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Forcing the Correct Choice: Deterring Right-Wing Radicals and Preventing Threats to Nuclear Facilities in Ukraine



According to official statements by the Russian Federation, its army’s special military operation in Ukraine aims to both “demilitarize” and “denazify” the country. This operation is being carried out in a large state with a developed nuclear power industry, fairly powerful army (the largest in Europe outside of Russia and Turkey) and high firepower (22nd place in the world according to 2022 Military Strength Ranking (Global Firepower, 2022)). One of the primary objectives of the operation is to ensure the safety of Ukrainian atomic facilities during the military operation.

What significantly increases risk, however, is the fact that Ukraine’s aging power plants – packed with reactors, cooling systems, turbines, and other key components – require careful maintenance and monitoring that can obviously be disrupted during wartime (Skibba and Barber, 2022). Today, there are four nuclear power plants in operation in Ukraine, with 15 power units and a total installed capacity of 13,835 MW, which is 26.3% of the total capacity of all power plants in Ukraine (Uatom, 2021). They were designed to have a service life of 30 years. Unfortunately, this lifespan has been surpassed by 12 of the power units already, but the State Inspectorate of Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine (Gosatomregulirovaniya) extended the service life of them by 10–20 years (My.Ua, 2021). This has raised disturbing questions from many.

One month before the start of hostilities on 25 January 2022, power unit No. 1 was turned off at the Khmelnytsky nuclear power plant (NPP) due to “the triggering of the differential protection block transformer, followed by the protection trigger of the reactor.” The power unit was put into operation in 1988 and its service life expired in 2018. On the same day, the fourth power unit of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant (NPP) was switched off to eliminate “gas leakage from the turbo generator.” The operating life of the power unit ended in 2020 (Infox, 2022). It seems apparent the Ukrainian authorities have ignored the growing risks of using old equipment at NPPs.

In the course of hostilities there are also very real risks that atomic facilities could be damaged by a stray missile or artillery shell. While Western experts believe the Russian military would not deliberately target a nuclear plant, a potentially disastrous mistake—one that could harm millions of Ukrainians and also neighboring Russians—is not impossible. “That’s certainly something I think the Russians would make an effort to avoid doing, not only because they don’t want to contaminate the country they’re trying to occupy—but, also, Ukraine needs electricity from those plants,” says Ed Lyman, senior global security scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and coauthor of the book Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster (Skibba and Barber, 2022).

Without question, even given the continuation of hostilities, Ukraine and Russia are not interested in a new Chernobyl and all the consequences that could be fatally dangerous for both countries. Indeed, such a tragedy, even if accidentally done by the Russians, will permanently darken relations between Russia and Ukraine and likely destroy Russia’s legitimacy with the international community. However, from the very beginning of the special operation, the Kyiv regime has been strategically utilizing this threat to nuclear facilities, done for the purpose of creating anti-Russian propaganda in the eyes and ears of a global audience. With the original Chernobyl catastrophe still not forgotten in the West, such accusations provide an excellent pretext for creating an environment of anti-Russian hysteria during the present conflict. On the Russian side, where many look skeptically at certain right-wing actors in power in Ukraine, there is fear such leaders have nothing to lose in the face of superior Russian military capability and will try to carry out a major provocation at the country’s nuclear facilities and then blame the Russian army.

Adolf Hitler on January 27, 1942, stated in his headquarters: “… And here I will be adamant: if the German people are not ready to make efforts for their own survival, fine: then they must disappear.” At the end of March 1945, he repeated this to Speer: “If the war is lost, the people will also lose. On the contrary, it is better to destroy everything, because the people would be weaker, and the future would belong exclusively to the stronger Eastern peoples. In addition, those who survived are people of little value. The good ones are gone.” On March 19, 1945, Hitler ordered the destruction of “all military, transport, communication, industrial and supply systems, as well as property on the territory of the Reich.” Speer’s memorandum on the preservation of the livelihood of the German people after the war did not meet with Hitler’s approval. The Nazis succeeded in implementing scorched earth tactics in their retreat from occupied territories while under the onslaught of anti-fascist coalition armies in Germany itself. However, this did not prevent many relevant Nazi figures from seeking and finding salvation in the West after the Second World War (Kistler, 2005).

Though dismissed in the West, there is real concern in Russia that a threat of “last resort” from right-wing radicals cannot be ruled out in Ukraine. That is why it is important to analyze the circumstances that brought many right-wing radicals to power in Ukraine, ie, what are the factors that could realize the threat of using civilian nuclear facilities by extreme right-wing forces. That the West refuses to acknowledge this even as a potentiality does not mean Russian concern should be disregarded.

