While we react with fear to the resurgence of fascist, Nazi or Japanese imperial groups, we fail to see that it was not these ideologies that provoked World War, but the alliance of rulers ready for the worst. The same configuration is about to be repeated with other groups. In a few months, if we do not react now, a Third World War may be possible.
The Second World War can serve as a lesson to us. It did not appear in a serene sky. It was not a battle of the Good guys against the Bad guys. It was just triggered by an unforeseen gathering of forces capable of destroying everything.
After the economic crisis of 1929, the whole world was convinced, and rightly so, that the capitalism of that time was over. The Soviet Union alone offered an alternative, Bolshevism. Soon the United States came up with a second alternative, the structural reforms of the New Deal, and then Italy promoted a third alternative, fascism. The great Anglo-Saxon capitalists chose to support a new regime, close to fascism, Nazism. They thought that Germany would attack the USSR, thus preserving their interests threatened by both Bolshevik collectivisations and US economic reforms. However, nothing worked out as planned, since Italy, Germany and Japan formed the Axis with their own logic and the war was not started against the Soviets, but against the great fortunes that prepared it.
In the collective imagination, we do not hold responsible the great Anglo-Saxon capitalists who supported Nazism at its beginning. On the contrary, we remember the British and American people as having participated in the victory.
From this experience we must learn that the most skilful plans can escape their promoters. Peace was threatened by the alliance of three very different regimes, Fascism, Nazism and Hakkō ichiu. None of the international relations scholars and other geopoliticians of the time foresaw this union. All of them, without exception, were wrong.
What these three ideologies had in common was that they wanted to change the world order without regard to the human consequences of their actions. This does not mean that their opponents were democratic and peaceful, far from it, but only that they refrained from exterminating entire peoples.
Let’s not mistake the adversary. We must be very vigilant, not to a particular type of political regime, but to the fact that states governed by men capable of the worst ever unite. The current danger is neither fascism, nor Nazism, nor Hakkō ichiu, three ideologies marked by their time and which do not correspond to anything today. What we must protect ourselves from, above all, is a global alliance between ideologies capable of the worst.
This is exactly what is about to happen: the current leaders of the US State Department, the government in Kiev and the next government in Tel Aviv have no limits. The union of the "Straussians", the Ukrainian "integral" nationalists and the Israeli "revisionist Zionists" can, without any qualms, plunge the world into a Third World War. Fortunately, the CIA does not share their ideas, the government in Kiev is constrained by Russian military intervention, and the Israeli Prime Minister’s coalition has not yet formed its government.
Professor Leo Strauss (1899-1973). Although he wrote extensively on natural law and Jewish philosophy, he left nothing about his political conceptions, which he reserved for certain of his students. Numerous testimonies have made his "oral" thought known to us.
The U.S. "Straussians”
This small group of about a hundred people controls the foreign policy of the United States, including the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, his deputy, Victoria Nuland, and the National Security Advisor, Jacob Sullivan.
It is in line with the thinking of the Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss "Russia declares war on the Straussians” for whom democracies showed their weaknesses during the 1930s. The only way to ensure that the next anti-Semitic regime does not massacre them is for the Jews to set up their own dictatorship; to be on the side of the hammer and not of the nail.
The "Straussians" have already shown what they are capable of by organizing the 9/11 attacks and by launching various wars to destroy the "wider Middle East".
It is amazing that, despite the controversies that tore the US ruling class apart during the Bush Jr. administration, most of today’s politicians are unaware of who the Straussians are.
The poet Dmytro Dontsov (1883-1973). He created a mythology that inspired millions of Ukrainians to fight the Russians. A secret agent of the Second and Third German Reichs, he participated in the supervision of the extermination of Jews and Gypsies in Europe as administrator of the Reinhard Heydrich Institute, before being whitewashed by the Anglo-Saxon secret services.
The Ukrainian "integral nationalists”
This is a group comprising hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps millions. It originated in the First World War, but solidified during the interwar period, the Second World War and the Cold War “Who are the Ukrainian integral nationalists ?”.
They identify with the poet and criminal against humanity Dmytro Dontsov. They see themselves as Vikings ready to fight the last battle against evil, that is, according to them, against Russian civilization.
The term "integral nationalist" should not be misleading. Dontsov chose it in reference to the thought of the Frenchman Charles Maurras. Dontsov was never a patriot, nor a nationalist in the classical sense. He never defended either the Ukrainian people or the Ukrainian land. On the contrary.
The Ukrainian "integral nationalists" have, since 1919, shown what they are capable of. They have murdered more than 4 million of their fellow citizens, including 1.6 million Jews. Since 2014, they have waged a civil war that has cost the lives of about 20,000 of their fellow citizens. They also, in 1921, amputated their land from Galicia and Volhynia to pay in advance the Polish army against the USSR.
They made an alliance with the Straussians, in 2000, during a big congress in Washington, where the Straussian Paul Wolfowitz was the guest of honor.
It is very dangerous to claim, as NATO does, that the "integral nationalists" are marginal in Ukraine. Certainly, in the spirit of this organization, it is only a question of discrediting Russia’s discourse and mobilizing for Ukraine. But these people are now murdering, without trial, those of their fellow citizens who find themselves in Russian culture.
It is particularly dangerous to participate in the delirium of the "integral nationalists" as the Bundestag has just done by adopting a resolution on the "Holodomor", i.e. the "genocide by hunger". The famine of 1932-33 was by no means caused by the Soviets in general, nor by Joseph Stalin in particular. It affected many other regions of the USSR than Ukraine. It is a climatic catastrophe. Moreover, in Ukraine itself, it did not affect the cities, but only the countryside because the Soviets decided to manage this shortage by feeding the workers rather than the peasants. To give credence to the myth of a planned genocide is to encourage anti-Russian hatred as the Nazis once encouraged anti-Jewish hatred.
Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880-1940), founder of the Jewish Legion, then of the Irgun. He called for Israel to extend over the entire British Mandate territory, i.e. over the current State of Israel, the Palestinian Territories and the Kingdom of Jordan.
Israeli "revisionist Zionists”
The "revisionist Zionists" represent about 2 million Israelis. They have managed to form a parliamentary majority by uniting several political parties behind Benjamin Netanyahu.
They claim to be inspired by the Ukrainian Vladimir Jabotinsky, the man who claimed that Palestine is "a land without a people, for a people without a land". In other words, Palestinian Arabs do not exist. They have no rights and must be expelled from their homes.
In September 1921, Jabotinsky formed a secret alliance with the Ukrainian "integral nationalist" anti-Semites, the first link in the developing Axis. This union aroused the indignation of the entire Jewish diaspora and Jabotinsky was expelled from the World Zionist Organization. In October 1937, Jabotinsky formed a new alliance with the anti-Semites of Marshal Rydz-Smigly, number 2 in Poland behind Józef Piłsudski. He was again rejected by the Jewish diaspora.
At the very beginning of World War II, Jabotinsky chose Bension Netanyahu, Benjamin’s father, as his private secretary.
It is appalling that, 75 years after the establishment of the State of Israel, most people continue to lump together different, and often opposing, views solely on the basis of the religion of those who profess them.
Revisionist Zionism" is the opposite of the Zionism of Nahum Goldman and the World Jewish Congress. It has no concern for the Jewish people and has therefore not hesitated to form alliances with anti-Semitic armed forces.
The "revisionist Zionists", including Menahem Beguin and Ariel Sharon, have shown what they are capable of with the Nakba; the forced expulsion of the majority of the Arab population of Palestine in 1948. It is this crime, whose memory haunts both Arabs and Israelis, that makes peace in Palestine impossible to this day.
Benjamin Netanyahu formed an alliance with the Straussians in 2003 at a large closed-door congress in Jerusalem «Sommet historique pour sceller l’Alliance des guerriers de Dieu». Since the election of Volodymyr Zelensky, of whom he has become a personal friend, Netanyahu has also renewed Jabotinsky’s alliance with the "integral nationalists".
The Axis is constituted.
The common ideology of the new Axis
Just as Italian Fascism, German Nazism, and Japanese Hakkō ichiu had little to do with each other, so did the Straussians, the "integral nationalists," and the "revisionist Zionists" think differently and pursue distinct goals. Only the Nazis were so anti-Semitic as to seek to kill an entire people. The fascists despised the Jews, but did not seek to exterminate them. The Japanese never engaged in this hatred and even protected the Jews in their own country and in the territories they occupied. In the same way, today if the "integral nationalists" are obsessively against Russian culture and wish to kill all Russians, men, women and children, the Straussians despise them without wishing to exterminate them, and the "revisionist Zionists" pursue other objectives.
Each of these three isolated groups represents a danger to specific populations, but all three together threaten all of humanity. They share a cult of violence and power. They have shown that they can engage in wars of extermination. All three consider that their time has come. However, not only do they have to overcome their internal oppositions, but their axis is still uncertain. For example, the Straussians have just warned the "revisionist Zionists" about the possible expansion of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.
After the Second World War, modern international law was established with the idea of countering "war propaganda" United Nations General Assembly Resolution 110 of November 3, 1947 and Resolution 381 of November 17, 1950 “Condemnation of propaganda against peace”. International legislators, i.e. sovereign states, soon agreed that war could only be fought against by ensuring the "free flow of ideas" resolution 819 of 11 December 1954 “Strengthening of peace through the removal of barriers to free exchange of ideas".
In recent years, however, we have witnessed an extraordinary backsliding that deprives us of the thoughts of others, exposes us to war propaganda, and ultimately leads us to a global conflict.
This phenomenon began with the private censorship on social networks of the incumbent president of the United States, and continued with the public censorship of Russian media in the West. Now the thoughts of others are no longer seen as a tool to prevent wars, but as a poison that threatens us.
Western states are setting up bodies to "rectify" information that they consider falsified (Fake News)“The West renounces freedom of expression”, by Thierry Meyssan. NATO is considering the creation of a unit, called Information Ramstein, which will be responsible for censoring not Russian information sources, but Russian ideas within the 30 member states of the Atlantic Alliance "A ’Ministry of Truth’ soon to be created within NATO".
This is a complete reversal of the values of the Atlantic Alliance, which was founded in the wake of the Atlantic Charter, which incorporated President Franklin Roosevelt’s "four freedoms". The first of these freedoms was the freedom of expression.
However, before the invention of the Internet, when the United States and the Soviet Union had just guaranteed the "free circulation of ideas" with the Helsinki Agreements, the United Nations and more particularly its agency in this field, UNESCO, were worried about "information imperialism". The technical superiority of the West allowed them to impose their view of the facts on developing countries.
In 1976, during the Nairobi conference, the UN raised the question of the functioning of the media with regard to "the strengthening of peace and international understanding, the promotion of human rights and the fight against racism, apartheid and incitement to war.
Former Irish Foreign Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Seán MacBride formed a 16-member commission at Unesco. It included the Frenchman Hubert Beuve-Mery (founder of Le Monde), the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez (Nobel Prize for Literature) and the Canadian Marshall McLuhan (communication theorist). The United States was represented by Elie Abel, then dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism, and Russia by the director of the Tass agency, Sergei Losev. Only the fifth and final part of the report (Communication Tomorrow) was the subject of a general debate. The MacBride commission discussed the draft of the other parts, but could not question their final wording. In any event, its report, issued in 1978, seemed to be a consensus.
In fact, by pointing out that the same facts can be perceived differently and by opening up the question of the means of the media of the North and those of the South, he was opening a Pandora’s box. At the same time, Unesco was confronted with the propaganda of the South African apartheid regime and the propaganda of Israel, which denies Muslim and Christian cultures. In the end, the United States and the United Kingdom ended the debate by withdrawing from Unesco. We know today that the British Empire had ensured its intellectual domination by creating news agencies. Whitehall closed the Information Research Department (IRD) just before the MacBride report was published "Britain’s secret propaganda war, Paul Lashmar & James Oliver, Sutton". But the war against Syria has shown that the whole system has been reconstituted in another form “The fabrication of the myth of the "Syrian revolution" by the United States. Westerners continue to falsify information at its source.
In forty years, the media landscape has been transformed: the emergence of international television news channels, websites and social networks. At the same time, there has been a huge concentration of media in the hands of a few owners. However, none of the problems listed in 1978 have changed. On the contrary, with the unipolar world, they have become worse.
The journalistic profession today consists of either writing agency reports or contextualizing the news for the media. News agencies are factual and unsourced, while the media offer commentary and analysis by referring to news agencies. Contextualization requires a great deal of historical, economic and other knowledge, which today’s journalists are largely lacking. The immediacy of radio and television does not give them the time to read books and even less to consult archives, except during in-depth investigations. Commentary and analysis have thus become considerably impoverished.
The dominant ideology in the West, which tends to become "global", has become a religion without God. There are now only two camps: that of the Good and that of the apostates. Truth is determined by a consensus among the elites, while the people reject it. Any criticism is considered blasphemous. There is no more room for debate and therefore for democracy.
The alternative press has become just as poor because it relies on the same data as the international media: news agency reports. It is indeed enough to control AFP, AP and Reuters to impose a vision of the facts on us. You can season it according to this or that tendency, Republican or Democrat, conservative or progressive, etc., but it will always be the same dish.
Since the September 11 attacks, those who challenge the official version of events have been called "conspiracy theorists ». Since the election of Donald Trump, those who contest the data of press agencies are accused of distorting reality and imagining Fake News. Journalists, after refraining from relaying the thoughts of "conspiracists", i.e. dissidents, try to correct Fake News with Checked News.
Yet, at the same time, belief in the versions of the mainstream media has collapsed. In the United States, the Gallup Institute has been measuring trust in the print media since 1973 and in the broadcast media since 1993. Trust in newspapers has fallen from 51 percent to 16 percent, and trust in radio and television has fallen from 46 percent to 11 percent.
The only solution is to increase the number of news agencies, i.e. the sources of information. Not to make them numerous, but diverse. Only then will we realize that the way an event is reported determines the way we think about it.
For example, today the three news agencies mentioned above present the conflict in Ukraine as a "Russian invasion". They claim that Moscow has not been able to take Kiev and overthrow President Zelenky, but commits war crimes every day. This is one way of looking at it. We don’t have the means to publish dispatches all the time, but we publish a weekly identical bulletin. Our criterion is different. We refer to "International Law" and not to Western "rules". Therefore, we describe the same conflict as the application of the Security Council resolution 2202 and the "responsibility to protect" the oppressed populations since 2014. The events are the same, but for some the way they tell them leads to think that the Russians are wrong, while ours leads to think that the Russian position is legal. To tell the truth, there is another difference: we interpret the facts over time. For us and for the Security Council, there has been a civil war in Ukraine for eight years with 20,000 deaths, the three major agencies pretend to ignore it. For us, the "integral nationalists" have a long criminal history, having cost the lives of 4 million of their fellow citizens, the Western agencies also pretend to ignore it “Who are the Ukrainian integral nationalists?”.
This difference can be applied to all subjects. For example, the major news agencies tell us that the West has imposed sanctions to punish Russia for invading Ukraine. We do not read events in this way. Once again, referring to "International Law" and not to Western "rules", we note that the decisions of the Anglo-Saxons and the European Union violate the UN Charter. These are not "sanctions", since there has been no judgment, but economic weapons to wage war against Russia, just as castles were besieged in the past to starve those who had taken refuge there.
Each difference in the interpretation of events provokes another. For example, when we point out that the Western pseudo-sanctions have not been endorsed by the Security Council, we are told that this is quite normal since Russia has a veto right in the Council. This is to forget why the UN was organized the way it was. Its purpose is not to say what is right, but to prevent wars. This is precisely what allowed the Council to adopt resolution 2202 to resolve the civil war in Ukraine. However, the West, despite the commitment of Germany and France, did not apply it, forcing Russia to intervene.
We could go on endlessly with this double reading. The important thing to remember is that the presentation of the facts radically changes the way they are perceived. To conclude, I invite you to found news agencies that describe the facts in their own way and not in the way of our leaders. It is in this way and not by glossing over biased information that we will regain our lucidity.
The Ukrainian president addressing the G20.
I was talking to an open-minded leader of the European Parliament in Brussels ten days ago, and I listened to him tell me that the Ukrainian conflict was certainly complex, but that the most obvious thing was that Russia had invaded that country. I replied by observing that international law obliged Germany, France and Russia to implement resolution 2202, which Moscow alone had done. I continued by reminding him of the responsibility to protect the populations in case of failure of their own government. He cut me off and asked me: "If my government complains about the fate of its citizens in Russia and attacks that country, will you find that normal? Yes," I said, "if you have a Security Council resolution. Do you have one? » Disconcerted, he changed the subject. Three times I asked him if we could talk about the Ukrainian "integral nationalists". Three times he refused. We parted courteously.
The question of the responsibility to protect should have been nuanced. This principle does not allow for a war, but for a police operation, conducted with military means. That is why the Kremlin is careful not to refer to this conflict as a "war", but as a "special military operation". Both terms refer to the same facts, but "special military operation" limits the conflict. As soon as his troops entered Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear that he did not intend to annex this territory, but only to liberate the people persecuted by the Ukrainian "Nazis". In a previous long article, I pointed out that, if the expression "Nazis" is correct in the historical sense, it does not correspond to the way these people call themselves. They use the expression: "integral nationalists". Let’s remember that Ukraine is the only state in the world with an explicitly racist constitution.
The fact that international law gives Russia the upper hand does not mean that it has a blank check. Everyone must criticize the way it applies the law. Westerners still find Russia "Asian", "savage" and "brutal", even though they themselves have been far more destructive on many occasions.
Reversal of the situation
Now that the Russian and Western points of view have been clarified, it is clear that several events have prompted a Western shift.
We are entering winter, a harsh season in Central Europe. The Russian population is aware, since the Napoleonic invasion, that it cannot defend such a large country. Therefore, they learned to use the vastness of their territory and the seasons to defeat their attackers. With winter, the front is frozen for several months. Everyone can see that, contrary to the discourse that the Russians are defeated, the Russian army has liberated the Donbass and part of Novorussia.
Before winter fell, the Kremlin withdrew the liberated population living north of the Dnieper, and then withdrew its army, abandoning the part of Kershon located on the north bank of the Dnieper. For the first time, a natural border, the Dnieper River, marks a border between the territories controlled by Kiev and those controlled by Moscow. However, during the interwar period, it was the absence of natural borders that brought down all successive powers in Ukraine. Now Russia is in a position to hold on.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Ukraine has been able to count on unlimited aid from the United States and its allies. However, the mid-term elections in the USA have removed the majority of the Biden administration in the House of Representatives. From now on, Washington’s support will be limited. Similarly, the European Union is also finding its limits. Its populations do not understand the rising cost of energy, the closure of certain factories and the impossibility of heating normally.
Finally, in some circles of power, after admiring the talents of the actor Volodymyr Zelensky as a communicator, they begin to wonder about the rumors about his sudden fortune. In eight months of war, he became a billionaire. The imputation is unverifiable, but the scandal of the Pandora Papers (2021), makes it credible. Is it necessary to bleed to the four veins not to see the donations arrive in Ukraine, but disappear in offshore companies?
The Anglo-Saxons (i.e. London and Washington) wanted to turn the G20 in Bali into an anti-Russian summit. They had first lobbied for Moscow to be excluded from the Group, as they had succeeded in doing at the G8. But if Russia had been absent, China, by far the world’s largest exporter, would not have come. So it was Frenchman Emmanuel Macron who was responsible for convincing the other guests to sign a bloody declaration against Russia. For two days, Western news agencies assured that the matter was in the bag. But in the end, the final statement, while summarizing the Western point of view, closed the debate with these words: "There were other points of view and different assessments of the situation and the sanctions. Recognizing that the G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues, we know that security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy. » In other words, for the first time, the West has failed to impose its worldview on the rest of the planet.
Worse: the West imposed a video intervention by Volodymyr Zelensky as they had done on August 24 and September 27 at the United Nations Security Council. However, while Russia had tried in vain to oppose it in September in New York, it accepted it in November in Bali. At the Security Council, France, which held the presidency, violated the rules of procedure to give the floor to a head of state by video. On the contrary, at the G20, Indonesia held an absolutely neutral position and was not likely to accept giving him the floor without Russian authorization. This was obviously a trap. President Zelensky, who does not know how these bodies work, fell into it.
After having caricatured Moscow’s action, he called for its exclusion from the... "G19". G19 ". In other words, the little Ukrainian gave an order on behalf of the Anglo-Saxons to the heads of state, prime ministers and foreign ministers of the 20 largest world powers and was not heard. In reality, the dispute between these leaders was not about Ukraine, but about whether or not to submit to the American world order. All the Latin American, African and four Asian participants said that this domination was over; that the world is now multipolar.
The Westerners must have felt the ground shake under their feet. They were not the only ones. Volodymyr Zelensky saw, for the first time, that his sponsors, until now absolute masters of the world, were letting him down without hesitation in order to maintain their position for a while longer.
It is likely that Washington was in league with Moscow. The United States realizes that things are turning against it on a global scale. It will have no hesitation in blaming the Ukrainian regime. William Burns, director of the CIA, has already met Sergei Narychkin, the director of the SVR, in Turkey. These meetings follow those of Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Advisor, with several Russian officials. However, Washington has nothing to negotiate in Ukraine. Two months before the conflict in Ukraine, I explained that the core of the problem had nothing to do with this country, nor with NATO. It is essentially about the end of the unipolar world.
So it is not surprising that a few days after the G20 slap in the face, Volodymyr Zelensky contradicted his American sponsors for the first time in public. He accused Russia of having launched a missile at Poland and maintained his words when the Pentagon indicated that he was wrong, it was a Ukrainian counter-missile. The idea, for him. was to continue to act in line with the Treaty of Warsaw, concluded on April 22, 1920, by Symon Petlioura’s integral nationalists with the regime of Piłsudski; to push Poland to go to war against Russia. This was the second time Washington rang a bell in his ears. He did not hear it.
Probably, these contradictions will no longer manifest themselves in public. Western positions will soften. Ukraine has been warned: in the coming months it will have to negotiate with Russia. President Zelensky can plan his escape now, because his bruised compatriots will not forgive him for deceiving them.
The only way Ukrainians will see anything approximating a holiday season is if a ceasefire can be arranged by New Year’s Day, and it just might happen, regardless of President Volodomyr Zelenskiy’s repeated assertions that there will be no negotiations with Russia until it withdraws all its troops from all occupied territories, including Crimea. There are several reasons for the possible ceasefire.
First, the Russian hammer is about to fall on Ukraine. The gloves are coming off; electric energy stations, bridges, and even ‘decision centers’ such as central Kiev’s government buildings are being targeted. Russia is one or two more massive bombing attacks on Ukraine’s energy and transport infrastructure from permanently disabling Ukraine’s electricity, water, and railroad systems. With ‘only’ 50 percent of Ukrainian electricity infrastructure knocked out by the first three widespread bombings of electricity grid components, demonstrations are already breaking out in Odessa and other places over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, with Zelenskiy sending the Ukrainian KGB, the SBU, in to break up the protests and banning coverage in media. The Office of the President was reportedly recently informed by technicians that the electricity system has entered the stage of ‘arbitrary and uncontrolled imbalance,” and one official has urged Ukrainians to be prepared to leave the country in winter. What will the sociopolitical situation be like when these critical infrastructures are in complete collapse and temperatures are 20 degrees colder? Russia will be moving closer to the strategy of ‘shock and awe’, fully destroying all infrastructure – military or otherwise – as the US did in Serbia and Iraq and will likely take less care now to avoid civilian casualties.
After the infrastructures are completely destroyed or incapacitated, Russia’s reinforcements of 380,000 regular and newly mobilized troops will have been fully added into Russia’s forces across southeastern Ukraine. Even without these reinforcements, Russian forces continue to make small gains in Donbass around Ugledar, Bakhmut (Artemevsk), as withdrawals from and stabilization of the fronts in Kharkiv and Kherson have led to a redeployment and thus concentration of forces in Zaporozhe, Donetsk, and Luhansk. A winter offensive by some half a million troops will make substantial gains on those three fronts and multiply Ukrainian losses in personnel and materiel`, which are already high. This could lead easily to a collapse of Ukrainian forces on one or more front. On the backs of such a success Russian President Putin might also make another attempt to threaten Kiev by moving a much larger force in from Belarus than the small 30-40,000 force that advanced and then withdrew from Kiev’s surrounding districts in the first months of the war.
Second, the West is suffering from Ukraine fatigue. NATO countries’ arms supplies have been depleted beyond what is tolerable, and social cohesion is collapsing in the face of double-digit inflation and economic recession. All this makes Russia the winner on the strategic level and is forcing Washington and Brussels to seek at least a breathing spell by way of a ceasefire. This is evidenced by the plethora of Western leaders calling on Zelenskiy to resume talks with Putin and the emergence of the ‘Sullivan plan’. Most recently, rumors have it that new British PM Rishi Sunak used a package of military and financial aide he announced during his recent trip to Kiev to cover up his message to Zelenskiy that London could no longer bear the burden of leading the European support for Kiev and that Kiev should reengage wirh Moscow. There has been a several day delay in the fourth round of rocket sorties against Ukrainian infrastructure, suggesting Putin is waiting to to see if Zelenskiy will cave and offer talks before unleashing the major assaults on Ukrainian infrastructure and the Russian winter offensive.
Third, Ukraine’s greatest political asset – Zelenskiy himself – just got devalued, putting at even greater risk Ukraine’s political stability. The Ukrainian air defense strike on Poland (accidental or intentional) and the Ukrainian president’s insistence that it was a Russian air strike, despite the evidence and nearly unanimous opposing opinion among his Western backers, has hit Zelenskiy’s credulity hard. Zelenskiy’s insistence on the Russian origins of the missile and technical aspects of Ukrainian air defense suggests that the event may have been an intentional Ukrainian false flag strike on Polish/NATO territory designed to provoke NATO or Poland into entering the war. Some in the West are beginning to wake up to the dangers of Ukrainian ultranationalism and neofascism, not to mention the growing megalomania of Zelenskiy, who has appeared on ore than one occasion to be willing to risk the advent of a global nuclear winter in order to avoid sitting at the negotiating table across from Putin. Some may now come to understand that claims that Putin wants to seize all Ukraine and restore the USSR if not conquer Europe are yarns spun by Kiev to attract military and financial assistance and ultimately draw NATO forces into the war. There remains a danger that Kiev’s dream of a NATO intervention might come to fruition is the following temptation. NATO has declared that a defeat of Ukraine in the war is a defeat for NATO, and NATO cannot be allowed to lose a war to a Russia because that would accelerate the coming of the end to U.S. hegemony. It cannot be excluded and may even be likely that should Kiev appear to be losing the war that Polish forces, NATO or some ‘coalition of the willing’ will move military forces into western Ukraine up to the Dnepr but do so without attacking Russian forces. This would force Russia to cease much of its military activity or risk attacking NATO forces and a larger European-wide war. This or something like it is probably already being considered in Washington.
For now, in order to keep the West on board, Zelenskiy is rumored to be pushing Ukrainian armed forces commander Viktor Zalyuzhniy to start a last pre-winter offensive in northern Donetsk (Svatovo and Severodonetsk) or Zaporozhe in order to put a stop to the West’s ceasefire murmurs and reboost support. At the same time there is talk of continuing Zelenskiy-Zalyuzhniy tensions over the latter’s good press and star status in the West. Tensions first emerged over disagreements of previous offensives and Zalyuzhniy’s earlier entry on the Western media stage. On the background of the deteriorating battlefield and international strategic situation, such civil-military tensions are fraught with the potential for a coup. Much of Zelenskiy’s strategy and tactics is driven more by political than by military considerations. Not least among the former is Zelenskiy’s political survival, which any ceasefire or peace talks requiring Kiev to acquiesce in the loss of more territory certainly will doom. Neofascist, military, and much of public opinion will not brook the sacrifices made in blood and treasure bringing only additional ones in Ukrainian territory. Others will ask why was not all of this averted by way of agreeing to Ukrainian neutrality and fulfilling Minsk 2 could have avoided it all.
We may be reaching the watershed moment in the Ukrainian war. No electricity, no army, no society. But here, as with any Russian occupation of central or western Ukrainian lands (not planned but perhaps a necessity at some point down the road for Putin), a quagmire awaits the Kremlin. Russia can not allow complete societal breakdown and chaos to reign in Ukraine anymore than it could tolerate a NATO-member Ukraine with a large neofascist component next door. All of the above and the approaching presidential elections scheduled in Moscow, Kiev and Washington the year after next make this winter pivotal for all the war's main parties.
Ukraine is turning into a significantly more homogeneous and far less culturally diverse country
In recent years, Ukraine has become the battleground for a 'war of monuments' waged among various political forces. In 2014, the process reached a peak during the mass demolition of statues of Vladimir Lenin and other Soviet politicians. These events fundamentally changed the symbolism and policy of the country's historical memory, paving the way to a reality in which any public speech must now be accompanied by the words 'Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!'
This was the slogan of Stepan Bandera's World War Two nationalist movement, which collaborated with Adolf Hitler's Nazis and took part in the Holocaust.
Although Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky's team initially tried to 'reset' the historical memory policy, radical nationalism got the upper hand in this symbolic battle. Following the start of Russia's military operation, this year, the so-called 'decommunization' policy became openly known as 'de-Russification' - even with over half of the population officially recognized as Russian-speaking.
