Incentives: Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin possible moves – Donbass crisis.

Incentives: Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin possible moves – Donbass crisis.

April 11, 2021

By David Sant for the Saker Blog

Several analysts have written articles about how Russia is likely to respond in the theater to an offensive by Ukraine to restart the Donbass War. My purpose in this article is to look at the psychology and incentives of Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin and the possible moves that each of them may make in response to the Donbass crisis.

The Nature of the Dispute

It is fairly well established that two primary motives seem to be driving the Atlanticist pressure on Russia and continuing eastward expansion of NATO. The larger issue is that Russia, Iran, and China seem to be increasingly resistant to the rule of the Atlanticist monopolar hegemony enforced by the US Military and NATO. As someone recently said, the American empire is a currency empire sustained by forcing all energy transactions to be priced in US Dollars, and controlling energy transit points. By moving away from using USD for oil and gas transactions, Russia, China, and Iran pose a mortal threat to the empire.

The secondary issue, the one driving the timing, is control of oil and gas pipelines. In short the USA wants Europe to use American-controlled gas and oil, which means Saudi and Qatari oil, and American LNG. They want to create pipelines and delivery routes for American-controlled energy, and close or prevent delivery routes for Russian energy. The three current flashpoints are Syria, Ukraine, and the route of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, all three of which are current or potential pipeline routes.

Several years ago the US successfully pressured Bulgaria into cancelling the South Stream Pipeline through the Black Sea. However, US sanctions have been unable to deter Germany from allowing the Russians to complete the Nord Stream 2.

With the completion of the project only a few months away, the US seems determined to stop it at any cost. This appears to be the motive behind instigating the Ukrainian government to invade Donbass. If Russia defends Donbass, she will be demonized in the Western press, and this will be used to pressure Germany to cancel Nord Stream 2. From the American perspective, getting the Ukrainians to fight the Russians weakens both at no political cost to the US.

It is my opinion that the Biden Administration is making a major miscalculation by continuing this approach. For the past seven years, Russia has absorbed round after round of sanctions and provocations by the US government in Ukraine and Syria. The Biden regime seems to assume that if they instigate a war in Donbass now, that Russia will continue as they have before, to absorb the blow without striking back. I suggest that this time it will be different.

The History and Psychology of Biden and Putin

Vladimir Putin was handpicked by the Western handlers to replace Boris Yeltsin in 1999, largely because he was known to be reliable. However, Putin surprised those who appointed him by turning against the oligarchs and reigning in the chaos that was dismembering Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Putin enforced the law and cracked down on corruption, including corruption by the Western interests that put him in power.

Displeased by this turn of events, the West, led by Bill Browder, has spent the past fifteen years demonizing Putin. For example, when Russia granted asylum to Edward Snowden in 2013, multiple US politicians used scripted talking points calling Mr. Putin “a schoolyard bully.” That analogy was rather inept, as Russia did not invite Snowden, but rather got stuck with him, as his passport was cancelled while in transit, making it impossible for him to board his flight out of Russia. Putin actually said that as a former intelligence officer himself, he did not view Snowden’s leak of classified information in a positive light.

The problem with demonizing one’s opponent is that it can lead to strategic errors if you make the mistake of believing your own propaganda. If we look at Mr. Putin’s past behavior we see four consistent characteristics.

First, he follows the rules. Whether it is the START treaty, the chemical weapons accord, or the Minsk Agreements, the Putin regime has consistently tried to keep the old treaties alive and to follow agreed upon UN procedures for conflict resolution.

Second, when Mr. Putin has taken steps to oppose the Atlanticist agenda, he has done so in a way that allowed his opponents to save face. When the US was preparing to invade Syria in 2013, Putin persuaded Assad to agree to eliminate his chemical weapon stockpile. This pulled the rug out from under the US invasion, but it did not make the US look bad.

When Russia entered Syria to fight ISIS, they did not publicly expose the fact that the US and Israel were the primary backers of ISIS. Putin went along with the ruse and said, if America is fighting ISIS we will fight ISIS too, and did so legally at the invitation of Syria. Russia’s work allowed Trump to take credit for defeating ISIS, even though it completely ruined eight years of CIA efforts to train and arm those terrorists.

Third, Mr. Putin keeps his word. When he draws a red line, he enforces it. He speaks quietly but it is wise to listen carefully to what he says. We have seen this in the way that Russia dealt with terrorist groups that agreed to deconfliction versus those that did not, as well as the ones that agreed and then went against it.

And, lastly, when all else has failed and the other party crosses the red line anyway, Putin punches fast, hard, and unexpectedly, and often in a different theater than where the provocation has occurred. We saw this when Russia destroyed the oil smuggling network that the US and Turkey had set up in Northeastern Syria. We saw it again when Russia saved Mr. Erdogan from a US-backed coup only thirty minutes before he probably would have been captured.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden loved to tell the story on the campaign trail about his interaction with a black gangster named “Corn Pop” when he was a lifeguard in college. They almost had a fight but Biden brought a chain with him, and they later became friends. The fact that he even tells this tale signals that Biden has no real experience against a serious enemy. Men with street credibility don’t need to tell stories. They are known and respected.

The reality of Biden’s career is that he has played second fiddle to stronger leaders and only appears to have gotten the presidential nomination because it was his turn and he was deemed to be controllable by his handlers. Biden obtained the presidency through a fraud seen so openly that he has one of the lowest presidential approval ratings in history.

Biden and Putin met for the first time alone in 2011 for talks in Russia. According to Mike McCormick, who was Biden’s stenographer, Biden was halfway through his talk when suddenly the microphone, cameras, and lights were turned off and Putin and all of the media walked out leaving Biden humiliated. Something similar happened to Biden in China a few months later.

This is probably what Biden was referring to when he recently said that Putin was “a killer” with “no soul.” That interaction tells us exactly what Putin thinks of Biden. He considers him to be a weakling with no substance.

Biden’s team is stacked with Russophobes who are motivated by the desire to finish what they began in Ukraine under Obama. They believe they can successfully use information war and dirty tricks to isolate Russia from Europe and control all the energy conduits. Whether due to hubris or ignorance, they do not believe Russia would dare to strike back at the real instigator of the war in Ukraine.

Biden’s response to a Russian strike would probably be a plaintive high pitched, “c’mon man!” However, if Kamala Harris is making the decisions the risk of escalating to a nuclear response is much higher. The problem is that both Biden and Harris were picked and installed by a “power behind the throne,” so it is unclear exactly who would be making the decision of how to respond.

The Imminent Danger of the Current Imbroglio

There is no doubt that the US intends to create a war in Ukraine before the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline can be finished. This will happen within months if not weeks. It is also clear that Zelensky is being placed under tremendous pressure to force Russia into defending Donbass.

Russia has drawn a red line around Donbass. Ukraine had agreed to a peaceful resolution through the Minsk Accords. But with US encouragement, Kiev violated everything they agreed to, making it now politically impossible to re-integrate Donbass into Ukraine.

If Zelensky invades Donbass, then not just Ukraine, but the USA and NATO will be viewed by Russia as having crossed an inviolable red line. Yes, Russia will be forced to defend Donbass, because Putin will not allow Russians to be subjected to genocide. Russia does not want to fight Ukrainians, whom despite the jokes, they view as their Russian brothers. They are frustrated and angry that the USA has forced them into this position.

For this reason, I believe that Mr. Putin will do something that the Biden regime is not expecting with similar psychological impact to the sudden turning off of the lights and cameras. He will find a way to inflict debilitating pain on the decision makers who have forced Russia into intervening in Ukraine.

In addition to defending Donbass, Russia may strike the USA in a different theater. But they will do so in a way that cannot be confused with a nuclear attack. Unlike the previous chess moves that allowed the US leadership to save face, this one will neutralize and publicly humiliate the USA and the Biden regime as a paper tiger.

The Narrow Window of Technological Supremacy

While the US was busy invading third world countries as part of the War on Terror, Russia was quietly developing their defense technologies. They have now achieved technological supremacy over the USA in three areas: air and missile defenses, hypersonic missiles, and electronic countermeasures (ECM).

In the area of air defenses the Russian S-400 is an extremely capable platform which the West has very little experience fighting against. Russia has the capability to impose a no fly zone within about 500 kilometers of its S-400 batteries, of which there are several from Crimea to Kaliningrad. Israel’s use of the F-35 to bomb Syria has given the Russians live data on NATO’s most advanced stealth fighter.

The S-500 space defense system is scheduled to enter service in 2021. Since the S-500 can defend against ICBMs it may affect the balance of power of mutual assured destruction (MAD).

The Zircon and Khinzal hypersonic missiles are currently in service and are the most effective anti-ship weapons in the Russian arsenal that we know of. Their standoff range enables strikes on enemy ships from 500 to 2,000 kilometers. This means that Russia has the ability to strike ships in the Mediteranean and North Sea using assets based on Russian soil, not even counting the assets based in Latakia, Syria. NATO forces currently have no defense against hypersonic missiles.

Russian ECM capabilities have been somewhat exaggerated by news stories about the 2014 encounter with the USS Donald Cook. The Donald Cook was allegedly shut down by ECM attack while an SU-24 overflew the vessel. However, more accurate sources noted that any ECM attack, if there even was one, would have been executed using ground-based equipment, not the Su-24 fighter. If this attack really happened, the US Navy has presumably hardened its vessels against ECM in the seven years since.

We do know that Russian ECM systems in Syria were able to disable the vast majority of Tomahawk Missiles fired at Syria in April 2017. Other than aircraft carriers, the primary American method of projecting power is Arleigh-Burke class destroyers such as the USS Donald Cook which carry about 50 Tomahawk missiles each. The 2017 exercise in Syria probably indicates that Russia is able to jam volleys of Tomahawk missiles with better than 90% success. The remaining 10% of the subsonic Tomahawks can be easily shot down by anti-aircraft batteries.

The question is whether the US Navy has found a way to harden the Tomahawk missiles against Russian ECM since 2017. If not, then given the much smaller size and number of missiles that can be carried by Navy attack aircraft, the US Navy’s primary weapon for ground attack has no teeth against Russian targets. Of course in any conflict, the first target of NATO’s “wild weasel” aircraft will be SAM radars and ECM equipment.

Conclusion – Biden has Created Strong Incentives for Russia to Strike First

The US is spending billions to catch up technologically, and the window of Russian supremacy may only last for two or three years at most. Russia can be expected to reach the peak technological advantage over NATO in late 2021 after the S-500 system has been fully deployed. However, the Donbass crisis may force Russia to act sooner than they are comfortable.

If Russia were to use the window of supremacy to attempt a debilitating strike on the US military the US Navy is the most likely target. Ships are the most exposed, are not located inside another country’s borders, and are also the primary means of projecting US power. However, I would not rule out a non-missile attack on DC. For example, there are many ways that the US power grid could be turned off without using missiles. The ensuing domestic chaos might prevent the US from responding.

This is a very dangerous situation for the world because it could easily escalate to World War III or nuclear war, depending on the Biden Administration’s reaction. Part of the problem is that it is not clear who is really in charge of the Whitehouse. A nuclear response to a devastating conventional weapons defeat would be a disaster for both sides.

Russia will only strike the USA if they believe they have no other choice. What they have learned from seven years of sanctions, attempted coups, fake poisonings, and other provocations is that the US will continue this behavior for as long as Russia continues to accept it, or until Russia is broken and conquered. In short, Biden’s team may have finally convinced Russia that they have no other choice.

President Biden has handed Putin the justification for a first strike by openly stating his intention to conduct a cyber attack on Russia “soon.” That is a public declaration of war. The fact that the Russian ambassador was recalled from Washington and has not been sent back should be a wakeup call to America that DC itself is on the potential target list.

For these reasons I believe that there is a high probability that Russia will strike first before NATO can fully put in place the forces for planned exercises for this Summer. The strike will probably be non-nuclear, focused against US forces only, and its purpose will be to delegitimize the US power in the eyes of the junior members of NATO, and to weaken or cripple the US ability to project power.

If China and Iran see Russia strike the US military, it would not be surprising if they also pile on using their own hypersonic missiles to destroy US Navy assets in the Persian Gulf and South China Sea.

The Biden regime’s underestimation of Russia and failure to heed Putin’s warnings have created conditions which make possible a sudden and humiliating defeat of the US Navy, which could effectively end the US ability to project power overseas.

However, wars are rarely short, and victories rarely decisive. For this reason it would be better for all parties to de-escalate the conflict immediately. Unfortunately, the Biden regime is the only one in a position to do that, and they have shown no intention of doing so.

Putin’s Ukrainian Judo

Putin’s Ukrainian Judo

Source

April 14, 2021

By Dmitry Orlov and posted with special permission

A terrible war is about to erupt on Russia’s border with the Ukraine—or not—but there is some likelihood of a significant number of people getting killed before project Ukraine is finally over. Given that around 13 thousand people have been killed over the past seven years—the civil war in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine has gone on for that long!—this is no laughing matter. But people get desensitized to the mostly low-level warfare. Just over the past couple of weeks a grandfather was shot by a Ukrainian sniper while feeding his chickens and a young boy was killed by a bomb precision-dropped on him from a Ukrainian drone.

But what’s about to happen now is forecasted to be on a different scale: the Ukrainians are moving heavy armor and troops up to the line of separation while the Russians are moving theirs up to their side of the Ukrainian border, a position from which they can blast any and all Ukrainian troops straight out of the gene pool without so much as setting foot on Ukrainian territory—should they wish to do so. The Russians can justify their military involvement by the need to defend their own citizens: over the past seven years half a million residents in eastern Ukraine have applied for and been granted Russian citizenship. But how exactly can Russia defend its citizens while they are stuck in the crossfire between Russian and Ukrainian forces?

The rationale of defending its citizens led to conflict in the briefly Georgian region of South Ossetia, which started on August 8, 2008 and lasted barely a week, leaving Georgia effectively demilitarized. Russia rolled in, Georgia’s troops ran off, Russia confiscated some of the more dangerous war toys and rolled out. Georgia’s paper warriors and their NATO consultants and Israeli trainers were left wiping each others’ tears. Any suggestion of arming and equipping the Georgians since then has been met with groaning and eye-rolling. Is the upcoming event in eastern Ukraine going to be similar to the swift and relatively painless defanging of Georgia in 2008? Given that the two situations are quite different, it seems foolish to think that the approach to resolving them would be the same.

Is it different this time and is World War III is about to erupt with eastern Ukraine being used as a trigger for this conflagration? Do the various statements made at various times by Vladimir Putin provide a solid enough basis for us to guess at what will happen next? Is there a third, typically, infuriatingly Russian approach to resolving this situation, where Russia wins, nobody dies and everyone in the West is left scratching their heads?

The Ukrainian military is much like everything else currently found in the Ukraine—the railway system, the power plants, the pipeline systems, the ports, the factories (the few that are left)—a patched-up hold-over from Soviet times. The troops are mostly unhappy, demoralized conscripts and reservists. Virtually all of the more capable young men have either left the country to work abroad or have bribed their way out of being drafted. The conscripts sit around getting drunk, doing drugs and periodically taking pot shots into and across the line of separation between Ukrainian-held and separatist-held territories. Most of the casualties they suffer are from drug and alcohol overdoses, weapons accidents, traffic accidents caused by driving drunk and self-harm from faulty weapons. The Ukrainian military is also working on winning a Darwin award for the most casualties caused by stepping on their own land mines. As for the other side, many of the casualties are civilians wounded and killed by constant shelling from the Ukrainian side of the front, which runs quite close to population centers.

The Ukrainian military has received some new weapons from the US and some NATO training, but as the experience in Georgia has shown, that won’t help them. Most of these weapons are obsolete, non-updated versions of Soviet armaments from former East Bloc but currently NATO nations such as Bulgaria. These really aren’t of much use against an almost fully rearmed Russian military. A lot of the Ukrainian artillery is worn out and, given that Ukrainian industry (what’s left of it) is no longer able to manufacture gun barrels, artillery shells or even mortar rounds, this makes the Ukrainian military quite literally the gang that can’t shoot straight. It’s a great day for them if they manage to hit a kindergarten or a maternity clinic and most of the time they are just cratering up the empty countryside and littering it up with charred, twisted metal.

In addition to the hapless conscripts and reservists there are also some volunteer battalions that consist of hardcore Ukrainian nationalists. Their minds have been carefully poisoned by nationalist propaganda crafted thanks to large infusions of foreign (mostly American) money. Some of them have been conditioned to think that it was the ancient Ukrs who built the Egyptian pyramids and dug the Black Sea (and piled the left-over dirt to build the Caucasus mountain range). These may or may not be more combat-capable than the rest (opinions vary) but, much more importantly, they are a political force that the government cannot ignore because they can quite literally hold it hostage. They have been known for stunts such as shelling the offices of a television channel whose editorial policies they found disagreeable and physically assaulting a busload of opposition activists.

It is these Ukro-Nazi zealots that stand directly in the way of any peaceful settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine and an inevitable eventual rapprochement between the Ukrainians and Russia. There is a deep and abiding irony in that these über-antisemitic Ukro-Nazis are about to be ordered into battle against Russia by a Jewish comedian (Vladimir Zelensky, president) who got elected thanks to a Jewish oligarch (Igor “Benny” Kolomoisky). Are they going to be annihilated? Quite possibly, yes. Will their annihilation make Ukraine and the world a better place? You be the judge. To the Russians these Nazi battalions are just a bunch of terrorists and, as Putin famously put it, it is up to him to send terrorists to God and then it is up to God to decide what to do with them. But there is a more efficient strategy: let them remain somebody else’s problem. After all, these Nazi battalions have almost zero ability to threaten Russia. Eventually the Europeans will realize that the Ukraine must be denazified, at their own expense, of course, with Russia offering advice and moral support.

To understand where this Ukrainian nationalist menace came from without venturing too far down the memory hole, it is enough to appreciate the fact that at the end of World War II some number of Ukrainian war criminals who fought on the side of the Nazis and took part in acts of genocide against Ukrainian Jews and Poles found a welcoming home in the US and in Canada, where they were able to feather their nests and bring up the next several generations of Ukrainian Nazis. After the collapse of the USSR, they were reintroduced into the Ukraine and given political support in the hopes of thoroughly alienating the Ukraine from Russia. In the course of serial color revolutions and unending political upheaval and strife they were able to become prominent, then dominant, in Ukrainian political life, to a point that they can now hold the Ukrainian government hostage whenever it fails to be sufficiently belligerent toward Russia, to maintain strict anti-Russian censorship in the media and to physically threaten anyone who voices disagreement with them.

Russophobia and belligerence toward Russia are, in turn, all that is currently required of the Ukraine by its US and EU masters, who wish to portray the Ukraine as a bulwark against a supposedly aggressive Russia but in reality wish to use it as an anti-Russian irritant and to use it to contain (meaning to restrict and frustrate) Russia economically and geopolitically. To this end the Ukrainian school curriculum has been carefully redesigned to inculcate hatred of all things Russian. The Ukraine’s Western mentors think that they are constructing a pseudo-ethnic totalitarian cult that can be used as a battering ram against Russia, along the lines of Nazi Germany but with much tighter external political control, or, to use a more recent, updated CIA playbook, along the lines of Al Qaeda and its various offshoots in the Middle East.

The rationale that’s used to serve up all this is “countering Russian aggression.” But it is inaccurate to describe Russia as aggressive. It is much closer to the truth to describe it as, by turns, assimilative, protective and insouciant. It is assimilative in that you too can apply for a Russian citizenship based on a number of criteria, the most important of which is cultural: you need to speak Russian, and to do so convincingly you have to assimilate culturally. If an entire Russian-speaking region starts waving the Russian tricolor at rallies, singing the Russian anthem and then holds a referendum where a convincing majority votes to rejoin Russia (97% in Crimea in 2014), then Russia will annex that territory and defend it. And if lots of people in a Russian-speaking region individually apply for Russian citizenship, swear allegiance to Russia and are issued Russian passports, then Russia will try to defend them individually against attack.

All would be sweetness and light with this scheme of voluntary accession if certain Russian regions didn’t periodically start demanding independence or if the Russians themselves didn’t periodically shed their self-important and ungrateful dependents. As this has happened, Russia has granted them sovereignty, which, more often than not, they didn’t know what to do with. At various times, Russia has freely bestowed national sovereignty on a whole slew of countries: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, the Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Rumania, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan… For some of them, it granted them sovereignty several times over (Poland seems to be the prize-winner in that category). The political elites of these countries, having become used to suckling at Mother Russia’s ample bosom, naturally look for someone new to invade and/or liberate them and then to feed them.

After the collapse of the USSR, their new masters naturally became the US and the EU. But as these newly sovereign nations soon found out, not as much milk has flowed in their direction from their new masters, and some of them have started casting furtive glances toward Russia again. The twentieth century was a confusing time for many of these countries, and many of them are puzzled to this day as to whether at any given time they were being occupied or liberated by Russia. Let us consider, as a mini case study, the three Baltic mini-nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. With the exception of the Lithuanians, who had their 15 minutes of fame during their brief late-medieval dalliance with Poland, these three ethnic groups never made good candidates for sovereign nations. They were first dominated by the Germans, then by the Swedes.

Then Peter the Great purchased their lands from the Swedes with silver coin, but after that they continued to toil as serfs for their German landlords. But then in mid-19th century the Russian Empire abolished serfdom, starting with Estonian and Latvian serfs as an experiment. It then introduced compulsory schooling, wrote down the local languages, and invited the more promising native sons to come and study at St. Petersburg. This started them on the way toward developing a national consciousness, and what a headache that turned out to be!

While the Russian Empire held together they remained under control, but after the Russian Revolution they gained independence and swiftly turned fascist. As World War II neared, the Soviet leadership became justifiably concerned over having little pro-Nazi fascist states right on their border and occupied/liberated them. But then as the Germans advanced and the Red Army retreated, they were re-occupied by the fascists/liberated from the communists. But then as the Germans retreated and the Red Army advanced, they were re-occupied/re-liberated again and became, for a time, exemplary Soviet Communists.

And so they remained, occupied/liberated, being stuffed full of Soviet-built schools, hospitals, factories, roads, bridges, ports, railways and other infrastructure—until the USSR collapsed. They were the first to demand independence, singing songs and holding hands across all three republics. Since then they have squandered all of their Soviet inheritance and have progressively shed population while serving as playgrounds for NATO troops who get a special thrill, I suppose, by training right on Russia’s border. Their political elites made a tidy little business of Russophobia, which pleased their new Western masters but gradually wrecked their economies. Having reached their peak during the late Soviet era, they are now hollow shells of their former selves.

And now, lo and behold, an embarrassingly large chunk of their populations is pining after the good old Soviet days and wants better relations with Russia (which, in the meantime, seems to have largely forgotten that these Baltic statelets even exist). Their political elites would want nothing more than for Russia to occupy/liberate them again, because then they could be rid of their noisome constituents and move to London or Geneva, there to head up a government in exile and work on plans for the next round of occupation/liberation.

To their horror, they are now realizing that Russia has no further use for them, while their new masters at the EU are sinking into a quagmire of their own problems, leaving them abandoned with no kind master to care for them and to feed them. They thought they had signed up to administer a vibrant new democracy using free money from the EU, but instead they are now stuck administering a depopulating, economically stagnant backwater peopled by ethnic relicts. In eras past, they would have only had to wait until the next wave of barbarian invasion from the east. The barbarians would slaughter all the men, rape and/or kidnap all the prettier women, and the naturally recurring process of ethnogenesis would start again. But now there are a dozen time zones of Russia to their east and no hope at all of any more barbarian invasions, so all they can do is drink a lot and, by turns, curse the Russians and the Europeans.

