Interview with President Vladimir Putin: The Crisis in East Ukraine, The Sanctions Regime, Russian-German Relations

By President Vladimir Putin
Global Research, November 27, 2014
ARD 17 November 2014

Region: Europe, Russia and FSU
Theme: Global Economy, US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: UKRAINE REPORT

Putin-interview-ARDVladimir Putin answered questions from Hubert Seipel of the German TV channel ARD. The interview was recorded on November 13 in Vladivostok. President Vladimir Putin presents his views on the Ukraine crisis and defends Russia’s actions.

HUBERT SEIPEL (retranslated from Russian):

Good afternoon, Mr President.

You are the only Russian President who has ever given a speech at the Bundestag. This happened in 2001. Your speech was a success. You spoke about relations between Russia and Germany, building Europe in cooperation with Russia, but you also gave a warning. You said that the Cold War ideas had to be eradicated. You also noted that we share the same values, yet we do not trust each other. Why were you being a little pessimistic back then?Vladimir Putin answered questions from Hubert Seipel of the German TV channel ARD. The interview was recorded on November 13 in Vladivostok. President Vladimir Putin presents his views on the Ukraine crisis and defends Russia’s actions.

HUBERT SEIPEL (retranslated from Russian): Good afternoon, Mr President.

You are the only Russian President who has ever given a speech at the Bundestag. This happened in 2001. Your speech was a success. You spoke about relations between Russia and Germany, building Europe in cooperation with Russia, but you also gave a warning. You said that the Cold War ideas had to be eradicated. You also noted that we share the same values, yet we do not trust each other. Why were you being a little pessimistic back then?

English: Exclusive ARD interview with Russian President Putin | Günther Jauch | ARD — In an interview with ARD’s Hubert Seipel, Russian President Vladimir Putin presents his views on the Ukraine crisis and defends Russia’s actions.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: First of all, I gave no warnings or admonitions and I was not being pessimistic. I was just trying to analyse the preceding period in the development of the situation in the world and in Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I also took the liberty of predicting the situation based on different development scenarios.

Naturally, it reflected the situation as we see it, through the prism, as diplomats would put it, from Russia’s point of view, but still, I think it was a rather objective analysis.

I reiterate: there was no pessimism whatsoever. None. On the contrary, I was trying to make my speech sound optimistic. I assumed that having acknowledged all the problems of the past, we must move towards a much more comfortable and mutually advantageous relationship-building process in the future.

HUBERT SEIPEL: Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, which would not have been possible without the Soviet Union’s consent. That was back then. In the meantime, NATO is conducting exercises in the Black Sea, near the Russian borders, while Russian bombers conduct exercises in Europe’s international airspace. The Defence Minister said, if I’m not mistaken, that they fly as far as the Gulf of Mexico. All of this points to a new Cold War.

And, of course, partners exchange harsh statements. Some time ago, President Obama named Russia as a threat on a par with Ebola and the extremists, the Islamic extremists. You once called America a nouveau riche, who thinks of himself as a winner of the Cold war, and now America is trying to shape the world according to its own ideas about life. All of this is very reminiscent of a Cold War.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: See, you mentioned 2001 and I said that my perspective was rather optimistic.

We have witnessed two waves of NATO expansion since 2001. If I remember correctly, seven countries – Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and three Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – joined NATO in 2004. Two more countries joined in 2009. Those were significant geopolitical game changers.

Furthermore, the number of military bases is growing. Does Russia have military bases around the world? NATO and the United States have military bases scattered all over the globe, including in areas close to our borders, and their number is growing.

Moreover, just recently it was decided to deploy Special Operations Forces, again in close proximity to our borders.

You have mentioned various exercises, flights, ship movements, and so on. Is all of this going on? Yes, it is indeed.

However, first of all, you said – or perhaps it was an inaccurate translation – that they have been conducted in the international European airspace. Well, it is either international (neutral) or European airspace. So, please note that our exercises have been conducted exclusively in international waters and international airspace.

In 1992, we suspended the flights of our strategic aircraft and they remained at their air bases for many years. During this time, our US partners continued the flights of their nuclear aircraft to the same areas as before, including areas close to our borders. Therefore, several years ago, seeing no positive developments, no one is ready to meet us halfway, we resumed the flights of our strategic aviation to remote areas. That’s all.

HUBERT SEIPEL: So, you believe that your security interests have not been accommodated.

Let me return to the current crisis and to its trigger. The current crisis was triggered by the agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. The title of this agreement is relatively harmless. It is called the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. The key point of this agreement is to open the Ukrainian market to the EU and vice versa. Why is it a threat for Russia? Why did you oppose this agreement?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: In reality the economy follows almost the same path as security. We preach the opposite of what we practice. We say that a single space should be built and build new dividing lines instead.

Let us look at what the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement stipulates. I have said this many times, but it appears I have to repeat it once again: it eliminates the import duties for the European goods entering Ukrainian territory, brings them down to zero. Yet as Ukraine is a member of a free trade zone within CIS, zero customs tariffs have been introduced between Russia and Ukraine. What does that mean? It means that all European goods will flow through Ukrainian territory directly to the customs territory of the Russian Federation.

There are many other things that may not be clear for people who are not informed regarding these matters, but they do exist. For example, there are technical regulations that are different in Russia and in the EU, we have different standards. Those are standards of technical control, phytosanitary standards and the principle of determining the origin of goods. By way of an example I would cite the component assembly of cars in Ukrainian territory. According to the Association Agreement, the goods manufactured in the territory of Ukraine are intended for our market within the framework of the Russian-Ukrainian free trade zone. Your companies that invested billions of euros in factories in Russia (Volkswagen, BMW, Peugeot, Citroen, the US Ford, and others) entered our market on completely different terms, on condition of deep localisation of production. How could we accept that? So we said from the outset, “We agree, but let us proceed step by step and take into consideration the real problems that can emerge between Russia and Ukraine.” What were we told in response? “It is none of your business, so get your nose out of these affairs.”

HUBERT SEIPEL: I would like to turn to the past. When the EU‑Ukraine Association Agreement was discussed, the negotiations took quite a while. This caused rallies on Maidan in Kiev. I refer to the protests during which people demanded a better life within the European Union. But they were also protesting against the Ukrainian system. In the end all that resulted in a wave of violence.

After the then president failed to sign the Agreement, it provoked an outbreak of violence, and people were killed on Maidan. Then the German Minister of Foreign Affairs arrived and tried to find a compromise between the protesters and the government, and managed to do that. An agreement was made providing for a government of national unity. It remained in force for about 24 hours and then it disappeared.

You followed closely the developments of September 21 and you remember how you talked with Mr Obama and Ms Merkel.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes. Indeed, on February 21, not only the German Minister of Foreign Affairs but also his counterparts from Poland and France arrived in Kiev to act as guarantors of the agreement achieved between the then President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition. The agreement stipulated that the only path the process would take was the peaceful one. As guarantors, they signed that agreement between the official authorities and the opposition. And the former assumed that it would be observed. It is true that I spoke by telephone with the President of the United States that same day, and this was the context for our conversation. However, the following day, despite all the guarantees provided by our partners from the West, a coup happened and both the Presidential Administration and the Government headquarters were occupied.

I would like to say the following in this regard: either the Foreign Ministers of Germany, Poland and France should not have signed the agreement between the authorities and the opposition as its guarantors, or, since they did sign it after all, they should have insisted on its implementation instead of dissociating themselves from this agreement. What is more, they prefer now not to mention it at all, as though the agreement never existed. In my view, this is absolutely wrong and counterproductive.

HUBERT SEIPEL: You acted promptly. You, so to say, annexed Crimea and justified it at the time based on the fact that 60 percent of Crimea’s population were Russians, that Crimea has a long history of being part of Russia and, lastly, that its fleet is stationed there. The West saw that as a violation of international law.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: What is your question exactly?

HUBERT SEIPEL: Did you underestimate the reaction of the West and the possible sanctions, which were later imposed on Russia?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We believe that this sort of reaction was totally disproportionate to what had happened.

Whenever I hear complaints about Russia violating international law I am simply amazed. What is international law? It is first of all the United Nations Charter, international practice and its interpretation by relevant international institutions.

Moreover, we have a clear recent precedent – Kosovo.

HUBERT SEIPEL: You mean the International Court of Justice ruling on Kosovo? The one in which it stated that Kosovo had the right to self‑determination and that the Kosovars could hold a vote to determine the future of their state?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: (In German.) Exactly. (Continues in Russian.) But not only that. Its main point was that when making a decision concerning their self-determination, the people living in a certain territory need not ask the opinion of the central authorities of the state where they presently live. They do not need the approval by the central authorities, by the government, to take the necessary measures for self-determination. That is the central point.

