Yet another huge diplomatic victory for Russia

 

 THE SAKER

Unless you read Russian or monitor the free blogosphere, you might not have noticed this, but something big just happened in Russia: Kerry, Nuland and a large State Department delegation have traveled to Sochi were they met with Foreign Minister Lavrov and then with President Putin.  With the latter they spent over 4 hours.  Not only that, but Kerry made a few rather interesting remarks, saying that the Minsk-2 Agreement (M2A) was the only way forward and that he would strongly caution Poroshenko against the idea of renewing military operations.

Kerry Putin

Welcome back to reality John!

 

To say that this is a stunning development would be an understatement.

For one thing, this means that the so-called “isolation of Russia” is now officially over, even for the “Indispensable Empire”.

Second, this is, as far as I know, the first official US endorsement of M2A.  This is rather humiliating for the US considering that M2A was negotiated without the Americans.

Third, for the very first time the US has actually warned the Ukronazi junta against a military attack.  This, at a time when the Ukronazis are in a state of bellicose frenzy and Poroshenko just promised to re-conqueor not only the Donetsk Airport, but all of the Donbass and even Crimea, show that for the very first time the US and Kiev are not on the same page.

Not on CNN

Fourth, the USA has, for the first time, declared that if M2A was implemented, EU and US sanctions would be lifted.  Interestingly, the Russians were not even interested in discussing the topic of sanctions.

So what does that all mean?

At this point, nothing much.

Americans are terrible negotiators and in every single US-Russian negotiation over the conflict in the Ukraine the Russians completely out-negotiated their American “geostrategic partners” (the quasi-official ironic Russian term describing the West) every time.  What typically happens, is that Kerry caves in, then comes back to Washington and changes his tune by 180 degree.  The Russians know that and the Russian media stressed that in its analyses.

Still, the USA can zig and then zag as many times as they want, reality does not zag.  If anything, the recent presence of Chinese and Indian troops on the Red Square showed that the notion of “isolating Russia” is a non-starter whether Kerry & Co. accept it or not.

Then, there was the rather interesting behavior of Nuland, who was with Kerry’s delegation, she refused to speak to the press and left looking rather unhappy.

Not on the BBC

Finally, a quick check of the Imperial Mouthpieces reveals that the Imperial Propaganda Department does not really know what to make of it all.

So what is going on, really?

Honestly, this one is too early to call and, as I said, the chances for yet another US “zag” are very high.

Still, what *might* be happening is that the Americans have finally (!) figured out a few basic facts:

  1. Russia will not back down
  2. Russia is ready for war
  3. The Nazi-occupied Ukraine is collapsing
  4. Most of the world supports Russia
  5. The entire US policy towards Russia has failed

All of the above is rather obvious to any halfway competent observer, but for an Administration completely intoxicated with imperial hubris, crass ignorance and denial these are very, very painful realities to catch up with.  However, denying them might, at the end of the day, get the USA nuked.  As the expression goes, if you head is in the sand, your ass is in the air.

Thus it is possible that what just happens is the first sign of a US sobering up and that what Kerry came to explore with Lavrov and Putin is some kind of face saving exit option.  If that is so, then this is terminal news for Poroshenko as this means that the US has basically thrown in the towel in utter disgust with the freaks in power in Kiev.

Furthermore, this might be a sign that US military analysts have taken a very negative view of the Ukronazi changes of success in their planned “Reconquista” of the Donbass.  By going to Russia and officially endorsing M2A Kerry might be sending a message to Poroshenko: forget it, it ain’t happening!

Still, I would strongly caution against any premature optimism.  I consider a US “zag” a quasi-certitude.  My hope is that the “zag” will be limited in magnitude and that when it happens, it will be more about face-saving exit for Obama than about a denial of reality.

What is certain though, is that Russia has won yet another battle is this long war and that all the signs are pointing at the inevitable defeat of the Empire.

The Saker

USA raises the question about artistic freedom of expression in UN

Harper590

“The United States would like to discuss the rights of freedom of opinion and expression, ‎particularly focusing on artistic expression and creativity,” said the American Ambassador Keith Harper in a statement at the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. He continued:

“Artistic expression and creativity as a form of freedom of expression is fundamental to the development of vibrant cultures and the functioning of democratic societies. Artistic expression has given us some of the great social commentary on humanity and the human condition.”

We are a richer human race for having the genius of Shakespeare, Shostakovich, Rumi, Octavio Paz, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Frida Kahlo, Chinua Achebe, and Nadine Gordimer – just to name a few. Today, contemporary artists like Ai Weiwei and Salif Keita are inspiring and challenging us.

