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The Union State of Russia and Belarus: Searching for a Development Vector

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A Russia–Belarus European Union

The full implementation of the Treaty on the Creation of a Union State of Russia and Belarus signed on December 8, 1999, envisaged the creation of a unique post-Soviet association that would combine the features of an international organization and a state. The idea was for the Union State to resemble the European Union, and even surpass it somewhat in terms of the degree of integration.

The Union State was expected to feature not only a single economic space, but also a common constitution that would form the basis for the creation and functioning of supranational governing bodies such as a union government, parliament and a unified judiciary system. The decisions of these bodies would have the force of law and would be binding for the member nations.

The joint policy was to be implemented with the help of a common supranational budget, which would be created through a joint tax system with a single pricing mechanism, common currency, etc. As a result, a significant share of government functions was to be transferred from the national to the supranational level, with neither Russia nor Belarus losing their sovereignty in the process. They would also retain their subjectivity, including in international relations.

Despite all of this, only half of these plans have been implemented over the past 20 years at best. Political integration stalled immediately after the creation of the supranational Council of Ministers, Parliamentary Assembly and Standing Committee, which was expected to be the permanent governing body of the Union State. These international structures are unable to exercise broad powers because a common constitution has yet to be drawn up.

Economic integration has progressed far more successfully. Even without the single currency, pricing and taxation systems that were originally envisaged, the economies of Russia and Belarus have “merged” in the form of over 2500 joint ventures, 4 billion USD of Russian investments into Belarus, more than 600 million USD of Belarusian investments into Russia, preferential oil and gas supplies and approximately USD 34 billion in mutual trade in 2019.

The most considerable progress has been achieved in security and the social sphere. Russia and Belarus jointly defend the Union State airspace, have set up a common regional air defence system and operate a regional armed force. More than 30 defence cooperation agreements are currently in force between the two countries.

Even more has been done to ensure the equal rights of Russian and Belarusian citizens when applying for jobs, enrolling at universities and crossing the shared border. However, there is still room for improvement in this area. This is most evident in education. For example, Belarusian high school students can write the Russian Unified State Exam and thus gain entry to a Russian university on a full scholarship. However, Russian universities do not accept Belarusian state examination results in their admission criteria. This is because the national curriculums in the two countries differ. Granted, harmonizing humanitarian subjects such as history and literature would prove to be problematic, but doing the same for the exact sciences is entirely possible.

Twenty years on, and we can say that citizens and enterprises in the Union State still do not enjoy complete equality. However, even with the current level of integration, the two countries receive image-boosting, economic and military dividends from their association. Therefore, the main issue in the further development of the Union State is whether these dividends can make up for the costs the sides incur in the process of maintaining the union.

An Audit of Integration Processes

The incompleteness of the Union State’s governing institutions and legal framework means that the contradictions that periodically emerge in Russia–Belarus relations cannot be resolved entirely through the Union State mechanisms and guided by Union State logic. As a result, controversial issues either remain unsettled or get resolved through political compromises at the level of the leaders of the two countries. As the global economic and political situation worsened, especially in the 2010s, the number of problematic areas in the dialogue between Russia and Belarus started to grow. The Ukrainian crisis and the confrontation between Russia and the West proved to be serious catalysts for such contradictions.

These problems have been compounded by the issue of Minsk’s support for Moscow’s foreign policy, the worsening conditions for economic integration, the increasing lack of trust between the Russian and Belarusian elites, the intensified efforts of the West to hinder the development of the Union State, and so on. The growing number of problems that could not be solved through Union State mechanisms came to a head in late 2018, when the presidents of the two countries effectively decided to revise the process of the Union State’s further growth. Special governmental working groups were set up in both countries for this purpose. The result of this work was 31 roadmaps for the further development of the Union State, which will be submitted to the two presidents in late 2019.

Russia views the roadmaps as an instrument for resolving the most challenging problems in bilateral relations, including compensating Belarus for the Russian tax manoeuvre in the oil and gas sector. Minsk believes that the Belarusian budget stands to lose approximately USD 300 million annually as a result. However, the unification of tax legislation envisaged by the roadmaps will allow these costs to be offset and prevent similar problems in the future.

Belarus, for its part, believes that further development of the Union State is only possible after the existing problems have been resolved. In the case of the tax manoeuvre, Belarus thinks it should have received compensation before any roadmaps were signed.

