Kissinger warns of West’s ‘fatal mistake’ that may lead to new Cold War

 Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (Reuters / Gero Breloer / Pool)


Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (Reuters / Gero Breloer / Pool)

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has given a chilling assessment of a new geopolitical situation taking shape amid the Ukrainian crisis, warning of a possible new Cold War and calling the West’s approach to the crisis a “fatal mistake.”

The 91-year-old diplomat characterized the tense relations as exhibiting the danger of “another Cold War.”

“This danger does exist and we can’t ignore it,” Kissinger said. He warned that ignoring this danger any further may result in a “tragedy,” he told Germany’s Der Spiegel.

If the West wants to be “honest,” it should recognize, that it made a “mistake,” he said of the course of action the US and the EU adopted in the Ukrainian conflict. Europe and the US did not understand the “significance of events” that started with the Ukraine-EU economic negotiations that initially brought about the demonstrations in Kiev last year. Those tensions should have served as a starting point to include Russia in the discussion, he believes.

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

“At the same time, I do not want to say that the Russian response was proportionate,” the Cold War veteran added, saying that Ukraine has always had a “special significance” for Russia and failure to understand that “was a fatal mistake.”

Calling the sanctions against Moscow “counterproductive,” the diplomat said that they set a dangerous precedent. Such actions, he believes, may result in other big states trying to take “protective measures” and strictly regulate their own markets in future.

When introducing some sanctions or publishing lists of people whose accounts were frozen one should wonder “what will happen next?” the former Secretary of State said rhetorically, because when something begins you cannot lose sight of where it is going to end.

Kissinger also said he would expect more action from Berlin on matter. As the most “important” country in Europe it should be more “proactive” rather than reactive, he said.

 

 

French Defense Minister says decision on Russian Mistral deal due in November

mistral_class
French President François Hollande (aka General Hollande) will decide “during November” whether to deliver the first of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday.

“The president… said that if the political conditions did not change he did not envisage giving the authorization for delivery,” Le Drian told reporters.

Le Drian was referring to a statement by Hollande who had said that he would only hand over the first carrier – the Vladivostok – if there was a lasting ceasefire and a political settlement in Ukraine. Le Drian declined to say whether the conditions had now been met, Reuters said.

Surprised? Not at all. General Hollande is obeying orders from his patron, the Emperor savior of the world by way of wars. And if the Emperor says “don’t deliver the Mistrals”  the General kisses his hand and obeys.

Back in July, it was that other great egaliatarian president, Barack Obama, who urged Americans to tear free from the shackles of cynicism and to unleash some more of that hopium that got Obama elected in the first place. Now it is the turn of that other just as impressive socialist, France’s own General Francois Hollande, who just like Obama has seen his popularity rating crumble to unprecedented levels, come up with his own prescription for how to fix the troubles that ail France. In short: “less lamenting and disparaging, more confidence.”

From Reuters:

In the television interview to mark Bastille Day, when a crowd stormed a Paris prison on July 14, 1789, at the outset of the French Revolution, Hollande said his compatriots were more inclined than some others to put their country down.

“We are very proud but, at the same time, I would say there is a sort of sickness, which is not serious but which can be contagious, whereby we are always lamenting and disparaging,” he said.

“Speak well of your country because, when I’m abroad, people do speak well of France, of what it’s doing in the international arena, in the diplomatic sphere, on defense, the “operations” we have carried out for peace, but also innovation, companies.”

The president also cited entrepreneurs, major companies with significant exports, the tourist industry and agriculture.

“We have to fight but, most importantly, we have to have confidence in ourselves,” he said.

Bottom line: watch your president and government lie every day while pandering and preaching, working solely on behalf of the rich, while you rot away in your part-time jobs or worse, unemployed, surviving day to day on the measly pittance the government hands you to make you a docile little handout addicted serf, and at the end of the day, whatever you do, don’t become a jaded, cynical lamenter and disparager, but have “hope and confidence.” Truly the road to socialist utopia is paved with best intentions.

Things got much worse for Francois Hollande: The economy is lagging; his government is under fire; and his private life was exposed in a ravaging book by the former first lady.

The developments have helped push Hollande’s popularity to new record lows. Three polls released in recent days show that he has lower approval ratings than every other French president in modern times.

Going back to the Mistrals, Russia and France, via French ship builder DCNS, signed in 2011 a contract for the construction Mistral-class ships, a warship that can carry helicopters. The deal was worth 1.2 billion euro. The Vladivostok, the first carried, was expected to be in Russia’s hands by the end of 2014, while the second ship, the Sevastopol, is expected in 2015.

The sanctions against Russia imposed by the U.S. and its European puppets, including France, have added factor to the delays, which ultimately irked Russia. But DCNS told the Western nations their sanctions cannot prohibit the construction and transfer of Mistral ships to the country. Yep, breach of contract by France.

