Cold War II - Heralding the Rise of a Bipolar World - May, 2012

“Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible. We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way.”
- President Vladimir Putin at the Munich Conference on Security Policy (February 11, 2007)
"As soon as one side comes under the illusion that it is invulnerable to a strike from the other, there immediately arise both a number of conflicts and aggression... Not because America is by definition an aggressive country, but because it is a fact of life. There is no way around it. And this worries us."
- Presidential candidate Vladimir Putin during a nationwide televised interview in Moscow (March 2, 2012)
In my opinion, the historic comments made by Vladimir Putin at the Munich Conference back in early 2007 signaled the official commencement of Moscow's reemergence as a global leader and its belligerence towards the political West. And Vladimir Putin's comment made on nationwide Russian television in early 2012 signaled that Moscow's belligerence will surely continue for the rest of this decade. Nevertheless, ever since those powerful words were resonated around the world back in 2007, the West has not missed any opportunity to attack Vladimir Putin.

Five years ago Putin verbally signaled to the West that Russia was back on the international stage as a major political player and as the long-awaited balancing power the global community desperately needed. Four years ago, Moscow crushed the Western-backed Georgian military to make its point perfectly clear. And this year Putin is back to finish some unfinished business. 

Needless to say, Russia's reawakening and its political opposition to the West has not been taken lightly in capitols such as Washington, Brussels, London, Ankara and Tel Aviv. Therefore, let's not fool ourselves. Despite the reconciliatory rhetoric often expressed by Russian and American officials when they meet in public, we have in fact been in the very midst of a new cold war for some time now. I call this new political bout - Cold War II. And as we have seen recently, this newest cold war between Moscow and the West has been heating up significantly. As the global misadventures of the Western alliance brings the world to the very brink of a major war, Moscow has been drawing a clear line in the sand, and in doing so firmly defining its geostrategic parameters throughout Eurasia -
Vladimir Putin Takes Stand Against New World Order:

Back to the Future: Cold War rhetoric best-selling:
As a direct result of recent changes in Eurasia's political climate the destructive unipolarity of the past twenty years has gradually begun giving away to a much needed bipolar political reality. Although there was some talk about the resumption of a new cold war between the West and Moscow as early as the mid-2000s, in my opinion, the fledgling bipolarity we finally have in the political world today was physically born in the south Caucasus during the summer of 2008; during a historic time when Moscow finally decided to put an end to the West's "Great Game" in the region by resorting to military force when confronting Tbilisi's aggressive behavior.

Having thus regained its composure within eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, Moscow has now began playing a major role well beyond its borders by actively defending Iran and Syria against Western, Turkish, Gulf Arab and Israeli machinations.
Russia is enabling more-and-more nations around the world today to tell the political West to go to hell -

Assad should tell West to go to hell:
Nevertheless, when Moscow suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly resorted to violence to stop Western encroachment in its vulnerable underbelly in 2008, and the Western world was powerless to do anything about it, this signaled the dawning of a new geopolitical era. This new political era was in essence the great geostrategic significance of that short but decisive war in the south Caucasus. 

Towards the bottom of this page I have posted a paper produced by a Georgian national for the well known American think tank Jamestown Foundation. The work is called "The Impact of the Russia-Georgia War on the South Caucasus Transportation Corridor". It's main topic of concern is the new political realities of the energy transportation corridor of the Caucasus in the aftermath of the Russian-Georgian war. The paper essentially discusses what I have been saying since the summer of 2008: the war between Russia and Georgia changed the geopolitical dynamics of the Caucasus and placed Moscow directly in the driver's seat. This is a crucially important factor for us Armenians to comprehend in our attempt to better understand what is currently occurring in the region.

Thus, from an Armenian perspective, despite what the author of the paper would like us to believe, it can rightly be said that the political climate in the Caucasus today has changed in Armenia's favor. This change is essentially forcing Western powers as well as Turkey and Georgia to sit at the negotiating table with a "blockaded" Yerevan. After years of ignoring and by-passing Armenia with all their regional projects, now they miraculously want to hear what Yerevan has to say about regional matters. Gradually Moscow is preparing its playing field in the south Caucasus, and I am glad to report that Armenia today is a major player in their game.

A spiritual calling

Moscow has a political as well as a spiritual - or should I dare say, an esoteric role - to play in international relations today. I sincerely believe that Russia's existence on earth has a purpose that is both physical and spiritual. Russia, as a nation-state, has a supernatural calling for it is meant to be mankind's last front against a global menace. Russia today is the world's last hope for preserving apostolic Christianity, western civilization and the traditional nation-state. I'd hate to think where the global community would be today had it not been for the political resurgence of Russia during recent years.

I'd hate to think what would have happened to Armenia - a small, poor, fledgling state blockaded by enemies in the south Caucasus - had Russia fully succumbed to Western machinations in the 1990s.

I predicted Moscow's organic role in curbing Western aggression around the world as far back as the early 2000s. This was during a time when Russia still seemed to be suffering from the historic debacle of the 1990s and during a time when Vladimir Putin was still biding his time by quietly operating under the radar. Today, I'm very glad to report that the Russian Federation has officially stepped-up to its historic challenge and is currently the only political entity on earth daring to stand up to the political West. Therefore, yes, Russia is doing God's work.

After about twenty years of unipolarity in the political world we are currently seeing Eurasia gradually being divided up between two major political camps: the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance and their European, Sunni Arab and Turkish friends on one side and the Russian Federation, China, Iran and friends on the opposing side.
This will more-or-less be the geopolitical picture of the world for the foreseeable future, and this is the geopolitical landscape smaller nations such as Serbia, Syria and Armenia will need to navigate in.Major powers are preparing for the possibility of a major conflict in the Middle East. If God forbid such a war commences Yerevan will inevitably be forced to choose sides. When this happens, there will in fact no options available for Yerevan. Armenia will firmly remain within the Russian camp, for that is the only way the nation will be able to survive to coming storm.

In these turbulent and unpredictable times, in these times when agents-of-influence throughout Armenian society have been diligently trying to drive a wedge between Armenia and Moscow, I want to again remind the reader of the almost biblical importance of Yerevan's alliance with Moscow. Similar to the fraternal bond that existed between the Persian empire and Armenian kingdoms of the ancient world, Armenia and Russia today are destined to be locked in a warm embrace. From an esoteric point of view, the West today is the resurrection of ancient Rome and Russia is the resurrection of ancient Persia. 

Roots of Cold War II

The roots of the tension we are currently seeing develop between the Russian Federation and the West actually goes back to the early 1990s. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia's Western "partners" never letup their pressure on Moscow. From a Western political perspective, the Cold War between the West and Moscow had in a strong sense never ended, it had just transitioned into a new, more discrete phase. 

During this post-Soviet phase, the political West went to great lengths to ensure that the newly created Russian state stayed socioeconomically troubled, politically embattled and militarily encircled.  

Coveted because it possessed virtually limitless natural wealth and because of its immense landmass and feared for its great fighting potential, the West did not want to see the revival of a Slavic/Orthodox power on the ashes of the Soviet empire. Therefore, the geostrategic intent of senior policymakers in the West was essentially to contain Russia or break it apart if possible and in doing so exploit its natural wealth.

Preventing the growth of potential competitors is in fact an old formula effectively employed by the West (London in particular) throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries. To ensure their survival as a dominant political force on earth, the British quickly formed alliances against any political entity that was seen to have the potential to grow too powerful in Europe. Historically, it is no secret that London has feared Russia and Germany the most. Therefore, the West and friends managed to defeat the German empire in the early 20th century; they managed to defeat Nazi Germany during the mid-20th century; they managed to outlast the Soviet Union in the late 20th century. 

With a resurgent Russia now making its presence felt on the world stage again, the inheritors of the old British empire (i.e. the Angle-American-Zionist global order based in Washington) has set its eyes on Russia again. 

In short, after the collapse of the Soviet Union all of the West's subsequent actions vis-a'vis Moscow was more-or-less to promote the old British formula of containing potential competitors from rising. Therefore, we should all have seen it coming. 

Similar to what they had already done in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the 1990s and what they would later do in places such as Serbia, Sudan, Libya, Iran and Syria, in an effort to drive Russians out of the strategic Caucasus, Western intelligence services, via their levers in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, began backing Islamic separatist movements throughout much of Russia's southern regions. American and NATO forces also began gradually closing in on Russian borders from western, southern and eastern rims of the Eurasian supercontinent. Moreover, to exploit Russia's natural wealth, financial and political interests in the West were closely collaborating with Russia's artificially created breed of criminal oligarchs. Faced with a catastrophic political transition phase, destructive separatist movements and utter betrayal by their Western "partners", all hapless Russians could do during the early years following the Soviet Union's collapse was to sit back and watch as their great nation slowly fell apart at its seams. 

The birth of a savior

As the Russian Federation reeled from the dire repercussions of this post-Soviet period, Western political interests began exploiting the massive geopolitical vacuum left by the absence of the Kremlin on the global stage. The West managed to exploit the presented opportunity by using various pretexts to establish a powerful military presence throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. This was done throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s. While the West was busy implementing its geostrategic agendas around the world as the new millennium approached, quite suddenly, as if by a miracle, things began to change. The Russian Federation had given birth to a savior.  

Vladimir Putin had been maneuvered into power by patriotic elements surviving within Moscow's security apparatus at the time. Therefore, during the time when Western forces had begun exploiting the historic opportunities provided by the mysterious attacks carried out on September 11, 2001 to further spread their influences throughout the world, the Russian Federation was already being set-up to eventually become its limiting factor on the political stage.Under the very capable leadership of Vladimir Putin, Moscow quickly regained its political composure, reversed its socioeconomic plight and in recent years even began pushing back.

Several major geopolitical successes were registered within Central Asia, Caucasus, and Easter Europe as a direct consequence of Putin's rise to power in Russia. Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and more recently Serbia were all placed back into line. Moreover, Putin's Russia witnessed the flowering of an alliance between Beijing and Moscow, the creation of a new economic/political block known as BRICS and closer relations with nations such as Germany, Poland, Venezuela, Iran and Syria. By the mid-2000s it was clear that under Vladimir Putin's leadership Russia was on the rise once again and the world was noticing.

After almost twenty years of suffering major setbacks Moscow was also able to finally strike back at the West when in several days it effortlessly mutilated Georgia in the summer of 2008. As the angry Russian Bear was rampaging throughout Georgia during the month of August, all that Tbilisi's handlers in the West could do was watch in horror. This was the first major blow Moscow was able to deliver against Western interests at its very doorstep. The short but deadly war that took place between Russia and Georgia in the summer of 2008 may have changed the course of history.

As recent matters pertaining to Syria and Iran have clearly revealed, the political divide between Moscow and Washington today is nearing Soviet period intensity. A quick look at the materials posted below this commentary and previous blog entries will suffice it to highlight this tension. The alarming content of the featured news reports and various analytical assessments clearly reveal that Moscow is feverishly fortifying its Eurasian fortress and, in doing so, it is drawing a clear line in the sand. As I have pointed out during numerous previous occasions, I personally believe that Moscow will do everything in its power to help Syria and Iran survive the Anglo-American-Zionist-Wahabist-Turkish onslaught simply because the Kremlin realizes that Syria is one of the gateways to Iran; Iran is one of the gateways to Central Asia; and Central Asia is one of the gateways to Russia's heartland. It is simply a matter of geostrategic calculations. 

American "exceptionalism" or American hubris?

In recent decades Washington has arrogantly bestowed upon itself a divine calling of sorts. This self-ascribed calling has been described by various prominent Americans as "American exceptionalism". In other words, according to this self-serving mythology conjured-up by Western imperialists, the United States of America should be allowed to rule the world simply because it is... special! This exceptional hubris of a special empire may explain why Washington has felt almost an divine obligation to make and/or break nations in recent years. The following comment by Max Boot (a Russian-born Jew who at one time worked for the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal and is currently a Senior Fellow at the infamous CFR) explicitly explains, albeit in palatable terms, why the arrogant empire is engaged in wars around the world:

"The US military presence abroad has underwritten the expansion of liberty and freedom and free markets over the course of the last 60 years. It is our Army, our Navy, our Air Force, our Marine Corps which defend liberty around the world and prevent conflicts from breaking out. Their most important role is not even to fight wars; it’s to deter adversaries and prevent aggression from occurring. They have kept the peace, in large part, in places like Europe and Asia which have known nothing but war in the past, and they have allowed for the peaceful expansion of those regions, all of which has been very much to America’s benefit. The defense budget is actually very cheap by comparison with what we get for it. We’re spend now well under 5% of our Gross Domestic Product, roughly half of what we were spending during much of the Cold War. And for that, we basically underwrite global security which allows us to be the most prosperous nation in the world and benefit from this international trade of which we are much a major part." - Max Boot
In other words, the bloodletting around the world is all about money (of course, American money), it's all about maintaining a certain lifestyle (naturally, an American lifestyle) and it's about keeping the levers of global power in one hand (obviously, the Anglo-American-Zionist hand). I'd be the first to admit that I have enjoyed the fruits of the empire. However, unlike the zombified masses of this world, I also recognize that the American empire became the prosperous and advanced global power that it is today as a direct result of genocide, slavery, global wars for plunder and the protection its flanking oceans provided it. America's relative geographic isolation, vast territory and abundance of wealth found within it allowed significant numbers of people fleeing from wars around the world to come to America and live the so-called "America dream".

This American dream, however, has caused nightmares for tens-of-millions of people around the world. Ironically, more often than not, those that were
flocking to the United States were people from countries that were devastated by Washington. Nevertheless, as long as the average Joe on Main Street had a day job, a six-pack at nights, sports games to watch on weekends and one or two big boy's toys to play with... the nightmares of others, including that of millions of Americans in the US, did not matter much. As the empire's political/financial elite pursued their global aspirations in recent decades, numerous nations around the world were broken-up and turned into failed-states and tens-of-millions of lives were ruined.

Yes, we can in America watch three thousand mind-numbing channels on our flat-screen television sets; yes, we can in America go to any one of the million malls in the country to purchase relatively affordable high-quality goods made by slave labor overseas; yes, we can in America have access to top-quality produce picked by peasants from anywhere on earth. I may enjoy these material conveniences just as much as anyone else but my humanity, my humility, my ideological convictions and my intellectual integrity will never allow me to either turn a blind eye to or excuse or justify Washington's evil actions around the world. Besides which, as the says goes, the chickens are now coming home to roost. Despite what the corporate owned pundits in the empire want you to believe, America today is in decline and the American dream for tens of millions of Americans in the US is fast turning into an American nightmare.

Nevertheless, instead of plunging the world into major financial crisis just so that the empire's zombified masses can feel complacent and the empire's elite can maintain their power and opulent lifestyles, I would much rather Americans tighten their belts and do without all their material pleasures they have gotten so used to and live in a world where God, country and family were respected once again.

Moreover, those who imply that the world will somehow descend into a dark-age without Washington at its head are
pathological narcissists suffering from delusional fantasies of wealth, power and omnipotence. The absurd fantasy that the world will fall apart without America at the top is a self-serving lie first put forth by senior British policymakers during the mid-20th century. It is no secret that for the past century Britain has been surviving merely due to its closeness to Washington. Britain's political/economic survival today is parasitic in nature. The only thing that would fall apart if America lost its preponderance in the world is the Anglo-American-Zionist global establishment.

Ever since the British quietly handed their empire to the United States during the first half of the 20th century, the following has more-or-less been the geostrategic motto of the Anglo-American-Zionist policymakers - 

Keep America in, Russia out and Germany down

When one gives this formula some serious thought everything that has taken place in the political world during the last century or so will begin making better sense. Nevertheless, unlike Zionist parasites like Max Boot and British officials, I am not blinded by material wealth or a narrow worldview to realize that Washington has become a genuine source of evil around the world in recent decades. Moreover, being a student of history I also realize that sooner-or-later large empires fall, and the larger they are the harder they fall. And due to the peculiar dangers of Western Globalism, this particular empire's eventual fall may cause the demise of many nations around the world. But it has to fall for the greater good. In fact, the American empire's destruction may be the only way to save the United States of America.

What's Washington's problem with Russia?

The United States of America and the Russian empire had very good relations throughout much of the 19th century. The two powers in question complimented each other in the geopolitics of the time. Although American students are not thought this in American schools for obvious reasons, there were in fact times in the 19th century when Saint Petersburg and Washington were closely allied against London. 

This genuine Russo-American alliance effectively came to an end when the British empire and the United States began merging during the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Since this historic merger, one of the Anglo-American-(Zionist) empire's perennial targets has been the Russian state. 

Consequently, by the early 20th century senior policymakers in Washington in tandem with British officials and international Jewry began looking at the Russian empire as something that had to be either contained or destroyed. Bolsheviks were imported into Russia and exploited towards this very purpose. And when National Socialism in Germany rose as a reaction to the rise of Bolshevism in Russia, the Anglo-American-Zionist policy implemented against the Russian empire barely a generation before was used against Germany. Thus, the Anglo-American-Zionist global order came into being as a direct result of the destruction of the Russian empire and the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Nevertheless, by the time of the mid-20th century, anti-Russian sentiments within Western political circles had grown to new heights.
Then the sudden disappearance of the Soviet Union some twenty years ago provided the West with a historic opportunity to become the world's premiere hyper-power.  

Since the Soviet collapse, the Anglo-American-Zionist order has been busy seeking to preserve its place on top of the global food-chain. They simply do not want any new kids on the block to compete with their hegemony.

Comfortably bloated with a century of excess, the prevailing Western-controlled system-of-things in the world can only be maintained if the financial and political elite of the Western world manages to maintain its current status as the Alpha and the Omega of global affairs. Any lesser role for this gluttonous elite will ultimately cause its collapse, and they fully recognize this ominous fact. Being that Russia and China pose the only long-term global threats for them, it is rather easy to see that their main targets will be Moscow and Beijing. But because Beijing is stuck in a symbiotic economic relationship with Washington (which may in fact explain why Washington has encouraged American businesses to open shop in China during the past forty years), the West will place its emphasis on undermining the Russian state instead.

As mentioned above, the Russian Federation has been a target for the West essentially because Moscow stubbornly maintains its political independence and it controls virtually unlimited supplies of natural resources. Of course Russia's powerful nuclear armed military is also a major factor. Moreover, Russia, a Eurasian power stretching from Europe to the Far-East, is also in an ideal position to control global commerce and impact political affairs of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
To the West's dismay, the Russian Federation today may be the only truly independent political entity on earth.

While many in the world today are conditioned to believe that the West is on a noble campaign to curb international terrorism and bring "freedom&democracy" (and of course gay-rights) to the darkest corners of the world, senior officials in the Kremlin naturally realize that the ultimate intention of the Western alliance is to merely establish a foothold in the Eurasian heartland as a geostrategic measure to ensure that no regional power rises to compete with its global hegemony.

Moscow fully realizes that the "Great Game" to control the Eurasian heartland is well underway. Moscow also realizes that the Russian Federation is perhaps the number one long-term target of the Western alliance. But breaking apart Russia, which is in fact what strategic planners in the West would have liked to do, will be virtually impossible. Therefore, for Western policymakers, at the very least, Russia must be contained and/or isolated; and they have been diligently working on this by funding subversive groups throughout Russian society and surrounding it with Western military installations. 

Naturally, however, there will come a time when Moscow will say enough is enough. With territories adjacent to the Russian Federation's southern regions erupting with political unrest and civil wars, that time may have actually arrived. Instead of rolling over and playing dead at the feet of Western/Globalist institutions as most nations have (to a certain degree even Armenia), Moscow is currently preparing for a possible military showdown. Moscow is revamping its nuclear forces and has been significantly increasing its military spending. If the political/financial elite of the West is not somehow made to realize that it has more to lose than to gain by attacking Russian interests around the world, mankind may witness yet another round of a world war. For our children's sake, the political West must be stopped and Moscow may be the only political entity on earth that is capable of stopping them.

But Moscow is still vulnerable 

Russian society may not be as efficient, as refined or as organized as its Western counterparts, but when it comes to making war Russians are second to none. Yet, despite its martial capabilities Russia remains a vulnerable nation. There are two ways with which the West can contain or break-apart the Russian Federation. The West can rendering Russia's nuclear deterrence ineffective through the use of modern anti-missile systems and radars and it can undermine the very fabric of Russia's diverse and at times problematic society through the exploitation of various powerful Western levers. Both approaches are being actively worked on, with priority being given to psy-ops.

They have the tools to chase chaos. They have the tools to inflict trauma on political and civic culture. They have the tools to set the political mood of a society. They have the tools to sow political unrest around the world. They first destroy the spirit through an information war, after which they can easily destroy the body either through economic/financial blackmail or war. Using information and money as tools to weaken their political opposition around the world is essentially what financial aid (or sanctions) or Western financed news organizations (or psy-ops) is all about. Therefore, it can be said that for Western powers the notions of "civil society", "free elections" or “free media” simply means: Society, politics and information controlled by Western interests. This is by no means a theory of mine. More and more people around the world are beginning to talk about this serious problem.

Russia is vulnerable, not only from an external threat but also from an internal threat. Moreover, although resurgent, Russia's military apparatus today is a mere shadow of what it used to be during the Soviet period. The Russian military is going through a difficult transition period. Large segments of its armed forces continue to be equipped with outdated Soviet era weapons systems. Moreover, sociopolitically, Russia is still recovering from the chaos of the 1990s. Russia today remains very vulnerable. As a result, Moscow is placing emphasis on its nuclear deterrence; as NATO did during the height of Soviet power. As NATO-led forces and Western-instigated conflicts get closer to Russian borders, the threat of a nuclear catastrophe will become very real. The following is a previous blog entry that discusses this topic at length - 
U.S. missile defense in Europe 'real threat' to Russia - June, 2011:
Moreover, seeing Washington's aggression against nonaligned, resource rich and vulnerable nations around the world, various governments have begun developing nuclear programs of their own. Thus, what we have today is a new global nuclear arms race; and one that is in certain ways more perilous than the one that existed during the Cold War; and we can all thank the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance and friends for bringing us to this point. Nevertheless, Moscow continues to flex its muscle hoping to make Washington think twice before it makes any new moves -
Russia warns of pre-emptive strike on AMD if NATO goes ahead:
Medvedev Goes Ballistic: Russian missiles in West's backyard? 

US to continue surrounding Russia & China claiming it's for Iran:

Disregard the verbal gymnastics and political spin you are exposed to by the controlled news press in the West. The anti-missile "defense" shield is in fact an OFFENSIVE system primarily meant to target Russian missiles, not Iranian. The Western alliances has more than enough anti-missile capabilities stationed around Iran to contain absolutely any missile threat Tehran could ever muster for the foreseeable future. The Western alliance is seeking to surround the Russian Federation with military bases and missile systems to contain Russia and annul Moscow's nuclear deterrence.

The great Czar is back and not a moment too soon

Vladimir Putin has been the embodiment of Russian nationalism and political reawakening during the past twelve years. In recent years, more-and-more nations around the world have come to see Vladimir Putin's Russia as the last front against the Anglo-American-Zionist global order. In fact, Russia's role in global politics goes quite beyond merely standing up to the aforementioned global order. The Russian Federation today is the last front against American imperialism, NATO expansionism, Globalism, Islamic fundamentalism, Zionism and pan-Turkism. Russia may be the last hope for preserving western civilization, apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state.

Therefore, is is quite natural at the political West fear's Russia and seeks to either break it apart of contain it. And it is also quite natural that the West would despise Putin and diligently work towards ousting him. Putin had barely announced his desire to return to the Russian presidency when Western news agencies began their vicious assaults against him. Forget all the nonsense about "reset", what we are going to see is Cold War II at least for the rest of this decade. Putin's second presidency promises to be an eventful one. He is coming into office more-or-less pissed-off and with a long "to do" list.
He has unfinished business to take care of. One of them is of course Saakashvili, who's time in office may be running out. One of the other unfinished businesses may in fact be the creation of an Eurasian Union economic pact and an alternative trade currency for Eurasia. Putin briefly mentioned this during a recent visit to China -
Putin: US feeding off global dollar monopoly (RT report):
One of the more interesting geopolitical consequences of the post-Soviet world has been the development of closer relations between Russia and China. There is today a Sino-Russian alliance. Once enemies, the two Eurasian powers have come together in their effort to protect themselves from the serious threat emanating from the West. 

Many years ago I came to the realization that the immense power the political West possesses has actually little to do with its military capabilities, which are in fact overly-reliant on electronic gadgetry. Militarily speaking, the West is in fact a paper-tiger. The West's immense power lies in the financial and cultural levers it controls around the world. In fact, real political power travels on the coattails of cultural influence. If we want to speak their language, sing their songs, watch their filsm, purchase their products and live in their lands, they have power over us. In a certain sense, the West's power over humanity comes from how the global sheeple perceive the world; and the West has shaped that very perception: Hollywood; American POP culture; Western news media; US Dollar; National Endowment of Democracy; Wall Street; Amnesty International; IMF; USAID. Deprive the West of these types of strategic levers and watch it go by the way of the Soviet Union. I do however realize that this is much easier said that done.

Nevertheless, until the day comes when the West's "humanitarian" and "democratic" facade crumbles and its tentacles around the world are pulled back, Moscow will be fortifying its Eurasian fortress against Western advances.

We are currently seeing increased funding for weapons research, more frequent training exercises for the Russian military and faster weapons procurement. We are indeed living in troubling times.
Some say were are in the preliminary stages of a world war, others say it has already commenced and that we are simply in its initial phase. What is clear, however, is that virtually the entire southern rim of the Eurasian continent is in danger today of descending into bloody chaos. If things continue to digress at this rate, a third world war is very possible. Vladimir Putin has returned to power at one of the most crucial periods in human history. I think we Armenians should all be thankful that at this troubling juncture in world history Armenia again has an ally like the Russian Federation to rely on.

The following are a sampling of news reports and geopolitical assessments that brings into light the heightened tensions between Moscow and the political West. Some of the materials featured on this page first saw light several years ago. Some of materials in question are written by independent analysts such as Steven Cohen, some are produced by Russian sources and some are disseminated by Western presstitutes.
However, regardless of the political persuasion of the authors and publishers, all of the materials provided on this page give credence to the claim that the unipolar world of the past two decades is gradually giving way to a multi-polar reality in global politics and that we are in fact in the midst of a Cold War II.

May, 2012

Escobar: Al-Qaeda bogeyman gone, US bent on bugging China:

China, Russia launch first joint naval exercises in Yellow Sea:

'Euro-dollar failing, BRICS seek more say in IMF':

Russian army practices a Caspian oil war (Center 2011/Центр 2011):

Fareed Zakaria: Russia, Putin, Oligarchs, KGB:

Fareed Zakaria: Russia, Putin, Oligarchs, KGB:

NATO is main obstacle in US-Russia relations:

Stephen Cohen on Russia (the segment on Russia begins at 30:45):
Dmitry Medvedev speech on Nov. 23rd 2011:
Wall St. Warmongers: US hawks howl at phantom menace:
Russian army practices a Caspian oil war:

War and Globalization (Michael Chossudovsky's speech):
Putin Takes Stand Against New World Order:

US will start WW3 by attacking Iran:

Arab Spring a western ploy to control Eurasia:

'West gunning for Putin as Syria face-off unfolds':

'No question of US backing for Russian opposition':

MidEast strategy: political chess, not American football:
The New American Cold War


Contrary to established opinion, the gravest threats to America's national security are still in Russia. They derive from an unprecedented development that most US policy-makers have recklessly disregarded, as evidenced by the undeclared cold war Washington has waged, under both parties, against post-Communist Russia during the past fifteen years. As a result of the Soviet breakup in 1991, Russia, a state bearing every nuclear and other device of mass destruction, virtually collapsed. During the 1990s its essential infrastructures--political, economic and social--disintegrated. Moscow's hold on its vast territories was weakened by separatism, official corruption and Mafia-like crime. The worst peacetime depression in modern history brought economic losses more than twice those suffered in World War II. GDP plummeted by nearly half and capital investment by 80 percent. Most Russians were thrown into poverty. Death rates soared and the population shrank. And in August 1998, the financial system imploded.

No one in authority anywhere had ever foreseen that one of the twentieth century's two superpowers would plunge, along with its arsenals of destruction, into such catastrophic circumstances. Even today, we cannot be sure what Russia's collapse might mean for the rest of the world. Outwardly, the nation may now seem to have recovered. Its economy has grown on average by 6 to 7 percent annually since 1999, its stock-market index increased last year by 83 percent and its gold and foreign currency reserves are the world's fifth largest. Moscow is booming with new construction, frenzied consumption of Western luxury goods and fifty-six large casinos. Some of this wealth has trickled down to the provinces and middle and lower classes, whose income has been rising. But these advances, loudly touted by the Russian government and Western investment-fund promoters, are due largely to high world prices for the country's oil and gas and stand out only in comparison with the wasteland of 1998.

More fundamental realities indicate that Russia remains in an unprecedented state of peacetime demodernization and depopulation. Investment in the economy and other basic infrastructures remains barely a third of the 1990 level. Some two-thirds of Russians still live below or very near the poverty line, including 80 percent of families with two or more children, 60 percent of rural citizens and large segments of the educated and professional classes, among them teachers, doctors and military officers. The gap between the poor and the rich, Russian experts tell us, is becoming "explosive." Most tragic and telling, the nation continues to suffer wartime death and birth rates, its population declining by 700,000 or more every year. Male life expectancy is barely 59 years and, at the other end of the life cycle, 2 to 3 million children are homeless. Old and new diseases, from tuberculosis to HIV infections, have grown into epidemics. Nationalists may exaggerate in charging that "the Motherland is dying," but even the head of Moscow's most pro-Western university warns that Russia remains in "extremely deep crisis."

The stability of the political regime atop this bleak post-Soviet landscape rests heavily, if not entirely, on the personal popularity and authority of one man, President Vladimir Putin, who admits the state "is not yet completely stable." While Putin's ratings are an extraordinary 70 to 75 percent positive, political institutions and would-be leaders below him have almost no public support. The top business and administrative elites, having rapaciously "privatized" the Soviet state's richest assets in the 1990s, are particularly despised. Indeed, their possession of that property, because it lacks popular legitimacy, remains a time bomb embedded in the political and economic system. The huge military is equally unstable, its ranks torn by a lack of funds, abuses of authority and discontent. No wonder serious analysts worry that one or more sudden developments--a sharp fall in world oil prices, more major episodes of ethnic violence or terrorism, or Putin's disappearance--might plunge Russia into an even worse crisis. Pointing to the disorder spreading from Chechnya through the country's southern rim, for example, the eminent scholar Peter Reddaway even asks "whether Russia is stable enough to hold together."

As long as catastrophic possibilities exist in that nation, so do the unprecedented threats to US and international security. Experts differ as to which danger is the gravest--proliferation of Russia's enormous stockpile of nuclear, chemical and biological materials; ill-maintained nuclear reactors on land and on decommissioned submarines; an impaired early-warning system controlling missiles on hair-trigger alert; or the first-ever civil war in a shattered superpower, the terror-ridden Chechen conflict. But no one should doubt that together they constitute a much greater constant threat than any the United States faced during the Soviet era. Nor is a catastrophe involving weapons of mass destruction the only danger in what remains the world's largest territorial country. Nearly a quarter of the planet's people live on Russia's borders, among them conflicting ethnic and religious groups. Any instability in Russia could easily spread to a crucial and exceedingly volatile part of the world.

There is another, perhaps more likely, possibility. Petrodollars may bring Russia long-term stability, but on the basis of growing authoritarianism and xenophobic nationalism. Those ominous factors derive primarily not from Russia's lost superpower status (or Putin's KGB background), as the US press regularly misinforms readers, but from so many lost and damaged lives at home since 1991. Often called the "Weimar scenario," this outcome probably would not be truly fascist, but it would be a Russia possessing weapons of mass destruction and large proportions of the world's oil and natural gas, even more hostile to the West than was its Soviet predecessor. How has the US government responded to these unprecedented perils? It doesn't require a degree in international relations or media punditry to understand that the first principle of policy toward post-Communist Russia must follow the Hippocratic injunction: Do no harm! Do nothing to undermine its fragile stability, nothing to dissuade the Kremlin from giving first priority to repairing the nation's crumbling infrastructures, nothing to cause it to rely more heavily on its stockpiles of superpower weapons instead of reducing them, nothing to make Moscow uncooperative with the West in those joint pursuits. Everything else in that savaged country is of far less consequence.

Since the early 1990s Washington has simultaneously conducted, under Democrats and Republicans, two fundamentally different policies toward post-Soviet Russia--one decorative and outwardly reassuring, the other real and exceedingly reckless. The decorative policy, which has been taken at face value in the United States, at least until recently, professes to have replaced America's previous cold war intentions with a generous relationship of "strategic partnership and friendship." The public image of this approach has featured happy-talk meetings between American and Russian presidents, first "Bill and Boris" (Clinton and Yeltsin), then "George and Vladimir." The real US policy has been very different--a relentless, winner-take-all exploitation of Russia's post-1991 weakness. Accompanied by broken American promises, condescending lectures and demands for unilateral concessions, it has been even more aggressive and uncompromising than was Washington's approach to Soviet Communist Russia. Consider its defining elements as they have unfolded--with fulsome support in both American political parties, influential newspapers and policy think tanks--since the early 1990s:

A growing military encirclement of Russia, on and near its borders, by US and NATO bases, which are already ensconced or being planned in at least half the fourteen other former Soviet republics, from the Baltics and Ukraine to Georgia, Azerbaijan and the new states of Central Asia. The result is a US-built reverse iron curtain and the remilitarization of American-Russian relations.

A tacit (and closely related) US denial that Russia has any legitimate national interests outside its own territory, even in ethnically akin or contiguous former republics such as Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia. How else to explain, to take a bellwether example, the thinking of Richard Holbrooke, Democratic would-be Secretary of State? While roundly condemning the Kremlin for promoting a pro-Moscow government in neighboring Ukraine, where Russia has centuries of shared linguistic, marital, religious, economic and security ties, Holbrooke declares that far-away Slav nation part of "our core zone of security."

Even more, a presumption that Russia does not have full sovereignty within its own borders, as expressed by constant US interventions in Moscow's internal affairs since 1992. They have included an on-site crusade by swarms of American "advisers," particularly during the 1990s, to direct Russia's "transition" from Communism; endless missionary sermons from afar, often couched in threats, on how that nation should and should not organize its political and economic systems; and active support for Russian anti-Kremlin groups, some associated with hated Yeltsin-era oligarchs. That interventionary impulse has now grown even into suggestions that Putin be overthrown by the kind of US-backed "color revolutions" carried out since 2003 in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, and attempted this year in Belarus. Thus, while mainstream editorial pages increasingly call the Russian president "thug," "fascist" and "Saddam Hussein," one of the Carnegie Endowment's several Washington crusaders assures us of "Putin's weakness" and vulnerability to "regime change." (Do proponents of "democratic regime change" in Russia care that it might mean destabilizing a nuclear state?)

Underpinning these components of the real US policy are familiar cold war double standards condemning Moscow for doing what Washington does--such as seeking allies and military bases in former Soviet republics, using its assets (oil and gas in Russia's case) as aid to friendly governments and regulating foreign money in its political life. More broadly, when NATO expands to Russia's front and back doorsteps, gobbling up former Soviet-bloc members and republics, it is "fighting terrorism" and "protecting new states"; when Moscow protests, it is engaging in "cold war thinking." When Washington meddles in the politics of Georgia and Ukraine, it is "promoting democracy"; when the Kremlin does so, it is "neoimperialism." And not to forget the historical background: When in the 1990s the US-supported Yeltsin overthrew Russia's elected Parliament and Constitutional Court by force, gave its national wealth and television networks to Kremlin insiders, imposed a constitution without real constraints on executive power and rigged elections, it was "democratic reform"; when Putin continues that process, it is "authoritarianism."

Finally, the United States is attempting, by exploiting Russia's weakness, to acquire the nuclear superiority it could not achieve during the Soviet era. That is the essential meaning of two major steps taken by the Bush Administration in 2002, both against Moscow's strong wishes. One was the Administration's unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, freeing it to try to create a system capable of destroying incoming missiles and thereby the capacity to launch a nuclear first strike without fear of retaliation. The other was pressuring the Kremlin to sign an ultimately empty nuclear weapons reduction agreement requiring no actual destruction of weapons and indeed allowing development of new ones; providing for no verification; and permitting unilateral withdrawal before the specified reductions are required.

The extraordinarily anti-Russian nature of these policies casts serious doubt on two American official and media axioms: that the recent "chill" in US-Russian relations has been caused by Putin's behavior at home and abroad, and that the cold war ended fifteen years ago. The first axiom is false, the second only half true: The cold war ended in Moscow, but not in Washington, as is clear from a brief look back. The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, came to power in 1985 with heretical "New Thinking" that proposed not merely to ease but to actually abolish the decades-long cold war. His proposals triggered a fateful struggle in Washington (and Moscow) between policy-makers who wanted to seize the historic opportunity and those who did not. President Ronald Reagan decided to meet Gorbachev at least part of the way, as did his successor, the first President George Bush. As a result, in December 1989, at a historic summit meeting at Malta, Gorbachev and Bush declared the cold war over. (That extraordinary agreement evidently has been forgotten; thus we have the New York Times recently asserting that the US-Russian relationship today "is far better than it was 15 years ago.")

Declarations alone, however, could not terminate decades of warfare attitudes. Even when Bush was agreeing to end the cold war in 1989-91, many of his top advisers, like many members of the US political elite and media, strongly resisted. (I witnessed that rift on the eve of Malta, when I was asked to debate the issue in front of Bush and his divided foreign policy team.) Proof came with the Soviet breakup in December 1991: US officials and the media immediately presented the purported "end of the cold war" not as a mutual Soviet-American decision, which it certainly was, but as a great American victory and Russian defeat. That (now standard) triumphalist narrative is the primary reason the cold war was quickly revived--not in Moscow a decade later by Putin but in Washington in the early 1990s, when the Clinton Administration made two epically unwise decisions. One was to treat post-Communist Russia as a defeated nation that was expected to replicate America's domestic practices and bow to its foreign policies. It required, behind the facade of the Clinton-Yeltsin "partnership and friendship" (as Clinton's top "Russia hand," Strobe Talbott, later confirmed), telling Yeltsin "here's some more shit for your face" and Moscow's "submissiveness." From that triumphalism grew the still-ongoing interventions in Moscow's internal affairs and the abiding notion that Russia has no autonomous rights at home or abroad.

Clinton's other unwise decision was to break the Bush Administration's promise to Soviet Russia in 1990-91 not to expand NATO "one inch to the east" and instead begin its expansion to Russia's borders. From that profound act of bad faith, followed by others, came the dangerously provocative military encirclement of Russia and growing Russian suspicions of US intentions. Thus, while American journalists and even scholars insist that "the cold war has indeed vanished" and that concerns about a new one are "silly," Russians across the political spectrum now believe that in Washington "the cold war did not end" and, still more, that "the US is imposing a new cold war on Russia."

That ominous view is being greatly exacerbated by Washington's ever-growing "anti-Russian fatwa," as a former Reagan appointee terms it. This year it includes a torrent of official and media statements denouncing Russia's domestic and foreign policies, vowing to bring more of its neighbors into NATO and urging Bush to boycott the G-8 summit to be chaired by Putin in St. Petersburg in July; a call by would-be Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain for "very harsh" measures against Moscow; Congress's pointed refusal to repeal a Soviet-era restriction on trade with Russia; the Pentagon's revival of old rumors that Russian intelligence gave Saddam Hussein information endangering US troops; and comments by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, echoing the regime-changers, urging Russians, "if necessary, to change their government."

For its part, the White House deleted from its 2006 National Security Strategy the long-professed US-Russian partnership, backtracked on agreements to help Moscow join the World Trade Organization and adopted sanctions against Belarus, the Slav former republic most culturally akin to Russia and with whom the Kremlin is negotiating a new union state. Most significant, in May it dispatched Vice President Cheney to an anti-Russian conference in former Soviet Lithuania, now a NATO member, to denounce the Kremlin and make clear it is not "a strategic partner and a trusted friend," thereby ending fifteen years of official pretense.

More astonishing is a Council on Foreign Relations "task force report" on Russia, co-chaired by Democratic presidential aspirant John Edwards, issued in March. The "nonpartisan" council's reputed moderation and balance are nowhere in evidence. An unrelenting exercise in double standards, the report blames all the "disappointments" in US-Russian relations solely on "Russia's wrong direction" under Putin--from meddling in the former Soviet republics and backing Iran to conflicts over NATO, energy politics and the "rollback of Russian democracy."

Strongly implying that Bush has been too soft on Putin, the council report flatly rejects partnership with Moscow as "not a realistic prospect." It calls instead for "selective cooperation" and "selective opposition," depending on which suits US interests, and, in effect, Soviet-era containment. Urging more Western intervention in Moscow's political affairs, the report even reserves for Washington the right to reject Russia's future elections and leaders as "illegitimate." An article in the council's influential journal Foreign Affairs menacingly adds that the United States is quickly "attaining nuclear primacy" and the ability "to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike."

Every consequence of this bipartisan American cold war against post-Communist Russia has exacerbated the dangers inherent in the Soviet breakup mentioned above. The crusade to transform Russia during the 1990s, with its disastrous "shock therapy" economic measures and resulting antidemocratic acts, further destabilized the country, fostering an oligarchical system that plundered the state's wealth, deprived essential infrastructures of investment, impoverished the people and nurtured dangerous corruption. In the process, it discredited Western-style reform, generated mass anti-Americanism where there had been almost none--only 5 percent of Russians surveyed in May thought the United States was a "friend"--and eviscerated the once-influential pro-American faction in Kremlin and electoral politics.

Military encirclement, the Bush Administration's striving for nuclear supremacy and today's renewed US intrusions into Russian politics are having even worse consequences. They have provoked the Kremlin into undertaking its own conventional and nuclear buildup, relying more rather than less on compromised mechanisms of control and maintenance, while continuing to invest miserly sums in the country's decaying economic base and human resources. The same American policies have also caused Moscow to cooperate less rather than more in existing US-funded programs to reduce the multiple risks represented by Russia's materials of mass destruction and to prevent accidental nuclear war. More generally, they have inspired a new Kremlin ideology of "emphasizing our sovereignty" that is increasingly nationalistic, intolerant of foreign-funded NGOs as "fifth columns" and reliant on anti-Western views of the "patriotic" Russian intelligentsia and the Orthodox Church.

Moscow's responses abroad have also been the opposite of what Washington policy-makers should want. Interpreting US-backed "color revolutions" as a quest for military outposts on Russia's borders, the Kremlin now opposes pro-democracy movements in former Soviet republics more than ever, while supporting the most authoritarian regimes in the region, from Belarus to Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, Moscow is forming a political, economic and military "strategic partnership" with China, lending support to Iran and other anti-American governments in the Middle East and already putting surface-to-air missiles back in Belarus, in effect Russia's western border with NATO.

If American policy and Russia's predictable countermeasures continue to develop into a full-scale cold war, several new factors could make it even more dangerous than was its predecessor. Above all, the growing presence of Western bases and US-backed governments in the former Soviet republics has moved the "front lines" of the conflict, in the alarmed words of a Moscow newspaper, from Germany to Russia's "near abroad." As a "hostile ring tightens around the Motherland," in the view of former Prime Minister Evgeny Primakov, many different Russians see a mortal threat. Putin's chief political deputy, Vladislav Surkov, for example, sees the " the gates," and the novelist and Soviet-era dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn sees the "complete encirclement of Russia and then the loss of its sovereignty." The risks of direct military conflict could therefore be greater than ever. Protesting overflights by NATO aircraft, a Russian general has already warned, "If they violate our borders, they should be shot down."

Worsening the geopolitical factor are radically different American and Russian self-perceptions. By the mid-1960s the US-Soviet cold war relationship had acquired a significant degree of stability because the two superpowers, perceiving a stalemate, began to settle for political and military "parity." Today, however, the United States, the self-proclaimed "only superpower," has a far more expansive view of its international entitlements and possibilities. Moscow, on the other hand, feels weaker and more vulnerable than it did before 1991. And in that asymmetry lies the potential for a less predictable cold war relationship between the two still fully armed nuclear states.