These approaches to the roadmaps are indicative of more fundamental differences between the two countries when it comes to the issue of integration. In the coming years, these differences will play a crucial part in determining the further vector of development of the Union State.

Through Targeted Agreements

The Belarusian approach to the roadmaps demonstrates that, as far as Minsk is concerned, integration processes should be based first of all on economic considerations: minimizing costs, expanding export opportunities, attracting new loans, etc. All other measures to deepen integration are merely derivatives of Belarus’s economic needs. This logic implies that political superstructures and humanitarian projects as part of the Union State may well be abandoned entirely if they do not contribute to the development of economic cooperation.

Russia prefers a more comprehensive approach. It is not especially interested in the economic aspect of relations, if only for the fact that Russia’s share in Belarus’ foreign trade is approximately 50 per cent, while Belarus’ share in Russia’s foreign trade amounts to about 5 per cent. What is more, the Ukraine situation demonstrates that economic preferences alone do not automatically imply humanitarian and political proximity, nor do they provide protection against the gradual gestation of anti-Russian sentiment within society and the elite. This is why Moscow, in its Union State talks with Minsk, insists on a more systemic approach that would provide safeguards against disintegration in different aspects of cooperation.

The fact that the two countries failed to sign the complete package of documents on the further development of the Union State on December 8, 2019, indicates the fairly deep contradictions in their approaches to further integration, meaning that we are unlikely to see any breakthroughs in this area in the coming years. The Union State will undoubtedly continue to evolve, but not along the lines of the EU model, with its powerful bureaucratic superstructure and massive delegation of government functions to the supranational level.

As the current uncertainty in international relations continues, Russia and Belarus will most likely further economic cooperation above all, with safeguards in the form of legislative harmonization in individual aspects of cooperation. This path of targeted agreements on the most pressing aspects of interaction has more in common with the erstwhile Council for Mutual Economic Assistance than it does with the European Union. Without powerful supranational institutions, the Union State will go the way of horizontal integration, with the gradual harmonization of new aspects of life in Russia and Belarus.

In the long run, however, this approach may lead to the functions of the Union State being delegated to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). In fact, the EAEU is already seizing the initiative from the Union State not only in terms of economic issues (such as forming a uniform industrial policy, resolving disputes related to the free movement of goods and abolishing roaming charges), but also with regard to a number of humanitarian issues (the introduction of a uniform EAEU entry visa, a standard pension system for the five EAEU member states and so on). In addition, the EAEU has become a subject of international law, signing preferential trade agreements with Iran, Vietnam, China, Singapore and Serbia. Moldova has joined the EAEU as an observer state, and the governments of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are considering the possibility of joining. If the Eurasian Economic Commission is successful in having its powers and controlling functions expanded, then the demand for the Union State formats may shrink further.

Eventually, the relevance of the Union State could be increased by returning its original ambitions to create a unique international organization in the post-Soviet that would encompass the political, economic, humanitarian and military components. However, a tactical approach will likely prevail amidst chronic uncertainty in international relations. This means that the Union State will continue to exist in more or less the same form as today, with breakthroughs in individual areas of socioeconomic cooperation and periodic crises that the presidents of the two countries will have to resolve on a case-by-case basis.

From our partner RIAC

Editor-in-Chief, RuBaltic.Ru, Director General, Information and Analytical Centre on Social and Political Processes in the Post-Soviet Space, Moscow State University

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Russia Increases Its Defense, While U.S. Backs Down From Provoking WW III

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Ever since Joe Biden became America’s President in January, America’s hostile and threatening actions and rhetoric against (as Biden refers to him) the ‘killer’ Vladimir Putin, Russia’s President, have made clear to Putin that the U.S. Government’s determination to impose regime-change upon Russia will continue undiminished. This hostility from Biden has dashed Putin’s hope that the string of sanctions which the U.S. Government has constantly been adding to ever since President Obama started the anti-Russian sanctions in 2012, would end, or at least not continue to be added to, under Biden. 