And what was done in Crimea was not in any way different from what had been done in Kosovo.

I am deeply convinced that Russia did not commit any violations of international law. Yes, I make no secret of it, it is a fact and we never concealed that our Armed Forces, let us be clear, blocked Ukrainian armed forces stationed in Crimea, not to force anybody to vote, which is impossible, but to avoid bloodshed, to give the people an opportunity to express their own opinion about how they want to shape their future and the future of their children.

Kosovo, which you mentioned, declared its independence by parliamentary decision alone. In Crimea, people did not just make a parliamentary decision, they held a referendum, and its results were simply stunning.

What is democracy? Both you and me know the answer well. What is demos? Demos is people, and democracy is people’s right. In this particular case, it is the right to self-determination.

HUBERT SEIPEL: It shows immediately that you are a lawyer.

But you know the arguments of the West as well. The West says that the elections were held under the control of Russian military. This is the reasoning of the West.

Let me touch upon the next issue. Today, Ukraine is more or less divided. Four thousand people have died, hundreds of thousands have become refugees and fled, among other places, to Russia. In the east of the country, Russian-speaking separatists are demanding broad autonomy, some want to join Russia. In accordance with the Minsk agreement, ceasefire was declared, but people are dying every day. The country is bankrupt. Basically everybody lost in the conflict. Ukraine seems to have lost the most, but Europe and Russia did as well. How do you see Ukraine’s future?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Ukraine is a complex country, and not only due to its ethnic composition, but also from the point of view of its formation as it stands today.

Is there a future and what will it be like? I think there certainly is. It is a large country, a large nation with the population of 43–44 million people. It is a large European country with a European culture..

You know, there is only one thing that is missing. I believe, what is missing is the understanding that in order to be successful, stable and prosperous, the people who live on this territory, regardless of the language they speak (Hungarian, Russian, Ukrainian or Polish), must feel that this territory is their homeland. To achieve that they must feel that they can realise their potential here as well as in any other territories and possibly even better to some extent. That is why I do not understand the unwillingness of some political forces in Ukraine to even hear about the possibility of federalisation.

We’ve been hearing lately that the question at issue should be not federalisation but decentralisation. It is all really a play on words. It is important to understand what these notions mean: decentralisation, federalisation, regionalisation. You can coin a dozen other terms. The people living in these territories must realise that they have rights to something, that they can decide something for themselves in their lives.

HUBERT SEIPEL: The central question in the West as follows: will Ukraine remain an independent state? It is the central question now on the agenda. The second question is whether Russia can do more? Maybe Russia has more opportunities to expedite this process in Ukraine, in particular with regard to the Minsk agreements?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, when someone tells us that we have some special opportunities to solve this or that crisis it always troubles and alarms me. We have heard many times that Russia has a key to the solution of the Syrian problem, that we have some special opportunities to solve some other problem or the Ukrainian crisis. I always begin to suspect that there is an intention to pass on the responsibility to us and to make us pay for something. We do not want that. Ukraine is an independent, free and sovereign state. Frankly speaking, we are very concerned about any possible ethnic cleansings and Ukraine ending up as a neo-Nazi state. What are we supposed to think if people are bearing swastikas on their sleeves? Or what about the SS emblems that we see on the helmets of some military units now fighting in eastern Ukraine? If it is a civilised state, where are the authorities looking? At least they could get rid of this uniform, they could make the nationalists remove these emblems. That is why we have fears that it may all end up this way. If it happens it would be a catastrophe for Ukraine and Ukrainian people.

The Minsk agreements arose only because Russia became actively involved in this effort; we worked with the Donbass militias, that is the fighters from southeast Ukraine, and we convinced them that they should settle for certain agreements. If we had not done that, it would simply not have happened. There are some problems with the implementation of these agreements, it is true.

What are those problems? Indeed, self-defence fighters, for example, were supposed to leave some of the towns they had surrounded, are yet they haven’t left. Do you know why not? I will tell you plainly, this is no secret: because the people fighting against the Ukrainian army say, “These are our villages, we come from there. Our families and our loved ones live there. If we leave, nationalist battalions will come and kill everyone. We will not leave, you can kill us yourselves.” You know, it is a difficult problem. Of course, we try to convince them, we talk, but when they say things like that, you know, there is not much that can be said in response.

And the Ukrainian army also has not left some of the towns it was supposed to leave. The militias – they are the people who are fighting for their rights, for their interests. But if the central Ukrainian authorities choose not just to determine the demarcation line, which is very important today in order to stop the shelling and killing, but if they want to preserve the territorial integrity of their country, each particular village or town are not significant; what is important is to immediately stop the bloodshed and shelling and to create conditions for starting a political dialogue. That is what is important. If it this is not done, there will be no political dialogue.

I apologise for such a long monologue, but you make me go back to the essence of the problem.

What is the essence? The coup took place in Kiev. A considerable part of the country supported it, and they were happy partly because they believed that after the signing of, say, the Association Agreement there will be open borders, job opportunities, the right to work in the European Union, including in Germany. They thought that it will be like that. In fact, they have nothing of the sort. The other part of the country, the southeast, did not support it and said, “We do not recognise you.” And instead of starting a dialogue, instead of explaining to people that the central authorities in Kiev are not going to do anything bad, and on the contrary, they will propose various forms of coexistence and development of a common state, they are ready to grant them their rights, instead of that they begin making arrests at night. Once the night arrests began, people in the southeast took up arms. Once they took up arms, instead of stopping (the authorities should have the wisdom to do that) and starting this dialogue they sent the army, the air force, tanks and multiple rocket launchers. Is this a way to solve problems? And ultimately everything came to a deadlock. Is it possible to get out of it? I am sure that it is possible.

HUBERT SEIPEL: The question or, more properly, the claim made by Kiev today is that Russia supplies weapons to the separatists and sends its servicemen there.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Where did they get the armoured vehicles and the artillery systems? Nowadays people who wage a fight and consider it righteous will always get weapons. This is the first point.

But I would like to stress that this is not the issue. The issue itself is entirely different. The issue is that we can’t have a one-sided view of the problem.

Today there is fighting in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian central authorities have sent the armed forces there and they even use ballistic missiles. Does anybody speak about it? Not a single word. And what does it mean? What does it tell us? This points to the fact, that you want the Ukrainian central authorities to annihilate everyone there, all of their political foes and opponents. Is that what you want? We certainly don’t. And we won’t let it happen.

HUBERT SEIPEL: After the Crimea joined Russia, the West expelled Russia from the Group of Eight, this exclusive club of industrial states. At the same time the USA and Great Britain imposed sanctions against Russia. Now you are heading to a G20 summit of the most important industrial states on the planet. The focus there will be on economic growth and employment. They say, there is no more growth and unemployment is set to increase; the sanctions are starting to have an effect; both the ruble and the oil price have set anti‑records. The forecast of attaining 2 percent growth in Russia is unfeasible. Other countries are in the same situation. This crisis has a counter‑productive character, including for the upcoming summit, wouldn’t you say?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You mean the Ukrainian crisis?

HUBERT SEIPEL: Yes.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Of course, who could benefit from it? You wanted to know how the situation is evolving and what our expectations are. Of course we expect the situation to change for the better. Of course we expect the Ukrainian crisis to end. Of course we want to have normal relations with our partners, including in the United States and Europe. Of course, the situation with the so-called sanctions is damaging for the global economy (it is damaging for us and it is damaging for global economy as well) and it is damaging for the Russian‑EU relations most of all.

However, there are some advantages as well: the restrictions imposed on some Russian companies on purchasing certain goods from Western countries, from Europe and the United States, have induced us to produce these goods ourselves. The comfortable life, when all we had to do was produce more oil and gas, and to buy everything else, is a thing of the past.

With regard to growth, we should note that this year growth was modest but it was present nevertheless at about 0.5–0.6 percent. Next year we are planning to achieve 1.2 percent growth, the year after that 2.3 percent and 3 percent in three years. Generally, these are not the figures we would like to have but nevertheless it is growth and we are confident that we will achieve these figures.

HUBERT SEIPEL: Another theme to be discussed in Brisbane will be financial stability. The situation in Russia may also be complicated because Russian banks can no longer obtain refinancing on world markets. Moreover, there are plans to close for Russia the international payments system. VLADIMIR PUTIN: Russian banks have currently extended a $25 billion loan to the Ukrainian economy. If our European and American partners want to help Ukraine, how can they undermine the financial base limiting our financial institutions’ access to world capital markets? Do they want to bankrupt our banks? In that case they will bankrupt Ukraine. Have they thought about what they are doing at all or not? Or has politics blinded them? As we know eyes constitute a peripheral part of brain. Was something switched off in their brains?

