All posts by Andrey Fomine

Terrorist Methods in Ukrainian Foreign Policy?

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary Péter Szijjártó was added to the database of the Ukrainian doxing site “Mirotvorets” (Peacekeeper). This has come as a reaction from Kiev to the alleged attempts of the Hungarian top diplomat “[to undermine] Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity: direct threats of an armed attack on Ukraine”.

Shortly before the publication of his profile on the extremist website Mr. Szijjártó held a press conference in Budapest on September 23, 2018. Talking on the agenda of the upcoming bilateral meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General assembly he said that not only the rights of the Hungarian national community in Ukraine are in danger, but the community itself is in a state of disenfranchisement. He explained that its members had been stripped of the right to study in their native language, to hold Hungarian cultural events and the operations of Hungarian language media had also been made impossible.

According to the Hungarian minister the Ukrainian secret services have begun pestering certain members of the Hungarian national community, calls for action against people with dual citizenship are now openly appearing on various websites, Hungarian diplomats are suffering regular insults, and people who are linked to the foundation that is involved in the economic development program being financed by the Hungarian government have been “invited for questioning” on several occasions. Moreover, Ukraine went further than ever before in contravention of all of the existing rules of diplomacy, a secret service operation was conducted at one of Hungary’s consulates in Ukraine, at the representation of a NATO member state and on Hungarian territory.

On September 30, 2018 Tamás Menczer, the spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told at a press conference that anti-Hungarian attacks in Ukraine are occurring with the involvement of the administration and state. He pointed out that the head of the foreign minister’s security team had been informed of Mr. Szijjártó’s inclusion on the list on the Ukrainian extremist website, and the required measures had been taken.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin (L) and Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary Péter Szijjártó

It couldn’t have been otherwise. The “Mirotvorets” website, linked with Ukrainian parliament member, Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko, was created in 2014 for searching the identities of Donbass militiamen and their supporters. According to Benjamin Moreau, the deputy head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, the website violates the right to privacy and the presumption of innocence. The website blacklists all those suspected of what its editors regard as crimes against Ukraine’s national security.

Speaking at a panel discussion titled “Threats to Freedom of Speech in Ukraine” held by Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists in Kiev in March this year Moreau noted that some banks refuse to provide financial services to the people who have been added to “Mirotvorets”. Moreau emphasized that the mission had been monitoring the investigation into the murder of two journalists, Pavel Sheremet and Oles Buzina. The Ukrainian journalist and writer Oles Buzina was killed in Kiev right after his profile was published on the extremist website. Moreau also noted that the presence of a large group of extremists at the trial on Buzina’s murder had made a very negative impression on the mission’s members and urged the law enforcement agencies to take measures to ensure the judicial independence.

On September 25, 2018 “Mirotvorets” published personal data of Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Now the time has come for the Hungarian minister. Is it a kind of a new line in the Ukrainian foreign policy? It seems that the Kiev authorities think that their methods work or they believe in their impunity.

The Highest Degree Of Certainty: The New Evidence In The Downing Of Flight MH17

On September 17 the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation held a briefing for members of the press to present documented new evidence that the Ukrainian armed forces helped to bring down the Malaysian airliner that was flying over the Donbass in July 2014.

According to information that was preserved on the wreckage of the missile that was found at the crash site and exhibited by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on May 24, 2018, Russian military investigators were able to read the unique, identifying numbers printed on the missile’s nozzle and engine. It was determined that the missile had been made in the Soviet Union in 1986. Documents were presented at the briefing from the manufacturer’s archives, as well as a log book that was classified as Top Secret, which registered the missile’s arrival at a warehouse belonging to a military unit near the city of Ternopil in what was at that time the Soviet Republic of Ukraine.

A part of the BUK-TELAR missile that was fired on the MH17 flight is shown during the persconference of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on May 24, 2018

“The missile, which bore the imprint of military serial number 886 847379 and was manufactured for use in a Buk anti-aircraft missile system on December 29, 1986, was shipped by rail to military unit 20152. It was not returned to Russian territory after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but was instead added to the arsenal of the Ukrainian armed forces. It is worth mentioning that since 2014, that unit has often been used as part of what has been called the anti-terror operation inside the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine,” claimed Nikolai Parshin, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Missile and Artillery Directorate.

A 2016 audio recording was also released, in which a discussion between members of the Ukrainian military can be heard. The voices of two men are clearly audible on the tape, one of whom was addressed as “Grinchak.” Their conversation is about Ukraine’s Malachite radar station and the closure of the airspace. The man named Grinchak is speaking emotionally and has harsh words to say about his fellow servicemen who are failing to carry out their official duties as they should. Grinchak is urging the other man to crack down on his colleagues and force them to follow the correct procedures, otherwise as he put it “… we’ll … [a synonym of the verb ‘shoot down’] another Malaysian Boeing.”

Ruslan Grinchak

The man in the recording says, “But what’s the difference, I’m telling you. Don’t you get it? Sailors can’t be fired just to make our Malachite station operate properly. The infantry? What do they know, ***? Should they take on the ‘відповідальність’ [‘responsibility’ in Ukrainian] and write up some kind of report or statement? … That’s just not realistic, ***. Go up to them and say, you little punks, *** if it’s going to be like that, *** then we’ll … [a synonym of the verb ‘shoot down’] another Malaysian Boeing, and everything will be ***.”

The man who can be heard speaking on the tape has been identified. He is Ruslan Grinchak, a colonel in Ukraine’s armed forces, who in 2014 was the head of the 164th radio engineering brigade that controlled the airspace over the Donbass.

Experts from Russia also examined the Joint Investigation Team’s videos, which illustrate the supposed route taken by the Buk air-defense system through Ukrainian territory. Those videos showed signs of having been tampered with, as indicated by the numerous violations of the laws of linear perspective and the way light is projected, in addition to signs of the use of some techniques that are commonly used in computer animation.

Violations of the laws of linear perspective on the video

Now that these materials have been made public, it is imperative to — at the very least — closely reexamine the events that they affect. Will the JIT agree to take a serious look at them? The commission has previously rejected any offer of cooperation coming from the Russians.

In 2015, the Russian company Almaz-Antey conducted an experiment that used the information about the damage to the airliner’s hull to accurately calculate its location in the skies with respect to the missile at the time the warhead exploded. That made it possible to determine the trajectory of the missile’s flight and to establish the area from which it had been launched. Those calculations pointed to somewhere in the vicinity of the village of Zaroshchenskoye, which was at that time under the control of the Ukrainian military.