Russia will soon be building its own warships, Russian Navy Deputy Commander-in-Chief Rear Admiral Victor Bursuk said over the weekend. Admiral made the announcement on Russia’s frustrations over France, which is said to be delaying the turnover of its Mistral-class ships.

Bursuk told Echo of Moscow radio over the weekend the deal of the Mistral helicopter carriers was executed because “it was one of military-technical cooperation contracts.” He went on to say that future construction of ships of this kind will be built at Russian enterprises.

French President Francois Hollande in September had said he will disapprove the transfer of the Vladivostok vessel unless Ukraine situation improves. He explained the conditions surrounding the delivery of the ship is a political statement to the conflict.

Sergei Ivanov, Kremlin chief of staff, said on Thursday Russia will not have second thoughts and will sue France if the latter fails to honor the Mistral contract. “We will file a lawsuit and demand compensation [if the contract is not fulfilled], as it’s commonly done in a civilized world,” Ivanov told reporters.

The Vladivostok has finished a series of tests in September. It took off from the Saint-Nazaire French port for sea trials.

Russian news agency TASS, quoting an unidentified source from the French Defence Ministry, said that “despite France’s hesitations,” the first Mistral helicopter carrier will be delivered to Russia “by mid-November.” The carrier can carry 16 helicopters. It has a displacement of 21 tonnes, maximum body length of 210 metres, speed of 18 knots and a range of up to 20,000 miles. It can also carry several dozen armoured vehicles.

So, if you choose to keep the Emperor happy, Mr. Hollande, and not to deliver the Mistrals, you can shove them where the sun doesn’t shine.

The Emperor Signals Putin Not to Move Against New NATO Members

 

ussian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his American opposite number Barack Obama

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his American opposite number Barack Obama

Monday Oct 27, 2014

Russia’s moves in Ukraine defensive, not offensive

Current US and NATO propaganda is based on the idea that Russia under President V. V. Putin has been waging an aggressive campaign against Ukraine, but the reality is that Russia’s actions have largely been of a strategically defensive character, although also containing some aggressive tactics.

The main cause of the current conflict is the insistence by Washington and London on organizing a coup d’état in Russia’s largest and most strategically sensitive area.

Putin’s actions have been mainly focused on preventing the rise of a hostile fascist state allied to NATO on his own borders. Russia is merely trying to secure for itself an environment of reasonably benign neighbors, a program not unlike the traditional US Monroe Doctrine.

Unsure of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions, the Emperor’s administration is attempting to warn the Kremlin not to test the U.S. commitment to defend its allies in eastern and central Europe.

Following the Emperor’s orders, jet fighters from the U.K., Denmark, France and Poland began flying air patrols over the Baltic states in April “as part of collective defense measures,” NATO reported. Canadian jets are deploying to Romania “as part of NATO efforts to reassure allies” in Central and Eastern Europe, the alliance said…

These games and others, including deployments of U.S. troops for military exercises, try to discourage any thoughts Putin may have about extending Russia’s reach beyond Ukraine.

There are reasons why Putin may doubt the Emperor’s resolve. The Emperor backed away from a red line when he threatened military action if Syria used chemical weapons, then didn’t follow through. Diplomats say that’s hurt U.S. credibility internationally. Further, the crisis in Europe comes as polls show Americans want the U.S to play a reduced role overseas.

Historically, Americans have supported the defense commitment to NATO, the key alliance assembled after World War II to establish the U.S.’s hegemony in Western Europe, mainly, as well as in Eastern Europe.  Under Article 5 of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, the U.S. and all other members would consider an armed attack on any one of them an attack on all.  But the U.S. doesn’t respect treaties — they go for what they want and that’s it.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO has extended its membership to nations once dominated by the Soviet Union, including the Baltic states, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and Slovenia. Georgia, a former Soviet republic that fought a five-day war with Russia in 2008 over breakaway regions, is seeking fast-track NATO membership as a result of the Ukraine crisis. Bon voyage!

Putin may have his eye on testing the U.S. and the major European powers, if he decides to help the pro-independence fighters to stop the fascist Kiev regime’s forces from occupying Novorossiya, a  confederation of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, claiming the territory of the respective Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

“I think this is also about shattering NATO and potentially shattering the EU, because if he were to do something in the Baltics and we did not respond, that’s the end of Article 5, that’s the end of NATO,”  said Stephen Hadley, who was national security adviser to President George W. Bush,. addressing the Atlantic Council, a Washington based group that promotes trans-Atlantic relations, shortly before Biden spoke.

