Category: Russia
By indulging Ukraine’s claims to Crimea, West is encouraging country’s ‘neo-Nazi’ government policy, thunders Russian FM Lavrov
worker | August 13, 2021 | 6:44 pm | Fascist terrorism, Russia, Ukraine | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/russia/531866-lavrov-zelensky-summit-control-crimea/

By indulging Ukraine’s claims to Crimea, West is encouraging country’s ‘neo-Nazi’ government policy, thunders Russian FM Lavrov

By indulging Ukraine's claims to Crimea, West is encouraging country's ‘neo-Nazi’ government policy, thunders Russian FM Lavrov
Moscow’s top diplomat has reacted angrily to news that representatives of more than two dozen nations will attend a summit called by Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky to discuss how Kiev can now reassert control over Crimea.

Speaking to a group of young people involved with an art collective based on the disputed peninsula on Thursday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the West’s support was pushing Zelensky to be more and more extreme in pursuit of his policy goals. The ‘Crimean Platform’ forum, he said, “will continue to nurture the neo-Nazi and racist mentality of the current Ukrainian government.”

Blasting the participation of foreign attendees, he said that the US, EU and other supporters of Kiev’s claims were behaving “shamefully.” At least 37 states are expected to send delegates to the event, which will be timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union on August 24.

ALSO ON RT.COMEXCLUSIVE: Ultranationalist organizations are radicalizing Ukraine’s young people, and the Kiev government is paying them for itIn April, Lavrov’s official spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, argued that Ukraine was recklessly indulging far-right sentiments to prop up its government and strengthen anti-Russian feeling. Speaking after demonstrators at a march in Kiev raised banners and carried flowers to commemorate the SS Galicia division, raised from Ukrainian levies to fight alongside Nazi Germany, Zakharova said government policy was an “insult” to those who had died in World War II.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs also expressed concern at the time over the celebration of a unit that had been, it said, “involved in some of the worst crimes that took place during the Holocaust.”

In December, an RT investigation found that Kiev’s Ministry of Youth and Sports was handing over cash to far-right groups to run children’s camps, in which young people could be at risk of indoctrination. Annual military-style camps see teenagers fighting hand-to-hand, lighting flares and marching in formation. The organizers of one camp, linked to Nazi-sympathizing political organizations, said that the participation of their graduates in fighting in eastern Ukraine was proof their method was working to engender a sense of “patriotism.”

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‘Apocalypse Now’: What are Risks of CIA’s Possible All Out Clandestine War Against Russia & China?
worker | August 13, 2021 | 6:40 pm | China, Fascist terrorism, Russia | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/202108121083591013-apocalypse-now-what-are-risks-of-cias-possible-all-out-clandestine-war-against-russia–china/

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Decorated CIA veteran Douglas London has recently called for enhancing clandestine warfare against Russia and China, insisting that the US has enough tools to trump Moscow and Beijing. However, economist Dr. Paul Craig Roberts and CIA veteran Philip Giraldi have pointed out some apparent flaws in London’s doctrine.

On 5 August, an op-ed titled “Defence alone will not protect us from Russia and China” by Douglas London, a retired senior CIA operations officer and adjunct associate professor at Georgetown University’s Centre for Security Studies, was published in The Hill.

He argued that “bolstering defences alone and adding military firepower” will not deter Russia and China “who pay little price for malign behaviour.” The US intelligence community is “good at sabotage,” possesses “robust covert and overt cyber capabilities,” and knows how “to steal secrets [and] change the course of history with covert deeds,” according to him. All that’s needed to rein in Moscow and Beijing are Washington’s political will, “a more agile and balanced strategy of offence and defence,” and “a dash of clandestine mischief,” London argues.

“The US has most of the tools and resources required to prevail against Russia, China and other authoritarian rivals,” he wrote. “Still, to dominate, America needs greater comfort to operate in the shadows where it can exact costs that would make any enemy think twice before acting.”

Timing of London’s Op-Ed

The timing of the article coincides with two major developments, according to Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer: first, “the already disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan with disengagement in other theatres of operations”; second, the September legislative elections in Russia.

The US military-industrial complex is increasingly concerned about the pullout from Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the CIA counter-terrorism veteran. He notes Israel also fears that the US military disengagement would embolden Tehran and “already warned, repeatedly, that it is prepared to strike Iran alone, if necessary, though its Lobby is working hard to make sure that Washington becomes involved in whatever results.”

In this Jan. 1, 2020 file photo, Iraqi army soldiers are deployed in front of the U.S. embassy, in Baghdad, Iraq.  U.S. and Iraqi officials on Thursday, Dec. 3, say the U.S. is withdrawing some staff from its embassy in Baghdad, temporarily reducing personnel amid regional security concerns.
© AP PHOTO / NASSER NASSER
In this Jan. 1, 2020 file photo, Iraqi army soldiers are deployed in front of the U.S. embassy, in Baghdad, Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi officials on Thursday, Dec. 3, say the U.S. is withdrawing some staff from its embassy in Baghdad, temporarily reducing personnel amid regional security concerns.

At the same time, London “appears to be a spokesman for a certain type of thinking, it is to be assumed that many in the national security community will urge the White House to take steps to interfere covertly in upcoming Russian elections while also stirring up unrest in China,” according to Giraldi.

“London’s objective is clearly to bring about regime change in both Moscow and Beijing, and he believes that it can be accomplished using the intelligence tools he has recommended, which he opines can ‘change the course of history,'” he suggests.

Election interference and regime change ops have been the US’ modus operandi for quite a while, notes Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a former Wall Street Journal editor, ex-Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan, and former member of the Cold War Committee on the Present Danger. It would be frivolous on the part of Moscow and Beijing to host US and EU-backed NGOs, according to the economist.

“It was Washington that overthrew the Ukrainian government and established in its place an anti-Russian government. It was Washington that nearly overthrew the Belarus government. NGOs flush with dollars are agents of overthrow,” Dr. Roberts says, adding that the US establishment was even prepared to break its own rules to unseat the undesired government of President Donald Trump.

Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)
© SPUTNIK / ANDREY STENIN
Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)

On 1 August, Director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergey Naryshkin warned in an interview with a Russian journalist that the September legislative elections could become a focal point for interference, stressing that Russia’s security services already know “which areas will be struck.”

