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Eastern Europe

The Caspian Sea as Battleground

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Populated at the time by fluent Hebrew speakers, the Israel desk of Armenia’s foreign ministry waited back in 1991— in the immediate wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union—for a phone call that never came. The ministry was convinced that Israel, with whom Armenia shared an experience of genocide, were natural allies. The ministry waited in vain. Israel never made the call. That shared experience could not compete with Armenia’s Turkic nemesis, Azerbaijan, with which it was at war over Nagorno Karabakh, a majority ethnic Armenian enclave on Azerbaijani territory.

“The calculation was simple. Azerbaijan has three strategic assets that Israel is interested in: Muslims, oil, and several thousand Jews. All Armenia has to offer is at best sev¬eral hundred Jews,” said an Israeli official at the time.

Azerbaijan had one more asset: close political, security, and energy ties to Turkey, which was supporting it in its hostilities with Armenia. As a result, the pro Israel lobby and American Jewish organizations with longstanding ties to Turkey for years helped Ankara defeat proposals in the U.S. Congress to commemorate the 1915 mass murder of Armenians. That has changed in recent years with strains between Turkey and Israel becoming more strident over issues such as the status of East Jerusalem, held by Israeli since 1967’s Six Day War, the Palestinian question, Iran, political Islam, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s touting of implicitly antisemitic conspiracy theories.

What has not changed is Israel’s close ties to Azerbaijan that puts it on the same side as Turkey in renewed animosity between Armenia and Azerbaijan following the former’s defeat in the Second Karabakh War. This is a reflection of the Caspian basin’s inextricable links to the greater Middle East’s myriad conflicts and the fluid and fragile nature of regional alliances, partnerships, and animosities across the Eurasian landmass. Writing in the previous issue of Baku Dialogues, Svante Cornell emphasized this important point, noting the “gradual merger of the geopolitics of the South Caucasus and the Middle East” and going so far as to say that Azerbaijan, in particular, is “more closely connected to Middle Eastern dynamics than it has been in two centuries.”

Turkey, which has opportunistic partnerships with Russia and Iran, both littoral Caspian states that pushed for a ceasefire but were seen as empathetic to Armenia, and Israel, with its close ties to Moscow, rank among Azerbaijan’s top arms suppliers. (A top aide to President Ilham Aliyev confirmed that the Azerbaijani military was using Israeli and Turkish‑made killer drones in the Second Karabakh War that began in late September.)

Straddling Divides

If Israel and Turkey seem strange bedfellows, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates appear to be in a bind. The two Gulf states have invested in Azerbaijan to counter Iranian influence in the Caspian but seem inclined to favour Armenia because of their animosity towards Turkey, which they accuse of interfering in internal Arab af­fairs. Saudi Arabia signalled where it stood by backing Armenian calls for a ceasefire within the first two days of the re­newal of hostilities and giving voice to Armenia rather than Azerbaijan’s side of the story in state‑controlled media.

By the same token, Israeli ties to Azerbaijan, which has worked hard to deepen its ties to Iran, potentially put it at opposite ends with the UAE and Bahrain with which it recently established diplomatic relations in order to strengthen their alliance against Iran and Turkey. Nonethe­less, this may be one instance in which finding Gulf states and Israel on different sides of a divide may work in the Jewish State’s favour. Is­raeli sources suggest that the Second Karabakh War potentially creates an opportunity for backchannelling in which Israel could try to drive a wedge between Turkey and Iran.

“The arms shipments to Azerbaijan and the flare‑up in Nagorno‑Karabakh is a reminder that the periphery alliance may not be entirely dead,” said prominent Israeli commentator Anshel Pfeffer in early October 2020. Pfeffer was referring to the Israeli policy prior to the opening of relations with Arab states to maintain close rela­tions with its neighbours’ non‑Arab neighbours in the absence of official Israeli ties to its Arab neighbours.

With ethnic‑Azerbaijanis, who account for up to a quarter of Iran’s population and are influential in the country’s power structure, Tehran, often perceived as empa­thetic to Armenia, walked a fine line calling for a ceasefire in the Second Karabakh War and offering to me­diate an end to the fighting. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is of ethnic‑Azerbaijani decent. Iranians in nearby border areas stood on hilltops to watch the fighting in the distance. Security forces clashed with demonstrators in various cities chanting “Karabakh is ours. It will remain ours.” Iran, in line with international law, has long recognized Nagorno‑Kara­bakh as being a part of Azerbaijan. Yet, the demonstrations serve as a reminder of environmental pro­tests in the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan at the time of the 2011 popular Arab revolts that often turned into manifestations of ethnic‑ Azerbaijani nationalism.