The bank that I mentioned is Gazprombank, which only this year, this calendar year, has extended a loan of $1.4 plus $1.8 billion to the Ukrainian energy sector. How much is that in total? $3.2 billion. This is the sum it has allocated. In one case, it issued a loan to Ukrainian Naftogaz, which is a public company; in the other case, it allocated $1.4 billion to a private company in order to support Ukraine’s chemical industry. In both cases, today this bank has the right to demand early repayment because the Ukrainian partners have violated their loan agreement.

HUBERT SEIPEL: The question is if they are paying or not?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: (In German.) They are paying at the moment. (Continues in Russian.) They are servicing the loan. Naftogaz is servicing one of the loans. However, there are some conditions that are being violated. Therefore, the bank has the formal right to demand early repayment.

But if we do it, the whole Ukrainian financial system will collapse. And if we don’t do it, our bank may collapse. What should we do?

Moreover, when we extended a $3 billion loan a year ago, there was a condition that if Ukraine’s total debt exceeded 60 percent of GDP, we, the Russian Ministry of Finance, would be entitled to demand an early repayment. Again, if we do it, the whole financial system will collapse. We have already decided that we will not do it. We do not want to aggravate the situation. We want Ukraine to get on its feet at last.

HUBERT SEIPEL: Do you intend to propose ways to resolve the crisis in Ukraine?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Madam Chancellor is very much aware of all the nuances of this conflict. As for the energy problem, she has done a great deal for its solution.

As for the security issues, I would say that in this area our viewpoints and approaches do not always coincide. What is clear is that Russia and the Federal Republic of Germany want the situation in this region to be settled. We are interested in this and we will work for the observation of the Minsk agreements. There is just one thing that I always pay attention to. We are told again and again: pro-Russian separatists must do this and this, you must influence them in this way, you must act in that way. I have always asked them: “What have you done to influence your clients in Kiev? What have you done? Or do you only support Russophobic sentiments?” This is very dangerous, by the way. A catastrophe will happen if somebody surreptitiously supports Russophobia in Ukraine. It will be a real catastrophe! Or shall we seek a joint solution? If so, let’s bring the positions of the parties closer together. I am going to say something that some people in this country may not like. Let’s try to achieve a single political space in those territories. We are ready to move in this direction, but only together.

HUBERT SEIPEL: It is very difficult to correct the mistakes made by others. Sometimes it is only possible to correct one’s own mistakes.

I would like to ask you: have you made mistakes?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: People always make mistakes. Every person makes mistakes in business, in private life. Does it really matter? The question is that we should give a rapid, timely and effective response to the consequences of such mistakes. We should analyse them and realise that they are mistakes. We should understand, correct them and move on towards the solution of problems rather than an impasse.

It seemed to me that this is the way we acted in our relations with Europe as a whole and the Federal Republic of Germany in particular over the past decade. Look at the friendship that has been established between Russia and Germany in the past 10–15 years. I don’t know if we had ever enjoyed such relations before. I don’t think so. I see it as a very good base, a good foundation for the development of relations not only between our two states, but also between Russia and Europe as a whole, for the harmonisation of relations in the world. It will be a pity if we let it go to waste.

HUBERT SEIPEL: Mr President, thank you for the interview.

Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the XXII Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy – Posted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Russian Federation

Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the XXII Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, 22 November 2014

1sI’m happy to be at this annual Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy (Russian abbreviation SVOP). It is always a great pleasure for me to meet people and feel the intellectual potential, which enables the Council, its leaders and representatives to respond to global developments and analyse them. Their analysis is always free from any hysteria, and its members offer well-grounded and solid arguments, taking a step back, since those caught in the midst of events can hardly adopt an unbiased perspective. We are inevitably influenced by the developments, which makes your observations, analysis, discourse and suggestions even more valuable to us.

As far as I know, this year’s Assembly will focus on prospects for accelerating domestic growth in Russia. There is no doubt that concerted efforts by our society as a whole to bring about comprehensive economic, social and spiritual development are a prerequisite for making Russia’s future sustainable. That said, by virtue of my professional duties, I have to focus on foreign policy issues, which are still relevant for the Assembly’s agenda, since in this interconnected, globalised world, isolating internal development from the outside world is impossible.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin provided a detailed analysis of the international developments at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi, as well as in his interviews during his trip to Asia. For this reason, I won’t offer any conceptual observations, as everything has already been said. Nevertheless, I would like to share with you some considerations based on our day-to-day foreign policy efforts. It is not my intention to deliver a comprehensive or clear outlook, since at this stage all forecasts are provisional, no matter who makes them. Moreover, diplomats seek to influence developments as they unfold, not contemplate them.

Naturally, I will start with Ukraine. Long before the country was plunged into the crisis, there was a feeling in the air that Russia’s relations with the EU and with the West were about to reach their moment of truth. It was clear that we could no longer continue to put issues in our relations on the back burner and that a choice had to be made between a genuine partnership or, as the saying goes, “breaking pots.” It goes without saying that Russia opted for the former alternative, while unfortunately our Western partners settled for the latter, whether consciously or not. In fact, they went all out in Ukraine and supported extremists, thereby giving up their own principles of democratic regime change. What came out of it was an attempt to play chicken with Russia, to see who blinks first. As bullies say, they wanted to Russia to “chicken out” (I can’t find a better word for it), to force us to swallow the humiliation of Russians and native speakers of Russian in Ukraine.

Honourable Leslie Gelb, whom you know all too well, wrote that Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU had nothing to do with inviting Ukraine to join the EU and was aimed in the short term at preventing it from joining the Customs Union. This is what an impartial and unbiased person said. When they deliberately decided to go down the path of escalation in Ukraine, they forgot many things, and had a clear understanding of how such moves would be viewed in Russia. They forgot the advice of, say, Otto von Bismarck, who had said that disparaging the millions-strong great Russian people would be the biggest political mistake.

President Vladimir Putin said the other day that no one in history has yet managed to subjugate Russia to its influence. This is not an assessment, but a statement of fact. Yet such an attempt has been made to quench the thirst for expanding the geopolitical space under Western control, out of a mercantile fear to lose the spoils of what they across the Atlantic had persuaded themselves was the victory in the Cold War.

The plus of today’s situation is that everything has clicked into its place and the calculus behind the West’s actions has been revealed despite its professed readiness to build a security community, a common European home. To quote (singer/song-writer) Bulat Okudzhava, “The past is getting clearer and clearer.” The clarity is becoming more tangible. Today our task is not only to sort out the past (although that must be done), but most importantly, to think about the future.

Talks about Russia’s isolation do not merit serious discussion. I need hardly dwell on this before this audience. Of course, one can damage our economy, and damage is being done, but only by doing harm to those who are taking corresponding measures and, equally important, destroying the system of international economic relations, the principles on which it is based. Formerly, when sanctions were applied (I worked at the Russian mission to the UN at the time) our Western partners, when discussing the DPRK, Iran or other states, said that it was necessary to formulate the restrictions in such a way as to keep within humanitarian limits and not to cause damage to the social sphere and the economy, and to selectively target only the elite. Today everything is the other way around: Western leaders are publicly declaring that the sanctions should destroy the economy and trigger popular protests. So, as regards the conceptual approach to the use of coercive measures the West unequivocally demonstrates that it does not merely seek to change Russian policy (which in itself is illusory), but it seeks to change the regime — and practically nobody denies this.

President Vladimir Putin, speaking with journalists recently, said that today’s Western leaders have a limited planning horizon. Indeed, it is dangerous when decisions on key problems of the development of the world and humankind as a whole are taken on the basis of short electoral cycles: in the United States the cycle is two years and each time one has to think of or do something to win votes. This is the negative side of the democratic process, but we cannot afford to ignore it. We cannot accept the logic when we are told to resign, relax and take it as a given that everyone has to suffer because there are elections in the United States every two years. This is just not right. We will not resign ourselves to this because the stakes are too high in the fight against terror, the threats of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and many bloody conflicts whose negative impact goes far beyond the framework of the corresponding states and regions. The wish to do something to gain unilateral advantages or to endear oneself to the electorate ahead of another election leads to chaos and confusion in international relations.