The right to freedom of expression, including artistic and creative expression, is enshrined under article 19 of the ICCPR. States Parties to the ICESCR recognize the right, under Article 15, to benefit from the protection of interests resulting from one’s artistic production. Artistic expression is critical to the human spirit.

At HRC-23, we welcomed the report by the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, which addressed the right to freedom of expression and creativity.

Artistic expressions and creations have come under particular attack because they convey specific messages and articulate symbolic values in a powerful way. A satirist provoking laughter and derision is as powerful as a writer urging change.

It is little wonder that dictators seek to silence art.

Freedom of opinion and expression is enshrined in the UDHR and the ICCPR, and the United States defends this right vigorously wherever it is threatened. Likewise, the United States takes seriously any threats to the right to freedom of expression, including artistic and creative expression, and we look forward to engaging on this issue further.”

The statement of American ambassador Keith Harper about artistic expression and creativity as a form of freedom of expression, seems to be directed to the nation his country considers an “enemy”: Russia, as well as all the promotion to bring a punk duo  of anti-Putin lousy performers to the spotlight.

Pussy Rioters would be arrested in any civilized place if they do what they habitually do in Putin’s face.

Wikipedia entry for Pussy Riot reads:
“They stage unauthorized provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public locations, which are edited into music videos and posted on the Internet. Their lyrical themes include feminism, LGBT rights, opposition to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they regard as a dictator, and links between Putin and the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Unauthorized, provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public locations, huh? That surely is a democratic way to express opposition to “dictator” Putin. I suppose that if Pussy Riot did unauthorized guerrilla performances in unusual public places like an airport, they would meet worse fate States side.

A bunch of mal-eleve’s that managed to get the New YorkTimes to give them a forum for venting their angst for President Vladimir Putin.

The Pussy Riot may be a legitimate protest. Still the amount of publicity it receives in the press is exaggerated [now we understand why]. Is it just gloating about Russia’s and Putin’s problems? One wonders….

Now it is Putin’s fault that the games are safe from the terrorists who made it known to everyone that it is their plan to disrupt the Olympic games by killing the athletes and visitors? Initially there were multiple complains that the games are not secured enough. Now, they are too secured??? I guess for some people who only want to see Russia in the negative light, there is no way to please them. Also, remember what the president of the IOC said during the opening ceremony. Don’t play politics on the backs of the athletes who came here to compete. It is their time to be in the spotlight.

A few voices here aired skepticism regarding the authenticity of the violence apparently directed against these women by a video. But the video attributed to the AP and posted on YouTube doesn’t look staged to this skeptic.

Again,  the Times didn’t do some fact-checking on this incident and reported back to us so we can know whether President Putin is indeed sending out thugs to beat up angry women with an attitude?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uEmwtJWldQ

 

If there is a ban, live with it. There are bans on what people can do in and around the White House or the Capitol building. If you want to make a political speech about LGBT issues, do it where such expressions are welcome and tolerated.

If you need to protest, if your argument is valid and strong, you would not need to piggy back on the Olympics or any other venue. And please, if you want to be taken seriously, do not produce an obvious video lie. Horsewhips? Really? How gullible does the media think we are?

It is amusing that Pussy Riot received so much attention in the past. At present time who remembers them?  Their magazine is totally ignored.

Every society has its malcontents. But they can’t be allowed to disrupt the rights of millions to enjoy the games. Olympics are all about sports. It is fair to athletes who prepare hard to perform their best and enjoy a moment of glory and satisfaction that hard work has paid off. Pussy Riot has no right to disturb the games, nullify all the hard work and rob them of chance to show their skills and athleticism.

The games are for two weeks in 4 years. There will be 206 weeks for politics.

If you have only singled out Sochi, then you protest in vain. Did you watch the Beijing Olympics? The government cleared the city of homeless migrant workers, who worked for their daily rice bowl slaving 24/7. Did you watch the Salt Lake City Games? The local chairman at the time primed his pockets to lead a future presidential campaign, with “binders full of women.”

No Olympics in the last decades, given the cost to bid and then build the arenas, is a fair business deal. Much of it is based on baksheesh and creates graft, like in most nations of the world. And yet, I can’t help but support the athletes. So I watch.

You have a right to an opinion, to criticized and explain your agenda. But you  staged the Cossack Whipping Scene as part of the music video you were making, which came out immediately with whip-clips intercut. It was very, very unconvincing, and all you really demonstrated was the enormous gullibility of the Western media.

Interesting. I just watched it, and the Cossacks paid no attention to the cameras, which seems odd.

