The massive street protests that have taken place in Belarus recently are only the tip of the iceberg of what we can expect to see in the coming months and years. Although, of course, the situation in the country bears little resemblance to the endless crises in Belgium and Italy, which are capable of existing perfectly well without a central government for decades. Belarus is slowly sinking under the weight of a political crisis that is affecting the very foundations of the social system and which may take some time to resolve, since the political establishment essentially controls all spheres of society. If the political system crumbles, governance in the country will effectively grind to a halt, and it will be a long and painful process to get the motor running once again.
Some have called the events in Belarus a colour revolution, likening it to the Euromaidan protests that took place in Ukraine in 2013–2014. And while there are clearly parallels between the two, it would perhaps be more accurate to say, as some commentators have, that the crisis more closely resembles a kind of “belated” perestroika. The ideas that have formed the cornerstone of Belarus’ foreign policy since 2014 — that it is a “security donor” in Eastern Europe and a “neutral state” — have come back to haunt the country’s leadership. Right now, the only thing stopping Belarus from becoming an “instability donor” is the continued political and economic support of Russia.
The Origins of the Crisis
At first glance, it would appear that the political crisis is a consequence of the supposedly botched presidential elections in August. But the elections only served as a trigger for the next phase of a crisis that had been unfolding for years, which involved people taking to the streets in their thousands. On the surface, there is an economic component to what is happening: the national economy is dominated by state enterprises, but their equipment is outdated and the country does not have the money for modernization.
In the 1990s, Belarus was able to avoid the most painful consequences of perestroika by buddying up to Russia. It set about building state capitalism with a “human face” (social benefits and guarantees) while at the same time relying on the Soviet industrial potential, the Russian market and economic support.
The Belarusian economy was effectively rebuilt from the ground up as a part of a single economic space with Russia. For example, Belarus has enjoyed a massive discount on Russian oil and gas over the past ten years compared to other importers, to the tune of approximately $70 billion, or 55 per cent of the state budget for that period . Belarus has exported over $110 billion worth of industrial and agricultural products to the Russian market over the past decade [2. ]Russia accounts for between one half and two-thirds of all foreign direct investment into the Belarusian economy.
The system as it is currently set up can survive another year, and some elements may even develop if it continues to have free access to Russian investment and the Russian market. But there is a deep contradiction at the heart of this model — while the Russian and Belarusian economies are de facto the same, their management systems are not, and their regulatory bases are drifting further and further apart.
This problem has proved to be a sticking point, with intensive negotiations on possible “road maps” for the Union State bringing little to no progress over the past two years. And where integration fails, disintegration gathers steam, which is exactly what we have been witnessing in recent years. At the same time, the industrial facilities of most Belarusian enterprises are becoming obsolete. Belarusian industry is in a race against time, and it is losing, with hundreds of thousands of workers set to lose their jobs. Soon it will be no more, to be followed by the social and educational infrastructure, and then the schools of engineering and mathematics (which have been “feeding” the fledgeling Belarusian IT cluster “for free”). The belief of some business leaders that Belarus will rise like a phoenix from the ashes to become an IT leader, abandoning ties with Russia and thus leaving the outmoded industrial sector in the past, is based on nothing but ideology.
The root of the crisis that is unfolding in Belarus lies in the fact that the government is becoming increasingly out of touch with society. The political institutions in the country have proved unable to internalize public activity, engage in a meaningful two-way conversation with the people and respond to the requests of a significant part of society. Hence the numerous “mistakes” of the authorities in recent years — symptoms of systemic failures. Actions that in certain conditions were seen as the norm and brought results are in others seen as mistakes and turn out to be counterproductive.
It is not enough to simply replace the people in charge. It will take years of hard work for Belarus to emerge from the crisis, and there is an extremely high risk that the political system could break down completely, which would have a devastating effect on the country’s economy — far worse than the economic troubles experienced by Ukraine since 2014.
Components of the Crisis
Let us try to reconstruct the main phases of the Belarus crisis (some of the events overlap).
Economic. The obsolescence of the country’s backbone industries and the lack of money to modernize them became a serious issue back in the 2000s. This forced the authorities to quietly dismantle the post-Soviet social safety net, which had always been a source of pride within the country. Few even batted an eyelid when the retirement age was increased. But it was a different story with the new tax on the officially unemployed (the so-called “decree on parasites”), which was met with a flurry of protests in 2017.
Social. The structure of Belarusian society has changed. The number of self-employed persons and small businesses in the country has increased, and urban culture and international contacts have developed — all at a far quicker pace than the state management systems in the public and social spheres have been able to adapt. The government still uses the same mass command and obedience methods in its youth policy and social mobilization that were developed some 20–30 years ago, or even during the Soviet period, despite their shortcomings. Assistant to the President of Belarus Nikolai Latyshonok has said that “about 20 to 30 per cent” of the population is dissatisfied with the Belarusian authorities. Considering that this is 20 to 30 per cent of registered voters, it translates into 1.5 to 2 million people, which is a huge number for Belarus.