Ukrainian Right-Wing Radicals and Their Flirtation with Nuclear Armageddon

After the recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DLPR), Russialaunched a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine on February 24. The President of Russia Vladimir Putin noted that the plans of the Russian Federation do not include the occupation of Ukraine, but Moscow will strive for its demilitarization and denazification “…as well as bringing to justice those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation” (News Front, 2022). Russia has always maintained that neo-Nazis and far-right nationalists were the main force of the coup against President Vladimir Yanukovych in 2014, who, although elected in democratic elections, quickly became an unpopular personification of corruption in the country. On the one hand, corrupt elements of the state machinery and local oligarchy opposed to Yanukovych took advantage of the democratic but increasingly American and EU-influenced protest of Ukrainians. On the other hand, with the apparent support of Western intelligence services, armed groups of extreme nationalists and neo-Nazis at a certain stage became the leading force of protest. It was they who successfully concluded the coup and it was their leaders that took important positions in the new “Maidan” government. Again, the West has always ignored these legitimate accusations and Western media has never investigated them fully.

The deposed oligarch Yanukovych, who tried to deftly maneuver between Russia, China, and the West but being self-interested most of all, was replaced by the pro-Western oligarch Petro Poroshenko, who basically helped finance the coup. The coup led to a deepening of the social and political split in the country, especially with the emergence of the formally pro-Russian eastern regions. The DLNR and its now long-running forced military confrontation with the Kiev regime took the lives of more than 15,000 people, produced political repressions, and mass killings (Melekhov, Camus, Mironov and Yushchenko, 2015; TASS, 2021) on the territory of Ukraine itself. In addition, this internal conflict that went largely ignored by the West for the past eight years, saw the persecution of political parties and individual politicians that were in opposition to the new Kiev authorities and an extremely high level of corruption (by the end of 2021, Ukraine fell to 122nd place out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (Transparency International, 2021)). This corruption led to the infringement of rights of national minorities (in particular, the large Russian-speaking population in the east) and the lowest standard of living of any local population in Europe (World Population Review, 2022). History has shown such situations routinely favor political instability and the rise to power of right-wing political movements. This axiom was once again confirmed by the post-Maidan history of Ukraine.

Like Adolf Hitler in Germany, these right-wing radicals in contemporary Ukraine received help from financial and political sponsors in Western countries. These modern extremists in Ukrainian halls of power were the leading force of the state apparatuses of suppression (Security Service of Ukraine, National Guard of Ukraine), territorial battalions (terbats), and other paramilitary structures which de facto received financial and materiel support under the general control of the United States, Great Britain, and the EU, so concerned were they at making sure there was no return of a pro-Russian government.

Paramilitary structures were at first privately funded by Ukrainian oligarchs – the most known being Igor Kolomoisky, an energy magnate billionaire and then-governor of the Dnipropetrovska region. In addition to Azov, Kolomoisky funded other volunteer battalions such as the Dnipro 1, Dnipro 2, Aidar, and Donbas units, which often commited ‘ISIS-Style’ war crimes (Sharkov, 2014). Again, these atrocities were under-reported in the West and quickly forgotten. There was at least a 2016 report by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHA), which accused the Azov regiment of violating international humanitarian law. In June 2015, both Canada and the United States announced that their own forces would not support or train the Azov regiment, citing its neo-Nazi connections. The following year, however, the US lifted the ban under pressure from the Pentagon. In October 2019, 40 members of the US Congress, led by Representative Max Rose, signed a letter unsuccessfully calling for the US State Department to designate Azov as a “foreign terrorist organisation” (FTO). Because of these uneven attempts to rebuke such far-right radicalism, transnational support for Azov has been wide and Ukraine has emerged as a new hub for such extremism (Al Jazeera, 2022). Indeed, as if to eliminate any doubt as to where its allegiance truly lies, the battalion’s logo features the Wolfsangel, one of the symbols used by the Nazi army during World War II (Wulfsohn, 2022).

The last Ukrainian parliamentary election in 2019 saw all right-wing parties merge into one united list. They couldn’t make a mark, however, gaining just 2.15 per cent of the popular vote; the threshold of 5 per cent of the vote for a seat in Parliament remained out of reach. Unfortunately, this did not prevent far-right groups from taking leading positions in the repressive apparatuses of the Kiev regime. It is these groups, outside of the oversight of formal political procedures and having wide-ranging permission to act indiscriminately, that most concern the Russian Federation.

During this Russian special military operation, right-wing radicals in Ukraine are already using the deployment of multiple launch rocket systems in the center of Kiev and Kharkov in order to provoke retaliatory fire from Russian strike complexes on residential neighborhoods, something characteristic of terrorists and not the army defending its people. Worse, Western reporting only mentions the Russian return fire as if it was initial fire aimed at civilian neighborhoods, painting an extremely ugly picture of formal Russian military action. This doesn’t just slow down combat missions against right-wing radicals; it builds to a crescendo Western animosity toward the professionalism of the Russian military overall. Ideally, the Kiev regime would purge itself of all right-wing radicalism, as this move would be a significant step in allowing for the reopening of talks between the two governments. Failure to do so leaves no choice but for the Russian military to do it. This, of course, could significantly increase casualties amongst the civilian population as the radicalist groups hide in the middle of such areas for their own antagonistic protection.