The situation is much the same throughout Eastern Europe, in a great arc of semi-sovereign, pseudo-sovereign and (in the case of the Ukraine) faux-sovereign nations from the Baltic to the Black Sea and on to the Caspian Sea and beyond. The many serial occupations/liberations have given their political elites a wonderful weathercock-like quality: one moment they are wearing Nazi insignia and heiling Hitler and the next moment they are good Soviet Communists reciting the 10 Commandments of the Builders of Communism. The Ukraine (getting back to it, finally) is no different in this respect but different in another: by no stretch of the imagination is it even a nation, or a combination, assemblage or grouping of nations; it is, strictly speaking, an accidental territorial agglomeration. As a failed attempt to create a monoethnic nation-state it is a chimera.

The following map, labeled “Dynamics of agglomeration of Ukrainian territories,” shows the process in detail. The toponym “Ukraine” (“Ukraina”) is most likely of Polish origin, meaning “border zone,” and it seems to have first become a thing in 1653 when the red-colored region below decided that it had had enough of Polish Catholic dominance and discrimination (its inhabitants being Orthodox Christians) and chose to rejoin Russia. The region became known as Malorossia, or Little Russia, and the yellow-colored districts were added to it over time. And then, after the Russian Revolution, came the big gift: Malorossia and neighboring districts were formed into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and to make it something more than just a rural backwater Lenin saw it fit to lump in with it a number of Russian regions shaded in blue. It was this mistake that paved the way to the current impasse in what is but by all rights should never have been eastern Ukraine.

Then, right before, and again right after World War II Stalin lumped in the green-shaded western districts, which were previously part of he Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its inhabitants were Austrian, Polish, Hungarian, Rumanian and most of the rest, though initially Russian, had spent five centuries under foreign rule and spoke a distinctive, archaic dialect that served as the basis for creating the synthetic language now known as Ukrainian, while the rest of what is now Ukraine spoke Russian, Yiddish and a wide assortment of village dialects. It was this alienated group that was used as leavening to fashion a synthetic Ukrainian nationalism. In turn, Ukrainian Bolshevik leaders used this faux-nationalism to fashion the Ukraine into a regional power center within the USSR.

And then came the final mistake when Nikita Khrushchev, very much a product of the Ukrainian regional power center, paid it back for helping to promote him to the top job by giving it Russian Crimea—a move that was illegal under the Soviet constitution which was in effect at that time and a prime example of late Bolshevik political corruption that was undone in 2014 with great jubilation.

There are those who think that the solution to the Ukrainian problem is to take the Ukraine apart the same way it was put together. Behold the following map. Moving east to west, we have the Russian tricolor over Crimea (the only factual bit so far), then the flag of Novorussia covering all those territories that were arbitrarily lumped into the newly created Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic by Lenin in 1922. Further west we have the flag of the state of Ukraine. And to the west is the flag of the Right Sector, a nationalist party with distinct Nazi tendencies that is currently active in Ukrainian politics.

I believe that, with the exception of Crimea, this map may very well turn out to be complete and utter nonsense. It seems outlandish to think that the Ukrainian Humpty-Dumpty, which is in the process of being knocked off the wall most unceremoniously by just about everyone, including Russia, the EU and the US, is going to break apart into such tidy, historically justifiable pieces. For one thing, national borders don’t matter so much any more once you are east of the Russian border, all of Europe now being one big unhappy mess. With millions of Ukrainians trying to eke out a living by working in Russia, or Poland, or further West, the distinctions between the various bits of the Ukrainian territory they are from are just not that meaningful to anyone.

For another, all of the Ukraine is now owned by the same bunch of oligarchs whose fortunes are tightly integrated with those of transnational corporations and of Western financial institutions. None of them care at all about the people that once inhabited this region and their varied histories and linguistic preferences. They care about translating economic and financial control directly into political control with a minimum of diplomatic politesse. The Ukraine has been in the process of being stripped bare of anything valuable for 30 years now, up to and including its fertile soil, and once there is nothing left to loot it will be abandoned as a wild field, largely uninhabited.

But we are not quite there yet, and for now the only map that really matters is the following one, which shows the two separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, collectively known as Donbass, short for Donetsk Basin, a prolific coal province that was mainly responsible for fueling the Ukraine’s former industrial might, which to this day continues to produce anthracite, a valuable, energy-rich coal that is now scarce in the world. It is that relatively tiny but densely populated sliver of land along the Russian border, less than 100km across in many places, that is the powder keg that some believe may set off World War III.

The Ukrainian military has been massing troops and armor along the line of separation while the Russian military has pulled up its forces to their side of the border. Shelling, sniper fire and other provocations from the Ukrainian side are intensifying, with the hope of provoking the Russians into moving forces onto Ukrainian territory, thus allowing the collective West to shout “Aha! Russian aggression!” Then they could put a stop to Nord Stream II pipeline, scoring a major geopolitical victory for Washington and follow that up with plenty of other belligerent moves designed to hurt Russia politically and economically.

For the Russians, there are no good choices that are obvious. Not responding to Ukrainian provocations and doing nothing while they shell and invade the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, killing Russian citizens who live there, would make Russia look weak, undermine the Russian government’s position domestically and cost it a great deal of geopolitical capital internationally. Responding to Ukrainian provocations with overwhelming military force and crushing the Ukrainian military as was done in Georgia in 2008 would be popular domestically but could potentially lead to a major escalation and possibly an all-out war with NATO. Even if militarily the conflict is contained and NATO forces sit it out, as they did in Georgia, the political ramifications would cause much damage to the Russian economy through tightened sanctions and disruptions to international trade.

Those being the obvious bad choices, what are the obvious good ones, if any? Here, we have to pay careful attention to the official pronouncements Putin has made over the years, and to take them as face value. First, he said that Russia does not need any more territory; it has all the land it could ever want. Second, he said that Russia will follow the path of maximum liberalization in granting citizenship to compatriots and that, in turn, the well-being of Russia’s citizens is a top priority. Third, he said that resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine through military means is unacceptable. Given these constraints, what courses of action remain open?

The answer, I believe, is obvious: evacuation. There are around 3.2 million residents in Donetsk People’s Republic and 1.4 million in Lugansk People’s Republic, for a total of some 4.6 million residents. This may seem like a huge number, but it’s moderate by the scale of World War II evacuations. Keep in mind that Russia has already absorbed over a million Ukrainian migrants and refugees without much of a problem. Also, Russia is currently experiencing a major labor shortage, and an infusion of able-bodied Russians would be most welcome.

Domestically, the evacuation would likely be quite popular: Russia is doing right by its own people by pulling them out of harm’s way. The patriotic base would be energized and the already very active Russian volunteer movement would swing into action to assist the Emergencies Ministry in helping move and resettle the evacuees. The elections that are to take place later this year would turn into a nationwide welcoming party for several million new voters. The Donbass evacuation could pave the way for other waves of repatriation that are likely to follow. There are some 20 million Russians scattered throughout the world, and as the world outside Russia plunges deeper and deeper into resource scarcity they too will want to come home. While they may presently be reluctant to do so, seeing the positive example of how the Donbass evacuees are treated could help change their minds.

The negative optics of surrendering territory can be countered by not surrendering any territory. As a guarantor of the Minsk Agreements, Russia must refuse to surrender the Donbass to the Ukrainian government until it fulfills the terms of these agreements, which it has shown no intention of doing for seven years now and which it has recently repudiated altogether. It is important to note that the Russian military can shoot straight across all of Donbass without setting foot on Ukrainian soil. Should the Ukrainian forces attempt to enter Donbass, they will be dealt with as shown in the following instructional video. Note that the maximum range of the Tornado-G system shown in the video is 120km.

And should the Ukrainians care to respond by attacking Russian territory, another one of Putin’s pronouncements helps us understand what would happen next: if attacked, Russia will respond not just against the attackers but also against the centers of decision-making responsible for the attack. The Ukrainian command in Kiev, as well as its NATO advisers, would probably keep this statement in mind when considering their steps.

The Donbass evacuation should resonate rather well internationally. It would be a typical Putin judo move knocking NATO and the US State Department off-balance. Since this would be a large humanitarian mission, it would be ridiculous to attempt to portray it as “Russian aggression.” On the other hand, Russia would be quite within its rights to issue stern warnings that any attempt to interfere with the evacuation or to launch provocations during the evacuation process would be dealt with very harshly, freeing Russia’s hands in dispatching to God the berserkers from the Ukraine’s Nazi battalions, some of whom don’t particularly like to follow orders.

The West would be left with the following status quo. The Donbass is empty of residents but off-limits to them or to the Ukrainians. The evacuation would in no sense change the standing or the negotiating position of the evacuees and their representatives vis-à-vis the Minsk agreements, locking this situation in place until Kiev undertakes constitutional reform, becomes a federation and grants full autonomy to Donbass, or until the Ukrainian state ceases to exist and is partitioned. The Ukraine would be unable to join NATO (a pipe dream which it has stupidly voted into its constitution) since this would violate the NATO charter, given that it does not control its own territory.

Further sanctions against Russia would become even more difficult to justify, since it would be untenable to accuse it of aggression for undertaking a humanitarian mission to protect its own citizens or for carrying out its responsibilities as a guarantor of the Minsk agreements. The Donbass would remain as a stalker zone roamed by Russian battlefield robots sniping Ukrainian marauders, with the odd busload of schoolchildren there on a field trip to lay flowers on the graves of their ancestors. Its ruined Soviet-era buildings, not made any newer by three decades of Ukrainian abuse and neglect, will bear silent witness to the perpetual ignominy of the failed Ukrainian state.

History is as often driven by accident as by logic, but since we cannot predict accidents, logic is the only tool we have in trying to guess the shape of the future. Rephrasing Voltaire, this, then, is the best that we can expect to happen in this the best of all possible worlds.


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RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN WAR: TRAGEDY FOR PEOPLE, CHANCE FOR ELITES

10.04.2021 

South Front

Russian-Ukrainian War: Tragedy For People, Chance For Elites
Illustrative Image

Against the backdrop of ongoing political provocations and bellicose rhetoric from all parties involved in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, military escalation is constantly growing. Local forces, as well as the OSCE observers, report about more and more ceasefire violations in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. There are daily statements on casualties on both sides of the conflict among the military and local civilians.

Now, when all the global media are closely following the situation in the eastern regions of Ukraine, the international community is wondering whether Donbass will become the point of the next military conflict, and what its scale will be. The main question is “Cui Prodest”?

The answer is unambiguous: the administration of Ukrainian President is a real stakeholder in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. In the current Ukrainian reality, there are plenty of circumstances that determine the pattern of conduct of Volodimir Zelensky.

First, the current economic situation in Ukraine is disastrous. The Ukrainian state is on the way to lose the ability to fulfill its social obligations. According to the data for 2020, its GDP in real terms suffered about 4% drop. According to the IMF, this drop will be at least 7%. If for the United States, China or Russia, a 4% drop in GDP is a big problem, for Ukraine it is almost a disaster, as GDP indicators were low even before the crisis.

Secondly, the economic situation in Ukraine was aggravated by the coronacrisis. The number of those contaminated by COVID-19 per day there is one of the biggest among the European countries, and even in the whole world. The death rate is also disproportionately high. The country’s economy is suffering, as most regions are still under lockdown, and since April 5, restrictions have been tightened again.

The fall in national budget income was caused by a complex of reasons, including pure management of national economy and the extremely high level of corruption that caused the destruction of the industrial complex, drop in already low per capita income, accompanied by a decreasing revenue gained from gas and cargo transit from East to West.

Third, the Zelensky administration is now facing a rapid decrease in people’s support. The national disappointment in his political program is caused by the rejection of his campaign promises to stop the war in Donbass.

Fourthly, it is increasingly difficult for NATO allies to fuel Kiev’s anti-Russian hysteria in the absence of any actual changes of the issue. The military conflict in the Eastern Ukraine is already 7 years old, and the only alarming statements no longer contribute to the increase in financial support from the US and its allies.

The last but not least is a political request from a part of the American elite, who are interested in various forms of pressuring Russia. They support blocking of the Nord Stream 2 project by any means; destruction of bilateral relations between Russia and leading European countries, up to war outbreak along its borders.

On the other hand, such a policy of the United States does not fully coincide with the national interests of leading European countries. However, new war in Eastern Ukraine would define Russian status as enemy for years while the US will strengthen its weight in European security.

The position of the Zelensky administration and the interests of the United States represent sufficient set of reasons to outbreak war in Eastern Ukraine.

Indeed, official Kiev does not need to care about the actual result of the conflict, but its very existence.

There are only 3 scenarios of the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

  • The Ukrainian army wholly or partially occupies the territory of the DLPR.
  • The forces of both sides remain in their current positions.
  • The DLPR forces, with Russian support, advance on the Ukrainian territory for several dozens of miles.

There is almost a zero probability that Ukraine will suffer a crushing defeat and the DLPR forces will occupy the territory to the Dnieper River. Russia now has neither the strength nor the ability to gain control over such a vast territory, and the collective West, in its turn, would not let this happen.

If any of the above scenarios are implemented, Zelensky and his supporters among the US elites will benefit.

For many years, the US and European media have shaped Russia as the aggressor, the enemy of democratic values and the authoritarian tyrannical regime that must be contained. The idea of an external military threat, which being sequentially built up by the West, serves as a pretext for its increasing military funding both in defense industry and army itself amid inevitable unification under the US leadership.

In its turn, Ukraine, positioning itself as the Eastern European Shield against “Asian Barbarians”, receives significant and steadily growing support from NATO countries, gaining momentum to development and further nazi-like ideology originally rooted in Western Ukraine.

Unleashing the war, Zelensky has a chance to reclaim his status as the national leader. In case of the conquest of the self-proclaimed republics, or the preservation of the current troops’ positions, he will become a hero who saved Ukraine from “evil Russians”.

Even after having lost the war, he would claim that the entire country was saved with little blood and only a small piece of land that was temporary lost, taking on the role of a good strategist who defended the sovereignty in the furious fighting shoulder to shoulder with his NATO allies.

Zelensky’s policy can only fail if Russia captures half of Ukraine, which de facto is not possible.

Thus, almost whatever may happen during the conflict, Ukraine can be sure that it will receive stable financial flows from its Western allies for years ahead. Having become a “real” Eastern Shield of Europe, Ukraine may finally get the coveted NATO membership.

Finally yet importantly – the hot military conflict will undoubtedly divert public attention from the economic problems inside the country.

Unleashing a war in Donbass will allow Zelensky to solve his main problems, albeit at the cost of lives of thousands of Ukrainians.

Today, many analysts assure that there will not be a full-scale war, since Ukraine is weak, and Zelensky must assess country’s military strength in front of the Russian power. Let’s hope this is the case, while remembering who the beneficiary of the conflict is.

In its turn, the United States, at the cost of Ukrainian soldiers’ lives, can resolve a good part of its problems in the European region, while Russia seems to lose strategically in any of these war scenarios.

Definitely, the war in Ukraine will lead to the closure of the Nord Stream 2 project, which is already at the final stage of construction. Key contacts between Russia and NATO countries will be frozen, no more significant bilateral cooperation in economy will be possible.

A new war near the Russian borders that involves national armed forces will have an important impact on the internal situation in the country. It is not clear to what extent the Russian society, which has suffered the break of economic relations with Western countries and numerous sanctions, is ready to support the struggle for Donbass.

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THE DONBASS WAR OF 2021?

07.04.2021 

The Donbass War Of 2021?

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront.

Ever since assuming office, the Biden Administration has been probing countries it designated as America’s enemies for weaknesses through a variety of provocations. So far this approach has not had any successes. China plainly told Biden’s SecState Blinken to go packing, Iran is showing no eagerness to kowtow to Washington under new management, and Russia itself has stayed the course, brushing off verbal attacks and promising either in-kind or asymmetrical responses to any new chicaneries from Washington or Brussels.

That does not mean that Washington has acknowledged defeat. Unwilling to concede, it is liable to escalate a crisis situation elsewhere. Since Navalny’s perennial “poisonings”, “hunger strikes”, and “leg pains” have not had the desired effect on Western governments and his life and health are moreover quite secure in a Russian prison, so the prospect of a new war in Eastern Ukraine is back on the agenda, and the opponents of Nord Stream 2 now have two things to pray for: Aleksey Navalny’s death and a Russia-Ukraine war.

Zelensky on the Spot

The Russian government has made it clear on numerous occasions that it is adhering to the Minsk Agreements, will not abandon the Donbass, but at the same time will not escalate the situation out of the desire to minimize the damage to all concerned. In practical terms it means a continuation of “coercive diplomacy”. Russian military force will be used only if Ukraine attempts to create facts on the ground through offensive action. For that reason it is unlikely in the extreme that Russia will be the one to escalate first. It is worth remembering that both the summer 2014 campaign and the winter 2014/15 campaign were initiated by Kiev which first sent troops and bombers to suppress the then-peaceful protests against the Maidan and referenda to secede, and then to hope to quickly resolve the stalemate. Both operations ended in failure through the efforts of the hastily assembled and armed militias of the breakaway republics, with some “Northern Wind” military support that decimated Ukrainian forces.

Poroshenko survived the disasters that shredded the Ukrainian military thanks to the alliances he’s made with the nationalists while preparing for the Maidan. Zelensky’s position is considerably weaker and more vulnerable to the consequences of a military defeat. Having been elected on a promise to end the war in the Donbass, he has already badly disappointed his supporters on that score. But his transformation into a warhawk, perhaps best characterized by his awkward appearances on the front lines wearing an ill-fitting helmet and a remarkably short armor vest, has not earned him even grudging respect from the nationalists and neo-Nazis on whose shoulders much of Ukraine’s war effort rests. While Poroshenko could get out of many a tight spot with his “Cynical Baderite” jacket, Zelensky is now a very lonely person in Kiev, a hostage to the decisions of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council whose decisions he automatically signs, in contrast with Poroshenko who often simply ignored them.

In practice it means that Zelensky might be in process of being a scapegoat for Ukraine’s all-but-inevitable defeat at the hands of Russian forces hastening to aid the republics in the event of Ukraine’s military scoring early victories. Blackmail might be playing a role in Zelensky’s calculus too. There were persistent reports in March of an imminent release of a documentary implicating Zelensky’s office in the failure of Ukrainian intelligence operation to lure Wagner associates to Ukraine in order to imprison and try them. At the same time, if Zelensky sends his military to a defeat, his reputation will be gravely damaged, possibly to the point of forcing him to resign and even endangering his life. His nervous activity of the first week of April, including a total non-sequitur of a visit to NATO headquarters in order to plead for Ukraine’s quick admission to the alliance, is indicative of a man in a tight spot with no easy ways out.

Resistible Force Meets Immovable Object

Zelensky might be in a less anxious mood if he had a reliable military instrument to wield. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are not that instrument. While the Russian military entered 2014 rather unprepared for the prospect of high-intensity land warfare thanks to the Serdyukov reforms that made the brigade the main tactical unit, since that time much lost ground has been recovered through the reactivation of several divisions and armies, such as the First Guards Tank Army, and modernization of Land Forces’ equipment. Russia’s military today is a considerably more impressive force than it was seven years ago.

Meanwhile Ukraine’s armed forces stagnated. Unmodernized T-64 remains its most numerous main battle tank while production of light armored vehicles proceeds at a trickle. Considering that artillery has been the most active arm in the years of static warfare along the line of separation, Ukraine’s “god of war” remains in poor shape and is suffering from ammunition shortage. In the last decade, Ukraine has suffered seven major ammunition depot explosions, in addition to the tremendous expenditure of munitions during the 2014 and 2015 battles and the occasional escalations of shelling since. Since Ukraine is a failing state that cannot even maintain its crumbling civilian infrastructure, it is little wonder that it has failed to establish domestic munitions manufacture. It did receive some supplies of weapons and munitions from NATO member states which have stores of Soviet-pattern weapons themselves, most notably Bulgaria, but little in the way of heavy artillery munitions. Since Ukraine also does not manufacture artillery pieces, specifically the technology-intensive barrels, for either its tanks or howitzers, the existing artillery park is being gradually used up, and every shell fired not only diminishes existing reserves but also adds to the wear and tear of the artillery pieces. An effort to provide cheap indirect fire capabilities by procuring 120mm “Molot” mortars manufactured in a factory owned by Poroshenko did not live up to expectations. There have been several cases of these mortars bursting during live fire exercises, with dire consequences for their crews. And if a simple technology of a mortar cannot be mastered by Ukraine’s defense industry, what success can it have attempting more challenging tasks?

Nor is the human factor any better. To borrow Wellington’s characterization of his own soldiers, UAF rank and file are “scum of the earth, enlisted to drink.” Military service remains highly unpopular and attracts only those who cannot find lucrative employment in the civilian economy—or abroad. Draft evasion and bribery of military recruitment officials is widespread, leading the Rada to drastically increase penalties for such activities to include lengthy prison terms. Even if such measures do not result in an exodus of able-bodied males out of the country, they are hardly likely to fill the ranks with motivated recruits. In the first week of April 2021 alone, Ukrainian forces have lost on average one soldier a day to non-combat causes, which included alcohol and drug overdoses, careless handling of weapons, suicide, and murder. The single greatest killer of Ukrainian soldiers, however, are their own minefields, which have killed 57 soldiers and injured 126 between July 27, 2020 (the beginning of the last ceasefire) and April 3, 2021, a statistic indicating a very low level of training and discipline.

Units themselves remain understrength. Some of the brigades are short of 60% of enlisted personnel and 30% of officers. Troops’ low morale translated into not only irregular and erratic training but also into poor equipment maintenance habits. An inspection of the 59th Brigade whose results fell into the hands of Novorossia intelligence services revealed that as of March 2020, some 60% of the brigade’s heavy weapons and vehicles were either greatly behind their maintenance schedule or were altogether unserviceable. The brigade has not held any maneuvers because the fuel supplies delivered to its logistics units never made it to the actual tactical subunits, suggesting theft by brigade’s leadership.

Cossack Mace

For all of the above reasons, a Ukrainian military operation, even a limited one, seems unlikely in the immediate future. The very visible Ukrainian troop movements meant that no element of surprise could be achieved. The aim appears to have been to relocate sizable formations to the Donbass so as to provide them with an ability to launch a quick, almost no-warning attack in the future, after Novorossia’s vigilance has been dulled by months of alerts and provocations.

Unless other events intervene, the period of greatest danger will be the Cossack Mace exercise held during the summer of 2021. The aim of the exercise which will take place under British leadership is to practice repelling a “Russian invasion” and then launching an offensive to secure the Ukraine-Russia border which would mean the end of Novorossia.

The fact of British leadership is particularly worrisome, since that country seems to have undertaken the task of “dirty tricks” on Washington’s behalf. In this instance, the “dirty trick” could be using the exercise to rehearse invasion of the Donbass immediately prior to its execution or, equally plausibly, the exercise itself might turn into an invasion. Foreign command of the invasion would be consistent with the Ukrainian trend of slipping under direct control by Western powers, and reminiscent of the role of the Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI) in the planning and execution of Croatia’s Operation Storm in 1995.

One can’t even rule out direct British participation in such an operation, since a British-supported Ukrainian offensive against Novorossia forces would not be an offensive against Russia. The Defence Review released in March 2021 stated that the British Army would stand up four so-called “ranger regiments”, or battalion-sized formations whose aim would be to train “indigenous forces” and, if need be, actually go to battle with them in order to pursue British interests as part of the “Global Britain” project. An addition of professional British soldiers, in conjunction with British planning and execution of the operation, would provide a morale boost to the UAF and increase the chances of at least moderate success. Once embedded within Ukrainian forces, British troops would also serve as a deterrent against a direct Russian intervention.

