American Resistance To Empire

Kremlin Kicks-Out Soros/NED NGOs Fomenting Revolution

George Soros | Photo by EPA

Russia to bar Soros, other foreign NGOs



Kremlin threatens anyone working with a dozen pro-democracy NGOs with up to six years in prison.

By Karen Shainyan


MOSCOW — Russia is moving to ban the MacArthur Foundation, George Soros’s Open Society Institute and 10 other foreign groups under a law on “unwelcome organizations” adopted this spring.

The Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, on Tuesday unveiled the initial names on what the Kremlin and its allies call a “Patriotic STOP-list.”

President Vladimir Putin in May signed the law, the latest step by the Kremlin to restrict the activities of non-governmental organizations in Russia.

The others on the ban list are Freedom House, a U.S. democracy advocacy group; the U.S.-government backed National Endowment for Democracy; two arms of the main American political parties that help parties abroad, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute; the Michigan-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; the Education for Democracy Foundation and the East European Democratic Center, which are both in Warsaw; the Toronto-based Ukrainian World Congress; the International Ukrainian Coordination Union in Kiev; and the Crimean field mission for human rights, which is overseen by the Ukrainian parliament.

The list, which is to be voted on Wednesday, would be forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s office and the foreign ministry for inclusion on the official “unwelcome” register.

Under the law, anyone in Russia who works for or collaborates with these banned groups faces financial penalties as well as up to six years in prison.

Since the 2011 mass protests in Moscow against fraudulent elections for parliament, the Kremlin has steadily moved to crack down on dissent. The Russian parliament has passed laws that require any Russian NGO or charity that gets funding from abroad register as a “foreign agent” and that bloggers register with the state.


Karen Shainyan

Zbig, the Polish Defector Pushes Congress To Fight Russia In Eastern Europe


The ‘Democrat’ Brzezinski Says Russia’s Putin Wants to Invade NATO

rinf news


Eric Zuesse

Zbigniew Brzezinski, U.S. President Obama’s friend and advisor on Russia, is a born Polish aristocrat who has hated Russia his whole life but who hid that hatred until after the communist Soviet Union collapsed and he then publicly came out as hating and fearing specifically Russia — the nation, its people, and their culture. In 1998, he wrote The Grand Chessboard, arguing for an unchallengeable U.S. empire over the whole world, and for the defeat of Russia as the prerequisite to enabling that stand-alone global American empire to reign over the planet.

He now has told the U.S. Congress (on February 6th but not reported until March 6th, when the German Economic News found the clip) that Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin “seized” Crimea and that Putin will probably try to do the same to Estonia and Latvia, unless the U.S. immediately supplies weapons and troops to those countries and to Ukraine. Here is his stunning testimony (click on the link under it, to hear it, but the key part is quoted in print below):

“I wonder how many people in this room or this very important senatorial committee really anticipated that one day Putin would land military personnel in Crimea and seize it. I think if anybody said that’s what he is going to do, he or she would be labeled as a warmonger. He did it. And he got away with it. I think he’s also drawing lessons from that. And I’ll tell you what my horror, night-dream, is: that one day, I literally mean one day, he just seizes Riga, and Talinn. Latvia and Estonia. It would literally take him one day. There is no way they could resist. And then we will say, how horrible, how shocking, how outrageous, but of course we can’t do anything about it. It’s happened. We aren’t going to assemble a fleet in the Baltic, and then engage in amphibious landings, and then storm ashore, like in Normandy, to take it back. We have to respond in some larger fashion perhaps, but then there will be voices that this will plunge us into a nuclear war.”

He continues there by saying that we must pour weapons and troops into the nations that surround Russia, in order to avoid a nuclear conflict: deterrence, he argues, is the way to peace; anything else than our sending in troops and weapons now would be weakness and would invite World War III. 

He says that American troops must be prepositioned in these countries immediately, because otherwise Putin will think that America won’t respond to a Russian attack against those countries.

The most serious falsehoods in his remarkable testimony are three, and they’ll be taken up here in succession:

(1) The crucial background for what Brzezinski there calls the “seizure” of Crimea by Russia on 16 March 2014 was an extremely aggressive action by the United States, a violent coup in Kiev that climaxed prior, during February 2014, which used the “Maidan” demonstrations there as a cover in order to take over Ukraine’s Government, a violent coup which the founder of the “private CIA” firm Stratfor subsequently (and correctly) referred to as “the most blatant coup in history,” and which the President of the Czech Republic says should not be compared at all to Czechoslovakia’s 1968 “Velvet Revolution,” and that only “ignorant” people don’t know that it was a coup instead of a revolution. But not only was it an incredibly bloody coup, but the leader of the post-coup Government who became officially designated on 26 February 2014 turned out to be exactly the same person whom Obama’s controlling agent on the entire matter had explicitly selected and informed her underling on 4 February 2014 to get appointed to become the new leader; so, she not only knew that the coup would soon be occurring, but she had already selected by no later than 18 days beforehand the person who would replace the then sitting, democratically elected, President of Ukraine. Furthermore, Ukraine is a country bordering Russia, and so this coup was far worse for Russia than even the 1959 communist takeover of Cuba was for the United States. The U.S. many times tried to overthrow Castro — so, how much gall does the United States have today for its refusing even to acknowledge that our extremely violent takeover of Ukraine, on Russia’s very border, constitutes an existential threat against Russia? (And even the top EU leadership knows that this was a U.S. coup, not any authentic revolution.) For Brzezinski to say nothing at all about any of this is simply scandalous (an obvious intention by him to deceive), but for the U.S. Senate to invite such a man to address it is even worse: it is as if the U.S. Congress in 1933 had invited Hitler to lecture it about “the Jewish threat.” It’s worse than insane; it is bloody dangerous in a nuclear-armed world.

(2) As I recently documented with links to the direct sources, headlining “The Entire Case for Sanctions Against Russia Is Pure Lies,” Gallup polls in Crimea both before and after the 16 March 2014 plebiscite on whether to stay within Ukraine, which Crimea had been part of since 1954, or instead to rejoin with Russia, which Crimea had been part of between 1783 and 1954, showed that by more than 90%, Crimeans wanted to be part of Russia and held both the U.S. and EU in extremely low esteem. Furthermore, because Russia’s key Black Sea Fleet had been stationed there since 1783, Russia always had troops there and didn’t need to “land military personnel in Crimea and seize it.” There was no invasion, no “seizure” at all. The plebiscite was entirely peaceful, because the public craved it (on account of the recent bloody coup in Ukraine) and because the already-existing presence of Russian troops to protect them to have it so that Ukraine wouldn’t send in their army to prevent it, enabled it to be carried out peacefully. There is no military base of any sort from Russia anywhere in Latvia nor in Estonia, nor in any other NATO country. The very idea put forth by Brzezinski, that the two situations are at all analogous, is insane and can be understood only within the context of the bizarre hatred held by this born aristocrat who learned his hatred since birth and who is now obsessed with it in his old age. The very fact that U.S. Senators would invite such a person to testify is scandalous, and is an indication of their ignorance or else of their sharing Brzezinski’s rabidly counterfactual and extremely dangerous beliefs. Russia should take that as being a clear indication of hostile intent from the U.S. Congress, because Brzezinski’s statements are entirely out of line and an irrational outburst that’s based on nothing but hatred and a distorted portrayal of the clearly documented realities to the contrary of Brzezinski’s selective and false description of Russia, Ukraine, Putin, and NATO.

(3) The basis of the NATO Treaty is its mutual-defense provision: that all members are committed to the defense of each member. How crazy does Brzezinski have to be to think that in order to prevent Putin from invading NATO, the U.S. must now send weapons and troops in to each one of the 12 NATO member-nations that were formerly Russia’s allies? Brzezinski’s alarmist and sensationalistic lies and distortions go well beyond standard propaganda into the realm of the insane: propaganda that’s directed at fools and yet that’s being presented to U.S. Senators. Are they crazy, too?

Russia has every reason to believe that the U.S. Government is set upon surrounding it by armed and dangerous hostile nations and taking it over by force. This isn’t at all about Putin; it is about U.S. President Barack Obama, and the U.S. Congress.

For whatever democratic nations that still exist in the EU and NATO not to quit those organizations is for them to consent to being ruled by the U.S. dictatorship, which means that they themselves are dictatorships serving the American aristocracy. This is a dictarorship by America’s aristocracy, the very same people who are ruining the United States and who are now determined to take over every other aristocracy in the entire world — determined to reign over the entire planet.

Testimony such as Brzezinski presented to the U.S. Senate yesterday is shocking and damning against the Senate itself. Brzezinski accuses Russia of planning to invade NATO when instead the United States has been surrounding Russia by formerly-Russian-allied nations, which are new members of America’s anti-Russian military club, NATO. The preparations for an all-out nuclear war have begun. The U.S. aristocracy definitely started this incipient war; for them, it’s a war of choice. It’s not a war of choice for anyone in Russia. (Ukraine’s oligarchs, especially the White-House-connected Ihor Kolomoysky, are ripping off everything they can from it.) The significance of the Ukrainian conflict is that it’s the beachhead to take over Russia. And the Ukrainian post-coup leadership have stated proudly, many times, that this is their ultimate aim. It clearly is Obama’s.

Why are Americans not marching by the millions against this rogue government in Washington? How much longer will the American people continue to tolerate it — an affront against not only the American people but the entire world?

Brzezinski’s testimony to Congress on February 6th was so brazen because he’s like he describes Putin as being: he does what he can get away with doing. It’s way over the line. If there is no public revulsion expressed against it, then we are all heading into danger that’s unprecedented since 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis, when the shoe was on the other foot and the United States was the country facing the existential threat.

Russia has already let things go too far, with 12 former Warsaw-Pact allies already being members of the NATO alliance against Russia. If Putin doesn’t draw the line at Ukraine, as being over the line, then he might as well do everything that America’s President demands him to do. But America’s Presidency no longer represents the American people; it now represents the American aristocracy. So: for the welfare of everyone except America’s aristocrats, Putin should stand firm. But the danger of America to the world exists no matter what he does.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

writing off postcommunist reforms as a failure would be a mistake

The eastern question

khaleej times-logo-s

Jonathan Power (Power’s World) / 26 February 2015

East Europeans are nostalgic as Ukraine slumps into anarchy


Economically Ukraine continues to go down the chute. No other East European has messed up its economic potential, as has Ukraine. During Soviet times Ukraine with its industrial prowess and wonderful fertile soil, making it the Soviet Union’s breadbasket, was a success (by communist standards). Now 25 years of political upheaval, economic mismanagement and greed by the oligarchs have taken a dreadful tool on living standards. The stoicism of ordinary people is to be wondered at. One reason why many easterners want to return to Russia is because they think they will have higher living standards.

In “Normal Countries,” in the December, 2014, issue of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Shleifer, a professor of economics at Harvard and Daniel Treisman, a professor of political science at the University of California, presented an analysis of what went right in the other East European countries, and, a for a time, in Russia under President Vladimir Putin. They write: “The East European countries have transformed their militarised, over industrialised and state-dominated systems into service-orientated market economies based on private ownership and integrated into global commercial networks.

No longer distorted to fit Marxist blueprints, their economic institutions, trade, and regulatory environments today look much like those of other countries at similar income levels. These changes notwithstanding, observers often blame post-communist reforms for poor economic performance, Two common charges are that the reforms were fundamentally misconceived and that they were implemented in too radical a fashion. Such criticism raises two questions: first whether the states’ economic performance has indeed been poor, and second, whether more radical strategies resulted in worse outcomes than more gradual approaches. The short answer to both questions is no.”

There was well-publicised economic slump after communist rule was ended but half of it reflected cuts in fictitious output or worthless investments. And it didn’t take more than a handful of years for economic growth to buzz. For example, between 1990 and 2011, the median income in Uzbekistan expanded slightly more than the median income elsewhere in the world. Bosnia had the third-highest growth rate in the world — its national income increased by 450 per cent. Poland, Albania, as well as Bosnia, outpaced the traditional growth engines of Hong Kong and Singapore.

The rise in consumption took off. From 1990 to 2011 household consumption per capita in the region grew on average by 88 per cent, compared with the average increase elsewhere in the world of 56 per cent. In Poland, it was 146 per cent, the same as South Korea’s. In Russia the increase was 100 per cent.

Between 1993 and 2011 car ownership in Eastern Europe climbed from one for every ten people to one for every four.

Mobile phone subscriptions per head are today greater than those in Western countries. Living space — mainly larger apartments — has increased per person, expanding by 100 per cent in the Czech Republic, 85 per cent in Armenia and 40 per cent in Russia. University enrolments have increased significantly.

Poverty and income equality did increase in the immediate post-communist years but today the rates are now lower than in those countries with similar income levels.

Infant mortality has fallen faster than any other region in the world. While it is true that the alcohol consumption rates are too high in Russia and the Baltic states they are not as high as in France, Austria, Germany and Ireland.

When it comes to demilitarisation, the Soviet Union in Cold War years spent 25 per cent of its GDP on armaments. The successor states are spending no more than five per cent — and that includes Russia.

A note of caution about the statistics above. Some are averages and don’t show, for example, that while Poland has doubled its income Tajikistan remains war-scarred and is a very poor dictatorship.

It is true that the aggressive reforms that put an end to Soviet-style economic management did result in falling incomes and rising unemployment. But by the mid 1990s countries that had fully embraced serious reforms were doing much better than those who were more cautious (and perhaps, we shouldn’t forget, more caring of the poor- the communists were good at providing universal health services).

Most of this grand achievement is not well known in Western Europe and North America but there it is — the honest truth.


Jonathan Power is a veteran foreign affairs analyst


Obama Dancing On Reagan’s Grave, Running Tanks Up To Putin’s Doorstep



Bill Clinton’s Epic Double-Cross: How “Not An Inch” Brought NATO To Russia’s Border

zero hedge

“It began as a pledge by the first Bush Administration to Gorbachev that in return for German unification and liberation of the “captive nations” there would be “not an inch” of NATO expansion. It ended up its opposite, and for no plausible reason of American security whatsoever. In fact, NATO went on to draft nearly the entire former “Warsaw Pact”, expanding its membership by 12 nations. So doing, it encroached thousands of kilometers from its old Cold War boundaries to the very doorstep of Russia.”

“Bill Clinton used NATO enlargement to advertise his assertiveness in foreign policy and America’s status as the “world’s indispensable nation.” Clinton bragged about proposing NATO enlargement at his first NATO summit in 1994, saying it “should enlarge steadily, deliberately, openly.” He never explained why.”

“Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”–George Kennan, father of the “containment” doctrine and Truman’s aggressive anti-Soviet policy,

US armor paraded 300m from Russian border


U.S. soldiers attend military parade celebrating Estonia's Independence Day near border crossing with Russia in Narva February 24, 2015. (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)

U.S. soldiers attend military parade celebrating Estonia’s Independence Day near border crossing with Russia in Narva February 24, 2015. (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)

NATO member Estonia has held a military parade in border town of Narva, just 300 meters from the Russian border. Tallinn is a long-time critic of Moscow, which it accuses of having an aggressive policy towards the Baltic nation.

Tuesday’s military parade was dedicated to Estonia’s Independence Day. Chief military commander Lt. Gen. Riho Terras headed the troops as President Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviewed them.

Over 140 pieces of NATO military hardware took part in the parade, including four US armored personnel carriers M1126 Stryker flying stars-and-stripes. Another foreign nation, the Netherlands, provided four Swedish-made Stridsfordon 90 tracked combat vehicles (designated CV9035NL Mk III by the Dutch).

Estonia also showed off its own howitzers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, armored vehicles and other hardware. Over 1,400 troops also marched the streets of Narva.

The parade is an obvious snub at Estonia’s eastern neighbor Russia, whom it accuses of pushing aggressive policies in Eastern Europe. The Estonian government is among several vocally accusing Russia of waging a secret war against Ukraine by supplying arms and troops to anti-Kiev forces in the east.

Moscow denies the accusations, insisting that the post-coup government in Kiev alienated its own people in the east and started a civil war instead of resolving the differences through dialogue.

NATO seized the Ukrainian conflict as an opportunity to argue for a military build-up in Eastern Europe, supposedly to deter a Russian aggression. The three Baltic States are among the most vocal proponents of this policy.

Russia sees it as yet another proof that NATO is an anti-Russian military bloc that had been enlarging towards Russia’s border and compromised its national security.

The Estonian government defended its right to hold whatever military maneuvers it wants in its territory.

“Narva is a part of NATO no less than New York or Istanbul, and NATO defends every square meter of its territory,” Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said in a speech in capital, Tallinn.

Historically Narva was a point of centuries of confrontation between Russia and Sweden, when the two nations fought for dominance in the region. The city changed hands several times and ended up under Russian control in 1704, serving as a military outpost for decades.

The city was again contested in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and the dissolution of the Russian Empire it triggered. Narva took turns between being governed by the self-proclaimed Estonian Republic, occupying German troops and the Red Army until eventually becoming Estonian again under a peace treaty between Estonia and Russia.

It then changed hands between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union along with the rest of the Baltics during World War II and went on to be part of an independent Estonia in 1991.

The city has a large number of ethnic Russians and a strong pro-autonomy movement, with some Estonian politicians fearing that it could be exploited now by Russia to saw dissent. Commenting on the issue in an interview with Washington Post, President Ilves said seeing Narva as a potentially separatist region “is stupid.”

The Empire’s Ants Mistake Russia For the AntEater

Georgia victim of Russia imperialist ambitions, appreciates Croatia support

dalje croatia

David Usupashvili

Georgia is a victim of Russia’s imperialist ambitions and it appreciates Croatia’s support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Georgian Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili said after talks with Croatian Parliament Speaker Josip Leko in Zagreb on Monday.Concurrently with the horrible developments in Ukraine, Georgia too has become a victim of the imperialist ambitions of its big neighbour, Usupashvili said, adding that while openly violating international law in Eastern Europe, Russia had taken another step in Georgia’s case, by concluding agreements on integration with the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which he said in reality constituted the annexation of the occupied territory.

The Georgian official, who was on an official visit to Croatia, said the problem could be solved only peacefully and not through war, which was why Georgia was interested in joining the EU and NATO, which he said protected stability in Europe.

Usupashvili said that he came to Zagreb to convey to the Croatian people the Georgian people’s appreciation of their strong support to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Leko told reporters that he and his Georgian counterpart discussed the Geneva talks on Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Leko said they agreed on the continuation of parliamentary cooperation and closer cooperation in the transfer of Croatia’s experience relating to the process of its integration with the EU and NATO.

Usupashvili was interested in the process of development of democratic standards in Croatia, from the judicial authorities to human rights and freedoms and minority rights.

The two officials agreed that there was great potential for enhancing overall bilateral cooperation, notably in the economic sector.

Georgian Prosecutor’s Office–‘Ukraine Refuses to Extradite Saakashvili’

Georgian Prosecutor’s Office: ‘Ukraine Refuses to Extradite Saakashvili’

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi

Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement on February 17 that despite its request, Ukraine has “not cooperated” with Georgia and refuses to extradite ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili and ex-justice minister Zurab Adeishvili.

On February 13 Saakashvili, wanted by the Georgian authorities, was appointed by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko as his adviser and head of International Advisory Council on Reforms. The Georgian Foreign Ministry summoned Ukrainian ambassador in Tbilisi over Saakashvili’s appointment.

Although ex-justice minister of Georgia Zurab Adeishvili, who is also wanted by Tbilisi, has no official post in the Ukrainian government, he is informally advising Ukrainian authorities, according to former Georgian officials now working in Ukraine.

A close ally of Saakashvili and Adeishvili, Georgian MP from UNM party, Davit Sakvarelidze was appointed as Deputy General Prosecutor of Ukraine on February 16, joining several other former Georgian officials who took senior government posts in Ukraine, among them Eka Zguladze, who is Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister; Gia Getsadze, who is Ukraine’s Deputy Justice Minister, and Alexander Kvitashvili, who is Ukraine’s Healthcare Minister.

“Extradition of wanted persons between Ukraine and Georgia is carried out according to the European Convention on Extradition of 1957, Minsk Convention on Legal Assistance and Legal Relations in Civil, Family and Criminal Matters of 1993, Bilateral Agreement signed between Georgia and Ukraine in 1995. Based on the aforementioned international treaties, parties undertake to review and extradite wanted persons to the other country in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement,” the Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office said in the written statement on February 17.

“Therefore, since charges have been filed against Mikheil Saakashvili and Zurab Adeishvili, they are wanted in Georgia, and Adeishvili is further wanted under [Interpol’s] Red Notice… Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia has addressed the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine with petitions on the identification, detention and extradition of the aforementioned persons,” the Georgian prosecutor’s office said.

“Notwithstanding the above obligations between the two countries in the field of extradition, the Ukrainian side has not cooperated with the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia in the matter of the extradition of Mikheil Saakashvili and Zurab Adeishvili to Georgia, and has refused to extradite the abovementioned persons,” it said.




Wanted by the judicial authorities of Georgia for prosecution / to serve a sentence

Identity particulars

Present family name: ADEISHVILI
Forename: ZURAB
Sex: Male
Date of birth: 27/07/1972 (42 years old)
Place of birth: Georgia
Language spoken: Georgian, English, Russian
Nationality: Georgia

Charges Published as provided by requesting entity


1. Organizing the abuse of official power by a state political official against the public interest, with the intent to obtain benefit for oneself and others that resulted in the substantial violation of rights of natural and legal persons and the legitimate interests of the public and state, committed with the use of violence and in the manner of humiliating the personal dignity of the victim; 2. Organizing the degrading and inhuman treatment of inmates revealed in their humiliation, intimidation inhuman treatment and putting them in a position degrading human dignity and honour, which caused strong physical, mental pain and moral suffering, committed by a public official, with the abuse of official power, against two or more persons, by a group, against detainee and by a hired offender; 3. Organizing the falsification of evidences regarding the criminal case of a grave crime; 4. Organizing the provocation of crimes.

Kyiv Drafts 200,000 Boys and Men, NovoRussia Calls-Out 100,000

[SEE:  Forced Conscription: Ukraine to Mobilize 200,000 Armed Forces; Hyperinflation on the Way?]

Ukraine rebels vow to raise army of 100,000 troops to fight government forces

the independent

Alexander Zakharchenko

The US is reportedly considering providing military assistance to Ukraine

Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine have vowed to muster another 10,000 men to boost their ranks to 100,000 as fighting continues.

Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), claimed a “general mobilisation” would achieve the target but did not elaborate on details.

“A general mobilisation is planned in the DNR in 10 days. Ten thousand men will be called up,” the Russian RIA news agency quoted him saying.

“The joint army of the DNR and the LNR [Luhansk People’s Republic] will be 100,000 men strong.

“Mobilisation is the first stage; there will be volunteers first and we will see what to do next.”

Mr Zakharchenko, who was elected in a vote in November that was not recognised by the Ukrainian government or the West, did not say how many separatists were currently fighting.

The leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko (on left) next to kneeling captive Ukrainian soldiers at a bus stop where 13 people were killed
The leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko (on left) next to kneeling captive Ukrainian soldiers at a bus stop where 13 people were killed

Critics have said it was unlikely that the rebels could mobilise such a high number of troops, suggesting the announcement could be a guise to bring in more Russian volunteers.

Kiev, Nato and Western governments have presented evidence they say proves Russia has sent troops and weapons to support the rebels but Moscow denies this. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko put the number of Russian troops in the east last month at 9,000.

Read more:  Peace talks collapse as civilians flee rebel bombs
Government and rebels blame each other for civilian shelling
13 people killed by shell at Donetsk bus station

Fighting has increased in eastern Ukraine in the past few weeks and hopes of easing the situation faded after peace talks collapsed yet again on Saturday.

Ukrainian forces have also mobilised more troops because of the surge in fighting, lessening further the hopes for a peaceful revolution in the near future.

A rebel comforts a wife of a killed civilian in shelling in Donetsk
A rebel comforts a wife of a killed civilian in shelling in Donetsk
The US could be on the brink of sending military assistance to Ukraine’s floundering military, a source in Washington has said.

The anonymous official claimed that Barack Obama continues to have concerns about the move, including the risks of starting a proxy war with Russia and the Ukrainian military’s capacity for using US-supplied weaponry.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States on Monday of supporting efforts to resolve the crisis in Ukraine with force after media reports that Washington is taking a new look at providing Kiev’s forces with “lethal aid”.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

On hearing the reports, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said: “The rhetoric shows Washington’s intention to continue doing everything possible to unconditionally support Ukraine’s authorities who have apparently taken a course towards a military solution to the conflict.”

Prospects for a truce looked worse than ever after a new set of negotiations collapsed on Saturday in Minsk, Belarus, where the long-shattered peace treaty was drawn up between rebels and the government in September.

Dozens of civilians have been among those killed in recent days as shells rained on the rebel stronghold of Donetsk city and the besieged towns of Debaltseve and Vuhlehirsk.

Civilians in Debaltseve board an evacuation bus on Saturday (AP)
Civilians in Debaltseve board an evacuation bus on Saturday (AP)

Debaltseve, a strategic railway hub, has been almost completely surrounded by rebel forces and the one road still open for families to escape has been targeted by artillery fire.

Ukraine’s government said on Sunday that 13 of its troops were killed and another 20 wounded in a day of fighting across the region.

More than 5,100 people have so far been killed in the conflict and more than 900,000 have been displaced since it began in April, according to UN estimates.

EU Follows Obama’s Lead Voting To Open the Armories of Europe for Ukraine

[SEE:  Obama’s Russian War Resolution Passes By 411 to 23]

Russia accuses European parliament of gunning for war

kyiv post

President Petro Poroshenko gives a speech as he hands over new military equipment to the Ukrainian forces near the city of Zhytomyr, some 140 km from Kiev, on January 5, 2015.

Russian officials have accused the European Union of “militancy” in a bitter response to the Jan. 15 European parliament resolution giving member states carte blanche to supply arms to Ukraine.

The head of the Russian Federation Council committee on international affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, denounced the resolution as “especially militant.”

“The European parliamentarians discourage those who are trying to look for dialogue with Russia, not confrontation,” he said.

The European parliament condemned Russia’s “aggressive and expansionist policy, which constitutes a threat to the unity and independence of Ukraine and poses a potential threat to the EU itself.”

In its resolution, parliament urged the European Council to keep in place tough sanctions against Russia and even proposed broadening them into the nuclear and international financial sectors if Putin’s government continues to destabilize Ukraine.

The resolution went on to state that “there are now no objections or legal restrictions to prevent Member States from providing defensive arms to Ukraine” and that “the EU should explore ways to support the Ukrainian government in enhancing its defence capabilities and the protection of Ukraine’s external borders.”

Aleksey Pushkov, the head of the foreign affairs Committee of the Russian Duma, called the resolution “banal and dangerous.”

“By calling to maintain and even enhance sanctions against Russia the European Parliament is supporting tension in Europe,” Pushkov added.

The European Parliament resolved to support the EU’s existing policy of refusing to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and welcomed recently adopted additional sanctions on investment, services and trade relating to Crimea and Sevastopol.

It also highlighted Russia’s “information war” in Europe and called on the EU officials to develop a plan to counter Russian propaganda with their own Russian language programming.

Yet Ukraine was also disappointed with the resolution, which fell short of describing the Russian-backed separatists as terrorists.

President Petro Poroshenko had claimed on Jan. 13 that the European Parliament was preparing to call on the leaders of European Union to place the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic on their list of terrorist organizations.

But European MPs instead condemned “acts of terrorism and criminal behavior of the separatists and other irregular forces in eastern Ukraine,” adding that “according to credible sources, Russia continues to support the separatist militias through a steady flow of military equipment, mercenaries and regular Russian units, including main battle tanks, sophisticated anti-aircraft systems and artillery.”

The Russian war — using proxies and, when needed, Russian regular army troops — in eastern Ukraine has already taken more than 4,700 lives, according to United Nations estimates. On Dec. 18, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a law allowing for economic and military support to Ukraine, but the current American policy remains not to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons.

Kyiv Post staff writer Oksana Grytsenko can be reached at

Innocuous-Sounding UN “Resilience” Campaign Back-Door For Machinery of Control

[Part of the risk reduction regime (MANAGING DISASTERS AND CONFLICTS IN OIC COUNTRIES–Organization of Islamic Cooperation)]

Cities in Central Asia, Caucasus sign up to UN campaign to become more resilient

un news

Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo: Radmilla Suleymanova

12 January 2015 – Eight cities in Central Asia and the Caucasus, including capitals Tbilisi and Bishkek, have signed on to strengthen community resilience by integrating disaster risk reduction into their national and local policy, representing a big boost for the United Nations initiative which already has over 2,400 participants worldwide.

The global campaign, Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready!, launched in 2010 for a period of five years until 2015, is promoted by the Geneva-based UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

“The campaign helps participants to become better organized and to identify key priorities for action for risk reduction. They can also benefit from the shared experience of other participants facing similar challenges. It is a very dynamic and interactive campaign,” said Madhavi Malalgoda Ariyabandu, UNISDR regional coordinator.

UNISDR’s initiative, now in partnership with the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), is titled “Strengthened Disaster Risk Reduction in Central Asia and the Caucasus through greater fostering of the Hyogo Framework for Action priorities.”

The eight cities to sign up are Noyemberyan and Berd in Armenia; Tbilisi and Gori in Georgia; Oskemen and Ridder in Kazakhstan; and Bishkek and Kara-Kol in Kyrgyzstan.

“These cities and towns are committing to a ten-point checklist of actions which help them to become resilient to disasters and to manage their growth in a sustainable way,” said Ms. Ariyabandu.

The worldwide campaign is based on 10 essentials for developing local resilience, which in turn build on the five priorities for action of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), endorsed by UN Member States for the period 2005-2015.

Central Asia and the Caucasus are exposed to a range of natural and technological hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, mud and debris flows, avalanches, floods, drought and extreme temperatures inflicting serious human and economic losses. Risks and exposure to risk are exacerbated by the rapid growth of urban population and climate change.

Over the 30-year period from 1980, 14 million people were affected by 131 major disaster events with economic losses of $3.8 billion. The destructive earthquake in Spitak, Armenia in 1988 and the extreme cold spell across Central Asia in 2008, prove the importance of strengthening communities.

To address these challenges, the campaign will aim to build local capacity to assess risks of natural hazards, update action plans which are disaster risk inclusive, increase accessibility of international expertise in disaster risk reduction, and foster exchange of experiences between municipalities and local governments.

A post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction is expected to be approved at a world conference, in March 2015, in Sendai, Japan, emphasizing the need to continue to work to strengthen community resilience, particularly in municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

UN-backed disaster resilience campaign tops 2,000 participating cities

5. Further, a confluence of risk drivers are compounding losses and need to be
both better understood and better addressed. Development that fails to assess risk, environmental degradation, climate change, poverty and inequality, weak
governance mechanisms and rapid urbanization in highly exposed areas are fueling losses and exacerbating both the vulnerability and exposure of societies to disaster losses
6. Urbanization in hazard-prone areas demands risk assessment and planning
with foresight…Given that 60 per cent of the area expected to be urban in 2030 remains to be built, the opportunity to proactively shape and plan the cities of tomorrow must be seized.


8.  Risks need to be understood and proactively managed at the community level. An evidence-based and integrated approach by both the public and private sectors needs to be institutionalized, so that investments are made more resilient.
10.  Methodologies and tools for assessing the “na-tech” risk, as the combined risk posed by the natural and technological is sometimes referred to, are limited and need to be invested in. Several factors need to be taken into consideration in establishing integrated strategies for reducing the risk of potential nuclear,
technological, biological, chemical or radiological events, given the wide-ranging implications they can have on health, agriculture, the wider environment and the safety of people and communities in general.

EU Leadership Still Self-Blind To US Evil Intentions for Europe and Russia

[SEE:  West wants to end confrontation with Russia over Ukraine – EU foreign policy chief ]
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini…rejected the idea that the EU’s position on the crisis differs from that of the US.
“It is not true that there is a soft Europe stance, which opposes the US hardline position.”
Mogherini said that Washington’s views on Russia match those of Europe…“everyone wants to get out of the logic of confrontation.”

‘F**k the EU’

Victoria Nuland: US-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Geoffrey R. Pyatt: United States Ambassador to Ukraine

Biden says US ’embarrassed’ EU into sanctioning Russia over Ukraine

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

America’s leadership had to embarrass Europe to impose economic hits on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine – even though the EU was opposed to such a motion, US Vice President Joe Biden revealed during a speech at Harvard.

“We’ve given Putin a simple choice: Respect Ukraine’s sovereignty or face increasing consequences,” Biden told a gathering at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics on Thursday.

The consequences were the sanctions which the EU imposed on Russia, first targeting individual politicians and businessmen deemed responsible for the crisis in Ukraine, then switching to the energy, defense, and economic sectors.

“It is true they did not want to do that,” Biden admitted.

“It was America’s leadership and the president of the United States insisting, oft times almost having to embarrass Europe to stand up and take economic hits to impose costs,” the US vice president declared.

AFP Photo / Patrick Hertzog

AFP Photo / Patrick Hertzog

Those costs deemed behind the ruble’s historic plunge not only forced America’s ExxonMobil to retreat from Russia’s Arctic shelf, but also provoked counter-measures from Moscow, which suspended certain food imports from the EU.

Russia’s counter-sanctions have hit many of the EU’s agricultural states. EU members, particularly those close to Russia, were the most affected by the loss of the Russian market.

For instance, the Netherlands – the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products – is set to lose 300 million euro annually from canceled business with Russia, as it accounts for roughly 10 percent of Dutch exports of vegetables, fruit, and meat.

At the same time, Poland was hit hard by the Kremlin’s sanctions, as its food exports to Russia totaled $1.5 billion in 2013.

Spain, a large exporter of oranges to Russia, is estimated to miss out on 337 million euro ($421 million) in food and agriculture sales, while Italy has estimated its losses at nearly 1 billion euro ($1.2 billion).

Following pressure from local farmers, a 125 million euro EU Commission Common Agricultural Policy fund was established, from which the growers are expected to get some cash, while Amsterdam is willing to cover the cost of transporting excess produce to eight food banks across Holland.

Overall, Moscow’s one-year food embargo against the EU, the US, Norway, Australia, and Canada will block an estimated $9 billion worth of agricultural exports to Russia.

With European countries now at a loss with apple and dairy surplus, it is not exactly clear whether EU producers will be able to return to the Russian markets after the one-year ban expires.

However, this is no secret to the US, as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland remarked on Thursday.

“Implementing sanctions isn’t easy and many countries are paying a steep price. We know that. But history shows that the cost of inaction and disunity in the face of a determined aggressor will be higher,” Nuland said.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (R) and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt (2nd R) distribute bread to riot police near Independence square in Kiev December 11, 2013. (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (R) and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt (2nd R) distribute bread to riot police near Independence square in Kiev December 11, 2013. (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

Nuland’s reference to necessary action against the “aggressor” might be taken with a grain of salt by the Europeans, as the “F**k the EU” leak is still fresh in their memory.

The four-minute video – titled ‘Maidan puppets,’ referring to Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital – was uploaded by an anonymous user to YouTube.

Nuland was recorded as saying the notoriously known phrase during a phone call with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, as the two were seemingly discussing a US-preferred line-up of the Ukrainian government. It apparently referred to Washington’s policy differences with those of the EU on ways of handling the Ukrainian political crisis, with Nuland suggesting to “glue this thing” with the help of the UN and ignore Brussels.

The US State Department did not deny the authenticity of the video and stressed that Nuland had apologized for the “reported comments.”

Another Fistfight In Georgia Parliament Over “Enemy of the State” Saakashvili and His Goons In Ukraine

[SEE:  Georgian PM Declares Saakashvili Enemy of State ]

Dec. 26 Fistfight in Georgia Parliament over troops seduced by Saakashvili’s snake tongue into resigning from Georgian Army to enlist in Ukraine Fascist forces fighting in the east.

Last year’s brawl in Georgia Parliament (Dec 11, 2013) over sending troops to fight in Ukraine.

Jeffrey Feltman Is Coming To Ukraine–the Man Who Starts and Manages the Bush/Obama Civil Wars


United Nations, Dec 13, 2014:
Jeffrey Feltman, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, is scheduled to visit Ukraine early next week in a bid to support UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s efforts to seek a peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, a UN spokesman said here Friday.”Feltman, in an effort to support the secretary-general’s good offices to assist in finding a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine, will travel to Kiev Dec 16 and 17 for consultations with senior officials,” Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing.

The visit of the UN political chief comes just a few days after the trip of the UN assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, who is currently in Ukraine to assess the human rights situation in the country.

During his visit, Simonovic is scheduled to meet a number of Ukrainian government officials as well as civil society actors, the official said, adding that he is also scheduled to visit the eastern region of the country.

The visits by the two senior UN officials take place one week after Ukrainian forces suspended hostilities against independence-seeking insurgents in the country’s eastern region.

The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, which began in mid-April, has claimed at least 4,350 lives and wounded more than 10,000 others, according to the latest UN estimates.


An American, A Lithuanian and A Georgian Walk Into the Ukrainian Govt.

[SEE: Obama’s Russian War Resolution Passes By 411 to 23]

Ukraine’s new finance minister is a former U.S. State Department employee who graduated from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Even though the struggling country’s new cabinet now contains three high-profile foreigners, it remains the focus of a crude internal power struggle that will hamper crucial economic changes and could lead to a financial meltdown.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who visited Kiev two weeks ago, told President Petro Poroshenko that Ukraine needed to form a new government “within days, not weeks.” After an International Monetary Fund mission concluded its work Nov. 25, the IMF stated that “discussions will continue after the new Ukrainian government is formed.” That meant Ukraine wouldn’t find out when it might receive the much-needed next tranche of an IMF bailout package until Poroshenko complied with Biden’s wishes.

Pro-European politicians who form the ruling coalition rushed to find a compromise on the attribution of cabinet portfolios. The resulting lineup is a motley crew.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whose party performed unexpectedly well in October’s parliamentary elections, remains prime minister. The coalition parties distributed the rest of the 19 posts on a quota system, and Poroshenko had the parliament approve the lineup en bloc, avoiding individual votes for each minister.

