the election. Should they fail to do that and he’s not overthrown beforehand in a military coup, then they’ll likely intensify their Hybrid War on the basis that he supposedly “stole the election” following the narrative that the US itself used against so many targets abroad over the years.

Global Importance

The whole world is watching what happens because of the global importance that the outcome of this conflict will undoubtedly have. It shouldn’t be forgotten that it’s occurring in the midst of what the author previously described as World War C, which refers to the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes unfolding as a result of every government’s response to the COVID-19 global pandemic that readers can learn more about herehere, and here. In accordance with the precepts of Stephen Mann’s “Chaos Theory And Strategic Thought“, the initial conditions at the onset of any complex process will disproportionately influence their outcome (“the butterfly effect”), so even Trump’s possible victory might only be a Pyrrhic one when it comes to America’s global standing in the emerging Multipolar World Order depending on how much damage is done domestically during the course of this conflict. Another point to keep in mind is that he’s also the leader of the worldwide nationalist/anti-globalism movement so the onset of the kinetic phase of this Hybrid War sends a strong message to other like-minded leaders that something similar could also happen to them at any time too unless they were more successful than the US was in stopping “the long march through the institutions”.

Concluding Thoughts

The ongoing phase of the Hybrid War of Terror on America can be conceptualized as the explosion of a long-ticking time bomb similar in effect to what happened a generation ago in the USSR after US-backed nationalist “revolutionaries” there succeeded in destroying it from within using almost identical means. This observation speaks to the fact that such methods aren’t exclusive to any given ideology but vary depending upon the targeted state’s unique socio-economic and political characteristics, which could in the future be more easily identified and tracked using the strategic insight obtained by “Big Data” operations such as the one that Cambridge Analytica was notoriously accused of.

Considering that this is a conflict that was decades in the making, it won’t be resolved anytime soon, especially since the “revolutionary” side is convinced that “the ends justify the means”, which makes the use of terrorism against their “fellow” Americans “acceptable” to them. Although every government in the world officially condemns this method of warfare which doesn’t have any ideology, race, religion, nationality, or borders, many of them and their compatriots are more than happy to watch the havoc that this Hybrid War will wreak for purely ideological reasons pertaining to their hatred for the American government (irrespective of whether or not that hatred is justified) even though the majority of victims will likely be innocent people of all “colors”.

This hypocritical position is explained by the fact that those abroad sense that this conflict is an “historical opportunity” to knock the US “out of the game” once and for all, and by none other than its own Hybrid War means that it so eagerly used to employ against almost everyone else in one way or another. For this self-interested reason, they might even intensify their information warfare against the US in order to embolden the “revolutionaries” and “demoralize” the average American that’s against this reign of terror by trying to convince them that they “deserve” all of this because they pay taxes to “fund the evil empire” for what it does overseas in their name without their knowledge or permission. Some of these average Americans will almost certainly submit, but tens of millions of others probably won’t go down without a fight, even if it’s to the death.

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Putin Didn’t Disappear: Russia’s Ongoing Decentralization Process

By Andrew Korybko

Global Research, May 05, 2020

The Western Mainstream Media’s aggressively propagated infowar narrative that President Putin “disappeared” and is “paralyzed” in the face of World War C is factually false because it ignores the Russian leader’s regular video conferences with various officials that are widely reported on by his country’s domestic media, which actually prove that he’s decentralizing state affairs to a degree by delegating important tasks to relevant decision makers, as all responsible leaders should do during times of crisis such as this one.

Yet Another Infowar Product From The Fake News Factory

The Western Mainstream Media never tires when it comes to disparaging President Putin even if their latest infowar narrative contradicts everything that they’ve spent over the last decade trying to indoctrinate their audience into believing. The so-called “Fourth Estate” previously invested much of its efforts into wrongly depicting the Russian leader as a “dictator” who’s supposedly “obsessed with controlling everything” in his country, which is why it’s so surprising that they’re now aggressively propagating the notion that he’s “disappeared” and is “paralyzed” in the face of World War C. This claim is factually false since it’s refuted by his country’s domestic media consistently reporting on his regular videoconferences with various officials, but it’s likely being pushed upon the public anyhow in order to artificially manufacture a sense of uncertainty about Russia’s long-term political stability, which could then be used as another angle from which to attack the progress that he and Trump have recently made in pursuit of their hoped-for “New Detente“.

Russia’s Ongoing Decentralization Process Should Be Celebrated, Not Condemned

Far from shirking his duties, President Putin is embracing them like never before, albeit in a manner which admittedly caught his critics unaware. They’ve invested so much time, money, and effort into portraying him as a “power-hungry dictator” that they’re simply unable to adapt their weaponized narrative to the reality that he’s now decided to decentralize state affairs to a degree by delegating important tasks to relevant decision makers, as all responsible leaders should do during times of crisis such as this one. No single individual, let alone of the world’s geographically largest state, can deal entirely on their own with such a situation as World War C, hence why President Putin made the wise choice to share the burden of leadership with other officials. It would have been egocentric to the extreme as well as highly dangerous if he believed that he could single-handedly manage Russia’s response to COVID-19, which is impossible for any one person to do. Nobody has the knowledge, time, and management capabilities to take full “dictatorial” control over such a crisis.

Russia Isn’t A One-Man Show

President Putin is aware of his limitations as a human being, and he also has an eye on his eventual retirement from public life, whether that’s as early as 2024 or perhaps even as late as 2036 if the public approves constitutional amendments to allow him to run for two additional terms during a forthcoming referendum, the date of which is presently unknown since the it’s been indefinitely postponed because of World War C. Whatever one’s criticisms of the Russian leader might be, few would ever assert that he isn’t a skilled manager, for better or for worse depending on their perspective. With this in mind, it’s completely within his character to gradually prepare for the country’s inevitable transfer of power whenever that moment arrives, hence why he understands the importance of delegating responsibilities to relevant officials in the context of the current crisis in order to reduce the country’s dependence on him personally. This is also in line with the proposed constitutional amendments that aim to reduce the power of the presidency in favor of parliament.

Russia’s Decentralization Is Over A Decade In The Making

There’s some truth to the claims that President Putin previously concentrated a lot of power in his hands, but that was entirely legal within the framework of the Russian Constitution and was mostly exercised in response to the federal intervention in Chechnya that characterized the country’s most pressing domestic challenge at the beginning of the century. Under powerful presidential systems such as Russia’s, the elected head of state has the final say in deciding the country’s course of action in crisis situations, which enables it to more rapidly respond to challenges as they develop. Seeing as how that particular one has been completely resolved, it was fitting for President Putin to begin gradually loosening the reins of control over the country as it returned to normalcy, which explains the expansion of his United Russia party throughout the land and its embedding of influence into practically all public state structures. This initial phase of pragmatic decentralization was followed by the “technocracy” that former President Medvedev encouraged during his time in office.

