Voices from Russia

Friday, 11 January 2013

USA Riled by Russian Strategies

00 USA Russia Collage. 11.01.13

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Nowadays, political strategies and show biz have become so intertwined that it’s hard to tell the former from the latter, and vice versa. For Washington and Moscow… two old-time friends and rivals… the year 2012 ended with the announcement of the arrival of a new period of confrontation, which one observes at the parliamentary level now, but it could grow into something much more serious. Having shaken off the “archival dust” of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, the USA quickly replaced that obsolete document with the Magnitsky Act. Russia responded with a blacklist of Americans that it’ll deny Russian visas to and imposed a ban on the adoption of Russian children by US citizens. Like in chess, the game between Moscow and Washington is developing on the basis of a logical scenario.

International Grandmaster Aleksei Kuzmin thought, “The methods the two countries resort to aren’t important, after all, as the relations between the two countries were destined to deteriorate anyway. The political duel between the USA and Russia will assume yet more threatening proportions in 2013. Given that the two sides exhausted all their arguments concerning a European missile defence system, Iran, Syria and the evergreen issue of a Middle East settlement, there are practically no chances for striking an easy deal. In chess, a player often confronts difficult choices, where he has to decide whether the oncoming worsening of his position is beneficial. Every grandmaster knows how to provoke their opponent into making a move that could seem dangerous, but yields good fruit in the long run. A provocation that fails to hit its target makes your position weaker”.

International Grandmaster Vladislav Tkachiev noted, “Whatever moves Russia and the USA choose to make, they’re unlikely to grow into a full-fledged conflict. No high-profile moves, like the Magnitsky and Dima Yakovlev Lists, the creation of new missile defence systems, or support of one of the parties to the Syrian conflict, can spoil relations between Russia and the USA. As always, the USA is feigning interest in what Russia has to say, but it does as it pleases. It reserves the right to set its own rules of conduct. Like in a game of chess, Washington controls the key fields of the chessboard while feeling free to decide whether to exchange pieces or launch a direct attack against the king”.

According to Aleksei Kuzmin, “The recently signed Dima Yakovlev Bill and the law that bans corrupt American officials from opening accounts in Russian banks or entering Russia are strategic moves designed to provoke the opponent into taking symmetrical measures, which in turn could strengthen President Putin’s positions on the ‘domestic policy section’ of the chessboard”. On the other hand, Vladislav Tkachiev observed, “All these moves are but red herrings, whilst Moscow consistently pursues its agenda, moving slowly, but surely, towards the ‘main target’. This is what’s bothering Washington”. In general, Russia is against “blacklist wars” or games for raising stakes. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a few days ago that the only reasonable way of handling international relations is a dialogue. However, a dialogue presupposes two parties.

29 December 2012

Igor Siletsky

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_12_29/US-riled-by-Russian-strategies/

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Will Russia be Able to Weather the Tempests and Storms?

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For decades, Western propaganda trumpeted that the USSR and its “satellites” were to blame for conflicts in the world and the appearance of trouble spots on the planet’s map. Western politicians and the media brazenly claimed that the USSR harboured expansionist plans. Twenty years have passed since the collapse of the USSR. Has the world become any safer? What do we see today? The planet sinks ever deeper into a quagmire of chaos and violence. Acute interstate, social, and religious conflicts flare up, more than ever before. Even in once-prosperous Europe, mass protest actions mount against the attempts of the bourgeois authorities to make not only the proletariat, but also the so-called middle class, bear the brunt of the deepening crisis caused by the greed of the global oligarchy.

However, the most acute and violent conflicts rage outside Europe. Tensions around Iran have built up for many years, and one hears ever-more vocal threats of military intervention against that country. The DPRK is under constant pressure. In the heart of Africa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for many years, a civil war simmered away unabated. The West’s insane policy with regard to Libya didn’t only destroy one of the most successful states on the continent, but had dire consequences for neighbouring countries. For example, Northern Mali fell into the hands of religious fanatics; it’s seceded for all intents and purposes. A similar process is taking place in East Africa, where the split of Sudan led to a state of constant armed confrontation between its northern and southern parts.