We hear the daily repeated mantra that Washington is aware of its own exclusiveness and its duty to bear this burden, to lead the rest of the world. Rudyard Kipling spoke about “the white man’s burden.” I hope that this is not what drives Americans. The world today is not white or black, but multi-coloured and heterogeneous. Leadership in this world can be assured not by persuading oneself of one’ exclusiveness and God-given duty to be responsible for everyone, but only by the ability and craft in forming a consensus. If the US partners committed their power to this goal, this would be priceless, and Russia would be actively helping them.

However, so far, US administrative resources still work only in the NATO framework, and then with substantial reservations, and its writ does not reach beyond the North Atlantic Alliance. One proof of this is the results of US attempts to make the world community follow its line in connection with the anti-Russian sanctions and principles. I have spoken about it more than once and we have ample proof of the fact that American ambassadors and envoys across the world seek meetings at the highest level to argue that the corresponding countries are obliged to punish Russia together with them or else face the consequences. This is done with regard to all countries, including our closest allies (this speaks volumes about the kind of analysts Washington has). An overwhelming majority of the states with which we have a continuing dialogue without any restrictions and isolation, as you see, value Russia’s independent role in the international arena. Not because they like it when somebody challenges the Americans, but because they realise that the world order will not be stable if nobody is allowed to speak his mind (although privately the overwhelming majority do express their opinion, but they do not want to do so publicly for fear of Washington’s reprisals).

Many reasonable analysts understand that there is a widening gap between the global ambitions of the US Administration and the country’s real potential. The world is changing and, as has always happened in history, at some point somebody’s influence and power reach their peak and then somebody begins to develop still faster and more effectively. One should study history and proceed from realities. The seven developing economies headed by BRICS already have a bigger GDP than the Western G7. One should proceed from the facts of life, and not from a misconceived sense of one’s own grandeur.

It has become fashionable to argue that Russia is waging a kind of “hybrid war” in Crimea and in Ukraine. It is an interesting term, but I would apply it above all to the United States and its war strategy – it is truly a hybrid war aimed not so much at defeating the enemy militarily as at changing the regimes in the states that pursue a policy Washington does not like. It is using financial and economic pressure, information attacks, using others on the perimeter of a corresponding state as proxies and of course information and ideological pressure through externally financed non-governmental organisations. Is it not a hybrid process and not what we call war? It would be interesting to discuss the concept of the hybrid war to see who is waging it and is it only about “little green men.”

Apparently the toolkit of our US partners, who have become adept at using it, is much larger.

In attempting to establish their pre-eminence at a time when new economic, financial and political power centres are emerging, the Americans provoke counteraction in keeping with Newton’s third law and contribute to the emergence of structures, mechanisms, and movements that seek alternatives to the American recipes for solving the pressing problems. I am not referring to anti-Americanism, still less about forming coalitions spearheaded against the United States, but only about the natural wish of a growing number of countries to secure their vital interests and do it the way they think right, and not what they are told “from across the pond.” Nobody is going to play anti-US games just to spite the United States. We face attempts and facts of extra-territorial use of US legislation, the kidnapping of our citizens in spite of existing treaties with Washington whereby these issues are to be resolved through law enforcement and judicial bodies.

According to its doctrine of national security, the United States has the right to use force anywhere, anytime without necessarily asking the UN Security Council for approval. A coalition against the Islamic State was formed unbeknownst to the Security Council. I asked Secretary of State John Kerry why have not they gone to the UN Security Council for this.

He told me that if they did, they would have to somehow designate the status of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Of course, they had to because Syria is a sovereign state and still a member of the UN (no one excluded it from UN membership). The secretary of state said it was wrong because the United States is combating terrorism and the al-Assad regime is the most important factor that galvanises terrorists from around the world and acts as a magnet attracting them to this region in an attempt to overthrow the Syrian regime.

I believe this is perverse logic. If we are talking about precedents (the United States adheres to case law), it is worth remembering the chemical disarmament in Syria when the Assad regime was a completely legitimate partner of the United States, Russia, the OPCW and others. The Americans maintain talks with the Taliban as well. Whenever the United States has an opportunity to benefit from something, it acts quite pragmatically. I’m not sure why the ideologically-driven position took the upper hand this time and the United States chose to believe that Assad cannot be a partner. Perhaps, this is not so much an operation against the Islamic State as paving the way for toppling al-Assad under the guise of a counter-terrorist operation.

Francis Fukuyama recently wrote the book, Political Order and Political Decay, in which he argues that the efficiency of public administration in the United States is declining and the traditions of democratic governance are gradually being replaced with feudal fiefdom ruling methods. This is part of the discussion about someone who lives in a glass house and throws stones.

All of this is happening amid the mounting challenges and problems of the modern world. We are seeing a continued “tug of war” in Ukraine. Trouble is brewing on the south border of the EU. I don’t think the Middle Eastern and North African problems will go away all by themselves. The EU has formed a new commission. New foreign actors have emerged, who will face a serious fight for where to send their basic resources: either for the continuation of reckless schemes in Ukraine, Moldova, etc., within the Eastern Partnership (as advocated by an aggressive minority in the EU), or they will listen to the Southern European countries and focus on what’s happening on the other side of the Mediterranean.

This is a major issue for the EU.

So far, those who are not guided by real problems, but rather by a desire to quickly grab things from freshly turned up ground. It is deplorable. Exporting revolutions – be they democratic, communist or others – never brings any good.

State, public and civilisational structures are actually disintegrating in the MENA region. The destructive energy released in the process can scorch states that are located far beyond this region. Terrorists (including the Islamic State) are claiming a national status. Moreover, they are already beginning to create quasi-governmental bodies there that engage in the administrative work.

On this backdrop, minorities, including Christians, are banished. In Europe, these issues are deemed not politically correct. They are ashamed when we invite them to do something about it together at the OSCE. They wonder why would we focus specifically on Christians? How is that special? The OSCE has held a series of events dedicated to keeping memories about the Holocaust and its victims alive. A few years ago, the OSCE started holding events against Islamophobia. We will be offering an analysis of the processes leading to Christianophobia.

On 4-5 December, OSCE ministerial meetings will be held in Basel, where we will present this proposal. The majority of EU member states elude this topic, because they are ashamed to talk about it. Just as they were ashamed to include in what was then the EU constitution drafted by Valery Giscard d’Estaing a phrase that Europe has Christian roots.

If you don’t remember or respect your own roots and traditions, how would you respect the traditions and values of other people? This is straightforward logic. Comparing what’s happening now in the Middle East to a period of religious wars in Europe, Israeli political scientist Avineri said that the current turmoil is unlikely to end with what the West means when it says “democratic reforms.”

The Arab-Israeli conflict is dead in the water. It’s hard to play on several boards at a time. The Americans are trying to accomplish this, but it doesn’t work for them. In 2013, they took nine months to sort out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I will not go into the reasons, they are known, but they failed at this as well. Now, they asked for more time to try to achieve some progress before the end of 2014, so that the Palestinians wouldn’t go to the UN and sign the Statute of the International Criminal Court, etc. Suddenly, it transpired that negotiations on Iran are underway. The US State Department dumped Palestine to focus on Iran.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and I agreed to talk on this subject some time soon. It’s important to understand that you can’t keep the problem of the Palestinian state deeply frozen forever. Failure to resolve it for nearly 70 years has been a major argument of those who recruit extremists in their ranks, “there’s no justice: it was promised to create two states; the Jewish one was created, but they will never create an Arab state.” Used on a hungry Arab street, these arguments sound quite plausible, and they start calling for a fight for justice using other methods.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi that we need a new version of interdependence. This was a very topical statement. The leading powers must return to the negotiating table and agree on a new framework that takes into account the basic legitimate interests of all the key parties (I can’t tell you what it should be called, but it should be based on the UN Charter), to agree on reasonable self-imposed restrictions and collective risk management in a system of international relations underpinned by democratic values. Our Western partners promote respect for the rule of law, democracy and minority opinion within countries, while failing to stand up for the same values in international affairs. This leaves Russia as a pioneer in promoting democracy, justice and rule of international law. A new world order can only be polycentric and should reflect the diversity of cultures and civilisations in today’s world.

You are aware of Russia’s commitment to ensuring indivisibility of security in international affairs and holding it in international law. I won’t elaborate on this.

I would like to support the point the SVOP has been making that Russia won’t succeed in becoming a major, successful and confident power of the 21st century without developing its eastern regions. Sergei Karaganov was among the first to conceptualise this idea, and I fully agree. Taking Russia’s relations with the Asia Pacific countries to a new level is an absolute priority. Russia worked along these lines at the Beijing APEC meeting and the G20 forum. We will continue moving in this direction in the new environment created by the upcoming launch of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on 1 January 2015.

