Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

EU Slams Pompeo’s Iran Strategy: It Won’t Make Region Safer From Nuclear Threat


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s promise to slap the “strongest sanctions in history” on Tehran after Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal prompted an outcry from European officials. EU foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini, commenting on the possible unprecedented sanctions against Iran pledged by Pompeo, warned:

There’s no alternative to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Secretary Pompeo’s speech hasn’t demonstrated how walking away from the JCPOA made or will make the region safer from the threat of nuclear proliferation or how it puts us in a better position to influence Iran’s conduct in areas outside the scope of JCPOA. The Iran nuclear deal is the result of more than a decade of complex and delicate negotiations; it’s the best possible outcome, striking the right balance. This deal belongs to the international community, endorsed by the UN Security Council. The international community expects all sides to keep the commitments they made more than two years ago. Iran’s adheres to the JCPOA; the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed ten times that Iran delivered on all its nuclear-related commitments.

Just hours before Pompeo’s speech on Iran, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson declared:

Washington’s plan to tighten the screws against the Islamic Republic won’t work. If you try now to fold all those issues… the ballistic missiles, Iran’s misbehaviour, Iran’s disruptive activity in the region and the nuclear question… if you try to fold all those into a giant negotiation, I don’t see that being very easy to achieve, in anything like a reasonable timetable. After Washington’s exit from the Iran nuclear deal, the prospect of a new jumbo Iran treaty is going to be very, very difficult. I’m not totally pessimistic about the situation. In the end, there’s a deal to be done that gives Iran greater economic access to the West but also constrains it. I think, in the end, we’ll get back to the kind of additions to the JCPOA that we initially envisaged, but it may take a long time.

For his part, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said:

Berlin took into account the US position. It didn’t come as a surprise. During my visit to Washington later this week, I’ll meet with Pompeo to discuss the issue. The situation hasn’t changed for us. During its summit in Sofia, the EU gave a unified signal that we want to keep the Iran nuclear deal. Without this agreement, we could run the risk that Iran could restart a nuclear programme.

In turn, the Iranian Foreign Ministry used stern language to comment on Pompeo’s speech:

Iran rejects the allegations and lies in this so-called new strategy; it condemns the US Secretary of State’s open interference in its internal affairs and its unlawful threats against a UN member state. Pompeo’s remarks are a naïve attempt to divert the international community’s attention away from Washington’s violation of the JCPOA. The US government will be responsible for the consequences of any persecution as well as unlawful and violent actions against the Iranian nation. The insignificant, insulting, and secondary remarks of the new US Secretary of State and his unacceptable attitude to the great and civilised Iranian nation testify to the US government officials’ despair and helpless stance on the Iranians.

In his speech “After the Deal: A New Iran Strategy” at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Pompeo pledged:

The USA will apply unprecedented financial pressure on Tehran via sanctions. The sting of sanctions won’t ease until Iran changes its course. The new sanctions will be the strongest in history and will make Tehran battle to keep its economy alive. The USA would hold any entity conducting business with Tehran to account; we hope that US allies beyond Europe will support the new anti-Iranian sanctions.

In early May, President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, in a move that sparked a cold snap in Washington’s ties with its European allies and co-signatories to the deal, including the EU, Germany, France, the UK, Iran, Russia, and China.

22 May 2018

Sputnik International



The USA is sounding desperate. It doesn’t have the ground forces to attack Iran… neither can it count on any from its allies, especially not from the KSA and Israel, which are its only local allies with any substantive ground forces (and they don’t match the Iranian ground forces in size). Naval force is irrelevant, as carriers couldn’t operate in the Persian Gulf and Iran could trade via land links to China and Russia. Air forces would face a robust air-defence system. Therefore, the only card left to the peevish Anglo toddlers is the nuclear option. With the adolescent Trump in charge, we’re in the deep kimchi, indeed. The only saving grace in this is that Hillary would’ve already used nukes on Iran… God alone knows what that would’ve led to.

