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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are headlines from April 17th regarding Ukraine:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author’s note: first posted at Strategic Culture

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Steering Russia-US Relations Away from Diplomatic Expulsion Rocks

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As the recent expulsions of Russian diplomats from the US, Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic demonstrate, this measure is becoming a standard international practice of the West. For the Biden administration, a new manifestation of the “Russia’s threat” is an additional tool to discipline its European allies and to cement the transatlantic partnership. For many European NATO members, expulsions of diplomats are a symbolic gesture demonstrating their firm support of the US and its anti-Russian policies.

Clear enough, such a practice will not be limited to Russia only. Today hundreds, if not thousands of diplomatic officers all around the world find themselves hostage to problems they have nothing to do with. Western decision-makers seem to consider hosting foreign diplomats not as something natural and uncontroversial but rather as a sort of privilege temporarily granted to a particular country — one that can be denied at any given moment.

It would be logical to assume that in times of crisis, when the cost of any error grows exponentially, it is particularly crucial to preserve and even to expand the existing diplomatic channels. Each diplomat, irrespective of his or her rank and post, is, inter alia, a communications channel, a source of information, and a party to a dialogue that can help understand your opponent’s logic, fears, intentions, and expectations. Niccolo Machiavelli’s adage, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” remains just as pertinent five centuries later. Unfortunately, these wise words are out of circulation in most Western capitals today.

A proponent of expulsions would argue that those expelled are not actually diplomats at all. They are alleged intelligence officers and their mission is to undermine the host country’s national security. Therefore, expulsions are justified and appropriate. However, this logic appears to be extremely dubious. Indeed, if you have hard evidence, or at the very least a reasonable suspicion that a diplomatic mission serves as a front office for intelligence officers, and if operations of these officers are causing serious harm to your country’s security, why should you wait for the latest political crisis to expel them? You should not tolerate their presence in principle and expel them once you expose them.

Even the experience of the Cold War itself demonstrates that expulsions of diplomats produce no short-term or long-term positive results whatsoever. In fact, there can be no possible positive results because diplomatic service is nothing more but just one of a number of technical instruments used in foreign politics. Diplomats may bring you bad messages from their capitals and they often do, but if you are smart enough, you never shoot the messenger.

Diplomatic traditions do not allow such unfriendly actions to go unnoticed. Moscow has to respond. Usually, states respond to expulsions of their diplomats by symmetrical actions – i.e. Russia has to expel the same number of US, Polish or Czech diplomats, as the number of Russian diplomats expelled from the US, Poland or the Czech Republic. Of course, each case is special. For instance, the Czech Embassy in Moscow is much smaller than the Russian Embassy in Prague, so the impact of the symmetrical actions on the Czech diplomatic mission in Russia will be quite strong.

The question now is whether the Kremlin would go beyond a symmetrical response and start a new cycle of escalation. For example, it could set new restrictions upon Western companies operating in the country, it could cancel accreditation of select Western media in Moscow, it could close branches of US and European foundations and NGOs in Russia. I hope that the final response will be measured and not excessive.

The door for US-Russian negotiations is still open. So far, both sides tried to avoid specific actions that would make these negotiations absolutely impossible. The recent US sanctions against Russia have been mostly symbolic, and the Russian leadership so far has demonstrated no appetite for a rapid further escalation. I think that a meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin remains an option and an opportunity. Such a meeting would not lead to any “reset” in the bilateral relations, but it would bring more clarity to the relationship. To stabilize US-Russian relations even at a very low level would already be a major accomplishment.

From our partner RIAC

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Russia becomes member of International Organization for Migration

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Photo credit: Anton Novoderezhlin/TASS

After several negotiations, Russia finally becomes as a full-fledged member of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). It means that Russia has adopted, as a mandatory condition for obtaining membership, the constitution of the organization. It simply implies that by joining this international organization, it has given the country an additional status.

After the collapse of the Soviet, Russia has been interacting with the IOM since 1992 only as an observer. In the past years, Russia has shown interest in expanding this cooperation. The decision to admit Russia to the organization was approved at a Council’s meeting by the majority of votes: 116 states voted for it, and two countries voted against – these are Ukraine and Georgia. That however, the United States and Honduras abstained, according to information obtained from Moscow office of International Migration Organization.

“In line with the resolution of the 111th session of the IOM Council of November 24, 2020 that approved Russia’s application for the IOM membership, Russia becomes a full-fledged member of the organization from the day when this notification is handed over to its director general,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a website statement in April.

Adoption of the IOM Constitution is a mandatory condition for obtaining its membership, which opens “extra possibilities for developing constructive cooperation with international community on migration-related matters,” the statement stressed in part.

It is significant to recall that Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order to secure Russia’s membership in the organization in August 2020 and submitted its Constitution to the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) in February 2021.

Headquartered in Geneva, the International Organization for Migration, a leading inter-government organization active in the area of migration, was set up on December 5, 1951. It opened its office in Moscow in 1992.

