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.