Perhaps the clincher, in Putin’s mind, was Biden’s appointment, on January 16th (four days prior to becoming President), of Victoria Nuland to the #2 spot in the U.S. State Department, where, during Obama’s Presidency, as a third-ranked official there who reported directly to Obama (instead of to her nominal boss the Secretary of State), she had planned, and organized the bloody coup that installed a rabidly anti-Russian Government in Ukraine on Russia’s border. This coup in Ukraine is as if during the Cold War the Soviet Union were to have perpetrated a bloody coup installing an anti-U.S. government in Mexico or in Canada (something that the U.S. Government would never have tolerated for even a moment — consider the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 as an example), and Putin now is making clear that he will not tolerate any further increases in America’s anti-Russian threats and aggressions. (In fact, Nuland also was one of the chief planners of America’s aggressions against Syria, which has long been an ally of Russia. The plans against both Ukraine and Syria were first being firmed-up under her during 2011. Obama intended even when he entered office in 2009, to replace Syria’s Government, but the decision to replace Ukraine’s Government didn’t come right away. On 12 April 2010 Yanukovych met the U.S. President at the White House, to which Obama had invited him, but Yanukovych refused Obama’s suggestions that Ukraine join America’s alliance against Ukraine’s next-door neighbor Russia. On 2 July 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Yanukovych held a joint press conference in Kiev, where she said that she had discussed with Yanukovych joint military exercises with U.S. forces against his neighbor, Russia. Yanukovych declined the demands, and Nuland already by no later than 23 June 2011 was planning for the coup. This regime is out to conquer Russia, any way it can.)

What is most remarkable about the U.S.-and-allied press coverage of the February 2014 coup in Ukraine is that it is always being misrepresented in the U.S.-and-allied countries as a ‘democratic revolution’, and nobody in the U.S.-and-allied countries (other than a few journalists in small non-mainstream media, such as I) has publicly called attention to the fact that is was a coup, which fact was clearly on display in the phone-conversation between Nuland and the U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine that was first posted to the internet on 4 February 2014, three weeks before the coup that placed “Yats” Yatsenyuk into power there: Nuland, who was a third level down in the State Department’s bureaucracy, was, in that conversation, actually instructing the U.S. Ambassador whom to get appointed to run the new Government after the coup would be over: “Yats.” She made that choice. Nobody in Ukraine did. Nor did the U.S. Secretary of State — her nominal boss. John Kerry, who was the U.S. Secretary of State, wasn’t the person who made that incredibly important decision, and the CIA also wasn’t the agency which did — Nuland, herself, made the decision, in this case; and the U.S. Ambassador there was, clearly, accepting her authority, to be speaking on behalf of the President of the United States: Barack Obama. That coup was clearly planned by the White House. And it was run through the State Department, not through the CIA (which had been the U.S. regime’s traditional method for coups). The CIA was just paying the bribes and hiring the goons, not doing the planning, for this operation. (Furthermore, the conversation, at its very end, dotted the “i”s on her authority and indicated that V.P. Biden was aware that she possessed direct authority from Obama to make these decisions. Biden’s claims during the 2020 Presidential contest, saying that Obama had given Biden the authority to run the Ukrainian operation, were lies. He was a mere functionary, and, even at that, functioned only after the coup was already over. At 4:05- in the video, Nuland said, “… when I wrote the note, [Jake] Sullivan’s [note has] come back to me VFR [meaning in response to her formal request to make these decisions without needing higher-level authorization] saying ‘you need [[V.P.]] Biden[’s approval] and I said [to Sullivan that Biden would give her that formal authorization] probably tomorrow for an ‘atta boy’ [meaning that Biden’s okay was only a formality] and to get the dets [details] to stick; so, Biden’s willing.” The Ambassador response to this was “Okay, great; thanks,” meaning that he had no question, and this exchange ended their conversation. For more details decoding that conversation, see here and here.) 

On 23 November 2020, CBS headlined “Biden to appoint Jake Sullivan as national security adviser” and also reported that Antony Blinken would be the Secretary of State. Sullivan and Blinken were friends of Nuland, and all of them had long records as neoconservatives; but nonetheless the subsequent appointment of Nuland to be #2 at State was a shocker because Nuland was a neocon even amongst neocons. In fact, she had been Dick Cheney’s national security advisor when George W. Bush was President. She has been a constant, probably planning all of the 21st Century U.S. invasions and coups. No one is more bloodthirsty than she. But Biden calls Putin a “killer.”