Poroshenko’s party proposed three foreigners:  Natalie Jaresko, a U.S. citizen, for finance minister, Lithuanian Aivaras Abromavicius for economics minister and Georgian Alexander Kvitashvili for health minister. Poroshenko granted them Ukrainian citizenship yesterday, hours before the parliamentary vote that approved the appointments. The nationalities of the three officials sent a clear message: Ukraine aspires to be a U.S. ally and a good IMF client, and it admires the reforms that rid Lithiuania and Georgia of their Soviet economic and cultural heritage. The choice of personalities, however, is less straightforward.

Jaresko, who grew up in a Ukrainian family in Chicago, has lived in Kiev for 20 years. She started her career in Ukraine distributing U.S. government aid to small and medium-sized businesses, then co-founded a small private equity firm, Horizon Capital, which has invested $255 million in Ukrainian companies. She has a few successful exits under her belt and an untarnished reputation as a thorough and enthusiastic manager, as well as a competent financier. She has no experience of the convoluted Ukrainian budget, however, and the finance minister will have to cut spending by about 10 percent of gross domestic product within weeks, a group of international economists recently concluded. Jaresko will need to learn quickly and act decisively in an unfamiliar, antiquated bureaucratic environment with elaborate, ritualistic paper-based procedures and lots of political traps.

Abromavicius, too, was living in Kiev at the time of his appointment. A partner at the Swedish investment company East Capital, he is married to a Ukrainian. But he also was responsible for managing East Capital’s Russian investments, the core of the company’s business. East Capital Russia Fund has been underperforming for a while: Its five-year return is minus 6.63 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and the fund’s net asset value is down 55 percent from its 2007 peak.

Kvitashvili, who has a U.S. master’s degree in public management, ran the Georgian Health Ministry for almost three years under former President Mikheil Saakashvili. Yet, according to Larisa Burakova, who wrote a book about Saakashvili’s libertarian reforms, Kvitashvili had no part in designing and implementing the large-scale privatization of Georgia’s health care system.

Kakha Bendukidze, the real architect of Georgia’s economic transformation, told me in one of his last interviews before he died last month that Ukraine had to get rid of many of its ministries and state agencies. “Who needs them when the government’s sole function these days is to take money from the International Monetary Fund and pass them on in payment for Russian gas?” he asked.

The Vox Ukraine group of pro-Western experts recently suggested cutting at least 20 ministries and agencies. Doing that, however, would have made it difficult for coalition parties to reach a compromise because there would have been fewer portfolios to hand out.

The new cabinet even added one portfolio — an Information Ministry. It will be headed By Yuri Stets, who ran Poroshenko’s Channel 5 TV and is a close friend of the president. Stets had recently vowed not to accept any appointment from Poroshenko because it would be seen as a conflict of interest. Now he is setting up an agency whose goal will be to counter Russia’s anti-Ukrainian propaganda.

The new appointment created a furor among Ukrainian journalists, who fear Poroshenko has created a ministry for censorship and propaganda. Even a top Poroshenko administration official recently said Ukraine “doesn’t earn enough” to set up another ministry.

There was another reason for Poroshenko’s dismissal of legislators’ requests that each minister be approved separately: Such a procedure would have buried the coalition compromise. The populist Radical Party, for example, proposed Valery Voshchevsky, the former chief of Ukraine’s perennially corrupt road construction and maintenance agency under deposed President Viktor Yanukovich, for deputy prime minister. Voshchevsky’s chances of separate approval would have been slim, but now he has the job.

Some pro-European legislators, including those elected on Poroshenko’s party ticket, were openly dismayed at this heavy-handedness. Borys Filatov, a close ally of billionaire Igor Kolomoiskiy, called the vote a “disgrace” and an example of “non-transparent Byzantian policies.” “It’s a great way to mess up something the country badly needs, no matter what pretty words are used to cover it up,” he wrote on Facebook.

An official in Poroshenko’s party told me the president’s plan was to undermine Yatsenyuk’s power over the cabinet and perhaps allow him to fail before Team Poroshenko moved in. At the same time, Poroshenko faces a growing rift with Kolomoiskiy, who runs the important Dnepropetrovsk region and finances much of Ukraine’s war effort in the rebellious eastern regions. This political maneuvering has nothing to do with driving down Ukraine’s 20 percent inflation, cutting exorbitant government spending on pensions and energy subsidies and eliminating corruption. According to Transparency International‘s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine is the 142nd most corrupt of 175 countries, up just two spots from 2013, when Yanukovych’s shameless regime ran the country for personal enrichment. Pro-European Ukraine, according to the index, is more corrupt than Vladimir Putin’s Russia, in 136th place.

Although the new cabinet lineup makes the requisite symbolic nods to Ukraine’s Western orientation, and provides the IMF with a comfortable negotiating partner in Jaresko, it is another step toward turning Ukraine into a failed state. The “revolution of dignity” that freed many Ukrainians from a feeling of inferiority early this year will probably need to continue before the country finally sheds the burden of its Soviet past.

To contact the author on this story:
Leonid Bershidsky at

To contact the editor on this story:
Max Berley at

Putin Cancels South Stream/Netanyahu Peddles His Hot Gas To Europe

[When the Noble Energy company first discovered the massive Tamar and Leviathan gas fields off the shore of Israel, there was no foreseeable buyer of the “gas bonanza.”  It didn’t take long after for the PTB (powers that be) to destroy Russia’s energy franchise to Europe, by disrupting principle flow lines, running mainly through Ukraine.  Due to EU anti-Russian sanctions making the South Stream pipeline impossible, Putin cancelled the project.  In steps Israel (SEE:  Gazprom Signs 20-Year LNG Purchase Deal with Israel).  This is the first, concrete example of the EU cutting its own throat, to bow to Imperialist-Zionist directives.  Stoking the fires in Ukraine has always been the key to US Imperialist war plans for Russia.  If Israel captures the southern European gas market, beating-out both NABUCCO and SOUTH STREAM, then rest assured, that there will be no opposition to them running a four-foot diameter undersea gas line through the eastern Mediterranean war zone. 

It is logical to suspect, at this point, to label the Ukrainian civil war as a Mossad operation.  After all, key elements of the Maidan movement are composed of Jewish militants, some even forming their own brigades (SEE:  In Kiev, an Israeli army vet led a street-fighting unit).]

Ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Israel to meet Energy Union Commissioner

Cyprus mail

Ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Israel to meet Energy Union Commissioner

Energy Ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Israel will meet next Monday with EU Commissioner on Energy Union Maros Sefcovic to promote a joint project on a pipeline to transfer natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean offshore fields to Europe.

Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis told the Cyprus News Agency that the three Ministers had signed a letter requesting a meeting with Sefcovic.
The three Ministers will promote a planned pipeline connecting Israel Cyprus, Greece with Europe in view of the new call by the European Commission for projects of common interest in the first quarter of 2015.
Sources told CNA that the ministers would request the approval of the project which emerged after a merger of two separate projects (Cyprus Trans Med pipeline and Greece`s East Med pipeline) to be implemented by the Greek Gas Corporation (DEPA as a project of common interest (PCI)  that will give access to EU funding for technical and feasibility studies.
Projects that will be considered as PCI’s will be entitled to request funding from the Connecting Europe Facility with a budget of €5.85 billion.
The same sources made clear that only new reserves would be channeled through the pipeline, as Cyprus is in consultations with Egypt for a possible sale of the Aphrodite reservoir (estimated at 4.5 trillion cubic feet) located in block 12 of Cyprus` EEZ. Egyptian Minister Serif Ismail said during a Cyprus, Greece and Egypt Energy Ministers meeting that his country could absorb Cyprus` natural gas reserves.
Italy`s ENI is carrying out an exploratory drilling in block 9 with the results expected by January the latest. ENI also has been granted concessions for exploratory drilling in blocs 2 and 3. French TOTAL which has concessions over blocks 10 and 11 will begin exploratory drilling in the second half of 2015.

Davutoglu Visits Athens Over Cypriot Gas/Hollande Visits Putin In Moscow Over Mistral Carrier Transfer

[SEE:  Hollande to discuss Ukraine crisis with Putin in Moscow]

Davutoglu in Athens amid rising tensions over Cyprus gas [Update]


Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu arrived in Athens on Friday afternoon for talks with his Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras, and participation in the 3rd Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council, as tensions rise over Ankara’s violation of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Ahead of his talks with Samaras on Friday, Davutoglu met President Karolos Papoulias who stressed the importance of good relations. “We are and will remain neighbors and therefore we must be good neighbors,” Papoulias said. “You’re right, it’s possible to change everything except geographical location,” Davutoglu responded.

The visit came as Cypriot media report that the Turkish research vessel Barbaros has detected large quantities of hydrocarbons in the Cypriot EEZ.

In an interview with Kathimerini ahead of the visit, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu indicated that Turkey will not back down from its position that Cyprus will have to stop exploring for hydrocarbons in its exclusive economic zone for the Turkish research vessel Barbaros to depart the area. He added that he was optimistic that stalled Cyprus talks would resume.

Davutoglu, who was flanked by some 10 Turkish ministers on his visit, was to meet Samaras at the Maximos Mansion before addressing a joint business forum at 8.30 p.m. and co-chairing the high-level council on Saturday with Samaras.

Security was increased in the capital ahead of Davutoglu’s visit and amid fears of protests to commemorate the killing of a teenager by a policeman on Saturday and against a scheduled parliamentary vote on next year’s budget on Sunday.

The Importance Of The Cancellation Of South Stream—(Vinyard of the Saker)

[SEE:  Turkey Gets 63 Billion Cubic Meter Gas Line That Europe No Longer Wanted]

RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov [SEE: Hungary Begins Laying Pipe for South Stream System ]

The Importance Of The Cancellation Of South Stream

vinyard of the saker
by Alexander Mercouris

The reaction to the cancellation of the Sound Stream project has been a wonder to behold and needs to be explained very carefully.

In order to understand what has happened it is first necessary to go back to the way Russian-European relations were developing in the 1990s.

Briefly, at that period, the assumption was that Russia would become the great supplier of energy and raw materials to Europe. This was the period of Europe’s great “rush for gas” as the Europeans looked forward to unlimited and unending Russian supplies. It was the increase in the role of Russian gas in the European energy mix which made it possible for Europe to run down its coal industry and cut its carbon emissions and bully and lecture everyone else to do the same.

However the Europeans did not envisage that Russia would just supply them with energy. Rather they always supposed this energy would be extracted for them in Russia by Western energy companies. This after all is the pattern in most of the developing world. The EU calls this “energy security” – a euphemism for the extraction of energy in other countries by its own companies under its own control.

It never happened that way. Though the Russian oil industry was privatised it mostly remained in Russian hands. After Putin came to power in 2000 the trend towards privatisation in the oil industry was reversed. One of the major reasons for western anger at the arrest of Khodorkovsky and the closure of Yukos and the transfer of its assets to the state oil company Rosneft was precisely because is reversed this trend of privatisation in the oil industry.

In the gas industry the process of privatisation never really got started. Gas export continued to be controlled by Gazprom, maintaining its position as a state owned monopoly gas exporter. Since Putin came to power Gazprom’s position as a state owned Russian monopoly has been made fully secure.

Much of the anger that exists in the west towards Putin can be explained by European and western resentment at his refusal and that of the Russian government to the break up of Russia’s energy monopolies and to the “opening up” (as it is euphemistically called) of the Russian energy industry to the advantage of western companies. Many of the allegations of corruption that are routinely made against Putin personally are intended to insinuate that he opposes the “opening up” of the Russian energy industry and the break up and privatisation of Gazprom and Rosneft because he has a personal stake in them (in the case of Gazprom, that he is actually its owner). If one examines in detail the specific allegations of corruption made against Putin (as I have done) this quickly becomes obvious.

His agenda of forcing Russia to privatise and break up its energy monopolies has never gone away. This is why Gazprom, despite the vital and reliable service it provides to its European customers, comes in for so much criticism. When Europeans complain about Europe’s energy dependence upon Russia, they express their resentment at having to buy gas from a single Russian state owned company (Gazprom) as opposed to their own western companies operating in Russia.

This resentment exists simultaneously with a belief, very entrenched in Europe, that Russia is somehow dependent upon Europe as a customer for its gas and as a supplier of finance and technology.

This combination of resentment and overconfidence is what lies behind the repeated European attempts to legislate in Europe on energy questions in a way that is intended to force Russia to “open up” its the energy industry there.

The first attempt was the so-called Energy Charter, which Russia signed but ultimately refused to ratify. The latest attempt is the EU’s so-called Third Energy Package.

This is presented as a development of EU anti-competition and anti-monopoly law. In reality, as everyone knows, it is targeted at Gazprom, which is a monopoly, though obviously not a European one.

This is the background to the conflict over South Stream. The EU authorities have insisted that South Stream must comply with the Third Energy Package even though the Third Energy Package came into existence only after the outline agreements for South Stream had been already reached.

Compliance with the Third Energy Package would have meant that though Gazprom supplied the gas it could not own or control the pipeline through which gas was supplied.

Were Gazprom to agree to this, it would acknowledge the EU’s authority over its operations. It would in that case undoubtedly face down the line more demands for more changes to its operating methods. Ultimately this would lead to demands for changes in the structure of the energy industry in Russia itself.

What has just happened is that the Russians have said no. Rather than proceed with the project by submitting to European demands, which is what the Europeans expected, the Russians have to everyone’s astonishment instead pulled out of the whole project.

This decision was completely unexpected. As I write this, the air is of full of angry complaints from south-eastern Europe that they were not consulted or informed of this decision in advance. Several politicians in south-eastern Europe (Bulgaria especially) are desperately clinging to the idea that the Russian announcement is a bluff (it isn’t) and that the project can still be saved. Since the Europeans cling to the belief that the Russians have no alternative to them as a customer, they were unable to anticipate and cannot now explain this decision.

Here it is important to explain why South Stream is important to the countries of south-eastern Europe and to the European economy as a whole.

All the south eastern European economies are in bad shape. For these countries South Stream was a vital investment and infrastructure project, securing their energy future. Moreover the transit fees that it promised would have been a major foreign currency earner.

For the EU, the essential point is that it depends on Russian gas. There has been a vast amount of talk in Europe about seeking alternative supplies. Progress in that direction had been to put it mildly small. Quite simply alternative supplies do not exist in anything like the quantity needed to replace the gas Europe gets from Russia.

There has been some brave talk of supplies of US liquefied natural gas replacing gas supplied by pipeline from Russia. Not only is such US gas inherently more expensive than Russian pipeline gas, hitting European consumers hard and hurting European competitiveness. It is unlikely to be available in anything like the necessary quantity. Quite apart from the probable dampening effects of the recent oil price fall on the US shale industry, on past record the US as a voracious consumer of energy will consume most or all of the energy from shales it produces. It is unlikely to be in a position to export much to Europe. The facilities to do this anyway do not exist, and are unlikely to exist for some time if ever.

Other possible sources of gas are problematic to say the least. Production of North Sea gas is falling. Imports of gas from north Africa and the Arabian Gulf are unlikely to be available in anything like the necessary quantity. Gas from Iran is not available for political reasons. Whilst that might eventually change, the probability is when it does that the Iranians (like the Russians) will decide to direct their energy flow eastwards, towards India and China, rather than to Europe.

For obvious reasons of geography Russia is the logical and most economic source of Europe’s gas. All alternatives come with economic and political costs that make them in the end unattractive.

The EU’s difficulties in finding alternative sources of gas were cruelly exposed by the debacle of the so-called another Nabucco pipeline project to bring Europe gas from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Though talked about for years in the end it never got off the ground because it never made economic sense.

Meanwhile, whilst Europe talks about diversifying its supplies, it is Russia which is actually cutting the deals.

Russia has sealed a key deal with Iran to swap Iranian oil for Russian industrial goods. Russia has also agreed to invest heavily in the Iranian nuclear industry. If and when sanctions on Iran are lifted the Europeans will find the Russians already there. Russia has just agreed a massive deal to supply gas to Turkey (about which more below). Overshadowing these deals are the two huge deals Russia has made this year to supply gas to China.

Russia’s energy resources are enormous but they are not infinite. The second deal done with China and the deal just done with Turkey redirect to these two countries gas that had previously been earmarked for Europe. The gas volumes involved in the Turkish deal almost exactly match those previously intended for South Stream. The Turkish deal replaces South Stream.

These deals show that Russia had made a strategic decision this year to redirect its energy flow away from Europe. Though it will take time for the full effect to become clear, the consequences of that for Europe are grim. Europe is looking at a serious energy shortfall, which it will only be able to make up by buying energy at a much higher price.

These Russian deals with China and Turkey have been criticised or even ridiculed for providing Russia with a lower price for its gas than that paid by Europe.

The actual difference in price is not as great as some allege. Such criticism anyway overlooks the fact that price is only one part in a business relationship.

By redirecting gas to China, Russia cements economic links with the country that it now considers its key strategic ally and which has (or which soon will have) the world’s biggest and fastest growing economy. By redirecting gas to Turkey, Russia consolidates a burgeoning relationship with Turkey of which it is now the biggest trading partner.

Turkey is a key potential ally for Russia, consolidating Russia’s position in the Caucasus and the Black Sea. It is also a country of 76 million people with a $1.5 trillion rapidly growing economy, which over the last two decades has become increasingly alienated and distanced from the EU and the West.

By redirecting gas away from Europe, Russia by contrast leaves behind a market for its gas which is economically stagnant and which (as the events of this year have shown) is irremediably hostile. No one should be surprised that Russia has given up on a relationship from which it gets from its erstwhile partner an endless stream of threats and abuse, combined with moralising lectures, political meddling and now sanctions. No relationship, business or otherwise, can work that way and the one between Russia and Europe is no exception.

I have said nothing about the Ukraine since in my opinion this has little bearing on this issue.

South Stream was first conceived because of the Ukraine’s continuous abuse of its position as a transit state – something which is likely to continue. It is important to say that this fact was acknowledged in Europe as much as in Russia. It was because the Ukraine perennially abuses its position as a transit state that the South Stream project had the grudging formal endorsement of the EU. Basically, the EU needs to circumvent the Ukraine to secure its energy supplies every bit as much as Russia wanted a route around the Ukraine to avoid it.

The Ukraine’s friends in Washington and Brussels have never been happy about this, and have constantly lobbied against South Stream.

The point is it was Russia which pulled the plug on South Stream when it had the option of going ahead with it by accepting the Europeans’ conditions. In other words the Russians consider the problems posed by the Ukraine as a transit state to be a lesser evil than the conditions the EU was attaching to South Stream .

South Stream would take years to build and its cancellation therefore has no bearing on the current Ukrainian crisis. The Russians decided they could afford to cancel it is because they have decided Russia’s future is in selling its energy to China and Turkey and other states in Asia (more gas deals are pending with Korea and Japan and possibly also with Pakistan and India) than to Europe. Given that this is so, for Russia South Stream has lost its point. That is why in their characteristically direct way, rather than accept the Europeans’ conditions, the Russians pulled the plug on it.

In doing so the Russians have called the Europeans’ bluff. So far from Russia being dependent on Europe as its energy customer, it is Europe which has antagonised, probably irreparably, its key economic partner and energy supplier.

Before finishing I would however first say something about those who have come out worst of all from this affair. These are the corrupt and incompetent political pygmies who pretend to be the government of Bulgaria. Had these people had a modicum of dignity and self respect they would have told the EU Commission when it brought up the Third Energy Package to take a running jump. If Bulgaria had made clear its intention to press ahead with the South Stream project, there is no doubt it would have been built. There would of course have been an almighty row within the EU as Bulgaria openly flouted the Third Energy Package, but Bulgaria would have been acting in its national interests and would have had within the EU no shortage of friends. In the end it would have won through.

Instead, under pressure from individuals like Senator John McCain, the Bulgarian leadership behaved like the provincial politicians they are, and tried to run at the same time with both the EU hare and the Russian hounds. The result of this imbecile policy is to offend Russia, Bulgaria’s historic ally, whilst ensuring that the Russian gas which might have flown to Bulgaria and transformed the country, will instead flow to Turkey, Bulgaria’s historic enemy.

The Bulgarians are not the only ones to have acted in this craven fashion. All the EU countries, even those with historic ties to Russia, have supported the EU’s various sanctions packages against Russia notwithstanding the doubts they have expressed about the policy. Last year Greece, another country with strong ties to Russia, pulled out of a deal to sell its natural gas company to Gazprom because the EU disapproved of it, even though it was Gazprom that offered the best price.

This points to a larger moral. Whenever the Russians act in the way they have just done, the Europeans respond bafflement and anger, of which there is plenty around at the moment. The EU politicians who make the decisions that provoke these Russian actions seem to have this strange assumption that whilst it is fine for the EU to sanction Russia as much as it wishes, Russia will never do the same to the EU. When Russia does, there is astonishment, accompanied always by a flood of mendacious commentary about how Russia is behaving “aggressively” or “contrary to its interests” or has “suffered a defeat”. None of this is true as the rage and recriminations currently sweeping through the EU’s corridors (of which I am well informed) bear witness.

In July the EU sought to cripple Russia’s oil industry by sanctioning the export of oil drilling technology to Russia. That attempt will certainly fail as Russia and the countries it trades with (including China and South Korea) are certainly capable of producing this technology themselves.

By contrast through the deals it has made this year with China, Turkey and Iran, Russia has dealt a devastating blow to the energy future of the EU. A few years down the line Europeans will start to discover that moralising and bluff comes with a price. Regardless, by cancelling South Stream, Russia has imposed upon Europe the most effective of the sanctions we have seen this year. .

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Min For Affairs

Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the XXII Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, 22 November 2014

min for affairs russia
I’m happy to be at this annual Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy (Russian abbreviation SVOP). It is always a great pleasure for me to meet people and feel the intellectual potential, which enables the Council, its leaders and representatives to respond to global developments and analyse them. Their analysis is always free from any hysteria, and its members offer well-grounded and solid arguments, taking a step back, since those caught in the midst of events can hardly adopt an unbiased perspective. We are inevitably influenced by the developments, which makes your observations, analysis, discourse and suggestions even more valuable to us.

As far as I know, this year’s Assembly will focus on prospects for accelerating domestic growth in Russia. There is no doubt that concerted efforts by our society as a whole to bring about comprehensive economic, social and spiritual development are a prerequisite for making Russia’s future sustainable. That said, by virtue of my professional duties, I have to focus on foreign policy issues, which are still relevant for the Assembly’s agenda, since in this interconnected, globalised world, isolating internal development from the outside world is impossible.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin provided a detailed analysis of the international developments at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi, as well as in his interviews during his trip to Asia. For this reason, I won’t offer any conceptual observations, as everything has already been said. Nevertheless, I would like to share with you some considerations based on our day-to-day foreign policy efforts. It is not my intention to deliver a comprehensive or clear outlook, since at this stage all forecasts are provisional, no matter who makes them. Moreover, diplomats seek to influence developments as they unfold, not contemplate them.

Naturally, I will start with Ukraine. Long before the country was plunged into the crisis, there was a feeling in the air that Russia’s relations with the EU and with the West were about to reach their moment of truth. It was clear that we could no longer continue to put issues in our relations on the back burner and that a choice had to be made between a genuine partnership or, as the saying goes, “breaking pots.” It goes without saying that Russia opted for the former alternative, while unfortunately our Western partners settled for the latter, whether consciously or not. In fact, they went all out in Ukraine and supported extremists, thereby giving up their own principles of democratic regime change. What came out of it was an attempt to play chicken with Russia, to see who blinks first. As bullies say, they wanted to Russia to “chicken out” (I can’t find a better word for it), to force us to swallow the humiliation of Russians and native speakers of Russian in Ukraine.

Honourable Leslie Gelb, whom you know all too well, wrote that Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU had nothing to do with inviting Ukraine to join the EU and was aimed in the short term at preventing it from joining the Customs Union. This is what an impartial and unbiased person said. When they deliberately decided to go down the path of escalation in Ukraine, they forgot many things, and had a clear understanding of how such moves would be viewed in Russia. They forgot the advice of, say, Otto von Bismarck, who had said that disparaging the millions-strong great Russian people would be the biggest political mistake.

President Vladimir Putin said the other day that no one in history has yet managed to subjugate Russia to its influence. This is not an assessment, but a statement of fact. Yet such an attempt has been made to quench the thirst for expanding the geopolitical space under Western control, out of a mercantile fear to lose the spoils of what they across the Atlantic had persuaded themselves was the victory in the Cold War.

The plus of today’s situation is that everything has clicked into its place and the calculus behind the West’s actions has been revealed despite its professed readiness to build a security community, a common European home. To quote (singer/song-writer) Bulat Okudzhava, “The past is getting clearer and clearer.” The clarity is becoming more tangible. Today our task is not only to sort out the past (although that must be done), but most importantly, to think about the future.

Talks about Russia’s isolation do not merit serious discussion. I need hardly dwell on this before this audience. Of course, one can damage our economy, and damage is being done, but only by doing harm to those who are taking corresponding measures and, equally important, destroying the system of international economic relations, the principles on which it is based. Formerly, when sanctions were applied (I worked at the Russian mission to the UN at the time) our Western partners, when discussing the DPRK, Iran or other states, said that it was necessary to formulate the restrictions in such a way as to keep within humanitarian limits and not to cause damage to the social sphere and the economy, and to selectively target only the elite. Today everything is the other way around: Western leaders are publicly declaring that the sanctions should destroy the economy and trigger popular protests. So, as regards the conceptual approach to the use of coercive measures the West unequivocally demonstrates that it does not merely seek to change Russian policy (which in itself is illusory), but it seeks to change the regime — and practically nobody denies this.

President Vladimir Putin, speaking with journalists recently, said that today’s Western leaders have a limited planning horizon. Indeed, it is dangerous when decisions on key problems of the development of the world and humankind as a whole are taken on the basis of short electoral cycles: in the United States the cycle is two years and each time one has to think of or do something to win votes. This is the negative side of the democratic process, but we cannot afford to ignore it. We cannot accept the logic when we are told to resign, relax and take it as a given that everyone has to suffer because there are elections in the United States every two years. This is just not right. We will not resign ourselves to this because the stakes are too high in the fight against terror, the threats of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and many bloody conflicts whose negative impact goes far beyond the framework of the corresponding states and regions. The wish to do something to gain unilateral advantages or to endear oneself to the electorate ahead of another election leads to chaos and confusion in international relations.

We hear the daily repeated mantra that Washington is aware of its own exclusiveness and its duty to bear this burden, to lead the rest of the world. Rudyard Kipling spoke about “the white man’s burden.” I hope that this is not what drives Americans. The world today is not white or black, but multi-coloured and heterogeneous. Leadership in this world can be assured not by persuading oneself of one’ exclusiveness and God-given duty to be responsible for everyone, but only by the ability and craft in forming a consensus. If the US partners committed their power to this goal, this would be priceless, and Russia would be actively helping them.

However, so far, US administrative resources still work only in the NATO framework, and then with substantial reservations, and its writ does not reach beyond the North Atlantic Alliance. One proof of this is the results of US attempts to make the world community follow its line in connection with the anti-Russian sanctions and principles. I have spoken about it more than once and we have ample proof of the fact that American ambassadors and envoys across the world seek meetings at the highest level to argue that the corresponding countries are obliged to punish Russia together with them or else face the consequences. This is done with regard to all countries, including our closest allies (this speaks volumes about the kind of analysts Washington has). An overwhelming majority of the states with which we have a continuing dialogue without any restrictions and isolation, as you see, value Russia’s independent role in the international arena. Not because they like it when somebody challenges the Americans, but because they realise that the world order will not be stable if nobody is allowed to speak his mind (although privately the overwhelming majority do express their opinion, but they do not want to do so publicly for fear of Washington’s reprisals).

Many reasonable analysts understand that there is a widening gap between the global ambitions of the US Administration and the country’s real potential. The world is changing and, as has always happened in history, at some point somebody’s influence and power reach their peak and then somebody begins to develop still faster and more effectively. One should study history and proceed from realities. The seven developing economies headed by BRICS already have a bigger GDP than the Western G7. One should proceed from the facts of life, and not from a misconceived sense of one’s own grandeur.

It has become fashionable to argue that Russia is waging a kind of “hybrid war” in Crimea and in Ukraine. It is an interesting term, but I would apply it above all to the United States and its war strategy – it is truly a hybrid war aimed not so much at defeating the enemy militarily as at changing the regimes in the states that pursue a policy Washington does not like. It is using financial and economic pressure, information attacks, using others on the perimeter of a corresponding state as proxies and of course information and ideological pressure through externally financed non-governmental organisations. Is it not a hybrid process and not what we call war? It would be interesting to discuss the concept of the hybrid war to see who is waging it and is it only about “little green men.”

Apparently the toolkit of our US partners, who have become adept at using it, is much larger.

In attempting to establish their pre-eminence at a time when new economic, financial and political power centres are emerging, the Americans provoke counteraction in keeping with Newton’s third law and contribute to the emergence of structures, mechanisms, and movements that seek alternatives to the American recipes for solving the pressing problems. I am not referring to anti-Americanism, still less about forming coalitions spearheaded against the United States, but only about the natural wish of a growing number of countries to secure their vital interests and do it the way they think right, and not what they are told “from across the pond.” Nobody is going to play anti-US games just to spite the United States. We face attempts and facts of extra-territorial use of US legislation, the kidnapping of our citizens in spite of existing treaties with Washington whereby these issues are to be resolved through law enforcement and judicial bodies.

According to its doctrine of national security, the United States has the right to use force anywhere, anytime without necessarily asking the UN Security Council for approval. A coalition against the Islamic State was formed unbeknownst to the Security Council. I asked Secretary of State John Kerry why have not they gone to the UN Security Council for this.

He told me that if they did, they would have to somehow designate the status of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Of course, they had to because Syria is a sovereign state and still a member of the UN (no one excluded it from UN membership). The secretary of state said it was wrong because the United States is combating terrorism and the al-Assad regime is the most important factor that galvanises terrorists from around the world and acts as a magnet attracting them to this region in an attempt to overthrow the Syrian regime.

I believe this is perverse logic. If we are talking about precedents (the United States adheres to case law), it is worth remembering the chemical disarmament in Syria when the Assad regime was a completely legitimate partner of the United States, Russia, the OPCW and others. The Americans maintain talks with the Taliban as well. Whenever the United States has an opportunity to benefit from something, it acts quite pragmatically. I’m not sure why the ideologically-driven position took the upper hand this time and the United States chose to believe that Assad cannot be a partner. Perhaps, this is not so much an operation against the Islamic State as paving the way for toppling al-Assad under the guise of a counter-terrorist operation.

Francis Fukuyama recently wrote the book, Political Order and Political Decay, in which he argues that the efficiency of public administration in the United States is declining and the traditions of democratic governance are gradually being replaced with feudal fiefdom ruling methods. This is part of the discussion about someone who lives in a glass house and throws stones.

All of this is happening amid the mounting challenges and problems of the modern world. We are seeing a continued “tug of war” in Ukraine. Trouble is brewing on the south border of the EU. I don’t think the Middle Eastern and North African problems will go away all by themselves. The EU has formed a new commission. New foreign actors have emerged, who will face a serious fight for where to send their basic resources: either for the continuation of reckless schemes in Ukraine, Moldova, etc., within the Eastern Partnership (as advocated by an aggressive minority in the EU), or they will listen to the Southern European countries and focus on what’s happening on the other side of the Mediterranean.

This is a major issue for the EU.

So far, those who are not guided by real problems, but rather by a desire to quickly grab things from freshly turned up ground. It is deplorable. Exporting revolutions – be they democratic, communist or others – never brings any good.

State, public and civilisational structures are actually disintegrating in the MENA region. The destructive energy released in the process can scorch states that are located far beyond this region. Terrorists (including the Islamic State) are claiming a national status. Moreover, they are already beginning to create quasi-governmental bodies there that engage in the administrative work.

On this backdrop, minorities, including Christians, are banished. In Europe, these issues are deemed not politically correct. They are ashamed when we invite them to do something about it together at the OSCE. They wonder why would we focus specifically on Christians? How is that special? The OSCE has held a series of events dedicated to keeping memories about the Holocaust and its victims alive. A few years ago, the OSCE started holding events against Islamophobia. We will be offering an analysis of the processes leading to Christianophobia.

On 4-5 December, OSCE ministerial meetings will be held in Basel, where we will present this proposal. The majority of EU member states elude this topic, because they are ashamed to talk about it. Just as they were ashamed to include in what was then the EU constitution drafted by Valery Giscard d’Estaing a phrase that Europe has Christian roots.

If you don’t remember or respect your own roots and traditions, how would you respect the traditions and values of other people? This is straightforward logic. Comparing what’s happening now in the Middle East to a period of religious wars in Europe, Israeli political scientist Avineri said that the current turmoil is unlikely to end with what the West means when it says “democratic reforms.”

The Arab-Israeli conflict is dead in the water. It’s hard to play on several boards at a time. The Americans are trying to accomplish this, but it doesn’t work for them. In 2013, they took nine months to sort out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I will not go into the reasons, they are known, but they failed at this as well. Now, they asked for more time to try to achieve some progress before the end of 2014, so that the Palestinians wouldn’t go to the UN and sign the Statute of the International Criminal Court, etc. Suddenly, it transpired that negotiations on Iran are underway. The US State Department dumped Palestine to focus on Iran.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and I agreed to talk on this subject some time soon. It’s important to understand that you can’t keep the problem of the Palestinian state deeply frozen forever. Failure to resolve it for nearly 70 years has been a major argument of those who recruit extremists in their ranks, “there’s no justice: it was promised to create two states; the Jewish one was created, but they will never create an Arab state.” Used on a hungry Arab street, these arguments sound quite plausible, and they start calling for a fight for justice using other methods.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi that we need a new version of interdependence. This was a very topical statement. The leading powers must return to the negotiating table and agree on a new framework that takes into account the basic legitimate interests of all the key parties (I can’t tell you what it should be called, but it should be based on the UN Charter), to agree on reasonable self-imposed restrictions and collective risk management in a system of international relations underpinned by democratic values. Our Western partners promote respect for the rule of law, democracy and minority opinion within countries, while failing to stand up for the same values in international affairs. This leaves Russia as a pioneer in promoting democracy, justice and rule of international law. A new world order can only be polycentric and should reflect the diversity of cultures and civilisations in today’s world.

You are aware of Russia’s commitment to ensuring indivisibility of security in international affairs and holding it in international law. I won’t elaborate on this.

I would like to support the point the SVOP has been making that Russia won’t succeed in becoming a major, successful and confident power of the 21st century without developing its eastern regions. Sergei Karaganov was among the first to conceptualise this idea, and I fully agree. Taking Russia’s relations with the Asia Pacific countries to a new level is an absolute priority. Russia worked along these lines at the Beijing APEC meeting and the G20 forum. We will continue moving in this direction in the new environment created by the upcoming launch of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on 1 January 2015.

We have been treated as “subhumans.” For over a decade, Russia has been trying to establish partnership ties with NATO through CSTO. These efforts were not just about putting NATO and CSTO “in the same league.” As a matter of fact, CSTO is focused on catching drug dealers and illegal migrants around the Afghan border, and the North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation is the backbone of the international security forces, which, among other things, were tasked with fighting the terrorist threat and eliminating its financing schemes, which involve drug trafficking. We tried everything: we pleaded and then demanded real-time contact, so that once NATO detects a caravan transporting drugs and is unable to stop it, it alerts us across the border, so that this caravan could be intercepted by CSTO forces. They simply refused to talk to us. In private conversations, our NATO well-wishers (and I actually mean this in the positive way) told us that the alliance can’t view CSTO as an equal partner for ideological reasons. Until recently, we saw the same condescending and arrogant attitude with respect to the Eurasian economic integration. And that despite the fact that countries intending to join the EAEU have much more in common in terms of their economies, history and culture than many EU members. This union is not about creating barriers with anyone. We always stress how open this union is expected to be. I strongly believe that it will make a significant contribution to building a bridge between Europe and Asia Pacific.

I can’t fail to mention Russia’s comprehensive partnership with China. Important bilateral decisions have been taken, paving the way to an energy alliance between Russia and China. But there’s more to it. We can now even talk about the emerging technology alliance between the two countries. Russia’s tandem with Beijing is a crucial factor for ensuring international stability and at least some balance in international affairs, as well as ensuring the rule of international law. We will make full use of our relations with India and Vietnam, Russia’s strategic partners, as well as the ASEAN countries. We are also open to expanding cooperation with Japan, if our Japanese neighbours can look at their national interests and stop looking back at some overseas powers.

There is no doubt that the European Union is our largest collective partner. No one intends to “shoot himself in the foot” by renouncing cooperation with Europe, although it is now clear that business as usual is no longer an option. This is what our European partners are telling us, but neither do we want to operate the old way. They believed that Russia owed them something, while we want to be on an equal footing. For this reason, things will never be the same again. That said, I’m confident that we will be able to overcome this period, lessons will be learned and a new foundation for our relations will emerge.

The idea of creating a single economic and humanitarian space from Lisbon to Vladivostok can now be heard here and there and is gaining traction. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has said publicly (while we have been saying it for a long time) that the EU and the EAEU should engage in dialogue. The statement President Vladimir Putin made in Brussels in January 2014, when he proposed the first step by launching negotiations on a free-trade zone between the EU and the Customs Union with an eye on 2020, is no longer viewed as something exotic. All of this has already become part of diplomacy and real politics. Although this is so far only a matter of discussion, I strongly believe that we will one day achieve what is called “the integration of integrations.” This is one of the key topics we want to promote within the OSCE at the Ministerial Council in Basel.

Russia is about to assume BRICS and SCO presidency. The two organisations will hold their summits in Ufa. These are very promising organisations for the new age. They are not blocks (especially BRICS), but groups where members share the same interests, representing countries from all continents that share common approaches regarding the future of the global economy, finance and politics.

Viktor Orban’s “we will not be a colony” Speech

Viktor Orban speech, Budapest, 15.03.2012

The political and intellectual program of 1848 was this: we will not be a colony! The program and the desire of Hungarians in 2012 goes like this: we will not be a colony!