Earlier, in May, a draft proposal prepared by European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs called upon the EU to be prepared “not to recognise the parliament of Russia” after the September vote. On 4 August, the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly announced that they would not send election observers to Russia for the first time in nearly three decades. The OSCE move was endorsed by the US Department of State.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping
© SPUTNIK / ALEXEY NIKOLSKIJ
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping

What are Ramifications of Clandestine War Against Russia, China?

To convince his readers of the necessity to launch what appears to be an all-out shadow war against Russia and China, London outlined a long list of Moscow and Beijing’s “faults,” including election interferencedisrupting US confidence in its own vaccines, and ransomware attacks, neither of which have ever been backed by credible evidence. He went even further by blaming Russia for fuelling both racial enmities during the Black Lives Matter’s summer 2020 unrest and the 6 January riots in the US, which, according to Dr. Roberts, indicates that the ex-CIA official “has clearly lost his hold on reality.”

London also mentioned the so-called “Gerasimov doctrine” – a 26 February 2013 article written by Russian Gen. Valery Gerasimov and detailing a hybrid strategy which “blurs war and peace.” Still, the ex-senior CIA official seems to be turning a blind eye to the fact that the general was actually describing Western hybrid warfare techniques and methods to withstand them.

Established in June 2009, US Cyber Command organizes cyberattacks against adversaries and network defense operations
© AP PHOTO / DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, CHERIE CULLEN
Established in June 2009, US Cyber Command organizes cyberattacks against adversaries and network defense operations

Apparently, London believes that clandestine warfare against Moscow and Beijing would be a safer option than an overt standoff: “Operating asymmetrically with plausible deniability facilitates the means to pivot and de-escalate, providing adversaries a face-saving off-ramp from further retaliation,” he wrote. However, he seriously miscalculates Moscow and Beijing, according to Dr. Roberts and Giraldi.

“Mr. London’s recommendations are irresponsible, because they amount to a call for Washington to start a war with Russia and China,” Dr. Roberts says, adding that sabotage or cyber-attacks are effectively “acts of war.”  According to the economist, “neither Russia nor China are likely to pretend that the source of attacks are unknown, especially after a former senior CIA official calls for them.”

London’s strategy aimed at deterring Russian and Chinese decision-makers “would amount to an all-out semi-covert war against powerful adversaries which could easily escalate into a shooting war,” echoes Giraldi.

The CIA counter-terrorism veteran refers to London’s earlier remarks on the assassination of Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in January 2020 that when carrying out a major covert action against an opponent “the US must first decide what’s most important, the price it’s willing to pay and anticipate the consequences.” However, “by his own standards he has gone off the rails in his recent peace recommending sustained clandestine actions against adversaries Russia and China,” Giraldi highlights.

A member of Lebanon's Hezbollah holds a Lebanese flag as he stands in front of a picture depicting senior Iranian military commander General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who were killed in a U.S. attack, during a ceremony marking the first anniversary of their killing, in the southern village of Khiam, Lebanon January 3, 2021. REUTERS/Aziz Taher
© REUTERS / AZIZ TAHER
A member of Lebanon’s Hezbollah holds a Lebanese flag as he stands in front of a picture depicting senior Iranian military commander General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who were killed in a U.S. attack, during a ceremony marking the first anniversary of their killing, in the southern village of Khiam, Lebanon January 3, 2021. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

“What London ignores is the possible consequences of his proposed policy, which include nuclear war with Russia that has the capability to destroy the United States,” says the CIA veteran. “Nor is he very good at providing a reason for engaging in the truculence that he embraces. He makes no case that either China or Russia actually threatens the American people apart from stating that they are attempting to encourage internal divisiveness to undermine American ‘democracy and freedoms.’ One does not need to have the Russians or Chinese involved to accomplish that.”

According to Giraldi, “Apocalypse Now makes for an exciting story but to threaten whole countries with annihilation based at best on a desire to change their forms of government makes no sense.” He does not believe that this agenda would be endorsed by the Americans.

FORT DRUM, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 08: U.S. Army soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division arrive from a 9-month deployment in Afghanistan on December 08, 2020 in Fort Drum, New York.
© AFP 2021 / JOHN MOORE
FORT DRUM, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 08: U.S. Army soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division arrive from a 9-month deployment in Afghanistan on December 08, 2020 in Fort Drum, New York.

Why ‘Russia and China Have Nothing to Fear’ for Now

Moscow and Beijing remain “the necessary enemies for Washington and NATO,” to “justify the annual thousand billion dollar US military/security complex budget, and NATO is Washington’s method of controlling European foreign policy,” Dr. Roberts emphasises.

Still, the former Reagan official argues that “militarily, Washington is not a match for Russia or China, much less for both together.”

“The power of any country’s military depends on the power of the economy, the unity of the people, and the morale of the soldiers,” the economist says. “The US has spent a quarter century giving its manufacturing and industry to Asia. The Democratic Party’s identity politics has divided the population, setting black against white, feminist against men, sexual perversion against normal sexuality. The US government has declared Trump supporters to be ‘domestic terrorists’ and ‘insurrectionists,’ and they – half the population or more – are regarded as the ‘greatest threat’ that the US faces.”

The situation in European NATO member-states is no better, according to Dr. Roberts: “Throughout Europe and the English speaking world there are no nations, only Towers of Babel… which are divided against themselves… [and] cannot resist a unified opponent.”

Given this, Russia and China have nothing to fear for now, the economist believes, warning Moscow and Beijing against deluding themselves into believing that the US and NATO will play by rules with them.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

China Target in US Nord Stream ‘Deal’
worker | July 23, 2021 | 7:44 pm | Analysis, Germany, Joe Biden, Russia | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202107221083438918-china-target-in-us-nord-stream-deal/

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There is so much misdirection over the big news this week that the US finally reached a “deal” with Germany to allow the Nord Stream 2 gas project to go ahead.

This is the mega pipeline under the Baltic Sea supplying Germany and the rest of Europe with natural gas from Russia. The project had been stalled by American sanctions, but now the Biden administration has announced that it will no longer stand in the way of its completion.

President Joe Biden knew well that there was no way of stopping Nord Stream 2 whose 1,230-kilometer construction route from Russia to Germany is over 95 percent complete. Berlin has repeatedly told Washington that it would not cancel the project which will double the flow of clean, economical Russian gas to fuel Germany’s industries and households.