“In response to Russian aggression, America is taking steps to make clear that our allies will honor the solemn commitments under Article 5 of the NATO treaty,” Biden said. “That is an absolute, ironclad guarantee.”

What makes the Emperor think that Russia is interested in attacking any new NATO member? Sounds like the Emperor’s administration are growing mentally imbalance properly because of their many failed diplomatic efforts lately. Being self-declared champions of democracy, americans are growing increasingly undemocratic, fond of rumor mongering and fact twisting…

‘‘We in Europe are very much in agreement that a military resolution of the problems cannot happen,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “It’s not on the agenda. War is no solution, and so we have to find other ways.”

How do you propose to intimidate the bear when he knows you’re a rabbit? When you play the brinksmanship game you blink you lose.

The Emperor not only blinks but he hides his head in the sand. Once a dog has tucked his tail between his legs no other dog will respect him until he fights a fight to the death. It’s the “you will kill me but I will kill you too” that keeps the dogs at bay.

Do you really think the Emperor will start a nuclear war over the Baltic states? Do you think Putin thinks so?

TWILIGHT OF THE COLOR REVOLUTIONS
The initiative in starting the current crisis did not come from Putin, but rather from a complex of US and NATO institutions dedicated to meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, and to destabilizing other states in ways that the bungling Utopians of the State Department imagine will be helpful to them.

The forces behind the mob-rule destabilization of Ukraine in the fall of 2013 and the Kiev putsch of February 22, 2014 are centered in the National Endowment for Democracy, and in the politicized subdivisions of the US Agency for International Development, not to mention such private sector conduits as Freedom House, the Albert Einstein Foundation, and many more.

These are the agencies which, according to US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland (the wife of neocon warmonger and top Romney advisor Robert Kagan), have invested some $5 billion in building up an anti-Russian opposition in Ukraine – an opposition in which neofascist and neo-Nazi political forces are heavily represented.

After appearing in orange, purple, and other hues, the attack on the modern national state known as the color revolution has now in Kiev stripped-down to its definitive paint job of brown — the color of Hitler’s storm troopers.

As Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov recently commented, “The United States and the European Union, let’s call things as they are, attempted to create yet another ‘color revolution’ in Ukraine by holding an operation on an unconstitutional regime change.” (RIA Novosti, April 24, 2014)

This US-NATO color revolution apparatus took the initiative in overthrowing Yanukovich, detonating a civil war in Ukraine. These facts mean that the United States and NATO must be seen as the aggressors in the current situation, and must bear historical responsibility for whatever tragic consequences may derive in the future.

FEBRUARY’S KIEV COUP NEEDLESSLY DEFIED THREE VITAL RUSSIAN INTERESTS
Western elites are now whining about the countermeasures taken by Putin to guide the inevitable partition, including the avoidance of protracted civil war.

Even a quick overview of Russian history should have warned the self-obsessed masters of human destiny in Foggy Bottom and the Foreign Office that the Russian riposte would be quick and energetic. We are talking here about the kinds of fundamental principles that used to be contained even in decent high school textbooks.

Since the time of Peter the Great, Russia has been interested in acquiring ice free, warm water ports, so as to procure unimpeded access to the world ocean. The naval base at Sevastopol and the commercial port of Odessa represent just such warm water ports, and made Russia a naval power in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

A second recurring Russian concern has been to prevent a land invasion from central Europe of the type undertaken by Poland during the Time of Troubles in the early 1600s, by Charles XII of Sweden in the early 1700s, by Napoleon of France in 1812, and by Hitler in 1941.

This issue reinforces the desire for non-hostile neighbors already mentioned. A third consideration is that the post-1945 ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and to some extent of the later Russian Federation has been based on the heroism and sacrifices of the Great Patriotic War against Nazism.

Of the objective validity of this Russian pride there can be no doubt: during World War II, the United States government saluted the defense of the Soviet Union against Hitler as the greatest military achievement in human history, as seen in Frank Capra’s Why We Fight films. The amalgam of Russian patriotism with anti-fascism has in fact has provided much of the energy of the Russian response against the Kiev coup, in which neofascists and neo-Nazis of groups like Svoboda, the Right Sector, and others have been prominent.

MANY FAULT LINES OF THE ARTIFICIAL UKRAINIAN STATE UNDER IMF RULE
Given these well-known Russian concerns, it is likely that Moscow’s desired outcome for the current commotion will be the entry into the Russian sphere, not just of the Crimea, but of the area referred to by Putin as Novorossiya, including the provinces of Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Dniperpetrovsk, Zaporizhiya, Kherson, Mikolaiv, Odessa, and quite possibly Chernihiv, Sumy, Poltava, Kirovograd, plus the City of Kiev with its hinterland.