IOM supports migrants across the world, developing effective responses to the shifting dynamics of migration and, as such, is a key source of advice on migration policy and practice. The organization works in emergency situations, developing the resilience of all people on the move, and particularly those in situations of vulnerability, as well as building capacity within governments to manage all forms and impacts of mobility.

IOM’s stated mission is to promote humane and orderly migration by providing services and advice to governments and migrants. It works to help ensure proper management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, be they refugees, displaced persons or other uprooted people. It is part of the structured system of the United Nations, and includes over 170 countries.

Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy chairman of Russia’s Federation Council (Senate) Committee on International Affairs, noted that the organization’s constitution has a provision saying that it is in a nation’s jurisdiction to decide how many migrants it can receive, therefore the IOM membership imposes no extra commitments on Russia and doesn’t restrict its right to conduct an independent migration policy.

On other hand, Russia’s full-fledged membership in IOM will help it increase its influence on international policy in the sphere of migration and use the country’s potential to promote its interests in this sphere, Senator Dzhabarov explained.

Russia has had an inflow of migrants mainly from the former Soviet republics. The migrants have played exceptional roles both in society and in the economy. The inflow of foreign workers to Russia has be resolved in accordance with real needs of the economy and based on the protection of Russian citizens’ interests in the labor market, according to various expert opinions.

The whole activity of labor migrants has to be conducted in strict compliance with legislation of the Russian Federation and generally recognized international norms.

State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and many state officials have repeatedly explained the necessity of holding of partnership dialogues on finding solutions to emerging problems within the framework of harmonization of legislation in various fields including regional security, migration policy and international cooperation. Besides that, Russia is ready for compliance with international treaties and agreements.

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Relegating the “Russia Problem” to Turkey

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erdogan aliyev
Image credit: Prezident.Az

Turkey’s foreign policy is at a crossroads. Its Eurasianist twist is gaining momentum and looking east is becoming a new norm. Expanding its reach into Central Asia, in the hope of forming an alliance of sorts with the Turkic-speaking countries — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan — is beginning to look more realistic. In the north, the north-east, in Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, there is an identifiable geopolitical arc where Turkey is increasingly able to puncture Russia’s underbelly.

Take Azerbaijan’s victory in Second Karabakh War. It is rarely noticed that the military triumph has also transformed the country into a springboard for Turkey’s energy, cultural and geopolitical interests in the Caspian Sea region of Central Asia. Just two months after the November ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey signed a new trade deal with Azerbaijan. Turkey also sees benefits from January’s Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan agreement which aims to jointly develop the Dostluk (Friendship) gas field under the Caspian Sea, and it recently hosted a trilateral meeting with the Azerbaijani and Turkmen foreign ministers. The progress around Dostlug removes a significant roadblock on the implementation of the much-touted Trans-Caspian Pipeline (TCP) which would allow gas to flow through the South Caucasus to Europe. Neither Russia nor Iran welcome this — both oppose Turkey’s ambitions of becoming an energy hub and finding new sources of energy.

Official visits followed. On March 6-9, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu visited Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Defense cooperation, preferential trade deals, and a free trade agreement were discussed in Tashkent. Turkey also resurrected a regional trade agreement during a March 4 virtual meeting of the so-called Economic Cooperation Organization which was formed in 1985 to facilitate trade between Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan. Though it has been largely moribund, the timing of its re-emergence is important as it is designed to be a piece in the new Turkish jigsaw.

Turkey is slowly trying to build an economic and cultural basis for cooperation based on the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency founded in 1991 and the Turkic Council in 2009. Although Turkey’s economic presence in the region remains overshadowed by China and Russia, there is a potential to exploit. Regional dependence on Russia and China is not always welcome and Central Asian states looking for alternatives to re-balance see Turkey as a good candidate. Furthermore, states such as Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan are also cash-strapped, which increases the potential for Turkish involvement.

There is also another dimension to the eastward push. Turkey increasingly views Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan as parts of an emerging geopolitical area that can help it balance Russia’s growing military presence in the Black Sea and in the South Caucasus. With this in mind, Turkey is stepping up its military cooperation not only with Azerbaijan, but also with Georgia and Ukraine. The recent visit of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Turkey highlighted the defense and economic spheres. This builds upon ongoing work of joint drone production, increasing arms trade, and naval cooperation between the two Black Sea states.

The trilateral Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey partnership works in support of Georgia’s push to join NATO. Joint military drills are also taking place involving scenarios of repelling enemy attacks targeting the regional infrastructure.

Even though Turkey and Russia have shown that they are able to cooperate in different theaters, notably in Syria, they nonetheless remain geopolitical competitors with diverging visions. There is an emerging two-pronged strategy Turkey is now pursuing to address what President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sees as a geopolitical imbalance. Cooperate with Vladimir Putin where possible, but cooperate with regional powers hostile to Russia where necessary.

There is one final theme for Turkey to exploit. The West knows its limits. The Caspian Sea is too far, while an over-close relationship with Ukraine and Georgia seems too risky. This creates a potential for cooperation between Turkey and the collective West. Delegating the “Russia problem” to Turkey could be beneficial, though it cannot change the balance of power overnight and there will be setbacks down the road.

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