We have been treated as “subhumans.” For over a decade, Russia has been trying to establish partnership ties with NATO through CSTO. These efforts were not just about putting NATO and CSTO “in the same league.” As a matter of fact, CSTO is focused on catching drug dealers and illegal migrants around the Afghan border, and the North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation is the backbone of the international security forces, which, among other things, were tasked with fighting the terrorist threat and eliminating its financing schemes, which involve drug trafficking. We tried everything: we pleaded and then demanded real-time contact, so that once NATO detects a caravan transporting drugs and is unable to stop it, it alerts us across the border, so that this caravan could be intercepted by CSTO forces. They simply refused to talk to us. In private conversations, our NATO well-wishers (and I actually mean this in the positive way) told us that the alliance can’t view CSTO as an equal partner for ideological reasons. Until recently, we saw the same condescending and arrogant attitude with respect to the Eurasian economic integration. And that despite the fact that countries intending to join the EAEU have much more in common in terms of their economies, history and culture than many EU members. This union is not about creating barriers with anyone. We always stress how open this union is expected to be. I strongly believe that it will make a significant contribution to building a bridge between Europe and Asia Pacific.

I can’t fail to mention Russia’s comprehensive partnership with China. Important bilateral decisions have been taken, paving the way to an energy alliance between Russia and China. But there’s more to it. We can now even talk about the emerging technology alliance between the two countries. Russia’s tandem with Beijing is a crucial factor for ensuring international stability and at least some balance in international affairs, as well as ensuring the rule of international law. We will make full use of our relations with India and Vietnam, Russia’s strategic partners, as well as the ASEAN countries. We are also open to expanding cooperation with Japan, if our Japanese neighbours can look at their national interests and stop looking back at some overseas powers.

There is no doubt that the European Union is our largest collective partner. No one intends to “shoot himself in the foot” by renouncing cooperation with Europe, although it is now clear that business as usual is no longer an option. This is what our European partners are telling us, but neither do we want to operate the old way. They believed that Russia owed them something, while we want to be on an equal footing. For this reason, things will never be the same again. That said, I’m confident that we will be able to overcome this period, lessons will be learned and a new foundation for our relations will emerge.

The idea of creating a single economic and humanitarian space from Lisbon to Vladivostok can now be heard here and there and is gaining traction. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has said publicly (while we have been saying it for a long time) that the EU and the EAEU should engage in dialogue. The statement President Vladimir Putin made in Brussels in January 2014, when he proposed the first step by launching negotiations on a free-trade zone between the EU and the Customs Union with an eye on 2020, is no longer viewed as something exotic. All of this has already become part of diplomacy and real politics. Although this is so far only a matter of discussion, I strongly believe that we will one day achieve what is called “the integration of integrations.” This is one of the key topics we want to promote within the OSCE at the Ministerial Council in Basel.

Russia is about to assume BRICS and SCO presidency. The two organisations will hold their summits in Ufa. These are very promising organisations for the new age. They are not blocks (especially BRICS), but groups where members share the same interests, representing countries from all continents that share common approaches regarding the future of the global economy, finance and politics.

Lame duck out of the Silk Road caravan

World leaders during the APEC Summit family photo in Beijing November 10, 2014. Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott standing behind Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd L) (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

World leaders during the APEC Summit family photo in Beijing November 10, 2014. Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott standing behind Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd L) (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

By Pepe Escobar

There’s hardly a more graphic illustration of where the multipolar world is going than what just happened at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing.

Take a very good look at the official photos. This is all about positioning – and this being China, pregnant with symbolic meaning. Guess who’s in the place of honor, side by side with President Xi Jinping. And guess where the lame duck leader of the “indispensable nation” has been relegated. The Chinese can also be masters at sending a global message.

When President Xi urged APEC to “add firewood to the fire of the Asia-Pacific and world economy,” this is what he meant, irrespective of inconclusive decisions out of the summit.

1) Beijing will go no holds barred for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) – the Chinese vision of an “all inclusive, all-win” trade deal that really promotes Asia-Pacific cooperation, instead of the US-driven, corporate-redacted, and quite divisive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

2) The blueprint is on for “all-round connectivity,” in Xi’s words – which implies Beijing setting up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Beijing and Moscow committing to a second mega gas deal – this one through the Altai pipeline in Western Siberia; and China already funneling no less than $40 billion to start building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

World leaders take their seats as China's President Xi Jinping (C) prepares to deliver opening remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' meeting at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, November 11, 2014 (Reuters / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

World leaders take their seats as China’s President Xi Jinping (C) prepares to deliver opening remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, November 11, 2014 (Reuters / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Once again, everything converges towards the most spectacular, ambitious and wide-ranging pluri-national infrastructure offensive ever attempted: the multiple New Silk Roads – a complex network of high-speed rail, pipelines, ports, fiber optic cables and state of the art telecom that China is already building through the Central Asian -stans, linked to Russia, Iran, Turkey and the Indian Ocean, and branching out to Europe all the way to Venice and Berlin.

That’s Beijing interlinking Xi’s “Asia-Pacific Dream” way beyond East Asia, with eyes set on pan-Eurasia trade – with the center being, what else, the Middle Kingdom.

The “Go West” campaign was officially launched in China in the late 1990s. The New Silk Roads are a turbocharged “Go West” – and “Go South” – expanding markets, markets, markets. Think of near future Eurasia as a massive Chinese Silk Belt – in some latitudes in a condominium with Russia.
You want your war hot or cold?

As Beijing dreams, Noam Chomsky has been very vocal about a 1914-style chain reaction of catastrophic blunders – by the West – that could fast spin out of control; and the stakes, once again, are nuclear. Moscow absolutely abhors this gruesome possibility – and that explains why Russia, under relentless US provocation, as well as sanctions, has exercised titanic restraint. Not only can Russia not be “isolated” as the US attempted with Iran; Moscow also called the US neo-cons’ bluff in Ukraine.

At the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi, President Putin, in a crucial speech (text plus Q&A) obviously ignored by Western corporate media, drew the necessary conclusions. The Washington/Wall Street elites have absolutely no intention of allowing a minimum of multipolarity in international relations. What’s left is chaos. That’s what I’ve been arguing, over different strands, during the Obama administration years, and is at the center of my new book “Empire of Chaos”.

Moscow knows all about the complex interlinks with Europe – especially Germany – and with the still fading, but still influential, Washington Consensus. And yet Russia holds the trump card of being a Eurasian power; when in trouble, there could always be a pivoting to Asia.

Gorbachev was spot on in Berlin when he stressed how, breaking the promise personally made to him by Bush the father, NATO embarked on an eternal eastward expansion; and how the West – essentially the US plus a few European vassals – now seems obsessed in launching a new cold war, with the new Berlin Wall – metaphorically – transplanted to Kiev.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders pose for a family photo at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, November 11, 2014 (Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders pose for a family photo at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, November 11, 2014 (Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Moscow pivoting away from the West and towards East Asia is a process developing on many levels – and for months now, for all to see. Acres of forest can be further devastated to print how the outcome has been directly influenced by Barack Obama’s self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” foreign policy doctrine, which he christened aboard Air Force One when coming from a trip to – once again – Asia last April.

On energy, the spin by the Financial Times of yet another Russia-China mega gas deal as “Putin’s revenge” is proverbial rubbish. Russia is turning east because that’s where the top demand is. On finance, Moscow has just ended the pegging of the ruble to the US dollar and euro; the US dollar instantly dropped against the ruble. VTB for its part announced it may leave the London Stock Exchange for Shanghai’s – which is about to become directly linked to Hong Kong. And Hong Kong, for its part, is already attracting Russian energy giants.

Now mix these key developments with the massive yuan-ruble energy double deal, and the picture is of Russia actively protecting itself from speculative/politically motivated Western attacks against its currency.

The Russia-China symbiosis/strategic partnership visibly expands on energy, finance and, also inevitably, on the military technology front. That includes, crucially, Moscow selling Beijing the S-400 air defense system and, in the future, the S-500.

The S-500 system can intercept any American ICBMs or cruise missiles, while the Russian ICBMs deployed at Mach 17, equipped with MIRVs, are simply unbeatable. Beijing, for its part, is already developing its own surface-to-ship missiles that can take out everything the US Navy can muster – from aircraft carriers to submarines and mobile air defense systems.
Join the caravan

Strategically, Beijing and Washington could not but be polar opposites in what I called the birth of the Eurasian century.