Constructive Criticism Of Russia Should Be Fact-Based & Fair

The third phase is the present one that’s currently unfolding before the world’s eyes whereby President Putin has sought to constitutionally reform the state legislature in order to grant it more responsibilities by the time he leaves office. The unexpected onset of World War C simply accelerated these plans that were already in progress since the official end of the second federal intervention in Chechnya in April 2009. Therefore, it’s not out of the ordinary whatsoever for President Putin to take advantage of these circumstances by “leading from behind” while tasking relevant officials to “lead from the front” in his stead, which they’ll eventually have to do once he inevitably leaves office. As the author wrote in March 2018, “It’s Okay To Constructively Criticize Russia, Even President Putin Does It!“, and even RT published an usually scathing op-ed the other day about the Russian government titled “Once he recovers from Covid-19, PM Mishustin faces new ordeal – reviving economy & Kremlin’s popularity with thinning oil kitty“. Such criticisms, however, should be fact-based and fair, but that isn’t the case with the Mainstream Media’s latest infowar attack, which therefore makes it propaganda.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from OneWorldThe World Cup Has Political Dimensions, and They’re All to Russia’s BenefitThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Andrew Korybko, Global Research, 2020

حلف الأطلسي ما بعد كورونا إما التعاون أو الموت المحتّم

محمد صادق الحسيني

إنّ التهديدات التي كان يعيشها العالم، قبل انتشار وباء كورونا، وبغض النظر عن طبيعتها، قد اختلفت تماماً بعد ظهور هذا الوباء القاتل والخطير جداً، على البشرية جمعاء وليس على شعب بعينه.

وعليه فإنّ منطلقات الدفاع الأوروأطلسية، التي أقيم على اساسها حلف شمال الأطلسي (الناتو) قد انقلبت رأساً على عقب، لا بل انتفى وجودها من الأساس. فمن المعلوم ان أمين عام حلف شمال الأطلسي كان قد لخص مهمات الحلف بالكلمات التالية:

‏To keep Russia out , Americans in , German down.

أي:

*إبعاد روسيا.

*تمكين أميركا.

*قمع ألمانيا.

لكن الظروف التي كانت سائدة آنذاك قد انتهت تماماً، بعد تفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي وكتلة الدول الاشتراكية وضعف قدراتها العسكرية بشكل عام، وتمدد حلف شمال الأطلسي شرقاً، وضمّه جميع الدول التي كانت أعضاء في حلف وارسو للدول الاشتراكية الى عضويته، ووصول قوات الناتو الى حدود جمهورية روسيا الشمالية الغربية، بحيث أصبحت مدينة لينينغراد الروسية في مرمى مدفعية قوات الحلف الأطلسي، وذلك على عكس الضمانات التي أعطيت لآخر رئيس للاتحاد السوفياتي، ميخائيل غورباتشوف، عند توقيع اتفاقية سحب القوات السوفياتية من المانيا ودول أوروبا الشرقية.

هذا وقد اختفى التهديد السوفياتي المزعوم، من قبل الناتو والولايات المتحدة وأذنابها الأوروبيين، مما جعل الناتو، بقيادة واشنطن، يبدأ بالبحث عن أعداء جدد، ومنذ بداية تسعينيات القرن الماضي، لتبرير وجود هذا الحلف العدواني، الذي هدّد السلم العالمي منذ نشأته. وقد ترجمت هذه السياسة العدوانية، الأميركية الأطلسية، في خطوات الحلف التالية:

الحرب العدوانية، التي شنتها قوات الحلف والجيش الأميركي، ضد العراق سنة 1991.
حروب البلقان، التي هندستها وموّلتها وسلمت لاعبيها، بهدف تفكيك جمهورية يوغوسلافيا، صديقة العرب والقضية الفلسطينية، وتدمير قدراتها العسكرية، وذلك عبر حرب بدأتها سنة 1992 واستمرت حتى 1996.
الحرب الشاملة، التي شنتها الولايات المتحدة وقوات حلف شمال الأطلسي، ضد جمهورية صربيا، اليوغوسلافية السابقة، سنة 1999، والتي أدت الى تدمير شبه كامل للبنى التحتية الصربية واقتطاع إقليم كوسوفو وفصله عن الدولة الصربية، بحجة أن أغلبية سكانه من القومية الألبانية.
الحرب الأميركية الاطلسية ضد العراق سنة 2003 واحتلاله وتدمير الدولة العراقية بالكامل اضافة الى تدمير البنى التحتية المدنية والتي لا زالت تعاني من آثار تلك الجريمة حتى يومنا هذا.
5 ـ الحرب على ليبيا، سنة 2011 والمستمرة حتى اليوم، والتي دمّرت ليس فقط الدولة الليبية وإنما كل بناها التحتية وجميع مقومات الحياة في هذا البلد العربي المنكوب.

كما لا بد من الإشارة باللون الأحمر الى الحرب العدوانية على الشعب اليمني والتي بدأها محمد بن سلمان سنة 2015 بدعم أميركي أوروبي غربي وإسرائيلي مباشر.

وما ان استنفدت مبررات وجود هذا الحلف من جديد، مع بداية الألفية الثالثة، حتى تفتق عقل المخططين الاستراتيجيين الأميركيين والأوروبيين عن اختراع عدو جديد، يمتد وجوده المزعوم على امتداد العالم، اطلق عليه اسم: الارهاب.

فكان أن شنت واشنطن، بالتعاون مع الحلف ودول أخرى، إثر هجمات 11 أيلول 2001 في نيويورك، حربها على افغانستان إبتداءً من شهر 10/2001، والتي لا زالت مستمرة حتى اليوم. ثم تبع ذلك خلق وتفقيس تنظيمات إرهابية أميركية، تحت مسمّيات مختلفة، ونشرها في دول عربية عدة، مستخدمة إياها للأسباب المذكورة ذاتها أعلاه. حيث قام تنظيم داعش بالاستيلاء على أجزاء واسعة من سورية والعراق وأعلن ما اسماه «دولة الخلافة الاسلامية» سنة 2014، كمقدمة لتفكيك الدولة السورية والعراقية.

وقد سارعت واشنطن آنذاك لتشكيل «تحالف دوليّ»، بحجة محاربة الإرهاب، زجّت به من جديد بقوات حلف شمال الأطلسي، في مسرحية عسكرية، هدفت الى تمديد عمر حلف شمال الأطلسي الافتراضي، الذي كان قد انتهى بزوال الاتحاد السوفياتي. ذلك التحالف الذي لم يكن له أي دور يذكر، في محاربة وجود التنظيمات الإرهابية، مثل داعش والقاعدة، وإنما اقتصرت محاربة هذه التنظيمات على الجيش العربي السوري، مدعوماً بقوات إيرانية وأُخرى من حزب الله اللبناني، الى جانب قوى المقاومة العراقيّة ومن ثم الجيش وقوات الحشد الشعبي العراقي، التي تشكلت إثر اجتياح الإرهاب الأميركي الأسود لمناطق واسعة من سورية والعراق، سنة 2014.