So Biden had enough cop-on to know that the United States would only look pathetically weak when its imperious demands on Berlin were eventually snubbed.

 

Hence the spin this week that Washington had come up with a “deal” with Germany to let Nord Stream 2 proceed. In that supposed compromise, Berlin is obliged to provide financial aid to Ukraine and assure Kiev that Russia will not be allowed to use energy trade as a weapon against Ukraine by reducing an existing overland transit route for gas. This is more misdirection. 

Russia has condemned the politicization of the Nord Stream 2 project as anything other than a commercial transaction that benefits Europe. Moscow rejects the slur that it is weaponizing energy trade to allegedly threaten Ukraine. Such hysteria is just Washington’s propaganda to justify its own egregious interference and bullying in European-Russian affairs.

In any case, the real story behind the Nord Stream 2 “deal” this week is not Russia or Ukraine. It is China.

In announcing Washington’s “concession”, the State Department said the rationale was that the United States did not want to “alienate” Germany.

However, the Americans did not specify what the risk of alienation was about exactly. We can fill in the gap. It is about Washington keeping Germany and the rest of Europe in line for its bigger geopolitical objective of confronting and undermining China.

Russia and China are both fingered as “great power rivals” by numerous American politicians and pundits.

But the Biden administration has signaled that it considers China as the “top long-term threat” to US national security. The “threat” has less to do with military power and more to do with China’s global economic power. Beijing’s increasing global economic integration through its Belt and Road Initiative is perceived by the Washington establishment as the death knell for American dominance. US global power relies on unilateral hegemony. China’s advocacy of multipolar relations, mutual partnerships between nations and people-centered development is the nemesis of American imperial power.

Unlike the boorish Trump, the Biden presidency is more in tune with American imperial planners and the need to work with European allies to form a stronger front for pursuing US imperial objectives. Biden and his aides have been at pains to repair the transatlantic alliance that Trump damaged with his abrupt “America First” vulgarism.

In taking down China as a global rival, Washington knows it has to smooth out relations with Germany and the rest of Europe.

That is why the Biden administration appears to be making a concession over the Nord Stream 2 project. It knows that the gas trade with Russia is inviolable for Germany’s vital interests. So it offers a “concession”. But the real move is to recruit Germany and Europe into taking a tougher stance towards China.

It is no coincidence that this week also saw the US establishment ramping up hostility towards China by labeling the government in Beijing as complicit in global cyber hacking and espionage. The State Department called on “our partners and allies to promote responsible state behavior in cyberspace, counter cybercrime, and oppose digital authoritarianism.” In other words, to join US efforts to demonize China.

Nevertheless, here’s the rub. China has become Germany’s largest trade partner, surpassing the United States. China is far more important than the US for sustaining Germany’s export-led economy. Arguably, maintaining relations with Beijing is as vital to Berlin as the gas from Russia is for Germany’s long-term development.

Washington may think it is able to corral and hoodwink Berlin into an anti-China front. But the arrogant Americans will get hit with reality. Their days of bullying others are over.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians
worker | July 19, 2021 | 6:29 pm | Russia, Ukraine, USSR, Vladimir Putin | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202107121083375385-on-the-historical-unity-of-russians-and-ukrainians/

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During the recent Direct Line, when I was asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations, I said that Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole.

These words were not driven by some short-term considerations or prompted by the current political context. It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe. I therefore feel it necessary to explain my position in detail and share my assessments of today’s situation.

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between the parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy. These are, first and foremost, the consequences of our own mistakes made at different periods of time.

But these are also the result of deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity. The formula they apply has been known from time immemorial – divide and rule. There is nothing new here. Hence the attempts to play on the “national question” and sow discord among people, the overarching goal being to divide and then to pit the parts of a single people against one another.

Russia Putin Direct Line
© SPUTNIK / SERGEI SAVOSTYANOV
Russia Putin Direct Line

To have a better understanding of the present and look into the future, we need to turn to history. Certainly, it is impossible to cover in this article all the developments that have taken place over more than a thousand years. But I will focus on the key, pivotal moments that are important for us to remember, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus, which was the largest state in Europe. Slavic and other tribes across the vast territory – from Ladoga, Novgorod, and Pskov to Kiev and Chernigov – were bound together by one language (which we now refer to as Old Russian), economic ties, the rule of the princes of the Rurik dynasty, and – after the baptism of Rus – the Orthodox faith. The spiritual choice made by St. Vladimir, who was both Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev, still largely determines our affinity today.

The throne of Kiev held a dominant position in Ancient Rus. This had been the custom since the late 9th century. The Tale of Bygone Years captured for posterity the words of Oleg the Prophet about Kiev, “Let it be the mother of all Russian cities”.

Kiev-Pechora Monastery
© SPUTNIK / SERGEY PYATAKOV
Kiev-Pechora Monastery

Later, like other European states of that time, Ancient Rus faced a decline of central rule and fragmentation. At the same time, both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.

The fragmentation intensified after Batu Khan’s devastating invasion, which ravaged many cities, including Kiev. The northeastern part of Rus fell under the control of the Golden Horde but retained limited sovereignty. The southern and western Russian lands largely became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which – most significantly – was referred to in historical records as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Russia.

Members of the princely and “boyar” clans would change service from one prince to another, feuding with each other but also making friendships and alliances. Voivode Bobrok of Volyn and the sons of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas – Andrey of Polotsk and Dmitry of Bryansk – fought next to Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich of Moscow on the Kulikovo field. At the same time, Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila – son of the Princess of Tver – led his troops to join with Mamai. These are all pages of our shared history, reflecting its complex and multi-dimensional nature.

Most importantly, people both in the western and eastern Russian lands spoke the same language. Their faith was Orthodox. Up to the middle of the 15th century, the unified church government remained in place.

At a new stage of historical development, both Lithuanian Rus and Moscow Rus could have become the points of attraction and consolidation of the territories of Ancient Rus. It so happened that Moscow became the center of reunification, continuing the tradition of ancient Russian statehood. Moscow princes – the descendants of Prince Alexander Nevsky – cast off the foreign yoke and began gathering the Russian lands.