Enough with the rambling rants of wannabe revolutionaries and Baby Boomers hungry to show their counterculture credentials, lousy performers who can’t sing  disrespecting an Orthodox Church, and others intent on despoiling the games with in your face servings of their political views on an unwilling Russian public. The Olympic Games are the opportunity for the world’s athletes to strut their stuff in an atmosphere of sportsmanship; it should not be used as a political platform. So you don’t like President Vladimir Putin but he is trying to showcase Russia like any head of state hosting the games. Not many people outside of Germany liked Hitler but athletes showed up at Munich in 1936 and debunked the myth of Teutonic racial superiority by successfully competing at the games. This is how you bring foster pride for your country.

The pair flew into Berlin Monday after visiting New York to promote their “new prison rights foundation”, where they played a gig with Madonna(!). Appearing at a short press conference in Berlin, they said they have received “several offers” for “film projects” that were never confirmed.  The duo couldn’t contain their happiness for the supposedly offers of a Hollywood movie that never materialized.  Tolonnikova  stated that the movie would be something like “Star Wars.”  Brainy huh?

They also announced they had no plans to run for president themselves(!), but said they might seek elected office in Moscow, where they live. The two said they would consider working with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s wealthiest man, released a few days before they were after serving most of his 10-year sentence for theft and fraud. From lousy performers with Hollywood dreams to politicians…

The duo said their collective Pussy Riot is not a band, that they don’t know how to sing, but they can scream which is what is needed to deliver their message to Putin and his supporters. In a red carpet?

These bogus activists need to be taken to the Guantanamo prison and introduced to the many prisoners who are kept in solitude, without a trial date, and forced to wear masks so they can’t see what’s around them.

These pseudo intellectuals took part in an event to read a list of academic quotes to make believe they can save the world from President Putin. They have deceived many people into thinking Pussy Riot is “changing the people,” and want to run for office in Moscow.

Any person, who, at being 8 months pregnant, performs a multiple partner full intercourse orgy in public needs to see a psychiatrist immediately before she rejoins society. Needless to say your “artistic expression”, the Vaginal Liberation of Food.  The only thing Pussy Riot is exposing is themselves advertising a delusional agenda that “sideshow” Western musicians and actors to glom onto the spotlight

Prof Mark Levine at UC Irvine, hit the nail on the head in his essay about Pussy Riot.  “There are hundreds of artists who perform under threat to their freedom and lives, who also deserve our solidarity.” Levine correctly points out “Western artists can and should support their Russian comrades. But the support received by Pussy Riot is sadly an aberration.”


 

» Mission of the United States in Geneva, Switzerland – 13 March 2015:
Freedom of Expression, Including Artistic Expression, is a Right Enshrined in ICCPR
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America at the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council as delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper.

 

The War in Ukraine: Editorial in The New York Times Suggests US Is Looking for a Face-Saving Way Out

The New York Times recommends a diplomatic settlement of the Ukrainian conflict based on the Russian proposal of a year ago for Ukraine’s federalisation.

In-depth Report:

putin-nato-russia-ukraine_si-400x224The editorial in the New York Times we attach below is the first belated acknowledgement that the only way of saving Ukraine and ending the war is by conceding federalisation to Ukraine’s eastern regions.

We do not know for sure  whether this editorial reflects official US thinking. However, the probability is that it does.

Firstly, it is not unheard of for the US government to float ideas in this way through editorials in the New York Times. The New York Times is regularly chosen to do this because of its reputation and because it is widely read abroad.  The British government used to use the Times of London in the same way.

We have previously reported the concerns of some officials within the US government at the way in which the Ukrainian crisis is leading US relations with Russia into an impasse.

It is at least possible that with the war going disastrously wrong for Kiev and with the US administration looking increasingly short of options, the US administration is now trying to find a face-saving way out by finally embracing the federalisation solution that the Russians proposed last spring.  If so then this editorial, which will surely be read in Moscow, is intended as as an olive-branch.

The following words give the clear impression that a concrete offer has been made to Moscow through diplomatic back-channels. The carefully chosen words clearly convey the sense that the authority of the US government lies behind them:

“Russian officials have suggested that Moscow has no interest in annexing eastern Ukraine, the way it grabbed Crimea, but rather seeks a Ukrainian federation in which the pro-Russian provinces would have relative autonomy, along with assurances that Ukraine will not move to join NATO.

There is definitely potential for negotiations there……..

Tempting as it is to focus on punishing Mr. Putin, the greater objective must be to end the fighting so that Ukraine can finally undertake the arduous task of reforming and reviving its economy. Toward that end, the West must make clear to Mr. Putin that if a federation is his goal, the United States and its allies will actively use their good offices with Kiev to seek a workable arrangement.”