According to Agence France Presse, the provinces listed have a Russian-speaking majority, and many of them voted for Yanukovich in 2010. In some others, the estrangement from the Kiev fascist regime will come in the months ahead as a backlash against the genocidal austerity imposed by the International Monetary Fund, and enforced by Turchinov, Yatsenyuk and company.

Also, if Russia controls the Black Sea ports and the lower Dnieper River, the basic logistics of commodity flows and exports will tend to make the upper Dnieper provinces gravitate towards Moscow. This motion in the direction of Moscow may come through direct annexation, repatriation or in-gathering, quite possibly over a period of years. It may take the form of a separate buffer state functioning as a Russian protectorate.

According to one analysis, “the government in Kiev is managing to alienate citizens here … with a little help from the West. at a most dangerous and delicate time, just as it battles Moscow for hearts and minds across the east, the pro-Western government is set to initiate a shock therapy of economic measures to meet the demands of an emergency bailout from the International Monetary Fund.” (Washington Post, April 16, 2014)

This will include doubling the price of natural gas by removing government price subsidies, increasing regressive taxation, shredding the social safety net for the sick, the old, the very young, expectant mothers, and others, the looting of the black earth farm belt by foreign speculators, and the wholesale transfer of coal and steel manufacturing to foreign control.

The resulting landlocked revanchist rump Ukraine with its natural ideological capital in Lvov (Lviv, Lemberg, Leopoli) will have so many irredentist border disputes that no European government could be prevailed on to allow it to join NATO or the European Union, since this would probably represent a one-way ticket to war with Russia or some other country.

This revanchist rump Ukraine would inevitably become the object of Polish designs, and might soon be further partitioned by its western neighbors– perhaps ending the experiment in artificial modern Ukrainian statehood inaugurated in early 1918 by Field Marshal von Hindenburg and General Ludendorff of the German general staff.

We should remember that most of today’s western Ukraine, including Lvov and Tarnopol, spent the time between 1920 and 1941 as provinces of Poland, after more than a century of Austrian and Hungarian rule. There is also the province of Trans-Carpathian Ukraine (also known as Carpathian Ruthenia), which might be of interest to Hungary, Slovakia, or Romania because of historical claims or ethnic representation.

Here a separatist movement is already present: on October 25, 2008, during the Georgia crisis, 100 delegates attending the Congress of Carpathian Ruthenians declared the formation of the Republic of Carpathian Ruthenia, eliciting a hostile outburst from the fascist Svoboda Party in Kiev. Whatever happens in regard to such places, it is safe to say that no Americans in their right mind will want to interfere.

Ukraine could have survived on two conditions: that the country had been permanently neutralized, and that it had been constituted as a confederation.

In the decades just after World War II, Finland – which had been an active ally of Nazi Germany against the USSR – fared reasonably well as a neutral or “Finlandized” nation, pledged not to join NATO or the European Economic Community and not to tolerate anti-Soviet agitation.

As for the idea of confederation, the obvious example of a multi-ethnic, multilingual country that has prospered under a very limited central government with broad local autonomy is of course the country officially named Confœderatio Helvetica, otherwise known as Switzerland.

Ukraine could have done exceedingly well under this combination, but the inept nomenklatura oligarchy running the country since the days of Kravchuk and Kuchma have possessed pitifully limited experience of government, and have gained none of the wisdom and statesmanship that might have allowed a confederal compromise between East and West in the way that Vienna and Budapest were able to form a dualistic state a during the late 19th century.

From the US point of view, what is happening in Ukraine is more or less what occurred in West Virginia during the Civil War after the secession crisis of 1860-1861. The slaveholders of tidewater Virginia left the Union in the spring of 1861, but the mountain counties of the state decided to assert their allegiance to the government in Washington, seceding in their turn from Virginia and forming a new state, which was duly admitted to the Union in 1863.

Unfortunately, the radically anti-historical ruling elite of the United States is today manifesting many symptoms of collective psychosis, in the form of delusions of grandeur, schizophrenia, and Russophobia. Neocons are apoplectic because the resurgence of Russia threatens their future hopes of naked or thinly veiled military aggression on the Iraq model. Liberals are hysterical because Putin threatens to deprive them of their two favorite methods of reordering world affairs, the color revolution and humanitarian bombing conducted under the “responsibility to protect” perversion of international law.

JESSICA MATHEWS OF CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT AND HARVARD WANTS US BOOTS ON GROUND
A case in point is the representative establishment figure Jessica Tuchman Mathews of the Morgenthau-Wertheim Our Crowd networks, who is today the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a member of the Harvard Corporation.

In a May 3, 2014 interview with Charlie Rose on PBS, Mathews stated that President Obama, preferably in late February of this year, should have responded to the announcement of Russian military drills near the Ukrainian border by accepting an invitation from Kiev to conduct “multilateral military exercises” on Ukrainian territory with the US sending one brigade, while urging at least 4 to 5 NATO allies to take part in battalion strength.

