The EU and Ukrainian leaders were considering the possibility of establishing the EU military training mission as well as further participation of Ukrainian servicemen in the EU foreign missions. The initiative, which directly contradicts the Minsk agreements, will contribute to Ukraine’s militarization as well as the escalation of the Donbass conflict, Russia warned.
Russia is concerned with the continual brazen interference of the United States and the European Union in the internal affairs of Belarus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. After the presidential elections in Belarus in August 2020, a number of European countries and the US did not recognize the election results and deemed that the actions of Belarusian law enforcement against protesters were excessive. Against this background, the West has repeatedly imposed sanctions and other restrictions aimed at Belarus.
Far from weaponizing energy to let Europe freeze out of supposed geopolitical spite, Russia has used its energy exports during this time of crisis as a tool for repairing bilateral relations and improving how its partners’ publics perceive of it.
The US-propagated false information warfare narrative that Russia allegedly weaponizes its energy exports to Europe was put to rest after the Eurasian Great Power promised to ride to its neighbors’ rescue to help them survive the current energy crisis. In fact, despite previously fearmongering about the Nord Stream II pipeline that was ultimately completed, the US itself was importing more oil from Russia than ever before to the point that Bloomberg (which cannot credibly be considered a Russian-friendly outlet, let alone one that spews so-called “pro-Russian propaganda”) was forced to report in August that “Russia Captures No. 2 Rank Among Foreign Oil Suppliers to US”. This surprising fact is confirmed by the US Energy Information Administration’s own statistics from their official website.
Outgoing German Chancellor Merkel, who’s regarded as the most powerful and influential force in the EU, said that Russia is fulfilling all of its contracts and isn’t to blame for the bloc’s energy crisis. Russian President Putin earlier attributed the spike in energy costs to an hysteria and mess on the market caused by inaccurate speculations and the mismanagement of many countries’ de-carbonization transitions. He also said that the European Commission made a mistake switching from long-term gas contracts to spot trading. The Russian leader then reaffirmed that Gazprom never refused to increase gas supplies when requests where in place and instructed his Energy Minister to ensure that transit through Ukraine is maintained. All of these developments prove that Russia is the EU’s most reliable energy partner.
The recently completed Nord Stream II gas pipeline and the earlier completed Turkish Stream one will greatly contribute to the bloc’s energy security, especially in terms of helping it survive the ongoing crisis. The US’ opposition to both projects was self-serving and intended to pressure its partners into relying on its much costlier and comparatively less reliable LNG exports. The whole world now sees that it would have been counterproductive had the EU fully complied with America like its patron wanted. Thankfully there still remain some US allies which retain a semblance of strategic sovereignty and understood the wisdom in expanding energy ties with Russia despite American pressure to curtail them.
This all proves several important points. First, it’s the US that’s an unreliable partner for Europe in all respects, not Russia. The Eurasian Great Power is rushing to its neighbors’ rescue, but this wouldn’t have been possible had its partners fully complied with the US’ pressure to curtail and ultimately cut off energy ties with Moscow. Therein lies the second point, namely that the US was the one that sought to weaponize energy exports on politically Russophobic pretexts in order to make the EU dependent on its costlier and less reliable LNG exports. The third point is that the US employed false information warfare narratives in pursuit of that failed end, which should further reduce its credibility in the eyes of the European public in hindsight.
Going forward, this same European public should hopefully come to realize that the politically Russophobic beliefs that some of them regrettably espouse were the result of the US’ information warfare campaign against them. Far from weaponizing energy to let Europe freeze out of supposed geopolitical spite, Russia has used its energy exports during this time of crisis as a tool for repairing bilateral relations and improving how its partners’ publics perceive of it. The American and Russian approaches to so-called “energy diplomacy” therefore couldn’t be more different since the former regards these means as a weapon towards the end of dominating its “partners” while the latter sees it as an opportunity to improve relations, perceptions, and standards of living.
Belarus’s authoritarian regime, weighed down by sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European Union, is set to get an almost $1 billion lifeline from the International Monetary Fund. That’s happening despite calls for the IMF to cut off President Alexander Lukashenko’s government following Western accusations of fraud in last year’s election and his brutal repression of protests that followed.
Lithuania will decide on whether to build a 508-kilometer (316-mile) long fence on its border with Belarus to stop an unprecedented wave of migrants pouring into the European Union’s east. The arrivals are part of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s strategy to retaliate against EU sanctions against his government over his crackdown against pro-democratic opposition, Lithuanian officials said.