Generational. Sociologists have noted a real transformation over the past ten years in the dominant attitudes and values of the “post-Soviet generation” as its representatives move into adulthood. The younger generations are far less supportive of the authorities and do not share their style or aesthetics. The generational gap in Belarus in 2014–2015 was almost identical to that of Moldova and Ukraine, and there is no reason to believe that the situation has improved since then.
Ideological. The economic backwardness of the country, coupled with the reduction in social guarantees and the change of generations has led to a crisis of ideology in Belarus. To fill the growing ideological vacuum, the Belarusian authorities have placed increasing importance on so-called “soft Belarusization”, attempting to supplement the ideological matrix of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic with new symbols and meanings, from the Belarusian People’s Republic and “millennial statehood” to traditional Belarusian embroidered shirts and the restyling of the national emblem. But this did not have the desired effect of consolidating the country. Instead, it led to the erosion of guidelines within society and the state apparatus. The attempt to present the question of “Minsk or Mensk” (Belarusian versus Russian), which is irrelevant for the majority of Belarusian citizens as the main “nerve” of the election campaign, turned out to be a failure, causing mistrust among the government’s supporters. The nationalists, with the support of the ramified structure of Western NGOs that had been growing in the country over the course of the last 20 years and had penetrated the government bodies, seized the ideological initiative.
Foreign Policy. The Belarusian leadership tried to mitigate the growing systemic problems inside the country by pursuing an active foreign policy, but this tactic backfired. The balanced diplomacy of the Belarusian government between 2014 and 2016 allowed it to extract certain diplomatic and economic dividends from the Ukrainian crisis. But there would soon be a price to pay, with the contradictions inside the country starting to worsen and the goal of the state apparatus to pursue multi-vector development turning into an exercise in distancing itself from Russia and flirting with the “Russian threat.” All of this served to disorient and destroy the electoral base within the country. And the only thing that the Belarusian authorities have to show from this policy of the past four to five years is growing isolation from the country’s only ally — Russia.
These trends intertwine and reinforce one another, showing that the crisis in Belarus is much more than “just” a colour revolution, which is merely a symptom of a much more serious illness.
Perestroika does not mean that the existing system is wrong, completely bankrupt and without hope — it is by no means destined to collapse. Despite the crisis, the Belarusian system has a number of undeniable advantages, including the relatively low level of social stratification, well-developed social services, a quality education system and industrial expertise. The Belarusian “model” developed back in the 2000s and the politics we see today are not the same thing. Similar to the Soviet perestroika era, the way in which the authorities have handled the crisis is the main reason it is getting worse.
The Economic Dimension of the Crisis
The economic crisis is a result of the failure of the post-Soviet model of the Belarusian economy. The only thing left is either Balticization (but without access to the sea), in which case the country would lose its heavy industry and suffer the mass emigration of its “surplus” population, or optimization and modernization with the help of outside investors.
The European Union is Belarus’ second-largest foreign trade partner and, according to EU statistics, purchases 4 billion Euros’ worth of goods from the country per year. Belarus’ main exports are timber, mineral products (oil and oil products made using Russian oil purchased at heavily discounted prices) and base metals. Raw materials and semi-finished products make up over 80 per cent of Belarus’ exports to the European Union. Strikes at large Belarusian enterprises may lead to a drop in the supply of metals, oil products and potash fertilizers to the European Union.
These losses will hardly make a dent in the European economy and can be replaced using other suppliers. Belarus, however, will suffer, although the damage will not be critical, as the European Union accounted for approximately 20 per cent of the country’s foreign trade in 2019. The potash markets are now growing, which is primarily thanks to Asia.
Belarus could suffer greatly if the European Union refuses to import oil products, but this is unlikely to happen. Belarusian oil refineries will probably become unprofitable if the high cost of European logistics forces them to purchase oil elsewhere, at global prices.
Losing the Russian market, which accounts for half of Belarus’ trade turnover, would be an unmitigated disaster for the country’s economy. What is more, Russia’s imports include machinery with high added value. If the political crisis in Belarus results in forces coming to power that want to withdraw from the political and economic integration agreements that the country has with Russia, then this will lead to the destruction of Belarusian industry, and hundreds of thousands of highly qualified specialists will lose their jobs.
Many large state-owned enterprises in Belarus perform social functions — excessive hiring prevents unemployment from skyrocketing and alleviates social tensions. A similar situation exists in many industrialized countries. What complicates the issue in Belarus is the lack of a safety buffer, as well as sufficient internal resources, to maintain and develop such a system. Any radical market reform will invariably lead to an explosion of public anger.
Multi-Vectorality and Belarusization
Belarus officially set a course for a multi-vector approach in the 2000s, writing it into key legislative and regulatory acts 15 years ago. Experts and officials in Belarus have repeatedly stated that small countries must naturally pursue a balanced foreign policy, even though all of its Western neighbours have chosen the opposite strategy of “joining together” and bloc discipline.