America and Right-Wing Radicalism: An Uncomfortable History

Unfortunately for Russia, trying to understand why the United States continues blanket support for the Kiev regime with no critical eye whatsoever might have a legacy in history. There have been documented old ties between the CIA and Ukrainian ultranationalists since the Cold War. Declassified CIA files revealed that US intelligence officials went to great lengths to protect a Ukrainian fascist leader and suspected Nazi collaborator from prosecution after World War II and set him up in a New York office to wage covert war against the Soviet Union (according to a CIA report to Congress, January 2014). The CIA report, titled “Hitler’s Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, US Intelligence, and the Cold War” (Associated Press, 2010; Voltaire Network, 2014), drew from an unprecedented trove of records that the CIA was persuaded to declassify, in all more than 1 million digitized Army intelligence files that had long been inaccessible. Files showed US intelligence officials made efforts to protect Mykola Lebed, Ukrainian Nazi collaborator, for anti-Soviet information.

During World War II, Lebed helped lead a Ukrainian nationalist organization that collaborated with the Nazis in the destruction of Jews across western Ukraine and also killed thousands of Poles. In the modern day, photographic documentation shows young Ukrainian activists belonging to the neo-Nazi UNA-UNSO organization in Estonia in 2006, being trained by NATO instructors in urban warfare techniques and the use of explosives for sabotage and attacks. NATO did the same thing during the Cold War to form the clandestine “stay-behind” paramilitary structure, codenamed “Gladio.” Such extremist organizations took advantage of mass discontent with the oligarchic regime of Yanukovych to de facto engineer a coup d’etat. The transitional government, formally led by the Fatherland party, was fringed with neo-Nazi elements throughout the coalition. The Cabinet was not only integrated by the Svoboda and Right Sector (not to mention former members of the fascist UNA-UNSO), but neo-Nazi elements had been entrusted with key positions that granted de facto control over the Armed Forces, Police, Justice, and National Security infrastructure (Canada Man’s Sandbox, 2022). Little mention, if any, is made of this in the West.

The first head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) after the coup of 2014, Valentin Nalivaichenko, was directly and closely connected with both the CIA and the pro-Nazi Right Sector. Nalyvaichenko was recruited by the CIA while working as the Consul General of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, as stated by former head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), Alexander Yakymenko (Voyennoye obozreniye, 2014). This information was obtained by Yakymenko’s subordinates during an investigation conducted by the SSU jointly with the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office. In Russian and foreign media, the activities of a number of well-known figures of the power bloc of the Kiev regime received wide coverage, including NATO’s participation in the 2014 coup (Carisio, 2022). Memory of this, however, in the West seems to be fleeting.

The training of right-wing radicals by US special services carried out last year by American instructors also causes serious concern to Russia. According to retired US Central Intelligence Agency officer Philip Giraldi, work associated with training Ukrainian “partisans” by American instructors to conduct sabotage activities against Russian troops can lead to extremely negative consequences. He considered it at least plausible that if American intelligence is training Ukrainian saboteurs (“partisans”), then in the end they can also hit the US itself, primarily in terms of the possible commission of war crimes (Military Review, 2021).

In history, one can find many examples of strategic provocations with long term goals and, very often, grave international consequences. The Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964 — where a North Vietnamese torpedo boat allegedly attacked a US warship — was the excuse the USA used to fully enter into the Vietnam War. This false allegation led to the deaths of millions of victims and massive social problems that persist to this day. In 1989, a questionable incident between US and Panamanian troops led to an invasion of Panama. The leader of Panama, Manuel Noriega, was charged with drug trafficking, though the real reason for the invasion was Noriega’s insistence on claiming control over the Panama Canal after the lease agreement with the USA expired. In 2003, Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, holding a test tube in his hand at the UN, said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which served as the false basis for an armed invasion of that country with the intention of controlling a key region of the Middle East, housing the world’s fifth largest oil reserves. The result was the chaos of a long civil war and hundreds of thousands of victims.

Additionally, a strongly perceived accusation against the United States has always been its desire to carry out emotional provocations during the Olympic Games in China and Russia (Pashentsev, 2014 and 2022). The goals of the USA’s strategic provocations during the Olympic Games 2008 (China), 2014 (Russia), 2022 (China) were believed to be as follows:

  •  To justify long-term extraordinary measures for “bringing order” to the general public in the USA and other Western countries at a certain stage of the pandemic crisis.
  • To place responsibility for the financial and economic crisis onto an external “enemy,” with Russia and China being the best candidates for this role.
  • To deploy a new large-scale arms race as a means of revitalizing the economy. Its strategic tasks were to achieve a decisive military advantage over the enemy and secure global hegemonic military power and exhaust the “enemy” with exorbitant military spending (very much a mirror to the experience of the Soviet Union during the Cold War), hopefully provoking riots against the existing governments in Russia and China.
  • To unite military and political unions (NATO, first of all) to use military hysteria to subordinate the countries of Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East for its interests.
  • To justify the beginning of an intervention into countries rich in power resources such as Venezuela and Iran. (The political and ideological reasons for such an intervention are self-evident.)
  • To get a substantial profit from controlling supplies of power resources under conditions of a new Cold War (or, a controlled “hot” war).
  • To separate the EU and Russia.
  • To separate the peoples of Russia and Ukraine with bloodshed (Pashentsev, 2014 and 2022).