After Russian troops entered Ukraine in February, many locals projected their hatred of Moscow onto objects of cultural and historical heritage that were in any way linked to the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, politicians actively supported such sentiment, using it as a cheap way to boost their personal ratings.
Over the past months, the number of initiatives aimed at the cultural and historical 'de-Russification' of Ukraine have ballooned. Examples abound. The Kiev City Council recently renamed 11 streets having any reference to Russia (Lomonosov, Magnitogorsk, and Belomorskaya streets, among others). It also completely excluded the Russian language from the curricula of the capital's kindergartens and schools. The decision was supported by 64 out of 120 deputies. Vadim Vasilchuk, head of the Standing Committee on Education, Science, Family, Youth and Sports of the body, commented that teaching Russian in the current situation is "inappropriate." In fact, Kiev's educational institutions stopped teaching the language in any shape or form (including as electives) at the beginning of the academic year.
Meanwhile, other Ukrainian cities saw a wave of 'de-Pushkinization' sweep through. In November, monuments to the great Russian poet were toppled in Kharkov and Zhitomir, while the monument in Odessa was painted over with the inscription 'Get out!' In Kiev, one of the oldest monuments to the bard had been taken down a few weeks earlier.
The demolition of monuments to Russian and Soviet statesmen has continued as well. The Ukrainian Ministry of Culture's expert council on 'overcoming the consequences of Russification and totalitarianism' decided to demolish monuments to Soviet military commanders Nikolay Vatutin and Nikolay Shchors (even though Leonid Kravchuk - a student at the time and later the first president of Ukraine - posed for the Shchors monument).
A memorial to Soviet soldiers erected on May 8, 1970 on the 25th anniversary of victory in WWII was demolished in Uzhgorod in November. The decision dates back to October 13. In its place, Kiev proposed a memorial to the soldiers of the 128th separate mountain assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine - a military unit that took an active part in the Donbass war unleashed by Kiev in 2014.
The story of one monument
Perhaps the most dramatic case of 'de-Russification' unfolded in the port city of Odessa. The city's history dates back to the end of the 18th century, when the Russian Empire colonized the northern Black Sea region. In November, Odessa's mayor, Gennady Trukhanov, announced the impending demolition of one of the historical city symbols - a monument to its founders that shows Catherine the Great and her associates, thanks to whom the city became the southern capital of the Russian Empire by the end of the 19th century.
Just a few months back, the same official had opposed the initiative. Trukhanov wrote:
"I'm not in favor of taking down statues. We may remove the monuments, but history will not change. I know that a petition has been signed by 25,000 people, but I'm going to wait. After all, should I also remove the monument to [Alexander] Pushkin or [Yuri] Gagarin? It doesn't make sense."
However, activists soon sent a petition to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who instructed the police to investigate the mayor's activities.
Ukraine's Ministry of Culture supported the idea of taking down the monument to Catherine the Great, but according to the ministry's head, Aleksandr Tkachenko, the decision was to be made by local deputies, the official said. Finally, following numerous vandalism attacks on the monument (it was doused with paint, covered with inscriptions, and a red 'executioner's' hat was placed on Catherine the Great's head), the Odessa City Council decided to conduct an electronic survey to decide on its fate.
Trukhanov hastened to change his mind and said he would vote to transfer the monument to a "park of the imperial and Soviet past" that he proposed to create. Meanwhile, the deputy mayor of Odessa, Oleg Bryndak, offered to immediately install a fountain on the site.
An online vote was held in the shortest possible time. As a result, out of Odessa's population of about a million people, 2,900 residents voted for the demolition and 2,251 opposed it. The rest (i.e., over 990,000 people) abstained from the vote. Despite this, the public vote was recognized as legitimate. The city council is yet to make a final decision, but the outcome is not hard to predict. According to an announcement affixed to the wooden protective case now enclosing the bronze monument, preparations for its dismantling and transfer are already underway.
History repeats itself
Ironically, Catherine Square in central Odessa perfectly illustrates the shifts in historical heritage policies during critical periods for Ukraine. When the square was initially built, a public garden was laid out in its center. In 1873, the city's central water supply began functioning and the authorities installed a fountain on the spot. In 1891, the Odessa City Duma decided to build a monument honoring the centenary of the city's foundation. On the eve of the anniversary, a competition was held to decide on the best design project and finally in August 1894, construction officially began. The opening of the monument took place on May 6, 1900 and was timed to coincide with the centenary of the death of one of the city fathers, commander Alexander Suvorov. At an architectural conference one year later, Catherine Square with its monument to the city founders was recognized as the best integral architectural complex in Europe.
The monument was unveiled twice - first on May 6, 1900, and then on October 27, 2007. During the Russian Revolution, when the city was constantly changing hands, the authorities covered the monument and intended to take it down. Nobe**l Prize-winning author Ivan Bunin, who was in Odessa in 1919, wrote in _'The Cursed Days'_ [his diaries of the Revolution]:**
"Visited Catherine Square before dusk. Everything is gloomy and wet. The monument to Catherine the Great is wrapped from head to toe, bandaged with dirty, wet rags, entwined with ropes and plastered with red wooden stars. Opposite the monument is the Emergency Commission [the Provincial Emergency Commission for Combating Counter-revolution, Speculation, Sabotage, and Crimes of Office, known as the Odessa CHEKA - RT]. Red flags droop from the rain, their reflections flowing like blood in the wet asphalt."
Speculation on whether to keep the monument or not had given the authorities no peace since the 1917 Revolution, and as a result it was transferred to the Petrograd Art Commission. In May 1920, when Soviet power was established in Odessa, the monument was finally dismantled, leaving a bare round column and pedestal. The figures of Catherine the Great and her associates eventually ended up in the courtyard of the Museum of Local Lore thanks to the intercession of the writer Maksim Gorky.
In the 1920s, Catherine Square and street were renamed after Karl Marx. For the next two decades, the pedestal housed a sculpture of the famed 'Das Kapital' author. At one point, the authorities replaced the bust with a new, life-size monument. However, the statue fell during a sudden storm, supposedly due to the poor quality of the materials used in its construction (or so reads the official version). In 1931, a sculptural composition with the symbols of the proletariat - a hammer and sickle - was temporarily installed on the spot.
During the occupation of Odessa by Romanian troops during World War II, Romanian Prime Minister Ion Antonescu hastened to rename the square and street after Adolf Hitler, though this time without any monument. In the 1950s, the pedestal was removed from the square and once again replaced with a public garden. In 1965, on the day marking the 60th anniversary of the uprising on the battleship Potemkin, a bronze monument to the sailors was unveiled on the square. This monument stood for 42 years. Finally, in 2007, as part of a project to recreate the historical appearance of Odessa's city center, the 'Monument to the Founders of Odessa', an exact replica of the original, was returned to Catherine Square. And now the square is in for new changes as the political winds have shifted again.
A political pendulum
The fact that nationalism comprises the essence of cultural memory in many Eastern European countries and, as a result, the nation becomes its own victim, is once again confirmed by the changes across Ukraine's cultural and historical landscape. Moreover, Russia, which is being cast as a threat to independence and territorial integrity, is thus becoming a key element in the mechanism of collective memory and identity. In other words, the model of a suffering nation and the motif of an existential threat have prevailed, and it is the image of Russia's past and present that will be used in forming Ukrainian identity.
How has this become possible? When Ukraine gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union, its political (electoral) geography acquired stable borders and became integrated into the self-consciousness of the country's two parts. In fact, several population groups with powerful national identities emerged at the time: Ukrainian-speaking (mostly living in the western and central regions, and professing a purely ethnic narrative), Russian-speaking (mostly living in the center, south and east, for whom Russians were not 'strangers' or 'enemies'), and actual Russians.
These groups, particularly the Ukrainian speakers and Russian speakers, long had their own heritage, language, and political representation. Recall the Orange Revolution of 2004 or the Euromaidan of 2014, during which the 'pro-Ukrainian' part of society opposed the 'pro-Russian' leader Viktor Yanukovych. Who, in reality, had spent years negotiating with the EU about eventual Ukrainian membership.
Despite certain similarities between the groups, their differences were so strong that even prior to Ukraine's independence, the authorities viewed any federalization attempts as ruinous for the nation at large.
For many years, Ukraine had existed thanks to a political pendulum between its south, east and west. A sense of unity depended on two conditions: the internal and external. The internal condition was that the political elite coming to power from any part of the country would express the interests of the entire population. The external condition was to keep the country balanced between the main centers of power. Both conditions turned out to be fragile. The former depended on how Ukraine's domestic political projects were pursued, while the latter reflected the country's ability to pursue a multi-vector policy in relations with Russia and the European Union.
2014 saw the collapse of both conditions. Prior to Euromaidan, the reunification of Crimea with Russia, and the outbreak of the armed conflict in Donbass, the disagreements about the historical narrative had been moderate. This delicate balance was upset by a policy in favor of actively building a nation state. The pendulum swung violently and suddenly the whole system lost balance.
Local elites reacted in different ways. Some emigrated fearing persecution (such as former deputy of the Odessa City Council Aleksandr Vasiliev), and others became part of a nationally-minded elite (as the aforementioned mayor of Odessa, Trukhanov, who in late 2013 to early 2014 repeatedly spoke at pro-Russian rallies).
At the same time, the main battle unfolded for the loyalty of Ukraine's so-called 'moderate' residents - i.e., the Russian-speaking Ukrainians (or Russian Ukrainians, as the renowned political scientist and Kiev resident Mikhail Pogrebinsky calls himself). This group has always been the middle ground. Having much in common with the two groups, it stood apart from both. And following the start of the conflict in 2014, the attitude of this cohort towards Russia and its culture became a key point of Ukrainian politics.
A Russian east?
Most Russian-speaking Ukrainians did not consider themselves of 'different nationality' and did not propose alternative national projects (for example, a unique regional identity associated with Ukraine's southern and eastern regions as a former part of the historical cultural region of Novorossiya). Such 'denationalization' was a result of Russia's limited foreign policy in the 1990s to early 2000s and the overall socio-economic situation.
In those years, there had been no interethnic or intercultural conflicts in Ukraine because it wasn't divided between 'Russians' and 'Ukrainians'. The eventual split occurred between those who took on Ukrainian national identity and those who didn't. In other words, following the status quo change in 2014, the southern and eastern regions became a conglomerate of territories insufficiently involved in the construction of the Ukrainian nation. While the region questioned its Ukrainian identity, it also couldn't follow the example of Donbass, which proclaimed the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) - a unique model that couldn't be applied to the rest of the south and east.
Following the start of Moscow's military operation, dissociation from Russian culture and language became inevitable. At the same time, the national identity of Russian-speaking Ukrainians has also undergone major changes. What used to be a compromise that encouraged a multiethnic and multicultural model of national development became a transitional model towards acquiring a totally Ukrainian identity - both language- and culture-wise.
A few years ago, residents of Ukraine's south and east spoke Russian while recognizing themselves as Ukrainians. Now, the Russian language and its cultural and historical symbols are undergoing irreversible changes and becoming a marker of political affiliation - namely, of being pro-Russian.
Conscious of this, the authorities are striving to gain control over historical heritage and memory policies and expect to win this battle for public opinion. The current southern and eastern regions are turning into a testing ground for experimental nation-building. Their political self-determination fully depends on the historical memory and language policies. Meanwhile, nationalism offers all the necessary tools for constructing a cohesive socio-political community. That is why such a striking 'de-Russification' initiative as the demolition of the monument to Catherine the Great in Odessa will not be the last.
For many years, the main political and cultural debate in Ukrainian society has revolved around the question of preserving or eradicating its Russian and Soviet cultural heritage. In the present situation of armed conflict, supporters of the latter skillfully use public outrage to achieve their aims. Should the process continue (and there's little reason to think it won't), in a few years Ukraine will turn into a significantly more homogeneous and far less culturally diverse country - one that has willingly renounced a major part of its heritage.
About the Author:
Alexander Nepogodin is an Odessa-born political journalist, an expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union.
More bad news: the newly created U.S. coordination center in Stuttgart for Ukraine operations as a landmark on the way to WWIII
Earlier today I received an email from my good friend Professor of Law at the University of Illinois Francis A. Boyle regarding the creation in Stuttgart of a new U.S. coordination center for war operations in Ukraine headed by a 3-star general. The news item seems to have been sidelined this past week by Western mainstream coverage of the Russian withdrawal from Kherson and entry of Ukrainian forces into that city. However, judging by Boyle’s interpretation, there is every reason to put a spotlight on this issue and to seek the broadest possible discussion in Alternative News electronic and print media.
I offer the following quote from Boyle’s email with his permission:
The story below is a pure cover story by the Pentagon. You do not need a 3 Star General and a Staff of 300 to keep tabs on U.S. Weapons in Ukraine. This is a War Command to wage war against Russia. The last time I dealt personally with a 3 Star General was when I lectured at West Point on “Nuclear Deterrence” in their Senior Conference on that subject in front of, among others, the 3 Star General in Charge of War Operations at the Pentagon. The Pentagon puts a 3 Stars General in Charge of War Operations—not Inventory. And you do not need a Headquarters Staff of 300 to do an Audit. It’s a War Headquarters Staff. We are going to war against Russia unless the American People can figure out some way to stop it!
Francis A. Boyle
Professor of Law
STUTTGART, Germany — A three-star general will lead a new Army headquarters in Germany that will include about 300 U.S. service members responsible for coordinating security assistance for Ukraine, a senior U.S. military official said this week.
I refer those unfamiliar with Francis Boyle to his brief biography in the University of Illinois website:
https://law.illinois.edu/faculty-research/faculty-profiles/francis-boyle/ To that I can add, that his ‘political science’ studies for the Masters and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard were primarily in Russian/Soviet affairs, and that in his time at Harvard he worked under many of the same professors as did I. In this sense, Boyle is a well qualified Russia expert, even if his primary listing at Illinois is as defender of human rights. He is also particularly noteworthy this year for his efforts to promote among several key Congressmen the articles of impeachment against President Biden that he has drafted; the charges – waging undeclared war on Russia in violation of the Constitution. So far that has gained little traction, but when the new Congress with Republican majority takes its seats in 2023 the prospects of finding sponsors may be significantly improved.
Notwithstanding the worrisome or alarming news above, I close this essay with a glimmer of hope that the world has not yet gone completely mad. From my volunteer translator in Germany, I have learned about the start of what should be a nationwide “Ami Go Home” movement in the Federal Republic. It will begin with mass demonstrations in the East German city of Leipzig on 26 November. The protests are inspired by the thinking of Oskar Lafonteine, a German politician who held leading positions in the SPD and later in Die Linke: namely the notion that it is high time for the United States occupation forces to leave Germany so that the country may recover its sovereignty. Those new to German politics may more easily identify Lafonteine as the husband of the eloquent Opposition member of the Bundestag Sahra Wagenknecht. It behooves me to add that per the advice of my translator when he forwarded to me news about the ‘Ami Go Home’ demonstration that the actual organizers are not on the German Left but, on the contrary, on the Hard Right. This interpretation has been reconfirmed by a well informed reader living in Berlin. Call this yet another ‘impersonation’ or imposter phenomenon if you will. We are living through interesting times.
Recently, I argued that Russia was provoked into beginning the ‘special military operation’ (SMO) by a series of events stretching from initial NATO claims of its goal to expand to Ukraine, NATO-Ukrainian cooperation, the Western-cultivated and ex post facto fully supported Maidan revolt (despite the neofascist Ukrainian element’s false flag snipers terrorist attack) to which Putin responded by annexing Crimea, Western support for Kiev’s attack on Donbass (including civilians), deeper Western and NATO involvement in Ukraine, Kiev’s failure to implement its obligations under the Minsk Donbass peace accords, and much else [see Gordon M. Hahn, Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West and the ‘New Cold War’ (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland Books, 2018); https://gordonhahn.com/2022/02/24/coercive-diplomacy-phase-2-war-and-iron-curtain-descended/; https://gordonhahn.com/2016/01/21/report-the-russian-american-reset-nato-expansion-and-the-making-of-the-ukrainian-crisis/; https://gordonhahn.com/2016/03/09/the-real-snipers-massacre-ukraine-february-2014-updatedrevised-working-paper/; and https://www.academia.edu/37784742/Shooting_of_Maidan_Protesters_from_Maidan_Controlled_Locations_Video_Appendix_C_2018_?email_work_card=title%5D. As far as I am concerned, the ‘West/NATO expansion provoked the Ukrainian crisis and war’ is an incontrovertible fact.
More recently, I also argued, Putin decided to call off coercive diplomacy begun in spring 2021 and escalated in autumn through January 2021 by massing tropps at the Ukrainian border, when the West rejected Moscow’s appeals to end NATO expansion and sign a draft treaty on security agreements for Kiev and a European security architecture (https://gordonhahn.com/2022/01/31/putins-coercive-diplomacy/). The West’s rejection was accompanied by a major escalation in the Ukrainian military attacks along the Donbass line of contact and a threat by Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy to abandon the Budapest Memorandum, implying an attempt to acquire nuclear weapons (https://gordonhahn.com/2022/02/24/coercive-diplomacy-phase-2-war-and-iron-curtain-descended/). Zelensky said at the annual meeting of the Munich Security Conference on February 19, 2022: “I, as president, will do it for the first time. But Ukraine and I are doing it for the last time. I am launching consultations within the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has been asked to convene them. If they do not happen again or if their results do not guarantee the security of our country, Ukraine will have the right to think that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and that all the comprehensive decisions of 1994 are being questioned” (“Speech by Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the 58th Munich Security Conference”, by Volodymyr Zelensky, Voltaire Network, 19 February 2022). The Munich conference is attended by all the leaders of the NATO alliance and other parties interested in European security issues, and yet not one Western leader questioned the appropriateness of what would be a violation not just of the Budapest Memorandum but of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That these immediate provocations were a direct cause of Putin’s decision to begin the SMO is not possible to prove, but the thesis is highly plausible if not likely a fact. Putin responded to Zelenskiy’s nuclear demache, saying that the only thing Ukraine needs is a uranium enrichment system, but this technical issue “is not an insoluble problem” for Ukraine, especially given the support Kiev enjoys from some nuclear powers (www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/putin-says-minsk-agreement-on-ukraine-exists-no-more/2510573). Incidentally, this is not only pertinent to Putin’s February decision but also provides some context for the struggle surrounding the Zaporozhe Nuclear Power Plant.
Now new evidence suggests that perhaps, perhaps, the West and Kiev intentionally or not engaged in additional provocations that prompted Putin’s SMO on 24 February 2022. For example, former President Petro Poroshenko has suggested that Kiev never intended to follow through on the Minsk accords and sought only to buy time for Ukraine to strengthen its military through training and weapons supplied by the West for an offensive to take back Donbass and Crimea. In a June interview to Radio Free Europe’s Ukrainian language service and the German Deutsche Welle, former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the Minsk accords were intended to “delay the war” and “create powerful armed forces”: “Our goal was to, first, stop the threat, or at least to delay the war – to secure eight years to restore economic growth and create powerful armed forces” (www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/272589263/minsk-deal-was-used-to-buy-time-ukraines-poroshenko). Then in an August 2022 interview advisor to Zelenskiy and his Office of the President of Ukraine, Aleksei Arestovich revealed that in December 2021 the Ukrainian armed forces deployed additional troops to the Donbass contact line under the cover of a training exercise “despite the damage (the deployment) did to the economy” (https://t.me/UkraineHumanRightsAbuses/8504). Perhaps this is what led Zelenskiy to tell the Ukrainian tntelligence services a month before Putin’s SMO began the following: “”We have learned to deter and counter external aggression quite effectively. I am convinced that the time has come to move to offensive actions to defend our national interests” (www.president.gov.ua/en/news/zovnishnya-rozvidka-vidigraye-vazhlivu-rol-u-protidiyi-zagro-72517). Then throw into the mix the aforementioned exponential increase in firing across the contact line undertaken by Ukrainian forces first and Zelenskiy’s threat to pursue nuclear capability.
I am saying ‘provoked Putin intentionally or not’ because we do not know what Moscow knew about these new deployments. Moscow did claim that Ukraine was preparing an attack on Donbass, especially after the SMO began, even claiming that it discovered documents proving Kiev was planning an attack. But it remains unclear whether these Russian claims pertain to the newly revealed secret depoloyment. Certainly, Moscow would had Donbass and Ukraine crawling with intelligence operatives and well-covered with electronic and satellite data collection and would likely have observed the ‘secret’ deployment. Then the issue might be whether Kiev and/or the West wanted Moscow to uncover the deployment, so as to provoke Putin into attacking. Or perhaps they did not want this, but Russian intelligence nevertheless did discover it, which along with other immediate challenges noted above prompted Putin’s decision to begin the SMO.
If the provocation theory is correct than it would also be correct that the West wanted Putin to invade, and if that is so then it would be logical that the West would want the war to continue. We now know that the West directly intervened with Zelenskiy to prevent Russia and Ukraine from finalizing a tentative agreement that would have ended the war in April. A recent article in the establishment flafship foreign policy journal Foreign Affairs written by two rusologists with deep ties to the ruling Democrat Party-state revealed this: “According to multiple former senior U.S. officials we spoke with, in April 2022, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement: Russia would withdraw to its position on February 23, when it controlled part of the Donbas region and all of Crimea, and in exchange, Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries” (https://archive.ph/kxfbG and https://raheemkassam.substack.com/p/russia-and-ukraine-came-to-peace?fbclid=IwAR0n03z7v-tJOjIOFC4_eXZCjvzyJbwzcgjycFbFigo9a9LV_FOA439_o74). This is one piece of evidence that the West wants the war to continue. NATO expansion and weakening Russia trump international security and Ukrainians’ well-being. The West’s massive supply of weapons, intelligence, military expertise, training, strategic planning, and financial support and Washington’s and Brussels’s lack of any effort in the diplomatic sphere to encourage negotiations further demonstrate that the West wants the war to continue.
At the same time, there is reason to believe that Zelenskiy himself may have been manipulated by the West, there is a new video circulating that shows French President Emmanuel Macron in discussion over the phone with Zelenskiy as the Russian invasion began on February 24th. Zelenskiy can be heard pleading with Macron to organize US President Joe Bden and European leaders to make a phone call to Putin and urge him to stop the military action, claiming that if this is done, then Putin “will stop” (https://t.me/stranaua/62507). On the other hand, Zelenskiy’s suspicions regarding Biden’s and other US officials’ claims of an imminent invasion and reports that Russia engaged in a massive bribery and recruiting campaign among Ukrainians before the war, which would have almost certainly led to some reporting the effort to the authorities and tipping off the possibility of a Russian invasion suggest that the Ukrainian leadership should have been well aware of the likelihood of an attack. Yet Zelenskiy showed no desire to negotiate with Putin on the key issues Moscow sought to have addressed: NATO expansion, direct talks between Kiev and the Donbass, the incomplete Minsk peace process, and so on.
In sum, there is some reason to believe that the escalation of the Donbass war ordered by Putin in February has a more interesting pre-history and causal chain than might be assumed even those who understand that Putin did not wake up one morning and decide to seize Ukraine in some master plan to ‘reestablish the Soviet Union’ and other such delusions. At any rate, the new war’s start needs more investigation and its origins are likely only to be revealed many years from now.
About the Author
Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, http://www.canalyt.com and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, www.cetisresearch.org. Websites: Russian and Eurasian Politics, gordonhahn.com and gordonhahn.academia.edu
Dr. Hahn is the author of the new book: Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Thought, Culture, History, and Politics (Europe Books, 2022). He has authored five previous, well-received books: The Russian Dilemma: Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (McFarland, 2021); Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018); The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media.
Dr. Hahn taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and was a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, and the Hoover Institution.
Last week on October 19 the US Navy announced that “General Michael ‘Erik’ Kurilla [lead image, lower right] , commander of CENTCOM, conducted a visit aboard the USS West Virginia [top], a U.S. Navy Ohio-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine at an undisclosed location at sea in international waters in the Arabian Sea. Kurilla was joined on the USS West Virginia by Vice Admiral Brad Cooper [lower left], commander of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and NAVCENT.”
The Fifth Fleet and the Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) are headquartered at Bahrain on the Persian Gulf. From Bahrain down the Gulf to the Masirah Island airbase, off Oman, is a flight distance of 1,047 kilometres. From Masirah to the West Virginia and its escort was within helicopter flight range.
Two days later, the Pentagon reported that “on October 21, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke by phone with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu. Secretary Austin emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing war against Ukraine.” They spoke again on October 23, according to Austin’s spokesman, because Shoigu had “requested a follow up call.”
Less than 24 hours elapsed before Austin telephoned his Kiev counterpart, Alexei Reznikov, to “reiterate[d] that the United States rejects the public and false allegations by Russia about Ukraine and any attempt to use them as a pretext for further Russian escalation of its unlawful and unjustified war against Ukraine.”
The same day, in the Moscow evening, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a communiqué confirming that “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley spoke with Chief of Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov today by phone. The military leaders discussed several security-related issues of concern and agreed to keep the lines of communication open. In accordance with past practice, the specific details of their conversation will be kept private.” RIA, the Russian state news agency, reported that in their conversation the generals “discussed the possibility raised by Moscow that Ukraine might use a ‘dirty bomb’.”
“The call took place shortly after a similar conversation between Gerasimov and his British counterpart.”
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the British chief of staff, announced that Gerasimov had requested their conversation. According to Radakin, he had “rejected Russia’s allegations that Ukraine is planning actions to escalate the conflict, and he restated the UK’s enduring support for Ukraine. The military leaders both agreed on the importance of maintaining open channels of communication between the UK and Russia to manage the risk of miscalculation and to facilitate de-escalation. The conversation followed the Defence Secretary’s call with his Russian counterpart yesterday and a call between the Foreign Ministers of France, the UK, and the USA last night.”
That preceding call of foreign ministers, involving Secretary of State Antony Blinken for the US, produced a joint statement of “committ[ment] to continue supporting Ukraine’s efforts to defend its territory for as long as it takes. Earlier today, the defense ministers of each of our countries spoke to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu at his request. Our countries made clear that we all reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory. The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation. We further reject any pretext for escalation by Russia.”
Blinken then telephoned his Kiev counterpart, Dmitry Kuleba, to repeat both parts of the message – that the Ukraine should not escalate to using a nuclear weapon, and that Russia should do likewise.
In case there was hardness of hearing or weakness of command and control in Kiev, or ambiguity between what Reznikov and Kuleba thought they were hearing from Washington and London, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had met Austin at the Pentagon on October 18. They then telephoned to talk again on Sunday, when they “reaffirm[ed] the U.S.-UK defense relationship and the importance of transatlantic cooperation. Their conversation today was a continuation of their discussion at the Pentagon last week, which covered a wide range of shared defense and security priorities, including Ukraine.”
Austin telephoned Kiev again yesterday to repeat to Reznikov that he should make sure the allegation of a Ukrainian nuclear weapon escalation was “false”; and that the allies had given Moscow this assurance in exchange for Moscow’s undertaking against “further escalation” – read Russian nuclear response.
At the same time yesterday, Vzglyad, the Moscow security publication, published its assessment of the escalating nuclear threat to Russia from the US, as the Kremlin, Defence Ministry, General Staff and the Stavka see it now. A translation into English follows.
Left to right: General Valery Gerasimov; General Mark Milley; Admiral Sir Tony Radakin; General Lloyd Austin.
The US has shown its readiness to launch a nuclear strike on Russia.
October 24, 2022
Text: Alexander Timokhin
Does the United States have the ability to instantly, within a few minutes, launch a disarming and unreciprocated nuclear strike on Russia? For decades, it was assumed that no, any US attack would cause an immediate similar response from the Russian armed forces. But now there is reason to believe that Washington has come to a different conclusion – and brazenly demonstrates it.
On Thursday, October 20, an exceptional event took place in the Arabian Sea. It was publicly announced that Michael Kurilla, commander of the US Central Command, paid a visit to the Ohio-class West Virginia SSBN (submarine with ballistic nuclear missiles), which specially surfaced in the Arabian Sea. This submarine, like all its ‘sister ships’, is armed with 24 Trident II ballistic missiles, each of which can carry 10 warheads at a maximum, which in total gives the vessel an ammunition supply of 240 strategic nuclear warheads.
But the fact is that the purpose of such vessels is always to be secretive and never to reveal the location of their patrol. The fact that now the location of this SSB [ballistic missile submarine] is expressly highlighted, it is impossible to understand otherwise than a special signal. It is difficult to remember when earlier in this way any American military commander so clearly and openly visited a boat at sea on combat duty. All this is directly related to the nuclear deterrence system that exists between Russia and the United States.
Nuclear deterrence and nuclear attack
Nuclear war, the preparation for it and its conduct, is not as simple as the average person thinks. Let’s briefly list the key concepts.
When two sides – in this case, Russia and the United States – both have nuclear weapons, and the means of their delivery to enemy territory, a missile attack warning system, and the technical capability to launch ballistic missiles after this system detects the launch of enemy missiles, then a simple missile attack becomes suicide for the attacker. If the United States or Russia launches their ballistic missiles at the enemy, the enemy will be able to launch their missiles before the attacking side’s missiles reach their target.