The persconference of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on My 24, 2018

The JIT did not examine these materials as part of its work. The commission operated under the control of British intelligence forces and it was not allowed to deviate from the prescribed anti-Russian line of the investigation. Not even the recordings from the black boxes (the most important piece of evidence) have been released. After spending several years being “decrypted” by British experts at the military base in Farnborough, the JIT shrugged them off with a brief message that they “revealed no signs of any technical faults or an emergency situation” inside the Boeing 777’s cockpit. And yet those voice recorders might contain information that would shed light on the circumstances surrounding the disaster.

The version of the incident proposed by the Almaz-Antey company suggests the possible existence of two terrorist perpetrators, who were being used to ensure the guaranteed destruction of the Boeing 777. If the first attempt to shoot down the plane was unsuccessful, or not entirely successful, then the pilots’ reaction that was recorded by the black boxes would explain quite a lot. The two-perpetrator version of the event speculates that the airliner was fired upon by a Ukrainian SU-25 ground-attack aircraft under the command of Captain Vladislav Voloshin. The fact that that officer was presented with the Order of Courage the very next day, before becoming deeply depressed and committing suicide in March 2018, makes this version look much more plausible.

Perhaps there was indeed some kind of “emergency situation” onboard the Boeing 777, and this is why the black box recordings have not been duly released?

The JIT dutifully followed its British orders until January 22, 2016, when the news broke about the speech made by Harm Brouwer, the chairman of CTIVD (the Dutch Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security Services), in the Dutch parliament. Brouwer offered an account, according to which on the day flight MH17 was downed there were no missiles present in the area of the disaster, except for Ukraine’s Buk systems.

The Dutch media initially “overlooked” this bombshell and it would have remained buried forever, had it not been for a tweet by MP Pieter Omtzigt.  To prove his point, Omtzigt attached a photograph from one page of Harm Brouwer’s report.

Pieter Omtzigt

Afterward many Dutch media outlets proclaimed their willingness to take their own government to court in order to be allowed to see all of the investigation materials. The JIT was faced with a choice: to follow the instructions of the British intelligence services, which would eventually push them into a very unpleasant corner or to choose to take a different stance. Another motivating factor was that the primary injured party — Malaysia — was beginning to press much harder on the JIT to conduct an objective investigation. Last May, Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke described the accusation that Russia had shot down flight MH17 as unproven, and this was not the first statement of this type by Malaysian officials.

And then something happened that very few people had expected: the JIT agreed to take a look at Russia’s materials! Although they did add the proviso that the examination would take time.

At that point, Poroshenko’s behavior proved how concerned Ukrainian officials were, now that they felt threatened by exposure as the investigation into the tragedy of flight MH17 progressed. That crime could not have been committed without his consent, and literally two days after the briefing conducted by the Russian Ministry of Defense, a decree by Poroshenko took effect that severed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership with the Russian Federation. And to top it off, at the very same time the former head of Ukraine’s Security Service, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, suddenly announced his candidacy for the office of the president of Ukraine. This event offers a compelling reason to believe that Washington decided to abruptly speed up the preparations for Poroshenko’s replacement, should he not do well in the upcoming elections.

Given these developments, one question remains. If the true picture of the events surrounding the downing of the Malaysian Boeing 777 in the skies over Ukraine is emerging with such clarity that even the primary actors understand the futility of further attempts to conceal it, then what will Europe do about Kiev? Under certain circumstances, support and recognition are equivalent to complicity.

Betraying The President

President Trump was savagely attacked by the American political and academic community over the Helsinki summit, during which, in their opinion, he capitulated to President Putin on every issue.

All attempts to defend him have been in vain

The American press, who consider themselves to be the freest and most professional journalists in the world, continue their race to the bottom. First they humiliated their own president and country (there’s no other way to say it) during the Helsinki summit itself. Rather than asking about the most important issues on the global agenda, they were only interested in Russia’s interference in the American election. I guess that superpower has no other problems that are worth discussing with Russia (such as North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, Iran’s growing power in the Middle East, the failure to contain China, the collapse of the transatlantic alliance, or the inability to palm Ukraine off onto another financial sponsor), other than Moscow’s alleged influence on the US 2016 election. However, even if this is such a riveting topic, journalists should still ask questions, not simply make declarations that are all variations of “Why should the American people and Trump believe you when you say that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 elections?” Things got to the point that the American president was forced to defend his Russian counterpart in the face of their inappropriate behavior.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive in Helsinki, Finland, on Sunday ahead of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump is under increasing pressure to confront Putin directly about special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russians accused of conspiring to interfere in the 2016 election

And these reporters/peddlers of propaganda needed someone to apologize for them. A quick glance through the articles and commentary published by the US media following the summit confirms that they paid no attention to either Syria, Ukraine, disarmament issues, or the progress being made by diplomatic work sessions. Their focus was almost entirely centered on Trump’s “unacceptable” and “shameful” behavior. “The moment called for Trump to stand up for America. He chose to bow,” wrote the Washington Post. An article by columnist Thomas Friedman in the Seattle Times was actually titled “Trump and Putin vs. America.”

He didn’t back them

Naturally, most of the noise is coming from his personal enemies, who finally have the opportunity to challenge the main pillar of Trump’s legitimacy — his commitment to defending America’s national interests. Former FBI director James Comey wrote indignantly, “This was the day an American president stood on foreign soil next to a murderous lying thug and refused to back his own country.” Mr. Comey was the one who supported the cruel and deceitful Hillary, refusing to obey the law and protect his own country from an attack against his own president and constitution.

However, (unfortunately for Trump), even many Republicans have added their voices to the howl of criticism. Republican senator Jeff Flake holds the same opinion, claiming that he did not think that he would live to see such a day. The Republicans were displeased, first of all, that in Putin’s presence Trump questioned the national intelligence agency’s findings about Russian interference during the run-up to the election. And though the American president has already retreated a bit  —  claiming that although he places a high value on the work of the intelligence community, he simply wants to leave the past in the past  —  even so, the wave of rage has not subsided.

Stupidity, treason, or the nation’s best interests?

