Voices from Russia

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Why Washington is Terrified of Russia and China

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The Russia-China strategic partnership, uniting the Pentagon’s avowed top two “existential” threats to America, didn’t come with a formal treaty signed with pomp, circumstance… and a military parade. Enveloped in layers of subtle sophistication, there’s no way to know the deeper terms Beijing and Moscow agreed upon behind those innumerable Putin-Xi high-level meetings. Off the record, diplomats occasionally let it slip there might’ve been a coded message delivered to NATO to the effect that if it seriously harassed one of the strategic members… be it in the Ukraine or in the South China Sea… NATO would have to deal with both. For now, let’s concentrate on two instances of how the partnership works in practice, and why Washington is clueless on how to deal with it.

Exhibit A is the imminent visit to Moscow by the Director of the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Li Zhanshu, invited by the head of the Presidential Administration in the Kremlin, A E Vaino. Beijing stressed the talks will revolve around… what else… the Russia-China strategic partnership, “as previously agreed on by the countries’ leaders”. This happens just after President Putin received China’s First Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, one of the top seven in the Politburo and one of the drivers of China’s economic policies, in Moscow. They discussed Chinese investments in Russia and the key energy angle of the partnership. However, most of all they prepared Putin’s next visit to Beijing, which will be particularly momentous, for the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) summit on 14-15 May, steered by Xi Jinping. The General Office of the CCP… directly subordinate to Xi… only holds this kind of ultra-high-level annual consultations with Moscow and no other player. Needless to add, Li reports directly to Xi as much as Vaino reports directly to Putin. That’s as highly strategic as it gets.

That also happens to tie directly to one of the latest episodes featuring The Hollow (Trump) Men, in this case, Trump’s bumbling/bombastic National Security Advisor Lieutenant-General H R McMaster. In a nutshell, McMaster’s spin, loyally regurgitated by US corporate media, is that Trump developed such a “special chemistry” with Xi after their Tomahawks-with-chocolate cake summit in Mar-a-Lago that Trump managed to split the Russia-China entente on Syria and isolate Russia in the UN Security Council. It would have taken only a few minutes for McMaster to read the BRICS joint communiqué on Syria for him to learn that the BRICS are behind Russia. No wonder a vastly-experienced Indian geopolitical observer felt compelled to note:

Trump and McMaster look somewhat like two country bumpkins who lost their way in the metropolis.

Follow the Money

Exhibit B centres in Russia and China quietly advancing their agreement to replace the US Dollar’s reserve status with a gold-backed system. That also involves the key participation of Kazakhstan… very much interested in using gold as currency along OBOR. Kazakhstan couldn’t be more strategically positioned; a key hub of OBOR; a key member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAES); member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (ShOS); and not by accident the smelter of most of Russia’s gold. In parallel, Russia and China are advancing their own payment systems. With the Yuan now enjoying the status of a global currency, China has swiftly promoted their payment system, CIPS, careful not to frontally antagonise the internationally-accepted SWIFT, controlled by the USA.

On the other hand, Russia emphasises the creation of “an alternative”, in the words of Russian Central Bank’s Elvira Nabiullina, in the form of the Mir payment system, a Russian version of Visa/ MasterCard. What this implies is that were Washington inclined to exclude Russia from SWIFT, even temporarily, at least 90 percent of ATMs in Russia would be able to operate on Mir. China’s UnionPay cards are already an established fixture all across Asia… enthusiastically adopted by HSBC, amongst others. Combine “alternative” payment systems with a developing gold-backed system… and “toxic” does not even begin to spell out the reaction of the US Federal Reserve. It’s not just about Russia and China; it’s about the BRICS. What First Deputy Governor of Russia’s Central Bank Sergey Shvetsov outlined is just the beginning:

The BRICS countries are large economies with large reserves of gold and an impressive volume of production and consumption of this precious metal. In China, the gold trade is in Shanghai, in Russia, it’s in Moscow. Our idea is to create a link between the two cities in order to increase trade between the two markets.

Already, Russia and China established systems for global trade bypassing the US Dollar. What Washington did to Iran… cutting their banks off SWIFT… is now unthinkable against Russia and China. Thus, we’re already on our way, slowly but surely, towards a BRICS “gold marketplace”. We’re building a “new financial architecture”. That’d imply the eventual inability of the US Fed to export inflation to other nations… especially those in the BRICS, EEU, and SCO.