Such a strike, when a counterattack is carried out before the enemy’s missiles have reached target, is called a ‘counter-counter’ [ответно-встречным]. It is applied with the help of intercontinental ballistic missiles based in deep underground silos and ready to launch immediately.
The problem is that the interval from launch command to the counter-strike takes time. And besides, it is necessary that someone from among the leaders who have the authority to order such a strike would be physically able to do it — that is, would be alive, conscious, and so on.
This vulnerability can be exploited by delivering a so–called обезглавливающий удар (for Americans, the term is decapitation strike). A strike aimed at destroying the leadership. There are various ways to prevent or to balance the consequences of such a strike — we will not list them, nor the methods of their application (not only by missile strike).
In addition to the decapitating blow, there is such a thing as a disarming blow (удар обезоруживающий — counterforce strike). Its goal is to attack the nuclear arsenal of the victim country in such a way that the enemy, even with a workable leadership, simply does not have time to launch its missiles in response. To do this, the time for which the blow is struck should be less than the enemy needs to make a decision and pass the order to the launchers.
Therefore, in addition to providing a retaliatory nuclear strike, the country’s nuclear forces have been invested with the means of ensuring the guaranteed possibility of a retaliatory strike. Which will be produced even if the enemy struck first, and all his missiles hit their targets before at least something was launched in response. The most common way to ensure a retaliatory strike is strategic submarines. As a result, the enemy’s attack in any case causes a counter-counter or retaliatory strike. Nuclear war turns out to be a dead end; it cannot be won; and even the initiator who has attacked successfully also dies.
This principle is called “mutually assured destruction”. It was this, and not anything else, that guaranteed the absence of major wars on our planet since 1945.
However, today the situation is somewhat different. The number of nuclear warheads has become such that the exchange of nuclear strikes cannot lead to the guaranteed death of all living things. The number of carriers of nuclear weapons has fallen to such numbers that even after a massive, all-out strike, wildlife, untouched cities and towns, and people will remain in the Northern Hemisphere. A nuclear war without the death of all participants has become possible.
The second problem is the combat stability of the Russian nuclear forces in their current configuration. Russia was able to revive the Missile Attack Warning System (SPRN). The missiles that are supposed to retaliate and counter-strike are regularly updated.
But now our fleet has fewer ships than Japan. There is no possibility to intercept or block all dangerous waters with the operations of Russia’s anti-submarine forces. And this means that, as in the case of the Arabian Sea, the Americans and the British who can hold the area, will be free to manoeuvre there in order to strike from locations where the missiles can reach us too quickly. For example, in the Northern, Norwegian, Barents, Mediterranean and Arabian Seas.
Russian strategic submarines are few in number today compared to the Soviet times. Together with the qualitative superiority of the US Navy, this creates an environment where the Americans can destroy our submarines immediately before the attack begins. This, alas, is a fact known to specialists. At the same time, 44% of all strategic nuclear warheads in Russia are placed on submarines. And almost all of them are in two (!) fleet bases vulnerable to the first strike. The Russian strategic aviation has never learned to fight like the American one, and it is not a means of guaranteed retaliation.
The combination of these factors creates a technical opportunity for the United States to launch a successful disarming nuclear strike against Russia without receiving a significant blow in response. At the same time, the intensity of anti-Russian propaganda is such that the western man in the street will not have to justify anything — from that perspective everything is already prepared. And right now there is the hint of the possibility of such a strike when the West Virginia surfaced in the Arabian Sea.
Chinese factor, flight time and impact mechanics
Some experts believe that the American SSB was carrying out tasks to put pressure on China during the CPC [Chinese Communist Party] Congress. On the one hand, it is indeed easy to attack China from the Arabian Sea ‘from the rear’ – the approach of missiles to its populated areas will be from its deserts in the west of the country.
But there is no logic in such pressure. The Americans don’t know exactly where the Chinese have missiles. In addition, China does not have its own full-fledged SPRN [missile attack warning system]. The Americans can organize a sudden strike on this country with Pacific submarines from other directions. They simply do not need to threaten China from the Indian Ocean, and without this, they have a full array of threats.
In contrast to China, the coordinates of Russian underground launchers and the corridors along which mobile installations moved until recently are known to the Americans extremely accurately. We gave them all the information ourselves during mutual inspections of each other’s missile positions. Thus, the strategic missile submarine in the Arabian Sea is a hint not to China, but to Russia. At the very least we should not rule it out.
In order for the strike on our country to be successful, it must be delivered faster than we will have an alarm, an assessment of the situation for the command to launch. To do this, the distance from which the strike is carried out must be about 3,000 kilometres, otherwise the flight time of the missiles will be too long. So now let’s look at the map.
When the SSB is deployed in the northern part of the Arabian Sea, it just happens to be at about such a distance from the installations of the 31st Missile Army of the RVSN [Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, HQ Orenburg] and some parts of the 33rd Guards Army of the RVSN [Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, HQ Omsk], which allows the submarine to deliver the same disarming blow in the minimum flight time.
It is clear that such a task cannot be solved by one submarine. And it is clear that such a task cannot be solved solely from the Arabian Sea. But no one is talking about ‘one’ and ‘only’. The deployment of SSBMS in this sea area is not a preparation for a strike against Russia. But this is a demonstration that technically the United States can strike such a blow if it sees fit. And they’re not bluffing.
There is one technical aspect that is little-known to the layman. A ballistic missile can fly not only along the normal trajectory for itself, when the payload is lifted into the upper point of the trajectory and drops down from there. In addition to ballistic trajectories, missiles can also fly along the so-called flat (depressed in English terminology). The meaning of the flat trajectory is that the rocket goes very low, not even rising to 300 kilometres. With such a trajectory, ranges and accuracy suffer greatly, the dispersion of combat warheads increases, but this turns out to give a serious gain in flight speed to the target and a very small flight time.
If during a strike from the Arabian Sea, for example on the 13th missile division [13th Orenburg Red Banner Rocket Division] in the Orenburg region, employing a conventional trajectory, the flight time of the missiles is comparable to the time required for making a decision and passing the command for a counter-strike. However, when striking from there by a flat trajectory, the picture changes dramatically, and not in our favour.
At the same time, there are ways to compensate for the dispersion of interceptors. Firstly, these are the new fuses in the W76-2 combat warheads, which allow for time-synchronized detonation of the warheads, preventing them from flying past the target. Secondly, there is the mutual overlap of the affected areas when working on a target from several submarines. Thirdly, the US has made progress in hypersonic gliding attack warheads.
A clear sign of the ambition of the United States to deliver such disarming strikes sometime in the future would be evidence that they are firing missiles along flat trajectories, and there is such evidence. Since 2015, three videos of such tests have been filmed by random eyewitnesses – and have become publicly available.
The Americans are clearly working on launching missile strikes using such schemes. And now they are showing us their readiness to bring a strategic submarine to the point of a salvo ‘at point-blank range’. Across Russia.
Of course, it’s easier said than done. One still needs to deploy a sufficient number of submarines to strike. It is necessary not to frighten the enemy and not to cause an emergency exit to the sea of all its strategic missile carriers, not to cause the dispersal of strategic bombers, tankers and cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. What is necessary is that that the mobile ground-based missile systems do not have time to ‘run away’ too far for the inconspicuous B-2 and B–21 bombers, which will go in the second wave to mop up those remnants of the strategic missile forces that would have survived the missile strike – unless the [US] launch team still did not pass through the [Russian] system known as Perimeter [western name, Dead Hand] or otherwise.
It’s all very complicated, and the risks of loss of surprise are very high. But their chances of success are not zero. With the visit of West Virginia to our ‘soft underbelly’, the Americans clearly show how far they are willing to go if they deem it necessary. The Americans are sending an extremely clear signal – for them, nuclear war is no longer unthinkable, and not impossible.
Some readers have commented in direct emails to me that they have taken comfort from my writings insofar as I have been a moderate voice, avoiding alarmism over the often troublesome daily news in and around the Russian war with Ukraine, or more properly speaking today, Russia’s proxy war with NATO in and about Ukraine.
For this very reason, I hesitated whether to share with readers the deep pessimism that overcame me a couple of days ago over our chances of avoiding nuclear Armageddon. This followed my watching the latest Solovyov political talk show on Russian state television. I have used this show regularly as a litmus test of the mood of Russian social and political elites: that mood has turned black.
Whereas in the past, going back six months or more, I had reported on the open contempt which leading and highly responsible Russian academics from university circles and think tanks were showing for the American political leadership in their statements on the political talk shows, this contempt has moved into an actionable phase, by which I mean that serious, God-fearing Russians are so furious with the rubbish propaganda coming out of Washington, repeated with bullhorns in Europe that if given the chance they would personally “press the button” and unleash nuclear attacks on the United States and Britain, in that order notwithstanding the possibility, even probability of a return strike, which, however enfeebled, would be devastating to their own country. That is to say, deterrence as a policy is fast losing its psychological impact on the Russian side of the argument.
Whatever the words of the Biden Administration about nuclear war being ‘off the table,’ America’s aggressive and threatening behavior, including the ongoing ‘training in nuclear weapons’ currently going on in Europe under U.S. direction, has made rational and very serious Russians ready to give it a try.
One of the most sober-minded international affairs experts to appear on the Solovyov show, Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Institute of the Near East think tank, contained his rage with some difficulty, saying only that while he had once held some sympathy for the United States, he would see its utter destruction now with little regret; he left no mention where his feet are pointed when he added that he could say no more on air for fear that he will be censored and his words removed from the video.
For these reasons, I have given to this essay addressed to the Collective West, and in particular to the fomenters of world disorder in Washington and London, a title that fits the current situation.
As we have seen from even before the launch of the ‘special military operation,’ Russian talk programs identify by name individuals in the Biden team whose outstanding stupidity, obtuseness and rank ignorance they find unbearable, with the likes of Antony Blinken, Jake Sullivan and Lloyd Austin among those coming in for special mention. We are left with the impression that when Biden calls in his advisers to the Oval Office, he, senile dimwit that he is, is the bright light in the room. The Russians conclude from this that they have no one to negotiate with.
Now the naming of idiots in high places carries over to all discussion of European Union and British leaders. The denunciation of incompetence, rank stupidity and, yes, neo-colonialist or fascist mindsets among European leaders was well reflected in the latest Solovyov show. The most discussed whipping boy was the EU’s commissioner on external action, Josep Borrell, who seems to be speaking to the world daily and acknowledges no limits on what he may proclaim, as if it were official EU policy in defense as well as diplomacy.
The Solovyov show put up on screen a brief video recording of Borrell expounding smugly on Europe’s privileged position as ‘a garden of liberal democracy, good economic prospects and social solidarity’ which is surrounded by ‘the jungle.’ That jungle reference fits in well, Solovyov remarked, with the colonialist mindset of Rudyard Kipling and is deeply offensive to the Rest of the World, of which Russia is a part. More to the point, Borrell was also notorious in Russia this past week for his statement that any use by Russia of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be met by a massive non-nuclear attack from Europe which would ‘annihilate’ the Russian army. However, Borrell was not alone in the stocks: other European leaders who were decried for their stupid policies this past week included German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emanuel Macron.
So you have no bomb shelter? Then, as the Russians said decades ago, it is high time to throw a bed sheet over your shoulders and slowly walk to the nearest cemetery.
One of the two latest fake news stories being disseminated simultaneously and ubiquitously in Western major media this past week is that Russia is considering using against Ukraine ‘tactical nuclear weapons,’ meaning warheads with a destructive force equivalent to the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombs mounted on cruise or medium range ballistic missiles. Our print and electronic media speculate on the numbers of warheads Russia currently possesses (2,000 or more), as if that would make any difference in an assault on Ukraine.
Rubbish say the Russians on Solovyov’s show: we have no need of nuclear arms to finish off the Ukrainians. The only nuclear forces we would deploy in the current situation are strategic arms, and they are directed against….Washington with the help of the Sarmat and Poseidon delivery systems.
The other major fake news disseminated massively by Western media in recent days was the allegation that the Russians are seeking to freeze the Ukrainians to death by their strikes against power generation infrastructure. Images of Stalingrad were evoked by our broadcasters. A similar freeze is said to be inflicted on Western Europe by the cut-off of Russian energy supplies to the EU.
More rubbish say the panelists on the Solovyov program. The attack on the electricity grid in Ukraine is not directed against civilians per se; it is intended to halt rail deliveries of advanced weapons systems and munitions coming into Ukraine at the Polish border and being moved by train to the fronts in the east and south of the country. Without these inputs, the Ukrainian army will be kaput and the war can come to an early conclusion with the capitulation of Kiev. As regards the EU, whatever chill out may be coming this winter is due solely to the unprofessional and ignorant decisions of the Commission on imports of Russian hydrocarbons that have been blindly followed by the Member States without due consideration of consequences for their own populations.
The Collective West speaks of ‘sham’ referendums in the four Ukrainian oblasts that have now been reintegrated into (or annexed by, depending on your politics) the Russian Federation. In this spirit, in the middle of the past week the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a U.S. sponsored resolution refusing to recognize the legality of this annexation. Among those who voted against Russia were such prominent ‘friendly states’ as Serbia and Hungary. One hundred forty states voted with the United States; four states, including the pariah regimes in Venezuela and North Korea, joined Russia in voting ‘nyet,’ and thirty-five states abstained.
The United States trumpeted this victory at the UN over the mischievous and rules-breaking Russians. EU chief of diplomacy Borrell was also gloating, though he expressed regret that 20% of the member states had not voted for the resolution.
The Russians, for their part, insist that this vote was a sham, given the carrots and sticks that U.S. and European diplomats used to get the results desired. Blackmail of all kinds was applied, say the Russians. Morever, the number of states in each tally tells only part of the story: among the 35 abstaining countries were India and China, which between them alone account for 35% of humanity.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, on the next day the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg adopted a resolution condemning Russia for its alleged aggression against Ukraine with a bill of particulars several pages long and including a call for the 46 member states to declare Russia a ‘terrorist state’ as Zelensky had requested of them. The vote as published was said to be 99 for the resolution, 1 opposed. No mention was made in the announcement of vote results that the actual number of deputies in PACE is 306. The point was not missed by the Solovyov panel, who here too cried ‘foul.’
Putting aside these two votes that garnered so much attention in the propagandistic Western media, there were other international developments bearing on the relative standing of Russia in the global community which Western media chose to ignore, but Russia media, featured prominently.
I think in particular of the three days of summitry in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The first of these gatherings brought together 27 heads of state from across Asia, running from Israel and Palestine, Qatar and the Emirates in the west to Korea in the east. Let us remember that a goodly number of the participants were from countries that voted against Russia in the UN General Assembly. Their presence in Astana gave the lie to the notion that they were expelling Russia from polite society.
The key personality at the meeting of 27 was clearly Vladimir Putin. Film footage on Russian television showed him in animated conversation with these leaders in group and bilateral formats. Of these the most significant was likely the face-to-face with Turkish president Erdogan, during which the two discussed immediate steps to implement the Russian proposal that a new pipeline be added to Turk Stream so as to greatly increase possibilities for delivering gas to Europe by this southern route through the Balkans. In this concept, Turkey will become a major gas hub, which represents fulfillment of a long-held dream by the Turkish leader.
In its capacity as hub, Turkey would be able to mix Russian gas with flows from Azerbaijan and possibly later from Turkmenistan, so that the product sold as a Turkish export would be bullet proof against American or European sanctions. The additional line could probably be laid down within a year, that is to say, more quickly than the problematic repairs to the damaged Nord Stream 1 pipelines.
The next day in Astana, another summit was held between leaders of the Community of Independent States. This reduced circle of members was also of great importance insofar as it confirms Russia’s standing as facilitator of diplomatic solutions between member states experiencing armed conflict with one another, the Azeris and Armenians being first in line. And the final summit, among the leaders of Central Asian republics with Russia had yet another important agenda: agreeing security measures to defend against spillover into their region of the developing civil war in Afghanistan, where the U.S. and Britain are aiding extremist groups seeking to overthrow Taliban rule. From the body language of leaders, it would seem that Putin’s ear was much in demand. Relations with Kazakhstan leader Tokaev appeared to be solid once again after a trying period of several months earlier in the year.
In considering the meaning of these gatherings, I think that a remark made several days ago on another Solovyov show and with regard to the decision of the Saudis and Gulf States to snub the insistent demands of Biden that oil production be raised: the decision to make common cause with Russia came not out of pity for the weak but out of Realism, namely the assessment that Russia will win the military contest with NATO/Ukraine. These rulers in Opec, like the rulers who came to Astana this past week, back winners not prospective losers.
If I may draw any positive conclusions from the otherwise bleak analysis in the foregoing, they are that Russia is successfully resisting massive U.S. and E.U. pressures, and that the world is realigning before our eyes in a more multi-polar and democratic direction. And yet, the fears of miscalculations on one side or another in this tense and unparalleled contest mean Armageddon constantly threatens in the background.
Dear readers, to my great regret, I am once again duty bound to walk the streets bearing the sign ‘The End of the World is Nigh’.
I watched the news digest program Sixty Minutes yesterday on Russian state television’s smotrim.ru platform. Before turning the microphone over to the panelists in talk show format, the first 30 minutes of the show presented a hair-raising video montage of excerpts from US, German, European, British news reporting about dirty bomb accusations, about the current exercises of the aircraft carrier George Bush Sr. in the Eastern Med and its loud message to Mr Putin about nuclear attack capabilities, about the 2400 American ground assault troops just delivered to Romania and placed at the border with Moldova, ready to move in there and, one may safely assume, to continue up into Ukraine to face off with Russians around Odessa – Nikolaev at a moment’s notice. Well, the impression of this pending escalation was overwhelmingly that we are on the cusp of the war to end all wars. The US is game for it, whatever Biden mutters to the contrary reading from his teleprompter. The Russians are game for it. And so here we go!
On a less dramatic note but one from the same musical composition, I have just felt obliged to add a Postscript to my last essay on Rushi Sunak, noting that I was wrong about the kind of marching orders he has from the City of London: while he replaced most of the Truss cabinet ministers, he has retained Ben Wallace at Defense. Note that Wallace is calling for large increases in defense spending to support Britain’s contribution to the Ukrainian armed forces at the same time that Sunak is about to wield the knife on social services in the name of a balanced budget and austerity in times of inflation. The Sunak premiership will not last a year, assuming we have a year ahead of us before all hell breaks loose. He shares with Macron a background in working for US international bankers and the fact of being the youngest head of government in his respective country in two centuries. He also apparently shares the status of political lightweight, but unlike Macron, his position is very fragile because of British constitutional practices. I say that these developments fall in line with the general musical composition, because they show that the marching orders he had received from those who installed him in power, the City of London, are as ideologically driven as the newspaper they all read daily, the viciously anti-Russian Financial Times. And so I conclude that in the U.K., too, Capital is as removed from the real world as the lightweight and incompetent politicians who rule over us on the Continent.
What I cannot understand is how India, China and other big, serious players on the world stage do not take note that the rising escalation in the Russia-NATO confrontation and the lurch towards nuclear exchange will mean the end of life on the planet, their lives as well as ours. Why are they all silent? And where is the United Nations before the looming Armageddon? When General Assembly votes are dictated by one global hegemon and its lackeys, the U.N.’s relevance to keeping the peace is vitiated.
The avoidable tragedy of WWI is something that is foremost in my thoughts every time I stay in my Pushkin apartment outside Petersburg. We live 200 meters away from an entrance to the Catherine Palace park and less than a kilometer from the separate palace which Nicholas II used as a family home. Each time there I wonder to myself how they could have been so foolish as to throw European civilization to the winds, and, as regards the tsarist family, to throw away their own lives. Now I see similar foolishness daily watching the news, whether it is Russian news or Western mainstream broadcasters. I see the growing likelihood of our collective suicide in the weeks if not months before us.
Among patriotic Russians, there has long been a lot of criticism about the way the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine has been waged. People say that Putin has been too soft on the Ukrainians, that he should have destroyed the energy infrastructure in the first days of March, without waiting seven months and allowing the escalation to reach its present critical point. However, that is to ignore the political dimension of war making. And it is to ignore the reality that public opinion is a major restraint on what its President can or cannot do, irrespective of constitutional provisions and supposed authoritarianism at the top.
The Russian public was not ready to accept an all-out war on Ukraine in February. The personal, familial and historic ties binding the Russian and Ukrainian peoples together were simply too strong. Russians, including those in power, could hold out the hope that once the campaign ended, the sides would kiss and make up. It took all this time, it took the crossing of all Russian red lines in terms of attacks on the Russian homeland by artillery and rockets from across the border with Ukraine, it took the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines and the terrorist attack on the Kerch bridge for the Russian people to be psychologically prepared to murder Ukrainians by the tens of thousands of soldiers on the battlefield as you do in any normal war and to inflict great hardships on the civilian population.
However, the Kremlin cannot be let off so easily for its share of the blame as the world teeters towards nuclear war. I find it incredible that the professional intelligence analyst Vladimir Putin, whom all of our biographers describe only in relation to his KGB career, could have allowed himself to be so misled by his own intelligence advisers about Ukrainian capabilities and intentions before he decided to go in and denazify, demilitarize Ukraine on 24 February. That was a miscalculation of colossal proportions that resulted in serious military setbacks in the opening weeks of the war, which in turn emboldened United States and NATO decision-makers to go for the jugular and finally ‘take out’ Russia. I will say no more.
When Putin in his ideological salvo that preceded the actual war in Ukraine placed the blame for the existence of the Ukraine within its current borders on Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev, he not only opened up the Pandora’s box of borders, but led to the renewed discussion of the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in December 1922. (Putin’s blaming of the three Soviet leaders was as follows: Lenin for ignoring the Russian majority population in the Donbass and thus “giving” the Donbass to Ukraine; Stalin for “giving” the eastern part of Poland after World War II to Ukraine, and Khrushchev who “for whatever reasons” decided in 1954 to transfer the Crimea to the Ukraine.)
There is often very little understanding among many, especially young, people about the ideology behind the creation of the Soviet Union. In an otherwise good article recently published in the “National Interest”, Mark Katz rejects Putin’s critique of Lenin by arguing that “instead of blaming Lenin, Putin should draw lessons from Lenin’s realization that a more accommodative approach toward Ukrainian nationalism would better serve Russia’s long-term interests”.
This point however shows marked lack of understanding by Katz of the forces that led to the creation of the Soviet Union, in addition to imputing Lenin to have been concerned with “Russia’s [sic!] long-term interest” - a statement that only people unfamiliar with Lenin’s ideology and writings could make. But let us go back to the creation of the Soviet Union. The most important person behind the creation of the Union was Stalin, not Lenin. Stalin, as is well known was the People’s Commissar for Nationalities, and was, within the Bolshevik leadership the person in charge of nationality questions, including obviously the creation of a new Union composed of ethnically-based republics. (At the creation there were six republics: RSFSR, Ukraine, Byelorussia, and the Transcaucasian Federation composed of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.) Here is what Stalin said about the creation of the Union:
Finally, there is a third group of facts, which also call for union and which are associated with the structure of the Soviet regime, with the class nature of the Soviet regime. The Soviet regime is so constructed that, being international in its intrinsic nature, it in every way fosters the idea of union among the masses and itself impels them to take the path of union. Whereas capital, private property and exploitation disunite people, split them into mutually hostile camps, examples of which are provided by Great Britain, France and even small multi-national states like Poland and Yugoslavia with their irreconcilable internal national contradictions which corrode the very foundations of these states** whereas, I say, over there, in the West, where capitalist democracy reigns and where the states are based on private property, the very basis of the state fosters national bickering, conflicts and struggle, here, in the world of Soviets, where the regime is based not on capital but on labour, where the regime is based not on private property, but on collective property, where the regime is based not on the exploitation of man by man, but on the struggle against such exploitation, here, on the contrary, the very nature of the regime fosters among the laboring masses a natural striving towards union in a single socialist family. (my emphasis)
Very similar statements are repeated in several publications, speeches and interviews that Stalin gave at that time. The links are here and I would suggest that people read at least some of them. For my purpose here, the key thing to understand is that the ideology behind the creation of the Union was not whether that Union, with the Ukraine defined one way or another, would be more or less stable at Katz implies, but that the Union is simply the reflection of the end of national and class contradictions that come with the socialist revolution. It is thus a “natural” striving of peoples liberated from under the rule of capital, and the most important point it is therefore open for all other parts of the world that, sooner or later, may also become free. The USSR was envisaged not as a finished state, but as an open-ended state that would grow as socialism spreads to the extent of including within it all European, and perhaps even all countries in the world.
To make this union more attractive, the open-endedness was not only in accepting the new countries, but in allowing those that are included to leave. Thus “the character of the union should be voluntary, exclusively voluntary, and every national republic should retain the right to secede from the Union. Thus, the voluntary principle must be made the basis of the Treaty on the Formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”. Here the point is made by Stalin, but Lenin, as is well-known, insisted on that double open-endedness even more.
Consequently, it is not the political stability of what then constituted the USSR that was of paramount importance to its Bolshevik founding fathers but its openness. This is a point on which Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and the entire leadership were in full agreement. The new federated Soviet Union was not the end- formation, but the beginning-formation. The Bolsheviks expected the success of the revolution in Germany, Austria and Hungary any time. Thus they expected that these new Soviet republics (as they indeed called themselves) would ultimately join them in a federated state even if they were defeated for now. It is notable that the USSR has no geographical denomination in its name. When the United States of America were created (in a somewhat similar fashion like the USSR) the founding fathers did include a geographical limit in its name. Not so the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
It is then fully understandable that Mao Zedong proposed in 1949 to Stalin that China join the USSR (Stalin, after some reflection, rejected the idea). It was a “normal” view entertained by many communists world-wide. When the communist revolution won in Yugoslavia, many people there thought that the next step would be the accession to the Soviet Union. I recall my father’s friends in 1960s in their conversations talking of believing in the 1940s that Yugoslavia would immediately apply to become another republic of the USSR.
Perhaps for today’s generations that know very little about the communist ideology and the forces that led to the creation of the USSR, this may be difficult to grasp, but it would help to think by analogy: if instead of the USSR they think of the European Union. The EU is a similar supra-national and ideological creation, and it is at present thought “natural” in many parts of Europe to believe that countries will ultimately “accede” to that Union. It was likewise thought “natural” among the communists that, as individual countries became free, they would “accede” to the Soviet Union.
One can think of at least two other historical precedents when ideological homogeneity was thought sufficient to trump over all other allegiances including national. The first precedent is the Christian empire that was thought indissoluble and one. The emperor in Constantinople was thus shocked when the Pope decided to bestow the crown on Charlemagne and create yet the second Christian emperor. It was thought inconceivable that Christians would have two different empires since they were all just that: Christians. Another example is Islam where too, at the origin, it was believed that all Muslims, anywhere in the world, would be united into a single political union, the khalifate. That too rather quickly evaporated. But as in the case of communism and the Soviet Union, it is important to understand the ideological motives of the founders and not to ascribe to them the goals that seem reasonable to us now, but that they simply did not have at the time.
By John Helmer, Moscow
Two detailed reports appeared in Moscow yesterday describing precisely how the attack on the Crimean Bridge on October 8 was organised and carried out.
The source is the Federal Security Service (FSB), with supporting evidence from the Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Armenia, including at least five eye-witnesses and participants, plus telephone interceptions.
The politics of this evidence, and the timing of its publication now, are plain. The humanitarian grain export agreement, promoted by United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has been manipulated by the Ukrainians and their NATO allies – excluding Turkey – to conceal weapons shipments for military operations against Russia.
Guterres did the same thing in his conduct of the negotiations to evacuate civilians held hostage the bunkers of the Azovstal complex in Mariupol during the siege of April and May. Guterres lied in his direct talks with Russians officials then. He continued lying to them during the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) negotiations on the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in September. His public lying led to the unprecedented condemnation of the Secretary-General by the Russian Foreign Ministry on September 30; Guterres was dismissed as “an instrument of propaganda and pressure on member states”.
In the newly reported interpretation of the FSB’s evidence, the shipping links have been exposed between Odessa and the Danube River ports of Romania and Bulgaria, opening for public discussion in Moscow the future of Odessa in the operational planning of the Russian General Staff. This is to be decided by the Stavka before President Vladimir Putin leaves for the G20 summit conference in Bali on November 15-16, at which President Joseph Biden and Vladimir Zelensky will also be present.
Also obvious is what is missing from these operational reports from the FSB sources. So far there has been no publication of the evidence already gathered by the FSB and military intelligence on the M.O. for coordinating the movement of the truck with its explosive charge on the bridge and its movement in parallel with the fuel train, so that the detonation would coincide and strike the train, magnifying the impact on both road and rail structures.
Reports by Vzglyad analysts, Rafael Fakhrutdinov and Yevgeny Krutikov, follow; they have been translated into English without interpolation, explanation, or comment. Maps and other captioned illustrations have been added to their running text.
HOW THE BOMB WAS TRANSPORTED BY SEA FROM ODESSA
The terrorist attack on the Crimean Bridge forces Russia to take Odessa
The ‘Grain Deal’ helped Kiev organize a terrorist attack against the Crimean bridge
October 13, 2022
By Rafael Fakhrutdinov
The terrorist attack against the Crimean Bridge revealed a serious flaw for Russia’s security in the ‘grain deal’. That provided that vessels carrying grain would be inspected only in the Turkish Straits. The ship carrying explosives which left Odessa was able to safely enter the Danube River. This violation of the ‘grain deal’ will not solve the problem – after leaving Zmeiny [Snake] Island, Russia lost control over this sector of the Black Sea. What are the options?