هذا الصمود، الذي كان لإيران دور أساسيّ وفاعل في تحقيقه، والذي أدّى الى شعور القيادة الروسيّة بخطر الإرهاب، واحتمال تمدّده الى داخل الأراضي الروسية، من خلال مقاتلين من دول الاتحاد السوفياتي السابق في آسيا الوسطى، مما جعلها، وانطلاقاً من أهداف استراتيجية دولية، الى التدخل العسكري المباشر، في شهر أيلول 2015، لدعم الدولة السورية ومنع إسقاطها، من قبل الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها الغربيين (دول الناتو).

وهو الأمر الذي أدى الى فشل حلف الناتو وسيّد البيت الأبيض في المهمة، ما يعني إفراغ هذا الحلف من محتواه مجدداً، وطرح السؤال الحاسم حول جدوى استمرار وجوده ومبررات ذلك الوجود. علماً ان الإجابة على هذا السؤال أصبحت اكثر الحاحاً، بعد اجتياح وباء كورونا معظم دول العالم وتسببه في موت وإصابة الملايين من البشر، على امتداد العالم.

من هنا، وفي ظل استحالة تمكّن أي دولة بمفردها من مواجهة هذا الوباء، وغيره من الأوبئة المحتملة في المستقبل، وفي ظل العجز المرعب والنقص المخيف في التجهيزات الطبية اللازمة، الذي أظهرته الولايات المتحدة والدول الأوروبية جميعها، في مواجهة هذا البلاد الذي حل بالعالم، وبالنظر الى التداعيات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والسياسية الكارثية، التي ستنجم عن انتشار هذا الوباء، فإننا نرى ان من الضرورة بمكان ان نؤكد على النقاط التالية، كمخرج آمن وحيد من الأزمة الحاليّة وأي ازمات مستقبلية:

أولاً: الحل الفوريّ لحلف شمال الأطلسي، بفروعه السياسية والعسكرية والتنظيمية وغير ذلك، وإنهاء وتصفية وجوده بشكل نهائي ودائم، وتوجيه الأموال التي تنفق على الحلف حالياً، الى مجالات الاستثمار في البنى التحتية والنشاطات الاقتصادية الإنتاجية في دول الحلف نفسها.

ثانياً: في ظل الهدر المتزايد لثروات الكرة الأرضية واستغلالها بشكل مجحف، من قبل القوى الرأسمالية الليبرالية المتوحشة جنياً لمزيد من الأرباح وتركيزاً للثروة العالمية في أيدي بضع عائلات فقط، فقد اصبح من الملح جداً، على جميع دول العالم، أن تتداعى للبحث في آليات جديدة تكون ناظمة للعلاقات الدولية، عوضاً عن سياسات التهديد العسكري المباشر والعقوبات المالية والاقتصادية، التي تمارسها الولايات المتحدة والدول الغربية، ضد العديد من دول العالم من إيران، الى جمهورية الصين الشعبية وروسيا الاتحادية، وصولاً الى خلق قاعدةٍ دولية للتعاون الاقتصادي الدولي المتوازن والمستند الى خطط علمية دقيقة، عوضاً عن سياسات النهب الشامل لثروات الارض، من قبل قوى خفية تفتقر الى وجود أية روادع أخلاقية او إنسانية وتحكمها الأنانية المطلقة، التي لا تتوانى عن شنّ الحروب وتدمير الدول وقتل شعوبها، حفاظاً على المصالح الذاتية لهذه القوى.

ثالثاً: من هنا فإن الحل الشامل والناجع، لمشاكل البشرية بشكل عام، لا يكمن في مواصلة سياسة اللعب بالنار، التي تمارسها الولايات المتحدة ودول الناتو الأخرى، على حدود روسيا الشمالية الغربية (لينينغراد)، ولا في مواصلة التحرّشات العسكرية، التي تنفذها البحرية الأميركية، في بحر الصين الجنوبي والشرقي، وفي غرب المحيط الهادئ، ومحاولات اختلاق «عدو جديد» للولايات المتحدة وحلف الناتو، الذي تواصل واشنطن استخدامه، في تنفيذ عمليات ألعاب نارية، هنا وهناك، مرة ضد إيران وأخرى في مواصلة توجيه التهديدات للصين الشعبية والعمل على دق إسفين بين روسيا والصين، من خلال إغراء روسيا بمعاملة تفضيلية، إذا ما ابتعدت عن الصين الشعبية وأوقفت التعاون معها، وإنما الحل لا يمكن إلا في التعاون الدولي، لمواجهة التحدي المشترك، المتمثل في وباء كورونا وغيره من الأوبئة.

رابعاً: ولعل أقرب الطرق للوصول الى تصور مشترك وخطة عمل مشتركة لمواجهة تحديات المستقبل، على الصعيد الكوني، هو العودة الى اقتراح الرئيس الروسي، فلاديمير بوتين، الداعي الى عقد اجتماع طارئ لرؤساء الدول الدائمة العضوية في مجلس الأمن، لتدارس إمكانيات إيجاد آليات لمواجهة التحديات المستقبلية التي تواجه البشرية جمعاء. ذلك الاقتراح او المبادرة، التي أطلقها الرئيس الروسي بتاريخ 27/1/2020، في مناسبة الذكرى الـ75 لتحرير قوات الجيش الأحمر السوفياتي لمعسكر الاعتقال في بلدة أوشفيتس، الواقعة جنوب غرب بولندا، بتاريخ 27/1/1945.

وهذا يعني، من الناحية الواقعية وانطلاقاً من المبدأ السياسي، الذي أسسة المستشار الألماني السابق ڤيللي براندت بداية سبعينيات القرن الماضي، ويطلق علية اسم « رِيالْ بوليتيك Realpolitik « –، وتعني السياسة الواقعية، والتي أسست لبدء سياسة الانفتاح الألماني على دول المعسكر السوفياتي بشكل عام وجمهورية المانيا الديموقراطية (الشرقية) آنذاك بشكل خاص، نقول إن هذا يعني:

إن على الولايات المتحدة، خاصة في ظل انتشار وباء كورونا، العدو المشترك لكل دول العالم، أن تتخلى عن سياسة المواجهة والعدوان العسكري والعقوبات المالية والاقتصادية، وتجلس الى طاولة المفاوضات وتجترح، بالتعاون مع الدول العظمى الأخرى، خريطة حلول دبلوماسية سياسية للمشكلات الدولية، الأمر الذي سيساعد واشنطن على البدء بعلاج جنودها المصابين بفيروس كورونا وسحب قواتها، من قواعدها العسكرية التي يزيد عددها عن ألف قاعدة منتشرة في العالم، وتصفية هذا الوجود العسكري المكلف وباستثمار الأموال المهدورة في استثمارات داخل الولايات المتحدة او في المشروع الصيني العملاق: طريق واحد… حزام واحد. خاصة أن التاريخ يُعَلِّم أن سبب انهيار الإمبراطوريات الرئيسي هو إنفاقها على حضورها العسكري الواسع في العالم والذي يفوق إمكانيات الإمبراطورية المالية والاقتصادية.