In terms of tone, the press articles only diverged in regard to their differing assumptions about the motives behind Trump’s capitulation to Putin. Some wrote that Trump lacked professionalism and backbone. According to the Washington Post, prior to the summit his aides had prepared as many as 100 pages of briefing materials offering advice and strategies to help Trump negotiate with Putin from a position of strength  —  but that the president ignored almost all of it.

HELSINKI, FINLAND ñ JULY 16, 2018: US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr looks on during a joint news conference by Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump following their meeting at the Presidential Palace. Valery Sharifulin/TASS

Others claim that the problem isn’t that there’s something deficient about the American president, but that the Russian leader has something extra. “President Trump’s weakness in front of Putin was embarrassing, and proves that the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially or politically,” declared House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. And former CIA Director John Brennan bluntly labeled the US president’s actions as treasonous. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats continue to advance this idea, because treason, unlike many of other charges that the establishment is pursuing against Trump, is a clear-cut basis for launching impeachment proceedings.

Treason did actually occur  —  however it wasn’t Trump who was guilty of it, but rather the political and academic community. A few voices of reason, such as Russia expert Stephen F. Cohen, tried to explain the obvious. Trump is doing what other American presidents before him have done  —  he is meeting with the head of the Kremlin in order to prevent a nuclear war. In addition, the US president is trying to start afresh with Russia and turn that rival into an instrument of US foreign policy  —  a means to help contain Iran or China. However, the liberals and globalists who have declared war against him are undermining every effort by the occupant of the Oval Office and thus weakening the US position on the global stage. And, of course, no one is going to try to impeach them  —  in the end, they don’t have to answer for anything, and, according to Trump, “[all they] know how to do is resist and obstruct.” And unlike them, the president would rather “take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics.”

What did the American president accomplish?

What specific goals did President Trump manage to achieve during the Helsinki summit?

First of all, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin reached an agreement to resume their dialog on strategic stability and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Given the past few years of escalating tensions surrounding these issues, plus recent events during which the whole world was literally on the verge of nuclear war, this step represents a real breakthrough. During that very meeting, the American president received specific proposals from his Russian counterpart, which have not yet been announced.

Second, as a result of the negotiations, agreement was reached in regard to the most important aspect of US policy in the Middle East: reducing Iran’s influence in Syria. President Putin affirmed Russia’s commitment to reestablishing full compliance in the Golan Heights with the 1974 agreement on disengagement between Syria and Israel.

Third, the American president managed to establish the prerequisites for constructing a new architecture for the global market for carbon emissions, in order to safeguard US economic interests.

President Donald Trump and President Vladmir Putin press conference

In addition, during the final press conference after the summit, Donald Trump was handed a real bargaining chip by his Russian counterpart, which he can use in his political battle at home against his relentless opponents. In response to questions about Russia’s alleged interference in the US presidential election, Vladimir Putin announced that William Browder’s company, Hermitage Capital  —  which has been accused of tax evasion on $1.5 billion of its Russian earnings that were taken out of the country  —  had actually funneled $400 million into campaign contributions for Hillary Clinton.

Thus, in addition to the US president’s previous demands that the Democratic Party provide the FBI with access to its computer servers that were supposedly hacked “on orders from Moscow,” Donald Trump now has public testimony that Hillary Clinton’s election campaign was financed by “dirty money.”

Developments in the very near future will show how the US president will deal with the aftermath of the summit with his Russian counterpart. Whether or not he will be able, or allowed, to implement the agreements that were reached will largely depend on the outcome of the next round of the domestic political battles in Washington.

The Next US President Will Save Europe From Russia’s Secret Plot

On the eve of his visit to Austria, President Vladimir Putin told the press: Russia has not the least intention of sowing dissent within the European Union. On the contrary, it is in Moscow’s interests that the EU, its biggest trading partner, remain as unified and thriving as possible.

Europeans have long been quite obsessed with the idea that Russia is bent on dividing and weakening Europe.  In the most prominent English-language media this is practically presumed to be as obviously true as their claims that Russia killed the blogger Arkady Babchenko, attempted to murder the spy Sergei Skripal, and shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

As usual, after the Malaysian government admitted that the evidence of Russian involvement in the downing of flight MH17 was inconclusive, the anti-Russian propaganda campaigns were reduced to slim pickings. It was precisely for this reason that the more cutting-edge Western media were so happy to latch onto the murder of the blogger in Kiev. It was precisely for this reason that the very ones who had so desperately hyped that whole episode were so indignant when they realized that they had fallen victim to a bit of ruthless Ukrainian creative license.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron at the G-20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 8, 2017

But let’s get back to Russia’s secret plots against Europe. Interestingly, when you trace back the source of most of the warnings about the Russian plots to divide Europe, they seem to emanate from Great Britain. In other words, they are coming from a government that has decided to pull out of the EU but is now trying to direct its foreign policy.

Allegations of Russian plans to fragment Europe have been heard from both the head of Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency as well as from spokesmen from the European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR). Judging by its name, one might be forgiven for assuming that was supposed to be a pan-European organization. But actually that’s just what’s written on the shingle they hang outside their door, because, in fact, this “think tank” is headquartered and funded in London.

It turns out that the most prominently schismatic states in Europe also hold wildly anti-Russian stances. Neither Great Britain, nor, shall we say, Poland could be suspected of a dearth of official Russophobia. Both of them, each in their own way, are trying to ruin the lives of those countries that form the core of the EU.  Both have closed their doors to refugees and both are bravely waging war against an “influx” of natural gas that theoretically has nothing to do with them. Poland, which gets 17 billion euros a year from the EU budget, has the audacity to be demanding reparations from Germany. Britain, which slammed its doors shut in order to avoid chipping in to fund the EU, is valiantly battling Brussels in order to hold on to its economic perks in Europe.

And in this context, the EU’s biggest common ally — the US — is becoming an increasingly big problem. Washington has unleashed an economic war, not only against Russia and Iran, but also against the countries of Europe. But in the propaganda being rolled out for the European audience, the picture of the world looks like this:

The European Union’s main enemies are Russia and China. It’s true that they do want to trade with Europe and are offering enticements to encourage this, but one mustn’t believe them. Because it is a known fact that they are conducting a hybrid war — invisibly and unprovably — against Europe. Russia is such a wily combatant that one can’t ever prove anything — but you have to believe that it’s true. The European Union’s biggest friend is still the US. And yes, it’s true that they are currently trying to run their friends out of town in order to make a quick buck. But it’s solely President Trump who is to blame for that. Just be patient: soon the next president will come and fix everything right up. And it’s also true that no one can say when that next president will be in office, or what his name will be, or what he will do. And, of course, everyone remembers the Obama administration’s ceaseless attempts to foist an entirely colonial “transatlantic partnership” on Europe. But once Trump’s gone everything will be different — you just have to believe.