An Ounce of Prevention

It may well be that the sudden Russian troop movements, the reinforcement of Crimea, and even Belarus’ deployment to the border of Ukraine, indicate contingency planning to launch an enveloping counteroffensive that would trap Ukrainian forces in a giant cauldron between the Dnepr River and Novorossia itself. At the very least, their presence forces Ukraine to divert forces away from its offensive grouping on the Donbass toward the border with Russia and even Belarus. It is also possible that the snap deployment was intended to pre-empt Ukraine’s increasingly obvious moves to mount an offensive during the summer, an offensive with direct foreign military employment. Russia’s pre-emption may also include a changed status of the Donbass. President Putin’s declaration that the rights of 600,000 holders of Russian passports in Novorossia has become a priority for him. An official recognition of Novorossia, combined with the placement of a Russian peacekeeper force, would stop the Ukrainian offensive dead in its tracks and moreover render any British participation unsustainable, though at certain diplomatic cost due to the withdrawal from the Minsk Agreements it would entail. The forceful Russian response has already had the effect of knocking not only Ukraine but, judging by the panicky demands for Russia to “explain” its troop movements, all of NATO. It communicated that under no circumstances will Ukraine enjoy tactical, operational, or strategic surprise. Now the question is whether Russia and major European powers can craft a diplomatic solution that will allow Zelensky to back down in a face-saving manner, thus ending the danger of war against the Donbass.

British “ranger regiments” and “greyzone warfare”

Use of NATO forces directly vs. unrecognized republics is no the same as use of NATO forces against Russia. Recognition by Russia would, on the other hand, create an additional layer of deterrence, though associated with risks for Russia.

If LPR/DPR are formally recognized by the Russian Federation which then spreads the umbrella of “extended deterrence” which, it should be noted, is backed by a potent nuclear arsenal. It would also mean Russia’s formal rejection of Minsk Agreements and of the Normandy Four format, creating a legal limbo fraught with unpredictability. NATO countries which committed themselves to preserving Ukraine’s “sovereignty and integrity” could hardly be expected to ratify this move.

Major minelaying operations by Ukrainian forces, which may be part of the offensive preparations. The greater the extent and intensity of mines on a certain sector of the front, the greater the ability to concentrate forces on other sectors—suggesting that whichever  sectors of the front are not seeing a minelaying operations are being reserved as corridors for future assault, making them eligible for DPR/LPR defensive minelaying.

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Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity on Avoiding War in Ukraine

By Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Global Research, April 07, 2021

Antiwar.com 6 April 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

***

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Avoiding War in Ukraine

Dear President Biden,

We last communicated with you on December 20, 2020, when you were President-elect.

At that time, we alerted you to the dangers inherent in formulating a policy toward Russia built on a foundation of Russia-bashing. While we continue to support the analysis contained in that memorandum, this new memo serves a far more pressing purpose. We wish to draw your attention to the dangerous situation that exists in Ukraine today, where there is growing risk of war unless you take steps to forestall such a conflict.

At this juncture, we call to mind two basic realities that need particular emphasis amid growing tension between Ukraine and Russia.

First, since Ukraine is not a member of NATO, Article 5 of the NATO Treaty of course would not apply in the case of an armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

Second, Ukraine’s current military flexing, if allowed to transition into actual military action, could lead to hostilities with Russia.

We think it crucial that your administration immediately seek to remove from the table, so to speak, any “solution” to the current impasse that has a military component. In short, there is, and can never be, a military solution to this problem.

Your interim national security strategy guidance indicated that your administration would “make smart and disciplined choices regarding our national defense and the responsible use of our military, while elevating diplomacy as our tool of first resort.” Right now is the perfect time to put these words into action for all to see.

We strongly believe:

1. It must be made clear to Ukrainian President Zelensky that there will be no military assistance from either the US or NATO if he does not restrain Ukrainian hawks itching to give Russia a bloody nose — hawks who may well expect the West to come to Ukraine’s aid in any conflict with Russia. (There must be no repeat of the fiasco of August 2008, when the Republic of Georgia initiated offensive military operations against South Ossetia in the mistaken belief that the US would come to its assistance if Russia responded militarily.)

2. We recommend that you quickly get back in touch with Zelensky and insist that Kiev halt its current military buildup in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces have been lining up at the border ready to react if Zelensky’s loose talk of war becomes more than bravado. Washington should also put on hold all military training activity involving US and NATO troops in the region. This would lessen the chance that Ukraine would misinterpret these training missions as a de facto sign of support for Ukrainian military operations to regain control of either the Donbas or Crimea.

3. It is equally imperative that the U.S. engage in high-level diplomatic talks with Russia to reduce tensions in the region and de-escalate the current rush toward military conflict. Untangling the complex web of issues that currently burden U.S.-Russia relations is a formidable task that will not be accomplished overnight. This would be an opportune time to work toward a joint goal of preventing armed hostilities in Ukraine and wider war.

There is opportunity as well as risk in the current friction over Ukraine. This crisis offers your administration the opportunity to elevate the moral authority of the United States in the eyes of the international community. Leading with diplomacy will greatly enhance the stature of America in the world.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

  • William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
  • Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer & former Division Director in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (ret.)
  • Bogdan Dzakovic, former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (ret.) (associate VIPS)
  • Graham E. Fuller,Vice-Chair, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
  • Robert M. Furukawa, Captain, Civil Engineer Corps, USNR (ret.)
  • Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
  • Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator
  • John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former Senior Investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003
  • Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
  • Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA presidential briefer (ret.)
  • Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East & CIA political analyst (ret.)
  • Pedro Israel Orta, CIA Operations Officer & Analyst; Inspector with IG for the Intelligence Community (ret.)
  • Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)
  • Scott Ritter, former MAJ., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq
  • Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)
  • Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA
  • Sarah G. Wilton, CDR, USNR, (ret.); Defense Intelligence Agency (ret.)
  • Robert Wing, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (former) (associate VIPS)
  • Ann Wright, U.S. Army Reserve Colonel (ret) and former U.S. Diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War

*

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Tension in Ukraine and the Turkish Straits Issue التوتر في أوكرانيا وقضية المضائق التركية

Tension in Ukraine and the Turkish Straits Issue

Ukraine tensions - Russia, USA, NATO, the Turkish Straits

 ARABI SOURI 

حسني محلي
International relations researcher and specialist in Turkish affairs

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

The Ukrainian interior, especially the border separating the west and east of the country, is witnessing a dangerous tension, which many expect will turn into hot confrontations between Ukraine backed by America and some European countries and Russia that support separatists in the east of the country, who in 2014 declared autonomy in the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

This tension acquires additional importance with the approaching date of the exercises scheduled to take place next month, with the participation of Ukrainian forces and NATO units, the largest of their kind since the fall of the Soviet Union. Moscow sees in these maneuvers, which bear the name ‘Defending Europe – 21’, as a direct threat, because they will include the Black Sea and the North Baltic Seas, which are potential hotbeds of confrontation between Russia and NATO.

All this comes as Washington continues its relentless efforts to include Ukraine and Georgia in the (NATO) alliance before the end of this year, after it included in 2004 both Bulgaria and Romania to it, in an attempt to tighten the blockade on Russia in the Black Sea, which Turkey also overlooks.

President Biden called his Ukrainian counterpart Zalinsky (a Jew and a friend of Netanyahu), and after that the contacts made by the defense and foreign ministers, the chief of staff, and the secretary-general of the US National Security Council with their Ukrainian counterparts this week, to prove the seriousness of the situation in the region, after Washington confirmed its absolute support for Ukraine in its crisis with Russia.

The Russian response to these US-Ukrainian provocations was not late, Moscow mobilized very large forces in the region, and large naval maneuvers began in the Crimea and the Krasnodar region in southeastern Ukraine and in the northern Black Sea.

The timing of the Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Shantop’s speech about President Erdogan’s powers to withdraw from the Montreux Convention gained additional importance, because it coincided with the escalation between Moscow and Washington, and sparked a new debate in the Turkish, Russian and Western streets, as 120 retired Turkish diplomats signed, and after them 103 admirals retirees, on two separate statements in which they denounced Shantop’s words, and said: ‘The withdrawal from the Montreux Agreement puts Turkey in front of new and dangerous challenges in its foreign policy, and forces it to align itself with one of the parties to the conflict in the region.

The response came quickly from Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu and Fakhruddin Altun, spokesman for President Erdogan, who accused the admirals of ‘seeking a new coup attempt. While the Public Prosecutor filed an urgent lawsuit against the signatories of the Military personnel’s statement, the leader of the National Movement Party, Devlet Bakhsali, Erdogan’s ally, demanded that they be tried and their pensions cut off. Some see this discussion as an introduction to what Erdogan is preparing for with regard to the straits and raising the level of bargaining with President Putin.

The ‘Montreux Convention’ of 1936 recognized Turkey’s ownership of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles straits while ensuring freedom of commercial navigation in them for all ships, and set strict conditions for the passage of warships owned by countries not bordering the Black Sea through these straits. Washington does not hide its dissatisfaction with this convention, and since the fall of the Soviet Union, it has been planning to send the largest possible number of its warships to the Black Sea and the bases it is now seeking to establish in Bulgaria and Romania, and later Ukraine and Georgia.

With Turkey’s support for this American scheme, Russian warships will find themselves in a difficult situation en route to and from the Mediterranean. Russian diplomatic circles have considered the Istanbul channel that Erdogan seeks to split between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, parallel to the Bosphorus, as an attempt by Ankara to circumvent the ‘Montreux Convention’, so that American and (North) Atlantic warships can pass through this channel in the quantity and sizes they want, far from the conditions of the Montreux Convention.

All these facts make Turkey, directly or indirectly, an important party in the possible hot confrontations in Ukraine, given Ankara’s intertwined strategic relations with Kiev, especially in the field of war industries, especially the jet engines for drones and advanced missiles. In addition to this, the Turkish religious and national interest in the Crimea region, which Muslims make up about 15% of its population, with their bad memories during the communist Soviet rule, the ideological enemy of the Turkish state, which is the heir to the Ottoman Empire, which is the historical enemy of the Russian Empire.

Whatever the potential developments in the Ukrainian crisis and their implications for the Turkish role in the Black Sea region, with their complex calculations, Moscow and Washington (and their European allies) do not neglect their other regional and international accounts in the Mediterranean and Red Sea regions, especially with the continuation of the Syrian, Yemeni, Somali and Libyan crises, and their repercussions on the balance of power in the basins of the Straits of Hormuz, Bab el-Mandeb and the Eastern Mediterranean, where ‘Israel’ is present, which borders Jordan with its recent surprising events.

Erdogan Used 3000 Syrian Terrorists in the Nagorno Karabach Battles

https://syrianews.cc/erdogan-used-3000-syrian-terrorists-in-the-nagorno-karabach-battles/embed/#?secret=MqFNSvMgQn

Here, the recent Russian-Iranian-Chinese moves with their various elements gain additional importance, because they disturbed and worried Western capitals, which found themselves forced, even in their last attempt, to distance Tehran from this alliance, by returning to the nuclear agreement as soon as possible.

Washington and Western capitals believe that this may help them to devote themselves to the Ukraine crisis, and then to similar issues in other regions, through which it aims to tighten the siege on Russia in its backyards in Central Asia and the Caucasus, where Georgia and Azerbaijan have direct links with Turkey.

It has become clear that, with all its geostrategic advantages, it will be the arena of competition, and perhaps direct and indirect future conflict between Washington and Moscow, as they race together to gain more positions in its arena, which supports President Erdogan’s position externally, because his accounts have become intertwined in Syria and Karabakh with Russia, and its ally Iran, it will also support his projects and plans internally to stay in power forever, thanks to US and European economic and financial support. Without this, he cannot achieve anything.

The bet remains on the content of the phone call that the Turkish president is waiting for from President Biden, for which many have written many different scenarios that will have their results reflected on the overall US-Russian competitions. This possibility will raise the bargaining ceiling between Erdogan and both Putin and Biden, whoever pays the most will win Turkey on his side or prevent it from allying with his enemy.

Intercontinental Wars – Part 3 The Open Confrontation

https://syrianews.cc/intercontinental-wars-part-3-the-open-confrontation/embed/#?secret=byysW2Qrix

Tsar Putin Brings the Sultan Wannabe Erdogan Half Way Down the Tree

https://syrianews.cc/tsar-putin-brings-the-sultan-wannabe-erdogan-half-way-down-the-tree/embed/#?secret=AkXY3KfFOg

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التوتر في أوكرانيا وقضية المضائق التركية

حسني محلي
باحث علاقات دولية ومختصص بالشأن التركي

حسني محلي

المصدر: الميادين نت

5 نيسان 12:08

مهما كانت التطورات المحتملة في الأزمة الأوكرانية وانعكاساتها على الدور التركي في منطقة البحر الأسود، بحساباتها المعقدة، لا تهمل موسكو وواشنطن حسابتهما الإقليمية والدولية الأخرى في منطقتي الأبيض المتوسط والأحمر.

التوتر في أوكرانيا وقضية المضائق التركية
تسعى واشنطن لضم أوكرانيا إلى حلف شمال الأطلسي

يشهد الداخل الأوكراني، وخصوصاً الحدود الفاصلة بين غرب البلاد وشرقها، توتراً خطيراً يتوقع الكثيرون أن يتحوّل إلى مواجهات ساخنة بين أوكرانيا المدعومة من أميركا وبعض الدول الأوروبية وروسيا التي تدعم الانفصاليين شرق البلاد، الذين أعلنوا في العام 2014 حكماً ذاتياً في جمهوريتي دونيتسك ولوغانسك.

يكتسب هذا التوتّر أهمية إضافية مع اقتراب موعد المناورات المقرر إجراؤها الشهر القادم، بمشاركة القوات الأوكرانية ووحدات الحلف الأطلسي، وهي الأكبر من نوعها منذ سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي. ترى موسكو في هذه المناورات التي تحمل اسم “الدفاع عن أوروبا – 21” خطراً يستهدفها بشكلٍ مباشر، لأنّها ستشمل البحر الأسود وبحر البلطيق الشمالي، وهي ساحات المواجهة الساخنة المحتملة بين روسيا والحلف الأطلسي.

يأتي كلّ ذلك مع استمرار مساعي واشنطن الحثيثة لضم أوكرانيا وجورجيا إلى الحلف قبل نهاية العام الجاري، بعد أن ضمّت في العام 2004 كلاً من بلغاريا ورومانيا إليه، في محاولة منها لتضييق الحصار على روسيا في البحر الأسود الذي تطل تركيا أيضاً عليه.

وجاء اتصال الرئيس بايدن بنظيره الأوكراني زالينسكي (يهودي وصديق لنتنياهو)، وبعده الاتصالات التي أجراها وزراء الدفاع والخارجية ورئيس الأركان وسكرتير عام مجلس الأمن القومي الأميركي بنظرائهم الأوكرانيين خلال الأسبوع الجاري، لتثبت مدى جدية الوضع في المنطقة، بعد أن أكدت واشنطن دعمها المطلق لأوكرانيا في أزمتها مع روسيا.

لم يتأخّر الرد الروسي على هذه الاستفزازات الأميركية – الأوكرانية، فقامت موسكو بحشد قوات كبيرة جداً في المنطقة، وبدأت مناورات بحرية واسعة في شبه جزيرة القرم وإقليم كراسنودار جنوب شرق أوكرانيا وفي شمال البحر الأسود. 

وقد اكتسب التوقيت الزمني لحديث رئيس البرلمان التركي مصطفى شانتوب عن صلاحيات الرئيس إردوغان للانسحاب من اتفاقية “مونترو” أهمية إضافية، لأنه تزامن مع التصعيد بين موسكو وواشنطن، وأثار نقاشاً جديداً في الشارع التركي والروسي والغربي، إذ وقّع 120 دبلوماسياً تركياً متقاعداً، وبعدهم 103 أميرالات متقاعدين، على بيانين منفصلين استنكروا فيهما كلام شانتوب، وقالوا: “إن الانسحاب من اتفاقية “مونترو” يضع تركيا أمام تحديات جديدة وخطيرة في سياستها الخارجية، ويجبرها على الانحياز إلى أحد أطراف الصراع في المنطقة”.

جاء الرد سريعاً على لسان وزير الداخلية سليمان صويلو، وفخر الدين التون، المتحدث باسم الرئيس إردوغان، اللذين اتهما الأميرالات “بالسعي لمحاولة انقلاب جديدة”، فيما أقام وكيل النيابة العامة دعوى قضائية عاجلة ضد الموقعين على بيان العسكر، وطالب زعيم حزب الحركة القومية دولت باخشالي، حليف إردوغان، بمحاكمتهم وقطع المرتبات التقاعدية عنهم. ويرى البعض أن هذا النقاش مقدمة لما يحضّر له إردوغان في ما يتعلق بالمضائق ورفع مستوى المساومة مع الرئيس بوتين. 

وكانت اتفاقية “مونترو” للعام 1936 قد اعترفت بملكية تركيا لمضيقي البوسفور والدردنيل، مع ضمان حرية الملاحة التجارية فيهما لجميع السفن، وحددت شروطاً صارمة على مرور السفن الحربية التي تملكها الدول غير المطلة على البحر الأسود من هذه المضائق. لا تخفي واشنطن عدم ارتياحها إلى هذه الاتفاقية، وهي تخطط منذ سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي لإرسال أكبر عدد ممكن من سفنها الحربية إلى البحر الأسود، وتسعى الآن إلى إنشاء قواعد في بلغاريا ورومانيا، ولاحقاً في أوكرانيا وجورجيا.

وبدعم تركيا لهذا المخطط الأميركي، ستجد السفن الحربية الروسية نفسها في وضع صعب في الطريق من البحر الأبيض المتوسط وإليه. وقد اعتبرت أوساط دبلوماسية روسية قناة إسطنبول التي يسعى إردوغان لشقّها بين بحر مرمرة والبحر الأسود، وبشكل موازٍ لمضيق البوسفور، محاولة من أنقرة للالتفاف على اتفاقية “مونترو”، حتى يتسنّى للسفن الحربية الأميركية والأطلسية المرور في هذه القناة بالكم والكيف اللذين تشاؤهما، بعيداً من شروط اتفاقية “مونترو”.

كل هذه المعطيات تجعل تركيا، بشكل مباشر أو غير مباشر، طرفاً مهماً في المواجهات الساخنة المحتملة في أوكرانيا، نظراً إلى علاقات أنقرة الاستراتيجية المتشابكة مع كييف، وخصوصاً في مجال الصناعات الحربية، وفي مقدمتها المحركات النفاثة للطائرات المسيّرة والصواريخ المتطورة. يُضاف إلى ذلك الاهتمام التركي الديني والقومي بمنطقة القرم التي يشكل المسلمون حوالى 15% من سكّانها، مع ذكرياتهم السيّئة خلال الحكم السوفياتي الشيوعي، العدو العقائدي للدولة التركية، وهي وريثة الإمبراطورية العثمانية التي تعدّ العدو التاريخي للإمبراطورية الروسيّة.

مهما كانت التطورات المحتملة في الأزمة الأوكرانية وانعكاساتها على الدور التركي في منطقة البحر الأسود، بحساباتها المعقدة، لا تهمل موسكو وواشنطن (وحلفاؤهما الأوروبيون) حسابتهما الإقليمية والدولية الأخرى في منطقتي الأبيض المتوسط والأحمر، وخصوصاً مع استمرار الأزمات السورية واليمنية والصومالية والليبية، وانعكاساتها على موازين القوى في حوضي مضيقي هرمز وباب المندب وشرق الأبيض المتوسط، حيث تتواجد “إسرائيل” التي تحتل فلسطين المجاورة للأردن بأحداثه الأخيرة المفاجئة.

وهنا، تكتسب التحركات الروسية – الإيرانية – الصينية الأخيرة بعناصرها المختلفة أهمية إضافية، لأنها أزعجت وأقلقت العواصم الغربية التي وجدت نفسها مضطرة، ولو في محاولة أخيرة منها، إلى إبعاد طهران عن هذا التحالف، عبر العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي بأسرع ما يمكن. 

وتعتقد واشنطن والعواصم الغربية أن ذلك قد يساعدها للتفرغ لأزمة أوكرانيا، وبعدها لقضايا مماثلة في مناطق أخرى، تهدف من خلالها إلى تضييق الحصار على روسيا في حدائقها الخلفية في آسيا الوسطى والقوقاز، حيث جورجيا وأذربيجان ذات الصلة المباشرة مع تركيا. 

وقد بات واضحاً أنها، وبكل مزاياها الجيوستراتيجية، ستكون ساحة المنافسة، وربما الصراع المستقبلي المباشر وغير المباشر بين واشنطن وموسكو، وهما تتسابقان معاً لكسب المزيد من المواقع في ساحتها، وهو ما يدعم موقف الرئيس إردوغان خارجياً، لأن حساباته باتت متداخلة في سوريا وكاراباخ مع روسيا وحليفتها إيران، كما سيدعم مشاريعه ومخططاته داخلياً للبقاء في السلطة إلى الأبد، بفضل الدعم الاقتصادي والمالي الأميركي والأوروبي. ومن دون ذلك، لا يمكنه أن يحقق شيئاً.

يبقى الرهان على فحوى المكالمة الهاتفية التي ينتظرها الرئيس التركي من الرئيس بايدن، والتي كتب من أجلها الكثيرون العديد من السيناريوهات المختلفة التي ستنعكس بنتائجها على مجمل المنافسات الأميركية – الروسية. سيرفع هذا الاحتمال سقف المساومة بين إردوغان وكلٍّ من بوتين وبايدن. ومن يدفع منهم أكثر سوف يكسب تركيا إلى جانبه أو يمنعها من التحالف مع عدوه.

حتى تلك الساعة، يبدو واضحاً أن الجميع يراهن على مضمون الصفقة التي سيقترحها الرئيس بايدن على الرئيس إردوغان، وشروط الأخير للقبول بتفاصيلها أو رفضها، وهو يدري أن الرئيس بوتين يملك بدوره ما يكفيه من الأوراق لإبقاء تركيا خارج الحلبة الأميركية، حتى لا تعود، كما كانت في سنوات الحرب الباردة، سمكة عالقة في الصنارة الأميركية. 

Ukraine redux: war, Russophobia and Pipelineistan

Ukraine redux: war, Russophobia and Pipelineistan

April 07, 2021

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Ukraine and Russia may be on the brink of war – with dire consequences for the whole of Eurasia. Let’s cut to the chase, and plunge head-on into the fog of war.

On March 24, Ukrainian President Zelensky, for all practical purposes, signed a declaration of war against Russia, via decree No. 117/2021.

The decree establishes that retaking Crimea from Russia is now Kiev’s official policy. That’s exactly what prompted an array of Ukrainian battle tanks to be shipped east on flatbed rail cars, following the saturation of the Ukrainian army by the US with military equipment including unmanned aerial vehicles, electronic warfare systems, anti-tank systems and man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS).

More crucially, the Zelensky decree is the proof any subsequent war will have been prompted by Kiev, debunking the proverbial claims of “Russian aggression.” Crimea, since the referendum of March 2014, is part of the Russian Federation.

It was this (italics mine) de facto declaration of war, which Moscow took very seriously, that prompted the deployment of extra Russian forces to Crimea and closer to the Russian border with Donbass. Significantly, these include the crack 76th  Guards Air Assault Brigade, known as the Pskov paratroopers and, according to an intel report quoted to me, capable of taking Ukraine in only six hours.