She also suggested that it would have been wise for the Emperor to call Putin and inform him of these drills, telling the Russian president that the NATO drills would be over as soon as the Russian exercises had been ended. What Matthews was unable to mention was of course any vital US strategic interest in Ukraine that would justify such a reckless action, apart from some vague notion of the rules of the current international system, which the Kiev coup had in any case rendered inoperative.

This is of course a piece of strategic lunacy that would make even the most deranged Dr. Strangelove shudder. It may help us to gauge the degeneracy of the current US ruling elite if we recall that Ms. Mathews’ mother was the late Barbara Tuchman, the author of the 1962 study The Guns of August.

This book, whatever its other limitations, performed a positive historical function because it had been read by President Kennedy shortly before the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, and provided Kennedy with the concept of war by miscalculation, which he used as the basis for rejecting some of the more irresponsible proposals coming from his advisers during that strategic emergency.

Back when she was working for the New York Council on Foreign Relations, Mathews was the author of a triumphalist manifesto of Empire she called “Power Shift,” which appeared in Foreign Affairs, January-February 1997. This article was later chosen by the CFR as up there with George Kennan’s 1947 “Mr. X” containment screed among the most influential to have appeared during the first 75 years of their publication.

In her piece, Matthews voiced the fashionable misconceptions of an era in which the Fukuyama End of History and the Daniel Bell End of Ideology were all the rage in Georgetown. The unspoken premise was, of course, that an era of permanent and uncontested US world domination had begun.

Matthews argued that the international system of sovereign states which emerged after the peace of Westphalia in 1648 had now evaporated. The nation-state was increasingly impotent and obsolete, power was shifting to supernational organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the worldwide domination of speculative hot money was at hand. Instead of the modern territorial state, she wanted a return to the jurisdictional confusion of the Middle Ages, another disguise of Empire.

With this article as her most famous contribution to the imperialist policy debate, we can see why Jessica Matthews is so reluctant to face the world in which all of her trendy clichés have been brutally refuted by reality itself. This same mechanism is currently operative in the individual psychology of hundreds of professors, pundits, and bureaucrats who have built their careers on the now-extinct permanent unipolar hypothesis.

The result is the hysteria we hear in every public statement from Kerry, Samantha Power, Nuland, Ambassador Pyatt, and so many others. Anytime we hear these figures attempt to reassure public opinion that “nobody is proposing boots on the ground” or words to that effect, we should recall that this is simply a lie, given the remarks of an authoritative figure like Ms. Mathews , who has not so far been fired from any of her prestigious posts.

BENEFITS OF A RETURN TO A BALANCE OF POWER
The American people turn out to be major beneficiaries of Putin’s reassertion of Russian interests. The post 1991 period of unilateral world domination has brought out the absolute worst in the US ruling class, with endless meddling, threats, saber rattling, and catastrophic armed aggression against many countries around the world.

At the present time, the most efficient means of deterring and containing the impulses of neocon and “humanitarian” warmongers alike is that they be confronted by a powerful counterweight in the form of a resurgent Russia, a country capable of reasserting a reality principle against the lobbies demanding aggression.

This re-establishment of an approximate balance of power in world affairs has great positive potential. Americans should also remember that real wages and working conditions in the US were significantly higher when the Soviet Union was intact, and that the era of unipolar domination has been accompanied by reactionary politics, the decimation of the manufacturing sector, union busting, a declining standard of living, and increasing cultural barbarism.

American voters and political activists could do themselves an immense favor by demanding the immediate dismantling and de-funding of this color revolution apparatus. It was one thing to carry out color revolutions in Serbia and Georgia, and to attempt one in Lebanon, but the low hanging fruit has long since been exhausted.

The defeat of the fake 2005 Cedars Revolution in Lebanon, largely through the organizational resistance of Hezbollah, and especially the failure of the attempted June 2009 color revolution in Iran, both show that this imperialist weapon has reached the point of diminishing returns.

Trying to pull off a repeat performance of the 2004 orange revolution in Kiev at this late date was obviously an amateurish blunder, while recruiting gangs of Ernst Röhm-style fascist thugs like the late Muzichko of Right Sector to play the role of golden youth yearning for Western democracy made things even worse.

Putin evidently regards former Ambassador McFaul’s failed attempts to conjure up a color revolution as an act of war, so it would be wise to cease and desist from attempting this in Moscow.

Accordingly, the National Endowment for Democracy should be broken up and dissolved, and the sectors of USAID supposedly devoted to civil society and democratization should share the same fate. Freedom House and similar private institutions should be deprived of any federal funding.