Under these contexts and concerns, a possible provocation against nuclear facilities in Ukraine during the special military operation of the Russian armed forces fits perfectly into the above agenda. It can be assumed that ultra-right circles in the West, relying on neo-fascists who feel at ease in the armed forces of Ukraine, could organize a second Chernobyl event (only more powerful) at one of the nuclear power plants in Ukraine. Given the seriousness of such a perceived threat, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was taken under control by the Russian armed forces on the first day of the military operation. An agreement was reached with the servicemen of a separate battalion of Ukraine on a joint security mission of the power units and the sarcophagus of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. On February 28, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that, during a special military operation, Russia’s armed forces had fully secured and controlled the area around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. The radioactive background is normal there (NTV, 2022). Apparently, similar developments can be expected at other nuclear facilities in Ukraine.

The Blame Russia Game

Preparations for baseless anti-Russian accusations have been created from the first day of the military operation. Representatives of the Kiev regime and Ukrainian media stated that the introduction of troops into the area of nuclear power plants resulted in radiation dangerously increasing. The Russian military recklessly seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, said Prime Minister Denis Shmigal. Ukrainian President Zelenskiy warned that as the Russian invasion ramps up the Chernobyl disaster could repeat itself (BBC News, 2022). The office of the Ukrainian president called it “one of the most serious threats to Europe” (, 2022). The latter is noteworthy: as the anti-Russian psychosis intensifies in Ukraine and the West, many will fall for the fake nonsense that some nuclear power plant might be blown up because of “anti-Ukrainian malice” and so-called losses and unexpected setbacks suffered by the Russians.

In an earlier statement on February 25, the Ukrainian state nuclear agency said data from the automated radiation monitoring system in the exclusion zone around the plant indicated that gamma radiation had been exceeded “at a significant number of observation points.” But it also said it was impossible to establish the reasons for the change because of the “occupation and military fight in this area” (Pike, 2022). Western information resources immediately picked up on the hot topic and framed it in an anti-Russian way (Wilson, 2022). The AP reported the following: “An official familiar with current assessments said Russian shelling hit a radioactive waste repository at Chernobyl and an increase in radiation levels was reported.”(Heintz, 2022) Only official information from the IAEA stopped the spread of this false information. It assessed that the readings reported by the regulator – up to 9,46 micro Sieverts per hour – were low and remained within the operational range measured in the Exclusion Zone since it was established and therefore did not pose any danger to the public. Nevertheless, feelings of fear of a new accident began to be promoted by pro-Kiev regime media and across social networks, adding a mass of imaginary details. A few Western experts pointed out that Russia had no interest in obtaining a new and possibly even more dangerous source of radiation close to its borders, and therefore assessed risks to Ukraine’s nuclear power plants as small—but this rational analysis was largely ignored (Skibba and Barber, 2022).

On the eve of the capture of the Zaporizhzhya NPP by Russian troops, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine announced the threat of shelling this NPP with “Grads” in Energodar. Ukraine has already appealed to the international community because of the huge threat that “Russian militants may start shooting at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.” This was announced by the Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Vadym Denisenko in a video message from the Ministry of Internal Affairs on its YouTube channel (MVS Ukrayiny, 2022). The takeover of the nuclear power plant by Russian troops, with appropriate cooperation by the Ukrainian military stationed there no less, stopped the spread of this disinformation. Kiev also spread false information about Russian shells hitting the radioactive waste storage facility of the Kiev branch of the Radon Association (Nikolaev, 2022). It was pushed that the actions of the Russian Federation posed a massive disaster threat not only for Ukraine, but for the whole of Europe.

Meanwhile, in Telegram since April 18, 2021 a statement still hangs in the ether: “If Russia tries to prevent Ukraine from establishing constitutional order in the Donbass and Crimea, and tries to destroy us, they will pay a high price! We can load all 13 VVER-1000 reactors with Westinghouse nuclear fuel, and we have heroes who will not hesitate to carry out the last order. Ukraine will not give up! Glory to Ukraine” (Zaporozhskaya AES, 2022). Incredibly, this was no virtual troll or web warrior claiming defiant bravery through the safe anonymity of the internet. This was President Zelensky himself and it was actively replicated by Ukrainian websites and media. This speaks volumes about the radicalization that exists as normalcy there. There was no rejection to such statements from the West, which was tantamount to encouraging a crime against humanity:

Source:, April 18, 2021 [Accessed 4 March 2022].

Such “scorched earth” tactics are prohibited by Article 54 of Protocol No. 1 of the Geneva Convention of 1977. Article 55, in turn, prohibits causing damage to the natural environment (International Committee of the Red Cross, 2022).