Monument chapel near church of Alexander Nevsky in Ust-Izhora (fragment)
Monument chapel near church of Alexander Nevsky in Ust-Izhora (fragment)

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, other processes were unfolding. In the 14th century, Lithuania’s ruling elite converted to Catholicism. In the 16th century, it signed the Union of Lublin with the Kingdom of Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The Polish Catholic nobility received considerable land holdings and privileges in the territory of Rus. In accordance with the 1596 Union of Brest, part of the western Russian Orthodox clergy submitted to the authority of the Pope. The process of Polonization and Latinization began, ousting Orthodoxy.

As a consequence, in the 16–17th centuries, the liberation movement of the Orthodox population was gaining strength in the Dnieper region. The events during the times of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky became a turning point. His supporters struggled for autonomy from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In its 1649 appeal to the king of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Zaporizhian Host demanded that the rights of the Russian Orthodox population be respected, that the voivode of Kiev be Russian and of Greek faith, and that the persecution of the churches of God be stopped. But the Cossacks were not heard.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky then made appeals to Moscow, which were considered by the Zemsky Sobor. On 1 October 1653, members of the supreme representative body of the Russian state decided to support their brothers in faith and take them under patronage. In January 1654, the Pereyaslav Council confirmed that decision. Subsequently, the ambassadors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Moscow visited dozens of cities, including Kiev, whose populations swore allegiance to the Russian tsar. Incidentally, nothing of the kind happened at the conclusion of the Union of Lublin.

In a letter to Moscow in 1654, Bohdan Khmelnytsky thanked Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich for taking “the whole Zaporizhian Host and the whole Russian Orthodox world under the strong and high hand of the Tsar”. It means that, in their appeals to both the Polish king and the Russian tsar, the Cossacks referred to and defined themselves as Russian Orthodox people.

Entrance of Bohdan Khmelnytsky to Kyiv
Entrance of Bohdan Khmelnytsky to Kyiv

Over the course of the protracted war between the Russian state and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, some of the hetmans, successors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, would “detach themselves” from Moscow or seek support from Sweden, Poland, or Turkey. But, again, for the people, that was a war of liberation. It ended with the Truce of Andrusovo in 1667.

The final outcome was sealed by the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1686. The Russian state incorporated the city of Kiev and the lands on the left bank of the Dnieper River, including Poltava region, Chernigov region, and Zaporozhye. Their inhabitants were reunited with the main part of the Russian Orthodox people. These territories were referred to as “Malorossia” (Little Russia).

The name “Ukraine” was used more often in the meaning of the Old Russian word “okraina” (periphery), which is found in written sources from the 12th century, referring to various border territories. And the word “Ukrainian”, judging by archival documents, originally referred to frontier guards who protected the external borders.

On the right bank, which remained under the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the old orders were restored, and social and religious oppression intensified. On the contrary, the lands on the left bank, taken under the protection of the unified state, saw rapid development. People from the other bank of the Dnieper moved here en masse. They sought support from people who spoke the same language and had the same faith.

During the Great Northern War with Sweden, the people in Malorossia were not faced with a choice of whom to side with. Only a small portion of the Cossacks supported Mazepa’s rebellion. People of all orders and degrees considered themselves Russian and Orthodox.

Cossack senior officers belonging to the nobility would reach the heights of political, diplomatic, and military careers in Russia. Graduates of Kiev-Mohyla Academy played a leading role in church life.

Kiev-Mohyla Academy and its pupils. Engraving of the XVIII century
© CC0
Kiev-Mohyla Academy and its pupils. Engraving of the XVIII century

This was also the case during the Hetmanate – an essentially autonomous state formation with a special internal structure – and later in the Russian Empire. Malorussians in many ways helped build a big common country – its statehood, culture, and science. They participated in the exploration and development of the Urals, Siberia, the Caucasus, and the Far East. Incidentally, during the Soviet period, natives of Ukraine held major, including the highest, posts in the leadership of the unified state. Suffice it to say that Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, whose party biography was most closely associated with Ukraine, led the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for almost 30 years.

In the second half of the 18th century, following the wars with the Ottoman Empire, Russia incorporated Crimea and the lands of the Black Sea region, which became known as Novorossiya. They were populated by people from all of the Russian provinces. After the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire regained the western Old Russian lands, with the exception of Galicia and Transcarpathia, which became part of the Austrian – and later Austro-Hungarian – Empire.

The incorporation of the western Russian lands into the single state was not merely the result of political and diplomatic decisions. It was underlain by the common faith, shared cultural traditions, and – I would like to emphasize it once again – language similarity. Thus, as early as the beginning of the 17th century, one of the hierarchs of the Uniate Church, Joseph Rutsky, communicated to Rome that people in Moscovia called Russians from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth their brothers, that their written language was absolutely identical, and differences in the vernacular were insignificant.

He drew an analogy with the residents of Rome and Bergamo. These are, as we know, the center and the north of modern Italy.

Many centuries of fragmentation and living within different states naturally brought about regional language peculiarities, resulting in the emergence of dialects. The vernacular enriched the literary language. Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Grigory Skovoroda, and Taras Shevchenko played a huge role here.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky with Tugay Bey at Lviv by Jan Matejko (1885)
© CC0
Bohdan Khmelnytsky with Tugay Bey at Lviv by Jan Matejko (1885)

Their works are our common literary and cultural heritage. Taras Shevchenko wrote poetry in the Ukrainian language, and prose mainly in Russian. The books of Nikolay Gogol, a Russian patriot and native of Poltavshchyna, are written in Russian, bristling with Malorussian folk sayings and motifs. How can this heritage be divided between Russia and Ukraine? And why do it?

The south-western lands of the Russian Empire, Malorussia and Novorossiya, and the Crimea developed as ethnically and religiously diverse entities. Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Karaites, Krymchaks, Bulgarians, Poles, Serbs, Germans, and other peoples lived here. They all preserved their faith, traditions, and customs.

I am not going to idealise anything. We do know there were the Valuev Circular of 1863 an then the Ems Ukaz of 1872, which restricted the publication and importation of religious and socio-political literature in the Ukrainian language. But it is important to be mindful of the historical context.

These decisions were taken against the backdrop of dramatic events in Poland and the desire of the leaders of the Polish national movement to exploit the “Ukrainian issue” to their own advantage.