The world holds its breath and waits…



Sunday, 13 May 2018

European Foreign Policy Chief Frederica Mogherini: Trump “Systematically Destroying and Dismantling Everything”


As the EU increasingly faces an atmosphere of disunity and disruption, Trump’s ditching the JCPOA only threatens to make matters worse for Europe. However, that’s not all, EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini noted that it also increasingly isolates America. She pointed up, “no country’s big enough to face this world alone”. It seems that Trump’s hubris is big enough to try it.

Politico reported that on Friday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the Iran nuclear deal can survive without US support. Speaking at a State of the Union conference, Mogherini said she received assurances from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that his country would stand by the agreement, despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw and reimpose sanctions on Iran earlier this week. Mogherini said:

We’re determined to keep this deal in place, only Iran has the power to wreck the deal unilaterally.

The Italian diplomat will meet with the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and the UK… the three European powers that brokered the nuclear deal along with the EU, USA, China, and Russia… in Brussels Tuesday to discuss the future of the agreement. The European diplomats will also meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The Europeans seek to demonstrate that they can still deliver most of the economic benefits they promised Tehran in exchange for giving up its nuclear weapons programme and allowing a robust system of international inspections, as well as persuade European companies active in Iran not to abandon their deals out of fear of penalties from the USA. In her speech, Mogherini took several shots at Trump, though she didn’t mention the US President by name, saying:

It seems that screaming, shouting, insulting, and bullying, systematically destroying and dismantling everything that’s already in place, is the mood of our times. While the secret of change… and we need change… is to put all energies not in destroying the old, but rather in building the new. This impulse to destroy isn’t leading us anywhere good. It isn’t solving any of our problems.

Europe has gone along with just about everything that America has asked for, and sometimes, even volunteering. Whether it’s been war or economic sanctions, Europe was gung-ho about showing some solidarity with American interests in the hopes of scoring some brownie points with the Americans, both over the business of security, as well as obtaining America’s interest in joining in on European market initiatives. However, it hasn’t all been quite as rosy as was hoped. Europe hasn’t been paying attention to America’s belligerent and narcissistic ways. America has overthrown régimes, waged wars and slighted international law whenever it suits them. Why, then, should they be expected to be a reliable partner in anything, when they have such a long history of breaking their word and violating their own principles? Now, it seems, Europe is finally starting to see what their unfaithful partner is really about.

13 May 2018

Frank Sellars

The Duran



Trump has three options, none of them good.

  • He can attack the Europeans for not going along with him. He might get the UK on board, but it’d piss off the Continental Europeans.
  • He can withdraw his statement, but due to the US domestic political situation, which isn’t good for him at all, this is dead on arrival.
  • He can also do nothing. That is, Europe goes its way; the USA goes its way… with no fuss on either side.

The last is the most likely outcome. However, Trump is used to “firing” those who displease him, but he has no control over foreign figures. He can’t simply fire and humiliate them like a character on The Apprentice. That’s where the danger comes in. Trump is juvenile, narcissistic, and sadistic. When vexed, he tends to strike out (I should mention that as bad and incoherent as Trump is, Hillary is far worse… her feral and grasping narcissism makes his self-centred greed seem innocent and childlike in comparison). As POTUS, he has control of the “bomb button”. If that doesn’t scare you…


“Goodbye Europe!” Der Spiegel Depicts Trump as Middle Finger Flipping Off EU Amidst Iran Deal Tensions


German magazine Der Spiegel released its latest issue, with a cover featuring Donald Trump on a middle finger, flipping the bird. It comes just days after the USA angered Europe by walking away from the Iran nuclear deal. Reaction from EU officials is still pouring in since Trump announced his decision earlier this week, so it didn’t take long before the cover was retweeted by French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud. On Friday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also had a few words to say to Der Spiegel about Washington pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, saying:

The USA has shown very little willingness to take the arguments of its allies seriously. The decision has already taken hold of transatlantic ties.

Der Spiegel’s tone on the cover was matched inside the magazine, with an editorial titled “Time for Europe to Join the Resistance”. The article said that US President Donald Trump is “only proficient in destruction”, referencing his pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate agreement. The self-explanatory cover came just one day after German Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel said that Europe can no longer count on the USA, and must take matters into its own hands. French President Emmanuel Macron, who agreed with Merkel, echoed that sentiment, “Something should be done”.

Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal despite America’s three biggest allies (the UK, Germany, and France) putting forth their best efforts to convince him to stick with the landmark agreement signed in 2015. However, the US President walked away from what he deems the “worst deal ever negotiated” on Tuesday. Much like Merkel and Macron, the decision also left EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to say that the USA must be replaced as a leader on the international stage because it has “lost vigour”. As for Merkel, it seems that Trump’s Iran decision didn’t entirely fuel her statement. Last year, she made a similar statement following a G7 summit, when attendees of the meeting were unable to convince the US President to stay with the Paris Climate Agreement. She said at the time:

The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days.

12 March 2018



Sunday, 29 October 2017

Steinmeier vs Klimkin: Why Kiev Will No Longer Receive Money From the West


In recent days, there have been three different, but significant and interrelated events. German Federal President (former Foreign Minister) Frank-Walter Steinmeier made a working visit to Moscow. The Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavel Klimkin, paid a similar visit to Berlin. The head of the board of Naftogaz Ukrainy Andrei Kobolev said that, according to Kiev, the first stage of the Turkish Stream will be operational by 2018, after which the Ukraine will lose a minimum of 500 million USD (29 billion Roubles. 3.32 billion Renminbi. 32.44 billion INR. 640 million CAD. 650 million AUD. 430 million Euros. 380 million UK Pounds) in annual transit fees. This is about a quarter to a fifth of the total amount of 2-2.5 billion dollars (116-145 billion Roubles. 13.28-16.6 billion Renminbi. 129.76-162.2 billion INR. 2.56-3.2 billion CAD. 2.6-3.25 billion AUD. 1.72-2.15 billion Euros. 1.52-1.9 billion UK Pounds) that Kiev still earns on the transit of Russian gas to the EU. Kobolev was also concerned that if the second stage of Turkish Stream enters into operation, and it should by the end of 2019, then the total losses of the Ukrainian budget will amount to 1 billion USD (58 billion Roubles. 6.64 billion Renminbi. 64.88 billion INR. 1.28 billion CAD. 1.3 billion AUD. 860 million Euros. 760 million UK Pounds), and the annual earnings will drop to 1-1.5 billion USD (58-87 billion Roubles. 6.64-9.96 billion Renminbi. 64.88-97.32 billion INR. 1.28-1.92 billion CAD. 1.3-1.95 billion AUD. 860 million-1.29 billion Euros. 760 million-1.14 billion UK Pounds). However, Kobolev didn’t say a word about the Nord Stream-2. Nevertheless, in the last two years, Kiev has focused its main attention on it, and disrupting this project has become almost a Ukrainian national ideal.

In an attempt to persuade Germany to abandon the project, Kiev enlisted the support of Poland, the Baltic states and, most importantly, the USA. Washington actively pressured its German partners, even threatening the companies involved in financing the project with sanctions. America had a double interest. Firstly, it was necessary to save at least partial funding for its Ukrainian project, which was dying from lack of money, at the expense of Russia. The payment for gas transit isn’t the only reliable source of foreign exchange earnings in the Ukrainian budget. Besides that, there are remittances from Ukrainians working abroad, but their volume is more difficult to plan, and the people really don’t want to share their foreign exchange with the state. Secondly, the USA hoped that faced with inevitable problems from the Ukrainians (the usual theft of gas in winter, the deterioration of the Ukrainian gas transportation system, as well as serious political risks) and without alternative ways of delivering gas to the EU, Gazprom would lose part of its European market. The resulting vacuum would allow the Americans to offer more-expensive but politically-correct North American gas as a replacement.