Hungary could not have stood against the pressure and things dictated from abroad in the winter of 2011-2012 if it were not for those hundreds of thousands of people who stood up to show everyone that Hungarians will not live as foreigners dictate it, will not give up their independence or their freedom, therefore they will not give up their constitution either, which they finally managed to draft after twenty years. Thank you all!

Don’t be misled if tomorrow you will read in the international press that there were only a few hundred people here in the square and even those who were here, rallied against the government.

As things stand, we have not been as strong as we are today for long decades.

As things stand today we are enough in numbers and in our resolve to fight for a free Hungarian life also, after fighting for our liberties.

Freedom for us means that we are not inferior to anyone else.

It means that we also deserve respect.

Freedom also means that de decide about the laws governing our own life, we decide what is important and what isn’t. From the Hungarian perspective, with a Hungarian mindset, following the rhythm of our Hungarian hearts.

Therefore we write our own constitutions. We do not need writing-lines, nor do we require the unsolicited assistance of foreigners wanting to guide our hands.

We are more than familiar with the character of unsolicited comradely assistance, even if it comes wearing a finely tailored suit and not a uniform with shoulder patches. We want Hungary to revolve around its own axis, therefore we are going to protect the constitution, which is the security for our future.

We have to ask and to respond to the biggest question. Will we submit ourselves to being at the mercy of others until death or will we rely on the virtues which make Hungarians Hungarians, which make sovereignty sovereignty and history history. Will we opt for the fate of a colony or for a Hungarian existence made up and made complete according to the best of our knowledge?

There is one thing that no one can question. Our freedom fights always meant a step forward for the world. They meant progress because we were right. We were right even if everyone denied this.

In 48 we said that we should tear down the walls of feudalism and we were proven right. In 56, we said we have to crack, we have to break the wheels of communism and we were proven right.

Today also, they look at us with suspicion.

They looked at us like this in 48-49, when Europe became silent, silent again, but then the feudalist world disintegrated all around Europe and strong nations were born in its place.

They looked at us like this in 56, but the communist tyranny, that we drove the first nail into, finally collapsed, allowing Europe to reunite again.

European bureaucrats look at us with distrust today because we said: we need new ways. We said we have to break out of the prison of debt and we also declared that Europe can only be made great again with the help of strong nations. You will see my dear friends that we will be proven right yet again.

It was not the feudalist vassals who caused the demise of feudalism, nor was communism destroyed by party secretaries. The rule of speculators will not be terminated by them or by bureaucrats, nor will they come help save the ditched carriage of Europe.

It is not going to be them, but instead it is going to be European citizens living off the fruits of their personal efforts. Because their world has to come. If it doesn’t, then the days of Europe are over.

The Youth of March also saw, what many in Europe today refuse to see, that financial independence is a precondition for freedom. This is why they had to include the indispensable demand for a National Bank on their 12-point list.

Although the Youth of March were not board members or bankers, they fully understood the weight of the issue of a national bank. They knew that an independent national bank is not one that is independent from its nation. An independent national bank is one, which protects the national economy from foreign interests. They knew and we also know well that anyone with common sense will not entrust the neighbours with the keys to the pantry.

Our Lithuanian, Czech, Latvian, Slovenian and Romanian friends have all stood up for us. Not only did they stand up for us, they also came, our Lithuanian and Polish friends are here to celebrate with us.

Glory to Lithuania!

God bless Poland!

We also have with us the silently abiding Europe of many tens of millions, who still insist on national sovereignty and still believe in the Christian virtues of courage, honour, fidelity and mercy, which one day made our continent great.

There are people, there are many people who still remember 56 and think that “you Hungarians were right”. We are capable of standing our ground against the injustice of stronger empires. This is why we are respected by those who respect us. This is why we are attacked by those who are against us.

We understand that Europe has a lot of problems. The clog wheels are creaking, muscles and tendons are flexing.

But as a thousand year old European nation we have one demand. We demand equal standards for Hungarians. As a European nation we demand equal treatment. We will not be second class European citizens. Our rightful demand is to have the same standards apply to us, which apply to other countries. We have learnt that the recovery of Europe and Hungary are inseparable from each other. Any time Europe found itself in distress, the fate of Hungary also took a turn for the worse.

We are not happy, but we understand that European unity is not a unity of saints, but we will not sit and watch idly, if any political or intellectual trend tries to force an unholy alliance on Europe.

Europe cannot surrender and give in; the feeling of belonging together may not weaken it any more. This would lead to the defeat and to the demise of Europe. This is why Europe cannot leave whole countries by the roadside.

If we don’t act in time, in the end, the whole of Europe can become a colony of the modern financial system.

Viktor Orban Walks in Putin’s Footsteps

Hungary’s Viktor Orban Walks in Putin’s Footsteps

Moscow Times

Hektor Pustina / AP

The wind is “blowing from the East.” That’s how Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has described the recent swirl of Russian precedent and influence, the storm of ethnic chauvinism and anti-Brussels sentiment that begins in Moscow and whips low across the Ukrainian plains.

This storm is currently sweeping across Donetsk, and if Orban has his way, it’s heading directly toward the EU. How the EU will handle this rapidly approaching reality remains anyone’s guess.

Hungary’s Viktor Orban channels Putin’s rightist, ethnic-based rhetoric.

Orban last month called for the end of the “liberal state.” Six years after the economic recession battered Europe and four years after ascending to power, Orban claimed that the era of the welfare state had come to a close. Hungary, he said, would not become an economic colony of Brussels, but would develop itself into a “workfare” state.

Likewise, Hungary should form itself into a buttress against all that horrific tolerance that the EU has seen fit to promote. Amoral allowances like abortion rights and protection for sexual minorities may be fine for other nations, but they are not for Orban.

It’s time to “respect Christianity, freedom and human rights,” as Orban says, and to crack down on NGOs that receive funding beyond Hungary’s border. It’s time for the rise of the “illiberal state.”

If these parameters sound familiar, it’s not surprising. Russia has enacted conservative legislation rooted in similar arguments, and indeed in his speech Orban cited Russia as an appropriate model for political development.

Hungary’s democratic backslide has wrung more than a few hands over the past few years. Local media has become increasingly restricted, and opposition parties have repeatedly warned of electoral malpractice.

This latest speech from the president, as Human Rights Watch noted, was not necessarily unexpected. But it was still shocking.

After all, Hungary stands as a full member state of the European Union. It has now spent a decade as a member, having sloughed its communist, Soviet-dominated past. Budapest remains one of Eastern Europe’s jewels, and Hungarians are as entrenched in European economic and defense groupings as any other nation. Hungary is, in a sense, a quintessential EU nation-state.

And that’s what makes Orban’s calls so disturbing. It’s not simply that Orban has sought to curtail the powers and avenues of potential political adversaries. That would be understandable, although distinctly unfortunate.

What’s frightening about Orban’s policies is that he seems to be following Russia’s precedent. Not only has Budapest seen itself fit to mirror the Kremlin’s suppression of civil rights, but Orban has begun channeling the rightist, ethnic-based rhetoric that Putin has perfected.

Much as the Kremlin defended its annexation of Crimea by claiming that it was simply protecting ethnic Russian speakers, Orban has taken on the role of guarantor of the safety of Hungarian nationals, regardless of whether they are actually Hungarian citizens.

After the eruption of fighting in Ukraine, and as Russian nationalists began to craft the idea of a new, greater Russia, Orban wasted little time in calling for autonomy for ethnic Hungarians in southwest Ukraine. In fact, while formalizing his call for an “illiberal state” last month, Orban was speaking to an audience of ethnic Hungarians in Romania, some of whom have begun agitating for greater autonomy in Transylvania.

Just as the Kremlin’s supporters envision a new Soviet Union, a century after the Austro-Hungarian Empire drew its last breath, fascist and nationalist groups within Hungary have begun clamoring for a greater Hungary, for an empire restored to the glory it once knew.

Whereas Putin has Alexander Dugin and his Eurasianists, who call for Russia to create a new empire in the East, in Hungary the openly anti-Semitic and extremist party Jobbik strongly influences Orban’s policies. There’s even a link between the two: When the Kremlin illegally annexed Crimea earlier this year, some Jobbik members voiced approval.

The internal dynamics within Hungary and Russia are distressingly similar. A populist, hard-right president has been painted as domestically centrist by the frothing, fascistic groups calling for territorial expansion and ethnic supremacy.

But where Russia has morphed into the EU’s bete noire over the past few months, Hungary is fully ensconced within Europe’s liberal structures. The EU’s supranational structures were supposed to buttress the rights gained since the fall of communism.

Orban, however, has seen fit to challenge that assumption. And he’s looking to Moscow as an example.

More than French concerns about defense industry profits, and more than British hopes of attracting Moscow’s oligarch money, the situation currently unfolding in Hungary presents Russia’s greatest challenge to the rights and protections achieved by the EU.

A decade ago, naysayers pegged Bulgaria as Moscow’s “Trojan Horse” in the EU. Greece, Cyprus and Italy have also earned the title. But these detractors were only half-right. Moscow’s precedent of autocratic intolerance, of ethnic-only borders, has in fact taken root in Budapest.

And Orban was only half-right, too, because there’s something coming from the East. But it’s not a wind. It’s a virus. And with Orban’s help, this virus has begun to infect the EU.

Casey Michel is a Bishkek-based journalist and a graduate student at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute.

Hungarian President Viktor Orban Really Pisses Obama Off

[In addition to sticking its finger in Obama’s eye over its embrace of Putin’s South Stream project, Hungary is also fighting back against Obama/Soros and their armies of NGO social revolutionaries (SEE:  The Hungarian right’s latest: The Soros-Clinton-Obama axis).  As you can see in the speeches of American diplomats like Victoria Nuland (SEE: US state official slams Viktor Orbán and Fidesz in all but name), Hungarian President Viktor Orban has really pissed Obama off, as well as the entire EU.  More on Mr. Orban follows.]

US Directs Its Economic Terrorism At Hungary, Desperate To Kill SOUTH STREAM

Hungary–the country that dared to disobey the US and EU

Hungary Begins Laying Pipe for South Stream System

GEICO 500 - Practice

The United States Embassy did not give a substantive answer to the request of the Hungarian Nation on their part to who and what has been negotiated in 2011 with Peter Konya, the Gordon Bajnai’s 2014 Co-founder of the Solidarity movement leader.

As stated intention, “an informal nature” Communicating with governments or individuals.

– The United States government maintains close contact with the Hungarian government. And more frequent level discussions are taking place with regard to the areas in which the two countries work together. Fight against corruption, this also includes. We will continue with the Hungarian government of that matters will continue to work closely together – answered questions from the panel, who initiated the meeting, those who attended, what it was about, and that is still made a similar request.

Peter Konya admitted recently that even as a professional soldier, a lieutenant colonel discussed American diplomats. Konya stated that the only reasons then organized demonstrations and law enforcement objectives, as well as the democratic institutions and the legal system “downsizing of” informed the representatives of various levels of American diplomacy. Who they were, he refused to reveal, as advised to ask about the US embassy.

Konya in 2011, even references to “clown revolutionaries as” unleashing the potential of violence did, but added the solidarity and October 2013, seeing the “statue decision” when one depicting Viktor Orban hungarocellszobornak cut off his head .



The Republic of Donetsk Flag

The Republic of Donetsk Flag

itar tass

flag of the self proclaimed donetsk peoples republic

Flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in Donetsk    © EPA/PHOTOMIG

New flag of the latest self-proclaimed republic, the Donetsk Republic.  The process of Nation fragmentation, works both ways.   Even though this corrosive virus was set into motion by the opportunists in Washington, it is still very dangerous to Obama’s allies.  The plague referred to as “Balkanization” threatens all nations, both the guilty and the innocent.

US Arranges New War Games In Ukraine, Along Border With Crimea

[SEE: Germany Set To Help Militarize the Political Situation In Eastern Europe ]

Ukraine Agrees to Host NATO War Games



Ukraine’s parliament on Tuesday approved a series of joint military exercises with NATO countries that would put U.S. troops in direct proximity to Russian forces in the annexed Crimea peninsula.

“This is a good opportunity to develop our armed forces,” acting defense minister Mykhailo Koval told Verkhovna Rada lawmakers ahead of the 235-0 vote.

The decision came as NATO foreign ministers gathered in Brussels for a two-day meeting dominated by concern over the recent buildup of Russian forces near Crimea that U.S. officials estimate had at one point reached about 40,000 troops.

NATO has sought to reinforce its eastern frontier after Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula and amid concerns about Kremlin’s emboldened foreign policy.

Russia on Monday reported pulling back a battalion of about 500 to 700 soldiers from the border region in a move that German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called “a small sign that the situation is becoming less tense”.

Ukraine is not a NATO member and its new Western-backed leaders have vowed not to push for closer relations with the Brussels-based military alliance — a bloc that has been viewed with deep mistrust by Moscow since the Cold War.

But the ex-Soviet nation did form a “distinctive partnership” with the Alliance in 1997 and has been staging joint exercises with its state members ever since.

The exercises approved on Tuesday would see Ukraine conduct two sets of military exercises with the United States this summer — Rapid Trident and Sea Breeze — that have prompted disquiet in Russia in previous years.

Ukraine is planning two additional maneuvers with NATO member Poland as well as joint ground operations with Moldova and Romania.

The Sea Breeze exercises have particularly irritated Moscow because they had on occasion been staged in Crimea — the home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Those maneuvers have in more recent years been moved to the Black Sea port of Odessa where Ukraine also has a naval base.

An explanatory note accompanying the Tuesday bill says that the naval section of Sea Breeze would this time be conducted over a 25-day span between July and October out of two Odessa ports and “along the waters of the Black Sea”.

The MPs met a key demand posed by both the West and Russia by voting unanimously to disarm all self-defense groups that sprang up across the country during its political crisis.

“The Ukrainian people are demanding order,” acting president Oleksandr Turchynov said ahead of the 256-0 vote. “Those who carry arms — besides the police, the security services and the national guard — are saboteurs who are working against the country.”

Russia seizes 51 Ukrainian ships in Crimea

In military rout, Russia seizes 51 Ukrainian ships in Crimea

kyiv post

Christopher J. Miller

Ukrainian naval officers raise the Ukrainian navy flag on the Slavutych ship docked in Sevastopol’s Kurrenaya Bay on March 13.
© Anastasia Vlasova

In its invasion and annexation of Crimea, Russia has seized 51 vessels belonging to the Ukrainian navy, according to information compiled by Dmitry Tymchuk, director of the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv.

Among the Ukrainian vessels reportedly captured by the Russians are submarine Zaporizhia, management ship Slavutych, landing ship Konstantin Olshansky, landing ship Kirovohrad, minesweeper Chernihiv and minesweeper Cherkasy.

The Cherkasy was the last of the ships to have been overtaken following weeks of threats and ultimatums to surrender. It was finally chased down and overtaken by the Russian navy on March 25 after failing to slip past a blockade of two ships intentionally sunk by the Russians to trap it and other vessels in a narrow gulf, keeping them from escaping into the Black Sea.

Russia has captured 51 vessels belonging to Ukraine’s navy, according to information gathere by the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv. (Infographic: Rusudan Tsiskreli)

As of March 26, just 10 Ukrainian vessels remained in its navy’s possession, including frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy, gunboat Skadovsk, intelligence ship Pereyaslav and diving vessel Netishin.

Kyiv Post editor Christopher J. Miller can be reached at, and on Twitter at @ChristopherJM.

Time to grab guns and kill damn Russians – Tymoshenko in leaked tape

Time to grab guns and kill damn Russians – Tymoshenko in leaked tape


Yulia Tymoshenko (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)

Ukrainians must take up arms against Russians so that not even scorched earth will be left where Russia stands; an example of former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko’s vitriol in phone call leaked online.

Tymoshenko confirmed the authenticity of the conversation on Twitter, while pointing out that a section where she is heard to call for the nuclear slaughter of the eight million Russians who remain on Ukrainian territory was edited.

She tweeted “The conversation took place, but the ‘8 million Russians in Ukraine’ piece is an edit. In fact, I said Russians in Ukraine – are Ukrainians. Hello FSB :) Sorry for the obscene language.”

The former Ukrainian PM has not clarified who exactly she wants to nuke.

Shufrych’s press service flatly contradicted Tymoshenko, slamming the tape as fake. The press release reads “The conversation didn’t take place,” as quoted by phone conversation with Nestor Shufrych, former deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, was uploaded on YouTube on Monday by user Sergiy Vechirko.

The leaked phone call took placed on March 18, hours after the Crimea & Sevastopol accession treaty was signed in the Kremlin.

While Shufrych was “just shocked,” Tymoshenko was enraged by the results of the Crimean referendum .

“This is really beyond all boundaries. It’s about time we grab our guns and kill go kill those damn Russians together with their leader,” Tymoshenko said.

The ex-pm declared if she was in charge “there would be no f***ing way that they would get Crimea then.”

Shufrych made the valid point that Ukraine “didn’t have any force potential” to keep Crimea.

But Tymoshenko, who plans to run in Ukraine’s presidential election, expressed confidence that she would have found “a way to kill those a*****es.”

“I hope I will be able to get all my connections involved. And I will use all of my means to make the entire world raise up, so that there wouldn’t be even a scorched field left in Russia,” she promised.

Despite being incapacitated by spinal disc hernia the ex-PM stressed she’s ready to “grab a machine gun and shoot that m*********er in the head.”

Tymoshenko rose to power as a key figure in the pro-European Orange Revolution in 2004, becoming Ukrainian prime minister 2007-2010.

She was imprisoned in 2012, under president Viktor Yanukovich, after being found guilty of exceeding her authority by signing a gas supply and transit deal with Russia.

The deal is claimed to have cost Ukraine’s national oil and gas company, Naftogaz, around US$170 million.

Tymoshenko served part of her seven-year sentence in prison before being relocated to a Kharkov hospital.

She was released immediately after the Kiev coup which ousted Yanukovich.

This is not the first telephone leak scandal since the Ukrainian turmoil began last November.

In February, a tape was revealed, in which US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe,

Victoria Nuland, said “F**k the EU” as she was discussing the formation of the future Ukrainian government with the US ambassador to the country, Geoffrey Pyatt.

And at the beginning of March a phone conversation between EU Foreign Affairs Сhief, Catherine Ashton, and Estonian foreign affairs minister, Urmas Paet, was made public.

Speaking with Ashton, Paet stressed that there was suspicion that the snipers in Kiev, who shot at protesters and police in Kiev might have been hired by Maidan leaders.

Crimea’s regional assembly has officially applied to become part of Russia

A man fills out registration papers before casting his vote in a mobile ballot box during voting in a referendum in the village of Pionerskoye, near Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, March 16, 2014.

Crimea Applies to Join Russia


VOA News

March 17, 2014

Crimea’s regional assembly has officially applied to become part of Russia, a day after a referendum in southern Ukraine overwhelmingly supported joining the Russian Federation. Crimea’s parliament approved the measure Monday.

The United States and its European allies are expected to announce sanctions Monday against Russia.

President Barack Obama told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Sunday that Washington and its “European partners are prepared to impose additional costs” on Moscow for backing the secession referendum in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

A White House statement called Sunday’s referendum illegal and said it violates Ukraine’s constitution. It also said the vote will “never be recognized by the United States and the international community.”

Crimea’s election chief announced Monday that nearly 97 percent of the voters cast ballots supporting secession and a move to join Russia. However, those opposed to the move had been advised to boycott the referendum.

In Kyiv, Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk – speaking at an emergency cabinet meeting – called the Moscow-backed Crimea vote “a circus spectacle” directed at gunpoint by Russia.

An earlier White House statement said no decision should be made about the future of Ukraine without the Ukrainian national government.

It also said the presidential elections planned for May 25 will provide a legitimate opportunity for all Ukrainians to make their voices heard on the future of their country.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday agreed to push for Ukrainian constitutional reforms for power sharing and decentralization as a solution to the crisis.

The Duma set to act

Meanwhile, Russia’s lower house of parliament will pass legislation allowing Ukraine’s Crimea region to join Russia “in the very near future”, Interfax news agency quoted the chamber’s deputy speaker as saying on Monday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will respect the will of the people in Crimea, ignoring Western leaders who say the referendum was illegal because Russian forces have seized the southern region.

“The results of the referendum in Crimea clearly showed that residents of Crimea see their future only as part of Russia,” the deputy speaker of the State Duma, Sergei Neverov, was quoted as saying.

Duma officials claim the Black Sea peninsula can become a member of the Russian Federation under current legislation, specifically under a law “On the procedure for the adoption into the Russian Federation and education of new subjects of the Russian Federation” that was passed in 2001, Interfax said.

First, Crimea’s appeal to join Russia will be sent to Putin. If approved, Putin will then pass it to the upper and lower houses of parliament, which will work on a treaty to be signed between Russia and the new state.

Under the treaty, a transitional period could be set for the new subject to be integrated into Russia’s economic, financial, credit and legal systems.

Following its signing, Russia’s constitutional court should then verify the treaty. It should then be voted on by both houses of parliament, the Duma and the Federation Council.

“I do not think there will be any delays in considering these questions in either the State Duma or Federation Council. We are ready to pass all the required legal decisions as quickly as possible,” the Federation Council’s deputy speaker, Ilyas Umakhanov, told Rossiya-24 television.

Situation on the ground

In Kyiv, Ukraine’s acting defense minister told reporters that both Ukraine and Russia have agreed on a truce in Crimea until March 21.

Sunday’s vote came a day after Russian forces seized a natural gas facility just outside Crimean territory.  The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called the move “a military invasion by Russia.”

Ukraine provides the peninsula with all of its water and energy needs, and some analysts say the seizure may be aimed at ensuring the peninsula’s energy requirements are met in the event Kyiv were to cut off supplies.

Crimea is a primarily ethnic-Russian region within Ukraine.  Moscow says it has the right to protect the interests of ethnic Russians in Crimea.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday Russian forces have seized the Ukrainian village of Strilkove, near the Crimean border.

There are no reports of shots being fired, but the ministry called the takeover an “invasion” and demands that Russian soldiers leave.  Ukrainian border guards say the Russians are guarding a gas pumping station in the town.

Reactions in Kyiv

Thousands of Ukrainians gathered in central Kyiv Sunday to voice opposition to the referendum and what the perceive as Moscow’s moves to divide the Ukraine.

But the mood was somber as many Ukrainians feel helpless against Russia’s might and military superiority, many fearing a further escalation of tensions.

Irina, a restaurant manager who only gave her first name, said Crimea’s fate likely was already decided in Moscow.

She said none of this was right. This could have been done in a nice way, in an honest way, she said. This could have been done in a constitutionally correct way. And it seems to me, she said, everyone would have agreed to that.

Moscow claims it is protecting ethnic Russians from persecution by Ukrainian “extremists” who it says illegitimately came to power after months of anti-government protests.

Another Kyiv resident, Ira, who also only gave her first name, said she had nothing against Russians.

She said she loves and respects the Russian people as much as Ukrainians, but not their government. She expressed hope that everything ends well, everyone becomes united, and that Crimea remains with Ukraine.

VOA’s Daniel Schearf contribited to this report from Kyiv. Some of this report was contributed by Reuters.

The Dangerous Nazification of Ukrainian Airwaves

[Ukrainian TV HAS to be even more boring than Russian TV.  Let’s see how long Svoboda can contain the restless longings of the Ukrainian masses if they are all bored beyond the point of their capacity to be mesmerized by inanity.]

OSCE slams Ukraine’s repressive censorship of Russian TV channels


Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok

The OSCE has criticised Kiev’s “repressive” move to shut down the broadcasting of Russian TV channels after the media watchdog reported over 50% of providers have already fulfilled the order allegedly aimed at “ensuring national security and sovereignty.”

“As of 11:00 GMT, March 11th, 50 percent of providers throughout Ukraine have disabled broadcasting of foreign channels,” others are preparing to follow, the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine, said on its website.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has voiced strong concerns over the decision.

“I repeat my call to the authorities not to initiate these repressive measures,” OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said. “Banning programming without a legal basis is a form of censorship; national security concerns should not be used at the expense of media freedom.”

“While I deplore any kind of state propaganda and hate speech as part of the current information war, everyone has the right to receive information from as many sources as he or she wishes,” Mijatovic said. “Switching off and banning channels is not the way to address these problems; any potentially problematic speech should be countered with arguments and more speech.”

So far at least 5 Russian channels have been excluded from the list of options, following an appeal by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine last week.

“The National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine requires the program service providers to stop the broadcast of the Russian TV channels Vesti, Russia 24, Channel One (worldwide transmission), RTR ‘Planeta’, and NTV-World in their network,” the National Council order says.

More than half of Ukraine’s population speaks Russian regularly and one third say it’s their native tongue. In Crimea over 90 percent of the population uses Russian on an everyday basis.

Participants of a rally on Yevpatoria's central square voice their support to Russia. (RIA Novosti/Andrey Stenin)Participants of a rally on Yevpatoria’s central square voice their support to Russia. (RIA Novosti/Andrey Stenin)

On Sunday, Republic of Crimea began broadcasting Russian TV channels on frequencies earlier occupied by Ukrainian television. It has been done because of “legal reasons and moral principles,” Crimea’s information minister Dmitry Polonsky told Itar-tass.

“From the moral point of view, all Ukrainian TV channels were rigidly censored by Kiev’s illegitimate authorities. In violation of fundamental principles they broadcast only one point of view – Crimean politicians, community leaders and Crimeans were unable to comment on the situation,” Polonsky said, adding that their round the clock false reporting of “Russia occupying Crimea” or “declaring war on Ukraine” did not correspond to reality and was used to aggravate the situation and escalate violence.

Polonsky also said that existing contracts should be brought into line with the “current legal situation”, as he urged Ukrainian TV channels to renegotiate contracts for new frequencies with the Crimean broadcasting authorities.

Following the move Ukraine’s media watchdog Goskomteleradio demanded an immediate resumption of Ukrainian TV channels broadcast in Crimea, accusing Russia of “aggression.”

“We regard this as a manifestation of undisguised information aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation,” the statement reads.

Russia has long voiced concerns over banning Russian media broadcasts on Ukraine’s national frequencies, calling it a violation of human rights.

“We are aware of proposals to prohibit broadcasts in Ukraine by companies of countries that are not signatories to the European Broadcasting Convention,” Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said late February after the proposal to ban some channels were first introduced by Svoboda Party in Ukraine.

“Russia is not a signatory to this convention, but this circumstance has not stopped us from broadcasting across Europe. Such broadcasts have not encountered any problems in any country of the European Union. If such a decision is adopted in Ukraine, it will be serious violation of freedom of speech,” Lavrov added.

Why Is World War II Being Rekindled in Ukraine?

Why There Will Be War in Ukraine

Moscow Times

The current crisis is not about Crimea. It is about the rights of Russian-speakers throughout Ukraine whom the Kremlin wants to protect from violence and discrimination. Russia does not want a military intervention in Crimea and does not want to take Crimea from Ukraine.

There is a political solution to this crisis. First, create a coalition government in Kiev composed of all parties, including those from the east and south of the country. The current government is dominated by anti-Russian extremists from western Ukraine.

If the extremists who seized power in Kiev do not accept Russia’s democratic proposals, Russia will likely be forced to revert to military means to solve the crisis in Ukraine.

Second, Ukraine needs to draft a democratic constitution that has guarantees for Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population that would grant official status to the Russian language and establish the principle of federalism.

Third, presidential and parliamentary elections must be held soon. Independent election observers must play an active role in ensuring that the elections are free and fair. There is a real danger that they will be manipulated by the neo-Nazi militants who de facto seized power in a coup.

If these democratic and peaceful solutions to the crisis in Ukraine are rejected by the opposition forces that have seized power in Kiev, I am afraid that Russia will have no other choice but to revert to military means. If the junta leaders want to avoid war, they need to adopt Moscow’s peaceful and democratic proposals and adhere to them.

Those currently in power in Kiev are carrying out a political strategy that is not so much pro-European as it is anti-Russian, as evidenced by the surprisingly heavy-handed tactics the U.S. and European Union  have employed in Ukraine. In the end, a minority executed a violent coup that removed the democratically elected and legitimate president of Ukraine.

The Kremlin believes that the current Ukrainian leadership will manipulate the elections planned for May 25 to install a single leader or coalition government functioning much as former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili did in Tbilisi. A “Ukrainian Saakashvili” will unleash an even more repressive campaign of intimidation against Russian-speakers, one that over several years would stoke anti-Russia hysteria among the general population.

After that, Kiev may evict Russia’s Black Sea Fleet from Sevastopol and purge Crimea of any Russian influence. Ukraine could easily become a radicalized, anti-Russian state, at which point Kiev will fabricate a pretext to justify taking subversive action against Moscow. This looks especially likely considering that ruling coalition members from the neo-fascist Svoboda and Right Sector parties have already made territorial claims against Russia. They could easily send their army of activists to Russia to join local separatists and foment rebellion in the North Caucasus and other unstable regions in Russia. In addition, Russia’s opposition movement will surely want to use the successful experience and technology of the Euromaidan protests and, with the help and financial support of the West, try to carry out their own revolution in Moscow. The goal: to remove President Vladimir Putin from power and install a puppet leadership that will sell Russia’s strategic interests out to the West in the same way former President Boris Yeltsin did in the 1990s.

The official census puts the Russian minority in Ukraine at 16 percent of the total population, although that number was falsified. The actual number is closer to 25 percent. Surveys indicate that 45 percent of the country’s population speak Russian at home, 45 percent speak Ukrainian and 10 percent speak both languages. In the most recent Gallup survey, when asked in which language they would like to be polled, 83 percent of respondents chose Russian. Taking into account the rural population in western and central Ukraine, about 75 percent of the people, probably speak Russian. Of that 75 percent, only about 10 percent are those in Kiev and a few other major cities who supported the protests. This means that only 35 percent of the population are attempting to impose its will on the remaining 65 percent, using a violent coup to achieve their goals.

Putin made the right decision: He did not to wait for that attack and took preventative measures. Many in the West say the Kremlin’s reactions were paranoiac, but Germany’s Jews also thought the same of leaving the country in 1934. Most of them chose to believe they were safe and remained in Germany even after Hitler came to power. The infamous Kristallnacht took place five years later, one of the first early chapters in the “Final Solution.” Similarly, just four years remain until Russia’s presidential election in 2018, and there is a strong risk that subversive forces within and outside Russia will try to overthrow Putin, in part using their new foothold in Ukraine.

Will there be war in Ukraine? I am afraid so. After all, the extremists who seized power in Kiev want to see a bloodbath. Only fear for their own lives might stop them from inciting such a conflict. Russia is prepared to move its forces into southern and eastern Ukraine if repressive measures are used against the Russian-speaking population or if a military intervention occurs. Russia will not annex Crimea. It has enough territory already. At the same time, however, it will also not stand by passively while Russophobic and neo-Nazi gangs hold the people of Crimea, Kharkiv and Donetsk at their mercy.

Sergei Markov is director of the Institute of Political Studies.

En Masse, Ukrainian Soldiers Swear Allegiance To Crimean Govt

Ukrainian Army servicemen en masse pledging allegiance to new Crimean government

itar tass

“Everyone who doesn’t obey will be held accountable to the full extent of the law”, – Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov underlined


Ukrainian Army men and officers deployed in the Crimea are en masse pledging allegiance with the new legitimately elected authorities of the Autonomous Republic, Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov said in an address Sunday night.

“I am thankful to them for their patriotism, since the military as a special category of people – they have a particularly keen understanding of the dangers of combat operations and I feel confident that they will do everything in their power to prevent bloodshed and to cool off the mischief-making politicians who have taken over Kiev,” he said.

“The military don’t want to be speechless tools in the hands of followers of (Stepan) Bandera (the chieftain of far-right militant Ukrainian nationalist during World War II – Itar-Tass) and won’t take on that role,” Aksyonov said.

“I’d like to warn the commanding officers who might be pushing their soldiers towards wrongful acts that measures envisioned by law will be taken against them,” he said. “Everyone who doesn’t obey will be held accountable to the full extent of the law.

Putin Doctrine in Action

Transfer of forces to Crimea, assignment of soldiers on the border and encouragement of pro-Russian demonstrations. Yakov (Yasha) Kedmi outlines the moves of the Russian President in the struggle for the future of Ukraine

Russia sees in the current events in Ukraine “intervention and a subversive action of the US and Europe” for change of regime through use of force, and an overthrow of a legitimate regime, which was democratically elected.

Putin did not meet with the deposed President Yanukovych, and neither he nor anyone of the Russian leadership has declared any support in the ousted president. Also there was not an official statement of recognition or non-recognition of the new regime. Statements were made only on the seizure of power through brutal violence and on the involvement of radical nationalists and fascist elements.

According to the Russian perception, in Ukraine today there is no central government and the state is dominated with governmental anarchy and lack of stability and security to its citizens. According to Russia’s security doctrine, non-stability of neighboring countries is a threat to the Russian security. Moreover, Russia sees what is happening in Ukraine as a conspiracy planned by the US and NATO, in its ultimate goal to make Ukraine a NATO member state within a certain time.

The expansion of NATO eastward, towards Ukraine, at the risk of placing NATO bases in the territory of Ukraine, first ands foremost missile bases, is preserved by Russia as an existential threat. Apparently, some kind of a Putin Doctrine was expected in Russia, which means zero concessions to the West and the US in their attempt to expand their influence in the territory of the former Soviet Union.

The first indication of the existence of such a doctrine was the war with Georgia. Russia also does not rely on negotiations and agreements with Europe and the US, following the failed attempt of agreement in Libya, and the latest agreement in Ukraine, with guarantees signed by European foreign ministers, violated several hours after it was signed.

Russia decided to openly intervene in Ukraine and to outweigh by itself the governmental status of Ukraine according to its interests. The first step is putting troops in Crimea. About six thousand soldiers were moved into Crimea using the Russian Navy. 10 cargo aircraft were as well positioned in Crimea, 10 fighter jets and 30 APCs (armored personnel carriers). This indicates that Crimea may be a military base for a quick movement of forces to other regions of Ukraine.

In the South-Eastern regions of Ukraine, with considerable Russian population such as Crimea, a local government stabilization process against the Kiev authorities has begun, with a request for assistance from Russia. It is possible that these areas will be inserted with Russian troops as well. In any case those areas began establishing local forces on the basis of military personnel, police and local volunteers, assisted by the Russian army. It is possible, upon completion of the construction of these units, they will begin to move towards other regions of Ukraine to take control of Kiev and the rest of the state.

At this point, Russia is not interested in the dividing of Ukraine. First of all because of the fear that some parts which would not remain in the pro-Russian Ukraine will serve as the basis of a NATO member state, with all that entails. During the next few days, there may be a Russian takeover of nuclear power plants in Ukraine (there are two) in order to prevent acts of sabotage that could cause a nuclear disaster “Chernobyl-style”, or even worst, and takeover of strategic points and missile and naval bases.

Special attention will be given to the airports in Ukraine, especially the main ones, those which the Russian army could control, both for the benefit of its operations and to prevent reinforcements shipments flown to Ukraine. The South-Eastern regions, where most of Ukraine’s industry is concentrated, may stop the transfer of goods and money to other areas of Ukraine and Kiev, and by that exacerbate the economic and financial condition. Russia may in return increase the economic aid to those areas.

On the other side stands the Ukraine army. This army is weak. A substantial share of it has been acquiring hostile feelings towards the regime in Kiev. Perhaps, a part of it will support the government in Kiev, while the other part will support its opponents in the South-Eastern regions. In any case, the units which will support the pro-Russian forces will receive the support of the Russians and their army. The units which will stand against and try to exert power might be attacked by the Russian army.

Transfer of forces to Crimea, assignment of soldiers on the border and encouragement of pro-Russian demonstrations. Yakov (Yasha) Kedmi outlines the moves of the Russian President in the struggle for the future of Ukraine

Russia sees in the current events in Ukraine “intervention and a subversive action of the US and Europe” for change of regime through use of force, and an overthrow of a legitimate regime, which was democratically elected.

Putin did not meet with the deposed President Yanukovych, and neither he nor anyone of the Russian leadership has declared any support in the ousted president. Also there was not an official statement of recognition or non-recognition of the new regime. Statements were made only on the seizure of power through brutal violence and on the involvement of radical nationalists and fascist elements.

According to the Russian perception, in Ukraine today there is no central government and the state is dominated with governmental anarchy and lack of stability and security to its citizens. According to Russia’s security doctrine, non-stability of neighboring countries is a threat to the Russian security. Moreover, Russia sees what is happening in Ukraine as a conspiracy planned by the US and NATO, in its ultimate goal to make Ukraine a NATO member state within a certain time.

The expansion of NATO eastward, towards Ukraine, at the risk of placing NATO bases in the territory of Ukraine, first ands foremost missile bases, is preserved by Russia as an existential threat. Apparently, some kind of a Putin Doctrine was expected in Russia, which means zero concessions to the West and the US in their attempt to expand their influence in the territory of the former Soviet Union.

The first indication of the existence of such a doctrine was the war with Georgia. Russia also does not rely on negotiations and agreements with Europe and the US, following the failed attempt of agreement in Libya, and the latest agreement in Ukraine, with guarantees signed by European foreign ministers, violated several hours after it was signed.

Russia decided to openly intervene in Ukraine and to outweigh by itself the governmental status of Ukraine according to its interests. The first step is putting troops in Crimea. About six thousand soldiers were moved into Crimea using the Russian Navy. 10 cargo aircraft were as well positioned in Crimea, 10 fighter jets and 30 APCs (armored personnel carriers). This indicates that Crimea may be a military base for a quick movement of forces to other regions of Ukraine.

In the South-Eastern regions of Ukraine, with considerable Russian population such as Crimea, a local government stabilization process against the Kiev authorities has begun, with a request for assistance from Russia. It is possible that these areas will be inserted with Russian troops as well. In any case those areas began establishing local forces on the basis of military personnel, police and local volunteers, assisted by the Russian army. It is possible, upon completion of the construction of these units, they will begin to move towards other regions of Ukraine to take control of Kiev and the rest of the state.