Poroshenko has just issued another statement ruling out federalisation.  This also suggests we are looking at an actual behind-the-scenes offer.  We have already explained why for Maidan talk of federalisation is anathema.  Poroshenko’s words suggest he knows of the US initiative and is trying to scotch it and to make his opposition to the idea clear before Secretary Kerry flies to Kiev as he is due shortly to do.

Moscow and the rebels are however unlikely to take up the offer.

The Russians pushed strongly for federalisation of Ukraine’s eastern regions following the February coup.  On 17th April 2014 a Statement was agreed by the US and Russian foreign ministers, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva, and was signed by the EU and the Ukrainian government, that called for constitutional negotiations between the various Ukrainian parties. These were obviously intended to lead to a constitutional settlement that would have led to federalisation. Many people in the Donbass at the time of the independence referendum of 11th May 2014 appeared to support the idea.

What was offered (and declined) in Spring 2014 may however no longer be on the table in Winter 2015.

Since the federalisation idea was floated last Spring there has been a murderous war in the Donbass causing massive devastation and loss of life. Russia has been subjected to two rounds of sectoral sanctions. There has been a relentless propaganda campaign against Russia, the rebels and Putin himself. It is difficult to believe that all of this has not caused views to harden since the spring.

Promises of constitutional negotiations like the ones made in Geneva on 17th April 2014 and in Minsk on 5th September 2014 have come and gone. No negotiations have however taken place. Given that Kiev is dead against them, after all that has happened it is very doubrtful the rebels or the Russians now believe they ever will. Nor are the Russians likely to be in any sort of mood to believe in US assurances that “if federation is the goal, the United States and its allies will actively use their good offices with Kiev to seek a workable arrangement”.

What made sense in the Spring, when it was proposed to prevent a war, may anyway no longer make sense in the Winter, after the war has already happened. After so much violence it is barely conceivable that the rebels or the people of the Donbass who support them would now agree to be part of a federation that left them within Ukraine, especially now when they are on the brink of victory.

If this is correct, then it looks like the US and its allies have missed the bus.


The text of the editorial that appeared in The New York Times on February 2nd, 2015:

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has flared up again, putting an end to any myth about the cease-fire that was supposed to be in force since September.

Though the Russian economy is staggering under the twinned onslaught of low oil prices and sanctions — or, conceivably, as a result of that onslaught — President Vladimir Putin has sharply cranked up his direct support for the rebels in the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, while continuing to baldly deny it and to blame all the violence on the United States.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is broke, and without the military means to move against the Russian-backed rebels. Most of the victims are civilians who struggle with hunger and dislocation in the rubble of the combat zones and die in the constant exchanges of shells and rockets.

The eruption of fighting in recent weeks, which was not supposed to happen until spring, has given new force to pleas to the Obama administration to give Ukraine the means to resist Mr. Putin — in money and in arms.

Certainly the United States and Europe should increase their aid to Ukraine and explore ways to expand existing sanctions against Russia. NATO’s commander, Gen. Philip Breedlove, is said to support providing weapons and equipment to Kiev. And Secretary of State John Kerry is said to be open to discussing the idea. But lethal assistance could open a dangerous new chapter in the struggle — a chapter Mr. Putin would quite possibly welcome, as it would “confirm” his propaganda claims of Western aggression.

So far, President Obama has cautiously pledged to help Ukraine in every way “short of military confrontation.” Yet with sanctions and diplomacy making no headway against Russian aggression, it is imperative that the United States and its allies take a new look at what would bring Russia to a serious negotiation.

The first question is, to negotiate what? Along with denying the direct involvement of his troops in eastern Ukraine, Mr. Putin has not made clear what he is trying to achieve. Russian officials have suggested that Moscow has no interest in annexing eastern Ukraine, the way it grabbed Crimea, but rather seeks a Ukrainian federation in which the pro-Russian provinces would have relative autonomy, along with assurances that Ukraine will not move to join NATO.

There is definitely potential for negotiations there. Yet the latest rebel attacks have focused on Mariupol, an important port on the Black Sea, and on expanding the rebels’ control to areas that would give their self-proclaimed “republics” greater military and economic cohesion. And that speaks to long-term rebel occupation.

Tempting as it is to focus on punishing Mr. Putin, the greater objective must be to end the fighting so that Ukraine can finally undertake the arduous task of reforming and reviving its economy. Toward that end, the West must make clear to Mr. Putin that if a federation is his goal, the United States and its allies will actively use their good offices with Kiev to seek a workable arrangement.

But if the evidence continues to accumulate that Mr. Putin and the rebels are carving out a permanent rebel-held enclave in eastern Ukraine, à la Transdniestria, Abkhazia or South Ossetia, he must know that the United States and Europe will be compelled to increase the cost.