And this “you just have to believe” has recently become the main leitmotif of all the anti-Russian propaganda. Since the preferred narrative about the spy, the blogger, and airliner haven’t panned out, the proof of Russia’s malice is increasingly being repackaged as a kind of spiritual evidence. As the Guardian put it so aptly — “We do not need Russia to poison people in a British city to recognise the expanding threat to common values posed by Vladimir Putin’s hostile, corrupt regime.”

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – AUGUST 16: A statue holding the symbol of the Euro, the European common currency, stands in front of the European Parliament building on August 16 and 2011 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)

But then how can one explain that in reality, the opposite is true, that Russia actually needs a unified, rich and strong European Union? This isn’t rocket science, people — you don’t need to invoke “values” and chant the mantra of “you just have to believe.”

Russia needs a rich EU, because a rich trading partner has more purchasing power, which gives Russia a positive trade balance with the EU.

Russia needs a unified EU, because a unified Europe that manages its own security issues from a centralized headquarters will present far fewer problems for Moscow than a string of feckless “friends of the US” along Russia’s western borders.

Russia needs a sovereign EU, because the anti-Russian trade sanctions serve no economic purpose for the EU whatsoever — and once Europe establishes sovereignty we will quite likely see those sanctions lifted.

And it is no coincidence that Austria was the first foreign country that Vladimir Putin visited after his inauguration.

Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen shakes hands with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in his office in Vienna, Austria June 5, 2018. Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

That country is European, rich, and neutral (therefore not a member of NATO) and has been a staunch advocate for the rollback of Europe’s anti-Russian policy.

In other words, in Austria you can see a potential model for the kind of independent European Union that Russia would like to deal with in the twenty-first century.

And this is why the ones who are now so fervently preaching about “shared values” and “Western unity” when faced with the treachery of those natural-gas pipelines and that Eurasian trade route are actually demanding that Europe do itself a disservice by remaining deferential.

The Next US President Will Save Europe From Russia’s Secret Plot

On the eve of his visit to Austria, President Vladimir Putin told the press: Russia has not the least intention of sowing dissent within the European Union. On the contrary, it is in Moscow’s interests that the EU, its biggest trading partner, remain as unified and thriving as possible.

Europeans have long been quite obsessed with the idea that Russia is bent on dividing and weakening Europe.  In the most prominent English-language media this is practically presumed to be as obviously true as their claims that Russia killed the blogger Arkady Babchenko, attempted to murder the spy Sergei Skripal, and shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

As usual, after the Malaysian government admitted that the evidence of Russian involvement in the downing of flight MH17 was inconclusive, the anti-Russian propaganda campaigns were reduced to slim pickings. It was precisely for this reason that the more cutting-edge Western media were so happy to latch onto the murder of the blogger in Kiev. It was precisely for this reason that the very ones who had so desperately hyped that whole episode were so indignant when they realized that they had fallen victim to a bit of ruthless Ukrainian creative license.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron at the G-20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 8, 2017

But let’s get back to Russia’s secret plots against Europe. Interestingly, when you trace back the source of most of the warnings about the Russian plots to divide Europe, they seem to emanate from Great Britain. In other words, they are coming from a government that has decided to pull out of the EU but is now trying to direct its foreign policy.

Allegations of Russian plans to fragment Europe have been heard from both the head of Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency as well as from spokesmen from the European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR). Judging by its name, one might be forgiven for assuming that was supposed to be a pan-European organization. But actually that’s just what’s written on the shingle they hang outside their door, because, in fact, this “think tank” is headquartered and funded in London.

It turns out that the most prominently schismatic states in Europe also hold wildly anti-Russian stances. Neither Great Britain, nor, shall we say, Poland could be suspected of a dearth of official Russophobia. Both of them, each in their own way, are trying to ruin the lives of those countries that form the core of the EU.  Both have closed their doors to refugees and both are bravely waging war against an “influx” of natural gas that theoretically has nothing to do with them. Poland, which gets 17 billion euros a year from the EU budget, has the audacity to be demanding reparations from Germany. Britain, which slammed its doors shut in order to avoid chipping in to fund the EU, is valiantly battling Brussels in order to hold on to its economic perks in Europe.

And in this context, the EU’s biggest common ally — the US — is becoming an increasingly big problem. Washington has unleashed an economic war, not only against Russia and Iran, but also against the countries of Europe. But in the propaganda being rolled out for the European audience, the picture of the world looks like this:

The European Union’s main enemies are Russia and China. It’s true that they do want to trade with Europe and are offering enticements to encourage this, but one mustn’t believe them. Because it is a known fact that they are conducting a hybrid war — invisibly and unprovably — against Europe. Russia is such a wily combatant that one can’t ever prove anything — but you have to believe that it’s true. The European Union’s biggest friend is still the US. And yes, it’s true that they are currently trying to run their friends out of town in order to make a quick buck. But it’s solely President Trump who is to blame for that. Just be patient: soon the next president will come and fix everything right up. And it’s also true that no one can say when that next president will be in office, or what his name will be, or what he will do. And, of course, everyone remembers the Obama administration’s ceaseless attempts to foist an entirely colonial “transatlantic partnership” on Europe. But once Trump’s gone everything will be different — you just have to believe.

And this “you just have to believe” has recently become the main leitmotif of all the anti-Russian propaganda. Since the preferred narrative about the spy, the blogger, and airliner haven’t panned out, the proof of Russia’s malice is increasingly being repackaged as a kind of spiritual evidence. As the Guardian put it so aptly — “We do not need Russia to poison people in a British city to recognise the expanding threat to common values posed by Vladimir Putin’s hostile, corrupt regime.”

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – AUGUST 16: A statue holding the symbol of the Euro, the European common currency, stands in front of the European Parliament building on August 16 and 2011 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)

But then how can one explain that in reality, the opposite is true, that Russia actually needs a unified, rich and strong European Union? This isn’t rocket science, people — you don’t need to invoke “values” and chant the mantra of “you just have to believe.”

Russia needs a rich EU, because a rich trading partner has more purchasing power, which gives Russia a positive trade balance with the EU.