Beijing has clearly identified Washington/Wall Street fighting to the death to preserve the short unipolar moment. China – and the BRICS – is working towards what Xi defined as a “new model of great power relations.” The Washington/Wall Street mindset is “either/or” instead of “win-win”; the self-appointed Masters of the Universe believe they can always monopolize the loot because Russia – and then China – eventually will back down to avoid confrontation. This is the key aspect of Asia-Pacific today somewhat resembling 1914 Europe.

China's President Xi Jinping delivers opening remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' meeting at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, November 11, 2014 (Reuters / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

China’s President Xi Jinping delivers opening remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, November 11, 2014 (Reuters / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

With this kind of stuff passing for “analysis” in US academic circles, and with the Washington/Wall Street elites through their myopic Think Tank land still clinging to mythical platitudes such as the “historical” American role as arbiter of modern Asia and key balancer of power, no wonder public opinion in the West cannot even imagine the impact of the New Silk Roads in the geopolitics of the young 21st century.

A quarter of a century after the fall of the Berlin Wall the US, for all practical purposes, is run by an oligarchy. Europe is geopolitically irrelevant. “Democracy” has been degraded to self-parody in most of the West. “Humanitarian” – as well as neo-con – imperialism in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and beyond has led to disaster after disaster. Financial turbo-capitalism is a time bomb.

Russia and China may not be proposing an alternative system – yet. Still, as the dogs of war, of hate, of inequality – bark, the China-Russia caravan passes. The caravan is selling Eurasia economic integration – not bombs. Real Asia-Pacific integration may still be a long dream away. Yet what APEC has shown – graphically – once again is the spectacular implosion, in slow motion, of the former indispensable nation’s geopolitical dominance.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
1.6K2339

How Russia and Germany may save Europe from war – By Pepe Escobar

 

Are the US, NATO and Russia on a mad spiral leading to war in Europe? Is it inevitable? Far from it. The US-propelled vassal Petro Poroshenko, currently starring in the oligarch dance in Ukraine this week advanced the proposition that Ukrainians in the near future, after his “reforms”, will be asked to vote on whether to join NATO. Let’s be serious here. Some of you may be familiar with the concept of “shatter belt” - territories and peoples that historically have been squeezed between the Germanic Eagle and the Russian Bear. As we stand, the whole shatter belt – apart from Ukraine and Belarus – has become NATO members. Were Ukraine to become a NATO member in – albeit remote – future, the shatter belt buffer zone would disappear. This means NATO – essentially the US – planted right on Russia’s western border. Washington has just announced that it will be pre-positioning more military vehicles in Europe, to be used in exercises or “potential military operations.” This is perfectly in tune with the relentless US “think tank-land” spin that NATO and the US will be “forced” to balance their commitment to security in Eastern Europe against potential Russian “aggression.” As Ukraine, the Baltic States and Poland persist in compounded hysteria about such “aggression,” the option of a post-MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) US-Russia nuclear war is now – casually - back on the discussion table. At least there’s a countercurrent; strands of informed Americans are wondering why the US should be paying for Europe’s defense when European GDP is larger than the US’s.

The air defense missile system “Patriot” (AFP Photo/Bernd Wustneck/Germany Out)

 

November 28, 2014

Are the US, NATO and Russia on a mad spiral leading to war in Europe? Is it inevitable? Far from it.

The US-propelled vassal Petro Poroshenko, currently starring in the oligarch dance in Ukraine this week advanced the proposition that Ukrainians in the near future, after his “reforms”, will be asked to vote on whether to join NATO.
Let’s be serious here. Some of you may be familiar with the concept of “shatter belt” – territories and peoples that historically have been squeezed between the Germanic Eagle and the Russian Bear.
As we stand, the whole shatter belt – apart from Ukraine and Belarus – has become NATO members. Were Ukraine to become a NATO member in – albeit remote – future, the shatter belt buffer zone would disappear. This means NATO – essentially the US – planted right on Russia’s western border.
Washington has just announced that it will be pre-positioning more military vehicles in Europe, to be used in exercises or “potential military operations.” This is perfectly in tune with the relentless US “think tank-land” spin that NATO and the US will be “forced” to balance their commitment to security in Eastern Europe against potential Russian “aggression.”
As Ukraine, the Baltic States and Poland persist in compounded hysteria about such “aggression,” the option of a post-MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) US-Russia nuclear war is now – casually – back on the discussion table. At least there’s a countercurrent; strands of informed Americans are wondering why the US should be paying for Europe’s defense when European GDP is larger than the US’s.

Iskander high-precision missile system in place during military exercises. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)

Iskander high-precision missile system in place during military exercises. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)

 Wanna play war, boy?

Now for the “threat” of nuclear war in Europe – bogus or otherwise. It’s pointless to compare the US and Russia strategic nuclear capabilities based on numbers, but not on quality.

Take the compounded GDP of US, Germany, France and England and compare it to Russia; it’s a victory by a landslide. Then examine the strategic nuclear scenario, and it’s a totally different story. GDP alone does not “win” anything.

Washington/Wall Street elites are now deep into nuclear war paranoia. A few studiesat least hint at the obvious; glaring US strategic weakness.

Consider some of the basics:

– Russian ICBMs armed with MIRVs travel at about 18 Mach; that is way faster than anything in the US arsenal. And basically they are unbeatable.

– The S-400 and S-500 double trouble; Moscow has agreed to sell the S-400 surface-to-air missile system to China; the bottom line is this will make Beijing impermeable to US air power, ICBMs and cruise missiles. Russia, for its part, is already focusing on the state of the art S-500 – which essentially makes the Patriot anti-missile system look like a V-2 from WWII.

– The Russian Iskander missile travels at Mach 7 – with a range of 400km, carrying a 700kg warhead of several varieties, and with a circular error probability of around five meters. Translation: an ultimate lethal weapon against airfields or logistic infrastructure. The Iskander can reach targets deep inside Europe.

– And then there’s the Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA.

NATO clowns dreaming of a war on Russia would have to come up with an ironclad system to knock out these Iskanders. They don’t have any. Additionally, they would have to face the S-400s, which the Russians can deploy all over the spectrum.

Think of a hefty batch of S-400s positioned at the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad; that would turn NATO air operations deep inside Europe into an absolutely horrendous nightmare. On top of it, good ol’ NATO fighter jets cost a fortune. Imagine the effect of hundreds of destroyed fighter jets on an EU already financially devastated and austerity-plagued to death.

As if this was not enough, no one knows the exact extent of NATO’s strategic capabilities. Brussels is not talking. Extra-officially, these capabilities are not exactly a marvel. And Russian intelligence knows it.

Still assuming those NATO clowns would insist on playing war, Moscow has already made it very clear Russia would use their awesome arsenal of 5,000-plus tactical nuclear weapons – and whatever else it takes – to defend the nation against a NATO conventional attack. Moreover, a few thousand S-400 and S-500 systems are enough to block a US nuclear attack.

None of this hair-raising Apocalypse Now scenario is even taking into account the Russia-China alliance – the major, game-changing Eurasian story of the 2010s.

 

S 400 "Triumf" air defense missile systems (RIA Novosti/Alexey Kudenko)

S 400 “Triumf” air defense missile systems (RIA Novosti/Alexey Kudenko)

 

Just in case the “pivoting to Asia” gang starts harboring funny ideas about the Middle Kingdom as well, China is massively investing in bouncing lasers off satellites; satellite-hitting missiles; silent submarines that surface beside US aircraft carriers without detection; and a made in China anti-missile missile that can hit a reentering satellite moving faster than any ICBM.

In a nutshell; Beijing knows the US surface fleet is obsolete – and undefendable. And needless to add, all of these Chinese modernizing developments are proceeding way faster than anything in the US.

A modest proposal

The spin in the US has been relentless; Russia is expanding towards a 21st century empire.

Here, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explains in detail how this is undiluted rubbish. What has actually happened is that Moscow deftly called the Brzezinski-inspired bluff in Ukraine – with all its overtones. No wonder the Empire of Chaos is furious.

And yet there is a solution to defuse the current, hysterical rush to war logic. Here I have examined in some detail how Washington is playing Russian roulette. Now it’s time to advance a modest proposal – as it has been discussed by a few concerned analysts from the US, Europe and Asia.

Essentially, it’s very simple. It’s up to Germany. And it’s all about undoing Stalin.

Stalin, at the outset of WWII, took East Prussia from Germany and moved the eastern part of Poland into Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine was originally from Russia; it is part of Russia and was given by Lenin to Ukraine.

So let’s have East Prussia returned to Germany; the eastern part of Poland returned to Poland; and eastern Ukraine as well as Crimea – which Khrushchev gave to Ukraine – returned to Russia.

