Welcome to the Caspian Daily, where you will find the 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region. We appreciate ideas, reports, news and interesting articles. Send along to Caspian[at]moderndiplomacy.eu or on Twitter: @DGiannakopoulos
1The deputy head of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev’s administration said that recent actions and positions made by the Council of Europe may make the country leave the organization. The Azerbaijani President’s foreign relations chief Novruz Mammadov condemned the Council of Europe’s position on the country’s democratic institutions and the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Novruz suggested that the organization’s positions on the issues could make Azerbaijan leave the Council of Europe. On Tuesday, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) condemned what it called Azerbaijan’s “systemic repression” of activists and government critics. [SputnikNews]
2Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday, their first call since February, to discuss Iran nuclear talks, “the increasingly dangerous situation in Syria” and the need to counter Islamic State militants, the White House said in a statement. “The leaders discussed the increasingly dangerous situation in Syria, and underscored the importance of continued P5+1 unity in ongoing negotiations to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” the White House said.
3Can Kazakhstan prove Huntington wrong? “Astana is very keen in building bridges. Being located on the intersection of civilizations, Kazakhstan likes to see its global role as the gateway to rapprochement of East and West, Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam and much more. The relevance of this is additionally determined by the course of history itself, hereby especially referring to the globalization processes of the modern world, increased migration flows, the emergence of new national, cultural, religious and other minorities, ethnic and religious conflicts. In such terms efforts, continuously made by Kazakhstan and its leadership, are even more important” editorial from the Modern Diplomacy.
4The annual report of the US Department of State isn’t based on the data of objective sources, Aydin Mirzazadeh, the member of the political council and the head of the political analysis and forecasting department at the executive secretariat of Azerbaijan’s ruling New Azerbaijan Party, told Trend on June 26. The MP said that accusing Azerbaijan of violating human rights is fundamentally wrong. “Human rights are enshrined by law in Azerbaijan. There is freedom of speech, press and political activity in Azerbaijan,” Mirzazadeh said, adding that Azerbaijan is an open society.
5Arms Control and International Security. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Programs Simon Limage initialed on behalf of the United States the Agreement Continuing the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) along with the European Union, Georgia, Japan, the Kingdom of Norway, Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the Republic of Korea. The ISTC, with its new headquarters at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan, seeks to minimize incentives for scientists and engineers in states with technologies, expertise, and related materials applicable to WMD to engage in activities that could result in the proliferation of WMD or related materials by supporting and cooperating in research and development activities for peaceful purposes. The initialing of the agreement sets the stage for signing the agreement once all parties have completed their internal procedures.
6The United States must not accede to Iran’s red lines. “Discussing the dilemma of negotiating with Tehran, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger famously remarked that Iran had to decide whether it wanted to be a nation or a cause — a member of a rules-based global order or a revolutionary outlier. As the nuclear negotiations near a climax, Iran seems to want to be both. This Janus-like approach won’t work much longer. It will generate suspicion rather than confidence. Now is the time for clarity, not ambiguity” writes David Ignatius for the Washington Post.
7The narrowing Persian gulf. “Sealing the Iranian nuclear deal will mark the triumph of diplomacy over a military solution, with wider global implications in the form of a more normal relationship between the U.S. and Iran. India will also be a beneficiary” writes Gen. Ashok K. Mehta for the Hindu.
8The resolution on “The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan” adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) during its summer session June 23 is another example of the biased and unfounded attitude towards Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said. Despite the occupation of the country’s territories as a result of Armenian aggression, presence of more than a million refugees and IDPs expelled from their lands as a result of the ethnic cleansing on the occupied territories, as well as Armenia’s terrariums, Azerbaijan has provided the political stability, economic development, social welfare, freedom of speech and thought and has ensured the operation of numerous political parties, non-governmental organizations and press agencies in the country, said the Foreign Ministry.
9Iran and Russia are still bound to support Syria, said Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab-African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The common policy between Iran and Russia has not changed and the support from Syria will continue, Iran’s IRNA news agency quoted Amir-Abdollahian as saying on June 26. It will not allow terrorists to topple the legitimate government in Syria and turn the country into another Libya, he said. China also pursues the same policy toward Syria, he said, adding that Tehran, Beijing, and Moscow advocate sustainable security in the region.
10“Kazakhstan was once an impoverished and isolated nation, and not much was known about it until the last two decades. Today, the country, which is the ninth largest in the world, is Central Asia’s most developed state” writes Sulaiman Jaafar for the NST.
Russian Ministry of Defence: We acquired over 20,000 documents of the U.S. biological programmes
Briefing by Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, chief of Nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection troops of the Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation. Jan. 30. Main points:
– The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation has repeatedly noted the signs of the implementation of ‘dual-purpose programmes’ by the USA and its allies outside their national territories, including within the operation of the biolaboratories funded by the Pentagon or its contractors.