At this point, Russia is not interested in the dividing of Ukraine. First of all because of the fear that some parts which would not remain in the pro-Russian Ukraine will serve as the basis of a NATO member state, with all that entails. During the next few days, there may be a Russian takeover of nuclear power plants in Ukraine (there are two) in order to prevent acts of sabotage that could cause a nuclear disaster “Chernobyl-style”, or even worst, and takeover of strategic points and missile and naval bases.

Special attention will be given to the airports in Ukraine, especially the main ones, those which the Russian army could control, both for the benefit of its operations and to prevent reinforcements shipments flown to Ukraine. The South-Eastern regions, where most of Ukraine’s industry is concentrated, may stop the transfer of goods and money to other areas of Ukraine and Kiev, and by that exacerbate the economic and financial condition. Russia may in return increase the economic aid to those areas.

On the other side stands the Ukraine army. This army is weak. A substantial share of it has been acquiring hostile feelings towards the regime in Kiev. Perhaps, a part of it will support the government in Kiev, while the other part will support its opponents in the South-Eastern regions. In any case, the units which will support the pro-Russian forces will receive the support of the Russians and their army. The units which will stand against and try to exert power might be attacked by the Russian army.

Law Introduced To Duma Enabling Fast Annexation Of Territories In Crisis

Ukraine crisis: Russia mulls new land-grab law


Pro-Russian protest in Crimea, 27 Feb 14 Ethnic Russians in Crimea reject the new pro-Western leaders in Ukraine’s capital Kiev

Russian MPs have proposed new laws that would make it easier for Russia to incorporate parts of Ukraine, and allow Russian citizenship to be fast-tracked.

Pro-Kremlin party A Just Russia put forward both bills, and linked them directly to the situation in Ukraine.

Separatist and pro-Russian feelings are strong in Ukraine’s Crimea region, which is now the focus of the crisis.

Russian MPs say a referendum or a plea from a territory’s leaders would be enough to trigger the new provisions.

There are already many Russian citizens in Crimea.

In Sevastopol, base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, a majority hold Russian passports.

Under Russia’s existing law, a neighbouring state would have to sign a treaty with Russia to allow part of its territory to become a new “subject” of the Russian Federation.

But Mikhail Yemelyanov, deputy leader of A Just Russia, said the law had been drafted for peaceful times, and did not go far enough for situations where a state was falling apart.

“In conditions where a neighbouring state is disintegrating I don’t think the Russian Federation should be restricted in its ability to accept a territory whose people have expressed a clear will and desire to be in Russia,” he said.

Map of the Crimean peninsula

Since Russia’s war with Georgia in 2008, the breakaway Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have come under Moscow’s control.

Russia poured troops into both regions to help pro-Russian separatists who did not recognise Georgia’s authority.

The other bill to be considered by the Duma – Russia’s lower house – would speed up the procedures for issuing Russian passports.

Passport applicants would not have to pay a state tax, and previous residence in Russia would no longer be required.

In addition, they would not have to have sufficient funds to support themselves and would not have to give up their Ukrainian citizenship.

‘Fascist threat’

The bill’s preamble says it is aimed “at supporting the fraternal people of Ukraine, especially the Russian-speaking ones, who are defenceless in the face of the ‘brown threat’,” a reference to World War Two fascists who wore brown uniforms.

The bill would allow Ukrainians to apply for Russian passports at Russian diplomatic missions before 1 August, and they could become citizens after two months, instead of waiting a year, as is currently the norm.

The plan to have a new fast-track procedure for issuing Russian passports was announced in Sevastopol on Thursday by A Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov.

Several Russian MPs have also gone to Crimea, including Russian celebrities – former Olympic ice skating champion Irina Rodnina, former cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova and heavyweight boxer Nikolai Valuev.

New Ukrainian Boss Warns Russian Troops To Remain In Their Barracks

[SEE:  Armed men seize government HQ, raise Russian flag in Ukraine’s Crimea]

Ukraine Warns Russia on Troop Movements

kyiv post

The interim president of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov

The interim president of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov     © RIA Novosti. Andrey Stenin

KIEV, February 27 (RIA Novosti) – The interim president of Ukraine warned Thursday that any movement by Russian forces outside their bases in the southern republic of Crimea will be interpreted as an act of military aggression.

Already frayed nerves on the peninsula reached breaking point after armed gunmen occupied the parliament Thursday in the Crimean town of Simferopol, only one day after fistfights erupted outside the building between supporters and opponents of the country’s incoming leadership.

Russia, which has a substantial military presence at its leased naval base in the Ukrainian Black Sea city of Sevastopol, has insisted it will not interfere in its neighbor’s affairs, while at the same time voicing worries about possible discrimination against ethnic Russians in the country.

About half of Crimea’s population identifies as ethnic Russian.

Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov appealed to Russian Black Sea servicemen to refrain from leaving their quarters, apparently echoing wider international concern that Moscow may choose to throw its weight behind pro-Russian groups in Crimea seeking to defy authorities in Kiev.

“Any movement, particularly with weapons, outside official residences regulated by our agreement will be interpreted by us as military aggression,” Turchynov said.

Russia maintains thousands of military personnel at bases in Sevastopol that it rents from Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered snap military exercises in Russia’s western regions, including those bordering Ukraine.

Eyewitnesses in central Sevastopol reported seeing Russian armored personnel carriers on Tuesday and there have been other unconfirmed reports of Russian troop movements around the city since the weekend.

Acting Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov posted a link Thursday to an article on a Ukrainian news site reporting on a column of Russian APCs heading for Simferopol on a planned exercise being turned back by local law enforcement authorities.

In recent days, a series of pro-Russian demonstrations have taken place across Crimea. Protesters have said at those gatherings that they do not recognize the current government in Kiev and have called for Russian intervention.

Demonstrators raise Russian flag in Kerch




Demonstrators raise Russian flag in KerchPicture: AFP

Kerch. Demonstrators raised a Russian flag onto a pylon of the city hall in Kerch, which is a city on the Kerch Peninsula of eastern Crimea, UNIAN reported.
A protest rally was staged in Kerch by people who oppose EU association. The protesters were carrying flags of the Russian Unity party and others. They were also carrying posters which read ”Shameful intervention” and ”Crimea wants peace”.
The protesters started chanting ”Kerch-Crimea, we want [to be] in Russia” in front of the city hall. The Mayor tried to subdue them without success. Clashes followed.
The demonstrators took down the national flag of Ukraine, which was fastened to a pylon, and raised the flags of Russia and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

© 2014 All rights reserved. Citing Focus Information Agency is mandatory!

Putin Visits With Leaders Manning Next Line of Defense In Western Psywar

[Considering the Ukrainian factor and the urgency of the hour, we can safely assume that Putin’s first important meetings after the close of the Olympic pageantry would be those national leaders manning the next line of defenses between Ukraine and Russia.  The following comes from the website of the President of Russia.  I have added links below to the national challenges currently confronting each of Putin’s visitors (excluding the Korean reps).  After Ukraine, it is reasonable to question whether the Russian military will do anything to prevent the next attack, or simply wait until Russia itself is invaded.

The ongoing US State Dept/CIA blitzkrieg across Europe is just as atrocious and immoral as Hitler’s blitz, even though ours is being committed under the disguise of “humanitarianism.” 

All of our leaders are evil men.]

Vladimir Putin held a number of bilateral meetings

president of russia

February 23, 2014,

Photo: the Presidential Press and Information Office Before the closing ceremony of the XXII 2014 Winter Olympics. With President of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev. February 23, 2014—(SEE: Bulgarian Nationalists Stage Rally  U.S. to Train Libyan Military Personnel in Bulgaria)
Photo: the Presidential Press and Information Office Before the closing ceremony of the XXII 2014 Winter Olympics. With Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic.February 23, 2014—(SEE:  Colour revolution unleashed in Bosnia)
Photo: the Presidential Press and Information Office Before the closing ceremony of the XXII 2014 Winter Olympics. With Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan.February 23, 2014—(SEE:  Protesters Say ‘No To The USSR’ As Putin Woos Armenia)

Before the closing ceremony of the XXII 2014 Winter Olympics, Mr Putin spoke with President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach. The President and Mr Bach congratulated each other on the successful hosting of the Sochi Olympics.

Mr Putin also spoke with President of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev, Prime Minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic, Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea Chung Hong-won, and President of the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee Kim Jin-sun.

Chess in a Minefield–Ukraine

Chess in a Minefield: The Global Implications of the Ukraine Conflict

der spiegel

By Uwe Klussmann

Smoke rising on Independence Square in Kiev


Smoke rising on Independence Square in Kiev on Thursday.

The bloody conflict in Ukraine could trigger yet another confrontation between the West and Russia. Dominance in Europe is at stake on the geopolitical chess board. While Ukraine itself could descend into civil war.

The quote printed in SPIEGEL 33 years ago was a noteworthy one, and still sounds remarkably topical: “We have to ensure that this Soviet empire, when it breaks apart due to its internal contradictions, does so with a whimper rather than a bang.” The sentence was spoken by US Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger during an interview conducted in September of 1981.

This week in Ukraine, one of the core regions of that former empire, it is looking very much like a “bang.” Thursday in Kiev has seen bloody violence that has cost the lives of dozens amid gunfire and brutal clashes on Independence Square. Hundreds have been wounded, many seriously. The violence comes on the heels of similar battles on Tuesday — and mark the beginning of what could become an extended and dramatic conflict over the country’s future.

Some of those who have traveled to Kiev to view the situation first hand in recent weeks are fully aware of what a “bang” looks like — US Senator John McCain, 77, for example, a veteran of Vietnam who was shot down in 1967 and spent over two years as a prisoner of war. In December, he stood on the Independence Square stage in Kiev and called out: “People of Ukraine, this is your moment! The free world is with you! America is with you!”

In other words, the Cold War has returned and Moscow is once again the adversary. The only difference is that the weapons have changed.

It is no longer just the association agreement with the European Union that is at stake. Nor is the future of President Viktor Yanukovych, a man surrounded by rumors of corruption, the focus anymore. Rather, geopolitics has taken center stage and the question as to which power centers in Europe and the Eurasia region will be dominant in the future has become paramount. Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski once compared the region to a chess board. The players, as always, include the US, Russia, the EU and NATO.

Moscow in Checkmate

It’s a chess game in a minefield. Just how explosive the country called Ukraine really is became clear from a background interview given by former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar — a liberal reformer and friendly to the West — in 2008, one year before his death. Those wishing to make Ukraine a member of NATO, as was the intention of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, overlook the fact that it would put Russia in an untenable defensive position, he said. The effort, he added, should be abandoned.

Brzezinski would love to have put Moscow in checkmate. In his book “The Grand Chessboard,” he writes that without Ukraine, Russia “would become predominantly an Asian imperial state” at risk of being drawn into conflicts in Central Asia. But if Moscow were able to gain control of Ukraine and its resources, Brzezinski wrote, the Russian Federation would be a “powerful imperial state.” He saw danger in a potential “German-Russian collusion” and in the possibility of an agreement between Europe and Russia with the goal of pushing America out of the region.

Essentially, Brzezinski’s point of view is one that guides American strategy to this day: The US wants to keep Russia as far away as possible. If the Europeans get involved in Ukraine and harm their relations with Moscow, that is fine with Washington.

Indeed, US Deputy Foreign Minister Victoria Nuland’s infamous “Fuck the EU” gaffe, can hardly be seen as a mistake. Rather it is a logical, if somewhat vulgar, expression of America’s geopolitical stance.

Weakness in the US Strategy

There’s a weakness to this strategy though: In contrast to the former Baltic Soviet republics with their small populations, it would be difficult to integrate Ukraine with its 45 million residents in the same way.

The country is also deeply divided. The economically weak regions in the west are bastions of nationalists. And Ukraine’s major companies, like its steel mills, ship and turbine building operations are located in the east and are focused on the Russian market.

Russian is the predominant language in daily use in the capital city of Kiev, millions of Russians live in the eastern part of the country and on the Crimea as well. The Black Sea peninsula was first transferred to Ukraine in 1954, and against the will of the people living there.

Indeed, Crimea could soon become the next hot spot in the conflict. Russia’s Black Sea fleet is stationed in Sevastopol, a source of irritation for Ukrainian nationalists and friends of the United States.

At an event in Kiev in October, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt described a “myriad of opportunities” if Ukraine aligned itself with the United States and said “you have no better friend in this endeavor than the United States. … We stand ready to support you, the Ukrainian people, as you find your place in Europe.”

Dangerously Sweet Promises

Sweet promises like that, which seem tantamount to blank checks, have the potential to drive one of Europe’s poorest countries into civil war. It’s not just a government apparatus suspected of corruption that is on the verge of faltering in Ukraine — the foundations of a country whose current borders are hardly sustainable at this point are also being shaken. The tactics adopted so far by Yanukovych’s regime of alternating between brutal strikes and the temporary retreat will only further radicalize the protest movement.

When field commanders capable of anything lay down the law, the dynamic of secession begins, as we previously saw in the Caucuses. The presidium of the Crimean Supreme Council has already threatened that it may urge residents to “defend civil peace” on the peninsula.

Thus far, the Kremlin hasn’t sought to encourage separatist sentiment in eastern and southern Ukraine. And it doesn’t appear that Vladimir Putin and his system of power is interested in the prospect of a civil war in his backyard.

But it still has the potential to break out even if Moscow doesn’t want it. Those familiar with Ukraine’s history know that the militant nationalists in the west of the country have gone time and time again into battles they can’t win. After World War II, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army waged a senseless partisan war for five years against the Soviet state, leaving thousands dead on both sides.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called Ukraine a “powder keg” that one cannot allow to be lit. Whatever the case, romanticizing revolution can only end in a “big bang” — the fallout from which would extend far beyond Ukraine.

Fascism’s Ugly Face in Ukraine


 and the Pretty Little Mask That Hides It

Fascism’s Ugly Face in Ukraine

the people's voice

by Stephen Lendman

Far-right Ukrainian ultranationalists are fascist extremists. Washington provides support. Oleh Tyahnybok heads the neo-Nazi Svoboda party. It’s allied with likeminded groups.

They openly display Stepan Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B) red and black flag.

He was a Nazi collaborator. He participated in mass executions and ethnic cleansing.

Svoboda’s slogan is “Ukraine for the Ukrainians.” Bandera said the same thing. He wanted Ukraine made ethnically pure. Mass extermination followed to do so.

Svoboda earlier called itself Socialist-Nationalists. It bears erie resemblance to Hitler’s National Socialism. It reflects fascism writ large.

Hooliganism is longstanding fascist strategy. Blackshirt and Brownshirt violence helped elevate Mussolini and Hitler to power respectively.

Communists, socialists, unionists and other opponents were attacked. El Duce’s 1922 March on Rome coup made him Italy’s youngest ever prime minister.

He took full advantage. He established a one-party state dictatorship. He eliminated competitors. Italy’s business class, military and moderate right wing supported him.

In Weimar Germany’s final years, economic and political crisis conditions existed. Ahead of 1932 parliamentary elections, Prussian authorities reported about 300 acts of politically motivated violence.

About two dozen were killed. Hundreds of others were injured. Brownshirt storm troopers enlisted working class support.

Goebbels provoked communists and social democrats. Propaganda highlighted Nazi martyrs killed or injured in street battles.

Hitler’s Mein Kampf was a revolutionary manifesto. It denounced what he called the world’s twin evils – communism and Judaism.

It openly said Germany’s future “lie(‘s) in the acquisition of land in the East at the expense of Russia.”

He blamed Weimar governance, communists, social democrats and Jews for Germany’s crisis. He wanted an entirely new order established.

He wanted absolute control. He eliminated all competitors. He transformed Germany into a one-party state dictatorship. He wanted Nazi hegemony over Europe.

Right-wing extremism dominates Western societies today. America more than ever resembles a police state. Duopoly power runs things.

Rule of law principles don’t matter. Human and civil rights are disappearing in plain sight. Friendly US fascism is increasingly unfriendly. It’s a short leap to tyrannical rule.

Ideological extremists threaten Europe. They’re more subtle than earlier day fascists. They’re just as dangerous. They want unchallenged power replacing democratic freedoms.

Neoliberalism replaced social justice. Right-wing politics dominates. US Republicans and Democrats are two sides of the same coin.

Not a dime’s worth of difference separates them. Most of Europe operates the same way. Societies are increasingly unfit to live in.

Hard line fascism is a short leap away. Con men like Obama and like-minded European counterparts take full advantage. Powerful interests are served at the expense of all others.

In summer 2013, months before violence erupted in Ukraine, Svoboda conducted paramilitary training.

Obama supports its extremism. So do key EU partners. Fascist elements operated openly in Ukraine since Washington’s 2004 Orange Revolution.

Democratically elected Viktor Yanukovoych was ousted. Viktor Yushchenko replaced him.

Soros money was involved. So were State Department funded organizations. In January 2010, Yanukovych was reelected.

He defeated Yushchenko. His last presidential act was naming Bandera a Hero of Ukraine.

It’s the highest national title award. It’s given for “personal heroism and great labor achievements.” Honoring Bandera caused uproar in Russia, Poland, Ukraine and elsewhere.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center and other Jewish groups condemned it. His award was later revoked.

Post-war, he worked for West German intelligence. Washington-recruited Nazi General Reinhardt Gehlen headed it. In 1959, KGB assassins killed him.

His close associates were CIA and MI6 operatives. Their past Nazi affiliation was no deterrent.

Bandara’s legacy thrives in Ukraine today. His present day counterparts get open US support.

In late January, Ukrainian leaders, civic groups and religious organizations wrote Washington, EU officials and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

They condemned neo-Nazi support. They said in part:

“You should understand that in supporting the actions of the guerrillas in Ukraine…you…are directly protecting, inciting and egging on Ukrainian neo-Nazis and neo-fascists.”

“None of these oppositionists (Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, and Tyahnybok) hide that they are continuing the ideology and the practices of the OUN-UPA.”

“Wherever the Euromaidan people go in Ukraine, they disseminate, besides the slogans mentioned above, neo-Nazi, racist symbols.”

“Also confirming the neo-Nazi nature of the Euromaidan is the constant use of portraits of the bloody executioners of our people, Bandera and Shukhevych – agents of the (Nazi military intelligence) Abwehr.”

“Have the UN, the EU, and the USA ceased to recognize the Charter and Verdict of the International War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremburg, where the Hitlerite Nazis and their henchmen were convicted?”

“Have human rights ceased to be a value for the countries of the EU and the world community?”

“Is the Ukrainian nationalists’ devotion to Hitler and his mass murders of civilians now considered democracy?”

Western-supported fascist elements are responsible for violent protests. They’re terrorizing Ukrainians. They’re murdering civilians. They’re killing police.

They’re occupying government buildings. They’re setting others ablaze. Yanukovych defends his country responsibly.

He’s wrongfully blamed for their violence. He’s battling fascism’s ugly agenda.

Rogue elements support it. Others are duped to do so. Washington and EU partners fund it. Most Ukrainians have no idea what’s going on.

Their futures are on the line. So is Ukraine’s sovereignty. Eighty-one years ago this past January 30, Hitler rose to power.

He became Germany’s chancellor. He did so with Western support. He kept it through much of the 1930s.

He established a ruthless dictatorship. Mass slaughter, barbarism and anti-Semitism defined it. He ravaged most of Europe. He murdered millions.

He might have emerged victorious if he hadn’t invaded Soviet Russia. Waging war on two major fronts defeated him. Imagine if things turned out the other way.

Fascism didn’t die. It’s alive and well. It resides in Europe. It thrives in America. US policy exceeds the worst of Nazi crimes.

Hitler’s Third Reich lasted a dozen years. Post-WW II America wages war on humanity. It does so at home and abroad.

Millions ruthlessly slaughtered attest to America’s ruthlessness. Syria is in the eye of the storm. So is Ukraine. Both countries are US-instigated battlegrounds.

How many more will die before both conflicts end? What will happen in their aftermath?

How many more countries will America attack? Venezuela is the top Western Hemisphere target. Iran tops the Middle East list.

Trotsky once wrote:

“Fascism is a particular governmental system based on the uprooting of all elements of proletarian democracy within bourgeois society.”

“The task of fascism lies not only in destroying the Communist vanguard but in holding the entire class in a state of forced disunity.”

“To this end, the physical annihilation of the most revolutionary section of the workers does not suffice.”

“It is also necessary to smash all independent and voluntary organizations, to demolish all the defensive bulwarks of the proletariat, and to uproot whatever has been achieved during three-quarters of a century by the Social Democracy and the trade unions.”

European Jews suffered most under Hitler. So did all other Third Reich enemies.

Washington wants all challengers eliminated. It wants supreme global power. It’s waging war on humanity to achieve it.

It may end up destroying it altogether. How many wars are too many? How many more millions will suffer and die? How much more ravaging is too much?

When will Washington’s imperial agenda be challenged? When will White House lies be universally denounced?

On February 20, an Office of the Press Secretary statement wrongfully blamed Yanukovych. It ignored months of US-instigated, manipulated, supported street violence. It lied said:

“We are outraged by the images of Ukrainian security forces firing automatic weapons on their own people.”

“We urge President Yanukovych to immediately withdraw his security forces from downtown Kyiv and to respect the right of peaceful protest, and we urge protesters to express themselves peacefully.”

“We urge the Ukrainian military not to get involved in a conflict that can and should be resolved by political means.”

“The use of force will not resolve the crisis – clear steps must be taken to stop the violence and initiate meaningful dialogue that reduces tension and addresses the grievances of the Ukrainian people.”

“The United States will work with our European allies to hold those responsible for violence accountable and to help the Ukrainian people get a unified and independent Ukraine back on the path to a better future.”

It bears repeating. Washington bears full responsibility. Plans to topple Yanukovych were made well before violence erupted.

Obama chose when and how to initiate it. He’s in league with Ukrainian fascist extremists. He wants another imperial trophy. He’ll stop at nothing to get it.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

The Ukrainian Extremists Have Guns

[It is really incredible that Obama and Putin have allowed this festering boil in Ukraine to reach this point of rupture.  It is indicative of the high level of violence we are about to witness in Syria and perhaps Lebanon.  The temporary holding pattern established between Russia and the US in Syria over the issue of chemical disarmament is about to give way, as Obama and the Arabs move militarily to secure southern Syria (probably including Damascus), probably with Israeli participation.  Russia is in no mood to tolerate such an intrusion into Syria, implying an impending US/Russian military confrontation.

The opposition is now openly using firearms against the govt.  The violence level has nowhere to go but up.]

Fears of conflict escalation grow as police report numbers of stolen weapons

kyiv post

Ukraine — by Katya Gorchinskaya

Anti-government protesters clash with the police in Kiev on February 18, 2014. Police on Tuesday launched an assault on the main anti-government protest camp on Kiev’s Independence Square after the bloodiest clashes in almost three months of anti-government demonstrations, AFP journalists at the scene said. AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII BOIKO


Ukraine’s authorities admitted on Feb. 19 that massive stocks of arms were stolen from regional police and Security Service of Ukraine headquarters, and suggested that those weapons were being transported to Kyiv for use by protesters.

At the same time, the government has not made any meaningful steps towards a peaceful resolution of the deadly conflict beyond declarations that President Viktor Yanukovych is ready for more negotiations with the opposition.

The political gridlock is fueling fears that a new spiral of violence may be imminent.

Protesters attacked a number of government buildings in western Ukraine on Feb. 18 during mass unrest in western Ukraine, including three regional Security Service of Ukraine departments in Lviv and Ternopil and seized the Ivano-Frankivsk department, according to Volodymyr Borodko, the deputy head of the law enforcement agency known more commonly by its SBU nickname.

“The attackers did not take into account the fact that buildings contained limited access documents, special investigation equipment and weapons,” Borodko said.

He said 267 pistols were seized by the protesters, as well as two rifles, three machine guns, 92 hand grenades, and about 15,000 pieces of ammunition.

Serhiy Burlakov, a representative of the Interior Ministry, said that also close to 300 piece of arms were stolen from police departments in Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Rivne and Ternopil regions that were also taken over.

In a separate statement, the SBU said protesters since yesterday have seized more than 1,500 guns and 100,000 rounds of ammunition, which they have used “to commit murders and take hostages,” the service said in a statement.

A new attempt to take over the police department in Khmelnytskiy took place on Feb. 19, the Interior Ministry said.

The law enforcers have started criminal investigations of the takeovers, while the SBU alerted its anti-terrorist units. Also, at least one unit of the army’s paratroopers was moved to Kyiv, according to the defense ministry.

Opposition interpreted these moves as preparation for a new crackdown on EuroMaidan protesters after failure to clear the protesters off the street on the night of Feb. 18. Police units were stopped from advancing when a water cannon and at least one armored personnel vehicles were set on fire by the protesters.

But death toll from violent clashes that continued all day and most of the night was at least 26, and more than 1,000 people were reported injured on both sides, including over 350 law enforcement officers, Burlakov said.

EuroMaidan’s information department sent out an alert on Feb. 19, saying that a new attack by the police is planned at night. During the day, protesters stocked up on Molotov cocktails and rocks and cobblestones dug out of the pavement on Maidan Nezalezhnosti and surrounding streets.

They also took over the central post office building to compensate for the loss of their bases in Trade Union House, which burned down on Feb. 18 and two other buildings nearby, which were taken over by the police.

At a briefing with diplomats, Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara said that protesters were also transporting weapons from western Ukraine to Kyiv to use in future combat.

“I would like to refer to an episode on TV last night where leader of the Right Sector in Rivne Oblast, and he directly admitted that his organization planned and controlled the seizure of regional governments, and moreover, he said that the seized weapons and military vehicles will be sent to Kyiv to use in protests,” Kozhara said.

But Arseniy Yatseniuk, leader of Batkivshchyna, denied that protesters had any weapons. “We categorically to do support anyone who has weapons,” he said.

The Right Sector had previously called on all legal gun owners to join EuroMaidan and protect the protesters from police guns. The Interior Ministry, however, has insisted that police has not been using guns, despite numerous video and photo evidence assembled by the media and protesters.

Burlakov suggested that most of the hundreds of gunshot wounds received by the protesters were actually shots from the back by fellow protesters.

In the meantime, signs came from across the country of government losing control over parts of the country.

The Lviv Oblast Council announced it no longer was taking orders from the central government. Also, an unidentified group of people was reported to build a barricade close to Krakovets crossing point on the Ukrainian-Polish border in Lviv Oblast.

They did not allow Ukrainians to cross, only letting out foreign passport holders and causing delays. It was not clear what their demands were, according to Henrik Litvin, the Polish ambassador to Ukraine.

The Right Sector said they set up a check point on Kyiv-Chop highway and examine most cars to make sure they had no Berkut and “titushki,” the slang term for government-hired thugs who roam Kyiv in gangs at night, attacking and shooting people around the perimeter of EuroMaidan. At least two people were killed on Feb. 18 by titushki, including a journalist of pro-government Vesti newspaper.

In the meantime, the government showed little signs of trying to settle the conflict beyond offers of negotiations. In his address to the nation in the early hours of Feb. 19, President Viktor Yanukovych blamed opposition leaders for instigating violence and saying they will carry responsibility for it.

He also said a compromise needs to be found. “We need to sit at the negotiating table and save Ukraine. Otherwise the future generations will not forgive us for running the state that has to belong to them, our heirs,” Yanukovych said.

But the previous round of negotiations, which took place in the middle of the night on Feb. 18, started badly and finished even worse.

After forcing opposition leaders Yatseniuk and Vitali Klitschko to wait for him for more than an hour, the president then blamed them for violence and deaths. Both leaders left negotiations because they felt no progress was being made, they told Ukrainian media.

Kyiv Post deputy chief editor Katya Gorchinskaya can be reached at

The Saner Ukrainian Factions Worry About Russian Intervention

Russian adviser threatens Ukraine with military force


Nele Obermueller and Olga Rudenko, Special for USA TODAY

Ukrainian protesters say they have no doubt that Russia will intervene militarily in the unrest that has been plaguing the former Soviet territory for months.


KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian protesters said Thursday they have no doubt Russia will intervene militarily in the unrest here if the current Moscow-aligned president gives in to demands for more freedoms and stronger ties to the West.

“Everyone knows that Russia is going to send troops to Ukraine – we have known it for a long time now,” said Kateryna Chorna of Kiev who has regularly taken part in the anti-government protests that started in November.

“And everyone knows that some of (the Russian troops) are already here but nobody wants to speak openly about it because nobody wants to fight our brothers,” she said, referring to a widespread belief that Russian military make up the police force and hired provocateurs trying to sabotage and subdue the protests.

Protesters expressed their fears as a senior U.S. diplomat arrived in Kiev to try to help find a resolution to the country’s political crisis, and an adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened Ukraine with attack.

Sergei Glazyev on Thursday accused the United States of funding the Ukrainian “rebels” by as much as $20 million a day for weapons and other supplies. He urged the Ukrainian government to put down the “attempted coup” or Russia may have to to intervene under the terms of a 1994 agreement between the U.S. and Russia, according to the Ukraine edition of the Russian daily Kommersant.

Glazyev was alluding to the Budapest Memorandum, a treaty in which the Ukraine agreed to turn over a nuclear arsenal on its soil left over after the fall of the Soviet Union, of which Ukraine was a part until it dissolved in 1991.

In return, the United States, United Kingdom and Russia, nuclear powers all, guaranteed to respect the independence and the borders of Ukraine and reaffirmed their commitment to seek immediate U.N. Security Council action should Ukraine become a victim of an act of aggression.

But the memorandum, which is not binding, refers only to “nuclear aggression” and it requires the signatories to consult each other if other unspecified aggression arises.

Glazyev said the agreement binds Russia and the United States “to intervene when conflicts of this kind arise. And what the Americans are doing now, unilaterally and crudely interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine, is a clear breach of that treaty.”

On Thursday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland met separately in Kiev with President Viktor Yanukovych and with opposition leaders to find a solution to the conflict. Yanukovych is scheduled to meet with Putin on Friday at the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Protesters want Yanukovych to resign, and for his successor to sign an economic treaty with the European Union that Yanukovych rejected in favor of a $15 billion loan and gas deliveries from Putin.

Nuland’s visit comes amid growing frustration over parliament’s failure to enact constitutional reforms and an amnesty for protesters. The legislature met three days this week but produced no results and adjourned Thursday until next week.

In Kiev on Thursday, about 2,000 demonstrators marched toward parliament carrying a banner reading: “We are tired of waiting.” Protesters said they were ready to resume clashes with police, if parliament’s inaction continued.

The U.S. and the European Union have called for Yanukovych and the opposition to reach a compromise and warned Yanukovych against using more force against the protesters.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, adopted a non-binding resolution Thursday urging the bloc’s 28 nations to prepare targeted sanctions such as freezing assets of “Ukrainian officials, legislators and oligarchs personally responsible for the attacks on and deaths of protesters.”

Glazyev said the Ukrainian government needs to spurn outsiders and put down the insurrection with force.

“The Ukrainian government is making a mistake by resisting the use of force to solve the crisis, and if the protesters will not disperse, the violent suppression of protests will be inevitable,” he said. “In a situation where the authorities face an attempted coup, they simply have no other course of action – otherwise, the country could be plunged into chaos.”

The protests, which have seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets, had remained largely peaceful but turned violent last month as demonstrators clashed with police, leading to at least four deaths, according to police, although others say the toll is higher.

The United States and the EU want the opposition to share in government. Yanukovych offered leading opposition figures high-level posts in the government but they rejected the offer, instead calling for new elections.

Analysts say that while Russia has a special interest in Ukraine, Glazyev does not speak for Putin and is exaggerating the threat of military force.

“Mr. Glazyev has a record of making inflammatory statements about Ukraine – to my knowledge, he does not speak for the Russian government on Ukraine,” said John Lough, an analyst specializing on the Russia and Eurasia at Chatham House think tank in London. “I think that any potential intervention by Russia would be political and economic, and certainly not military.”

But many protesters believe that the Ukraine government is playing for time and would welcome Russian military intervention if protesters refuse to back down.

“The only question is if they will act now or after the Winter Olympics end,” said protester Chorna. “Me, my family and my friends, we are all very worried about this because it will have impact on business, on salaries, benefits.”

Ukraine Army Promises To Keep Out of Emerging Civil Conflict

Ukraine Army Decay Checks Egypt-Like Option as Rift Grows


By Leon Mangasarian, Kateryna Choursina and Daryna Krasnolutska

Photographer: Koerner/Getty Images
While the president’s inability to staunch a wave of popular protests in the city’s main square echoes the final days of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Russian-born Alexander Defense Minister Pavlo Lebedev has said the Ukrainian army won’t get involved on either side.

As Ukraine looks to solve its escalating crisis, the nation’s military has so far been out of the equation.

Two decades of budget cuts have left the army a shadow of its post-Soviet-breakup self. Even with loyalists across the top of the command structure, the poorly trained and ill-equipped military is unlikely to be an option for President Viktor Yanukovych. Soldiers also loath getting involved in politics, unlike in other hotspots including Egypt.

“Morale is low,” Susan Stewart, the deputy head of the Eastern Europe and Eurasia Research Division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, said in an interview. “They are relatively poorly trained and their equipment is inadequate.”

While the president’s inability to staunch a wave of popular protests in the city’s main square echoes the final days of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Russian-born Defense Minister Pavlo Lebedev has said the Ukrainian army won’t get involved on either side.

Yanukovych and the opposition are at an impasse after concessions by the government failed to end the spreading protests that turned deadly last week. With the cabinet’s resignation not enough to placate activists, the two sides are bracing for escalating tensions.

‘Urgent Steps’

The Ukrainian president, who went on sick leave yesterday, denounced opposition leaders and accused them of putting their political interests “above the existence of Ukraine itself.” The European Union warned that the conflict threatens to escalate into a civil war that may break Ukraine apart.

The country’s 182,000 military personnel have so far stayed in their barracks throughout the crisis.

The Defense Ministry today called on Yanukovych “to take urgent steps, within the limits of law, to stabilize the country.” Ministry staff members at a general meeting yesterday expressed “support” for Yanukovych and spoke of the “threat” to the territorial integrity of Ukraine if the crisis worsens, it said in a statement on its website.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a phone call with Lebedev last month called for restraint against civilians. Hagel cited the potential damage of any involvement by the military in breaking up demonstrations, while Lebedev said Yanukovych’s position is not to use the army against protesters, the U.S. Department of Defense said in an e-mailed statement.

Reduced Size

The size of the military pales in comparison with the 800,000-strong army the ex-Soviet republic inherited after independence in 1991, Yevhen Lupakov, head of the Union of Officers in Ukraine, said in a phone interview.

Since then, Ukraine transferred 4,400 nuclear warheads to Russia, according to David Cortright and Raimo Vayrynen in their book, “Towards Nuclear Zero.”

Plans to overhaul the armed forces have been “hampered by inadequate funding,” according to The Military Balance 2013, published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. The military is capable “only of providing limited territorial defense” and “aging Soviet-era equipment increasingly needs to be replaced,” according to the report.

Joerg Forbrig, senior program officer for Central and Eastern Europe at the Berlin bureau of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., said the military’s position in society doesn’t compare to that in Egypt and Turkey, where it has played a decisive role in times of crisis, he said.

Golden Eagle

Throughout the protests, Yanukovych has relied on Interior Ministry forces, police and the troops of the elite unit Berkut, the beneficiaries of budget allocations under the president.

Soldiers earn 2,500 hryvnia ($295) a month and officers get 3,000 hryvnia, Lupakov said. Personnel in Berkut, or Golden Eagle, earn about 4,300 hryvnia a month, about 50 percent more than regular police.

As the crisis escalated, Yanukovych started working on shoring up army loyalty, pledging to double soldiers’ pay. Soldiers were ordered to show their allegiance at special gatherings, according to Anatoliy Hrytsenko, defense minister in 2005-2007.

“The defense minister is loyal, but the troops may not be,” Stefan Meister, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, said in a phone interview.

Yanukovych is grappling with unrest that’s spread across the country criss-crossed with pipelines taking Russian gas to Europe. The crisis, sparked by the president’s rejection of a European Union integration pact, escalated last weak, leaving as many as eight people dead.

Bigger Berkut

If deploying soldiers is taboo, Yanukovych’s means are limited as Berkut numbers about 4,000 in the nation of 45 million.

“The opposition’s tactic is to spread the protests nationwide because Yanukovych doesn’t have enough Berkut forces,” Meister said.

With the government unable to count on the army, a possible avenue would be expanding Berkut. The weekly newspaper Zerkalo Nedeli reported Jan. 27 that there’s a government plan to increase the personnel of Berkut and a similar unit called Grifon to 30,000. The report said Grifon currently has 1,000 members. The government denied having such plans.

“I wouldn’t rule out that Yanukovych could resort to the violent route,” Stewart said. “It’s not the most likely scenario but it cannot be ruled out if he’s desperate and pushed into a corner.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Leon Mangasarian in Berlin at; Kateryna Choursina in Kiev at; Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at; Balazs Penz at; James Hertling at

President Putin’s state-of-the-nation annual Address to the Russian Federal Assembly


Citizens of Russia, members of the Council of Federation and the State Duma,

The President’s state-of-the-nation annual Address to the Federal Assembly is a requirement set forth in the Russian Constitution, that which is exactly 20 years old today. I congratulate you on this important date for our state and our society. And of course, I also congratulate you on the 20th anniversary of the Federal Assembly, Russia’s parliament, which was created in accordance with the provisions of our country’s basic law.

Our Constitution brings together two fundamental priorities – the supreme value of rights and freedoms of citizens and a strong state, emphasising their mutual obligation to respect and protect each other. I am convinced that the constitutional framework must be stable, above all in what concerns its second chapter, which defines the rights and freedoms of individuals and citizens. These provisions of our fundamental law are inviolable.

But life does not stand still, and no constitutional process can ever be regarded as finally completed or dead. Targeted amendments to other constitutional chapters, deriving from law enforcement practices and from life itself, naturally are possible and sometimes necessary.