ولا بد من الإضافة، الى كل ما تقدم، بأن جمهورية الصين الشعبية وروسيا الاتحادية ليستا جمهوريتي موز، او ممالك رملية، كمملكة محمد بن سلمان في السعودية، كي تتمكن واشنطن من ابتزازهما بالتهديدات المستمرة، بإصدار قوانين عقابية ضد الصين، تشبة قانون جاستا الخاص بتعويض « أقرباء ضحايا « 11/ أيلول 2001. فالدولتان قادرتان، ليس على مقاومة الضغوطات الأميركية فحسب، وانما على إلحاق هزيمة عسكرية نكراء، بالولايات المتحدة الأميركية، في حال تجرأت على ارتكاب أي خطأ عسكري تجاه أي من الدولتين.

اما حديث ترامب، عن نيته تدمير الزوارق الايرانية، اذا ما «تحرشت» بسفن البحرية الأميركية في الخليج، وحديث وزير خارجيته، مايك بومبيو، عن ضرورة معاقبة إيران على إطلاق الحرس الثوري قمراً صناعياً بنجاح، فلا تنم لا عن سياسة واقعية ولا عقلانية وانما تؤشر الى استمرار السياسة الأميركية العدوانية والعنجهية، التي لن ينتج عنها سوى انهيار الإمبراطورية الأميركية من الداخل، بسبب المشكلات الداخلية، وتفكك الولايات المتحدة وتحولها الى الولايات المتقاتلة بدلاً من المتحدة.

وهي نهاية حتمية لسياسة اعتباطية ومعادية لأصول المنطق والعلم والمنهج والتخطيط الإيجابي الخلاق.

إنها السنن الكونية التي لا مناص منها.

بعدنا طيبين، قولوا الله.

باي باي أميركا جغرافيا العالم تُرسَم من جديد

محمد صادق الحسيني

في سبعينيات القرن الماضي، وفي معرض حديث صحافي له حول الصراع العربي الاسرائيلي، قال مستشار الامن القومي آنذاك، زبيغنيو بريجنسكي، باي باي PLO، ايّ وداعاً منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية…!

وهو بالطبع كان يقصد وداعاً للقضية الفلسطينية وثوارها نهائياً…!

ولكن القضية الفلسطينية والمنظمة لا زالت حية وحملة راية النضال والتحرير صاروا ذوي بأس اشدّ، رغم انف بريجنسكي، وحاملي تلك الراية الهادفة الى تحرير فلسطين وإعادة شعبها الى ارضه المغتصبة وإقامة دولته المستقلة وهم باقون على هذه الارض، بينما ذهب بريجنسكي وهو يمنّي النفس بزوال المنظمة ورواد التحرير…!

وها نحن اليوم نصل الى لحظة الحقيقة، التي تعكس موازين القوى الدولية والإقليمية والمحلية، والتي تجعلنا نقول: باي باي أميركا. نودع هذا البلد الذي هزم في كلّ معاركه بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية وها هو يُهزم في معركة وباء كورونا المنتشر في أرجاء العالم، ليس فقط من خلال فشل الإدارة الأميركية في التصدي للوباء، على أرض الولايات المتحدة، وانما من خلال الفشل الأكبر، على صعيد العالم أجمع، الذي لم يفاجأ بهذا الفشل.

فعندما يقوم الملياردير الصيني، جاك ما ( Jack Ma )، مؤسس وصاحب شركة علي بابا للتسوّق الالكتروني، بتقديم ثمانين مليون دولار لحكومة أوكرانيا لمساعدتها في التصدي لوباء كورونا، في الوقت الذي لم تقدّم فيه واشنطن لهذه الدولة، التي تحتاج المساعدة، سوى مليون ومئتي الف دولار، فإنّ هذا يعني الكثير…!

اذ انّ النشاط والحضور الصينيين في أوكرانيا لا يقتصر على هذا الملياردير وانما يتكامل مع نشاط الدولة الصينية، التي تستثمر أموالا طائلة في مجالات اقتصادية عدة، في هذا البلد الأوروبي الصناعي.

علماً انّ أهمّ تلك الاستثمارات هي تلك التي لا زالت قيد التفاوض، بين الحكومة الصينية وتلك الاوكرانية، حول شراء الصين للجزء الأكبر من المجمع الصناعي الاوكراني، الغاية في الأهمية، وهو مجمع: موتور سيخ Motor Sich. علماً ان هذا المجمع يضمّ أحد أكبر وأهمّ مصانع محركات الطائرات وتوربينات الغاز، التي تستعمل في محطات الطاقة، في العالم كله.

وانطلاقاً من هذا المثال، على الدور الصيني في مساعدة الدول المحتاجة في مواجهة وباء كورونا، فلا بدّ من الاشارة الى بعض العناصر الهامة، التي أدّت الى هزيمة الولايات المتحدة في الحرب العالمية البيولوجية التي لا زالت بعض معاركها في أوْجها او على اشدّها. ومن اهم تلك العناصر ما يلي:

1

ـ عدم امتلاك الولايات المتحدة لقاعدة البيانات اللازمة للتصدي لهذا الوباء، بسرعة ونجاعةٍ، كما فعلت الصين. اما سبب عدم امتلاكها لهذه القاعدة، التي تسمّى: «قاعدة البيانات الضخمة، او Big Data Base «، فيعود الى عدم امتلاكها للتكنولوجيا الضرورية لهذا الأمر. وهي التكنولوجيا التي يطلق عليها تكنولوجيا الجيل الخامس، او تكنولوجيا (5 G)، وما علينا الا النظر الى تصرفات الولايات المتحدة تجاه شركة هواوي، رائدة هذه التكنولوجيا في العالم، والحرب الشعواء التي تشنّها ضدّها على مستوى العالم. خاصة أنّ واشنطن تعلم تمام العلم انّ من يمتلك هذه التكنولوجيا هو مَن سيمتلك كرسي القيادة في العالم أجمع.

الصين استثمرت في قطاع المعرفة والعلوم وتطوير التكنولوجيا وتأهيل القوى البشرية، الضرورية لإدارة الحياة البشرية، في الصين وغيرها، مستقبلاً.