– We have previously informed about the works on enhancing the pathogenic characteristics of COVID-19 causative agent, carried out at Boston University with funds of the U.S. state budget, as well as the possible involvement of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the emergence of the new coronavirus.
– The high degree of readiness of the U.S. mRNA vaccine manufacturers for a pandemic of the new coronavirus infection raises questions. One gets the impression that pharmaceutical companies had produced the vaccine preparations in advance, being unable to rapidly introduce them into the market due to specific characteristics of the virus that embodied in low efficiency of vaccination and numerous side effects.
– It is to be reminded that on 18 October 2019, two months before the first official reports about the emergence of the new coronavirus infection in China, the John Hopkins University, supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, conducted Event 201 exercise in New York.
– Outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic precisely according to this scenario raises questions about its premeditated nature, involvement of the USA in this incident, as well as real objectives of the U.S. biological programmes aimed at enhancing the characteristics of dangerous pathogens.
– We have repeatedly noted that the United States conduct the studies that are most controversial in terms of the international law outside the national territory.
– The premises of Pharmbiotest Medical Centre in Rubezhnoye were explored during the special military operation in the liberated territory of the Lugansk People’s Republic. It was a venue for clinical trials to test the medicinal products that caused serious side effects: they include medications for treating leukaemia, mental disorders, neurological diseases, epilepsy, and other dangerous illnesses.
– In early 2023, residents of Lisichansk found a large landfill of biomaterial residues that belong to Pharmbiotest. The clinical samples and patients’ clinical records with their personal data were buried instead of being cremated or eliminated in appropriate manner, prescribed by the rules. This means that the evidence were being eliminated in extreme hurry.
– During the special military operation, Russian personnel acquired over 20,000 documents, reference and analytical materials, as well as surveyed witnesses and participants of the U.S. biological programmes. The abovementioned materials confirm that the Pentagon aimed at creating elements of a biological weapon, and testing it on the population of Ukraine and other countries along the perimeter of the Russian borders.
– The Russian Defence Ministry has already mentioned the names of the participants of the military and biological programmes, including those of the U.S. Democratic Party representatives, employees of the U.S. military department, and the Pentagon’s contracting organisations. The DTRA reports have led us to the new information about key persons involved in the so-called Ukrainian projects who have been staying in the shadow until now.
Among of them are:
a) Karen Saylors, CEO at Labyrinth Global Health and ex-director of Metabiota’s programmes in Central Africa. Since 2016, Saylors has worked in Ukraine as leading advisor at the UP-10 project, dedicated to studying ways of spreading of African swine fever.
b) Colleen B. Jonsson, an employee of the University of Tennessee, Director of the Institute for the Study of Host-Pathogen Systems. She observed the UP-8 project, dedicated to studying the capabilities of the Crimean-Congo fever’s causative agent in Ukraine. Jonsson managed the selection of biological samples from Ukrainian personnel, provided the cooperation between the contract specifiers in the USA and the Center for Public Health of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.
c) Lewis Von Thaer, President and CEO of Battelle company, a major contractor of the Pentagon and U.S. Department of Energy. Since 2003, the company has been responsible for organising research projects in Ukraine related to zoonotic infections.
– The active action of the Russian Defence Ministry has resulted in halting the military biological programmes in Ukraine. In this regard, the Pentagon is actively relocating the studies, that have not been completed within the Ukrainian projects, to Central Asia and Eastern Europe countries. At the same time, the cooperation with African and Asia-Pacific countries – Kenya, Singapore, and Thailand – is being actively enhanced.
– Under the pressure from the international community, Washington changes its approaches to organising its military biological activity, transferring the functions of the customer to purely civilian departments: the Department of Health, Department of Energy, and the Agency for International Development. This will allow the U.S. authorities to avoid criticism at international venues, and deflect a blow from the Department of Defense and DTRA.
– The funding, imposed by the collective West, makes the post-Soviet countries conceal the true nature of these works. The European Union is actively promoting the initiative to deploy a network of centres of ‘excellence’ in the field of nuclear, biological and chemical protection, that provides for placing EU-funded biolaboratories in the territories of the former Soviet Union. The prospective partners are highly recommended ‘…not to advertise this initiative due to its extreme sensitivity for the Russian Federation…’
– At the same time, it is stressed that the Central Asian countries ‘…are already taking benefit from technical cooperation with the European Union…’
– In 2022, the USA, Canada, and EU countries initiated programmes to employ and relocate the Ukrainian professionals, who had been involved in military biological works before, to Western countries. It is primarily due to the concerns that the Russian law enforcement can receive additional testimonies to the illegal activities carried out in violation of international obligations.
– It is to be emphasised that the strategy of ‘military and biological expansion’ is not fundamentally new, and it was founded by the United States back in the period of the Korean conflict.
– Since the 1950s, biological laboratories were established in Africa, Central and South America, as well as South-East Asia, with the priority role of the U.S. Navy. Their main objective was to sample causative agents of highly dangerous infections, and determine the level of morbidity among local population.