There is also a new psychological factor. Because the unfolding cold war is undeclared, it is already laden with feelings of betrayal and mistrust on both sides. Having welcomed Putin as Yeltsin's chosen successor and offered him its conception of "partnership and friendship," Washington now feels deceived by Putin's policies. According to two characteristic commentaries in the Washington Post, Bush had a "well-intentioned Russian policy," but "a Russian autocrat...betrayed the American's faith." Putin's Kremlin, however, has been reacting largely to a decade of broken US promises and Yeltsin's boozy compliance. Thus Putin's declaration four years ago, paraphrased on Russian radio: "The era of Russian geopolitical concessions [is] coming to an end." (Looking back, he remarked bitterly that Russia has been "constantly deceived.")

Still worse, the emerging cold war lacks the substantive negotiations and cooperation, known as détente, that constrained the previous one. Behind the lingering facade, a well-informed Russian tells us, "dialogue is almost nonexistent." It is especially true in regard to nuclear weapons. The Bush Administration's abandonment of the ABM treaty and real reductions, its decision to build an antimissile shield, and talk of pre-emptive war and nuclear strikes have all but abolished long-established US-Soviet agreements that have kept the nuclear peace for nearly fifty years. Indeed, according to a report, Bush's National Security Council is contemptuous of arms control as "baggage from the cold war." In short, as dangers posed by nuclear weapons have grown and a new arms race unfolds, efforts to curtail or even discuss them have ended.

Finally, anti-cold war forces that once played an important role in the United States no longer exist. Cold war lobbies, old and new ones, therefore operate virtually unopposed, some of them funded by anti-Kremlin Russian oligarchs in exile. At high political levels, the new American cold war has been, and remains, fully bipartisan, from Clinton to Bush, Madeleine Albright to Rice, Edwards to McCain. At lower levels, once robust pro-détente public groups, particularly anti-arms-race movements, have been largely demobilized by official, media and academic myths that "the cold war is over" and we have been "liberated" from nuclear and other dangers in Russia.

Also absent (or silent) are the kinds of American scholars who protested cold war excesses in the past. Meanwhile, a legion of new intellectual cold warriors has emerged, particularly in Washington, media favorites whose crusading anti-Putin zeal goes largely unchallenged. (Typically, one inveterate missionary constantly charges Moscow with "not delivering" on US interests, while another now calls for a surreal crusade, "backed by international donors," to correct young Russians' thinking about Stalin.) There are a few notable exceptions--also bipartisan, from former Reaganites to Nation contributors--but "anathematizing Russia," as Gorbachev recently put it, is so consensual that even an outspoken critic of US policy inexplicably ends an article, "Of course, Russia has been largely to blame."

Making these political factors worse has been the "pluralist" US mainstream media. In the past, opinion page editors and television producers regularly solicited voices to challenge cold war zealots, but today such dissenters, and thus the vigorous public debate of the past, are almost entirely missing. Instead, influential editorial pages are dominated by resurgent cold war orthodoxies, led by the Post, whose incessant demonization of Putin's "autocracy" and "crude neoimperialism" reads like a bygone Pravda on the Potomac. On the conservative New York Sun's front page, US-Russian relations today are presented as "a duel to the death--perhaps literally."

The Kremlin's strong preference "not to return to the cold war era," as Putin stated May 13 in response to Cheney's inflammatory charges, has been mainly responsible for preventing such fantasies from becoming reality. "Someone is still fighting the cold war," a British academic recently wrote, "but it isn't Russia." A fateful struggle over this issue, however, is now under way in Moscow, with the "pro-Western" Putin resisting demands for a "more hard line" course and, closely related, favoring larger FDR-style investments in the people (and the country's stability). Unless US policy, which is abetting the hard-liners in that struggle, changes fundamentally, the symbiotic axis between American and Russian cold warriors that drove the last conflict will re-emerge. If so, the Kremlin, whether under Putin or a successor, will fight the new one--with all the unprecedented dangers that would entail.

Given different principles and determined leadership, it is still not too late for a new US policy toward post-Soviet Russia. Its components would include full cooperation in securing Moscow's materials of mass destruction; radically reducing nuclear weapons on both sides while banning the development of new ones and taking all warheads off hair-trigger alert; dissuading other states from acquiring those weapons; countering terrorist activities and drug-trafficking near Russia; and augmenting energy supplies to the West.

None of those programs are possible without abandoning the warped priorities and fallacies that have shaped US policy since 1991. National security requires identifying and pursuing essential priorities, but US policy-makers have done neither consistently. The only truly vital American interest in Russia today is preventing its stockpiles of mass destruction from endangering the world, whether through Russia's destabilization or hostility to the West.

All of the dangerous fallacies underlying US policy are expressions of unbridled triumphalism. The decision to treat post-Soviet Russia as a vanquished nation, analogous to postwar Germany and Japan (but without the funding), squandered a historic opportunity for a real partnership and established the bipartisan premise that Moscow's "direction" at home and abroad should be determined by the United States. Applied to a country with Russia's size and long history as a world power, and that had not been militarily defeated, the premise was inherently self-defeating and certain to provoke a resentful backlash.

That folly produced two others. One was the assumption that the United States had the right, wisdom and power to remake post-Communist Russia into a political and economic replica of America. A conceit as vast as its ignorance of Russia's historical traditions and contemporary realities, it led to the counterproductive crusade of the 1990s, which continues in various ways today. The other was the presumption that Russia should be America's junior partner in foreign policy with no interests except those of the United States. By disregarding Russia's history, different geopolitical realities and vital interests, this presumption has also been senseless.

As a Eurasian state with 20-25 million Muslim citizens of its own and with Iran one of its few neighbors not being recruited by NATO, for example, Russia can ill afford to be drawn into Washington's expanding conflict with the Islamic world, whether in Iran or Iraq. Similarly, by demanding that Moscow vacate its traditional political and military positions in former Soviet republics so the United States and NATO can occupy them--and even subsidize Ukraine's defection with cheap gas--Washington is saying that Russia not only has no Monroe Doctrine-like rights in its own neighborhood but no legitimate security rights at all. Not surprisingly, such flagrant double standards have convinced the Kremlin that Washington has become more belligerent since Yeltsin's departure simply "because Russian policy has become more pro-Russian."

Nor was American triumphalism a fleeting reaction to 1991. A decade later, the tragedy of September 11 gave Washington a second chance for a real partnership with Russia. At a meeting on June 16, 2001, President Bush sensed in Putin's "soul" a partner for America. And so it seemed after September 11, when Putin's Kremlin did more than any NATO government to assist the US war effort in Afghanistan, giving it valuable intelligence, a Moscow-trained Afghan combat force and easy access to crucial air bases in former Soviet Central Asia.

The Kremlin understandably believed that in return Washington would give it an equitable relationship. Instead, it got US withdrawal from the ABM treaty, Washington's claim to permanent bases in Central Asia (as well as Georgia) and independent access to Caspian oil and gas, a second round of NATO expansion taking in several former Soviet republics and bloc members, and a still-growing indictment of its domestic and foreign conduct. Astonishingly, not even September 11 was enough to end Washington's winner-take-all principles.

Why have Democratic and Republican administrations believed they could act in such relentlessly anti-Russian ways without endangering US national security? The answer is another fallacy--the belief that Russia, diminished and weakened by its loss of the Soviet Union, had no choice but to bend to America's will. Even apart from the continued presence of Soviet-era weapons in Russia, it was a grave misconception. Because of its extraordinary material and human attributes, Russia, as its intellectuals say, has always been"destined to be a great power." This was still true after 1991.

Even before world energy prices refilled its coffers, the Kremlin had ready alternatives to the humiliating role scripted by Washington. Above all, Russia could forge strategic alliances with eager anti-US and non-NATO governments in the East and elsewhere, becoming an arsenal of conventional weapons and nuclear knowledge for states from China and India to Iran and Venezuela. Moscow has already begun that turning away from the West, and it could move much further in that direction.

Still more, even today's diminished Russia can fight, perhaps win, a cold war on its new front lines across the vast former Soviet territories. It has the advantages of geographic proximity, essential markets, energy pipelines and corporate ownership, along with kinship and language and common experiences. They give Moscow an array of soft and hard power to use, if it chooses, against neighboring governments considering a new patron in faraway Washington.

Economically, the Kremlin could cripple nearly destitute Georgia and Moldova by banning their products and otherwise unemployed migrant workers from Russia and by charging Georgia and Ukraine full "free-market" prices for essential energy. Politically, Moscow could truncate tiny Georgia and Moldova, and big Ukraine, by welcoming their large, pro-Russian territories into the Russian Federation or supporting their demands for independent statehood (as the West has been doing for Kosovo and Montenegro in Serbia). Militarily, Moscow could take further steps toward turning the Shanghai Cooperation Organization--now composed of Russia, China and four Central Asian states, with Iran and India possible members--into an anti-NATO defensive alliance, an "OPEC with nuclear weapons," a Western analyst warned.

That is not all. In the US-Russian struggle in Central Asia over Caspian oil and gas, Washington, as even the triumphalist Thomas Friedman admits, "is at a severe disadvantage." The United States has already lost its military base in Uzbekistan and may soon lose the only remaining one in the region, in Kyrgyzstan; the new pipeline it backed to bypass Russia runs through Georgia, whose stability depends considerably on Moscow; Washington's new friend in oil-rich Azerbaijan is an anachronistic dynastic ruler; and Kazakhstan, whose enormous energy reserves make it a particular US target, has its own large Russian population and is moving back toward Moscow.

Nor is the Kremlin powerless in direct dealings with the West. It can mount more than enough warheads to defeat any missile shield and illusion of "nuclear primacy." It can shut US businesses out of multibillion-dollar deals in Russia and, as it recently reminded the European Union, which gets 25 percent of its gas from Russia, "redirect supplies" to hungry markets in the East. And Moscow could deploy its resources, connections and UN Security Council veto against US interests involving, for instance, nuclear proliferation, Iran, Afghanistan and possibly even Iraq.

Contrary to exaggerated US accusations, the Kremlin has not yet resorted to such retaliatory measures in any significant way. But unless Washington stops abasing and encroaching on Russia, there is no "sovereign" reason why it should not do so. Certainly, nothing Moscow has gotten from Washington since 1992, a Western security specialist emphasizes, "compensates for the geopolitical harm the United States is doing to Russia."

American crusaders insist it is worth the risk in order to democratize Russia and other former Soviet republics. In reality, their campaigns since 1992 have only discredited that cause in Russia. Praising the despised Yeltsin and endorsing other unpopular figures as Russia's "democrats," while denouncing the popular Putin, has associated democracy with the social pain, chaos and humiliation of the 1990s. Ostracizing Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko while embracing tyrants in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan has related it to the thirst for oil. Linking "democratic revolutions" in Ukraine and Georgia to NATO membership has equated them with US expansionism. Focusing on the victimization of billionaire Mikhail Khodorkhovsky and not on Russian poverty or ongoing mass protests against social injustices has suggested democracy is only for oligarchs. And by insisting on their indispensable role, US crusaders have all but said (wrongly) that Russians are incapable of democracy or resisting abuses of power on their own.

The result is dark Russian suspicions of American intentions ignored by US policy-makers and media alike. They include the belief that Washington's real purpose is to take control of the country's energy resources and nuclear weapons and use encircling NATO satellite states to "de-sovereignize" Russia, turning it into a "vassal of the West." More generally, US policy has fostered the belief that the American cold war was never really aimed at Soviet Communism but always at Russia, a suspicion given credence by Post and Times columnists who characterize Russia even after Communism as an inherently "autocratic state" with "brutish instincts."

To overcome those towering obstacles to a new relationship, Washington has to abandon the triumphalist conceits primarily responsible for the revived cold war and its growing dangers. It means respecting Russia's sovereign right to determine its course at home (including disposal of its energy resources). As the record plainly shows, interfering in Moscow's internal affairs, whether on-site or from afar, only harms the chances for political liberties and economic prosperity that still exist in that tormented nation.

It also means acknowledging Russia's legitimate security interests, especially in its own "near abroad." In particular, the planned third expansion of NATO, intended to include Ukraine, must not take place. Extending NATO to Russia's doorsteps has already brought relations near the breaking point (without actually benefiting any nation's security); absorbing Ukraine, which Moscow regards as essential to its Slavic identity and its military defense, may be the point of no return, as even pro-US Russians anxiously warn. Nor would it be democratic, since nearly two-thirds of Ukrainians are opposed. The explosive possibilities were adumbrated in late May and early June when local citizens in ethnic Russian Crimea blockaded a port and roads where a US naval ship and contingent of Marines suddenly appeared, provoking resolutions declaring the region "anti-NATO territory" and threats of "a new Vietnam."

Time for a new US policy is running out, but there is no hint of one in official or unofficial circles. Denouncing the Kremlin in May, Cheney spoke "like a triumphant cold warrior," a Times correspondent reported. A top State Department official has already announced the "next great mission" in and around Russia. In the same unreconstructed spirit, Rice has demanded Russians "recognize that we have legitimate their neighborhood," without a word about Moscow's interests; and a former Clinton official has held the Kremlin "accountable for the ominous security threats...developing between NATO's eastern border and Russia." Meanwhile, the Bush Administration is playing Russian roulette with Moscow's control of its nuclear weapons. Its missile shield project having already provoked a destabilizing Russian buildup, the Administration now proposes to further confuse Moscow's early-warning system, risking an accidental launch, by putting conventional warheads on long-range missiles for the first time.

In a democracy we might expect alternative policy proposals from would-be leaders. But there are none in either party, only demands for a more anti-Russian course, or silence. We should not be surprised. Acquiescence in Bush's monstrous war in Iraq has amply demonstrated the political elite's limited capacity for introspection, independent thought and civic courage. (It prefers to falsely blame the American people, as the managing editor of Foreign Affairs recently did, for craving "ideological red meat.") It may also be intimidated by another revived cold war practice--personal defamation. The Post and The New Yorker have already labeled critics of their Russia policy "Putin apologists" and charged them with "appeasement" and "again taking the Russian side of the Cold War."

The vision and courage of heresy will therefore be needed to escape today's new cold war orthodoxies and dangers, but it is hard to imagine a US politician answering the call. There is, however, a not-too-distant precedent. Twenty years ago, when the world faced exceedingly grave cold war perils, Gorbachev unexpectedly emerged from the orthodox and repressive Soviet political class to offer a heretical way out. Is there an American leader today ready to retrieve that missed opportunity?


Putin's Design for Great Russia May Intensify Tensions With West

Vladimir Putin reclaiming Russia's presidency will probably exacerbate tensions with the U.S. and Europe as they try to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions and halt bloodshed in Syria, strategists from Moscow to New York said. As Putin celebrated six more years in office after his electoral victory on March 4, he thanked supporters for backing a "Great Russia." The U.S. State Department responded by choosing not to congratulate him and calling for a "credible" investigation into allegations of electoral fraud.

"Putin understands geopolitics in terms of a zero-sum competition with Western, particularly U.S., interests," Jenia Ustinova and Alexander Kliment of Eurasia Group in New York said by e-mail. "After four years of a relatively more accommodating stance under President Medvedev, the tone of Moscow's foreign policy toward the West is set to change."
The Russian leader's return to the Kremlin gives him the opportunity to stymie U.S. and European policy in the oil-rich Middle East at a time when the region is being buffeted by civil war in Syria and the threat of an Israeli military strike against Iran. Russia reiterated yesterday that it won't support any international interference aimed at toppling Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad amid a government crackdown that has killed more than 7,500 people according to the United Nations. Putin said Feb. 24 that the West is seeking to bring about a regime change in Iran under the guise of halting its nuclear-arms ambitions.

Can't 'Push'

In the weeks leading up to his re-election with 64 percent of the vote, Putin rekindled the anti-American rhetoric that characterized his first eight years in the Kremlin from 2000- 2008, accusing the U.S. of seeking "vassals" rather than allies and criticizing plans to place elements of a missile- defense shield in eastern Europe.

"Security in the world can only be achieved with Russia and not by trying to push her around and weaken her geopolitical position," Putin said in a Feb. 27 pre-election manifesto on foreign policy. Russia will spend 23 trillion rubles ($774 billion) over the next decade to upgrade its military with the latest weaponry, he said in a Feb. 20 article in the government's Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper.

Outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev sought to improve ties with the U.S. after taking over from Putin in 2008. The two countries signed an agreement on a new nuclear arms reduction pact and negotiated Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization after an 18-year wait.

Iran Stance

While Russia is against military action or increased sanctions in Iran, it backed European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton's call yesterday for the Persian Gulf state to reach a "full settlement" clarifying questions about its nuclear program. Russia is one of the six countries including the U.S., France, China, the U.K. and Germany that are negotiating with Iran. Medvedev also allowed a United Nations resolution authorizing NATO military action to protect civilians that led to the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi last year.

The Libyan vote nevertheless sparked a spat between Medvedev and Putin and, as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's campaign went on, prompted accusations in Russia that the military alliance was abusing the UN mandate for regime change. The drive to depose Qaddafi after Medvedev's gesture confirmed to Putin his "very mistrustful" approach toward the U.S., according to Fyodor Lukyanov, an analyst at the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy in Moscow.

'Little Reason'

Putin in a March 1 meeting with foreign journalists described Qaddafi, who ruled his country for four decades, as "absolutely deranged and obsolete," while denouncing the violence and chaos that followed his ouster. Tribal leaders in eastern Libya, where most of the country's oil is concentrated, said yesterday they want to rule themselves apart from defense and foreign affairs. There's "little reason" to expect Moscow to soften its stance on Iran or Syria post-election, according to Eurasia.

Since the Libyan vote, Russia has vetoed a UN resolution proposed by Western and Arab nations to usher out Assad, while Putin has warned that a military strike on Iran would be "truly catastrophic" and said foreign powers back protests against his rule. Russia opposes a new UN resolution on Syria proposed by the U.S. because it's a "slightly modified version" of the draft it vetoed last month, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said yesterday.

Losing Arms Sales

Russia is losing arms sales to the Middle East as a result of the toppling of autocratic regimes in the region sparked by the 'Arab Spring.' It surrendered $4 billion in weapons contracts with Libya after Qaddafi's overthrow, Sergey Chemezov, head of state-run Russian Technologies Corp. said this month. The country expects to surpass this year the record $12 billion in arms exports in 2011, Chemezov told the Interfax news service on Jan. 25. Total exports of goods exceeded $500 billion last year, central bank data show. Russia has about $3.5 billion of arms deals with Syria, according to the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow.

Russia's disagreement with the U.S. and European powers over Libya and Syria also reflects its frustration with "Western interventionist policies" that are reminiscent of so- called "color revolutions" backed by the West in Georgia and Ukraine in 2003 and 2004, Lilit Gevorgyan, Russia analyst at IHS Global Insight in London, said by e-mail.

Anti-U.S. Rhetoric

"The level of anti-U.S. rhetoric is linked to the elections but not entirely driven by it," Gevorgyan said. "Putin's anti-U.S. stance is also shaped by Washington's policy. The U.S. has refused a Russian demand for legally binding guarantees that its planned missile defense-shield won't be aimed against Russia. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said yesterday that Russia may pull out of a NATO-Russia summit in Chicago unless the missile shield was on the agenda.

Putin in 2004 supported a pro-Russian candidate in Ukraine against the Western-backed opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, who came to power after mass protests over election fraud. In August 2008, a few months after Medvedev took over as president, Russia fought a war with Georgia, a U.S. ally that was seeking to enter NATO. At the same time, Russian foreign policy is "pragmatic," according to Gevorgyan. Even under Medvedev's presidency, Putin kept the upper hand on foreign policy and the "reset" in ties with the U.S. "couldn't have happened without his approval," she said.

Europe Magnanimous

While the U.S. declined to celebrate his win, leaders in the European Union, which relies on Russia for a quarter of its gas consumption, were more magnanimous. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy all congratulated Putin as Merkel said she wants Germany and Russia to continue a "close" relationship. Cameron's spokesman, Steve Field, said the Russian leader had won a "decisive" victory, even as observers from the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe said that Putin's win was unfair. The U.K. wants to continue "constructive" ties with Russia, he said.

The U.S. and European Union will need Russia's cooperation and have to accept Putin's rule, Tony Brenton, the U.K. ambassador to Russia from 2004 to 2008, said by phone. The EU relies on Russian state gas exporter OAO Gazprom for about a quarter of its natural gas, while Russia needs Western investment and technology transfer to modernize its economy. "Like it or not, we have to do business with the Russian government, whoever is in power and however they got there," he said.


Reset Regret: Russian Global Strategy Undermines American Interests

According to the Obama Administration, the U.S. is not competing with Russia for global influence. Unfortunately, Moscow has not received this memo. Instead, Russia attempts to extend its influence to constrain U.S. policy. Russian leaders like Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov habitually invoke a “polycentric” or multipolar model of the world, with Russia working with her partners toward a future where U.S. power is so diminished that it cannot act without Moscow’s permission.

Moscow has continuously promoted in word and deed the idea that there is or should be a multipolar world order that constrains U.S. foreign policies. Moscow’s concept of multipolarity entails an uncontested sphere of Russian influence in the CIS and with key actors in critically important regions: Europe, East Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.

Anti-American Partnerships

Moscow has formed partnerships with China, Iran, and Venezuela to prevent the U.S. from consolidating a regional order under its auspices. Like the U.S.S.R, its predecessor and inspiration, today’s Russia pursues key allies in the Middle East and Latin America, such as Syria, Iran, and Venezuela, with whom it can jointly frustrate American and Western efforts to consolidate a peaceful regional order. Such partners may resist U.S. policies and actively counter them to distract the U.S., force the U.S. to accommodate Russian interests, or compel an American retreat.

In East Asia, Moscow joins China to advocate “a new Asian security order” based on “mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, and cooperation.”[1] According to the two great powers, all states would respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, not criticize their domestic politics, and support each other on outstanding territorial issues.
To translate: Beijing, Moscow, and their allies will respect Russia’s claims to the Kurile Islands (the Northern Territories) and Georgian territories of Abkhazia/South Ossetia, as well as China’s claims to Xinjiang, Taiwan, and Tibet; China’s territorial claims against Japan regarding the Senkaku Islands; and possibly even China’s claims on the Spratly Islands.

Both countries also support non-alliance principles, equal and transparent security frameworks, and equal and indivisible security. Russia also seeks India’s assent to this formulation and covertly solicits Japan’s endorsement—even as it humiliates Japan over the Kurile Islands, a sure sign of Moscow’s endemic desire to play both sides against the middle and its fundamentally anti-liberal and anti-American orientation. The proposal’s vagueness benefits only Russia and China and squarely denounces the U.S. alliance system in Asia. Ultimately, Russia’s concept of Asian, if not global, multipolarity is self-serving.

Moreover, the joint proposal resembles Russia’s equally self-serving, anti-American, and Anti-NATO proposal for a European Security treaty of 2009–2010. Moscow even applies the same rhetoric to this Asian security proposal that is present in its European Security Treaty draft. At the International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue conference in Singapore in 2011, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said:
Russian–Chinese proposals are aimed at helping the countries of the region to realize that security is indivisible and at abandoning attempts to strengthen one’s security at the expense of others. New regional security architecture should be based on the universal principles of international law, non‑aligned approaches, confidence and openness, with due regard to the diversity of the APR and an emerging polycentric balance of forces.[2]
The Unsavory Clients: Tehran, Damascus, Caracas

In addition to diplomatic support for China, Russia has sold Iran, Syria, and Venezuela large amounts of weapons. Despite the laudable cancellation of the S-300 air defense missiles sale to Iran, Moscow still preserves the option of selling other weapons to Tehran. It signed major energy deals with Tehran in 2010 and this summer has advocated easing sanctions on Iran provided it cooperates with the International Atomic Energy Agency—an institution that has long since demonstrated how easily Iran can deceive it concerning its nuclear program.

Moscow clearly wants to retain ties to Iran, which it regards as the rising great power in the Gulf and Middle East and with whom it wants to collaborate against any Western effort to consolidate a peaceful order. Moscow has sold weapons such as anti-tank missiles to Iran and Syria, and these weapons continue to migrate to Hamas and Hezbollah.

Russia defends Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime despite its bloody repression of its own citizens. This is, among other reasons, because Russia has signed an agreement with Syria to return Soviet naval bases in Latakiye and Tartus to Russian control. Therefore, Russia obstructs U.N. resolutions of censure against Syria. French diplomats who negotiated with Russia believe that Moscow most fears the loss of another ally in the Middle East.

Moscow has also sold billions in weapons to Hugo Chávez’s regime in Venezuela, including fighter jets, tanks, and whole Kalashnikov assault rifle factories. Chávez used his increasing military power to aid the terrorist group FARC directly and run narcotics from West Africa and Latin America into Central and North America.

The notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, who now awaits trial in a New York federal court, was caught offering to sell weapons to the FARC. Given Bout’s longstanding connections to senior officials of the Russian government, Moscow moved heaven and earth to prevent his extradition from Thailand, where he was arrested, to the U.S. It is quite likely that Bout’s weapons would have been earmarked for the FARC and/or similar narco-terrorists throughout Latin America.

Likewise, Russia has been China’s largest source of foreign weapons since 1990, even though those sales have declined due to Russian fears about Chinese intentions and anger over Chinese piracy and subsequent sale of weapons in competition with Russia in third-party markets. Nevertheless, arms sales and advanced technology transfers from Russia to China still occur.

What Should the U.S. Do?

The optics of Moscow’s ties to anti-American states, which build power to challenge the U.S. regionally and support and control extensive terrorist and intelligence networks, clash dramatically with the optics of the Obama Administration’s “reset.” Tehran, Damascus, and Caracas have an interest in destabilizing their regions and in acquiring advanced conventional—and likely nuclear—weapons. Such proliferation makes for a most problematic multipolarity, which piles up obstacles to U.S. interests and security.

Despite the “reset,” it is in U.S. interests to find out to what degree Moscow orchestrates or participates in joint activities among these problematic states, including arms sales from Iran and Syria to Hamas and Hezbollah. Moscow surely knows of the expansion of the Iranian intelligence, military, economic, and political infrastructure in Iraq, as well as Iran’s ties to Venezuela and those two states’ collaboration in uranium prospecting.

U.S. policymakers should reassess the “reset” and develop regional strategies that counter Russia’s (and China’s) agendas. Such policies should increase pressure on Iran, the most anti-American regional power, and cause the Assad regime in Syria and the Chávez government in Venezuela to stop supporting terrorism.

The Trying Times Ahead

A “reset” policy that ignores Russia’s global efforts to undermine the U.S. recalls the ill-fated détente of the 1970s. It ran aground on Russian expansionism and wars in the Third World, especially Afghanistan. Despite profound changes since then, Russia’s basic anti-American strategic orientation, “reset” rhetoric aside, seems to be the same. In the trying times ahead, when it comes to global challenges, the U.S. should relearn and practice international balance-of-power politics.
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation. Stephen J. Blank, Ph.D., is Research Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Army War College.


Putin Blasts US, Outlines Firm Stand on Foreign Policy

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin charged Monday that the United States pursues its interests to the detriment of world security and served notice Russia would continue to oppose this if he returns to the Kremlin. At the same time, however, Putin stated that close and trusting relations between Moscow and Washington were of signal importance for the world in turbulent times and made clear Russia wanted such ties if based on mutual respect.

In an lengthy article published in the daily Moskovskiye Novosti a week ahead of presidential elections he is widely expected to win, Putin outlined a broad vision of how he sees Russia’s place in the world and how he would aim to fortify it. Putin took direct aim at US plans to place elements of a missile defense system in Europe near Russia’s borders and expressed exasperation at what he described as Washington’s stubborn refusal to take Moscow’s worries into account on it.

“I would not mention this topic if these games were not taking place right on Russia’s borders, if they had not undermined our security, if they did not work against stability in the world,” Putin wrote. “Our arguments are well known and I will not rehash them again. But unfortunately, they are not accepted by our Western partners.”

Russia has long said that the US missile plans pose a direct threat to Russia’s nuclear deterrent. The United States denies this and asserts the planned system is designed to thwart missiles launched by “rogue” states. The US-led NATO alliance, Putin said, had expanded to take in new members close to Russia, had overreached its authority in regulating international affairs and was establishing “facts on the ground” before the post-Cold War relationship between the bloc and Moscow could be worked out.

Putin said he agreed with those who argue that upholding human rights is the top obligation of sovereign states and said crimes against humanity should be punished by international courts. Arguing however that the need to protect human rights justified outside military intervention in sovereign states without UN approval resulted in deaths, violation of those same human rights and unpredictable consequences, Putin wrote. “Then we’re not talking about a noble cause but about elementary demagoguery,” he said.

The 59-year-old Russian leader expressed particular aversion to what he described as a concept of security among NATO members and particularly the United States which “fundamentally differs from ours.” ““The Americans are obsessed with the idea of ensuring their absolute invulnerability – a thing, I would point out, that is utopian and achievable neither from a technological nor a geopolitical standpoint. “And herein lies the problem. Absolute invulnerability for one means absolute vulnerability for all the others. It is impossible to agree with this perspective.”

Addressing the unrest in the Arab world, Putin said Russia would not permit a “Libyan scenario” to take place in Syria, where he said Moscow wanted to see an immediate halt in violence and a national dialogue to resolve the crisis. He defended the decision by Russia and China to veto a resolution earlier this month pushed by Washington and its European and Arab allies that Moscow said would have opened the door to foreign military intervention in Syria.

Russia in particular faced blistering criticism that “bordered on hysterical” from Western countries for its decision, Putin said, adding that Moscow strongly hoped the United States and others would not resort to force in Syria without UN approval. Referring more widely to the Arab Spring, Putin said that efforts backed by the United States and the West to bring about “democracy with the help of violent methods” were unpredictable and often led to precisely the opposite result.

“Certain forces, including religious extremists, are emerging who are trying to change the direction of development of these countries and the secular nature of their governments,” he said.

Putin noted the importance that social networks and mobile devices had played in uprisings in several Arab states last year and said “soft power” had been used by states to advance their foreign policy goals there without resorting to force. At the same time, he warned, “soft power” and new communication methods were used to provoke extremism, separatism, nationalism, to manipulate public opinion and “interfere directly in the internal affairs of sovereign states.”

As he has in the past, Putin criticized non-governmental organizations that he said operated in one country but were paid for by another with the tacit aim of pushing the latter’s foreign policy objectives. On Iran, Putin said Russia was “alarmed” by reports of possible preparations for a military strike to cripple Tehran’s nuclear activities, warning that if such a thing happened “it would have truly catastrophic consequences” on a massive scale.

He said the world should recognize Iran’s right to develop a civilian nuclear program, including enrichment of uranium, for energy production under close supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In addition to his direct criticism of US behavior on the world stage, Putin said some policymakers within the United States – notably in the US Congress – were unable to abandon Cold War-era stereotypes and phobias about Russia.

Despite some progress in bilateral Russian-American relations, outdated perceptions in the United States about Russia – along with what he called US “political engineering” in regions close to Russia – still had a negative impact on bilateral relations, he said. Putin recalled however that in a 2007 meeting with former US president George W. Bush he had proposed a solution to resolve differences over missile defense which he said would have dramatically improved bilateral ties.

Putin said Russia’s proposals then on missile defense, which would have paved the way to a “qualitatively new, close and alliance-like model for cooperation in many other sensitive areas” were still on the table. “In relations with the US, we would be ready to go really far and to reach a substantial breakthrough provided the Americans conduct themselves according to principles of equal and mutually-respectful partnership,” Putin said.

The Russian leader acknowledged that his country had had little success in establishing a more positive image for itself in the world and insisted that while he would defend his country’s interests Russia did not want to be isolated. “We are ready to get to work on mutually-profitable cooperation, toward open dialogue with all of our foreign partners. We are working to understand and take account of the interests of our partners. We ask them to respect ours.”


Russian Global Strategy Undermines American Interests
According to the Obama Administration, the U.S. is not competing with Russia for global influence. Unfortunately, Moscow has not received this memo. Instead, Russia attempts to extend its influence to constrain U.S. policy. Russian leaders like Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov habitually invoke a “polycentric” or multipolar model of the world, with Russia working with her partners toward a future where U.S. power is so diminished that it cannot act without Moscow’s permission.

Moscow has continuously promoted in word and deed the idea that there is or should be a multipolar world order that constrains U.S. foreign policies. Moscow’s concept of multipolarity entails an uncontested sphere of Russian influence in the CIS and with key actors in critically important regions: Europe, East Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.

Anti-American Partnerships

Moscow has formed partnerships with China, Iran, and Venezuela to prevent the U.S. from consolidating a regional order under its auspices. Like the U.S.S.R, its predecessor and inspiration, today’s Russia pursues key allies in the Middle East and Latin America, such as Syria, Iran, and Venezuela, with whom it can jointly frustrate American and Western efforts to consolidate a peaceful regional order. Such partners may resist U.S. policies and actively counter them to distract the U.S., force the U.S. to accommodate Russian interests, or compel an American retreat.

In East Asia, Moscow joins China to advocate “a new Asian security order” based on “mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, and cooperation.”[1] According to the two great powers, all states would respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, not criticize their domestic politics, and support each other on outstanding territorial issues.

To translate: Beijing, Moscow, and their allies will respect Russia’s claims to the Kurile Islands (the Northern Territories) and Georgian territories of Abkhazia/South Ossetia, as well as China’s claims to Xinjiang, Taiwan, and Tibet; China’s territorial claims against Japan regarding the Senkaku Islands; and possibly even China’s claims on the Spratly Islands.

Both countries also support non-alliance principles, equal and transparent security frameworks, and equal and indivisible security. Russia also seeks India’s assent to this formulation and covertly solicits Japan’s endorsement—even as it humiliates Japan over the Kurile Islands, a sure sign of Moscow’s endemic desire to play both sides against the middle and its fundamentally anti-liberal and anti-American orientation. The proposal’s vagueness benefits only Russia and China and squarely denounces the U.S. alliance system in Asia. Ultimately, Russia’s concept of Asian, if not global, multipolarity is self-serving.

Moreover, the joint proposal resembles Russia’s equally self-serving, anti-American, and Anti-NATO proposal for a European Security treaty of 2009–2010. Moscow even applies the same rhetoric to this Asian security proposal that is present in its European Security Treaty draft. At the International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue conference in Singapore in 2011, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said:
Russian–Chinese proposals are aimed at helping the countries of the region to realize that security is indivisible and at abandoning attempts to strengthen one’s security at the expense of others. New regional security architecture should be based on the universal principles of international law, non‑aligned approaches, confidence and openness, with due regard to the diversity of the APR and an emerging polycentric balance of forces.[2]
The Unsavory Clients: Tehran, Damascus, Caracas

In addition to diplomatic support for China, Russia has sold Iran, Syria, and Venezuela large amounts of weapons. Despite the laudable cancellation of the S-300 air defense missiles sale to Iran, Moscow still preserves the option of selling other weapons to Tehran. It signed major energy deals with Tehran in 2010 and this summer has advocated easing sanctions on Iran provided it cooperates with the International Atomic Energy Agency—an institution that has long since demonstrated how easily Iran can deceive it concerning its nuclear program.

Moscow clearly wants to retain ties to Iran, which it regards as the rising great power in the Gulf and Middle East and with whom it wants to collaborate against any Western effort to consolidate a peaceful order. Moscow has sold weapons such as anti-tank missiles to Iran and Syria, and these weapons continue to migrate to Hamas and Hezbollah.

Russia defends Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime despite its bloody repression of its own citizens. This is, among other reasons, because Russia has signed an agreement with Syria to return Soviet naval bases in Latakiye and Tartus to Russian control. Therefore, Russia obstructs U.N. resolutions of censure against Syria. French diplomats who negotiated with Russia believe that Moscow most fears the loss of another ally in the Middle East.
Moscow has also sold billions in weapons to Hugo Chávez’s regime in Venezuela, including fighter jets, tanks, and whole Kalashnikov assault rifle factories. Chávez used his increasing military power to aid the terrorist group FARC directly and run narcotics from West Africa and Latin America into Central and North America.

The notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, who now awaits trial in a New York federal court, was caught offering to sell weapons to the FARC. Given Bout’s longstanding connections to senior officials of the Russian government, Moscow moved heaven and earth to prevent his extradition from Thailand, where he was arrested, to the U.S. It is quite likely that Bout’s weapons would have been earmarked for the FARC and/or similar narco-terrorists throughout Latin America.

Likewise, Russia has been China’s largest source of foreign weapons since 1990, even though those sales have declined due to Russian fears about Chinese intentions and anger over Chinese piracy and subsequent sale of weapons in competition with Russia in third-party markets. Nevertheless, arms sales and advanced technology transfers from Russia to China still occur.

What Should the U.S. Do?

The optics of Moscow’s ties to anti-American states, which build power to challenge the U.S. regionally and support and control extensive terrorist and intelligence networks, clash dramatically with the optics of the Obama Administration’s “reset.” Tehran, Damascus, and Caracas have an interest in destabilizing their regions and in acquiring advanced conventional—and likely nuclear—weapons. Such proliferation makes for a most problematic multipolarity, which piles up obstacles to U.S. interests and security.

Despite the “reset,” it is in U.S. interests to find out to what degree Moscow orchestrates or participates in joint activities among these problematic states, including arms sales from Iran and Syria to Hamas and Hezbollah. Moscow surely knows of the expansion of the Iranian intelligence, military, economic, and political infrastructure in Iraq, as well as Iran’s ties to Venezuela and those two states’ collaboration in uranium prospecting.

U.S. policymakers should reassess the “reset” and develop regional strategies that counter Russia’s (and China’s) agendas. Such policies should increase pressure on Iran, the most anti-American regional power, and cause the Assad regime in Syria and the Chávez government in Venezuela to stop supporting terrorism.

The Trying Times Ahead

A “reset” policy that ignores Russia’s global efforts to undermine the U.S. recalls the ill-fated détente of the 1970s. It ran aground on Russian expansionism and wars in the Third World, especially Afghanistan. Despite profound changes since then, Russia’s basic anti-American strategic orientation, “reset” rhetoric aside, seems to be the same. In the trying times ahead, when it comes to global challenges, the U.S. should relearn and practice international balance-of-power politics.
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation. Stephen J. Blank, Ph.D., is Research Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Army War College.


Why the Russian “Reset” Is Not Working

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R–OH) recently delivered a blistering critique of President Obama’s Russia “reset” strategy. “Over the last two and a half years,” he said, Russia “has been the beneficiary of American outreach and engagement. [Yet it] has continued to expand its physical, political, and economic presence…under the guise of…a ‘sphere of influence.’ “Within Russia, control is the order of the day, with key industries nationalized, the independent media repressed, and the loyal opposition beaten and jailed. Russia uses natural resources as a political weapon. And it plays ball with unstable and dangerous regimes.”

Why hasn’t the “reset” produced better results? After all, President Obama canceled key missile defenses in Europe after Russia complained, so you’d expect more than Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s dismissive remark that those measures simply “corrected mistakes that the Bush Administration made.” The problem is that Obama expected more from the Russians than they are willing to give under any circumstance. They have their reasons for rejecting Obama’s overtures, yet the Administration continues to project its mistaken hopes and expectations on them regardless of the outcomes.

The reset policy fails because it is based on flawed premises. For one thing, it assumes that Russia’s leaders share our interests. But Vladimir Putin, the self-proclaimed “National Leader” of Russia, looks at the world very differently than we do. Putin’s main goal is to maximize the financial benefits for his party and friends. He sits on a vast natural resource and financial empire and, through his close associates, controls major oil companies, some of which devoured formerly publicly held and more transparent corporations like YUKOS. Putin’s network also controls a large part of the oil trade, including giants Gazprom and Transneft, ports, and pipelines.

Putin’s political power is the guarantor of this empire. He knows he and his friends could lose their wealth along with the ability to protect it from political enemies if he falls from power. Russian foreign policy has been crafted around this interest. It meant securing transit of Russian gas to Europe through Ukraine and Belarus, hiring former German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder to assure smooth construction of the Nordstream pipeline, playing Armenia against Azerbaijan to ensure control over energy transit from the Caspian, and changing the rules of the political and legal systems so investigations of wrongdoing never take place.

It is a thoroughly cynical view of the world. Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev feel no need to reciprocate Obama’s reset gestures because they are beside the point. If your primary motive is to amass hundreds of billions of dollars and protect it indefinitely, then appeals for your cooperation on larger purposes fall on deaf ears.

There is another huge difference with the American worldview: Putin and his friends have a zero-sum view of international relations. Everyone else’s gain—particularly America’s—is potentially Russia’s loss. That’s why the Russians embrace negotiations with the U.S. that assume a potential conflict, like over nuclear arms control. Potential conflict gives them leverage to extract concessions, particularly if Washington fears bad relations more than Russia and if the U.S. thinks Russia keeps nuclear weapons only because America does. Sure, Russia masterfully plays the international diplomatic game at the United Nations and elsewhere, but this is mainly a public relations strategy to defuse international opposition.

At the end of the day, Russia looks around the world and sees enemies, potential rivals, and clients. That’s why it mistreats neighbors and why so many of them distrust it. That’s why it desperately needs America to pay homage to it with concessions in arms control negotiations and cancelled missile defense programs. Its attitude toward the U.S. belies a calculated set of self-interested moves to gain financial and geopolitical advantage over other nations. All of this is a curious game of mirror-imaging. Obama and his team look at Russia and see themselves—a more or less responsible government, perhaps not ideally democratic but still sensible and responsive to normal overtures of cooperation.

Putin looks and sees an America seemingly the same but actually the reverse of his reality. He knows Russia is not like America (Russia’s $2 trillion in GDP cannot compete with America’s $14 trillion), yet he insists that Russia be treated with equal respect. The pretense is that Russia is as morally deserving of respect as America is; in reality, it is respected only because of its size, energy resources, and nuclear weapons. In other words, it is “respected” because of what it can provide or threaten, not what it is—and it is not a trusted democracy like America.

This produces a very odd psychology, one that goes to the heart of why the reset policy is failing. No amount of appeasing, pandering, or friendship can force Putin and his regime to give up this essentially conflict-oriented policy. Tension with the U.S. gives Putin self-respect and shows enemies within and rivals abroad that he must be taken seriously. Russia cooperates in areas that suit its self-interest, but it always asks for something big in return. Surely it is in Russia’s interest that Iran not acquire a nuclear weapon or that the Taliban not prevail in Afghanistan. Yet the price for its support is concessions such as on New START. The game it plays is mainly about power and near-term financial gain, not international peace and stability and certainly not about freedom or democracy.

There is an underappreciated continuity between Russia’s domestic state and its foreign policy toward the West. Former chess grand champion and Russian democrat Garry Kasparov says Putin’s regime is more like a mafia organization than the state of the former Soviet Union. Putin, he argues, is “very good in creating the psychological playground where he could outwit Western leaders.” He knows he can’t resort to Stalin-type repression, Kasparov observes, because, “unlike Stalin, he and his cronies—they keep money in the West.”

This is a harsh appraisal, to be sure. But there is a larger point: U.S. policymakers should understand that Putin and his friends operate under different rules. Overlooking this fact is why their “reset” policy is in trouble.


Geopolitical Tensions and the Multipolar System: The US versus Eurasia,%20p.391).jpg
The transition from the unipolar system to a multipolar one is generating tensions in two particular areas of the Eurasian landmass: the Mediterranean and Central Asia. The process of consolidation of polycentrism seems to be undergoing an impasse caused by the “regionalist” behavior adopted by the Eurasian powers. The identification of a single great Mediterranean-Central Asian space, functioning as the hinge of the Euro-Afro-Asian landmass, could provide operational elements for Eurasian integration.

In the process of transition between the unipolar moment and the new polycentric system geopolitical tensions are observed that are discharging principally in areas of high strategic value. Among these, the Mediterranean basin and Central Asia, real hinges in the Euro-Afro-Asian structure, have, since 1 March 2003, taken on a particular interest in the setting of geopolitical analysis regarding relations between the US, the main Eurasian nations and the countries of North Africa. Remember that on that date, the parliament of Turkey, that nation-bridge par excellence between the Central Asian republics and the Mediterranean, decided to deny the support requested by the US for the war in Iraq1.