The Federal Security Service has revealed the organizer and perpetrators of the terrorist attack on the Crimean Bridge – the responsibility has been assigned to the head of military intelligence of Ukraine Kirill Budanov. The FSB has also found out the route of the explosive device which went off on the bridge on October 8.
The first stage of this movement is of particular interest. In early August, the dangerous cargo with a total weight of more than 22 tonnes, camouflaged under rolls of construction film, was transported from the seaport of Odessa along the Black Sea coast and up the Danube to the Bulgarian river port of Ruse, located inland. ‘We see a gross violation of the grain deal. The fact that a military cargo has left Odessa, directed against the Russian Federation, is an obvious violation of the agreement,’ said Deputy Head of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, Andrei Klimov.
Recall that the inspection of ships is undertaken in order to exclude the transportation of military cargo. But the subtlety is that the inspection is carried out only at the entrance and exit from the Black Sea. The JCC groups that conduct the inspection are working in harbours in the area of the Turkish Straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. But the vessel with the explosives ‘turned off’ much earlier.
As the newspaper VZGLYAD has already noted, the ship, which left Odessa for Ruse, moved on a coastal course along the seashore, and then entered the Danube, where it proceeded through Romanian territory to the Bulgarian port. The Ukraine supports active navigation on the Danube, although this is hampered by the Ukrainian mines installed at the beginning of the Special Military Operation near Odessa and [since February 24] they have been drifting to the Danube delta and out into the Black Sea. The cargo shipment was regulated by the fact that on July 22 in Istanbul, Russia, Turkey and the UN signed a memorandum of cooperation in the supply of Russian and Ukrainian agricultural products to the markets. Ukraine has signed its part of the agreement with Turkey and the UN. The ‘Grain deal’ was concluded for a period of 120 days until November, with the possibility of extension.
Under the terms of this agreement, a Joint Coordination Center (JCC) with the participation of Russia, Turkey and the Ukraine operates in Istanbul to monitor the departure of ships from Ukraine. The main thing to pay attention to is that the JCC is charged with the inspection of ships, in order to exclude the transportation of military cargo.
TURKISH NAVY IDENTIFICATION OF UKRAINIAN MINES IN THE BLACK SEA SINCE FEBRUARY
Source: [https://turkishnavy.net//](https://turkishnavy.net/2022/09/10/mine-scare-in-the-black-sea/) -- September 10, 2022
The main thing is that the vessel sailing from Odessa to Ruse was not subject to verification by Turkish observers as part of the ‘grain deal’. ‘We can’t check such vessels that go along the coast. Especially if the ship was sailing under the Bulgarian flag. Two neighbouring NATO countries, Romania and Bulgaria, are exploiting this,’ said military expert Vasily Dandykin.
According to the Istanbul Agreements, ‘all activities in Ukrainian territorial waters are conducted under the authority and responsibility of Ukraine” (point C of the “Initiatives for the safe transportation of grain and food from Ukrainian ports”). The Ukrainian side focuses on this point, which excludes external control. Due to the lack of control, the cargo was delivered to Bulgaria, and from there to Georgia by sea as a transit to Armenia. The cargo was sealed and was not subject to Bulgarian or Georgian customs inspection.
Website of the UN for the implementation of the grain [agreement](https://news-un-org.translate.goog/ru/story/2022/09/1431761?_x_tr_sl=ru&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=sc).
Russia did not have the opportunity to control the movement of the vessel along the Black Sea coast from Odessa to the Danube estuary. This is largely due to the terms of the grain agreement. In June, as a gesture of goodwill, Russia withdrew its garrison from Zmeiny Island, which occupies a strategically important position about 35 km east of the mouth of the Danube. From Odessa to Zmeiny is about 120 km, and near the island there is the regular shipping route between the Bulgarian port of Varna and other ports of the western Black Sea region. ‘It has been demonstrated to the world community that the Russian Federation does not hinder the efforts of the UN to organize a humanitarian corridor for the export of agricultural products from the territory of Ukraine,’ RIA Novosti reported the statement by the Russian Defense Ministry regarding the withdrawal of our military from the island. After the evacuation of the garrison from Zmeiny, Ukraine resumed navigation on the Danube.
“The military intelligence agency of Ukraine has clearly calculated – why not take advantage of the situation when the Odessa port is unblocked, and deals continue to be concluded with Bulgaria in the field of construction and so on. What is not a convenient moment? The fact that the ports have been unblocked is being quietly used to carry out such operations,’ Semyon Bagdasarov, director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Central Asia, said air during the television program, Soloviev Live.
Theoretically, Ukrainian military intelligence could well use a cargo ship with grain going towards Istanbul, said Ivan Lizan, head of the analytical bureau of the SONAR-2050 project. ‘The explosives could also have been offloaded [at a concealed location] during the operation by disabling the vessel transponder. After that, turn the transponder on – and the ship would proceed to Istanbul, where representatives of the UN, Russia and Turkey would have boarded it and checked the cargo ship for any prohibited items, including explosives and weapons,’ Lizan said.
Altering the regime of the ‘grain deal’ – for example, so that Turkey (as the guarantor of the Istanbul Agreements) would have the opportunity to inspect ships not in the Bosphorus, but immediately after they leave the Ukrainian ports – would be problematic, says corresponding member of the Academy of Military Sciences, Alexander Bartosh. ‘Can we, within the framework of the grain deal, oblige Turkey to inspect all vessels leaving the territorial waters of Ukraine, and check all ships? I think this would be very difficult – Ankara itself will not agree to this,’ Bartosz told VZGLYAD. ‘Besides, before that, Turkey would have to hold consultations with its NATO allies, and all this would take a very long time.’
“Nevertheless, this should clearly become a topic for negotiations between Russia and Turkey in the very near future. This is because a terrorist attack was committed on Russian territory, in which the Black Sea countries were involved,’ the interlocutor noted.
Presidents Putin and Erdogan, with their delegations, meeting in Astana on [October 13](http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/69590).
According to Bagdasarov, it is necessary to go further and raise the issue of terminating the ‘grain deal’, the validity period for which, we add, will already expire in November. The expert recalled that Russia has repeatedly criticized the quality of the implementation of these agreements, Vladimir Putin pointed out that the poorest countries, which should be the recipients of supplies, receive from 3% to 5% of all the exported products. ‘A number of countries are interested in this grain deal including Turkey as an intermediary. It is clear that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in receiving this grain, slightly improves his domestic support rating on the eve of the elections scheduled for next year. Why do we need this grain deal?’ the expert asked himself.
‘The decision to withdraw from the grain deal after the circumstances have been revealed will be made by the leadership of our country. At the same time, it is obvious that the West, represented by the United States, the EU and the UN, has not fulfilled its obligations under the deal,’ said Senator Konstantin Dolgov, former Russian Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, and deputy Russian Permanent Representative to the UN.
But if we assume that Russia will withdraw from the deal, then it will be quite difficult to regain control of Zmeiny [Snake] Island and the north-west of the Black Sea as a whole, Bartosh believes. ‘As for the control of the water area in the Zmeiny area, the Russian military may stop some vessel for inspection, but this will be an international scandal, since we do not have an international mandate for such actions. It will also be difficult to take this zone by military means, because it is being shot through by Ukrainian anti–ship warfare means – mobile, disguised,’ the expert points out. ‘They have not been suppressed, and if we could, we probably would have attacked them earlier. In general, the military-political leadership of the Russian Federation will not risk the lives of sailors to try to take control of the waters near this island.’
‘Cancellation of the Ukrainian grain deal would mean the naval blockade of Odessa and the preparation for its potential assault,’ political scientist and former premier of the Lugansk People’s Republic, Marat Bashirov, noted a few days ago in the Telegram channel. The establishment of control over Odessa as one of the potential targets of the Russian operation is also mentioned by Western experts.
At the end of September, the US publication_, National Interes_t, commented in predicting a possible Russian response to the advance of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Kharkov region: ‘Moscow may launch a counteroffensive, focusing on the capture of the Black Sea port of Odessa. This city is the last exit of Ukraine to the Black Sea, and its capture would actually turn the Ukraine into a fully landlocked country. It will also give Russia a stranglehold over Ukraine’s main and vital economic outlet, because most of Kiev’s exports and imports pass through Odessa. The loss of this city would be a colossal economic and psychological blow for Ukraine.’ According to the National Interest, ‘given that Russia has transferred a significant number of troops and weapons from the east of Ukraine to the south, even before Kiev’s offensive in the east,’ there is a high probability that Odessa is now the main target of the Russian Armed Forces.
HOW THE BOMB WAS TRANSPORTED BY ROAD AND TRUCK TO THE BRIDGE
Ukrainian terror came to Russia through Estonia and Armenia
The moment of detention of one of the suspects in the preparation of terrorist attacks on the territory of Russia
October 12, 2022.
By Evgeny Krutikov
With unusual speed the FSB of Russia has revealed the picture of who delivered the explosives that eventually worked on the Crimean Bridge, and how. A lot of people participated in the covert operation, and it was managed by the military intelligence agency of Ukraine. Why did all this become possible and how did the explosives easily slip over several borders at once, including the Russian one?
The FSB has announced the detention of five citizens of Russia plus three citizens of Ukraine and Armenia as part of the investigation into the terrorist attack on the Crimean Bridge. The organizer of this crime is called the Ukrainian military intelligence. The FSB stated that “the organizer of the terrorist attack on the Crimean Bridge was the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, its head Kirill Budanov, employees and agents.”
Also on Wednesday, it was reported about the detention in the Bryansk region of a Ukrainian agent who was going to detonate an explosive device at one of the logistics terminals. Another saboteur was detained in the Moscow region with two portable Igla anti-aircraft complexes. Both of them entered the territory of Russia through Estonia; the weapons and explosives were unearthed in caches in the border regions.
According to the investigation, the explosive device which went off in a truck on the Crimean Bridge was camouflaged in rolls under construction plastic film on 22 pallets with a total weight of 22,770 kg. In early August this was sent from the seaport of Odessa to the Bulgarian city of Ruse under contract No. 02/08/2022 between LLC Translogistic UA (Kiev) and Baltex Capital S.A.
The Bulgarian city of Ruse is located not on the Black Sea, but on the Bulgarian bank of the Danube River in the interior of the country. Consequently, the ship, which left Odessa for Ruse, moved on a coastal course along the seashore, and then entered the Danube. Thus, it was not subject to verification by Turkish observers as part of the ‘grain deal’.
And then the cargo was delivered from Bulgaria to [Poti] Georgia by sea in transit for Armenia. That is, it was sealed and was not subject to Bulgarian or Georgian customs inspection. This is a “gray” scheme, according to which contraband is usually smuggled.
“Citizens of Ukraine Mikhail Vladimirovich Tsyurkalo, born in 1975, Denis Olegovich Kovach, born in 1979, Roman Ivanovich Solomko, born in 1971; citizens of Georgia Inosaridze Sandro, a broker named Levan, and a citizen of Armenia Arthur Terchanyan, born in 1985, were involved in organizing the shipment of cargo from Bulgaria to the port of Poti (Georgia), and then to Armenia. From September 29 to October 3, 2022, in Yerevan, at the Transalliance terminal, the cargo was cleared according to the rules of the EEC [Eurasian Economic Commission] and documents were substituted, after which its new consignor became GU AR JI GROUP LLC (Republic of Armenia, Alaverdi city), and the recorded consignee became Leader LLC (Moscow city), according to the FSB report.
However, the cargo did not reach Moscow. On October 4, the cargo crossed the Russian-Georgian border at the Upper Lars checkpoint on a DAF truck registered in Georgia and was unloaded at the Armavir wholesale base of the Krasnodar Territory on October 6.
It should also be noted here that the cargo had already been customs cleared according to the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) rules in Yerevan, and therefore it was not subject to additional customs inspection at the Russian border. By the way, the Georgian side has already managed to disown what had been happening, declaring that ‘no cargo with explosives crossed the Georgian customs border.’ Formally, this is true, since the cargo had already been cleared in Yerevan according to the rules of the EEC, and had nothing to do with the Georgian customs border. To be clear: the customs border is different from the physical one. For transit goods going from one EEC country [Armenia] to another [Russia] through the territory of a country that is not a member of this union [Georgia], it is as if they do not cross the customs space of this transit jurisdiction.
A reproduction photo of the truck cargo and copies of the EEC customs declarations [released](https://southfront.org/russia-revealed-accomplices-and-orchestrator-of-crimean-bridge-explosion-two-more-ukrainian-terrorist-attacks-thwarted/) by the FSB.
In Armavir, the cargo was received by a local company Agro Service, engaged in the cultivation of soybeans. This is a family business, which has been owned by the Azatian family for more than 20 years – the head of the family Samvel and his children — the elder George and the younger Artem. All of them are natives of the city of Makeyevka, Donetsk People’s Republic, who moved to Krasnodar Krai a long time ago.
Samvel the father and oldest son George are mainly engaged in the affairs of their soy business. The youngest, Artem, studied to be a lawyer, but he did not find a place for himself in Armavir and some time ago went to live in the Crimea. To Simferopol to work. It was Artem Azatian who called his father from Crimea on the eve of the terrorist attack and asked him to help some friend of his. The friend had asked him to hold a cargo in his warehouse for literally a day, for which another truck would then come from Krasnodar to collect it. The elder brother George was not sleep-walking but he was very surprised when a truck with foreign (Georgian) license plates drove up to his warehouse.
“The driver handed me a stack of invoices to sign, but I gave them back to him. Why should I read and sign other people’s documents? Father and brother agreed, I helped,” he explained. This is a normal story for the North Caucasus.
George Azatian and a company worker, tractor driver Yuri Postnikov, organized the unloading of pallets from the Georgian truck using a forklift. During the investigation, the FSB took Postnikov’s work gloves in which he had worked on the unloading and reloading. Apparently, the investigation hopes to find traces of explosives on them. But this is unlikely. In the evening of the same day, an Inter company truck from Krasnodar stopped by the warehouse, where the pallets were loaded.
Where did the Inter truck come from, which eventually exploded on the Crimean Bridge?
There is an electronic freight exchange in Russia, ATI.SU, created by one IT company. The exchange’s head office is located in St. Petersburg. It has been operating for more than 20 years, it is a respected structure that is used in 60 countries. It works like this. You need to transport cargo from point A to point B. You don’t have your own trucks or other means of delivery. Then you place an ad-request on this exchange with an indication of the route and the desired dates of loading / unloading. You are contacted by independent carriers, of which there are a dime a dozen in the country: people buy a vehicle (often a truck) or some other cargo vehicle and earn money on it.
You choose the carrier you like and enter into an electronic contract with him. There is a feedback system and reviews about customers and carriers. Very often, this exchange is also used by large regional transport aggregator companies which receive a certain order in a region where at that time they don’t have their own vehicles. A convenient thing.
This system is similar to the one called bareboat charter in seaborne shipping. This is when the customer hires just the vessel without a crew for cargo transportation. Then the captain is hired, and he hires the crew. At the same time, it is only known that it is necessary to transport cargo from point A to point B, but what kind of cargo it is – even the captain does not necessarily know this. And often he doesn’t want to know.
In the case of an electronic transportation exchange, the driver also does not know what he is carrying. That is, in theory, he should know. Because he has the invoices and all other documents, but in reality the driver sees only bags or boxes. Freight forwarders usually do not look into the cargo. Another feature of such a system — carriers often do not deal with the actual manufacturer of the cargo, but with intermediaries or stockists detached from the sale and purchase deal. In our case, such intermediaries unwittingly turned out to be Samvel and Georgy Azatian who had been asked in a fraternal way to hold someone else’s cargo in their wholesale warehouse for a day.
At the height of the bombing of aircraft by various Palestinian groups in the 1970s and 1980s, airports expressly announced: do not take other people’s belongings or parcels with you on board. By the end of the 1980s and in the 1990s, such memos were already distributed in the USSR, and then in Russia. But how can you refuse a loved one?
And on the eve of the terrorist attack, an offer appeared on this electronic freight exchange from a certain transport company from Ulyanovsk ‘TEK-34’ to transport cargo from Armavir to Simferopol. A non-existent company was indicated as the recipient of the cargo in Crimea. The fact that it does not exist, this turned out much later.
The TEK-34 company was registered in the Volgograd region by a citizen of the Russian Federation Alexei Orlov, but it last showed signs of life in 2018. Then it was bought out in 2020 by Oleg Antipov, a resident of Ulyanovsk, on whose behalf the announcement was placed on the electronic exchange. Antipov has not been detained and is actively cooperating with the investigation. He claims that he was framed and ‘his conscience is clear.’
And it was like this. ‘On October 7 of this year, with the assistance of Roman Solomko, a citizen of Ukraine, Vladimir Vasilyevich Zloba, born in 1987, and five other resident citizens of Russia, the documents for the cargo were changed again, the sender indicated LLC TEK-34 (Ulyanovsk), and the recipient was a non–existent company in the Republic of Crimea,’ the FSB reports.
That is, professional hackers hacked the website of the TEK-34 company and placed an ad on the electronic transportation exchange on behalf of Oleg Antipov.
A private trucker named Mahir Yusubov, born in 1971, a resident of Krasnodar, responded to the ad. The vehicle, of the same Inter company, was recently re–registered to his own nephew, 25–year-old Samir Yusubov, who is currently abroad.
The fact is that trucker Mahir Yusubov got into an accident somewhere near Kazan some time ago and he has remained in debt to someone. To keep himself out of harm’s way, Yusubov says he re-registered the truck to his nephew so that his creditors wouldn’t take it away. If they would come, they would find he has nothing. That is why at first the initial suspect was the young Samir Yusubov, although the driver of the truck, 51-year-old Mahir, clearly visible on the video at the checkpoint at the Crimean Bridge, did not even look like the young and athletic Samir in body build. A few days later, Samir Saimur ogli Yusubov officially stated that he had nothing to do with the incident.
The owners of the Armavir warehouse, the Azatian family, and trucker Mahir Yusubov did not contact each other in any way. The Azatians only knew the number of the truck which would come to pick up the cargo. Also out of the scheme is the Georgian trucker who delivered the cargo across the Russian border to Armavir. Armenian soybean producers, a poor Azerbaijani trucker, and a Georgian driver are the entire Caucasian international that was remotely manipulated by Ukrainian military intelligence.
For all of the eight hours that Mahir Yusubov drove his truck from Armavir towards the Crimea, he was constantly contacted by a Ukrainian intelligence officer who called himself Ivan Ivanovich. For communication, an anonymous electronic number purchased on the Internet was used, as well as a real phone number registered to a citizen of Ukraine, a resident of Kremenchuk, Sergei Vladimirovich Andreichenko, born in 1988.
Most of the people involved in the scheme were used by Ukrainian intelligence and kept in the dark. Nevertheless, the investigators emphasize that their investigation of the terrorist attack continues. All of its organizers and accomplices, they say, ‘including foreign citizens, will be brought to justice in accordance with Russian law.’
There is reason to believe that now the greatest interest for the investigation is the ‘acquaintance’ of Artem Azatian, who ‘asked in a brotherly way’ to hold the cargo in his family’s warehouse in Armavir. Why the Ukrainians needed him, it is now clear. A truck with Georgian license plates at the checkpoint of the Crimean Bridge would not just be inspected – it would be taken apart down to the nuts and bolts. That would have been so even early on a Saturday morning. And so here was a local trucker, his own truck, Krasnodar plates. To be sure, the unfortunate Mahir Yusubov had repeatedly traveled across the bridge to the Crimea before.
The “acquaintance” of Azatian Jr. could well have been formed on the basis of a common origin – remember that the Azatian family came from Makeyevka, Donetsk — or a childhood or teenage acquaintance. This method has been used by Ukrainian intelligence for many years. A person is approached by his childhood friends, classmates. Even quite sane people can be deceived by such nostalgia.
The Ukrainian scheme used numerous loopholes, not only in the organizational system of cargo transportation, but also in the legislation and even in the international agreements. The cargo was sent to Bulgaria by the Danube River, not by sea. Georgia is a smuggler’s paradise, where all kinds of brokers have been working for years with entrances and exits around the ports of Poti and Batumi. Russian customs and border guards cannot control how goods and cargo are cleared in Yerevan. After the Armenian customs clearance, the goods become free to move throughout the Eurasian Economic Commission area.
Yes, such operations are costly, since the cargo set sail and then traveled for a month. They are risky, because anything could go wrong at any moment. The more people who participate in the scheme, especially when they are in the dark, the greater the chance of failure. The forklift driver Postnikov could have made a mistake when he was working on the loading in the warehouse – if he had dropped the very pallet where the fuse was, half of Armavir would have blown up.
Another point is that preliminary intelligence work had been carried out. Someone had to find out that Artem Azatian had a father and an older brother, and they have a warehouse in Armavir. The rest is not so difficult, although it requires clever planning. If we assume that the truck from Yerevan to the Crimean Bridge was remotely controlled by one employee of the Ukrainian special services (the notorious ‘Ivan Ivanovich’), then everything is quite simple.
It’s this simplicity which is frightening – for example, both of the Ukrainian terrorists who were detained on Wednesday after they crossed the Russian border from Estonia; and the one with the MANPADS who drove the rockets in his car. The Estonian border raises questions. It is worth recalling that [Natalia] Vovk, the Ukrainian citizen who is suspected of the murder of Daria Dugina, also fled from the Russian Federation to Estonia.
The detention of a Ukrainian terrorist with anti–aircraft missiles in the Moscow region is a separate story. He wanted to hit something or someone. If we are talking about passenger planes, then this is obviously the preparation of an act of international terrorism. Given these many alarming signals, it can be assumed that there may be more such groups or lone terrorists. They are controlled from a single center (GUR MO of Ukraine); they are dangerous because they are hard-bitten, relentless.
The main method for dealing with them is agent intelligence, as well as unwinding communication chains. Closing the Estonian border or normalizing customs relations are more political than counterintelligence actions.
Russia’s war with Ukraine is first and foremost a tragedy for the people of both countries, especially those who live—and die—in the battle zones. The priority for humanity, though apparently not for the political class, is to encourage Moscow and Kyiv to stop killing men, women and children and negotiate a peace deal.
Beyond the immediate confines of the conflict, the war is also seen by some as representative of an alleged clash between great powers and, perhaps, between civilisations. All wars are momentous, but the ramifications of Ukrainian war are already global.
Consequently, there is a perception that it is the focal point of a confrontation between two distinct models of global governance. The NATO-led alliance of the Western nations continues to push the unipolar, G7, international rules-based order (IRBO). It is opposed, some say, by the Russian and Chinese-led BRICS and the G20-based multipolar world order.
In this 3 part series we will explore these issues and consider if it is tenable to place our faith in the emerging multipolar world order.
There are very few redeeming features of the unipolar world order, that’s for sure. It is a system that overwhelmingly serves capital and few people other than a “parasite class” of stakeholder capitalist eugenicists. This has led many disaffected Westerners to invest their hopes in the promise of the multipolar world order:
Many have increasingly come to terms with the reality that today’s multipolar system led by Russia and China has premised itself upon the defense of international law and national sovereignty as outlined in the UN Charter. [. . .] Putin and Xi Jinping have [. . .] made their choice to stand for win-win cooperation over Hobbesian Zero Sum thinking. [. . .] [T]heir entire strategy is premised upon the UN Charter.
If only that were so! Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be the case. But even if it were true, Putin and Xi Jinping basing “their entire strategy” upon the UN Charter, would be cause for concern, not relief.
For the globalist forces that see nation-states as squares on the grand chessboard and that regard leaders like Putin, Biden and Xi Jinping as accomplices, the multipolar world order is manna from heaven. They have spent more than a century trying to centralise global power. The power of individual nation-states at least presents the possibility of some decentralisation. The multipolar world order finally ends all national sovereignty and delivers true global governance.
We need to distinguish between the ideological concept of “world order” and the reality. This will help us identify where “world order” is an artificially imposed construct.
Authoritarian power, wielded over populations, territory and resources, restricted by physical and political geography, dictates the “world order.” The present order is largely the product of hard-nosed geopolitics, but it also reflects the various attempts to impose a global order.
The struggle to manage and mitigate the consequences of geopolitics is evident in the history of international relations. For nearly 500 years nation-states have sought to co-exist as sovereign entities. Numerous systems have been devised to seize control of what would otherwise be anarchy. It is very much to the detriment of humanity that anarchy has not been allowed to flourish.
In 1648, the two bilateral treaties that formed the Peace of Westphalia concluded the 30 Years War (or Wars). Those negotiated settlements arguably established the precept of the territorial sovereignty within the borders of the nation-state.
This reduced, but did not end, the centralised authoritarian power of the Holy Roman Empire (HRE). Britannica notes:
The Peace of Westphalia recognized the full territorial sovereignty of the member states of the empire.
This isn’t entirely accurate. That so-called “full territorial sovereignty” delineated regional power within Europe and the HRE, but full sovereignty wasn’t established.
The Westphalian treaties created hundreds of principalities that were formerly controlled by the central legislature of the HRE, the Diet. These new, effectively federalised principalities still paid taxes to the emperor and, crucially, religious observance remained a matter for the empire to decide. The treaties also consolidated the regional power of the Danish, Swedish, and French states but the Empire itself remained intact and dominant.
It is more accurate to say that the Peace of Westphalia somewhat curtailed the authoritarian power of the HRE and defined the physical borders of some nation states. During the 20th century, this led to the popular interpretation of the nation-state as a bulwark against international hegemonic power, despite that never having been entirely true.
Consequently, the so-called “Westphalian model” is largely based upon a myth. It represents an idealised version of the world order, suggesting how it could operate rather than describing how it does.
Signing of the Peace of Westphalia, in Münster 1648, painting by Gerard Ter Borch
If nation-states really were sovereign and if their territorial integrity were genuinely respected, then the Westphalian world order would be pure anarchy. This is the ideal upon which the UN is supposedly founded because, contrary to another ubiquitous popular myth, anarchy does not mean “chaos.” Quite the opposite.
Anarchy is exemplified by Article 2.1 of the UN Charter:
The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
The word “anarchy” is an abstraction of the classical Greek “anarkhos,” meaning “rulerless.” This is derived from the privative prefix “an” (without) in conjunction with “arkhos” (leader or ruler). Literally translated, “anarchy” means “without rulers”—what the UN calls “sovereign equality.”
A Westphalian world order of sovereign nation-states, each observing the “equality” of all others while adhering to the non-aggression principle, is a system of global, political anarchy. Unfortunately, that is not the way the current UN “world order” functions, nor has there ever been any attempt to construct such an order. What a shame.
Within the League of Nations and subsequent UN system of practical “world order,”—a world order allegedly built upon the sovereignty of nations—equality exists in theory only. Through empire, colonialism, neocolonialism—that is, through economic, military, financial and monetary conquest, coupled with the debt obligations imposed upon targeted nations—global powers have always been able to dominate and control lesser ones.
National governments, if defined in purely political terms, have never been the only source of authority behind the efforts to construct world order. As revealed by Antony C. Sutton and others, private corporate power has aided national governments in shaping “world order.”
Neither Hitler’s rise to power nor the Bolshevik Revolution would have occurred as they did, if at all, without the guidance of the Wall Street financiers. The bankers’ global financial institutions and extensive international espionage networks were instrumental in shifting global political power.
These private-sector “partners” of government are the “stakeholders” we constantly hear about today. The most powerful among them are fully engaged in “the game” described by Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard.
Brzezinski recognised that the continental landmass of Eurasia was the key to genuine global hegemony:
This huge, oddly shaped Eurasian chess board—extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok—provides the setting for “the game.” [. . .] [I]f the middle space rebuffs the West, becomes an assertive single entity [. . .] then America’s primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically. [. . .] That mega-continent is just too large, too populous, culturally too varied, and composed of too many historically ambitious and politically energetic states to be compliant toward even the most economically successful and politically pre-eminent global power. [. . .] Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. [. . .] [I]t would then become a predominantly Asian imperial state.
The “unipolar world order” favoured by the Western powers, often referred to as the “international rules-based order” or the “international rules-based system,” is another attempt to impose order. This “unipolar” model enables the US and its European partners to exploit the UN system to claim legitimacy for their games of empire. Through it, the transatlantic alliance has used its economic, military and financial power to try to establish global hegemony.
In 2016, Stewart Patrick, writing for the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a foreign policy think tank, published World Order: What, Exactly, are the Rules? He described the post-WWII “international rules-based order” (IRBO):
What sets the post-1945 Western order apart is that it was shaped overwhelmingly by a single power [a unipolarity], the United States. Operating within the broader context of strategic bipolarity, it constructed, managed, and defended the regimes of the capitalist world economy. [. . .] In the trade sphere, the hegemon presses for liberalization and maintains an open market; in the monetary sphere, it supplies a freely convertible international currency, manages exchange rates, provides liquidity, and serves as a lender of last resort; and in the financial sphere, it serves as a source of international investment and development.
The idea that the aggressive market acquisition of crony capitalism somehow represents the “open markets” of the “capitalist world economy” is risible. It is about as far removed from free market capitalism as it is possible to be. Under crony capitalism, the US dollar, as the preferred global reserve currency, is not “freely convertible.” Exchange rates are manipulated and liquidity is debt for nearly everyone except the lender. “Investment and development” by the hegemon means more profits and control for the hegemon.