You know that we have proposed to amend the Constitution and to unite the Supreme Court and Higher Arbitration Court. Today these courts often differ, sometimes quite substantially, in their interpretation of various laws. Sometimes they take different decisions in similar cases, and sometimes they agree. This results in legal uncertainty, and at times in injustices that affect concrete people.

I believe that unifying these courts will allow us to bring judicial practice onto one track, and therefore strengthen the guarantees protecting a crucial constitutional principle, the equality of all before the law.


The Constitution contains crucial unifying national ideas.

The meaning of its provisions on the welfare state consists in the mutual responsibility linking the state, society, the business community, and every Russian citizen. We must support the growing desire of citizens, representatives of public and professional associations, political parties, and the business class to participate in our country’s life.

Among other things we must support civic activism at the local level, in communities, so that people get a real opportunity to participate in managing their village or town, to deal with everyday issues that actually determine their quality of life.

Today quite a few problems have accumulated within our local self-government system. Unfortunately, and you know it well, the responsibilities incumbent on municipalities and their resources are not evenly balanced. This often leads to confusion regarding their authorities, which are not only blurred, but are constantly thrown from one level of government to another: from districts to regions, from towns to districts and back again. Local self-government authorities are being constantly shaken by corruption scandals.

The powers at the district level have been significantly watered down. Those that existed in education, healthcare, and social welfare have been transferred to the regional level of government.

In addition, local authority – because it is the closest power to the people – should be organised so that any citizen could reach out to it, figuratively speaking. In this connection I am addressing the All-Russian Council for Local Self-Government Development, All-Russian Congress of Municipalities, governors, and members of the Federal Assembly, of the Government of the Russian Federation – let’s comprehensively go over these issues again and finally bring the situation in line with common sense and attune it to the times.

Let me repeat: I think the most important task is to clarify the general principles of local self-government organisation, develop strong, independent, financially sustainable local authorities. And we need to start this work and give it sound legal foundations already next year, 2014, the year of the 150th anniversary of the famous Zemstvo Reform of 1864.

Incidentally, at the time it was precisely the development of zemstvos, of local self-government that enabled Russia to make a breakthrough and find competent people capable of implementing major progressive reforms, including Pyotr Stolypin’s agrarian reform and the restructuring of industry during the First World War.

I am sure that today as well strong local self-government can become a powerful resource for enhancing and renewing our country’s human resource potential. And of course, we are all interested in ensuring that elections bring to power qualified, motivated, professional people who are ready to perform their duties responsibly. For this reason we shall continue to work on developing the political competition, improving political institutions, and creating conditions for them to be more open and efficient.

Recent elections demonstrated that today there is less officialdom, bureaucracy, and predictable results in our political life. I consider it important that many new parties have made their presence felt. By winning seats in municipal and regional bodies, they have laid a good foundation for participating in upcoming federal election campaigns. I am sure that they will act as worthy competitors to longstanding political actors.

Today’s Russia requires broad public debate that would yield practical results, when public initiatives become part of public policy, while society monitors their execution.

I think that all draft bills, key government decisions, and strategic plans should pass a so-called initial public reading involving NGOs and other civil society institutions.

Both the federal and regional executive authorities must establish public councils. Of course many such councils already exist within various levels of authority, but they are not everywhere. And most importantly, these councils should not be formal or decorative structures. On the contrary, they should act as expert groups, and sometimes as the government’s constructive opponents, and be active participants in anti-corruption efforts.

I would ask the Civic Chamber, the Human Rights Council and other non-governmental and human rights organisations to be actively involved in drafting the bill On Public Oversight that would establish the legal basis for such civic participation.

Supporting the human rights movement should be a priority of joint work between the state and society. We expect that such organisations will not act in a way that is politically biased, and that they will engage as closely as possible with the interests and concerns of every citizen, every individual.

In this context, the role of the Civic Chamber is increasing. It must become a platform where various professional and social groups, associations, and unions can express their interests. More professionals should be involved in this work. I believe that members of these unions must compose at least half of the Civic Chamber’s members proposed by the President. Such an approach would balance the interests of different social and professional groups, and enable the Chamber to be more responsive to their concerns.

The most important topic requiring frank discussion in our society today is interethnic relations. This one topic concentrates many of our problems: challenges relating to socio-economic and regional development, corruption, shortcomings in the work of public institutions, and of course failures in educational and cultural policies, which often produce a distorted understanding of the true causes of interethnic tensions.

Such tensions are not provoked by representatives of particular nationalities, but by people devoid of culture and respect for traditions, both their own and those of others. They represent a kind of Amoral International, which comprises rowdy, insolent people from certain southern Russian regions, corrupt law enforcement officials who cover for ethnic mafias, so-called Russian nationalists, various kinds of separatists who are ready to turn any common tragedy into an excuse for vandalism and bloody rampage.

Together we must rise to the challenge; we must safeguard interethnic peace and thus the unity of our society, the unity and integrity of the Russian state.


The May 2012 executive orders contain specific measures designed to ensure the country’s dynamic development in all fields. In fact, the orders amounted to a unified action programme, reflecting the will of millions of people, the desire of all Russian people for a better life. Sometimes we hear that there are insufficient funds to realise all stated plans and goals, that we need to lower our standards and simplify our tasks.

Colleagues, let me turn to a very important subject with profound implications. I think that it is impossible to elaborate policies following a formal approach. Yes, of course we all know that economic trends may and do change. But that is no reason to talk about revising our goals. We need to do real work, seek solutions, and clearly lay out budgetary and other priorities. I would ask you to update all state programmes accordingly.

Already within the next two years, all budgets should be changed to conform to our budget plan. This does not mean rewriting everything mechanically. It means increasing the personal responsibility of each manager for the achievement of results. What we need to do is to focus resources on achieving substantial changes in specific sectors.

For this reason we are raising salaries in education and healthcare so that the work of teachers, professors, and doctors becomes prestigious once again, and attracts strong university graduates. But as we agreed, decent wages must not only reflect budgetary transfers, but rather reforms designed to improve spending efficiency and, most importantly, the quality of social services. We need people to see how our schools, universities, clinics and hospitals are changing for the better.

Therefore, in addition to increasing salaries, which certainly needs to be done, and we will do it, we must also implement a whole set of other measures to ensure that all our objectives are met. What are those measures? They include transitioning to the use of an effective contract and the certification of specialists, as well as implementing per capita financing, when establishments (both state and private ones, which is very important) providing services of the highest quality receive special benefits. This means developing real competition, opening the public sector to NGOs and socially-oriented businesses. It certainly means optimising the budget institution network by reducing ineffective expenditures and components, and removing barriers that prevent public institutions from working independently.

What is happening with all these measures? A year and a half has passed since the executive orders were issued. You know what I’m seeing? Either things are being done in a way that elicits a negative reaction among the public, or nothing is done at all. Clearly, we will fail to achieve our stated goals with this kind of work.

It is taking us a long time to make these changes – an unacceptably long time. As a result, consumers of these services do not perceive any fundamental changes. We are allocating enormous resources, but if we do not hold reforms, instead of an improved quality, we will only see an increase in inefficient expenditures that inflate the administrative apparatus, which is what often happens in practice. I want to draw the federal and regional authorities’ attention to this.

One very important challenge is to create a system for independently appraising the quality of social institutions. This mechanism will allow their funding to be linked to their performance, which means effectively optimising the budget institution network.

I believe that we need direct application laws that will establish common approaches, standards and criteria, as well as responsibilities at all levels of government, to create a system for independently appraising the performance of organisations in the social sector. I am asking you to adopt a corresponding law in the upcoming spring session. Colleagues, this is an urgent request.

In recent years, we have been able to achieve a great deal in the healthcare sector. Life expectancy has gone up. Mortality from cardiovascular and many other types of diseases has gone down. However, we are still far from our target indicators.

The big question that remains is a realistic approach to the insurance principle in healthcare. Today, the function of mandatory health insurance is essentially to “pump money” to the recipient through the extra-budgetary fund rather than the budget. The objective is entirely different. The objective is for the insurance principle to work as an incentive for people to take responsibility for their health, to have financial incentives to live a healthy lifestyle, and for insurance companies to be interested in medical institutions providing high-quality services, so that a patient finally has the opportunity to select the medical institution that, in his or her opinion, works best.

The mandatory health insurance system should fully financially cover state guarantees for providing free medical assistance. This applies equally to the total spending volume and directing funding to a specific hospital or clinic. At the same time, the patient should clearly understand which healthcare services he or she is entitled to receive free of charge, and the doctor should understand the principles upon which his or her work is paid.

Particular emphasis should be placed on developing a preventive treatment system. Beginning in 2015, all children and teenagers must have a yearly mandatory free medical check-up, while adults should undergo such an examination every three years.

Clearly, there will be an increase in disease detection during routine medical examinations, and the need for high-tech medical care will grow. In recent years, we have created a whole network of federal centres, supporting ones that are located in major cities, but also creating a new federal network of centres capable of providing medical assistance at the most advanced level. We need to maintain and develop their potential. At the same time, services at these centres must be accessible not just to the residents of the cities where they are located, but also residents of other regions. We must provide the necessary financial resources for that.

On the whole, over the next three years, we must create the conditions to perform 50% more high-tech operations than today. This is an entirely achievable goal. At the same time, we cannot fall behind the global trends. Leading nations already stand at the threshold of implementing medical technologies built on bio- and genetic engineering, based on the human genome sequence. This will truly revolutionise medicine. I believe that the Healthcare Ministry and the Russian Academy of Sciences should make fundamental and applied medical research a priority.

We must greatly increase the professional community’s role in managing the healthcare system. I am aware that there are some ideas in this area that deserve support. I am asking the Health Ministry to work with leading healthcare worker associations to submit concrete proposals.

We must also revive our traditions of charity. I propose that we organise a nationwide movement for volunteers who want to work within the healthcare system, providing what assistance they can. I believe that volunteers who have spent several years working in healthcare institutions should have priority admission to medical schools.


The year 2014 has been declared the Year of Culture in Russia. It is intended to be a year of enlightenment, emphasis on our cultural roots, patriotism, values and ethics.

We are aware of the all-encompassing, unifying role of Russian culture, history and language for our multi-ethnic population, and we must build our state policy with this in mind, including in education.

We need schools that do more than just teach; teaching is very important –most important, in fact – but we also need schools to help our nation’s citizens form their identity, absorbing the nation’s values, history and traditions. We need open-minded individuals with a strong internalised knowledge of culture, capable of thinking creatively and independently.

Instructions have already been given that starting from the next academic year, a mandatory essay-based final exam will be introduced for graduating high school students. The results of this exam will be taken into consideration alongside the National Final School Exam when applying to universities and other educational institutions.

Teachers’ professional development will be crucial to the future of Russian schools. Teachers must be ready to use modern technology and know how to work with children that have health-related disabilities. I ask you to prepare an integrated programme for upgrading school staff. I know that the Education Ministry is already working on this, and is developing a system of life-long training and professional development for teachers. We must complete the work on this programme.

There is another problem that requires urgent resolution. Even today, many schools operate with two shifts. This is true for nearly one quarter of Russian schools, and nearly half of schools in cities use this system. Thanks to positive demographic growth, the number of students in Russian schools will grow by a million in the next five to six years.

I ask the Cabinet, the Federal Assembly and regional authorities: we must assess the scale of this problem and provide effective solutions, which should include building preschools in such a way that in the future, they can be used as elementary schools as well.

This should not lead to an increase in the cost of preschool construction projects. We can consider the option of building schools and preschools under one roof, as a single campus.

Of course, let me stipulate that this is not the federal government’s responsibility. This responsibility falls on the regional and even local authorities. Nevertheless, we need to understand the scale of the problem. We cannot brush it aside. If it has enormous significance for our nation and takes on these forms, I do not think we will be able to address it without federal support.

Naturally, we must continue developing a wide array of sports infrastructure for children and teenagers. We must do everything to increase the popularity of active lifestyles. Indeed, that was the main idea behind the Universiade that was successfully held in Kazan and the Olympic Games in Sochi, which will open very soon.

I am confident that we will do an excellent job of organising the Olympics in Sochi, the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk.


The statistics from January through October of this year show that Russia has experienced natural population growth. This is the first time we are seeing such results since 1991, and it is a very positive indicator.

The birth rate exceeded mortality in almost half of Russia’s regions, and it surpassed the national average in all regions in the Urals and Siberia, and most Volga and Far Eastern regions.

But we need to understand something else as well. Right now, the generation born in the 1990s is beginning to start families of their own – this is the generation from the time when the decline in birth rates was the greatest, when it was catastrophic. We must make a special effort to ensure that the positive population growth remains irreversible.

I remind you that the birth rate in our country reached one of its highest figures in the late 1980s. Housing construction also peaked at this time. Today, housing construction must once again play a decisive part in encouraging population growth in Russia.

The Government has already drafted the policy measures needed to implement the programme for building affordable housing. This programme will see the construction of at least 25 million square metres of new housing, complete with the corresponding social infrastructure, by 2017, so that middle-income families can improve their housing situation. I propose that we call this programme Housing for Russia’s Families, so as to focus attention on this side of the issue.

Overall, by 2016, we will need to pass the 75-million square-metre mark, which is higher than the record set in 1987, when 72.8 million square metres of housing were built. Modern technology allows us to build a lot of relatively cheap and quality housing, but there are several problems we need to resolve on the way.

Above all, we need to finally make all the legal amendments that will clear the way for making land plots available for housing construction. This must be done within the coming months. This is a subject we are always discussing, and we have come back to this issue many times over these last weeks.

The local government authorities will have the task of organising bids for land plots under clear and transparent procedures. Developers will also have greater responsibility: if they receive the land but do not begin construction according to schedule, they will have to return the land.

Another barrier that is holding back construction is the lack of funds for providing land plots with the necessary engineering infrastructure. We will need to develop specially-designed instruments to resolve this and work out the financing sources and organisational form.

I know that at the tax authorities’ initiative the Government is drafting proposals on bringing order to online trade. This could also become a source of funding for developing engineering infrastructure. I ask you to make proposals on this matter.

Finally, we need to put the situation with permit procedures in order. These procedures are still not standardised. I ask you to draft a single and exhaustive list of all permits required for construction and reduce the time it takes to go through the necessary procedures as much as possible. I would like you to do this by the end of March 2014.

We all know why this work is not making progress and why problems have not been settled to this day. It is because there is a lot of corruption in this sector. This is where the root of the problem lies.


We all know that renewed, sustained economic growth is the essential condition for achieving our social development goals. This brings me to the heart of our work.

Of course we are feeling the effects of the global economic crisis, but let’s be frank: the main reasons for the slowdown in our economy are internal rather than external in nature.

In terms of the size of its GDP, Russia is doing well and counts among the world’s five biggest economies. But in key indicators such as labour productivity, there is a two- to three-fold gap between us and the developed economies. We must work hard to close this gap.

To do this, we must make full use of all new development factors. What are these factors? We all know them well. They include high quality professional education and a flexible labour market, a good investment climate and modern technology.

I ask the Government, together with the Russian Academy of Sciences, to make adjustments to the programme of priority areas for science and technology development. The recently created Russian Scientific Fund will also need to organise its work in line with these priorities. The Fund’s purpose is to finance fundamental research and programmes with a long-term implementation timeframe. I consider this work to be of national importance.

The leaders of the parliamentary parties voiced their proposals on taking part in Russia’s innovative development at recent meetings held in preparation for today’s Address. You all voted for the law that established the Russian Scientific Fund. I propose that all of the parliamentary parties send their representatives to the Russian Scientific Fund’s Board of Trustees.

As for applied research, it should be based around technology platforms. I propose that targeted programmes such as Research and Development in Priority Science and Technology Fields refocus their funding on supporting this kind of applied research. It is also important at the same time to ensure co-financing of projects from state and private sector sources.

At the moment, only one out of every 265 scientific results obtained becomes protected by the law. Added-value contribution to Russia’s GDP from intellectual property turnover comes to less than 1 percent. This is not just a low figure – it is a very paltry figure indeed. In the United States, this figure is 12 percent, in Germany 7-8 percent, and in Finland, our neighbour, it is 20 percent. Technology platforms must therefore focus on concrete results, getting patents and licenses, and getting their developments into actual practical use.

We must develop internal demand for advanced technology. It is absolutely crucial to have demand for advanced technology from within the country. We must use the public procurement system and state company investment programmes to help encourage this demand. These sources represent a lot of money, trillions of roubles.

We must also carry out a thorough stock-taking of our development institutions. Their activities have become fragmented of late between numerous disparate projects that are not always directly related to innovation. That was not our objective when we established these development institutions. This is not to say that these projects are without merit, but the institutions were set up specifically to support the economy’s innovation development. We must reset their strategic focus back on technology breakthroughs.

In order to rid our economy of outdated, inefficient and harmful technology, we must finally put together a modern technical and environmental regulation system. This is a very complicated and sensitive matter for the economy. I hope that the Government will work energetically together with the business community and with our colleagues in the Customs Union to carry out this work.

I also propose that we establish a statistical evaluation system for the technology situation in the different economic sectors so as to gain an objective picture of our competitiveness. A system of this kind worked during the Soviet period. That old system was scrapped, but nothing was developed in its place. We now need to develop a new system.

The next task is support for the non-raw materials export sectors. This support system has still not begun working in full. Many administrative barriers remain in place. It takes more than 20 days to get an export permit. In comparison, it takes 6 days in the United States, and in Canada or South Korea it takes 8 days. These are all issues that need to be addressed in a new roadmap for supporting exports. I ask the Government, together with the Strategic Initiatives Agency, to draft this roadmap by March 1, 2014.

Colleagues, new professional standards play a crucial part in quality economic development. These standards must set the qualification demands that professionals in the different sectors should meet. But they will work only if they meet the demands of business itself, and they must therefore be developed with the professional communities’ involvement. I propose establishing a National Professional Qualifications Council. Rather than being attached to a government body, it would be a truly independent organisation. The main business organisations and professional associations should be involved in its work. Over a two-year period, this council will have the task of approving the entire package of new professional standards.

I ask our colleagues from the business community and from the associations I just mentioned not to shirk their part in this work. After all, it is in your own interests to get involved.

The entire professional education system should be reorganised so as to fit with the new standards and their demands. There is much in our own experience that we can draw on here, updating it for today’s needs. I am thinking here of things such as professional and workplace-related training right from school and technical higher education centres set up by big industrial companies. The main principle is to have on-the-job training so that theory is reinforced by practical skills and experience.

A few words separately on the subject of higher education, most young people want to get higher education, and the quality of our universities must measure up to this demand. Only in this way can we really turn our young people’s education drive into a powerful force for our country’s development. But today, both in the capitals and in the regions, there are still many universities that do not meet modern demands.

I think that in order to reinvigorate the entire higher education system, we must make use of our best universities’ potential by delegating to them the power to evaluate education quality and help to ensure that graduates’ knowledge and skills will be needed in the labour market and will bring our economy and society real returns.

In no circumstances must we create barriers for educational mobility. This also concerns the cost of student residences. The prices here should not be excessive in any way, but must be directly linked to the living conditions and services provided. I ask the Ministry of Education and Science and the student organisations to strictly monitor the situation here. It is unacceptable to set exorbitant prices for student accommodation.

A word of warning to university rectors in this respect: the situation will soon reach a point where the Finance Ministry will look at your revenues and will lower the norms accordingly. This is what you will end up with, and education, students and the universities will all suffer as a result.

We must also make a much greater effort to export quality education services and create conditions for having foreign students and our compatriots abroad, especially from the CIS countries, to study in Russian universities. This is something that can play a very big part in strengthening Russia’s cultural and intellectual influence in the world.

Over this coming period we must settle the matter of mutual recognition of school diplomas within the CIS and also examine the matter (as a proposal) of setting up centres for sitting the Russian National Final School Exam in accordance with Russia’s standards in the CIS countries, at Russian language centres, for example. These exams would be held at the same time as the National Final School Exam takes place in Russia’s schools. This would give talented young people from the CIS greater opportunities for coming to study at Russia’s universities.

Finally, we need to speed up the adoption of laws that would enable Russian universities to actively develop distance learning, which would also be aimed above all at our compatriots abroad and at the CIS countries.

As we improve professional education, we must remember that the labour market is becoming more flexible and people need to have possibilities for re-training and getting a new professional start in life. We must provide the right conditions for people who are willing to change jobs or move to a different town or region. Of course, this needs to be coordinated with our regional and local development plans, and working together with business.

We must give people information support, including by setting up a national job database, so that people everywhere can see in which region they might find a good job. This requires a whole series of decisions. I ask you to draft these measures, including those on rental housing and so forth. You know what sorts of issues I am talking about. The list is long. This work can and must be carried out as soon as possible.

The second task is to make the countryside a more attractive place for life and work. We have already invested considerable money in developing the agriculture sector. The sector is showing a positive dynamic now. In many areas we can now fully cover domestic demand with Russian-produced goods. I want to thank our rural population for their work and the results they have achieved.

The big task now is to encourage people to stay in the countryside and build a modern and comfortable infrastructure in rural areas. I ask you to pay particular attention to this issue when making changes to the state agriculture development programme.

I would like to say a few words about the situation in single-industry towns. They are part of the complicated legacy we inherited from the Soviet economy. These towns are home to more than 15 million people. Many of them are in a difficult situation, but these towns do have an excellent base: social infrastructure, housing and a skilled labour force. We need to identify what is stopping business from coming here, what incentives and conditions we can offer so that investors will come to these towns not under pressure, but because they see real opportunities for themselves there. Believe me, it is better to resolve things this way than to end up pumping tens of billions from the budget later into job creation there, which is what we will end up having to do if we do not properly address the situation now.

I therefore ask you to draft proposals on comprehensive development in the single-industry towns, investment projects that can be carried out there, and proposed financing sources, as well as proposals on reducing labour market tension and targeted support for small and medium business.

In this respect, I want to say to all of the regional heads that we are aware of the constraints that regional budgets face, but we do need to look beyond our immediate problems too.

The proposal has already been made – and I support it – that all regions could offer two-year tax holidays to new small businesses working in the manufacturing, social or scientific sectors (applause). Probably not all of the governors are applauding, but I want to say that carrying out this kind of idea today would bring dividends tomorrow in the form of additional revenue for the regions and municipalities. These would be new businesses. They do not even exist at present, and so we are not talking about any loss in budget revenue here. On the contrary, if we create the conditions for these new businesses, we will create revenue too.

We also need to make it possible for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to pay their taxes and insurance payments using the ‘one window’ system. These are different payments, but we need to make it possible for them to be paid at a single place and time.

Another complicated problem related to the labour market is foreign labour migration. The lack of proper order in this sector creates labour market distortions, causes imbalances in the social sector, provokes ethnic conflicts, and leads to higher crime rates.

We need to put order in the procedures for employing foreign nationals who have visa-free entry to Russia, and increase employers’ responsibility for employing foreign workers. Of course, if these people are living and working in Russia and using our country’s education and healthcare services, they must also take on their share of obligations and pay their taxes and other payments.

The task is not an easy one. We must preserve our special ties with the former Soviet republics, but at the same time we also need to put the situation in order. I think that in this context we should change the current license system. Foreign workers currently need to acquire a license if they are employed by a private individual. I propose that legal entities and individual entrepreneurs should also have the possibility of hiring foreign workers on a license basis. The license’s cost would be set by the particular region depending on the situation on the region’s labour market and the average income there. The license system should be differentiated and encourage above all professionals, educated specialists, who speak Russian and have an affinity for our culture to come to work in Russia. I stress too that licenses would be valid only in the region where they were issued.

I hope that if we organise this work competently, it will be an economic instrument that can help us regulate the migration flow. I call it an economic instrument because of the differing cost the licenses would have from one region to another in Russia.

Finally, we need to establish tighter scrutiny of the purpose foreign nationals declare when entering Russia. All civilised countries do this. Russia must be able to know why people are coming, and how long they plan to stay. We also need to settle the issue of foreigners who enter Russia under visa-free travel arrangements and without any specific purpose. At least they supposedly have no specific purpose, though in actual fact they probably do have a purpose, but the authorities know nothing about it. Their time in the country should be limited, and entry into Russia should be prohibited for people who have broken the immigration rules. Depending on the seriousness of the violation, entry should be prohibited to enter the country for 3-10 years.

These measures would set an additional barrier for foreign citizens who are working in the shadow economy or are even engaged in criminal activity, or who are working illegally, often in inhuman conditions, and who, sadly, themselves become the victims of criminals.


Two years ago, together with the business community, we began systematic work to improve Russia’s investment climate. I can say that we have already achieved some good results. Perhaps not many people believed that we would actually achieve these results, but they are there. Now we must go further. By 2015, we must have completed the main work to put in place the laws and regulatory base that will make it attractive and easy to do business in Russia.

For this reason, starting next year, we will publish a national rating of the investment climate situation in the different regions. This will essentially be an instrument for evaluating the national business initiative’s implementation in each of the country’s regions.

At the same time, we need to create incentives for regions that are developing their economic base and that have made it their mission to support business initiative and create new production facilities and jobs.

Let me announce a piece of good news for the regional governors. Regions that invest in developing industrial and technology parks and business incubators will have the federal taxes paid by their resident companies returned for three years to the regional budgets in the form of inter-budgetary transfers. Let me stress that this will be within the limits of the region’s expenses for building the infrastructure for these sites.

There is nothing to laugh about here! This is a good proposal. It was the result of long and exhausting discussions with the Finance Ministry. I ask the Finance Minister not to water down these agreements, but to give them your full attention and carry them out.

One issue that is still a sensitive matter for businesspeople is excess attention from various inspectors. Inspections and checks are necessary, but the work to change the principles on which the oversight and inspection agencies carry out their work must continue.

This work is still ongoing and it must continue. To make this area more transparent, I propose that we set up a unified federal portal, where every check and inspection will be given an individual number and it will be clear immediately who initiated each investigation, who was inspected, on what grounds the inspectors carried out their investigations, and, most important, what results the investigations produced.

Let me note another problem too, namely, that our mechanisms for settling economic disputes are still a long way behind the best global practices. In this context, we also need to make a serious effort to raise the arbitration courts’ authority.

I ask the Government, together with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to draw up a draft law on fundamental improvements to the arbitration system and submit it to the State Duma as soon as possible.

In last year’s Address, I spoke about the challenges in relieving the economy of offshore activity. This is another topic to which I want to draw your attention and which we must return to today.

Why is that? I will tell you frankly that so far, the results are barely perceptible. Let me remind you about a major transaction that took place this year, worth over $50 billion. The sale of TNK-BP shares occurred outside of Russia’s jurisdiction, although we all know that the sellers were Russian nationals, and the buyer was one of Russia’s largest companies.

Last year, according to expert assessments, $11 billion worth of Russian goods passed through offshores and partial offshoresthat’s 20% of our exports. Half of the $50 billion of Russian investments abroad also went to offshores. These figures represent the withdrawal of capital that should be working in Russia and direct losses to the nation’s budget.

Since nothing significant has been achieved in this area this year, I want to make the following suggestions.

The incomes of companies that are registered in offshore jurisdictions and belong to Russian owners or whose ultimate beneficiaries are Russian nationals must follow Russian tax laws, and tax payments must be made to the Russian budget. We must think through a system for how to collect that money.

Such methods exist and there is nothing unusual here. Some countries have already implemented such a system: if you want to use offshores, go ahead, but the money has to come here. It is being implemented in countries with developed market economies, and this approach is working.

Moreover, companies that are registered in a foreign jurisdiction will not be allowed to make use of government support measures, including Vnesheconombank credits and state guarantees. These companies should also lose the right to fulfil government contracts and contracts for agencies with government participation.

In other words, if you want to take advantage of the benefits and support provided by the state and make a profit working in Russia, you must register in the Russian Federation’s jurisdiction.

We must increase the transparency of our economy. It is imperative to introduce criminal liability for executives who knowingly provide false or incomplete information about the true state of banks, insurance companies, pension funds and other financial institutions.

We need to maintain our fundamental, firm position on ridding our credit and financial system of various types of money laundering operations. Meanwhile, the interests of honest clients and depositors in problematic banks should be securely protected.

Today, the fight against the erosion of the tax base and the use of various offshore schemes is a global trend. These issues are widely discussed at the G8 and G20 summits, and Russia will conduct this policy at both an international and national level.

The need for liability fully applies not only to private businesses, but executives at state-controlled companies and development institutions as well. I propose that the Government should radically change the principles of its work; there should not be any executive comfort zones here. They are paid very good money. We will not achieve much economic progress if we undermine them; we will not be able to employ the professionals we need. But we must establish supervision over their work, and we must do it the right way.

All such organisations must develop their own long-term strategies, which should state clear goals and personal responsibility indicators for their leadership. Executives’ employment agreements must stipulate liability for failure to fulfil the set objectives, including financial liability.

Company programmes for corporations included in the strategic enterprise list must be approved by the Government of the Russian Federation, and their implementation should undergo an external audit. I looked at the list yesterday: there are several dozen such companies. We have several lists, but the list of strategic enterprises includes only several dozen. Of course, this means an additional workload, but I am confident that the Government will rise up to this challenge.

I will stress again that government and private sector resources should go toward development and achieving strategic objectives. For example, let’s look at such objectives as developing Siberia and the Far East. This is our national priority for the entire 21st century. The challenges we will need to tackle are unprecedented in their scale, which means we must take unconventional approaches.

We have already made a decision on a reduced income tax rate and a number of other taxes for new investment projects in the Far East. I feel it would be expedient to expand this regime to all of Eastern Siberia, including Krasnoyarsk Territory and the Republic of Khakassia.

Moreover, I suggest creating a network of special advanced economic development zones in the Far East and Eastern Siberia with special conditions for organising non-extractive production, including that intended for export. New companies located in such zones, in such territories, should be provided with five-year exemptions for income tax, mineral extraction tax (with the exception of oil and gas, which is a profitable sector), land and property taxes, as well as preferential insurance rates, which are very important for high-tech manufacturing.

What’s also important is to create conditions here that will be competitive with key business centres of the Asia-Pacific region. Such conditions should apply to authorisation procedures for construction, connecting to electricity networks, and passing through customs. We will make active use of the Far East Development Fund in order to resolve infrastructure issues in these territories.

We will need to decide on the exact location of these territories by July 1, 2014, and adopt all the legal regulatory acts necessary for them to operate. Given the importance and scale of this endeavour, I am asking the Prime Minister to personally supervise this work. In the future, we will make decisions about their future development based on the experience and practice of working in such zones and the resulting effect.

We will also continue the projects already being implemented at this time. As you know, a new university has been established on Russky Island. It will conduct a sound scientific evaluation with regard to Far East development programmes, and provide for the region’s employment needs, first and foremost in areas such as space, biotechnology, robotic technologies, design, engineering, oceanography and the use of marine resources.

I am confident that Russia’s reorientation toward the Pacific Ocean and the dynamic development in all our eastern territories will not only open up new economic opportunities and new horizons, but also provide additional instruments for an active foreign policy.

Colleagues, global development is becoming increasingly contradictory and dynamic. Russia’s historical responsibility is growing in these conditions, not only because it is one of the key guarantors of global and regional stability, but also a nation that consistently asserts its value-based approaches, including in international relations.

The intensity of military, political, economic, and informational competition throughout the world is not decreasing, but only getting stronger. Other power centres are closely monitoring Russia’s progress as it grows stronger.

We have always been proud of our nation. But we do not claim to be any sort of superpower with a claim to global or regional hegemony; we do not encroach on anyone’s interests, impose our patronage onto anyone, or try to teach others how to live their lives. But we will strive to be leaders, defending international law, striving for respect and national sovereignty and peoples’ independence and identity. This is absolutely objective and understandable for a state like Russia, with its great history and culture, with many centuries of experience, not of not so-called tolerance, neutered and barren, but the actual modern, natural life of different peoples within the framework of a single state.

Today, many nations are revising their moral values and ethical norms, eroding ethnic traditions and differences between peoples and cultures. Society is now required not only to recognise everyone’s right to the freedom of consciousness, political views and privacy, but also to accept without question the equality of good and evil, strange as it seems, concepts that are opposite in meaning. This destruction of traditional values from above not only leads to negative consequences for society, but is also essentially anti-democratic, since it is carried out on the basis of abstract, speculative ideas, contrary to the will of the majority, which does not accept the changes occurring or the proposed revision of values.

We know that there are more and more people in the world who support our position on defending traditional values that have made up the spiritual and moral foundation of civilisation in every nation for thousands of years: the values of traditional families, real human life, including religious life, not just material existence but also spirituality, the values of humanism and global diversity.

Of course, this is a conservative position. But speaking in the words of Nikolai Berdyaev, the point of conservatism is not that it prevents movement forward and upward, but that it prevents movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.

In recent years, we have seen how attempts to push supposedly more progressive development models onto other nations actually resulted in regression, barbarity and extensive bloodshed. This happened in many Middle Eastern and North African countries. This dramatic situation unfolded in Syria.

As far as Syria is concerned, the international community had to jointly make a momentous choice: to either descend into further erosion of the world order’s foundations, or collectively make responsible decisions.

I feel it was our common success when the choice was made on the basis of the fundamental principles of international law, common sense and the logic of peace. So far, at least, we have been able to avoid external military intervention in Syria’s affairs and the spread of the conflict far beyond the region.

Russia made significant contributions to this process. We acted firmly, thoughtfully and carefully. We never jeopardised our own interests and security, nor global stability. In my view, that is how a mature and responsible nation must act.

As a result, together with our partners, we managed to steer the course of events away from war and toward establishing a nationwide political process and civil consensus in Syria. Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal is now under international control. Its liquidation is an important step in strengthening non-proliferation regimes for weapons of mass destruction. The Syrian precedent confirmed the UN’s central role in global politics.

The Syrian crisis, and now the situation in Iran as well, clearly demonstrate that any international problem can and should be resolved exclusively through political means, without resorting to forceful actions with little potential that are rejected by most nations in the world.

This year, we saw a breakthrough with the Iranian nuclear programme, but it was only the first step. It is imperative to continue patiently searching for a broader solution that will guarantee Iran’s inalienable right to develop peaceful nuclear energy and – I want to stress this – security for all countries in the region, including Israel.

Incidentally, it was Iran’s nuclear programme that once served as the main argument in favour of deploying a missile defence system. So what is happening now? The Iranian nuclear issue is being resolved, but the missile defence system remains. And it doesn’t just remain, it is being developed further. But I will talk about that a little later.

I want to stress again: Russia is prepared for joint efforts with all partners in the interest of ensuring common, equal, indivisible security.

Russia’s G8 presidency in 2014 will focus on acute global problems: strengthening non-proliferation regimes, combating international terrorism and drug trafficking. We will also act in accordance with these principles when preparing to host the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summits in 2015.

We are now entering a crucial stage in preparing the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty. We expect to have agreed on the Treaty’s text by May 1, 2014 and to have submitted it to the Russian, Belarusian and Kazakhstani parliaments by that time. Colleagues, I would ask you to prioritise this document and give it your consideration and support.

Let me add that working groups are currently preparing roadmaps governing the accession of Kyrgyzstan and Armenia to the Customs Union. I am sure that the real achievements of Eurasian integration will only enhance our other neighbours’ interest in it, including that of our Ukrainian partners.

Even before all these protests that we are now witnessing in Kiev – and I very much hope that the country’s political forces will be able to negotiate and resolve Ukraine’s accumulated problems in the interests of its citizens – before all these problems began, starting in May Ukraine has expressed its desire to be present at all meetings between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan as an observer. Ukraine participates in discussions and has repeatedly declared its interest in joining some of the Customs Union’s agreements.

We are not imposing anything on anybody. But if our friends want to work together, then we are ready to continue this work at the expert level.

Our integration project is based on equal rights and on real economic interests. We will consistently promote the Eurasian process, without setting it against other integration projects including the more mature European one. We proceed from our complementarity and naturally we will continue to work with our European friends on a new basic agreement.


A few words about our actions to further strengthen our Armed Forces.

I just mentioned the issue of missile defence, and here’s what I would like to say in this regard. We are all perfectly aware that the missile defence system is defensive in name only. In fact, it is a crucial component of strategic offensive capabilities. The development of new weapons systems, such as low-yield nuclear weapons, strategic non-nuclear missiles and hypersonic high-precision non-nuclear systems for prompt, long-range strikes are also causes for concern.

We are closely following the development of the so-called Prompt Global Strike system, which is being actively developed by some countries. Implementing all of these plans could have extremely negative consequences for regional and global stability.

The ramping up of high-precision strategic non-nuclear systems by other countries, in combination with the build-up of missile defence capabilities, could negate all previous agreements on the limitation and reduction of strategic nuclear weapons, and disrupt the strategic balance of power.

We understand this very well, and in this context we know exactly what we need to do. No one should entertain any illusions about achieving military superiority over Russia; we will never allow it. Russia will respond to all these challenges, both political and technological. We have all we need in order to do so.

Our military doctrine and advanced weapons, weapons that are being and will be deployed, will unconditionally allow us to ensure the security of the Russian state.

We still have a lot to do to develop modern high-precision weapons systems. At the same time, judged by qualitative parameters for modern strategic nuclear deterrent forces, today we are successfully reaching new milestones on schedule, and some of our partners will have to catch up.

We are developing new strategic missile systems for land, sea and air to further strengthen our nuclear forces. We will continue to strengthen our strategic missile forces and continue building a fleet of nuclear submarines. We are also starting work on a promising long-range aviation system.

The establishment of a global intelligence network is the next step on our agenda. The formation of an integrated, real-time global network for reconnaissance and targeting, which will operate in a single informational space in the interests of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, is extremely important. This is connected with additions to our satellite group.

We will continue to develop our general purpose forces: aviation, the navy and the land forces. This year in keeping with our plans, the number of privates and sergeants under contract increased to 220,000. At the same time we have to think how to create highly trained reserve forces.

There is another suggestion in this regard: keeping deferrals for students and changing the very system of military training offered by institutions of higher education. This will enable all students to study, receive military training for their next military assignment and a particular area of military specialisation.