Russian Scholar Karaganov Articulated Russia’s Balancing Act With China
6 AUGUST 2021
Influential Russian Scholar Sergey Karaganov’s recent interview about the strategic dynamics of the New Cold War dedicates a lot of attention to articulating Russia’s balancing act with China and is therefore a must-read for all those who are interested in learning more about the Kremlin’s calculations in this respect.
Few would contest the claim that the world is in the midst of a New Cold War, but even fewer are able to articulate its strategic dynamics, let alone from a position of authority. Influential Russian scholar Sergey Karaganov, who recently gave an interview about this subject to the Argumenty I Fakty newspaper, is one of those experts whose assessments carry a lot of weight and are worthy of reviewing. RT‘s summary of his insight informed their non-Russian audience about his esteemed credentials: “Karaganov has been one of Russia’s top foreign-policy theorists for decades, and has also advised President Vladimir Putin in the past. He is currently the head of the World Economy and International Affairs faculty at the Higher School of Economics (HSE), a prestigious university in Moscow.” Due to its scope, however, it didn’t focus much on what he said about China.
The present piece therefore aims to raise greater awareness of Mr. Karaganov’s interpretation of Russian-Chinese relations, which he implies are actually characterized by a very sensitive balancing act. This aligns with what I’ve previously written on the subject, the following five pieces of which are my most prominent:
My arguments, observations, and conclusions contradict the prevailing narrative that Russian-Chinese relations are either characterized by an eternal alliance or an inevitable clash. Since Mr. Karaganov’s insight closely aligns with my own, however, his professional authority might inspire some folks to reconsider their views about this.
Per Google Translate, these are the points that he made about China in the order that they were shared:
* “If we fought the last Cold War on two fronts, now China is on our side, it is our gigantic strategic resource. It draws on itself most of the military and political power of the West.”
* “If China, the main player in this cold war, wins, and it starts to feel dizzy with success, then we will not balance in its direction. If, on the contrary, China starts to lose, then we will have to go for a much closer alliance with it in order to prevent the West from gaining.”
* “Today’s relations between Russia and the PRC are an outstanding achievement of our and Chinese policy. And one of the biggest geostrategic failures of the West, which not only allowed us to get closer, but also reduced us to the state of a real semi-union.”
* “With a careful analysis of China’s policy and its military preparations, you come to the conclusion: in the foreseeable future, the Chinese are not going to threaten us. Otherwise, why would they so powerfully rebuild their military strategy and military construction from land to sea, investing most of their resources in space, in the navy, but not in ground forces? They are not going to fight for the expansion of territories, they are going to defend their southeastern and eastern borders. But what will happen in 10-15 years, we do not know. I admit that the Chinese elite will make a strategic mistake and follow one of the traditional Chinese paths – the construction of the Middle Empire surrounded by vassal states. Then China will have gigantic problems, and not only with Russia. Neither India, nor Iran, nor Turkey, not to mention Japan – all the great powers of Eurasia will not tolerate this. But if the Chinese act wisely, the prospects for our relationship will be simply wonderful.”
* “Having a friendly superpower is a tremendous boon. And I hope that we will not repeat the mistakes of the Europeans, who hid behind the back of the United States and sold them their sovereignty, and are now paying dearly for it. Knowing Russian history, the psychology of our people and the political class, I think that we will not sell our sovereignty to anyone. I also hope for the wisdom of the Chinese political class. If I were Chinese, I would never have done anything directed against Russia. And so far they have been doing so.”
The strategic pertinence of his points can be summarized as follows in the order that they were shared above:
* The indefinite perpetuation of American-Chinese tensions in the New Cold War serves the Kremlin’s grand strategic interests by comparatively reducing its chief rival’s comprehensive pressure campaign against Russia.
* Russia should actively recalibrate its balancing act between China and the US in order to prevent either of them from coming out on top and placing Russia in position of disproportionate strategic dependence on them.
* The comprehensive improvement of Russian-Chinese relations in recent years is mutually beneficial because it enables both Great Powers to pool their potential in jointly pushing back against Western hegemony.
* Russia has nothing to fear from China in the next 10-15 years, but if it emerges victorious in the New Cold War, then Russia and all relevant Eurasian Great Powers will unite to contain China if it becomes hegemonic.