The notion that a political leader, or anyone for that matter, is entirely bad or good, is puerile. The same consideration can be given to nation-states, political systems or even models of world order. The character of a human being, a nation or a system of global governance is better judged by their or its totality of actions.
Whatever we consider to be the source of “good” and “evil,” it exists in all of us at either ends of a spectrum. Some people exhibit extreme levels of psychopathy, which can lead them to commit acts that are judged to be “evil.” But even Hitler, for example, showed physical courage, devotion, compassion for some, and other qualities we might consider “good.”
Nation-states and global governance structures, though immensely complex, are formed and led by people. They are influenced by a multitude of forces. Given the added complications of chance and unforeseen events, it is unrealistic to expect any form of “order” to be either entirely good or entirely bad.
That being said, if that “order” is iniquitous and causes appreciable harm to people, then it is important to identify to whom that “order” provides advantage. Their potential individual and collective guilt should be investigated.
This does not imply that those who benefit are automatically culpable, nor that they are “bad” or “evil,” though they may be, only that they have a conflict of interests in maintaining their “order” despite the harm it causes. Equally, where systemic harm is evident, it is irrational to absolve the actions of the people who lead and benefit from that system without first ruling out their possible guilt.
Since WWII, millions of innocents have been murdered by the US, its international allies and its corporate partners, all of whom have thrown their military, economic and financial weight around the world. The Western “parasite class” has sought to assert its IRBO by any means necessary— sanctions, debt slavery or outright slavery, physical, economic or psychological warfare. The grasping desire for more power and control has exposed the very worst of human nature. Repeatedly and ad nauseam.
Of course, resistance to this kind of global tyranny is understandable. The question is: Does imposition of the multipolar model offer anything different?
Signing the UN Charter – 1948
Most recently, the “unipolar world order” has been embodied by the World Economic Forum’s inappropriately named Great Reset. It is so malignant and forbidding that some consider the emerging “multipolar world order” salvation. They have even heaped praise upon the likely leaders of the new multipolar world:
It is [. . .] strength of purpose and character that has defined Putin’s two decades in power. [. . .] Russia is committed to the process of finding solutions to all people benefiting from the future, not just a few thousand holier-than-thou oligarchs. [. . .] Together [Russia and China] told the WEF to stuff the Great Reset back into the hole in which it was conceived. [. . .] Putin told Klaus Schwab and the WEF that their entire idea of the Great Reset is not only doomed to failure but runs counter to everything modern leadership should be pursuing.
Sadly, it seems this hope is also misplaced.
While Putin did much to rid Russia of the CIA-run, Western-backed oligarchs who were systematically destroying the Russian Federation during the 1990s, they have subsequently been replaced by another band of oligarchs with closer links to the current Russian government. Something we will explore in Part 3.
Yes, it is certainly true that the Russian government, led by Putin and his power bloc, has improved the incomes and life opportunities for the majority of Russians. Putin’s government has also significantly reduced chronic poverty in Russia over the last two decades.
Wealth in Russia, measured as the market value of financial and non-financial assets, has remained concentrated in the hands of the top 1% of the population. This pooling of wealth among the top percentile is itself stratified and is overwhelmingly held by the top 1% of the 1%. For example, in 2017, 56% of Russian wealth was controlled by 1% of the population. The pseudopandemic of 2020–2022 particularly benefitted Russian billionnaires—as it did the billionaires of every other developed economy.
According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2021, wealth inequality in Russia, measured using the Gini coefficient, was 87.8 in 2020. The only other major economy with a greater disparity between the wealthy and the rest of the population was Brazil. Just behind Brazil and Russia on the wealth inequality scale was the US, whose Gini coefficient stood at 85.
In terms of wealth concentration however, the situation in Russia was the worst by a considerable margin. In 2020 the top 1% owned 58.2% of Russia’s wealth. This was more than 8 percentage points higher than Brazil’s wealth concentration, and significantly worse than wealth concentration in the US, which stood at 35.2% in 2020.
Such disproportionate wealth distribution is conducive to creating and empowering oligarchs. But wealth alone doesn’t determine whether one is an oligarch. Wealth needs to be converted into political power for the term “oligarch” to be applicable. An oligarchy is defined as “a form of government in which supreme power is vested in a small exclusive class.”
Members of this dominant class are installed through a variety of mechanisms. The British establishment, and particularly its political class, is dominated by men and women who were educated at Eton, Roedean, Harrow and St. Pauls, etc. This “small exclusive class” arguably constitutes a British oligarchy. The UK’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has been heralded by some because she is not a graduate of one of these select public schools.
Educational privilege aside, though, the use of the word “oligarch” in the West more commonly refers to an internationalist class of globalists whose individual wealth sets them apart and who use that wealth to influence policy decisions.
Bill Gates is a prime example of an oligarch. The former advisor to the UK Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings, said as much during his testimony to a parliamentary committee on May 2021 (go to 14:02:35). As Cummings put it, Bill Gates and “that kind of network” had directed the UK government’s response to the supposed COVID-19 pandemic.
Gates’ immense wealth has bought him direct access to political power beyond national borders. He has no public mandate in either the US or the UK. He is an oligarch—one of the more well known but far from the only one.
CFR member David Rothkopf described these people as a “Superclass” with the ability to “influence the lives of millions across borders on a regular basis.” They do this, he said, by using their globalist “networks.” Those networks, as described by Antony C. Sutton, Dominic Cummings and others, act as “the force multiplier in any kind of power structure.”
This “small exclusive class” use their wealth to control resources and thus policy. Political decisions, policy, court rulings and more are made at their behest. This point was highlighted in the joint letter sent by the Attorneys General (AGs) of 19 US states to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink.
The AGs observed that BlackRock was essentially using its investment strategy to pursue a political agenda:
The Senators elected by the citizens of this country determine which international agreements have the force of law, not BlackRock.
Their letter describes the theoretical model of representative democracy. Representative democracy is not a true democracy—which decentralises political power to the individual citizen—but is rather a system designed to centralise political control and authority. Inevitably, “representative democracy” leads to the consolidation of power in the hands of the so-called “Superclass” described by Rothkopf.
There is nothing “super” about them. They are ordinary people who have acquired wealth primarily through conquest, usury, market rigging, political manipulation and slavery. “Parasite class” is a more befitting description.
Not only do global investment firms like BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street use their immense resources to steer public policy, but their major shareholders include the very oligarchs who, via their contribution to various think tanks, create the global political agendas that determine policy in the first place. There is no space in this system of alleged “world order” for any genuine democratic oversight.
As we shall see in Part 3, the levers of control are exerted to achieve exactly the same effect in Russia and China. Both countries have a gaggle of oligarchs whose objectives are firmly aligned with the WEF’s Great Reset agenda. They too work with their national government “partners” to ensure that they all arrive at the “right” policy decisions.
US President Joe Biden, left, and CFR President Richard N. Haass, right.
The United Nations’ Model of National Sovereignty
Any bloc of nations that bids for dominance within the United Nations is seeking global hegemony. The UN enables global governance and centralises global political power and authority. In so doing, the UN empowers the international oligarchy.
As noted previously, Article 2 of the United Nations Charter declares that the UN is “based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.” The Charter then goes on to list the numerous ways in which nation-states are not equal. It also clarifies how they are all subservient to the UN Security Council.
Despite all the UN’s claims of lofty principles—respect for national sovereignty and for alleged human rights—Article 2 declares that no nation-state can receive any assistance from another as long as the UN Security Council is forcing that nation-state to comply with its edicts. Even non-member states must abide by the Charter, whether they like it or not, by decree of the United Nations.
The UN Charter is a paradox. Article 2.7 asserts that “nothing in the Charter” permits the UN to infringe the sovereignty of a nation-state—except when it does so through UN “enforcement measures.” The Charter states, apparently without reason, that all nation-states are “equal.” However, some nation-states are empowered by the Charter to be far more equal than others.
While the UN’s General Assembly is supposedly a decision-making forum comprised of “equal” sovereign nations, Article 11 affords the General Assembly only the power to discuss “the general principles of co-operation.” In other words, it has no power to make any significant decisions.
Article 12 dictates that the General Assembly can only resolve disputes if instructed to do so by the Security Council. The most important function of the UN, “the maintenance of international peace and security,” can only be dealt with by the Security Council. What the other members of the General Assembly think about the Security Council’s global “security” decisions is a practical irrelevance.
Article 23 lays out which nation-states form the Security Council:
The Security Council shall consist of fifteen Members of the United Nations. The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics [Russian Federation], the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council. The General Assembly shall elect ten other Members of the United Nations to be non-permanent members of the Security Council. [. . .] The non-permanent members of the Security Council shall be elected for a term of two years.
The General Assembly is allowed to elect “non-permanent” members to the Security Council based upon criteria stipulated by the Security Council. Currently the “non-permanent” members are Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway and the United Arab Emirates.
Article 24 proclaims that the Security Council has “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” and that all other nations agree that “the Security Council acts on their behalf.” The Security Council investigates and defines all alleged threats and recommends the procedures and adjustments for the supposed remedy. The Security Council dictates what further action, such as sanctions or the use of military force, shall be taken against any nation-state it considers to be a problem.
Article 27 decrees that at least 9 of the 15 member states must be in agreement for a Security Council resolution to be enforced. All of the 5 permanent members must concur, and each has the power of veto. Any Security Council member, including permanent members, shall be excluded from the vote or use of its veto if they are party to the dispute in question.
UN member states, by virtue of agreeing to the Charter, must provide armed forces at the Security Council’s request. In accordance with Article 47, military planning and operational objectives are the sole remit of the permanent Security Council members through their exclusive Military Staff Committee. If the permanent members are interested in the opinion of any other “sovereign” nation, they’ll ask it to provide one.
The inequality inherent in the Charter could not be clearer. Article 44 notes that “when the Security Council has decided to use force” its only consultative obligation to the wider UN is to discuss the use of another member state’s armed forces where the Security Council has ordered that nation to fight. For a country that is a current member of the Security Council, use of its armed forces by the Military Staff Committee is a prerequisite for Council membership.
The UN Secretary-General, identified as the “chief administrative officer” in the Charter, oversees the UN Secretariat. The Secretariat commissions, investigates and produces the reports that allegedly inform UN decision-making. The Secretariat staff members are appointed by the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General is “appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.”
Under the UN Charter, then, the Security Council is made king. This arrangement affords the governments of its permanent members—China, France, Russia, the UK and the US—considerable additional authority. There is nothing egalitarian about the UN Charter.
The suggestion that the UN Charter constitutes a “defence” of “national sovereignty” is ridiculous. The UN Charter is the embodiment of the centralisation of global power and authority.
UN Headquarters New York – Land Donated by the Rockefellers
The United Nations’ Global Public-Private Partnership
The UN was created, in no small measure, through the efforts of the private sector Rockefeller Foundation (RF). In particular, the RF’s comprehensive financial and operational support for the Economic, Financial and Transit Department (EFTD) of the League of Nations (LoN), and its considerable influence upon the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), made the RF the key player in the transformation of the LoN into the UN.
The UN came into being as a result of public-private partnership. Since then, especially with regard to defence, financing, global health care and sustainable development, public-private partnerships have become dominant within the UN system. The UN is no longer an intergovernmental organisation, if it ever was one. It is a global collaboration between governments and a multinational infra-governmental network of private “stakeholders.”
In 1998, then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the World Economic Forum’s Davos symposium that a “quiet revolution” had occurred in the UN during the 1990s:
[T]he United Nations has been transformed since we last met here in Davos. The Organization has undergone a complete overhaul that I have described as a “quiet revolution”. [. . .] [W]e are in a stronger position to work with business and industry. [. . .] The business of the United Nations involves the businesses of the world. [. . .] We also promote private sector development and foreign direct investment. We help countries to join the international trading system and enact business-friendly legislation.
In 2005, the World Health Organisation (WHO), a specialised agency of the UN, published a report on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in healthcare titled Connecting for Health. Speaking about how “stakeholders” could introduce ICT healthcare solutions globally, the WHO noted:
Governments can create an enabling environment, and invest in equity, access and innovation.
The 2015, Adis Ababa Action Agenda conference on “financing for development” clarified the nature of an “enabling environment.” National governments from 193 UN nation-states committed their respective populations to funding public-private partnerships for sustainable development by collectively agreeing to create “an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development;” and “to further strengthen the framework to finance sustainable development.”
In 2017, UN General Assembly Resolution 70/224 (A/Res/70/224) compelled UN member states to implement “concrete policies” that “enable” sustainable development. A/Res/70/224 added that the UN:
[. . .] reaffirms the strong political commitment to address the challenge of financing and creating an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development [—] particularly with regard to developing partnerships through the provision of greater opportunities to the private sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society in general.
In short, the “enabling environment” is a government, and therefore taxpayer, funding commitment to create markets for the private sector. Over the last few decades, successive Secretary-Generals have overseen the UN’s formal transition into a global public-private partnership (G3P).
Nation-states do not have sovereignty over public-private partnerships. Sustainable development formally relegates government to the role of an “enabling” partner within a global network comprised of multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations and other actors. The “other actors” are predominantly the philanthropic foundations of individual billionaires and immensely wealthy family dynasties—that is, oligarchs.
Effectively, then, the UN serves the interests of capital. Not only is it a mechanism for the centralisation of global political authority, it is committed to the development of global policy agendas that are “business-friendly.” That means Big Business-friendly. Such agendas may happen to coincide with the best interests of humanity, but where they don’t—which is largely the case—well, that’s just too bad for humanity.
Kofi Annan (8 April 1938 – 18 August 2018)
On the 4th February 2022, a little less then three weeks prior to Russia launching its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping issued an important joint statement:
The sides [Russian Federation and Chinese People’s Republic] strongly support the development of international cooperation and exchanges [. . .], actively participating in the relevant global governance process, [. . .] to ensure sustainable global development. [. . .] The international community should actively engage in global governance[.] [. . .] The sides reaffirmed their intention to strengthen foreign policy coordination, pursue true multilateralism, strengthen cooperation on multilateral platforms, defend common interests, support the international and regional balance of power, and improve global governance. [. . .] The sides call on all States [. . .] to protect the United Nations-driven international architecture and the international law-based world order, seek genuine multipolarity with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role, promote more democratic international relations, and ensure peace, stability and sustainable development across the world.
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) defined “global governance” in its 2014 publication Global Governance and the Global Rules For Development in the Post 2015 Era:
Global governance encompasses the totality of institutions, policies, norms, procedures and initiatives through which States and their citizens try to bring more predictability, stability and order to their responses to transnational challenges.
Global governance centralises control over the entire sphere of international relations. It inevitably erodes a nation’s ability to set foreign policy. As a theoretical protection against global instability, this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but in practice it neither enhances nor “protects” national sovereignty.
Domination of the global governance system by one group of powerful nation-states represents possibly the most dangerous and destabilising force of all. It allows those nations to act with impunity, regardless of any pretensions about honouring alleged “international law.”
Global governance also significantly curtails the independence of a nation-state’s domestic policy. For example, the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda 21, with the near-time Agenda 2030 serving as a waypoint, impacts nearly all national domestic policy—even setting the course for most domestic policy—in every country.
National electorates’ oversight of this “totality” of UN policies is weak to nonexistent. Global governance renders so-called “representative democracy” little more than a vacuous sound-bite.
As the UN is a global public-private partnership (UN-G3P), global governance allows the “multi-stakeholder partnership”—and therefore oligarchs—significant influence over member nation-states’ domestic and foreign policy. Set in this context, the UN-DESA report (see above) provides a frank appraisal of the true nature of UN-G3P global governance:
Current approaches to global governance and global rules have led to a greater shrinking of policy space for national Governments [. . . ]; this also impedes the reduction of inequalities within countries. [. . .] Global governance has become a domain with many different players including: multilateral organizations; [. . .] elite multilateral groupings such as the Group of Eight (G8) and the Group of Twenty (G20) [and] different coalitions relevant to specific policy subjects[.] [. . .] Also included are activities of the private sector (e.g., the Global Compact) non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and large philanthropic foundations (e.g., Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Turner Foundation) and associated global funds to address particular issues[.] [. . .] The representativeness, opportunities for participation, and transparency of many of the main actors are open to question. [. . .] NGOs [. . .] often have governance structures that are not subject to open and democratic accountability. The lack of representativeness, accountability and transparency of corporations is even more important as corporations have more power and are currently promoting multi-stakeholder governance with a leading role for the private sector. [. . .] Currently, it seems that the United Nations has not been able to provide direction in the solution of global governance problems—perhaps lacking appropriate resources or authority, or both. United Nations bodies, with the exception of the Security Council, cannot make binding decisions.
A/Res/73/254 declares that the UN Global Compact Office plays a vital role in “strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to partner strategically with the private sector.” It adds:
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges that the implementation of sustainable development will depend on the active engagement of both the public and private sectors[.]
While the Attorneys General of 19 states might rail against BlackRock for usurping the political authority of US senators, BlackRock is simply exercising its power as valued a “public-private partner” of the US government. Such is the nature of global governance. Given that this system has been constructed over the last 80 years, it’s a bit too late for 19 state AGs to complain about it now. What have they been doing for the last eight decades?
The governmental “partners” of the UN-G3P lack “authority” because the UN was created, largely by the Rockefellers, as a public-private partnership. The intergovernmental structure is the partner of the infra-governmental network of private stakeholders. In terms of resources, the power of the private sector “partners” dwarfs that of their government counterparts.
Corporate fiefdoms are not limited by national borders. BlackRock alone currently holds $9.5 trillion of assets under management. This is more than five times the size of the total GDP of UN Security Council permanent member Russia and nearly four times the GDP of the UK.
So-called sovereign countries are not sovereign over their own central banks nor are they “sovereign” over international financial institutions like the IMF, the New Development Bank (NDB), the World Bank or the Bank for International Settlements. The notion that any nation state or intergovernmental organisation is capable of bringing the global network of private capital to heel is farcical.
At the COP26 Conference in Glasgow in 2021, King Charles III—then Prince Charles—prepared the conference to endorse the forthcoming announcement of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). He made it abundantly clear who was in charge and, in keeping with UN objectives, clarified national governments role as “enabling partners”:
The scale and scope of the threat we face call for a global systems level solution based on radically transforming our current fossil fuel based economy. [. . .] So ladies and gentleman, my plea today is for countries to come together to create the environment that enables every sector of industry to take the action required. We know this will take trillions, not billions of dollars. [. . .] [W]e need a vast military style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector, with trillions at [its] disposal far beyond global GDP, and with the greatest respect, beyond even the governments of the world’s leaders. It offers the only real prospect of achieving fundamental economic transition.
Unless Putin and Xi Jinping intend to completely restructure the United Nations, including all of its institutions and specialised agencies, their objective of protecting “the United Nations-driven international architecture” appears to be nothing more than a bid to cement their status as the nominal leaders of the UN-G3P. As pointed out by UN-DESA, through the UN-G3P, that claim to political authority is extremely limited. Global corporations dominate and are currently further consolidating their global power through “multi-stakeholder governance.”
Whether unipolar or multipolar, the so-called “world order” is the system of global governance led by the private sector—the oligarchs. Nation-states, including Russia and China, have already agreed to follow global priorities determined at the global governance level. The question is not which model of the global public-private “world order” we should accept, but rather why we would ever accept any such “world order” at all.
This, then, is the context within which we can explore the alleged advantages of a “multipolar world order” led by China, Russia and increasingly India. Is it an attempt, as claimed by some, to reinvigorate the United Nations and create a more just and equitable system of global governance? Or is it merely the next phase in the construction of what many refer to as the “New World Order”?
The pdf will be available after publication of Part 3.
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Who Are The New World Order – A Brief History The New World Order And the European Union Is It Joe Biden’s New World Order? Putin’s False Flag
Beginning in 1949, the German Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss taught at the University of Chicago. He soon formed a small group of Jewish disciples from among his students. He taught them orally, which was quite different from his writings. According to him, the democracies had shown their inability to protect the Jews from the Nazi final solution. To prevent this tragedy from happening again and the hammer from falling on them, his disciples had to be on the other side of the handle.
He advised them to build their own dictatorship.
Organizing his followers, Leo Strauss called them his "hoplites" (soldiers of Sparta). He trained them to disrupt the classes of some of his fellow teachers.
Several of the members of this sect have held very high positions in the United States and Israel. The operation and ideology of this grouping were the subject of controversy after the attacks of September 11, 2001. An abundant literature has opposed the supporters and opponents of the philosopher. However, the facts are indisputable .
Anti-Semitic authors have wrongly lumped together Straussians, Jewish communities in the Diaspora and the State of Israel. However, the ideology of Leo Strauss was never discussed in the Jewish world before 9/11. From a sociological point of view, it is a sectarian phenomenon, not at all representative of Jewish culture. However, in 2003, Benjamin Netanyahu’s "revisionist Zionists" made a pact with the US Straussians, in the presence of other Israeli leaders . This alliance was never made public.
One of the characteristics of this group is that they are ready for anything. For example, they wanted to return Iraq to the stone age. This is indeed what they did. For them, all sacrifices are possible, including for themselves, as long as they remain the first; not the best, the first !
In 1992, an advisor to the Secretary of Defense, the Straussian Paul Wolfowitz, wrote the Defense Planning Guidance. It was the first official US document reflecting the thinking of Leo Strauss [(#nb4 "The 1976 report of the "B Team" accusing the USSR of wanting to dominate (...)")]. Wolfowitz was introduced to Strauss’ thought by the American philosopher Allan Bloom (a friend of the Frenchman Raymond Aron), but he himself only briefly knew the master at the end of his teaching in Chicago. However, the US ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, recognized him as "one of the great Straussian figures" .
In the context of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Wolfowitz developed a strategy to maintain US hegemony over the entire rest of the world.
The Defense Planning Guidance should have remained confidential, but the New York Times revealed its main lines and published extracts . Three days later, the Washington Post revealed further details . In the end, the original text was never made public, but a version edited by the Secretary of Defense (and future Vice President), Dick Cheney, was circulated.
It is known that the original document was based on a series of meetings in which two other people, all three Straussian, participated: Andrew Marshall, the Pentagon’s "thinker" (who was replaced three years after his death by Arthur Cebrowski), Albert Wohlstetter, the thinker of the atomic deterrence strategy, and his son-in-law Richard Perle, the future director of the Defense Policy Board. The Defense Planning Guidance was written by a student of Wohlstetter, Zalmay Khalilzad (future ambassador to the UN).
The document speaks of a new "world order [...] ultimately supported by the United States", in which the sole superpower would only have temporary alliances, depending on the conflict. The UN and even NATO would be increasingly sidelined. More broadly, the Wolfowitz Doctrine theorizes the need for the United States to block the emergence of any potential competitor to U.S. hegemony, especially "advanced industrial nations" such as Germany and Japan. Particularly targeted is the European Union: "While the United States supports the European integration project, we must be careful to prevent the emergence of a purely European security system that would undermine NATO, and particularly its integrated military command structure. The Europeans will thus be asked to include in the Maastricht Treaty a clause subordinating their defense policy to that of NATO, while the Pentagon report recommends the integration of the new Central and Eastern European states into the European Union, while giving them the benefit of a military agreement with the United States that would protect them against a possible Russian attack .
For thirty years, this document has been patiently implemented.
– The Maastricht Treaty includes a paragraph 4 in Title V, Article J4, which stipulates: "The policy of the Union within the meaning of this Article shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States and shall respect the obligations of certain Member States under the North Atlantic Treaty and be compatible with the common security and defence policy established within that framework. These provisions have been included in the various texts up to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union.
– The former Warsaw Pact member states have almost all joined the European Union. This decision was a choice imposed by Washington and announced by Secretary of State James Baker just before the European Council meeting that endorsed it.
In 2000, Paul Wolfowitz was, together with Zbignew Brzezinki, the main speaker at a large Ukrainian-US symposium in Washington, organized by Ukrainian "integral nationalists" who had taken refuge in the USA. There he pledged to support independent Ukraine, to provoke Russia to go to war with it, and ultimately to finance the destruction of the resurgent rival of the USA .
These commitments were implemented with the passage of the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 on April 28, 2022 . Ukraine is now exempt from all arms control procedures, including end-use certificates. Very expensive weapons are leased by the USA to the EU to defend Ukraine. When the war is over, the Europeans will have to pay for what they have consumed. And the bill will be heavy.
Victoria Nuland and Anthony Blinken in John Kerry’s office
Although the European elites have benefited from their alliance with the United States so far, they should not be surprised that the United States is now trying to destroy them under the Defense Planning Guidance. They have already seen what Washington was capable of after the 9/11 attacks: Paul Wolfowitz forbade countries that had expressed reservations about the war, such as Germany and France, to conclude contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq .
At present, the rise in the price of energy sources and their increasing scarcity threaten not only the heating and transportation of individuals, but above all the survival of all their industries. If this phenomenon continues, it is the economy of the European Union as a whole that will suddenly collapse, taking its population back at least a century.
This phenomenon is difficult to analyze because the prices and availability of energy sources vary according to many factors.
First, prices depend on supply and demand. As a result, they have risen with the overall economic recovery from the end of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Second, energy sources are the main targets of speculators. Even more so than currencies. The world price of oil can be multiplied by 2.5 just by the effect of speculation.
So far, everything is usual and known. But the Western sanctions against Russia, following its application of the Minsk II Agreement, for which it was the guarantor before the Security Council, have broken the world market. From now on, there is no longer a global price, but different prices according to the countries of the sellers and the customers. There are still prices quoted on the stock exchange in Wall Street and the City, but they bear no relation to those in Beijing and New Delhi.
Above all, oil and gas, which were abundant in the European Union, are starting to run out, while globally they are still in overabundance.
All our reference points have been turned upside down. Our statistical tools, designed for the global market, are not at all adapted to the current period. We can therefore only make assumptions, without any means of verifying them. This situation allows many people to talk nonsense with an air of authority; in fact, we are all evolving at a guessing pace.
One of the current factors is the reflux of dollars which were used for trade and speculation and which are no longer usable for these transactions in certain countries. This mostly virtual currency is leaving Russia and its allies to go to or return to the countries where it is still used. This is a gigantic phenomenon that the Federal Reserve and the US military have always wanted to avoid, but which the Straussians in the Biden administration (Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his deputy Victoria Nuland) have deliberately provoked.
Wrongly convinced that Russia has invaded Ukraine and is trying to annex it, the Europeans forbid themselves to trade with Moscow. In practice, they still consume Russian gas, but they are convinced that Gazprom will cut off their gas supply. For example, their press announced that the Russian company was closing the Nord Stream pipeline, although it had announced a three-day technical interruption. Normally, gas pipeline deliveries are interrupted for maintenance for two days every two months. Here, Gazprom was hampered in its maintenance by the Western blockade, which prevented the return of the turbines it had sent for repair to Canada. However, the population understood that the evil Russians had cut off their gas on the eve of winter.
The European propaganda aims to prepare public opinion for a definitive closure of the gas pipeline and to put the responsibility on Russia.
In this case, the leaders of the Union are simply implementing the directives of the Straussians. In doing so, they are scuttling European industry to the detriment of their citizens. Already some energy-intensive factories have reduced their production or even closed.
The process of decrepitude of the European Union will continue as long as no one dares to oppose it. To everyone’s surprise, a first pro-Russian demonstration was held on September 3 in Prague. The police admitted to 70,000 people (for a country of 10 million), but there were probably many more. Political commentators despise them and consider them "Putin’s useful idiots". But these insults do not mask the unease of European elites.
Energy experts consider power cuts throughout the Union inevitable. Only Hungary, which has previously obtained exemptions, could escape the rules of the single energy market. Those who can produce electricity will have to share it with those who cannot. It doesn’t matter whether this inability is the result of bad luck or short-sightedness.
Brussels should start with voltage reductions, then cut off at night, and finally during the day. Individuals will have difficulties to maintain elevators, to heat their homes in winter, to cook if they use electric plates and, those who use trains, buses or electric cars, should have difficulties to move. Energy-intensive businesses, such as blast furnaces, are expected to close. Infrastructures are expected to become impassable, such as long tunnels that can no longer be ventilated. Above all, electronic installations designed for continuous operation will not be able to withstand repeated interruptions. This will be the case, for example, for antennas that are essential for cell phone networks, which will be thrown away after three months of this treatment.
In third world countries where electricity is scarce, battery powered leds are used for lighting and UPS to power low consumption machines, such as computers or televisions. But these materials are currently not available in the EU.
The EU’s GDP has already fallen by almost 1%. Will this recession continue as the Straussians plan, or will the citizens of the Union interrupt it, as part of the Czech people are trying to do?
The Straussians will go all the way. They have taken advantage of the decadence of the United States to take over the real power. Since a junkie, never elected, can use official planes galore to do business all over the world , they have quietly moved into the shadow of President Biden and are governing in his place. European leaders, on the other hand, are either blind or too committed to stop, acknowledge their thirty years of mistakes and turn back.
What to remember:
- The Straussians are a fanatical sect ready to do anything to maintain the supremacy of the United States over the world. They imagined the wars that have plagued the world for the past thirty years and the one in Ukraine today.