The Ukrainian crisis only intensified this trend, with the Belarusian authorities trying to draw attention away from its domestic problems by pursuing a multi-vectored and largely symbolic policy. This was motivated first of all by the desire to gain economic bonuses by playing on the contradictions between Russia and the West, and secondly by the need to distract the Belarusian people from the social problems in the country and bolster the legitimacy of the authorities, adopting the nationalist agenda and framing it as “soft Belarusization.”
The increased pace of multi-vectorality had the opposite effect. Belarusian exports to the European Union fell by 9.4 per cent as of year-end 2019 to below the 2010–2011 figures. Russia still accounts for approximately half of Belarus’ foreign trade, but it has begun to move gradually towards import substitution amid troubles in the integration process.
Competitive growth on the Russian domestic market is both an objective and natural process. The only way to restrain this process or further boost advantages enjoyed by Belarusian producers is through specific political action and inter-state economic projects. But this has become impossible due to the gradual nullification of geopolitical guarantees that has taken place as Minsk’s multi-vectored policies have developed.
The idea of Belarus as a “security donor” in Eastern Europe was designed to help the country build its foreign policy around being a mediator between Russia and the West, without taking sides. But it turned out that the building had been built on sand, and now the Chancellor of Austria (a neutral country) has called for negotiations on the Ukrainian crisis to be moved from Minsk to Vienna.
Most have come to the conclusion in recent months that the Belarusian authorities have “lost the information space” — a consequence of new media and the appearance of various messenger services. However, it would seem that ideology is responsible for this loss, rather than a poor grasp of modern technology. And the “informational neutrality” declared in the 2019 Concept of Information Security of Belarus was the icing on the cake of this long-term trend. The document effectively tied the government’s hands in terms of putting up resistance to opposition forces and foreign NGOs inside the country.
The void that had appeared was slowly being filled with the concept of “sacrifice” taking root in the country (Belarus has taken part in the wars of others and suffered as a result of its neighbours “in both the West and the East). A big part in this process was played by Western funds, supported by a part of the Belarusian state apparatus. This directly contradicted the ideological foundations of the victory in World War II. Belarus’ Independence Day continues to be celebrated on July 3 — the same day that Minsk was liberated from the Nazis in 1944. For most millennials, however, Victory Day is nothing more than a national holiday that does not conjure up any particular feelings of patriotism. This is because there is a lack of modern meaning that young people can identify with, a dearth of ways to get them involved.
The obsession during the election campaign with the virtual “Russian threat” — something that even the nationalists did not believe — was thus no accident. Rather, it was a logical development of the government’s multi-vector strategy. This is the same path that the Baltic states have already travelled, moving from a “bridge between East and West” to “neutral countries,” then “frontline states” and, finally, “bastions against Russia.”
There are many layers to the crisis that is currently unfolding in Belarus, and political or economic instruments alone are not up to the task of dragging the country out of the mess it now finds itself in — public institutions and governance methods need to be brought into the present day. Even if Russia decides to prop up the Belarusian economy, which it is doing right now, this will not resolve all the differences that have built up over the years. All the more so because nothing is being done to revise the country’s multi-vectoral doctrine. At the same time that President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko is accusing the United States of interfering in its domestic affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei can be heard thanking the Department of State for “supporting the sovereignty of Belarus.”
If the Belarusian leadership cannot manoeuvre itself out of the situation by making qualitative changes, then the situation will become hopeless sooner rather than later. Continuing the policy of recent years will only make things worse, and will inevitably result in the current authorities losing their grip on power.
The main question now is how Belarus will emerge from the crisis — through gradual and deliberate transformations or by scrapping the system altogether and dealing with the severe consequences that that would entail. In any case, it will be very different from what happened with Ukraine, as we are not talking about access to fertile soil and sea routes; the domestic market and the demographic resources are far smaller.
The only viable way to make the reform as painless as possible is to remove the obstacles to the development of the Belarusian economy through its large industrial and economic complex, which would provide a safety net for the most vulnerable social groups, as well as investments for big business. However, the only country that would even entertain the idea of such an agreement is Russia.
Meaningful constitutional reform is taking shape, a political transition that aims to adapt the system of governance to modern realities. But it is not enough. The mass demonstrations that we see today are reminiscent of the “singing revolutions” that took place in the Baltic states in 1990–1991. Just like the popular fronts in these countries broke out of the control of the communist party and the KGB, the opposition forces in Belarus today, inspired by the official Belarusization, are turning against the authorities. The second step in these revolutions involved a change of leadership, the strengthening of the nationalists, reorientation to the West, the introduction of the concept of “non-citizens” for ethnic Russians living in the Baltics, etc.
This does not mean that Belarus is doomed to follow the same path, as its ties with Russia run far deeper. The Russian side is doing everything in its power to preserve stability in Belarus, keep external influence at bay, and hold on to the special relationship it has with its Belarusian friends. But the risks are exceptionally high. The situation in Belarus is not static and could take a turn for the worse at any moment. Alexander Lukashenko still has time to make the most important decision of his life.