It certainly does not help that in early April US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, fresh from his former position as a board member of missile manufacturer Raytheon, called Zelensky to promise “unwavering US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.” That ties in with Moscow’s interpretation that Zelensky would never have signed his decree without a green light from Washington.

Controlling the narrative

Sevastopol, already when I visited in December 2018, is one of the most heavily defended places on the planet, impervious even to a NATO attack. In his decree, Zelensky specifically identifies Sevastopol as a prime target.

Once again, we’re back to 2014 post-Maidan unfinished business.

To contain Russia, the US deep state/NATO combo needs to control the Black Sea – which, for all practical purposes, is now a Russian lake. And to control the Black Sea, they need to “neutralize” Crimea.

If any extra proof was necessary, it was provided by Zelensky himself on Tuesday this week in a phone call with NATO secretary-general and docile puppet Jens Stoltenberg.

Zelensky uttered the key phrase: “NATO is the only way to end the war in Donbass” – which means, in practice, NATO expanding its “presence” in the Black Sea. “Such a permanent presence should be a powerful deterrent to Russia, which continues the large-scale militarization of the region and hinders merchant shipping.”

All of these crucial developments are and will continue to be invisible to global public opinion when it comes to the predominant, hegemon-controlled narrative.

The deep state/NATO combo is imprinting 24/7 that whatever happens next is due to “Russian aggression.” Even if the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) launch a blitzkrieg against the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. (To do so against Sevastopol in Crimea would be certified mass suicide).

In the United States, Ron Paul has been one of the very few voices to state the obvious:  “According to the media branch of the US military-industrial-congressional-media complex, Russian troop movements are not a response to clear threats from a neighbor, but instead are just more ‘Russian aggression.’”

What’s implied is that Washington/Brussels don’t have a clear tactical, much less strategic game plan: only total narrative control.

And that is fueled by rabid Russophobia – masterfully deconstructed by the indispensable Andrei Martyanov, one of the world’s top military analysts.

A possibly hopeful sign is that on March 31, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, talked on the phone about the proverbial “issues of mutual interest.”

Days later, a Franco-German statement came out, calling on “all parties” to de-escalate. Merkel and Macron seem to have gotten the message in their videoconference with Putin – who must have subtly alluded to the effect generated by Kalibrs, Kinzhals and assorted hypersonic weapons if the going gets tough and the Europeans sanction a Kiev blitzkrieg.

The problem is Merkel and Macron don’t control NATO. Yet Merkel and Macron at least are fully aware that if the US/NATO combo attacks Russian forces or Russian passport holders who live in Donbass, the devastating response will target the command centers that coordinated the attacks.

What does the hegemon want?

As part of his current Energizer bunny act, Zelensky made an extra eyebrow-raising move. This past Monday, he visited Qatar with a lofty delegation and clinched a raft of deals, not circumscribed to LNG but also including direct Kiev-Doha flights; Doha leasing or buying a Black Sea port; and strong “defense/military ties” – which could be a lovely euphemism for a possible transfer of jihadis from Libya and Syria to fight Russian infidels in Donbass.

Right on cue, Zelensly meets Turkey’s Erdogan next Monday. Erdogan’s intel services run the jihadi proxies in Idlib, and dodgy Qatari funds are still part of the picture. Arguably, the Turks are already transferring those “moderate rebels” to Ukraine. Russian intel is meticulously monitoring all this activity.

A series of informed discussions – see, for instance, here and here – is converging on what may be the top three targets for the hegemon amid all this mess, short of war: to provoke an irreparable fissure between Russia and the EU, under NATO auspices; to crash the Nord Steam 2 pipeline; and to boost profits in the weapons business for the military-industrial complex.

So the key question then is whether Moscow would be able to apply a Sun Tzu move short of being lured into a hot war in the Donbass.

On the ground, the outlook is grim. Denis Pushilin, one of the top leaders of the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics, has stated that the chances of avoiding war are “extremely small.” Serbian sniper Dejan Beric – whom I met in Donetsk in 2015 and who is a certified expert on the ground – expects a Kiev attack in early May.

The extremely controversial Igor Strelkov, who may be termed an exponent of “orthodox socialism,” a sharp critic of the Kremlin’s policies who is one of the very few warlords who survived after 2014, has unequivocally stated that the only chance for peace is for the Russian army to control Ukrainian territory at least up to the Dnieper river. He stresses that a war in April is “very likely”; for Russia war “now” is better than war later; and there’s a 99% possibility that Washington will not fight for Ukraine.

On this last item at least Strelkov has a point; Washington and NATO want a war fought to the last Ukrainian.

Rostislav Ischenko, the top Russian analyst of Ukraine whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Moscow in late 2018, persuasively argues that, “the overall diplomatic, military, political, financial and economic situation powerfully requires the Kiev authorities to intensify combat operations in Donbass.

“By the way,” Ischenko added, “the Americans do not give a damn whether Ukraine will hold out for any time or whether it will be blown to pieces in an instant. They believe they stand to gain from either outcome.”

Gotta defend Europe

Let’s assume the worst in Donbass. Kiev launches its blitzkrieg. Russian intel documents everything. Moscow instantly announces it is using the full authority conferred by the UNSC to enforce the Minsk 2 ceasefire.

In what would be a matter of 8 hours or a maximum 48 hours, Russian forces smash the whole blitzkrieg apparatus to smithereens and send the Ukrainians back to their sandbox, which is approximately 75km north of the established contact zone.

In the Black Sea, incidentally, there’s no contact zone. This means Russia may send out all its advanced subs plus the surface fleet anywhere around the “Russian lake”: They are already deployed anyway.

Once again Martyanov lays down the law when he predicts, referring to a group of Russian missiles developed by the Novator Design Bureau: “Crushing Ukies’ command and control system is a matter of few hours, be that near border or in the operational and strategic Uki depth. Basically speaking, the whole of the Ukrainian ‘navy’ is worth less than the salvo of 3M54 or 3M14 which will be required to sink it. I think couple of Tarantuls will be enough to finish it off in or near Odessa and then give Kiev, especially its government district, a taste of modern stand-off weapons.”

The absolutely key issue, which cannot be emphasized enough, is that Russia will not (italics mine) “invade” Ukraine. It doesn’t need to, and it doesn’t want to. What Moscow will do for sure is to support the Novorossiya people’s republics with equipment, intel, electronic warfare, control of airspace and special forces. Even a no-fly zone will not be necessary; the “message” will be clear that were a NATO fighter jet to show up near the frontline, it would be summarily shot down.

And that brings us to the open “secret” whispered only in informal dinners in Brussels, and chancelleries across Eurasia: NATO puppets do not have the balls to get into an open conflict with Russia.

One thing is to have yapping dogs like Poland, Romania, the Baltic gang and Ukraine amplified by corporate media on their “Russian aggression” script. Factually, NATO had its collective behind unceremoniously kicked in Afghanistan. It shivered when it had to fight the Serbs in the late 1990s. And in the 2010s, it did not dare fight the Damascus and Axis of Resistance forces.

When all fails, myth prevails. Enter the US Army occupying parts of Europe to “defend” it against – who else? – those pesky Russians.

That’s the rationale behind the annual US Army DEFENDER-Europe 21, now on till the end of June, mobilizing 28,000 soldiers from the US and 25 NATO allies and “partners.”

This month, men and heavy equipment pre-positioned in three US Army depots in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands will be transferred to multiple “training areas” in 12 countries. Oh, the joys of travel, no lockdown in an open air exercise since everyone has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Pipelineistan uber alles

Nord Stream 2 is not a big deal for Moscow; it’s a Pipelineistan inconvenience at best. After all the Russian economy did not make a single ruble out of the not yet existent pipeline during the 2010s – and still it did fine. If NS2 is canceled, there are plans on the table to redirect the bulk of Russian gas shipments towards Eurasia, especially China.

In parallel, Berlin knows very well that canceling NS2 will be an extremely serious breach of contract – involving hundreds of billions of euros; it was Germany that requested the pipeline to be built in the first place.

Germany’s energiewende (“energy transition” policy) has been a disaster. German industrialists know very well that natural gas is the only alternative to nuclear energy. They are not exactly fond of Berlin becoming a mere hostage, condemned to buy ridiculously expensive shale gas from the hegemon – even assuming the hegemon will be able to deliver, as its fracking industry is in shambles. Merkel explaining to German public opinion why they must revert to using coal or buy shale from the US will be a sight to see.

As it stands, NATO provocations against NS2 proceed unabated – via warships and helicopters. NS2 needed a permit to work in Danish waters, and it was granted only a month ago. Even as Russian ships are not as fast in laying pipes as the previous ships from Swiss-based Allseas, which backed down, intimidated by US sanctions, the Russian Fortuna is making steady progress, as noted by analyst Petri Krohn: one kilometer a day on its best days, at least 800 meters a day. With 35 km left, that should not take more than 50 days.

Conversations with German analysts reveal a fascinating shadowplay on the energy front between Berlin and Moscow – not to mention Beijing. Compare it with Washington: EU diplomats complain there’s absolutely no one to negotiate with regarding NS2. And even assuming there would be some sort of deal, Berlin is inclined to admit Putin’s judgment is correct: the Americans are “not agreement-capable.” One just needs to look at the record.

Behind the fog of war, though, a clear scenario emerges: the deep state/NATO combo using Kiev to start a war as a Hail Mary pass to ultimately bury NS2, and thus German-Russian relations.

At the same time, the situation is evolving towards a possible new alignment in the heart of the “West”: US/UK pitted against Germany/France. Some Anglosphere exceptionals are certainly more Russophobic than others.

The toxic encounter between Russophobia and Pipelineistan will not be over even if NS2 is completed. There will be more sanctions. There will be an attempt to exclude Russia from SWIFT. The proxy war in Syria will intensify. The hegemon will go no holds barred to keep creating all sorts of geopolitical harassment against Russia.

What a nice wag-the-dog op to distract domestic public opinion from massive money printing masking a looming economic collapse. As the empire crumbles, the narrative is set in stone: it’s all the fault of “Russian aggression.”

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Source

April 02, 2021

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

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

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

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

Sergey Lavrov: He was invited for consultations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vyacheslav Nikonov: When will Ambassador Antonov return to Washington?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our level of cooperation continues to grow qualitatively.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sergey Lavrov: I am referring to our historical roots.

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

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

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

Sergey Lavrov: Why past tense?

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

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

Dimitri Simes: Both options are available.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sergey Lavrov: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dimitri Simes: Have you changed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAOS IN UKRAINE IS MAKING AN EPIC COMEBACK

South Front

You can read this article in German. LINK

In Ukraine, the situation is slowly, but surely, falling into even a deeper abyss, full of violence and corruption – in the name of democracy for sure.

Joe Biden entered the White House, a true Ukrainian friend, who is prepared to support Kiev to the ends of the Earth. Especially after the investigations into him and his son Hunter Biden over stealing billions faded into obscurity.

As such, the internal situation in Ukraine is worrisome for even the most disillusion observer.

It all started with the shutting down of opposition TV channels and immediately moved to attacks on the largest and most popular opposition party – “Opposition Platform – For Life!”.Opposition leaders were then sanctioned, for being “Putin agents”, and many of its members were openly censored and persecuted. Then it came down to censoring and persecuted another well-known opposition figure – Anatoly Shariy, and his party.

Websites were pulled down, accounts were banned, cases were opened against those against President Volodymyr Zelensky and his “Servant of the People” party.

Crumbling power is being consolidated by the small clique of Nazi apologists and foreign puppets, which in the current format appears to be represented by President-Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky. Any resistance is being snuffed out. This is how democracy works in Ukraine, and it has the full backing of the bastion of Democracy – Washington.

As a significant additional concern comes the situation in Eastern Ukraine.

The ceasefire is all but forfeit, provocations are daily. Soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are frequently reported as dead or wounded, and it is all blamed on the “pro-Russian separatists” in the face of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

At the same time, Kiev forces regularly shell both military positions, as well as civilian locations, mostly indiscriminately. According to opposition sources, the Ukrainian Armed Forces also use civilians to shield itself, while they attack.

Every single chance is being used to cause a provocation that could potentially escalate. The leadership of self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk have warned Kiev against worsening the situation, as heavy clashes were reported more than once.

The largest incident in the recent weeks took place on February 25th, near Gorlovka, and since then clashes have been frequently happening across the entire contact line.

Critical mass is nearing, and the impetus was expressed in Joe Biden’s words that the EU needs to “stand for Ukrainian sovereignty” and that the US was prepared to take the lead. G_3(A)

The lead isn’t being taken, but Kiev’s impunity has begun. “Russian aggression” is back on the agenda and the fight against is must be renewed.

This is justification for many harsh actions, that border atrocities, both in Eastern Ukraine and, internally for Ukraine.

With Washington’s blessing, all opposition being steadily removed, a “pure democracy” is coming to Ukraine. There are many ticking time bombs in Ukraine, and when one explodes, the chain reaction promises to throw everything into chaos

Related

The Ukraine’s many ticking time bombs

THE SAKER • FEBRUARY 23, 2021

While the Ukraine has mostly been out of the news, there were bigger stories out there, things have gone disastrously wrong under “Ze” (Zelenskii) and the Ukraine is now looking at several time bombs which could explode at any minute. Here is a partial list of problems which the Ze administration will have to deal with in 2021: (in no particular order)

  1. The strengthening of the internal opposition to Ze’s rule
  2. The COVID pandemic, the vaccine scandal and the crumbling Ukrainian infrastructure
  3. The crackdown on free speech
  4. The persecution of opponents inside and even outside the Ukraine
  5. The (limited) rise of (putatively pro-Russian) OPZZh party
  6. The sharp rise in European rhetoric against Russia which the Ze admin will want to match and cater to
  7. The hardening of the positions of the LDNR
  8. A further increase in US/NATO saber rattling and provocations
  9. The regime in Kiev openly planning for a war against Russia

Still, before looking at each one of these threats, I think that we need to first look at what the Zelenskii presidency has meant to the Ukraine. To make a long story short, many (most?) Ukrainians are now realizing two things: first Zelenskii made many promises and kept none of them and, second, Zelenskii is even worse than Poroshenko (which is hard to believe or even imagine, but such is the sad truth). Early on, it did appear that Zelenskii might bring some real “change we can believe in”, the main one being that he would take action against the various Nazi death squads and open real negotiations with the Donbass. Neither of those actually happened. Zelenskii is clearly terrified of the political and military power of the nationalists and far from forcing the Ukronazis to abide by the rule of law, Ze comprehensively caved in to their agenda.

It is not my purpose today to analyse in detail what Zelenskii did or did not do, I will simply summarize it all by saying that Zelenskii was all talk and no action. Literally, he has completely neglected the many crises which have plagued the Ukraine since the so-called “revolution of dignity”. What he did do is preside over a sharp increase in the scope and magnitude of suppression of free speech (more about that below). He also tightened laws against the Russian language. And, of course, Ukrainian Su-27s escorted US B-1Bs along the border between Russia and the Ukraine (makes me wonder if these Ukrainian pilots have any honor or dignity left! But no, they are just servants, that’s all, meek servants of their overseas masters). These are just a few examples of purely political actions which are “for show only” but which do absolutely nothing to actually address any real problem.

A perfect example of this “all talk no action” approach was how Ze dealt with the COVID pandemic in the Ukraine. First, opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk and Vladimir Putin met in Moscow and came up with a plan to help the Ukraine deal with the COVID pandemic: Russia would hand over her vaccine-development technologies to the Ukraine’s only advanced pharmaceutical company which could then produce Sputnik-V for the needs of the Ukrainian population first, and then for export. Considering that neither the EU nor the US has any inclination to offer vaccines to the Ukraine, and considering that the Ukraine has zero chances of developing its own vaccine, this solution would seem a no-brainer. But not in the ugly Banderastan the Ukronazis created on the ashes of the real Ukraine. Instead, the Ukrainian authorities announced that they would be getting their vaccines from China. There were only two problems with this “solution”: 1) the Chinese vaccine is only about 50%+ effective and 2) the money allocated to this purchase was immediately stolen and has now disappeared (it is being investigated, of course, but we all know how such “investigations” end). However, with all the hysterical anti-Russian propaganda of the Ukrainian Nazis, it was quite unthinkable for them to accept anything Russian publicly, including a vaccine (away from the public eye, the Ukraine still purchases a lot of things from Russia, including energy). Russia is, after all, a fake “Rus” populated by Ugro-Mongols (not “pure Slavs” like the Ukrainians imagine themselves to be), it is “Putin’s Mordor” and, last but not least, Russia is the official “aggressor-country”, how can a proud Ukie nationalist accept *anything* from this demonic country, even if this saves his life?

Besides, Ze personally explained that Sputnik-V has not been properly tested and that he did now want to turn the Ukrainian people into “guinea pigs” (apparently, he and his advisors are too dumb to read The Lancet; either that, or they don’t mind their own people dying as long as the priorities of political discourse are upheld). As a result, while normal Ukrainians are denied any possibility of vaccination, wealthy Ukrainians are already organizing special trips to Russia to get vaccinated (US diplomats in Moscow are also getting the Russian vaccine).

As a result of this kind of ideology-driven “policies”, the Ukraine is now begging the West for any vaccine (even the clearly dangerous ones!). In response, the US gave the Ukraine a refrigerator (presumably to keep any future vaccines properly refrigerated). As for the Ukrainian medical infrastructure it is, just like the rest of the Ukraine’s infrastructure, in shambles. In fact, it was in shambles long before the COVID pandemic. All the pandemic did was to make things worse and reveal the truth to the rest of the world.

Furthermore, the COVID pandemic is hardly the only medical crisis facing the Ukraine: with a crumbling infrastructure, demoralized, demotivated and underpaid Ukrainian MDs who work in terrible conditions (many have emigrated, many to Russia, by the way), and no funds to deal with anything (the Ukraine is broke and is barely keeping one nostril above water by means of western loans). This situation is similar to the one Russia faced in the 90s during the “blessed times of democracy and freedom”, as seen by the West, and the “nightmare of the 90s”, as seen by most Russians.

It would not be honest to say that Ze did not try to deal with these problems at all. He did something: he ordered a massive crackdown against the opposition. These measures included banning, by executive order, the last three (rather moderate) opposition TV channels, by charging a Ukrainian blogger who lives in Spain with, I kid you not, “high treason” and by imposing sanctions on several opposition figures, beginning by Medvedchuk. And just to clarify – none of this was done legally or even in a vaguely lawful manner (how can a country impose sanctions on its own citizens? And without any judicial review!) . As expected, the US Embassy in Kiev gave these repressive measures their full and enthusiastic support. After all, according to Uncle Shmuel, this is all about “countering Russian disinformation”. In sharp contrast, the Ukranian public immediately understood what this meant (the Russian language Internet has also been blocked in the Ukronazi Banderastan, as are Russian social networks, books, art, music, etc.).

Like the typical imperial satrap that he is, Ze now rules almost exclusively by executive orders, always backed by the “muscle” of the Ukrainian “security services” (which, in reality, are the typical kind of absolutely corrupt third world “secret police” which the regular citizens are fearful of, but which those connected to the regime can always use as their personal terror squads; the Ukie “SBU” really reminds me of the kind of death squads I remember from Latin America in the 70s and 80s, say like this one).

Of course, the main reason for this crackdown on free speech can be found in the dramatic loss of popularity of Ze himself, but also because the arguments of the opposition are now becoming more popular, giving the opposition a sense of confidence. Alas, this confidence might not be warranted.

Let’s take the most famous Ukrainian opposition party, the “Opposition Platform for Life” abbreviated (in Russian) “OPZZh”. In the 2019 elections the OPZZh did very well, it came in as the 2nd party in the Rada after the “People’s Servant” party of Ze. That is true. But what is often forgotten is that OPZZh came in 2nd with only 13.05% of the vote and, even more importantly, the OPZZh has already “maxed out” its electoral potential. Why? Because this party is perceived by most Ukrainians as being pro-Russian and most Ukrainians are not pro-Russian at all. Many decades of anti-Russian and nationalist propaganda, from the Krushchev years up to today, combined with a massive and sustained Ukronazi propaganda aired by western radio stations and media, all have left their devastating impact on the self-perception and ethos of the Ukrainian people. This is especially true since the Ukraine lost both Crimea and the Donbass, which were strongholds of anti-Nazi political opposition to the Ukronazi regime. I just don’t see regions like Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk or Zhitomir ever giving a majority vote to the OPZZh, even if southern and eastern regions might. So while the OPZZh might get some more votes (say, in the southern regions of the Ukraine), it will probably never be enough to turn this self-described opposition party into a ruling one.

There used to be an alliance of opposition parties called “Opposition Block” which brought together various opposition movements and parties. Now its members have gone either to the OPZZh or founded their own sub-groups (like the 2019 version of the Opposition Block). The former Party of Regions has dissolved in abject shame, its clueless leaders mostly in exile, but a few strong and outspoken opposition figures did come from it, including Elena Bondarenko and Elena Lukash. I should also mention the name of Vadim Rabinovich, a very outspoken and articulate politician (whose main political liability is his Israeli passport).

All-in-all, there are definitely some interesting political figures in the opposition, but they do not, in my opinion, represent a viable option for the Kremlin and, frankly, they aren’t much of an option for the Ukraine either.

Still, for the Kremlin to put all its political eggs into the OPZZh basket does, to some degree, make sense. Why? Well, for one thing, OPZZh is the only major political force in the Ukraine willing to openly talk with the Kremlin. So you can say that the only option is by definition also the best one. But while Putin and the Russians are going through all the right motions with the Ukrainian opposition figures, I strongly suspect that the Kremlin knows what the real score is, and that this score looks very grim indeed. Simply put: there is no personality in the Ukraine capable of rallying enough people to finally kick Ze and his gang out of power. Why? Mostly because the Ukraine is ideologically and morally bankrupt. Well, financially, too, of course. But the main problem is that the only people with a vision for the future of the Ukraine are the Nazis. Nobody else is offering any halfway credible vision for the future of the Ukraine. Of course, this makes sense because the tragic truth is that the Ukraine has no future. None whatsoever. After all, it is an artificial country, created by Lenin and Khrushchev, whose national identity is solely based on hatred (see here and here) and whose constituent parts have mutually exclusive ideologies, beliefs and views.

It is quite remarkable that while under Poroshenko’s rule the opposition was persecuted both legally and illegally (unpunished murders of political dissidents happened in large numbers, nobody in the “democratic West” had anything to say about them!), Ze has actually gone one step further: he is clearly determined to declare that the entire opposition is composed not of Ukrainian opponents, but of traitors to the Ukraine, “Putin agents” and secret supporters of the “Russian world”. Hence, the latest series of crackdowns, lawsuits and administrative persecutions.