اما الولايات المتحده فقد استثمرت او استنفذت قدراتها المالية، ومنذ بداية الستينيات وحرب فيتنام في القرن الماضي وحتى اليوم، في سلسلة حروب عبثية فاشلة جعلتها أقرب الى الدولة الفاشلة غير القادرة على تأمين الكمامات حتى للأطباء الأميركيين في اهمّ المستشفيات الاميركية وليس فقط في المستشفيات الحكومية البائسة.

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ـ عدم اقتصار الفشل، في مواجهة وباء كورونا، على الولايات المتحدة فقط وإنما امتداده الى أدواتها، في العالم أجمع. وهنا نشير بشكل محدّد الى كلّ من:

*الاتحاد الأوروبي.

*حلف شمال الأطلسي.

فعلى صعيد الاتحاد الأوروبي، وعند بدء اجتياح الوباء للدول الأوروبية، وعلى رأسها إيطاليا الأكثر تضرراً، امتنعت بقية الدول الأعضاء في الاتحاد الأوروبي عن تقديم أيّ دعم للحكومة الايطالية. لا بل إنّ حكومات مثل الحكومة الألمانية والهولندية قد منعت شركات القطاع الخاص من بيع مستلزمات طبية لإيطاليا وهي في أمَسّ الحاجة اليها. وكذلك فعلت الولايات المتحدة طبعاً، والتي لم تكتفِ بذلك، بل قرصنت كميات كبيرة من المستلزمات الطبية من شركات إيطالية، ونقلتها الى الولايات المتحدة بواسطة طائرات النقل العسكرية الاميركية، التي لا تخضع لرقابة الدولة الإيطالية.

كما استخدمت دول الاتحاد الأوروبي هذه السياسة تجاه اسبانيا ودول البلطيق، التي لم تجد من يقدّم لها المساعدة سوى روسيا والصين، تماماً كما حصل مع إيطاليا، عندما أقامت روسيا والصين جسراً جوياً نقل كميات ضخمة من المساعدات الطبية، الى جانب مئات الكوادر الطبية والاختصاصيين في الحرب البيولوجية والكيماوية والنووية (مهمات تطهير وتعقيم المستشفيات والمنشآت العامة).

ولعلنا نذكر قيام الرئيس الصربي بتقبيل العلم الصيني، كتعبير عن عمق شكره للصين حكومة وشعباً، وكذلك قيام الكثير من الإيطاليين باستبدال علم الاتحاد الأوروبي بعلم الصين او روسيا.

وهو ما يعني فشل الإدارة الأميركية السياسية، في أوروبا في تثبيت او تعزيز نفوذها في هذه القارة، الأمر الذي اضطرها للطلب من المسؤولين الألمان وغيرهم من التحرّك تجاه دول البلقان لعدم إفساح المجال لمزيد من تعزيز النفوذ الصيني الروسي في هذه المنطقة من العالم. وقد أجرت المستشارة الألمانية سلسلة اتصالات مع حكومات دول البلقان ثم أعلن الاتحاد الأوروبي عن تشكيل هيئة، أسماها: حملة المجموعة الأوروبية (Europe Team Campain) لمساعدة تلك الدول.

اما على صعيد حلف شمال الأطلسي، الأداة العسكرية للولايات المتحدة في أوروبا والعالم، فلا بدّ من التأكيد على انّ فشله لم يكن أقلّ من فشل الاتحاد الأوروبي، في التصدّي لوباء كورونا، فبدلاً من قيام قواعده العسكرية، المنتشرة في كلّ الدول الاوروبية، بما في ذلك دول البلقان، بتقديم المساعدات للدول المحتاجة، وبفتح مستشفياته العسكرية لمعالجة المصابين بالوباء، فانّ هذا الحلف قد صمَّ آذانه وأغلق عيونه عما يحصل في دول تمركز قواعده.

وهو الأمر الذي جعل كلاً من الصين الشعبية وروسيا تنطلق للإمساك بزمام المبادرة في تقديم المساعدات الطبية والتقنية لكلّ الدول المحتاجة. حيث أرسلت وزارة الدفاع الروسية والصينية عشرات طائرات النقل العسكرية، محمّلة بالمساعدات، وكان من بين الدول التي تلقت مساعدات من هذا النوع الولايات المتحدة نفسها.

3

ـ لكن الأمر لا يقتصر على المساعدات الطبية، المقدّمة من الصين الشعبية وروسيا وجمهورية كوبا الى الدول التي احتاجت لها، بل يتعدّى ذلك الى الأبعاد الاقتصادية والسياسية والعسكرية والاستراتيجية، على صعيد العالم كله. اذ انّ هذا الدور والحضور الدولي الواسع الذي قامت به كل من الصين الشعبية وروسيا يعزز نفوذهما ودورهما الدوليين، وعلى كلّ الأصعدة. الأمر الذي يضع الموقع الأميركي في الدرجة الثانية، من حيث التأثير على السياسات الدولية وبالتالي على طرق وأساليب حلّ الصراعات الدوليّة القائمة حالياً. كما أنّ هذا الواقع يخلق الظروف الموضوعية الضرورية لهندسة العلاقات الدولية على أسس جديدة، او تغيير قواعد الاشتباك كما يقال بلغة العسكريين، ونعني بأسس العلاقات الدولية الجديدة تلك القائمة على التعاون الاقتصادي والتفاهم المشترك واحترام قواعد القانون الدولي الناظمة لكلّ العلاقات الدولية.

وهو الأمر الذي سيقود الى تغيير جذري في كلّ مجالات حياة المجتمع البشري، والى وضع أفضل مما هو عليه الآن، خاصة أنّ التكنولوجيا المعلوماتية الجديدة سيكون لها الدور الأساسي، في كلّ الخطط والعلاقات المشتركة بين البشر في المستقبل، والتي من بينها وسائل وأدوات الإنتاج في القطاع الاقتصادي.

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ـ وبالنظر الى التراجع الذي شهده الدور الأميركي وأدواته الأوروبية، على صعيد النفوذ في العالم كما في مجال التطور العلمي التكنولوجي، فقد اقترح الكاتب الأميركي دانييل پي ڤايديخ (Daniel P. Vajdich) في موضوع نشره في مجلة

Geostrategic Factors: Will China Wins “World War C”

By Andrew Korybko

Global Research, April 14, 2020

The New Cold War between the US and China abruptly took a new form following the global outbreak of COVID-19, but Beijing still has a solid chance of coming out on top in this struggle for global leadership if it accurately assesses the changed geostrategic situation in the Eastern Hemisphere and accordingly crafts the right policies for responding to it.

Will The World Backtrack On BRI After World War C?