America’s meta-strategy, at least since 2006, has been to ‘win’ WW III against Russia, whereas Russia has always remained with what had been the meta-strategy on both sides, of having nuclear weapons only in order to be able to deliver an annihilating retaliatory response if the opposite side blitz-attacks it with nuclear weapons. That previous (in the United States, but still current in Russia) meta-strategy is called “Mutually Assured Destruction,” or “M.A.D.” for short.

As I had headlined and documented on 3 May 2017, “America’s Top Scientists Confirm: U.S. Goal Now Is to Conquer Russia”. That article quoted America’s top experts on nuclear war as saying that America’s “boosting the overall killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces by a factor of roughly three … creates exactly what one would expect to see if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.” This would nearly be sufficient superiority of U.S. forces to fulfill the plan which had been first described publicly in America’s two most prestigious international relations journals, as being a suitable replacement for “M.A.D.”: “Nuclear Primacy”. That’s the goal for America to blitz-nuclear attack Russia so quickly that Russia won’t have enough time to launch a retaliatory response. America’s Establishment wants it to happen. (They are even buying luxurious deep-underground nuclear-bomb-proof shelters so that they will be among the few survivors from it.)

Putin is now taking the situation to be so dangerous for Russia so that he has publicly established “red lines” in U.S. policies, which, if crossed by the United States or its allies, might be responded to by Russia’s being the first to strike — the start of WW III — even though that would destroy the entire world, including Russia itself.

Though he takes a great risk with these “red lines,” he seems to believe that by establishing them, there is less of a risk to Russians than if he continues to pretend that M.A.D. remains as being American policy. He is, in effect, forcing Joe Biden to choose now, between Nuclear Primacy versus M.A.D. Putin is now publicly warning the U.S. Government and America’s allies what could possibly be responded to by Russia’s blitz-attacking them. That’s what this new Russian policy is all about: pre-announced red lines.

The biggest hot spot, where a world-destroying nuclear war is the likeliest to be sparked, is in Ukraine, after Barack Obama’s February 2014 coup in Ukraine (on Russia’s border) which coup illegally and violently overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected President and replaced him by a racist-fascist (or nazi) anti-Russian regime that promptly began an ethnic cleansing operation in its far south and far east in order to eliminate voters who had (in the far east, the Donbass region) voted 90%+ for him, and (in the far south, including Crimea) voted 75%+ for him. (Only by eliminating those people could the Obama-imposed regime remain in power after an election.) Obama had started planning this operation in 2011, and by the time of June 2013 a part of this plan was for America to replace Russia’s largest naval base, which was (and remains) in Crimea, by establishing yet another U.S. naval base there. (Putin — with the strong backing of the Crimean people — blocked that part of Obama’s plan.)

On April 15th, the U.S. regime’s Associated Press (AP) propaganda agency headlined a thousand-word “EXPLAINER: What’s behind the conflict in eastern Ukraine?” and devoted one section of it to “WHAT ARE THE ROOTS OF THE CONFLICT?” and another section to “WHAT’S THE U.S. ROLE?”, but nowhere in it was anything that has just been documented here, via the links, to be true — none of that was — even so much as just mentioned, in that entire ‘news’ article.

Here are headlines from April 17th regarding Ukraine:

“Ukraine’s military chief urges authorities to refrain from creating armed formations”: This reports an announcement by Ukraine’s Government telling its independently organized volunteer nazi battalions: please do not invade Donbass unless and until authorized to do so. Those battalions had previously been given to understand that they would soon be authorized to invade. The Ukrainian General is here telling those battalions (such as the nazi Azov Battalion, which has been championed by the U.S.-and-allied governments) that premature actions on their part might be exploited by Russia for its purposes (for Russian propaganda). This plea to those far-right mercenaries can only be very disappointing to them. Both of Ukraine’s two nazi Parties, Svoboda (originally the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine), and Right Sector (meaning “Right Wing” in the extreme senses), are on the front lines there, and have publicly threatened to overthrow Ukraine’s current President if he fails to invade Donbas soon. Those mercenaries could quickly turn against him.

“Russia Shuts Ukraine’s Military Access To [the Sea of Azov]”: Beginning “next week,” and continuing at least until October, Russia will prevent any military vessels of or allied with the United States from passing through the Kerch Strait, which transits from the Black Sea, into the Sea of Azov, which latter is Ukraine’s sole coastal waters. (That U.S.-written headline erroneously said “Russia Shuts Ukraine’s Military Access To Black Sea,” because confusing the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov is common. However, that news-report provided an excellent map which shows what the article was actually reporting: Russia will close off U.S-and-allied warship-access to Ukraine’s coast.) The implication of this news-report is that until (at least) October, Ukraine must avoid invading Donbas, or else do it without being able to be militarily resupplied by the U.S. and its allies. 