Author’s calculations based on data from the National Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus, the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation and Gazprom.
Author’s calculations based on data from the Federal Customs Service of Russia.
From our partner RIAC
Both Zelensky and Poroshenko Acknowledged They Came to Power Illegally
A coup is an illegal way to come to power, and both of Ukraine’s Presidents after the February 2014 overthrow of the democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych acknowledged that the overthrow of him violated the law, and that the government which became installed after Yanukovych’s overthrow has no legitimacy whatsoever — that the “Maidan of dignity” and “democratic revolution” was actually a hoax.
On 22 June 2015, I headlined “Ukraine’s President Poroshenko Admits Overthrow Of Yanukovych Was A Coup” and I provided full online documentation both of his allegation and of its being entirely true. I even documented that on 26 February 2014 (the final day of the actual coup) he had informed the EU that this was the case, and that they were surprised to hear it but ignored it. The U.S. allegations that Yanukovych had been overthrown by a spontaneous and mass-supported revolution against him — and which were clearly a lie even as early as 4 February 2014 but a lie that was pumped ceaselessly in the ‘news’-media regardless of that evidence — those U.S. allegations were thoroughly documented, in a 12 March 2014 video-compilation that was posted to youtube, to be false, a hoax, and yet nonetheless, this fact continued to be ignored in U.S.-&-allied ‘news’-media, as-if truth had nothing whatsoever to do with news-reporting and analysis — as-if evidence doesn’t matter, regardless of how extensive and reliable and conclusive it is. As-if The West is floating on lies, and its public won’t ever much care about that fact. (That’s the assumption; and, if by “the public” is meant the nation’s press, then that assumption is unquestionably true, because the press don’t care about it, at all — they instead support it; they support this status-quo, of lies-based ‘history’.)
Then, on 11 February 2020, Ukraine’s own Interfax News Agency issued the following news-report (as auto-translated into English):
11 February 2020
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyi, believes that the investigation and completion of the tragic events on Independence Square during the Revolution of Dignity is the most difficult matter [to discuss] in the country.
“Lost evidence, documents. There are no people, there are no witnesses. Some say that in general, in places after this tragedy, all these events have been removed by many. The most difficult case that we have in our country is the Maidan,” he said in an exclusive interview with “Interfax-Ukraine” agency.
Zelensky pointed out that “everyone is engaged in these matters”.
“I know for sure that they are working faster than it was a few years ago. When they will find customers, because it is more understandable with murderers, I cannot say. All forces are involved in these cases, and we are doing everything possible,” he said.
Actually, there were plenty of witnesses, and even some of the participants subsequently came forth to admit publicly that they had participated in the coup, but the ‘news’-media in U.S.&-and-allied countries weren’t interested (even if the public there might have been, if only they had known about it).
On 24 February 2020, Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine so that the coup-installed regime in Ukraine and its U.S.-NATO-EU sponsors won’t be able to install U.S. nuclear missiles within 5-minute flying-distance from Moscow on Ukraine’s border with Russia.
This is the result of the ideology that now controls The West, called “neoliberalism” in domestic or intranational policymaking, and “neoconservatism” in international policymaking; and it is that every dollar is equal, and that every person isn’t only different from every other person but is unequal, that all rights should therefore depend upon how rich a person is — investors therefore should control the government: they have a right to use their wealth to hire whomever they must in order to deceive the voters, so that wealth will control the government, and the public won’t. A microcosmic documentary about this U.S.-epitomized-and-championed ideology, in action, showing how it actually works, is the film “DOWNFALL: The Case Against Boeing”. It’s about the most deadly passenger plane that was ever designed and built by any company anywhere, Boeing’s model 737 Max. It’s about the U.S. Government being controlled by the nation’s super-rich, who are overwhelmingly psychopaths; and, since they control the Government, the most psychopathic individuals keep getting richer and richer (‘better and better’) and never get life in prison or the death penalty, no matter how much they ought to. It’s about the worst people controlling the Government, while the elected Government officials are s‘elected’ by the super-rich and merely pretending to care about the public that they are supposed to be (and claim to be) representing (but know they actually don’t).
Ukraine’s Government is merely a client-state of our own. It is a subsidiary of America Incorporated. It’s like Boeing. It’s the way that Boeing is, and the way that its Government has been set up for Boeing (and all successful corporations) to be. But in international affairs, which is the realm of neoconservatism, power comes as much from weapons as it comes from deceiving voters. It’s about the system that empowers the most-evil individuals and that traps the public and encourages the public to fight against each other instead of against the few individuals (the successful investors) who profit from this system: the system that is called neoliberalism-neoconservatism, and that profits the predators, at the expense of the public. Mussolini called it “fascism,” and also called it “corporationism”, and he got that ideology from his teacher Vilfredo Pareto, who was its inventor. In it, the order both of rights and of power is: (1) investors; (2) executives; (3) consumers; (4) employees. (Anyone who isn’t in any of those 4 categories is considered to be worthless. The dollar rules; they don’t count, at all.)