Naval Posturing

Even before the hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted on the north­western inlands of the Caspian, Iran had stepped up its naval pos­turing on the basin’s southern coast. Analysts like Jamestown’s Paul Goble and Russian conservative writer Konstantin Dushenov, as well as Iranian naval commanders, raised the specter of enhanced U.S. sanctions‑busting military cooper­ation between Moscow and Tehran in the Caspian and beyond.

These and other analysts—in what appeared to be a repeat of unconfirmed reports of closer Chinese‑Iranian cooperation that stretched credulity but circulated for an extended period and were discussed widely in policy circles— suggested that Russia and Iran were planning extended military collab­oration, including naval exercises in the Caspian as well as in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

The analysts, including the afore­mentioned Dushenov, who was reportedly jailed a decade ago on charges of antisemitic incitement, claimed further that Iran had of­fered Russia naval facilities at three ports—Chabahar, Bander‑Abbas, and Bander‑Busher—on the Is­lamic Republic’s Gulf coast, a move that would violate its foundational principle of no foreign presence on its soil. It would also contra­dict Iran’s proposal for a regional Middle Eastern security architec­ture that would exclude involve­ment of non‑regional powers.

Nevertheless, raising the spectre of a more asser­tive attitude, senior Iranian com­manders stepped up visits to naval facilities and a shipyard on Iran’s Caspian coast where a destroyer is being repaired and modernized. The officials, including Iranian navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, his deputy, Admiral Habibullah Sayari, and Admiral Amir Rastegari (who re­portedly oversees naval construc­tion), stressed the importance to Iranian national security of the Cas­pian on tours of facilities on the coast.

They also urged closer coopera­tion and joint naval exercises with other littoral states like Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. “The Caspian Sea is the sea of peace and friend­ship and we can share our military tactics with our neighbours in this region. We are fully ready to expand ties with neighbouring and friendly countries,” Khanzadi said.

The Iranian moves are about more than only strengthening the country’s military presence in a basin that it shares with Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. A 2018 agreement among the littoral states, made necessary by the collapse of the Soviet Union, barred entry to the basin by military vessels of non- littoral states but failed to regulate the divvying up of the sea’s abundant resources.

Closer naval ties with Caspian Sea states would allow Iran to leverage its position at a time that Central Asians worry about greater Chinese se­curity engagement in their part of the world. The engage­ment threatens a tacit under­standing in which Russia shouldered responsibility for regional security while China fo­cused on economic development. Increased Chinese engagement raises the spectre of the export of aspects of the People’s Republic’s vision of the twenty‑first century: an Orwellian surveillance state amid widespread anti‑Chinese sentiment in countries like Kyrgyz­stan and Kazakhstan as a result of China’s brutal crackdown on Turkic Muslims in the troubled north‑western province of Xinjiang.

Hard hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, Cen­tral Asians are torn between wanting to benefit from Chinese willingness to reinvigorate projects related to the Belt and Road Initiative and their concerns about the way that enhanced Chinese influence could impact their lives. Popular senti­ment forced Kyrgyzstan early on in the pandemic to cancel a $275 million Chinese logistics project. The Kazakh foreign ministry sum­moned the Chinese ambassador to explain an ar­ticle published on a Chinese website that asserted that the Central Asian country wanted to return to Chinese rule. Kazakh media called for China and the United States to leave Kazakhstan alone after the Chinese foreign ministry claimed that the coronavirus had originated in U.S.‑funded laborato­ries in the country.

Iranian efforts, boosted by the Indian‑funded deep sea port of Chabahar that serves as a con­duit for Indian exports to Central Asia, benefit in the margin from big Asian power rivalry, has opened the region, including the Caspian basin, to greater competition with the Islamic Republic’s chief Gulf opponents, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Iran hopes that geography and Central Asian distrust of past Saudi promotion of its ultra‑conservative strand of Islam will work to its advantage. That hope may not be in vain. Tajik foreign minister Sirodjidin Muhriddin, despite past troubled relations with the Islamic Republic, opted a year ago to ig­nore a Saudi invitation to attend an Organization of Islamic Cooperation conference in the kingdom and visit Iran instead.