The Hollow Men

Trump’s Generals, led by “Mad Dog” Mattis, may spin all they want about their need to dominate the planet with their sophisticated AirSeaLandSpaceCyber commands. Yet, that may be not enough to counter the myriad ways the Russia-China strategic partnership is developing. Therefore, more on than off, we’ll have Hollow Men like Vice-President Mike Pence, with empurpled solemnity, threatening the DPRK:

The shield stands guard and the sword stands ready.

Forget this doesn’t even qualify as a lousy line in a cheap remake of a Hollywood B-movie; what we have here is Aspiring Commander-in-Chief Pence warning Russia and China there may be some nuclear nitty-gritty very close to their borders between the USA and the DPRK. Not gonna happen. Therefore, here’s to the great T S Eliot, who saw it all decades in advance:

We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless

As wind in dry grass

Or rats’ feet over broken glass

In our dry cellar.

21 April 2017

Pepe Escobar

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201704211052866086-washington-terrified-of-russia-china/

Saturday, 29 April 2017

29 April 2017. We Need New Bridges… NOT New Walls

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It’s insane to build a “border wall”… what we need to do is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. We need to stop insanity like the “border wall” and stop the warmongering in foreign parts. Then, we can devote resources to rebuilding our country. Shall we do it? Choose wisely…

BMD

Friday, 28 April 2017

Personal Message From Xi Jinping To V V Putin: “Chinese-Russian relations are Going Through Their Best Period Ever in Our History”

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Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a personal message of friendship to President Putin on China’s behalf, scotching attempt by the USA to make trouble between them. President Putin met in the Oval Hall of the Kremlin with Li Zhanshu, Director of the General Office of the Communist Party of China, and Chief of Staff of Chinese President Xi. The meeting came directly after Li held talks with his Russian counterpart A E Vaino, who’s the head of the President’s Executive Office, and is President Putin’s Chief of Staff. I previously explained who Li is, and why his visit is important, and the likely reason for his visit, which is the continuing attempt by the Trump Administration to cause trouble between China and Russia, and China’s and Russia’s concern to squelch any mistaken impressions which might be caused by that attempt. In turn, that explains the way the Chinese and the Russians… undoubtedly by pre-arrangement… used Li’s meeting with Putin to publicise a personal message from President Xi to Putin. The Kremlin’s transcript of Li’s words follows:

Before my departure, I went especially to see President Xi Jinping and asked him what he wanted to pass on to you. He told me to say that today, Chinese-Russian relations are going through their best period ever in our history. Today, our relations are deservedly called an example of relations between great powers, characterised by cooperation and mutual benefit. Today, our relations are very solid, mature, and distinguished by strategic cooperation and a lasting nature. He also said that despite the serious changes in the international situation, we’d continue to work with you, unfailingly adhering to three constants, namely:

  • regardless of the circumstances, we won’t change our policy of deepening and developing our strategic partnership and cooperation
  • our policy, based on joint development and prosperity, won’t change
  • our joint efforts to defend peace and justice and promote cooperation in the world won’t change

These were President Xi’s words.                                                                                  

(bold italics added)

Evidently, the “serious changes in the international situation” refers to the change of administration in Washington, and the new administration’s attempt to make trouble between China and Russia.  President Xi in his personal message to President Putin went out of his way to say that this attempt wouldn’t succeed and that China’s strategic partnership with Russia “won’t change”. Of course, they primarily intend the message for the Trump Administration. The Chinese and the Russians scarcely need to reassure each other about the depth of their relationship. However, Xi and Putin are anxious that there should be no illusions about it in Washington. Alas, given the chaos in Washington, it’s doubtful whether anyone there is paying attention.

27 April 2017

Alexander Mercouris

The Duran

http://theduran.com/xi-jinping-vladimir-putin-friendship-unbreakable/

Mind the Culture Gap: “Russian Soul” Meets “Big Mac” Culture

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If Russians and Americans learned to understand our cultural differences, it could ease diplomatic tensions a great deal. In the 1980s, Sting sang the lyrics:

I hope the Russians love their children too!

In Russia, the popular group Lube lovingly joked:

Don’t be silly, America, we’re all the same!