This fact, far from being merely a negotiating point between Washington and Ankara, as it might have seemed at first (and certainly it was also this, because of two opposing elements: Turkish loyalty to its North American ally and the worry in Ankara for the effect of the hypothetical creation of a Kurdistan, which at the then-expected plan to divide Iraq into three parts, would have led to an unresolved “Kurdish question”), nonetheless established the beginning of an reversal of the 50-year trend in Turkish foreign policy2.

Since then, with continuous growth until today, Turkey, particularly through its closeness to Russia (aided by the lack of propensity in the European Union to admit Ankara) and the new good neighbor policies, has tried to practice a sort of “escape” from US protection, effectively making it an unreliable base for North American penetration into the Eurasian landmass. Besides the obstacles represented by Iran and Syria, Washington and Pentagon strategists now have to keep the new and little-malleable Turkey in mind.

The change in Turkey’s conduct came in the context of a more general and complex transformation of the Eurasian scenario, characterized by notable elements such as the reaffirmation of Russia on the continental and global scale, the strong geo-economic and financial emergence of China and India, and the deterioration of US military power in Afghanistan and Iraq. From the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet downfall there seemed to be an unstoppable advance of the “Necessary Nation” toward the center of the Eurasian continent, following the two following predetermined lines of march:

- first, proceeding from continental Europe, aimed, through coups of “colorful revolution”, at the inclusion in its own sphere of influence of the neighboring ex-Soviet states, quickly dubbed the “New Europe” by Rumsfeld’s definition, and strategically destined, in time, to press against a Russia reaching the end of its strength;

- second, made up of a long road from the Mediterranean extending toward the new Central Asian republics, aimed at cutting in two the Euro-Afro-Asian landmass and creating a permanent geopolitical vulnus in the heart of Eurasia;
This was all stopped in just a few years of the Afghan morass. The last few attempts at “colorful revolution” have failed and the agitation controlled by Washington in the Caucasus and in the Central Asian republics, respectively because of Moscow’s determination and by the joint Eurasian policies of China and Russia, put into action through, among others, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Community and the consolidation of friendly relations and military cooperation. At the end of the first decade of the new century the US had to reformulate its Eurasian strategies.The usual Atlantic Hegemony ProcedureThe assumption of the Western system geopolitical paradigm as led by the US, laid out in the dichotomy of the US versus Eurasia and in the concept of “strategic danger”3, leads the analysts practicing it to favor the critical aspects of the different Atlantic target areas. Such aspects are commonly made up of endogenous tensions due in particular to interethnic problems, social imbalances, lack of religious and cultural homogeneity4 and geopolitical friction.

The ready solutions regard actions ranging from the role of the US and its allies in the “reconstruction” of “failed states” in different ways (all in any case aimed at spreading the “Western values” of democracy and free enterprise, without taking into account at all the local cultural peculiarities and traditions), to direct military intervention. This is often justified, according to the situation, as a necessary response to defend US interests and the so-called international order, or in the specific case of states or governments that the West already and significantly considers, according to the rule of soft power, “rogue,” needing an extreme remedy to defend its people and safeguard human rights5.Considering that the US’s geopolitical perspective is typically that of a sea power, interpreting its relationship with other nations or geopolitical entities from its situation as an “island”6, it identifies the Mediterranean basin and the Central Asian area as two zones characterized by strong instability. The two areas are located in the so-called arc of instability as defined by Zbigniew Brzezinski. The arc of instability or of crisis constitutes, as noted, an evolution and expansion of the geostrategic concept of rimland (maritme and coastal margin) developed by Nicholas J. Spykman7.

Control of the rimland would have permitted, in the context of the bipolar system, control of the Eurasian landmass and so the containment of its main nation, the Soviet Union, for the exclusive benefit of the “North American island”.In the new unipolar context, the US-defined geopolitical area of the Great Middle East runs in a wide band from Morocco through Central Asia, a band that, according to Washington, needed to be “pacified” because it represented an ample arc of crisis, with conflicts generated by the lack of homogeneity as mentioned above. Such a view spread by Samuel Huntington’s research and Zigbniew Brzezinski’s analysis, fully explains the practice followed by the US in order to open a passage in the Eurasian continental landmass and from there press on the Russian space to assume world domination. Nevertheless some “unexpected” factors such as the “recovery” of Russia, the Eurasian policies practiced by Putin in Central Asia, new agreements between Moscow and Peking, as well as the emergence of the new Turkey (factors that recalling the relative and contemporary “emancipations” of some South American countries delineate a multipolar or poly-centric system) have influenced the redefinition of the area as a New Middle East. Such evolution, emblematically, was made official in the course of the Israeli-Lebanese war of 2006. The then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said:
« I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante. I think it would be a mistake. What we're seeing here, in a sense, is the growing -- the birth pangs of a new Middle East and whatever we do we have to be certain that we're pushing forward to the new Middle East not going back to the old one. »8.
The new definition was, obviously, pragmatic; in fact it aimed at the reaffirmation of the strategic partnership with Tel Aviv and the crushing – weakening of the near and mid-east area that few days after Condoleezza Rice’s declaration was specified by Israeli Prime Minister Olmert to be the “New Order” in the “Middle East”. Similarly programmatic was Brzezinski coining of “Eurasian Balkans”, referring to the Central Asian area, seeing its use to the formulation of a geostrategic practice that, through the destabilization based on endogenous tensions of Central Asia, it had (and has) the aim of making the possible geopolitical union between China and Russia problematic.

In the years between 2006 up to the “Odyssey Dawn” operation against Lybia (2011), the US, notwithstanding the rhetoric initiated from 2009 with the new occupant of the White House, has in fact followed a strategy aimed at the militarization of the entire swath made up of the Mediterranean and Central Asia. In particular, in 2008 the US put military device in the field for Africa, Africom, currently (March 2011) involved in the Libyan “crisis”, intended to root the American presence in Africa in terms of control and rapid intervention in the African continent, but also directed toward the “new” Middle East and Central Asia. Briefly, the US strategy consists of militarization of the Mediterranean-Central Asian arch. Its principle aims are:

a) To create a wedge between southern Europe and northern Africa;
b) To assure Washington’s military control over northern Africa and the Near East (including using the Camp Bondsteel base in Kosovo i Metohija), with particular attention in the area of Turkey, Syria and Iran;

c) To “cut” in two the Eurasian landmass;

d) To enlarge the so-called arc of crisis in Central Asia
In the setting of the first and second objectives, Washington’s interests are turned mainly toward Italy and Turkey. The two Mediterranean countries, for different reasons (notably of energy and industrial policy for Italy and more strictly geopolitical for Ankara, wishing to take on a regional role of the first level, moreover in direct competition with Israel) have in recent years woven international relationships that, in perspective, since relations with Moscow are strong, could have (and can) be useful levers for a potential Turkish-Italian exit strategy from the North American sphere of influence. The objective attempt by Rome and Ankara to increase their own degrees of liberty in the international contest collided not only with the general geopolitical interests of Washington and London but also with the more “provincial” ones of Sarkozy’s Union méditerranéenne.

Multipolarism between Regionalist and Eurasian Perspectives

The practice applied by the Western system, led by the US and intended, as described above, to amplify the crises in Eurasia and in the Mediterranean is not aimed at their stabilization. On the contrary, such a procedure is devoted to maintain its own hegemony, through militarization of international relationships and involvement of local actors. Moreover, this kind of geopolitical “road map” is aimed at identifying other future probable targets (Iran, Syria, Turkey) useful for the United State of America’s foothold in Eurasia, laying out some reflections regarding the “health” of the US and the structuring of the multipolar system.

In a less superficial analysis, the aggression toward Libya by the US, Great Britain and France, is not at all a sporadic case but a symptom of Washington’s difficulty in working diplomatically and with the sense of responsibility that a global actor should have. This is shown by the rapacious nature typical of a declining power. The American political scientist and economist David. P. Calleo, critic of “unipolar folly” and scholar of the decline of the US, noted in long-ago 1987 that, generally, powers in the process of decline, rather than regulate and adapt themselves, seek to cement its staggering dominance by transforming it in rapacious hegemony10.

Luca Lauriola in Scacco matto all’America e a Israele. Fine dell’ultimo Impero11, (Checkmate for the US and Israel. The end of the last empire) believes, reasonably, that the Eurasian powers Russia, China and India handle the overseas power (i.e. USA), by now “lost and crazed”, in a way to not provoke reactions that could lead to planetary catastrophes.

Regarding the structuring of the multipolar system, it must be noted that this advances slowly, not because of recent US actions in North Africa, but rather because of the “regionalist” attitude adopted by the Eurasian actors (Turkey, Russia and China) who, in evaluating the Mediterranean and Central Asia as a function of their own national interests, fail to gather the geostrategic significance that these areas perform in the larger scenario of conflict between far-flung (US) and Eurasian geopolitical interests. The rediscovery of a sole great Mediterranean-Central Asian space, highlighting the role of “hinge” that this takes on in the Euro-Afro-Asian subdivision, could provide operating elements to overcome the “regionalist” impasse that the unipolar-multipolar transition process is undergoing.


Encircling Russia, Targeting China, NATO'S True Role in US Grand Strategy

On November 19 and 20, NATO leaders meet in Lisbon for what is billed as a summit on “NATO’s Strategic Concept”. Among topics of discussion will be an array of scary “threats”, from cyberwar to climate change, as well as nice protective things like nuclear weapons and a high tech Maginot Line boondoggle supposed to stop enemy missiles in mid-air. The NATO leaders will be unable to avoid talking about the war in Afghanistan, that endless crusade that unites the civilized world against the elusive Old Man of the Mountain, Hassan i Sabah, eleventh century chief of the Assassins in his latest reincarnation as Osama bin Laden. There will no doubt be much talk of “our shared values”.

Most of what they will discuss is fiction with a price tag. The one thing missing from the Strategic Concept summit agenda is a serious discussion of strategy. This is partly because NATO as such has no strategy, and cannot have its own strategy. NATO is in reality an instrument of United States strategy. Its only operative Strategic Concept is the one put into practice by the United States. But even that is an elusive phantom. American leaders seem to prefer striking postures, “showing resolve”, to defining strategies.

One who does presume to define strategy is Zbigniew Brzezinski, godfather of the Afghan Mujahidin back when they could be used to destroy the Soviet Union. Brzezinski was not shy about bluntly stating the strategic objective of U.S. policy in his 1993 book The Grand Chessboard: “American primacy”. As for NATO, he described it as one of the institutions serving to perpetuate American hegemony, “making the United States a key participant even in intra-European affairs.” In its “global web of specialized institutions”, which of course includes NATO, the United States exercises power through “continuous bargaining, dialogue, diffusion, and quest for formal consensus, even though that power originates ultimately from a single source, namely, Washington, D.C.”

The description perfectly fits the Lisbon “Strategic Concept” conference. Last week, NATO’s Danish secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, announced that “we are pretty close to a consensus”. And this consensus, according to the New York Times, “will probably follow President Barack Obama’s own formulation: to work toward a non-nuclear world while maintaining a nuclear deterrent”. Wait a minute, does that make sense? No, but it is the stuff of NATO consensus. Peace through war, nuclear disarmament through nuclear armament, and above all, defense of member states by sending expeditionary forces to infuriate the natives of distant lands. A strategy is not a consensus written by committees.

The American method of “continuous bargaining, dialogue, diffusion, and quest for formal consensus” wears down whatever resistance may occasionally appear. Thus Germany and France initially resisted Georgian membership in NATO, as well as the notorious “missile shield”, both seen as blatant provocations apt to set off a new arms race with Russia and damage fruitful German and French relations with Moscow, for no useful purpose. But the United States does not take no for an answer, and keeps repeating its imperatives until resistance fades. The one recent exception was the French refusal to join the invasion of Iraq, but the angry U.S. reaction scared the conservative French political class into supporting the pro-American Nicolas Sarkozy.

In search of “threats” and “challenges”

The very heart of what passes for a “strategic concept” was first declared and put into operation in the spring of 1999, when NATO defied international law, the United Nations and its own original charter by waging an aggressive war outside its defensive perimeter against Yugoslavia. That transformed NATO from a defensive to an offensive alliance. Ten years later, the godmother of that war, Madeleine Albright, was picked to chair the “group of experts” that spent several months holding seminars, consultations and meetings preparing the Lisbon agenda. Prominent in these gatherings were Lord Peter Levene, chairman of Lloyd’s of London, the insurance giant, and the former chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, Jeroen van der Veer. These ruling class figures are not exactly military strategists, but their participation should reassure the international business community that their worldwide interests are being taken into consideration.

Indeed, a catalogue of threats enumerated by Rasmussen in a speech last year seemed to suggest that NATO was working for the insurance industry. NATO, he said, was needed to deal with piracy, cyber security, climate change, extreme weather events such as catastrophic storms and flooding, rising sea levels, large-scale population movement into inhabited areas, sometimes across borders, water shortages, droughts, decreasing food production, global warming, CO2 emissions, the retreat of Arctic ice uncovering hitherto inaccessible resources, fuel efficiency and dependence on foreign sources, etc.

Most of the enumerated threats cannot even remotely be construed as calling for military solutions. Surely no "rogue states" or "outposts of tyranny" or "international terrorists" are responsible for climate change, yet Rasmussen presents them as challenges to NATO. On the other hand, some of the results of these scenarios, such as population movements caused by rising sea levels or drought, can indeed be seen as potentially causing crises. The ominous aspect of the enumeration is precisely that all such problems are eagerly snatched up by NATO as requiring military solutions. The main threat to NATO is its own obsolescence. And the search for a “strategic concept” is the search for pretexts to keep it going.

NATO’s Threat to the World

While it searches for threats, NATO itself is a growing threat to the world. The basic threat is its contribution to strengthening the U.S.-led tendency to abandon diplomacy and negotiations in favor of military force. This is seen clearly in Rasmussen’s inclusion of weather phenomena in his list of threats to NATO, when they should, instead, be problems for international diplomacy and negotiations. The growing danger is that Western diplomacy is dying. The United States has set the tone: we are virtuous, we have the power, the rest of the world must obey or else.

Diplomacy is despised as weakness. The State Department has long since ceased to be at the core of U.S. foreign policy. With its vast network of military bases the world over, as well as military attachés in embassies and countless missions to client countries, the Pentagon is incomparably more powerful and influential in the world than the State Department.

Recent Secretaries of State, far from seeking diplomatic alternatives to war, have actually played a leading role in advocating war instead of diplomacy, whether Madeleine Albright in the Balkans or Colin Powell waving fake test tubes in the United Nations Security Council. Policy is defined by the National Security Advisor, various privately-funded think tanks and the Pentagon, with interference from a Congress which itself is composed of politicians eager to obtain military contracts for their constituencies.

NATO is dragging Washington’s European allies down the same path. Just as the Pentagon has replaced the State Department, NATO itself is being used by the United States as a potential substitute for the United Nations. The 1999 “Kosovo war” was a first major step in that direction. Sarkozy’s France, after rejoining the NATO joint command, is gutting the traditionally skilled French foreign service, cutting back on civilian representation throughout the world. The European Union foreign service now being created by Lady Ashton will have no policy and no authority of its own.

Bureaucratic Inertia

Behind its appeals to “common values”, NATO is driven above all by bureaucratic inertia. The alliance itself is an excrescence of the U.S. military-industrial complex. For sixty years, military procurements and Pentagon contracts have been an essential source of industrial research, profits, jobs, Congressional careers, even university funding. The interplay of these varied interests converge to determine an implicit U.S. strategy of world conquest.

An ever-expanding global network of somewhere between 800 and a thousand military bases on foreign soil. Bilateral military accords with client states which offer training while obliging them to purchase U.S.-made weapons and redesign their armed forces away from national defense toward internal security (i.e. repression) and possible integration into U.S.-led wars of aggression. Use of these close relationships with local armed forces to influence the domestic politics of weaker states. Perpetual military exercises with client states, which provide the Pentagon with perfect knowledge of the military potential of client states, integrate them into the U.S. military machine, and sustain a “ready for war” mentality.

Deployment of its network of bases, “allies” and military exercises so as to surround, isolate, intimidate and eventually provoke major nations perceived as potential rivals, notably Russia and China. The implicit strategy of the United States, as perceived by its actions, is a gradual military conquest to ensure world domination. One original feature of this world conquest project is that, although extremely active, day after day, it is virtually ignored by the vast majority of the population of the conquering nation, as well as by its most closely dominated allies, i.e., the NATO states.

The endless propaganda about “terrorist threats” (the fleas on the elephant) and other diversions keep most Americans totally unaware of what is going on, all the more easily in that Americans are almost uniquely ignorant of the rest of the world and thus totally uninterested. The U.S. may bomb a country off the map before more than a small fraction of Americans know where to find it. The main task of U.S. strategists, whose careers take them between think tanks, boards of directors, consultancy firms and the government, is to justify this giant mechanism much more than to steer it. To a large extent, it steers itself.

Since the collapse of the “Soviet threat”, policy-makers have settled for invisible or potential threats. U.S. military doctrine has as its aim to move preventively against any potential rival to U.S. world hegemony. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia retains the largest arsenal outside the United States, and China is a rapidly rising economic power. Neither one threatens the United States or Western Europe. On the contrary, both are ready and willing to concentrate on peaceful business.

However, they are increasingly alarmed by the military encirclement and provocative military exercises carried on by the United States on their very doorsteps. The implicit aggressive strategy may be obscure to most Americans, but leaders in the targeted countries are quite certain they understand what it is going on.

The Russia-Iran-Israel Triangle

Currently, the main explicit “enemy” is Iran. Washington claims that the “missile shield” which it is forcing on its European allies is designed to defend the West from Iran. But the Russians see quite clearly that the missile shield is aimed at themselves. First of all, they understand quite clearly that Iran has no such missiles nor any possible motive for using them against the West. It is perfectly obvious to all informed analysts that even if Iran developed nuclear weapons and missiles, they would be conceived as a deterrent against Israel, the regional nuclear superpower which enjoys a free hand attacking neighboring countries. Israel does not want to lose that freedom to attack, and thus naturally opposes the Iranian deterrent.

Israeli propagandists scream loudly about the threat from Iran, and have worked incessantly to infect NATO with their paranoia. Israel has even been described as “Global NATO’s 29th member”. Israeli officials have assiduously worked on a receptive Madeleine Albright to make sure that Israeli interests are included in the “Strategic Concept”. During the past five years, Israel and NATO have been taking part in joint naval exercises in the Red Sea and in the Mediterranean, as well as joint ground exercises from Brussels to Ukraine. On October 16, 2006, Israel became the first non-European country to reach a so-called “Individual Cooperation Program” agreement with NATO for cooperation in 27 different areas.

It is worth noting that Israel is the only country outside Europe which the U.S. includes in the area of responsibility of its European Command (rather than the Central Command that covers the rest of the Middle East). At a NATO-Israel Relations seminar in Herzliya on October 24, 2006, the Israeli foreign minister at the time, Tzipi Livni, declared that "The alliance between NATO and Israel is only natural....Israel and NATO share a common strategic vision. In many ways, Israel is the front line defending our common way of life." Not everybody in European countries would consider that Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine reflect “our common way of life”.

This is no doubt one reason why the deepening union between NATO and Israel has not taken the open form of NATO membership. Especially after the savage attack on Gaza, such a move would arouse objections in European countries. Nevertheless, Israel continues to invite itself into NATO, ardently supported, of course, by its faithful followers in the U.S. Congress. The principal cause of this growing Israel-NATO symbiosis has been identified by Mearsheimer and Walt: the vigorous and powerful pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

Israeli lobbies are also strong in France, Britain and the UK. They have zealously developed the theme of Israel as the “front line” in the defense of “Western values” against militant Islam. The fact that militant Islam is largely a product of that “front line” creates a perfect vicious circle. Israel’s aggressive stance toward its regional neighbors would be a serious liability for NATO, apt to be dragged into wars of Israel’s choosing which are by no means in the interest of Europe. However, there is one subtle strategic advantage in the Israeli connection which the United States seems to be using… against Russia.

By subscribing to the hysterical “Iranian threat” theory, the United States can continue to claim with a straight face that the planned missile shield is directed against Iran, not Russia. This cannot be expected to convince the Russians. But it can be used to make their protests sound “paranoid” – at least to the ears of the Western faithful. Dear me, what can they be complaining about when we “reset” our relations with Moscow and invite the Russian president to our “Strategic Concept” happy gathering?

However, the Russians know quite well that: The missile shield is to be constructed surrounding Russia, which does have missiles, which it keeps for deterrence. By neutralizing Russian missiles, the United States would free its own hand to attack Russia, knowing that the Russia could not retaliate. Therefore, whatever is said, the missile shield, if it worked, would serve to facilitate eventual aggression against Russia.

Encircling Russia

The encirclement of Russia continues in the Black Sea, the Baltic and the Arctic circle. United States officials continue to claim that Ukraine must join NATO. Just this week, in a New York Times column, Zbigniew’s son Ian J. Brzezinski advised Obama against abandoning the “vision” of a “whole, free and secure” Europe including “eventual Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO and the European Union.” The fact that the vast majority of the people of Ukraine are against NATO membership is of no account. For the current scion of the noble Brzezinski dynasty it is the minority that counts. Abandoning the vision “undercuts those in Georgia and Ukraine who see their future in Europe. It reinforces Kremlin aspirations for a sphere of influence…”

The notion that “the Kremlin” aspires to a “sphere of influence” in Ukraine is absurd considering the extremely close historic links between Russia and Ukraine, whose capital Kiev was the cradle of the Russian state. But the Brzezinski family hailed from Galicia, the part of Western Ukraine which once belonged to Poland, and which is the center of the anti-Russian minority. U.S. foreign policy is all too frequently influenced by such foreign rivalries of which the vast majority of Americans are totally ignorant.

Relentless U.S. insistence on absorbing Ukraine continues despite the fact that it would imply expelling the Russian Black Sea fleet from its base in the Crimean peninsula, where the local population is overwhelmingly Russian-speaking and pro-Russian. This is a recipe for war with Russia if ever there was one. And meanwhile, U.S. officials continue to declare their support for Georgia, whose American-trained president openly hopes to bring NATO support into his next war against Russia.

Aside from provocative naval maneuvers in the Black Sea, the United States, NATO and (as yet) non-NATO members Sweden and Finland regularly carry out major military exercises in the Baltic Sea, virtually in sight of the Russia cities of Saint Petersburg and Kaliningrad. These exercises involve thousands of ground troops, hundreds of aircraft including F-15 jet fighters, AWACS, as well as naval forces including the U.S. Carrier Strike Group 12, landing craft and warships from a dozen countries.

Perhaps most ominous of all, in the Arctic region, the United States has been persistently engaging Canada and the Scandinavian states (including Denmark via Greenland) in a military deployment openly directed against Russia. The point of these Arctic deployment was stated by Fogh Rasmussen when he mentioned, among “threats” to be met by NATO, the fact that “Arctic ice is retreating, for resources that had, until now, been covered under ice.”

Now, one might consider that this uncovering of resources would be an opportunity for cooperation in exploiting them. But that is not the official U.S. mindset. Last October, US Admiral James G Stavridis, supreme Nato commander for Europe, said global warming and a race for resources could lead to a conflict in the Arctic. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Christopher C. Colvin, in charge of Alaska’s coastline, said Russian shipping activity in the Arctic Ocean was “of particular concern” for the US and called for more military facilities in the region.

The US Geological Service believes that the Arctic contains up to a quarter of the world’s unexplored deposits of oil and gas. Under the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, a coastal state is entitled to a 200-nautical mile EEZ and can claim a further 150 miles if it proves that the seabed is a continuation of its continental shelf. Russia is applying to make this claim. After pushing for the rest of the world to adopt the Convention, the United States Senate has still not ratified the Treaty. In January 2009, NATO declared the “High North” to be “of strategic interest to the Alliance,” and since then, NATO has held several major war games clearly preparing for eventual conflict with Russia over Arctic resources.

Russia largely dismantled its defenses in the Arctic after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has called for negotiating compromises over resource control. Last September, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called for joint efforts to protect the fragile ecosystem, attract foreign investment, promote environmentally friendly technologies and work to resolve disputes through international law. But the United States, as usual, prefers to settle the issue by throwing its weight around. This could lead to a new arms race in the Arctic, and even to armed clashes.

Despite all these provocative moves, it is most unlikely that the United States actually seeks war with Russia, although skirmishes and incidents here and there cannot be ruled out. The U.S. policy appears to be to encircle and intimidate Russia to such an extent that it accepts a semi-satellite status that neutralizes it in the anticipated future conflict with China.

Target China

The only reason to target China is like the proverbial reason to climb the mountain: it is there. It is big. And the US must be on top of everything. The strategy for dominating China is the same as for Russia. It is classic warfare: encirclement, siege, more or less clandestine support for internal disorder. As examples of this strategy: The United States is provocatively strengthening its military presence along the Pacific shores of China, offering “protection against China” to East Asian countries.

During the Cold War, when India got its armaments from the Soviet Union and struck a non-aligned posture, the United States armed Pakistan as its main regional ally. Now the U.S. is shifting its favors to India, in order to keep India out of the orbit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and to build it as a counterweight to China. The United States and its allies support any internal dissidence that might weaken China, whether it is the Dalai Lama, the Uighurs, or Liu Xiaobo, the jailed dissident.

The Nobel Peace Prize was bestowed on Liu Xiaobo by a committee of Norwegian legislators headed by Thorbjorn Jagland, Norway’s echo of Tony Blair, who has served as Norway’s prime minister and foreign minister, and has been one of his country’s main cheerleaders for NATO.

At a NATO-sponsored conference of European parliamentarians last year, Jagland declared: “When we are not able to stop tyranny, war starts. This is why NATO is indispensable. NATO is the only multilateral military organization rooted in international law. It is an organization that the U.N. can use when necessary — to stop tyranny, like we did in the Balkans.” This is an astoundingly bold misstatement of fact, considering that NATO openly defied international law and the United Nations to make war in the Balkans – where in reality there was ethnic conflict, but no “tyranny”.

In announcing the choice of Liu, the Norwegian Nobel committee, headed by Jagland, declared that it “has long believed that there is a close connection between human rights and peace." The “close connection”, to follow the logic of Jagland’s own statements, is that if a foreign state fails to respect human rights according to Western interpretations, it may be bombed, as NATO bombed Yugoslavia. Indeed, the very powers that make the most noise about “human rights”, notably the United States and Britain, are the ones making the most wars all over the world. The Norwegian’s statements make it clear that granting the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu (who in his youth spent time in Norway) amounted in reality to an endorsement of NATO.

“Democracies” to replace the United Nations

The European members of NATO add relatively little to the military power of the United States. Their contribution is above all political. Their presence maintains the illusion of an “International Community”. The world conquest being pursued by the bureaucratic inertia of the Pentagon can be presented as the crusade by the world’s “democracies” to spread their enlightened political order to the rest of a recalcitrant world.

The Euro-Atlantic governments proclaim their “democracy” as proof of their absolute right to intervene in the affairs of the rest of the world. On the basis of the fallacy that “human rights are necessary for peace”, they proclaim their right to make war. A crucial question is whether “Western democracy” still has the strength to dismantle this war machine before it is too late.


The US-NATO March to War and the 21st Century "Great Game"

The Caucasus, the Balkans, the Middle East, East Africa, Central Asia

The following text is PART II of The "Great Game" and the Conquest of Eurasia. The first text gave an overview of the global counter-alliance forming against the U.S. and NATO. In this second portion, the various fronts of the global rivalry between these two sides will be examined.

The Multiple Fronts of the 21st Century “Great Game”

The globe is gripped with a series of arenas where the struggle between the U.S. and its allies against the triple entente of Eurasia — Russia, China, and Iran — and their other allies are taking place. The struggles in these fronts vary in shape and dimension, but are all inter-linked and aimed against incorporation into a central entity controlled by the U.S. and its allies. These fronts are the Caucasus, the Balkans, East Africa, the Middle East (including the Eastern Mediterranean), the Indian Ocean, Central Asia, South Asia or the Indian sub-continent, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Arctic Circle.

Eastern Europe, the South China Sea, Korea, Central Asia, and the Middle East have been abuzz with military operations and war games by all sides. China, Russia, and Iran are all developing new weapons and asymmetrical war tactics, including expanded space projects and aircraft carriers. In occupied Iraq, NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan, and Israeli-occupied Palestine the non-state resistance movements continue their battles for national liberation with the support of the governments of Eurasia in some cases.

Russia’s strategic bombers have resumed their Cold War practice of flying long-distance missions to territories patrolled by the U.S. and NATO. [6] Russia and Belarus have armed their joint air defence systems in Eastern Europe in response to the missile threat from the U.S. and NATO in Europe. Both Belarus and Russia have also been making preparations, through military drills called “West 2009,” for a naval, land, and air assault against them by NATO that simulates a NATO invasion from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. [7]

Myanmar (Burma), China’s ally, is also constructing a port and naval facilities to allow Beijing to secure its energy lifeline in the Indian Ocean by circumventing the Straits of Malacca and the Straits of Taiwan, which are guarded by the naval forces of the U.S. and its allies. To further secure the Indian Ocean for the Eurasians, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) has also become an associate member of the SCO through becoming a dialogue partner. [8] It is in this framework that Russia, China, and Iran supported the Sri Lankan government against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or simply Tamil Tigers, during the Sri Lankan Civil War

North Korea has been priming itself for a possible war with the U.S., South Korea, and Japan. Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Cuba have prepared themselves for what they call wars of resistance through political, economic, and armed preparations. Likewise, Syria and Lebanon with the support of Iran have prepared themselves for an anticipated conflict with Israel. Oil-rich Sudan has also been bracing itself for internal strife and for the possibility of a future conflict, led by the U.S. and based on the pretext of “humanitarian intervention.”

The Caucasus Front: Russo-Georgian Tensions and War Preparations

Caucasia or the Caucasus is the region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea that straddles the Caucasus Mountains. Like the Ural Mountains, the Caucasus forms the dividing borders of the politically defined continents of Europe and Asia. The Caucasus region itself, which can also be considered an extension of the Middle East, is divided into two sub-regions. These two sub-regions are the North Caucasus, which exclusively includes the Caucasian constituent republics of the Russian Federation, and the South Caucasus, which includes Georgia, Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azarbaijan). Northern Iran and the eastern portions of Turkey, which were annexed from Georgia and Armenia under the 1921 Treaty of Kars, can also be considered as being part of the South Caucasus and by extension the entire Caucasus region.

Caucasia has been the scene of an intensive struggle between the local republics, internal actors, and external forces. These conflicts are as follows;
(1) The conflict between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the breakaway state of Nagorno-Karabakh;
(2) The conflict between Georgia and the breakaway state of South Ossetia;
(3) The conflict between Georgia and the breakaway state of Abkhazia;
(4) The conflicts between the Russian Federation and the separatist movements of the North Caucasus, specifically in Chechnya and Dagestan;
(5) The conflict between Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh;
(6) And the conflict between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
For decades tensions have existed in this ethnically diverse region. Although steps have been taken by the Turks for strategic cooperation with Moscow and Tehran, a regional axis between Russia, Armenia, and Iran in the Caucasus has existed against Georgia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Turkey. The aim of the Moscow-Yerevan-Tehran Axis in the Caucasus is to prevent external forces, specifically the U.S. and its NATO allies, from moving into the Caucasus and the energy-rich Caspian Sea Basin.

The primal conflict in the region has turned out to be the one between Georgia and Russia, replacing the one between Russia and Chechnya. This conflict has seen both sides supporting one another’s separatist movements and covert operations. Tensions between Tbilisi and the Kremlin have resulted in a war that, unlike most the previous Caucasian wars, was of wide concern to outside powers. The conflict has also been played out in Ukraine, where both sides also supported rival political fractions.

Behind Georgia lies the support of the U.S. and NATO. This is part of a strategy that has seen indigenous players ally themselves with U.S. geo-strategic interests in Eurasia. In fact, the entire war between Russia and Georgia was premeditated and both sides were preparing for it well in advance. The Times (U.K.) inadvertently reported about this on September 5, 2008: “In the months leading up to the doomed [Georgian] military operation to seize control of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, Russian fighter jets had flown into Georgian airspace on several occasions.” [9] The Russian violation of Georgian airspace was conducted, because the Russians were aware that a war was coming and their forces were conducting reconnaissance missions.

In the months leading up to the Russian-Georgian War over South Ossetia the Georgian press was continuously talking about a coming war. [10] Rezonansi, one of Georgia’s top newspapers, had front-page headlines about the imminent dangers of a war: “Will war in Abkhazia begin tomorrow?” [11] In May 2008, only a month before the Russo-Georgian War, Moscow without notification deployed 500 Russian troops into the southern Tkvarchel region of Abkhazia under a peacekeeping mandate from the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.), which raised its troop contingent to 2,542. [12] Before the deployment of additional Russian troops, on April 20, 2008, the Russians had shot down a Georgian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spying over Abkhazia. [13]

In a move that was one step short of official recognition, Moscow also ended its agreement to sanction Abkhazia and in a move towards bolstering the Abkhazian government began open communication with it at official levels. [14] These Russian and Georgian moves were made in preparation for the coming Caucasian war. The Kremlin even openly accused Georgia of mobilizing troops to attack Abkhazia, whereas the Georgians accused Russia of planning to annex Abkhazia and South Ossetia. [15]

On May 8, 2008 Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s president, publicly stated: “I think that a few days ago, we were very close [to war] and this threat is still real.” [16] On May 7, 2010, a day before President Saakashvili’s statement, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution that condemned Russia for its “provocative and dangerous statements and actions” in Georgia, and the E.U. followed suit. [17] A day after the U.S. House of Representatives passed their resolution against Russia and on the same day as Saakashvili’s statements about war, the foreign minister of Abkhazia, Sergei Shamba, went on the record saying that Abkhazia wanted a military pact with Moscow. [18] The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWRP) clearly documented the Russian preparations for the coming war with Tbilisi. The IWPR report depicted the tense environment:
The situation on the ground in the conflict zone remains tense. The head of the de facto administration in Gali region in southern Abkhazia, Ruslan Kishmaria, said Tbilisi had resumed unmanned reconnaissance flights over Abkhazia. He added that the Abkhaz authorities had decided not to shoot the planes down. The Abkhaz say they have shot down several Georgian drones on previous occasions, while Tbilisi denied that most of the alleged incidents took place. In late May, a United Nations report concluded that a drone shot down over Abkhazia on April 20 was hit by a Russian fighter plane. [19]
What is very revealing about the IWPR report are the clear steps that Russia took in preparation for a Georgian attack. The report highlighted the secret deployment of Russian anti-tank missiles into Abkhazia:
Georgian security forces have again had a confrontation with Russian peacekeepers on the border with Abkhazia, leading to a tense telephone conversation between the two presidents [of Georgia and Russia]. The detention of a Russian army truck by Georgian police appears to be part of a war of nerves over the disputed territory of Abkhazia. Tbilisi claims the Russians are engaged in annexing Abkhazia and insists their peacekeeping forces must be disbanded, while Moscow says the troops are operating under an international mandate and are providing vital security for the Abkhaz. Georgian television channels showed pictures of local police stopping a truck carrying Russian peacekeepers near the village of Rukhi on June 17. They reported that it was carrying weapons illegally through the conflict zone, close to the administrative border with Abkhazia. The four soldiers on board the vehicle were released after seven hours in detention. On June 19, the truck was handed back but the Georgians said they were holding onto 20 anti-tank missiles pending an investigation. The Georgians said that the Russians had not asked permission to transport the missiles as they were required to do under the terms that govern the peacekeeping presence. Colonel Vladimir Rogozin, commander of the southern zone of the peacekeeping operation – which comes under the mandate of the Commonwealth of Independent States, CIS, but is entirely manned by Russian troops – said he had simply failed to inform the Georgians about the arms shipment in time. “They were normal weapons permitted by our mandate, and I don’t understand why the Georgians detained our soldiers,” said Rogozin. [20]
The Russian military breached its peacekeeping mandate in Georgia. The anti-tank missiles were intended for use against Georgian tanks. The deployment of the anti-tank missiles were (deliberately) not announced as part of Moscow’s war preparations. In part, the Russian position in Abkhazia and South Ossetia has been intended to prevent Georgia from joining NATO, because NATO cannot accept new members unless all their internal disputes are settled and their boundaries fixed. In effect, Russian support of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has protected Russia from further NATO encroachment.

The war in 2008 has been described as a proxy war in which Georgia acted on behalf of the U.S. against Russia by Sergey A. Markov, a co-chair of the National Strategic Council of Russia. In this context, Russia was attacked by the U.S. and NATO. The Georgians could not have known about the deployment of Russian anti-tank missiles without intelligence reports from the U.S. and NATO. In 2008, NATO even made a revealing move about its intentions in the Caucasus. Despite the fact that Georgia was not a NATO member, NATO began to quickly integrate the Georgian air defences with NATO air defences. [21]

After the 2008 war, the U.S. and Tbilisi even revealed that they were making preparations to construct military bases in Georgia. [22] The U.S. military presence would not only have been used to aid the Georgian military against Russian interests, but could have sent a threatening message to Moscow about war with the U.S. if Russia confronted Georgia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The U.S. bases could also have been used to launch attacks against Russia’s strategic ally Iran. It was revealed that during the Russo-Georgian War the Russian military had attacked Georgian bases that were planned for use in future U.S. and NATO operations against Iran. [23]

Georgia is one of the fastest militarizing states. To counter Georgian militarization and NATO’s agenda for the Caucasus, the Kremlin has beefed up Russian units in the North Caucasus and expanded its military presence in Armenia. In August 2010, Russia and Armenia signed a bilateral military agreement that committed Russia to protecting Armenia and insuring Armenian security. [24] The new Russo-Armenian military agreement has formally allowed Russia to project its military power from Armenia towards Georgia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, whereas the old mandate of Russian troops in Armenia was to provide border security for the Armenian-Turkish and Armenian-Iranian borders. These strategic steps taken by Moscow and Yerevan are in preparation for further crises in the Caucasus.

The Balkans Front: Treachery against Yugoslavia and Moldova

The Balkans has been galvanized by two different forces, those aligned with the Eurasia Heartland and those aligned with the Periphery. This animosity is similar to those that are dividing Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Georgia, Latin America, and the Ukraine. The largest camp of opposition to the U.S. and NATO is in Serbia. This Serbian camp, along with its allies in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, wants either entry into the orbit of Russia and the Eurasians or cooperation with them. The opposing and dominate political camp wants Serbia and the Balkans to enter the orbit of the U.S., the E.U., and NATO. The Serbian Radical Party was formed originally as a member of the first group, while Boris Tadić and his Democratic Party represent the later group in Serbia and the Balkans.

The Balkans is a hub for military operations in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The position of the former Yugoslavia was very important in this context. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was an independent geo-political player. Like the present role of Iran in the Middle East, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia could have prevented the U.S. and NATO from consolidating their control of the Balkans, which would have been a major setback to the implementation of the U.S. and NATO roadmap for control of Eurasia. This is why the U.S. and its Western European allies helped spark ethnic tension, specifically between the Serbs and Croats, in Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia has fallen, but in the Balkans there is still a pending geo-strategic game. This “game of chess” is over the fate of the Serbian province of Kosovo, which is a self-declared republic supported by the E.U. and America, and for the fate of the Serbian Republic itself, as a whole. The people of Serbia have not forgotten the NATO bombardment of their country, whereas most the corrupt political elites in Belgrade have been cooperating with the U.S. and NATO.

The so-called Twitter Revolution in Moldova was also an extension of this struggle in the Balkans and tied to the events in the former Yugoslavia and the issue of Kosovo. Moldova could be used by Russia to reinforce the Russian position, and by extension the Eurasian position, in Serbia and Eastern Europe. Serbia has been flirting with both the E.U. and the U.S. on one side and Russia on another. Both sides want to bring Serbia fully into their orbits.

Serbia is a landlocked nation in terms of not having direct access to the open seas. Serbia, however, does have guaranteed access to the Black Sea through the Danube River. The Danube River is actually an international body of water that large merchant ships can sail. By international treaty right, Serbian ships can freely sail the Danube. Belgrade could always turn to the Danube if Serbia were to be embargoed through the denial of land or airspace usage by its neighbours under orders from the U.S. and the European Union. If international laws were followed the Danube River would give the Serbs a form of lifeline access to the Black Sea and Russia. To prevent this all the states that the Danube River flows through need to be controlled.

The only other nations that the Danube River goes through that are not within the orbit of the E.U. and the U.S. are Moldova, which itself is landlocked too in the same sense as Serbia, and Ukraine. Ukraine is a case in question, but the control of both Moldova and Ukraine could effectively cut off Russian aid to Serbia through the Black Sea and the Danube River in the future if Russia was denied the usage of the airspace around Serbia. It is both in this context and the context of forced integration into the E.U. that Moldova’s neutrality has been ostracized by the U.S. and NATO through Romania.

Yet, there is more to the efforts to isolate Serbia. The Autonomous Province of Vojvodina is where the Serbian coast on the Danube River is located and is home to Serbia’s ports. About one-third of the population in Vojvodina are non-Serbs with Hungarians (Magyars) being the largest of these non-Serb minorities. Tacitly efforts to divide Vojvodina from Serbia have also been underway. The Balkans is a front that has become quiet for now, but Kosovo and Vojvodina could easily light it up.

The Middle East Front: The Resistance Bloc versus the Coalition of the Moderate

The Middle East is the energy centre of the global economy. Along with Central Asia, it is one of the two most strategically important areas on the world map. It is through control of the Middle East that the U.S. and its NATO partners hope to contain China, the anchor of the global counter-alliance to the U.S. and NATO. In terms of regional power, Iran is the Yugoslavia of the Middle East. Tehran has worked with its regional allies to resist U.S., NATO, and Israeli control over the entire region. Thus, the Iranians and their regional allies have provided a layer of insulation for the Russians and the Chinese against U.S. and NATO encroachment into Eurasia through resistance in the Middle East. In other words, Iran and the Middle East are vital pillars of Russian and Chinese resistance to trans-continental encirclement.

William Arkin, one of America’s top security correspondents, stated in 2007 that the White House and Pentagon had started the process of creating a NATO-like military alliance in the Middle East against Iran and Syria. [25] According to Arkin this alliance was to be comprised of the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates) and both Egypt and Jordan. [26] Following the 2006 Israeli blunder in Lebanon, the U.S. and its main NATO partners started sending, either directly or indirectly, massive arms shipments to their clients in the Middle East: Egypt, Jordon, Israel, the Palestinian collaborators Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and Mohammed Dahlan in the Gaza Strip, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms.

The Lebanese militias belonging to the leaders of the March 14 Alliance in Lebanon also received secret weapons shipments to combat Hezbollah and the Lebanese National Opposition. [27] Despite their arms and U.S. support, the Arab collaborators in both the Gaza Strip and Lebanon lost in internal fighting that broke out respectively in June 2007 and May 2008. In Lebanon this resulted in the formation of a national unity government after the Doha Accord. It also caused Walid Jumblatt and the Progressive Socialist Party to realign themselves with Hezbollah and to leave the March 14 Alliance.

It was by the end of 2006 that Mahmoud Abbas, the March 14 Alliance, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Bahrain, Egypt, Jordon, and Kuwait began to be called the “Coalition of the Moderate” by U.S. and British officials. These countries have helped the U.S., NATO, and Israel in intelligence operations against fellow Arabs, against the Lebanese Resistance, and against the Palestinians. The regime of Mohammed Husni (Hosni) Mubarak in Cairo has helped enforce the Israeli siege against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Cairo has also been in several vocal rows against the Palestinians, Hezbollah, members of the Iraqi Resistance, Syria, and Iran. Mubarak has tried to justify working against the Palestinians in Gaza by demonizing Hamas as an Iranian client and as a threat to Egypt. There is even talk about some form of Egyptian and Jordanian military intervention in Lebanon after the Special Tribunal for Lebanon releases its findings about the Hariri Assassination.

During the 2008 Israeli siege of Gaza, Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah made a direct plea to the Egyptian people, asking them to demand that their government open the borders for relief to the Palestinian people. Nasrallah’s plea, which made it a point to say that it was not asking for a coup in Cairo, was met by anger from Egyptian officials who had tried every means to publicly justify Israeli actions against the Palestinians. Ahmed Abul Gheit, the foreign minister of Egypt, responded by telling reporters in Turkey that Nasrallah wanted chaos in Egypt like in Lebanon and that the Egyptian military could be used against Nasrallah and people like him.