Iran has since agreed to in­vest $4 billion in the completion of a five‑kilometer‑long tunnel that will link the Tajik capital of Dushanbe with the country’s sec­ond‑largest city, Khujand. That, however, has not put a halt to recurring strains. In September 2020, Iran summoned the Tajik ambassador in Tehran in protest against the broadcast of an an­ti‑Iranian documentary on the Central Asian’s state’s state televi­sion channel.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have fared somewhat better in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Saudi utility developer ACWA Power, in which China’s state owned Silk Road Fund has a 49 percent stake, and the UAE’s Masdar or Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company agreed to invest in Azerbaijani renewable energy projects. ACWA Power also signed agreements in Uzbekistan worth $ 2.5 billion for the construction of a power plant and a wind farm.

Perhaps Iran’s strongest trump card is that by linking the Caspian to the Arabian Sea it can provide what the Gulf states cannot: cheap and short access to the Indo‑Pacific. Already, Iran is written all over Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s transporta­tion infrastructure plans. A decree issued in late 2017 identified var­ious corridors as key to his plans, including the extension of a rail line that connects Uzbekistan’s Termez to Afghanistan’s Mazar‑i‑Sharif to the Afghan city of Herat from where it would branch out to Iran’s Bandar Abbas port, Chabahar; and Bazargan on the Iranian‑Turkish border.

“As Tashkent seeks to diversify its economic relations, Iran con­tinues to loom large in these calcu­lations. For Uzbekistan, not only do Iranian ports offer the shortest and cheapest route to the sea, but sev­eral future rail projects cannot be accomplished without Tehran’s ac­tive participation,” wrote Central Asia analyst Umida Hashimova in Jan­uary 2020.

Iran, together with Russia and India, has been touting a sea and rail hook‑up involving Iranian, Russian, and Indian ports that would link South Asia to northern Europe as a vi­able alternative to Egypt’s Suez Canal and constitute an addition to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

In July 2020, Iranian and Indian officials suggested the route would significantly cut shipping time and costs from India to Europe. About a month earlier, Senior Indian Commerce Ministry official B.B. Swain said the hook up would re­duce travel distance by 40 percent and costs by 30 percent.

The Iranian‑Indian‑Russian push is based on a two‑decades old agreement with Russia and India to establish an International North‑South Transport Corridor (INSTC) as well as more recent free trade agreements concluded by the Russia‑dominated Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with Iran and Singapore.

The agreements have fuelled Central, South, and Southeast Asian interest in the corridor even if the EAEU itself groups only a handful of countries: Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, another Caspian Sea state. Exploiting the mo­mentum, Russia has been nudging India to sign its own free trade agreement with the EAEU while the grouping is discussing an ac­cord with ASEAN, which, as it hap­pens, has just signed a Regional Comprehensive Economic Part­nership with China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

If successful, the Iranian push, backed by Russia and India, would anchor attempts by Iran to project itself—as opposed to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates— as the key Middle Eastern player in Russian and Chinese ploys for regional dominance. Leveraging geography and Central Asian dis­trust of past Saudi promotion of its ultra‑conservative strand of Islam, Iran expects that kick­starting INSTC will give it a signif­icant boost in its competition with Saudi Arabia and the UAE for the region’s hearts and minds. INSTC would also strengthen Iran’s po­sition as a key node in BRI on the back of a two‑year old rail link be­tween western China and Tehran that runs across Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

The INSTC would link Jawaharlal Nehru Port, India’s largest container port east of Mumbai, through the Iranian deep‑sea port of Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman, which is funded by India to bypass Pakistan, and the Islamic Repub­lic’s Caspian Sea port of Bandar‑e‑Anzali to Russia’s Caspian harbour of Astrakhan at the mouth of the Volga and onwards by rail to Europe. The Iranian push was boosted in by an agreement in March 2020 be­tween Russia and India that would enable the shipment of goods through the cor­ridor on a single invoice, a requisite for shippers to persuade banks to issue letters of credit.

History Repeats Itself

Invoices and letters of credits may not make the difference as long as Iran asserts itself, and Russia seeks to fend off a Turkish challenge in the South Caucasus, its Chechen Muslim soft un­derbelly, and potentially among Russia’s Turkic Muslim minorities, as well as Central Asia’s former So­viet republics, territories Moscow has long considered as its preserve.