Russia needs a unified EU, because a unified Europe that manages its own security issues from a centralized headquarters will present far fewer problems for Moscow than a string of feckless “friends of the US” along Russia’s western borders.

Russia needs a sovereign EU, because the anti-Russian trade sanctions serve no economic purpose for the EU whatsoever — and once Europe establishes sovereignty we will quite likely see those sanctions lifted.

And it is no coincidence that Austria was the first foreign country that Vladimir Putin visited after his inauguration.

Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen shakes hands with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in his office in Vienna, Austria June 5, 2018. Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

That country is European, rich, and neutral (therefore not a member of NATO) and has been a staunch advocate for the rollback of Europe’s anti-Russian policy.

In other words, in Austria you can see a potential model for the kind of independent European Union that Russia would like to deal with in the twenty-first century.

And this is why the ones who are now so fervently preaching about “shared values” and “Western unity” when faced with the treachery of those natural-gas pipelines and that Eurasian trade route are actually demanding that Europe do itself a disservice by remaining deferential.

Will Europe stand up to American Pressure?

Europe has decided to assert its independence: it will not revise its agreement with Iran and will not comply with US sanctions. When Washington tore up the Iran deal, that was the last straw for the European Union. In reality the EU had nowhere left to retreat — any further capitulation to the Atlanticists’ dictates would render the entire pan-European project meaningless. Will May 2018 prove to be the turning point, the moment when the West’s unity began to fracture?

On May 17, 2018, the leaders of the countries of Europe, together with senior officials from the European Union, gathered in Sofia, officially to discuss their relations with the Balkan countries that are candidates for EU membership. But how could there be any talk of expanding the EU if it is unable to manage its primary mission — protecting the interests of Europeans? Thus it is unlikely that the conversation at that informal dinner in the Bulgarian capital was about anything other than their relations with the US, because Europe is on the verge of not just a trade war, but a geopolitical conflict with its … Well … with its what, exactly?

Its senior partner? Ally? Suzerain? Competitor? In geopolitical terms, the US is without question the boss over the Old World — under the auspices of a unified West and NATO. It is the American Atlanticists who hold the higher rank. After WWII, the US used various means of control to seize the reins in Germany, Italy, France, and other countries in Western and later in Eastern Europe. Great Britain partnered with them to help keep Europe under control, and since then — despite any differences that may have arisen between the two shores of the Atlantic — Europe, even in the form of the European Union, has generally remained their vassal.

French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel walk during the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

As the project to integrate Europe gained momentum, continental Europeans felt a growing desire to become more independent, but Washington and London always kept that situation well in hand.

Germany’s genuine autonomy and especially its rapprochement with Russia has clearly been at odds with the interests of the Atlanticists — and a few years ago, under the pretext of a “Russian threat,” Europe knuckled under to the anti-Russian sanctions.

The majority of Europe’s political class understood that it was beneficial for the EU to have close ties with Russia, and they have always been looking for a chance to end the confrontation with Moscow. In order to perpetuate the atmosphere of Russophobia, the Anglo-Saxons even resorted to staging the provocation with the Skripals, so as to somehow preserve the tension between Russia and Europe.

It seemed that Europe would remain under their thumb for the immediate future. Europe’s leaders will wait to see how the power struggle in the US ends and will try to simultaneously accommodate themselves to both Trump as well as to the Atlanticist elite that opposes him. However, recent actions by Washington seem to have prompted some major changes.

Trump needed the dissolution of the Iran deal largely for domestic political reasons, but he was prepared to lean particularly heavily on the Europeans. In accordance with his plans, the Europeans needed to agree with the US to compel Iran to draw up a new accord that could be presented as a major victory to the American public. Trump did not take into account the individual positions of Russia or China, which would in any case be against a revision of the deal. Apparently inspired by the imaginary success of his Korean offensive (in which Beijing and Pyongyang created the illusion of a breakthrough for him), the US president decided that everything would work out fine in this matter as well. To encourage the Europeans to be more amenable, they were threatened with sanctions. But the Old World balked outright and decided to preserve both the deal as well as its relationship with Iran.

And the aftermath of the US pressure on Europe over the Iran deal will now extend far beyond just a run-of-the-mill misunderstanding between allies.

Looking at the latest decisions of President Trump, someone could even think: With friends like that, who needs enemies? But frankly speaking, Europe should be grateful to President Trump. Because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions,” stated the chairman of the European Council, or in other words, the president of united Europe, Donald Tusk on May 17, 2018.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, US President Donald Trump and President of the European Council Donald Tusk

And the head of the government of this united Europe, Jean-Claude Juncker, stated a week earlier that the European Union needed to take on the role of global leader, because Trump’s decision to tear up the Iran deal meant that the US “no longer wants to cooperate” with other parts of the world and was turning away from friendly relations “with a ferocity that can only surprise us.” In addition, European countries should do more than simply salvage the agreement with Iran: “We have to replace the United States, which as an international actor has lost vigor, and because of it, in the long term, influence.”

So as it turns out, Europe is not only ready to shoulder the responsibility for its own future — something which even Angela Merkel has been speaking about for the past year, which includes providing for its own security — but is also ready to replace the US as a world leader! Did we actually hear this correctly?

Yes, that’s right. In fact, they started talking about this in Europe immediately after Donald Trump won the election more than a year and a half ago. Even then, Trump was declaring that America should focus on itself and not on the construction of a unified Atlanticist world, and that for the sake of filling America’s coffers he would shake down all its partners, enemies, and allies. Europeans, who have grown used to wielding only limited sovereignty in matters of war and peace, were suddenly being told that they needed to pay for being protected by the US, because Trump’s America saw that umbrella as something expendable.

The West’s unity began to fracture. And although the Atlanticist elite on both sides of the ocean hope that Trump turns out to be nothing more than a bad dream and that everything will go back to normal in 2020, the reality is that there is no way the West can regain that indivisibility. America will rewrite its foreign policy with the goal of “making itself great again,” regardless of whether or not Trump is in power, because the hegemon has cracked and America’s more nationalistic elites are seizing power from the ones who have been playing at being the world’s policeman.

What is left for the Atlanticists? Should they make their peace with this or attempt to shift the Western world’s center of gravity toward Europe? But are there any political figures in Europe who are capable of taking the lead? They tried to audition Merkel, but she refused to bite. Tusk or Junker? Macron? They’re all wrong. There is no solution — and in this environment, relationships among the Western nations are evolving the way Trump wanted: into a battle between national states.