– It is to be reminded that lobbying the interests of large pharmaceutical companies by the U.S. government is a common practice. Back in 2010, the operation of a U.S. Navy Medical Biological Centre in Jakarta was ceased due to a ‘conflict of interests’ and various violations. The Americans performed their works outside the agreed research programme, carried out unauthorised sampling, and refused to inform the Indonesian government on the purposes of their works and the results achieved. These biomaterials turned out to be used to the benefit of the Gilead company, affiliated with the Pentagon, that tested their preparations in Ukraine and Georgia (including, but not limited to).
– The Indonesian example was followed by Malaysia: the government of that country decided to establish special control over the activities of the U.S.-funded biolaboratory.
– Therefore, the concerns of the international community, related to the activities of the Pentagon-funded biolaboratories, is gradually increasing.
– The issues, raised by the Russian Federation at the international venues – the Nineth Review Conference of BTWC Member States, and the UN Security Council – have revealed the reluctance of the USA to conduct a substantive dialogue.
– Russia considers it extremely important that the disclosure of the facts that reveal the illegal military and biological activities have caused various countries to consider possible consequences of their biosafety cooperation with the USA, and take a fresh look at the necessity and rationale of this kind of cooperation.
– The Russian Defence Ministry will continue its work in this direction and report on it.
Biden’s big foreign policy idea is in danger
President Biden won Senate support last year for a big expansion of America’s military commitments in Europe that was also a body blow to Russia’s imperial designs: having Sweden and Finland join NATO. But those plans are now in danger. Because of Turkey. And the Senate, ‘The Washington Post’ laments.
At the ranks of NATO all of the alliance’s 30 members must agree to bring in new members. That’s a necessity when the core NATO promise is to come to the defense of other members should they be attacked.
Now there were signs that Turkey and Hungary — which often side with Russia, though in different ways — might balk or at least try to exact some concessions. Turkey, for example, did make sweeping demands related to groups or individuals it considers terrorists.
Sweden, which says it has met some of the demands, recently said Turkey was asking for too much. Turkey said last month Sweden was not even “halfway” to meeting its conditions. Though NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this month it was time to end the process and admit Sweden.
Associated Press notes: Erdogan slammed Rasmus Paludan’s Quran-burning protest in Stockholm, saying it was an insult to everyone, especially to Muslims. He was particularly incensed at Swedish authorities for allowing the demonstration to take place outside the Turkish Embassy under ‘the protection’ of security forces. He said: “It’s clear that those who allowed such vileness to take place in front of our embassy can no longer expect any charity from us regarding their NATO membership application.”
“So you will let terror organizations run wild on your avenues and streets and then expect our support for getting into NATO. That’s not happening,” Erdogan said. So he dealt another blow to Sweden and Finland’s prospects, postponing accession talks with the Nordic countries.
At the White House, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters the burning of the Quran was a “deeply disrespectful act” but underlined that Finland and Sweden had already taken “concrete steps” to satisfy Turkey’s previous conditions. She also said the United States sees the Turks as “reliable partners.”
The protests fit into the “lawful but awful” category, said State Department spokesman Ned Price. “Ultimately, this [NATO accession] is a decision and a consensus that Finland and Sweden are going to have to reach with Türkiye.”
Can Erdogan back down? Can U.S. lawmakers who object to the sale? Whether NATO gains Sweden as well as Finland — and its roughly 800 miles of shared border with Russia? — All may depend on Turkish President, writes ‘The Washington Post’. So, Biden’s ‘big foreign policy idea’ – to enlarge NATO – is in danger.
U.S. Air Force general predicts war with China in 2025
A four-star Air Force general sent a memo to the officers he commands that predicts the U.S. will be at war with China in two years and tells them to get ready to prep by firing “a clip” at a target, and “aim for the head,” – informs NBCnews.
In the memo obtained by NBC News, Gen. Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, said, “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.”
Air Mobility Command (AMC) has nearly 50,000 service members and nearly 500 planes and is responsible for transport and refueling…
The signed memo is addressed to all air wing commanders in Air Mobility Command and other Air Force operational commanders, and orders them to report all major efforts to prepare for the China fight to Minihan by Feb. 28.
During the month of February, he directs all AMC personnel to “fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most. Aim for the head.” He also orders all personnel to update their records and emergency contacts.
After publication of this article, a defense department official said, “These comments are not representative of the department’s view on China.”
An AMC spokesperson confirmed that the memo is real: “This is an authentic internal memo from General Minihan addressed to his subordinate command teams. His order builds on last year’s foundational efforts by Air Mobility Command to ready the Mobility Air Forces for future conflict, should deterrence fail.”
Meanwhile Defense Department press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said in a statement, “The National Defense Strategy makes clear that China is the pacing challenge for the Department of Defense and our focus remains on working alongside allies and partners to preserve a peaceful, free and open Indo-Pacific…”
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