The US & China Are Intensely Competing To Shape The Outcome Of World War C“, as the author noted late last month when analyzing the consequences of the global COVID-19 outbreak on the New Cold War between these two Great Powers, but Beijing still has a solid chance of coming out on top in this struggle for global leadership if it accurately assesses the changed geostrategic situation in the Eastern Hemisphere and accordingly crafts the right policies for responding to it. The Asian Giant is under immense pressure as its envisaged model of reformed globalization under the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) is increasingly seen with skepticism, not so much because of the intense infowar that the US has been waging against it over the past few years, but simply because of the sudden supply chain consequences that were brought about as a result of the world’s rolling lockdowns. Foreign investors and national leaders alike are no longer ignorant of the strategic vulnerabilities inherent to the globalized world system as a whole, and many are now seriously reconsidering its merits and correspondingly contemplating re-offshoring production back to their own countries or at least their immediate regions.

China’s Grand Strategy

This represents the most profound challenge that China has been forced to confront in the decades since it first decided to reform its economy by opening up to foreign investment. It was hitherto taken for granted that the globalization trend would generally continue unabated, notwithstanding some high-profile expressions of economic nationalism such as the ones most commonly associated with Trump’s “America First” policy, and that only gradual reforms would be necessary to improve this model and thus indefinitely perpetuate it. China, comfortable with its position as “the world’s factory” and flush with excess cash to invest in connectivity infrastructure projects all across the world for the purpose of more closely tying its partners’ economies to its own in pursuit of what it describes as a Community of Common Destiny, took the lead in taking globalization into its next natural phase through BRI. The grand strategic intent was to peacefully replace America’s previously predominant global economic role and therefore enter into a position of privileged soft power whereby China could then shape the world order to its liking through trade and institutions.

A Concise Analysis Of Afro-Eurasia

Those carefully crafted calculations have suddenly been thrown into uncertainty as a result of World War C, which is why it’s imperative for China to assess the changed geostrategic situation as accurately as possible in order to craft the right policies for saving its global leadership model. What follows is a concise summary of the importance that each region of Afro-Eurasia holds for Chinese strategists at the present moment, which also briefly describes their challenges and opportunities. The Western Hemisphere is omitted from this analysis because China’s relations with Latin America aren’t anywhere as significant for its global strategy as those that the country has the Eastern Hemisphere as whole, and the complex contours of Chinese-American relations will be greatly determined by the outcome of their so-called “trade war”. As such, the author believes that it’s much more relevant to discuss East & Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, the Mideast, Africa, Russia, and the EU instead, ergo the focus of the present article. Having said that, here are the geostrategic factors that will determine whether China wins World War C:

East & Southeast Asia

This region of the world previously planned to enter into the world’s largest trade bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), irrespective of India’s US-influenced refusal late last year to move forward with this game-changing development. This eastern periphery of Eurasia functions as a future integrated market for Chinese goods and services, conveniently located right next to the People’s Republic. The problem, however — and one that was already emerging prior to World War C — is that these countries’ production facilities inside China are considering re-offshoring back home or to other parts of the region as a result of the trade war, with this trend taking on a renewed importance given the global supply chain disruption in recent months. The same holds true for non-regional companies such as those from the West which are eyeing ASEAN (and especially Vietnam) as a favorable replacement to China, sometimes for political reasons. China will therefore need to ensure that RCEP eventually enters into effect in order to mitigate some of the immediate economic consequences through its envisaged regional marketplace, as well as remain competitive with lower-cost labor from its neighbors in order to slow down the speed of this seemingly inevitable re-offshoring process.

South Asia

The opportunities and challenges that South Asia poses for China are more geopolitical in nature than economic. The US’ successful co-opting of India into a proxy for “containing” China reduces the likelihood of a meaningful economic rapprochement between these two Asian Giants, and instead positions what’s soon predicted to become the world’s most populous country as a possible rival to the People’s Republic in the long term, with the short- and medium-term consequences being that it might become an even more appealing re-offshoring destination for foreign Chinese-based companies than even ASEAN. The global pivot state of Pakistan, however, represents nothing but opportunities for China because of CPEC, BRI’s flagship project. This ambitious initiative serves not only as a geostrategic shortcut to the energy market of the Mideast and the growing labor-consumer one of Africa that conveniently bypasses the increasingly militarized South China Sea and Strait of Malacca, but is also the basis upon which all other major BRI projects will be managed, relying upon the invaluable experiences learned during its years-long implementation. In order to succeed in South Asia in the post-coronavirus environment, China must manage to retain pragmatic relations with India in parallel with undercutting its attractiveness as a re-offshoring center while maximizing every mutual strategic opportunity that it can reap from CPEC.

Central Asia

The Eurasian Heartland is primarily functions as a reliable source of Chinese energy imports. It has obvious connectivity potential for linking China to the Mideast and Europe through the “Middle Corridor” that’s being pursued in partnership with Turkey, but in and of itself, it doesn’t have much economic significance for the People’s Republic due to its comparatively small labor and consumer markets relative to East-Southeast-South Asia and Africa. It does, however, function as a crucial test case for the resiliency of the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership insofar as it provides these two Great Powers with the opportunity to reach pragmatic “compromises” in pursuit of their grander strategic goal of multipolarity, but there’s no sidestepping the fact that some in Moscow seem to be increasingly uncomfortable with being replaced by Beijing in the region that they’ve long regarded as their “backyard”. Furthermore, rising Sinophobia in some of these countries as a result of the massive influx of Chinese goods and the replacement of some local laborers with imported Chinese ones creates a possible fault line for the future, albeit one that doesn’t necessarily have to have any security implications since the region’s traditional Russian hegemon has no interest whatsoever in allowing Central Asia to be used as a base for launching terrorist attacks against it in Xinjiang.

Mideast

Just like Central Asia, the Mideast is mostly important to China for energy reasons even though it too has obvious connectivity potential in linking East Asia with Western Europe. Unlike Central Asia, however, some of the most geostrategically positioned countries like Iraq and Syria have been destroyed by Hybrid War, while populous Iran is under sanctions pressure like never before and could very well be the next to follow in the worst-scenario scenario. This makes the Mideast risky from a strategic connectivity standpoint, though that nevertheless hasn’t stopped some Chinese firms from making inroads in this region. The GCC countries, and especially Saudi Arabia, are attempting to restructure their economies in order to reduce their dependence on energy exports, which in turn necessitates Chinese investment in their planned production facilities. China’s growing economic and military influence (in terms of exports) in the Mideast also presents it with the diplomatic opportunity to participate in resolving some of the region’s crises following the model that it’s spearheading in Myanmar, which could prove very valuable for managing other conflicts that might one day arise elsewhere along its New Silk Road.