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Islamist rebels in Syria

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At present, the Middle East is the focus of stormy events. Immediately after the Second World War, the region became a source of constant tension and numerous wars because Israel and its Western allies refused to comply with UN resolutions on ending its occupation of Arab territories, the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland, and the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Meanwhile, during the past two years, almost all the Middle Eastern and North African states were destabilised to varying degrees. Today, a fratricidal civil war ramps up in Syria. Afghanistan and Iraq are areas of great instability. In Turkey, Kurds wage an armed struggle for national liberation. Most recently, relations between the People’s Republic of China and Japan deteriorated sharply over territorial disputes.

None of this is happening accidentally. Of course, each of these conflicts has its own internal causes. However, the main source of global instability is due to the Western powers’ policy of seeking to impose a neo-colonialist development scenario on the whole of mankind. Again, the world is at a turning point in its history. Contrary to recent cheerful claims that the economic recession’s over, capitalism sinks deeper and deeper into an all-embracing crisis. This is inevitable because it hasn’t eliminated the underlying causes of the crisis. This time around, it hit Europe, where a whole group of countries faces bankruptcy. The ruling élites are trying to shift the burden of the crisis onto the shoulders of the mass of the population. Contradictions between the collective character of modern production and the private appropriation of its results have sharpened.

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In what direction will the world move? One needn’t say that the world élite will seek to preserve a capitalist system of social organisation dominated by the “golden billion”, which wallows in money and parasitic consumption. That being said, the more farsighted members of the privileged are beginning to understand and admit that the West is driving the world into a dead end. Franz Müntefering, the leader of the SPD, said, “In 1990, when communism and its planned economy found themselves on their knees, we rejoiced in vain, believing that now the social market economy finally triumphed. In reality, after that, a different capitalism developed throughout the world, with all of its abuses and without any of its social component. Communism exerted a disciplining impact on capitalism. We must consign the present form of capitalism, which doesn’t feel responsible to man and society, to the dustbin. We must stop the abuses of unbridled financial capital”. Former German President Horst Köhler (CDU) said that he saw the breakdown of “Anglo-Saxon capitalism“, run by gamblers and adventurers, saying, “Money-making without rules, without responsibility, and without conscience has collapsed”. The leaders of other European countries echo him. The President of the USA, from which the paroxysms of crisis shaking the whole world emanate, never tires of urging the need for change… sweeping, profound, and fundamental change. Obama hurls accusations at “fat cats”, who grow richer, even at the peak of the economic crisis.

Therefore, sober Western leaders already realise that the “uncontrolled self-regulating market economy” model has reached an impasse and that we need to scrap it. However, the formal leadership doesn’t always lay down foreign policy guidelines. Neoconservatives hidden in the bowels of the American establishment express the interests of the more aggressive transnational monopolies and banks, whose interest is in global control over markets and in political diktat. They believe that they can reach both these ends by using military force, which they increasingly buttress with aggressive information and propaganda campaigns. Another element in the neocons’ strategy is managed chaos. It only seems that all the events referenced above are spontaneous. There’s a profound inner link between them; all of them, to varying degrees, manifest the class strategy of the most-belligerent Western circles, which seek to subjugate the whole world.

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The West is the main sponsor of international terrorism, which it uses to further its global ends. There’s a growing conviction in the world that American power structures planned the events of 9/11 (the terrorist strike on New York) to provide a pretext for a “worldwide offensive against international terrorism”, which is, in reality, an expansion of American global economic, military, and media power. However, the concept of a unipolar world is crumbling and collapsing in front of our eyes. Even Zbigniew Brzeziński, a foremost apologist of American globalism, admits the failure of the “American dream” in his recent book. That’s why socialism is increasingly attractive in the 21st century as a new focus of civilisation. Above all, it connotes a harmonious development of productive forces, a reasonable level of consumption, and a prudent attitude to nature, with well-being and progress for each and every one.

Opposition grows worldwide to globalisation American-style. After the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s, it seemed that there wouldn’t be a counterweight to the rampant greed and aggressiveness of the West, but an alternative centre of political and economic influence recently appeared in the alliance of the BRIC states (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). These countries are home to more than half of the world’s population, and account for an ever-growing part of the world economy. South Africa‘s joined the alliance, completing its “southern arc”. The growing economic, political, and military might of the BRIC bloc not only increases its international influence, but also, for the first time since the collapse of the USSR, puts an obstacle in the way of Western expansion, in the way of attempts to restore a neo-colonial world order. We must emphasise that unlike the USSR and the socialist bloc, which provided a powerful political and military alternative to the West, but failed to draw level with our rivals economically at that stage, today, China’s steadily turning into the “workshop of the world”, entering ever-new markets, including Europe and the USA. Together with the fast-growing economies of India and Brazil, that creates a fundamentally new situation in the world.