“FAA issues warning for flights in Russia-Ukraine border airspace”: This is a warning to airlines to avoid that area because of the possibility of war breaking out imminently there (warning them to avoid events like the 17 July 2014 MH17 incident).

In other words: Putin is finally putting his foot down. He won’t tolerate any more of what Obama and Trump were dishing out.

On April 15th a headline was “U.S. drops plans to send destroyers into the Black Sea due to concerns over Russia”. This is one of several strong signs that Biden understands that crossing one of Putin’s red lines would be extremely dangerous.

The stooge-President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, appears to be trapped between what he has promised to do — which is for Ukraine to retake both Donbas and Crimea (the same thing that his predecessor Petro Poroshenko had promised)  — and what will be within his power to do. Even the U.S. empire, which had placed him (and Poroshenko — and Poroshenko’s predecessor “Yats” Yatsenyuk) into nominal control over that country, won’t actually risk WW III in order to keep him in power there. At the present point in time, the best that Zelensky can reasonably hope for is to survive beyond his clearly doomed Presidency. He is learning that being a stooge is not a comfortable position to occupy.

On April 20th, the U.S. Democratic Party news-summary site “Political Wire” headlined “Leaked Ukraine Memo Shows Scope of Russia Aggression” and reported that “‘Russia has been holding last-minute military exercises near commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea that threaten to strangle Ukraine’s economy,’ according to an internal document from Ukraine’s ministry of defense reviewed by Axios” (another Democratic Party ‘news’ site). In an America whose population is torn between the suckers of Democratic Party billionaires versus the suckers of Republican Party billionaires, each Party’s ‘news’ sites reaches virtually only that Party’s voters; and, so, the most popular of the many reader-comments there is blindly pro-Biden (like pro-Trumpers are about Trump), from “S1AMER”: “The economic base of Russia is shaky at best, and nearly all Russians can see that and personally feel it. So Putin no doubt thinks he can get restive Russians to rally around him if he invents a war (‘Ukraine invaded us!’) or just elevates the profile of a common enemy (‘US and NATO are picking on us!’). (And, of course, all this mightily distracts the Russian populace from the imminent death of Putin’s most effective opponent [here presumably Navalny].) Disaster appears likely to be lurking around the corner. We should be very glad we have our current president on the job, and that NATO and the USA and other decent countries just might do all (or at least most) of the right things going forward.”

Author’s note: first posted at Strategic Culture

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Goodbye, the ISS: Russia plans to withdraw from the International Space Station

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On April, 18, 2021, Russia announced its plans on withdrawing from the International Space Station in 2025. According to Rossiya 1 TV channel, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov stated that the ISS has outlived its lifespan, and Russia plans to contact its partners in outer space cooperation in advance to “honestly inform  <them> on withdrawing from the ISS in 2025”. According to his statement, the increasing frequency and amount of malfunctions can represent a threat to cosmonauts: “a situation connected with the deterioration of <station`s> structures and metals can lead to irreversible consequences and even to a catastrophe. It can`t be allowed to happen.” This issue becomes more and more essential these days since the station`s operating time has already exceeded 20 years: the first segment of station was launched in 1998, and in 2000 the ISS welcomed its first expedition crew. 

Previously the worth whileness of Russia`s participation in the ISS mission was discussed during the meeting with the President of Russia on issues of aerospace industry development. As REGNUM information agency reported, Dmitry Peskov, the Press Secretary for the President of Russia confirmed that one of the topics discussed at the meeting was about “that the ISS and its Russian segment can`t stay in operating condition forever, and the lifespan of their construction is decreasing as time goes by, so sooner or later the final decision has to be made. And the reasonableness of continuing of this work and detailed elaboration of this question really were emphasized during yesterday`s meeting.” However, Yuri Gidzenko, Deputy Chief of the spacecraft and launch vehicles’ flight operation center of RSC Energia (S. P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia), in his interview to Rossiya-24 TV channel said that despite occurring malfunctions, the Russian segment of the ISS should be in stable operating condition up to 2028. This opinion is also supported by Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of Roscosmos (the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities), who said that “the state corporation is monitoring the ISS conditions, and despite the fact that some segments already exceeded their operating time, it is still early for the ISS decommission.” As a result, it is too early to state whether Russia will withdraw from the ISS in the nearest future.