Trump sees the EU as a competitor and he wants to weaken it. When it comes to the Iran deal, what’s important isn’t even that it’s about Iran, around which Germany and France have constructed big economic plans, but rather that Europe is simply being ordered to abandon the idea of protecting its own interests. And also that this is being done under an utterly contrived pretext. Unlike the introduction of the anti-Russian sanctions, there are no reasons whatsoever for tearing up that deal, not even nominal ones.

Europe cannot agree to this. It would be suicide for the very European Union itself. As Renaud Girard, a columnist for Le Figaro writes: “Now that such an unheard-of dictate from the US is upon us, will the Europeans be able to regain their independence? This is a test of truth for the political dimension of the EU. If the European Union caves to Trump, this will negate any reason for its existence.”

And the ones talking this way aren’t just those who have spent the last few years reminding Europe that it is harming itself by bowing to Washington’s pressure and keeping the anti-Russian sanctions intact. Now this is the argument being made even by the hardliners on Moscow — the reliable Atlanticists.

“This is nothing less than a massive assault on the sovereignty of European states and the European Union. They are deprived of their right to decide on their policies and actions by brutal dictates from a foreign — and allegedly friendly — country. This is utterly unacceptable from a European point of view, as well as a violation of the preaching of Trump himself. It relegates Europe to just abiding by and implementing policies with which it profoundly disagrees,” writes former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt in the Washington Post.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, May 2018

Europe cannot cave in to US pressure, but it cannot realistically break ties with Washington when rejecting it, much less lay a claim to the mantle of global leadership. Europe simply wants more independence, which is already asking a lot, given the current state of world affairs. To achieve this, Europe needs to develop a more favorable balance of forces and interests, and when seeking out the building blocks for this, it naturally turns its gaze toward Moscow.

It just so happens that within a week the heads of half of the world’s most powerful countries — Germany, France, Japan, and India — have visits to Russia. Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron were initially planning to talk to Vladimir Putin about a variety of topics: Syria, trade, Ukraine … But now everything will revolve around the word “Iran,” which signifies much more than just a country or a deal. It is rather the choice that Europe is making as we all watch.

Has Europe Rebelled?

Washington’s current foreign-policy practice is a bit reminiscent of the golden era of the Ottoman Sublime Porte, in the sense that any visit by a leader of a vassal state is seen as nothing more than an opportunity for a public demonstration of his willingness to serve the great sultan or, in the modern context, to do the bidding of the master of the White House.

The visitor must also wear a big grin and speak passionately about how happy he is to have been given the opportunity to kiss the Sultan’s slippers. Or, to put it in the language of today, to be impressed with the leadership of the US and personally inspired by the energy of the American president. The Washington establishment can’t wrap its head around any other configuration, and therefore in the present era of America’s ebbing hegemony, the ideal visitors to the White House are the presidents of Ukraine or the Baltic countries. The other heads of states that come to Washington, including EU leaders and even some African presidents, act like insolent upstarts, who — from the standpoint of imperial tradition — do not stand to attention, tend to offer their flattery without fervor or exuberance, and, most importantly, do not race off to fulfill the wishes of the leaders of the empire.

Reception ceremony of the Conte de Saint Priest at the Ottoman Porte by Antoine de Favray 1767

The meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump on April 27, 2018 served only to confirm that Washington does not need allies who have their own national interests: all allies must be guided by the concept of the unipolar hegemony of the US. Anyone who is uncomfortable with this is relegated to the circle of those who are seen as unfriendly to the White House. The Washington Post makes it clear that Germany falls into this latter camp: “Angela Merkel is becoming Europe’s weakest link.

That article points out how serious the differences are between the two countries’ ruling factions. Both Germany’s political elite, and as well as the German population as a whole, are characterized very disparagingly: “German passivity is deeply ingrained. Berlin’s political class lacks strategic thinking, hates risk and has little spunk. It hides behind its ignominious past to justify pacifism when it comes to hard questions about defense and security issues.” The general decrepitude of the Bundeswehr and its equipment are criticized and mocked in the discussion of Germany’s refusal to take part in the missile attack on Syria carried out by the US, Britain, and France. And then the article even alleges that Germany’s Syrian policy has actually abetted the wrong side by granting asylum to almost a million refugees fleeing that country, thus supposedly allowing Bashar al-Assad to continue fighting.

In this context it becomes quite obvious that the specific issues that Merkel brought to the table in Washington were merely secondary concerns to her American partner. Germany’s Madam Chancellor had to traverse a distance of 10,000 kilometers to be granted a 20-minute conversation, from which it was clear that Trump had not altered his negative attitude toward questions so vital to the Germans as customs duties on steel and aluminum (set at 25% and 10%), Nord Stream 2, a loosening of the Russian sanctions for major German manufacturers, or the nuclear deal with Iran.

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump

Angela Merkel had a difficult choice to make. Either Berlin declares war on all of Washington’s opponents, or it is dismissed once and for all as the “weakest link,” with all the ensuing consequences. But the first option would be a blow to Germany’s national interests. It is not just its international trade that would take the hit, but also its energy projects and German public opinion. She was given to understand that otherwise Germany would fail to meet the White House’s criteria for the role of America’s main partner in Europe.

Angela Merkel did not seem overly impressed. She sees the constraints that exist for her. The historical memory of the greatest defeat of the twentieth century still lingers. Hence the high level of wariness when it comes to invitations to join NATO’s military escapades. Nor has anyone there forgotten the 1980s, when Germany lived in intense fear of the USSR’s SS-20 missiles that could have incinerated that country in the blink of an eye. Germans have no desire to meekly toe the line of yet another US president, which could end up taking them back to those days.

Apparently this is why the head of the German government seemed to have armored herself with the mantra of “don’t give anything to Trump” during the negotiations in Washington.

If you look at things pragmatically, Trump needed to get a few concessions from Merkel. First of all, he needed the consent of the German chancellor to at least bring back the sanctions and hopefully to even agree to a war against Iran, because for the current Washington administration, a dissolution of the “Iran deal” and a subsequent war with Tehran is the biggest item on its foreign-policy agenda. Second, Trump had to “squeeze” Merkel on the issue of increasing Germany’s financial contributions to NATO’s budget. According to the White House, Germany should be contributing 2% of its annual GDP to the alliance’s budget (or in other words, to the backlog of product orders for the US military-industrial complex). As Trump expressed it so poetically, “NATO is wonderful, but it helps Europe more than it helps us, and why are we paying the vast majority of the costs?” Third, the US needed to ensure that European leaders, and especially Merkel, capitulate in the tariff wars between the US and the EU, and, in a best-case scenario, to also secure the EU’s assistance in the trade war with China that Trump recently kicked off.