Mustafa Al-Faqi, the head of the Egyptian parliamentary foreign relations committee, has been quoted as saying that Cairo will not accept an Islamic emirate on its border. [28] This language is part of the campaign to portray Hamas as a Taliban-like organization, when the leadership of Cario and the Arab World know fully that Hamas is nothing like the Taliban government of pre-invasion Afghanistan. In 2010, a high-ranking Egyptian intelligence officer was caught spying and collecting information in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas-led Palestinian government there. [29] The regime in Egypt has also allowed Israel to send its German-built submarines with nuclear cruise missiles across the Suez Canal to head into the Persian Gulf towards Iranian waters in an effort to militarily threaten Tehran through a permanent deployment. [30] The extent of Egyptian ties with Tel Aviv is best described by a news report quoting Amos Gilad, an Israeli military official:
Egypt-Israel relations are “a cornerstone in Israel’s national security,” said Amos Gilad, head of the Defense [sic.] Ministry’s Security-Diplomatic Bureau, at a ceremony marking 30 years to Israel's peace agreement with Egypt on Thursday. “We have very profound dialogue with them. It’s important for Israel to know how to preserve these relations and deepen them,” he said, while mentioning Egypt’s “tolerant stance during [Israel’s] recent [2008] military offensive in Gaza.” [31]
Saudi Arabia too has been very actively involved in assisting the U.S., Britain, and Israel in their operations in the Middle East. The mega-sized weapons sales the U.S. has made to Saudi Arabia, without any objections from Tel Aviv and its lobbyists, is directed against Iran, Syria, and any revolts and democracy movements in the Arabian Peninsula, such as the Houthis in Yemen. The Saudi arms deals that the U.S. has made are a vital part of its strategic aims to control the energy resources of the Middle East. [32]

Saudi-owned media consistently spews sectarian hatred and propaganda against any forces resisting the U.S., Israel, NATO, and their local clients and allies in the Middle East and the Arab World. This has reached a point where most rational adults do not take Saudi-owned media, like Asharq Al-Aswat and its editor-in-chief, seriously. For example Asharq Al-Aswat has systematically and falsely accused Hezbollah of torturing Sunni Muslims in Lebanon and of occupying Beirut and has continuously targeted Iran at every chance, claiming that the Iranians are an imminent danger to the Arab World, while downplaying the actions of the U.S. and Israel against Arab countries.

In opposition, the Coalition of the Moderate is commonly described and thought of as nothing more than as Arab collaborators or traitors. Its leaders, from the U.A.E. to Egypt, say one thing in public and decide something entirely different behind closed doors. The Coalition of the Moderate is a catch phrase designed by those who coined the terms “Shia Crescent” and “Sunni Triangle” to demonize the forces of resistance in the Middle East. [33] These terms serve the war, balkanization, and finlandization agendas in the Middle East.

On the other side of the chasm stand Iran and all the forces opposed to foreign intervention in the Middle East; these forces have been called the “Radicals” by the White House. In reality, Iran and these independent and indigenous forces form the “Resistance Bloc” in the Middle East. The Resistance Bloc is not a formal alliance nor is it organized as a genuine bloc, but its members all share a common interest against foreign control of their societies. The members of the Resistance Bloc are as follows;
(1) The democratically-elected Hamas-led Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip and all the Palestinians groups, including Hamas, the Popular Palestinian Struggle Front, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Marxist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, that are opposed to Israel, the U.S., and Mahmoud Abbas;
(2) Lebanon, more or less as a state, as well as Hezbollah, the Free Patriotic Movement, the Amal Movement, the El Marada Movement, the Lebanese Communist Party, the Lebanese Democratic Party, the Lebanese Islamic Front, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Tashnaq), the Syrian Social Nationalist Party of Lebanon, and their political allies in Lebanon;
(3) The multitude of various political and combative Iraqi groups that form the Iraqi Resistance;
(4) Sudan;
(5) Syria;
(6) The rebel groups in Yemen, which are Shiite Muslims in the north and west and include Sunni Muslims in the south and east;
(7) And Iran.
Qatar and Oman closely coordinate with the Resistance Bloc. Oman is also considered an Iranian ally in Tehran. Both Qatari and Omani leaders exercise flexible foreign policies and realize that it would be against their national interests to contain themselves in any regional alliance against Iran and the Resistance Bloc or, by the same token, even against the U.S. and its regional clients. This is why Qatar and Oman are used as intermediaries between Iran and the Resistance Bloc on one side and the U.S. and the Coalition of the Moderate on the other side.

Since 2009 and 2010, the position of Turkey is not clear. Ankara has begun to publicly criticize its Israeli ally and is beginning to be touted by Iran and Syria as a member of their Resistance Bloc. Turkey has also entered into agreements with Syria, Iran, Lebanon, and Russia that look like the seeds for the creation of a common market and political bloc in the Middle East that would mirror the European Union.

U.S. influence in the Middle East is said to be ending. It appears that many American allies and clients in the Middle East are also looking at switching camps to protect their interests. This could be the case within the March 14 Alliance in Lebanon and in regards to Ankara.

In the Middle East, the frontlines for Eurasia are the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, occupied Iraq, and Yemen. Yemen, situated on the southernmost tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is the newest of these frontlines in the Middle East and is geo-strategically located on an important point on the map. The maritime corridor running past Yemen is internationally the most important in terms of shipping. The Red Sea connects to the Indian Ocean through the Gate of Tears (Bab al-Mandeb) that runs through the Gulf of Aden.

The danger of a catastrophic global war igniting from the Middle East exists. The front in the Middle East is central to the U.S. strategy in Eurasia. Since 2001, this front has been fluctuating between cold and hot wars that are now aimed at containing Iran and its allies. The region is both a powder keg and geo-political volcano.
The Central Asian Front: A War for Control of the Heartland of Eurasia

Central Asia is the heart of Eurasia and at the centre of the Eurasian Heartland. The U.S. and NATO push into Eurasia is aimed at control of this region in its entirety. The region is a major geo-strategic hub that conveniently flanks Iran, China, Russia, the Caspian Sea, and the Indian sub-continent. From a military and spatial standpoint, Central Asia is an ideal place to create a wedge between the major Eurasian powers and to establish a military presence for future operations in Eurasia.

Central Asia, as the bulk of an area called the “Eurasian Balkans” (the other portions include Georgia, Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Caucasian constituent republics of the South Federal District and the North Caucasian Federal District of the Russian Federation, Iran, and Turkey to a limited extent), can also be used to destabilize the areas it flanks and Eurasia. The NATO occupation of Afghanistan is tied to this objective. Atollah Loudin, an Afghan official who is the chair of the Justice and Judiciary Committee of Afghanistan, has gone on the record to say that the U.S. is using Afghanistan as a military and intelligence base to infiltrate and pursue its strategic objectives in Pakistan, Central Asia, Russia, Iran, and China. [34]

Central Asia also has vast oil, natural gas, and mineral resources. The energy resources of the region rival those of the Middle East. In the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski: “As an overlay to all this, Central Asia now witnesses a very complicated inter-play among the regional states and Russia, the United States (especially since September 11, 2001), and China.” [35] The 2001 invasion of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan was initiated with the objective of establishing a foothold in Central Asia and a base of operations to isolate Iran, divide the Eurasians from one another, to prevent the construction of pipelines going through Iran, to distance the Central Asian countries from Moscow, to take control of the flow of Central Asian energy, and to strategically strangle the Chinese.

Most importantly, control over Central Asia would disrupt the “New Silk Road” being formed from East Asia to the Middle East and Eastern Europe. It is this “New Silk Road” that will make China the next global superpower. Thus, the U.S. strategy in Central Asia is meant to ultimately prevent the emergence of China as a global superpower by preventing the Chinese from having access to the vital energy resources they need. The U.S. and E.U. rivalry with Russia over energy transit routes has to be judged alongside preventing the construction of a trans-Eurasian energy corridor from reaching China from the Caspian Sea Basin and from the Persian Gulf.

Central Asia has been the scene of war and colour revolutions. An active war still rages in Afghanistan, which has spread into Pakistan. The instability in Kyrgyzstan could spill over into becoming a civil war. Any future conflict against Iran, Syria, and Lebanon also threatens to engulf Central Asia.
The South Asia and Indian Ocean Fronts: Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and the Waves

South Asia or the Indian sub-continent is comprised of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the island states of Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Afghanistan is sometimes considered a part of South Asia. Similar to Central Asia, the northern portion of South Asia, which is Pakistan and the northern states of the Republic of India, serves as a transit land route between the Middle East and East Asia. This northern area also straddles Central Asia. The southern portions of South Asia is also centrally located in regards to the Indian Ocean and both the southern portion of South Asia, which is the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, and the Indian Ocean littoral serve as a transit maritime route from the Middle East and Africa to East Asia

In South Asia, the aims of the U.S and NATO are to prevent the creation of a secure energy route to China and to control the flow of energy resources and the territories they would go through. India also shares an interest in this. Indian cooperation with the U.S. and NATO, however, comes at the expense of Indian national security. The instability in Kashmir is an example.

The instability in Pakistan is a direct result of the goal of preventing the creation of a secure energy route to China. The U.S. and NATO do not want a strong, stable, and independent Pakistan. They would rather see a divided and feeble Pakistan that can easily be controlled and would not take orders from Beijing or ally itself within the Eurasian camp. The instability in Pakistan and the terrorist attacks against Iran that have been originating from the Pakistani border are meant to prevent the establishment of a secure energy route to China.

Moreover, U.S and NATO objectives in South Asia also include using India as a counter-weight against China. This is the same strategy that Britain applied on the European continent between various European powers and the same strategy the U.S. used in the Middle East in regards to Iran and Iraq during the Iraq-Iran War. In this context, after the 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon, NATO has asked for military ands security dialogue with New Delhi. [36]

The rivalries between the U.S., China, and India have had a direct bearing on the militarization of the Indian Ocean. A naval arms race has been underway in the Indian Ocean. Both India and China are racing to procure and build as many naval ports as possible while they expand their navies.

The maritime shipping route that passes the territorial waters of Sri Lanka is vital to Chinese energy security. In this context, geo-politics also has had a direct impact on the nature of the Sri Lankan Civil War. In 2009, the Chinese and their allies supported the Sri Lankan government in the hope of seeing a stable political environment on the island state so as to secure the Chinese naval presence and the cooperation of Sri Lanka. After the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War, Colombo joined the SCO as a “dialogue partner” like Belarus.

The militarization of the Indian Ocean has not stopped and is merely underway. Internal tensions in Pakistan and India, the regional tensions in South Asia between its states, and the tensions between New Delhi and Beijing all are threats to Eurasian cohesion and security.
The East Africa Front: Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan

In East Africa the U.S. and NATO strategy is to block China from access to regional energy resources and to setup a choke point to control international shipping. Like Central Asia, U.S. aims in East Africa, as well as the entire African continent, are to hinder China from superpower status. Military control over East Africa and its geo-strategically important waters has been intensifying since the 1990s. A large NATO naval armada permanently sails in the waves off the Horn of Africa and off the coast of East Africa ready to cordon the seas. The involvement of the U.S. military in Yemen is directly tied to the U.S. geo-strategy in East Africa and plans to control the maritime waterways there, as well as East African energy and the movement of international shipping. The piracy problem off the coast of Somalia and the demonization of Sudan are consequences of these strategic objectives.

Looking at Somalia, the conditions that have led to the piracy problem were nurtured to give the U.S. and NATO a pretext for militarizing the strategic waterways of the region. The U.S. and NATO have wanted anything except for stability in the Horn of Africa. In December 2006 the Ethiopian military invaded Somalia and overthrew the Islamic Courts Union (I.C.U.) government of Somalia. The Ethiopian invasion took place at a point in Somalia when the I.C.U. government had relatively stabilized Somalia and was close to bringing a state of lasting peace and order to the entire African country.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) coordinated the 2006 invasion of Somalia. The Ethiopian land invasion was synchronized with the U.S. military and saw the joint intervention of the U.S. military alongside the Ethiopians through U.S. Special Forces and U.S. aerial attacks. [37] General John Abizaid, the commander of CENTCOM, went to Ethiopia and held a low-profile meeting with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on December 4, 2006 to plan the attack on Somalia. Approximately three weeks later the U.S. and Ethiopia both attacked and invaded Somalia. [38]

The Somali I.C.U. government was defeated and removed from power and in its place the Somalian Transitional Government (STG), an unpopular government subservient to U.S. and E.U. edicts, was brought to power under the Ethiopian and U.S. military intervention. Marshall law was also imposed in Somalia by the Ethiopian military. At the international level, the I.C.U. government was demonized and the invasion was justified by the U.S., Britain, Ethiopia, NATO, and the Somalian Transitional Government as a part of the “Global War on Terror” and a war against sympathisers and allies of Al-Qaeda.

The Somalian Transitional Government and its leaders were immediately accused of collaborating in the dismantling of Somalia and being clients of the U.S. and other foreign powers by Somali parliamentarians and citizens. [39] The Speaker of the Transitional Somali Parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, accused Ethiopia of deliberately sabotaging “any chance of peace in Somalia.” [40] The Somali Speaker and other Somali parliamentarians who were taking refuge in Kenya were immediately ordered to leave Kenya by the Kenyan government for opposing the Ethiopian invasion of their country. [41] Their expulsion was ordered at the behest of the U.S. government.

The extent of U.S. influence over Ethiopia and Kenya and of the U.S. role in directing the invasion of Somalia can also be understood by the testimony of Saifa Benaouda:
At the Kenyan border, she was detained by soldiers, including three Americans, who had American flag patches on their uniforms, she said. She was then, by turns, imprisoned in Kenya, secretly deported back to Mogadishu, then spirited to Ethiopia, where she was fingerprinted and had her DNA taken by a man who said he was American. She was interrogated by a group of men and women, who she determined by their accents to be Americans and Europeans, she said. [42]
Ethiopia deliberately sabotaged the peace talks in next-door Somalia under American orders. The country is now divided and in the north, Puntland and Somaliland are virtually independent states. Instead of the stability and peace that the I.C.U. government was bringing, bands of pirates, militias, and a group called Harakat Al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen or simply Al-Shabaab have been allowed to take control of Somalia. Al-Shabaab is the equivalent of the pre-2001 Taliban in Afghanistan. [43]

The instability brought about by Ethiopia and the U.S. has helped justify the militarization of East Africa by the military forces of the U.S. and NATO. The Russian, Chinese, and Iranian navies have also deployed their warships into the region on anti-piracy and maritime security missions. [44] These naval deployments, however, are also strategically symmetric counter-moves to the U.S. and NATO naval build-up in the waters of East Africa, from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

Sudanese oil goes to China and the trade relations of Khartoum are tied to Beijing. This is why Russia and China oppose U.S., British, and French efforts to internationalize the domestic problems of Sudan at the U.N. Security Council. Moreover, it is due to Sudan’s business ties to China that Sudanese leaders have been targeted by the U.S. and E.U. as human rights violators, while the human right records of the dictators that are their clients and allies are ignored.

Although the Republic of Sudan is not traditionally considered to be in the Middle East, Khartoum has been engaged as a member of the Resistance Bloc. Iran, Syria, and Sudan have been strengthening their ties and cooperation since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Israeli war against the Lebanese and the subsequent deployment of international military forces, predominately from NATO countries, onto Lebanese soil and water did not go unnoticed in Sudan either. In is in context of this resistance that Sudan has also been deepening its military ties with Tehran and Damascus.

Sudanese leaders have sworn to resist the entrance of NATO or any international forces into their country. Sudan has made it clear that they will see these forces as invaders who want to plunder the national resources of Sudan. Second Vice-President Ali Osman Taha of Sudan has vowed that the Sudanese government would maintain its opposition to any foreign intervention under the pretext of peacekeeping forces for Darfur (Darfour) and has hailed Hezbollah as a model of resistance for Sudan. [45] In a show of solidarity for Sudanese resistance, Dr. Ali Larijani on behalf of Iran has also led an international parliamentary delegation to Khartoum, in March 2009, when a politically-motivated arrest warrant was issued by the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) for Omar Hassan Ahmed Al-Basher, the Sudanese president.

Khartoum has been under intense U.S. and E.U. pressure. While there is a humanitarian crisis in Darfur, the underlying causes of the conflict have been manipulated and distorted. The underlying causes are intimately related to economic and strategic interests and not ethnic cleansing. Both America and its E.U. partners are the main authors behind the fighting and instability in Darfur and Southern Sudan. The U.S., the E.U., and Israel have assisted in the training, financing, and arming of the militias and forces opposed to the Sudanese government in these regions. They lay blame squarely on Khartoum’s shoulders for any violence while they themselves fuel conflict in order to move in and control the energy resources of Sudan.

Tel Aviv has boasted about militarily intervening in Sudan to upset weapons transactions between Hamas and Iran going through Sudan and Egypt, but Israeli activities have really been limited to sending weapons to opposition groups and separatist movements in Sudan. Israeli arms have entered Sudan from Ethiopia for years until Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia, which made Ethiopia lose its Red Sea coast, and bad relations developed between the Ethiopians and Eritreans. Since then Israeli weapons have been entering Southern Sudan from Kenya. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Southern Sudan has also been helping arm the militias in Darfur. The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), a U.S. client, has also been sending arms to both the militias in Darfur and the SPLM.

The extent of Israeli influence with Sudanese opposition groups is significant. The Sudan Tribune reported on March 5, 2008 that separatist groups in Darfur and Southern Sudan had offices in Israel:
[Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] supporters in Israel announced establishment of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement office in Israel, a press release said today. “After consultation with the leadership of SPLM in Juba, the supporters of SPLM in Israel have decided to establish the office of SPLM in Israel.” Said [sic.] a statement received by email from Tel Aviv signed by the SLMP secretariat in Israel. The statement said that SPLM office would promote the policies and the vision of the SPLM in the region. It further added that in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement the SPLM has the right to open in any country including Israel. It also indicated that there are around 400 SPLM supporters in Israel. Darfur rebel leader Abdel Wahid al-Nur said last week he opened an office in Tel Aviv. [46]
There is a power sharing arrangement between Omar Al-Basher and the SPLM, which has a strong grip over Southern Sudan. The leader of the SPLM, Salva Kiir Mayardit, is the First Vice-President of Sudan and the President of Southern Sudan. The SPLM has strong ties with Israel and its members and supporters regularly visit Israel and Sudan’s other enemies. It is due to this that Khartoum removed the Sudanese passport restriction on visiting Israel in late-2009 to satisfy the SPLM. [47] Salva Kiir Mayardit has also said that Southern Sudan will recognize Israel when it separates from Sudan.

The events in Sudan and Somalia are linked to the international thirst and rivalry for oil and energy, but are also part of the aligning of a geo-strategic chessboard revolving around control for Eurasia. The militarization of East Africa is part of the preparations for a confrontation with China and its allies. East Africa is an important front that will heat up in the coming years.
The East Asia Front: The Shadow War against China

In this current century, all roads lead to East Asia and China. This will become more and more so as this century progresses. In East Asia a shadow war is being waged against the Chinese. If the globe were a chessboard and the rivals and opponents of the U.S. and NATO were chess pieces, China would be the king piece, while Russia would be the queen piece. The U.S. and NATO march to war will ultimately lead to East Asia and the borders of the Chinese. From the eyes of America, in the words of Brzezinski, “China is unfinished business.” [48]

In East Asia, the U.S. and its allies support the breakaway republic of Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, and use it as a strategic base against mainland China. Taiwan also administers some of the small islands in the South China Sea, which along with Taiwan Island or Formosa, overlook the strategic shipping lanes to China. A missile shield project, similar to the one in Europe directed against Russia and its CSTO allies, has also been in the works in East Asia for years that includes the use of Taiwan.

The U.S. and its allies are also interested in North Korea and Myanmar as a means of encircling the Chinese. Both North Korea, in Northeast Asia, and Myanmar, in Southeast Asia, are close Chinese allies. The pretext of a threat from North Korea is being used to justify the elements of the missile shield project being built in Northeast Asia. Of special importance in Southeast Asia is the port and naval facilities that Myanmar is constructing to give the Chinese a far more secure energy lifeline in the Indian Ocean that circumvents Malacca and Taiwan.
There have also been internal operations underway against Beijing. In Chinese Turkistan, where Xinjiang Autonomous Region is located, the U.S. and its allies have been supporting Uyghur separatism based on a matrix of Uyghur ethnic nationalism, pan-Turkism, and Islam to weaken China. In Tibet the aims are the same as in Xinjiang, but the U.S. and its allies have been involved in far more intensified intelligence operations there.

Breaking Xinjiang and Tibet from China would heavily obstruct its rise as a superpower. The estrangement of both Xinijang and Tibet would take vast resources in these territories away from China and the Chinese economy. It would also deny China direct access to the ex-Soviet Republics of Central Asia. This would effectively disrupt the land route in Eurasia and complicate the creation of an energy corridor to China.

Any future governments in an independent Xinjiang or an independent Tibet could act like Ukraine under the Orangists in regards to disrupting Russian gas supplies to the European Union over political differences and transit prices. Beijing as an energy consumer could be held hostage like European countries were during the Ukrainian-Russian gas disputes. This is precisely one of the objectives of the U.S. in regards to stunting the Chinese.

The Latin America and Caribbean Fronts: America versus the Bolivarian Bloc

The struggle in Latin America has spanned from South America to the Caribbean and Central America or Mesoamerica. It has been a struggle between the local or regional countries allied under the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas or ALBA (Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas). ALBA has pushed for political and economic self-determination in an area that the leaders of the U.S. have seen as their own “backyard” since 1823 under the Monroe Doctrine. In their struggle for independence, these regional countries in Latin America and the Carribean have become allied with the Eurasians against America and its allies.

With the election of Hugo Chávez in 1998 and the start of his presidency in 1999, Venezuela became the force that would establish the seeds of the Bolivarian Bloc, which is named after Simón José Bolívar, the man who led Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, and Panama to independence in their struggle against Spain. The Bolivarian government in Caracas would go to the aid of Cuba and end the American attempts to isolate Havana by openly declaring solidarity with Cuba and expanding ties. The bilateral agreements signed by Cuba and Venezuela would form the nucleus of the Bolivarian Bloc and the model of the expanded format of the alliance under ALBA.

In 2006, the alliance between Havana and Caracas began to take in new members. In 2006, Evo Morales would become the new president of Bolivia and Bolivia would become allied with both Venezuela and Cuba. In 2007, one year later, Rafael Correa would become the president of Ecuador and Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista leader, would become the president of Nicaragua. Both Ecuador and Nicaragua instantly joined the alliance between Bolivia, Cuba, and Venezuela. In 2008, Honduras under President Manuel Zelaya, who was elected in 2006, would also enter ALBA. In all these countries the Bolivarian leaders would work for economic and constitutional reform to remove the local oligarchies allied with U.S. interests in Latin America.

To reduce their dependency on the U.S., the Bolivarian Bloc has also introduced its own unified regional monetary compensation framework, called the SUCRE (Sistema Único de Compensación Regional). [49] The implementation of the SUCRE follows the same steps as the euro, being used initially on a virtual basis for trade and eventually as a hard currency. This is part of a joint move away from the U.S. dollar by the Bolivarians and the Eurasians.

The White House, the Pentagon, the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Congress have viciously attacked the Bolivarian Bloc and its leaders in language that exposes so-called U.S. democratic values as being false pretexts for invasions and international aggression. This U.S. rhetoric has also been in tune with a U.S. program for regime change and covert operations in Latin America. During the course of all these events the U.S. embassies and American diplomats in these Latin American countries would be implicated in supporting violence against the Bolivarian governments.

In 2002, the U.S. supported a failed coup against Chávez by elements of the Venezuelan military. In Bolivia, since 2006, the leadership of the energy-rich eastern departments of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, and Tarija started pushing for autonomy with the help of U.S. funding from the Office of Transition Initiatives of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2008, civil strife began when the leaders of the eastern departments started to seize local government buildings, energy facilities, and infrastructure as part of an attempt to separate from Bolivia. The American-supported failed attempts to divide Bolivia were part of the attempt by the U.S. government to retain control over Bolivian natural gas.

In Honduras, the weakest link in the Bolivarian Bloc, a military coup d’état supported by the U.S., under the cloud of a constitutional crisis, would replace Manuel Zelaya in 2008. The outcry and clamour against the military coup in Honduras would be so strong that the U.S. government would publicly act as if it were opposed to the American-engineered coup in Honduras. A United Nations General Assembly meeting under the presidency of Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, a Christian priest of the Roman Catholic Church, would unanimously condemn the coup in Honduras. In 2010, the U.S. would also support an attempted coup in Ecuador by police units against Rafael Correa and his government.

The U.S. has been militarizing the Caribbean and Latin America to regain its control of the Americas. The Pentagon has been arming Columbia and deepening its military ties with Columbia to counter Venezuela and its allies. On October 30, 2009 the Columbian and U.S. governments would also sign an agreement that would allow the U.S to use Columbian military bases.

American-garrisoned Haiti also serves the broader hemispheric agenda of the U.S. to challenge the Bolivarian Bloc using the westernmost ridge of the island of Hispaniola. Haiti is located just south of Cuba. Geographically it is situated in the best position to simultaneously assault Cuba, Venezuela, and the states of Central America, like Nicaragua. The catastrophic 2010 earthquakes and the instability that the U.S. has created in Haiti through multiple invasions of Haiti make the project to subvert the Caribbean and Latin America far less conspicuous. Looking at the map and the militarization of Haiti it is unambiguous that the U.S. plans to use Haiti, like Columbia and Curaçao, as a hub for military and intelligence operations. Haiti would also prove as an invaluable base in the scenario of a broader conflict waged by the U.S. and its proxies against Caracas and its regional allies.

It is clear that U.S. is loosing its grip in the Americas. Not only does the U.S. government want to prevent this, but it also wants to ensure that it does not lose the energy reserves of countries like Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia to the energy-hungry Chinese. Under fair global competition there is no way that the U.S. will be able to match what Beijing is willing to offer the nations of Latin American and the Caribbean for their energy exports and resources. Ultimately, the U.S. is still planning on resorting to aggression in order to control Latin America and the Caribbean. This is why the Bolivarians have allied themselves with Russia, Iran, China, and their Eurasian entente.

The Arctic Front: Controlling Future Energy Reserves

Tense rivalry involving the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the Russian Federation has emerged in the Arctic Circle for the North Pole’s vast resources. Aside from Russia, all the nations involved are members of NATO. Russia has the greatest claim to the area due to its territorial expanse in the region.
Under the backdrop of this rivalry for natural resources, the Arctic Circle is being militarized by NATO and Russia. In Orwellian terms, these NATO countries claim that they are working for peace and stability through military means and the improvement of their combat capabilities in an area of the globe that does not need a large military presence. Logically this is nothing other than double-speak. Why the need for better combat readiness and capabilities in the Arctic? In this context, the U.S., Canada, Denmark, and Norway have been working together against the Russian Federation.

Canada and the U.S. have also been streamlining their Arctic policies, because Canada is the strongest challenger in terms of territorial size to Russia. The U.S. is working through Canada to tap the energy resources of the Arctic. Both Ottawa and Moscow have claimed the Lomonosov Ridge as an extension of their continental shelves.

Prime Minister Steven Harper and the Canadian government have demanded that the underwater boundaries of the region be settled and have diplomatically warned Moscow to stand-down in regards to the Russian claim to the Arctic: “Canada will maintain control of our Arctic lands and waters and will respond when others take actions that affect our national interests.” [50] Ottawa’s three Arctic priorities are:
(1) Demarcating the Arctic;
(2) Receiving international recognition of Canadian control over the Lomonosov Ridge as an extension of the continental shelf extending from Canadian territory;
(3) An Arctic security regime under the platform of Arctic governance and emergency measures. [51]
The NATO agenda in the Arctic starts as early as 2006, when Norway invited all NATO and its associates for its Cold Response drills. Canada too has continuously held Arctic exercises to demonstrate its sovereignty in the Arctic, but starting in 2010 U.S. and Danish troops were involved in Operation Nanook 10. [52] This is a sign of NATO cooperation against Russia. According to a Canadian military press release the military drills were intended “to strengthen preparedness, increase interoperability and exercise a collective response to emerging challenges in the Arctic.” [53] Aside from a Russian claim to the Lomonosov Ridge, there is no other situation that could be seen as an emerging challenge that warrants a collective military response by Canada, the U.S., and Denmark.

The battle over the Arctic is well underway. By virtue of its territory, Russia has the largest territorial claim. Yet, the U.S., Canada, and Denmark refuse to recognized this. A crisis between NATO and Russia, which will be supported by China, over claims about Arctic resources will emerge at a future point.


Russians vow to fire first if missile shield plan proceeds!image/3354039798.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/3354039798.jpg

Russia’s top military officer has threatened to carry a pre-emptive strike on Nato missile defence facilities in Eastern Europe if America goes ahead with a plan to build a missile shield. The comments came at an international conference attended by senior US and officials of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation over the proposed project. Talks looked set to end in failure yesterday after Russian defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov warned they were “close to a dead end”.

Moscow fears its security will be threatened by the missile plan. Russia’s chief of general staff General Nikolai Makarov said: “A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens.” Moscow rejects Washington’s claim the missile system is solely to deal with any Iranian missile threat and has voiced fears it could undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent. Moscow has proposed running the missile shield jointly with Nato, but the alliance has rejected that proposal.

Gen Makarov’s statement does not appear to imply an immediate threat, but aims to put extra pressure on Washington to agree to Russia’s demands. The two-day conference in Moscow is the last major Russia-US meeting about military issues before a Nato summit in Chicago this month. Russia has not yet said whether it will send a top-level delegation. In a lively exchange during a conference side session, officials talked about the high level of distrust between the two sides.

“We can’t just reject the distrust that has been around for decades and become totally different people,” Russian deputy defence minister Anatoly Antonov said. “Why are they calling on me, on my Russian colleagues, to reject distrust? Better look at yourselves in the mirror.”

US State Department special envoy Ellen Tauscher said neither country could afford another arms race. She said: “It’s going to have to take a political leap of faith and it’s going to take some trust that we have to borrow, perhaps, from each other and for each other, but why don’t we do it for the next generation?” President Barack Obama’s administration tried to ease tensions with Russia in 2009 by saying it would revamp a plan to emphasise shorter-range interceptors. Russia initially welcomed that but has recently suggested the new interceptors could threaten its missiles as the US interceptors are upgraded.

The US-Nato missile defence plans use Aegis radars and interceptors on ships and a more powerful radar based in Turkey in the first phase, followed by radar and interceptor facilities in Romania and Poland. Russia would not plan any retaliation unless the US goes through with its plans and takes the third and final step and deploys defence elements in Poland, Mr Antonov said. That is estimated to happen no earlier than in 2018.

Russia has just commissioned a radar in Kaliningrad, near the Polish border, capable of monitoring missile launches from Europe and the North Atlantic. Yesterday, at the start of the conference attended by representatives of about 50 countries, Russia’s Security Council secretary reiterated an offer to run the missile shield with Nato. Nikolai Patrushev said this “could strengthen the security of every single country of the continent” and “will not deter strategic security.”

Nato deputy secretary general, Alexander Vershbow, insisted the missile shield was “not and will not be directed against Russia” and that Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles were “too fast and too sophisticated” for the system to intercept.


Why Moscow does not Trust Washington on Missile Defense. Towards a Pre-emptive Nuclear War?

Most in the civilized world are blissfully unaware that we are marching ineluctably towards an increasingly likely pre-emptive nuclear war. No, it's not at all about Iran and Israel. It's about the decision of Washington and the Pentagon to push Moscow up against the wall with what is euphemistically called Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD).

On November 23, a normally low-keyed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told the world in clear terms that Russia was prepared to deploy its missiles on the border to the EU between Poland and Lithuania, and possibly in the south near Georgia and NATO member Turkey to counter the advanced construction process of the US ballistic missile defense shield: "The Russian Federation will deploy in the west and the south of the country modern weapons systems that could be used to destroy the European component of the US missile defense," he announced on Russian television. "One of these steps could be the deployment of the Iskander missile systems in Kaliningrad."1

Those would be theatre ballistic missile systems. The latest version of Iskander, the Iskander-K, whose details remain top secret, reportedly has a range up to 2000 km and carries cruise missiles and a target accuracy to 7 meters or less.

Medvedev declared he has ordered the Russian defense ministry to "immediately" put radar systems in Kaliningrad that warn of incoming missile attacks on a state of combat readiness. He called for extending the targeting range of Russia's strategic nuclear missile forces and re-equipping Russia's nuclear arsenal with new warheads capable of piercing the US/NATO defense shield due to become operational in six years, by 2018. Medvedev also threatened to pull Russia out of the New START missile reduction treaty if the United States moves as announced.

Medvedev then correctly pointed to the inevitable link between “defensive” missiles and “offensive” missiles: “Given the intrinsic link between strategic offensive and defensive arms, conditions for our withdrawal from the New Start treaty could also arise,” he said.2

The Russian President didn’t mince words: “I have ordered the armed forces to develop measures to ensure, if necessary, that we can destroy the command and control systems” of the US shield, Medvedev said. “These measures are appropriate, effective and low-cost.” Russia has repeatedly warned that the US BMD global shield is designed to destabilize the nuclear balance and risks provoking a new arms race. The Russian President said that rather than take the Russian concerns seriously, Washington has instead been “accelerating” its BMD development.3

It was not the first time Medvedev threatened to take countermeasures to the increasing Pentagon military encirclement pressure on Russia. Back in November 2008 as the US BMD threat was first made known to the world, Medvedev made a televised address to the Russian people in which he declared, “I would add something about what we have had to face in recent years: what is it? It is the construction of a global missile defense system, the installation of military bases around Russia, the unbridled expansion of NATO and other similar ‘presents’ for Russia ­ we therefore have every reason to believe that they are simply testing our strength.” 4 That threat was dropped some months later when the Obama Administration offered the now-clearly deceptive olive branch of reversing the BMD decision to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Russia is threatening to deploy its Iskander anti-BMD missiles in Kaliningrad

This time around Washington lost no time signaling it was in the developing game of thermonuclear chicken to stay. No more pretty words about “reset” in US-Russia relations. A spokesman for the Obama National Security Council declared, “we will not in any way limit or change our deployment plans for Europe." The US Administration continues to insist on the implausible argument that the missile defense installations are aimed at a threat from a possible Iranian nuclear launch, something hardly credible. The real risk of Iranian nuclear missile attack on Europe given the reality of the global US as well as Israeli BMD installations and the reality of Iran's nuclear delivery capabilities, is by best impartial accounts, near zero.

Two days earlier on November 21, Washington had thrown a small carrot to Moscow. US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher said that Washington was ready to provide information about the missile's speed after it uses up all of its fuel. This information, referred to as burnout velocity (VBO), helps to determine how to target it.5 That clearly was not seen as a serious concession by Moscow, which demands a full hands-on partnership with the US/NATO missile deployment to insure it will never be used against Russia. After all, given Washington's track record of lies and broken promises, there is no guarantee the speeds would even be true.

After the early October Brussels NATO defense ministers meeting, NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in regard to the nominally NATO European Missile Defense Program, “We would expect it to be fully operational in 2018." Spain just announced it plans to join the US-controlled missile program, joining Romania, Poland, the Netherlands and Turkey, which have already agreed to deploy key components of the future missile defense network on their territories.6

The concerns of Russia are caused by the dramatic improvement of an entire system of missile defense by Washington, which is taking the form of a global BMD system encircling Russia on all sides.

Full Spectrum Dominance…

The last time Washington's Missile Defense "Shield" made headlines was in September 2009 early in the Obama Administration when the US President offered to downgrade the provocative stationing of US special radar and anti-missile missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic. That was a clear tactic to prepare the way for what Hillary Clinton ludicrously called the "reset" in US-Russian relations from the tense Bush-Putin days. However the strategic goal of encircling the one nuclear potential opponent in the world with credible missile defense remained US strategy.

Barack Obama announced back then that the US was altering Bush Administration plans to station US anti-ballistic missiles in Poland and sophisticated radar in the Czech Republic. The news was greeted in Moscow as an important concession.7 Subsequent developments clearly show that far from ditching its plans for a missile shield that could cripple any potential Russian nuclear launch, the US was merely opting for a more effective global system, whose feasibility had been proven in the meantime.

To assuage the Poles, the Obama Administration also agreed to provide Poland with US Patriot missiles. Poland’s Foreign Minister then and now is Radek Sikorski. From 2002 to 2005 he was in Washington as a resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, a noted neo-conservative hawkish think-tank, and executive director of the New Atlantic Initiative, a project to bring as many former communist countries of eastern Europe into NATO as possible. Little wonder Moscow did not view US missiles in Poland as friendly, nor does it today.

In May 2011 the Obama Administration announced that the missiles it would now give Poland consisted of new Raytheon (RTN) SM-3 missile defense systems at the Redzikowo military base in Poland (see map), roughly 50 miles from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, a unique piece of Russian real estate not connected to mainland Russia, but adjacent to the Baltic Sea and Lithuania. That puts US missiles closer to Russia than during the 1961 Cuba Missile Crisis when Washington placed ICBM’s at sites in Turkey aimed at key Soviet nuclear sites. 8

The new Raytheon SM-3 missile is part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System that will be aimed at intercepting short to intermediate range ballistic missiles. The SM-3 Kinetic Warhead intercepts incoming ballistic missiles outside the earth's atmosphere. Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors developed the Aegis BMD Weapon System. The SM-3 comes from Raytheon Missile Systems.

The Polish SM-3 missile deployment is but one part of a global web encircling Russia’s nuclear capacities. One should not forget that official Pentagon military strategy is called Full Spectrum Dominance—control of pretty much the entire universe. This past September the US and Romania, another new NATO member, signed an agreement to deploy a US-controlled Missile Defense System on the Deveselu Air Base in Romania using the SM-3 missiles.

As well Washington has signed an agreement with NATO member Turkey to place a sophisticated missile tracking radar atop a high mountain in the Kuluncak district of Malatya province in south-eastern Turkey. Though the Pentagon insists its radar is pointed at Iran, a look at a map reveals how easily the focal direction could cover key Russian nuclear sites such as Stevastopol where the bulk of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet is stationed or to the vital Russian Krasnodar radar installation.9

The Malataya radar will send data to US ships equipped with the Aegis combat system that will intercept “Iranian” ballistic missiles. According to Russian military experts, one of the main aims of that radar, which targets at a range up to 2000 kilometers, will also be the surveillance and control of the air space of the South Caucasus, part of Central Asia as well as the south of Russia, in particular tracking the experimental launches of the Russian missiles at their test ranges.10

Further, the US-controlled BMD deployment now also includes sea-based “Aegis” systems in the Black Sea near Russia’s Sevastopol Naval Base, as well as possible deployment of intermediate range missiles in Black Sea and Caspian region.11

But the European BMS deployments of the US Pentagon are but a part of a huge global web. At the Fort Greeley Alaska Missile Field the US has installed BMD ground-based missile interceptors, as well as at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. And the Pentagon just opened two missile sites at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. To add to it, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has joined formally with the US Missile Defense Agency to develop a system of so-called Aegis BMD deploying the SM-3 Raytheon missiles on Japanese naval ships.12 That gives the US a Pacific platform from which it can hit both China and Russia’s Far East as well as the Korean Peninsula. These are all a pretty long and curious way to reach any Iranian threat.

Origins of US Missile Defense

The US program to build a global network of ‘defense’ against possible enemy ballistic missile attacks began back in March 23, 1983 when then-President Ronald Reagan proposed the program popularly known as Star Wars, formally called then the Strategic Defense Initiative.

In 1994 at a private dinner discussion with this author in Moscow, the former head of economic studies for the Soviet Union’s Institute of World Economy & International Relations, IMEMO, declared that it had been the huge financial demands required by Russia to keep pace with the multi-billion dollar US Star Wars effort that finally led to the economic collapse of the Warsaw Pact and to German reunification in 1990. With a losing war in Afghanistan, collapsing oil revenues caused by a 1986 US policy of flooding the world market with Saudi oil, the military economy of the USSR was unable to keep pace, short of risking massive civilian unrest across the Warsaw Pact nations.13

This time around the US BMD deployment is designed to bring Russia to her knees as well, only in the context of a US creation of what military strategists call “Nuclear Primacy.”

Nuclear Primacy: Thinking the Unthinkable

While the Soviet era armed forces have undergone a drastic shrinking down since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Russia has tenaciously held on to the core of its strategic nuclear deterrent. That is something that gives Washington pause when considering how to deal with Russia. The potential for Russia to deepen its military and economic cooperation with its Central Asian partners in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, above all with China, is something Washington has gone to great lengths to frustrate. Such a strategic cooperation is becoming increasingly a matter of life-or-death for both China and Russia. China’s nuclear arsenal is not yet strategic as is Russia’s.

What the Pentagon is going for is what it has dreamed of since the Soviets developed intercontinental ballistic missiles during the 1950’s. Weapons professionals term it Nuclear Primacy. Translated into layman’s language, Nuclear Primacy means that if one of two evenly-matched nuclear foes is able to deploy even a crude anti-ballistic missile defense system that can seriously damage the nuclear strike capacity of the other, while he launches a full-scale nuclear barrage against that foe, he has won the nuclear war.

The darker side of that military-strategic Nuclear Primacy coin is that the side without adequate offsetting BMD anti-missile defenses, as he watches his national security vanish with each new BMD missile and radar installation, is under growing pressure to launch a pre-emptive nuclear or other devastating strike before the window closes. That in simple words means that far from being “defensive” as Washington claims, BMD is offensive and destabilizing in the extreme. Moreover, those nations blissfully deluding themselves that by granting the Pentagon rights to install BMS infrastructure, that they are buying the security umbrella of the mighty United States Armed Forces, find that they have allowed their territory to become a potential nuclear field of battle in an ever more likely confrontation between Washington and Moscow.

Dr. Robert Bowman, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the US Air Force and former head of President Reagan’s BMD effort of the 1980’s, then dubbed derisively “Star Wars,” noted the true nature of Washington’s current ballistic missile “defense” under what is today called the Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency:
"Under Reagan and Bush I, it was the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO). Under Clinton, it became the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO). Now Bush II has made it the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and given it the freedom from oversight and audit previously enjoyed only by the black programs. If Congress doesn't act soon, this new independent agency may take their essentially unlimited budget and spend it outside of public and Congressional scrutiny on weapons that we won't know anything about until they're in space. In theory, then, the space warriors would rule the world, able to destroy any target on earth without warning. Will these new super weapons bring the American people security? Hardly."14
During the Cold War, the ability of both sides—the Warsaw Pact and NATO—to mutually annihilate one another, had led to a nuclear stalemate dubbed by military strategists, MAD—Mutually Assured Destruction. It was scary but, in a bizarre sense, more stable than what Washington now pursues relentlessly with its Ballistic Missile Defense in Europe, Asia and globally in unilateral pursuit of US nuclear primacy. MAD was based on the prospect of mutual nuclear annihilation with no decisive advantage for either side; it led to a world in which nuclear war had been ‘unthinkable.’ Now, the US was pursuing the possibility of nuclear war as ‘thinkable.’ Lt. Colonel Bowman, in a telephone interview with this author called missile defense, “the missing link to a First Strike.” 15

The fact is that Washington hides behind a NATO facade with its deployment of the European BMD, while keeping absolute US control over it. Russia's NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin recently called the European portion of the US BMD a fig leaf for "a missile defense umbrella that says 'Made in USA. European NATO members will have neither a button to push nor a finger to push it with.” 16

That’s clearly why Russia continues to insist on guarantees - from the United States - that the shield is not directed against Russia. Worryingly enough, to date Washington has categorically refused that. Could it be that the dear souls in Washington entrusted with maintaining world peace have gone bonkers? In any case the fact that Washington continues to tear up solemn international arms treaties and illegally proceed to install its global missile shield is basis enough for those in Moscow, Beijing or elsewhere to regard US promises, even treaties as not worth the paper they were written on.

F. William Engdahl
may be contacted through his website at His newest book on oil geopolitics, titled Myths, Lies and Oil Wars is due out by spring of 2012.