Africa

Africa’s importance might arguably even overshadow that of East & Southeast Asia when it comes to China’s grand strategy since the People’s Republic is depending on having reliable access to the continent’s raw material, labor-consumer markets, and increasingly, its energy resources in order to maintain domestic growth throughout the present century. Unlike in East & Southeast Asia, however, there are few competitors to China’s plans in Africa, with the only ones that deserve mention being the US’ ongoing infowar campaign to discredit BRI and the nascent joint Indo-Japanese “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” being supported by the US, France, and the GCC as a possible long-term (key word) competitor to China’s investment model there (focusing instead on “soft infrastructure” like schools, job training, and healthcare services in contrast to the attention that China pays to its “hard” counterpart like physical connectivity infrastructure). Being much more under China’s influence than any other part of the world due to the mutual benefits derived from the premier position that the People’s Republic holds in Africa’s trade and investment spheres, it’s unlikely that many of its countries will be swayed into turning against Beijing’s reformed globalization model of BRI by the Trump-promoted appeal of economic nationalism. This doesn’t mean that China should grow complacent, however, but should instead strive to present Africa as a shining example to the rest of the world of everything that can be achieved as a result of bilateral cooperation through BRI.

Russia

The future of Russian-Chinese relations is quickly becoming an interesting field of study because of the progress that Moscow is making on reaching a “New Detente” with Washington, the latter of which has been extensively covered by the author in a series of four articles hereherehere, and here. To summarize, Russia’s pursuit of a series of “pragmatic compromises” with the US on a host of relevant issues ranging from NATO expansion to North Korea could lead to a fast-moving rapprochement between the two with serious strategic implications for China, especially if the People’s Republic comes to rely more on the Eurasian Great Power for ensuring reliable access to the markets of Western Europe through the complementary Eurasian Land Bridge and Northern Sea Route. That’s not to say that Russia will ever “cut off” China and/or the EU’s access to the other since the country itself is depending on reaping the economic benefits of facilitating their overland and maritime connectivity with one another, but just that this relationship could be leveraged in more “creative” ways to advance certain political-strategic objectives vis-a-vis China (such as in Central Asia for example, be it in coordination with the US or carried out independently) the same way as it’s alleged to have employed its energy relationship with the EU in the first decade of the present century. In addition, Russia’s envisaged irreplaceable role in facilitating Chinese-EU trade used to be taken for granted but is now highly uncertain since it’ll depend on whether globalization survives World War C and if China even retains an interest in having Russia fulfill this role in the first place to the extent that Moscow previously anticipated.

EU

The last region of the Eastern Hemisphere relevant to Chinese grand strategy is the EU, and it’s definitely one of the most important. This region of Western Eurasia has a large and highly developed consumer market that the Chinese economy depends on for growth, especially considering that most of its members use the euro, one of the world’s strongest and most stable currencies. It’s extremely important that China does everything that it can to ensure that the EU as a whole remains committed to expanding bilateral economic relations, especially through BRI, hence Beijing’s unprecedented soft power outreaches in recent weeks through the provision of medical equipment and healthcare specialists to some of its members like Italy and aspiring ones such as Serbia. Accordingly, it naturally follows that China would prefer for the EU to emerge from this crisis stronger and more integrated than ever in order to facilitate this goal, though that’s also why its weakening, disintegration, and/or pivot towards the US would be so detrimental to Beijing’s grand strategy. If China’s economic reach becomes limited in the EU as a result of the bloc gradually “de-globalizing” (including through re-offshoring Chinese-based production facilities to ASEAN, India, and/or back home [perhaps to the organization’s poorer members along its periphery]) or possibly even embracing a degree of Trump-inspired economic nationalism, then it would greatly reduce China’s influence to its immediate region (East and Southeast Asia) and the Global South (mostly South Asia [except India] and Africa in this respect) and thus make it more easily “containable” through Hybrid War means.

The Three Steps To Success

Taking all of the above insight into consideration, the following three steps are absolutely necessary if China wants to win World War C:

1. Ensure The Continued Attractiveness Of Globalization:

If Trump-inspired economic nationalism becomes a new global trend throughout the course of World War C, then BRI will be in danger of becoming nothing more than a bare-bones project that turns into a skeleton of its formerly so-ambitious self. This would require China to undertake a range of far-reaching reforms at home in order to restructure its economy from its hitherto export-dependent nature and into something more autarkic, though the latter has very real limits given how much the country relies on foreign trade surpluses reaped from globalization processes to drive domestic development and purchase essential resources like energy, raw materials, and even food. Without ensuring the continued attractiveness of globalization, China could very well enter into its worst-ever crisis since the 1949 Communist Revolution that could have unimaginable economic and even political consequences, which is why it’s of the highest priority that the People’s Republic does everything in its power to protect this trade model at all costs.

2. Focus On The Afro-Eurasian Triangle:

Provided that globalization survives in some relevant form after World War C (which remains to be seen but would be attributable in that case to China pulling out all the stops in pursuit of this goal), then China will have to focus on the Afro-Eurasian Triangle of RCEP, Africa (increasingly via S-CPEC+), and the EU in order to guarantee its place as the US’ global systemic rival. These three regions of the Eastern Hemisphere all complement one another in terms of China’s grand strategy as was extensively explained in each case earlier above, though this also means that they’re all possible targets upon which the US can put Hybrid War pressure. China cannot depend on any one of these regions alone if it aspires to remain a global leader, though it could still in theory manage to attain this goal provided that it only “loses” one of them. The “loss” of Africa is highly unlikely, so in the scenario that it “loses” the EU, then China would become a power relevant only to most non-Western countries (which is the still the lion’s share of the world), whereas the “loss” of RCEP would make China more dependent on Russian-controlled trans-continental trade routes to the EU (the “Middle Corridor” through Central Asia and Northern Sea Route) that could be indirectly influenced by the US through the “New Detente”.

3. Manage The US-Indian Strategic Partnership & The “New Detente”:

Both the ever-intensifying US-Indian Strategic Partnership and the gradual progress that America is making on reaching a “New Detente” with Russia represent latent challenges of the greatest geopolitical magnitude if they aren’t nipped in the bud before they blossom or properly managed in advance. There’s little that China can do to influence either of them, though the first-mentioned might fizzle out if India implodes as a consequence of World War C or due to the Hybrid War being waged by the Hindu nationalist government on its own citizens in an attempt to turn the country into a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu fundamentalist state), while the second might abruptly be derailed by the American “deep state” at any time and would almost certainly fail if Trump loses re-election. In the “worst-case” scenario of each US-backed “containment” vector entering into force and possibly even combining into an unofficial semi-united American-Russian-Indian front against it, China would do best trying to emulate its global rival’s Kissingerian policy by “triangulating” both between its Great Power neighbors and itself and between those two and the US in an effort to relieve the growing multilateral pressure upon it.