Based on the results of the meeting, Washington received a polite refusal on all three points. Five years ago it would have been difficult to imagine this kind of situation, but now this is objectively the real-world state of affairs, and it is something that neither the political analysts in the US nor a significant faction of the European media class (which still views the European Union as a “big Puerto Rico”) can get used to. The significance of Puerto Rico is that it is a place outside the US borders, but that is in effect controlled from Washington, although it has no power to influence American policy. Incidentally, Washington’s official discourse in regard to the European Union has already undergone a radical transformation and, according to Trump himself, it seems that the EU was “formed to take advantage of the United States,” although prior to that the EU was painted in the official Western narrative exclusively in terms of its “ideals of freedom,” “protection of democracy,” and some kind of “pan-European destiny and values.”

Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron

The essence of today’s transatlantic relationship can be seen in the contacts between Washington and Paris. Despite the White House’s high hopes for France to prove its loyalty to the alliance, its leaders have been just as firm as Germany’s in standing up for their own interests. This mindset was evident in the stance taken by President Emmanuel Macron, who was quoted by Bloomberg as saying “we won’t talk about anything while there’s a gun pointed at our head.” European leaders insist that any discussions take place with everyone on an equal footing, which Washington cannot indulge as a matter of principle. Even lower-level European officials are using their economic power to threaten the US. French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire claimed, “One thing I learned from my week in the U.S. with President Macron: The Americans will only respect a show of strength.” Needless to say, one does not speak to a real global hegemon in such terms.

No matter what the outcome of all the diplomatic and economic conflicts between the two shores of the Atlantic, it is already safe to say that Europe has broken free of Washington’s grip, and future relations between the US and the EU will become increasingly tense. We shall soon see whether Europe will take advantage of its current opportunity to reclaim the economic and political freedom that it lost at some point.

Salisbury Incident Report: Hard Evidence For Soft Minds

The UK government’s presentation on the Salisbury incident, which was repeatedly cited in recent days as an “ultimate proof” of Russia’s involvement into Skripal’s assassination attempt, was made public earlier today.

This 6-paged PDF is a powerful evidence of another intellectual low of the British propaganda machine. Open it and you can tell that substantially it makes only two assertions on the Skripal case, and both are false:

First. Novichok is a group of agents developed only by Russia and not declared under the CWC” – a false statement. Novichok was originally developed in the USSR (Nukus Lab, today in Uzbekistan, site completely decommissioned according to the US-Uzbekistan agreement by 2002). One of its key developers,  Vil Mirzayanov, defected to the United States in 1990s, its chemical formula and technology were openly published in a number of chemical journals outside Russia.

Craig Murray

Former top-ranking British foreign service officer Craig Murray specifically noted this point on March 17:

I have now been sent the vital information that in late 2016, Iranian scientists set out to study whether novichoks really could be produced from commercially available ingredients. Iran succeeded in synthesising a number of novichoks. Iran did this in full cooperation with the OPCW and immediately reported the results to the OPCW so they could be added to the chemical weapons database.

This makes complete nonsense of the Theresa May’s “of a type developed by Russia” line, used to parliament and the UN Security Council. This explains why Porton Down has refused to cave in to governmental pressure to say the nerve agent was Russian. If Iran can make a novichok, so can a significant number of states.

Second.We are without doubt that Russia is responsible. No country bar Russia has combined capability, intent and motive. There is no plausible alternative explanation” – an outstading example of self-hypnosis. None of the previous items could even remotedly lead to this conclusion.

The prominent British academician from the University of Kent, Prof. Richard Sakwa, has elaborated on this on March 23 the following way:

Professor Richard Sakwa

Rather than just the two possibilities outlined by Theresa May, in fact, there are at least six, possibly seven. The first is that this was a state-sponsored, and possibly Putin-ordered, killing…  This version simply does not make sense, and until concrete evidence emerges, it should be discounted…

The second version is rather more plausible, that the authorities had lost control of its stocks of chemical weapons. In the early 1990s Russian facilities were notoriously lax, but since the 2000s strict control over stocks were re-imposed, until their final destruction in 2017. It is quite possible that some person or persons unknown secreted material, and then conducted some sort of vigilante operation…

The third version is the exact opposite: some sort of anti-Putin action by those trying to force his policy choices…

The fourth version is similar, but this time the anti-Putinists are not home-grown but outsiders. Here the list of people who would allegedly benefit by discrediting Russia is a long one. If Novichok or its formula has proliferated, then it would not be that hard to organise some sort of false flag operation. The list of countries mentioned in social media in this respect is a long one. Obviously, Ukraine comes top of the list, not only because of motivation, but also because of possible access to the material, as a post-Soviet state with historical links to the Russian chemical weapons programme. Israel has a large chemical weapon inventory and is not a party to the OPCW; but it has no motivation for such an attack (unless some inadvertent leak occurred here). Another version is that the UK itself provoked the incident, as a way of elevating its status as a country ‘punching above its weight’. The British chemical weapons establishment, Porton Down, is only 12 kilometres from Salisbury. While superficially plausible, there is absolutely no evidence that this is a credible version, and should be discounted.

The fifth version is a rather more elaborate development of the previous point. There is circumstantial evidence, a version outlined by the Daily Telegraph, that Skripal may have had a hand in devising Christopher Steele’s ‘Trump Dossier’. The British agent who originally recruited Skripal, Pablo Miller, lives in Salisbury, and also has connections with Orbis International, Steele’s agency in London. In this version, Skripal is still working in one way or another with MI6, and fed stories to Steele, who then intervenes massively in US politics, effectively preventing the much-desired rapprochement between Trump and Putin. Deep anger at the malevolent results of the Steele and British intervention in international politics and US domestic affairs prompts a revenge killing, with the demonstration effect achieved by using such a bizarre assassination weapon.

The sixth version is the involvement of certain criminal elements, who for reasons best known to themselves were smuggling the material, and released it by accident. In this version, the Skripals are the accidental and not intended victims. There are various elaborations of this version, including the activities of anti-Putin mobsters. One may add a seventh version here, in which Islamic State or some other Islamist group seeks to provoke turmoil in Europe.