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It’s important that the international system based on the UN, created with the active participation of the USSR, has withstood the test of time. In spite of all the attempts by the USA and its allies to gain control over it, the UN’s still a key element in stabilising international relations. The principle of the balance of forces at the Security Council instituted by its founding fathers, including Soviet leaders, make it possible to restrain open acts of aggression on the part of financial imperialism. With the disintegration of the USSR and the humiliatingly pro-Western policy of the Yeltsin group, including notorious Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, the role of the UN Security Council sharply diminished. This situation lasted a long time, which enabled the USA and its allies to launch a series of brazen acts of aggression against Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. However, because of the changing balance of forces, the system of legitimising aggression by using the UN misfired for the first time in the last two decades. That happened when Russia and China vetoed draft resolutions that would give the West the right to perpetrate armed intervention against Syria.

Therefore, the USA and its allies are trying to build a new parallel system of world governance by expanding the role of NATO and the WTO. Their aim is to gain global control not by crude military force, but by preserving and deepening the unfair economic relations and non-equivalent exchange between the rich industrialised North and the planetary South, which possesses vast natural resources. There’s no doubt that the WTO, contrary to its official declarations on removing barriers to international trade, in reality, serves centuries-old colonial goals. They seek to get natural resources and manpower from the South at miserly prices and sell the goods from the North at staggeringly-high prices. They achieve this through a system of international courts entirely dominated by Western representatives. Those recalcitrant leaders who challenge the justice of such a state of affairs are likely to suffer the fate of Slobodan Milošević, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi.

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Galician Uniate priest in Nazi service serving traitors in the Waffen-SS… reflect on this… the USA and the UK protected Nazi collaborationist scummers from Estonia, Latvia, and Galicia, and still do!

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In the context of the deepening crisis of capitalism and the inevitable concomitant mounting protests, one must assume that the leading imperialist countries would seek to limit the influence of communist and left-wing parties. They’ll intensify persecution and reprisals against their leaders. In particular, Eastern European countries go out of their way to demonstrate their loyalty to Uncle Sam. They openly glorify Bandera and other Hitler accomplices as fighters against communism, erect monuments to surviving fascists, ban Soviet and communist symbols, intimidate honest and upright politicians, and pass legislation that equates communism and fascism. In spite of all this, communist and left-wing movements have noticeably strengthened their positions at the international and regional levels. Elections for parliaments and local legislatures in many countries bring ever more proof of that.

Meanwhile, it’s important to understand to what extent the position of the Russian élite on international issues meets Russian national interests. We see that Russia’s external policy is markedly class-oriented. The constant neglect of the country’s interests for the sake of the personal ambitions and selfish interests of the ruling group manifests this. From the early 1990s, the Russian “élite” was eager to become part of the Western “establishment”. Initially, they kept them out, but then they graciously allowed them to enter the Western club, but only as a junior (and often unprivileged) partner. The Russian élite tolerate all this. It can’t be otherwise, because, as is well known, not only the Russian oligarchs, but top bureaucrats keep their money in Western banks, send their children to Western universities, spend their holidays in Western holiday resorts, and have “standby landing sites” in the shape of apartments, villas, and castles in Western countries.

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The Pyatnitsky Choir… one of the national treasures of Russia (they’re more worthwhile than a roomful of crapitalist greedsters… and most people would agree with me).