This mechanism will allow us to train the right amount of reservists for the most needed, primarily technical military specialisations, while not drafting them into the Armed Forces. I would ask the Government and the Security Council to submit concrete proposals for how such a system could be organised.

Next. As you know, the funds we are allocating for rearming the Army and the Navy, for modernising the defence industry are unprecedented. They total 23 trillion rubles [more than $700 billion].

In the next decade, our defence companies will be fully loaded with orders. They will be able to upgrade their manufacturing base and create high-quality jobs. Let me recall that in Russia about two million people work in the defence industry. Together with their families, the number comes to almost seven million people. And specialists in this sector will have stable, well-paid jobs, and their families will be provided for.

Now we have to think about what the defence industry’s companies will do after having fulfilled the state defence procurement order, after 2020. We cannot allow them to become obsolete.

We need to strengthen our position in global markets. I would ask the Military-Industrial Commission to submit proposals in this regard, to ensure that our businesses can promptly switch to releasing in-demand civilian products onto both our domestic market and foreign ones.

There’s another point I would like to emphasise. We said that all Defence Ministry servicemen who began their service before January 1, 2012 would receive permanent housing by the end of this year. This task should be fully completed in the near future, and it will be. I would draw the Defence Ministry’s attention to this and ask you to deal with the issue on a case-by-case basis, helping people choose the best option for them.


For the first time in our country’s history, we are turning the page on the issue of permanent housing for servicemen in Russia’s Army and Navy. Now we can concentrate on completing the construction of modern service housing and comfortable military bases.


A sense of responsibility for the country is the main theme, lifeblood, and core value of the Russian Constitution, and it is also a call to each of us.

The nation’s strategic development agenda is well-known; this Address has outlined main areas of work and ways to achieve specific goals.

Everything that has been stated here must be executed without any reservations, new suggestions or bureaucratic interpretations. This is what the authorities’ most important and most notable task consists in.

It is our duty to increase people’s trust. Only in this way will we be able to increase the activity of our citizens, and people will want to contribute to our country’s development.

Let me repeat that if a decision has been made, then it must be implemented. I consider this approach to be a concise expression of shared responsibility, and would suggest making this the motto of the coming year, a motto for everyone: for the government, for society, for citizens.

I am absolutely convinced that by drawing on the best traditions of our people, by using the latest ideas and most effective development paths, we will meet all the challenges we face and guarantee our success.

Thank you for your attention.

Vladimir Putin’s Moral Stand Against West’s State Terrorism

[In a stunning historical reversal, the anti-Communists become the state terrorists and the Communists become the source of moral authority that the rest of the world turns to for help in resisting the aggression of the real Evil Empire, the American State Terrorists.]


Vladimir Putin: Russia is Morally Superior to the West

international bus. times

Putin says Russia not teaching ‘anyone how to live’ in swipe at US over gay rights and superpower illusions


Putin Claims Russia Moral Compass

The Russian President believes that Russia is morally superior to the West (Reuters)

President Vladimir Putin has declared that Russia has a morally superior worldview to that of the West.

Putin, a former KGB agent, defended Moscow’s conservative ideals and said that Russia was trying to resist a wave of “non-traditional values”.

With Russia’s anti-gay stance under the spotlight in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics, Putin scolded the West for treating “good and evil” equally.

Putin’s 70-minute speech was big on Russian family values, which he lauded as a safeguard against “so-called tolerance – genderless and infertile”.

In a thinly veiled swipe at the US in his state of the nation address, he declared that Russia was not attempting to be a superpower nor “teach anyone how to live”.

He spoke about Russia’s relationship with Ukraine after protests against the president, Victor Yanukovich, escalated in Kiev. The protests grew in response to Yanukovich’s decision to plump for closer ties with Moscow and reject a trade agreement with the European Union.

“I hope that all political sides can successfully reach an agreement in the interests of the Ukrainian people,” Putin said.

And he warned: “Nobody should have any illusion about the possibility of gaining military superiority over Russia.

“We will never allow this to happen. Russia will respond to all these challenges, political and military.”

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Russian Suicide Bomb Sparks Terror Alert as Putin to Meet Muftis


Russian investigators probed yesterday’s suicide bombing that killed six bus passengers in Volgograd as the southern region was placed on high alert hours before President Vladimir Putin meets Muslim clerics.

The suspected female suicide bomber arrived from the capital of the mainly Muslim region of Dagestan, disembarking from a bus that was en route to the Russian capital about an hour before she blew herself up in Volgograd, the Investigative Committee in Moscow said on its website today.

The bomber’s partner, an ethnic Russian Muslim convert accused of involvement in previous terror attacks, is suspected of preparing yesterday’s strike, the Kommersant newspaper reported, citing unidentified law-enforcement officials. The regional government set the terrorist threat level at “yellow,” the second highest, meaning authorities have reliable information further attacks are possible.

The bombing is one of the biggest terror attacks in Russia since a suicide bombing claimed by Islamic militants killed at least 37 people at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport in 2011. Putin plans to discuss measures to prevent nationalist conflicts in Russia at a meeting of the State Council in Ufa, Bashkortostan. The murder of an ethnic Russian in Moscow earlier this month provoked the biggest nationalist riots in almost three years. Police have detained a suspect from Azerbaijan.

Unidentified attackers late last night smashed the windows and hurled two Molotov cocktails into a prayer hall of a private home belonging to a Muslim leader in Volgograd, RIA Novosti reported, citing the Interior Ministry. The fire was put out before it spread to other rooms, according to RIA.

Sochi Games

Volgograd, once known as Stalingrad, is located less than 700 kilometers from Sochi, the Black Sea resort that will host next year’s Winter Olympics. Russian federal troops have fought two wars after the collapse of the Soviet Union against separatists in nearby regions of the North Caucasus and violence by Islamic militants represents a continuing threat.

The Investigative Committee identified the six casualties of the explosion and said the bomb had the force equivalent to 500 grams to 600 grams of TNT. Volgograd’s airport was evacuated today after a report that a bag was left unattended, RIA Novosti reported. Thirty people injured in the blast remain hospitalized, according to Russian state television broadcaster Rossiya 24.

The Investigative Committee said 50 eyewitness and bystanders have been questioned in connection with the attack. Authorities were interrogating the suspected suicide bomber’s mother in Dagestan, the regional Dagestan capital on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, state-run RIA reported, citing unidentified local security officials.

Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the brothers accused in April’s Boston Marathon bombing, were immigrants of Chechen descent who had moved to the U.S. from Dagestan.

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at; Ilya Arkhipov in Ufa, Russia at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

Putin’s Address At Valdai International Discussion Club—(ENG. TRANSCRIPT)

Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club

At the meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club. Left to right: Editor-in-Chief of RIA Novosti Svetlana Mironyuk, former German defence minister Volker Ruehe, former French prime minister Francois Fillon, Vladimir Putin, former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi, and President of the US Centre for the National Interest Dimitri Simes.

1/9 Photo: the Presidential Press and Information Office Full caption

Vladimir Putin took part in the final plenary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club. The theme of the club’s anniversary session is Russia’s Diversity for the Modern World.


Excerpts from transcript of the meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

I hope that the place for your discussions, for our meetings is well chosen and that the timing is good. We are in the centre of Russia – not a geographical centre, but a spiritual one. [Novgorod Region] is a cradle of Russian statehood. Our outstanding historians believe and have analysed how the elements of Russian statehood came together right here. This is in the light of the fact that two great rivers – the Volkhov and Neva – acted as natural means of communication, providing a natural linkage at the time. And it was here that Russian statehood gradually began to emerge.

As has already been pointed out, this year the [Valdai] club has brought together an unprecedented list of participants: more than 200 Russian and foreign politicians, public and spiritual leaders, philosophers and cultural figures, people with very different, original and sometimes opposing views.

You have already been conferring here for a few days now, and I’ll try not to bore you unduly. But nevertheless, I will allow myself to state my views on subjects that you have touched on during these discussions in one way or another. I am not only thinking about analysing Russian historical, cultural, and governance experiences. First and foremost, I am thinking of general debates, conversations about the future, strategies, and values, about the values underpinning our country’s development, how global processes will affect our national identity, what kind of twenty-first-century world we want to see, and what Russia, our country, can contribute to this world together with its partners.

Today we need new strategies to preserve our identity in a rapidly changing world, a world that has become more open, transparent and interdependent. This fact confronts virtually all countries and all peoples in one form or another: Russian, European, Chinese and American – the societies of virtually all countries. And naturally, including here in Valdai, we strive to better understand how our partners are attempting to meet this challenge, because we are meeting here with experts on Russia. But we proceed from the fact that our guests will state their views on the interaction and relationship between Russia and the countries that you represent.

For us (and I am talking about Russians and Russia), questions about who we are and who we want to be are increasingly prominent in our society. We have left behind Soviet ideology, and there will be no return. Proponents of fundamental conservatism who idealise pre-1917 Russia seem to be similarly far from reality, as are supporters of an extreme, western-style liberalism.

It is evident that it is impossible to move forward without spiritual, cultural and national self-determination. Without this we will not be able to withstand internal and external challenges, nor we will succeed in global competitions. And today we see a new round of such competitions. Today their main focuses are economic-technological and ideological-informational. Military-political problems and general conditions are worsening. The world is becoming more rigid, and sometimes forgoes not merely international law, but also basic decency.

[Every country] has to have military, technological and economic strength, but nevertheless the main thing that will determine success is the quality of citizens, the quality of society: their intellectual, spiritual and moral strength. After all, in the end economic growth, prosperity and geopolitical influence are all derived from societal conditions. They depend on whether the citizens of a given country consider themselves a nation, to what extent they identify with their own history, values ​​and traditions, and whether they are united by common goals and responsibilities. In this sense, the question of finding and strengthening national identity really is fundamental for Russia.

Meanwhile, today Russia’s national identity is experiencing not only objective pressures stemming from globalisation, but also the consequences of the national catastrophes of the twentieth century, when we experienced the collapse of our state two different times. The result was a devastating blow to our nation’s cultural and spiritual codes; we were faced with the disruption of traditions and the consonance of history, with the demoralisation of society, with a deficit of trust and responsibility. These are the root causes of many pressing problems we face. After all, the question of responsibility for oneself, before society and the law, is something fundamental for both legal and everyday life.

After 1991 there was the illusion that a new national ideology, a development ideology, would simply appear by itself. The state, authorities, intellectual and political classes virtually rejected engaging in this work, all the more so since previous, semi-official ideology was hard to swallow. And in fact they were all simply afraid to even broach the subject. In addition, the lack of a national idea stemming from a national identity profited the quasi-colonial element of the elite – those determined to steal and remove capital, and who did not link their future to that of the country, the place where they earned their money.

Practice has shown that a new national idea does not simply appear, nor does it develop according to market rules. A spontaneously constructed state and society does not work, and neither does mechanically copying other countries’ experiences. Such primitive borrowing and attempts to civilize Russia from abroad were not accepted by an absolute majority of our people. This is because the desire for independence and sovereignty in spiritual, ideological and foreign policy spheres is an integral part of our national character. Incidentally, such approaches have often failed in other nations too. The time when ready-made lifestyle models could be installed in foreign states like computer programmes has passed.

We also understand that identity and a national idea cannot be imposed from above, cannot be established on an ideological monopoly. Such a construction is very unstable and vulnerable; we know this from personal experience. It has no future in the modern world. We need historical creativity, a synthesis of the best national practices and ideas, an understanding of our cultural, spiritual and political traditions from different points of view, and to understand that [national identity] is not a rigid thing that will last forever, but rather a living organism. Only then will our identity be based on a solid foundation, be directed towards the future and not the past. This is the main argument demonstrating that a development ideology must be discussed by people who hold different views, and have different opinions about how and what to do to solve given problems.

All of us – so-called Neo-Slavophiles and Neo-Westernisers, statists and so-called liberals – all of society must work together to create common development goals. We need to break the habit of only listening to like-minded people, angrily – and even with hatred – rejecting any other point of view from the outset. You can’t flip or even kick the country’s future like a football, plunging into unbridled nihilism, consumerism, criticism of anything and everything, or gloomy pessimism.

This means that liberals have to learn to talk with representatives of the left-wing and, conversely, that nationalists must remember that Russia was formed specifically as a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country from its very inception. Nationalists must remember that by calling into question our multi-ethnic character, and exploiting the issue of Russian, Tatar, Caucasian, Siberian or any other nationalism or separatism, means that we are starting to destroy our genetic code. In effect, we will begin to destroy ourselves.

Russia’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity are unconditional. These are red lines no one is allowed to cross. For all the differences in our views, debates about identity and about our national future are impossible unless their participants are patriotic. Of course I mean patriotism in the purest sense of the word.

Too often in our nation’s history, instead of opposition to the government we have been faced with opponents of Russia itself. I have already mentioned this; Pushkin also talked about it. And we know how it ended, with the demolition of the [Russian] state as such. There is virtually no Russian family that completely escaped the troubles of the past century. Questions about how to assess certain historical events still divide our country and society.

We need to heal these wounds, and repair the tissues of our historic fabric. We can no longer engage in self-deception, striking out unsightly or ideologically uncomfortable pages of our history, breaking links between generations, rushing to extremes, creating or debunking idols. It’s time to stop only taking note of the bad in our history, and berating ourselves more than even our opponents would do. [Self-]criticism is necessary, but without a sense of self-worth, or love for our Fatherland, such criticism becomes humiliating and counterproductive.

We must be proud of our history, and we have things to be proud of. Our entire, uncensored history must be a part of Russian identity. Without recognising this it is impossible to establish mutual trust and allow society to move forward.

Another serious challenge to Russia’s identity is linked to events taking place in the world. Here there are both foreign policy and moral aspects. We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilisation. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.

The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote paedophilia. People in many European countries are embarrassed or afraid to talk about their religious affiliations. Holidays are abolished or even called something different; their essence is hidden away, as is their moral foundation. And people are aggressively trying to export this model all over the world. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.

What else but the loss of the ability to self-reproduce could act as the greatest testimony of the moral crisis facing a human society? Today almost all developed nations are no longer able to reproduce themselves, even with the help of migration. Without the values ​​embedded in Christianity and other world religions, without the standards of morality that have taken shape over millennia, people will inevitably lose their human dignity. We consider it natural and right to defend these values​​. One must respect every minority’s right to be different, but the rights of the majority must not be put into question.

At the same time we see attempts to somehow revive a standardised model of a unipolar world and to blur the institutions of international law and national sovereignty. Such a unipolar, standardised world does not require sovereign states; it requires vassals. In a historical sense this amounts to a rejection of one’s own identity, of the God-given diversity of the world.

Russia agrees with those who believe that key decisions should be worked out on a collective basis, rather than at the discretion of and in the interests of certain countries or groups of countries. Russia believes that international law, not the right of the strong, must apply. And we believe that every country, every nation is not exceptional, but unique, original and benefits from equal rights, including the right to independently choose their own development path.

This is our conceptual outlook, and it follows from our own historical destiny and Russia’s role in global politics. Our present position has deep historical roots. Russia itself has evolved on the basis of diversity, harmony and balance, and brings such a balance to the international stage.

I want to remind you that the Congress of Vienna of 1815 and the agreements made at Yalta in 1945, taken with Russia’s very active participation, secured a lasting peace. Russia’s strength, the strength of a winning nation at those critical junctures, manifested itself as generosity and justice. And let us remember [the Treaty of] Versailles, concluded without Russia’s participation. Many experts, and I absolutely agree with them, believe that Versailles laid the foundation for the Second World War because the Treaty of Versailles was unfair to the German people: it imposed restrictions with which they could not cope, and the course of the next century became clear.

There is one more fundamental aspect to which I want to draw your attention. In Europe and some other countries so-called multiculturalism is in many respects a transplanted, artificial model that is now being questioned, for understandable reasons. This is because it is based on paying for the colonial past. It is no accident that today European politicians and public figures are increasingly talking about the failures of multiculturalism, and that they are not able to integrate foreign languages or foreign cultural elements into their societies.

Over the past centuries in Russia, which some have tried to label as the “prison of nations”, not even the smallest ethnic group has disappeared. And they have retained not only their internal autonomy and cultural identity, but also their historical space. You know, I was interested to learn (I did not even know this) that in Soviet times [authorities] paid such careful attention to this that virtually every small ethnic group had its own print publication, support for its language, and for its national literature. We should bring back and take on board much of what has been done in this respect.

Along with this the different cultures in Russia have the unique experience of mutual influence, mutual enrichment and mutual respect. This multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity lives in our historical consciousness, in our spirit and in our historical makeup. Our state was built in the course of a millennium on this organic model.

Russia – as philosopher Konstantin Leontyev vividly put it – has always evolved in “blossoming complexity” as a state-civilisation, reinforced by the Russian people, Russian language, Russian culture, Russian Orthodox Church and the country’s other traditional religions. It is precisely the state-civilisation model that has shaped our state polity. It has always sought to flexibly accommodate the ethnic and religious specificity of particular territories, ensuring diversity in unity.

Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and other religions are an integral part of Russia’s identity, its historical heritage and the present-day lives of its citizens. The main task of the state, as enshrined in the Constitution, is to ensure equal rights for members of traditional religions and atheists, and the right to freedom of conscience for all citizens.

However, it is clearly impossible to identify oneself only through one’s ethnicity or religion in such a large nation with a multi-ethnic population. In order to maintain the nation’s unity, people must develop a civic identity on the basis of shared values, a patriotic consciousness, civic responsibility and solidarity, respect for the law, and a sense of responsibility for their homeland’s fate, without losing touch with their ethnic or religious roots.

There are broad discussions on how the ideology of national development will be structured politically and conceptually – including with your participation, colleagues. But I deeply believe that individuals’ personal, moral, intellectual and physical development must remain at the heart of our philosophy. Back at the start of the 1990s, Solzhenitsyn stated that the nation’s main goal should be to preserve the population after a very difficult 20th century. Today, we must admit that we have not yet fully overcome the negative demographic trends, although we have veered away from a dangerous decline in the national potential.

Unfortunately, throughout our nation’s history, little value was given at times to individual human lives. Too often, people were seen simply as a means, rather than a goal and a mission for development. We no longer have that right and we cannot throw millions of human lives into the fire for the sake of development. We must treasure every individual. Russia’s main strength in this and future centuries will lie in its educated, creative, physically and spiritually healthy people, rather than natural resources.

The role of education is all the more important because in order to educate an individual, a patriot, we must restore the role of great Russian culture and literature. They must serve as the foundation for people’s personal identity, the source of their uniqueness and their basis for understanding the national idea. Here, a great deal depends on the teaching community, which has been and remains a highly important guardian of nationwide values, ideas and philosophies. This community speaks the same language – the language of science, knowledge and education, despite the fact that it is spread out over an enormous territory, from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. In this way, the community of teachers, the educational community overall, in the broad sense of the word, binds the nation together. Supporting this community is one of the most important steps on the path toward a strong, flourishing Russia.

I want to stress again that without focussing our efforts on people’s education and health, creating mutual responsibility between the authorities and each individual, and establishing trust within society, we will be losers in the competition of history. Russia’s citizens must feel that they are the responsible owners of their country, region, hometown, property, belongings and their lives. A citizen is someone who is capable of independently managing his or her own affairs, freely cooperating with equals.

Local governments and self-regulated citizens’ organisations serve as the best school for civic consciousness. Of course, I’m referring to non-profits. Incidentally, one of the best Russian political traditions, the country council tradition, was also built on the principles of local government. A true civil society and a true, nationally-focused political elite, including the opposition with its own ideology, values and standards for good and evil – their own, rather than those dictated by the media or from abroad – can only grow through effective self-governing mechanisms. The government is prepared to trust self-regulating and self-governing associations, but we must know whom we are trusting. This is absolutely normal global practice, which is precisely why we have passed new legislation to increase the transparency of nongovernmental organisations.

Speaking of any kind of reforms, it is important to bear in mind that there is more to our nation than just Moscow and St Petersburg. In developing Russian federalism, we must rely on our own historical experience, using flexible and diverse models. The Russian model of federalism has a great deal of potential built into it. It is imperative that we learn to use it competently, not forgetting its most important aspect: the development of the regions and their independence should create equal opportunities for all of our nation’s citizens, regardless of where they live, to eliminate inequalities in the economic and social development of Russia’s territory, thereby strengthening the nation’s unity. Ultimately, this is a huge challenge because these territories’ development has been very unbalanced over the course of decades and even centuries.

I would like to touch on another topic. The 21st century promises to become the century of major changes, the era of the formation of major geopolitical zones, as well as financial and economic, cultural, civilisational, and military and political areas. That is why integrating with our neighbours is our absolute priority. The future Eurasian Economic Union, which we have declared and which we have discussed extensively as of late, is not just a collection of mutually beneficial agreements. The Eurasian Union is a project for maintaining the identity of nations in the historical Eurasian space in a new century and in a new world. Eurasian integration is a chance for the entire post-Soviet space to become an independent centre for global development, rather than remaining on the outskirts of Europe and Asia.

I want to stress that Eurasian integration will also be built on the principle of diversity. This is a union where everyone maintains their identity, their distinctive character and their political independence. Together with our partners, we will gradually implement this project, step by step. We expect that it will become our common input into maintaining diversity and stable global development.

Colleagues, the years after 1991 are often referred to as the post-Soviet era. We have lived through and overcome that turbulent, dramatic period. Russia has passed through these trials and tribulations and is returning to itself, to its own history, just as it did at other points in its history. After consolidating our national identity, strengthening our roots, and remaining open and receptive to the best ideas and practices of the East and the West, we must and will move forward.

Thank you very much for your attention.


MEMBER OF THE VALDAI DISCUSSION CLUB ADVISORY BOARD PIOTR DUTKIEWICZ: Mr President, this is the tenth year that we are meeting with you here.

This is a unique platform and a unique format – there is nothing like it in the world. Thank you for these ten years of warm support for our club.

I have a two-part question concerning your article in The New York Times. It was an excellent idea and a brilliant article.  Indeed, you are personally responsible for stopping the expansion and deepening of the Syrian conflict, which is an enormous achievement.

Question: who came up with this idea? Was it Lavrov, Shoigu, Peskov or someone else? And when did you discuss it for the first time with President Obama?

The second part of the question: it seems to me that you put yourself in a rather awkward position with this brilliant idea, this brilliant article, because you became a kind of hostage. You and Russia have taken on the burden of responsibility for the success of this agreement. You already have many detractors because they do not want to see major global policy to develop as a Putin and Obama duet. What happens if it doesn’t work?

Thank you.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you for your kind words.

My colleagues and I have always been pleased that there are people in the world interested in Russia, its history and its culture. Ten years ago, when I was told that these people would like to come to Russia, talk with us, engage in debate, and want to learn about our point of view on key issues in the development of the nation itself and its place in the world, well, naturally, we supported it immediately; I supported it and my colleagues supported it. I am very happy that over the last ten years, this platform has become even more prestigious compared to the first steps taken a decade ago. The interest in our nation is not waning; on the contrary, it is increasing and growing.

I want to respond to your words of gratitude in kind. I would like to thank all the experts on Russia who remain faithful to their love of our nation and their interest in our nation.

Now, regarding the article. I had this idea completely by chance. I saw that President Obama took the discussion on the possibility of attacking Syria to the Congress and Senate. I followed the course of that discussion and I just wanted to convey our position, my own position, to the people who will be forming their opinions on this issue, and to clarify it. Because unfortunately, the media often present various problems very one-sidedly, or simply stay completely silent.

So this was my idea; I called one of my aides and said that I would like to publish an article in an American newspaper – it didn’t matter which one, but one of the leading ones – so that this information would reach the readers, and dictated what I wanted to see written. You may have noticed that it does not contain anything I have not stated earlier, in various places in public. I have already talked about all of it in one way or another. So I just dictated it, and then when my colleagues put it together, I took a look. I didn’t like everything, so I rewrote and added a few things, gave it back to them, they worked on it some more and brought it to me again. I made some more changes and felt it was ready for publishing. We arranged through our partners that it would be in The New York Times; we came to an agreement with this respected publication that the article would be published without any cuts. If they didn’t like it, we could give it to another newspaper.

But I must give credit to the New York Times editors: they completely abided by our agreements and published everything as I wrote it. They even waived their usual requirements on the number of characters and words in the article; it was a little bit over the limit. They were going to submit it, but then one of my aides said, “President Obama is going to address the nation tomorrow. What if he announces that there won’t be any strikes, that they changed their minds? It’s better to wait.” I said, “Very well.” We waited, and the next morning, I was getting ready for work and I was given President Obama’s speech. I began to read it and realised that nothing had changed fundamentally, so I laid it aside without finishing it. But then I thought, “No, I need to read it to the end.” And when I read all of it, it became clear that my article was incomplete. As you understand, the matter at hand was America’s exceptionalism. So I picked up the article, and right then and there, I hand-wrote the last paragraph. I gave it to my colleagues, they passed it on to The New York Times, and there it was.

Now, concerning responsibility. You know, you are all very experienced, smart and clever people. Here is what I will say about Russia’s special responsibility. We have equal rights and equal responsibilities with all our colleagues involved in the discussion on Syria. This is not the first time I hear that I now carry a special responsibility. We all carry a special responsibility; we all carry it equally. If the attempt to resolve the problem by peaceful means is unsuccessful, that will be a tragedy. But we must investigate before we do take any other steps. My good friend Francois Fillon – we have known each other for a long time and have become friends during our years of working together – talked about how after the report was released by UN experts, it became clear that chemical weapons had been used. But this was clear to us from the very beginning, and our experts agreed. The only thing that is unclear is who used it.

We are constantly talking about responsibility on the part of Assad’s government, whether he used chemical weapons or not. But what if they were used by the opposition? Nobody is saying what we would then do with the opposition – but this, too, is an important question. We have every reason to believe that this was a provocation. You know, it was clever and smart, but at the same time, the execution was primitive. They used an ancient, Soviet-made projectile, taken from the Syrian army’s armaments from a long time ago – it even had “Made in the USSR” printed on it. But this was not the first time chemical weapons were used in Syria. Why didn’t they investigate the previous instances?

This matter should be investigated as thoroughly as possible. If we finally get an answer, despite all obstacles, to the question of who did this, who committed this crime – and there is no question that it was a crime – then we will take the next step; we will then work with other UN Security Council colleagues to determine the culpability of those who committed this crime, together and in solidarity.

Thank you.

MODERATOR SVETLANA MIRONYUK: They say that Senator McCain followed your example and published an article of his own in Pravda newspaper. He probably remembers from the Soviet years that Pravda was a well-known publication and the most popular newspaper in the country. True, a lot of time has passed and things have changed a bit since then, so it’s no longer true. I don’t know if you heard about this or not, Mr President.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, I didn’t know about it. I have met the senator before. He was in Munich when I made the speech there that went on to become so famous. Actually, there was nothing anti-American in that speech. I simply stated our position frankly and honestly, and there was nothing aggressive in what I said, if you only take a closer look. What I said then was that we were promised at one point that NATO would not expand beyond the former Federal Republic of Germany’s eastern border. That was a promise directly made to Gorbachev. True, it was not actually set out and written down. But where is NATO today, where is the border? We got cheated, to put it quite simply. That’s the whole story. But there’s nothing aggressive here. It’s more just a reluctance to admit to what I just said. But I didn’t say those words to offend anyone. I said them so that we would be able to lay everything before each other plain and clear and discuss the problems in an honest, open fashion. It’s easier to reach agreements this way. You shouldn’t keep things hidden.

The senator has his own views. I do think though that he is lacking information about our country. The fact that he chose to publish his article in Pravda – and he wanted after all to publish it in the most influential and widely read newspaper – suggests that he is lacking information. Pravda is a respected publication of the Communist Party, which is now in opposition, but it does not have very wide circulation around the country now. He wants to get his views across to as many people as possible, and so his choice simply suggests that he is not well-informed about our country.

Actually, I would have been happy to see him here at the Valdai Club say, taking part in the discussions. As far as I know, our big television channels, the national channels, proposed that he come and take part in an open and honest discussion. There you have it, freedom of speech, freedom of the press. He is welcome to share his point of view with the whole country and discuss things with his equals, with political analysts and politicians, members of the State Duma or the Federation Council.

In this respect, I can only express my regret that our American colleagues did not react to our parliamentarians’ proposal and refused to receive them in Washington for a discussion on Syria. Why did they do this? To be honest, I don’t see anything so bad about this proposal, which, on the contrary, seems to me of interest and the right thing to do. The more we actually discuss things directly with each other, the easier it will be to find solutions.


Are there more questions from the floor?

Let’s stick to the subjects if we can, so as not to jump from one topic to another.

Bridget Kendall, go ahead.


Again about Syria, Russia has been lauded for its achievement for bringing about a deal which looks as though it could lead to the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria, all the more an achievement given that the Syrian government didn’t admit it had them until very recently. Would you have been able to persuade President Assad to do this if there hadn’t been a threat of American military strikes? In other words, did the threat of US military strikes actually play a rather useful role?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Am I right in understanding that you are asking about whether it is the threat of military strikes that plays a part in Syria’s agreeing to have its weapons placed under control?

First, I’d like to ask you all to address your questions to everyone taking part in today’s discussion, so as not to turn this into a boring dialogue. If you permit, I will redirect your question to my colleagues and ask them to share their points of view on this issue.

The threat of the use of force and actual use of force are far from being a cure-all for international problems. Look at what we are actually talking about after all. We are forgetting the heart of the matter. We are talking about using force outside the framework of current international law. We’ve just been saying how the US Congress and Senate are discussing whether to use force or not. But it is not there that this matter should be discussed. It should be discussed in the UN Security Council. That is the heart of the issue. That is my first point.

Second, on whether we will manage to convince Assad or not, I don’t know. So far it looks as though Syria has fully agreed to our proposal and is ready to act according to the plan that the international community is putting together, working through the UN. Russia and the USA, in the persons of Secretary of State Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov have already practically drafted the outlines of this plan. There is a special organisation that will work together with the UN on this matter of eliminating chemical weapons. Syria has declared that it will join and that it indeed already considers itself to have joined the International Chemical Weapons Convention. These are practical steps that the Syrian government has already taken. Will we succeed in taking the process through to completion? I cannot give a 100% guarantee. But what we have seen just lately, over these last few days, gives us hope that this is possible and will be done.

Let me just remind you about how these chemical weapons came about. Syria got itself chemical weapons as an alternative to Israel’s nuclear arsenal, as we know. What can be done about the various issues associated with proliferation and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remains a very relevant question today, perhaps the most important issue of our time. If this situation gets out of control, like it once happened with gunpowder, the consequences will be unimaginable. We therefore need to strive towards nuclear-free status in particular parts of the world, especially in such volatile regions as the Middle East.

We need to be very careful in our action so as to give unconditional security guarantees for all participants in this process. After all, there are people in Israel itself who categorically oppose nuclear weapons. You remember the well-known case when a nuclear physicist was sent to prison, served his sentence and still continues to think that his position was right. Why? There is nothing anti-Israeli in his position. He is a Jew himself and a citizen of his country, but he simply believes that Israel’s technological superiority is such that the country does not need nuclear weapons. Israel is already technologically and militarily a long way ahead of the region’s other countries. But nuclear weapons only turn the country into a target and create foreign policy problems. In this respect, there is sense in the position of this nuclear physicist, who disclosed the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons.

But to come back to your question about whether the plan will succeed or not, we hope that it will.

SVETLANA MIRONYUK: Mr President, I suggest that since we have veered away from defence and security issues, we should give Mr Rühe a chance to reply, ask a question, and express his opinion.

Mr Rühe, you have the floor.

FORMER DEFENCE MINISTER OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY VOLKER RÜHE: Well, I wanted to speak about the young generation in this country.

First, I would like to begin – because I’ve been here from the beginning – to also compliment our Russian friends on the format of Valdai, the architects – because it would not be enough to call them organisers. What we have seen here, I call the culture of inclusiveness and a love of pluralism. And I can tell you, Mr President, we are quite fascinated by the pluralistic voices from Russia, including very powerful statements by people that are in opposition to your politics, and I think this shows the strength of the country, that it was organised in this way.

I’ve never looked at Russia with the somewhat narrow eyes of a defence minister, you know this. I was first here in 1971, and Sergei Karaganov is a friend of mine since the late 1970s. We don’t look it, but it’s a fact of life. We have lived through SS-20 and Pershing.

And what I would like to say is, I came here as Defence Minister in 1995 and I went to St Petersburg. And I said, I don’t want to see any tanks or artillery, or any generals. I want to see the Mayor, Sobchak. And I got to know you also, you were part of his team. Why? He was a lighthouse for me, as a young member of parliament in West Germany, still in the divided Germany, and I think what he was doing was much more important than tanks and artillery, and it has proved to be this way. So it’s a lifelong interest in a neighbour. And we all, I believe, on this continent, are interested in a successful, modern Russia.

Now, the young generation. What I’ve seen – and of course it was very interesting for me to listen to his daughter, who is a powerful voice for the young generation, two days ago.

So what I’ve seen here, what I’ve seen in Russia is you have really an asset to the country, your young generation. They are very intelligent. They want to have a good education. They want to be more internationally connected. And they want to have a bigger say in the politics of your country. They are knocking at the doors of the Kremlin.

The young generation in my country, they also want to build their private lives, they are very much internationally connected. The doors to our Kremlins, which is the parliament and the government, are very open, but they don’t knock at it. They leave it to politicians because they think things have been arranged very well. And we are very sad that some of the very best just want to have a successful private life, but don’t engage in public life.

So my message really is, Russia can be proud of a young generation, even if there are political opponents that want to engage in public life, which is not the case in many of the west European countries. And I’ve said earlier in Russia also, we should give up this visa regime in the West, because that would enable hundreds of thousands of young Russians to come and see our life and our political system. But I must say, it would also change Russia, because once they have studied in Rome or in London or in Washington, because they’ll be forces of change, the necessary change in this country. But I think it would make the country also more competitive.

Now what has that to do with security? I think this is the best way to ensure security and to develop common points of view. And I’m very glad that this culture of Valdai, I don’t think there’s anything – I have been to many conferences, and also to Munich, but Munich is very narrow security-wise, there’s no conference like this in the world.

And also when we listen for four hours to your people about ideas and politics – we very often just talk from Monday to Thursday about our politics. It was very fascinating to see that the Russian speakers are much more interested in fundamental questions of society than we are, which is very much on the surface, what we are debating. So I think this is something to start from, but the real message is, I think it would be a great project of your third term to integrate this young generation when they’re knocking at the door of the Kremlin, because don’t forget, we want more people to knock at the doors of political power in the West, and you can be proud of these people. That’s my message.

SVETLANA MIRONYUK: Thank you, Mr Rühe.

Other questions, please.


Everyone seems to be expecting me to ask you about 2018 and whether you will run for a new term. But I’m not going to ask that question. Everyone else I have put this question to so far have all said no though, so you might have to run anyway in the end, or else there won’t be anyone at all.

But I want to come back to a question we have already discussed. Unlike you, I did read McCain’s article. It should be said that it is not exactly a reply to your article, because it is really quite a personal article and not related to Syria. I think it is not very politically correct really, but that is my personal view.

Actually, he says there that no criticism of Putin is allowed in Russia. I’m here as a living example of someone who is always criticising you. Even here at Valdai I have often argued with you, but I’m still here as you can see, alive and well. To be honest, I do not entirely agree with the things you said today either. But McCain says that the government Russia has today does not adequately represent Russian society, and that Russia deserves a different government.

In this respect I have a question. I know that relations between the public and the authorities is indeed one of Russia’s big problems, an old, historical problem. Before last year’s election, I recall that you said that there is perhaps a need to change the Constitution, change the relations between government and society, change the mutual responsibility, develop local government and so on. There was the very good idea too of bringing more young people into government. Sometimes I hear voices among the opposition saying that this government should be swept aside and that a new government is needed. You are now serving your third term as President. How do you view today the relations between government and society in Russia? Are you happy with these relations? What should be changed? Is the Constitution really the issue, or is McCain perhaps right in a way? I do not think his argument is correct. But what is your vision now, in the twenty-first century, of the relations between Russia’s highest authorities and society?

Thank you, Mr President.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You recall the words of one of the world’s outstanding political leaders, a former British Prime Minister, who said of democracy that it “is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”. Probably then – not probably, but for certain – Russia does deserve a better quality of government. Is there an ideal form of government in other countries, including the one that you and Mr McCain represent? This is a big question, a very big question, if we are talking about democracy.

It has happened twice in US history that the President of the United States was chosen by a majority in the electoral colleges, but with a minority of the actual voters. This is an obvious flaw in the electoral procedure, that is to say, a flaw at the very heart of American democracy. In other words, everyone has their own problems.

We perhaps have no fewer problems than you, and maybe even more, though this would only be natural. Russia has gone through the experience of rule under the tsars, then communism, then the disintegration of the 1990s. This has been a period of very difficult and complicated rebuilding. But it is very clear that Russia is on the road to democracy and is looking for its own ways to strengthen these democratic foundations. There is this very fact that for ten years now we have been getting together, debating, openly discussing, even when we used to meet behind closed doors, it all became public anyway. And this is not to mention the other aspects of our life.

As for what kind of government Russia should have, this is something for our citizens to decide, and not for our colleagues from abroad. We held an election a year ago, not so long ago, and the majority of Russia’s citizens voted for me. I base myself on this decision. That does not mean we can now sit on our laurels. I have to work on myself, and our institutions need to improve too. This is just what we are all doing.

Note that we have returned to holding gubernatorial elections in the regions. This practice is not so widespread in the world. Such elections are the practice in the United States, but India say, has a completely different procedure. Many countries do things very much their own way. Germany has its system, France has its way of doing things, and in Russia we have decided to elect regional governors by direct secret ballot.

We have liberalised political parties’ activity. As a specialist on Russia, you know just how many new political parties took part in the regional elections. In many cases they achieved victory, and as far as I know, the winners of elections from these new political parties are here at Valdai too. The improvement process is therefore going ahead. I think it will never stop, because government organisation, the political organisation of society, and democratic procedures need to keep up more or less with a society’s current needs and demands, and society is developing and changing. The political system will change and develop with it.