Everyone get its share. No more Stalin. No more arbitrary borders. That’s what the Chinese would define as a “triple win” situation. Of course the Empire of Chaos would fight it to death; there would be no more chaos manipulated to justify a crusade against bogus Russian “aggression”.

The ball is in Germany’s court. Now it’s up to East Prussians to present the facts to Angela Merkel. Let’s see if she’s able to get the message.

Follow Pepe Escobar on Facebook.

 

Ukraine and the UN Resolution against “The Glorification of Nazism”: The US Vote at the UN is “Holocaust Denial” – Here’s Why

In-depth Report: T

 

un_general_assembley-400x226The UN vote against the glorification of nazism and nazi figures was a watershed insight into understanding what is going on inside western governments today. Eric Zuesse’s article labeling the no vote by the US, Canada, and Ukraine at the UN as supporting the glorification of Nazism and Holocaust denial was understatement at the very least. By this “no” vote these three countries support the rights of nationalist chauvinists to promote nazis like Adolf Hitler or Stepan Bandera as heroes and the murder of their victims as a heroic act. 

Two of the three countries that voted to support the right to glorify nazism are home to the largest openly nazi emigre groups in the world. In his lifetime these groups were led by Stepan Bandera directly. In the United States alone the combined grouping by their own reckoning exceeds 20 million members with large political clout to match.

How does this equate to Holocaust denial?

Looking back at WW2 there are two different holocaust narratives told today. The first is one people are familiar with which is the history of Nazi extermination of Jews and every other nationality or group they saw as less than them.

The second holocaust account from the period which the three negative voting countries support denies this. Monsters cannot be victims. Victims cannot be monsters. Reprisals that are done in self defense or to even scores with your enemies are commonplace in history. The second record purports that Jews/ Soviets killed 7-10 million Ukrainians.

It purports that Nazis (Ukrainian nationalists) were the victims and the Jewish populations were either murderous or suicidal depending on the year. It supposes that the Jewish, Polish, and Ukrainian victims dug the mass graves, shot themselves, and each person took a shovel of dirt with them in self loathing as they jumped in.

The second narrative is the basis to propose that Jewish Nazi SS Battalions killed the Jews, Ukrainians, and not the Ukrainian nationalists that did this.

The second holocaust which the US, Canada, and Ukraine support with this vote in the name of free speech proposes Nazi forces were the heroes of WW2 as well as its victims.

Holomodor

The history of the Holomodor or Starvation holocaust until now has been left almost entirely in the hands of the Ukrainian nationalists. It is the historical centerpiece for their ideological hatred of Russia today. It is the historical basis of a nationalist Ukraine today. If accepted at face value it also whitewashes Ukrainian Nationalists out of history as prolific mass murderers and genocidal SS soldiers. As victims the Ukrainian Nationalists can soften how the world sees them without changing their positions, acknowledging their crimes, or changing their methods. Ukrainian nationalism only has a base of legitimacy if this tragedy happened according to their version of it.

The acceptance of this as a holocaust is also one of the main justifications for the OUN/UPA becoming soldiers for Hitler’s 3rd Reich. They were the “anti-communists” that steered American history. If their version of history is accepted then there will be no problem when they claim to have fought against Hitler after 1941. They can say they tried to save the Jews from the Nazis. In a nutshell they can make some of WW2′s greatest murderers into heroes instead of leaving them in the waste can of history where they belong. They can continue what they are doing today.

First-Perspective

According to the Ukrainian nationalist perspective 7-10 million Ukrainians died as a result of forced starvation under Stalinism. During the famine years 1932-33 Stalin was forcing people onto collective farms across the Soviet Union. Stalin took advantage of the famine by confiscating what was left of the harvest, reserves, and forced the people to starve to death.

Historically West Ukraine (Galicia) where the Ukrainian nationalists were located and Ukraine’s ideology today was derived existed only outside the areas affected by the famine. According to Ukrainian nationalist scholar Alexander Moytal “ Just as the earlier debates in the West over the famine had been politicized, pitting “anti-Communists” against their critics, so too did the debate over the Holodomor-as-genocide thesis in Ukraine become profoundly political. First, it challenged the nature of Soviet reality. Second, it became the centerpiece of Yushchenko’s nation-building project after the Orange Revolution. And third, it undermined Russia’s hegemony over Ukraine.

… Since the debate also reflected popularly held attitudes–according to a 2009 InterMedia survey, eighty-three percent of Ukrainians in the west, fifty-eight in the center, twenty-eight in the south, and fifteen in the east accept the genocide thesis –the Holodomor quickly became the main focus of efforts by both national democrats and their opponents to mobilize voters in the recent elections.”

The “anti-communists” and national democrats that Professor Moytl mentions are the ideological children of the Bandera years. What is very interesting about this especially in light of what is occurring in Ukraine today is that the areas that were most affected by the “Holomodor Holocaust” don’t remember it the way the storyline was developed in the US, Canada, and most notably by the Galician Bandera that were not a part of it and did not suffer through it.

Central and Southeast Ukraine which includes Donbass and Odessa are the areas that years ago suffered through that famine. The famine also claimed over 1 million lives in Siberia. The suffering extended to Belarus and Kuban. There were starvation deaths in Moscow.

The Soviets (Stalin) were still keeping grain production export quotas the same during this famine regardless of what the harvest actually yielded. The SSR Ukrainian government in Kiev was slow to report the famine and resulting bad harvests after predicting record harvests in their forecasts.

During this period collectivization and mechanized farming were forced on all the countries that made up the Soviet Union. Forced mechanization made the problems a lot more widespread. SSR Ukraine, comprised of Central Ukraine and Southeast (Donbass to Odessa) really suffered the most in the Soviet Union. The US and China faced similar issues during this period of technological change (mechanized agriculture) which created similar conditions in both countries also. This resulted in the Dust Bowl years happening in the US and China’s famine years resulted.

Compounding this was Stalin’s operations to repress anti- Soviets, anti-collectivists(farmers), and the “Kulaks.” Kulaks were local land barons that had horses to plow the fields. If you needed a horse to plow yours, you plowed his field and gave a percentage of your harvest to him. The Kulaks slaughtered their horses in an attempt to stop collectivization because it took their power away. They revolted against collectivization every way they could.

“ In combination with the brutal repression of much of the intellectual elite inthe Ukrainian SSR in the years around 1930, the collectivization and famine left deep scars on central and eastern Ukraine. Until the late 1980s, the famine was denied by the Soviet authorities. Even in the diaspora, which was dominated by Western Ukrainians, there was little knowledge of the famine until the 1970s”.- Pers Anders Rudling- Memories of “Holodomor” and National Socialism in Ukrainian political culture

How this adds up to Holocaust-Denial

In the mid 1970′s the role of the Ukrainian nationalists in the Holocaust was opened up publicly first with Lucy Dawidowcz’s book “The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945 that presented the Ukrainians as far more brutal than the Germans ever were. In 1978 the miniseries “Holocaust” raised awareness of what happened during this time frame and brought the Ukrainian nationalist issues to the forefront. According to Rudling this infuriated the Ukrainian diaspora. Both Canada and the US opened investigations on WW2 War Criminality as a result of the rise in awareness during this time. The Simon Wiesenthal Center started giving Ukrainian nationalists and other Eastern European nationalists increased attention. The great fear was the only thing westerners would know about them was the part they played as prolific collaborators in mankinds greatest mass murder.

“ Thus, in 1982– 83, in time for the 50th anniversary of the famine diaspora academics, publicists, and Nationalist activists launched a major effort to produce a new national mythology, centered on the 1932– 33 famine. Diaspora academics referred to the famine as a deliberate genocide, in which the western states were complicit. References to the Holocaust were often explicit : “The victims of the famine in Ukraine were consigned to their slow and agonizing deaths as surely as the Jews of Europe were delivered to the planners of the Final solution…”-Rudling(ibid)

Before 1991 this was in hope of securing the state of Ukraine once it was independent from the Soviet Union. The diaspora demanded the US government let them set up a “Ukrainian” nationalist government. Second,Waffen SS officers and fighters played such a large role in Eastern European emigre life(especially Ukrainian) in the United States and Canada, the same activist scholars started trying to rehabilitate their image as well as repackaging their ideologies to make them look heroic and democratic.

In 1986, the publishing house of the UPA veterans published a book, which explicitly stated that “Zionist Jews” launched the famine as the “real Holocaust” in which Jewish Bolsheviks killed Christians, and in which an allegedly Jewish-controlled press covered up the genocide.- For a discussion of Chumatskyj, Yurij : Why is One Holocaust Worth More than Others?