The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America's Ambitions in Eurasia
“But if the middle space [Russia and the former Soviet Union] rebuffs the West [the European Union and America], becomes an assertive single entity, and either gains control over the South [Middle East] or forms an alliance with the major Eastern actor [China], then America’s primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically. The same would be the case if the two major Eastern players were somehow to unite. Finally, any ejection of America by its Western partners [the Franco-German entente] from its perch on the western periphery [Europe] would automatically spell the end of America’s participation in the game on the Eurasian chessboard, even though that would probably also mean the eventual subordination of the western extremity to a revived player occupying the middle space [e.g. Russia].”

-Zbigniew Brzezinski (The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, 1997)
Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” These precepts of physics can also be used in the social sciences, specifically with reference to social relations and geo-politics. America and Britain, the Anglo-American alliance, have engaged in an ambitious project to control global energy resources. Their actions have resulted in a series of complicated reactions, which have established a Eurasian-based coalition which is preparing to challenge the Anglo-American axis.

Encircling Russia and China: Anglo-American Global Ambitions Backfire
“Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible. We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way.”

-Vladimir Putin at the Munich Conference on Security Policy in Germany (February 11, 2007)
What American leaders and officials called the “New World Order” is what the Chinese and Russians consider a “Unipolar World.” This is the vision or hallucination, depending on perspective, that has bridged the Sino-Russian divide between Beijing and Moscow. China and Russia are well aware of the fact that they are targets of the Anglo-American alliance. Their mutual fears of encirclement have brought them together. It is no accident that in the same year that NATO bombarded Yugoslavia, President Jiang Zemin of China and President Boris Yeltsin of Russia made an anticipated joint declaration at a historic summit in December of 1999 that revealed that China and the Russian Federation would join hands to resist the “New World Order.” The seeds for this Sino-Russian declaration were in fact laid in 1996 when both sides declared that they opposed the global imposition of single-state hegemony.

Both Jiang Zemin and Boris Yeltsin stated that all nation-states should be treated equally, enjoy security, respect each other’s sovereignty, and most importantly not interfere in the internal affairs of other nation-states. These statements were directed at the U.S. government and its partners. The Chinese and Russians also called for the establishment of a more equitable economic and political global order. Both nations also indicated that America was behind separatist movements in their respective countries. They also underscored American-led amibitions to balkanize and finlandize the nation-states of Eurasia. Influential Americans such as Zbigniew Brzezinski had already advocated for de-centralizing and eventually dividing up the Russian Federation.

Both the Chinese and Russians issued a statement warning that the creation of an international missile shield and the contravention of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) would destabilize the international environment and polarize the globe. In 1999, the Chinese and Russians were aware of what was to come and the direction that America was headed towards. In June 2002, less than a year before the onslaught of the “Global War on Terror,” George W. Bush Jr. announced that the U.S. was withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. On July 24, 2001, less than two months before September 11, 2001, China and Russia signed the Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation. The latter is a softly worded mutual defence pact against the U.S., NATO, and the U.S. sponsored Asian military network which was surrounding China. [1]

The military pact of the Shanghai Treaty Organization (SCO) also follows the same softly worded format. It is also worth noting that Article 12 of the 2001 Sino-Russian bilateral treaty stipulates that China and Russia will work together to maintain the global strategic balance, “observation of the basic agreements relevant to the safeguard and maintenance of strategic stability,” and “promote the process of nuclear disarmament.” [2] This seems to be an insinuation about a nuclear threat posed from the United States. Standing in the Way of America and Britain: A “Chinese-Russian-Iranian Coalition” As a result of the Anglo-American drive to encircle and ultimately dismantle China and Russia, Moscow and Beijing have joined ranks and the SCO has slowly evolved and emerged in the heart of Eurasia as a powerful international body.

The main objectives of the SCO are defensive in nature. The economic objectives of the SCO are to integrate and unite Eurasian economies against the economic and financial onslaught and manipulation from the “Trilateral” of North America, Western Europe, and Japan, which controls significant portions of the global economy. The SCO charter was also created, using Western national security jargon, to combat “terrorism, separatism, and extremism.” Terrorist activities, separatist movements, and extremist movements in Russia, China, and Central Asia are all forces traditionally nurtured, funded, armed, and covertly supported by the British and the U.S. governments. Several separatist and extremist groups that have destabilized SCO members even have offices in London.

Iran, India, Pakistan, and Mongolia are all SCO observer members. The observer status of Iran in the SCO is misleading. Iran is a de facto member. The observer status is intended to hide the nature of trilateral cooperation between Iran, Russia, and China so that the SCO cannot be labeled and demonized as an anti-American or anti-Western military grouping. The stated interests of China and Russia are to ensure the continuity of a “Multi-Polar World.” Zbigniew Brzezinski prefigured in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and the Geostrategic Imperatives and warned against the creation or “emergence of a hostile [Eurasian-based] coalition that could eventually seek to challenge America’s primacy.” [3] He also called this potential Eurasian coalition an “‘antihegemonic’ alliance” that would be formed from a “Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition” with China as its linchpin. [4] This is the SCO and several Eurasian groups that are connected to the SCO.

In 1993, Brzezinski wrote “In assessing China’s future options, one has to consider also the possibility that an economically successful and politically self-confident China — but one which feels excluded from the global system and which decides to become both the advocate and the leader of the deprived states of the world — may decide to pose not only an articulate doctrinal but also a powerful geopolitical challenge to the dominant trilateral world [a reference to the economic front formed by North America, Western Europe, and Japan].” [5]

Brzezinski warns that Beijing’s answer to challenging the global status quo would be the creation of a Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition: “For Chinese strategists, confronting the trilateral coalition of America and Europe and Japan, the most effective geopolitical counter might well be to try and fashion a triple alliance of its own, linking China with Iran in the Persian Gulf/Middle East region and with Russia in the area of the former Soviet Union [and Eastern Europe].” [6] Brzezinski goes on to say that the Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition, which he moreover calls an “antiestablishmentarian [anti-establishmentarian] coalition,” could be a potent magnet for other states [e.g., Venezuela] dissatisfied with the [global] status quo.” [7] Furthermore, Brzezinski warned in 1997 that “The most immediate task [for the U.S.] is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role.” [8] It may be that his warnings were forgotten, because the U.S. has been repealed from Central Asia and U.S. forces have been evicted from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

“Velvet Revolutions” Backfire in Central Asia

Central Asia was the scene of several British-sponsored and American-sponsored attempts at regime change. The latter were characterised by velvet revolutions similar to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia. These velvet revolutions financed by the U.S. failed in Central Asia, aside from Kyrgyzstan where there had been partial success with the so-called Tulip Revolution. As a result the U.S. government has suffered major geo-strategic setbacks in Central Asia. All of Central Asia’s leaders have distanced themselves from America. Russia and Iran have also secured energy deals in the region. America’s efforts, over several decades, to exert a hegemonic role in Central Asia seem to have been reversed overnight. The U.S. sponsored velvet revolutions have backfired. Relations between Uzbekistan and the U.S. were especially hard hit.

Uzbekistan is under the authoritarian rule of President Islam Karamov. Starting in the second half of the 1990s President Karamov was enticed into bringing Uzbekistan into the fold of the Anglo-American alliance and NATO. When there was an attempt on President Karamov’s life, he suspected the Kremlin because of his independent policy stance. This is what led Uzbekistan to leave CSTO. But Islam Karamov, years later, changed his mind as to who was attempting to get rid of him. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Uzbekistan represented a major obstacle to any renewed Russian control of Central Asia and was virtually invulnerable to Russian pressure; this is why it was important to secure Uzbekistan as an American protectorate in Central Asia. Uzbekistan also has the largest military force in Central Asia. In 1998, Uzbekistan held war games with NATO troops in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan was becoming heavily militarized in the same manner as Georgia was in the Caucasus. The U.S. gave Uzbekistan huge amounts of financial aid to challenge the Kremlin in Central Asia and also provided training to Uzbek forces.

With the launching of the “Global War on Terror,” in 2001, Uzbekistan, an Anglo-American ally, immediately offered bases and military facilities to the U.S. in Karshi-Khanabad. The leadership of Uzbekistan already knew the direction the “Global War on Terror” would take. To the irritation of the Bush Jr. Administration, the Uzbek President formulated a policy of self-reliance. The honeymoon between Uzbekistan and the Anglo-American alliance ended when Washington D.C. and London contemplated removing Islam Karamov from power. He was a little too independent for their comfort and taste. Their attempts at removing the Uzbek President failed, leading eventually to a shift in geo-political alliances.

The tragic events of Andijan on May 13, 2005 were the breaking point between Uzbekistan and the Anglo-American alliance. The people of Andijan were incited into confronting the Uzbek authorities, which resulted in a heavy security clampdown on the protesters and a loss of lives. Armed groups were reported to have been involved. In the U.S., Britain, and the E.U., the media reports focused narrowly on human rights violations without mentioning the covert role of the Anglo-American alliance. Uzbekistan held Britain and the U.S. responsible accusing them of inciting rebellion.

M. K. Bhadrakumar, the former Indian ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998), revealed that the Hezbut Tahrir (HT) was one of the parties blamed for stirring the crowd in Andijan by the Uzbek government. [9] The group was already destabilizing Uzbekistan and using violent tactics. The headquarters of this group happens to be in London and they enjoy the support of the British government. London is a hub for many similar organizations that further Anglo-American interests in various countries, including Iran and Sudan, through destabilization campaigns. Uzbekistan even started clamping down on foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) because of the tragic events of Andijan. The Anglo-American alliance had played its cards wrong in Central Asia. Uzbekistan officially left the GUUAM Group, a NATO-U.S. sponsored anti-Russian body. GUUAM once again became the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldava) Group on May 24, 2005.

On July 29, 2005 the U.S. military was ordered to leave Uzbekistan within a six-month period. [10] Literally, the Americans were told they were no longer welcome in Uzbekistan and Central Asia. Russia, China, and the SCO added their voices to the demands. The U.S. cleared its airbase in Uzbekistan by November, 2005. Uzbekistan rejoined the CSTO alliance on June 26, 2006 and realigned itself, once again, with Moscow. The Uzbek President also became a vocal advocate, along with Iran, for pushing the U.S. totally out of Central Asia. [11] Unlike Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan continued to allow the U.S. to use Manas Air Base, but with restrictions and in an uncertain atmosphere. The Kyrgyz government also would make it clear that no U.S. operations could target Iran from Kyrgyzstan.



An Anti-American Military Confederacy May Loom in Asia

The members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an intergovernmental association comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, will recognize the organization's fifth anniversary in June 2006 with a much anticipated celebration, 'Everyone agrees this first jubilee date must be celebrated accordingly,' said Vitally Vorobyev, Russia's coordinator in the SCO. Washington, however, will not be joining in the festivities.

The reason for Washington's sour mood? Growing anxiety surrounding the ultimate mission of the SCO and its impact on Central Asia and the Middle East. Pictures taken by journalists of Russian President Vladimir Putin during the recent joint Russsian—Chinese Peace Mission 2005 military exercises, showing the president in full military attire and holding a large model warplane were not reassuring. His subsequent flight in a supersonic bomber specifically designed to deliver a nuclear payload did not help either.
This raises an important question: with SCO leaders such as Russia's Vladimir Putin, China's Hu Jintao and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad openly embracing military modernization and improved synergies, is the organization destined to become a military confederacy with the U.S. as its main target? 'For the SCO to be turned into a military and political bloc or alliance, the present—day SCO would need to be dissolved. The legislation of some of the SCO member—countries makes this [military confederacy] impossible,' said Vitally Vorobyov. He immediately followed these comments with a contradictory statement, 'Cooperation between defense agencies within the SCO framework can and should develop. The SCO makes provision for this, it's nothing new.'

Statements of this type from high—level Russian and SCO officials continue to perplex western intelligence officials, leading some to speculate that it may be only a matter of time before the SCO begins to exert its collective military influence in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Peace Mission 2005

In August, 'Peace Mission 2005,' a joint eight—day military exercise involving 10,000 Russian and Chinese troops, was held in Russia's Far East and China's Shandong Peninsula. The exercises were led by Russian General Makhmut Gareyev, a veteran of World War II who fought against both Germany and Japan. Requests by Washington to reduce the scope of the exercises were rejected by both Russia and China.

The joint exercises involved beach landings, airborne assaults, naval blockades, anti—ship missiles and precision bombing from strategic bombers. To the surprise of western intelligence officials, Russian Tu—95MS Bear and Tu—22M3 Backfire strategic bombers designed to carry nuclear—tipped cruise missiles were deployed during the exercises. The exercises reportedly involved a mock intervention to stabilize an imaginary country driven by ethnic strife.

In response, the U.S. launched a week long 'Joint Air Sea Exercise 2005' in Okinawa and Guam which included 10,000 troops and 100 warplanes from the USS Kitty Hawk strike group. In addition, the U.S. and South Korea participated in a twelve day 'Ulchi Focus Lens 2005' military exercise. Taiwan has already announced that it has scheduled its own invasion defense exercise code named 'Yama Sakura' for 2006. Taken collectively, the military exercises send a clear message to Moscow and Beijing that the U.S. is prepared to respond to any collaborative military threat.

Recent Military Exchanges

In September, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov announced his country had agreed to supply China with a total of 40 IL—76 transport and IL—78 refueling planes at a cost of about $1 billion. Later this month, Ivanov is expected to sign contracts to deliver Russian military vehicles to China. The recent plane and vehicle sales continue a trend of Russian military hardware transfers to China which have included: 200 fourth—generation fighter aircraft, several S—300 air defense batteries, guided missile destroyers and sophisticated submarines worth a combined $15 billion over the past ten years. In 2004 alone, Russian arms exports to China totaled $2.3 billion.

According to Konstantin Makiyenko, the deputy director of the Center for Strategic and Technological Analysis, a Moscow—based think tank, China is also interested in purchasing Russian made A—50 Mainstay AWACS planes and a manufacturing license for the Su—30MK2 multi—role fighter. Moreover, Beijing has made it clear that wants to accelerate the purchase of advanced Russian fighters, unmanned aircraft and long and short—range missiles as part of its ongoing modernization program.

Not surprisingly, Russian Defense Minister Ivanov announced this month that Russian servicemen would travel to China for training stating, 'Russia needs more experts who can speak Chinese.' More than 500 Chinese students already study at Russian military universities. But why the sudden urgency for improved communication between the two militaries? Washington has begun to take notice of the evolving relationship. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack commented in August,
'We would hope that anything that they [China and Russia] do is not something that would be disruptive to the current atmosphere in the [Central Asia] region.'
Unfortunately, Mr. McCormack may be disappointed.

Future Military Exercises

Immediately after the completion of their historic joint military exercises, Russia and China announced plans to hold additional joint exercises in 2006. Both countries anticipate expanding the exercises to include SCO member states Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as observer states India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan. 'It is possible by the time we decide to hold such exercises with China; other SCO countries would be willing to join, like India,' one Russian official said. Russian Defense Minister Ivanov concurred, 'I think that future Russia—China military exercises will be held and other members of the SCO will probably take part in them.'

Russia and India are scheduled to hold their first joint army drill next month, with mock raids on terrorist facilities taking place in the Indian province of Rajastahn, on the boarder with Pakistan. Andrei Kokoshin, a former secretary of the Russian Security Council and a member of parliament said the impending follow—up to the Peace Mission 2005 exercises could be part of a Russia—China—India triangle which supports the increased activity of the SCO. 'The exercise might focus on maintaining stability in Central Asia and ensuring the security of oil supplies via sea routes,' Kokoshin said.

Chinese, Indian and Russian naval assets working in unison to protect oil supplies in the Persian Gulf? This comment shows another disturbing aspect of the emerging confederacy, an increased willingness to use its combined military strength to secure strategic energy reserves located in the Middle East. The mere thought of the Persian Gulf clogged with warships enforcing multilateral allegiances and interests is enough to make any intelligence analyst stay up all night. General Yury Baluyevskiy, Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, further elaborated on the topic of SCO military cooperation,
'I do not rule out that, if a decision is made by the SCO, of which Russian and China are members, the armed forces of our countries may be involved in performing certain tasks.'
General Baluyevskiy failed to elaborate on what those 'certain tasks' would include. Observer country Pakistan is also becoming more active in the military aspects of the SCO. In September, Chinese General Liang Guanglie, a member of the Central Military Commission and Chief of Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), met with Pakistani General Ehsan Ul Haq, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to strengthen military—to—military ties. During the meeting in Beijing, the two generals exchanged views on issues of common global and regional interest, as well as army building.

The most troubling development of the past month related to the SCO is the growing prospect of a nuclear—obsessed Iran joining the organization as a permanent member. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the newly elected conservative President of Iran, is a proven U.S. antagonist and a firm believer in spreading revolutionary Islamist ideology throughout the Muslim world. His recent comments at the U.N. concerning the U.S. show a preparation for confrontation with the U.S. Making matters worse; Iran is planning to build up its military forces. Iran had planned to double its military budget by 2010, but thanks to record oil revenues, that timetable has been adjusted to 2008.

New Thinking Needed

The SCO is a menacing confederacy of powerful nations arising out of the shadows of the Cold War that could cause tremendous global instability and even lead to world war. Geopolitics aside, the SCO has the potential to become the most powerful alliance on earth, combining Russia's energy, military and technology expertise; China and India's economic and human capital; and Iran's enormous energy resources and growing military capabilities.

This unique combination makes the SCO a formidable adversary for the U.S. In February, Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) chief of staff General Liang Guanglie said the Peace Mission 2005 exercises would, 'protect the peace and stability in our region and the world.' The world? The world has been led to believe that the SCO is a regional alliance designed to address issues of mutual concern such as terrorism, separatism and extremism —— whatever they may mean at the moment for the members of the SCO. With military operations scheduled for 2006 and an expanded list of participating nations, the military threat posed by the SCO is starting to take shape.

At this time, what steps need to be taken by the U.S. to prepare for a possible SCO military threat? First, the U.S. Congress, Department of Defense and U.S. intelligence community must recognize that the continued military modernization and integration involving Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Iran will directly threaten the U.S. and its allies within the next several years. This is an uncomfortable reality, but one which is taking shape right before our eyes.

Second, calls by the SCO and others in the international community for an immediate withdraw of U.S. troops from the Middle East and Central Asia should be disregarded, due to the horrific consequences that the inevitable power vacuum would cause. Instead, strategic alliances should be strengthened with countries such as Georgia and the Ukraine to counter any regional threat.

Third, recent calls by Iran for a Muslim seat on the UN Security Council should be viewed for what they are; an effort by Tehran to weaken U.S. legitimacy in the international community and diminish its influence in Central Asia and the Middle East. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's announcement that his country will sell 'peaceful' nuclear technology to other Islamic countries is too chilling to contemplate.

In short, the SCO is an immature, but potentially dangerous confederacy of countries with a mutual interest to dethrone the U.S. and if necessary, confront it militarily. Under the guise of economic partnership, regional alliances and friendship, China, Russia and the other members of the SCO are rapidly increasing their collective power. Recent Pentagon reports identifying China as a growing threat are indeed accurate, but don't go far enough.
The reports are deficient in that they base their analysis and predictions on countries such as China acting unilaterally. As a result, compulsory discussions concerning the rise of regional and global alliances that threaten the U.S. are not taking place. This could be a fatal mistake, since the SCO has become the perfect vehicle for coordinated military action in the future.


Shanghai Cooperation Organization outflanking U.S. in Mideast, Central Asia regions

The most urgent issues for Russia and China, however, have been Western intervention in Libya, events in Syria, charges of the West’s hypocrisy concerning Bahrain, and the U.S. determination to keep a military presence in Iraq, all of which suggest that the West is determined to maintain a controlling presence in the Middle East. Closer to home, Moscow fears that Obama is preparing to reactivate plans to deploy missile defense shields in Poland and Romania and to establish a long-term military presence in these two countries.

The U.S. government suffered a major diplomatic setback in the Central Asian region when Zalmay Rasoul, the Afghan Foreign Minister, traveled to Beijing to discuss proposals for tightening Afghan relations with the Chinese government despite prior American warnings that it should not do so. Rasoul’s recent four day trip (May 9-12) was particularly irksome as it came at a time in which the United States has been particularly active in the region and because it reflects the growing confidence of China that it can undermine U.S. ambitions in Central Asia by establishing diplomatic ties with various neighbors.

Moreover, the move was so swift and effective that the Americans seem to have caught on the wrong foot. It has most certainly made U.S. and NATO efforts to secure a long-term military presence in Afghanistan and Central Asia more strenuous than they already were. The primary mover behind such diplomacy has been the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which has enabled China and Russia to cooperate more closely in their dealings with the Central Asia and the Middle East than in any other region. China has been given a platform to expand interests in the region without inciting Russian ire and at the same time Russia now has a means for indirectly but actively participating in Chinese policy.

The SCO has presented itself to the region as an alternative provider of security to NATO even as China and Russia publicly profess interest in supporting Western security efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thus, since the SCO already contains China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as members and is now cozying up to Afghanistan, it seriously threatens the USA’s exclusive right to secure military bases in Afghanistan and other parts of the area. China has other potential allies in its sights too, one of these being India, which has made it clear that it prefers to pursue an independent regional policy rather than simply toe the U.S. line.

Both India and China share an interest in stabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan but neither wants the United States to use either the war against terrorism or the conflict in Afghanistan to further its “Great Central Asia” strategy. The SCO provides an ideal framework for cooperation on regional security issues. Of all the countries in the region, however, Pakistan is the one whose confidence in American intentions and ambitions has been most keenly shaken.

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have never been easy but they were seriously affected by the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. The U.S. government made it clear that it was willing to act inside Pakistan’s territory without concern for Pakistan’s sovereignty or sensitivities. Moreover, Obama has warned Pakistan it would not hesitate to repeat such an operation and that Pakistani public opinion takes second place to American security as Washington’s concerns about Pakistan’s attitude to terrorism seem confirmed.

This has severely damaged the Pakistan government’s self confidence, and weakened its faith in Washington’s interest in real cooperation. It has been embarrassed by the impression it cannot secure its own territorial integrity. SCO membership would seem to come at an ideal juncture as Islamabad seeks alternative allies to help it provide for its own security. The most urgent issues for Russia and China, however, have been Western intervention in Libya, events in Syria, charges of the West’s hypocrisy concerning Bahrain, and the U.S. determination to keep a military presence in Iraq, all of which suggest that the West is determined to maintain a controlling presence in the Middle East.

Closer to home, Moscow fears that Obama is preparing to reactivate plans to deploy missile defense shields in Poland and Romania and to establish a long-term military presence in these two countries. This would challenge Moscow’s traditional hegemony over the Black Sea. Russia’s efforts to be a part of discussions concerning the U.S.’s and the European Union’s missile defense program have failed. All of these developments and the obvious distaste in both the Middle East and Central Asia for prolonged U.S. and NATO military presence in the two regions have encouraged all participants to speed up their diplomatic efforts.

Thus, while Rasoul was courting Beijing, Pakistani President Zardari was visiting Russia and Indian Prime Minister Singh was undertaking an extraordinary two-day visit to Kabul. These shifting power balances have been provided an ideal shelter, namely the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Dr. Fariborz Saremi is a commentator on TV and radio (German ARD/NDR TV,SAT 1,N24, Voice of America and Radio Israel) on Middle East issues and a contributer to, and Defense&Foreign Affairs.


Russia and America Clash in the Arctic? Arctic Region. Prime Target of U.S. Expansionist Strategy

The US and Canada have agreed to put aside their dispute over navigation rights off the Canadian coast to stand up jointly to Russia. Last year Nato, for the first time, officially claimed a role in the Arctic, when Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told member-states to sort out their differences within the alliance so that it could move on to set up “military activity in the region.” “Clearly, the High North is a region that is of strategic interest to the Alliance,” he said at a Nato seminar in Reykjavik, Iceland, in January 2009.

Since then, Nato has held several major war games focussing on the Arctic region. In March this year, 14,000 Nato troops took part in the “Cold Response 2010” military exercise held in Norway under a patently provocative legend: the alliance came to the defence of a fictitious small democratic state, Midland, whose oilfield is claimed by a big undemocratic state, Nordland. In August, Canada hosted its largest yet drill in the Arctic, Operation Nanook 2010, in which the US and Denmark took part for the first time.

Russia and the United States have made headway in improving their relations on arms control, Afghanistan and Iran but there is one area where their “reset” may yet run aground — the Arctic. The US military top brass warned of a new Cold War in the Arctic and called for stepping up American military presence in the energy-rich region.

Earlier this month, US Admiral James G Stavridis, supreme Nato commander for Europe, said global warming and a race for resources could lead to a conflict in the Arctic because “it has the potential to alter the geopolitical balance in the Arctic heretofore frozen in time.” Echoing similar views, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Christopher C. Colvin, who is in charge of Alaska’s coastline, said Russian shipping activity in the Arctic Ocean was of particular concern for the US. He called for more military facilities in the region.

The statements are in line with the US policy. It calls for “deployment of sea and air systems for strategic sealift, strategic deterrence, maritime presence, and maritime security” to “preserve the global mobility of the US military and civilian vessels and aircraft throughout the Arctic region” including the North Sea Route along Russia’s Arctic coast, which Moscow regards as its national waterway. Russia is the prime target of the US expansionist strategy.

Two months ago, the first Russian supertanker sailed from Europe to Asia along the North Sea route. Next year, Russia plans to send more ships across the Arctic route, 9,000 km off the traditional route via the Suez Canal.

The US Geological Service believes that the Arctic contains up to a quarter of the world’s unexplored deposits of oil and gas. Washington also disputes Moscow’s effort to enlarge its Exclusive Economic Zone in the Arctic Ocean. Under the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, a coastal state is entitled to a 200-nautical mile EEZ and can claim a further 150 miles if it proves that the seabed is a continuation of its continental shelf.

Russia was the first to apply for an additional EEZ in 2001 but the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf asked for harder scientific evidence to back the claim. Moscow said it would resubmit its claim in 2013. However, the US has not ratified the UN Convention as many Congressmen fear it would restrict their Navy’s “global mobility.”

Despite the end of the Cold War, the potential for conflict in the Arctic has increased recently the scramble of the five Arctic littoral states — Russia, the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark (through its control of Greenland) – for chalking out claims to the energy-rich Arctic as the receding Polar ice makes its resources more accessible and opens the region to round-the-year shipping. All claims are overlapping and the five states are locked in a multitude of other bilateral disputes. But, at the end of the day, it is Russia against the others, all Nato members.

The US and Canada have agreed to put aside their dispute over navigation rights off the Canadian coast to stand up jointly to Russia. Last year Nato, for the first time, officially claimed a role in the Arctic, when Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told member-states to sort out their differences within the alliance so that it could move on to set up “military activity in the region.” “Clearly, the High North is a region that is of strategic interest to the Alliance,” he said at a Nato seminar in Reykjavik, Iceland, in January 2009.

Since then, Nato has held several major war games focussing on the Arctic region. In March this year, 14,000 Nato troops took part in the “Cold Response 2010” military exercise held in Norway under a patently provocative legend: the alliance came to the defence of a fictitious small democratic state, Midland, whose oilfield is claimed by a big undemocratic state, Nordland. In August, Canada hosted its largest yet drill in the Arctic, Operation Nanook 2010, in which the US and Denmark took part for the first time.

Russia registered its firm opposition to the Nato foray, with President Dmitry Medvedev saying the region would be best without Nato. “Russia is keeping a close eye on this activity,” he said in September. “The Arctic can manage fine without Nato.” The western media portrayed the Nato build-up in the region as a reaction to Russia’s “aggressive” assertiveness, citing the resumption of Arctic Ocean patrols by Russian warships and long-range bombers and the planting of a Russian flag in the North Pole seabed three years ago.

It is conveniently forgotten that the US Navy and Air Force have not stopped Arctic patrolling for a single day since the end of the Cold War. Russia, on the other hand, drastically scaled back its presence in the region after the break-up of the Soviet Union. It cut most of its Northern Fleet warships, dismantled air defences along its Arctic coast and saw its other military infrastructure in the region fall into decay.

The Arctic has enormous strategic value for Russia. Its nuclear submarine fleet is based in the Kola Peninsula. Russia’s land territory beyond the Arctic Circle is almost the size of India — 3.1 million sq km. It accounts for 80 per cent of the country’s natural gas production, 60 per cent of oil, and the bulk of rare and precious metals. By 2030, Russia’s Arctic shelf, which measures 4 million sq km, is expected to yield 30 million tonnes of oil and 130 billion cubic metres of gas. If Russia’s claim for a 350-mile EEZ is granted, it will add another 1.2 million sq km to its possessions.

A strategy paper Medvedev signed in 2008 said the polar region would become Russia’s “main strategic resource base” by 2020. Russia has devised a multivector strategy to achieve this goal. First, it works to restore its military capability in the region to ward off potential threats. Russia is building a new class of nuclear submarines armed with a new long-range missile. Navy Chief Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky said recently he had also drawn up a plan to deploy warships in Russia’s Arctic ports to protect polar sea routes.

A second strategy is to try and resolve bilateral disputes with other Arctic nations. In September, Russia and Norway signed a border pact settling their 40-year feud over 175,000 in the Barents Sea and agreeing to jointly develop seabed oil and gas in the region.

Even as Russia continues to gather geological proof of its territorial claims in the Arctic, it is ready for compromises. Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon did not rule out, after his recent talks in Moscow, that Canada and Russia could submit a joint application to the UN for the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain stretching from Siberia to Canada, which both countries claim as an extension of their continental shelves.

A third direction of Russia’s policy is to promote broad international co-operation in the region. Addressing Russia’s first international Arctic conference in Moscow in September, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called for joint efforts to protect the fragile ecosystem, attract foreign investment in the region’s economy and promote clean environment-friendly technologies. He admitted that the interests of the Arctic countries “indeed clash,” but said all disputes could be resolved through international law.


The U.S. Is Developing a Strategic Military Technological Advantage Over Russia

[The U.S. and the Soviet Union] took on an obligation to support the processes for the reduction of strategic and conventional arms through abandoning their defense; that abstaining from developing anti-ballistic missile defense, pursuant to a 1972 agreement. But today, the US has withdrawn from this agreement and is developing a multi-tiered global ABM system. There are elements of this system in space, they are working on air defense using laser ABM systems and they are developing the sea-based component. Today we are seeing a growing ABM presence in the proximity of Russia, including with on-the-ground clusters, what is being planned in Romania and in Europe as a whole, etc.

Interview with Leonid Ivashov, President of the Academy on Geopolitical Affairs.

This article, which criticizes the US administration for allegedly preparing the handover of secret sensitive materials to Russia on anti-missile defense isn’t really aimed at discussing any issues related to anti-missile defense. Its first task is to provide support for the Obama administration in its avoiding of the discussion of anti-missile defense issues with Russia. On the other hand, it exerts pressure on Russian proposals for a joint ABM system in Europe, so that Russia feels public and journalistic pressure in this respect.

The point is that Russia views US strategic AMD as a threat to its security. Russia considers the signed treaty on the reduction of strategic nuclear weapons, the START 3, damaging for its interest insofar as the American side is attempting to attain a military-technical advantage. This happens because US military strategic facilities and missile carriers will be protected by US ABMs, whereas Russian facilities will essentially be exposed and unprotected. Therefore, if US ABM systems are developed, there can be no parity in nuclear missile armaments, because one party is protected and the other is not. This is why Russia made a unilateral declaration when signing START-3, saying that it may withdraw from the treaty if the US ABM system upsets the balance of power in the nuclear missile sphere.

In order for this not to happen and for Russia to remain a part to START-3, and taking into consideration statements by the US side that the US AMD is not detrimental to Russia’s security and is not directed at Russia, Moscow has suggested a joint ABM system in Europe. However, this does not suit the American side, which is why we’re seeing this pressure.

I think that this article is precisely aimed at supporting and defending the US position. Turning to criticisms by the author about the transfer of secret information, I have to say that after the collapse of the USSR, Russia passed a great deal of secret information to the US, including on the state of its missiles, which was stipulated by the previous START agreements. START-3 also presupposes the sides’ openness as regards their nuclear potential and so the exchange of information, including telemetric data. This was a major concession by Russia, to agree to exchange telemetric specifications on new missiles undergoing testing. So I don’t think there is any sense in talking about us stealthily obtaining secret information from the Americans – we have to exchange information and we do this.

We also have to bear in mind the following argument against framing this issue in terms of the leak of classified information. Russia today has no plans to create and develop a national ABM system. And if it did obtain something in an adjacent technological field, it would not be able to use it, because it is not creating a system that could utilize American know-how. So this article does not have a constructive nature.

Perhaps a question that is slightly tangential to the main topic, but to what extent do today’s ABM systems correspond to the level of development of modern-day weapons? Because if I understand it correctly, the US has much more advanced defense projects than the ABM system.

Yes, you have to take an integrated look at the issue. When agreements on the limitation and reduction of strategic armaments by US and Russia were being reached, there were other factors at play, for example, about the parity of conventional weapons. There was a parity of sorts between the USSR and the States – in some fields, the US was in the lead, in other places we were ahead - but all in all, there was parity. And against a background of the launch of the process for the reduction of strategic weapons, there was a parallel process for the restriction of conventional weapons, agreements on the restriction of such equipment in Europe.

There was a third factor: the sides took on an obligation to support the processes for the reduction of strategic and conventional arms through abandoning their defense; that abstaining from developing anti-ballistic missile defense, pursuant to a 1972 agreement. But today, the US has withdrawn from this agreement and is developing a multi-tiered global ABM system. There are elements of this system in space, they are working on air defense using laser ABM systems and they are developing the sea-based component. Today we are seeing a growing ABM presence in the proximity of Russia, including with on-the-ground clusters, what is being planned in Romania and in Europe as a whole, etc. So the balance here has been disturbed.

As regards conventional weapons, Russian specialists have thoroughly considered changes in the US military strategy, when in 2003 the US administration adopted the Prompt Global Strike concept. This concept is today being vigorously implemented. It essentially imparts the substance and significance of strategic weapons onto conventional high-precision weapons, firstly sea and air-based cruise missiles. Notably, this class of weapons, that is cruise missiles, is not restricted by any sort of agreement. These are very dangerous weapons, that have a strategic range and the highest precision, and they can carry conventional and nuclear warheads. And Russia is obviously concerned about this, which is why the Russian military doctrine contains clauses on the possibility of the preventative use of tactical nuclear weapons. So this is a very complex issue. The Americans are not in any way addressing scope for the restriction of weapons, they are not even discussing possible restrictions of conventional weapons that have a strategic nature.

Russia is behind on this, so even any limitation of strategic offensive weapons, which has been agreed upon, is not in an entirely stable position, given destabilizing factors, first of all ABM systems and high-precision conventional weapons.


Russia’s military chief warns that heightened risks of conflict near borders may turn nuclear

Russia is facing a heightened risk of being drawn into conflicts at its borders that have the potential of turning nuclear, the nation’s top military officer said Thursday. Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, cautioned over NATO’s expansion eastward and warned that the risks for Russia to be pulled into local conflicts have “risen sharply.” Makarov added, according to Russian news agencies, that “under certain conditions local and regional conflicts may develop into a full-scale war involving nuclear weapons.”

A steady decline in Russia’s conventional forces has prompted the Kremlin to rely increasingly on its nuclear deterrent. The nation’s military doctrine says it may use nuclear weapons to counter a nuclear attack on Russia or an ally, or a large-scale conventional attack that threatens Russia’s existence. Russia sees NATO’s expansion to include former Soviet republics and ex-members of the Soviet bloc in eastern and central Europe as a key threat to Russia’s security.

Makarov specifically referred to NATO’s plans to offer membership to Georgia and Ukraine as potentially threatening Russia’s security. Russia routed Georgian forces in a brief August 2008 war over a separatist province of South Ossetia. Moscow later recognized South Ossettia and another breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia as independent states and increased its military presence there. Russia also considers missile defense plans as another security challenge.

Russia has strongly opposed the U.S.-led missile defense plan, saying it could threaten its nuclear forces and undermine their deterrence potential. Moscow has agreed to consider NATO’s proposal last fall to cooperate on the missile shield, but the talks have been deadlocked over how the system should operate. Russia has insisted that the system should be run jointly, which NATO has rejected.

Moscow Optimizes its Military Grouping in the South
Russia prepares for an adequate response to Tel-Aviv and Washington’s possible strikes against Tehran

The geopolitical situation unfolding around Syria and Iran is prompting Russia to make its military structures in the South Caucasus, on the Caspian, Mediterranean and Black Sea regions more efficient. Nezavisimaya Gazeta’s (NG) Defense Ministry sources are saying that the Kremlin has been informed about an upcoming US-supported Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The strike will be sudden and take place on “day X” in the near future. One could assume Iran’s reaction will not be delayed. A full-scale war is possible, and its consequences could be unpredictable.

This problem is currently being addressed as a priority issue at the EU-Russia summit in Brussels with the participation of President Dmitry Medvedev. A day before the event, Russia’s envoy to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, relayed a message from the Kremlin, saying that an Israeli or US strike on Iran will lead to “a catastrophic development of events.” The diplomat stressed that the negative consequences will not only be felt by the region, “but also in a much broader context.” Russia’s direct diplomatic pressure on Europe and the global community in respect to issues concerning a possible war in Iran began recently after the IAEA’s publication of a report on the Iranian nuclear program in November.

However, in the military sphere, Russia’s preparations for minimization of losses from possible military action against Tehran began more than two years ago. Today, they are nearly complete. According to the Defense Ministry sources, the 102nd military base in Armenia was fully optimized in October-November 2011. Military personnel’s families have been evacuated to Russia, and the Russian garrison deployed near Yerevan reduced. Military sub-units stationed in the area have been transferred to Gyumri district, closer to the Turkish border. Strikes against Iranian facilities by US troops are possible from Turkish territory. So far, it is unclear as to what tasks the 102nd military base will perform in relation to this. But it is known that Russian troops stationed at military bases in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, have been on high alert since December 1 of this year. Meanwhile, ships of the Black Sea Fleet are located not far from the Georgian border which in this conflict could act on the side of the anti-Iranian forces.

In Izberbash, Dagestan, nearly adjacent to the Azerbaijani border, a coastal guided missile battalion equipped with onshore anti-ship Bal-E missile systems with a range of 130 km, have been put on permanent combat readiness status. All guided missile craft of the Caspian Flotilla have been redeployed from Astrakhan to Makhachkala and Kaspiysk districts to form a single group. Meanwhile, the flagship of the Flotilla, the sentry rocket ship “Tatarstan”, will soon be joined by the small gunboat "Volgodonsk” and missile ship “Dagestan”. The flagships of the Flotilla are equipped with missile systems with a range of up to 200 km.

Recently, the Northern Fleet’s aircraft carrier group with the heavy aircraft carrier “Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov”, headed towards the Mediterranean with plans to ultimately enter the Syrian port of Tartus. NG’s sources from the Defense Ministry did not confirm or deny the fact that the surface warships are being accompanied by the Northern Fleet’s nuclear submarines. The tasks that will be carried out by the army and the navy in the event of a war against Iran are, of course, not being disclosed. But Russia’s Defense Ministry is apparently concerned about the logistical support of troops in Armenia. The 102nd military base is a key point as it is Russia’s outpost in the South Caucasus. It holds a very important geopolitical position. But Kremlin officials are worried that this position will be lost. In the event of a US-Israeli war against Iran, this will indeed be tragic for Russia.

In April of this year, Georgia broke the agreement on the transit of military cargo to Armenia from Russia. Essentially, the Russian-Armenian grouping in the South Caucasus has been isolated. Supplies to the Russian army (POL, food, etc.) are delivered only by air and through direct agreements with Armenia which, in turn, purchases these products (gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene) from Iran. A war in Iran will close this supply channel.

Lt.-Gen. Yury Netkachev, who for a long time served as the deputy commander of the Group of Russian Forces in the Transcaucasus and was personally engaged in work on the supply of arms and ammunition to combined armed forces and units (including the 102nd military base), believes that, in the event of a full-fledged war against Iran, Russia will be looking to securely supply the military facility through Georgia. “Perhaps, it will be necessary to break the Georgian transport blockade and supply the transport corridors leading to Armenia by military means,” said the expert.

“Apparently, Russia’s Defense Ministry is also quite wary of Azerbaijan, which over the last three years has doubled its military budget and is currently buying Israeli drones and other advanced means of reconnaissance and topographic location, naturally aggravating Tehran and Armenia,” says head of the Center for Military Forecasting, Anatoly Tsyganok. “Baku has stepped up its pressure on Moscow, demanding significantly higher rental fees for the Gabala radar station. But even considering the disputes between Iran and Azerbaijan over oilfields in the south of the Caspian Sea, one could hardly argue that Baku will support an anti-Iranian military campaign. It is also very unlikely that it will unleash hostilities against Armenia.”

Col. Vladimir Popov, who was engaged in the analysis of hostilities between Baku and Yerevan between 1991 and 1993, and is currently following the military reforms conducted by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, disagrees with the expert. Popov believes that “the negotiation process on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict has been unreasonably delayed.” Baku is making open statements on revenge. “Azerbaijan pre-emptive strikes on Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, made in order to finally settle the territorial dispute in its favor, are possible,” says the expert. But, in his opinion, the question of how Russia will behave is important. “If in the midst of a war in Iran, Azerbaijan supported by Turkey, attacks Armenia, then, of course, all of the adversary’s attacks against Armenia will be repelled by Russia in conjunction with Armenian anti-missile defense forces. It’s hard to say whether or not this will be considered as Moscow’s involvement in military action. Russian troops will certainly not be engaged in military action on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. But in the event of a military threat to Armenia coming from Turkey or Azerbaijan, for example, Russia will apparently take part in ground operations,” says Popov.

The analyst does not exclude the possibility of Russia’s military involvement in the Iranian conflict. “In the worst-case scenario, if Tehran is facing complete military defeat after a land invasion of the US and NATO troops, Russia will provide its military support – at least on a military-technical level,” predicts Vladimir Popov.


Russia Warns of Military Response to NATO Antimissile Plans

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday warned the nation could pursue actions of "a technically military nature" should its concerns with a NATO initiative to establish a European missile shield go unaddressed, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Oct. 31). "If our partners in the future continue to ignore our position we should protect our interests by other means," Lavrov said in an interview with the Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti. "Concrete measures might be needed ... a response of a technically military nature." "We would not wish such a development," he continued.

Russia says it fears the NATO missile shield will be secretly aimed at its long-range nuclear forces. Moscow has said it cannot accept an agreement on missile defense collaboration with NATO without a legally binding pledge on the targeting issue. The sides also remain at odds over the makeup of a potential joint shield -- Russia wants a combined system in which it and NATO assume responsibility for eliminating missiles traveling over specific geographical regions, while the alliance favors two separate but connected operations.

The two sides have failed to find common ground in nearly a year of negotiations. Moscow earlier warned it would expand its nuclear arsenal if it cannot reach agreement with NATO and the United States, which has already reached agreements for Romania and other NATO states to host elements of the planned missile shield.

"I am forced to conclude that the signing of the deal (between Bucharest and Washington) is an additional link in a chain of events that shows that the U.S. [is] stepping up their plans to construct their missile shield without taking into account Russia's concerns," Russia's foreign policy chief said (Agence France-Presse/, Nov. 1).

NATO Parliamentary Assembly President Karl Lamers on Tuesday said the alliance does not think it necessary to provide a binding pledge as Moscow has been asked to play a role in the establishment of the missile shield, Interfax reported. Lamers reaffirmed NATO's stance that Russia should play a collaborative role in creating the shield (Interfax, Nov. 1).


Putin says Russia will spend over $13 billion on modernizing weapons factories

Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Friday that the government will spend over $13 billion in the next three years on revamping the nation’s aging defense plants. Putin told Friday’s government meeting that 1,700 weapons factories need to be radically modernized in what he described as a “colossal work.” Putin said the government will earmark 400 billion rubles ($13.7 billon or €10.2 billion) for modernization of military industries over the next three years, adding that the upgrade is essential for fulfilling an ambitious program of new weapons purchases. “If we want to have weapons that answer the demands of today’s combat, ... we need to revamp the military industrial complex,” he said.

Russia plans to spend the total of 20 trillion rubles (about $620 billion or €460 billion) on new weapons by 2020. Putin said in Thursday’s speech to investors that the weapons modernization program doesn’t mean that Russia wants to engage in militarization, arguing that the country must replace old Soviet-built weapons that are approaching the end of their service lifetime.