Yes, for a few years, we lived learning our similarities. However, why was this Russian-American romance so short-lived? Why did we turn to hate again? Geopolitics and financial issues aside, it’s worthwhile to ask a question:

Are Russians and Americans culturally complimentary or do our cultural differences get in the way of our ability to understand each other?

Samuel Huntington observed in his 1996 The Clash of Civilisations:

Cultural commonalities and differences shape the interests, antagonisms, and associations of states, accordingly, countries with cultural similarities are more likely to cooperate economically and politically, and the major differences in political and economic development among civilisations are clearly rooted in their different cultures.

Are Russians more aggressive by nature?

According to Washington and all of the Western mainstream media, this isn’t up for debate… Russians are bad! How many movies have you seen with Russians portrayed as the good guys?  I can’t recall even one. Russians are the quintessential badass guys, according to Hollywood or any political thriller. Don’t even bother with the portrayal of their politicians! According to Hollywood and most of Washington, Russia has been always up to no good. What do you get by reading Russian history from Western textbooks? According to some, the Russian state expanded left and right like crazy to amass 1/5 of the Earth. Just keep in mind this simple fact… most Russian wars were defensive wars! The acquisition of Siberia and the Far East wasn’t done by wars, but rather by including the native populations with acceptance of their cultural traditions into the Russian Empire.

Villains became humans for a while

In the early 1990s, there was certainly excitement on the both sides of the Atlantic to discover that we are all humans… “Reds” and “Yankees” alike! The peaceful dissolution of the “Evil Empire” took everyone by surprise. Unlike previous Soviet leaders, Gorbachev charmed the West with his smile and promising words of “glasnost” and “perestroika”. In doing so, he dissipated the fears of “Reds” for some time. Later, the perpetually drunk Boris Yeltsin added more humanity to the face of Russians:

Hey, they’re just like us, except that they prefer vodka, while we prefer beer!

At this point, one can almost imagine the archetypal American hugging the badass Russian in mutual understanding. Yes, we were more similar than different.

Manners

Have you observed on the Russian subway that you can spot Americans right away? Just listen up for their loud speaking. It isn’t that they don’t mind revealing the most intimate details of their lives to the public because people around might not understand English… they do it on American public transportation as well. Russians whisper… God forbid people might hear!

Courting/Dating

If any Russian dates an American or vice versa, you can expect a long list of surprises ranging from believing that opening the door for a woman might degrade her as a human being (some American young men seem brainwashed by feminism) to Russian girls’ entrenched belief that men should always pay the bill at the restaurant (even if you are just friends) just because Russian men would never let Russian woman pay for them.

 Smiling

Don’t expect Russians to show a full row of front teeth just because your conditioning in the land of Hollywood leads you to do it for every stranger you meet face to face. Russians consider American smiles fake and insincere. If Russians smile at you, it means:

I like you and it’s a pleasure to be near you.

There is one major difference between Americans and Russians… it has to do with keeping your word!

Russians don’t waste words and they’re direct in their language, foreigners often misunderstood this as rudeness, but the truth is, there’s little tolerance in Russia for hypocrisy. If you don’t like a person… you don’t give them a full-front teeth smile. Russians look down upon duplicity. Russians value each other by how much they can trust each other and any sign of insincerity is enough to break a relationship. For Russians, a man isn’t a man if he can’t keep his word. Either you’re a man of your word, or you’re a little, unreliable, and worthless weasel…  a chatterbox. Men keep their promises; weasels throw away words without meaning or consideration. You learn it early as a child in Russia. When Bush Sr made a promise to Gorbachyov not to expand NATO, Gorbachyov treated him and the USA as a trustworthy partner. Therefore, when every Russian leader after Gorbachyov told the world that they have a problem with NATO expansion and took a break of the promise as an offence… you have to understand that they mean it!

What Washington fails to grasp is that Russians mean what they say. American leaders have to learn to understand that we aren’t the same. Perhaps, the Pentagon and State Department ought to have positions for cultural advisers? It’d be much cheaper than military advisers are; in the end, it might prevent unnecessary wars. Let’s admit it… from rituals of courting, conducting yourself in public, raising children, to high diplomacy… Russians and Americans aren’t the same and it helps to understand our differences to avoid foreign policy and diplomatic blunders.

28 April 2017

Angela Borozna

The Duran

http://theduran.com/mind-the-culture-gap-the-russian-soul-meets-big-mac-culture/

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