On the night of March 3/4, 2022, a dangerous new provocation was committed on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia NPP. According to Major General Igor Konashenkov, representative of the Russian Department of Defense: “In order to provoke retaliatory fire at the building, from the windows of several floors of the training complex located outside the power plant, heavy small arms fire was opened on the servicemen of the Rosgvardiya.” Russian patrol officers suppressed the firing points of the saboteurs with small arms. Retreating from the building, they then started a fire. Thankfully, it was extinguished without major damage. The NPP is operating normally. (RIA “Novosti”, 2022a) Another aspect of this situation that challenges the official narrative being pushed out to the West by Ukrainian forces and media is how right-wing radical groups were in fact tasked with the emergency removal of secret documentation in many areas directly adjacent to nuclear power plants. This documentation established the dangerous connection between extremist Ukrainian units and their free access to NPPs. Most of these documents were removed to Lviv. (RIA “Novosti”, 2022b)

In Ukraine and the West it was initially reported that Russian troops were the ones attacking Zaporizhzhia, but it made no sense for Russian troops to attack an NPP already taken under control on February 28, 2022. Mayor of Energodar, Dmitry Orlov, recorded a video and confirmed that the fire at the Zaporizhzhia NPP had been eliminated and there were no civilian casualties. He also urged the residents of the city not to provoke the Russian military (Vasilyeva, 2022). Given that this Ukrainian instigation was immediately reframed by Ukrainian leadership and Western media (Ortiz et al., 2022; Renault et al., 2022) as a Russian heavy weapons attack, it is further proof that the most dangerous “false flag” operation – that Russia is trying to purposely damage nuclear power plants or acts recklessly around them, potentially causing a nuclear catastrophe – is actually being done by Ukraine and being de facto supported by Ukrainian and Western intelligence services.

Desperate to contain the actions of the Russian army, the Ukrainian Armed Forces use 122 mm shells for D-30 howitzers and rockets for Soviet-made BM-21 Grad installations, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense. The use of these munitions is prohibited by the third protocol of the 1980 United Nations Inhumane Weapons Convention, the Russian defense ministry noted (Argumenty Nedeli, 2022). President Volodomyr Zelenskyy announced the creation of an “international legion” to enlist non-Ukrainians who want to support the war effort against Russia. “We already have thousands of requests from foreigners, who want to join the resistance against the (Russian) occupiers and protect world security from the Putin regime,” said a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (USA Today, 2022), which opened the way for the large-scale use of mercenaries from all over the world through Western PMCs. Indeed, former advisor to the US Secretary of Defense, Colonel Douglas McGregor confirmed to the Fox Business channel in America that there are formal military (and paramilitary) units in Ukraine acting similarly to Middle East Islamic extremists in that they hide in civilian buildings, de facto using civilians as human shields. Additionally, McGregor commented that in his military opinion, President Putin seemed to be making every effort to keep Ukraine intact and avoid massive shelling of expansive civilian areas. Moreover, he also felt President Putin may have acted “too softly” with the Russian army in the first days of the special operation.

Zelensky also announced that prisoners with experience of participating in hostilities will be released from custody in the country. The head of state said that such citizens can make amends for their fatherland (MK, 2022). The measures taken have already led to an increase in armed robberies and violence in the city with lightning speed. Indeed, Zelensky’s declarations, instead of being statecraft aimed at deescalating the crisis, practically give open access to the country for foreign terrorists, criminals, and mercenaries. This is the man recently given a standing ovation online by the European Union Parliament? This is the leader of Ukraine, which is now the epicenter of NATO’s assertive advance to the East with obvious disregard for Russia’s national interests and security? Russia is meant to ignore this reality as if it means nothing? Would America do nothing if the Prime Minister of Canada behaved in the same way?

It is these kinds of statements and strategies that cause such grave concern within Russia about the possibility of fabricated “evidence” of the direct involvement of the Russian military in producing a nuclear accident in Ukraine. This type of de facto terrorism could very well become a reason for the long-term ostracism of Russia, for the rebuilding of an iron curtain, and for innumerable coffins holding not only Ukrainians dead from radiation, but also citizens of neighboring Russia. It will continually remind people of the “atrocity” of Russia — only it was an atrocity it did not commit. Russia takes this potentiality with extreme seriousness, no matter how the West reports on it.


The situation in Ukraine can become a precedent and model for similar threats in other countries if the root causes of social and political radicalism are not stopped and, most importantly, not prevented from gaining real access to power within the instruments of government and the military. Russia aims that the special operation of its army on the territory of Ukraine will be carefully studied not only for military strategy, but also for the prevention of dangerous incidents with nuclear facilities during the course of hostilities. Indeed, this is the first such experience in the world. This is why Russia thinks there needs to be broad international cooperation rather than confrontation, strategic thinking rather than decisions dictated by momentary gain or vicious stereotypes of the past. The status quo in the world, at least when it comes to Russian-Western relations, cannot be maintained. This “small” incursion into Ukraine has large-scale potential repercussions. On the negative, it could become radioactive ruins on the remains of civilization. On the positive, it could be a grand leap for new and innovative relations based on cooperation and new possibilities. Thankfully, the future is not predetermined. The choice belongs to the citizens of the world. Let’s hope the citizens of the world make a good one.