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From the 2011 Slavyansky Bazar festival in Belarus

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It’s a well-known truth that one must base a successful foreign policy on three foundations:

  • patriotic sentiment in society
  • a powerful economy
  • powerful armed forces

Russia doesn’t have any of these three components. Speaking about patriotic sentiment, throughout the twenty years after the coup d’état of August-December 1991, the ruling group has, in fact, done its best to eradicate patriotism. Indeed, the very word “patriot” has acquired a derogatory meaning. A continuing process seeks to eliminate love of country, folk traditions, and national customs, and to impose alien values upon us. The state of the Russian economy is well-known. It’s become a source of raw materials for the Western and, more recently, Eastern industry. It’s a semi-colonial economy heavily-dependent on demand on the part of the developed countries, and the slightest fluctuations in the global economy have very unpleasant consequences for Russia. Moreover, the bulk of property has already been withdrawn from our country’s jurisdiction and is in offshore zones. As for the armed forces, they’ve practically lost their combat ability because of continuous “reforms” lasting many years. The share of modern weapons is at best 10 percent. The officer corps has been decimated. The reforms under Defence Minister Serdyukov resulted in the expulsion of tens of thousands of the most experienced and knowledgeable officers from the Army. One can go on detailing the destruction of the national self-consciousness, the ruining of industry and agriculture. The message is clear… we can achieve nothing by merely professing the determination to uphold national interests.

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One has to bear in mind that even the modern empire, the USA, with its huge economic, military, and political power, needs allies. The Americans work vigorously to ensure that each of their foreign policy actions gets the broadest possible global support. On the contrary, in recent years, Russia pushed away all its traditional allies. Today, practically, we have only one reliable strategic ally, Byelorussia. However, that fraternal people again and again comes under powerful pressure from pro-Western elements in the Russian ruling élite. One has a feeling that these influential forces at the top would be genuinely glad if Byelorussian President Aleksandr Lukashenko fell from power, and the economic actions of the Russian government indicate attempts to create prerequisites for a worsening of living standards in Byelorussia and for the growth of protest sentiments there.

To sum up, one can safely say that the world has entered a zone of tempests and storms. If the huge Russian ship is to sail through that zone safely, we need a skilful crew and reliable equipment, and the passengers need the assurance that the ship is being steered in the right direction. So far, society’s increasingly doubtful that we’re moving in the right direction. We’re totally convinced that our country would regain its status as a great power, the respect of its rivals, and the trust of its friends only if the popular patriotic forces led by the KPRF came to power.

2 October 2012

Gennady Zyuganov

Chairman of the KPRF Central Committee

Pravda

As quoted in 21st Century Manifesto

http://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/will-russia-be-able-to-weather-the-tempests-and-storms/

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

US Sanctions No Hurdle to Beneficial Ties

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The USA welcomed the EU embargo on Iran that came into effect on 1 July. Two days before, the Americans slapped economic sanctions on banks and companies that engaged in trade with Iran. However, they exempted nearly 20 countries, including China, from them. Beijing said that it does not intend to scale down oil imports from Iran. The USA postponed the imposition of sanctions against China and exempted another 18 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Britain, and a number of EU countries. In explanation, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the countries in question have substantially cut down oil shipments from Iran, thereby demonstrating what breaches of international nuclear commitments could lead to. According to Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei, Beijing imports Iranian oil in accordance with the law and is strongly against unilateral restrictions against any other countries.

Andrei Volodin, the head of the Oriental Research Centre of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy, said, “Early this year, we saw a slight drop in oil supplies, but Washington had nothing to do with it. China saw a reduction in oil imports from Iran because the two sides were at odds over the price of oil at the beginning of the year. They settled the dispute by spring and Iranian oil shipments to China increased between April and June. If Beijing chooses to cut Iranian oil imports, it will do so because of economic slowdown, but nothing of the sort is observed at the moment”.

Whilst announcing sanctions against Iran’s trade partners, the USA can’t afford any drastic moves against China. Beijing and Washington boast close economic ties. China is the world’s number two economy capable of consistently upholding its interests. A VOR correspondent met with Oriental Studies expert Andrei Ostrovsky, who said, “The USA and China depend on one another. Naturally, the USA opted to extend the time frame for the introduction of sanctions. It has no other levers to resort to. China’s strong enough to take its own decisions and possesses sufficient potential to ignore threats”.

India and South Korea have exemption from the sanctions as well. Analyst Dmitri Abzalov said, “Apparently, Washington is powerless to exert concerted pressure on Tehran. China’s position is strong indeed. China holds the bulk of US debt, and no one wants to spoil relations with the world’s largest producer and creditor. Iran accounts for a considerable part of Chinese imports, and Beijing wishes to expand exports to Iran. This proves that Washington will find it more than challenging to mount overall resistance to Iran, particularly in the east. Looking to China, Iran switched to non-cash payments, and was able to adapt to a ban on transit operations. Without China, Washington’s efforts will be useless. Naturally, the USA opted for a transitional solution to save face”.