As always, the West only makes things worse. How? Well, since Biden won stole the US presidential election, the US-run comprador ruling classes in Europe are scrambling to show that they are just as anti-Russian as the new administration. That, in turn, encourages the regime in Kiev to show more anti-Russian aggression (in whatever form, does not really matter). This “change of tone” is immediately noticed in the Donbass and results in an escalation of the political rhetoric (and military “incidents”) in the LDNR. That, in turn, impacts the Russian political scene and resulted in things like the trip of Margarita Simonian, the editor-in-chief of the television news network RT and of the state-owned international news agency Rossiya Segodnya, to Donetsk were she publicly declared “Russia, mother, take the Donbass back home!” (“Россия, матушка, забери Донбасс домой!”). Of course, she insisted that this was her private opinion and that she was not speaking in any official capacity, which is true. But what is also true is that Simonian is a popular figure in Russia, and her words were immediately discussed on all the talkshows, VK, blogs and all the major TV channels. Everybody understands that while she was speaking in her own name, she was acutely aware of, shall we say, the “mood” in the Kremlin (and of the Russian street!) and that her saying that now will have a noticeable impact on the Russian political discourse, both the official onе and on the Russian Internet (Runet). This is a potentially very dangerous sequence:

  1. The US ups its anti-Russian rhetoric.
  2. The Europeans immediately follow suit and also escalate.
  3. The Ukronazis also immediately follow suit and also escalate.
  4. The LDNR republics warn of escalation and increase pressure on Russia.
  5. The Russians react to all of the above and harden both their rhetoric and actions.
  6. The West feels like it has to show its military power, but can only do so symbolically.
  7. Russia uses actual military capabilities to oppose western symbolic actions.
  8. The West accuses Russia of military escalation.
  9. The Russians officially declare that the West is 1) non-agreement capable (old argument) and 2) hypocritical beyond words.
  10. The West then uses its “soft” (political) power to harass Russia, only further making things worse (see #1 above)

This is exactly the kind of open-ended escalation which can result in a major cataclysm. As for Ukronazis politicians, they flood the air with triumphant declarations about their “new” missile “Neptune” which they could use to destroy the Crimean Bridge (see here or here for a good laugh!). Of course, the Russians know that the “new” Neptune missile is just a modernization of the old, 1980s era, Soviet Kh-35 missile, a subsonic missile with a 145kg (320lbs) warhead. The original Kh-35 had a 130km (70nmi) range, which was bumped up to 300km (160nmi) in Russia in 2015. The “new” Neptune also has a 300km range. In plain English this means three things: 1) the Russian air defenses can easily shoot down this slow flying missile 2) a 145kg warhead can’t do any meaningful damage to a huge structure like the Crimea Bridge and 3) Kiev is still up to no good and dreams of a reconquista.

But that is not all! Kiev is also promising to 1) build a new naval base not only on the Black Sea coast, but also on the Sea of Azov and 2) they are now working with the UK to build up these capabilities. Best of all, the western and Ukrainian propaganda outlets are open declaring that this is a strategy to defeat Russia (for a good laugh, read this). The truth is this: nevermind the Sea of Azov, the entire Black Sea is now a de facto “Russian lake” and Russia has the means to destroy any ship sailing the Black Sea within minutes, everybody knows that, at least anybody with any military background. In case of conflict, the survival time of these two Ukrainian bases would be counted not even in minutes, but in seconds. Deploying any force so near to the Russian border is basically suicidal.

One more example of the kind of insanity which has taken over the Ukraine with Ze in power: believe it or not, but the Ze administration has explained that the Ukraine gave NATO the “authorization” to overfly Crimea. Again, this is such a self-evidently stupid idea that I won’t discuss it on its merits. All I want you to do is imagine hearing all that crazy stuff if you were a Russian decision maker: would you simply ignore these nutcases or would you take the needed measures to make sure that none of that ever happens. Even Lavrov recently quoted the famous Roman wisdom “si vis pacem, para bellum” which, considering that Lavrov is most definitely a “moderate” tells you all you need to know about Russian responses to all this insanity.

The sad truth is that Ze’s Ukraine is no more viable than Poroshenko’s was. In fact, I would argue that the Ukraine is cracking at all its seams and that the only solution left just to delay, but not prevent, a Somalia-like style collapse is to import everything from abroad: from the EU, of course, but also from Russia (especially energy) which continues to provide the Ukraine with energy, even if this is rarely advertised (especially in the Ukraine). The Ukrainian energy sector is in ruins, as is the Ukrainian agricultural sector (the “agrarian superpower” promise also failed to deliver; it reminds me of Krushchev’s “corn crusade”…). None of that is ever reported in the West (for a good laugh, see herehere or here) except buried deeply in some reports like this rare admission “The informal sector in Ukraine is estimated to account for a third of the country’s GDP, and GDP per capita (at purchasing power parity) is only 20% of the EU average”.

The reality of the collapse of the Ukraine is so serious that the international community has decided to provide COVID vaccines to the Ukraine through the COVAX program which Wikipedia defines as “the financing instrument that will support the participation of 92 low- and middle-income economies to access to COVID-19 vaccine funded by donors”. In fact, the decision has been made that the Ukraine will be amongst the first countries to benefit from this international aid program. Okay, in plain English this means this: since the Ukraine cannot produce a vaccine, and since the Ukraine has no money to purchase vaccines abroad, and since the epidemiological situation in the Ukraine (and in all the other poor countries) represents a real danger for developed and wealthy countries too, it only makes sense for the rich to inoculate the poor, if only to avoid being contaminated by them (yet another case of self-interest masquerading as charity).

The richer countries will have no option but to pay for the costs to inoculate those people who live in failed states and other indigent countries. Yet, even Ze himself had to admit that even this will not be enough. It sure looks to me like the US will peddle its worst vaccines (Pfizer) to the Ukrainians and still make a profit. Some opponents of the regime, like Anatolii Sharii (the blogger living in Spain and accused of “high treason”) suggested to do with the Russian vaccines what the Ukraine has already done with Russian energy: don’t buy it from Russia but, instead, let Russia sell her vaccines (Russia is the only country in the world with 3 tested and fully approved vaccines) to the EU which then can re-sell it to the Ukraine, thereby obfuscating the “aggressor-nation” origin of the vaccine from the public eye. This technique, called a “reverse”, is what the EU and the regime in Kiev came up with to avoid admitting the absolutely inadmissible fact that the Ukraine still only exists because Russia allows it to (if Russia was to cut off all ties with the Ukraine the latter would quickly collapse, if only because of a lack of energy).

But no country can live by “reversing” everything. Not only are “reversed” goods more expensive than the original ones (transportation costs money), but it’s not like the EU has enough energy or vaccines for itself. And while the Europeans have lied to the Ukrainians about pretty much everything and made innumerable promises about how the Ukraine will become “the next Germany” in the EU, the sad reality is that nobody in the EU gives a damn about the Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. EU politicians don’t even care about their own people, why should they care about anybody except themselves anyway? Remember, this is the “new EU” where the only truly “European values” left are greed, power and psychopathic hypocrisy. From now on when you think Europe, don’t think Henry Dunant (the founder of the Red Cross movement, long before Clara Barton who only founded the American Red Cross 18 years later) or J.S. Bach, but think Conchita Wurst: that is the new, Woke, face of Europe.

In fact, I would even argue that the *only* country in the world where people still *truly* care about the Ukraine and the Ukrainian people remains Russia. This idea is, of course, 100% pure crimethink which nobody in the West will ever admit to it. Sadly, there are plenty of signs indicating that the traditional love the Russian people had for the Ukraine is quickly being replaced by a strong sense of disgust.

In this highly unfavorable backdrop it is now also becoming increasingly impossible for the Ukrainian propaganda machine to conceal the scope and magnitude of the deep crisis affecting the country: the quickening pace of the collapse of the Ukrainian infrastructure is simply impossible to conceal. And does one conceal stuff like the severe shortages in goods and services? Or how do you conceal an electricity outage?

Conclusion:

The Ukraine is facing a range of major problems which are unlikely to remain contained to the territory of the Ukraine. Things like crime, or a pandemic, or the rule of the mob are very hard to contain. Sooner or later these inevitably bleed over the border to the neighboring country which then, in turn, has to face the same threats. In theory, Russia, the US and the EU could get together and agree on an international rescue plan, but since the US and EU consider that they are playing a zero sum game against Russia, no western politician will ever openly advocate for a real collaboration with Putin’s Mordor. Putin recently declared that “why does everything revolve around the Nord Stream — 2? They want to make Russia pay for their geopolitical project “Ukraine”, that’s all. In fact, everything is quite primitive, everything is simple, we have long understood this, but this is the world in which we live”. Needless to say, Russia won’t agree to foot the bill for this disastrous experiment russophobic ethnogenesis, if only because she simply does not have the kind of reserves to pay for such a huge program. At most, Russia will continue to help the Donbass, and even in this case Russia (or the LDNR republics) could consider demanding reparations from Kiev and its western sponsors. Again, knowing how western arbitration courts work, that won’t happen either.

I don’t think that anybody seriously believes that the Donbass or Crimea will ever agree to return under Kiev’s rule, not de facto and not de jure. That is a given. Neither do I believe that the rump Ukraine is a viable entity. The only conclusion I can come to is this: a breakup of the Ukraine might be inevitable. In fact, such a breakup might even be desirable for all parties (except the russophobic warmongering ruling classes of the AngloZionist Empire who want to destroy Russia at any and all cost).

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

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research, February 15, 2021

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

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CHICKEN KIEV MEETS COLD TURKEY: BLACK SEA AXIS EMERGES?

South Front

Chicken Kiev Meets Cold Turkey: Black Sea Axis Emerges?

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

Kiev’s Unrequited Love

On the face of it, an alliance between Turkey and Ukraine seems like a rather odd creation, yet one that may surprisingly durable simply because neither country has anywhere else to turn. What practically dooms them to a partnership if not an outright alliance is their unenviable geographic and geopolitical position of occupying the strange “no man’s land” between Russia, NATO, and the Middle East. It is, of course, largely a predicament of their own making. Ukraine, with considerable Western backing and encouragement but nevertheless mostly through efforts of a faction of its own oligarchy, opted out of the Russia-centered network of loose alliances, trade partnerships, and other forms of cooperation that were mutually beneficial to the two in the previous two decades. But that defection was not rewarded by the West in a way the likes of Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk, Avakov, Parubiy, and other architects of the Maidan coup expected. Merely being stridently anti-Russian did not prove enough to warrant a shower of US and European cash, only onerous IMF loans which moreover come with conditions Kiev elites are in no hurry to abide by. EU foreign policy chief Josef Borrel lecturing Kiev that the European Union is not an “ATM machine” delivered that point loud and clear: Kiev is supposed to privatize whatever crown jewels its economy still has (at this point, mainly agricultural land), fight corruption of its own elites and facilitate the corruption of Western elites. Joseph Robinette Biden Junior is hardly the only Western politician with a talentless son in need of a lucrative sinecure. There are entire Western companies eager to participate in the thinly disguised plunder that the privatization of Ukraine’s economy will inevitably turn into. A Kiev court’s recent decision to declare the country’s anti-corruption institutions that were painstakingly stood up with considerable aid and tutelage from Western governments, down to screening appropriately-minded individuals for the job, looks as if it were calculated to send a middle-finger gesture to Borrel in terms even dense EU bureaucratic hacks will comprehend. Pro-EU newspapers like Kiev Post were quick to label this a “death of democracy”, presumably with the intent of interesting EU and NATO in sponsoring yet another Maidan since last one seems not to be delivering the goods. The expected shower of Western weaponry has not materialized, probably because NATO is afraid to give Ukraine so much aid that it will risk a full-blown war with Russia.

Ankara’s Burning Hate

Chicken Kiev Meets Cold Turkey: Black Sea Axis Emerges?

Erdogan’s Turkey, by contrast, is in process of de-facto opting out of NATO, though neither Turkey nor the alliance itself want to take the final step of severing ties completely. NATO membership is still beneficial to Turkey. While the procurement of Russian S-400 air defense systems angered NATO and US in particular, resulting in the expulsion of Turkey from the F-35 program and the cancellation of F-35 sale to the country, evidently Ankara hopes that by nominally remaining in the alliance it limits NATO and EU sanctions that would no doubt be far harsher if it were totally out of the alliance. The hope that Turkey, possibly post-Erdogan, will yet see the error of its ways and return to the fold, prevents NATO from adopting harsher stances that would definitely push Ankara away. Yet the drifting apart is unmistakable, and the animosity between Turkey’s leaders and their Western European counterparts is so intense as to beggar belief. While Germany’s Merkel is careful to tip-toe around the issue due to fear of another wave of refugees as well as unrest among the large Turkish diaspora in Germany, France’s Macron seems to have taken a personal affront to Erdogan’s suggestion he might need a mental evaluation and will press the issue of EU sanctions against Turkey at future Union summits.

But from Turkey’s perspective, getting a cold shoulder from the EU is par for the course. Its own migration to the geopolitical gray zone of Eurasia was motivated by EU’s failure to admit Turkey as a member after decades of leading it by the nose and promising neighborhood in some nebulously distant future right after Hell froze over. Like Ukraine, Turkey was not seeking EU membership because of some mythical “shared values”. It, too, saw EU as an ATM machine that would shower Turkey, one of the poorest countries on the continent, with development assistance and moreover allow Turks to freely travel and work throughout the Union. Needless to say, neither of these prospects appealed to pretty much any European country, no matter how close or distant it was geographically. So after decades of leading Turkey by the nose, EU politely put an end to the charade citing problems with Turkey’s democracy. Thus snubbed, Erdogan opted to chart an independent course and appears to be finding a similarly snubbed oligarch clique in Kiev looking for ways the two countries could extract mutual benefit from their isolated status.

Quid pro Quos

There are plenty of those to be had, as limited as Ukraine’s and Turkey’s resources are, compared to such patrons as EU, NATO, US. Faced with isolation and even a potential ban on arms exports, Turkey has a strong incentive to exploit the resources of the Ukrainian defense industry and engage in some export substitution in case vital supplies are no longer available from the West. Canada’s and Austria’s ban on exports of optronics and engines needed for the Bayraktar TB2 combat drones means Ukraine’s ability to provide substitutes would be most welcome. Ukraine, for its part, would not be against deploying a huge attack drone fleet of its own in the hopes of replicating Azerbaijan’s successful offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh on the Donbass, though there Ukraine’s drones would probably run afoul of Novorossiya’s air defenses in the same way Turkish drones were brought to heel over Idlib. Turkey’s Altay main battle tank is likewise little more than an assembly of components imported from other countries, particularly Germany. Since Germany has already placed a ban on export of powerpacks and transmissions for the Altay, Turkey has been casting about for replacements, looking as far as China. Whether Ukraine’s developments in this realm can be adopted to rescue the Altay project remain to be seen. However, the Oplot powerpacks and transmissions can probably be adapted to Altay use, resulting in Turkey realizing its goal of a home-grown MBT. Ultimately, the greater the contribution of Ukrainian defense industry to Turkey’s military modernization, the more freedom of action it would bestow on Turkey and make it less dependent on other foreign sources of military hardware who can exert influence over Turkey simply by withholding future technical support. If the United States were to follow up on the F-35 expulsion with a ban on servicing Turkish F-16s which form the mainstay of its airpower, the result would be crippling of the country’s air combat capabilities that drones cannot compensate for and which would be sorely missed in any confrontation with another comparable power like Greece. Turkey’s efforts to develop an indigenous fighter aircraft would benefit from Ukraine’s technological contributions and its own interest in indigenous aircraft designs. For Ukraine, the relationship would be an opportunity to acquire NATO-compatible weaponry with the caveat that it would have to pay in full for every last drone, either with cash or in kind. Turkey’s economic situation is not so strong as to allow largesse in the form of free military aid to anyone.

Chicken Kiev Meets Cold Turkey: Black Sea Axis Emerges?

Match Made in Hell

Mitigating against the long-term development of what Zelensky referred to as “strategic partnership” with Turkey is the erratic behavior of Erdogan who seeks to dominate any and all partners and tries to see how far he can push before the partners push back. This practice has led to the confrontations in Syria, Libya, and eastern Mediterranean. Ukraine, in contrast to Russia, France, and even Greece, is hardly in a position to push back. The most dangerous aspect of Turkish politics, from Ukraine’s perspective, is the ideology of Pan-Turkism that just might transform Ukraine’s Tatar community into a proxy force for Turkey right inside Ukraine, adding yet another fissure to the already fractured political picture. On the plus side, Erdogan does not appear interested in “combating corruption” in Ukraine, though that does not preclude the possibility Turkey’s military collaboration with Ukraine might not cost Ukraine dearly, though not to the same extent as EU-promoted privatization efforts.

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لوكاشينكو يكشف عن نصائح بوتين له وبيسكوف يستبعد تكرار السيناريو البيلاروسي في بلاده

البناء

كشف رئيس بيلاروس، ألكسندر لوكاشينكو عن الرسالة التي بعثها من خلال ظهوره أمام عدسات وسائل الإعلام مسلحاً ببندقية حربية، على خلفية موجة الاضطرابات الاجتماعية التي تمر بها بلاده.

وجاء ذلك في معرض تعليق لوكاشينكو، في حوار مع ممثلين عن وسائل الإعلام الروسية في مينسك، على شريط الفيديو المدوي الذي يظهره وهو يحلق على متن مروحية فوق مينسك ويخرج منها لدى هبوطها أمام قصر الاستقلال (المقر الرئاسي) حاملا بندقية كلاشنيكوف.

Might Belarus become the next Syria?
Might Belarus become the next Syria?

وأوضح لوكاشينكو أنه «قام بتلك الرحلة على متن المروحية الرئاسية بغية الاطلاع على واقع الوضع على الأرض، فيما كان المحتجون المعارضون يتقدمون لأول مرة نحو قصر الاستقلال».

وتابع: «أظهرت أن أطفالي هنا ووطني هنا وسأدافع عنه بأي ثمن».

وأشار الرئيس إلى أن «مسؤولين في إدارته حاولوا إقناعه بعدم مغادرة المقر الرئاسي في ذلك اليوم»، قائلاً: «كانوا يمسكون يدي وقدمي».

كما كشف لوكاشينكو، عن حديثه مع الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، حول دعم رئيس أوكرانيا فلاديمير زيلينسكي.

وقال لوكاشينكو، رداً عن سؤال حول موافقة بوتين بأن يدعم رئيس أوكرانيا: «نعم (دعمني) في العديد من القضايا… (وقال بوتين) تحدث إليه بطريقة أبوية، إنه شاب… وقلت له حسناً، لقد تحدثت إليه، خلال مشاركتي في منتدى هناك، وأوضحت له (لزيلينسكي) أن بوتين ليس هدفه الاستيلاء على كييف… والسيطرة على كل شرق أوكرانيا».

وتابع لوكاشينكو، «بوتين تكفيه روسيا… وناقشنا العديد من القضايا الحياتية وحاولت إقناعه (زيلينسكي)، وهو شخص متفهم وعاملني بشكل جيد».

وحذر الرئيس البيلاروسي، من انهيار بلاده، منوهاً بأن» روسيا ستكون التالية إذا حدث ذلك»، قائلاً: «هل تعلمون إلى ماذا توصلنا مع المؤسسات والقيادة الروسية؟ إذا انهارت بيلاروس اليوم، فالتالية ستكون روسيا».

بدوره، علق المتحدث باسم الرئاسة الروسية، دميتري بيسكوف، على تصريحات لوكاشينكو، عن إمكانية تكرار الاضطرابات التي تشهدها بلاده في روسيا.

وقال بيسكوف للصحافيين، أمس: «لا أعتقد أن المقارنة ممكنة في هذا الشأن، إذ نحن بلدان مختلفان ودولتان سياديتان، وإن كنا متحدين ضمن الدولة الاتحادية التي نثمّنها كثيراً. فلكل منهما ما يميزه من الثقافة السياسية والواقع السياسي والتوجهات السياسية. لذا فيبدو لي أن من غير الصواب إطلاق أي تعميمات في هذا الشأن».

وأشار المتحدث باسم الكرملين إلى أن «روسيا تحترم بالكامل الثقافة السياسية البيلاروسية، على الرغم من هذه الاختلافات».

وفي تعليقه على تقارير عن اختفاء بعض النشطاء المعارضين في بيلاروس، وخاصة قياديين بمجلس التنسيق التابع للمعارضة هناك، قال بيسكوف: «بالتأكيد يمثل اختفاء أشخاص ما أمراً مثيراً للقلق.. وبالطبع نعوّل على أنه سيتم تقديم معلومات معينة (حول هذه الحوادث) في مواعيد محددة وفقا للقانون».

فيما قالت المحامية لودميلا كازاك إن «عضو هيئة رئاسة مجلس التنسيق المعارض في بيلاروسيا، ماريا كوليسنيكوفا، موقوفة بالاشتباه بها في قضية محاولة الاستيلاء على السلطة». وأصبحت كوليسنيكوفا من أول قادة المجلس بهذا الوضع.

ورداً على سؤال توضيحي، أضافت كازاك أن كولسنيكوفا مشتبه بها في ما يسمى «قضية مجلس التنسيق»، والتي بدأت بموجب المادة الخاصة بمحاولة الاستيلاء على السلطة.

وألقي القبض، أول أمس الثلاثاء، على عضو هيئة رئاسة المجلس التنسيقي للمعارضة البيلاروسية، ماريا كوليسنيكوفا، على الحدود مع أوكرانيا، والبحث جار عن ممثلين آخرين في المجلس، وهما إيفان كرافتسوف، وأنتون رودنينكوف، بالتعاون مع كييف.

ووفقاً لوكالة الأنباء التلفزيونية الأوكرانية: «اجتاز الهاربون نقاط التفتيش الحدودية والجمارك وعند تفتيش السيارة فقدوا أعصابهم، وانطلقوا بسرعة في اتجاه أوكرانيا حيث كادوا يصدمون أحد عناصر حرس الحدود، وفي الوقت نفسه دفعوا بـ كوليسنيكوفا من السيارة».

من جانبها أكدت لجنة حدود الدولة البيلاروسية، في وقت سابق، أن «الأشخاص الثلاثة تم تسجيلهم عند نقطة التفتيش وتوجهوا نحو أوكرانيا نتيجة لذلك تمكن أنطون رودنينكوف وإيفان كرافتسوف من الهرب، ولم تستطع كوليسنيكوفا فعل ذلك، وتم اعتقالها على الحدود مباشرة، والآن البحث جار عن الهاربين مع الجانب الأوكراني».

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Is there a 6th column trying to subvert Russia?

THE SAKER • APRIL 30, 2020 

For those of us who followed the Russian Internet there is a highly visible phenomenon taking place which is quite startling: there are a lot of anti-Putin videos posted on YouTube or its Russian equivalents. Not only that, but a flurry of channels has recently appeared which seem to have made bashing Putin or Mishustin their full-time job. Of course, there have always been anti-Putin and anti-Medvedev videos in the past, but what makes this new wave so different from the old one is that they attack Putin and Mishustin not from pro-Western positions, but from putatively Russian patriotic positions. Even the supposed (not true) “personal advisor” to Putin and national-Bolshevik (true), Alexander Dugin has joined that movement (see here if you understand Russian).

This is a new, interesting and complex phenomenon, and I will try to unpack it here.

First, we have to remember that Putin was extremely successful at destroying the pro-Western opposition which, while shown on a daily basis on Russian TV, represents something in the 3-5% of the people at most. You might ask why they are so frequent on TV, and the reason is simple: the more they talk, the more they are hated.

So far from silencing the opposition, the Kremlin not only gives it air time, it even pays opposition figures top dollars to participate in the most popular talk shows. See here and here for more details

Truly, the reputation of the pro-Western “liberal” (in the Russian sense) opposition is now roadkill in Russia. Yes, there is a core of russophobic Russians who hate Russia with a passion (they refer to it as “Rashka”) and their hatred for everything Russian is so obvious that they are universally despised all over the country (the one big exception being Moscow where there is a much stronger “liberal” opposition which gets the support of all those who had a great time pillaging Russia in the 1990s and who now hate Putin for putting an end to their malfeasance).

As for the Duma opposition, it is an opposition only in name. They make noises, they bitch here and there, they condemn this or that, but at the end of the day, they will not represent a credible opposition at all.

Why?