The Russian Space Station?

At the same time it is worth mentioning that many people became interested in information about Russia`s plans on launching  the National Space Station, which was also mentioned in the report of Rossiya 1 TV channel. Earlier, in November 2020, during the meeting of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Council on Outer Space, Vladimir Soloviev, first Deputy Director of RSC Energia, in his report introduced a project of the Russian Orbital Service Station (ROSS). It was presented as an alternative to participation in the ISS program, since the possible financial spending on this program after 2025 may increase significantly and reach 10-15 billion rubles` mark, thus questioning the worth whileness of continuing participation. In April 2021, Dmitry Rogozin published a video on his Facebook page that “the first core module of the new Russian orbital service station is in the operating condition. RSC Energia has a task to ensure that in 2025 it will be ready for launching to the final orbit.” Despite the fact that the module on the video is marked as “the Model”, it still illustrates the successful development in Russia`s aerospace industry. Taking into account the experience from the previous years and, in particular, launching of Salyut and Mir space station, the creation of ROSS is just a matter of time.

The issue of launching National Space Station raises certain concerns. Nowadays, the international cooperation in the outer space is one of a few mechanisms which succeed in decreasing tensions in geopolitics, and the International Space Station serves as the best example of global cooperation for the good of world community. In this case, Russia`s decision on withdrawing from the ISS mission will not only set under the question the further cooperation in the Outer Space, but also influence the geopolitical situation on the Earth, which is quite unpredictable these days.

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The crisis between Russia and Ukraine

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image source: euromaidanpress.com

Ukraine, the EU and the United States have often interacted with one another and the crisis in Donbass is difficult to stop as the situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border has been overheated since mid-March. On April 13, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister participated in the extraordinary meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Committee and held talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken, hoping to gain the NATO countries’ support in the confrontation with Russia.

On the same day, U.S. President Biden spoke with his Russian counterpart Putin. President Biden reiterated U.S. support for Ukraine and proposed to hold a Summit in a third country over the next few months to comprehensively discuss the current issues facing the two countries.

The reason why the parties have fallen into such a tense situation is obviously related to the historical conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Since early 2021, the Ukrainian government has taken a number of actions on issues such as the situation in Eastern Ukraine and relations with Russia.

Photos circulated by Reuters news agency and some social media showed that the Russian troops gathered at the border had anti-aircraft missile systems such as Doyle and Beech, as well as some tanks and armoured vehicles.

BBC, Reuters, Associated Press and other major Western media officially reported that Russia had recently sent a large number of troops to the Eastern border areas of Crimea and Ukraine.

Faced with that tense situation, the Ukrainian government has often taken internal and external actions and it has also intensified its interaction with the Turkish and U.S. governments.

On April 2, President Biden spoke for the first time with the Ukrainian President, the populist and former actor, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelensky, who said he would not allow his country to face Russia’s pressure alone when the situation in Eastern Ukraine escalated and worsened.

On April 5the State Department spokesman, Edward Price, accused the Russian army of gathering large numbers of troops on the Russian-Ukrainian border and asked for explanations from the Russian side. Furthermore, the U.S. Navy had planned to send two warships to the Black Sea through the Bosporus from April 14 to 15 but, on April 15, the Turkish side stated that the plan had been cancelled.

With specific reference to Turkish-Ukrainian relations, President Zelensky visited Turkey on April 10 and met with Turkish President Erdoğan to discuss the situation in Eastern Ukraine, as well as other issues. President Erdoğan also stressed that Turkey supported Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and his position was not to recognise the annexation of Crimea, which the idiot Khrushchev gifted to Ukraine after a drink in 1954, less than a year after Stalin’s death. Considering his narrow-mindedness and crass ignorance, he did not understand that the Stalinist Constitution of December 5, 1936 had a well-founded legal basis and also respected the secession of the USSR Republics (Article 17: “Every federated republic retains the right of free secession from the USSR”). As is well known, the first destructive consequence of alcohol is the loss of mind control.