The documentary’s creator remained, at the end, a confused, non-comprehending liberal, only slightly less of a neoliberal-neoconservative than she was before it. But at least she seems sincere. She is simply deceived by the liberal ‘news’-media that she is subjected to — still a believing Democrat, obviously against Republicans: her “us” (CNN, NYT, etc.) against “them” (FNC, WSJ, etc.). But the viewers of her documentary might see in her documentary what she does not — something which goes beyond her narrow sphere of concern.
She is Rory Kennedy — a daughter of RFK, sister of RFK Jr., and niece of JFK.
Anyway: Ukraine, at least ever since February 2014, is being run in accord with the same ideology that guides Boeing Corporation. The U.S. Government calls this “the rules-based international order,” and those “rules” come from the U.S. Government, and NOT from the U.N. and its international laws. It’s the world in which the most-successful gangsters rule, not merely nationally, but internationally. That’s called “hegemony,” and the rulers of America like it just fine, because it’s theirs — they own it, and they want to keep it. They certainly don’t want it to end.
Ukraine: Prospects for end to war look bleak
The war in Ukraine shows no signs of ending, more than five months after the Russian invasion, and fighting is intensifying, the UN Security Council heard on Friday.
Ambassadors were briefed by UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo, who pointed to the recent agreement on the safe resumption of grain exports via the Black Sea as a bright light in the conflict, though acknowledging the dim prospects for peace.
“The grain agreement is a sign that dialogue between the parties is possible in the search to ease human suffering,” said Ms. DiCarlo, officially the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.
She added that the UN is making every effort to support implementation of the deal, which was signed last week in Türkiye.
Diplomatic efforts needed
The war’s impact globally is “glaringly clear”, said Ms. DiCarlo, noting that the consequences will only become more pronounced the longer fighting lasts, particularly with the onset of winter.
“Despite the encouraging developments on grain and fertilizers, we remain deeply concerned about the lack of prospects for a shift towards a meaningful resumption of diplomatic efforts to end the war,” she told the Council.
“Escalatory rhetoric from any side, including about expanding the conflict geographically or denying Ukraine’s statehood, is not consistent with the constructive spirit demonstrated in Istanbul.”
Attacks continue unabated
Ms. DiCarlo said that since her last briefing in late June, deadly attacks by Russian forces have continued unabated, reducing many Ukrainian cities and towns to rubble.
The number of civilians killed, wounded, or maimed has also increased. As of Wednesday, there were 12,272 civilian casualties, including 5,237 deaths, according to the UN human rights office, OHCHR.
“This represents at least 1,641 new civilian casualties since my last briefing: 506 killed and 1,135 injured. These are figures based on verified incidents; the actual numbers are considerably higher,” she said.
Ms. DiCarlo also warned of reported efforts to alter administrative structures on the ground, including attempts to introduce local governing bodies in Russian-controlled areas, which raise serious concerns about the political implications of the war.
“As the conflict enters a more protracted phase, attention is increasingly turning to its longer-term humanitarian, recovery, reconstruction, and socio-economic impact. As summer wanes, the need for winterization planning is also becoming pressing,” she said.
“Regrettably, political dialogue has virtually ground to a halt, leaving people without the hope that peace will come anytime soon.”
UN agencies also continue to document damage and destruction to civilian infrastructure such as homes, schools and healthcare facilities.
The impact on the health sector is “particularly alarming”, she said, as there have been 414 attacks so far, resulting in 85 deaths and 100 injuries.
“This includes 350 attacks on facilities in areas of conflict, where on average around 316,000 patients were treated per month,” she said.
Assistance to millions
Since the start of the war, the UN and humanitarian partners have provided aid to some 11 million people, including in the form of food and livelihood assistance, protection services, mine clearance, and in accessing safe water and sanitation.
Nearly six million Ukrainian refugees have found shelter across Europe. Since the war began on 24 February, border crossings from Ukraine have totalled more than 9.5 million, while crossings to Ukraine numbered 3.8 million.
“We are concerned that winter will make it harder for the displaced or the returnee community to have access to shelter and health care,” said Ms. DiCarlo.
Impacts on women
She also drew attention to the war’s specific impact on women and girls, particularly in areas such as food security and health.
Women’s access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health, is rapidly deteriorating, as is access to newborn and child healthcare. They are also now largely responsible for home-schooling, as access to education is severely hindered due to the constant threat of bombing.
“Further, women in Ukraine face significantly increased safety and protection risks,” she added.
“Incidents of gender-based violence, including allegations of sexual violence in conflict have increased, but services for survivors are not provided in full. It is also likely that many victims and survivors are currently unable to report their cases.”
Ms. DiCarlo stressed that it is especially for these reasons why women must be meaningful participants in discussions and initiatives to shape the future of the country, including peace negotiations, recovery efforts, peacebuilding and accountability efforts.