Any other questions?

FOUNDER DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR EUROPEAN REFORM CHARLES GRANT: Charles Grant from the Centre for European Reform, London.

I have a question for the President, but if other panellists wish to comment, I would be grateful, because it’s about Ukraine. I know Mr Prodi has a special interest in Ukraine.

I’d like the President to tell us whether he sees Ukraine as a normal, sovereign, independent country or a country that’s a bit different. I ask that because we have a question now – Ukraine has to choose whether to join the Customs Union with Russia and other countries, or to reach a closer agreement with the EU. And we’ve heard from participants here in the last few days that some people in Ukraine find Russia’s heavy-armed tactics – closing the borders, blocking exports from Ukraine – counterproductive. They have told us this is pushing public opinion in Ukraine to be a little more critical of Russia and perhaps closer to the EU. So could you explain what your strategy is with regard to Ukraine and what kind of country you believe it is.

Thank you.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: My good, long-time friend Romano headed the European Commission for many years. So let’s ask him to open the discussion. I have an answer, and I’m ready to reply to you, but I would like to hear his opinion.

FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF ITALY ROMANO PRODI: First of all, you remember that I was President of the European Commission. And I remember that in our last common press conference, when I was asked about the relation between the European Union and Russia, I said, they must be like vodka and caviar – I don’t know which is which – but we are so strict, and things are not going in this direction. There is something that we have to move or to change, because really – well, maybe my vision is influenced by the fact I am by education an economist – but I see such a complementarity, such a necessity of working together, that I think we have to work in this direction.

And clearly, it’s not only a Russian problem. Europe is fairly divided. In this case, you have countries that are much more inclined to deal with Russia, some others are not confident in that. We also have a different vision in very simple problems like the visa. And I agree that the first step is to have free circulation of young people. The Erasmus project in Europe, which is a very simple circulation of students, is changing the mentality of a generation. We must do the same with Russia.

And clearly, in the case of Ukraine, I think it’s going in the same direction. There is now a double proposal that says, one is the association agreement that will be signed probably in Vilnius at the end of November, and then there is the proposal of, let’s say, the Eurasian economy.

First of all, I am not a technical expert of trade, but all my consultants say, “Look, the two proposals are not incompatible. They are incompatible taken as a picture, as static, but if we sit around the table, with good will, we can make very few changes and then make them compatible.” And so, as I answer to Mr Grant, reinforce the identity of Ukraine – not as a dividing country, but as a bridge between Russia and Europe, because we need bridges, and Ukraine must and can be a bridge between us. This is, I think, my position. And I’m working in this direction because Ukraine is a great country. Forty-five million people, even if the decreasing population is, geopolitically, very important. And it must be an exercise in cooperation between Russia and European Union.

Vladimir, on this point, clearly, why I am so warm about that? Because I think that if we create two divided trade areas, we’ll be, for the future, damaging the structure. Because clearly, Europe is going in the direction of transatlantic trade investment partnership with such a big area.

Russia, with this Customs Union, will have a dimension that is not comparable to the other one. So I think – well, I don’t want to judge Russia, because I do not have the right to do it – but the dimensions of the country, the characteristics of the country, are such that the great change that you are working for, modernisation and technology, needs a strong link with you. From this point of view, really, we are like vodka and caviar. I think the complementarity is so high that you cannot do without us and we cannot do without you. So you have to be very prudent following your doctrine, your diversity cooperation, very prudent to create a structure that then will diverge in the future.

This is the moment in which we must stay around the table, as you did with Syria. Your proposal with Syria is a masterpiece, because first of all, it has avoided the war, and even the American president was not so happy with this war. And second, it was giving the possibility to the Americans to set the big principles of being against the chemical weapons. So they could get a proposal that could be accepted by you.

I think this is the moment in the relations between Europe and Russia to use the same methodology as has been done with Syria. Because if we start to diverge, Russia will be more alone, Europe will be worse off, and the future relations cannot help us in the direction that we both tried to explore in the past.

I agree that to dance, we need to be two. One cannot dance alone. But I think this is the moment in which we have to make these proposals.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You see what a good idea it was to gave the floor to Mr Prodi.

Yes, Romano and I have been working together for a long time, and we do have a very good personal relationship. That’s how things have played out. In Italy, I have always had good relations with him, and with Mr Berlusconi, with whom he is in constant conflict in the political arena. And Berlusconi is currently on trial for living with women, but nobody would lay a finger on him if he were gay. (Laughter.)

Anyway, I want to talk about Mr Romano’s words. Please note that he is not just an intellectual, although he is indeed a professor, a scientist, a true European intellectual. But he is also a European bureaucrat, down to his core. Just look at what he said: relations between Russia and Europe are like caviar and vodka. But both caviar and vodka are Russian products, products of Russian origin. (Laughter.)

After all, Europe is used to the well-known principle of eating from one’s neighbours’ plate before eating from one’s own.

ROMANO PRODI: Let it be whisky and soda.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, whisky and soda is a bad drink to begin with; why ruin the whisky? You should be drinking it straight.

Regarding Ukraine. Ukraine, without a doubt, is an independent state. That is how history has unfolded. But let’s not forget that today’s Russian statehood has roots in the Dnieper; as we say, we have a common Dnieper baptistery. Kievan Rus started out as the foundation of the enormous future Russian state. We have common traditions, a common mentality, a common history and a common culture. We have very similar languages. In that respect, I want to repeat again, we are one people.

Of course, the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian culture and the Ukrainian language have wonderful features that make up the identity of the Ukrainian nation. And we not only respect it, but moreover, I, for one, really love it, I like all of it. It is part of our greater Russian, or Russian-Ukrainian, world. But history has unfolded in such a way that today, this territory is an independent state, and we respect that.

By the way, Ukraine had a long and difficult path to reach its current state today. It was part of one state, then another state, and in each, a part of Ukraine’s public entities were not privileged. The Ukrainian people had a very difficult destiny, but when we united into one Rus, that part of the nation began to develop rapidly, began developing infrastructure and trade. After World War II, the Soviet government allotted somewhere around 1.5 trillion rubles to restore certain companies – very large companies. One third of that funding went to Ukraine.

Let me reiterate: today, Ukraine is an independent state, and we respect that fact. Naturally, selecting priorities and selecting allies is the national, sovereign right of the Ukrainian people and the legitimate Ukrainian government.

How do we see this process of [Ukraine] joining the EU or signing a Customs Union agreement with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus? After all, Russia is also going to sign a new framework agreement. We have already discussed signing [an agreement on] some form of a free trade zone with the European Union, and Romano and I have talked about this as well. This is all possible.

You know what the difference is? The fact that during negotiations on Russia’s WTO accession we agreed on a certain level of tariff protection. This is hard for us because our competition has cheap and – we can say frankly – quite high-quality agricultural products, agricultural machinery. Things are very difficult for us in several other sectors, for our industries. But the level of customs protection in Russia is higher than in Ukraine; I think it is twice as high, or near that.

Why are we marking time in negotiation processes with our European partners? It’s true what I said earlier about them earlier that before eating what’s on their plate, they first eat the neighbours’ food. They are very nice guys, very friendly, polite, pleasant to talk with, we can eat caviar and drink vodka, good German beer or Italian or French wines, but they are very tough negotiators.

At present we can’t even move forward and conclude a new framework agreement, much less a further agreement about free trade. That is because we believe our partners are making excessive demands and, in fact, imposing on us an agreement that we refer to as WTO Plus. That is, it comprises the WTO requirements with regards to open markets and several other things, particularly regarding standards, plus some additional demands.

But first of all we need to digest WTO accession; we cannot go too fast. And we believe that if Ukraine joined the Customs Union and we coordinated our efforts and negotiated with the Europeans, we would have more chances to negotiate better terms of trade with our main economic and trade partner. Europe remains our major trading partner; 50% of our trade is with the European Union.

In this sense, we believe that [joining the Customs Union] serves both our and Ukrainian interests. All the more so since during the negotiation process we would lower energy prices and open Russian markets. According to our calculations, and the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences confirms this, Ukraine would receive an additional $9 billion. Not a minus, but a plus.

How would Ukraine benefit from joining the EU? Open markets? Well, this would make the economy more liberal. But I have no idea whether Ukraine’s economy can cope with such liberalism. It’s none of our business really, our Ukrainian partners must decide this for themselves.

But what is our problem? If import duties are further reduced in Ukraine, then good quality and cheap European goods will make their way there. They will squeeze products of Ukrainian origin out of the domestic market, pushing them where? Towards us. This creates problems. We are therefore warning in advance and saying: we understand all this, it’s your choice, go ahead if you want to, but keep in mind that we will somehow have to protect our market and introduce protectionist measures. We are saying this openly and in advance, so that afterwards you will not accuse us of interfering with anyone or questioning another country’s sovereign right to decide in favour of the EU.

You understand that we will simply need to consider how many goods can access our market and what protectionist measures we will have to take, that’s all. After all, look at the share of agricultural products that Ukraine imports and which end up on the Russian market. I think probably about 70 to 80% of all food imports. And what will they do with their pipes and other products? There’s a whole range of issues, we engage in massive internal cooperation, and some businesses cannot exist without their counterparts. And if we introduce such limitations, these companies – and perhaps whole industries –will then face severe problems. That’s what we’re talking about, that’s what we’re warning about. We are doing so in good faith and in advance, without in any way encroaching on [Ukraine’s] sovereign right to take a foreign policy decision.

SVETLANA MIRONYUK: Thank you very much, Mr President.

I want to give Mr Simes the chance to reply.

PRESIDENT OF THE US CENTRE FOR THE NATIONAL INTEREST DIMITRI SIMES: I enjoyed listening to this whole conversation and the President’s speech. I feel a little uncomfortable, like the honest old man who said: “Mr President, I am an honest old man, I have nothing to lose, and you are a genius.” I do not want to speak like that and won’t do so here.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: That’s a pity. It’s not hard – just say it. (Laughter.)

DIMITRI SIMES: Maybe you’ll like [what I have to say], we’ll see.

I found our previous conversation a little perturbing because it seemed like “all is well, my beautiful marchioness”, except for a tiny trifle. Yes, of course there are problems between Russia and the European Union, there are disagreements between Russia and the United States, but on the whole everything is done with goodwill and mutual understanding. I had the feeling while listening to the conversation earlier that all we have to do is show some goodwill and common sense, and everything will go smoothly.

Friends, we have not yet recovered from, and have only just begun to seek a way out of one of the most serious international crises since World War II. We have not yet emerged from this crisis. Apart from the technical aspects of the situation with Syria’s chemical weapons, there is also a fundamental difference of views. As the President said, Russia’s position is that there should be no use of force.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Without UN Security Council approval.

DIMITRI SIMES: Without UN Security Council approval.

In addition, as the President said, there is no proof that chemical weapons were used by Assad’s government, which in the United States and in Europe is usually referred to only as the regime. The American position and that of leading European powers is fundamentally different.

Why was President Obama forced to take on President Putin’s initiative? As I understand it, not because he fundamentally rejected the idea of ​​a military strike on Syria. As Mr President just said, Mr had Obama addressed the Congress and was clearly preparing the country for a military strike, but he failed. First he was let down by the British Parliament, and then suddenly by American public opinion.

I have never seen anything like what has just happened in the United States. I emigrated there forty years ago, in 1973, and what I have seen in that time is that the majority of Americans are political realists who do not like any foreign humanitarian interventions, and who do not want to spread democracy by using force.

Public opinion does not matter much, because for most people it wasn’t an important issue; that is not why they voted the way they did. And then suddenly, for the first time a real protest hurricane developed very fast, and took on momentum like a snowball. When it began the Administration was certain that they had the support of the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. And after the Senate’s vote, it would be possible to pressure the House [of Representatives], which has a Republican majority.

And suddenly I saw on American television – and I’m sure my American colleagues did too – how at these meetings of congressional representatives, senators and voters, including Senator John McCain, the voters shouted: “How dare you?! What are you doing?!” And the more the Administration and President Obama talked about needing to attack Syria, the greater was the public opposition.

Then your initiative appeared, Mr President, one that allowed President Obama to save face and to recognise the inevitable, that strikes won’t work. But the main motives remain: removing Assad, demonstrating that if the United States and President Obama personally set some kind of red line, in this case the use of chemical weapons, then it cannot be crossed. And if it does happen, then America won’t tolerate that the perpetrator remains in power, or for evil not to be punished, as Washington said. All these points remain valid.

The problem is much broader than Syria. When you talk about Russia’s national identity, I remembered how I was in Russia in 1991 with former President Nixon, and how he spoke at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations. He surprised everyone there by saying that Russia is a part of Western civilisation and that naturally Russia must understand that there are some common democratic mechanisms and free market principles.

He said that Russia should never simply follow along behind US foreign policy, nor should it adopt American Western values​​. Not only is it unnatural for Russia, because it is simply dressing-up the country as something it isn’t, but it will have a boomerang effect. Russian public opinion, Russian policy will never support this in the long term. As a result, there will be some resentment of the United States and the West, and they will have to pay for this.

In conclusion, Winston Churchill, who President Putin referred to earlier, said a very interesting and wise thing about the United States: He said that “you can always count on the Americans to do the right thing – but only after they’ve tried everything else.” I hope that we are coming to the end of trying everything else, and that this will open up a real opportunity for Russian-American relations.

I fully support President Putin’s tough stance, not because I’m not an American patriot, but because I believe that baby talk among great powers is not the way to reach an agreement. One has to understand what to expect from the other country, and what their mettle is.

My question to the President is as follows. I think you showed in your Munich speech and in your highly effective article in The New York Times what Russia will not allow, and the red lines that Russia is laying down. But if you talk one-on-one with President Obama (and I understand that an audience such as this is a different format), what does Russia disagree with in addition to what you said in The New York Times? What would you tell him if the United States saw a window of opportunity and tried to use it? How would you see the possibilities for cooperation with Russia? What concessions could you offer? Is it possible, for example that Russia’s position on some important issues might change?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: First of all, I do not think that the initiative to put Syria’s chemical weapons under [international] supervision contributed, as you said, to saving President Obama’s face. It has nothing to do with saving anyone’s face. It was his decision, based on an empirical analysis of the situation, and I’m very pleased that our positions on this issue coincided. That’s the first point.

Secondly, what would I say? You know, there is no secret here. After all, I spoke to President Obama one-on-one, including last time we met in St Petersburg, we talked on the sidelines of the G20 summit, and at previous meetings in Los Cabos [in 2012]. You know, I always have the same question. After all, the vast majority of people sitting here are experts and I can ask them all, and you too, one of the most respected experts on Russia and international politics, the same question: what is it the purpose? You know, I always ask: what are you trying to achieve? If evil must be punished, what is evil there? The fact that President Assad’s family has been in power for 40 years? Is that evil? The fact that there is no democracy there? Indeed, perhaps there is none as the American establishment defines it.

REMARK: There is no democracy in Saudi Arabia either, but for some reason no one is bombing it.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: See, they say there is no democracy in Saudi Arabia either, and it’s difficult to disagree with that. Nobody is getting ready to bomb Saudi Arabia.

The issue is that we establish a trusting dialogue with Americans and Europeans so that we can listen to each other and hear our respective arguments.

“Evil must be punished. There must be a democracy.” Look at what happened in Egypt: there was a state of emergency there for forty years, the Muslim Brotherhood was forced underground. Then they were allowed to come out into the open, elections were held and they were elected. Now everything is back like it was before. Once again the Muslim Brotherhood has been pushed underground, and there’s a state of emergency. Is this good or bad? You know, we need to realise that there are probably countries and even entire regions that cannot function according to universal templates, reproducing the patterns of American or European democracy. Just try to understand that there is another society there and other traditions. Everything in Egypt has come full circle, came back to what they started with.

Apparently, those who committed the now famous military actions in Libya were also inspired by noble motives. But what was the outcome? There too they fought for democracy. And where is that democracy? The country is divided into several parts which are run by different tribes. Everybody is fighting against everybody else. Where is democracy? They killed the US ambassador. Do you understand that this is also the result of the current policy? This is a direct outcome.

I don’t say this now to criticise or attack anyone. I just want to encourage all of our partners to listen to each other, and to each other’s arguments. Russia has not special interests in Syria, and that is not what we are trying to protect by supporting the current government. Of course not. In my article, I think I wrote something like “We are fighting to preserve the principles of international law.” After all, it was at the initiative of the American founding fathers that when the statutes of the United Nations and its Security Council were signed – and I would stress that this was at American initiative – that they contained a provision that decisions pertaining to war and peace must be made unanimously. This holds profound meaning. No matter how hard or how difficult this may be.

After all, you understand that if any country feels invulnerable and strikes unilaterally wherever it deems necessary, then the international order and the very meaning of the UN and the Security Council will be reduced to zero. This would be a blow to the world order, not simply to Syria. That’s what I’m talking about, do you understand? That’s what I’d like to say to you and this audience, and to our partners in the United States.

To be continued. HERE

Helping Syria “Remove Grounds for American Aggression” Is Creating Grounds for US Aggression

[France can’t let the Americans steal all of the thunder, especially in their old stomping grounds.  This is another Imperial deception, intended to gain UN authority under Chapter 7 at the Security Council.  Russia stands ready to repeat the same mistake it made in Libya, by going along with this Imperial initiative.  Putin tried to take Kerry’s “one week” threat and turn it on its head, by convincing Assad accept this poison chalice.  If he drinks it, by agreeing to the Lavrov deal, then he will be repeating his previous grave error, which he made in trusting his fate to the UN inspectors, who were allegedly allowed in to prove rebel chem weapon use.  By agreeing to allow the investigators to enter Syria for their witch hunt in the first place, he opened the door for Bandar’s pre-planned chemical aggression.   It doesn’t matter whether the Saudis supplied the chemicals or they bribed the Syrian officers behind it, Bandar is still responsible for the absurdly-timed attack. 
If there were any justice in this world, then Saudi Arabia would be held liable for 1,400 gassed Syrians, and they would now be under the Tomahawk gun.  This probably fatal lapse in judgement on Assad’s part, allowed the pre-announced Qatar-financed false flag chem attack to go forward, despite previous media reports’ warnings.  If Syria’s chemical arsenal is as large as it is reported to be by the Western media, then it will probably take more than the allowed week to transfer control to some unnamed international authority.  Even if Assad is given more time to meet the Imperial demands and he successfully complies with them, there will still be some other excuse invented to seemingly justify the planned destruction of Syria by America’s Islamist armies and the USAF/Navy air support which will make it all possible.  Once again, the Pentagon will serve as an “Islamist air force,” for its terrorist hordes.
Russian leaders are either complicit in America’s games, or they are a lot dumber than the rest of us had hoped they would prove to be, if they cannot establish some insurmountable obstacles in any UN legislation, which will make another Libyan-type of double-cross impossible.  The Russian move to help Syria to “remove the grounds for American aggression” is a serious error in tactics and strategy.  By admitting that the Pentagon has some sort of legal or moral authority right now, to do whatever it wants inside of Syria, a Catch-22 situation will have been brought about.  By admitting that an Imperial authority now exists, either Syria or its Russian sponsor would actually be empowering the storm troopers WITH that authority.  However this grand deception eventually plays-out, Bashar al-Asad is certain to lose his head in the end.]

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius: “We have decided to take the initiative”

France will put a resolution to the UN Security Council to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control so they can be destroyed, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says.

He said it would threaten “extremely serious” consequences if Syria breached its conditions.

Russia also has a plan to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, it says.

Syria has said it accepts the Russian proposal, though details are sketchy.

“We held a very fruitful round of talks with [Russian] Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday [Monday], and he proposed an initiative relating to chemical weapons. And in the evening, we agreed to the Russian initiative,” Russian news agency Interfax quotes Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallim, who is in Moscow, as saying.

This would “remove the grounds for American aggression”, he added.

Source: UN

Earlier, Mr Fabius, who was speaking at a news conference in Paris, said the resolution, based around five points, would demand that Syria “bring fully to light” its chemical weapons programme.

The measure would also set up international inspections and controls of the dismantling process.

The resolution would be tabled under Chapter 7 of the UN charter covering possible military and non-military action to restore peace, Mr Fabius added.

The plan had been discussed before, he said, but had probably been advanced by the pressure applied in recent weeks.

The Russians have blocked all previous French-led efforts at the Security Council, says the BBC’s Christian Fraser in Paris.

FSA fighters
On the ground, the Syrian conflict is still raging

Both France and the United States are wary of an Iraq-style game of cat and mouse – but they are prepared to give the Moscow-backed plan a chance, our correspondent adds.

What the French are keen to avoid, Mr Fabius said, is a plan that is only there as a delaying tactic, which is why all options, including the threat of a strike, will remain on the table, our correspondent says.

Moscow plan

Syria’s chemical weapons

  • CIA believes Syria’s chemical weapons can be “delivered by aircraft, ballistic missile, and artillery rockets”
  • Syria believed to possess mustard gas and sarin, and also tried to develop more toxic nerve agents such as VX gas
  • Syria has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) or ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC)

Sources: CSIS, RUSI

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, at a press conference with the Libyan foreign minister, has been speaking about Moscow’s plan to put Syrian’s chemical weapons stockpiles under international control.

There have been few details so far, but Mr Lavrov said Moscow was “preparing a concrete proposal which will be presented to all interested sides, including the US… a workable, specific, concrete plan”.

He said he had spoken to US Secretary of State John Kerry on the telephone about this on Monday.

Mr Lavrov said the Russian initiative was “not a purely Russian initiative… It grew out of contacts we’ve had with the Americans”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama discussed the idea on the sidelines of a G20 summit last week, Mr Putin’s spokesman said on Tuesday.

Mr Lavrov noted Mr Obama’s suggestion in a US TV interview that this may be a “breakthrough”.

Overnight, Mr Obama said the Russian proposal could be a breakthrough, but that he remained sceptical.

On Monday, Mr Kerry warned that not responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces would be riskier than taking action.

The US claims that Mr Assad’s forces carried out a chemical attack in Damascus on 21 August, killing 1,429 people.

Mr Assad’s government blames the attack on rebels fighting to overthrow him, in a conflict that the UN says has claimed some 100,000 lives.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius: “We have decided to take the initiative”

France will put a resolution to the UN Security Council to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control so they can be destroyed, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says.

He said it would threaten “extremely serious” consequences if Syria breached its conditions.

Russia also has a plan to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, it says.

Syria has said it accepts the Russian proposal, though details are sketchy.

“We held a very fruitful round of talks with [Russian] Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday [Monday], and he proposed an initiative relating to chemical weapons. And in the evening, we agreed to the Russian initiative,” Russian news agency Interfax quotes Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallim, who is in Moscow, as saying.

This would “remove the grounds for American aggression”, he added.

Chapter 7 of UN Charter

  • Action in response to threats to peace, breaches of peace and acts of aggression
  • Article 41 enables Security Council to decide measures not involving armed force
  • Can suspend economic and diplomatic relations as well as rail, sea and other communications
  • If Article 41 measures are inadequate, Article 42 enables Security Council to take action by air, sea or land forces for international peace and security

Source: UN

Earlier, Mr Fabius, who was speaking at a news conference in Paris, said the resolution, based around five points, would demand that Syria “bring fully to light” its chemical weapons programme.

The measure would also set up international inspections and controls of the dismantling process.

The resolution would be tabled under Chapter 7 of the UN charter covering possible military and non-military action to restore peace, Mr Fabius added.

The plan had been discussed before, he said, but had probably been advanced by the pressure applied in recent weeks.

The Russians have blocked all previous French-led efforts at the Security Council, says the BBC’s Christian Fraser in Paris.

FSA fighters On the ground, the Syrian conflict is still raging

Both France and the United States are wary of an Iraq-style game of cat and mouse – but they are prepared to give the Moscow-backed plan a chance, our correspondent adds.

What the French are keen to avoid, Mr Fabius said, is a plan that is only there as a delaying tactic, which is why all options, including the threat of a strike, will remain on the table, our correspondent says.

Moscow plan

Syria’s chemical weapons

  • CIA believes Syria’s chemical weapons can be “delivered by aircraft, ballistic missile, and artillery rockets”
  • Syria believed to possess mustard gas and sarin, and also tried to develop more toxic nerve agents such as VX gas
  • Syria has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) or ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC)

Sources: CSIS, RUSI

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, at a press conference with the Libyan foreign minister, has been speaking about Moscow’s plan to put Syrian’s chemical weapons stockpiles under international control.

There have been few details so far, but Mr Lavrov said Moscow was “preparing a concrete proposal which will be presented to all interested sides, including the US… a workable, specific, concrete plan”.

He said he had spoken to US Secretary of State John Kerry on the telephone about this on Monday.

Mr Lavrov said the Russian initiative was “not a purely Russian initiative… It grew out of contacts we’ve had with the Americans”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama discussed the idea on the sidelines of a G20 summit last week, Mr Putin’s spokesman said on Tuesday.

Mr Lavrov noted Mr Obama’s suggestion in a US TV interview that this may be a “breakthrough”.

Overnight, Mr Obama said the Russian proposal could be a breakthrough, but that he remained sceptical.

On Monday, Mr Kerry warned that not responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces would be riskier than taking action.

The US claims that Mr Assad’s forces carried out a chemical attack in Damascus on 21 August, killing 1,429 people.

Mr Assad’s government blames the attack on rebels fighting to overthrow him, in a conflict that the UN says has claimed some 100,000 lives.

Vladimir Putin expected to use G20 forum to deny chemical weapons claims against Syria

Vladimir Putin expected to use G20 forum to deny chemical weapons claims against Syria




Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin supports the Assad regime. Source: AP


RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin will use this week’s G20 world leaders forum to debunk US intelligence justifying an assault on Syria.

The annual gathering of the leaders of top 20 advanced and developing nations including Australia is usually a dry affair, with ratification of previously agreed backroom deals usually revolving about global financial affairs.

But officials from all nations are hurriedly changing their forum preparations which begin in St Petersburg on Wednesday with Syria discussions now set to dominate the agenda.

It is expected Mr Putin, a close ally of Syria, will roundly condemn moves by the West for an assault on Syria, the Russian leader questioning the merits of Allied intelligence.

Both President Obama and Great Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron are pushing for a strike on the Syrian Regime of Bashar al-Assad based on intel pointing to his troops using chemical weapons – specifically sarin – to so far murder more than 1400 civilians including 426 children. It has today been revealed that hair and blood samples from some of the victims has tested positive for the deadly sarin nerve agent.


Assad told Syrian TV he denied the allegation and was capable of confronting any attack.

“The American threats of launching an attack against Syria will not discourage Syria away from its principles … or its fight against terrorism supported by some regional and Western countries, first and foremost the United States of America,” he said.

“Syria … is capable of facing up to any external aggression just as it faces up to internal aggression every day, in the form of terrorist groups and those that support them.”

As this year’s G20 host, Mr Putin can direct the forum agenda to a decree and he is expected to declare the chemical claim as nonsense and call for restraint from the West.

Mr Putin, like other leaders, fear any assault could lead to wider conflict, with Iran already threatening broad reprisals against Western interest in the Middle East if nations choose to meddle.

Mr Putin has already challenged his US counterpart and its allies including Britain and Australia to show the international community what it claims is evidence and to do anything less was disrespectful.

“If there is evidence it should be shown,” he said. “If it is not shown there isn’t any.”

UN weapons inspectors are expected to reveal their findings on the claims next week.

Mr Cameron’s push to join the US with a military strike was rejected by the British Parliament prompting Mr Obama to also seek ratification for the move from Congress; the weapons of mass destruction dossier on Iraq which prompted war but turned out to be false forcing both leaders to flinch.

Any strike is expected to be on rocket sites and the Syrian airforce, the alleged major delivery sources of the chemicals. A full on-the-ground assault is not yet being called for although chemical sites have to be identified and confirmed from ground resources.

France has also accused the Syrian Government of having used poisonous gas on civilians in the capital Damascus and is backing a tactical assault.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr is to represent Australia at the G20 forum, in lieu of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who will be on the last days of election mode. The Rudd Government has condemned the use of chemicals by Assad forces but confirmed Australian troop involvement was unlikely with any action likely to be in the form of humanitarian aid.

Currently the G20 agenda will see nations called on to agree to set public debt reduction targets by 2016, building on a pledge made at a previous meeting two years ago. Just how targets will be met will be up to foreign governments to decide.

Other issues on the agenda will be tax evasion, including agreeing to better share data on where companies declare and pay tax and enforcing greater tax transparency particularly by multinationals hiding costs abroad, away from the centre of their majority sales.

President Putin—accusing Syrian army of using chemical weapon nonsense

President Putin: accusing Syrian army of using chemical weapon nonsense


Aug 31, 2013


Moscow, (SANA)-President Vladimir Putin of Russia affirmed that the Syrian government has never used chemical weapons, describing the accusations against the Syrian army of using such weapons as “nonsense.”

“Holding Syrian government responsible for the use of chemical weapon is a provocation and the calls for striking Syria were because of the victories achieved by the Syrian army and the retreat of the opposition’s gunmen,” Putin said in a statement in Vladivostok on Saturday.

The Russian president added that if Washington fails to show the proof, “that means there is none.”

Putin also told the journalists that President Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, should think of the potential victims of a military attack against Syria.

The Russian President called for considering the trajectory of events over the past ten years as the US has always been making the first move to ignite armed confrontations in various parts of the world, which did not solve one single case in Libya, Iraq or Afghanistan.

“Regarding the position of our American colleagues, who affirm that government troops used … chemical weapons, and say that they have proof; well, let them show it to the United Nations inspectors and the Security Council,” Putin added, considering the excuse that the ”information are too classified to present them to anyone” as flimsy and shows their disrespect for their partners.

Putin also expressed surprise at a vote in the British parliament on Thursday that rejected London’s role in a potential war on Syria.

“This was completely unexpected for me,” Putin said, noting, “This shows that in Great Britain, even if it is the USA’s main geopolitical ally in the world … there are people who are guided by common sense.”

The Russian President pointed out that the upcoming G20 summit, which will be held next week in Russia’s Saint Petersburg, could be a platform to discuss the crisis in Syria.

Russia is a vocal opponent of a military intervention in Syria and calls for a political solution to solve the crisis there.

Kremlin said yesterday that that any military intervention in Syria will deal a serious blow to the entire system of world order.

Russia: Military strike against Syria without UNSC approval is act of aggression

Russia reiterated rejection of any military action against Syria outside the Security Council mandate, considering that it would be a violation of international law and an act of aggression if it happened.

“The Russian side has confirmed that any use of force against Syria by the United States, without authorization of the UN Security Council, is an act of aggression and flagrant violation of the principles of international law,” a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry official website after the meeting between the deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul read.

It also indicated that “Michael McFaul presented all the arguments which the US administration relies upon in accusing the Syrian government of involvement of the use of chemical weapons on August 21, 2013 in Eastern Ghouta.”

Ryabkov called the American side to “refrain from attempts to use this incident in order to justify military pressure on Damascus, and to allow the full implementation of the agreement reached by the G8 summit.”

Ryabkov also stressed the need to submit the report of UN experts working in Syria to the UN Security Council for consideration.

M. Ismael/Mazen

Insight: Russia’s Syria diplomacy, a game of smoke and mirrors

[SEE:  Russia’s Iskander and S-300 Missile Systems Not Really for Sale—Used for Mind Games Only]

Insight: Russia’s Syria diplomacy, a game of smoke and mirrors




Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) shakes hands with U.N.-Arab League peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi of Algeria, in Moscow December 29, 2012. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin



(Reuters) – Sitting at a long table in Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Syrian opposition leaders outlined a plan to protect Moscow’s interests if the Kremlin agreed to the removal of its longstanding ally, President Bashar al-Assad.

Throughout the meeting last July, one of many since the start of Syria’s civil war, Russian officials sat stony-faced. When the Syrians had finished, there was a long silence.

“The Russians listened but never spoke, and when we were done speaking, we were told that Moscow is dedicated to human rights and we were told to get on our way,” said Mahmoud al-Hamza, a Moscow-based member of the Syria National Council, who was present at several such sessions.

More than two years after the Syrian conflict erupted as part of the “Arab Spring” uprisings, Assad is clinging to power thanks in large part to Russian diplomatic and military support.

Russia and the United States have agreed to bring together the warring sides for a peace conference in the coming weeks. Yet some fellow mediators suspect a Kremlin ploy to keep Assad in power – at least a little longer. On the battlefield, the momentum has swung Assad’s way and on Wednesday forces loyal to him retook the strategically important town of Qusair.

Leaked accounts of Moscow’s dealings with the opposition, promises to deliver Assad a potentially game-changing missile system and anecdotal evidence that Russians are training Syrian troops have widened the trust deficit between Russia and the West.

“Our biggest fear is being screwed over by the Russians,” said one French official, speaking on condition of anonymity.


As on many other occasions, the July meeting between Russian officials and the opposition foundered on the position championed by President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: the Syrian people should decide their country’s future for themselves.

Russia says it is motivated by a desire to stop the fighting, not by a wish to maintain military and industrial interests in one of the Kremlin’s last Middle East allies.

“Our position at this moment is to stop the bloodshed and pain, and that is the fundamental task of all efforts connected with the resolution of the Syrian crisis,” said a Foreign Ministry official, who declined to be named. “We are not selecting candidates for the future transitional government. We are not supporting any forces that will make it up.”

Some foreign diplomats and observers say that if past diplomacy is any guide, Moscow will seek to pack the table with members of tame opposition parties that are part of Assad’s tightly controlled political system, while exploiting the divisions among his opponents.

“Everything must be done to convince the opposition to sit at the negotiating table without preliminary conditions, having guaranteed full representation to all Syrian opposition groups, including internal opposition,” Lavrov said last week.

Moscow has had several rounds of talks with Hassan Abdel Azim and his National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, which rebels say is little more than a front for Assad. The group’s leader outside Syria, Haytham Manna, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Kremlin has also tried to cast Russian-speaking Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil as a member of the opposition. Jamil came to Russia several times last year to work out an oil-for-fuel swap deal.

“It’s reached a point where Moscow knows Assad is no longer an option. Russia only wants people who will keep something of the old ties alive,” said Free Syrian Army member Hamza.


While insisting it is not supporting Syria’s rulers, Russia has sent them advanced radar anti-ship missiles, unfrozen but not yet delivered an order of S-300 anti-aircraft rockets and promised to fulfill a contract for 12 MiG-29MM2 fighter jets.

Syria is one of the last bastions of support for Moscow in the region and Russia does not want to see Assad go the way of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, a long-time partner.

In another show of force in the region, Russia sent a group of four navy ships from its Pacific Fleet last month to the Mediterranean, where they will join a squadron of warships already stationed off the coast of Syria.

Reports of arms shipments and shipping movements, often conflicting and ambiguous, may strengthen Russia’s hand in its dealings with the West.

“Everything that is happening around Syria has less to do with promises to Assad personally and more to do with power plays between Russia and the West,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs. “And for Russia that means keeping things on the diplomatic track.”

“Those ships may be carrying elements for the S-300, they may not be. For Russia, the less clarity the better in arguing its position,” he said.

The S-300s are unlikely to be delivered before autumn. A source in the arms industry suggested the deal could be speeded up or frozen depending on what the West does.

“Everything at this point can be used as a bargaining chip,” Lukyanov said.


Russia also worries about the security blow-back it could face after the Syrian conflict, in which it estimates 200 of its own citizens are fighting on the rebel side.

Russia’s southern Muslim territories in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and the North Caucasus, where Islamist insurgents wage daily violence, are prone to instability. Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s main security agency, has voiced fears that returning fighters could fuel Islamic radicalism.

Russia has a naval base on Syrian soil, and the two countries have long and deep cultural ties. Thousands of Syrians live in Russia – and many Russians are in Syria – as a result of years of educational, business and security ties.

Pro- and anti-Assad Syrians have emigrated to Russia, one of the few countries to give visas to Syrians wanting to put their families and money in a safe place.

Sitting in his Middle Eastern restaurant in a busy Moscow shopping district, Hassan al-Dubaisi, who came to study engineering five years ago, says he has been visited three times by Syrian businessmen of all political stripes looking for help.

“Usually they want to buy a stake in the restaurant or ask for help getting started in Russia, but I don’t like partners,” he said blowing out smoke from his water pipe.

Dubaisi, who comes from near Dera’a, where the uprising against Assad began, said he donated money to the opposition – 10,000 roubles ($310) – as have many other Syrian emigrants.

Support for the rebels thrived at first in Moscow’s Syrian community, which tends to be more secular and better educated than average Syrians. But enthusiasm has waned as the violence has dragged on and the rebels have turned more Islamist.

Dubaisi and other opposition supporters say they face increasing pressure and sometimes violence in Russia for their political views and for joining anti-Assad protests in Moscow.

“The (Syrian) embassy here has already identified me as an opposition supporter and … I’ve heard that if I ever go back to Syria, I’m on a list of people to be arrested before I even make it through passport control,” he said.

Security ties between Syria and Russia flourished during the Cold War. Russia, the world’s second largest arms exporter after the United States, was the first supplier to which Assad’s father, Hafez, turned when he gained power in 1971.

Two years later, Moscow equipped an Arab coalition including Syria that launched a surprise attack on Israeli forces in the 1973 Middle East War. When Egypt turned towards Washington and expelled Soviet advisers, Syria remained in Moscow’s camp.

Syria became an even more loyal customer after Russia wrote off some 70 percent of Syria’s $13.4 billion debt in 2005, a stumbling block that had frozen arms cooperation in the 1990s.

Since then ties have revolved around arms and military cooperation. Syrian sources say crack troops loyal to Assad have been sent to Russia for training. A Russian military source told Interfax that an unspecified number of Syrian officers have been sent to Russia for coaching on a range of air defense systems, but not yet on the S-300. ($1 = 31.9362 Russian roubles)

(This story clarifies the affiliation of Mahmoud al-Hamza in the third paragraph)

(Additional reporting by John Irish in Paris, Steve Gutterman in Moscow, Editing by Paul Taylor and Janet McBride)

Putin Tells One Lie Too Many—His Anti-Chinese Uyghur Terrorists Do NOT Target Moscow

[Putin has finally shown his true colors with this latest false flag incident.