- They persuaded the European Union that Moscow wanted to annex first Ukraine and then all of Central Europe. With that, they convinced Brussels to stop all trade with Russia.
- The energy crisis that is beginning is leading the European Union towards electricity and power cuts that will wreak havoc on the way of life of its citizens and on its economy.
The UK and Commonwealth may be mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II yesterday. I am in mourning as well, but for a very different reason: the gathering of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in the Ramstein air base in Germany yesterday reshuffled the deck on Western military and financial assistance to Ukraine, raising contributions to the ongoing holy crusade against Russia from still more nations and adding new, still more advanced precision strike weapons to the mix of deliveries to Kiev. It was an open summons to the Kremlin to escalate in turn, as were the test firing the same day of a new intercontinental rocket, the Minuteman III, from Vandenberg air base in California and the unannounced visit to Kiev yesterday of not only Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was featured in Western media accounts, but also other top officials of the Biden administration. The most notorious member of this delegation was surely Blinken’s deputy, Victoria Nuland, who had stage managed the February 2014 coup that put in power in Kiev the Russia-hating regime that Zelensky now heads.
The Russians may be compelled to take the bait due to the course of military action on the ground. As now becomes clear, they have just suffered some losses in very heavy ground and artillery fighting these past few days around Kharkov. The Ukrainian gains were facilitated by the advanced weaponry recently arrived from NATO countries, by the targeting data they are receiving from the U.S. and from off-stage tactical direction from NATO officers. By ‘take the bait,’ I mean the Russians may escalate to all out war on Ukraine. This question figured prominently in yesterday’s major news and political talk show programs of Russian state television. I will go into these matters in some detail below.
Regrettably, all of the foregoing also obliges me to revisit the critique I published a couple of weeks ago on the latest essay in Foreign Affairs magazine by John Mearsheimer. His overarching message on the dangers of our stumbling into a nuclear war is better substantiated by the latest developments, even though I believe that Mearsheimer failed to identify the several successive steps that lie ahead before we find ourselves in such a war. Mearsheimer oversimplified Russian options to deal with setbacks on the ground. This also will be a central issue in my narrative below.
Finally, in this essay I will direct attention to the second dimension of the ongoing confrontation between Russia and the entire Collective West: the economic war being waged on the Russian Federation via sanctions, which now far outnumber those directed against any other country on earth. This war, as I will argue, is going well for the Russians. More importantly for us all, it is the sole area in which the peoples of Europe may have a say in putting an end to the mad policies being pursued by their national governments under the direct pressure of Washington.
Over the past ten days, we have witnessed the start of the Ukrainian counter-offensive which was preceded by so much anticipation in Western media. A reversal of Russian fortunes in the war was predicted, leading to the stalemate or outright defeat for Russia which Mearsheimer and some other analysts in the US foreign policy community feared would trigger a nuclear response from the Kremlin.
In fact, the Ukrainian counter-offensive got off to a very bad start. It opened in the south, in the Kherson region. Kherson, which is predominantly Russian-speaking, was the first major Ukrainian city to fall to the Russians and it has strategic importance for ensuring Russian domination of the Black Sea littoral. However, first results of the Ukrainian attacks there were disastrous for the Ukrainian armed forces. It soon was obvious that they had deployed new recruits who had little or no military experience. The infantry attacked across open terrain where they were easily destroyed in vast numbers by the Russian defenders of Kherson. I have heard the figure of 5,000 Ukrainian casualties in the Kherson counter offensive. Obviously the Russians were jubilant, though there were reports of some Ukrainian reservists being withdrawn from the field of action for redeployment elsewhere.
What followed was something the Russians evidently did not expect, namely a well prepared and implemented assault on their positions around the northeastern city of Kharkov, Ukraine’s second largest city. Kharkov was briefly surrounded by Russian forces at the start of the war, but was left in relative peace as the Russians refocused their strategy on taking the Donbas and avoiding major urban warfare except in one place, Mariupol. Exactly what the Russian game plan has been was recently explained in a remarkable paper published by a certain ‘Marinus’ in the Marine Corps Gazette. See https://www.imetatronink.com/2022/08/a-former-us-marine-corps-officers.html
A couple of days ago I picked up the following amidst the chatter of panelists on Evening with Vladimir Solovyov: “yes, we made some mistakes, but it is inevitable in a war that mistakes are made.” As from the latest news on the apparent loss of Balakliya and surrounding villages on the outskirts of Kharkov, we can see that the Ukrainian tactics were precisely those which Russia had been using so effectively against them from day one of the ‘special military operation,’ namely a feint in one war zone followed by all-out attack on a very different region. Of course, the ‘feint’ around Kherson, if that is what it was, entailed the cynical sacrifice of thousands of young and not so young Ukrainian foot soldiers. But the resultant distraction prevented the Russians from bringing up sufficient manpower to successfully defend their positions around Kharkov, which include the strategically important city of Izyum.
Izyum is close to the Russian-Ukrainian border southeast of Kharkov and is a major logistical base for munitions and weaponry that are sent onward to support the Donbas operation. The latest information on the Russian side appears to be that the Russians have now dispatched large numbers of reservists to this area to hold their positions. They also speak of intense artillery duels. We may well assume that both sides have experienced heavy loss of life. As yet, the outcome is unforeseeable. Meanwhile, Russian war correspondents on the ground in Donetsk insist that the Russian advance towards Slavyansk, in the center of the former Donetsk oblast, is continuing without pause, which suggests that the strikes on their munitions stores claimed by the Ukrainians have not been totally effective. If Slavyansk is taken in the coming few weeks, then Russia will quickly assume control of the entire territory of the Donbas.
In last night’s talk show program, host Vladimir Solovyov said that this latest push in the Ukrainian counter-offensive was timed to coincide with the gathering at the Ramstein air base, Germany of top officials from NATO and other allies under the direction of the visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. If the Ukrainian efforts were failing in the field, then the cry would go up: we must provide them with more weapons and training. And if the Ukrainian efforts in the counter-offensive were succeeding, those in attendance at Ramstein would hear exactly the same appeal to aid Kiev.
Though Evening with Solovyov, on air from about 23.00 Moscow time, offered viewers some few minutes of video recordings from the opening of the Ramstein gathering, far more complete coverage was provided to Russian audiences a few hours earlier by the afternoon news show Sixty Minutes. Here, nearly half an hour on air was given over to lengthy excerpts from CNN and other U.S. and European mainstream television reporting about Ramstein. Host Yevgeni Popov read the Russian translation of the various Western news bulletins. His presentation clearly sought to dramatize the threat and to set off alarm bells.
For his part, Vladimir Solovyov went beyond presentation of the threat posed by the United States and its allies to analysis of Russia’s possible response. He spoke at length, and we may assume that what he was saying had the direct approval of the Kremlin, because his guests, who are further removed from Power than he is, were, for the most part, allowed only to talk blather, such as the critique by one panelist of a recent pro-Ukraine, anti-Russia article in The New York Review of Books by Yale professor Timothy Snyder, who counts for nothing in the big strategic issues Russia faces today.
So, what did Solovyov have to say? First, that Ramstein marked a new stage in the war, because of the more threatening nature of the weapons systems announced for delivery, such as missiles with accuracy of 1 to 2 meters when fired from distances of 20 or 30 kilometers thanks to their GPS-guided flight, in contrast to the laser-guided missiles delivered to Ukraine up till now. In the same category, there are weapons designed to destroy the Russians’ radar systems used for directing artillery fire. Second, that Ramstein marked the further expansion of the coalition or holy crusade waging war on Russia. Third, that in effect this is no longer a proxy war but a real direct war with NATO and should be prosecuted with appropriate mustering of all resources at home and abroad.
Said Solovyov, Russia should throw off constraints and destroy the Ukrainian dual use infrastructure which makes it possible to move Western weapons across the country to the front. The railway system, the bridges, the electricity generating stations all should become fair targets. Moreover, Kiev should no longer be spared missile strikes and destruction of the ministries and presidential apparatus responsible for prosecution of the war. I note that these ideas were aired on the Solovyov program more than a month ago but then disappeared from view while the Russians were making great gains on the ground. The latest setbacks and the new risks associated with the Western policies set out at Ramstein bring them to the surface again.
Solovyov also argued that Russia should now use in Ukraine its own most advanced weapons that have similar characteristics to what NATO is delivering to the other side. As a sub-point, Russia should consider neutralizing in one way or another the GPS guidance for U.S. weapons. Of course, if this means destroying or blinding the respective U.S. satellites, that would mean crossing a well-known U.S. red line or casus belli.
Next, in the new circumstances, Russia should abandon its go-it-alone policy and actively seek out complementary weapons systems from previously untouchable countries, such as Iran and North Korea. Procurements from both have till now been minimal. On this issue, a couple of panelists with military expertise were allowed to explain that both these countries have sophisticated and proven weapons that could greatly assist Russia’s war effort. Iran has unbeatable drones which carry hefty explosive charges and have proven their worth in operations that are unmentionable on public television. And North Korea has very effective tanks and highly portable field artillery which are both fully compatible with Russian military practice, because the designs were based on Chinese weapons, which in turn were copies of Russia’s own. These weapons also have shown their worth in the hands of unnamed purchasers in the Middle East. Moreover, North Korea has a vast store of munitions fully compatible with Russian artillery. It was also mentioned in passing that insofar as Kiev has mobilized in the field many Western mercenaries and covert NATO officers, Russia should also recruit from abroad, as for example, whole brigades from North Korea available for hire.
If any of these ideas put out by Solovyov last night are indeed implemented by the Kremlin, then the present confrontation in and over Ukraine will truly become globalized, and we have the outlines of what may be called World War III. However, I note that the use of nuclear weapons, tactical or otherwise, does not figure at all in the set of options that official Moscow discusses in relation to the challenges it faces in its Ukraine operation. Such a possibility would arise only if the NATO forces being sent to the EU’s ‘front line states’ grew in number by several times those presently assigned and appeared to be preparing to invade Russia.
Before Ramstein, before the news of Ukrainian successes on the ground in the Kharkov sector, I had plans to write about a very different development this past week that coincided with a different calendar: the end of summer vacations and return to work of our national governments. With the return, our presidents and prime ministers would finally have to address the critical state of the European economies, which are facing the highest inflation rates in decades and an energy crisis brought about by the sanctions on Russian hydrocarbons. Speculation was rife on what exactly they would do.
I was particularly struck by several articles in the 7 September edition of The Financial Times and planned to comment on them.
For months now, the FT has been the voice of Number 10, Downing Street, at the vanguard of the Western crusade to crush Russia. Their editorial board has consistently backed every proposal for sanctions against Russia, however hare-brained. And yet on the 7th their journalists ran away with the show and cast doubt on the basic assumptions held by their bosses. One article by Derek Brower in the “FT Energy Source” newsletter has the self-explanatory title “The price cap idea that could worsen the energy crisis.” As we saw today, Brower’s concern was misplaced: finally, the EU could not agree a price cap policy. This notion, promoted from the United States by none other than the Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, is in full contradiction with the practices of the global hydrocarbon market, as even a few EU leaders understood, depriving the initiators from the Baltic States of their hoped for consensus.
Another article of the 7th in FT, by Valentina Pop, Europe Express Editor, analyzed quickly and competently the problems facing European policy-makers in their bid to alleviate the pain to households and industry that the latest electricity and heating bills would otherwise present, given that they are several times higher than just a year ago and are unaffordable by large swathes of the population. Pop identified the key issue thus: how to provide aid quickly to those most in need given the constraints and resources available to the various government bureaucracies: “Some capitals will take many months in determining which households require help” she says. Of course, ‘many months’ of patience in the broad population will not be there.
But the most surprising article in this collection from the 7th was in the “Opinion Lex” section of the paper which was nominally about how Russian banks have weathered the storm that broke out when the EU sanctions on their industry first were laid down shortly after the start of Russia’s ‘special military operation.’ Indeed, VTB and other major Russian banks have returned to profitability despite it all. The author finds that ‘sanctions are biting less than western politicians hoped.’ Not only did the expected banking crisis not materialize, but the ruble is at five-year peaks and inflation is falling. Moreover the official Russian financial data behind these generalizations is said to be sound by independent and trustworthy market observers. The key conclusions are saved for last: “Russia has shown it can bear the pain of western sanctions. Western Europe must endure reprisals as robustly, or concede a historic defeat.’ The ‘reprisals’ in question are the complete shutdown of Russian gas deliveries through Nord Stream I until Europe lifts its sanctions.
It is interesting that even the Opinion article by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg published on the 7th in FT carries the following grim warning: “We face a difficult six months, with the threat of energy cuts, disruptions and perhaps even civil unrest.’ [emphasis mine]
To be sure, here and there in Europe, there are a few clever administrators who find promising solutions to the pending crisis of energy bills. In her first day in office, Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss announced one such solution: to immediately freeze the maximum energy bill per household at the present level of 2500 pounds sterling per year and then to turn around and agree with the power companies a subsidy for them to cover their losses.
This is fine for nipping in the bud possible ‘civil unrest.’ But the question remains how Britain will finance the estimated 150 billion pounds this will cost in the first year alone. If a similar solution were approved in the EU, the overall cost would surely approach the 800 billion euros of assistance borrowed to cover losses attributable to the Covid pandemic a year ago. But whereas the Covid aid was financed by collective borrowing of the EU, no such solidarity is likely to deal with the energy crisis, given that Germany, the Netherlands and other northern Member States oppose this becoming a general practice and will apply a veto. The British solution, however clever it may be, will hardly be available to many countries in the EU on their own given their high state indebtedness.
Then there is the second question of what to do to assist industry. Failure to give industry proper relief will result in company closures and rampant unemployment, which finally also sparks political protest. In any case, such solutions do not deal with the knock-on effects of vastly increased government borrowing to finance the energy subsidies, something which in the best of times always reduces capital available for other government services and capital available to private business for investment and job creation.
These various problems in dealing with the energy crisis that Europe created for itself by imposing sanctions on Russia may well be intractable and may well lead to spontaneous protests in a number of European countries this fall.
There is,no anti-war movement on the Old Continent to speak of. So popular protests over the ‘heat or eat’ dilemma being imposed from the chanceries on the people without anything resembling public debate may be the salvation of us all if they induce war mongering politicans to resign.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022
In October 2011 and February 2012 the US-led NATO organisation, with the backing of the Gulf autocracies, tried to secure UN Security Council resolutions, which in all probability would have served as a pretext for an invasion of Syria.
These efforts replicated the deceptive game that America, Britain and France had played in obtaining a resolution regarding Libya, on 17 March 2011, which they immediately violated in bombing that country. By the autumn of 2011, Russia and China knew that US-NATO were attempting the same subterfuge again, in their desire to topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Moscow and Beijing therefore vetoed the resolutions.
Not put off by these setbacks, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lobbied heavily in 2012 for an attack on Syria. Clinton said she had the support of former CIA director Leon Panetta, and felt the Americans should have been “more willing to confront Assad”; she stressed “I still believe we should've done a no-fly zone”, the green light for a US-NATO invasion as was the case in Libya.
Clinton said she wanted to “move aggressively” against Syria and drew up a plan to do so, but it was never implemented (1). She had previously supported the US-led invasions of Yugoslavia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003) and Libya (2011).
In their policies towards Syria, Washington and NATO were adopting a similar stance to terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda, which was supporting the drive to oust Assad. On 27 July 2011, the new Al Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri outlined his solidarity with the extremists. Zawahiri called for Assad to go, and expressed regret that he could not be in Syria himself. “I would have been amongst you and with you” he said, but he continued that “there are enough and more Mujahideen and garrisoned ones” present in Syria already. He described Assad as “America's partner in the war on Islam”. (2)
Zawahiri did not mention that the Syrian president had opposed the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Assad was, in fact, the first Arab leader other than Saddam Hussein to condemn the attack. Less than 10 days into the invasion Assad predicted, “The United States and Britain will not be able to control all of Iraq. There will be much tougher resistance”. He said of the Anglo-American forces “we hope they do not succeed” in Iraq “and we doubt that they will – there will be Arab popular resistance and this has begun”. (3)
The revolts that began in Syria, during the spring of 2011, would have lasted for only a couple of months but for outside intervention that radicalised it (4). Syria did not have to endure the ensuing years of warfare, yet the foreign powers – notably the imperial triumvirate of America, Britain and France – had sustained it with the assistance of their allies from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, not to mention the jihadist groups. The opening protests in March 2011 were not against Assad to start with, but had been directed towards deficiencies at the provincial level.
Neil Quilliam, a scholar who specialises in the Middle East, said of the disharmony in Syria which began in the southern town of Daraa: “The rebellion as it started was very localized. It was much more to do with local grievances against local security chiefs – it was about corruption at the local level” (5). The unrest was erroneously depicted in the West as aimed at Assad's government. It was then exploited by the US-NATO powers to attempt regime change in Syria for geopolitical reasons.
Israel's military intelligence website, DEBKAfile, reported that since 2011 special forces from the British SAS and MI6 were training anti-Assad militants in Syria itself. Other UK personnel from the Special Boat Service (SBS) and the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG), units of the British Armed Forces, had also been training combatants in Syria from 2011. Moreover, that same year French foreign agents of the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), and the Special Operations Command, were encouraging unrest against Assad. (6)
As 2011 advanced, the anti-Assad revolts were infiltrated by rising numbers of Al Qaeda fighters. On 12 February 2012, in an eight minute video Zawahiri urged jihadists in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to come to the aid of their “brothers in Syria” and to give them “money, opinion, as well as information”. Zawahiri said that the America was insincere in demonstrating solidarity with them. (7)
Also in February 2012, Hillary Clinton admitted that Zawahiri “is supporting the opposition in Syria” and she intimated that the US was on the same side as him (8). Clinton promised that the Americans would continue to provide logistical help to the insurgents, so as to co-ordinate military operations.
Zawahiri's demand for jihad against Syria was supported by Al Qaeda's number two, Abu Yahya al-Libi. He was an extremist from Libya who had participated in the recent conflict against Muammar Gaddafi, alongside numerous other terrorists. Al-Libi said in a video from 18 October 2011, “We call on our brothers in Iraq, Jordan and Turkey to go to help their brothers [in Syria]” (9). By late 2011, there were links between the jihadists who overthrew Gaddafi, and those attempting to inflict a similar fate on Assad.
With the Russian and Chinese vetoes on the UN resolutions, Washington was unable to launch a large-scale invasion of Syria, but the goal of president Barack Obama and his allies remained that of regime change. Through 2011 and beyond, the leaders of America (Obama), Britain (David Cameron), France (Nicolas Sarkozy) and Germany (Angela Merkel) separately called for Assad to leave, disingenuously raising concerns over the Syrian people's plight.
Merkel for example, who had supported the US invasion of Iraq, said on 18 August 2011 that Assad should “face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people”. This allegation was repeated by other Western leaders, and likewise the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. It was completely false.
Less than six months later the English journalist Jonathan Steele, citing a reliable poll, noted that 55% of Syrians wanted Assad to remain as president. Steele wrote that this inconvenient reality “was ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go”. (10)
For the West and its allies, as envisaged, Assad's fall would increase US power in the Mediterranean and Middle East, while delivering a blow to Russian, Iranian and Chinese influence. The Kremlin would have to abandon its naval base in Tartus, western Syria, pushing Russia out of the Mediterranean. Supply routes through which weaponry was delivered to Hezbollah, in nearby Lebanon, would also be eliminated.
With a Western-friendly regime in Syria, the noose would have been closed tighter around Iran. There are vast amounts of oil and gas beside the Syrian coastline in the Levantine Basin. However, Syria was a more difficult and complicated problem for US-NATO than the likes of Libya. In Syria the West was confronting the interests of Russia, China and Iran, three countries with ample resources and powerful militaries.
Meanwhile, the terrorists were starting to wreak havoc. Germany's intelligence agency BND informed the Bundestag (parliament) that, from late December 2011 until early July 2012, there were 90 terrorist attacks perpetrated in Syria by organisations tied to Al Qaeda and other extremist groups (11). The “moderates” were unleashing suicide and car bombings against Syrian government forces and civilians. One suicide raid on 18 July 2012 killed Assad's brother-in-law, General Assef Shawkat, and the Syrian defence minister, General Dawoud Rajiha. The Free Syrian Army, supported by US-NATO and the Gulf autocracies, claimed responsibility for this atrocity. (12)
The jihad only harmed and delegitimised the insurgents' aims, and effectively that of the West. The Syrian public could see, about a year into the war, that considerable numbers of those trying to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic were extremists. The terrorism ensured that defections to the opposition almost came to a halt.
From now on, the majority of military personnel remained loyal to Assad. More terrorist assaults in early October 2012 killed 40 people, consisting of four car bombings which damaged Aleppo's government district. This further undermined the insurgents. Al-Nusra Front, tied to Al Qaeda, took responsibility for these insane acts which served no purpose but to inflict bloodshed on innocent people. Suicide bombings grew in frequency.
The atrocities shocked Syria's populace and bolstered sympathy for Assad. The Syrian president undoubtedly reacted to the terrorist rampages with an iron fist; his response may have been influenced too by the ongoing threat of a US-NATO invasion, as Western politicians continued to call for his resignation.
Israel's head of military intelligence, Major-General Aviv Kochavi, informed the Israeli parliament in mid-July 2012 that “radical Islam” was gaining a foothold in Syria. Kochavi said, “We can see an ongoing flow of Al Qaeda and global jihad activists into Syria”. He was worried that “the Golan Heights could become an arena of activity against Israel” which was “as a result of growing jihad movement in Syria” (13). The Golan Heights, 40 miles south of Damascus, is Syrian territory under Israeli occupation since 1967. Kochavi felt that Assad “won't survive the upheaval”.
The Western-backed Free Syrian Army in part comprised of mercenaries recruited from Libya, along with Al Qaeda, Wahhabi and Salafist extremists. As the Al Qaeda boss Zawahiri had demanded, the radicals entered Syria from neighbouring Lebanon and NATO state Turkey, and were focused on prosecuting a sectarian war – through massacring Syria's ethnic groups such as the Alawites, Christians, Shia and Druze; that is, those mostly supportive of Assad whom the jihadists considered to be heretics.
The Syrian National Council (SNC), an anti-Assad entity based in Istanbul, Turkey, was established in August 2011. It had been organised by the special services of the Western powers, and was supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Turkey's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued to replace secularism with Islamism in Turkey, and he became centrally involved in fanning the flames of war in Syria. The Turks were acting as a US-NATO proxy force.
Erdogan allowed the Free Syrian Army to use Turkish bases in Antakya and Iskenderun, located in the far south of Turkey and beside the Syrian frontier. With Turkey's assistance, NATO arms were smuggled to the terrorists waging holy war on the Syrians. US intelligence agents were active in and around the southern Turkish city of Adana. (14)
Islamic jihadists arrived in Syria from distant European countries, such as Norway and Ireland; 100 of them alone entered Syria originating from Norway. Radical muslims of Uyghur ethnicity from Xinjiang province, north-western China, were fighting in Syria at the side of Al Qaeda from May 2012. The Uyghur militants belonged to the terrorist group, the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), and also the East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association, the latter organisation centred in Istanbul. Al-Libi, Al Qaeda's second-in-command, publicly championed the TIP's terrorist campaign against China's authorities in Xinjiang.
In all, jihadists from 14 African, Asian and European countries were estimated to be present in Syria from early in the conflict (15). They came from such states as Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, etc. This was partly a consequence and spillover of the March 2011 US-NATO invasion of Libya. In early 2012, more than 10,000 Libyan mercenaries were trained in Jordan, bordering Syria to the south. The militants were each paid $1,000 a month by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in order to encourage them to participate in the war on Syria. The Saudis were shipping weapons to the most extreme elements in Syria, something which Riyadh never denied.
In early August 2012, Assadist special forces captured 200 insurgents in an Aleppo suburb in north-western Syria. Government soldiers found Saudi and Turkish officers commanding the mercenaries. During early October 2012, in another district of Aleppo (Bustan al-Qasr), Assad's divisions repelled an attack and killed dozens of armed militia. They had entered Syria through Turkey and among them were four Turkish officers. Beside the American air base at Incirlik in southern Turkey, the jihadists received special training in modern weapons of war: anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, grenade launchers and US-made stinger missiles.
NATO aircraft, flying without insignia or coat of arms, were landing in Turkish military bases near Iskenderun, beside Syria's border. They carried armaments from Gaddafi's arsenals, as well as taking Libyan mercenaries to join the Free Syrian Army. Instructors from the British special forces continued to co-operate with the insurgents. The CIA, and contingents from the US Special Operations Command, were dispensing with and operating telecommunications equipment, allowing the “rebels” to evade Syrian Army units (16). The CIA was flying drones over Syria to gather intelligence.
In September 2012, nearly 50 high-ranking agents from the US, Britain, France and Germany were active along the Syrian-Turkish frontier (17). The Germans, at the behest of their intelligence service BND, were operating a spy service boat 'Oker (A 53)' in the Mediterranean, not far from Syria's western coastline. On board this vessel were 40 commandos specialising in intelligence operations, using electromagnetic and hydro-acoustic equipment. As Germany is a NATO member, these activities were most probably undertaken in agreement with Washington.
The Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) stationed two other intelligence ships in the Mediterranean, 'Alster (A 50)' and 'Oste (A 52)', collecting intelligence on Syrian Army positions. The BND president Gerhard Schindler confirmed of Syria that Berlin desired “a solid insight into the state of the country”. (18)
The German ships' point of support was Incirlik Air Base, which is home to 50 US nuclear bombs and hosts the Anglo-American air forces. The German vessels' mission was to decipher Syria's telecommunications signals, intercept messages from the Syrian government and chiefs of staff, and to uncover Assadist troop locations up to a radius of 370 miles off the coast, through satellite images.
Germany had a permanent listening post in Adana, southern Turkey, where they could intercept all calls made in Syria's capital Damascus (19). Merkel's government inevitably denied accusations that the German Navy was spying in the Mediterranean; it is the type of activity that few countries claim responsibility for.
1 The Week, “Hillary Clinton: I would have taken on Assad”, 7 April 2012
2 Joby Warrick, “Zawahiri asserts common cause with Syrians”, Washington Post, 27 July 2011
3 Jonathan Steele, “Assad predicts defeat for invasion force”, The Guardian, 28 March 2003
4 Luiz Alberto Moniz Bandeira, The Second Cold War: Geopolitics and the Strategic Dimensions of the USA (Springer 1st ed., 23 June 2017) p. 283
5 Sarah Burke, “How Syria's 'geeky' president went from doctor to 'dictator'”, NBC News, 30 October 2015
6 Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 246
7 Martina Fuchs, “Al Qaeda leader backs Syrian revolt against Assad”, Reuters, 12 February 2012
8 Wyatt Andrews, “Clinton: Arming Syrian rebels could help Al Qaeda”, CBS News, 27 February 2012
9 Reuters, “Islamist website posts video of Al Qaeda figure”, 13 June 2012
10 Jonathan Steele, “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know from Western media”, The Guardian, 17 January 2012
11 Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 269
12 Matt Brown, “Syrian ministers killed in Damascus bomb attack”, ABC News, 18 July 2012
13 Space Daily, “Assad moving troops from Golan to Damascus: Israel”, 17 July 2012
14 Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 264
15 Ibid., p. 265
16 Philip Giraldi, “NATO vs. Syria”, The American Conservative, 19 December 2011
17 Hürriyet Daily News, “There are 50 senior agents in Turkey, ex-spy says”, 16 September 2012
18 Thorsten Jungholt, “The Kiel-Syria connection”, Die Welt, 20 August 2012
19 Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 268
Dmitry Trenin: Six months into the conflict, what exactly does Russia hope to achieve in Ukraine? — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union
For about six years after the second Minsk Agreement was signed in 2015, the Kremlin tried hard to get that accord implemented. It would have ensured the autonomous status of Donbass within Ukraine and given the region influence on national politics and policies, including in the issue of the country’s geopolitical and geo-economic orientation. From the very start, however, Kiev was unwilling to cooperate on the deal’s implementation, seeing it as a win for Moscow. Washington, in pursuit of a policy to contain Russia, encouraged such an obstructionist stance, while Berlin and Paris, formally the guarantors of the agreement (alongside Russia), had no leverage in Kiev and ended up embracing the Ukrainian position.
Vladimir Zelensky’s election to Ukraine’s presidency in 2019 initially appeared to be an opening for peace, and President Putin made a serious effort to get the Minsk agreement off the ground. Kiev, however, soon backtracked and took an even more hardline position than before. Nevertheless, until mid-2021 the Kremlin continued to see as its goals in Ukraine a resolution of the Donbass issue essentially on the basis of Minsk, and the eventual de facto recognition of Crimea’s Russian status. In June of last year, Vladimir Putin, however, published a long article on Russian-Ukrainian relations which made it clear that he viewed the current situation as a major security, political, and identity issue for his country; recognized his personal responsibility; and was resolved to do something to strategically correct it. The article did not give away Putin’s game plan, but it laid out his basic thinking on Ukraine.
Last December, Moscow passed on to Washington a package of proposals, which amounted to a list of security guarantees for Russia. These included Ukraine’s formal neutrality between Russia and NATO (“no Ukraine in NATO”); and no deployment of US and other NATO weapons and military bases in Ukraine, as well as a ban on military exercises on Ukrainian territory (“no NATO in Ukraine”). While the US agreed to discuss some military technical issues dealt with in the Russian paper it rejected Moscow’s key demands related to Ukraine and NATO. Putin had to take no for an answer.