Within the “scholarly” works came demands for a Nuremberg 2 trial listing all the Soviet leaders including Stalin (as the Georgian Jew) by their Askenazi names. According to the Ukrainian nationalists Soviet Russia was formed and led by Zionist Jewry. The Jews and Soviet Jewish leaders were responsible for all the atrocity.

Andrii Bandera, son of the mass murderer published an article stating – “There were 15,000,000 Ukrainian genocide victims next to the 6,000,000 Jewish victims.”- ”Major instanced of genocide in the 20th century”, Ukrainian Echo: A Monthly English- Language Supplement to “Homin Ukrainy”, 7 (1983) 3, p. 2.-(ibid) Rudling

Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper used the figure of “up to 10 million people” to back the assertions of Bandera and the OUN emigre population in Edmonton. Canada hosts the World Ukrainian Emigre government (UWC). It must be comforting to Harper to have the direct support of the Bandera family.

They inflated the numbers deliberately to make them as high and much higher than the Jewish Holocaust. This was in the hope of getting recognition. This was also in hope of burying the OUN genocides.

Today the growing consensus among scholars is that between 2.5 and 3.5 million died of famine in SSR Ukraine during 1932-33. The total number of deaths in Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Siberia, Caucasus, and throughout Russia are estimated at 5.5-6.5 million people.

“ A 2004 study lists the total Ukrainian war deaths (WW2) at 6,850,000 people, or 16.3 % of the population. Of these, a full 5,200,000 were civilians , whereas military victims “only” constituted 1,650,000. Of these civilian deaths,at least 1,4 million, but perhaps as many as 2,1 million Jews were murdered in Ukraine .” – Rudling(ibid)

Why This is Holocaust Denial

By pushing up the numbers of victims higher than the known holocaust Ukrainian nationalists hoped to hide behind those numbers to avoid the figures shown directly above. How can a victim be a murderer? How can a victim of genocide be its perpetrator? Instead the Ukrainian nationalists propose that the violent and angry, self loathing, murderous, and contemptible Jews are behind this and their own woes.

The trouble is real history is not on their side. During the famine the “Ukrainians” were part of another country and culture. They were Polish. They were Galician. Ukraine/Ukrainians/Ukrainian language was a development of the Austro-Hungarian empire less than 50 years before. In the Catholic Encyclopedia “Ukrainians” are defined correctly as a political party and not a people. They were from Galicia.

It was not until Soviet homogenization that Ukraine became one land and one people. The very thing they say they hated the Soviets for is what they are trying to accomplish- Ukrainization.

After 1990 the story of the Holomodor was exported back to Ukraine by the emigre population. Victor Yushenko (nationalist) used it as his centerpiece to build the new Ukraine. Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, head of the SBU, friend and former lieutenant of Dimitri Yarosh (Pravy Sektor) was key to developing this new truth in nationalist Ukraine.

The crimes of the Stalin regime – the 1932-1933 famine-genocide is Ukraine, the major terror of the 1930s – should be fully condemned by the international community. It is the duty of all countries, political and public forces that accept the values of democracy,’ Yuschenko said.

Accepting the New Denial

After the 1917 Revolution Lenin gave Novorussia/Southeast/Donbass to Ukraine because Donbass was the home of the Don Cossacks. The Cossacks were anti-communist monarchists or “White Russians.” The Don Cossacks were the personal guards to the Tzars for centuries. They were not welcome in the new Soviet Union and definitely not Russia. Southeast including Donbass and Central Ukraine lived through the famine of 1932-33. Those families are the people that make up the population here.

For Galicians to hijack this history and call it their own makes as much sense as David Duke gaining the ability to sue for slavery reparations. Why is that surprising?

Almost every lawmaker left in Kiev had David Duke as a university professor. That is exactly how much sense all of this makes.

It is now illegal to question the Holomodor in Ukraine. The historical record needs to be set straight permanently about this tragedy. Support the nationalist version and deny the real Holocaust at your own peril. The scholarship needs to be set straight. Democracy is built on history. Nationalism is built on myth.

Today the perpetrators of genocide from that time period are causing famine conditions in Donbass. Most of the fields were burned or mined. Most of the harvests were lost and stolen. The Nazis are back and just as murderous. If Poroshenko and Nazi Kiev were remotely serious about a famine genocide that they want the world to recognize; how could they try to set up the same kinds of conditions right now?

The real reasons why the US, Canada, and Ukraine voted against the condemnation of Nazism are not that complex. A very large emigre population that votes with pocketbooks exists in North America. To condemn nazi thought means their monuments, books, and speech could be rooted out of the democratic conversation.

It could mean nazi era Ukrainian nationalist presidents in exile could be exhumed and forced to be repatriated to Ukraine. For the reasons above we can only choose one holocaust or the other. Nationalism and Democracy cannot coexist. Which will it be?

New Russia is on the Verge of a Humanitarian Catastrophe Peak

Posted by editor 
25/11/14 
“Voice of Sevastopol” Catherine Re: Russian to Russian Help.
New Russia is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe peak, every day I receive letters and phone calls, shouting for help. Asking them not to throw with my problem alone. Repeatedly said that the needs mainly in food and medicine. In the near future I will go to New Russia. During the trip, I plan to visit and help: – Children’s homes and DNR LC – LC in a nursing home – drop in and help fighter units “Somalia” Grey – Get the list of deputies DNR desperate need for them to be prepared all possible assistance in the form of food and targeted delivered – Children’s goods for the orphanage, HIV-infected people in Makeyevka For the implementation of the planned works is a huge movement command “New Russia” Igor Strelkov. 
 Photos from Catherine RL: "Putting humanitarian convoy for New Russia. Everyone who has contributed to our struggle, a low bow. That's just today brought the drugs that is possible for someone to be vital. "


Photos from Catherine RL: “Putting humanitarian convoy for New Russia. Everyone who has contributed to our struggle, a low bow.
That’s just today brought the drugs that is possible for someone to be vital. “

But also without you, who care about our war, we would not have implemented any humanitarian operation. Everyone who contributed to our struggle, a low bow. That’s just today brought the drugs that is possible for someone to be vital. Thanks to everyone who helps us. From a pure heart, and with all Novorossia THANKS. P / S on assistance can contact me my number +79160882203
 Everyone who contributed to our struggle, a low bow.  That's just today brought medicine that is possible for someone to be vital.


Everyone who contributed to our struggle, a low bow.
That’s just today brought medicine that is possible for someone to be vital.

Malaysia must take leading role in MH17 investigations, says Suaram

 

Published: Saturday November 22, 2014

by tan yi liang

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia must take a leading role in investigations into the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, said Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong.

“The government should not put up with being sidelined in the (criminal) investigations. The airliner belonged to Malaysia, a big group of the victims were Malaysian,” said Kua.

Kua, who spoke to The Star Online after delivering a paper at Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s “World in Turmoil: Imperialism and Resistance in the 21st Century” conference here questioned the time taken to investigate the shooting-down of the Boeing 777.

He raised the issue of an alleged non-disclosure agreement drawn up by four countries – Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Ukraine regarding criminal investigations into the crash.

Kua pointed out that Malaysia has yet to question this alleged agreement, adding that foreign observers have already raised issues about it.

“Something simple like the fact that these four countries can keep the findings of the MH17 crash to themselves is unacceptable,” said Kua.

He added that it was also unacceptable that under the alleged agreement made in August, there had to be consensus between all four nations before any findings were disclosed to the public.

“I have seen things online that make sense to me such as the damage to the fuselage; you don’t have to be an expert to see the difference between damage caused by a BUK missile and bullets from a fighter,” said Kua.

He also asked why the black boxes recovered from MH17 were handed over to Britain.

“The black boxes belong to Malaysia, why were they handed over to the United Kingdom. If Malaysia was chairing the investigation team, then that is fine,” said Kua.

He added that Malaysia should rightfully be chairing the investigation team.

On Tuesday it was reported that Malaysia has yet to be involved in the criminal investigation into the downing of Flight MH17, although Dutch-led workers have already started combing the crash site in Ukraine.

Malaysian Ambassador to Ukraine Chuah Teong Ban believed that Malaysia would not be allowed to inspect the debris unless it became part of the criminal investigation team.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said recently that Malaysia had expressed its stand very clearly that it must be part of the criminal investigation team and had informed Dutch authorities of its intention.

On July 17, Flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine after being allegedly shot down.

A total of 298 people on board, including 43 Malaysians, perished in the tragedy.