Well, look at this screenshot I took from a Russian polling site:

The chart is in Russian, but it is also extremely simple to understand. On the Y axis, you see the percentage of people who “totally trust” and “mostly trust” the six politicians, in order: Putin, Mishustin, Zhirinovskii, Ziuganov, Mironov and Medvedev. The the X axis you see the time frame going from July 2019 to April 2020.

The only thing which really matters is this: 

in spite all the objective and subjective problems of Russia, in spite of a widely unpopular pension reform, in spite of all the western sanctions and in spite of the pandemic, Putin still sits alone in a rock-solid position: he has the overwhelming support of the Russian people. This single cause pretty much explains everything else I will be talking about today.

As most of you probably remember, there were already several waves of anti-Putin PSYOPS in the past, but they all failed for very simple reasons:

  1. Most Russians remember the horrors of the 1990s when the pro-Western “liberals” were in power.
  2. Second, the Russian people could observe how the West put bona fide rabidly russophobic Nazis in power in Kiev. The liberals expressed a great deal of sympathy for the Ukronazi regime. Few Russians doubt that if the pro-western “liberals” got to power, they would turn Russia into something very similar to today’s Ukraine.
  3. Next, the Russians could follow, day after day, how the Ukraine imploded, went through a bloody civil war, underwent a almost total de-industrialization and ended up with a real buffoon as President (Zelenskii just appointed, I kid you not, Saakashvili as Vice Prime Minister of the Ukraine, that is all you need to know to get the full measure of what kind of clueless imbecile Zelenskii is!). Not only do the liberals blame Russia for what happened to this poor country, they openly support Zelenskii.
  4. Most (all?) of the pro-western “NGO” (I put that in quotation marks, because these putatively non-governmental organization were entirely financed by western governments, mostly US and UK) were legally forced to reveal their sources of financing and most of them got listed as “foreign agents”. Others were simply kicked out of Russia. Thus, it became impossible for the AngloZionists to trigger what appeared to be “mass protests” under these condition.
  5. There is a solid “anti-Maidan” movement in Russia (including in Moscow!) which is ready to “pounce” (politically) in case of any Maidan-like movement in Russia. I strongly suspect that the FSB has a warm if unofficial collaboration with them.
  6. The Russian internal security services (FSB, FSO, National Guard, etc.) saw a major revival under Putin and they are now not only more powerful than in the past, but also much better organized to deal with subversion. As for the armed forces are solidly behind Putin and Shoigu. While in the 1990s Russia was basically defenseless, Russia today is a very tough nut to crack for western subversion/PSYOP operations.
  7. Last, but not least, the Russian liberals are so obviously from the class Alexander Solzhenitsyn referred to as “obrazovanshchina“, a word hard to translate but which roughly means “pretend educated”: these folks have always considered themselves very superior to the vast majority of the Russian people and they simply cannot hide their contempt for the “common man” (very similar to Hillary’s “deporables”). The common man fully realizes that and, quite logically, profoundly distrusts and even hates “liberals”.

There came a moment when the western curators of the Russian 5th column realized that calling Putin names in the western press, or publicly accusing him of being a “bloody despot” and a “KGB killer” might work with the gullible and brainwashed western audience, but it got absolutely no traction whatsoever in Russia.

And then, somebody, somewhere (I don’t know who, or where) came up with an truly brilliant idea: accusing Putin of not being a patriot and declare that he is a puppet in the hands of the AngloZionist Empire. This was nothing short of brilliant, I have to admit that.

First, they tried to sell the idea that Putin was about to “sell out” (or “trade”) Novorussia. One theory was that Russia would stand by and let the Ukronazis invade Novorussia. Another one was that the US and Russia would make a secret deal and “give” Syria to Putin, if he “gave” Novorussia to the Empire. Alternatively, there was the version that Russia would “give” Syria to Trump and he would “give” Novorussia to Putin. The actual narrative does not matter. What matters, A LOT, is that Putin was not presented as the “new Hitler” who would invade Poland and the Baltics, who would poison the Skripals, who would hack DNC servers and “put Trump into power”. These plain stupid fairy tales had not credibility in Russia. But Putin “selling out” Novorussia was much more credible, especially after it was clear that Russia did not allow the DNR/LNR forces to seize Mariupol.

I remain convinced that this was the correct decision. Why? Because had the DNR/LNR forces entered Mariupol their critical supply lines would have been cut off by an envelopment maneuver by the Ukrainian forces. Yes, the DNR/LNR forces did have the power needed to take Mariupol, but then they would end up surrounded by Ukronazi forces in a “cauldron/siege” kind of situation which would then have forced Russia to openly intervene to either support these forces. That was a no brainer in military terms, but in political terms this would have been a disaster for Russia and a dream come true to the AngloZionists who could (finally!) “prove” that Russia was involved all along. The folks in the Russian General Staff are clearly much smarter than the couch-generals which were accusing Russia of treason for now letting Mariupol be liberated.

Eventually, both the “sellout Syria” and the “sellout Novorussia” narratives lost their traction and the PSYOPS specialists in the West tried another good one: Putin became the obedient servant of Israel and, personally, Netanyahu. The arguments were very similar: Putin did not allow Syrians (or Russians) to shoot down Israeli aircraft over the Mediterranean or Lebanon, Putin did not use the famous S-400 to protect Syrian targets from Israeli strikes, and Putin did not land an airborne division in Syria to deal with the Takfiris. And nevermind here the fact that the officially declared Russian objectives in Syria were only to “stabilize the legitimate authority and create conditions for a political compromise” (see herefor details). The simple truth is that Putin never said that he would liberate each square meter of Syrian land from the Takfiris nor did he promise to defend Syria against Israel!

Still, for a while the Internet was inundated with articles claiming that Putin and Netanyahu were closely coordinating their every step and that Putin was Israel’s chum.

Eventually, this canard also lost a lot of credibility. After all, most folks are smart enough to realize that if Putin wanted to help Israel, all he had to do is… … well… … exactly *nothing*: the Takfiris would take Damascus and it would be “game over” for a civilized Syria and the Israelis would have a perfect pretext to intervene.

As I have already mentioned in a past article, these were the original Israeli goals for Syria:

  1. Bring down a strong secular Arab state along with its political structure, armed forces and security services.
  2. Create total chaos and horror in Syria justifying the creation of a “security zone” by Israel not only in the Golan, but further north.
  3. Trigger a civil war in Lebanon by unleashing the Takfiri crazies against Hezbollah.
  4. Let the Takfiris and Hezbollah bleed each other to death, then create a “security zone”, but this time in Lebanon.
  5. Prevent the creation of a Shia axis Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon.
  6. Breakup Syria along ethnic and religious lines.
  7. Create a Kurdistan which could then be used against Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
  8. Make it possible for Israel to become the uncontested power broker in the Middle-East and forces the KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and all others to have to go to Israel for any gas or oil pipeline project.
  9. Gradually isolate, threaten, subvert and eventually attack Iran with a wide regional coalition of forces.
  10. Eliminate all center of Shia power in the Middle-East.

It is quite easy nowadays to prove the two following theses:

1) Israel dismally failed to achieve ANY of the above set goals and

2) the Russian intervention is the one single most important factor which prevented Israel from achieving these goals (the 2nd most important one was the heroic support given by Iran and Hezbollah who, quite literally, “saved the day”, especially during the early phases of the Russian intervention. Only an ignorant or dishonest person could seriously claim that Russia and Israel are working together when Russia, in reality, completely defeated Israel in Syria.

Still, while the first PSYOP (Putin the new Hitler) failed, and while the second PSYOP (Putin the sellout) also failed, the PSYOP specialists in the West came up with a much more potentially dangerous and effective PSYOP operation.

But first, they did something truly brilliant: they realized that their best allies in Russia would not be the (frankly, clueless) “liberals” but that they would find a much more powerful “ally” in those nostalgic of the Soviet Union. This I have to explain in some detail.

First, there is one thing human psychology which I have observed all my life: we tend to remember the good and forget the bad. Today, most of what I remember from boot-camp (and even “survival week”) sounds like fun times. The truth is that while in boot camp I hated almost every day. In a similar way, a lot of Russian have developed a kind of nostalgia for the Soviet era. I can understand that. After all, during the 50s the USSR achieved a truly miraculous rebirth, then in the 60s and 70s there were a lot of true triumphs. Finally, even in the hated 80s the USSR did achieve absolutely spectacular things (in science, technology, etc.). This is all true. What is often forgotten is that at the same time, the Soviet society was oppressive, the corrupt and geriatric CPSU ran everything and was mostly hated, the Russian people were afraid of the KGB and could not enjoy the freedoms folks in the US or Europe had. In truth, it was a mixed bag, but it is easy to remember only the good stuff.

Furthermore, a lot of folks who had high positions during the Soviet era did lose it all. And now that Russia is objectively undergoing various difficult trials, these folks have “smelled blood” and they clearly hope that by some miracle Putin will be overthrown. He won’t, if only for the following very basic reasons:

  1. The kind of state apparatus which protects Putin today can easily deal with this new, pseudo (I will explain below why I say “pseudo”) patriotic opposition.
  2. In the ranks of this opposition there is absolutely no credible leader (remember the chart above!)
  3. This opposition mostly complains, but offers no real solutions.

The core of this opposition is formed of Communists and Communist sympathizers who absolutely hate Putin for his (quite outspoken) anti-Communism. Let’s call them “new Communists” or “Neo-Communists”. And here is what makes them much more dangerous than the “liberal” opposition: the Neo-Communists are often absolutely right.

The (in my opinion) sad reality is that, for all his immense qualities, Putin is indeed a liberal, at least an economic sense. This manifests itself in two very different ways:

  1. Putin has still not removed all of the 5th columnists (aka “Atlantic Integrationists” aka “Washington consensus” types) from power. Yes, he did ditch Medvedev, but others (Nabiulina, Siluanov, etc.) are still there.
  2. Putin inherited a very bad system where almost all they key actors were 5th columnists. Not just a few (in)famous individuals, but an entire CLASS (in a Marxist sense of the term) of people who hate anything “social” and who support “liberal” ideas just so they can fill their pockets.

Here is the paradox: the USSR died in 1991-1993, Putin is an anti-Communist, but there STILL is a (Soviet-style) Nomenklatura in Russia, except for now they are often referred to as “oligarchs” (which is incorrect because, say, the Ukrainian oligarch truly decide the fate of the nation whereas this new Russian Nomenklatura does not decide the fate of Russia as a whole, but they have a major influence in the financial sector, which is what they care mostly about).

So we have something of a, maybe not quite “perfect”, but still very dangerous storm looming over Russia. How? Consider this:

Under Putin the Russian foreign policy has been such a success that even the Russian liberals, very reluctantly, admit that he did a pretty good job. However, the internal, many financial, policies of Russia have been a disaster. Just one example, the fact that the major Russian banks are bloated with their immense revenues, did not prevent millions of Russians from living in poverty and many hundreds of thousands of Russian small/family businesses of going under due to the very high interest rates.

One key problem in Russia is that both the Central Bank and the major commercial banks only care about their profits. What Russia truly needs is a state-owed DEVELOPMENT bank whose goal would not be millions and billions for the few, but making it possible for the creativity of the Russian people to truly blossom. Today, we see the exact opposite in Russia.

So what is my beef with this social ( if not quite “Socialist”) opposition?

They are so focused on their narrow complaints that they completely miss the big picture. Let me explain.

First, Russia has been in a state of war against the US+EU+NATO since at least 2015. Yes, this war is 80% informational, 15% economic and only 5% kinetic. But it is a very real war nonetheless. The key characteristic of a real war is that victory is only achieved by one side, the other is fully defeated. Which means that the war between the AngloZionist Empire is an existential one: one party will win and survive, the other one will disappear and will be replaced with a qualitatively new polity/society. The Neo-Communist Russian opposition steadfastly pretends like there is no war, like all the losses (economic and human) are only the result of corruption and incompetence. They forget that during the last war between Russia and the “United West” German tanks were at the outskirts of Moscow.

Well, of course they know that. But they pretend not to. And this is why I think of them as the 6th column (as opposed to the 5th, openly “liberal” and pro-Western one).

Second, while this opposition is, in my opinion, absolutely correct in deploring Putin’s apparent belief that following the advice of what I would call “IMF types” is safer than following recommendations of what could be loosely called “opposition economists” (here I think of Glaziev, whose views I personally fully support), they fail to realize the risks involved in crushing the “IMF types”. The sad truth is that Russian banks are very powerful and that in many ways, the state cannot afford totally alienating them. Right now the banks support Putin only because he supports them. But if Putin decided to follow the advice of, say, Glaziev and his supporters, the Russian bankers would react with a “total war” against Putin.

If you study Russian history, you will soon realize that Russia did superbly with military enemies, did very averagely with diplomatic efforts (which often negated military victories) and did terribly with what we could call the “internal opposition”.

So let me repeat it here: I do not consider NATO or the US as credible military threats to Russia, unless they decide to use nuclear weapons, at which point both Russia and the West would suffer terribly. But even in this scenario, Russia would prevail (Russia has a 10-15 year advantage against the US in both civilian and military nuclear technologies and the Russian society is far more survivable one – if this topic is of interest to you, just read Dmitry Orlov’s books who explains it all better than I ever could). I have always, and still do, consider that the real danger for Putin and those who share his views is the internal, often “insider”, opposition in Russia. They were always the ones to present the biggest threat to any Russian ruler, from the Czars to Stalin.

This new Neo-Communist 6th column is, however, a much more dangerous threat to the future of Russia than the pro-western 5th columnists. Some of their tactics are extremely devious. For example, one of the things you hear most often from these folks is this: “unless Putin does X, Y or Z, there is a risk of a bloody revolution”. Having listened to many tens of their videos, I can tell you with total security that far from fearing a bloody revolution, these folks in reality dream of such a revolution.

”Too often in our history we have seen that instead of an opposition to the government we are confronted with an opposition to Russia herself. And we know how this ends: with the destruction of the state as such”.

”Too often in our history we have seen that instead of an opposition to the government we are confronted with an opposition to Russia herself. And we know how this ends: with the destruction of the state as such”.

Now, if you think as a true patriot of Russia, you have to realize that Russia suffered from not one, but two, truly horrible revolutions: in 1917 and 1991. In each case the consequences of these revolutions (irrespective of how justified they might have appeared at the time) were absolutely horrible: both in 1917 and in 1991 Russia almost completely vanished as a country, and millions suffered terribly. I now hold is as axiomatic that nothing would be worse for Russia than *any* revolution, no matter what ideology feeds it or how bad the “regime in power” might appear to be.

Putin is acutely aware of that (see image).

These Neo-Communists would very much disagree with me.

They “warn” about a revolution, while in reality trying to create the conditions for one.

Now let me be clear: I am absolutely convinced that NO revolution (Neo-Communist or other) is possible in Russia. More accurately, while I do believe that an attempt for a revolution could happen, I believe that any coup/revolution against Putin is bound to fail. Why? The graphic above.

Even if by some (horrible) miracle, it was possible to defeat/neutralize the combined power of the FSB+FSO+National Guard+Armed forces (which I find impossible), this “success” would be limited to Moscow or, at most, the Moscow Oblast. Beyond that it is all “Putin territory”. In terms of firepower, the Moscow Oblast has a lot of first-rate units, but it does not even come close to what the “rest of Russia” could engage (just the 58th Army in the south would be unstoppable). But even that is not truly crucial. The truly crucial thing following any coup/revolution would be the 70%+ of Russian people who, for the first time in centuries, truly believe that Putin stands for their interest and that he is “their man”. These people will never accept any illegal attempt to remove Putin from power. That is the key reason why no successful revolution is currently possible in Russia.

But while any revolution/coup would be bound to fail, it could very much result in a bloodbath way bigger than what happened in 1993 (where the military was mostly not engaged in the events).

Now lets add it all up.

There is a very vocal internal opposition to Putin in Russia which is most unlikely to ever get real popular support, but which could possibly unite enough of the nostalgics of the Soviet era to create a real crisis.

This internal opposition clearly and objectively weakens the authority/reputation of Putin, which has been main goal of the western “alphabet soup” ever since Putin came to power.

This internal opposition, being mostly nostalgics of the Soviet era, will get no official support from the West, but it will enjoy a maximal covert support from the western “alphabet soup”.

Finally, this Neo-Communist opposition will never seize power, but it might create a very real internal political crisis which will very much weaken Putin and the Eurasian Sovereignists.

So what is the solution?

Putin needs to preempt any civil unrest. Removing Medvedev and replacing him by Mishustin was the correct move, but it was also too little too late. Frankly, I believe that it is high time for Putin to finally openly break with the “Washington consensus types” and listen to Glaziev who, at least, is no Communist.

Russia has always been a collectivistic society, and she needs to stop apologizing (even just mentally) for this. Instead, she should openly and fully embrace her collectivistic culture and traditions and show the “Washington consensus” types to the door.

Yes, the Moscow elites will be furious, but it is also high time to tell these folks that they don’t own Russia, and that while they could make a killing prostituting themselves to the Empire, most Russian don’t want to do that.

The bottom line is this: Putin represents something very unique and very precious: he is a true Russian patriot, but he is not one nostalgic for the days of the Soviet Union. Right now, he is the only (or one of very few) Russian politician which can claim this quality. He needs to preempt the crisis which the Neo-Communists could trigger not by silencing them, but by realizing that on some issues the Russian people do, in fact, agree with them (even if they are not willing to call for a revolution).

Does that sound complicated or even convoluted? If it does, it is because it is. But for all the nuances we can discern a bottom line: it is not worth prevailing (or even failing) if that weakens/threatens Russia. Right now, the Neo-Communist opposition is, objectively, a threat to the stability and prosperity of Russia. That does NOT, however, mean that these folks are always wrong. They often are spot on, 100% correct.

Putin needs to prove them wrong by listening to them and do the right thing.

Difficult? Yes. Doable? Yes. Therefore he has to do it.

There is a ticking time bomb in the Ukraine

THE SAKER • MARCH 19, 2020 •



Between the fallout of the murder of General Soleimani and the coronovirus, the Ukraine has been somewhat forgotten, which is understandable, but also potentially dangerous. The “young and dynamic” President Zelenskii has more or less been forgotten, especially by the legacy corporate ziomedia. This does not, however, mean that the situation there did not evolve or, in fact, that it is not becoming extremely dangerous. So for those who did not keep an eye on the Ukraine, here is a short summary of what has been going on:

Summary of developments

First, Zelenskii has proven to be a total ZERO. Simply put, neither he not his team can get anything done, anything at all. I really mean nothing, nothing at all.
Second, while initially the victory of Zelenskii seem to indicate that the Ukronazis had suffered a crushing defeat, it now is completely obvious that Zelenskii lacks the will, or the means, or both, to tackle this huge problem. Now the Ukronazis are back in force, they provoke Zelenskii on a daily basis, but the man is simply unable to react and reassert his authority.
Third, in social and economic terms, the Ukraine is in free fall. Following years of chaos and corruption the Ukraine is now a deindustrialized country which can sell only three things: men (for menial jobs in Poland and in the EU), women (prostitution) and its “black soil” (chernozem). Once the land is sold, it will give the Ukrainian budget enough money to keep up the appearance of a state for a few more month, maybe a year or so. After that – it’s show over, curtain down, lights off and everybody go home…
Fourth, it is pretty clear who the kingmaker of the Ukraine is: Arsen Avakov, the “eternal” (by Ukrainian standards) Minister of the Interior. He not only has real firepower, he also seems to be able to turn the Ukronazi “spigot” on and off depending on his personal needs and circumstances. Unlike the bona fide nutcases, Avakov does not strike me as a Nazi at all, in fact, I would say that he is non-ideological – he is all about “pure power”. This makes him a much more desirable “partner” for the Empire than real nutcases.
Fifth, while the Minsk Agreements are still more or less on the agenda, at least officially, the Ukronazis have been vocal enough in their protests to basically completely stall any meaningful negotiations. Yes, prisoners will probably be exchanged, but beyond that I see any real progress as exceedingly unlikely. For all practical purposes, the regime in Kiev has made it very clear: there will be no negotiations with the Donbass, which simply means that there will be no negotiated solution. It’s that simple, really.
Six, COVID19 has hit the Ukraine very, very hard. The problem is that the authorities, which fully knew that they had no means to do anything meaningful began by thumping their chests and saying that there were no cases in the Ukraine only to then suddenly decree drastic quarantine measures. And yet, the true information is seeping out: Ukrainians hospitals are full of cases, mostly un-diagnosed, and many have already died. Officially, and as of right now, there are only 14 confirmed cases in the Ukraine, and only two fatalities. But absolutely everybody knows that these numbers are totally fictional and that the real number of cases remains unknown due to a lack of testing kits, not a lack of cases. MDs in Ukrainian hospitals are sounding the alarms, but nobody is listening.
Seventh, the situation is made even worse by the fact that there are not credible alternatives to Zelenskii. There IS an opposition in the Ukraine, the typical Ukronazis nutcases and the generally pro-Russian politicians who are categorically and absolutely unacceptable to the (much larger) Ukronazi opposition. Thus, there does not appear to be any political solution or alternative to the current regime. Right now, the two politicians who appear to be the most competent are Vadim Rabinovich and Elena Lukash. These two are very sharp and, frankly, very courageous, but they don’t have a power base powerful enough to take on the Nazis. Finally, there is Viktor Medvechuk whose main quality is also his biggest weakness: he is considered close to Putin. These are all rather smart and courageous figures, but compared to the power of an Arsen Avakov – they are just soap bubbles. Will that change in the future? Maybe, but not in the foreseeable future.

Possible scenarios

When a country enters a dramatic and deep systematic crisis, something must inevitably eventually give. Right now there are relatively few protests simply because there is no political force of personality which could inspire people to rally and struggle for change. Most Ukrainians are both absolutely exhausted and absolutely desperate. They are into the “survival mode” which history has taught them and they simply wait. Frankly, I can’t blame them. My advise to all my Ukrainian contacts has been “get out of there while you can”, but if you can’t get out, then going into a survival mode is the only option.
Right now, the Ukronazis feel energized and they are back with a vengeance demanding that the Ukraine finally be transformed into the Banderastan they have been dreaming about for generations (except they don’t use the word “Banderastan” but prefer the expression “Banderstat”. Their strength is in their unity and firepower. Their main weakness is that most Ukrainians hate them. A most dangerous combination.
Some observers have suggested that a coup might take place. I doubt it because I don’t see any person capable of leading such a coup. Avakov would be ideal, but he is *already* in power, he does not need a coup at all. Furthermore, if an openly Ukronazi regime replaces Zelenskii, this will only further deepen the distress of the general population.
The truth is both as simple as it is terrible: there is no solution for the Ukraine. None whatsoever.
So what could happen next?
The basic ingredients are pretty predictable: protests, civil unrest, violence and, eventually, a break-up of the Ukraine into several entities.
In theory, this could be avoided, but in order to do this, at the very least, the following basic conditions have to be met:
  1. The West and Russians must work together in a major reconstruction effort to rebuild the entire country, not only the war-devastated Donbass
  2. The regime in Kiev must be acceptable to all three: the West, Russia and the Ukrainian people
  3. The Ukronazis need to be disarmed and, when needed, either jailed or expelled
As you can immediately tell, this is not happening.
Yes, some have begun thinking about this issue, see, for example, this very interesting report from the Euro-Atlantic Security Leadership Group (EASLG), in particular, take a good look at the “Economic Steps” and “Political Steps” suggested in this report. The fact that a guy like Gen (Ret) Breedlove, former SACEUR and rabid Russia-hater, could sign this document is, by itself, quite amazing.
However, with the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic AND a brutal oil war threatening most economies of our planet, I expect the western nations to simply lose interest in the Ukraine: they will be too busy scrambling to recover from the political fallout of the SARS-CoV-2 crisis. As for Russia, there is absolutely no way that she will agree to foot the bill for the reconstruction of the Ukraine, nor will she provide the forces needed to get rid of the Ukronazis. Which means that for the foreseeable future, the Ukraine will be mostly left on its own. Russia will, of course, continue to support Novorussia (for example, SARS-CoV-2 testing kits have already arrived from Russia) while distributing Russian passports to anyone wanting one (the vast majority of the people of Novorussia).