Just before the launch of its military operation, Moscow recognized the two Donbass republics and told Kiev to vacate the parts of Donetsk and Lugansk then under Ukrainian control – or face the consequences. Kiev refused, and hostilities began. Russia’s official reason for unleashing force was defending the two newly recognized republics which had asked for military assistance.
Shortly after the start of hostilities Russia and Ukraine began peace talks. In late March 2022 at a meeting in Istanbul, Moscow demanded that Zelensky’s government recognize the sovereignty of the two Donbass republics within their constitutional borders, as well as Russia’s own sovereignty over Crimea, which was formally incorporated into the Russian Federation in 2014, plus accept a neutral and demilitarized status for territory controlled by Kiev. At that point, Moscow still recognized the current Ukrainian authorities and was prepared to deal with them directly. For its part, Kiev initially appeared ready to accept Moscow’s demands (which were criticized by many within Russia as overly concessionary to Ukraine), but then quickly reverted to a hardline stance. Moscow has always suspected that this U-turn, as on previous occasions, was the result of US behind-the-scenes influence, often aided by the British and other allies.
From the spring of 2022, as the fighting continued, Moscow expanded its aims. These now included the “de-Nazification” of Ukraine, meaning not only the removal of ultra-nationalist and anti-Russian elements from the Ukrainian government (increasingly characterized by Russian officials now as the “Kiev regime”), but the extirpation of their underlying ideology (based around the World War Two Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera) and its influence in society, including in education, the media, culture and other spheres.
Next to this, Moscow added something that Putin called, in his trademark caustic way, the “de-Communization” of Ukraine, meaning ridding that country, whose leadership was rejecting its Soviet past, of the Russian-populated or Russian-speaking territories that had been awarded to the Soviet Ukrainian republic of the USSR by the Communist leaders in Moscow, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev. These include, besides Donbass, the entire southeast of Ukraine, from Kharkov to Odessa.
This change of policy led to dropping the early signals about Russia honoring Ukraine’s statehood outside Donbass, and to establishing Russian military government bodies in the territory seized by the Russian forces. Immediately following that, a drive started to de facto integrate these territories with Moscow. By the early fall of 2022, all of Kherson, much of Zaporozhye and part of Kharkov oblasts were being drawn into the Russian economic system; started to use the Russian ruble; adopted the Russian education system; and their population was offered a fast-track way to Russian citizenship.
As the fighting in Ukraine quickly became a proxy war between Russia and the US-led West, Russia’s views on Ukraine’s future radicalized further. While a quick cessation of hostilities and a peace settlement on Russian terms in the spring would have left Ukraine, minus Donbass, demilitarized and outside NATO, but otherwise under the present leadership with its virulently anti-Russian ideology and reliance on the West, the new thinking, as Putin’s remarks in Kaliningrad suggest, tends to regard any Ukrainian state that is not fully and securely cleansed of ultranationalist ideology and its agents as a clear and present danger; in fact, a ticking bomb right on Russia’s borders not far from its capital.
Under these circumstances, in view of all the losses and hardships sustained, it would not suffice that Russia wins control of what was once known as Novorossiya, the northern coast of the Black Sea all the way to Transnistria. This would mean that Ukraine would be completely cut off from the sea, and Russia would gain – via referenda, it is assumed – a large swath of territory and millions of new citizens. To reach that objective, of course, the Russian forces still need to seize Nikolaev and Odessa in the south, as well as Kharkov in the east. A logical next step would be to expand Russian control to all of Ukraine east of the Dnieper River, as well as the city of Kiev that lies mostly on the right bank. If this were to happen, the Ukrainian state would shrink to the central and western regions of the country.
Neither of these outcomes, however, deals with the fundamental problem that Putin has highlighted, that is to say, of Russia having to live side-by-side with a state that will constantly seek revenge and will be used by the United States, which arms and directs it, in its effort to threaten and weaken Russia. This is the main reason behind the argument for taking over the entire territory of Ukraine to the Polish border. However, integrating central and western Ukraine into Russia would be exceedingly difficult, while trying to build a Ukrainian buffer state controlled by Russia would be a major drain on resources, as well as a constant headache. No wonder that some in Moscow would not mind if Poland were to absorb western Ukraine within some form of a common political entity which, Russia’s foreign intelligence claims, is being surreptitiously created.
Ukraine’s future will not be dictated, of course, by someone’s wishes, but by the actual developments on the battlefield. Fighting there will continue for some time, and the final outcome is not in sight. Even when the active phase of the conflict comes to an end, it is unlikely to be followed up by a peace settlement. For different reasons, each side regards the conflict as existential – and much wider than Ukraine. This means that what Russia aims for has to be won and then held firmly.
We are pleased to bring you this fresh interview with Jacques Baud, in which we cover what is now happening in the geopolitical struggle that is the Ukraine-Russia war. As always, Mr. Baud brings deep insight and clear analysis to the conversation.
The Postil (TP): You have just published your latest book on the war in Ukraine—Operation Z, published by Max Milo. Please tell us a little about it—what led you to write this book and what do you wish to convey to readers?
Jacques Baud (JB): The aim of this book is to show how the misinformation propagated by our media has contributed to push Ukraine in the wrong direction. I wrote it under the motto “from the way we understand crises derives the way we solve them.”
By hiding many aspects of this conflict, the Western media has presented us with a caricatural and artificial image of the situation, which has resulted in the polarization of minds. This has led to a widespread mindset that makes any attempt to negotiate virtually impossible.
The one-sided and biased representation provided by mainstream media is not intended to help us solve the problem, but to promote hatred of Russia. Thus, the exclusion of disabled athletes, cats, even Russian trees from competitions, the dismissal of conductors, the de-platforming of Russian artists, such as Dostoyevsky, or even the renaming of paintings aims at excluding the Russian population from society! In France, bank accounts of individuals with Russian-sounding names were even blocked. Social networks Facebook and Twitter have systematically blocked the disclosure of Ukrainian crimes under the pretext of “hate speech” but allow the call for violence against Russians.
None of these actions had any effect on the conflict, except to stimulate hatred and violence against the Russians in our countries. This manipulation is so bad that we would rather see Ukrainians die than to seek a diplomatic solution. As Republican Senator Lindsey Graham recently said, it is a matter of letting the Ukrainians fight to the last man.
It is commonly assumed that journalists work according to standards of quality and ethics to inform us in the most honest way possible. These standards are set by the Munich Charter of 1971. While writing my book I found out that no French-speaking mainstream media in Europe respects this charter as far as Russia and China are concerned. In fact, they shamelessly support an immoral policy towards Ukraine, described by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico, as “We provide the weapons, you provide the corpses!”
To highlight this misinformation, I wanted to show that information allowing to provide a realistic picture of the situation was available as early as February, but that our media did not relay it to the public. My goal was to show this contradiction.
In order to avoid becoming a propagandist myself in favor of one side or the other, I have relied exclusively on Western, Ukrainian (from Kiev) and Russian opposition sources. I have not taken any information from the Russian media.
TP: It is commonly said in the West that this war has “proven” that the Russian army is feeble and that its equipment is useless. Are these assertions true?
JB: No. After more than six months of war, it can be said that the Russian army is effective and efficient, and that the quality of its command & control far exceeds what we see in the West. But our perception is influenced by a reporting that is focused on the Ukrainian side, and by distortions of reality.
Firstly, there is the reality on the ground. It should be remembered that what the media call “Russians” is in fact a Russian-speaking coalition, composed of professional Russian fighters and soldiers of the popular militias of Donbass. The operations in the Donbass are mainly carried out by these militias, who fight on “their” terrain, in towns and villages they know and where they have friends and family. They are therefore advancing cautiously for themselves, but also to avoid civilian casualties. Thus, despite the claims of western propaganda, the coalition enjoys a very good popular support in the areas it occupies.
Then, just looking at a map, you can see that the Donbass is a region with a lot of built-up and inhabited areas, which means an advantage for the defender and a reduced speed of progress for the attacker in all circumstances.
Secondly, there is the way our media portray the evolution of the conflict. Ukraine is a huge country and small-scale maps hardly show the differences from one day to another. Moreover, each side has its own perception of the progress of the enemy. If we take the example of the situation on March 25, 2022, we can see that the map of the French daily newspaper Ouest-France (a) shows almost no advance of Russia, as does the Swiss RTS site (b). The map of the Russian website RIAFAN (c) may be propaganda, but if we compare it with the map of the [French Military Intelligence Directorate](https://www.defense.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/ministere-armees/Situation Ukraine au 25 mars.pdf) (DRM) (d), we see that the Russian media is probably closer to the truth. All these maps were published on the same day, but the French newspaper and the Swiss state media did not choose to use the DRM map and preferred to use a Ukrainian map. This illustrates that our media work like propaganda outlets.
Figure 1 – Comparison of the maps presented in our media on 25 March 2022. It is this way of presenting the Russian offensive that has led to the assertion that the Russian army is weak. It also shows that the information provided by the Russian media seems closer to reality than that given by Ukraine.
Thirdly, our “experts” have themselves determined the objectives of the Russian offensive. By claiming that Russia wanted to take over Ukraine and its resources, to take over Kiev in two days, etc., our experts have literally invented and attributed to the Russians objectives that Putin never mentioned. In May 2022, Claude Wild, the Swiss ambassador in Kiev, declared on RTS that the Russians had “lost the battle for Kiev.” But in reality, there was never a “battle for Kiev.” It is obviously easy to claim that the Russians did not reach their objectives—if they never tried to reach them!
Fourthly, the West and Ukraine have created a misleading picture of their adversary. In France, Switzerland and Belgium, none of the military experts on television have any knowledge of military operations and how the Russians conduct theirs. Their “expertise” comes from the rumours from the war in Afghanistan or Syria, which are often merely Western propaganda. These experts have literally falsified the presentation of Russian operations.
Thus, the objectives announced as early as February 24 by Russia were the “demilitarization” and “denazification” of the threat to the populations of Donbass. These objectives are related to the neutralization of capabilities, not the seizure of land or resources. To put it bluntly, in theory, to achieve their goals the Russians do not need to advance—it would be enough if Ukrainians themselves would come and get killed.
In other words, our politicians and media have pushed Ukraine to defend the terrain like in France during the First World War. They pushed Ukrainian troops to defend every square meter of ground in “last stand” situations. Ironically, the West has only made the Russians’ job easier.
In fact, as with the war on terror, Westerners see the enemy as they would like him to be, not as he is. As Sun Tzu said 2,500 years ago, this is the best recipe for losing a war.
One example is the so-called “hybrid war” that Russia is allegedly waging against the West. In June 2014, as the West tried to explain Russia’s (imaginary) intervention in the Donbass conflict, Russia expert Mark Galeotti “revealed” the existence of a doctrine that would illustrate the Russian concept of hybrid warfare. Known as the “Gerasimov Doctrine,” it has never really been defined by the West as to what it consists of and how it could ensure military success. But it is used to explain how Russia wages war in Donbass without sending troops there and why Ukraine consistently loses its battles against the rebels. In 2018, realizing that he was wrong, Galeotti apologized—courageously and intelligently—in an article titled, “I’m Sorry for Creating the Gerasimov Doctrine” published in Foreign Policy magazine.
Despite this, and without knowing what it meant, our media and politicians continued to pretend that Russia was waging a hybrid war against Ukraine and the West. In other words, we imagined a type of war that does not exist and we prepared Ukraine for it. This is also what explains the challenge for Ukraine to have a coherent strategy to counter Russian operations.
The West does not want to see the situation as it really is. The Russian-speaking coalition has launched its offensive with an overall strength inferior to that of the Ukrainians in a ratio of 1-2:1. To be successful when you are outnumbered, you must create local and temporary superiorities by quickly moving your forces on the battlefield.
This is what the Russians call “operational art” (operativnoe iskoustvo). This notion is poorly understood in the West. The term “operational” used in NATO has two translations in Russian: “operative” (which refers to a command level) and “operational” (which defines a condition). It is the art of maneuvering military formations, much like a chess game, in order to defeat a superior opponent.
For example, the operation around Kiev was not intended to “deceive” the Ukrainians (and the West) about their intentions, but to force the Ukrainian army to keep large forces around the capital and thus “pin them down.” In technical terms, this is what is called a “shaping operation.” Contrary to the analysis of some “experts,” it was not a “deception operation,” which would have been conceived very differently and would have involved much larger forces. The aim was to prevent a reinforcement of the main body of the Ukrainian forces in the Donbass.
The main lesson of this war at this stage confirms what we know since the Second World War: the Russians master the operational art.
TP: Questions about Russia’s military raises the obvious question—how good is Ukraine’s military today? And more importantly, why do we not hear so much about the Ukrainian army?
JB: The Ukrainian servicemen are certainly brave soldiers who perform their duty conscientiously and courageously. But my personal experience shows that in almost every crisis, the problem is at the head. The inability to understand the opponent and his logic and to have a clear picture of the actual situation is the main reason for failures.
Since the beginning of the Russian offensive, we can distinguish two ways of conducting the war. On the Ukrainian side, the war is waged in the political and informational spaces, while on the Russian side the war is waged in the physical and operational space. The two sides are not fighting in the same spaces. This is a situation that I described in 2003 in my book, La guerre asymétrique ou la défaite du vainqueur (Asymmetric War, or the Defeat of the Winner). The trouble is that at the end of the day, the reality of the terrain prevails.
On the Russian side, decisions are made by the military, while on the Ukrainian side, Zelensky is omnipresent and the central element in the conduct of the war. He makes operational decisions, apparently often against the military’s advice. This explains the rising tensions between Zelensky and the military. According to Ukrainian media, Zelensky could dismiss General Valery Zoluzhny by appointing him Minister of Defence.
The Ukrainian army has been extensively trained by American, British and Canadian officers since 2014. The trouble is that for over 20 years, Westerners have been fighting armed groups and scattered adversaries and engaged entire armies against individuals. They fight wars at the tactical level and somehow have lost the ability to fight at the strategic and operative levels. This explains partly why Ukraine is waging its war at this level.
But there is a more conceptual dimension. Zelensky and the West see war as a numerical and technological balance of forces. This is why, since 2014, the Ukrainians have never tried to seduce the rebels and they now think that the solution will come from the weapons supplied by the West. The West provided Ukraine with a few dozen M777 guns and HIMARS and MLRS missile launchers, while Ukraine had several thousand equivalent artillery pieces in February. The Russian concept of “correlation of forces,” takes into account many more factors and is more holistic than the Western approach. That is why the Russians are winning.
To comply with ill-considered policies, our media have constructed a virtual reality that gives Russia the bad role. For those who observe the course of the crisis carefully, we could almost say they presented Russia as a “mirror image” of the situation in Ukraine. Thus, when the talk about Ukrainian losses began, Western communication turned to Russian losses (with figures given by Ukraine).
The so-called “counter-offensives” proclaimed by Ukraine and the West in Kharkov and Kherson in April-May were merely “counter-attacks.” The difference between the two is that counter-offensive is an operational notion, while counter-attack is a tactical notion, which is much more limited in scope. These counterattacks were possible because the density of Russian troops in these sectors was then 1 Battle Group (BTG) per 20 km of front. By comparison, in the Donbass sector, which was the primary focus, the Russian coalition had 1-3 BTG per km. As for the great August offensive on Kherson, which was supposed to take over the south of the country, it seems to have been nothing but a myth to maintain Western support.
Today, we see that the claimed Ukrainian successes were in fact failures. The human and material losses that were attributed to Russia were in fact more in line with those of Ukraine. In mid-June, David Arakhamia, Zelensky’s chief negotiator and close adviser, spoke of 200 to 500 deaths per day, and he mentioned casualties (dead, wounded, captured, deserters) of 1,000 men per day. If we add to this the renewed demands for arms by Zelensky, we can see that the idea of a victory for Ukraine appears quite an illusion.
Because Russia’s economy was thought to be comparable to Italy’s, it was assumed that it would be equally vulnerable. Thus, the West—and the Ukrainians—thought that economic sanctions and political isolation of Russia would quickly cause its collapse, without passing through a military defeat. Indeed, this is what we understand from the interview of Oleksei Arestovich, Zelensky’s advisor and spokesman, in March 2019. This also explains why Zelensky did not sound the alarm in early 2022, as he says in his interview with the Washington Post. I think he knew that Russia would respond to the offensive Ukraine was preparing in the Donbass (which is why the bulk of his troops were in that area) and thought that sanctions would quickly lead to Russia’s collapse and defeat. This is what Bruno Le Maire, the French Minister of the Economy, had “predicted.” Clearly, the Westerners have made decisions without knowing their opponent.
As Arestovich said, the idea was that the defeat of Russia would be Ukraine’s entry ticket to NATO. So, the Ukrainians were pushed to prepare an offensive in the Donbass in order to make Russia react, and thus obtain an easy defeat through devastating sanctions. This is cynical and shows how much the West—led by the Americans—has misused Ukraine for its own objectives.
The result is that the Ukrainians did not seek Ukraine’s victory, but Russia’s defeat. This is very different and explains the Western narrative from the first days of the Russian offensive, which prophesied this defeat.
But the reality is that the sanctions did not work as expected, and Ukraine found itself dragged into combats that it had provoked, but for which it was not prepared to fight for so long.
This is why, from the outset, the Western narrative presented a mismatch between media reported and the reality on the ground. This had a perverse effect: it encouraged Ukraine to repeat its mistakes and prevented it from improving its conduct of operations. Under the pretext of fighting Vladimir Putin, we pushed Ukraine to sacrifice thousands of human lives unnecessarily.
From the beginning, it was obvious that the Ukrainians were consistently repeating their mistakes (and even the same mistakes as in 2014-2015), and soldiers were dying on the battlefield. For his part, Volodymyr Zelensky called for more and more sanctions, including the most absurd ones, because he was led to believe that they were decisive.
I am not the only one to have noticed these mistakes, and Western countries could certainly have stopped this disaster. But their leaders, excited by the (fanciful) reports of Russian losses and thinking they were paving the way for regime change, added sanctions to sanctions, turning down any possibility of negotiation. As the French Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire said, the objective was to provoke the collapse of the Russian economy and make the Russian people suffer. This is a form of state terrorism: the idea is to make the population suffer in order to push it into revolting against its leaders (here, Putin). I am not making this up. This mechanism is detailed by Richard Nephew, head of sanctions at the State Department under Obama and currently Coordinator on Global Anti-Corruption, in his book entitled, The Art of Sanctions. Ironically, this is exactly the same logic that the Islamic State invoked to explain its attacks in France in 2015-2016. France probably does not encourage terrorism—but it does practice it.
The mainstream media do not present the war as it is, but as they would like it to be. This is pure wishful thinking. The apparent public support for the Ukrainian authorities, despite huge losses (some mention 70,000-80,000 fatalities), is achieved by banning the opposition, a ruthless hunt for officials who disagree with the government line, and “mirror” propaganda that attributes to the Russians the same failures as the Ukrainians. All this with the conscious support of the West.
TP: What should we make of the explosion at the Saki airbase in the Crimea?
JB: I do not know the details of the current security situation in Crimea. . We know that before February there were cells of volunteer fighters of Praviy Sektor (a neo-Nazi militia) in Crimea, ready to carry out terrorist-type attacks. Have these cells been neutralized? I don’t know; but one can assume so, since there is apparently very little sabotage activity in Crimea. Having said that, let us not forget that Ukrainians and Russians have lived together for many decades and there are certainly pro-Kiev individuals in the areas taken by the Russians. It is therefore realistic to think that there could be sleeper cells in these areas.
More likely it is a campaign conducted by the Ukrainian security service (SBU) in the territories occupied by the Russian-speaking coalition. This is a terrorist campaign targeting pro-Russian Ukrainian personalities and officials. It follows major changes in the leadership of the SBU, in Kiev, and in the regions, including Lvov, Ternopol since July. It is probably in the context of this same campaign that Darya Dugina was assassinated on August 21. The objective of this new campaign could be to convey the illusion that there is an ongoing resistance in the areas taken by the Russians and thus revive Western aid, which is starting to fatigue.
These sabotage activities do not really have an operational impact and seem more related to a psychological operation. It may be that these are actions like the one on Snake Island at the beginning of May, intended to demonstrate to the international public that Ukraine is acting.
What the incidents in Crimea indirectly show is that the popular resistance claimed by the West in February does not exist. It is most likely the action of Ukrainian and Western (probably British) clandestine operatives. Beyond the tactical actions, this shows the inability of the Ukrainians to activate a significant resistance movement in the areas seized by the Russian-speaking coalition.
TP: Zelensky has famously said, “Crimea is Ukrainian and we will never give it up.” Is this rhetoric, or is there a plan to attack Crimea? Are there Ukrainian operatives inside Crimea?
JB: First of all, Zelensky changes his opinion very often. In March 2022, he made a proposal to Russia, stating that he was ready to discuss a recognition of Russian sovereignty over the peninsula. It was upon the intervention of the European Union and Boris Johnson on 2 April and on 9 April that he withdrew his proposal, despite Russia’s favorable interest.
It is necessary to recall some historical facts. The cession of Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 was never formally validated by the parliaments of the USSR, Russia and Ukraine during the communist era. Moreover, the Crimean people agreed to be subject to the authority of Moscow and no longer of Kiev as early as January 1991. In other words, Crimea was independent from Kiev even before Ukraine became independent from Moscow in December 1991.
In July, Aleksei Reznikov, the Ukrainian Minister of Defense, spoke loudly of a major counter-offensive on Kherson involving one million men to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity. In reality, Ukraine has not managed to gather the troops, armor and air cover needed for this far-fetched offensive. Sabotage actions in Crimea may be a substitute for this “counter-offensive.” They seem to be more of a communication exercise than a real military action. These actions seem to be aimed rather at reassuring Western countries which are questioning the relevance of their unconditional support to Ukraine.
TP: Would you tell us about the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility?
JB: In Energodar, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), has been the target of several attacks by artillery, which Ukrainians and Russians attribute to the opposing side.
What we know is that the Russian coalition forces have occupied the ZNPP site since the beginning of March. The objective at that time was to secure the ZNPP quickly, in order to prevent it from being caught up in the fighting and thus avoid a nuclear incident. The Ukrainian personnel who were in charge of it have remained on site and continue to work under the supervision of the Ukrainian company Energoatom and the Ukrainian nuclear safety agency (SNRIU). There is therefore no fighting around the plant.
It is hard to see why the Russians would shell a nuclear plant that is under their control. This allegation is even more peculiar since the Ukrainians themselves state that there are Russian troops in the premises of the site. According to a French “expert,” the Russians would attack the power plant they control to cut off the electricity flowing to Ukraine. Not only would there be simpler ways to cut off the electricity to Ukraine (a switch, perhaps?), but Russia has not stopped the electricity supply to the Ukrainians since March. Moreover, I remind you that Russia has not stopped the flow of natural gas to Ukraine and has continued to pay Ukraine the transit fees for gas to Europe. It is Zelensky who decided to shut down the Soyuz pipeline in May.
Moreover, it should be remembered that the Russians are in an area where the population is generally favorable to them and it is hard to understand why they would take the risk of a nuclear contamination of the region.
In reality, the Ukrainians have more credible motives than the Russians that may explain such attacks against the ZNPP. , which are not mutually exclusive: an alternative to the big counter-offensive on Kherson, which they are not able to implement, and to prevent the planned referendums in the region. Further, Zelensky’s calls for demilitarizing the area of the power plant and even returning it to Ukraine would be a political and operational success for him. One might even imagine that they seek to deliberately provoke a nuclear incident in order to create a “no man’s land” and thus render the area unusable for the Russians.
By bombing the plant, Ukraine could also be trying to pressure the West to intervene in the conflict, under the pretext that Russia is seeking to disconnect the plant from the Ukrainian power grid before the fall. This suicidal behavior—as stated by UN Secretary General António Guterres—would be in line with the war waged by Ukraine since 2014.
There is strong evidence that the attacks on Energodar are Ukrainian. The fragments of projectiles fired at the site from the other side of the Dnieper are of Western origin. It seems that they come from British BRIMSTONE missiles, which are precision missiles, whose use is monitored by the British. Apparently, the West is aware of the Ukrainian attacks on the ZNPP. This might explain why Ukraine is not very supportive of an international commission of inquiry and why Western countries are putting unrealistic conditions for sending investigators from the IAEA, an agency that has not shown much integrity so far.
TP: It is reported that Zelensky is freeing criminals to fight in this war? Does this mean that Ukraine’s army is not as strong as commonly assumed?
JB: Zelensky faces the same problem as the authorities that emerged from Euromaidan in 2014. At that time, the military did not want to fight because they did not want to confront their Russian-speaking compatriots. According to a report by the British Home Office, reservists overwhelmingly refuse to attend recruitment sessions . In October-November 2017, 70% of conscripts do not show up for recall . Suicide has become a problem. According to the chief Ukrainian military prosecutor Anatoly Matios, after four years of war in the Donbass, 615 servicemen had committed suicide. Desertions have increased and reached up to 30% of the forces in certain operational areas, often in favor of the rebels.
For this reason, it became necessary to integrate more motivated, highly politicized, ultra-nationalistic and fanatical fighters into the armed forces to fight in the Donbass. Many of them are neo-Nazis. It is to eliminate these fanatical fighters that Vladimir Putin has mentioned the objective of “denazification.”
Today, the problem is slightly different. The Russians have attacked Ukraine and the Ukrainian soldiers are not a priori opposed to fighting them. But they realize that the orders they receive are not consistent with the situation on the battlefield. They understood that the decisions affecting them are not linked to military factors, but to political considerations. Ukrainian units are mutinying en masse and are increasingly refusing to fight. They say they feel abandoned by their commanders and that they are given missions without the necessary resources to execute them.
That’s why it becomes necessary to send men who are ready for anything. Because they are condemned, they can be kept under pressure. This is the same principle as Marshal Konstantin Rokossovki, who was sentenced to death by Stalin, but was released from prison in 1941 to fight against the Germans. His death sentence was lifted only after Stalin’s death in 1956.
In order to overshadow the use of criminals in the armed forces, the Russians are accused of doing the same thing. The Ukrainians and the Westerners consistently use “mirror” propaganda. As in all recent conflicts, Western influence has not led to a moralization of the conflict.
TP: Everyone speaks of how corrupt Putin is? But what about Zelensky? Is he the “heroic saint” that we are all told to admire?
JB: In October 2021, the Pandora Papers showed that Ukraine and Zelensky were the most corrupt in Europe and practiced tax evasion on a large scale. Interestingly, these documents were apparently published with the help of an American intelligence agency, and Vladimir Putin is not mentioned. More precisely, the documents mention individuals ” associated ” with him, who are said to have links with undisclosed assets, which could belong to a woman, who is believed to have had a child with him.
Yet, when our media are reporting on these documents, they routinely put a picture of Vladimir Putin, but not of Volodymyr Zelensky.
Figure 2 – Although he is not mentioned in the Pandora Papers, Vladimir Putin is consistently associated with them. Whereas Volodymyr Zelensky is never mentioned in our media, even though he is widely implicated.
I am not in a position to assess how corrupt Zelensky is. But there is no doubt that the Ukrainian society and its governance are. I contributed modestly to a NATO “Building Integrity” program in Ukraine and discovered that none of the contributing countries had any illusions about its effectiveness, and all saw the program as a kind of “window dressing” to justify Western support.
It is unlikely that the billions paid by the West to Ukraine will reach the Ukrainian people. A recent CBS News report stated that only 30-40% of the weapons supplied by the West make it to the battlefield. The rest enriches mafias and other corrupt people. Apparently, some high-tech Western weapons have been sold to the Russians, such as the French CAESAR system and presumably the American HIMARS. The CBS News report was censored to avoid undermining Western aid, but the fact remains that the US refused to supply MQ-1C drones to Ukraine for this reason.
Ukraine is a rich country, yet today it is the only country in the former USSR with a lower GDP than it had at the collapse of the Soviet Union. The problem is therefore not Zelensky himself, but the whole system, which is deeply corrupted, and which the West maintains for the sole purpose of fighting Russia.
Zelensky was elected in April 2019 on the program of reaching an agreement with Russia. But nobody let him carry out his program. The Germans and the French deliberately prevented him from implementing the Minsk agreements. The transcript of the telephone conversation of 20 February 2022 between Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin shows that France deliberately kept Ukraine away from the solution. Moreover, in Ukraine, far right and neo-Nazi political forces have publicly threatened him with death. Dmitry Yarosh, commander of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army, declared in May 2019 that Zelensky would be hanged if he carried out his program. In other words, Zelensky is trapped between his idea of reaching an agreement with Russia and the demands of the West. Moreover, the West realizes that its strategy of war through sanctions has failed. As the economic and social problems increase, the West will find it harder to back down without losing face. A way out for Britain, the US, the EU, or France would be to remove Zelensky. That is why, with the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, I think Zelensky starts to realize that his life is threatened.
At the end of the day, Zelensky is a poor guy, because his best enemies are those on whom he depends: the Western world.
TP: There are many videos (gruesome ones) on social media of Ukrainian soldiers engaging in serious war crimes? Why is there a “blind spot” in the West for such atrocities?