Russia’s arms makers have faced harsh government criticism for failing to meet weapons orders. Analysts blame corruption, aging equipment and broken links between subcontractors. The pitiful state of Russian arms industries has been named as the main reason behind a string of test failures that have dogged the development of Russia’s latest ballistic missile, the Bulava, which is intended for the latest generation of Russia’s nuclear submarines. It has remained unclear when the missile could enter service.

The development of Russia’s first stealth fighter, intended to match the latest U.S. design, has also dragged on slowly. The Sukhoi T-50 made its maiden flight in January 2010, about two decades after the U.S. F-22 Raptor, which it closely resembles. The new Russian fighter still lacks new engines and state-of-the art equipment, and its serial production is only expected to begin in 2015 at the most optimistic forecast.

The Defense Ministry also has harshly criticized Russian arms makers for hiking prices and failing to explain reasons behind the increase. Military officials said that some of the weapons offered by the nation’s arms industries are a slightly revamped versions of the old Soviet designs. Facing a crisis of its defense industries, the Defense Ministry went shopping abroad for weapons. Earlier this year, Russia has signed a €1 billion contract to buy two French warships. The country also has bought Israeli drones, Italian armored vehicles, French military electronics and other gear.


Russia, China Warn US Against Attacking Iran

Faced with a round of threats and speculations of an impending war so shrill that it has sent oil prices soaring, Russia and China were quick today to caution the United States against launching an attack on Iran. Attacking Iran would be a “very serious mistake fraught with unpredictable consequences,” warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, while China expressed concern that the threats were harming the prospects of diplomacy. They are just the latest in a growing chorus of nations to express concerns about starting another major war. Germany has also said they oppose such a move. A growing number of US officials past and present have expressed a preference for launching a military attack on Iran soon, with an IAEA report alleging some vague allegations about computer simulations serving as the latest pretext. Israeli officials have also been hyping the prospect of launching an attack on Iran themselves, with President Shimon Peres insisted the war was “more likely” than any sort of diplomatic solution. Israeli military officials are said to prefer an attack before winter.

Over Dinner, Putin Takes Issue With Western Powers

Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister and presumed next president, took a tough stance against the West, strongly criticizing the U.S. plans for missile defense, the military campaign in Libya and Europe's energy policies that he said were seeking to squeeze Russia out of the European energy market. The remarks at an annual dinner he has held in recent years with foreign academics and journalists—his first such encounter since announcing his candidacy for the presidency in elections in March—suggest his second spell as president will see no softening of the often-harsh criticism of Western policies that marked his first period in office. He and current President Dmitry Medvedev announced in September that they had agreed that Mr. Putin would run.

Mr. Putin kept the pressure on the U.S., hinting that Russia would respond with extra nuclear-missile deployments if the U.S. went ahead with plans to build a missile defense system that he said appeared to be designed to neutralize Russia's nuclear deterrent. "We believe that the establishment of a missile defense system is a threat to our nuclear potential and we will be compelled to respond," he said. The U.S. says the system is designed to deal with the threat of attack from Iran. Mr. Putin accused the U.S. of being interested in relations with Moscow because Russia was the only country that could destroy the U.S. in half an hour or less.

"You ask me whether we are going to change. The ball is in your court. Will you change?" he asked Americans present.

Mr. Putin also attacked the role of Western forces in the ouster of Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, over a dinner that took place at an elegant restaurant at an equestrian center, about 20 miles west of central Moscow. The menu included smoked trout, duck liver, venison soup, rhubarb sorbet, veal cheeks and pear soup with caramel. Mr. Putin described the actions by the Western allies in Libya as an "outrageous violation" of a United Nations resolution that had led to what he called a "tragedy." Mr. Putin said the Western forces were authorized only to prevent the Libyan air force attacking its own civilians—and their actions had gone far beyond this and "deceived the international community."

Speaking broadly about the region, he expressed concerns that changes in the Middle East could lead Islamist radicals to come to power. "Syria is the next in line: What will be the result?" In Egypt and North Africa, "no one knows who will come to power," he said. He accused the West of "low-quality politics" in Syria, saying that Russia no longer had much of an economic stake in that country. "We think it would be a mistake to disregard what the Syrian leadership is trying to do with the opposition," he said.

He also attacked European Union energy policies. "We think we are being squeezed out of the European energy market," he said. He criticized new European rules forbidding ownership of pipelines by gas suppliers, a development that would force Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas monopoly, to divest itself of pipeline assets it owns in the EU. Mr. Putin said Russia would look to supply more gas toward China and Asia, and said Russia was making giant pipeline investments to deliver gas to Europe only to have the EU change the rules of the game after the investments had been made.

He also made an elaborate criticism of shale gas—extracted using novel technologies that he said were environmentally disastrous. Shale gas in the U.S. and elsewhere threatens the markets for Russia's traditional gas. Mr. Putin held out few prospects of rapid change in Russia's domestic politics. He promised more "direct democracy," less centralization and more attacks on corruption, but didn't say how it would be done.

Richard Sukwa of the University of Kent in England said he felt Mr. Putin was still promoting "ideas that have become stale." Clifford Gaddy of the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, D.C., said there was "nothing new on the domestic front and he was very complacent" about the impact on Russia of an economic crisis in Europe and a fall in oil prices and he was very complacent" about the impact on Russia of the European crisis.


Russia to move missiles to EU borders if U.S. shield talks fail - Medvedev

Russia may deploy "advanced offensive weapon systems" on its borders with Europe in response to a planned U.S.-backed European missile shield, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday. Medvedev's comment came as he outlined a series of possible “appropriate measures” if missile defense talks between Moscow and Washington result in failure. Moscow is seeking written, legal guarantees that the shield will not be directed against it, but Washington has refused to put its verbal assurances in writing.

In a live broadcast on national television, Medvedev said the U.S. and NATO had failed to "take our concerns about the European missile defense into account." If there was no progress on the issue, he went on, Russia would “deploy in the west and the south of the country advanced offensive weapon systems which will target the European component of the missile defense network.” Medvedev was speaking ahead of a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels on December 7-8.

Other military measures outlined by Medvedev included the placement of an early-warning radar in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and the increased protection of nuclear deterrent assets around the country. The U.S and NATO plan to place elements of the European missile shield in Poland and Romania. The Alliance has dismissed Russia’s concerns over the shield, saying it needs it to deal with “rogue states” such as Iran.

Russia and NATO tentatively agreed to cooperate on the European missile defense network at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, but differences in approaches toward the project led to a deadlock in negotiations. Medvedev reiterated on Wednesday Russia’s proposal to create a joint missile defense system. He also said, however, that Russia would not participate in a project that went against its interests. "We will not agree to take part in a project that may weaken our deterrent potential in a relatively short time - five or six or eight years. And the European missile defense is exactly this kind of project," said Medvedev, who steps down next spring to allow his mentor Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to return to the Kremlin.

Russia made similar threats when the George Bush-era missile shield was announced and there was immediate speculation in at home and abroad that Medvedev's tough statements were made to satisfy rising nationalist sentiments ahead of the December 4 parliamentary polls.


Medvedev also said that if talks on the European missile shield develop in a manner unfavorable to Russia, Moscow may halt its disarmament and arms control efforts, including participation in the new strategic arms reduction treaty with the United States. “Given the direct link between strategic offensive and defensive weapons, reasons could emerge for Russia's withdrawal from the START treaty. This is stipulated by the treaty itself,” he said.

The missile shield dispute between Russia and the United States has undermined efforts to build on improvements in relations between the former Cold War foes and is intensified by Russia's uncertainty over U.S. policy after the November 2012 presidential elections.


Russia Elevates Warning About U.S. Missile-Defense Plan in Europe

Russia will deploy its own missiles and could withdraw from the New Start nuclear arms reduction treaty if the United States moves forward with its plans for a missile-defense system in Europe, President Dmitri A. Medvedev warned on Wednesday. “I have set the task to the armed forces to develop measures for disabling missile-defense data and control systems,” Mr. Medvedev said.

He said new Russian strategic ballistic missiles “will be equipped with advanced missile defense penetration systems and new highly effective warheads” and he reiterated Russia’s warning that it would deploy tactical missiles to the western territory of Kaliningrad, which borders Poland. But it was Mr. Medvedev’s comments about the New Start treaty, put into effect this year, that suggested a darkening tone in what has been a steady drumbeat of warnings out of Moscow in recent days over the plans for a missile-defense system based in Europe.

“In the case of unfavorable development of the situation, Russia reserves the right to discontinue further steps in the field of disarmament and arms control,” Mr. Medvedev said in a televised address from his residence just outside Moscow. “Given the intrinsic link between strategic offensive and defensive arms, conditions for our withdrawal from the New Start treaty could also arise,” he said.

Several times in his address, Mr. Medvedev reiterated his call for further negotiations between Russia and the United States, but such talks seem unlikely to change the strongly held views on each side. At issue is the Europe-based system being developed by the United States that it says would defend against a potential missile attack by Iran. The United States has reached agreements to place 24 interceptor missiles in Romania, as well as a sophisticated radar system in Turkey.

Russia believes that that system could be used against its intercontinental ballistic missiles and has demanded assurance in writing that this would not be the case. The United States has said it will not agree to any restrictions on its missile-defense efforts. Mr. Medvedev raised the issue directly with President Obama this month at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Hawaii. After those face-to-face talks, Mr. Medvedev said, “Our positions remain far apart.”

Since then, he and other Russian officials have made a steady stream of public statements warning of the consequences of a failure by the two sides to reach some accommodation. American officials insist that the Europe-based missile-defense system was intended to address a threat from Iran — a position that was reiterated by the White House and the Pentagon after Mr. Medvedev’s televised remarks on Wednesday.

“In multiple channels, we have explained to Russian officials that the missile-defense systems planned for deployment in Europe do not and cannot threaten Russia’s strategic deterrent, said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “Implementation of the New Start Treaty is going well is going well and we see no basis for threats to withdraw from it. “We continue to believe that cooperation with Russia on missile defense can enhance the security of the United States, our allies in Europe, and Russia, and we will continue to work with Russia to define the parameters of possible cooperation.”

Mr. Obama ordered a major redesign of the missile-defense plans he had inherited from his predecessor, George W. Bush, opting to move the system closer to Iran and to build it faster. Mr. Bush had favored placing interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic. In his remarks, Mr. Medvedev said there was still room for negotiation. But he accused the United States and NATO of being unwilling to consider Russia’s point of view. “They are not going, at least as of today, to take into consideration our concerns about the architecture of the European missile defense system,” he said, “They are saying, ‘This is not against you, don’t worry.’ They are trying to calm us down.”

But in what was clearly a reference to the United States Congress, Mr. Medvedev said there were reasons not to trust the assurances from the Obama administration. “Legislators in some countries openly state,” he said, “ This is against you.’ ”


White House Unruffled by Russia Missile Threat

The White House insisted on Wednesday that Washington would not alter its plans for a European missile defense project, despite increasingly tough rhetoric from Moscow. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier in the day that Russia would move "advanced offensive weapon systems" to its borders with Europe in response to the planned shield, if talks on the project fail. Moscow is seeking written, legal guarantees that the shield will not be directed against it, but Washington has refused to put its verbal assurances in writing.

“The United States will not alter its plans to deploy a NATO missile defense system and Russia should not be threatened by the shield,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement. “The implementation of the missile system is going well and we see no basis for threats to withdraw from it.”

Vietor said the United States had explained to Russian officials through "multiple channels" that the missile defense systems planned for deployment in Europe do not threaten Russia's strategic deterrent. Pentagon spokesman, Capt. John Kirby also reiterated on Wednesday that the U.S. missile defense system “is focused on addressing the growing missile threat from Iran.”

"We have been addressing Russia's concerns through an intensive dialogue and detailed briefings at senior levels. The U.S. and NATO have welcomed Russia to participate in missile defense cooperation. This is the best way for Russia to receive transparency and assurances that missile defense is not a threat," Kirby told Fox News. The U.S. Department of State also said it would continue talks with Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement he was "very disappointed" with Medvedev's comments and suggested such a move would be "reminiscent of the past." "Cooperation, not confrontation, is the way ahead," Rasmussen added. Russia and NATO tentatively agreed to cooperate on the European missile defense network at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, but differences in approaches toward the project led to a deadlock in negotiations.


U.S. Halts Arms Treaty Cooperation With Russia

The United States has announced that it will not allow Russian inspections of U.S. bases or share data with Russia on its nonnuclear weapons stores in Europe after years of failed efforts to revitalize a Cold War-era arms treaty. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who served as the leading U.S. negotiator on the issue before taking up her current post, announced the decision to stop meeting its obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty with respect to Russia.

"The U.S. has made a decision to cease implementing vis-a-vis Russia certain obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty," Nuland said. "This move responds to Russia's cessation of implementation of the CFE, which began in December 2007, and the subsequent impasse with Moscow on a way forward." She added: "It is our understanding that a number, if not all, of the NATO allies will do the same."

Observers suggest the impact of the decision is more symbolic than practical, since other signatories are likely to forward such information on to Moscow. But it highlights persistent differences over missile defense and continued fallout from 2008 hostilities between Russia and neighboring Georgia that left Russian troops on the soil of a fledgling former Soviet republic.

Failure To Renegotiate

First signed in Paris in 1990 by the members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact countries, the CFE treaty set equal limits on both sides for non-nuclear, or conventional, weapons that could be used for large-scale offensives. Also establishing ceilings for troops as well as exchanges of information and an inspection regime, the treaty was seen at the time as key to European security at the end of the Cold War. Russia sought to renegotiate the CFO treaty in the late 1990s after a number of former Warsaw Pact nations joined NATO, rendering the treaty's bloc-based provisions obsolete.

An updated treaty was signed in 1999, but NATO countries refused to ratify it, insisting that Russia must first withdraw its troops from Georgia and Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region. The roadblocks both sides originally faced in trying to reform the treaty have hung over more recent negotiations as well, said Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and an expert on arms control in the former Soviet Union.

"There was an effort in 2010 to try to see if there was a way to get the regime back into place or at least come up with principles for restoring a limitation regime on CFE, and it really foundered over the question of how to handle Georgia," Pifer said. "From the United States' side, a key principle of any CFE-type arrangement is that a host country has a sovereign right to say yes or no to foreign troops on its territory -- host nation consent. And the problem of course was how do you deal with South Ossetia and Abkhazia?"

'Not Reciprocated'

After the short but bloody Russian-Georgian war in 2008, Moscow recognized the self-declared independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both breakaway Georgian territories. Most countries, including the United States, say the regions remain under Tbilisi. Scrapped U.S. plans for land-based missile defense structures in Eastern Europe also hung over the treaty, with former Russian President Vladimir Putin declaring in 2007 that the treaty limited his nation's ability to respond to increasing threats. He suspended Russian participation for all 30 signatory countries.

The State Department's Nuland said that after repeated efforts to make progress with Russia and the choice to continue to meet its own treaty requirements along the way, Washington decided that "We don't think it's in our interest to provide data that's not reciprocated." She said that the United States had not abandoned hope for modernizing and reimplementing the treaty with Russia, saying the decision could "crystallize the mind in terms of our ability to get back to the table."

In practical terms, Washington will continuing sending weapons data to other treaty signatories, such as Belarus, which could choose to pass it along to Russia.

With defense budgets dropping across Eurasia and with most signatory countries -- other than Armenia and Azerbaijan -- maintaining stockpiles well below the treaty limit, the information is also not considered particularly vital to Russia. "I think this is mainly a symbolic gesture," said Pifer. "Certainly there are other countries that may get the information and they may choose to share it with Russia; and, quite frankly, given its national technical means, Russia probably has a pretty good fix on a lot of this information in any case."

Pifer said such information was being provided as a confidence-building measure, adding that "it's particularly useful for countries other than the United States and Russia that don't have the sophisticated satellites and other capabilities that Washington and Moscow have to track this sort of thing." "So in real terms, is this going to be a huge impact on Moscow? Probably not. But I think it is designed to send a signal."

'Two To Tango'

But in announcing the toughened U.S. stance, Nuland was also asked whether the signal is meant to refer to more than just the state of negotiations on the arms treaty. Washington is also currently at an impasse with Moscow over the possibility of sharing resources toward a European missile defense system.

While Nuland said the two are different issues, she suggested that in general, increased flexibility on Russia’s part would be welcome. "From this point of view, we don't see a direct connection between the two: missile defense is missile defense, conventional arms control is conventional arms control," Nuland said. "We want to have both. We want to have a good, collaborative relationship with Russia on both -- but it takes two to tango."

Nuland also downplayed concern that the U.S. move ran counter to the spirit of "resetting" relations with Moscow. "What we've always said about the reset is that the reset would enable us to collaborate and cooperate more where we could, but also to be clear and honest when we have difficulties and we have differences," Nuland said. "We thought it was important to be clear now."


Russia Tests Domestic Interceptor Missile

Russia carried out a successful test of a short-range interceptor missile on Tuesday as a part of its effort to develop a domestic missile defense shield, the Defense Ministry said. The missile was launched from the Sary-Shagan (Kazakhstan) shooting range, the Ministry’s spokesperson said. The goal of the test was to confirm the technical characteristics of the missile used by the Defense Ministry’s Space Command.

Russia's Defense Ministry uploaded a video of the missile's launch on its web site. The test comes a month after the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that if Moscow's participation in the European missile defense project fails, Russia would deploy Iskander tactical missiles in the Kaliningrad Region and halt its disarmament and arms control efforts, including participation in the new strategic arms reduction treaty with the United States.

Russia-NATO missile defense talks are close to deadlock as Moscow is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the U.S.-backed European missile defense program will not be directed against it. Washington, however, refuses to provide the guarantees, saying the shield is directed against threats from Iran and North Korea.

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on European missile defense system at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010. Medvedev proposed a joint system with full-scale interoperability to ensure that the alliance's system will not be directed against Moscow. The military bloc, however, favors two independent systems which exchange information.


Russia Ramps Up New 'Satan' Nuke After U.S. Talks Breakdown

This new intercontinental ballistic missile, nicknamed "Satan" by Western analysts, will sport a 100-ton warhead and replace the Voevoda-class missile in the Russian nuclear arsenal, according to recent news reports. This massive ICBM will take its place alongside the Yars, Topol-M and Bulava-class ballistic missiles sometime in 2015, according to Sergei Karakaev, head of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces. Development of the new ICBM will coincide with plans to revamp the country's missile silo complexes over the next decade, Karakaev told Russian media. Moscow's decision to accelerate work on the new "Satan"-class ICBM was directly tied to recently failed missile defense negotiations between Russia and the United States.

Russian president Dimitri Medvedev broke off negotiations with the White House in November on the administration's plan to set up a missile shield in Europe. The European Phased Adaptive Approach plan is a network of sea and land-based missile launchers designed to counter missile strikes from Iran. Cooperation with Russia is integral to making the missile shield work. But Moscow claims the U.S. could not guarantee American missiles would not be used to take out Russian targets. "Russia does not stand against the U.S. missile defense system. Russia stands against the creation of the missile defense system, which would be directly aimed against Russia," Karakaev said. That impasse forced Medvedev to walk away from the deal and begin work on its own super nuke.

But Washington's unwillingness to hand over classified missile defense secrets to their Russian counterparts was the real deal breaker between the former Cold War rivals, according to one key GOP lawmaker. Sen Mark Kirk told AOL Defense last week that Russia could not be trusted with America's most sensitive missile defense technologies. The country's well-established ties with Iran would virtually guarantee any secrets handed to the Russians would make their way to Tehran, Kirk said. That kind of cooperation would hand Tehran exactly what they need to deter the European missile shield, courtesy of their friends in Moscow.

The State Department and the Pentagon remain committed to bringing the Russians back to the negotiating table. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said the U.S. is determined to find "common ground" with Russia on the proposed missile shield. Dempsey would not comment on what proposals American negotiators were offering to entice Russia back to the negotiating table since those proposals are constantly in flux. The upside to that, he noted, is that negotiators on both sides are in "constant contact" to get a deal done, he said.

Russia Should Pursue ‘Iron Fist in Kid Glove’ Foreign Policy – Rogozin

Russia must be able to demonstrate the strength of its ‘iron fist’ clad in a kid glove of diplomacy in the current complex military and political situation, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Sunday. “Our policy must be the policy of an iron fist in a kid glove. It must turn enemies into partners, partners into neutrals and neutrals into allies and immediately into friends,” Rogozin said at the founding congress of the Voluntary Movement in Support of the Army, Navy and the Defense and Industrial Complex. Rogozin was recently appointed as a deputy prime minister to oversee Russia’s defense industry. “No one must have any doubts that under this layer of the glove, under the glove, there must be an iron fist, tough and ready to strike any aggressor and a group of aggressors if they dare to attack Russia,” Rogozin said. Russia’s state armaments program for the next decade aims to produce 400 ICBMs, eight strategic nuclear submarines, 50 surface warships, 600 combat aircraft and a thousand helicopters, he said.


Russia's Putin Slams US, Makes Deals in China

Russia and China talked up their burgeoning but still fraught ties Wednesday, with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin taking a swipe at U.S. monetary policy as parasitic. On a two-day visit to Beijing, Putin and Chinese leaders pledged to resolve disputes over pricing that are stalling plans for Russian deliveries of natural gas by two pipelines. Chinese state-backed firms also promised to invest $1.5 billion in a Siberian aluminum smelter and to put $1 billion into a joint investment fund, among agreements officials said were worth $7 billion.

Calling Putin "an old friend of China," President Hu Jintao said the Russian leader's visit "moved forward the Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic relationship." In an interview with Chinese state media late Tuesday and released Wednesday, Putin praised cooperation with China and lashed out at the U.S., describing the dominance of the American dollar as parasitic. "The U.S. is not a parasite for the world economy, but the U.S. dollar's monopoly is a parasite," Putin said, according to a report on the interview from Xinhua, the Chinese government news agency. Putin said he offered the criticism constructively in a search for common solutions to ease a roiling world economy.

Putin's visit commemorated the 10th anniversary of a treaty of "Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation" between the two former communist allies, who later came to the brink of war over ideological differences and territorial disputes. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin called the visit a "great success" that charted the way ahead for relations. Putin has frequently tried to use Russia's burgeoning ties with Beijing as a counterbalance to U.S. global predominance. And Chinese leaders have reciprocated the gestures.

The Beijing trip follows Putin's recent announcement that he plans to swap jobs next year with President Dmitry Medvedev, returning him to the top position he held for eight years. Analysts have said that the change could see Russia tilt further toward China. Last week, the two countries squelched a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Syria for its brutal crackdown on pro-reform protesters that has killed nearly 3,000 people since March. Their vetoes drew heavy criticism from Washington.

After meeting Putin on Tuesday Premier Wen Jiabao told reporters that China wanted to push ahead a "comprehensive strategic partnership" with Russia that would safeguard world stability and development. But even as they reach out to each other, strains are evident between Moscow and Beijing in the trade and security issues that have bolstered relations over the past decade. Moscow is unhappy with China's copying of Russian fighter jets and other military hardware and recently announced the arrest of a Chinese man accused of seeking to buy military secrets.

While trade is booming -- rising, by China's count, to more than 39 percent to $35.9 billion in the first half of the year from the same period last year -- it's heavily geared toward Chinese purchases of Russian resources. Moscow wants more Chinese investment in Russia itself. Wrangling over the price of gas to be delivered by two Siberian pipelines has gone on for two years and come to symbolize the difficulties the former Cold War rivals still have in cooperating. Russia prefers to link gas prices to oil prices, as it does in Europe, while China wants a lower price. If Russia's OAO Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp. can reach a deal, deliveries are to start by 2015.

"Those who sell always want to sell at a higher price, while those who buy want to buy at a lower price. We need to reach a compromise which will satisfy both sides," Putin told reporters Tuesday.


Russia Considers Blocking NATO Supply Routes

Russia said it may not let NATO use its territory to supply troops in Afghanistan if the alliance doesn't seriously consider its objections to a U.S.-led missile shield for Europe, Russia's ambassador to NATO said Monday. Russia has stepped up its objections to the antimissile system in Europe, threatening last week to deploy its own ballistic missiles on the border of the European Union to counter the move. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization says the shield is meant to thwart an attack from a rogue state such as Iran, that it poses no threat to Russia, and that the alliance will go ahead with the plan despite Moscow's objections.

If NATO doesn't give a serious response, "we have to address matters in relations in other areas," Russian news services reported Dmitri Rogozin, ambassador to NATO, as saying. He added that Russia's cooperation on Afghanistan may be an area for review, the news services reported. Threats to the NATO supply line through Russia come at an awkward time for the alliance. NATO has become increasingly reliant on the Russian route as problems in Pakistan—its primary supply route—have escalated. Over the weekend, Pakistan closed its border to trucks delivering supplies in response to coalition airstrikes Saturday that killed 25 Pakistani soldiers.

NATO began shipping its supplies through Russia in 2009, after the so-called reset in relations between Moscow and the U.S., allowing the alliance a safer route for supplies into Afghanistan. But U.S.-Russian relations have been strained lately by the approach of elections in both countries. In the past week, the Kremlin has sharply stepped up its anti-Western rhetoric ahead of parliamentary elections on Dec. 4. Ivan Safranchuk, deputy director of the Moscow-based Institute of Contemporary International Studies, said Russia is unlikely to cut off the flow of NATO supplies to Afghanistan as an immediate response to missile-defense decisions. But Russia does want its objections to the missile shield to be taken more seriously, he said.

"If the U.S. is not responsive, then a cutoff could be a reality at some point," Mr. Safranchuk said. "Russia would like the U.S. to be more serious about Russian concerns."


Putin Warns West on Elections Interference

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin launched his official presidential campaign on Sunday, accusing foreign powers of trying to influence Russia's elections and promising to press ahead with plans to boost defense spending to safeguard the country's dignity. Mr. Putin's appearance in a soccer stadium here before 10,000 flag-waving supporters was a clear signal that he planned no changes to the top-down political system that he has shaped since assuming the presidency in 2000, despite some weakening of his own popularity in public-opinion polls.

It was his first appearance before a large public arena since he was booed a week ago at a martial-arts competition. He lashed out at domestic opponents—many of whom have been excluded from the coming parliamentary and presidential elections—accusing them of playing a role in the Soviet collapse in 1991 and looting the country during the ensuing chaos. He praised Russia's neighbors Kazakhstan and Belarus for helping with his plan to reintegrate former Soviet states into a "Eurasian Union" whose members would enjoy exclusive trade ties.

Mr. Putin, 59 years old, is expected to switch places with his longtime protégé, President Dmitri Medvedev, after March presidential elections in what critics and Kremlin officials alike have called a "castling"—referring to a chess move—of the two leaders. Elections for the State Duma on Dec. 4 will be a closely watched precursor to that contest; the Kremlin-controlled party, United Russia, is expected to win a majority of seats.
Kremlin officials say there are few differences between Messrs. Putin and Medvedev, and that their switch in roles will bring scant change. But analysts say the official return of Mr. Putin to the Kremlin may present difficulties for the West, amid his insistence that the U.S. and European Union are trying to undermine him.

Mr. Putin's speech Sunday before the pro-Kremlin United Russia party was riddled with parallels to a speech he delivered a few months before Russia's last presidential elections four years ago, where in the same stadium he promised a revival in Russia's government and denounced his critics as foreign-financed "jackals."

After accepting the party's formal nomination for president on Sunday, he told the cheering audience that "some foreign countries are gathering those they are paying money to—so-called grant recipients—to instruct them and assign work in order to influence the election campaign themselves."

He called the alleged funding a "wasted effort, as we say money thrown at the wind, firstly because Judas is not the most respected biblical character in our country." In a clear jab at the financial troubles in the EU and the U.S., he advised governments that "it would be better to pay off their debt with this money and stop pursuing inefficient and costly economic policies."

Mr. Putin, who was initially installed in the Kremlin after the resignation of Boris Yeltsin 12 years ago, said he believed that only his government had the experience to take Russia into a better, more prosperous future. His critics, he said, had already discredited themselves with their own efforts to run the country and "ran it to complete collapse—I mean the collapse of the Soviet Union—while others went on to degrade the government and organize the unprecedented looting of the 1990s" in Russia.

"They destroyed industry, agriculture and the social sphere," he said, and "thrust the knife of civil war into Russia's very heart," referring to the two wars the Kremlin fought against Chechen separatists. Because he stepped down from the presidency for the past three years, Mr. Putin now is eligible for two more six-year terms in office, and so could become the longest-serving Kremlin leader since Joseph Stalin.Mr. Medvedev, who introduced Mr. Putin at the party meeting Sunday, said "there is no more successful, experienced or popular politician in Russia" and that in nominating him for president "we have officially determined our political future not just for the short term but for the long term."

Another high-level member of Mr. Putin's circle, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, resigned from the government in September after the so-called castling of leaders was announced. People close to Mr. Kudrin said he was disappointed that he wasn't offered the prime minister's job; Mr. Kudrin also said he was against a planned boost in military spending after elections. Mr. Putin said on Sunday that he did plan such a boost and that "in the next five to ten years, we have to bring a new level and our armed forces to a new level." "Of course it will be expensive," said Mr. Putin. "But we must do this if we want to protect the dignity of the country."


Putin Says U.S. Encouraging Russian Opposition

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. authorities on Thursday of sponsoring the opposition in Russia and urged harsher punishments for those acting on orders from “foreign states.” His remarks followed comments by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior Washington officials about the outcome of Russia’s parliamentary elections, in which the pro-Kremlin United Russia party gained almost half of the vote. The White House said it had “serious concerns” about the polls, which were marred by accusations of ballot-stuffing and other irregularities, with Clinton describing the vote as neither free nor fair.

“I looked at the first reaction of our U.S. colleagues,” Putin said during a meeting with representatives of his All-Russia People’s Front movement in Moscow. “The [U.S.] secretary of state was quick to evaluate the elections, saying that they are unfair and unjust, even before she received materials from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) observers.”

President Dmitry Medvedev said Sunday's polls were democratic and fair, despite numerous violations registered by international observers, which he said would be investigated. Clinton’s comments, Putin said, became a “signal” for “our activists, who began active work with the support of the U.S. Department of State.” Massive opposition protests against the alleged vote fraud in favor of United Russia took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg following Sunday's elections. Several thousand protesters participated in marches in downtown Moscow on Monday and Tuesday and another major protest is expected to be held on Saturday near the Kremlin’s walls.

Following reports of hundreds of protesters detained during the rallies, the U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said earlier on Thursday that the United States “would obviously support the rights of anyone to peaceful protest, emphasis on peaceful, anywhere in the world,” including Russia. In this Thursday's comments, Putin said Russia “must protect” its “sovereignty” by thwarting foreign governments’ attempts to interfere in its domestic affairs. “When money from abroad is invested in political activities inside another country, this concerns us,” he said, adding that “hundreds of millions of dollars” of foreign money have been spent to influence the election process in Russia.

“We are not against foreign observers monitoring out election process,” Putin said. “But when they begin motivating some organizations inside the country which claim to be domestic but in fact are funded from abroad… this is unacceptable.”

His remarks seemed to be an apparent reference to the Moscow-based Golos election watchdog, which has faced pressure from the authorities ahead of the polls amid reports of its funding by U.S. government-affiliated structures. Punishment for those cooperating with foreign governments should be toughened, Putin said. “We will have to think about improving our laws in order to make those fulfilling the tasks of a foreign state aimed at influencing our domestic [political] process more responsible,” he said.

Several opposition activists have been jailed for 15 days for disobeying police orders during the opposition rallies earlier this week and more arrests are likely to follow during Saturday's protest. The authorities have authorized the demonstration but only 300 people have been allowed to take part in it, while some 20,000 social networks users have already registered to participate in the protest.


Romney Calls for a Century of American Dominance

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney made his first major foreign policy speech Friday at The Citadel, a military college in the important primary state of South Carolina. Full of pomp and belligerence, he called for a century of American dominance. This century must be an American century. In an American century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world,” Romney said. “God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers. America must lead the world, or someone else will.”

Romney condemned what he called an isolationist tendency from the tea party conservatives and other Republicans that dare dissent from the pro-war ideology of the party. “This is America’s moment. We should embrace the challenge, not shrink from it, not crawl into an isolationist shell, not wave the white flag of surrender, nor give in to those who assert America’s moment has passed. That is utter nonsense,” he proclaimed.

Romney criticized President Obama’s so-called “aggressive” withdrawal from Afghanistan and promised to respond to calls for cutting the defense budget by ramping up military spending and expanding US military presence around the world. Giving paranoid Republican voters what they wanted to hear, he ignored the fact that the ten year war in Afghanistan has gone on ten years too long and that America could cut its defense spending in half and still outspend every other country in the world.

This speech coincides with the announcement that Romney’s new foreign policy advisor is Walid Phares, a Lebanese-American, Fox News contributor, and rising Republican pundit known for his hawkishness. The unmitigated militarism espoused by the famously duplicitous Romney is stale, even by American standards. He is trying to rally over-extended imperial sentiment in order to counter war weariness and (probably inaccurate) fears of a declining US hegemony.

He appealed more to vague sentiments and perceptions of complaisance on the international stage than to actual changes in policy. After all, it is difficult to present a starkly different option than Obama, who has followed essentially the same foreign policy as the most militaristic Republican president in recent memory, George W. Bush.


Hu's Russia Visit Ushers in a New Era of Co-op

Chinese President Hu Jintao's just-concluded visit to Russia is the latest in a decade-long effort that has established a new era of cooperation between the two neighboring world powers. The state visit, from June 15 to 18, is his fifth since 2003, and continues a process of closer ties between the two countries at all levels since they signed the landmark China-Russia Treaty of Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation in July 2001. Over the past decade, bilateral cooperation has borne rich fruit in many fields, fostering peace and prosperity in the two countries and for the world at large. Hu's latest visit, on the 10th anniversary of the treaty, is believed to further promote bilateral cooperation and charter a course for future development of bilateral ties.

Mutual political trust

The 25-article good-neighborly treaty stresses a new type of state-to-state relationship, which neither seeks alliance, confrontation nor targets against any third country. Recalling the treaty, President Hu said Thursday the new security concept it contains served as an excellent example of a new type of bilateral relations. "The treaty is an important landmark in the development of China-Russia relations. At the same time, it has blazed a trail in international relations," he said. Over the past decade, China and Russia have made eye-catching progress in boosting their political trust. Frequent high-level exchanges have demonstrated the steady and healthy development of bilateral relations.

In addition to his five state visits, Hu headed to Russia in 2005 and 2010 for the 60th and 65th anniversaries of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Last year alone, Hu and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held six bilateral meetings and reached important agreements on further deepening the bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation. In 2004, China and Russia inked an additional treaty over their eastern border, putting an end to 40 years of negotiations and making their 4,300-km-long border a symbol of good-neighborly relations and harmonious coexistence. The two sides have also established mechanisms for regular meetings between their leaders and cooperation mechanisms between various government departments, and signed more than 200 cooperative documents to help improve the mechanisms and legal basis of bilateral ties.

Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui, in a recent interview with Xinhua, said China-Russia ties were becoming a model for bilateral relations of the world's big powers. Mikhail Titarenko, head of the Far East Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua Hu was a longtime close friend of Russia, and his visit definitely would encourage more joint efforts in both political issues and economic projects. "The prospects for Russian-Chinese cooperation are really great," Titarenko said.

Pragmatic cooperation

Economically, cooperation has benefited both sides. Two-way trade has increased sevenfold from some $8 billion in 2000 to nearly $60 billion in 2010. Hu, during a meeting with Medvedev Thursday, said the two sides should work to further boost bilateral trade and set targets of 100 billion dollars a year by 2015 and 200 billion by 2020. Medvedev, for his part, said the Russian side was fully satisfied with the development of bilateral relations over the past decade. He specifically hailed the rapid development in bilateral economic and trade cooperation. The two sides have carried out a number of large-scale cooperative projects in areas such as energy, infrastructure, and science and technology.

These include a China-Russia oil pipeline project linking Russia's Far East and northeast China, which began operation on January 1. It runs smoothly and had delivered more than 6 million tons of crude oil from Russia to China by the end of May. The 1,000-km-long pipeline will transport 15 million tons of oil annually from Russia to China from 2011 to 2030. The two countries are now negotiating another two long-term gas projects. The projects, with a "west line" capable of supplying China with 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year and an "east line" of 38 billion cubic meters, would both be 30-year deals.

Culturally, China and Russia have actively learned about each other and deepened the friendship between the two peoples. China hosted the "Year of Russia" in 2006 and "Year of Russian Language" in 2009, while Russia held the "Year of China" in 2007 and "Year of Chinese Language" in 2010. These activities increased the two peoples' understanding of each other. People-to-people exchanges have witnessed robust development, with more than 3 million Chinese and Russians currently visiting each other's country every year. China and Russia are also to stage s "Year of Tourism" to deepen bilateral exchanges.

Influential duet on world stage

China, as Asia's biggest country, has a land area of 9.6 million square km and a 1.34-billion population, while Russia is the biggest country in Euroasia, with a formidable 17 million square km and a population of 142 million. Their friendly cooperation, without doubt, is of vital importance for peace and prosperity both in Eurasia and beyond. China and Russia, both of which are UN Security Council permanent members, are heavyweights on the world platform and have cooperated effectively at the UN. The two countries have maintained similar stances and substantially supported each other on a variety of hot and thorny international issues.

They also have cooperated effectively in other regional or international frameworks, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), BRICS and the Group of 20. "These new organizations will help Russia and China, together with other countries, maintain stable development, not only of our own countries, but also of the whole mankind," Igor Rogachev, a member of the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament, and a former ambassador to China, told Xinhua. Moreover, Russia has firmly adhered to the one-China policy and recognized Taiwan as an inalienable part of China, while China has staunchly supported Russia's crackdown on Chechen separatists.

China-Russia cooperation is tremendously conducive to building a multipolar world and a fairer international order, and benefits world peace and stability. Alexander Lukin, director of the Center for East Asia and SCO Studies at Moscow State University for International Relations, wrote in an article titled "Russia and Rising China" that, "both Russia and China are unwilling to see the world as dominated by a super power. Instead, they think the world should have many poles, which will cooperate with each other according to international laws and under the guidance of the UN Charter." "They also dislike other countries bossing them around over their domestic policies, and deem the actions as intervention in their internal affairs," he said.

On Thursday, China and Russia issued a joint statement on a broad range of key international issues. They expressed their common stances on a variety of international issues, including bilateral cooperation at the UN and the G20, global nuclear and security issues, Asia-Pacific regional cooperation, the Korean Peninsula and Iranian nuclear issues, and unrest in West Asia and North Africa. They vowed to make concerted efforts to effectively cope with various global challenges and threats.

Common Challenges

The two neighbors now are also confronted with a variety of similar daunting challenges, such as a widening wealth gap, corruption, poverty, unemployment, and environmental pollution, among others. Some Western countries are skeptical of the two emerging powers' intentions, employing labels such as "China Threat Theory, " "Russian Authoritarianism" and other appalling rhetoric. They have even attempted to deter their development. Therefore, bilateral cooperation is of significant importance to the two neighbors for their sustainable development, for which stable external circumstances are crucial as they push forward their modernization drives.

During his meeting with Medvedev Thursday, Hu said the next decade would be a critical period for the two countries for their respective development and for deepening their partnership. He said China was ready to work with Russia to develop a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership featuring equality, mutual trust, mutual support, common prosperity and lasting friendship in the new decade.

Hu also stressed China would unswervingly pursue the road of peaceful development and work for the establishment of a harmonious world of long-term peace and common prosperity. Rogachev said, "We have taken an important step forward in strengthening the principle of 'Russia and China are friends forever and will never become enemies'." Leaders and peoples of the two countries have agreed to follow this positive practice and find new themes for cooperation, he said.

Hu Jintao Tells China Navy: Prepare For Warfare

China's navy should speed up its development and prepare for warfare, President Hu Jintao has said. He told military personnel they should "make extended preparations for warfare". China is locked in territorial disputes with several other nations in the South China Sea. Political tension is also growing with the US, which is seeking to boost its presence in the region.

After Mr Hu's comments, the US said China was entitled to defend itself. "Nobody's looking for a scrap here," said Pentagon spokesman Admiral John Kirby in quotes carried by the AFP news agency. "Certainly we wouldn't begrudge any other nation the opportunity to develop naval forces." Senior US and Chinese officials are currently holding talks on military issues. The one-day meeting takes place every year, with the stated aim of ensuring there are no misunderstandings between the two nations.

'Sovereignty dispute'

China has recently acquired its first aircraft carrier and has been vocal about its naval ambitions. But its military remains primarily a land-based force, and its naval capabilities are still dwarfed by the US. Mr Hu told a meeting of military officials that the navy should "accelerate its transformation and modernisation in a sturdy way, and make extended preparations for warfare in order to make greater contributions to safeguard national security". The word "warfare" was used in official media, but other translations used "military combat" and "military struggle".

Analysts say Mr Hu's comments are unusually blunt, and are likely to be aimed at the US and Beijing's rivals in the South China Sea. Both the Philippines and Vietnam have repeatedly accused China of overt aggression in the region. They are among the nations claiming sovereignty over islands in the sea in the hope that there could be oil and gas deposits there. And US President Barack Obama announced last month that the US was boosting its presence in the region, and will base a full Marine task force in northern Australia.

Analysts say the US move is a direct challenge to China's attempts to dominate the area, and is likely to bolster US allies in the South China Sea dispute.


Russia's Envoy to NATO Rogozin Appointed Vice-Premier

President Dmitry Medvedev has appointed Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s envoy to NATO since 2008, deputy prime minister in charge of the defense complex. “I believe you have enough experience to manage this difficult area,” RIA Novosti quotes Medvedev as saying. “You have gained it in recent years working as my permanent representative in NATO.”

The president added that the defense complex would acquire a “strong modern manager.” Dmitry Rogozin outlined specific measures he would take to renew it, and pledged to curb corruption “with an iron hand.” One of Rogozin’s first tasks in his new post will be the settling of the uneasy relations between weapons producers and the Defense Ministry, experts suggest. This year has seen a long-standing argument on prices between the two sides. The Defense Ministry insisted they were inflated, while manufacturers insisted they were offering a fair deal for the weaponry. The conflict was only solved with the mediation of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The appointment of Dmitry Rogozin sends a signal to the West that Russia will be taking a tough stance, first of all on the planned European AMD, says the head of the Moscow-based Agency for Political and Economic Communication, Dmitry Orlov. “It’s a clear-cut signal to Western elites… meaning that Russia’s position on AMD, re-armament and the defense issue of the foreign policy is consistent and harsh,” Orlov commented. As Russia’s envoy to NATO, Rogozin has repeatedly said that Moscow needs to maintain its strategic defense potential in response to the newly-introduced US missile defense system.

Russia Scolds United States For Human Rights Abuse

Russia sought to undermine the authority of the United States as a global judge of human rights on Wednesday with Moscow's first report to detail allegations of torture, phone tapping and abuse by the U.S. government. Criticizing the United States for double standards, Russia said President Barack Obama had failed to shut the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and accused the White House of sheltering officials and CIA operatives from prosecution. The Foreign Ministry's report "On the situation with human rights in a host of world states," follows China's example in highlighting U.S. failings in an attempt to counter U.S. State Department criticism of domestic human rights abuses.

"The situation in the United States is far from the ideals proclaimed by Washington," Russia's foreign ministry said in a 63-page report posted on its Web site. "The main unresolved problem is the odious prison in Guantanamo Bay." "The White House and the Justice Department shelter from prosecution CIA operatives and highly placed officials who are responsible for mass and flagrant breaches of human rights," it said.

Every year since 1976, the U.S. Department of State has published a detailed report on the state of human rights in the world, often with scathing analyses of abuses in China and Russia. Washington scolded Russia for "governmental and societal human rights problems and abuses during the year" in its report published in April. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton angered Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this month by suggesting that Russia's parliamentary elections were neither free nor fair.

Russia's counter-report is unlikely to harm ties with its former Cold War foe, though Obama's attempt to forge more friendly ties with the Kremlin has cooled since Vladimir Putin said in September he planned to run in the March presidential election. "These kinds of human rights reports can be a useful mechanism," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. "We certainly don't regard it as interference in our internal affairs when foreign governments, individuals or organizations comment on or criticize U.S. human rights practices."