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  • RIA “Novosti”, 2022. Ukrainskiye natsionalisty popytalis’ sprovotsirovat’ ogon’ po Zaporozhskoy AES [Ukrainian nationalists tried to provoke a fire at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant]. [online] RIA “Novosti.” Available at: <> [Accessed 4 March 2022].
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DSc., professor Evgeny N. Pashentsev is a leading researcher at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs RF, senior researcher at the Saint-Petersburg State University, professor at the Department of Philosophy of Language and Communication in Lomonosov Moscow State University.

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Don’t listen to the naysayers, the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin is a game changer

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The International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin is a game changer. The wheels of justice are turning, and not in Putin’s favour.

This comes as the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin last week, accusing him of responsibility for illegally transferring Ukrainian children to Russia, which is a war crime. A warrant was also issued for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights.

The Ukrainian government welcomed the decision. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reacted to the warrant by stating that the “wheels of Justice are turning: I applaud the ICC decision to issue arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova” and that “international criminals will be held accountable for stealing children and other international crimes.”

Both Putin and Lvova-Belova have been accused of forcefully transferring thousands of Ukrainian children across the border to Russia.

The Ukrainian government claims 16,226 children – ranging from infants to teenagers – have been deported to Russia, while others estimate a figure closer to 400,000.

It’s reported this is part of a large-scale, systematic attempt at adopting and ‘re-educating’ thousands of Ukrainian children in at least 40 camps throughout Russia.

Kubela has labelled Russia’s actions as “probably the largest forced deportation in modern history” and a “genocidal crime”.

Russian officials have been surprisingly open about the transfer of children, unapologetically claiming it is part of a humanitarian project designed to re-home orphaned Ukrainian children.

The ICC investigators clearly disagree.

Commentators and legal experts have pointed out that the court has no powers to enforce its own warrants and that – because Russia is not a party to the court – it is also incredibly unlikely Putin will find himself in The Hague.

While these observations are probably correct, they ignore the broader implications of the court’s decision.

Putin is the first world leader to have a warrant issued for his arrest since former Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir was issued a warrant by the court in 2009.

Like Al-Bashir, Putin is unlikely to be arrested outside of Russia.

But symbolism is important. It signals to despots around the world that they cannot commit heinous crimes with impunity.

It’s also important for Ukrainians, validating their suffering by having their abuser named and shamed.

The warrant also sets the scene for a larger investigation into crimes committed in Ukraine by Putin’s regime.

Yesterday, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Kostin Andriy signed an agreement with the court to establish an ICC country office in Ukraine.

This is a signal that the court intends to investigate other alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed Russia has committed over 400 war crimes in the Kherson region alone.

Mass graves have also been discovered outside the towns of Bucha and Izium, with 400 and 450 bodies found respectively. Russia has been accused of murdering and murdering these people.

There have also been several documented attacks on civilian infrastructure by Russian forces, including the now infamous airstrikes on a theatre and maternity hospital in Mariupol.

Greater collaboration between Ukrainian war crimes investigators and the court will likely result in more crimes being documented and more charges laid against Putin and his officials.

The decision by the ICC also isolates Putin at a time when he is searching for allies around the world.

Last year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov went on a diplomatic spree across Africa to build support for the invasion in the region. This includes trips to Libya, Mali, Sudan, the Central African Republic and Mozambique.

Russia has also leant heavily on ‘BRICS’ countries, an informal bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The problem for Putin is that any country that has signed up to the 1998 Rome Statute of the ICC must arrest him if he enters their country.

In what is a case of sublime timing, Putin is scheduled to meet with his BRICS counterparts in South Africa – which is a signatory to the statute – in August.

A spokesman for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted the government faces a dilemma, stating that “we are, as the government, cognisant of our legal obligation”.

The government of Brazil echoed similar sentiments. This week, the Minister of Foreign Affars Mauro Vieira said that Putin could be arrested if he entered the country. Another unnamed government official warned that “anyone who goes to a country that is a member of the ICC can have problems, I have no doubt about that.”

Even if South Africa falls foul of its legal obligations – like it did by not arresting Al-Bashir in 2015 – it still represents a two-fold problem for Putin. He will be hesitant to travel abroad for fear of arrest, and his so-called allies will be hesitant to visit Russia to avoid associating themselves with a wanted war criminal.

The seriousness of the situation for Putin’s regime can be seen in their response.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev responded to the arrest warrant threatening any attempt to arrest Putin would be a “declaration of war” and suggested Russia could fire missiles at the ICC headquarters in The Hague.

The Speaker of the Russian Duma Vyacheslav Volodin claimed the arrest warrant was more evidence of western “hysteria” and that “we regard any attacks on the President of the Russian Federation as aggression against our country.”

The bluster coming out of Moscow suggests the regime was surprised by the decision.

It is an acknowledgement that – overnight – the situation changed for Putin, and not for the better.

If Putin wasn’t a global pariah before, he certainly is now.

There are 123 countries he will fear travelling to and his regime – whether found guilty or not – will be forever tainted with the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children.

With both Ukraine and the European Union planning to establish tribunals to prosecute Russian war crimes, the pressure will only continue to build on Putin’s regime.