I should add that works of fiction, books of Ukrainian poetry and folk songs continued to be published. There is objective evidence that the Russian Empire was witnessing an active process of development of the Malorussian cultural identity within the greater Russian nation, which united the Velikorussians, the Malorussians and the Belorussians.

At the same time, the idea of Ukrainian people as a nation separate from the Russians started to form and gain ground among the Polish elite and a part of the Malorussian intelligentsia. Since there was no historical basis – and could not have been any, conclusions were substantiated by all sorts of concoctions, which went as far as to claim that the Ukrainians are the true Slavs and the Russians, the Muscovites, are not.

Such “hypotheses” became increasingly used for political purposes as a tool of rivalry between European states.

Since the late 19th century, the Austro-Hungarian authorities had latched onto this narrative, using it as a counterbalance to the Polish national movement and pro-Muscovite sentiments in Galicia. During World War I, Vienna played a role in the formation of the so-called Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. Galicians suspected of sympathies with Orthodox Christianity and Russia were subjected to brutal repression and thrown into the concentration camps of Thalerhof and Terezin.

Thalerhof internment camp
© CC0
Thalerhof internment camp

Further developments had to do with the collapse of European empires, the fierce civil war that broke out across the vast territory of the former Russian Empire, and foreign intervention.

After the February Revolution, in March 1917, the Central Rada was established in Kiev, intended to become the organ of supreme power. In November 1917, in its Third Universal, it declared the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR) as part of Russia.

In December 1917, UPR representatives arrived in Brest-Litovsk, where Soviet Russia was negotiating with Germany and its allies. At a meeting on 10 January 1918, the head of the Ukrainian delegation read out a note proclaiming the independence of Ukraine. Subsequently, the Central Rada proclaimed Ukraine independent in its Fourth Universal.

The declared sovereignty did not last long. Just a few weeks later, Rada delegates signed a separate treaty with the German bloc countries. Germany and Austria-Hungary were at the time in a dire situation and needed Ukrainian bread and raw materials. In order to secure large-scale supplies, they obtained consent for sending their troops and technical staff to the UPR. In fact, this was used as a pretext for occupation.

For those who have today given up the full control of Ukraine to external forces, it would be instructive to remember that, back in 1918, such a decision proved fatal for the ruling regime in Kiev. With the direct involvement of the occupying forces, the Central Rada was overthrown and Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi was brought to power, proclaiming instead of the UPR the Ukrainian State, which was essentially under German protectorate.

In November 1918 – following the revolutionary events in Germany and Austria-Hungary – Pavlo Skoropadskyi, who had lost the support of German bayonets, took a different course, declaring that “Ukraine is to take the lead in the formation of an All-Russian Federation”. However, the regime was soon changed again. It was now the time of the so-called Directorate.

Theresienstadt concentration camp
Theresienstadt concentration camp

In autumn 1918, Ukrainian nationalists proclaimed the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (WUPR) and, in January 1919, announced its unification with the Ukrainian People’s Republic. In July 1919, Ukrainian forces were crushed by Polish troops, and the territory of the former WUPR came under the Polish rule.

In April 1920, Symon Petliura (portrayed as one of the “heroes” in today’s Ukraine) concluded secret conventions on behalf of the UPR Directorate, giving up – in exchange for military support – Galicia and Western Volhynia lands to Poland. In May 1920, Petliurites entered Kiev in a convoy of Polish military units. But not for long.

As early as November 1920, following a truce between Poland and Soviet Russia, the remnants of Petliura’s forces surrendered to those same Poles.

The example of the UPR shows that different kinds of quasi-state formations that emerged across the former Russian Empire at the time of the Civil War and turbulence were inherently unstable. Nationalists sought to create their own independent states, while leaders of the White movement advocated indivisible Russia. Many of the republics established by the Bolsheviks’ supporters did not see themselves outside Russia either. Nevertheless, Bolshevik Party leaders sometimes basically drove them out of Soviet Russia for various reasons.

Thus, in early 1918, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic was proclaimed and asked Moscow to incorporate it into Soviet Russia. This was met with a refusal. During a meeting with the republic’s leaders, Vladimir Lenin insisted that they act as part of Soviet Ukraine. On 15 March 1918, the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) directly ordered that delegates be sent to the Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, including from the Donetsk Basin, and that “one government for all of Ukraine” be created at the congress. The territories of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic later formed most of the regions of south-eastern Ukraine.

Under the 1921 Treaty of Riga, concluded between the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and Poland, the western lands of the former Russian Empire were ceded to Poland. In the interwar period, the Polish government pursued an active resettlement policy, seeking to change the ethnic composition of the Eastern Borderlands – the Polish name for what is now Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and parts of Lithuania.

The areas were subjected to harsh Polonisation, local culture and traditions suppressed. Later, during World War II, radical groups of Ukrainian nationalists used this as a pretext for terror not only against Polish, but also against Jewish and Russian populations.

In 1922, when the USSR was created, with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic becoming one of its founders, a rather fierce debate among the Bolshevik leaders resulted in the implementation of Lenin’s plan to form a union state as a federation of equal republics. The right for the republics to freely secede from the Union was included in the text of the Declaration on the Creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, subsequently, in the 1924 USSR Constitution.

The USSR state flag and coat of arms at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses
© SPUTNIK / VLADIMIR RODIONOV
The USSR state flag and coat of arms at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses

By doing so, the authors planted in the foundation of our statehood the most dangerous time bomb, which exploded the moment the safety mechanism provided by the leading role of the CPSU was gone, the party itself collapsing from within. A “parade of sovereignties” followed. On 8 December 1991, the so-called Belovezh Agreement on the Creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States was signed, stating that “the USSR as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality no longer existed”. By the way, Ukraine never signed or ratified the CIS Charter adopted back in 1993.

In the 1920’s-1930’s, the Bolsheviks actively promoted the “localization policy”, which took the form of Ukrainization in the Ukrainian SSR. Symbolically, as part of this policy and with consent of the Soviet authorities, Mikhail Grushevskiy, former chairman of Central Rada, one of the ideologists of Ukrainian nationalism, who at a certain period of time had been supported by Austria-Hungary, was returned to the USSR and was elected member of the Academy of Sciences.