Hope for grain shipments
The top UN humanitarian official in Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, was in the port city of Odessa on Friday, together with the country’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and ambassadors from G7 countries, according to her official Twitter account.
This week saw the start of an operation under the grain exports deal, known as the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), which will monitor ships transporting grain, as well as related foodstuffs and fertilizers, from Odessa and two other ports along the Black Sea.
The JCC brings together representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Türkiye, and the UN.
Ms. Lubrani wrote that she was “very hopeful for the movements of ships to take place soon, taking much needed grain and related foodstuffs from Ukraine to countries that need them the most”.
She added that it was an honour to talk to President Zelenskyy and to reaffirm the UN’s ongoing support to Ukraine.
The visit took place on Ms. Lubrani’s final day as the UN’s Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine. Her successor, Denise Brown, will assume the post starting on Saturday.
Humanitarians call for greater access
The launch of the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) is an example of how the international community can affect change even amid the war in Ukraine, a UN humanitarian official said in the capital, Kyiv, on Friday.
Saviano Abreu of the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, was among representatives from six UN agencies who briefed journalists on their ongoing operations to assist millions both within and outside Ukraine whose lives have been uprooted by the conflict.
“Although the world’s attention seems to be moving elsewhere, the situation in the country is far from any change,” he said.
While humanitarians have provided support to 11 million people so far, he said “we do know that it is not enough”.
Mr. Abreu reported that since the start of the Russian invasion, aid workers have not been able to send relief items to areas beyond the government’s control.
He underscored the obligation to allow free and safe humanitarian passage to all people in need.
“We saw this week that when there is a will, things can change”, said Mr. Abreu, referring to the JCC launch.
“Now we have to go one step further and make sure that no one is left behind also here in Ukraine. We need the parties to gently agree on humanitarian access to all regions of Ukraine, so we can save lives and alleviate the suffering of people who have endured these five months of war.”
Ukraine Is Only the Start: Special Operations’ Geopolitical Repercussions Will Transform How We View the World
The Russian Federation’s armed forces are still conducting a special operation in Ukraine. Serious changes in the Russian group of forces’ operational use are occurring, which suggests that the nature of the armed conflict is changing. In these circumstances, the issue of what will happen next emerges. Will the West release its pressure on Russia and begin dialogue, as many Russians expect, or will it be the other way around—will the pressure intensify and new violent conflicts develop ?
In order to properly identify ties between Russia and the united West, one must turn to a military-political study of the situation, focusing on its major components. It is first important to realize that the West functions as a single system. This is demonstrated by the fact that all NATO members under American leadership, as well as their allies in the Pacific Ocean, Japan and Australia, consistently impose a range of pressure on the Russian Federation. This provides support for the claim that a coalition of nations, led by one global powerhouse—the United States—and many regional ones, including Japan, Germany, and France—opposes Russia. As a result, there is an open conflict between the coalition leading one global center of power and another, whose allies are less numerous—Belarus is Russia’s current open ally, but it is continuing to grow.
Second, open economic warfare can be used to explain the series of steps made by the West to challenge Russia. Nearly all of the most severe sanctions that the EU is capable of imposing have been implemented. Josep Borrell, the president of the European Parliament, publicly confirmed this. In other words, all available resources of the participating countries are under pressure, which is a hallmark of war. As of now, Russia has only taken symmetrical and ineffective responses. However, the EU and the US have already suffered significant economic losses as a result of Western sanctions, which in the future risk developing into societal issues. However, the pressure from penalties on ancillary regions keeps growing. This attests to the Western coalition’s ferocious commitment, which is also one of the symptoms of war.
Third, the West is conducting a very aggressive foreign policy in an effort to persuade those nations to join its alliance or at the very least dissuade them from backing Russian policy. To divide the burgeoning Russian-Chinese alliance, there are particularly strong attempts being made in the Chinese direction.
Fourth, the conflict between the Western coalition and Russia in the information sphere has all the hallmarks of a time of war: resentment, disregard for all moral standards, immense power, and the use of tactically important but short-term fakes that have operational or tactical value but are not intended to have long-term effects; and additionally, the coordination of the communication strategy across all the U.S. and NATO media.
Fifth, giving Ukraine, which is engaged in an armed conflict with Russia, full-scale military support while ignoring all except the most crucial constraints. In actuality, the West can only provide small-sized portable weapons systems—no other weaponry than those that are being provided to Ukraine. The size of the country’s territory and the rate of Russian troop and police unit advancement in the LPR (Luhansk People’s Republic) and DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic) do not permit the provision of larger and more complex items, as they will be quickly identified and destroyed, and the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine simply do not have time to master them. Due to the extremely high likelihood that the Russian-Ukrainian armed struggle will end in nuclear war, or at the very least result in significant losses of the alliance’s troops, it is also impossible to directly intervene with NATO army to provide military aid to Ukraine. Due to the peculiarities of the operational-strategic scenario and military-geographical constraints, even the establishment of a no-fly zone may result in intolerable losses of NATO and U.S. aircraft. Additionally, despite the current arsenal’s plainly limited effectiveness, it is clear that the West is determined to avoid at all costs the total defeat of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the country’s Nazi régime. As a result, the Western coalition’s behavior perfectly matches a time of war.