* In the run-up to the scenario of a Chinese victory and especially afterwards, the Russian elite mustn’t sell out their state’s sovereignty and submit to Chinese hegemony, nor should China accept this even if it’s offered.
With this insight in mind, Mr. Karagonov’s vision for Russian-Chinese relations becomes much clearer. He’s in support of Russia retaining strategic ties with China but also pragmatically recalibrating them as needed in order to retain the balance of power between America and the People’s Republic. The ultimate goal is to indefinitely perpetuate the New Cold War so that no one emerges victorious and risks placing Russia in a position of disproportionate strategic dependence. He hints that China might win though, in which case he warns against it behaving hegemonically by treating other countries as “vassal states” lest it risk provoking Russia into assembling a Eurasian-wide Great Power coalition to contain it. He’s also worried that the Russian elite might sell their country out to China though assesses the chances of that scenario as being very low.
The key takeaway from the Chinese dimension of Mr. Karaganov’s interview is that bilateral relations with Russia are unprecedentedly excellent but the Kremlin mustn’t be oblivious to the unlikely but nevertheless still possible scenario that the People’s Republic might behave hegemonically in the event that it wins its New Cold War with the US. The most effective way to avert that dark scenario is for Russia to continue actively balancing between those two superpowers and thus indefinitely perpetuating their rivalry. At all costs, an American victory must be prevented while a Chinese one is comparatively much more manageable, though only if Russia makes it clear that it won’t tolerate any hegemonic intentions from its neighbor. This insight from such a well-respected and highly influential Russian foreign policy expert is intriguing and deserves to be reflected upon.
The European Union slapped sanctions on Nicaraguan first lady and Vice-President Rosario Murillo and seven other senior officials accused of serious human rights violations or undermining democracy, amid a crackdown on opposition politicians in the Central American country.
The EU Should Be Wary Of Lithuania’s ‘United Talks’ Proposal With China
7 JULY 2021
Lithuania is behaving as an American proxy in Europe. Vilnius voluntarily accepts this role because it wrongly believes that it’s the best means for bestowing it disproportionate strategic significance in the bloc.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told Politico late last week that EU states should stop talking to China bilaterally or through regional formats like the 16+1 (previously the 17+1 prior to his country withdrawing in May) and instead embrace a so-called “united talks” format. On the surface, this proposal might not sound so bad. There’s a certain strategic logic in China and the EU engaging with one another in such a way. Nevertheless, the EU should still be wary of Lithuania’s proposal because it might have malign intentions.
Lithuania not only withdrew from the 17+1 format of engagement between the Central & Eastern European (CEE) countries and China, but its parliament also described China’s combined anti-terrorist and job training programs in Xinjiang as “genocide” that same month. In addition, Politico noted that the former Soviet Republic scaled up its relations with Taiwan in recent months. It deserves mentioning that Lithuania also plays an active role in the US-led efforts to destabilize neighboring Belarus and is antagonistic towards Russia.
This crucial background context strongly suggests that Lithuania is behaving as an American proxy in Europe. Vilnius voluntarily accepts this role because it wrongly believes that it’s the best means for bestowing it disproportionate strategic significance in the bloc. The tiny country thinks that it has outsized sway nowadays in terms of the trouble that it’s causing for the EU’s relations with China, Russia, and Belarus, but it shouldn’t be proud of this ignoble ambition. Everyone in the EU should be aware of the destabilizing role that it plays.
Foreign Minister Landsbergis was lying when he told Politico that “It’s not our international partners or other players that divide us, but we let ourselves be divided when talking to other international players.” Conducting international diplomacy through bilateral and regional formats doesn’t lead to countries dividing themselves, but is the exact opposite since it brings everyone closer together. He as his country’s top diplomat should know this. Instead, he’s desperately trying to deceive everyone into thinking that such diplomacy is detrimental.
From the looks of it, Lithuania is trying to manipulate the EU’s predisposition towards multilateralism in order to enable itself to further meddle in the bloc’s relations with China. At the moment, Lithuania cannot do anything meaningful to disrupt China’s relations with Europe after withdrawing from the 17+1 format. All that it can do is rabble-rouse by spewing a combination of fake news and groundless fearmongering narratives. It actually lost whatever influence it thought it had through its irresponsible and counterproductive actions.