US WORLD DOMINATION FADING AFTER 23 YEARS, 1991 TO 2014

Putin’s actions remind us that no world domination has ever lasted indefinitely. The problem of a unipolar world is its inherent instability, with the costs of military action generally appearing far smaller to the policy maker than they are in reality. From about 1525 to 1660 or so, Spain dominated Europe and the world, but still faced resistance from Richelieu’s France, from the revolt of the Netherlands, and from England’s destruction of the Spanish Armada.

After 1660, Louis XIV attempted to establish French world domination, but his efforts were defeated by the English-Dutch combination assembled by William of Orange — a defeat which became evident with the Peace of Utrecht in 1713.

England then exercised a growing global hegemony for more than two centuries, despite such defeats as the American Revolution. After Trafalgar and Waterloo, the British used the 1848 revolutions as a kind of European Spring, overthrowing every government on the continent except Russia.

Between 1848 and 1871, the British came very close to uncontested world domination, but were defeated by Tsar Alexander II of Russia, US President Abraham Lincoln, and German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Even then, the British remained first among equals until about 1940.

That 1848 to 1871 phase still stands as the closest any power has come to unquestioned domination of the world. If that British dominion lasted about 23 years, it is ironic to see that US global hegemony is fading fast in 2014, just 23 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The task of statesmanship is now to manage a return to a more traditional balance of power arrangement, while avoiding tragic military consequences for all concerned.

 

 

 

 

Russians’ approval of President Vladimir Putin hits near all-time high, poll shows

Russia's President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Alexey Nikolsky)

 

RT news

Published time: October 15, 2014 18:30

President Putin’s average approval marks from the Russian public have approached the record level of early 2008, independent research has shown.

The poll conducted in late September by the Levada sociology center shows that the average mark given by Russians to their leader is now 7.33 out of 10. This figure has been higher only once before – a mark of 7.49 reached in January 2008 at the very end of Putin’s first two terms as president.

17 percent of all respondents think Putin deserved the top mark – 10 out of 10 – for his work.

In the same poll, 38 percent of Russians said the head of state was worthy of their trust because his current performance was strong and successful.

At the same time, the overwhelming majority of respondents denied that the president’s popularity was turning into a personality cult. Only 19 percent said they had noticed features resembling a cult, compared to 27 percent a year ago.

The poll results are consistent with a recent tendency for record-breaking ratings for President Putin and other top Russian officials. Researchers explain this by ‘mobilization’ and solidarity of society in the face of foreign hostility, and also by events like the accession of the Crimean Republic into the Russian Federation.

In mid-August, 52 percent of Russians told Levada Center that they were ready to vote for Putin if presidential elections were held on the nearest weekend. January 2014, the share of such people was about 29 percent and that means that Vladimir Putin’s presidential rating has doubled in almost seven months.

Another influential sociological think-tank, the Public Opinion Foundation, conducted similar research in early August. It found that 68 percent of all potential voters were ready to support Putin at presidential elections, compared to 58 percent in March and 46 percent in January.

Putin: Nazi virus ‘vaccine’ losing effect in Europe

The coup d’état in Ukraine is a worrying example of growing neo-Nazi tendencies in Eastern Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a Serbian newspaper. He stressed that “open manifestations” of neo-Nazism is also commonplace in Baltic states.

Below is the full text of the interview.

Politika:You are coming to Belgrade to take part in the celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of the city’s liberation from occupation by Nazi Germany. Why, in your view, are such commemoration events important today?

Vladimir Putin:First of all, I would like to thank the Serbian leadership for the invitation to visit Serbia and take part in the celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade from occupation by Nazi Germany.

We are truly grateful to our Serbian friends for the way they treasure the memory of the Soviet soldiers who fought together with the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia against Hitler’s occupation troops. During World War II, over 31,000 Red Army officers and soldiers were killed, wounded or went missing on the territory of former Yugoslavia. About 6,000 Soviet citizens fought against the invaders in the ranks of the National Liberation Army. Their courage brought closer our common victory over Nazism and will always be remembered by our peoples as an example of bravery, unyielding determination and selfless service to one’s homeland.

It is hard to overestimate the importance of the upcoming events. Seventy years ago, our nations joined forces to defeat the criminal ideology of hatred for humanity, which threatened the very existence of our civilization. And today it is also important that people in different countries and on different continents remember what terrible consequences may result from the belief in one’s exceptionality, attempts to achieve dubious geopolitical goals, no matter by what means, and disregard for basic norms of law and morality. We must do everything in our power to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Regrettably, in some European countries the Nazi virus “vaccine” created at the Nuremberg Tribunal is losing its effect. This is clearly demonstrated by open manifestations of neo-Nazism that have already become commonplace in Latvia and other Baltic states. The situation in Ukraine, where nationalists and other radical groups provoked an anti-constitutional coup d’état in February, causes particular concern in this respect.