Concluding Thoughts

China’s global leadership ambitions are being challenged like never before as a result of World War C and the subsequent suspicion that many countries now have of globalization processes, especially in respect to the strategic vulnerability inherent to being dependent on foreign supply chains halfway across the world for essential products such as medical equipment. The rolling lockdowns that unfolded across the world over the past two months, beginning in China and eventually spreading to the West, exposed the fragility of the previous world system and will inevitably necessitate some serious reforms to its structure at the very least, with the possible mass movement away from globalization towards Trump-inspired economic nationalism being the absolute worst-case scenario for China since it would completely cripple its grand strategy. It’s for this reason that the People’s Republic must do everything in its power to ensure the survival of as much of the pre-crisis globalization system as possible in order to stand a credible chance of remaining the US’ only global rival, after which it must then focus on the Afro-Eurasian Triangle of RCEP, Africa, and the EU concurrent with managing the dual latent challenges posed by the US-Indian Strategic Partnership and the “New Detente” in the center of the Eastern Hemisphere. Should China succeed with these daunting tasks, then the world’s multipolar future will be assured, though its failure would mean that unipolarity will probably return with a vengeance.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from OneWorldThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Andrew Korybko, Global Research, 2020

HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE AND THE HYBRID WAR ON TRUMP’S AMERICA

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The intense politicization over the topic of experimenting with the promising drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients strongly suggests that the “deep state” has intensified its Hybrid War on Trump’s America at its most vulnerable moment in modern history, all for the sake of ruining his re-election prospects even if this also results in the collapse of the economy and America’s attendant displacement abroad by its rivals.

Hydroxychloroquine Hope

Hydroxychloroquine is the strange-sounding drug that’s suddenly come to represent the planet’s hope for winning World War C upon the numerous reports that it might be the most promising treatment for COVID-19, which makes it all the more inexplicable that Dr. Fauci refuses to endorse large-scale testing despite hundreds of Americans dying from this disease each day. The country’s top infectious disease expert has butted heads with Trump over the President’s insistence that this treatment be made available to all who need it, which suggests that either the American leader is dangerously misinformed about the risks of this drug or that Dr. Fauci’s stance might be driven by ulterior motives.

Trump’s Dilemma

It’s enough to point out that the esteemed doctor is a self-described “admirer” of Trump’s former rival Hillary Clinton, whom he “loves” and is “very proud to know”, to set alarm bells ringing among those who are always suspicious of “deep state” plots to undermine the President, so there’s certainly a reason why those folks are concerned about their increasingly public spat over what’s literally a life-or-death issue for many. Furthermore, Dr. Fauci recently contradicted Trump’s plans to re-open the country in the coming future by urging a nationwide stay-at-home order instead, which has sparked speculation that the scientific expert is overstepping his professional authority to de-facto meddle in economic matters, hence why the Democrats adore him.

The President is already on the horns of a dilemma in being forced to choose between the economy and the people, whereby he either reopens the economy based on reports that COVID-19 isn’t really all that dangerous for anyone other than senior citizens and those with preexisting conditions or keeps it closed out of an overabundance of caution in order to protect the people. The first scenario could backfire if the virus is much more dangerous than he thinks, while the latter could easily have the consequence of crippling the economy in an irreversible way. This is the same dilemma he was forced into at the onset of the crisis whereby he was “damned” if he “overreacted” without any deaths and equally “damned” if he delayed his response till then.

“Deep State” Designs

Hydroxychloroquine represents the only foreseeable solution to this Catch-22 in that its promising potential as both a treatment and a prophylaxis could justify the reopening of the economy while mitigating the possible danger to people’s lives, though only so long as it’s mass-produced and disseminated to as many Americans as possible first. Therein lays the crux of the dilemma since Dr. Fauci is amplifying the Mainstream Media’s reports about the latent lethality of this virus while throwing cold water on Trump’s envisioned plan for returning America back to normal as soon as possible, whereas the President is strongly promoting this course of action together with reassuring his people that pretty much only at-risk populations have to seriously fear this virus.

It obviously can’t be known for sure, but there are serious grounds for speculating that the topic of Hydroxychloroquine has been politicized by Dr. Fauci and his “deep state” partners as part of their HybridWar on Trump’s America. This interpretation of events explains that the scientific expert’s fearmongering of this virus pairs perfectly with his dismissal of this drug in order to put ultimate pressure on Trump to continue his shutdown of the American economy, which could eventually create the domestic political conditions that capsize his re-election bid in parallel with boosting the geostrategic potential of his country’s rivals such as China by default.

In addition, this narrative sometimes goes a bit more in detail by pointing out how Trump has hitherto refrained from becoming the so-called “fascist dictator” that his political foes fearmongered that he’d be if he ever won the presidency, but that he might be pressured to unprecedentedly expand federal control over the states in response to this escalating crisis (or the perception — key qualifier! — thereof), which could in turn make their insincere “warnings” a reality. The combined effect of these three outcomes — the continued shutdown of the American economy, the unchallenged rise of China, and Trump turning into a “fascist dictator” — might be responsible for ruining Trump’s re-election prospects and are thus supposedly the goals of the “deep state”.

The Hybrid War On Trump’s America

The reason why this scenario is described as a Hybrid War against Trump’s America is because it uses non-kinetic (non-violent) means to undermine its targets — both Trump and the overall country that he represents — through a combination of media and economic factors, with the topic of hydroxychloroquine being intensely politicized simply because it represents the only way for the President to escape from this dilemma. Regardless of what he does, however, the Democrats are lying in wait to reframe his actions as irresponsible in order to advance their investigation into his administration’s response to this pandemic for the purpose of manufacturing yet another variation of the Russiagate scandal, this time, COVIDgate.

In this context, Dr. Fauci is presented to the American public as being the “nation’s apolitical conscience devoted to scientific truth and unquestionable facts”, so his refusal to endorse Trump’s plan to rely on hydroxychloroquine in order to gradually reopen the country’s economy acquires extra “moral” weight and thus gives this scientist disproportionate political influence as a “deep state” proxy whether he’s consciously aware of his de-facto function or not. In the event that this course of action fails to stem the outbreak and even more lives are lost if Americans return to work in the coming future at the President’s urging, then Dr. Fauci’s earlier words might be exploited by the Democrats to make the case that Trump is directly responsible for their deaths.

Concluding Thoughts

The above analysis is admittedly based on a lot of speculation which attempts to connect seemingly unrelated pieces together in order to form the bigger picture of what’s really going at the highest levels in America during World War C, but the intent is to present an intriguing explanation of events that will hopefully inspire further research into the question of whether or not the “deep state” is using Dr. Fauci as their latest weapon in waging their Hybrid War on Trump’s America. It doesn’t matter to them that they’d bring their compatriots untold hardship for decades to come through the economic collapse that they’re catalyzing, nor that their country’s rivals might then displace it, since all that they care about is that Trump loses in November regardless of the costs.


By Andrew Korybko
Source: One World

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