“If it turns out that […] we just hum and dither and do not force our southern neighbour to swallow his insolence along with his own teeth […]; and if [it turns out that] we take sixteenth place in Azerbaijan, while Erdogan is number one; then what is our posi­tion in Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, in […] Ukraine (con­sidering Crimean Tatars and mil­itary supplies)? And what will our position be in Tatarstan, in Bashkiria, in Yakutia and Altai, where Turks also live? This is not theory, it is reality,” said in October 2020 prominent Russian commentator and head of the Moscow‑based Middle East Institute Yevgeny Satanovsky.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have fared somewhat better in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Saudi utility developer ACWA Power, in which China’s state owned Silk Road Fund has a 49 percent stake, and the UAE’s Masdar or Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company agreed to invest in Azerbaijani renewable energy projects. ACWA Power also signed agreements in Uzbekistan worth $ 2.5 billion for the construction of a power plant and a wind farm.

Armenia’s humiliating defeat at the hands of an emboldened, Ankara‑backed Azerbaijan is likely to turn the Caspian basin into one more battlefield in multiple power struggles across the greater Middle East aimed at shaping a new regional order.

The Azerbaijani and Turkish sense of moral and military victory, coupled with Erdogan’s assertive re­gional policies, bodes ill for the need for Azerbaijan to balance its success with gestures and magnanimity that will rebuild confidence in Azerbaijani assurances that the safety, security, and rights of the Armenian population in Nagorno‑Karabakh will be safeguarded amid their fears of re­newed displacement or even ethnic cleansing. It also throws into doubt longer‑term relations between Russia and Armenia, where many feel betrayed by Moscow’s refusal to come to Armenia’s aid under a defense pact between the two coun­tries. (Russia maintains a couple of military bases in Armenia under the pact.)

Turkey’s inevitable role in any ne­gotiations to resolve the Armenian‑ Azerbaijani conflict adds to the bal­ancing act that Russia and Turkey are performing to ensure that their alliance is not undermined by mul­tiple regional conflicts in which the two countries back opposing sides.

Russia is likely to worry about pan‑Turkish and nationalist voices demanding that Turkey capitalize on Azerbaijan’s success to increase its influence in Central Asia, a re­gion of former Soviet republics with ethnic, cultural, and linguistic links to Turkey.

The pan‑Turkic daily Türkiye—a newspaper with the fourth largest circulation in Turkey—urged the government to leverage the Azerbaijani victory to create a military alliance of Turkic states: “The success in Karabakh has brought once again to the agenda one of the West’s greatest fears: the Turan Army. Azerbaijan, which has become stronger with the military training, joint drills, and support with armed drones that Turkey has provided, has broken Armenia’s back. This picture of success that has appeared has once again brought to life the hopes concerning a Turan Army, that would be the joint mili­tary power of the Turkic states,” Türkiye said. (“Turan” is the term used by pan‑Turkists to describe Turkic Central Asia.)

So far, Turkey’s bet that history would repeat itself appears to be paying off. The South Caucasus is the latest former Soviet region, after political crises in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan and the electoral defeat of pro‑Russian forces in Moldova, in which Moscow’s ability to main­tain stability is being challenged.

For now, Erdogan has strength­ened his position in what will lead inevitably to a rejiggering of the balance of power in the Caucasus between not only Russia and Turkey, but also Iran, at a time that the trade‑off for Israeli support of Azerbaijan is believed to be the Jewish state’s ability to operate sur­veillance of the Islamic republic. “The message sent from Tel Aviv to Tehran is very clear: ‘Syria is my backyard, and I will be in Azerbaijan, your backyard,’” said Sadik Öncü, a Turkey‑based in­ternational relations analyst, refer­ring to Iranian support for Syrian President Bashar al‑Assad.

Author’s note: The story was first published in Baku Dialogues

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and three forthcoming books, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africaas well as Creating Frankenstein: The Saudi Export of Ultra-conservatism and China and the Middle East: Venturing into the Maelstrom.

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Eastern Europe

Both Zelensky and Poroshenko Acknowledged They Came to Power Illegally

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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):

https://web.archive.org/web/20220801215625/https://interfax-com-ua.translate.goog/news/political/640586.html?_x_tr_sl=uk&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en

https://archive.ph/GM55p

“Zelensky: the Maidan case is the most complicated in Ukraine”

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.

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Ukraine: Prospects for end to war look bleak

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Photo: Salwan Georges, war.ukraine.ua

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. 

Winter threat 

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.” 

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Eastern Europe

Ukraine Is Only the Start: Special Operations’ Geopolitical Repercussions Will Transform How We View the World

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Image source: war.ukraine.ua

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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