Members of the Ukrainian far-right radical group Right Sector (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Members of the Ukrainian far-right radical group Right Sector (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Today, it is our shared duty to combat the glorification of Nazism. We must firmly oppose the attempts to revise the results of WWII and consistently combat any forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and chauvinism.

I am sure that the anniversary celebrations in Belgrade, which are to become another manifestation of the sincere friendship between our nations based on the feelings of mutual affinity and respect, on spiritual kinship, on brotherhood in arms in the years of WWII, will also contribute to addressing these challenges. We hope that the preservation of historical memory will continue to help us strengthen peace, stability and welfare of the common European space together.

Politika:How do you see the Russian-Serbian relations today? What has been achieved during the past twenty years and what future trends in the interaction between the two countries do you foresee?

Vladimir Putin: Serbia has always been and still is one of Russia’s key partners in southeast Europe. Our nations are united by centuries-long traditions of friendship and fruitful cooperation. Their development is fostered by common interests in such spheres as politics, the economy, culture and many others.

Today, the Russian-Serbian relations are on the rise. In 2013, President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic and I signed the Interstate Declaration on Strategic Partnership reaffirming our shared intention to promote large-scale collaboration in all key areas.

We have maintained active political contacts to discuss relevant bilateral and international issues in the spirit of confidence and agree on joint practical steps. Our governments cooperate closely within the United Nations, OSCE, the Council of Europe and many other organizations.

We are satisfied with the consistent progress in our economic relations bolstered by the existing free trade regime between our countries. In 2013, our mutual trade grew by 15 percent amounting to $1.97 billion, and, in the first six months of 2014, it increased by another 16.5 percent to $1.2 billion. We expect it to reach $2 billion by the end of this year.

A positive trend continues in the field of investment as well. The total amount of Russian investments in Serbia has exceeded $3 billion. Most of these funds have been invested in the strategically important energy industry. One example of successful cooperation is the energy giant Petroleum Industry of Serbia, which has turned from a loss-making enterprise into a major contributor to the Serbian state budget. The South Stream project will provide Serbia with more than 2 billion euros in new investments and significantly strengthen the country’s energy security.

Serbia’s rail infrastructure is being rebuilt and upgraded with the participation of the Russian Railways and our support in the form of loans.

I am pleased to see Serbian businesses play an active part in the promising Russian market. For example, they supply high-quality agricultural and industrial products.

I would like to note another important area of our bilateral cooperation. In recent years, the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Centre in Nis has taken part in disaster response operations in the Balkans on several occasions. Last May, Russian rescuers helped to evacuate people during a severe flood. The Russian Emergencies Ministry aircraft made several flights to deliver more than 140 tonnes in humanitarian aid to Serbia.

The growing mutual interest of Russian and Serbian people in our countries’ history and culture is also evidence of deepening humanitarian relations. This autumn, Serbia is hosting Days of Russian Spiritual Culture with great success. The central event is the exhibition titled Russia and Serbia. History of Spiritual Connections, 14th-19th Century. We plan to expand cultural, educational, scientific and youth exchanges, and to promote tourism and sports events.

I am confident that my upcoming visit to Belgrade will give a new boost to the traditionally friendly Russian-Serbian relations, which will continue to grow and strengthen from year to year.

Politika:There is currently a great deal of speculation regarding the possible reduction in the supplies of Russian gas to Europe because of Ukraine’s debt. Should European consumers get ready for a cold winter? What about the future of the South Stream project, which is of great interest to Serbia?

Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to stress that Russia is meeting its obligations in full with regard to gas supplies to European consumers. We intend to further deepen our cooperation with the EU in the energy sector, where we are natural partners, on a transparent and predictable basis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in Minsk August 26, 2014 (Reuters / Sergey Bondarenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in Minsk August 26, 2014 (Reuters / Sergey Bondarenko)

Since the beginning of the 21st century, we have successfully implemented a number of major projects together with our European partners. This includes the Nord Stream, whish is an important factor in minimising transit risks and ensuring uninterrupted gas supplies to Europe. Over the recent months, Gazprom has been actively increasing gas reserves in European underground gas storage facilities. These measures are aimed to prevent transit disruptions and meet the peak demand in winter.

Naturally, we are aware of the risks generated by the Ukrainian crisis. We were forced to interrupt gas supplies to Ukraine last June because the Kiev authorities refused to pay for the gas supplies they had already received. In late summer and early autumn, we held a series of consultations in a three-party format with the participation of Russia, the EU and Ukraine, where we discussed possible mutually acceptable solutions to the problem of the Ukrainian gas debt settlement, resumption of gas supplies to Ukraine, which had been stopped by the Ukrainian side itself, and continuous hydrocarbon transit to Europe. We are ready to continue constructive talks on these issues.