Lithuania’s fallback plan is therefore to mislead the EU into abandoning bilateral and regional engagement with China so that this Baltic country can regain some influence by being able to officially interfere with their ties through the proposed “united talks” format. Considering Vilnius’ vicious hostility towards Beijing, which arguably is influenced by its patrons in Washington, everyone in the EU should be suspicious of its plans. It doesn’t want to improve their ties with China, but worsen them by hijacking the “united talks” format.
For example, Lithuania could use that high-profile pulpit to spew propaganda about Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Xinjiang. It could also provoke a diplomatic incident during the talks such as by walking out on Chinese speakers while they address their audience. France and Germany, both of whom Lithuania’s top diplomat criticized for their pragmatic ties with China, would be aghast at such aggressive actions. Their policymakers should know that Lithuania is only trying to divide them from China and should therefore not fall for this trap.
With all of this in mind, it compellingly appears to be the case that the US is employing Lithuania as its proxy to meddle in the EU’s relations with China. That small country surrendered its strategic sovereignty to the US because it mistakenly thought that this would also serve its own interests. Instead, all that it did was isolate Lithuania from the irreversible process of improved EU-Chinese relations. Nothing that it does will reverse this trend. The harder that it tries to do so, the more ridiculous Lithuania will look to the rest of the world.
Putin Wants Peace & Prosperity For Europe, Not Pandemonium & Problems
28 JUNE 2021
President Putin’s article for German media that was published on the 80th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union debunks the Mainstream Media’s lies that the Russian leader wants pandemonium and problems for Europe since he very convincingly proved that all he’s interested in is peace and prosperity.
President Putin has been maliciously misportrayed by the Western Mainstream Media as an evil genius who’s obsessed with sowing pandemonium and problems across the world, especially in Europe. The truth, as could be expected, is the exact opposite. The Russian leader is simply a pragmatic moderate who harbors no “revolutionary” designs for better or for worse, and simply believes in adhering to the traditional vision of International Relations articulated by the UN Charter. It’s very rare that he’s able to speak directly to those who’ve been misled by the Mainstream Media into believing all sorts of fake news about him and his country’s alleged intentions, but that’s precisely what he did earlier this week in an article for German media.
Published on the 80th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, his piece about “Being Open, Despite The Past” deserves to be read by all because it debunks the misperceptions that have been propagated about Russia and especially its leader in recent years. President Putin very convincingly wrote about his desire to restore his country’s comprehensive partnership with Europe for the betterment of both of their people. He paid special attention to how the historic Russian-German reconciliation after World War II and subsequent energy cooperation during the height of the Old Cold War in 1970 helped lay the political basis for modern-day Europe.
He also wrote quite positively about what he sconsiders their shared vision of a Europe stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok and reaffirmed Russia’s civilizational and historical ties to it. In essence, he was reiterating his vision for a Greater Eurasian Partnership though with particular emphasis paid to the European dimension due to his target audience in the bloc’s de facto leader. The only two obstacles in the way of achieving this mutually beneficial dream are NATO’s aggressive military expansion towards Russia’s borders and the artificial zero-sum choice that was forced upon some countries like Ukraine to choose between Europe and Russia. If Russia-NATO ties de-escalate and the EU behaves more pragmatically towards third countries, a breakthrough might happen.
That, however, clearly requires considerable political will but thankfully the latest developments indicate that it’s finally present on part of the European side. French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel want to invite President Putin to attend a summit of European leaders later this summer, though some countries like Poland fiercely oppose this proposal. If it happens, though, then it might end up being one of the first major outcomes of last week’s Geneva Summit which sought to de-escalate Russian-US tensions. It’s also interesting that this was reported the day after President Putin’s article that he wrote for the European audience, which suggests a sequence of events connecting Geneva, his article, and the Franco-German summit proposal.
Nobody should be under any illusions though that progress would happen at the expense of Russian-Chinese relations. There is no credible scenario wherein these two Great Powers would revert to the fierce competition that characterized their ties for many years during the Old Cold War. Neither regards International Relations as being a zero-sum game but a win-win one. Improved Russian-EU relations would actually benefit China too by making the Eurasian Land Bridge more viable than it presently is considering the ongoing sanctions regime against Moscow. That outcome would advance China’s vision for a Community of Common Destiny between itself, Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union, and the EU, thereby greatly stabilizing the supercontinent.