JB: First of all, we must be clear: in every war, every belligerent commit war crimes. Military personnel who deliberately commit such crimes dishonor their uniform and must be punished.
The problem arises when war crimes are part of a plan or result from orders given by the higher command. This was the case when the Netherlands let its military allow the Srebrenica massacre in 1995; the torture in Afghanistan by Canadian and British troops, not to mention the countless violations of international humanitarian law by the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo and elsewhere with the complicity of Poland, Lithuania or Estonia. If these are Western values, then Ukraine is in the right school.
In Ukraine, political crime has become commonplace, with the complicity of the West. Thus, those who are in favor of a negotiation are eliminated. This is the case of Denis Kireyev, one of the Ukrainian negotiators, assassinated on March 5 by the Ukrainian security service (SBU) because he was considered too favorable to Russia and as a traitor. The same thing happened to Dmitry Demyanenko, an officer of the SBU, who was assassinated on March 10, also because he was too favorable to an agreement with Russia. Remember that this is a country that considers that receiving or giving Russian humanitarian aid is “collaborationism.”
On 16 March 2022, a journalist on TV channel Ukraine 24 referred to the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann and called for the massacre of Russian-speaking children. On 21 March, the military doctor Gennadiy Druzenko declared on the same channel that he had ordered his doctors to castrate Russian prisoners of war. On social networks, these statements quickly became propaganda for the Russians and the two Ukrainians apologized for having said so, but not for the substance. Ukrainian crimes were beginning to be revealed on social networks, and on 27 March Zelensky feared that this would jeopardize Western support. This was followed—rather opportunely—by the Bucha massacre on 3 April, the circumstances of which remain unclear.
Britain, which then had the chairmanship of the UN Security Council, refused three times the Russian request to set up an international commission of enquiry into the crimes of Bucha. Ukrainian socialist MP Ilya Kiva revealed on Telegram that the Bucha tragedy was planned by the British MI6 special services and implemented by the SBU.
The fundamental problem is that the Ukrainians have replaced the “operational art” with brutality. Since 2014, in order to fight the autonomists, the Ukrainian government has never tried to apply strategies based on “hearts & minds,” which the British used in the 1950s-1960s in South-East Asia, which were much less brutal but much more effective and long-lasting. Kiev preferred to conduct an Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) in the Donbass and to use the same strategies as the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fighting terrorists authorizes all kinds of brutality. It is the lack of a holistic approach to the conflict that led to the failure of the West in Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali.
Counter-Insurgency Operation (COIN) requires a more sophisticated and holistic approach. But NATO is incapable of developing such strategies as I have seen first-hand in Afghanistan. The war in Donbass has been brutal for 8 years and has resulted in the death of 10,000 Ukrainian citizens plus 4,000 Ukrainian military personnel. By comparison, in 30 years, the conflict in Northern Ireland resulted in 3,700 deaths. To justify this brutality, the Ukrainians had to invent the myth of a Russian intervention in Donbass.
The problem is that the philosophy of the new Maidan leaders was to have a racially pure Ukraine. In other words, the unity of the Ukrainian people was not to be achieved through the integration of communities, but through the exclusion of communities of “inferior races.” An idea that would no doubt have pleased the grandfathers of Ursula von der Leyen and Chrystia Freeland! This explains why Ukrainians have little empathy for the country’s Russian, Magyar and Romanian-speaking minorities. This in turn explains why Hungary and Romania do not want their territories to be used for the supply of arms to Ukraine.
This is why shooting at their own citizens to intimidate them is not a problem for the Ukrainians. This explains the spraying of thousands of PFM-1 (“butterfly”) anti-personnel mines, which look like toys, on the Russian-speaking city of Donetsk in July 2022. This type of mine is used by a defender, not an attacker in its main area of operation. Moreover, in this area, the Donbass militias are fighting “at home,” with populations they know personally.
I think that war crimes have been committed on both sides, but that their media coverage has been very different. Our media have reported extensively about crimes (true or false) attributed to Russia. On the other hand, they have been extremely silent about Ukrainian crimes. We do not know the whole truth about the Bucha massacre, but the available evidence supports the hypothesis that Ukraine staged the event to cover up its own crimes. By keeping these crimes quiet, our media have been complicit with them and have created a sense of impunity that has encouraged the Ukrainians to commit further crimes.
TP: Latvia wants the West (America) to designate Russia a “terrorist state.” What do you make of this? Does this mean that the war is actually over, and Russia has won?
JB: The Estonian and Latvian demands are in response to Zelensky’s call to designate Russia as a terrorist state. Interestingly, they come at the same time a Ukrainian terrorist campaign is being unleashed in Crimea, the occupied zone of Ukraine and the rest of Russian territory. It is also interesting that Estonia was apparently complicit in the attack on Darya Dugina in August 2022.
It seems that Ukrainians communicate in a mirror image of the crimes they commit or the problems they have, in order to hide them. For example, in late May 2022, as the Azovstal surrender in Mariupol showed neo-Nazi fighters, they began to allege that there are neo-Nazis in the Russian army. In August 2022, when Kiev was carrying out actions of a terrorist nature against the Energodar power plant in Crimea and on Russian territory, Zelensky called for Russia to be considered a terrorist state.
In fact, Zelensky continues to believe that he can only solve his problem by defeating Russia and that this defeat depends on sanctions against Russia. Declaring Russia a terrorist state would lead to further isolation. That is why he is making this appeal. This shows that the label “terrorist” is more political than operational, and that those who make such proposals do not have a very clear vision of the problem. The problem is that it has implications for international relations. This is why the US State Department is concerned that Zelensky’s request will be implemented by Congress.
TP: One of the sadder outcomes of this Ukraine-Russia conflict is how the West has shown the worst of itself. Where do you think we will go from here? More of the same, or will there be changes that will have to be made in regards to NATO, neutral countries which are no longer neutral, and the way the West seeks to “govern” the world?
JB: This crisis reveals several things. First, that NATO and the European Union are only instruments of US foreign policy. These institutions no longer act in the interests of their members, but in the interests of the US. The sanctions adopted under American pressure are backfiring on Europe, which is the big loser in this whole crisis: it suffers its own sanctions and has to deal with the tensions resulting from its own decisions.
The decisions taken by Western governments reveal a generation of leaders who are young and inexperienced (such as Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin); ignorant, yet thinking they are smart (such as French President Emmanuel Macron); doctrinaire (such as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen); and fanatical (such as the leaders of the Baltic States). They all share some of the same weaknesses, not least of which is their inability to manage a complex crisis.
When the head is unable to understand the complexity of a crisis, we respond with guts and dogmatism. This is what we see happening in Europe. The Eastern European countries, especially the Baltic States and Poland, have shown themselves to be loyal servants of American policy. They have also shown immature, confrontational, and short-sighted governance. These are countries that have never integrated Western values, that continue to celebrate the forces of the Third Reich and discriminate against their own Russian-speaking population.
I am not even mentioning the European Union, which has been vehemently opposed to any diplomatic solution and has only added fuel to the fire.
The more you are involved in a conflict, the more you are involved in its outcome. If you win, all is well. But if the conflict is a failure, you will bear the burden. This is what has happened to the United States in recent conflicts and what is happening in Ukraine. The defeat of Ukraine is becoming the defeat of the West.
Another big loser in this conflict is clearly Switzerland. Its neutral status has suddenly lost all credibility. Early August, Switzerland and Ukraine concluded an agreement that would allow the Swiss embassy in Moscow to offer protection to Ukrainian citizens in Russia. However, in order to enter into force, it has to be recognized by Russia. Quite logically, Russia refused and declared that “Switzerland had unfortunately lost its status as a neutral state and could not act as an intermediary or representative.”
This is a very serious development because neutrality is not simply a unilateral declaration. It must be accepted and recognized by all to be effective. Yet Switzerland not only aligned itself with the Western countries but was even more extreme than them. It can be said that in a few weeks, Switzerland has ruined a policy that has been recognized for almost 170 years. This is a problem for Switzerland, but it may also be a problem for other countries. A neutral state can offer a way out of a crisis. Today, Western countries are looking for a way out that would allow them to get closer to Russia in the perspective of an energy crisis without losing face. Turkey has taken on this role, but it is limited, as it is part of NATO.
Figure 3 – Countries and organizations that applied sanctions to Russia. Although Switzerland is a neutral country, it stands on the first place. According to own sources, this was done under pressure and blackmail from the United States. Nevertheless, this is a severe blow to the very principle of neutrality that will have consequences in other future conflicts.
The West has created an Iron Curtain 2.0 that will affect international relations for years to come. The West’s lack of strategic vision is astonishing. While NATO is aligning itself with US foreign policy and reorienting itself towards China, Western strategy has only strengthened the Moscow-Beijing axis.
TP: What do you think this war ultimately means for Europe, the US and China?
JB: In order to answer this question, we first must answer another question: “Why is this conflict more condemnable and sanctionable than previous conflicts started by the West?”
After the disasters of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Mali, the rest of the world expected the West to help resolve this crisis with common sense. The West responded in exactly the opposite way to these expectations. Not only has no one been able to explain why this conflict was more reprehensible than previous ones, but the difference in treatment between Russia and the United States has shown that more importance is attached to the aggressor than to the victims. Efforts to bring about the collapse of Russia contrast with the total impunity of countries that have lied to the UN Security Council, practiced torture, caused the deaths of over a million people and created 37 million refugees.
This difference in treatment went unnoticed in the West. But the “rest of the world” has understood that we have moved from a “law-based international order” to a “rules-based international order” determined by the West.
On a more material level, the confiscation of Venezuelan gold by the British in 2020, of Afghanistan’s sovereign funds in 2021, and then of Russia’s sovereign funds in 2022 by the US, has raised the mistrust of the West’s allies. This shows that the non-Western world is no longer protected by law and depends on the goodwill of the West.
This conflict is probably the starting point for a new world order. The world is not going to change all at once, but the conflict has raised the attention of the rest of the world. For when we say that the “international community” condemns Russia, we are in fact talking about 18% of the world’s population.
Some actors traditionally close to the West are gradually moving away from it. On 15 July 2022, Joe Biden visited Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) with two objectives: to prevent Saudi Arabia from moving closer to Russia and China, and to ask him to increase its oil production. But four days earlier, MbS made an official request to become a member of the BRICS, and a week later, on 21 July, MbS called Vladimir Putin to confirm that he would stand by the OPEC+ decision. In other words: no oil production increase. It was a slap in the face of the West and of its most powerful representative.
Saudi Arabia has now decided to accept Chinese currency as payment for its oil. This is a major event, which tends to indicate a loss of confidence in the dollar. The consequences are potentially huge. The petrodollar was established by the US in the 1970s to finance its deficit. By forcing other countries to buy dollars, it allows the US to print dollars without being caught in an inflationary loop. Thanks to the petrodollar, the US economy—which is essentially a consumer economy—is supported by the economies of other countries around the world. The demise of the petrodollar could have disastrous consequences for the US economy, as former Republican Senator Ron Paul puts it.
In addition, the sanctions have brought China and Russia, both targeted by the West, closer together. This has accelerated the formation of a Eurasian bloc and strengthened the position of both countries in the world. India, which the US has scorned as a “second-class” partner of the “Quad,” has moved closer to Russia and China, despite disputes with the latter.
Today, China is the main provider of infrastructure in the Third World. In particular, its way of interacting with African countries is more in line with the expectations of these countries. Collaboration with former colonial powers such as France and American imperialist paternalism are no longer welcome. For example, the Central African Republic and Mali have asked France to leave their countries and have turned to Russia.
At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, the US proudly announced a $150 million contribution to “strengthen its position in the broader geopolitical competition with China.” But in November 2021, President Xi Jinping offered $1.5 billion to the same countries to fight the pandemic and promote economic recovery. By using its money to wage war, the US has no money left to forge and consolidate alliances.
The West’s loss of influence stems from the fact that it continues to treat the “rest of the world” like “little children” and neglects the usefulness of good diplomacy.
The war in Ukraine is not the trigger for these phenomena, which started a few years ago, but it is most certainly an eye-opener and accelerator.
TP: The western media has been pushing that Putin may be seriously ill. If Putin suddenly dies, would this make any difference at all to the war?
JB: It seems that Vladimir Putin is a unique medical case in the world: he has stomach cancer, leukemia, an unknown but incurable and terminal phase disease, and is reportedly already dead. Yet in July 2022, at the Aspen Security Forum, CIA Director William Burns said that Putin was “too healthy” and that there was “no information to suggest that he is in poor health.” This shows how those who claim to be journalists work!
This is wishful thinking and, on the higher end of the spectrum, it echoes the calls for terrorism and the physical elimination of Vladimir Putin.
The West has personalized Russian politics through Putin, because he is the one who promoted the reconstruction of Russia after the Yeltsin years. Americans like to be champions when there are no competitors and see others as enemies. This is the case with Germany, Europe, Russia and China.
But our “experts” know little about Russian politics. For in reality, Vladimir Putin is more of a “dove” in the Russian political landscape. Given the climate that we have created with Russia, it would not be impossible that his disappearance would lead to the emergence of more aggressive forces. We should not forget that countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland or Georgia have never developed European democratic values. They still have discriminatory policies towards their ethnic Russians that are far from European values, and they behave like immature agents provocateurs. I think that if Putin were to disappear for some reason, the conflicts with these countries would take on a new dimension.
TP: How unified is Russia presently? Has the war created a more serious opposition than what previously existed within Russia?
JB: No, on the contrary. The American and European leaders have a poor understanding of their enemy: the Russian people are very patriotic and cohesive. Western obsession to ” punish ” the Russian people has only brought them closer to their leaders. In fact, by seeking to divide Russian society in an effort to overthrow the government, Western sanctions—including the dumbest ones—have confirmed what the Kremlin has been saying for years: that the West has a profound hatred of Russians. What was once said to be a lie is now confirmed in Russian opinion. The consequence is that the people’s trust in the government has grown stronger.
The approval ratings given by the Levada Centre (considered by the Russian authorities as a “foreign agent”) show that public opinion has tightened around Vladimir Putin and the Russian government. In January 2022, Vladimir Putin’s approval rating was 69% and the government’s was 53%. Today, Putin’s approval rating has been stable at around 83% since March, and the government’s is at 71%. In January, 29% did not approve of Vladimir Putin’s decisions, in July it was only 15%.
According to the Levada Centre, even the Russian operation in Ukraine enjoys a majority of favorable opinions. In March, 81% of Russians were in favor of the operation; this figure dropped to 74%, probably due to the impact of sanctions at the end of March, and then it went back up. In July 2022, the operation had 76% popular support.
Figure 4 – Not all Russians support the special operation in Ukraine, but three quarters of the population do. Ukrainian war crimes, Western sanctions and the good management of the economy by the Russian authorities explain this support. [Source]
The problem is that our journalists have neither culture nor journalistic discipline and they replace them with their own beliefs. It is a form of conspiracy that aims to create a false reality based on what one believes and not on the facts. For example, few know (or want to know) that Aleksey Navalny said he would not return Crimea to Ukraine. The West’s actions have completely wiped out the opposition, not because of “Putin’s repression,” but because in Russia, resistance to foreign interference and the West’s deep contempt for Russians is a bipartisan cause. Exactly like the hatred of Russians in the West. This is why personalities like Aleksey Navalny, who never had a very high popularity, have completely disappeared from the popular media landscape.
Moreover, even if the sanctions have had a negative impact on the Russian economy, the way the government has handled things since 2014 shows a great mastery of economic mechanisms and a great realism in assessing the situation. There is a rise in prices in Russia, but it is much lower than in Europe, and while Western economies are raising their key interest rates, Russia is lowering its own.
The Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova has been exemplified as an expression of the opposition in Russia. Her case is interesting because, as usual, we do not say everything.
On 14 March 2022, she provoked international applause by interrupting the Russian First Channel news program with a poster calling for ending the war in Ukraine. She was arrested and fined $280.
In May, the German newspaper Die Welt offered her a job in Germany, but in Berlin, pro-Ukrainian activists demonstrated to get the newspaper to end its collaboration with her. The media outlet Politico even suggested that she might be an agent of the Kremlin!
As a result, in June 2022, she left Germany to live in Odessa, her hometown. But instead of being grateful, the Ukrainians put her on the Mirotvorets blacklist where she is accused of treason, “participation in the Kremlin’s special information and propaganda operations” and “complicity with the invaders.”
The Mirotvorets website is a “hit list” for politicians, journalists or personalities who do not share the opinion of the Ukrainian government. Several of the people on the list have been murdered. In October 2019, the UN requested the closure of the site, but this was refused by the Rada. It should be noted that none of our mainstream media has condemned this practice, which is very far from the values they claim to defend. In other words, our media support these practices that used to be attributed to South American regimes.
Figure 5 – Darya Dugina marked as “Liquidated.”
Ovsyannikova then returned to Russia, where she demonstrated against the war, calling Putin a “killer,” and was arrested by the police and placed under house arrest for three months. At this point, our media protested.
It is worth noting that Russian journalist Darya Dugina, the victim of a bomb attack in Moscow on 21 August 2022, was on the Mirotvorets list and her file was marked “liquidated.” Of course, no Western media mentioned that she was targeted by the Mirotvorets website, which is considered to be linked to the SBU, as this would tend to support Russia’s accusations.
German journalist Alina Lipp, whose revelations about Ukrainian and Western crimes in the Donbass are disturbing, has been placed on the website Mirotvorets. Moreover, Alina Lipp was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison by a German court for claiming that Russian troops had “liberated” areas in Ukraine and thus “glorified criminal activities.” As can be seen, the German authorities are functioning like the neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine. Today’s politicians are a credit to their grandparents!
One can conclude that even if there are some people who oppose the war, Russian public opinion is overwhelmingly behind its government. Western sanctions have only strengthened the credibility of the Russian president.
Ultimately, my point is not to take the same approach as our media and replace the hatred of Russia with that of Ukraine. On the contrary, it is to show that the world is not either black or white and that Western countries have taken the situation too far. Those who are compassionate about Ukraine should have pushed our governments to implement the agreed political solutions in 2014 and 2015. They haven’t done anything and are now pushing Ukraine to fight. But we are no longer in 2021. Today, we have to accept the consequences of our non-decisions and help Ukraine to recover. But this must not be done at the expense of its Russian-speaking population, as we have done until now, but with the Russian-speaking people, in an inclusive manner. If I look at the media in France, Switzerland and Belgium, we are still very far from the goal.
TP: Thank you so very much, Mr. Baud, for this most enlightening discussion.
There can be few leaders whose reputation at home differs so widely from his reputation abroad as the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev, who died on Monday aged 91. Hailed as a hero in the West for ending the Cold War, liberating the people of Eastern Europe, and bringing democracy and freedom to the nations of the former Soviet Union, he is reviled in Russia as a man who inherited a superpower and then destroyed it, leaving it dismembered and impoverished.
Of peasant stock, Gorbachev grew up in the Stavropol region of Southern Russia and aged only 17 won the Order of the Red Banner of Labour for his success in harvesting grain with his father. A clever and hard working student, he won a place at Moscow State University where he studied law before taking up a career in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). He then rose rapidly up the party’s ranks until in 1985 he assumed the position of General Secretary and as such become the Soviet Union’s de facto leader.
In all these ways, he was a typical party functionary. He differed, though, from the generation of leaders who had gone before him, all of whom had had direct experience of the revolutions of 1917 and of the Second World War. Gorbachev was one of those who were called “Children of the Twentieth Party Congress”—that is to say, communists whose view of the world was shaped by the party congress of 1956 at which Nikita Khrushchev delivered his famous ‘Secret Speech’ denouncing Stalin.
The Children of the Twentieth Party Congress believed in communism—in state control of the means of production, in central economic planning, in the social guarantees granted by the Soviet constitution, in the Soviet Union as a genuine ‘brotherhood of nations,’ and so on. But at the same time, they felt that the system was not living up to its promise. They believed that Stalinism had over-centralized and over-bureaucratized Soviet society, stifling initiative, breeding corruption, and creating a severe disconnect between the claims of Soviet propaganda and the realities on the ground. The solution, they felt, was to return to “Leninist norms,” whatever those might be, and thereby put the USSR back on track to a bright communist future.
On reaching the pinnacle of Soviet power, Gorbachev thus sought not to dismantle the system but to make it function more efficiently. As he told the 27th Congress of the CPSU in 1986, “Our goal is to realize the full potential of socialism. Those in the West who expect us to renounce socialism will be disappointed. We’re not going to give up on socialism. On the contrary, we need more socialism.”
Gorbachev’s problem was that he had very little idea how to do this as well as a faulty understanding of the underlying causes of the USSR’s social and economic difficulties.
In particular, Gorbachev’s grasp of economics was sketchy. He firmly believed in the communist economic model, writing in his 1987 book Perestroika that “Socialism and public ownership, on which it is based, hold out virtually unlimited possibilities for progressive economic processes.” He was therefore unwilling to touch the fundamentals of the Soviet system – state ownership and central planning. Instead, he tinkered with the economy by attempting to meld state planning with certain attributes of free markets in accordance with the ideas of what was called “market socialism.” In this, state ownership and the plan were retained, but enterprises gained more autonomy to determine production and were allowed to keep and reinvest some of their profits.
Market socialism proved a disaster. Instead of making enterprises more efficient, the introduction of market elements simply undermined the few advantages that planning provided. Given the failure of this policy, there were two options left: give up and go back, or press on and move towards a free market economy, or at least some sort of mixed market system. Gorbachev did neither. Going backwards would have been an admission of failure. Moving forward was ideologically beyond him. Instead, he dithered while the economy gradually collapsed around him.
As this happened, Gorbachev looked for someone to blame and his gaze fell upon conservative members of the CPSU, who he believed were deliberately sabotaging his reforms. In typical Russian fashion, his solution to this was to centralize authority in his own hands. This he did by stripping the CPSU of its power and concentrating it in a newly created executive position, that of President of the USSR, a position that Gorbachev then occupied.
Arguably, Gorbachev’s attacks on the party made things worse rather than better, for the party was the primary mechanism that kept the Soviet system functioning more or less smoothly. The more Gorbachev bypassed and undermined the party, the more authority it lost, the less people did as the plan demanded, and the more the system unraveled into anarchy.
In all this, Gorbachev revealed a considerable naivety. To accompany political and economic reform, which went by the name perestroika, he declared a need for more openness (glasnost). Censorship was relaxed and eventually abolished. It would appear that Gorbachev sincerely believed that if given their freedom, the Soviet people would use it in a constructive way, helpfully pointing out problems so that they could be addressed, but not challenging the authorities in the process. This is not what happened. Instead of constructive suggestions, the Soviet people used their new found freedom to publish revelations of the past crimes of the communist state, to attack the country’s leaders, and to demand ever more radical change. The more people learnt about their country’s past and about enormous social problems it was experiencing in the present, the more the system lost its legitimacy. Rather than strengthening the state, glasnost fatally weakened it.
Another failing was that Gorbachev totally misread the mood of many of the minority nationalities within the Soviet Union. In a 1987 speech marking the 70th anniversary of the October Revolution, he declared the nationalities problem “solved.” Nothing was further from the truth. Soviet peoples used the freedom Gorbachev gave them to demand more national autonomy and in the case of the three Baltic states to demand independence. In other cases, minority nationalities sought to increase their own power and territory at the expense of other minorities. Visiting Armenia following a devastating earthquake in December 1988, Gorbachev was shocked to find that locals wanted to speak not about the earthquake but about the status of the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh (under Azeri control, but claimed by the Armenians). By the time Gorbachev woke up to the seriousness of the Soviet Union’s ethno-national problems it was too late. As central authority collapsed, local elites decided that the best way of preserving their authority was to leap on the nationalist bandwagon. The rest, as they say, is history.
In the eyes of Westerners, Gorbachev’s greatest achievement was to bring an end to the Cold War. The Soviet leader believed that successful reform at home was impossible as long as the USSR was locked in an existential geopolitical struggle with the West. It was therefore necessary to make peace. To this end, he made it clear that the Soviet army would not intervene to prop up the communist regimes in Eastern Europe, each of which fell in turn in rapid succession in 1989. Beyond that, Gorbachev agreed to accept German reunification and to withdraw the Soviet army from Eastern Europe. With this, Soviet-Western relations quickly changed from mutual hostility to something akin to friendship.
More than anything else, this explains the adulation Gorbachev received in the West. Many Russians, though, view the matter very differently, asking themselves what Gorbachev got in exchange for surrendering the Soviet’s empire in Eastern Europe. Most importantly, they note that he failed to get a written guarantee that NATO would not expand eastwards. Historians disagree as to whether NATO leaders gave verbal promises in this regard, but it is certain that nothing was ever put on paper. Rarely has somebody given up so much and got so little in return. The sense of bitterness that resulted has soured Russian-Western relations ever since.
Here again, Gorbachev’s naivety reveals itself. Gorbachev spoke of “Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals,” and commented that “Europe is our common home.” But his vision was never that the Soviet Union, or later Russia, should be reduced to a subordinate status within a Europe dominated by NATO. Rather, he envisioned NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact disappearing and being replaced by a new security architecture in which the Soviet Union and Western states would be equal partners. Gorbachev seems to have imagined that if the Soviets dismantled their Cold War infrastructure, the West would do the same. But the West never had any intention of doing such a thing. In the eyes of Gorbachev’s Russian critics, he was, simply put, a dupe.
Mikhail Gorbachev meant well. An idealist, he believed in communism’s humanist potential. Realizing that communism’s practice fell short of its promise, he sought to do something about it. In the process, he unleashed hidden forces that destroyed the system he hoped to revive. For better or for worse, we are still living with the consequences today.
Paul Robinson is a professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy. He is the author of numerous works on Russian and Soviet history, including Russian Conservatism, published by Northern Illinois University Press in 2019.
When I received a call this morning from Turkish public television TRT asking that I comment on the death of Mikhail Gorbachev in a live broadcast, the first thought which came to mind was the ironic remark of Soviet intellectuals on the place of leading personalities in history: “there is nothing as changeable and unpredictable as the past.”
Of course, this notion is applicable everywhere, not just to Soviet history and personalities. Indeed, history is always being reinterpreted in light of current developments. As I commented in my interview, the achievements and failures of Gorbachev in power must now be reevaluated in light of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which is the largest and most dangerous military conflict on the European continent since 1945.
This war follows directly from the break-up of the Soviet Union, which Gorbachev failed to prevent, though he did his best. Indeed, in the spring of 1991 he oversaw a referendum on the issue and won support from the population for continuation of the USSR. However, his playing off the right and left forces within the Politburo and within the Party at large over a number of years, the deceptions he practiced to get his way, finally caught up with him and laid the way in the summer of 1991 for the Putsch by rightists intent on restoring Soviet orthodoxy, which in turn so weakened Gorbachev that he was easily pushed aside by Boris Yeltsin. Destruction of the Union was Yeltsin’s instrument for achieving the complete removal of Gorbachev from power and setting out on a course of economic reform and de-Communization that was anathema to the leaders of the more conservative Soviet republics.
As we now know, the break-up of the USSR released pent-up animosities within and between the successor states, which had in each substantial ethnic minorities, in particular Russian-speakers, who numbered more than 25 million outside the boundaries of the Russian Federation in 1991. This was the largest such dispossessed ethnic community from the disintegration of empire in history, and its existence did not augur well for tranquility in Eurasia, from the Baltics, to the Caucasus, to Central Asia.
The collapse of the Soviet Union also touched off a very unhealthy wave of national excitement in the United States. It was now the sole surviving superpower, unchecked by any rivals. Fueled by hubris, Washington elites set course on remaking the world through a succession of military interventions and full-fledged wars abroad that has gone on for close to 30 years. Failures in these military missions led to ever greater concern to “contain” any and all possible competitors on the world stage. In practice, this meant containment first and foremost of Russia as it recovered economically and politically in the first decade of the new millennium. And this, expressed in terms of NATO expansion, is what brought us to the present conflict over Ukraine.
In that regard, I direct attention to Gorbachev’s greatest failure which resulted not from the conspiracies of his compatriots but from his own peculiar naivete in his dealings with the United States, meaning with Reagan, with Bush and their minions. The man who had shown such cunning in outfoxing his Politburo colleagues was completely outfoxed by his American and European interlocutors. Had he been more cautious to protect Soviet-Russian interests, he would have demanded and likely received much better terms of compensation for the withdrawal of Soviet forces from all of Eastern Europe and disbanding the Warsaw Pact. Had he been less gullible and more realistic, he would have demanded written treaties setting in concrete the prohibition of NATO expansion to the East and, or, he would have left Soviet garrisons in each of these states to ensure compliance. As it was, the Americans who gave him verbal assurances knew full well that they were meaningless and were perplexed at the Kremlin’s failure to defend strategic national interests.
These are the sins which patriotic Russians hold against Gorbachev today, even as they acknowledge his astonishing feats in freeing Soviet citizens from the totalitarian yoke of the past through glasnost and perestroika.
Of course, it is an open question whether a democratic Soviet Union could have long survived. The economy was hopelessly mismanaged and the entire legacy of Soviet legislation rendered it virtually impossible to escape from violence or the threat of violence to make things work. This is a point over which historical debate will continue for many decades to come.
For today’s interview, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVz4QGouoFQ