Conclusion

The SARS-CoV-2/COVID19 pandemic will have huge political repercussions worldwide because in this specific case, not only will the AngloZionist propaganda machine not be able to hide the truth from the people (if anything, all sorts of fake news and crazy rumors will have more “street cred” than what the politicians tell us), but the consequences of this crisis will be felt everywhere, including at home. So Trump can go on in each of his pressers about how everything in the USA is “the best”, “the greatest” and “the mightiest”, but the truth is that the this virus will reveal not only the total inability of the private sector to save the day, it will also reveal how utterly dysfunctional the US, along most other western states really are (no, Walmart and Amazon will not save the day). No wonder the western politicians are scrambling to show how “involved” they all are – they are simply trying to cover their rear end for the inevitable “lessons learned” moment coming for all. Maybe at some point in the future will see most US Americans reconsider what they think they know about Socialism and Libertarianism, especially when it becomes clear how different the reaction to the virus was in China and Russia compared to the EU or US.
The sad truth about the “indispensable nation” is not slowly coming out. First and trickle, but then the inevitable tsunami
The sad truth about the “indispensable nation” is not slowly coming out. First and trickle, but then the inevitable tsunami
Them Chinese commies not only beat the virus in a record time, they are helping the dying capitalists (who, by the way, are not helping each other!)
Them Chinese commies not only beat the virus in a record time, they are helping the dying capitalists (who, by the way, are not helping each other!)
But what will be only embarrassing for US politicians will, barring some kind of miracle, hit the Ukraine with consequences far worse than what we have seen up until now.
For the time being, the Ukronazis are explaining that the Nazi salute is just perfect for this situation: not only do hands not touch, but the palm of the saluting head is facing the sun, which is hygienically good (that, and a lot of Nazis are pagans, sun worship is common amongst them).
Right now, in what are still the early stages of the pandemic, almost nobody is paying attention (most folks in the West have yet to understand that security, any and all form of security, must always be collective to be effective). Right now, the bigger danger comes from the Ukrainians returning home from abroad. But this will soon change, and the danger will become Ukrainians leaving the Ukraine. At this point the EU countries will have to turn to the Kremlin for a common response to what promises to be a major disaster.

Our fundamental disagreement about WWII, Hitler, Jews and race

THE SAKER • FEBRUARY 7, 2020

Our fundamental disagreement about WWII, Hitler, Jews and race

The topic of Russians and Jews is clearly a “hot” one. Over the past few years I wrote several articles on this topic including “Putin and Israel A Complex and Multi-Layered Relationship”, “Why Is Putin “Allowing” Israel to Bomb Syria?”, “Russia, Israel and the Values of “Western Civilization” – Where Is the Truth?” and “Debunking the Rumors About Russia Caving in to Israel”. And yet, for a while now I have felt that there is much more which could, and should, be said on this topic.

Recent events (including Putin’s and Zelenskii’s recent trip to Israel or the latest Polish-Ukrainian theory about the USSR being an accomplice to the Holocaust) again gave me that strong feeling that the way Jews are seen in the West is truly very different from how Jews are viewed in Russia. Yet, in the West, this difference is often (almost always, really!) overlooked and assumptions are made about Russia and Russians which are simply not warranted and which end up being highly misleading. This is why I will try to debunk some of these assumptions today.

First, a very quick and very short look into our recent history

The very best book to read on Russian-Jewish relations is “200 Years Together” by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The problem with this book is that has never been officially translated into English. Yup, that’s right. A CRUCIAL book by a Nobel Prize winner can be so controversial that nobody in the publishing business has dared to print it. Happily, a number of websites offer unofficial “samizdat” translations, see herehere and here. I cannot vouch for the quality of these translations as I read the book in Russian, not in English. But yeah, in the “land of the free”, the putative “brave” do not get to read a book if that book debunks the western narrative about Russia and Jews. By the way, Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece is not the only such book which exists only in Russian, there are many more including Andrei Dikii’s “Jews in Russia and the USSR” which can also only be found on the Internet Archive here.

I can’t even begin to try to summarize that most interesting, and controversial history here. All I will say for right now is that when we speak of “Russians” and “Jews” we need to separate these categories into 4 subcategories:

  • Russians from what would be considered Russia today, in other words, “Great-Russians” (here “great” does not indicate a superiority, but only a peripheral place of residence, meaning Russians who don’t live in central Russia). For our purposes I will from now on simply call them “Russians”.
  • Russians from what would be considered the Ukraine today in other words, “Small-Russians” (meaning Russians living near the cradle of the Russian civilization, Kiev). For our purposes, I will from now on refer to them as “Ukrainians”, but only in a geographical sense, not a cultural one.
  • Russian Jews (as opposed to Ukrainian Jews)
  • Ukrainian Jews (as opposed to Russian Jews)

These four subgroups have had a very different historical experience and they need to be considered separately, as lumping them all together really does not allow any analysis.

Besides, and as I have also mentioned it in the past, the Ukrainian nationalist propaganda does, in fact, have some truth to it. Yes, it is a grossly distorted truth, and it is mixed in with an avalanche of lies, but still, not all of it can simply be dismissed. For example, while there never was any “Ukraine” in history, and while what is called today the “Ukrainian language” is not really Ukrainian at all (the “surzhik” would be the real thing), it still remains an undeniable fact that the Polish occupation of southern and eastern Russia (which is what “the Ukraine” is – Russia’s southeastern “borderland” which is what the word “Ukraine” originally meant) left an extremely profound mark on those Russians who lived under the Polish-Latin occupation. I won’t go into historical details today as I already did that hereand here, but I will just say that this tragic history eventually inspired one of the favorite slogans of Ukrainian nationalists: “to drown all the Polaks and the Moskals in Kike blood” (or any variation of these three nationalities).

Charming, no?

The undeniable historical truth is that the centuries long occupation of the Russian eastern frontier lands by the Poles and their Latin masters created so much hatred between all the nationalities involved that it appears that every time they had a chance to try to persecute or kill each other, they immediately did so. Here area few examples of that kind of violence:

  • The (in)famous “pogroms”: these were spontaneous and violent uprisings and subsequent brutal riots against Jews by their resentful neighbors. By the way, during the Civil War, the Reds often were the worst perpetrators of these pogroms because they also saw the comparatively wealthy Jews as class enemies in the Marxist sense of the word.
  • The very high percentage of Jews among the first generation Bolsheviks (80%-85% according to Vladimir Putin; fwiw, I agree with this figure). These Bolshevik Jews were typically concentrated in the secret police organs and they typically spearheaded the massacre of millions of Orthodox Christians (which have since been gloried by the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile and, later, somewhat reluctantly and only partially, by the Moscow Patriarchate, as the “New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia”).
  • A very high percentage of Jews among the Party leaders during the (truly horribly brutal) collectivization and and dekulakization which took place all over the Soviet Union but which the Ukrainian nationalists (and the western propaganda machine) characterize as a deliberate anti-Ukrainian genocide they call the “Holodomor” (yes, I know, Wikipedia entries on all these topics are pure propaganda, but I link to them precisely so you can see what the Ukrainian propaganda writes).
  • A very high percentage of Ukrainians in the post-Stalin Soviet elites, many of whom participated in the bloody purges of the CPSU by Stalin; and since about 80%+ of the top Party officials were Jews, these purges necessarily involved a lot of repressed Jews (whether guilty ones who themselves were covered in innocent blood or innocent ones, who were simply repressed with the rest of them).

I could list more examples, but I think that these are sufficient for our purposes. What we can immediately see is that there are significant differences between what took place in modern Russia and in the modern Ukraine, including:

An example of a crucial geographical difference would be “pogroms” which, contrary to western propaganda, pogroms all took place in what would be the modern Ukraine today, never in Russia.

There is also a difference in time: Russians in the Ukraine were persecuted by Poles and Jews for centuries whereas Russians in what is modern Russia today were primarily persecuted by Bolshevik Jews “only” between 1917 and Stalin’s purges of the party in the late 1930s.

And then, there is the crucial, truly immense, difference which WWII made.

Next, a look at what happened during World War II and the Nazi occupation

When the Nazis launched their attack on the Soviet Union there were a lot of Russians and Ukrainians who welcomed the Nazis, not necessarily because they liked the Nazi ideology but because many of them hated their Bolshevik oppressors even more than they disliked the Germans. After all, the horrors of the Civil War and of the Collectivization were still present in the mind of millions of people both in the (newly created) Ukrainian SSR and in the Russian SSR.

I would like to remind all those who nowadays try very hard to forget it, that the Nazi ideology characterizes both Russians and Ukrainians as subhumans (Untermensch) whose sole purpose would be to serve their Aryan master race overlords (Herrenvolk) in the newly conquered living space (Lebensraum). Simply put: Hitler promised his followers that they would be very happy slave owners! It is no wonder that the prospective slaves felt otherwise…

In the course of the war, however, profound differences began to emerge:

First, in the Ukraine, the Nazi ideology DID inspire a lot of nationalists for the exact same reasons that Nazi ideology inspired nationalist Poles (who were Hitler’s first most loyal allies only to later be betrayed by him). Over the centuries the Papacy not only created the Ukrainian nationalist identity, it then actively fostered it every time Russia was weakened (if that topic is of interest to you, see here). The bitter truth which folks in the West don’t like to be reminded of is that the regimes of Petain, Franco, Pavelic, Pilsudksi, etc. were all created and supported by the Papacy which, of course, also supported Bandera and his Ukronazi deathsquads. As for Hitler himself, he was initially strongly supported by the UK (just as Trotsky was supported by the Jewish bankers in the US). Indeed, russophobia has a long and “distinguished” history in the West: western leaders change, as do their ideological rationalizations, but their hatred and fear of Russia always remains.

In contrast, General Andrei Vlasov, who created the “Russian Liberation Army” (ROA) had exactly zero support in the West, and very little support in Russia proper. The ideology of the ROA was a mix of moderate nationalism with some no less moderate socialism. In hindsight, it never stood a chance of becoming truly popular in Russia simply because the sight of a Russian general wearing a Nazi uniform was not something that most Russians could serenely look at, whereas in the current Nazi-occupied Ukraine, Nazi uniforms and symbols are still very popular. Last, but certainly not least, the demented and outright genocidal policies of the Nazis in occupied Russia resulted in such a blowback that the war to liberate Russia from the Nazis became a war of national survival which the vast majority of Russians fully supported.

It is also interesting how differently the Anglo powers treated the Ukronazis and the Russians of the ROA: the West lovingly imported to the US and Canada all the Ukronazis it could get its hands on, yet at the same time the West forcibly repatriated millions of Russians, including POW and ROA members, with often horrible consequences for the repatriates. As for General Vlasov himself, he was executed along with other officers accused of treason.

For the Ukrainian nationalists, WWII began as a God-sent chance to finally bring about their dream to “drown all the Polaks and the Moskals in Kike blood”, and then this dream was crushed by the Soviet counter-attack and subsequent annihilation of most (about 80%) of the German military machine. And while many Ukrainians (and Poles) did see the Soviets as their liberators from the Nazi horrors, the Ukronazis obviously saw the Soviet Army solely as an occupation force which they resisted for as long as they could (after the end of the war, it still took the Soviets several years to finally crush the Ukronazi underground). And while most Russians felt like they were the real victors of WWII, the Ukronazi nationalists felt that they had been defeated. Again. The same goes for the Poles, by the way (this trauma gave birth to something I refer to as the “Pilban syndrome”).

Now for the self-evident truism about Jews: while many Russians remained acutely aware of the Jewish role in the Bolshevik revolution and, especially, in the class terror which followed, they did not see ALL Jews as enemies of Russia, especially not when

  1. There were plenty of patriotic Jews who loved Russia and/or the USSR
  2. That Hitler’s demented racism inevitably had to bring Jews and Russians together, even if only for a while and mostly under the “common enemy” heading.
  3. Many (most?) Russians know for a fact that Nazi concentration/extermination camps did, in fact, exist even if they did not kill 6M Jews, even if they had no gas chambers and no crematoria (except to deal with insect-born diseases). Why? Because it was the Soviet military which liberated most of these camps and because there were plenty of non-Jewish Russians/Soviets in these camps. Finally, besides the camps themselves, most Russians also know about the infamous Einsatzgruppen which probably murdered even more Jews (and non-Jews) than all the concentration/extermination camps combined. The fact is that Nazi atrocities are not seriously challenged by most Russian historians.

The bottom line is this: whatever (at the time very real) hostility history had created between Jews and Russians, World War II had a huge impact on these perceptions. That is not to say that the Russians have forgotten the genocidal policies of Lenin and Trotsky, but only that after WWII, most Russians justly felt that they were victors, not defeated losers.

The Ukrainian nationalists, in contrast, were “multi-defeat” losers: they were defeated by the Germans, the Russians and even the Poles (who rarely attack anybody unless their prospective victim is already agonizing or unless there is some “big guy” protecting them – Churchill was quite right with his “greedy hyena of Europe” comment!). And now, more recently, they were soundly defeated not once, but TWICE, by the Novorussians. That kind of “performance” will often result in a nationalistic reaction.

And that is true not only for the Ukraine, but also very much applies to the West of 2020.

Does the collective West also suffer from the same “multi-defeat” complex?

It seems to me that most people reading these lines already know that the “collective West” aka the “AngloZionist Empire” is in terrible shape. Just look at the political chaos in the US, the UK, France, Germany and all the rest of the NATO/EU countries. The West is not only losing militarily and economically, it is also agonizing culturally, socially, morally and spiritually. Furthermore, that which we all used to think of as “western values” is now being replaced by some insipid “multiculturalism” which seems to pious euphemism for the obvious plan to erase pretty much all of the western historical and cultural legacy. Like all forms of persecution, this one is also resulting in an increasingly powerful case of ideological blowback: a very dangerous and toxic resurgence of both Fascism and National-Socialism.

How could a person (Hitler) and an ideology (National-Socialism) be both declared uniquely evil AND, at the same time, undergo at least a partial rehabilitation in the same society? Simple! The only condition necessary to make that happen is to condition people to accept cognitive dissonances and not to be too troubled when they happen. The average citizen of the Empire has been conditioned to accept, and even embrace, such cognitive dissonances quite literally since birth and he has become very, very good at that. But there is also a historiographical blowback in action here:

Following WWII and, especially, following the 1970s, the Zionists made what I consider to be a disastrous mistake: they decided to present Hitler and his ideology as some kind of special and unique form of evil which supersedes any and all, past or even future, imaginable forms of evil. And just to make sure that this claim would stick, they decided to add some highly specific claims including the “official’” figure of 6 million murdered Jews, the gas chambers and crematoria being the most famous ones, but there were many more (including electrocution pools, human skin lamp shades and human fat soaps – but which had to be ditched after being proven false). Eventually these claims all came under very effective attack by the so-called “revisionist historians” who have since proven beyond reasonable doubt that these specific claims were false. That did not make these historians very popular with the rulers of the Empire who, instead of allowing for of a healthy historical debate, decided to make “revisionism” a criminally punishable thoughtcrime for which historians could be jailed, sometimes for years! The reaction to that kind of abuse of power was inevitable.

One of the most pernicious result of this policy of criminalizing historical investigations into WWII has been the fact that many people in the West concluded that since these specific claims were bunk, then all of the claims about Nazi atrocities were bunk too. Huge logical mistake! The fact that these specific claims have already been debunked in no way implies that OTHER widely reported atrocities did not occur.

For example, the fact that gas chambers were probably not used to kill anybody (at least not in significant amounts) does not at all imply that many hundreds of thousands, or even million of people, were not killed by execution, starvation or disease (typhus, dysentery, etc.). Just look at the death rates in Japanese POW camps, and they had no gas chambers or crematoria. As for the Soviets, they deported “class enemies” from their homes and simply released them in the middle of the Siberian taiga during the winter and with no survival gear: most of them also quickly died, simply from exposure.

The simple truth is that any modern state has the means to murder people on an industrial scale even without the use of such exotic (and, frankly, ill-suited) techniques as gas chambers or crematoria (in Rwanda, they mostly used crude machetes). But western historians are banned from even researching these topics!

This situation resulted in an environment in the West in which one cannot criticize (or even doubt!) Jews or things Jewish without immediately being called an “anti-Semite”. Ditto for anybody daring to present another version of WWII. That this kind of collective brainwashing would inevitably result in a massive blowback was easy to predict but, alas, the Zionists never had the foresight to see this coming. Either that, or they were quite happy to report a “surge in anti-Semitism” in the West to extort even more political power (and money!). Whatever may be the case, it is close to impossible in the current West to freely and openly discuss these topics.

Now a quick comparison with modern Russia

The political environment in Russia is radically different. For one thing, it is not illegal (or even improper) in Russia to criticize Jews, or modern “Judaism” (really a modern form of rabbinical Phariseism) or Israel or the Zionist ideology (which, by the way, the USSR did denounce and oppose as a form of racism). Yes, there are still (pretty bad) laws on the books forbidding the promotion of national hatred and “extremist speech”, but the truth is that as long as you only investigate historical topics (such as the real number of Jews murdered by the Nazis) and you do not advocate (or engage in) violence you will be fine. Not only that, but you can find pretty much any and all anti-Jewish/Zionist books on the Russian Internet for easy and free download. Finally, while a lot of Jews did leave the USSR, those who stayed (or have since returned) did that of their own free will and that strongly suggests that, unlike their brethren in Israel, many (most?) Russian Jews do not have feelings of hatred for Russia, the Russian people or even the Orthodox Church (some do, of course, but this is a minority).

Some near sighted Jews regularly deplore that the political discourse in Russia is not as tightly controlled as the one in the West. I would simply like to remind them that the much more permissive intellectual environment of Russia has NOT resulted in an automatic fusion between patriotism and hostility to Jews, as is sadly the case in the West (unless, of course, we are dealing with what French philosopher and dissident Alain Soral calls “National-Zionism” which is a separate phenomenon which I discussed in some detail here).

True, when patriotism (love for one’s country) turns into nationalism (love of one’s ethnicity), then things typically go south, but that is a danger of which the Kremlin is acutely aware of and that is why Russian nationalists are, after Russian Wahabis, the most frequently jailed people in Russia under anti extremism laws (keep in mind that both Russian nationalists and Russian Wahabis typically not only disseminate “extremist literature” but they also are typically engaged in one form of violence or another, thus they are often jailed on terrorism charges too).

An increasing number of Russia are, however, puzzled by what they see as a slow-motion rehabilitation of Hitler and the Nazi regime. For example, while in the West the official doxa is still that Hitler and the Nazis were the worst evil in history, there is a rapidly growing “alternative” viewpoint, mostly found on the Internet, of course, in which Hitler is viewed as a much more complex person, who has been unjustly demonized and whose actions need to be placed in a “correct” historical context. And, in fact, there is some truth to that – Hitler was a complex personality and the Nazis were demonized beyond way beyond anything reasonable. Finally, the proponents of this “rehabilitation” will always point out that Hitler’s enemies were at least as ruthless and evil has he was. Again, there is also much truth to that. However, when the EU declares in a solemn vote that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were both equally responsible for WWII, then a fundamental red line is crossed, one which places an “equal” sign not only between the aggressor and the aggressed but also between those who were defeated and those who were victorious.

As I have often written in the past, under international law the ultimate, most evil, crime is not “genocide” or “crimes against humanity”. It is the “crime of aggression” because, in the words of the US judge who declared this principle, “the crime of aggression contains all the other crimes”, which is only logical. Thus by accusing the USSR of aggression, the EU is basically annulling them findings of the Nuremberg Tribunal, it makes the USSR every bit as guilty of all the atrocities of WWII as the Nazis.

Are the Russians correct when they say that there is a slow-motion rehabilitation of Hitler and his ideology in the West?

Absolutely!

The fact that this slo-mo rehabilitation is still currently and mostly confined to the margins of the political discourse does not change the Russian awareness that no matter how much Hitler and his minions are disliked or even hated in the West, Russia and Russians will always be hated even much more. This is also true of what the West calls “Islamic extremism” which is only “bad” when it is not fully controlled by the West (terrorists!!), and which is “good”, axiomatically so, when directed against Russia or other Orthodox nations (freedom fighters!!).

Under these circumstances, is it really surprising that many (most?) Russians feel like the West is a much bigger danger to the Russian civilizational realm than any anti-Russian plans concocted by Jews, Zionists or the Israelis?

Absolutely not!

Not only do most Russians hate Hitler and everything he stood for, they also truly understand that the vast majority of Jews murdered by the Third Reich were simple, innocent, people whose only crime was to be of the same ethnicity/religion as some other Jews who did, indeed, richly deserved to be hated for their racist messianism (be it religious or secular). That is a fundamental injustice which Russians will never accept because accepting it would be a betrayal of truth (a hugely important concept for the Russian civilization) and no less of a betrayal of the memory of all the innocents murdered by the Nazis.

Conclusion one: history matters, a lot!

Whatever we all may think of Jewish identity politics or whatever our opinion of the Soviet Union, it is undeniable that Hitler’s policies inflicted unspeakable suffering upon both Russians and Jews. Western Alt-Righters, who still delude themselves into thinking that Russians share in their racist delusions, can deny and denounce this, but the fact is that history has forever created a bond between Jews and Russians: their common memory of the mass atrocities perpetuated against them by the Nazis. No amount of political gesticulations will change that.

That does not, of course, mean that Putin, the Kremlin or anybody else is an “ally” of Israel or that Putin and Bibi Netanyahu are working together (or for each other). This utter nonsense is a completely false conclusion resulting from a fundamental and profound misreading of Russian history and Russian culture. But it goes even further than that. I would argue that the history of the Russian culture is also fundamentally incompatible with any racist/racialist ideas.

The ideology of pre-1917 Russia can be described as “Orthodox monarchism”. This is not really correct for a long list of reasons (reality is always more complex than buzz-words and slogans), but by and large you could say that what was considered morally right or morally wrong was defined by the Russian Orthodox Church. Well, it just so happens that while original Christianity (i.e. Orthodoxy) was very critical of rabbinical “Judaism” (the religion and wordview), that same original Christianity was far less hostile to Jews (the ethnicity) then western Christian demominations. In fact, true Christianity has always been pro-patriotic but anti-nationalistic. This was also the practice in the Eastern Roman Empire (whose political structure Russia inherited). By the way, this is also true for the 2nd religion of Russia, Islam.

Then, after the 1917 Revolution, Russia was initially submitted to two decades of Jewish terror, especially a kind of terror directed against the Russian people and the Orthodox faith. With the coming to power of Stalin, however, major changes took place (and most of those who had drowned Russia in innocent blood were themselves executed during the famous “purges”). And while Stalin never was an “anti-Semite” (this is silly nonsense which both Stalin’s actions and writings directly contradict), his purges (and reforms) did profoundly change the nature of the Soviet regime, including the ethnic composition of the leaders of the CPSU which became much more diverse.

Speaking of the Soviet Union in general, it is also important to remember that the Marxist-Leninist ideology also rejects racial and ethnic differences and, instead, advocates a solidarity of all people against their class oppressors.

Thus neither the pre-1917 nor the post-1917 mainstream Russian ideology/worldview are a viable ground to try to promote racist ideas. And, thankfully, neither is modern (“Putin’s”) Russia.