Sixth, it is important to identify what the parties’ defining objectives are. The Western alliance seeks to subjugate Russia by staging a coup there to overthrow President Putin’s administration, not ruling out the prospect of his bodily demise, and establishing complete rule of Russia by Western and international élites. Russia’s effort aims to obstruct attempts by the West and other global players to encroach on the post-Soviet space.
Seventh, regardless of the outcome of the conflict between the Western coalition and Russia, the system of regional relations and even the geopolitical landscape of the world will undergo a profound transformation, which is also a sign of war—and a major one at that. Finally, it is impossible to ignore the “fifth column’s” unparalleled activity, which started acting virtually openly and undermined the president and the Russian Armed Forces. This actually amounts to a demand for Russia to submit to Ukraine and the unified West behind it under the current circumstances.
So, it is safe to say that the West as a whole and Russia are at war right now. Compared to the conflicts that occurred in the twentieth century, this one is of a different kind. It cannot be declared since, in essence, it is a classic hybrid conflict on the part of the West: Russia is undertaking a particular military operation in Ukraine but has not yet started applying tactics typical of hybrid conflicts on a big scale. After all, even gas still travels to Europe, especially via the Ukrainian GTS (gas pipeline). The size of this hybrid war with the West suggests that it has all the characteristics of a world war: the presence of opposing coalitions led by global centers of power that have engaged in direct military conflict, even if only in the information and economic spheres; the steadfastness of goals; the use of all available means of confrontation; the refusal to comply with legal norms of peacetime; and the transition to the principle of military expediency practically on a daily basis.
That is to say, we are discussing the start of the third world war, which is still ongoing in a refined hybrid form. The Western coalition engages in armed conflict with Russia while waging extensive economic and information warfare against it globally through the use of its proxies, the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It can be argued that it is premature to discuss a world war. Let’s contrast the state of the globe today with that at the start of World War II. It started on September 1st, 1939, when Nazi Germany attacked Poland. Due to a contract with Poland, France and Great Britain immediately declared war on Germany. Despite the fact that Hitler did not have combat-ready forces in the West when they declared war, they did not move an inch to attack Germany from that direction. Poland fought on its own, without assistance from its allies in the West, not even in the shape of shipments of weapons. The sole action taken by the British and French was to begin a blockade on Germany’s economy. Does it not make you think of anything? In actuality, the situation in the autumn of 1939 is structurally identical to the current one: the three major geopolitical centers at the time, namely Germany, Great Britain, and France, officially entered the war. However, only Poland saw combat, where the “Wehrmacht” was opposed by the Polish Armed Forces, which can be thought of as a proxy for Western powers. The only thing that made the interests different at the time was that France and Great Britain wanted to destroy Poland in order for their higher-level proxies—Hitler—to attack the USSR. As a result, today’s unified West would suffer a significant strategic setback if Nazi Ukraine were to be defeated. Therefore, February 24th, 2022, may be remembered by military historians in the future as the beginning of the third world war.
It is conceivable to forecast the evolution of the global geopolitical situation and the direction of the warring parties’ strategic endeavors based on such an understanding of the core of the current historical moment. It must be said that, if we look at the special operation in Ukraine from a purely military perspective, the loss of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the entire Nazi regime is already predestined and will happen very quickly. Numerous indicators exist for this. Among them are shifts in how Russian aviation is used, the appearance of fairly senior prisoners of war who gave up their weapons voluntarily, actions by Western élites that are completely meaningless from a military and economic point of view, like the supply of S-300 air defense systems to Kiev from Slovenia or demands for Turkey to give Ukrainians S-400 air defense systems, and the blatantly decadent speeches of the Ukrainian leadership. In these circumstances, if the “fifth column” is able to obtain a ceasefire of hostilities before the Armed Forces of Ukraine are completely destroyed and forced to complete and unconditional surrender, then only political defection can stop the total loss of the Ukrainian Nazi state. The Western coalition’s fight against Russia will nonetheless intensify regardless of the result of the special operation in Ukraine because the Western élites and the rest of the world cannot stop unless they have ultimately defeated Russia or suffered a defeat in this war. Since there are only two possible future world shapes, a lot is at stake.
One identified Klaus Schwab as the globalists’ spokesperson. States and national élites have no place in it because multinational companies rule and even privatize the world. An alternative to it is the idea of a multipolar world, which president Putin advocated last year at the Davos forum and succeeding important international summits. In such a world, states continue to be the focus of international politics, and transnational corporations and the corresponding élites have no place in the global power structure. Both of these choices are unavailable. If one of them succeeds, the other will inevitably fail, die—at least in a political and economic sense—and the proponents and supporters of the alternate course will vanish into history. When all available tactics are employed without endangering their own immediate lives, the conflict takes on an exceedingly severe character.