The localization policy undoubtedly played a major role in the development and consolidation of the Ukrainian culture, language and identity. At the same time, under the guise of combating the so-called Russian great-power chauvinism, Ukrainization was often imposed on those who did not see themselves as Ukrainians. This Soviet national policy secured at the state level the provision on three separate Slavic peoples: Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian, instead of the large Russian nation, a triune people comprising Velikorussians, Malorussians and Belorussians.

In 1939, the USSR regained the lands earlier seized by Poland. A major portion of these became part of the Soviet Ukraine. In 1940, the Ukrainian SSR incorporated part of Bessarabia, which had been occupied by Romania since 1918, as well as Northern Bukovina. In 1948, Zmeyiniy Island (Snake Island) in the Black Sea became part of Ukraine. In 1954, the Crimean Region of the RSFSR was given to the Ukrainian SSR, in gross violation of legal norms that were in force at the time.

Marshal of the Soviet Union Rodion Malinovsky during Victory Parade
© SPUTNIK / LOSKUTOV
Marshal of the Soviet Union Rodion Malinovsky during Victory Parade

I would like to dwell on the destiny of Carpathian Ruthenia, which became part of Czechoslovakia following the breakup of Austria-Hungary. Rusins made up a considerable share of local population. While this is hardly mentioned any longer, after the liberation of Transcarpathia by Soviet troops the congress of the Orthodox population of the region voted for the inclusion of Carpathian Ruthenia in the RSFSR or, as a separate Carpathian republic, in the USSR proper. Yet the choice of people was ignored. In summer 1945, the historical act of the reunification of Carpathian Ukraine “with its ancient motherland, Ukraine” – as The Pravda newspaper put it – was announced.

Therefore, modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era. We know and remember well that it was shaped – for a significant part – on the lands of historical Russia. To make sure of that, it is enough to look at the boundaries of the lands reunited with the Russian state in the 17th century and the territory of the Ukrainian SSR when it left the Soviet Union.

The Bolsheviks treated the Russian people as inexhaustible material for their social experiments. They dreamt of a world revolution that would wipe out national states. That is why they were so generous in drawing borders and bestowing territorial gifts. It is no longer important what exactly the idea of the Bolshevik leaders who were chopping the country into pieces was. We can disagree about minor details, background and logics behind certain decisions. One fact is crystal clear: Russia was robbed, indeed.

When working on this article, I relied on open-source documents that contain well-known facts rather than on some secret records. The leaders of modern Ukraine and their external “patrons” prefer to overlook these facts. They do not miss a chance, however, both inside the country and abroad, to condemn “the crimes of the Soviet regime”, listing among them events with which neither the CPSU, nor the USSR, let alone modern Russia, have anything to do.

Poland border
© AP PHOTO / ALIK KEPLICZ
Poland border

At the same time, the Bolsheviks’ efforts to detach from Russia its historical territories are not considered a crime. And we know why: if they brought about the weakening of Russia, our ill-wishes are happy with that.

Of course, inside the USSR, borders between republics were never seen as state borders; they were nominal within a single country, which, while featuring all the attributes of a federation, was highly centralized – this, again, was secured by the CPSU’s leading role. But in 1991, all those territories, and, which is more important, people, found themselves abroad overnight, taken away, this time indeed, from their historical motherland.

What can be said to this? Things change: countries and communities are no exception. Of course, some part of a people in the process of its development, influenced by a number of reasons and historical circumstances, can become aware of itself as a separate nation at a certain moment. How should we treat that? There is only one answer: with respect!

You want to establish a state of your own: you are welcome! But what are the terms? I will recall the assessment given by one of the most prominent political figures of new Russia, first mayor of Saint Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. As a legal expert who believed that every decision must be legitimate, in 1992, he shared the following opinion: the republics that were founders of the Union, having denounced the 1922 Union Treaty, must return to the boundaries they had had before joining the Soviet Union. All other territorial acquisitions are subject to discussion, negotiations, given that the ground has been revoked.

In other words, when you leave, take what you brought with you. This logic is hard to refute. I will just say that the Bolsheviks had embarked on reshaping boundaries even before the Soviet Union, manipulating with territories to their liking, in disregard of people’s views.

detail of rare historic poster accredited to Lenin announcing birth of Soviet Union
YOUTUBE CAPTURE
detail of rare historic poster accredited to Lenin announcing birth of Soviet Union

The Russian Federation recognized the new geopolitical realities: and not only recognized, but, indeed, did a lot for Ukraine to establish itself as an independent country. Throughout the difficult 1990’s and in the new millennium, we have provided considerable support to Ukraine. Whatever “political arithmetic” of its own Kiev may wish to apply, in 1991–2013, Ukraine’s budget savings amounted to more than USD 82 billion, while today, it holds on to the mere USD 1.5 billion of Russian payments for gas transit to Europe. If economic ties between our countries had been retained, Ukraine would enjoy the benefit of tens of billions of dollars.

Ukraine and Russia have developed as a single economic system over decades and centuries. The profound cooperation we had 30 years ago is an example for the European Union to look up to. We are natural complementary economic partners. Such a close relationship can strengthen competitive advantages, increasing the potential of both countries.

Ukraine used to possess great potential, which included powerful infrastructure, gas transportation system, advanced shipbuilding, aviation, rocket and instrument engineering industries, as well as world-class scientific, design and engineering schools. Taking over this legacy and declaring independence, Ukrainian leaders promised that the Ukrainian economy would be one of the leading ones and the standard of living would be among the best in Europe.

Today, high-tech industrial giants that were once the pride of Ukraine and the entire Union, are sinking. Engineering output has dropped by 42 per cent over ten years. The scale of deindustrialization and overall economic degradation is visible in Ukraine’s electricity production, which has seen a nearly two-time decrease in 30 years.

Finally, according to IMF reports, in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Ukraine’s GDP per capita had been below USD 4 thousand. This is less than in the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Moldova, or unrecognized Kosovo. Nowadays, Ukraine is Europe’s poorest country.

Who is to blame for this? Is it the people of Ukraine’s fault? Certainly not. It was the Ukrainian authorities who waisted and frittered away the achievements of many generations. We know how hardworking and talented the people of Ukraine are. They can achieve success and outstanding results with perseverance and determination. And these qualities, as well as their openness, innate optimism and hospitality have not gone. The feelings of millions of people who treat Russia not just well but with great affection, just as we feel about Ukraine, remain the same.