Will Putin ever find himself in The Hague? It is unlikely. History shows it is hard to arrest and convict heads of state.

But – just like the late Slobodan Milošević – leaders can often find themselves in places they least expect.

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How Russia Can Build Relations With Friendly Countries

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A year into the conflict between Russia and the West turning into a proxy military confrontation, the most important lesson learned in terms of the international consequences of these developments is that such a large and powerful country really cannot be isolated in terms of foreign policy. It is difficult to say with certainty how much this is connected with the merits and activity of the Russian state itself, and what simply turned out to be an inevitable consequence of the changing world over the past three-four decades.

Much more important is the result: a year after the United States and its allies announced their determination to seriously limit Moscow’s opportunities for international communication, the vast majority of countries maintain stable working relations with Russia; they trade and cooperate in various sectors. In most cases, new contacts are limited not even by Western pressure on third countries, but by Russia’s own unpreparedness to follow through on so many suddenly-open opportunities. This has become so obvious over the past few months that it is recognised even by the opponents of Russia, for whom any concession to conventional common sense is a deep and tragic experience.

We cannot now say with certainty to what extent Russia itself is capable of fully realising the new features of its international position or its true causes. The understanding of this, apparently, exists among the top Russian leadership and has become one of the reasons for its confidence that it is right, along with the conviction that a new stage in relations with the West is not only inevitable, but also necessary in the context of the development of Russia’s political civilisation. However, at the level of the implementation of a specific policy by the state apparatus, the activities of the business sector, the reflections of the expert community or the practical activities of NGOs, we still have to work on developing a number of important habits and come to an understanding of the nature of relations between Russia and the outside world.

First of all, it is necessary to understand that the new quality of relations with the outside world cannot be considered in the context of the conflict between Russia and the West. The military-political confrontation with the United States and its allies is central to ensuring national security. However, the specific causes of the conflict are the result of how Russian-Western relations developed after the Cold War and are very indirectly related to the fate, interests and aspirations of the rest of the world. The way most states behaved towards Russia is a consequence of their own development and interests. These two factors are much more stable and long-term than the current clash between Russia and the West, so it would be erroneous, even at the theoretical level, to link the conflict in one direction and cooperation in the other. Moreover, this may turn out to be a mistake, since it can create confidence that the development of relations with non-Western states is a temporary measure, a necessity that will disappear or decrease after the acute phase of the conflict with the West ends.

Second, the behaviour of those states that do not now oppose Russia and even cooperate with it (which has become commonplace) is not a sign that they are allies of Moscow or are slated to become allies under certain circumstances. There are, of course, exceptions, and even very large ones. China, for example, associates its security and ability to realize foreign policy interests with Russia. A similar position is held by Iran, for which the inability of Russia and China to limit the assertiveness of the West may pose a serious threat in the future. In addition, there is a group of countries already associated with Moscow much more significantly than with its adversaries or third powers. However, in general, the so-called World Majority is not a group of states united by common interests, but an indicator of the democratic state of international politics.

Third, a significant number of states are friendly to Russia precisely because, in principle, they do not need allies or patrons, and rely only on their diplomatic skills. In other words, what brings them closer to Russia’s interests now is at the same time an obstacle to establishing a more solid or formalised relationship, not to mention listening to Russia’s opinions on value issues or even the way things are done in the world. One of the reasons why the United States is growing weaker in its ability to convince others that it is right is precisely that many countries are quite capable of formulating their own ideas about a fair domestic and international order. It would be a little naïve to think that there are those seeking to replace one external adviser with another.

In this regard, Russia may need to take a more careful and prudent approach to the question of the reasons for the sympathies that exist throughout the world in relation to it. In fact, dissatisfaction with oppression from the US and Europe is only one aspect of the motives that determine the desire of many states for greater independence. Perhaps this is even a little more important than the desire to benefit from relations with Russia amid conditions where it has turned to the rest of the world and connects with it many of the issues related to its economic stability. But value issues, also play a significant role. In this respect, Russia really has something to be proud of without trying at the same time to offer more comprehensive plans and objectives. Here we are talking about what makes the modern Russian state attractive to others.

The so-called “soft power”, i.e. the ability to influence the decisions of other countries in ways other than forceful pressure and bribery, is not a product of a nation’s diplomatic activity, but the degree of closeness of the internal structure to abstract ideals that exist in the minds of others. It would be a mistake to think that the state can increase its attractiveness only by investing in the expansion of culture, science or education. Moreover, exaggerated attention to these areas of activity can provoke opposition from the elites of partner countries, for which control over the minds and hearts of citizens is an essential part of strengthening their own power. Even more so, it is impossible to become attractive by organizing the direct bribery of journalists or those who are commonly called leaders of public opinion. First of all, because opponents will always be able to offer a higher price and, furthermore, a more quiet shelter.

However, much more effective than investing in self-advertising abroad can be an increase in openness to the outside world. Modern Russia for most countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East is truly a unique society that combines visible signs of European culture and traditions, on the one hand, and a tolerance for other religions and ethnic diversity that is completely uncharacteristic of the West. Already now one can hear from diplomats from Islamic countries that among all the states of the global North, Russia is the most comfortable for Muslims to live.