Moreover, the recent military cooperation and interaction between Ukraine and Turkey has also raised much concern. According to Al Jazeera, in 2018 Ukraine purchased 6 Turkish-made TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and 200 precision-guided weapons for a total price of 69 million dollars. On March 15, 2021, several C-17 transport aircraft flew from Turkey to Ukraine, carrying weapons and equipment.

According to the report, in the recent conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Ukraine sent military experts to closely monitor how the Azerbaijani army used those Turkish-made drones. Some of them said they found that the Azerbaijani army’s war methods “have a lot in common” with the Ukrainian government forces’ war against militants in the East.

On April 13, the military news website Defense Blog reported that the TB2 drone had been deployed near Donbass, while Russian Foreign Ministry’s officials lodged a public protest.

It is worth noting that Turkey was only the first stop on the foreign visit paid by populist President Zelensky. He also met with French President Macron. Beforehand, the leaders of Germany and France had held a video conference with Russian President Putin. President Zelensky’s spokesman commented that all parties should not exclude Ukraine before making any decisions on it.

According to the White House, President Biden expressed concern about the Russian military presence on Ukraine’s border and urged President Putin to de-escalate tension. The White House concluded: “President Biden stressed the firm commitment of the United States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Kremlin underlined: “During the exchange of views on Ukraine’s internal crisis, President Putin outlined the basis for the measures of the “Minsk package” (ceasefire agreement) of February 12, 2015 as a political solution”.

For this reason, in July 2020, the tripartite contact group on Ukraine (Ukraine, Russia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) held a video conference with representatives of the civilian armed forces in the Donbass region, Eastern Ukraine, in view of achieving a comprehensive ceasefire in the region so as to reach an agreement later.

Nevertheless, since the end of February 2021, incidents and casualties have increased in Eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian government forces and civilian armed forces in the East have accused each other of breaking the ceasefire agreement.

The Ukrainian government said in late March that the gathering of Russian troops in its border areas posed a severe threat to national security. Conversely, the Russian side believes that it is precisely because the military forces of NATO countries and other parties are becoming more active in areas close to the Russian border that Russia has been forced to remain vigilant, ensuring stability and security on its border.

During that period, the Russian side had reactions that surprised the West. In addition to information on troop mobilisation that was intensively reported in the Western media, Russia also sent more intense signals through media channels. Russia Today publicly raised the issue of “Russian Donbass” for the first time while participating in the “Russia-Donbass” Forum on January 28, 2021. Russia stressed that it was not excluded to bring back the “Crimea model” in desperate situations and directly control the Donbass region.

In support of Ukraine, President Biden’s Administration reversed former President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Germany on April 13. Meanwhile, both U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd James Austin III and Secretary of State Blinken visited European countries in the first half of April. On April 13 Austin announced that, in addition to halting the withdrawal, the United States would send 500 additional soldiers to Germany. Asked whether the move was designed to conveying a message to Russia, Austin said he was “sending a signal to NATO” to show the U.S. commitment to the transatlantic alliance and to Germany.

At the same time, Blinken met with NATO allies in Brussels and held a separate meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister DmytroIvanovyč Kuleba. Blinken told him: “The United States firmly supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” And the Minister replied that Ukraine urgently needed NATO’s help.

It should also be noted that NATO continued to provide assistance to Ukraine. On March 10, a delegation of NATO ground force Commanders, led by NATO Lieutenant General Roger Cloutier, arrived in Ukraine. According to an earlier report on the Ukrinform news website, the Ukrainian army commented that the trip demonstrated that NATO regarded Ukraine as a “strategic partner”.

According to Secretary General Stoltenberg, NATO is currently providing various forms of aid to the Ukrainian army, including training, joint exercises and military modernisation. Although Ukraine is not a NATO Member State, it has obtained Western weapons such as the Javelin anti-tank missile through various channels.

We wonder whether a third world war is worth it, in case of an invasion of the Russian geopolitical area by NATO? Is it worth having at least 4-5 billion dead people and a devastated planet taken back in time, with whom the 20 million dead of World War II would seem like a car crash by comparison? And for what? For old inter-ethnic hatred that third parties would like to exploit for their own benefit, probably believing they are countering the Panamanian or Grenadian army?

Suppose the People’s Republic of China sent an expeditionary force – with Navy units and missiles – to its friendly Mexico: what do you think would happen?

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