Until 2014, hundreds of agreements and joint projects were aimed at developing our economies, business and cultural ties, strengthening security, and solving common social and environmental problems. They brought tangible benefits to people – both in Russia and Ukraine. This is what we believed to be most important. And that is why we had a fruitful interaction with all, I emphasize, with all the leaders of Ukraine.

Even after the events in Kiev of 2014, I charged the Russian government to elaborate options for preserving and maintaining our economic ties within relevant ministries and agencies. However, there was and is still no mutual will to do the same. Nevertheless, Russia is still one of Ukraine’s top three trading partners, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are coming to us to work, and they find a welcome reception and support. So that what the “aggressor state” is.

Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)
© SPUTNIK / ANDREY STENIN
Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)

When the USSR collapsed, many people in Russia and Ukraine sincerely believed and assumed that our close cultural, spiritual and economic ties would certainly last, as would the commonality of our people, who had always had a sense of unity at their core. However, events – at first gradually, and then more rapidly – started to move in a different direction.

In essence, Ukraine’s ruling circles decided to justify their country’s independence through the denial of its past, however, except for border issues. They began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united us, and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation. The common tragedy of collectivization and famine of the early 1930s was portrayed as the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Radicals and neo-Nazis were open and more and more insolent about their ambitions. They were indulged by both the official authorities and local oligarchs, who robbed the people of Ukraine and kept their stolen money in Western banks, ready to sell their motherland for the sake of preserving their capital. To this should be added the persistent weakness of state institutions and the position of a willing hostage to someone else’s geopolitical will.

I recall that long ago, well before 2014, the U.S. and EU countries systematically and consistently pushed Ukraine to curtail and limit economic cooperation with Russia. We, as the largest trade and economic partner of Ukraine, suggested discussing the emerging problems in the Ukraine-Russia-EU format. But every time we were told that Russia had nothing to do with it and that the issue concerned only the EU and Ukraine. De facto Western countries rejected Russia’s repeated calls for dialogue.

Step by step, Ukraine was dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning Ukraine into a barrier between Europe and Russia, a springboard against Russia. Inevitably, there came a time when the concept of “Ukraine is not Russia” was no longer an option. There was a need for the “anti-Russia” concept which we will never accept.

Ukrainian Azov Batallion members participate in SS veterans' march in Riga, file photo.
© SPUTNIK / OXANA DZHADAN
Ukrainian Azov Batallion members participate in SS veterans’ march in Riga, file photo.

The owners of this project took as a basis the old groundwork of the Polish-Austrian ideologists to create an “anti-Moscow Russia”. And there is no need to deceive anyone that this is being done in the interests of the people of Ukraine.

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth never needed Ukrainian culture, much less Cossack autonomy. In Austria-Hungary, historical Russian lands were mercilessly exploited and remained the poorest.

The Nazis, abetted by collaborators from the OUN-UPA, did not need Ukraine, but a living space and slaves for Aryan overlords.

Nor were the interests of the Ukrainian people thought of in February 2014. The legitimate public discontent, caused by acute socio-economic problems, mistakes, and inconsistent actions of the authorities of the time, was simply cynically exploited. Western countries directly interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs and supported the coup. Radical nationalist groups served as its battering ram. Their slogans, ideology, and blatant aggressive Russophobia have to a large extent become defining elements of state policy in Ukraine.

All the things that united us and bring us together so far came under attack. First and foremost, the Russian language. Let me remind you that the new “Maidan” authorities first tried to repeal the law on state language policy. Then there was the law on the “purification of power”, the law on education that virtually cut the Russian language out of the educational process.

Lastly, as early as May of this year, the current president introduced a bill on “indigenous peoples” to the Rada. Only those who constitute an ethnic minority and do not have their own state entity outside Ukraine are recognized as indigenous. The law has been passed. New seeds of discord have been sown. And this is happening in a country, as I have already noted, that is very complex in terms of its territorial, national and linguistic composition, and its history of formation.

Ukrainian nationalists and servicemen of the Azov battalion demonstrate in Kiev. File photo
© AFP 2021 / GENYA SAVILOV
Ukrainian nationalists and servicemen of the Azov battalion demonstrate in Kiev. File photo

There may be an argument: if you are talking about a single large nation, a triune nation, then what difference does it make who people consider themselves to be – Russians, Ukrainians, or Belarusians. I completely agree with this. Especially since the determination of nationality, particularly in mixed families, is the right of every individual, free to make his or her own choice.

But the fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity. And the most despicable thing is that the Russians in Ukraine are being forced not only to deny their roots, generations of their ancestors but also to believe that Russia is their enemy.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us. As a result of such a harsh and artificial division of Russians and Ukrainians, the Russian people in all may decrease by hundreds of thousands or even millions.

Our spiritual unity has also been attacked. As in the days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a new ecclesiastical has been initiated. The secular authorities, making no secret of their political aims, have blatantly interfered in church life and brought things to a split, to the seizure of churches, the beating of priests and monks. Even extensive autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church while maintaining spiritual unity with the Moscow Patriarchate strongly displeases them. They have to destroy this prominent and centuries-old symbol of our kinship at all costs.

I think it is also natural that the representatives of Ukraine over and over again vote against the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism. Marches and torchlit processions in honor of remaining war criminals from the SS units take place under the protection of the official authorities. Mazepa, who betrayed everyone, Petliura, who paid for Polish patronage with Ukrainian lands, and Bandera, who collaborated with the Nazis, are ranked as national heroes. Everything is being done to erase from the memory of young generations the names of genuine patriots and victors, who have always been the pride of Ukraine.

Troops from the 1st Ukrainian Front in Krakow, Poland, February 1945.
© SPUTNIK / РИА НОВОСТИ
Troops from the 1st Ukrainian Front in Krakow, Poland, February 1945.

For the Ukrainians who fought in the Red Army, in partisan units, the Great Patriotic War was indeed a patriotic war because they were defending their home, their great common Motherland. Over two thousand soldiers became Heroes of the Soviet Union. Among them are legendary pilot Ivan Kozhedub, fearless sniper, defender of Odessa and Sevastopol Lyudmila Pavlichenko, valiant guerrilla commander Sidor Kovpak. This indomitable generation fought, those people gave their lives for our future, for us. To forget their feat is to betray our grandfathers, mothers and fathers.