Russia also criticized European Union countries for the treatment of religious minorities and Britain in particular for breaching human rights in the wake of August's riots. The report focused on the United States and European countries, mentioning China only once and then in passing.


Putin Dreams of Sweeping Eurasian Union

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has a vision for a Soviet Union-lite he hopes will become a new Moscow-led global powerhouse. But, his planned Eurasian Union won't be grounded in ideology: This time it's about trade. The concept of regional economic integration may be losing some of its allure in Europe, where a debt crisis is threatening the existence of the eurozone. But some countries across the former Soviet Union, still struggling economically 20 years after becoming independent, are embracing Putin's grand ambition.

Russia has moved one step toward this goal under an agreement with former fellow Soviet republics Belarus and Kazakhstan that as of Sunday allows the free movement of goods and capital across their common borders. As Putin envisions it, the still-hypothetical union will eventually stretch from the eastern fringes of Central Europe to the Pacific Coast and south to the rugged Pamir Mountains abutting Afghanistan.

The drive to somehow reform at least a husk of the Soviet Union has been around since 1991. The Commonwealth of Independent States, which loosely brings together 11 of the original 15 republics, was an early attempt that never amounted to much more than a glorified alumni club. It was Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev who first raised the notion of an Eurasian Union in the early 1990s, but the idea was too premature for nations busy forging their own delicate statehoods.

Putin was president from 2000 to 2008 and intends to regain that position in a March election. A wave of protests that began after a fraud-tainted parliamentary election in December is posing the first serious challenge to Putin's authority, but his hold on power still seems secure.
In anticipation of a new six-year term as president, Putin has made forming a Eurasian Union by 2015 a foreign policy priority. He is promoting the union as necessary for Russia and its neighbors to compete in the modern global economy. His broader goal is to restore some of Moscow's economic and political clout across former Soviet space and thus strengthen Russia's position in the world.

If the poorer prospective members are clamoring for Putin's union so as to become Moscow's financial beneficiaries, as was the case under the Soviet Union, they may be sorely disappointed. Russia has in recent years taken a more pragmatic line when extending its largesse and that stance is expected to remain largely unchanged. "Some years ago, Russia came to the position that assistance to former Soviet republics should be monetized," said Ivan Safranchuk, an associate professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Safranchuk said this meant that Moscow issued lines of credit and then sold countries oil, gas, electricity and military hardware at discount prices. That strategy has brought Russia closer to gaining control over energy infrastructure in Ukraine, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. While giving Moscow economic leverage over its former subjects, this approach has precluded the exorbitant spending pressure that helped bankrupt the Soviet Union.

The agreement to form a "common economic space" that went into effect Jan. 1 gives Russia up to 30 million new customers in Belarus and Kazakhstan, while these countries gain greater access to Russia's market of more than 140 million people. The risk to Russian manufacturers is the relatively lower cost of production in the other two countries, which could potentially drive them out of business.

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, both economically struggling nations in Central Asia, may be the next to join the free trade club. Kyrgyzstan's former President Roza Otunbayeva said before stepping down in late October that she saw her nation's fate as inevitably linked with the Eurasian Union. "The natural flow of the work force, services and movement of capital is of course all directed to Russia and Kazakhstan," she said.

Current President Almazbek Atambayev has made it clear he sees the fate of Kyrgyzstan, which hosts a U.S. air base that acts as a crucial transportation hub for military operations in Afghanistan, as very much tied to Russia. Neighboring Tajikistan, whose long and porous border with Afghanistan keeps many a security analyst awake at night, has proven a more recalcitrant partner and was recently embroiled in an unseemly diplomatic spat with Russia. But with more than an estimated 1 million Tajik migrants currently working in Russia, the lure of a border-free future could be too compelling to refuse.

Other potential members of the Eurasian Union in the Kremlin's sights appear more wary about what this means for their sovereignty. Ukraine, which has flirted uncertainly with membership, fears it could further jeopardize its future economic and political engagement with Western Europe. Others, such as Armenia, have proven positively cool on the idea, while Georgia under President Mikheil Saakashvili will likely always be hostile to anything coming out of Moscow.

Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, cautioned against talking up the prospect of the Eurasian Union as a political project. "I see no absolutely no wish on behalf of the Kazakhstani leadership to give up their sovereignty, and I see the Belarusian people not wishing to become part of Russia," he said. Still, Russia's neighbors may have reason to fear Kremlin attempts to restore political domination. Shortly after Putin came to power, the Foreign Ministry spelled out Russia's strategic vision in no uncertain terms. The document, which dates back to 2000, argues for promoting policies that "best serve the interests of Russia as a great power and as one of the most influential centers in the modern world."

The theme was recently reprised in campaign literature for Putin's United Russia party, which claimed that the "new union will allow our country to become another pole of influence in the modern, multipolar world." Trenin said that so far the fears of renewed Kremlin domination were ungrounded, noting that Kazakhstan and Belarus only increase the reach of Russia's markets by one-fifth in terms of population. "That's fine, but it doesn't make you a powerhouse," he said.


The Eurasian Project: A Threat to The New World Order

One might be tempted to regard Russian premier V. Putin's paper “A new integration project for Eurasia: The future in the making”, which saw the light of day in Izvestia on October 3, 2011, as the presidential front-runner's sketchily laid out program, but upon scrutiny that appears to be only one part of a wider picture. The opinion piece momentarily ignited wide-scale controversy in and outside of Russia and highlighted the ongoing clash of positions on global development…

Regardless of interpretation details, the reaction of the Western media to the integration project unveiled by the Russian premier was uniformly negative and reflected with utmost clarity an a priori hostility towards Russia and any initiatives it floats. Mao Zedong, though, used to say that facing pressure from your enemies is better than being in such a condition that they do not bother to keep you under pressure. It helps to understand why, at the moment, Cold War-style headlines are constantly popping up in Western media and what perceived threat the West discerned in Putin's recent Eurasian integration. The obvious explanation is that, if implemented, the plan would come as a geopolitical challenge to the new world order, to the dominance of NATO, the IMF, the EU and other supranational bodies, and to the undisguised US primacy.

Today's increasingly assertive Russia suggests and is ready to start building an inclusive alliance based on principles providing a viable alternative to Atlantism and neoliberalism. It is an open secret that these days the West is putting into practice an array of far-reaching geopolitical projects, reconfiguring Europe in the wake of the Balkan conflicts and against the backdrop of the crises provoked in Greece and Cyprus, assembling the Greater Middle East based on serial regime changes across the Arab world, and, as a relatively novel design, implementing the Asia project in which the recent disaster in Japan was an active phase.

In 2011, the intensity of geopolitical dynamics was unprecedented since the collapse of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc, with all major countries and international bodies contributing. Moreover, the current impression is that military might somehow became a legitimate instrument in international politics. Just days ago, Moscow drew avalanche criticism after vetoing the UN Security Council resolution which could authorize a replay of the Libyan scenario in Syria. As a result, US permanent envoy to the UN S. Rice slammed Russia and China over the veto, while French foreign minister Alain Juppé declared that “it is a sad day for the Syrian people. It is a sad day for the Security Council”. During the heated UN security Council debates on September 5, Syrian representative lambasted Germany and France, and charged the US with perpetrating genocide in the Middle East. After that, S. Rice accused Russia and China of hoping to sell arms to the Syrian regime instead of standing by the Syrian people and stormed out of the meeting, and French envoy Gérard Araud opined that “No veto can clear of their responsibility these Syrian authorities that have lost any legitimacy by murdering its own people”, leaving an impression that murdering people, as in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, should be a NATO privilege.

Moscow's Western “partners” are outraged whenever Russia, in concert with China, puts obstacles in the way of the new world order. Syria, albeit a regionally important country, only fleetingly tops the agenda, but Putin's ambitious plan for the whole Eurasia - “reaching a higher level of integration – a Eurasian Union” - had to be expected to evoke deep and lasting concerns in the West. Moscow openly challenges the West's global dominance by “suggesting a model of a powerful supranational union that can become one of the poles of today's world while being an efficient connecting link between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific Region”.

No doubt, Putin's messages that “the combination of natural resources, capital, and strong human potential will make the Eurasian Union competitive in the industrial and technological race and the race for investor money, new jobs, and advanced production facilities” and that “along with other key players and regional institutions such as the EU, the USA, China, and APEC, it will ensure the sustainability of global development” sounded alarming to Western leaders.

Neither the collapse of the USSR and the bipolar world nor the subsequent proliferation of pro-Western “democracies” marked a final point in the struggle over global primacy. What followed was an era of military interventions and displacements of defiant regimes with the help of information warfare and the omnipresent Western soft power. In this game, Eurasia remains the main prize in line with John Mackinder's geopolitical imperative by which “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; who rules the World-Island controls the world”.

In the late XX century the US became the first-ever non-Eurasian country to combine the roles of the world's top power and the final arbiter in Eurasian affairs. In the framework of the new world order doctrine, the US and the West as a whole see Eurasia as a zone of key importance to their economic development and growing political might. Global dominance is an openly stated and constantly pursued goal of the Euro-Atlantic community and its military and financial institutions – NATO, the IMF, and the World Bank - along with the Western media and countless NGOs. In the process, the Western establishment remains fully aware that, in Z. Brzeziński's words, „America's global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained. Sustaining the “preponderance”, in turn, takes control over Europe, Russia, China, the Middle East, and Central Asia.

Untamed Western hegemony in Europe, Central Asia, and, to an extent, in the Middle East and even Russia used to count as an unquestionable outcome of the past couple of decades, but at the moment the situation appears fluid. Western, Chinese, and Russian watchers alike are predicting an imminent failure of the neoliberal globalization model embedded in the new world order, and the time is coming for the political class to adopt the view.

By opening up opportunities to shield original models of national development from Atlantist pressure and to maintain real international security, Putin's new integration project holds a major promise for Russia and its allies, and thereby presents Russia's foes with a serious problem. Neither Russia nor any other post-Soviet republic can survive in today's world single-handedly, and Russia as Eurasia's key geopolitical player with economic, political, and military potentials unparalleled across the post-Soviet space can and should stake a bid for an alternative global architecture.

The West's allergy to Putin's plan is therefore explainable, but, regardless of the opposition the project is bound to run into, of the weakness of some of its elements, and of the potential difficulty of putting it into practice, the Eurasian integration project grew out of the life of the post-Soviet geopolitical and cultural space and is consonant with current global trends. Surviving, preserving the economic and material foundations of national existence, keeping traditions alive, and building a secure future for the children are the objectives the Eurasian nations can accomplish only if they stay aligned with Russia. Otherwise, isolation, sanctions, and military interventions awaits them…


US Troops Going to Israel

In one of the most blacked-out stories in America right now, the US military is preparing to send thousands of US troops, along with US Naval anti-missile ships and accompanying support personnel, to Israel. It took forever to find a second source for confirmation of this story and both relatively mainstream media outlets are in Israel. With one source saying the military deployment and corresponding exercises are to occur in January, the source providing most of the details suggests it will occur later this spring.

Calling it not just an “exercise”, but a “deployment”, the Jerusalem Post quotes US Lt.-Gen Frank Gorenc, Commander of the US Third Air Force based in Germany. The US Commander visited Israel two weeks ago to confirm details for “the deployment of several thousand American soldiers to Israel.” In an effort to respond to recent Iranian threats and counter-threats, Israel announced the largest ever missile defense exercise in its history. Now, it’s reported that the US military, including the US Navy, will be stationed throughout Israel, also taking part.

Also confirming the upcoming US-Israeli military missile exercises is - 'global news service of the Jewish people'. In their account, they report, 'Last week, plans for Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, to visit Israel in January were leaked to Israeli media; his visit likely will coincide with the largest-ever joint U.S.-Israel anti-missile exercise'.

While American troops will be stationed in Israel for an unspecified amount of time, Israeli military personnel will be added to EUCOM in Germany. EUCOM stands for United States European Command. In preparation for anticipated Iranian missile attacks upon Israel, the US is reportedly bringing its THAAD, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and ship-based Aegis ballistic missile systems to Israel. The US forces will join Israeli missile defense systems like the Patriot and Arrow. The deployment comes with “the ultimate goal of establishing joint task forces in the event of a large-scale conflict in the Middle East”.

The Jerusalem Post reports that US Lt.-Gen Frank Gorenc was in Israel meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Brig.-Gen Doron Gavish, commander of the Air Defense Division. While there, the US General visited one of Israel’s three ‘Iron Dome’ anti-missile outposts. The Israeli Air Force has announced plans to deploy a fourth Iron Dome system in the coming months. Additional spending increases in the Jewish state will guarantee the manufacture and deployment of three more Iron Dome systems by the end of 2012. The Israelis are hoping to eventually have at least a dozen of the anti-missile systems deployed along its northern and southern borders.

In a show of escalated tensions in the region, Iran test fired two long range missiles today. One, called the Qadar, is a powerful sea-to-shore missile. The other was an advanced surface-to-surface missile called the Nour. According to Iranian state news, the Nour is an ‘advanced radar-evading, target-seeking, guided and controlled missile’. Additionally, the Iranian military reportedly test-fired numerous other short, medium and long-range missiles. Yesterday, Iranian authorities reported that they test-fired the medium-range, surface-to-air, radar-evading Mehrab missile. Today is supposed to be the final day of Iranian naval drills in the Straits of Hormuz.

Iran recently made global headlines when it threatened to blockade the Straits of Hormuz if Europe and the US went ahead with their boycott of Iranian oil and the country’s central bank. One-quarter of the world’s oil passes through that waterway every day. President Obama has announced that a closure of the Straits was unacceptable and vowed to take whatever measures are necessary to keep the vital shipping lane open.

In response to the Iranian missile tests this weekend, French authorities were the first to respond, calling it a, “very bad signal to the international community."We want to underline that the development by Iran of a missile program is a source of great concern to the international community,"the French Foreign Ministry said in a written statement. Israeli officials suggested the flamboyant Iranian military drills this weekend were a sign that international sanctions on the country were taking a heavy toll and that any additional boycotts, on its banks or oil industry, would be crippling.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the large missile tests showed, “the dire straits of Iran in light of the tightening sanctions around her, including the considerations in the last few days regarding the sanctions of exporting petroleum as well as the possibility of sanctions against the Iranian Central Bank." While the chances of Iran going through with its threat of closing the Straits of Hormuz are slim, the deployment of thousands of US troops and naval ships to Israel shows the US isn’t taking any chances.


Russia Successfully Test Fires Bulava Missiles

Russia successfully test launched two Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles on Friday, Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Igor Konashenkov said. The missiles were launched from the Borey-class Yury Dolgoruky nuclear-powered submarine in the White Sea and hit designated targets at the Kura test range on Kamchatka, some 6,000 kilometers to the east.
This was the troubled Bulava’s 18th test launch. Only 11 launches have been officially declared successful. But some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures is considerably larger. Russian military expert Pavel Felgengauer said that of the Bulava's first 12 test launches, only one was entirely successful. Despite several previous failures, officially blamed on manufacturing faults, the Russian military has insisted that there is no alternative to the Bulava. The Bulava (SS-NX-30) SLBM carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage ballistic missile is designed for deployment on Borey-class nuclear submarines.


Putin’s War-whoop: The impending clash with Russia


What is a 'unipolar’ world?

It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign--- one center of authority, one center of force, one center of decision-making. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within. It has nothing in common with democracy, which is the power of the majority in respect to the interests and opinions of the minority. In Russia, we are constantly being lectured about democracy. But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves." Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address to the Munich Conference on Security Policy 2-10-07. The deployment of the US Missile Defense System in Eastern Europe is a de-facto declaration of war on the Russian Federation. As Russian President Putin said in a recent press conference, "If this missile system is put in place, it will work automatically with the entire nuclear capability of the United States. It will be an integral part of the US nuclear capability." This will disrupt the current configuration of international security and force Russia to begin work on a new regime of tactical nuclear weapons. This is a very serious development. Russia will now have to rethink its current policy vis a vis the United States and develop a long-range strategy for fending off further hostile encroachments into former-Soviet states by NATO.

Welcome to the new Cold War

Putin cannot ignore the gravity of the proposed system or the threat it poses to Russia’s national security. Bush’s Missile Defense is not defensive at all, but offensive. It thrusts US military bases--with nuclear infrastructure and radar--up to Russia’s doorstep giving the US a clear advantage in "first-strike" capability. That means that Washington will be able to intimidate Russia on issues that are of critical international importance. Putin cannot allow this. He must force Bush to remove this dagger held to Moscow’s throat.

Bush’s Pyrrhic Victory at the G-8

The central issues on the docket at the G-8 meetings were downplayed in the media. The press primarily focused its attention on the "anticipated" conflict between Bush and Putin. But, the brouhaha never materialized; both were respectful and gracious. President Bush, however, was adamant that his plan for missile defense in Czechoslovakia and Poland would go ahead according to schedule. Putin, for the most part remained politely silent. His objections were censored in the media. But less than 10 hours after the closing ceremonies of the G-8, Putin fired off the first salvo in what will certainly be remembered as "the war that brought down the Empire". Putin addressed 200 corporate leaders at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg and his comments left little doubt that he had already settled on a plan for countering Bush’s missile shield in the Czech Republic. Putin’s speech articulated his vision of a "Moscow-centered" new world order which would create a ``new balance of power''--less dependent on Washington. He said, ``The new architecture of economic relations requires a completely new approach. Russia intends to become an alternative global financial center and to make the ruble a reserve currency for central banks."

"The world is changing before our eyes.'' Countries that yesterday seemed hopelessly behind are today the fastest growing economies of the world. Institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the IMF are ``archaic, undemocratic and inflexible''. They don’t `` reflect the new balance of power.''

Putin's speech is defiant rejection of the present system. We can be sure that it has not passed unnoticed by anxious mandarins in the US political establishment. Russia is announcing the beginning of an asymmetrical war; designed to cripple the United States economically, weaken the institutions which have traditionally enhanced its wealth, and precipitate a shift of global power away from Washington. Putin’s challenge to the US dollar is particularly worrisome. He emphasizes the inherent unfairness of the current system, which relies almost entirely on the dollar and which has an extremely negative effect on many smaller countries’ economies and financial reserves.

"There can be only one answer to this challenge," he said. "The creation of several world currencies and several financial centers."

Putin’s remarks are a direct attack on the dollar and its position as the de facto international currency. He imagines a world where goods and resources are traded in rubles or "baskets of currencies"--not just greenbacks. This would create greater parity between the countries and, hence, a more even distribution of power. Putin's vision is a clear threat to America’s ongoing economic dominance. Already, in the last few months, Norway, Iran, Syria, UAE, Kuwait, and Venezuela have announced that they are either cutting back on their USD reserves or converting from the greenback to the euro or a "basket of currencies". Dollar hegemony is at the very center of American power, and yet, the downturn is visible everywhere. If the dollar loses its place as the world’s "reserve currency"; the US will have to pay-down its monstrous current account deficit and live within its means. America will lose the ability to simply print fiat money and use it in exchange for valuable resources and manufactured goods. Putin is now openly challenging the monetary-system that provides the flow of oxygen to the American superpower.

Can he carry it off?

What kind of damage can Russia really inflict on the dollar or on the many lofty-sounding organizations (WTO, World Bank, IMF, NATO and Federal Reserve) which prop up the US Empire? Russia’s power is mushrooming. Its GDP is leaping ahead at 8% per annum and by 2020 Russia will be among the five biggest economies in the world. It now has the third largest Forex reserves in the world and it is gradually moving away from the anemic dollar to euros and rubles. Nearly 10% of its wealth is currently in gold. Russia has also overtaken Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading supplier of petroleum. It produces 13% of the world’s daily output and has the world’s largest reserves of natural gas. In fact, Putin has worked energetically to create the world’s first Natural Gas cartel—an alliance between Russia, Qatar, Iran and Algeria. The group could potentially control 40% of the world’s remaining natural gas and set prices as it sees fit. Putin’s ambitions are not limited to the energy sector either---although he has strengthened the country by turning away foreign investment and "re-nationalization" vital resources. As Pavel Korduban says in his recent article "Putin Harvests Political Dividends from Russian Economic Dynamism"; Putin intends to expand beyond energy and focus on technological modernization:

"The shift in official discourse to "innovations" reflects an attempt to reorient economic policy from the goal of consolidating the status of "energy superpower" to the emphasis on industrial modernization and catching up with the technological revolution. The key role in formulating this new policy is given to Sergei Ivanov, who promised that by the year 2020 Russia would gain leadership (measured as 10% of the world market) in such high-technology sectors as nuclear energy, shipbuilding, aircraft, satellites and delivery systems, and computer software."

Putin has also strengthened ties with his Central Asian neighbors and engaged in "cooperative" military maneuvers with China. "Last month it signed deals with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to revive the Soviet-era united system of gas pipelines, which will help Russia strengthen its role of the monopoly supplier from the region". (Reuters) He has transformed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) into a formidable economic-military alliance capable of resisting foreign intervention in Central Asia by the United States and NATO. The CIS is bound to play a major role in regional issues as the real motives behind the "war on terror" are exposed and America's geopolitical objectives in Central Asia become clearer. So far, Washington has established its military bases and outposts throughout the region with impunity. But the mood is darkening in Moscow and Beijing and there may be changes in the future. We should also remember that Putin is surrounded by ex-KGB agents and Soviet-era hardliners. They’ve never trusted America's motives and now they can point to the new US bases, the "colored-coded" revolutions, the broken treaties and the projected missile defense system--to prove that Uncle Sam is "up to no good".

Putin sees himself as leading a global insurgency against the US Empire. He represents the emerging-market economies of China, India and Brazil. These 4 nations will progressively overtake the "old order". Last year 60% of the world's output was produced outside the G-7 countries. According to Goldman Sachs, by 2050 Brazil, Russia, India and China will be the world's leading economies. The transition from "superpower rule" is already underway. The centers of geopolitical power are shifting like giant tectonic plates. The trend is irreversible. The deployment of Bush’s missile defense system will only hasten the decline of the "unipolar-model" by triggering an asymmetrical war, where Forex reserves, vital resources and political maneuvering will be used as the weapons-of-choice. War with Russia is pointless and preventable. There are better choices than confrontation.


The West's Most-Cherished Desire: The Disintegration of the Russian Federation

Old bear does not dance to Western tunes

-Should a "revolution" take place, the primary target of shock will be Russia itself. The worst nightmare would be the disintegration of the Russian Federation. This is the result the West most desires to see most.

-Personal trust is the reason that facilitated the strategic relations between China and Russia. However, the foundation of these ties is built upon a mutual dream of national revival which outstripped the interests that connected the West and Russia. China wants a stable Russia. The West is on the opposite side.

Will a "Russian Spring" occur? Russian police have arrested hundreds of protestors recently. But the pro-liberal protestors claimed that they will not succumb to such moves and continue to hold protests every day. This scenario is similar to the initial phrase of the Arab Spring, where the revolutionary movement was triggered by small- scale protests. It is hard to predict the outcome of the current protest on Russia's election scandal, but everything is possible.

Vladimir Putin's rule will face increasing scrutiny and it will become much harder for him to withstand the challenges. However, this is not a victory for the West. Putin losing authority will not automatically gain the West influence in Russia. The future of Russia will be shaped according to its own interests. This is the principle set by its democratic environment. Putin's own authority came because he put the country back to track. He saved Russia from the confusion and chaos when the USSR disintegrated two decades ago.

The relation between election and a candidate's authority is complicated. However the latest State Duma elections did not suggest that Russia's understanding of its national interests has become obscure, as during the Yeltsin era. Ballots lost by the United Russia are now in the pocket of the Communists and the Liberal Democrats, which does not reflect the expanding of the West's ideology.

Russian interests are dominated by a combination of geopolitics, culture and ambition. The differences and even the hostility between the West and Russia will persist if these interests contradict each other, no matter who sits in the Kremlin. Should a "revolution" take place, the primary target of shock will be Russia itself. The worst nightmare would be the disintegration of the Russian Federation. This is the result the West most desires to see most.

Russian society does not want to undergo this nightmare again. This concern has partly resulted from Putin's lasting authority. The unity United Russia can bring to this country is limited, but unity under democracy is not that convincing either. The painful lessons of the past will make Russians more reluctant to give up their trust in strongman politics to its democratic peers.

Personal trust is the reason that facilitated the strategic relations between China and Russia. However, the foundation of these ties is built upon a mutual dream of national revival which outstripped the interests that connected the West and Russia. China wants a stable Russia. The West is on the opposite side.

Russia has undergone many tough challenges. The "revolutions" in the Middle-East is a cakewalk compared to the movements the former communist state experienced. The country has made several twists and turns in choosing its own path. Russia is not similar to the countries swept by the Arab Spring. It is a unique state and will remain so.


Putin warns of outside forces that wish to split Russia and take over its natural resources


President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that there are people in the world who wish to split up Russia and take over its vast natural resources, and others who would like to "rule over all mankind," a veiled reference to the United States. Speaking in front of Moscow's iconic St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square, Putin told a group of military cadets and youth group members that while "an overwhelming majority of people in the world" are friendly toward Russia, there are some who "keep saying to this day that our nation should be split."

"Some believe that we are too lucky to possess so much natural wealth, which they say must be divided," Putin said, speaking on National Unity Day. "These people have lost their mind," he added with a smile. Many Russians fear that their country's rapidly declining population and enormous natural wealth could one day leave it vulnerable to outside predators. But the theme of invasion was central to Sunday's holiday, which Putin created by decree in 2005 to commemorate the defense of Russia from a Polish-Lithuanian incursion in the beginning of the 17th century.

Putin on Sunday referred to the battle as a turning point in Russia's history that united the nation. Not missing a chance to take a shot at the United States, Putin said there are people who "would like to build a unipolar world and rule over all of mankind." He counted them as among the minority in the world who do not maintain a "friendly attitude" toward Russia. He said any attempt to establish a unipolar world was doomed to fail.

"Nothing of this kind has ever occurred in our planet's history, and I don't think it will ever happen," the president said.

Putin has been highly critical of the United States for the invasion of Iraq and opposes its plans to build a limited missile shield in central Europe. Concern about outside forces wanting the division of Russia arose last month during Putin's three-hour nationally televised call-in show. A Siberian worker asked Putin about comments he said were made years ago by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright suggesting that Siberia had too many natural resources for one country.

"I know that some politicians play with such ideas in their heads," Putin replied, adding that such talk was "political erotica."

Putin, whose two-term presidency ends next year, said Russia will continue playing an active role in foreign policy and there are many people who look to Russia as a defender of small nations' rights and interests. Intended to invoke patriotism, National United Day has been hijacked by extreme nationalist groups that call for ridding Russia of foreigners and returning the pre-communist monarchy.


Putin says Russia will defend natural resources in Siberia

President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday that Russia would defend its vast natural resources in Siberia, saying Russia was 'not Iraq' and would not allow outsiders to gain control of its resources. "Thank God Russia is not Iraq. Russia has the strength and the means to defend itself," Putin said during a live television question-and-answer session with Russians from around the country. He dismissed talk of any outside country getting direct control over Russia's abundant natural resources in Siberia and contrasted the situation with that in Iraq.

"The best example are the events in Iraq, a country which was challenged in defending itself and which had enormous oil reserves. And everyone has seen what happened there. They learned to shoot at each other. But so far, establishing order has not really worked out."

He was responding to a question from a resident of the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, who had asked him to comment on a remark by a former US official suggesting that Russia should share the natural wealth of Siberia. "I know you are worried about this,' Putin said. 'I know that these kinds of ideas are circulating in the minds of some politicians,' he added, without elaborating. Putin said Russia was working on strengthening and modernising its army and navy as was its 'right' and added that 'we will continue to do this."


Russia Warns to Take Tough Action against Military Strike on Iran

Moscow warned the western powers to avoid a military threat against Iran, cautioning that Russia would regard any military intervention linked to Iran's nuclear program as a threat to its own security. The escalating conflict around Iran should be contained by common effort, otherwise the promising Arab Spring will grow into a "scorching Arab Summer," Moscow's departing Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin warned on Friday.

"Iran is our close neighbor, just south of the Caucasus. Should anything happen to Iran, should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security," Rogozin, who is now Russia's deputy prime minister, said two days after the killing of a nuclear scientist in Tehran by a hitman on a motorcycle.

"We are definitely interested in the non-proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction," Rogozin said on Friday. "But at the same time, we believe that any country has the right to have what it needs to feel secure.

Dmitry Rogozin, who served as Russia's special envoy to NATO in 2008-2011, was appointed deputy prime minister by Vladimir Putin in December. On Friday he was bidding farewell to his NATO colleagues in the alliance's headquarters in Brussels. Rogozin, often described as an anti-Western hawk will oversee Russia's defense sector when he returns to Moscow. The remarks came as Kremlin Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev, who is close to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said Israel was pushing the United States towards war with Iran.


Defense Russian Missile Forces Hold High Alert Drills

Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces are holding a series of exercises to practice putting road-mobile missile systems on high alert, SMF spokesman Col. Vadim Koval said. The exercises involve Topol (SS-25 Sikle), Topol-M (SS-27 Sickle B) and Yars (RS-24) mobile systems stationed in central Russia and Siberia. “SMF units armed with Topol, Topol-M and Yars road-mobile missile systems will practice patrolling, camouflaging and launch preparation procedures during high alert drills from January 16 to February 3,” Koval told reporters on Monday. The SMF are planning to hold over 100 tactical drills in the first half of 2012. As of January 2012, the SMF operated at least 162 mobile Topol systems, 18 mobile Topol-M and 15 mobile Yars systems.


Kremlin Seeks to Alarm Southern Neighbors About Cooperating with the Pentagon

It is well-known that the aggressive foreign policy of Iran’s clerical regime makes Central Asian governments uneasy. Most obviously, Iran and its Caspian neighbors have a longstanding dispute over Tehran’s expansive claims to offshore energy resources. In addition, the Central Asian states have repeatedly rejected Tehran’s application to elevate its observer status within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to that of a full member. Furthermore, they have limited educational and cultural exchanges with Iranians that could give Tehran opportunities to proselytize radical versions of Islam in Central Asia.

At the same time, no Central Asian government appears enthusiastic about a major US military operation against nearby Iran or about additional UN sanctions on Tehran given their economic ties with Iran. For example, Turkmenistan has such important bilateral projects as the Dostluk Water reservoir, the Tejen-Serahs-Mashhad railway, and the Korpeje-Gurtguyi and Dovletabat-Serahs-Khangeran gas pipelines. Iranians also purchase large quantities of electricity from Turkmenistan (, February 21).

Kyrgyzstan has minimal economic ties with Iran, but it does host the most prominent US military base in Central Asia at Manas International Airport, which the Pentagon has used for the last decade to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. In December 2011, President Almazbek Atambayev cited the need to end this US presence at Manas because “Iran poses a big threat, whose missiles can easily reach Kyrgyzstan. Just imagine what could happen if Iranians, firing missiles against the US base, were to hit peaceful the population?” ( news agency, December 29, 2011).

Russian officials have sought to play up fears of a confrontation involving Iran by warning Central Asians that the United States could exploit any basing and other military privileges (such as overflight rights) to entangle them in a war with Iran.

In a February 22 media briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich warned that “[i]t cannot be excluded that this site [Manas] could be used in a potential conflict with Iran,” which he said would violate the Pentagon’s lease agreement with Bishkek. Lukashevich further claimed that, “[t]he worries are shared not just by Kyrgyzstan – where a debate has erupted about the risk of a retaliatory strike from Iran – but other Central Asian countries.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry has also claimed that the Western powers were exploiting the Iranian nuclear issue to “re-carve the geopolitical map of the large hydrocarbon-rich region that includes Central Asia” (The Hindu,, February 25).

In his subsequent meeting with Atambayev, President Dmitry Medvedev extended Russia’s warning to other former Soviet republics to encompass Western pressure on Syria since developments related to “the Middle East (around Iran and Syria, and certain other countries) have direct influence on the situation in our region” (, February 24). Medvedev called on these governments to cooperate closely with Russia to address this threat: “And Russia considers it extremely important to coordinate with our closest partners and allies our efforts to ensure greater stability [in Central Asia], and especially in this case when negative developments could occur” (, February 24).

The US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, responded that the “Manas Transit Center contributes to the international effort to stabilize and secure Afghanistan and will only be used for that purpose” (!/McFaul/status/172405940342104064). Indeed, it is most unlikely that the US would attack Iran from Central Asia given the superior and better-situated US military facilities and platforms in the Persian Gulf. For example, carrier-based aircraft could bomb Iranian nuclear targets without needing to fly through any other countries’ airspace.

Iranians would invariably seek to retaliate for a US or Israeli military strike against Iran, but the most likely targets would be against US interests and allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, but also the South Caucasus, which has already emerged as a battleground between US and Iranian proxies.

It is important to recall that these Russian remarks came in the context of Atambayev’s February 24 visit to Moscow, his first since becoming Kyrgyzstan’s new president in December. Before the trip, Atambayev had focused his remarks on Russia’s failure to provide sufficient compensation to Kyrgyzstan for hosting its military bases (Kyrgyz Kabar news agency, February 24).

According to Kyrgyzstan’s Defense Ministry, Russia owes $15 million for leasing its military facilities, which includes four military bases, a torpedo testing facility, military communication center and a radio seismic laboratory (Rian, February 24). Furthermore, Atambayev told Radio Ekho Moskvy that Russia has failed to train Kyrgyz pilots, as required by their bilateral defense agreements (Rian, February 24, 2012). The media coverage on Kyrgyzstan’s military bases since Atambayev’s return has focused on Atambayev’s repeated insistence that the Pentagon stop using the base after the US lease expires in summer 2014.

Moscow’s war rhetoric is likely to continue even after Putin’s almost inevitable return to the Russian presidency because it helps keep Iran alienated from the United States (preserving the Russians’ dominant economic position there), deepen Central Asian fears about supporting an enduring US military presence in their region (Russia would like the capacity to kill any Western military presence at will as a means of influencing Western actions on Georgia, missile defense, NATO expansion, etc.), and remind Washington and other governments (including Beijing) that the Kremlin still considers the post-Soviet space as a zone where Moscow exercises strategic primacy.


Russia’s Top Secret Bases

Over 400 modern ground- and sea-based ICBMs, 8 ballistic missile submarines, about 20 general purpose attack submarines, over 50 surface ships and some 100 military-purpose spacecraft, over 600 modern aircraft, including fifth-generation fighters, more than a thousand helicopters, 28 regimental sets of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, 38 division sets of Vityaz air defense systems, 10 brigade sets of Iskander-M tactical missile systems, more than 2,300 modern tanks, some 2,000 self-propelled artillery systems and guns, and more than 17,000 military vehicles. These are the figures of the massive rearmament program announced by Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin in an article published on February 20 by state-owned newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

The article, titled “Being Strong is a Guarantee of Russia’s National Security,” shows Putin’s determination to preserve Russia’s deterrence power facing US plains aimed at achieving nuclear primacy. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the gap between Russia’s declining arsenal and US constantly improving systems is actually increasing to the point of making the age of MAD nearing an end. Nevertheless, Russian nuclear deterrent is still formidable, as Moscow can count on more than 2,000 operational strategic warheads deployed along the entire territory of the federation and the seas plowed by the submarines of the Russian Navy. But what is more, in case of nuclear crisis Russia can still rely on several top secret bases inherited by the Soviet Union, and not only.

Russia’s national command and control system is dispersed among different hardened underground locations. According to US sources, two of the main secret bases are located in the Ural Mountains, where conventionally European Russia ends and greater Siberia begins. The first one is the Yamantau Mountain complex. Located near the closed town of Mezhgorye, in the Republic of Bashkortostan, this site is not far from Russia’s main nuclear weapons lab facility, Chelyabinsk-70. Military analysts suspect that Yamantau’s huge 400-square-mile underground complex houses nuclear warhead and missile storage sites, launch control and several full-blown nuclear weapons factories designed to continue production after a hypothetical nuclear war begins.

The second secret base in the Urals is an underground command and control center located at the Kosvinsky Mountain, about 850 miles east of Moscow. The site hosts the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces alternate command post, a deep underground command post for the general staff built to compensate for the vulnerability of older command posts in the Moscow region. The facility, finished in early 1996, was designed to resist US earth-penetrating warheads and is the Russian version of the American Cheyenne Mountain Complex.

Besides Yamantau Mountain and the Kosvinsky Mountain underground complex, Russia can still count on the Sherapovo bunker site, south of Moscow. Initially built in the 1950s, it was the primary command center for the Soviet leadership. The Kremlin is connected to Sherapovo and other bunkers by a secret subway line. According to a 1988 Pentagon report, once at Sherapovo, the Soviet leaders could have conduct a nuclear war by sending orders and receiving reports through a highly redundant communications system. Russia’s general staff has a similar facility some 20 kilometers away from Sherapovo, known as Chekhov. Both sites can accommodate an estimated 30,000 people each one.

Although Russia has tried to keep secrecy about its underground bases, information about these sites have circulated anyway. According to a CIA report, “the command post at Kosvinsky appears to provide the Russians with the means to retaliate against a nuclear attack.” The construction of the facility has actually helped Moscow to counterbalance the decline of its nuclear forces following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. In this sense, the existence itself of top secret bases within the territory of the Russian Federation is the best means of deterrence against any first strike intention, and thereby a warranty to world peace.


The Impact of the Russia-Georgia War on the South Caucasus Transportation Corridor

Executive Summary

The August 2008 war in the Caucasus revealed the new strategic realities that have emerged in the Black Sea / Caspian Region in recent years. These realities have been driven by overly ambitious Russian policies and have weakened Western strategic interests in the region. The conditions created immediately after the war appeared more favorable to Russia and less favorable to other nations in the region, most notably Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Ukraine.

But the world economic crisis and its impact on Russia, as well as the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute in January 2009, have diminished Russia’s gains and further damaged Russia’s reputation as a reliable energy supplier to Europe. In the long run, Russia may face very serious problems of separatism on its own territory due to Russia’s recognition of the breakaway provinces of Georgia. Given these uncertainties, it may be natural to expect that there will be stronger drive to get away from: 1) dependency on Russian energy in Europe; and 2) dependency on Russian transit infrastructure in Caspian /Central Asia region. In the long run, that may be reflected by Russia’s weakened strategic position in Europe and Central Asia.

The August war in Georgia demonstrated some risks associated with the functioning of the transit energy corridor in the southern Caucasus. It also demonstrated the need for broader security guarantees for a region that is vital to European and global energy security. The most important finding of the paper is that while the corridor has a tremendous potential to augment its transit capabilities with new pipelines, railroads, marine and air ports, the security of the South Caucasus transportation corridor cannot be taken for granted. Moreover, Western countries will need to ensure stability and security in the region in order for the corridor to meet its full potential.

The Russian invasion of Georgia established new strategic realities in Eastern Europe and Central Eurasia. It was the culmination of Russia’s impressive comeback in Eastern-European and Central-Eurasian affairs that has occurred in response to high energy prices, a weak US strategic position, European division and uncertainty in Turkey’s strategies. The war made clear that Russia is willing to use force to deepen and promote its interests, while western powers are not. This fact was predictable, but not certain to some. The war in Georgia helped firmly establish this reality and may also indicate that even NATO members may not be fully protected by their commitment to that organization. As the Russia-Georgia conflict demonstrates, military force has once again become a major factor in Russian foreign policy. Nevertheless, economic provisions and energy incentives are still the primary tools employed by Russia to further its foreign policy interests abroad.

At the same time, the weak Western response to Russia actions may send the wrong signal to the Russian leadership about the level of freedom it has to use force in what Russia considers its sphere of influence. Furthermore, the weak economy and the declining popularity of Russian leaders may create internal instability within Russia and tempt Russian leaders to once again utilize force to further their objectives. Europe and the United States need to carefully consider their policy response to such scenarios.

Another major finding of this paper is that energy is an important factor in the stability of any country and, in Georgia’s case, domestic energy security is also the foundation for stability of transit, and development of the entire regional infrastructure. The physical damage to the infrastructure and the environment in Georgia as a result of the war was tangible but not large. The damage to Georgia’s transportation system is repairable in a relatively short period of time. The pipelines are gradually approaching pre-conflict volumes of the oil and natural gas shipments although the shipments via railway, ports, and air have all shown signs of decline. Instead, the key problem emerged with the malfunctioning of the largest energy facility in the country - the Enguri hydro power plant.

The reservoir for the power plant is located on Georgian-controlled territory while the actual electricity production plant is located on Abkhaz/Russian controlled territory. The Georgian leadership had to make a very difficult political decision in accepting the offer of the Russian company Inter RAO (the subsidiary of the giant Russian state-owned energy monopoly Inter RAO United Energy Systems (UES)) on joint operation of the power plant. While there is a positive history of activities of the Inter RAO UES in Georgia, the Russian state-owned company’s control of a key electricity supplier for the entire country is not the best political and economic security outcome for Georgia.

Lastly, the paper argues that the initial damage that the war inflicted upon the political reliability of the transit corridor is gradually diminishing and that new opportunities are emerging. The complete reversal of this damage can be possible but will depend on U.S. and EU policy, the role of Turkey, internal stability in the Caucasus region, and Russian policy in Central Asia and the Caucasus. It is important to remember that when the initial decision to revitalize the energy corridor through Georgia and Azerbaijan was made in the mid 1990s, the security environment was extremely difficult and there was no infrastructure to support shipment of oil through the corridor, yet leadership of the United States and Turkey supported that decision and helped to implement it. Today’s environment is much more favorable considering the functioning infrastructure and greater demand for Caspian energy.

New natural gas discoveries in Turkmenistan and the next stage in oil and gas developments in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan will require additional export capacity and a tough battle is ahead between the different export options, each supported by state sponsors with competing interests. It is significant in this context that Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan signed an agreement on November 14, 2008, to develop a Trans-Caspian oil transportation that will include onshore oil pipeline in Kazakhstan and a tanker fleet in the Caspian Sea to ship Kazakh oil to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline and on to the world markets. As it was indicated at the Budapest summit devoted to the Nabucco pipeline project on January 27, significant progress has been made on the development of a natural gas link between the Caspian and Europe, and Georgia has an important role to play.

These developments indicate that the energy producing countries of the region are determined to seek the diversification of export options, but they need to be supported by the United States, and in particular European, NATO, or Turkish security guarantees. After all, Western Europe and Turkey are the major consumers and beneficiaries of Caspian energy resources.


That Was No Small War in Georgia — It Was the Beginning of the End of the American Empire


Tskhinvali, South Ossetia — On the sunny afternoon of August 14, a Russian army colonel named Igor Konashenko is standing triumphantly at a street corner at the northern edge of Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, his forearm bandaged from a minor battle injury. The spot marks the furthest point of the Georgian army’s advance before it was summarily crushed by the Russians a few days earlier. “Twelve Georgian battalions invaded Tskhinvali, backed by columns of tanks, armored personal carriers, jets, and helicopters,” he says, happily waving at the wreckage, craters, and bombed-out buildings around us. “You see how well they fought, with all their great American training — they abandoned their tanks in the heat of the battle and fled.”

Konashenko pulls a green compass out of his shirt pocket and opens it. It’s a U.S. military model. “This is a little trophy — a gift from one of my soldiers,” he says. “Everything that the Georgians left behind, I mean everything, was American. All the guns, grenades, uniforms, boots, food rations — they just left it all. Our boys stuffed themselves on the food,” he adds slyly. “It was tasty.” The booty, according to Konashenko, also included 65 intact tanks outfitted with the latest NATO and American (as well as Israeli) technology.

Technically, we are standing within the borders of Georgia, which over the last five years has gone from being an ally to the United States to a neocon proxy regime. But there are no Georgians to be seen in this breakaway region — not unless you count the bloated corpses still lying in the dirt roads. Most of the 70,000 or so people who live in South Ossetia never liked the idea of being part of Georgia. During the violent land scramble that occurred after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the South Ossetians found themselves cut off from their ethnic kin in North Ossetia, which remained part of Russia. The Russians, who’ve had a small peacekeeping force here since 1992, managed to keep the brewing conflicts on ice for the last 15 years. But in the meantime, the positions of everyone involved hardened. The Georgians weren’t happy about the idea of losing a big chunk of territory. The Ossetians, an ethnic Persian tribe, were more adamant than ever about joining Russia, their traditional ally and protector.