Since Russia is currently the only leader who has declared an alternative global agenda to globalism, the defeat and subjugation of Russia is the key objective for Western and global élites on this road. Russia possesses nuclear weapons that could literally obliterate the world’s ruling class and the entire West. It is impossible to bring down China without the fusion of American and Russian nuclear power under the direction of the globalists. Therefore, it is imperative for globalists and the existing Western élites to overthrow Russia by starting a revolution there within the next couple of years (two to three years).
The entire strategy developed by the West and globalists over the previous 20 years will fail if Nazi Ukraine is defeated. The repercussions of this setback could be geopolitically significant and catastrophic for globalists. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are beginning to warm up to Russia, China is taking a hard line on the Ukrainian issue, Venezuela wants to negotiate oil supplies with the United States only after it recognizes Maduro as the country’s legitimate president, and there are other similar manifestations that show the United States and the West are losing influence in the world.
The demise of Nazi Ukraine will lead to a dramatic decline in American and overall Western power, which will have the worst effects on the global economy. In these circumstances, avenging the Ukrainian defeat may take center stage in U.S.-European geopolitics. In turn, even with a plethora of other treaty assurances, the end of the special operation and the maintenance of the current régime will result in a military defeat for Russia. And this will have very negative effects, especially on the sociopolitical climate at home. Such a move would be detrimental to Moscow’s standing and reputation abroad.
As a result, we can anticipate a further rise in global tension, particularly on the military front, as well as the continuation of the third world [warbeginning ]’s phase. Based on the anticipated global power balance following the outcomes of the special operation in Ukraine, its primary content will most likely be the final division of states in the world into opposing coalitions, economic and informational conflict, as well as the establishment of armed conflict zones between irregular formations and regular armed forces of nations that serve as proxies for the major centers of power.
Each coalition will have a distinct core made up of the major power centers and their closest allies, who rigidly pursue a single strategy and actively engage in the conflict, and a peripheral made up of nations that support the coalition but only minimally participate in its operations. The United States and Britain, as well as possibly France, Germany, and Turkey, will form the backbone of the Western coalition. The remainder of the EU nations, which are either focused on advancing Western civilisation or are dependent on countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, will make up the periphery. Russia, Belarus, China, and possibly North Korea and Iran might form the nucleus of a different coalition. The remainder of the CSTO members as well as the nations in the aforementioned regions that are oriented towards Russia and China, in particular Syria, might be considered to be part of the periphery.
Within the context of this phase, the Western coalition will concentrate its efforts primarily on finding a solution to the issue of Russia’s ultimate defeat by starting an unlawful transition of power followed by control of it. In order to do this, an endless economic and informational war will go on, along with efforts to establish bases for local as well as international armed confrontations on our nation’s soil or close to its borders.
The North Caucasus, Russia, Ukraine’s borderlands, poor regions, and parts of the Russian Federation with sizable Muslim populations are possible locations where the Western coalition might try to start a war. The Ukraine, where the West will attempt to deploy troops and support the Bandera movement, Central Asian nations with unstable régimes or territorial claims to their neighbors, as well as those bordering Afghanistan, are potential theaters of external military conflicts into which our nation could be sucked. One cannot completely rule out U.S. efforts to pressure Japan towards a military solution to the issue of the northern territories if certain circumstances arise, the most significant of which may be the special operation’s end without accomplishing the declared goals.
While simultaneously resolving the tasks of parrying the threats posed by the Western coalition, paying special attention to the military ones, Russia will likely be forced to take radical economic measures against the EU, up to and including a complete shutdown of energy supplies and other raw materials. China may choose a forceful solution to the Taiwan issue in light of the waning influence of the United States in the globe and the diminished integrity and economic potential of the NATO alliance as a result of sanctions against Russia.
In light of this, one should prepare for a significant rise in military tension surrounding Iran. Conflicts between nations that are on the perimeter of opposing coalitions are also likely to intensify in Latin America and Africa. This phase of the third global war can last anywhere between one and three years. It will come to an end when opposing coalitions are formed and distinct areas of armed conflict are established, laying the groundwork for the beginning of direct military conflict between the armies and warships of the major international powers. The world will be on the verge of nuclear war when this time period starts.
And it may be expected with a high degree of probability that actions will be made to stop further escalation by all disputing parties as soon as a precedent of confrontation involving the military forces of the United States, China, and Russia emerges on a more-or-less large-scale. The third global war’s current phase may come to an end concurrently with the United States, the world’s most powerful nation, leaving the Western coalition. This is feasible as a result of the growing internal conflict in American culture, which is manifested in the clash between national and globalist élites. After the autumn elections, it might enter an acute phase as the United States delves headfirst into resolving domestic issues. This might lower global tension and signal the start of a de-escalation of the conflict between Russia and the Western coalitions.
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