Washington might find it particularly troublesome to bicker with Beijing ahead of the election. By putting off the imposition of sanctions, President Obama has de facto postponed a solution to the issue for the next presidential term. The Republicans were quick to jump on this, accusing the current administration of betraying national interests. Mitt Romney’s supporters will surely exploit this over the next few months. Experts say, however, that even if the Republicans win the vote, they’ll have to take a pragmatic approach, and their vociferous statements will remain nothing more than words.

2 July 2012

Polina Chernitsa

Aleksandra Dibizheva

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_07_02/79986365/

Friday, 29 June 2012

Iran: Myths and Consequences

The real Iran… it’s not mad mullahs and Revolutionary Guards… it’s the people… just like the USA

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The West is stepping up its efforts to tighten a grip on Iran in connection with its nuclear programme. The USA slapped sanctions on foreign state-run banks that clinched oil deals with Tehran and imposed restrictions on the operations of private financial institutions cooperating with the Islamic Republic. On 1 July, the EU’s launching an oil embargo against Iran. Such an abundance of “economic reprisals” against a major player on the world oil market could have lasting consequences. No more new oil from Iran will be available in Europe after 1 July. Countries will have to rely on the Iranian oil that they purchased under previous contracts. The EU has even banned crisis-struck Greece from importing Iranian oil on preferential terms. Washington’s restrictions on the banks that were “spotted” in partnership with Tehran pursue the same agenda… to slash Iranian oil sales.

The restrictions in question have already had a negative effect on the social and economic situation in Iran, which has seen a rise in food prices and a devaluation of the national currency. However, the embargo on Iranian oil led to an increase in oil prices throughout the EU this spring, to the disappointment of millions of European consumers. Oil prices might spike again after 1 July. The EU accounts for 20 percent of Iranian oil exports, this amounts to about 30 million tons (195 million bbl). Europe expects Saudi Arabia to fill the gap. Nevertheless, Iran has the resources to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which oil from Saudi Arabia and LNG from Qatar reaches world markets.

Yevgeni Satanovsky, of the Institute of the Middle East, said, “As for Iran, it could offset its losses by supplying oil to other countries. This means that the embargo might not prove as effective as planned. Some countries, including South Africa, have sharply increased Iranian oil imports. Consumption of Iranian oil hasn’t dropped in Turkey. South Korea cut Iranian oil supplies, but only slightly. Indian companies reduced the consumption of Iranian oil in the country’s state sector, but it’s increased in the private sector. China, even though it cut Iranian oil supplies, has exerted pressure on Iran to get it to slash oil prices so that Beijing could boost the consumption of Iranian oil for the same prices”.

Because of the embargo, Iran will lose 20 percent of the 100 billion USD (3.25 trillion Roubles. 79 billion Euros. 64 billion UK Pounds) it earns from oil exports annually. The loss is far from disastrous. In addition, sanctions will help to spur Iran’s efforts in other areas. Vitaly Bushuyev, General Director of the Institute of Energy Strategy, observed, “The role of Iran in the formation of world oil prices has been exaggerated. No radical fluctuations on the oil market have been predicted for the near future. Oil prices will range between 85 and 110 USD (2,760-3,570 Roubles. 67-87 Euros. 54-70 UK Pounds). Iran may affect that, but its influence won’t go further than causing one-time price volatility within a maximum variation of 3-5 dollars (97-162 Roubles. 2.50-4 Euros. 2-3.25 UK Pounds)”.

In other words, the western sanctions against Iran won’t trigger any upheavals on the world market or an economic collapse in Iran. Instead, they could hit the wallets of ordinary people in Europe. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that unless Iran takes specific steps to dispel the international community’s concerns regarding its nuclear programme, pressure on it will increase, and it’ll become more and more isolated. As an alternative to economic pressure, Washington might carry out air strikes against Iran’s military facilities. In this respect, attempts to exert pressure on Tehran through economic sanctions aren’t the worst option.

29 June 2012

Ilya Kharlamov

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_06_29/79695943

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