The truth is that Russia which, as I mentioned above, is the political heir to the East Roman Empire (aka “Byzantium” in western parlance) has ALWAYS been multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and pretty much any and all other “multi-something” you can think of. For all the many sins of the Russian people during their history, racism was never one of them!

For example, this is also why, while most people in the West see Islam (and Muslims) as “aliens”, most Russians are totally used to them and see them as longtime neighbors. That does not mean that Russian’s don’t remember the dozen or so wars Russia fought against the Ottomans, nor does it mean that Russia has forgiven the Wahabi atrocities in Chechnia. It simply and only means that Muslims, and even Turks, are not see as “national enemies” by Russians.

The same is true for Jews. Yes, the Russians do remember what Jews did to them during the early years of the Bolshevik regime, but that memory, that awareness, does NOT typically result into any kind of racism, including any type of anti-Jewish racism. Nor do the horrors committed by Jewish Bolsheviks obfuscate all the very real contributions of various Jews to the Russian culture.

By the way, it is important to remember here that while it is true that most first-generation Bolsheviks were Jews, it is not true that most Jews were Bolsheviks. In fact, Jews were found pretty much everywhere, including amongst Menshevik’s, anarchists, Bundists, etc…

So yes, Jews and Russians mostly lived together for about 200 years, and much of our common history is tragic, painful and even shameful, but at the end of the day, it would be false to think that most Russians either dislike or fear Jews. They do not. Even when they are critical of this or that personality, ideology or religion (original Christianity will always be the ultimate enemy of rabbinical Judaism, just as rabbinical Judaism will always remain the ultimate enemy of original Christianity; we can understand why that is so, or we can deplore it, but we should never forget or deny this!).

If any self-described anti-Semite reads these words and is absolutely outraged by what I just wrote, please also make sure to read “The Invention of the Jewish People” by Shlomo Sand” which will show to you that the very notion of “ethnicity” (whether Jewish or non-Jewish) is a modern invention with very little actual basis in history, especially in the history of multi-cultural empires. Simply put: in a culture which does not really believe in the importance of ethnicity no truly racist ideology can develop. It is really that simple!

Yes, I know about Dostoevskii’s and Rozanov’s dislike for Jews (and Poles, by the way), and yes I know about the Pale of Settlement (won’t touch this here, but it sure was not what western historians in the West think it was – just read Solzhenitsyn!). I also know about the “Blood Libel” (won’t touch this one either, but I will recommend you read the 2007 book by Israeli historian Ariel Toaff “Passovers of Blood”) and about all the other myths spread in the West (by Jews and non-Jews) about “Russian anti-Semitism”. But the truth is simple: while there were many instances in history when Jews and Russians clashed (including the 10th century destruction of Khazaria by Russian forces or the 15th century struggle against the “Heresy of the Judaizers” – which, by the way, Wikipedia does a very bad job describing: in reality this was an early attempt by Kabbalists to infiltrate the Russian Orthodox Church just as they had successfully infiltrated the Papacy). Yet, these conflicts did not resulted in any major hostility of Russians towards Jews (the inverse is, alas, not nearly as true).

Conclusion two: Putin, Zelenskii and the Israelis

The recent trip of both Zelenskii and Putin to Israel has, again, brought the topic of the Jewish, Russian and Ukrainian “triangle” to the front page news. The Poles also seized the opportunity to make things worse for themselves when they chimed in on it all. You read the stories, so no need to repeat it all here. What was most impressive about this event was that Zelenskii decided that he would travel to Israel, only to then declare that he would not participate in the commemorative events. Why? Clearly, he was terrified that the Ukronazis will denounce him for caving in to Zionist pressure.

Putin did the exact opposite, not only did he travel to Israel and he spoke at the event, he also reminded the (mostly Jewish) audience of the horrors which the Russian people also suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Clearly, Putin did not fear that some Russian nationalists would accuse him of caving in to Zionist pressure. Why not?

Why could Putin speak so freely?

For two very simple reasons:

First, and unlike the Ukrainians or the Poles, the Russians have exactly zero guilt about what happened in WWII. In spite of all the lies currently spread in the West, the Soviet Union did not start WWII – the Soviet Union pretty much single-handedly defeated Hitler and ended the war (the entire Anglo effort was worth no more than 20% and only came after the Soviets defeated theWehrmacht and the SS in Stalingrad and elsewhere).

Second, Jewish supremacism was very short lived in the USSR (roughly from 1917 to 1937) and neither Putin nor any other Russian political leader will let claims of exclusive “special” Jewish suffering go unchallenged. And while most Russian politicians don’t feel the need to express any doubts about the “official” 6 million figure, they do like to remind their Jewish friends that the Russian nation suffered anywhere between 20 to 27 million dead people during WWII, thus denying Jewish victims any superior victim status over non-Jewish victims.

Our fundamental disagreement about WWII, Hitler and Jews

Likewise, it is BECAUSE Russians have zero sense of guilt towards Jews, that Putin could mention this figure of 80-85% of Jews in the first Bolshevik regime in front of an assembly of Haredi rabbis (see the video here for yourself:

Can you imagine Merkel or Trump daring to say these things in front of such an audience?

Unthinkable!

Conclusion three:

Ever since Vladimir Putin came to power, Russia has been gradually and steadily separating herself from the collective West. This process is not so much about being “against” the West as it is about being “different” from the West, but unapologetically so! This is especially visible in the nature and quality of the political discourse in Russia which is truly dramatically different from the kind of hyper-controlled (and, of course, hyper-manipulated) political discourse in the West. Simply put, Russians live in a much more open and diverse intellectual landscape than their western neighbors. As a result, it would be a major mistake to assume, for example, that Russian patriots hold views similar to those held by western nationalists. Hence the existence of what we could call “Our fundamental disagreement about WWII, Hitler, Jews and race”.

The Saker

Merkel trod on holy Ukrainian toes

January 14, 2020

Rostislav Ishenko, 13 Jan 2020

Translated by Nikolai

The visit by the Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel to Russia and her negotiations with Vladimir Putin were full of negative signals for Ukraine.

Merkel busily carved on the crossroad milestone:

– go right – lose your head;

– go left – lose your life;

– go straight – be forever lost;

– stay in place – death will reach you;

– turn back – you will not reach home.

The fact alone that Berlin and Moscow discussed virtually all pressing topics of the global agenda (including Syria, Libya and Iran) should have put Kiev on notice. After all, if these two countries have so many areas of common interest, Ukraine cannot count on exclusive German support. The contrary is rather probable – if Berlin can agree with Moscow on all other key points of the international agenda, then it can quite easily sacrifice Ukrainian interests in favor of full understanding.

In addition, the chancellor also discussed the Ukrainian problem in separate with the president of Russia. By all appearances, they did not spend a lot of time on this discussion. As a result, during the press conference they were brief and clear in announcing their united position – Ukraine must fulfill the Minsk agreements. During the last year, such statements became common, so I will remind that it was not so long ago (in 2018) that Berlin usually stated in such cases that it expects Russia to constructively work with the DNR/LNR, who in turn must fulfill the Minsk agreements. And in 2015-2017 Berlin (in chorus with Paris) demanded that the Minsk agreements were Russia’s responsibility to implement.

France and Germany went over to Moscow’s point of view sort of casually and discretely. Moreover, being more involved in the Ukrainian crisis, Berlin was more stoic than Paris.

Zelensky, when striving for the “Normandy format” meeting, was clearly counting on that he would be accommodated (as a young, popular “new formation politician” as he was called in Ukraine) and allowed to at least partially rework the Minsk agreements, or even better – declare them null and void and begin prolonged, tedious and pointless negotiations on the new format for regulation of the crisis. It was not a coincidence that right after the meeting in Paris the Ukrainian media and diplomats attempted to propose their own version for the translation of Merkel’s words at the press conference and tried to attribute to the federal chancellor a statement supposedly saying that the Minsk agreements are not dogma and can be modernized. They broadcasted this so often and with such certainty, that they even convinced some Russian experts, who began to accept Merkel’s phrase as “ambiguous”.

And so now, the German leader says unequivocally that the Minsk agreements must be implemented without any modernization, that Russia and Germany, in fact, have the same view on this topic. The caringly constructed concept of zelensky diplomacy comes crashing down. The people at home can be still indoctrinated about the “great leap forward” achieved. But the concurring and unequivocal position of Berlin and Moscow means that there will not be a new meeting in Berlin in the “Normandy format” without corresponding steps made by Kiev (doing their homework, as they were told in Paris). Pity for Zelensky, who was so convincing in Paris, saying how he already did everything he could and that he is prevented from moving forward by evil radicals, so everyone should just “understand and forgive” him and get busy reconsidering the “Minsk” in the interests of Kiev.

This is a fiasco. Now, the minister of foreign affairs of Ukraine Vadim Pristaiko and company have to think on how to rationalize before the people taking it all in and frozen in expectations of further diplomatic breakthroughs that the April “Normandy format” meeting is cancelled or postponed to an unclear date. Remember, Kiev already voiced a wealth of demands for the “modernization” of the Minsk agreements, which they were planning on stating and pressing in Berlin. And the April meeting was presented by Ukrainian propaganda as 100% arranged. Mind you, April is very soon: February 23rd, March 8th, then the May holidays are already near – April will arrive suddenly.

Something has to be done and decided with this. But what? The fact is, it is very hard to move Merkel from a position taken in advance. However, if she did change her mind, it is even harder to bring her back around.

Well, Merkel changed her mind, seriously and decisively. This is indicated by another topic discussed by the two leaders. I think no one was surprised upon hearing at the press conference that the chiefs of the two countries discussed the fate of the Nord Stream II gas pipeline. At this time Merkel again stated that the pipeline will be finished despite American sanctions. Putin in turn stated the probable timetable for the end of works: end of this year – first half of next year. This means that during 2022 the gas pipeline must reach its design capacity no matter what.

I will note that for the first time the federal chancellor did not say anything about the Ukrainian transit. This can be because the transit agreement has been signed. However, it has been signed only for five years. And by the end of 2022, when Nord Stream II reaches peak flowrate, three of these years will already have passed. Previously, in 2016, 2017, 2018 and in 2019 Merkel each time packed up the startup of Nord Stream II with the preservation of the Ukrainian transit. She was not talking about prolonging it for five years but about guaranteeing significant transit volumes through the Ukrainian gas transmission network (GTN).

In principle, Gazprom is interested in preserving the transit through the Ukrainian GTN (as is the GTN itself, which actually should be transferred under Gazprom’s control). First, demand for gas in Europe is rising, and the marine “Streams” are just not being built fast enough. Second, it is always better to use available infrastructure than build a new one. Third, Gazprom does not endeavor to move away from the Ukrainian monopoly on transit only to create a German or Turkish one. Of course, this does not mean that Gazprom is ready to start pumping 80-100 bln m3 yearly through the Ukrainian GTN, but it could quite do 30-40 bln.

However, Gazprom is not willing to tolerate Ukraine’s provocative behavior, who has been motivating “substantiated” (“market”) transit costs with its own need for cash and trying to block Gazprom from building gas pipelines going around its territory. Until now, this was a problem for Gazprom and Russia. However, after the frankly anti-European sanctions from the USA that were meant to put the brakes (if not stop completely) on the building of Nord Stream II, the position of Germany changed in a similar, almost unnoticed fashion, since Germany had determined this pipeline as one of the most important infrastructure projects both in concerning European energy safety and German economy.   

Statements by Berlin on the subject of Nord Stream II are now completely lacking mentions of the need to consider Kiev’s interests and provide guarantees of loading the Ukrainian GTN. It seems, the hard pro-American position accepted by Ukraine on this issue decidedly convinced Germany that Kiev is ready to completely irrationally make decisions that are harmful not only to itself (which is not a concern for Berlin), but also to Germany (which is a very strong concern) in order to protect the strategic interests of Washington.

As in the issue of the Minsk agreements, the positions of Moscow and Berlin are united and coordinated as never before concerning Nord Stream II. The fact that Ukraine is taking a pro-American orientation on this issue in only an additional push for Berlin to distance itself from Kiev. Especially since Germany has experience in dealing with Poland. The latter realized that the multi-billion giveaways from EU funds (mostly filled by German money) will soon end and started talking about receiving reparations for World War II (luckily they are not yet demanding Poland be returned to its borders of the times of Bolesław I the Brave and compensations from Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine and Belarus for a millennium of “unlawful ownership” of “immemorial polish lands”).

All in all, Merkel’s visit to Russia does not bode anything good for Kiev. Rather it’s all bad. It seems, German politicians have finally understood the simple truth –support Ukraine or not, but you have to plan your future in such a way that the Ukrainian factor influences it as little as possible, or even better – does not influence it at all.

Source – https://ukraina.ru/opinion/20200113/1026284231.html

Very important letter from Donald Trump to Nancy Pelosi (MUST READ)

December 17, 2019

THE WHITE HOUSE 

WASHINGTON 

December 17, 2019 

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515 

Dear Madam Speaker: 

I write to express my strongest and most powerful protest against the partisan impeachment crusade being pursued by the Democrats in the House of Representatives. This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers, unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history. 

The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence. They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever. You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment! 

By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy. You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nullification scheme—yet your spiteful actions display unfettered contempt for America’s founding and your egregious conduct threatens to destroy that which our Founders pledged their very lives to build. Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying “I pray for the President,” when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense. It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I! 

Your first claim, “Abuse of Power,” is a completely disingenuous, meritless, and baseless invention of your imagination. You know that I had a totally innocent conversation with the President of Ukraine. I then had a second conversation that has been misquoted, mischaracterized, and fraudulently misrepresented. Fortunately, there was a transcript of the 

conversation taken, and you know from the transcript (which was immediately made available) that the paragraph in question was perfect. I said to President Zelensky: “I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.” I said do us a favor, not me, and our country, not a campaign. I then mentioned the Attorney General of the United States. Every time I talk with a foreign leader, I put America’s interests first, just as I did with President Zelensky. 

You are turning a policy disagreement between two branches of government into an impeachable offense—it is no more legitimate than the Executive Branch charging members of Congress with crimes for the lawful exercise of legislative power. 

You know full well that Vice President Biden used his office and $1 billion dollars of U.S. aid money to coerce Ukraine into firing the prosecutor who was digging into the company paying his 

son millions of dollars. You know this because Biden bragged about it on video. Biden openly stated: “I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars’…I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.” Even Joe Biden admitted just days ago in an interview with NPR that it “looked bad.” Now you are trying to impeach me by falsely accusing me of doing what Joe Biden has admitted he actually did. 

More

Saker commentary: this is not about picking sides, the enemy of my enemy is NOT my friend.  However, as Malcolm X once said, “I am for the truth no matter who tells it”.  There are lies in this text, beginning with entire section about how great the US is doing.  As for the segment about Israel, I just wonder what color Trump’s tongue is by now.  Whatever color, it is kosher for sure.

But that is not the point.

It is in his accusations against Pelosi, Schiff and the rest of them that Trump is 100% right.  And that is much more important than his bombastic flag-waving and lies.  Besides, he clearly did not write this text anyway, it is way too good and he is way too stupid.  But I am pretty sure that he carefully read it and approved it.  So this is not only an official document, it is a historical one!

Request to all: if you see any US media posting the full letter, please let me know in the comments section.  I have not listened to the US media in years, and I don’t want to, so I really don’t know.  And in this case, I really would like to know who many US media outlets have refused to post the full text of such an important statement by the US President

Circulate this letter amongst your friends and contacts!  It is crucial to show the true face of these Dems (not including Tulsi Gabbard) and to prevent them from succeeding.  They are the only party right now whose arrival to power could signal a possible war between Russia and the US.  We all have to do all we can to prevent that.

Still, my personal prediction is that the Dems are committing suicide with this entire impeachment business.  But let’s not be naive, there are almost as many deep-staters and Neocons in the GOP as there are in the Dem party.  So please resist the temptation of saying that one is better than the other.  They are different, yes.  But one is not better than the other.

The enemy is not one person, or any party.  It is the entire system which is both demonic and unreformable.

That is our real enemy.

Always keep that in mind.

The Saker

Ukraine Peace Hostage to Washington’s Russophobia

Image result for Ukraine Peace Hostage to Washington’s Russophobia

December 15, 2019

After Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky finished multilateral peace talks in Paris, the emphatic media message was that “no red lines had been crossed” in negotiations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. It sounded like Zelensky was far more concerned with trying to reassure observers he hadn’t “capitulated” to Putin, rather than engaging in a genuine dialogue to resolve his country’s conflict.

The so-called Normandy Four format of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine is scheduled to meet again in four months. The meeting in Paris on December 9 was the first time leaders had convened after nearly a three-year hiatus. It is to be welcomed that President Zelensky, who was elected in April, shows a willingness to engage with Russia, unlike predecessor Petro Poroshenko, in order to bring peace to eastern Ukraine. The region has been mired in nearly six years of civil war.

During the Paris talks, there was agreement to uphold a ceasefire in Ukraine’s Donbas region, and to extend deconfliction zones by withdrawing troops and artillery. There was also agreement on the exchange of all prisoners between Ukraine government forces and the pro-Russia rebels in Donbas. All very good. But what about the full implementation of the Minsk Accord signed back in 2015?

That accord obliges the government in Kiev to permit elections and regional autonomy in the Donbas. It also obliges a full amnesty for rebels who took up arms against the Kiev administration, which came to power through an illegal US-backed coup in February 2014. The Kiev power grab ushered in an ultra-nationalist Russophobic regime intent on dominating the pro-Russian eastern region. The dramatic shift in power in Kiev towards Neo-Nazi demagogues and paramilitaries was the decisive factor in Donbas taking up arms and also in pro-Russia Crimea seceding in March 2014 and joining the Russian Federation.

Regrettably, President Zelensky appears unwilling to implement the Minsk deal which his predecessor signed up to. In fact, at the concluding press conference jointly held by the four leaders at the Paris talks, Zelensky was given to trying to re-write Minsk. He insisted on “security issues” being settled before political issues. That suggests he wants rebels in Donbas to disarm without Kiev recognizing the region’s autonomy. Zelensky also insisted on “not giving up Donbas and Crimea”, and of regaining control over all of Ukraine’s borders, including those adjacent to Russia.

The Minsk deal – which France, Germany and Russia are in concurrence on as being the only viable way forward to peace – does not say anything about Crimea “being returned” to Ukraine. The accord does not precondition autonomy in the Donbas on a prior disarmament.

In other words, Zelensky is going off script on the Minsk terms for finding a peace settlement. His position is still not adhering to the obligations his government signed up to. Perhaps over the coming months, the Ukrainian president may come round to fulfilling responsibilities as stipulated by the Minsk accord.

But there are, unfortunately, reasons to be skeptical. That’s because the relentless Russophobia residing in Washington leaves Zelensky with little room for maneuver. The shaky Kiev regime is totally reliant on Washington’s patronage for its IMF financial life-line, as well as for military support. Zelensky is the president of a vassal state. Washington calls the tune and the tributes.

As could be seen more than ever during the recent impeachment hearings on President Trump, the consensus in Washington is that Ukraine is “at war with Russia”. American politicians and media are convinced in their Cold War delusions that Russia has invaded Ukraine and is the “aggressor” against a “freedom-loving nation”. That propaganda narrative, of course, reinforces the delusions of the Russia-hating ultra-nationalists in Ukraine who have threatened Zelensky’s life if he “surrenders” to Russia.

Hence, the conflict in Ukraine is not being addressed as the internal one that it really is. Instead, it is being viewed through the Russophobic lens as an external problem, allegedly created by Russian aggression. That means the “solution” is about standing up to Russia with lots more US military aid, rather than addressing the core issues of Kiev’s toxic politics and policies towards its separatist regions.

Russia is a guarantor of Minsk, just like France and Germany are. It is not a party with obligations to fulfill. Those obligations are on the politicians in Kiev and the rebels in eastern Ukraine.

With Washington pressing Zelensky to stand up to non-existing “Russian aggression” that means the search for peace in Ukraine will remain elusive. Peace will only come to Ukraine when Washington stops kicking Kiev around like a political football to gratify its Cold War hostility towards Russia. That’s unlikely to happen in the near future.

When Zelensky seeks to reassure that “no red lines” have been crossed, his mind is not on genuine peace negotiations. Rather, he is seeking to placate Ukraine’s hostage-takers in Washington.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Prof. William O. Beeman: Impeachment of Trump for Democrats is A Gamble

Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:19
TEHRAN (FNA)- Prof. William O. Beeman, chair of the anthropology department at the State University of Minnesota, says some Democrats point out that Trump really has committed a crime, and if they don’t impeach him, they will be supporting his criminal action.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with FNA, Professor Beeman said, “These people fear that their own Democratic voters will punish them for not impeaching.”

He also said “for Democrats this process is a gamble”.

William Orman Beeman is an American scholar whose specialty is the Middle East;[1] he is a professor of anthropology at The University of Minnesota, where he is Chair of the Department of Anthropology. For many years he was Professor of Anthropology; Theatre, Speech and Dance; and East Asian Studies at Brown University.

Below is the full text of the interview:

Q: Following Trump’s phone conversation with Ukrainian President, the impeachment of Trump has come under serious scrutiny. Trump’s impeachment was to be postponed until after the 2020 US presidential election. Why did the Democrats activate Trump’s impeachment plan?

A: The House of Representatives has not voted to hold impeachment hearings yet. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has opened “impeachment investigations” through six House of Representatives committees. They have purposely not voted to open formal impeachment hearings to protect Democrats who were elected from districts that voted for President Trump, and who might be in danger in the 2020 elections from voters who favor Trump. However, many people expect that the impeachment hearings will be voted on soon, and that the President might be impeached before the end of November (the Thanksgiving Holiday)

Q: US Senate is said to be unlikely to get Trump removed from office. What could be the price of an unsuccessful impeachment of President Trump for the Democrats?

A: The House of Representatives impeaches a president or other government officials with a simple majority vote. The impeachment does not lead to removal. It is just a formal accusation. The Senate then tries the official, like a court, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court trying to hearings. After this trial, the Senate can remove him or her from office with a 2/3 majority vote. Impeachment of Trump (the formal accusation) is likely to succeed in the House of Representatives The removal of the president is likely to fail in the Senate, because Republicans are the majority in the Senate, and reaching a 2/3 majority (67 Senators) voting to remove the president is likely impossible.

Many Democrats feel that impeaching the President but not removing him from office is dangerous for them. They feel that if the Senate does not remove him, he will claim that he has been exonerated, and that the impeachment itself was a partisan effort on the part of Democrats and had no merit. Democrats feel that this will result in Trump being re-elected in 2020, and the loss of Democratic seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Other Democrats point out that Trump really has committed a crime, and if they don’t impeach him, they will be supporting his criminal action. These people fear that their own Democratic voters will punish them for not impeaching.

So you see, this is a difficult political decision for Democrats. At present there is no clear outcome for the impeachment process.

Q: What are the odds for Trump’s removal. Will his impeachment lead to his dismissal?

A: No, the impeachment is just a formal accusation–an indictment. The president can only be removed by a 2/3 vote in the Senate after the impeachment is approved.

Q: How will Trump’s impeachment and its consequences affect the 2020 US presidential election?

A: Trump thinks that if he is impeached and not removed, it will help him with voters. Some Democrats agree. Other Democrats feel that the impeachment investigation itself will expose his crimes and make him less attractive to voters. So for Democrats this process is a gamble. Personally, I feel that Trump will not be removed from office, and may even be re-elected. A great deal will depend on which candidate Democrats choose to run against Trump.

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