Do you wish to know our refutations of any other substantial “hard evidence” against Russia in the UK paper? Sorry, but that is all. The primitive information warriors in what used to be the heart of a brilliant empire, today are incapable of designing an even slightly plausible (they love this word, right?) document on a super-politicized case.

What follows is even more depressing. Slide 3 is dedicated to some sort of anatomy lesson:

Slide 4 seemingly represents a real “honey trap”. Just look at it:

The authors of this “report” mixed up a very strange cocktail of multitype allegations, none of which have ever been proven or recognized by any responsible entity (like legal court or dedicated official international organization). Of course, we are not committed to argue on every cell, but taking e.g. “August 2008 Invasion of Georgia” we actually can’t understand why the EU-acknowledged Saakashvili’s aggression against South Ossetia is exposed here as an example of “Russian malign activity”…

Have you totally lost your minds, ladies & gentlemen from the Downing Street?

The Skripal Case: Stakes Up?

Yesterday’s sharply-worded joint statement on the Skripal case issued by Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, and Theresa May, which included the latest reiteration of the strange accusations leveled against Russia, threatens to push the row between Russia and the West to a new, much more serious level. Why is this happening and and what is motivating these Western leaders?

The tone and content of the statement leave no doubt that the West holds Russia responsible for the attempt on Skripal’s life and that it has no intention of listening to any objections or rebuttals. The demand that Moscow provide answers about its Novichok program is a mere formality. A variety of measures have already been taken against Russia — from the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the UK to the announcement of new sanctions by France.

What is going on? Do these four leaders really believe that Vladimir Putin issued an order to kill Skripal? In other words, do they believe that the Russian president, a man they have acknowledged to be the most powerful and experienced geopolitical player today, is now a caricatured villain from a James Bond movie? That seems impossible to believe, even taking into account that none of them are too bright.

That means that even they don’t believe in the truth of what they’re accusing Russia of — they’re doing it for purely political reasons. And which ones would those be?

A recent editorial in the Washington Post, “Britain is punishing Putin. America should join in“, offers a pretty complete rundown of which Russian policies the West is so upset about:

So it’s all quite simple: Syria, Ukraine, and the West’s internal affairs. In other words, to put it bluntly, Moscow is supposed to not only rein in its offensive geopolitical game, but also become more accommodating when it comes to Ukraine, Syria, and Europe. But since there’s no way the West is going to see any of these dreams come true — what’s the point of putting pressure on Moscow?

Clearly Trump, Macron, and Merkel all had different motives when they signed their latest statement. Trump needs to shield himself as much as possible against accusations that he’s mollycoddling Russia. Macron needs to demonstrate his solidarity with the common cause (although that won’t stop him from coming to Russia for the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in two months). Nor is Merkel, who only yesterday saw an end to the epic saga over the formation of her new coalition, about to begin her fourth term being “soft on Putin” (which is exactly how the devotees of Atlanticism would view any refusal to sign that joint statement).

But what about Russia? She does not break off relations, is never taken by surprise, and does not respond with insults. What we’re seeing is not something that’s happened just once or twice, but rather hundreds of times in the three hundred years since Russia joined the ranks of the great powers that decide the fate of the world. Russia is accustomed to external pressure and do not pay much attention on it. She keeps the course of creating a new configuration of global powers better corresponding to modern geopolitical realities.

Four great powers, three of which are members of the UN Security Council, are, of course, a mighty force. However, their reaction to the “Skripal affair” has shown that they are being guided from a single command center. Al least half of the joint statement’s sides enjoy only limited sovereignty, unlike Russia and its key Asian partners.

The Skripal Case: Stakes Up?

Yesterday’s sharply-worded joint statement on the Skripal case issued by Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, and Theresa May, which included the latest reiteration of the strange accusations leveled against Russia, threatens to push the row between Russia and the West to a new, much more serious level. Why is this happening and and what is motivating these Western leaders?

The tone and content of the statement leave no doubt that the West holds Russia responsible for the attempt on Skripal’s life and that it has no intention of listening to any objections or rebuttals. The demand that Moscow provide answers about its Novichok program is a mere formality. A variety of measures have already been taken against Russia — from the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the UK to the announcement of new sanctions by France.

What is going on? Do these four leaders really believe that Vladimir Putin issued an order to kill Skripal? In other words, do they believe that the Russian president, a man they have acknowledged to be the most powerful and experienced geopolitical player today, is now a caricatured villain from a James Bond movie? That seems impossible to believe, even taking into account that none of them are too bright.

That means that even they don’t believe in the truth of what they’re accusing Russia of — they’re doing it for purely political reasons. And which ones would those be?

A recent editorial in the Washington Post, “Britain is punishing Putin. America should join in“, offers a pretty complete rundown of which Russian policies the West is so upset about:

So it’s all quite simple: Syria, Ukraine, and the West’s internal affairs. In other words, to put it bluntly, Moscow is supposed to not only rein in its offensive geopolitical game, but also become more accommodating when it comes to Ukraine, Syria, and Europe. But since there’s no way the West is going to see any of these dreams come true — what’s the point of putting pressure on Moscow?

Clearly Trump, Macron, and Merkel all had different motives when they signed their latest statement. Trump needs to shield himself as much as possible against accusations that he’s mollycoddling Russia. Macron needs to demonstrate his solidarity with the common cause (although that won’t stop him from coming to Russia for the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in two months). Nor is Merkel, who only yesterday saw an end to the epic saga over the formation of her new coalition, about to begin her fourth term being “soft on Putin” (which is exactly how the devotees of Atlanticism would view any refusal to sign that joint statement).

But what about Russia? She does not break off relations, is never taken by surprise, and does not respond with insults. What we’re seeing is not something that’s happened just once or twice, but rather hundreds of times in the three hundred years since Russia joined the ranks of the great powers that decide the fate of the world. Russia is accustomed to external pressure and do not pay much attention on it. She keeps the course of creating a new configuration of global powers better corresponding to modern geopolitical realities.

Four great powers, three of which are members of the UN Security Council, are, of course, a mighty force. However, their reaction to the “Skripal affair” has shown that they are being guided from a single command center. Al least half of the joint statement’s sides enjoy only limited sovereignty, unlike Russia and its key Asian partners.