As for the future of Russian gas exports to Europe, the problem of transit across the Ukrainian territory remains. One of the more obvious solutions might be to diversify the delivery routes. In this regard, we hope that the European Commission will finally make a decision in the nearest future about the use of the OPAL gas pipeline at full capacity.

In addition, we need to resolve the deadlock concerning the South Stream. We are convinced that this project will significantly contribute to integrated energy security in Europe. It will benefit everybody, Russia as well as the European consumers, including Serbia.

South Stream gas pipeline (RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

South Stream gas pipeline (RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

Politika:In your opinion, what is the ultimate objective of the sanctions against Russia, imposed by the EU and the United States? How long will they last, in your view, and how much harm can they do to Russia?

Vladimir Putin: This question should be addressed to the EU and the United States, whose reasoning is hard to understand. Any unbiased person knows that it was not Russia who staged the coup d’état in Ukraine, which led to the grave internal political crisis and a split in society. An unconstitutional seizure of power was the starting point for the subsequent events, including the ones in Crimea. The people of Crimea, seeing the complexity and unpredictability of the situation and in order to protect their rights to their native language, culture and history, decided to hold a referendum in full compliance with the UN Charter, as a result of which the peninsula re-joined Russia.

Our partners should be well aware that attempts to put pressure on Russia with unilateral and illegitimate restrictive measures will not bring about a settlement, but rather impede the dialogue. How can we talk about de-escalation in Ukraine while the decisions on new sanctions are introduced almost simultaneously with the agreements on the peace process? If the main goal is to isolate our country, it’s an absurd and illusory goal. It is obviously impossible to achieve it but the economic health of Europe and the world can be seriously undermined.

With regard to the duration of the restriction measures, it also depends on the United States and the European Union. For our part, we will adopt a balanced approach to assessing the risks and impact of the sanctions and respond to them proceeding from our national interests. It is obvious that the decline in mutual confidence is bound to have a negative impact on both the international business climate in general and on the operation of European and American companies in Russia, bearing in mind that such companies will find it difficult to recover from reputational damage. In addition, it will make other countries think carefully whether it is wise to invest their funds in the American banking system and increase their dependence on economic cooperation with the United States.

Politika:What do you think the future holds for Russian-Ukrainian relations? Will the United States and Russia re-establish a strategic partnership after all that has happened, or will they build their relations in a different way?

Vladimir Putin: As for Russia, its relations with Ukraine have always played and will continue to play a very important role. Our nations are inextricably linked by common spiritual, cultural and civilisational roots. We were part of a single state for centuries, and that huge historical experience and millions of intertwined fates cannot be dismissed or forgotten.

Despite the current difficult stage in Russian-Ukrainian relations, we are interested in progressive, equitable and mutually beneficial cooperation with our Ukrainian partners. In practice, this will become possible after sustainable peace and stability are achieved in Ukraine. Therefore, we hope to see an end to the protracted deep political and economic crisis.

Today, there is a real opportunity to end the armed confrontation, which actually amounts to a civil war. The first steps in this direction have already been made. It is vital to start a real intra-Ukrainian dialogue as soon as possible involving representatives from all the regions and political forces. This approach was documented in the Geneva Statement of April 17. Such a nationwide dialogue must focus on Ukraine’s constitutional structure and the future of the country, where all the citizens with no exception will live comfortably and in safety.

As for the Russian-US ties, our aim has always been to build open partnership relations with the United States. In return, however, we have seen various reservations and attempts to interfere in our domestic affairs.

Everything that has happened since the beginning of this year is even more disturbing. Washington actively supported the Maidan protests, and when its Kiev henchmen antagonised a large part of Ukraine through rabid nationalism and plunged the country into a civil war, it blamed Russia for provoking the crisis.

Now President Barack Obama in his speech at the UN General Assembly named the “Russian aggression in Europe” as one of the three major threats facing humanity today alongside with the deadly Ebola virus and the Islamic State. Together with the sanctions against entire sectors of our economy, this approach can be called nothing but hostile.

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)

The United States went so far as to declare the suspension of our cooperation in space exploration and nuclear energy. They also suspended the activity of the Russia-US Bilateral Presidential Commission established in 2009, which comprised 21 working groups dedicated, among other things, to combating terrorism and drug trafficking.

At the same time, this is not the first downturn in relations between our countries. We hope that our partners will realise the futility of attempts to blackmail Russia and remember what consequences discord between major nuclear powers could bring for strategic stability. For our part, we are ready to develop constructive cooperation based on the principles of equality and genuine respect for each other’s interests.