And the overweight ringleader, who is in great distress, as he lies prostrate, being pinned to the ground, is obviously NOT CHINESE OR UYGHUR. Yulai Davletbaev

Putin is desperate to make his fight and Obama’s fake fight into one great big happy terror war.  Russians should take this as a sign of deception and immediately get the “Russian Spring” back on track.  Putin is just another traitor to the human race, like Obama.]

FSB arrests mastermind of foiled Moscow bombing who ‘fought in Afghanistan’


Federal Security Service agents apprehend Yulai Davletbaev suspected of preparing terror attacks in Moscow during a special operation outside Moscow.(RIA Novosti / National Anti-Terrorism Committe)

Federal Security Service agents apprehend Yulai Davletbaev suspected of preparing terror attacks in Moscow during a special operation outside Moscow.(RIA Novosti / National Anti-Terrorism Committe)

Russia’s FSB secret service has captured the suspected mastermind behind a foiled terror attack in Moscow. His group, which fought in Afghanistan against the ISAF forces, was uncovered and neutralized last month by police.

A man identified as Yulay Davletbayev headed the terror cell, which was plotting an attack in Moscow. Two of his accomplices were killed in a May 20 police operation, while a third was captured alive. The items seized by law enforcers at the time included half-completed suicide vests, detonators and metal shrapnel.

The FSB captured Davletbayev, who is in his early 40s, in a suburb of Moscow after weeks of searching, the committee said. “This job took considerable effort and cooperation from troops, national bodies and local authorities. Several regions of the Russian Federation conducted search and screening operations. This allowed identifying the location where the criminal was hiding.”

All of the militants were Russian citizens, Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committee said Thursday. The group trained in combat and demolition along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, a region controlled by the Taliban.

They are also known to have fought against the US-led ISAF coalition deployed in Afghanistan, the committee reported.

The cell was sent to Moscow by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, [[WHAT THE F?]] also known as the Turkistan Islamic Party, a terrorist organization that seeks to establish an Islamic state inside the Chinese border province of Xinjiang. The organization has carried out attacks against US-related targets, and others.


Federal Security Service agents apprehend Yulai Davletbaev suspected of preparing terror attacks in Moscow during a special operation outside Moscow.(RIA Novosti / National Anti-Terrorism Committe)

Federal Security Service agents apprehend Yulai Davletbaev suspected of preparing terror attacks in Moscow during a special operation outside Moscow.(RIA Novosti / National Anti-Terrorism Committe)

The group’s goal was to organize a series of attack in the Russian capital during Victory Day celebrations on May 9. Davletbayev got a job as taxi driver to familiarize himself with the city and pick high-value targets for future attacks, the committee said.

“While navigating around the city in his taxi, he was selecting places most vulnerable for a terrorist attack, which would suffer most damage and cause greatest loss of life,” the committee said.

They failed to meet their timetable, and were ultimately exposed by the Russian security services. .

The arrest of the cell’s leader came after the arrested member, Robert Amerkhanov, decided to cooperate with investigators.

The group is suspected of committing several crimes in Russia’s southern regions before 2010, when they moved to Afghanistan.

The FSB also has information on Davletbayev’s links to another militant leader, who was responsible for bombing a natural gas pipeline and at least two attacks on Russian police officers; the leader was killed in 2010 by anti-terrorism forces.

The Russian capital has seen a number of deadly terror attacks in recent years. The most recent was in January 2011, when a suicide bomber set off an explosive device in the arrival zone of Domodedovo Airport, killing 36 people and injuring 180 others. In March 2010, bombings in the Moscow Metro killed 41 people and injured around 100.

Russia’s Iskander and S-300 Missile Systems Not Really for Sale—Used for Mind Games Only

Russian S-300 missiles a pawn in diplomatic game, Wikileaks show



* Wikileaks cables show Russia said it would not sell S-300 to Syria

* Russia similarly “froze” S-300 sale to Iran

* But linked Iran sale to progress on missile defence in Europe

By Tom Miles

GENEVA, June 3 (Reuters) – Russia’s pledge to deliver anti-aircraft missiles to Damascus at a time when world powers are trying to end Syria’s civil war is consistent with a pattern of using the weapons system as a bargaining chip in its power struggle with the West.

Russia has said it is committed to sell the S-300 surface-to-air missiles as a deterrent against foreign military intervention, under a contract struck in 2010 with President Bashar al-Assad.

But Western powers who are trying, along with Russia, to organise an international conference to end the 26-month-old conflict say such a delivery would be hugely counter-productive.

“No one knows if this conference will become a success, but it is the wrong message which has been sent by Russia to the world and to the region by delivering S-300 or other weapons,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Friday.

Secret WikiLeaks cables show that Russia has played this game before, in particular with the long-range S-300 that Israel, for one, sees as a “red line” threat to its airspace.

Russia’s determination to supply Syria mirrors an earlier commitment to Iran, though it long assured diplomats it had no intention of sending S-300s to either country, the cables show.

Russia was well aware of the “destabilising” effect of supplying weapons like the S-300 to the Middle East, one September 2008 cable quoted Viktor Simakov, Counselor for Israel and Palestine in Russia’s Foreign Ministry, as saying.

“Simakov reiterated that Russia understood very well Israel’s concern about either Syria or Iran obtaining the Iskander or S-300 missile systems,” the cable said.

Syria had upset Russia by allowing an earlier delivery of anti-tank missiles to fall into the hands of militant Islamist group Hezbollah, and Russia promised tighter “end user controls” in future.

Syria tried to obtain missiles in 2008 by offering to host Russia’s own missile defences on its territory, matching U.S. missile defences in Europe that Russia objects to. Although Russia did sign a contract in 2010, it did not then agree; Israel’s promise not to sell arms to Georgia during the Georgia-Russia war that August may have outweighed Syria’s offer.

Speculation was mounting in late 2008 that Russia was planning to honour its 2005 contract to supply S-300s to Iran. But Russian officials assured the U.S. charge d’affaires in Moscow that the transfer would not be completed until Iran complied with its nuclear obligations, according to one cable.

But by early 2009, the sale looked like it was going to take place, and Washington asked six allied Middle Eastern countries to raise the issue immediately with Russia.

The move appeared to pay off, although then-U.S. Ambassador to Moscow John Beyrle expected Russia to keep pressing the issue, for financial, political and foreign policy reasons.

The Iran sale was merely “frozen”, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told U.S. Senator Carl Levin in 2009, and hinted that Russia did not want to be challenged again.

“The less we hear from Washington about this, the better,” an April 2009 cable quoted Ryabkov as saying.

Russian officials told Amos Gilad, at that time head of the political-military bureau in Israel’s Ministry of Defence, that the missiles to Iran would not be delivered for political reasons.

“However, Gilad said the Russians would reassess this political calculation should the United States continue to pursue missile defense plans in Poland and the Czech Republic,” said a cable dated July 30, 2009.

In the end, Russia scrapped the sale in 2010, and in what may have been a quid pro quo, the Israelis agreed to sell Russia surveillance drones that would narrow its technological military gap with Georgia.

“For better or for worse, the delivery of S-300’s have become a barometer of our bilateral relations,” Ambassador Beyrle wrote in 2009.

Russian court fines Golos NGO under ‘foreign agent’ law

Russian court fines NGO under ‘foreign agent’ law

France 24

Russian human rights advocate Lev Ponomarev (left) and Moscow Helsinki Group president Lyudmila Alexeyeva (right) Human rights advocates wait for the start of the Golos (Voice) trial in a Moscow courthouse, on April 25, 2013. The court slapped a $10,000 (7,700 euros) fine on the election monitor, in the first ruling against NGOs the government considers to be "foreign agents".

Russian human rights advocate Lev Ponomarev (left) and Moscow Helsinki Group president Lyudmila Alexeyeva (right) Human rights advocates wait for the start of the Golos (Voice) trial in a Moscow courthouse, on April 25, 2013. The court slapped a $10,000 (7,700 euros) fine on the election monitor, in the first ruling against NGOs the government considers to be “foreign agents”.

AFP – A Russian court on Thursday slapped a $10,000 (7,700 euros) fine on the election monitor Golos, in the first ruling against NGOs the government considers to be “foreign agents”, Russian news agencies reported.

Golos (Voice), a Moscow-based organisation that monitors Russian elections for violations, received the fine for failing to register as a “foreign agent” as required after the Russian parliament passed a controversial law obliging groups with foreign funding to use the label.


Putin Rejects Foreign Pseudo-Democracy

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a state-of-the nation address  in Moscow,  Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. Putin delivered his first state-of-the nation address since winning a third term in March's election despite a wave of massive protests in Moscow. Putin has taken a tough course on dissent since his...

Putin bristles at foreign influence, pledges to strengthen Russia’s might

Putin rejects foreign advice on democracy


President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday angrily rejected what he described as attempts to enforce foreign patterns of democracy on Russia and vowed to preserve the nation’s identity against interference from abroad.


Putin’s speech was his first state-of-the nation address since winning a third term in March’s election despite a wave of massive protests in Moscow. Putin has pursued a tough course on dissent since his inauguration with arrests and searches of opposition activists and introduction of laws that impose heavy fines on protesters and rigid rules on civil society groups.

Speaking to lawmakers, officials and clerics who gathered in the Kremlin’s ornate St. George’s Hall, Putin said Russia would follow its own view on democracy and shrug off any “standards enforced on us from outside.”

“Direct or indirect foreign interference in our internal political processes is inadmissible,” he said. “Those who receive money from abroad for their political activities and serve alien interests shouldn’t engage in politics in Russia.”

One of the laws passed by the Kremlin-controlled parliament requires non-governmental organizations that receive foreign funding and engage in vaguely defined political activities to register as “foreign agents,” a move the groups said was aimed to intimidate them and destroy their credibility with Russians for whom “agent” is synonymous with “spy.”

Putin also pledged to support “institutions that represent traditional spiritual values,” a hint at even more state support for the Russian Orthodox Church.

In August, three members of the punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison for performing a protest song in Moscow’s main cathedral. One was released on appeal, but two others are serving their sentences despite an international protests.

Russia’s task on the global stage will be to preserve its “national and spiritual identity,” Putin said, adding that the strengthening of the nation’s military might should “guarantee its independence and security.”

He added that Russia would continue to push for “coordinated collective efforts” in dealing with global issues.

The Kremlin has said that its continuous refusal to support international sanctions against Syria’s President Bashar Assad is rooted in international law that bars interference in a sovereign country’s affairs.

The conflict in Syria has started nearly 21 months ago as an uprising against Assad, whose family has ruled the country for four decades and it quickly morphed into a civil war, with rebels taking up arms to fight back against a bloody crackdown by the government. According to activists, more than 40,000 people have been killed since March 2011.

Putin sought to boost patriotic feelings by promising to honor heroes of World War I and restoring the historic names of old imperial regiments of the Russian army.

In a speech that focused heavily on social issues, Putin encouraged families to have more children, promised to create 25 million new jobs and develop new incentives for teachers, doctors, engineers and others.

He also made new promises to boost the fight against corruption.

Russia is considered to be one of the most corrupt countries in the world. A group that tracks global perception of the problem ranks Russia 143rd out of 183 countries.

“A sustained and visible effort to reduce corruption is one of the catalysts that could cut the current high risk premium investors apply to Russian equities,” Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Sberbank CIB investment bank said in a note to investors earlier this week

Putin called for sanctioning officials who own foreign stocks or banks accounts abroad, and said they will have to explain the source of financing for big purchases including real estate abroad.

His statements would play well with the domestic audience, which has relished in the recent ouster of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov over a military corruption scandal and investigations against other officials suspected of graft. Still, Gleb Pavlovsky, a political analyst and former Kremlin political strategist told the Intefax news agency that “Putin had failed to send a message of purging the high ranks.”

The opposition ridiculed Putin’s statements as lacking substance and novelty. “Everything will be fine soon, I promise,” opposition activist Alexei Navalny wrote sarcastically while summing up Putin’s address.

Another opposition activist, Vladimir Ryzhkov, called the speech a “manifesto of preserving political status quo.”

Putin repeated pledges to reduce the nation’s reliance on exports of oil and other mineral resources and encourage the development of high-tech industries. He also lamented a huge capital outflow and Russian companies moving abroad to avoid the uncertainties of Russian laws and courts.

Russian authorities are expecting capital outflows of up to $65 billion this year. Putin quoted analyst estimates that 9 out of 10 major deals of Russian companies are registered abroad to be governed by foreign laws. He urged the government to seek more information on Russian companies from offshore nations where they are registered.

Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed to this report.

Putin Backs Plan To Wring $1 Trillion Out of Oligarch Expatriates

Putin Backs Efforts to Compel $1 Trillion Repatriation


By Scott Rose & Ilya Arkhipov


Russian President Vladimir Putin threw his support behind efforts by allied lawmakers to repatriate as much as $1 trillion in capital held by companies and high ranking officials abroad.

Russia should proceed with anti-corruption legislation that would put limits on bureaucrats and politicians owning foreign bank deposits and securities, Putin said today in Moscow in his first state-of-the-nation address since returning to the presidency in May. The curbs should include all top policy makers including the president, prime minister and their families, he said.

Clawing back assets amassed by Russians in low-tax foreign jurisdictions is central to Putin’s plan to reignite and diversify the sagging economy through investment. The government this week cut its growth forecast for next year to 3.6 percent, less than the “minimum” 5 percent to 6 percent Russia needs over the next decade, Putin said.

“How can you trust an official or politician who makes bold statements about the wellbeing ofRussia, but then tries to move his funds, his cash, abroad?” Putin said. “Property abroad should be declared regardless, and officials should report its value and also the source of the income that allowed them to make that transaction.”

Fighting Graft

Putin has embarked on the most far-reaching campaign against corruption of his 12-year rule since reclaiming the Kremlin this year, ousting Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov because of graft allegations against his subordinates. Russia kept its ranking as the world’s most corrupt major economy, according to Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index published Dec. 5, placing it alongside Honduras and below Uganda and Nicaragua.

Russia could win back as much as $1 trillion in cash held abroad by offering an amnesty, Vyacheslav Lysakov, a State Duma deputy and member of the People’s Front movement that backs Putin, said in an interview before the speech today. Under the proposal, the returning funds would still be taxed, he said.

“It’s a replenishment for the state budget and also the investments we so sorely need,” Lysakov said. “This is money that’s supporting the Western economy, the Western banking system, Western companies. That’s not right.”

Fleeing Jurisdiction

The government must also move to improve Russian courts and legislation to stop what Putin said was a “flight” from the country’s jurisdiction. He ordered the government to draft proposals to bring about the “de-offshorization” of the economy, including using local exchanges for state asset sales.

“Our entrepreneurs are often criticized for being unpatriotic,” he said. “Nine out of 10 significant deals done by large Russian companies, including companies partly owned by the state, are not subject to Russian law.”

Alexei Kudrin, who served as Putin’s finance minister for 11 years, said exiting offshores “really must be done through making the Russian jurisdiction more attractive, not through compulsion,” according to a post on his Twitter Inc. account.

The Micex Index of 30 stocks has advanced 3.3 percent this year through yesterday, lagging behind a 12.9 percent advance in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. The ruble-denominated benchmark was 1.4 percent higher at 1,468.52 as of 5:20 p.m. in Moscow, heading for the highest close since Oct. 22.

$12 Billion

Russians spent $12 billion on foreign property last year, compared with $5.5 billion a year in 2007 and 2008, central bank Chairman Sergei Ignatiev said April 5. Net capital outflows may reach $75 billion this year after doubling to $80.5 billion in 2011, according to the Economy Ministry.

Putin is trying to boost investment to at least 27 percent of economic output by the end of his term in 2018, from 21 percent last year. The Economy Ministry cut its growth forecast for next year this week and has urged the government to spend more of its oil revenue on roads and other infrastructure.

Hours after taking the oath of office in May, Putin signed more than a dozen orders laying out plans for the economy, foreign and social policy. In addition to boosting investment, Putin ordered the government to improve Russia’s standing in the World Bank’s Doing Business rating to 20th by 2018 and creating 25 million high-quality jobs by 2020.

The government is also trying to cut its dependence on oil and gas, which account for half of thefederal budget’s revenue. Without those resources, the budget would be in a deficit of about 10.5 percent of GDP this year, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Dec. 9.

In his speech today, Putin said the central bank and government should do more to safeguard jobs and growth, noting that other monetary regulators including the U.S. Federal Reserve had an explicit mandate to ensure growth.

“We need long and cheap money to lend to the economy, further reductions in inflation and competitive bank rates,” Putin said, adding that he wasn’t calling for changes to Bank Rossii’s mandate. “I’m asking the government and central bank to think about ways to achieve those goals.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Scott Rose in Moscow at; Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

Rebel Politics In Russia–Russian Red Dawn?

Russia’s Rising Red Dawn

Isabel Magkoeva

Isabel Magkoeva

© Facebook

Marc Bennetts

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti)

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 appeared to have sounded the death knell for the ideas of Marx and Lenin in Russia, but just over two decades on, a new wave of young and increasingly visible socialist activists are eager to hoist the red flag over the Kremlin once more.

“I became interested in socialism when I was in my late teens,” said Isabel Magkoeva, 21, a rising star of Russia’s left and an activist with the Revolutionary Socialist Movement.

“I was always concerned by economic inequality and started to ask questions about why this should be. Then I got interested in left-wing literature,” added Magkoeva, a former teenage model who bears a striking resemblance to high-profile Chilean student protest leader Camila Vallejo. “That was when I realized I wanted to get involved.”

But although Magkoeva praises Lenin as a “great revolutionary,” she has few illusions about the Soviet Union, which ceased to exist the same year she was born.

“There was no genuine socialism in the Soviet Union,” she said. “And it is inaccurate to portray us all as seeking a return to the past. That simply isn’t true. We are for a new modernized form of socialism.”

This increase in the popularity of socialist ideas has been bolstered, in part, by Russia’s appalling record on wealth inequality, highlighted earlier this month by a report by the Swiss financial services company Credit Suisse.

“Excluding small Caribbean nations with resident billionaires, wealth inequality in Russia is the highest in the world,” the report said. “Worldwide, billionaires collectively account for less than 2% of total household wealth; in Russia today, around 100 billionaires own 30% of all personal assets.”

It is figures like this that, activists say, have attracted young Russians to socialist groups. Young left-wingers have been among the main movers in the unprecedented protests against the almost 13-year-rule of President Vladimir Putin, bucking an over-two-decade long trend that had seen unreformed, elderly Soviet-era communists as almost the sole champions of socialist causes.

“Young people have almost no chance to buy affordable housing and bring up a family normally. There is almost no opportunity for people to climb the social ladder, especially for those who are not from Moscow,” said activist Sergei Fomchenkov, 38, a leading member of the Other Russia movement.

“And so when people see all this, and then see a small group of incredibly wealthy billionaires building themselves luxury villas and so on, of course they start to see leftist ideas as a real alternative,” he added.

But, like Magkoeva, Fomchenkov has no desire to see Russia return to its Soviet past.

“We want a modernized form of socialism in which the state controls national industry, but not small businesses,” he stressed. “It would be lunacy to attempt to control the activities of every small café, for example.”

Analysts tie this rise in socialist ideas in Russia into a similar trend in a crisis-hit Europe, where leftist parties have made dramatic gains in an increasingly polarized political atmosphere.

“Like everywhere in Europe, vulnerable young people hit by the global economic crisis are rediscovering the ideas of socialism,” said Lilia Shevtsova, an analyst at the Moscow-based Carnegie Center think tank. “These ideas were discredited in Russia in the period after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but young people are today moving toward the new left.”

Left Front

The most high-profile of this new generation of leftists, Sergei Udaltsov, made international headlines last week when he was charged with planning mass disorder across Russia on the basis of grainy footage broadcast by a pro-Kremlin channel.

Left Front leader Udaltsov, 36, a fiery, shaven-head activist who has been one of the main players in ongoing anti-Kremlin street protests, could face up to ten years behind bars if convicted on the charges, which he denies. Udaltsov was released by investigators on a pledge not to leave Moscow, but two other Left Front activists remain in custody waiting trial.

“It’s no coincidence that the Left Front movement was targeted,” activist Alexei Sakhnin told journalists after Udaltsov had been freed on a pledge not to leave Moscow. “The Left Front is the only group to have addressed social issues such as rising utility costs, which is something that millions of Russians suffer from every day.”

And the movement’s rhetoric seems to have struck a chord with many Russians. A public opinion survey by state-pollster VTsIOM indicated that Udaltsov was the only high-profile protest leader to have seen his popularity ratings increase since Putin’s election to a third term in March.

“Left wing groups in Russia openly sought a return to a socialism system in the 1990s, but they were entirely discredited,” said Left Front co-founder Ilya Ponomaryov. “But people have now again begun to see leftist ideas as a real alternative and it’s a very positive sign that more and more young people are getting involved.”

But he dismissed suggestions that history has proven it is impossible to build a viable society on the principles of socialism and communism.

“They all got Marx and Engels wrong,” he said, referring to previous failed attempts to construct socialist states. “You have to get the economic approach right first, before you can build a socialist country.”

Communist Nostalgia

Putin once famously called the Soviet Union’s collapse “the greatest geo-political catastrophe” of the 20th century, tapping into a pervasive nostalgia for the Soviet era among the older generation.

And avowed Putin foe Gennady Gudkov, a former KGB officer turned Kremlin critic,told RIA Novosti earlier this year that he shared the president’s views. “We could have kept the country together,” he said.

Left Front co-founder Ponomaryov, 37, also admitted to “mixed feelings” about the Soviet Union.

“It was strong state with many social guarantees, but there was far too much bureaucracy,” he said. “But it’s clear things were better in the Soviet Union than they are now.”

“There was no freedom of speech or human rights back then, but there isn’t any now, either,” he said.

This widespread respect for the Soviet past has translated into voter support for the Communist Party, the second largest political party in parliament.

But activists like Magkoeva, who spent the weekend collecting money for “political prisoners” at a two-day opposition rally in central Moscow, have little time for the party, whose veteran leader, Gennady Zyuganov, has lost four presidential elections since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

“Today’s Communist Party may praise the Soviet Union, but it has little in common with left-wing ideas,” she said. “It is an opposition for show only, which does not shy away from using the most populist ideas, from small business to Orthodox Christianity, to attract supporters.”

And it is the socialist fervor of Magkoeva and her comrades that many analysts see as the biggest threat to Putin’s grip on power.

“A few years ago, it seemed that nationalist groups posed the greatest danger to the authorities,” said Shevtsova, the Carnegie Center analyst. “But now it is clear that it is the new left.”

Russia Gives USAID the Boot for Meddling In Its Political Process

(RTTNews) – Russia asked the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to wind up its activity in the country as it tried to meddle with the country’s political process by using its grants, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

Russia told the USAID to cease its activity in the country because the agency had “tried to affect the course of the political process in the country by its use of grants,” Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in Moscow, adding that the agency would cease operating in Russia from October 1.

“The decision was called for primarily because the character of the agency’s representatives work in our country did not always comply with the declared aims of cooperation in bilateral humanitarian cooperation. We are talking about issuing grants in an attempt to affect the course of the political process in the country, including elections at different levels and institutions in civil society,” the Ministry said on its website.

Russian civil society has become fully mature, the Foreign Ministry said, and did not need “external direction.” Moscow is ready to work with USAID in third countries, it said.

U..S State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Tuesday had announced the termination of USAID’s activity in Russia.

“The United States recently received the Russian Government’s decision to end USAID activities in the Russian Federation,” Nuland said in a statement. “We are extremely proud of what USAID has accomplished in Russia over the past two decades, and we will work with our partners and staff to responsibly end or transition USAID’s programs.” she said in a statement.

USAID, which operates in more than 100 countries, has been active in Russia over the past two decades. Its array of social programs have targeted issues such as at-risk youth and pressing public health issues, Russian media reported.

The USAID supports development and governance programs around the world. The agency says it has provided “more than $2.6 billion toward Russia’s social and economic development” since 1992.

USAID says it has worked with a wide range of organizations, including government, the private sector and non-profit, during its 20-year history in Russia. The agency claims that its operations were aimed at creating “a more open and innovative society and a strengthened partnership between Russia and the United States.”

The latest development comes two months after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a controversial legislation that requires Russian non-governmental organizations receiving foreign funding to register as a “foreign agent” and submit to more rigorous checks by the authorities.

Russian authorities say the new law is aimed at preventing foreign nations from influencing the country’s internal politics. Incidentally, foreign-funded NGOs and Western nations, particularly the United States, were blamed for inciting the widespread protests that followed Putin’s disputed re-election in May.

The Opposition claimed that the polls were marred by irregularities. Golos, Russia’s only monitoring group funded mainly by the U.S. and the EU, confirmed that it had received nearly 5,300 complaints alleging violations of electoral laws. The post-poll protests were brutally suppressed, with hundreds of demonstrators detained.

Putin was Russia’s President between 2000 and 2008, when he was forced to stand down by the Constitution. He then became Prime Minister after ushering in his hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev as President. Medvedev is currently Russia’s Prime Minister.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback:

Knee-jerk Russian Reactionaries Attack Putin Even When He Is Doing the Right Thing

[Putin and the rest of Russia’s leaders face a daunting task in seeking to revive Russian spiritual values, which have largely lain dormant, or have been slowly corrupted by subservience to the state for seventy years of Communist totalitarianism. Russia and all of the former Soviet satellite countries are in an extended period of recovery from that era and the illogical dictates of the Central Committee (think, Aral Sea). Spirituality, as much as physical infrastructure, suffered grave deterioration during those years of neglect. Reviving dreams of future greatness for Russia is an essential part of embracing Russian leadership on the world stage today. Without Russian leadership we have very little chance to stop the forces pushing the nations to war.

One further point in parting, for those who misunderstood Putin’s meaning when he mourned the loss of the Soviet Union as humanity’s great loss–Putin meant that the world might have been spared the past 25 years of savage, unrestrained American hegemonic aggression and the threat of world war which looms before us today. If the Soviet Union had learned moderation, instead of simply collapsing in exhaustion, then there would be no impending war between us today, as we square-off over the remains.]

How Satan Is Destroying Russia

Welcome to 1598. In this year, King Henry IV of France proclaimed the Edict of Nantes, which regulated relations between the country’s Catholics and Protestants and put an end to a religious war that had been raging for decades. Four centuries later, in Russia, in September 2012, billionaire and former presidential candidateMikhail Prokhorovproposed a federal religious code to prevent an all-out religious war.

“In recent months, the relationship between citizens and the state and church has already led to a schism in society that threatens Russian culture,” Prokhorovwrotein a comment published in Kommersant on Sept. 12. He noted that despite the secular government clause in the Constitution, “the majority of politicians, including the leaders of parties in parliament, prefer to ignore what’s written there. Cozying up to the church … undermines the basic principles of the country’s supreme governing document and creates a multitude of dangers.”

The words “threat” and “danger” are bandied about by just about every Russian politician and public figure these days. But leaders have vastly different notions of what exactly the danger is. In a meeting with the public in Krasnodar on Sept. 12, PresidentVladimir Putinsaidthe main danger for the country is insufficient patriotism and a lack of “respect for our history and traditions and the spiritual values of our peoples.”

Putin also said Russia has become the “focus of an overt information war … and certainly of a well-directed propaganda attack.”

Putin’s speeches often sound like they have been written by professional diplomats, and their ambiguity raises more questions than his statements answer. For example, what “spiritual values” does Putin have in mind? This is, after all, the man who used the phrase “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” to describe the dissolution of the Soviet Union, one of the most militantly anti-religious regimes in history. And who is “directing” these attacks against the spiritual values of Russia’s nations?

Perhaps the key to understanding Putin’s speech can be found in a recent television program by Arkady Mamontov, “Provocateurs. Part Two,” aired on Rossia 1 state television a day before Putin spoke in Krasnodar. Mamontov, who has already established himself as a politically sensational filmmaker, revealed in his latest program that the United States has developed a plan for revolution in Russia. The foot soldiers in this revolution are members of the punk-performance group Pussy Riot. We were told that the main organizer of the revolution, including the Pussy Riot stunts, is billionaireBoris Berezovsky, who is pulling the revolutionary strings from his self-exile in London.

Neither Mamontov nor his interview subjects, professional Putin-lovers, produced a single fact proving contact between Berezovsky and the punk musicians. Nor did Mamontov interview Berezovsky, although the tycoon immediately responded with a categorical denial of having anything to do with Pussy Riot.

The film was harshly criticized not only by the liberal end of the political spectrum but even by some members of the Russian Orthodox clergy. Deacon Andrei Kurayev, whose views are hardly liberal,wroteon his LiveJournal blog: “I am not a supporter of Pussy Riot or Berezovsky. But why lie? Why pass off licentious animal instincts for the norms of Christianity?”

Perhaps Kurayev and Mamontov have different notions about Christianity and its norms. In aninterviewwith the Internet portal Orthodoxy and the World, Mamontov spun out a truly apocalyptic picture: “The devil really wants to destroy Russia and its people, to build something else on its territory,” he said.

Mamontov isn’t the only one seeing dark visions. A statementissued by the Eurasian Youth Union, headed by the pro-Kremlin ideologue Alexander Dugin, reads: “Everyone who sympathizes with liberals, Pussy Riot and the West belongs to Satan. This is the army of hell.”

In the days leading up to Saturday’s opposition march, the Eurasian union called upon its supporters to take to the streets to defy them: “On Sept. 15, the devil’s spawn will crawl out on the streets. Eurasians will go out with crosses, daggers and silver bullets to stop hell.”

Satan, evil oligarchs and punk rockers who have sold their souls to the devil, silver bullets, daggers and crosses. It sounds like a script for another Hollywood film about the eternal war between mortals and vampires. Unfortunately, in Russia this is simply a description of public opinion, which exists alongside the Internet and digital television. In fact, technology just spreads the paranoia.

Society has become split between the liberals and the Orthodox fundamentalists, who are locked in a Cold Religious War. There are no fatalities in this war yet, but there are casualties and prisoners of war. Take, for example, the three Pussy Riot members locked up for two years in prison.

In this context, Prokhorov’s proposal to ratify a religious code likely won’t go anywhere, at least in the near future. If we are lucky, the cold war won’t turn hot, and virtual silver bullets won’t be transformed into real bullets fired from a Kalashnikov rifle.

Victor Davidoff is a Moscow-based writer and journalist who follows the Russian blogosphere in his biweekly column.

The Moscow Times

Putin: terrorists “will never achieve” their goals in Russia


Путин заседание правления Торгово-промышленной палаты РФ

Photo: RIA Novosti

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that terrorists “will never achieve their dirty goals” in Russia.

“Terrorists, bandits of all shades, no matter what ideological slogans they cloak themselves with, always act cynically, behind one’s back, and they have the sole aim of sowing fear and mutual hatred, disuniting people, and then bringing them under their influence and enslaving them. Replacing genuine values with false propaganda of extremist, aggressive ideas,” Putin said during an honors conferment ceremony in Bolgar in Russia’s Tatarstan republic.

He said there is nothing that terrorists stop at. He accused them of murdering clerics and people professing the same religion as they do, and perpetrating killings during religious holidays.

“But the criminals will never achieve their dirty goals. They have no future, they won’t get anywhere in any of the regions of our large country. Because a united multi-ethnic nation is impossible to defeat,” Putin said.

Putin calls for preserving interethnic harmony

Russia should do everything to preserve peace and interethnic harmony.

President Vladimir Putin reiterated that on Tuesday while giving out state awards to Muslim clerics of Tatarstan, a Russian republic on the Volga.

Russia’s enemies, who resort to terrorism in their bid to pull the country apart, split it according to religious and ethnic principles, will not succeed, he said.

“The multi-ethnic Russian people numbers millions of individuals who cannot be frightened, and therefore cannot be defeated,” Putin said.

He handed the Order of Courage to the widow of Valiulla Yakupov, deputy head of the Spiritual Muslim Board of Tatarstan, who was killed in Kazan on July 19.

The republic’s chief mufti Ildus Faizov, who was wounded in an assassination attempt the same day, was decorated with the Order of Friendship.

Interfax, TASS

NGOs to Register as ‘Foreign Agents’ or Risk Jail Time

NGOs to Register as ‘Foreign Agents’ or Risk Jail Time

Author of the amendments State Duma Deputy Alexander Sidyakin

Dozhd TV

Author of the amendments State Duma Deputy Alexander Sidyakin

Non-governmental organizations funded by foreign donors and involved in “political” activity face hefty fines and jail terms if they fail to register on a state list, under plans drawn up by ruling party United Russia.

The amendments to the law on NGOs, officially submitted to the State Duma on Friday, open a new front in the struggle between the government and civil society groups, following the passing of a law earlier this month that drastically increases the fines for illegal demonstrations.

The proposals, drafted by United Russia Duma Deputy Alexander Sidyakin, would require all non-governmental organizations receiving funding from abroad and engaged in “political” activities to register on a special list as “foreign agents”. These NGOs would also have to publish a report of their activities every six months and undertake an annual financial audit.

Any organizations failing to register within 90 days of the law coming into force would be liable to civil and criminal penalties, the deputy told RIA-Novosti on Friday. The penalties included a maximum prison sentence of four years, fines up to 300,000 rubles ($9,128) or 480 hours of mandatory community service.

Why Putin is being so helpful to the US

[The author of the following report has Putin sized-up correctly, but only partly so.  Putin is cooperating with the US modernization of Central Asian infrastructure, because he hopes to inherit what America leaves there, but more to the point, Putin wants Russia to become a part of the West, or as Western leaders like to call themselves, “the civilized world.”  The big question remains–What is most important to Putin, merging with the West into the “New World Order,” or doing what is best for the Russian people?] 

Why Putin is being so helpful to the US 

Asia Time Online - Daily News
By Brian M Downing

The United States is now sending almost all its supplies for the Afghan war through Russia or countries obedient to Moscow. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan would not allow US convoys had Russian President Vladimir Putin not sanctioned it. This route has taken away the leverage that Pakistani generals had over the US by virtue of the importance of the southern convoy routes.

In world affairs, one power only rarely helps another without incurring a debt, financial or otherwise. Even during World War II, the US leaned on Britain to open its empire to US commerce. Today, Putin has been exceptionally helpful to the US, despite having to endure disappointments and annoyances over the missile shield, Libya, and Syria.

He even faced an uninformed and worrisome statement from presidential contender Mitt Romney about Russia being the US’s chief foe in the world.

The Russian president might obligingly inform his potential counterpart – in the interest of greater international understanding, of course – that if he were a foe, or treated as one in the future, he could maroon an American-European expeditionary force in the foreboding mountains and deserts of Central Asia.

Accommodating foreign powers and forbearance on the world stage have not been hallmarks of Russian or Soviet foreign policy over the years.

Nor are they readily discernible in the outlooks of former KGB officers. So why is Putin being so helpful to the US? The answer lies in common interests in Afghanistan, but perhaps more importantly in common concerns over the emerging geopolitics of Central Asia.

Russia and the US share an interest in countering Islamist militancy in Afghanistan and elsewhere. In recent years Russia has faced such militants in the Caucasus (Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ossetia) and does not wish to see their likes regain control of Afghanistan from which militancy might readily spread into Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Russia sees these former Soviet republics as in its sphere and it has worried of pan-Islamic movements there since the days of the communists – if not those of the tsars.

The importance of US supply lines into Afghanistan, in the eyes of the Kremlin, is not limited to the war and a show of cooperation. Putin is an avid student of state power and economics and knows that during the American Civil War (1861-65), the army built up the rail and telegraphic infrastructure which contributed mightily to the nation’s subsequent economic boom; during World War II, the US built ports and air bases around the world that later expanded global commerce; and the port facilities and logistical hubs of the Vietnam war have proved useful to the Hanoi government long after the US departed in 1975.

Putin is also knowledgeable in judo, a martial art in which the expert uses his opponents’ strengths to his advantage. In the Central Asian case, however, both partners will benefit though not equally. As the limitations of the roads, depots, and rail lines running from the Black Sea and Baltic Sea into Central Asia become clear to NATO logistics experts, it will be necessary to improve, expand and modernize them.

The US will build an infrastructure system that Russia and other countries in the region will benefit from for many decades. Corporations that today see Afghanistan as tempting but inaccessible will look again at those promising geological surveys that found great riches.

The US will be bringing in war material and development supplies; the enterprises of various countries will be taking out Afghan copper, iron, and rare earths. Extraction will be confined for the near term to the north where the insurgency is weak but with a settlement someday, southern resources too can head north, especially if Pakistan becomes more unstable and Iran remains under international sanctions.

Russia sees this economic potential as stabilizing the region, enriching its coffers and influence, and limiting or balancing the already considerable Chinese presence in Central Asia. China is ascendant, Russia is not. China has been booming and its leadership and people look about them with a sense of limitlessness. Russia is comparatively stagnant and demoralized. Both powers know that they have vied over many centuries for power in Central Asia and that Russia usually won out, appropriating large swathes of the region.

From Moscow’s perspective, China’s economic expansion into Central Asia may be the basis for greater influence – perhaps a neo-colonial arrangement that from Beijing’s perspective rights the wrongs of centuries past and helps restore its place as the center of the world.

Russia’s goal is not to forge an anti-Chinese alliance with the US. Neither power wants that just now. The goal is to provide the basis for non-Chinese-centered development of the region and to strengthen a triangular power relationship among Russia, China, and the US – one with potential for each power’s shifting over from side to side as circumstances warrant. Undoubtedly, circumstances will change.

The US, however, will be the weakest power in the Central Asian triangle. Geography guarantees that. Crucially, Russia can limit US influence in the region through its influence in several of the former Soviet republics, where old communist personnel and political arrangements have persisted. And of course should the US weary of the region or be expelled by Russia, the roads, depots, and other infrastructure it built over the years cannot very well be taken out.

Brian M Downing is a political/military analyst and author of The Military Revolution and Political Change and The Paths of Glory: War and Social Change in America from the Great War to Vietnam. He can be reached at