Europeans, both average folks and political officials alike, should therefore seriously contemplate the proposals contained in President Putin’s latest article for German media. They should realize that he’s being totally sincere and doing his utmost to articulate his country’s grand strategic vision. This doesn’t concern sowing pandemonium and problems across Europe like the Mainstream Media falsely claimed for years, but is all about ensuring peace and prosperity for their people. That mutually beneficial outcome can only occur if the EU finally musters the political will to move past it’s presently difficult era of relations with Russia and restore their comprehensive partnership in order to establish a Greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok.
The UK Is Dangerously Trying To Sabotage Russia’s Rapprochement With The West
24 JUNE 2021
The British Navy’s violation of Russia’s Black Sea maritime border on Wednesday was a dangerous attempt to sabotage Russia’s rapprochement with the West by provoking an international security incident between these nuclear-armed Great Powers.
The world was shocked on Wednesday after reports came streaming in that Russian fighter jets and ships fired off warning shots at the British Navy after the latter violated the Eurasian Great Power’s maritime border in the Black Sea. For its part, London denied that any such warning shots were fired and insisted that it behaved within international norms. Moscow immediately countered by accusing the UK of lying, which seems to be the most accurate interpretation of reality after a BBC journalist’s account conforms with Russia’s. The UK doesn’t recognize Crimea’s democratic reunification with Russia though, hence its claim that everything it did was “legal”. This observation very strongly suggests that the UK was deliberately trying to provoke an international security incident with Russia, which raises the question of why it would do so.
While it can’t be known for sure, it might very well be the case that the UK wanted to sabotage Russia’s rapprochement with the West after last week’s Geneva Summit. That event brought together Presidents Putin and Biden, who both agreed that it’s time to de-escalate tensions between their countries and more responsibly manage their comprehensive competition with one another. The outcome of that scenario successfully unfolding could increase the UK’s post-Brexit strategic isolation, especially if it results in a complementary Russian-EU rapprochement as well. Speaking of which, it might be more than a coincidence that the UK’s dangerous provocation against Russia occurred just hours before reports came in that French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel are considering inviting President Putin to a European leaders summit sometime in the coming future. The UK might have been tipped off and sought to sabotage it.
Readers should remember that the UK has been waging a fierce HybridWar against Russia for the past couple of years. I hyperlinked to six of my relevant analyses in a piece two months ago asking “Are The British Behind Czechia’s Surprise Decision To Expel Russian Diplomats?”, which should at the very least be skimmed by anyone who’s interested in this topic. My argument is that empirical evidence very strongly suggests that the UK is acting as the US’ anti-Russian attack dog in continental Europe after Brexit, but considering the recent geopolitical twist of the publicly expressed desire from both Washington and Moscow to repair their immensely damaged relations after last week’s Geneva Summit, it’s entirely possible that London is “going rogue” to an extent. Either that, or it’s more powerfully under the influence of the remaining anti-Russian faction of the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”).
The UK, just like Poland, mistakenly bet everything on the US continuing its anti-Russian grand strategic course. London invested heavily in expanding its hybrid capabilities in Central & Eastern Europe (CEE), in particular Latvia, from where it runs a regional disinformation network. It therefore might have understandably felt left in the lurch in light of recent developments. Not only that, but former MI6 agent Christopher Steele’s leading role in the factually debunked Russiagate conspiracy theory’s origins hints at the close working relationship between British intelligence and the anti-Russian faction of the US “deep state”. It therefore wouldn’t be too surprising if the UK is continuing to act as the US’ anti-Russian attack dog in Europe, albeit at the orders of an increasingly less influential “deep state” faction as opposed to the American state itself. This would explain why it just dangerously attempted to provoke a security incident between two nuclear-armed Great Powers.
Keeping in mind the recent fast-moving developments in Russian-American relations and Russian-Western ones more broadly, it doesn’t seem all that likely that the UK will succeed unless the US’ anti-Russian “deep state” faction somehow surprisingly regains its influence at this decisive moment in time, whether due to this particular provocation or perhaps following subsequent ones that might soon be attempted by other disgruntled states like the Baltic ones, Poland, and/or Ukraine. Should this gambit fail like some expect it to, then the UK will only find itself more isolated than ever before from both the US and EU. It could also potentially serve as a deterrent to others like the ones that were mentioned in the preceding sentence unless they become even more desperate to attempt their own provocations. In any case, the Biden Administration must urgently regain control of its allies lest the most Russophobic among them ruin relations with Russia.