The tense but relatively stable situation blew up late in the evening of August 7, when on the order of president Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s army swept into South Ossetia, leveling much of Tskhinvali and surrounding villages and sending some 30,000 refugees fleeing north into Russia. Within hours, Russia’s de facto czar Vladimir Putin counterattacked — some say he’d set a trap — and by the end of that long weekend the Georgians were in panicked retreat. The Russian army then pushed straight through South Ossetia and deep into Georgia proper, halting less than an hour’s drive from Saakashvili’s luxurious palace. All around me is evidence of a rout. A Georgian T-72 tank turret is wedged into the side of a local university building, projecting from the concrete like a cookie pressed into ice cream. Fifty yards away you can see the remains of the vehicle that the orphaned turret originally was part of: just a few charred parts around a hole in the street, and a section of tread lying flat on the sidewalk. Russian tanks now patrol the city unopposed, each one as loud as an Einstrzende Neubauten concert, clouding the air with leaded exhaust as they rumble past us.

But listening to Colonel Konashenko, it becomes clear to me that I’m looking at more than just the smoldering remains of battle in an obscure regional war: This spot is ground zero for an epic historical shift. The dead tanks are American-upgraded, as are the spent 40mm grenade shells that one spetznaz soldier shows me. The bloated bodies on the ground are American-trained Georgian soldiers who have been stripped of their American-issue uniforms. And yet, there is no American cavalry on the way. For years now, everyone from Pat Buchanan to hybrid-powered hippies have been warning that America would suddenly find itself on a historical downslope from having been too reckless, too profligate, and too arrogant as an unopposed superpower. Even decent patriotic folk were starting to worry that America was suffering from a classic case of Celebrity Personality Disorder, becoming a nation of Tom Cruise party-dicks dancing in our socks over every corner and every culture in the world, lip-synching about freedom as we plunged headfirst into as much risky business as we could mismanage. And now, bleeding money from endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re a sick giant hooked on ever-pricier doses of oil paid for with a currency few people want anymore. In the history books of the future, I would wager that this very spot in Tskhinvali will be remembered as both the geographic highwater mark of the American empire, and the place where it all started to fall apart.

I first visited Georgia in 2002 to cover the arrival of American military advisers. At the time, the American empire was riding high. A decade after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russia seemed to be devolving into an anarchic and corrupt failed state, while the U.S. just kept getting stronger. Within months of President George W. Bush’s swearing-in, Time ran a column boasting that America didn’t need to accommodate Russia anymore because it had become “the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome.” That same year we invaded Afghanistan without breaking a sweat. The New York Times magazine proclaimed: “The American Empire: Get Used to It.” A new word, hyperpower, was being used to describe our history-warping supremacy.

The military advisers were dispatched to Georgia ostensibly to train that country’s forces to fight local Al Qaeda cells, which everyone knew didn’t exist. In reality, we were training them for key imperial outsourcing duties. Georgia would do for the American Empire what Mumbai call centers did for Delta Airlines: deliver greater returns at a fraction of the cost. They became a flagship franchise of America Inc. It made sense for the Georgians, too: Their erratic and occasionally violent neighbor Russia wouldn’t fuck with them, because fucking with them would be fucking with us — and nobody would dare to do that. The imperial masterminds who fixated on Georgia as an outsourcing project must have figured we’d score a two-fer by simultaneously winning strategic control of the untapped oil in the region and also managing to stick a giant bug up the raw southern rim of our decrepit old rival Russia.

To enact this plan, America deftly organized and orchestrated the so-called Rose Revolution, which I witnessed in Tblisi in 2003. Saakkashvili’s predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze, was judged unreliable, so in a multilayered soft putsch that used every lever of influence at our disposal, the U.S. replaced him with Saakashvili, a Columbia-educated hothead who speaks perfect neocon. In the Western media, the Rose Revolution was portrayed as 1776 redux (starring Saakashvili as George Washington with a permanent five o’clock shadow). A more perfect vassal for George W. Bush’s foreign policy could not have been found than “Misha,” as he is fondly known. He stacked his cabinet with young right-wing fanatics, and made sure he had a coterie of mountain-biking American advisers with him at all times. This crew included John McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann, whom Misha paid more than $1 million in lobbying fees.

This project in Georgia was just a high-profile example of a broader Bush strategy. All around Russia’s southern border, America laid claim to former Soviet domains. After 9/11, Putin infuriated many of his army commanders and security chiefs by agreeing to let the U.S. set up bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan for the Afghan invasion. Once the Taliban was removed from power, America decided that it felt like staying. After all, who was going stop us? Given the sorry state of their affairs, the Russians certainly weren’t. So by 2002, Putin was stuck with American pie dripping down his cadaverous bloodless face. But after years in which Russia rebuilt itself on the back of soaring commodity prices (today it’s the world’s largest producer of oil), our advantages in global power politics have started to tilt Putin’s way. Slowly and quietly he got American forces thrown out of Uzbekistan and all but sidelined in Kyrgyzstan. And then, here in Georgia, he seized the opportunity to really hammer home his point.

During my visit to Georgia in 2003, if someone had told me that in five years American military advisers would be hightailing it from their main base in Vasiani to avoid getting slaughtered by advancing Russian forces, I would have slapped him with a rubber chicken for insulting my intelligence. Yet there they were: gasping for air in the lobby of the Tblisi Sheraton, insisting off the record that the conflict was all the Georgians’ fault, not theirs.

Why Misha decided to attack is still a mystery. He claims he was forced to level Tskhinvali to preempt a Russian invasion, but that doesn’t make military sense, and has since been debunked by both Georgians and OSCE monitors on the ground; others believe that he struck because, with Bush on his way out, he thought this would be his last chance to regain control of South Ossetia. Another theory popular among journalists and pundits is that the notoriously “hotheaded” (some would say “mentally unstable”) Saakashvili was suckered into his doomed invasion by a clever Russian ruse, part of Putin’s plan to punish the West for recognizing Kosovo and other crimes of imperial insensitivity. Personally, I’d vote for number two. (Putin has offered an alternative hypothesis: that Misha intentionally sparked a war in order to boost John McCain’s prospects in the U.S. election.)

Prior to the offensive of August 7, Georgians cut off Russian television and Internet sites in South Ossetia, then rained Grad rockets and artillery on the capital and surrounding villages. The early-hours blitz was, as one Ossetian told me the day before, “shock and awe.” At least half the population fled into Russia. People I spoke to in the refugee camps, mostly women, were still in a daze — they told of fleeing their burning villages under fire, of Georgians raping and murdering, of grenades thrown into civilian bomb shelters, of tanks running over children. (It was impossible to corroborate these individual stories, as is generally the case in trying to sift fact from inflamed rumor in refugee camps.)

Reliable casualty counts for the broader conflict are still all but impossible to get, but as of late August the Russians admit having lost 64 soldiers, and the Georgians a combined 215 soldiers and civilians. In both cases, the real number is probably much higher. On the civilian front, Ossetian sources claim that 1,500 were killed in the Georgian assault — Putin called it a “genocide” — but many Westerners dismiss that figure. Privately, however, American advisers and defeated Georgian commanders admit to “total defeat.” Indeed, Arkady Ostrovsky of the Economist, a British reporter who has long been close to Saakashvili, told me that on the day of the cease-fire, the Georgian leader spoke of shooting himself, and was only dissuaded when word came of a supportive statement by Condi Rice. “It was sad to watch,” Ostrovsky told me. “I should have been more critical of Saakashvili back when it might have counted. A lot of us should have.”

That’s exactly the kind of full-spectrum smackdown the Russians were aiming for. And Konashenko wants us all to see it, so he offers to take me and some other reporters to the city of Gori in occupied Georgia. Russia seized control of the city at the end of hostilities, essentially cutting its foe in two and leaving it exposed to Vladimir Putin’s whims. “We’ll show you Gori — the city is spotless,” Konashenko says cheerfully. “We could have destroyed it, but we didn’t. Of course, there’s a little bit of damage here and there” The next morning, I head toward Georgia in the back of a Russian army truck, winding through the countryside of South Ossetia. Many villages have been burned and completely leveled. In the minority ethnic- Georgian communities, the sour odor of death hangs in the air, as those who survived the Ossetians’ reprisal attacks had little time to bury their dead friends and relatives.

When we arrive in Gori, the locals seem unnerved by our presence. They shy away as aggressive reporters point cameras and pursue them along the cobblestone streets for a quote. At first, some say that they are grateful that the Russian forces are there to protect them from marauding Ossetian and Chechen irregulars, who had swept through parts of Georgia murdering civilians and looting homes before the Russians arrived. After a half hour, the Georgians we talk with get used to our presence. A few summon the nerve to quietly pull me aside and whisper things like, “Are the Russians ever going to leave?” and “We don’t have any information here. Is this going to be Russian territory forever?” In Gori’s vast central square there is shattered glass on the sidewalks, but as Konashenko promised, the city is largely intact. It is also starkly empty, as if a virus or neutron bomb had wiped out the civilian population. Most of the city’s inhabitants have long since fled to Tblisi, along with the soldiers. As we hop out of the army trucks, one of the Russian commanders points to a limp banner flying at half-mast over the polished-granite administration building on the far side of the square, “You see?” he says. “The Georgian flag is still flying. This is Georgian territory — we’re not annexing it like the media says.” This kind of boast, conquering a country and then making a big noble show of respecting its sovereignty, was something that had once been reserved for America’s forces. How quickly history has turned here.

The other Western journalists fan out for some atrocity hunting, digging for signs that the Russians might have dropped a cluster bomb or massacred civilians. The foreign-desk editors back home have been demanding proof of Russian evil, after largely ignoring Georgia’s war crimes in South Ossetia. It’s a sordid business, but the reporters are just following orders.

After an hour in the 90-degree heat, I head over to the city’s central square, where I stumble across a stunning spectacle: dozens of Russian soldiers doing a funky-chicken victory dance in the Georgian end zone. They’re clowning around euphorically, shooting souvenir photos of each other in front of the administration building and the statue of Stalin (Gori’s most famous native son) while their commanders lean back and laugh. I approach Lieutenant Colonel Andrei Bobrun, assistant commander of the Russian land forces’ North Caucasus Military District — the roughest neighborhood in Western Eurasia — and ask him how he feels now, as a victorious military leader in a proxy war with America.

“I have never been so proud of Russia — magnificent Russia!” Bobrun crows, an AK strapped over his shoulder. “For twenty years we just talked and talked, blabbed and blabbed, complained and complained. But we did nothing, while America ran wild and took everything it could. Twenty years of empty talk. Now Russia is back. And you see how great Russia is. Look around you — we’re not trying to annex this land. What the fuck do I need Georgia for? Russia could keep this, but what for? Hell, we could conquer the whole world if we wanted to. That’s a fact. It was Russia that saved Europe from Genghis Khan. Russia could have taken India and the Middle East. We could take anything — we took Alaska, we took California. There is nothing that Russia could not take, and now the world is being reminded again.”

“Why did you give California back?” I asked. It has always baffled me why a country would abandon prime coastal real estate for the frozen swamps of Siberia — I always assumed it was because the Russians were ashamed when they found themselves holding onto a chunk of this planet as perfect as California: like B-list nerds who successfully crash a Vanity Fair Oscar party, but within minutes of their little triumph, skulk out of the tent out of sheer embarrassment, knowing they never belonged there in the first place. “We gave it all back because we don’t need it,” Borisov boasted, puffing out his chest. “Russia has enough land, what the hell do we need more for. But if others want to start something, this is what will happen. Russia is back, and I am so proud.”

As the day wore on, the Kremlin press pool organizers finally rounded us up, and we headed back again along the same victory trail. It was on this second visit to ruins of Tskhinvali, as dusk approached and the violence seemed to already acquire a kind of abstract tone, that I started to realize that I was looking at something much bigger than the current debate about Russian aggression or who was more guilty of what — pulling the camera much farther back on this scene, I understood that I was looking at the first ruins of America’s imperial decline. It’s not an easy thing to spot. It took years after the real collapse for Russians to finally accept that awful reality, and to adjust accordingly, first by retrenching, not overplaying an empty hand, slowly building up without making any loud noises while America ran wild around the world bankrupting itself and bleeding dry. And now it’s over for us. That’s clear on the ground. But it will be years before America’s political elite even begins to grasp this fact. In the meantime, Russia is drunk on its victory and the possibilities that it might imply, sending its recently-independent neighbors into a kind of frenzied animal panic. Experience has taught them that it’s moments like these when Russia’s near abroad becomes, once again, a blood-soaked doormat in the violent epochal shifts — history never stopped here, it just froze up for a decade or so. And now it’s thawing, bringing with it the familiar stench of bloated bodies, burned rubble, and the sour sweat of Russian infantry.

We have entered a dangerous moment in history — America in decline is reacting hysterically, woofing and screeching and throwing a tantrum, desperate to prove that it still has teeth. Which it does — but not in the old dominant way that America wants or believes itself to be. History shows that it’s at this moment, tipping into decline and humiliation, when the worst decisions are made, so idiotically destructive that they’ll make the Iraq campaign look like a mere training exercise fender-bender by comparison.

Russia, meanwhile, is as high as a Hollywood speedballer from its victory. Putting the two together in the same room — speedballing Russia and violently bad-tripping America — is a recipe for serious disaster. If we’re lucky, we’ll survive the humiliating decline and settle into the new reality without causing too much damage to ourselves or the rest of the world. But when that awful moment arrives where the cognitive dissonance snaps hard, it will be an epic struggle to come to our senses in time to prevent the William Kristols, Max Boots and Robert Kagans from leading us into a nuclear holocaust which, they will assure us, we can win against Russia, thanks to our technological superiority. If only we have the will, they’ll tell us, we can win once and for all.


BRICS Challenges the World Order

The sight of the BRICS has been an eyesore for the developed countries ever since its inception. The sense of irritability has now given way to disquiet bordering on hostility. There is a compelling urgency that BRICS is assuming habitation and a name. True, nothing of an earth-shaking nature has emerged from the New Delhi summit. Yet, there are new stirrings that herald the potential for a BRICS surge. And that causes disquiet to the developed world. Simply put, as the Delhi Declaration by the BRICS countries reminds is, it is a “platform for dialogue and cooperation amongst countries that represent 43% of the world’s population” in a multi-polar world. That is saying a lot.

There is nothing like BRICS in the developed world today. The G-7 has become a relic of history. The view across the Atlantic is dismal, with Europe and the United States struggling with their respective economic crisis, discarding pretensions that they are world champions.

The Delhi Declaration makes an undisguised bid for strengthened representation of emerging and developing countries in the institutions of global governance”. This is no vacuous claim. Because, BRICS also has a special experience to share – having “recovered quickly from the global crisis.” The West has not heard this sort of idiom before. This is not the global South asking plaintively for “more”. This is an open demand for “power sharing”.

The West has never been spoken to like this before in all these centuries since the Industrial Revolution. The tides of history are, clearly, turning. The Delhi Declaration suggests: “We believe that it is critical for advanced economies to adopt responsible macroeconomic and financial policies, avoid creating excessive global liquidity and undertake structural reforms to lift growth that create jobs. We draw attention to the risks of large and volatile cross-border capital flows being faced by the emerging economies. We call for further international financial regulatory oversight and reform, strengthening policy coordination and financial regulation and supervision cooperation, and promoting the sound development of global financial markets and banking systems.”

The developing world has never before admonished the developed world in such fashion. The BRICS has asserted its credentials to make this demand since it represents economies that are having broad-based economic growth and are “significant contributors to global recovery.” The Delhi Declaration goes on to criticize the slow pace of quota and governance reforms in the International Monetary Fund and in the functioning of the World Bank and questions the West’s prerogative to head these institutions. Significantly, BRICS is raising its voice even as Russia is preparing to assume the Presidency of the G20 in 2013.

One concrete outcome of the Delhi summit is the agreement to consider the possibility of setting up a new Development Bank for mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other developing countries to “supplement” the role of the World Bank and other regional financial institutions.

The idea is to shake off the continued dominance of the developed countries over these financial institutions. Ideally, what the World Bank and the whole network of existing regional development banks would prefer is to continue to use the BRICS money and keep the existing pattern of western hegemony. Whereas, a BRICS bank will threaten the entrenched western practice to use the international financial institutions to prescribe and impose economic policies to the developing countries thereby promote the commercial interests of the developed countries and even establish political hegemony.

The implications are far-reaching for the geopolitics of Africa, in particular. The Delhi summit has sought a report on the setting up of a development bank by the next annual BRICS summit in South Africa. Interestingly, South Africa is representing the voice of the African continent within BRICS. Again, Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization would phenomenally change the BRICS’ capacity (and political will) to safeguard the rule-based multilateral trading system and influence a successful and balanced outcome of the Doha Round.

Equally, the Delhi summit witnessed the conclusion of the Master Agreement on Extending Credit Facility in Local Currency under BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism and the Multilateral Letter of Credit Confirmation Facility Agreement between our EXIM/Development Banks. Without doubt, these are going to be useful enabling instruments for promoting intra-BRICS trade. A furious attack has begun from the West. The trades leveled at the BRICS tells their own story:

• BRICS countries subscribe to “different values”.
• The rest of the BRICS abhor China’s rise.
• Russia is a “declining country” and doesn’t have “much in common” with the rest of the BRICS as a significant player in the world economy, apart from its vast energy reserves.
• Therefore, BRICS countries aren’t “natural allies”.
• Indians are frightened of encirclement by China and are full of angst about the “very big imbalance” between them, although they have “lots of economic interests in common”.
• China, in turn, is concerned about the spectre of a US-led Asian alliance arrayed against it, which Includes India.
• South Africa is struggling to sustain growth; Russia remains “volatile”; Brazil shows promise, while China and India are massive countries with extraordinary potential and highly impressive records. The BRICS isn’t a “natural grouping”.

Arguably, there is merit in some of these arguments, but then, BRICS process is about steadily enlarging the commonality of interests among the member countries and never about creating a bloc of like-minded nations on the basis of their so-called “values”. It is a pragmatic process that gives space and autonomy for the member countries, which in turns provides BRICS also the latitude to work on creating over time a critical mass.

The fact of the matter is that the critical mass is building and is already visible. As the BRICS gains confidence, it is spreading its wings. The summit in 2011 in China took the baby steps in the direction of harmonizing the member countries’ positions on international political issues. The BRICS took a step forward in the Delhi summit to adopt a common stance on Syria, the number one “hot spot” in world politics today. The Delhi Declaration puts accent on a Syrian-led inclusive political process and national dialogue and calls on the world community to respects that country’s independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The so-called “Delhi Action Plan” approved by the summit underscores the political will on the part of the member countries to strengthen the BRICS process. It envisages regular and frequent meetings of the foreign ministers, finance ministers, trade ministers, agriculture ministers, health ministers and central bank governors (plus meetings at senior officials’ level on various areas of cooperation) on the sidelines of relevant international events. The intention is to coordinate a BRICS common stance on a wide range of shared interests globally.

What needs to be highlighted is the decision to hold “stand-alone” meetings of the BRCS High Representatives responsible for national security. In the Indian context, the National Security Advisor is the key figure at the highest level of policymaking in foreign and security policies – and, interestingly, is also the designated point person to steer the course of India-China relationship.

The BRICS holds interesting possibilities for India to work with China on the global issues. Viewed from another angle, the BRICS process explores the common aspirations of the two Asian powers in the emergent world order. They are at complete liberty to fast track issues. The heart of the matter is that BRICS provides a friendly, unhurried enviornment in which meaningful cogitations can take place between member countries at a bilateral level as well. Lest it be overlooked, on the sidelines of the summit in Delhi, Indian and Chinese leaderships took time out to discuss the bilateral relationship.

When the western critics viciously lampoon that the BRICS lack “mortar”, et al, they are barking up the wrong tree. The BRICS is not meant to be a steel-and-glass edifice. It is a process borne out of a common will to blend shared aspirations regarding a new world order. Given the BRICS economies’ growing share of the world GDP, they have a claim to greater participation in the global architecture. While dogs may bark, the caravan is determined to roll on. That is the message coming out of the BRICS Delhi summit.


The Importance of Being Russia

It has been a long time since I was as acutely aware of Russia’s importance as during the recent conference on the Syrian crisis in Ankara. The conference participants, mostly delegates from Turkey, the Syrian opposition and several regional countries, said that everything depends on Russia, which alone can tip the scales. They said that if not for Russia’s veto in the UN Security Council and military assistance to Bashar Assad, the country would have a new regime and would be democratizing by now. They said it again and again, closing their ears to Russia’s arguments about other circumstances that may be more important and painful.

Representatives of the opposition and the majority of Turkish experts said, often quite convincingly, that the Syrian government could fall any day. However, belief in Assad’s imminent fall has diminished in the past two months. What is the reason for the relative stability of the Syrian regime, which has withstood the impact of the Arab Spring for over a year?

First, there is a large group of people in Syria who stand to lose from a revolution. According to Russian experts, only 15 to 20 percent of Syrians firmly support Assad but a third of the population, comprising of influential minorities, Christians (including Armenians), Kurds, Druze and Ismailis fear that any change would only worsen their lives and that the overthrow of the Alawis would bring Sunnis to power who would start persecuting them all. This is why the Syrian population is split in two, creating conditions for a protracted civil war and allowing the government to claim that they have popular support. The opposition claims that the minorities are gradually shifting towards it but there are no facts to prove this.

Second, the military balance is not in favor of the opposition; the fall of Homs was a major victory for Assad, changing the international view of events in Syria and quelling speculation about Assad’s imminent defeat.

Third, the regional context is favorable to Assad. The Libyan operation, which was hailed as a NATO success, has dampened arguments for military intervention. On the one hand, European countries, which bore the brunt of the conflict in Libya, have used a considerable part of their military potential. On the other hand, the rise of Islamic parties in the wake of the Arab Spring has increased Western doubts about actively supporting the opposition. Although the recent meeting of the Friends of Syria group of Western and Arab nations sought to bolster the opposition, the West is not eager to expedite the delivery of weapons.

Fourth, Gaddafi’s Libya had no friends because it had harmed neighboring and more distant countries too much, but Assad’s Syria can expect support from Iran, Russia and China and at least silent neutrality from neighboring countries ranging from Iraq to Jordan, which dislike the idea of an all-out war so close to home.

And lastly, after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution that ultimately led to the invasion of Libya, Russia and China have refused to support any document if it leaves the window open even a crack for military intervention. They say that NATO and other participants in the Libyan operation took advantage of the resolution to overthrow Gaddafi.

Russia has never been criticized so sharply as in the case of Syria. For its support of the Syrian regime, Russia has been accused of complicity in mass murder and a desire to profit from arms deals. Less emotional people wonder why Russia is supporting a doomed regime instead of diversifying its ties and building bridges into the future. Yet Moscow continues to stand its ground, disregarding the possibility of its own isolation.

The game is far from over and Russia has not lost the latest round. Of course, business with Syria cannot be carried on as before because Assad will be pressured to step down, although the conditions of his departure may differ. Those who will replace him will not favor ties with Russia anyway, as the Libyan experience has shown. Russia played the key role in the overthrow of Gaddafi as its veto could have prevented the intervention and hence the revolution. And yet, the first thing the new authorities did is refuse to honor contracts with Russia.

Moscow is not trying to preserve its Syrian contracts but to reaffirm its status in international affairs. By resisting powerful psychological and diplomatic pressure, Russia has shown that although it has lost ground in the Middle East (Syria is its last close partner in the region), it is still a power whose opinion cannot be disregarded. Russian diplomats have clearly said that it will not allow intervention to be legalized through the UN Security Council. No country has so far risked acting without a UN mandate in Syria, even though the opposition is urging them on, as the Iraqi example is still fresh in their memory. As a result, the Arab League and the West have launched dialogue with Russia, which they condemned only the day before. Kofi Annan’s plan and the UN Security Council’s statement in its support were mostly brought about by Russia’s firm stance.

But Russia’s possibilities are not unlimited; it can hardly achieve much more. As for Annan’s plan, it should have been enacted a year or six months ago at the latest. The sides have likely reached the point of no return, as too much blood has been shed to hope for compromise. Besides, talks cannot be held with unconsolidated opposition groups.

Russia must decide what it will do if violence in Syria erupts with fresh force. Supporting the Syrian government may be logical but there is a limit, after which Russia should think about selling its critical vote in the Security Council to the highest bidder since the Syrian opposition and their allies put so much stock in it.


Former Russian Gen.: Russia Is ‘Defending the Entire World From Fascism,’ Is Ready to Use Military Power to Defend Iran, Syria

Former member of Russian Joint Chiefs of Staff Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov appeared on Russia Today TV to boldly announce that Russia is “defending the entire world from Fascism” — waged, of course, by the U.S. and Israel — and that his country is ready to use military force to defend Iran and Syria from its aggressors. He added that an attack on Syria or Iran would be an indirect attack on Russia. The retired colonel also compared U.S. presence in Libya to Hitler and his armies’ aggression against Poland and later, Russia. The Following are excerpts from an interview with Ivashov on RT February 1, 2012. Translations provided by the ever-vigilant staff at MEMRI:

Interviewer: “Dr. Leonid, do you think that these preparations and very large maneuvers, which will soon be conducted by Russia, are meant as preparation for war, or rather, a military strike against Iran?” […]

Leonid Ivashov: “These maneuvers and training will demonstrate Russia’s readiness to use military power to defend its national interests and to bolster its political position. The maneuvers show that Russia does not want any military operations to be waged against Iran or Syria. I assume that the people in the West and in Israel who design the schemes for a large geopolitical operation in the greater Middle East region draw a direct connection between the situation in Syria and in Iran. Indeed, these two countries are allies, and both are considered guaranteed partners of Russia. The only question, therefore, is who they will try to destroy first as a stable country: Syria or Iran. […]

“A strike against Syria or Iran is an indirect strike against Russia and its interests. Russia would lose important positions and allies in the Arab world. Therefore, by defending Syria, Russia is defending its own interests. “In addition, Russia is thus defending the entire world from Fascism. Everybody should acknowledge that Fascism is making strides on our planet. What they did in Libya is nearly identical to what Hitler and his armies did against Poland and then Russia. Today, therefore, Russia is defending the entire world from Fascism.”


Russia-China victory in Syria a sign of declining US power

It sets an important precedent in international relations, and is perhaps the clearest sign of declining US power in the Middle East. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, Russia and China have effectively thwarted the United States and its allies from pursuing its interests in a fiery Middle Eastern flashpoint, Syria.

The Russian-Chinese double veto at the UN Security Council - the last in February - signalled to the West that the two powers were drawing a red line on Syria. Notably, China's second veto on Syria was only its eighth in history, highlighting the importance of the matter to Beijing. The message was clear: UN-sponsored regime change, military intervention, or arming of Syrian rebels - as seen in Libya - would never pass.

Understanding the regional and global battle over Syria is to recognise that no external power in the world has Syrian democracy or human rights as the fundamental drive behind its policies on the crisis. Despite the fluff coming from Western capitals, no leader among them is truly concerned for the welfare of the Syrian people, as noted by the West's double standard silence to Bahrain's ongoing revolution. Likewise, calls for Syrian democracy emanating from the most repressive regime in the world in Saudi Arabia are laughable to say the least. And as we are so regularly told, Russia, China and Iran are the antithesis to the liberal democratic values the West espouses to represent.

What the West and its Gulf Arab proxies saw in Syria was an opportunity to either snatch the Arab world's influential outpost for Iran and Russia, or destroy its regional power altogether by way of a destructive civil war. The former seemed almost completely out of reach short of US military intervention. After spending his entire first term disengaging from wars in the Middle East, the last move president Barack Obama would make in an election year is committing a broke United States to yet another Middle East war.

Delegating intervention to its NATO allies was always going to be an unlikely option. Despite French and British eagerness to strike Moamar Gaddafi's forces in Libya last year, the US once again eventually assumed the bulk of the workload. The threat of a civil war still beckons, as oil-rich Gulf states ponder arming rebels, but decisive military victories by the Syrian army in recent months have made it increasingly unlikely that president Bashar al-Assad will be dislodged by force, either from within or beyond.

The international wrangling does not delegitimise the legitimate demands of the Syrian people for democracy and an open society ruled by fairness and equal treatment. Rather, it highlights that for the majority of the Syrian revolution thus far, the battle for Syria has been mostly waged beyond its borders.

The Syrian revolution became no longer a question of the inalienable rights of the Syrian people, but - as so often in the Middle East - a pretence for an intense struggle for regional supremacy. The Saudis and Qataris threw all gloves off when Saudi King Abdullah openly declared his support for the revolt in August 2011. The king's call was not one of solidarity with the Syrian people, but a declaration of proxy war against its regional nemesis, Iran. Riyadh and Doha saw an opportunity to gain a strategic Arab ally on the simple calculation that the majority of Syrians are Sunni Muslims, and thus Assad - member of the minority Alawi sect - would meet the same fate of the fallen Arab dictators before him.

Turkey also hedged its bets on a quick Assad downfall, a strategic blunder that is now under sharp criticism from leading Turkish commentators and opposition leaders as the Syrian dictator appears to have held sway. Although it still hosts Syrian opposition groups and armed rebels, Turkey has notably toned down its harsh rhetoric of Assad in recent weeks. The US and Europe have also moved away from explicit calls for regime change, to endorsing - alongside Russia and China - UN envoy Kofi Annan's six-point plan for a political solution.

Annan's plan is a clear victory for Russia and China, as it reinforces their position on what it considers to be the sensible approach to resolving the Syrian crisis. Annan's peace plan suggests a "Syrian-led political process" echoing Moscow and Beijing's repeated calls for dialogue among Syrian parties and without external interference. It also calls for a cessation of violence "by all parties" without apportioning blame to either the regime or the opposition. Russia had previously drafted a UN Security Council resolution blaming both sides for the crisis, a move rejected at the time by France as "unacceptable" as it could not equate the crimes of rebels to the regime. And the only hint of foreign intervention in Annan's plan is a UN monitoring team to oversee a ceasefire.

This contrasts sharply with the two previous Western-backed UN resolutions that suggested a regime change via transition, and opened the door for further action without compliance, or as Russia and China interpreted, military action. Moscow and Beijing got the Annan plan they wanted, denying the West its traditional position of decision-maker in the Middle East.

Last week's "Friends of Syria" summit in Turkey, a gathering of Western and Arab states alongside a number of Syrian opposition groups, revealed only the lack of options available. The summit's pledge to aid the opposition was as hollow as the rhetorical statements issued in support of the revolution. The US promised communications equipment - certain to defeat a heavily-equipped and trained Syrian army - while Saudi Arabia and Qatar would use its oil-wealth to entice Syrian generals to defect - a strategy it has deployed largely unsuccessfully since mid-2011.

The most telling international meetings were the summits that preceded the "Friends of Syria" gathering. On March 29, Arab leaders met in Baghdad, while the BRICS summit of emerging powers was underway in Delhi. The Arab states, including Riyadh and Doha, had thrown its backing behind Annan's Russian-friendly plan.

The BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - showed its new global clout by rejecting military action and endorsing dialogue as the path to a solution. The BRICS have stood firm on Syria, and as testimony to its growing global influence, have forced the West to take a backward step. There will be no Libya-repeat in Syria, and there will not be a pro-Western proxy emerging in Damascus anytime soon. Civil war still remains a threat, albeit distant given the rebels' devastating defeats in Homs and Idlib, and its inferiority to the Syrian army.

The retreat of the West from Syria does not, however, signal complete doom for the Syrian revolution. Assad's forces may have won militarily, but large segments of the Syrian population have broken their silence, and will not return to the shadows. Indeed, overt Western and Gulf involvement in the Syrian crisis created more rifts among Syrian activists than resolved disputes. Many Syrian opposition activists and leaders that I met in Syria have been dismayed at what they perceived was the hijacking of the revolution by foreign powers for external interests.

But the threat of Western intervention seems to have subsided, for now. If Iraq was the catalyst for America's decline in the Middle East, Syria has sounded the death knell as a resurgent Russia and emerging China step up to the plate.


Putin's Russia is Pivotal For Future U.S. Foreign Policy

Russia is back, at least in the minds of U.S. national security leaders. From halting Iran's nuclear program to squeezing Syria's regime to listening to President Obama's hopes for fewer nuclear arms, "Russia is the key," as one former official says. Past-and-present Russian President Vladimir Putin "still aspires for Russia to be a superpower," says one former senior U.S. diplomat.

Next week, U.S. officials will join Germany and its four other permanent counterparts from the U.N. Security Council for talks with Iranian leaders about Tehran's atomic weapons program. But that process, known in diplomatic circles as the P5+1 talks, "is flawed," says Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state during George W. Bush's presidency. The talks are flawed because China and Russia are P5 members, and have long worked against American whims within the Security Council.

On Iran, China has become the main stumbling block. Beijing has found ways to avoid violating U.N. sanctions on Iran while becoming Tehran's top trading partner, Burns said at a forum this week. In short, China has ample economic and security reasons to help Iran. But in Moscow, Burns says Washington might find an ally. "Russia does not want to see a nuclear Iran," Burns said. "Russia has a more highly strategic view of this than the Chinese do."

Moscow has also joined Beijing in rejecting U.N. council measures that would have dealt diplomatic blows to Syrian president Bashir al-Assad in his brutal war against opposition elements, which has been frustrating White House officials. But Russia's backing of Assad gives Washington leverage over Putin because if Moscow also assists the Iranian regime, "the Russians will hurt themselves long term in the region. We should be playing on this," says Dennis Ross, a senior U.S. diplomat and presidential adviser under Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.

Meantime, Putin could make or break what insiders say is a major foreign policy goal for Obama's possible second term: Continuing to shrink the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons. Obama talks often of his vision of a "nuclear-free world," and has pushed hard for nuclear weapons reductions between the Cold War foes. More pragmatic Obama administration officials simply want nuclear arsenal cuts because they feel the nation has more than enough and it would perhaps free up billions.

The United States has nearly 1,740 nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, sub-based ballistic missiles, and warheads for heavy aircraft, according to the Pentagon. Russia has around 1,490. Under a nuclear-arms reduction pact struck last year, the U.S. and Russia are in the midst of reducing their nuclear arsenals. But is Putin willing to do more?

The Russians "seem to be going the other way," says Michele Flournoy, Obama's former Pentagon policy chief, citing an renewed emphasis on nuclear arms in military doctrine and increased atomic weapons spending. "Even though a second Obama administration might see it possible to do more reductions," Flournoy says, "the challenge is getting the Russians to that point."


The Neocons’ Project for the New American Century: “American World Leadership” – Syria next to Pay the Price?

In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter, who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the people.” (Eugene Debs, 1855-1926, speech Canton, Ohio, 16th June 1918.) The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), unleashed in June 1997, has largely disappeared from the political radar, yet the mire, murder and general mayhem the US, UK and dwindling “boots on the ground” allies find themselves in, are seemingly rooted in its aims, which march relentlessly on.

PNAC was founded under the Chairmanship of William Kristol, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dan Quale during the Presidency of George Bush Snr. Kristol’s father, Irving Kristol has been described as the “Godfather of Neoconservatism.” The organization was: “ … dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: That American leadership is good for America and the world.” Projects were devised: “ … to explain what American world leadership entails.” (i) Consulting “the world” about the mind-numbing concept of a US planetary take-over was not a consideration.

Little time was wasted in advancing this new world order. On 29th May 1998 PNAC sent a letter (ii) to the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich and to Senate Majority Leader, Trent Lott. It referred to a letter sent to President Clinton four months earlier: “expressing our concern” that U.S policy of “containment of Saddam Hussein was failing.” Thus: “the vital interests of the United States and its allies in the Middle East would soon be facing a threat as severe as any we had known since the end of the Cold War.”

Therefore a strategy should be implemented to: “… protect the United States and its allies from the threat of weapons of mass destruction (and) put in place policies” that would topple the Iraqi leadership. Without a glance towards international law, the letter continued: “.U.S. policy should have as its specific goal removing Saddam Hussein’s regime … Only the U.S. can (demonstrate) that his rule is not legitimate. To accomplish (this) the following political and military measures should be undertaken …” The first “measure to be taken” was what has now become the blueprint for each planned overthrow of a sovereign government:

“We should help establish and support (with economic, political and military means) a provisional, representative and free government of Iraq in areas of Iraq not under Saddam’s control.”

That Iraq’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity” was guaranteed in law and by the United Nations was not an issue for consideration. Signatories, a veritable “Whose Who” of neo-cons, included John Bolton, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan, James Wolsey, Zalmay Khalizad and PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan. Robert Kagan is currently on Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Advisory Committee, his wife is Victoria Nuland, spokeswoman for the Clinton headed U.S. State Department. Kagan’s loftily entitled book “The World America Made”, was publicly endorsed by Barack Obama.Its theme was referenced in his 2012 State of the Union address.

Nor has William Kristol gone away. In March 2011 he wrote an editorial in the Weekly Standard arguing that US Military “interventions” in Muslim countries (including the decimations of the 1991 Gulf War, the Balkans, and destructions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq) should not be classified as “invasions” but as “liberations.” Needless to say, he backed US “intervention” in Libya, urging Conservative support.

A more recent piece of war mongering was on Fox News (7th August 2012) when he opined:

“I went back and looked at the speech President Obama gave in March 2011 when he announced the very mild intervention in Libya, which did help to get rid of Qaddafi. Every reason he gave for intervening in Libya is there squared, in triplicate, for intervening in Syria, including the strategic importance of getting rid of Assad and weakening Iran, and we’re sitting there talking about ‘we really hope there won’t be sectarian violence later on’, and, gee, this is kind of unfortunate.”

“If we are abdicating our role of helping to shape events in this absolutely crucial part of the world, what does that say? Are we just going to let other countries, ya know, play their games and stand back as if it doesn’t affect U.S. national security?”

On the same programme Hillary Clinton talked of: “the day after” President Assad. For anyone familiar with the 1983 film of that name portraying the effect of a nuclear strike on Missouri, it was a chilling phrase. So far it is not known if Kristol and Clinton have connected their perceived threat to U.S. “national security”, the spectre of a dead Ambassador, three colleagues, ten guarding them, burning or under attack US Embassies around the world, generated by actions, provocations and invasions, exactly as they advocated again on Fox News.

Before his next appearance on Fox, Kristol could do worse than peruse Professor Hamoud Salhi’s address, presented at the Center for Contemporary Conflict, of the (U.S.) Naval Postgraduate School in June 2004.(iii pdf) It is entitled: “Syria’s Threat to America’s National Interest.” It is arguably even more pertinent now – and another reminder of how long Syria has been in U.S. sights.

He opens: “Syria’s threat to America’s national interest in the Middle East can only be understood in the context of U.S. plans to reconfigure the Middle East. Knowing now that the motive for invading Iraq was strategic, taking over Syria would give the United States further strategic depth in the region … tipping the balance of power (even more) in favour of the United States regional allies, Israel and Turkey.”

Salhi notes that “strategic pre-emption” is long central to American policy in the Middle East, citing Rapid Deployment Forces during the Carter Administration, Dual Containment under Clinton, Pre-emptive Doctrine under George W. Bush. Polices, he holds, which: “have been instrumental in maintaining hegemony in the region”, avoiding threats to U.S interests, or to those of Israel,Turkey and the Gulf States.

After the 1998 US-UK Christmas bombing of Baghdad drew world-wide criticism, Salhi points out that the often daily (illegal) bombing of Iraq by the two countries was stepped up, with often daily sorties, “using the latest technology” destroying what minimal economic infrastructure remained: “under the pretext that they represented future threats.” It was he contends, the “quiet war”, an ongoing tragedy little noticed by the world.

The ground was – literally – being prepared for invasion, the trigger finger ever itchier, any excuse sought. George W. Bush would later explain that invading Iraq was necessary: “ … to advance freedom in the greater Middle East …” (Emphasis mine.) 11th September 2001 arguably gave the excuse to release the safety catches. On 20th September 2001 PNAC sent a letter to Bush: “ … recommending the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, even if no direct link to the 9/11 attack were found.” Time to redeem American: “supremacy in global politics (and for) regime changes in Iraq, Iran and Syria.”

Michael Ledeen, foreign policy expert, another neo-con minded Fox News commentator, alleged to be a “strong admirer” of Niccolo Machiavelli, regarded 1991’s Desert Storm attack on Iraq as a woeful missed chance states Salhi. He notes Ledeen’s view that driving Iraqi troops from Kuwait was wholly inadequate. Strategy should have been: “regime change in Baghdad” (as) “one piece in an overall mission”, which should have been: “one battle … against Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia.”

Addressing “The Syrian Threat”, Professor Salhi reminds of the U.S. Congress 2004 “Syria Accountability Act” which considerably financially weakened Syria’s fragile economy, with further aims clearly paving the way to regime change. That achieved: “…the United States will have completed its final stage of encircling Iran. This would further tip the region’s balance of power in favour of Israel and ultimately open new doors” for the U.S. “active involvement in toppling the Iranian regime.”

PNAC’s John Bolton, as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, had testified before a Senate Sub-Committee on Syria’s threats to the U.S., which of course included terrorism and “weapons of mass destruction” reminds Salhi – pointing out that Bolton could cite no specifics. The more a Syrian danger was inflated, the more “justification” for an attack.

Conversely he reasoned, a massively threatened Syria then: “has a motive to make itself more threatening than it actually is.” (On a personal note his comment had resounding resonance. In an interview with Iraq’s then Foreign Minister Tareq Aziz prior to the invasion, I asked about the weapons of mass destruction allegations relentlessly assailing Western air waves . He side- stepped the question neatly: “Madam Felicity, we too are afraid.” He of course knew the truth, Iraq was a sitting duck, but U.S. uncertainty was slender hope for catastrophe averted.)

In a rare moment of intemperance, President Assad stated the country had chemical weapons and would use them if invaded. As Aziz, he would hardly declare there was no way to counter an invasion’s fearsome arsenal.

Concluding, the Professor pointed out that: “Syria’s economic capabilities do not support the argument that Syria could become a threatening force in the region … “ Further, it’s technological development falls to near nil as a threat to the United States. A: “lack of interest in the sciences is reflected in patents registered in the United States, a meager ten, as against 16,328 for Korea and 7,652 for Israel (1980-2000.) Syria has a long way to go before it could reach any kind of technological development to be a threat to the United States.”

Moreover: “Syria’s leadership has pursued a principled foreign policy, built around deeply rooted philosophical orientations and molded to conform to the realities of the region.” Whilst ideologically deeply rooted in Arab nationalism: “Syrian’s political approach has been consistently pragmatic … a scenario in which Syria acquires nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and uses them against the United States or its regional allies is unlikely.”

Further, as with Iraq, which was minutely scrutinized by US satellites since the late 1980’s (“We can see a Coca Cola can in a trash bin”, “If Saddam sneezes we can see him reach for his handkerchief”) it is surely happening with Syria, with Israel also openly admitting to Drone surveillance.(iv) Professor Salhi’s final point is that to deter ever mounting threats, Syria might resort to acquiring WMDs, perceived as for their own protection. However: “What is certain, is that using WMDs would be inconsistent with Syria’s well established political approach.” What is also certain is that in the event of an attack on Syria, the worldwide attacks on US and allied interests and personnel of the last few days will pale in to insignificance.


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Dear reader,

Arevordi has taken a sabbatical of sorts. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comment board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis. You are therefore welcome to post your comments and ideas.

I have come to see the Russian nation as the last front on earth against the scourges of Westernization, Americanization, Globalism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western/European civilization, ethnic cultures, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. These sobering realizations compelled me to create this blog in 2010. This blog quickly became one of the very few voices in the vastness of Cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and perhaps the only voice preaching about the strategic importance of Armenia's close ties to the Russian nation. From about 2010 to 2015, I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult for me as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling, dare I say voice, inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and fully integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures by 2015, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relief, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Armenia's alliance with Russia. Today, no man, no political party is capable of driving a wedge between Armenia and Russia. That danger has passed. Anglo-American-Jewish agenda in Armenia failed. And I feel satisfied knowing that at least on a subatomic level I had a hand in the outcome. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue in the same pace as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal.

Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. I do not want to say anything if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several "anonymous" visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what. Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply insult me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Commentaries and articles found in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a historical record and a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.