The same applies to smaller religious communities. Unlike European states, Russia preserves and cultivates ethnic diversity. All these are the real advantages of Russia in the eyes of humanity, with which we will have to live and cooperate in the coming decades, if not longer. The sooner we understand that the basis of “soft power” is internal, and not in the activities of Russia’s representatives abroad, the sooner we will be able to benefit from our own objective advantages.

from our partner RIAC

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Amid Ukraine Crisis, Russia Deepens Strategic Cooperation With China

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have concluded their three-day diplomatic deliberations, most importantly questions focused on raising economic cooperation and finding strategic peaceful solutions to the Ukraine crisis which started since February 2022, amid the geo-political tensions and re-configuration of the world.

While aspects of the Putin-Jinping diplomatic talks and results were awash in the local and foreign media, the academic researchers’ community and policy experts were upbeat with divergent views, detailed analysis and interpretations, and future political predictions. In the present circumstances, any forecast or outlook made previously, may have changed largely due to the developments emerging from Putin-Jinping meetings.

But our monitoring shows that Putin and Jinping, their large delegations from both sides, discussed a wide range of issues on the modern world agenda, with a particular emphasis on the prospects for cooperation. At the far end, Putin and Xi signed a lengthy statement on deepening their nine-point comprehensive partnership, as well as a separate statement on an economic cooperation plan through 2030.

The parties signed two documents – the Joint Statement on Deepening the Russian-Chinese Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Cooperation for a New Era, as well as the Joint Statement by the President of Russia and the President of China on the Plan to Promote the Key Elements of Russian-Chinese Economic Cooperation until 2030. 

The latter consists of eight major areas, including increasing the scale of trade, developing the logistics system, increasing the level of financial cooperation and agricultural cooperation, partnership in the energy sector, as well as promoting exchanges and qualitatively expanding cooperation in the fields of technology and innovation.

The leaders revealed the details of the talks to the media – Putin noted that Russia and China’s positions on most international issues are similar or heavily coincide. According to Xi Jinping, the parties will uphold the fundamental norms of international relations. He believes that the sphere of cooperation between Russia and China, as well as political mutual trust, is constantly expanding. 

In terms of the economic agenda, trade turnover is expected to surpass the $200 billon target. The parties also discussed their intensive energy cooperation and agreed on the main parameters of the construction of the Power of Siberia-2 gas pipeline. Meanwhile, the total volume of gas supplies by 2030 will be at least 98 bln cubic meters and 100 mln tons of LNG, the Russian leader specified.

In-person meetings may continue in the near future. Chinese President stated that he invited Vladimir Putin to visit China during an informal conversation. Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin is also expected to pay a reciprocal working visit to China. Beijing, in particular, is eager to resume regular meetings between the two countries’ heads of government.

Reading through the local media, Financial and Business Vedomosti reported that Russia was ready to take Chinese peace plan for Ukraine, not for resolution of the ongoing crisis, but as a basis for future work on Ukraine. Russia has carefully reviewed China’s plan for a peaceful settlement in Ukraine and believes it can be used for future talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 21. Russia, however, sees no readiness for peace talks from the West or Kiev, according to Putin. 

Experts interviewed by Vedomosti believe that China’s initiative could be used as a basis for talks, but any progress would require long and difficult negotiations. For his part, Xi Jinping said that China supports a conflict resolution based on the UN Charter, encourages reconciliation and the resumption of negotiations, and is always committed to peace and dialogue.

China’s 12-point plan for resolving the Ukrainian crisis includes respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries as well as the norms of international law; abandoning the Cold War mentality; initiating peace talks; resolving the humanitarian crisis; protecting civilians and prisoners of war; supporting the safety of nuclear power plants; reducing strategic risks; and preventing the use of nuclear weapons. 

The document described the talks as “the only way to resolve the crisis in Ukraine” and called on all sides to support Moscow and Kiev in “moving toward each other” and promptly resuming a direct dialogue. It urged the global community to create conditions and provide a platform for the resumption of talks.

Experts, however, said that China’s initiative could benefit Russia because it involves a ceasefire and the lifting of sanctions, followed by negotiations to reach a political agreement. At the same time, such negotiations will have no chance of success unless Ukraine accepts and recognizes Russian control over the new regions and Crimea, as required by the Russian Constitution. 

At the same time, there is noticeable distinction between the Russian-Chinese position and that of Western countries and their allies. Meanwhile, United States, the West and Ukraine have openly rejected China’s position that there needed to be a ceasefire.

Before Xi Jinping landed in Moscow, the Chinese Foreign Ministry in February published a document laying out its position on a political settlement of the crisis in Ukraine. On March 20, Jinping held a one-on-one meeting with Putin that lasted about 4 1/2 hours, according to reports from the Kremlin. On March 22, he spent about six hours at talks in the Kremlin in various formats. The parties signed two statements outlining what was accomplished during the visit and called it successful. Chinese President Xi Jinping was on a three-day working visit, March 20-22 in Moscow, Russian Federation.

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