The final success of the fighters against Nord Stream-2 was Denmark’s passing of a law to block the construction of a gas pipeline in its waters. This can’t stop the project; it only creates some additional (but surmountable) difficulties. We can say that the Danish incident was a consolation prize for those who lost the fight for blocking Nord Stream-2. They didn’t achieve their goal but received some moral satisfaction. Since Nord Stream 2 should be operational in 2019, Berlin had a need to inform its Kiev clients about the fundamentally changing geopolitical situation. Starting in 2020, Germany won’t have to deal with the Ukraine as an indispensable partner. Yet, it was also necessary to save face and demonstrate that “support for the reform policy” allegedly pursued by Kiev is still relevant, and show that Germany hasn’t changed its position on the Crimea and the Donbass, despite their wholehearted participation in Russian gas pipeline projects that bypass the Ukraine.

To this end, the Germans simply summoned Klimkin to Berlin, where, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he held meetings with politicians representing the ruling coalition, discussing with them the problems of the settlement in the Donbass, the implementation of the Minsk agreements, the Crimea, and further extending reforms. They issued no joint statements and signed no documents. That is, the usual briefing of an official representing a client-state took place. If you translate the double-talk of the foreign press release into normal language, you’ll surmise the contents of the briefing. Berlin informed Klimkin that the Ukraine would have to carry out its “reform policy” at its own expense. The West not only won’t extend any more credits, it’ll end payment for gas transit to the Ukraine in the next two years. They’ve resolved everything involved with Nord Stream-2, so Kiev had better not cause trouble for Berlin.

As a consolation prize, Berlin guaranteed its unchanged position on not recognising the accession of the Crimea to the Russian Federation (which in reality doesn’t give anything to Kiev, for Siemens turbines will still go to the peninsula) and on the Donbass. As a result, Berlin would continue to insist on the preservation of anti-Russian sanctions. However, this is only moral satisfaction for Kiev. Note that the sanctions don’t oppress Russia at all, but only encourage the import substitution policy. Moscow derives more benefits than it does costs from the sanctions restrictions. On the other hand, the EU has costs and no positives. Finally, the annual extension of anti-Russian sanctions requires the consensus of all EU members. It’s enough for one member-state to oppose them (those who oppose them have been around for a long time) and the sanctions will simply lapse, as has already happened with the restriction of the rights of the Russian delegation to the PACE. Until now, Berlin has successfully suppressed such dissent in the EU. However, over the long haul, it can simply “fail” to convince its junior partners in the EU, without violating commitments made to the Ukraine, whilst strictly adhering to the advocacy of sanctions.

In this respect, Steinmeier’s visit to Moscow is symbolic. On the one hand, the Federal President is a purely decorative office in the German political system, a sinecure for honoured political retirees. On the other, Steinmeier suddenly told the press that he intends during his meeting with President Putin not to limit himself to a formal ceremonial conversation, but to focus on the German position about the Crimea, the Donbass, and sanctions. One could assume that the German President, who, by the way, is the last active politician of those who acted as guarantors of the agreement between Yanukovich and the opposition that opened the door to the February 2014 coup in Kiev, was once again trying to probe Putin’s position to see whether his position has softened. However, German politicians of all levels, including the Bundeskanzlerin, have done this so many times that no one has any such hopes. At the same time, against the backdrop of Steinmeier’s formally rigid statements, the German press wrote effusively about how he loves Russia and how he wishes to restore normal relations. This is a perfectly obvious hint that it isn’t important what he specifically said says about Berlin’s commitment to supporting the Ukraine, but what he says to whom, how he says it, and in what context.

Steinmeier, speaking of his commitment to sanctions, always emphasised that he stated his personal position, but the German government determined German foreign policy. All this took place against the background of Berlin’s continuing commitment to the completion of Nord Stream-2. Well, the general warm background of the German press hinted that it wasn’t necessary to take too much stock in the repetition of old shop-worn clichés. In principle, cooperation is developing, this is the main thing, but Germany has to observe certain forms. Judging from the despair of Andrei Kobolev, who preferred to remain silent about the Nord Stream-2, expressing timid hope with regard to Turkish Stream, that maybe at least the second stage won’t be in operation soon, everyone in Kiev understands the truth. The West will continue to mouth the same shibboleths for a while until it finds an excuse to nullify its obligations. However, there’ll be no more money. Absolutely none.

28 October 2017

Rostislav Ishchenko

RIA Novosti


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