The anti-Russia project has been rejected by millions of Ukrainians. The people of Crimea and residents of Sevastopol made their historic choice. And people in the southeast peacefully tried to defend their stance. Yet, all of them, including children, were labeled as separatists and terrorists. They were threatened with ethnic cleansing and the use of military force. And the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms to defend their home, their language and their lives.

Were they left any other choice after the riots that swept through the cities of Ukraine, after the horror and tragedy of 2 May 2014 in Odessa where Ukrainian neo-Nazis burned people alive making a new Khatyn out of it? The same massacre was ready to be carried out by the followers of Bandera in Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk and Lugansk. Even now they do not abandon such plans. They are biding their time. But their time will not come.

The coup d’état and the subsequent actions of the Kiev authorities inevitably provoked confrontation and civil war. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that the total number of victims in the conflict in Donbas has exceeded 13,000. Among them are the elderly and children. These are terrible, irreparable losses.

Ruins of the Saur-Mogila (Saur Grave) Memorial in Donetsk Region where festive events were held to celebrate the Day of Donbass Liberation from Nazi Invaders.
© SPUTNIK / VALERIY MELNIKOV
Ruins of the Saur-Mogila (Saur Grave) Memorial in Donetsk Region where festive events were held to celebrate the Day of Donbass Liberation from Nazi Invaders.

Russia has done everything to stop fratricide. The Minsk agreements aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas have been concluded. I am convinced that they still have no alternative. In any case, no one has withdrawn their signatures from the Minsk Package of Measures or from the relevant statements by the leaders of the Normandy format countries. No one has initiated a review of the United Nations Security Council resolution of 17 February 2015.

During official negotiations, especially after being reined in by Western partners, Ukraine’s representatives regularly declare their “full adherence” to the Minsk agreements, but are in fact guided by a position of “unacceptability”. They do not intend to seriously discuss either the special status of Donbas or safeguards for the people living there. They prefer to exploit the image of the “victim of external aggression” and peddle Russophobia. They arrange bloody provocations in Donbas. In short, they attract the attention of external patrons and masters by all means.

Apparently, and I am becoming more and more convinced of this: Kiev simply does not need Donbas. Why? Because, firstly, the inhabitants of these regions will never accept the order that they have tried and are trying to impose by force, blockade and threats.

And secondly, the outcome of both Minsk‑1 and Minsk‑2 which give a real chance to peacefully restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine by coming to an agreement directly with the DPR and LPR with Russia, Germany and France as mediators, contradicts the entire logic of the anti-Russia project. And it can only be sustained by the constant cultivation of the image of an internal and external enemy. And I would add – under the protection and control of the Western powers.

This is what is actually happening. First of all, we are facing the creation of a climate of fear in Ukrainian society, aggressive rhetoric, indulging neo-Nazis and militarising the country.

Along with that we are witnessing not just complete dependence but direct external control, including the supervision of the Ukrainian authorities, security services and armed forces by foreign advisers, military “development” of the territory of Ukraine and deployment of NATO infrastructure. It is no coincidence that the aforementioned flagrant law on “indigenous peoples” was adopted under the cover of large-scale NATO exercises in Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attend a joint news conference following a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Kiev, Ukraine, July 10, 2017.
© REUTERS / VALENTYN OGIRENKO
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attend a joint news conference following a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Kiev, Ukraine, July 10, 2017.

This is also a disguise for the takeover of the rest of the Ukrainian economy and the exploitation of its natural resources. The sale of agricultural land is not far off, and it is obvious who will buy it up.

From time to time, Ukraine is indeed given financial resources and loans, but under their own conditions and pursuing their own interests, with preferences and benefits for Western companies. By the way, who will pay these debts back? Apparently, it is assumed that this will have to be done not only by today’s generation of Ukrainians but also by their children, grandchildren and probably great-grandchildren.

The Western authors of the anti-Russia project set up the Ukrainian political system in such a way that presidents, members of parliament and ministers would change but the attitude of separation from and enmity with Russia would remain. Reaching peace was the main election slogan of the incumbent president. He came to power with this. The promises turned out to be lies. Nothing has changed. And in some ways the situation in Ukraine and around Donbas has even degenerated.

Activists warm themselves at a fire in a camp at Kryvyi Torets station as they take part in a rail blockade that has halted coal supplies in the village of Shcherbivka in Donetsk region, Ukraine, February 14, 2017. Picture taken February 14, 2017
© REUTERS / KONSTANTIN CHERNICHKIN
Activists warm themselves at a fire in a camp at Kryvyi Torets station as they take part in a rail blockade that has halted coal supplies in the village of Shcherbivka in Donetsk region, Ukraine, February 14, 2017. Picture taken February 14, 2017

In the anti-Russia project, there is no place either for a sovereign Ukraine or for the political forces that are trying to defend its real independence. Those who talk about reconciliation in Ukrainian society, about dialogue, about finding a way out of the current impasse are labelled as “pro-Russian” agents.

Again, for many people in Ukraine, the anti-Russia project is simply unacceptable. And there are millions of such people. But they are not allowed to raise their heads. They have had their legal opportunity to defend their point of view in fact taken away from them. They are intimidated, driven underground. Not only are they persecuted for their convictions, for the spoken word, for the open expression of their position, but they are also killed. Murderers, as a rule, go unpunished.

Today, the “right” patriot of Ukraine is only the one who hates Russia. Moreover, the entire Ukrainian statehood, as we understand it, is proposed to be further built exclusively on this idea. Hate and anger, as world history has repeatedly proved this, are a very shaky foundation for sovereignty, fraught with many serious risks and dire consequences.

All the subterfuges associated with the anti-Russia project are clear to us. And we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia. And to those who will undertake such an attempt, I would like to say that this way they will destroy their own country.

Opposition supporters on Maidan Square in Kiev where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)
© SPUTNIK / ANDREY STENIN
Opposition supporters on Maidan Square in Kiev where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)

The incumbent authorities in Ukraine like to refer to Western experience, seeing it as a model to follow. Just have a look at how Austria and Germany, the USA and Canada live next to each other. Close in ethnic composition, culture, in fact sharing one language, they remain sovereign states with their own interests, with their own foreign policy. But this does not prevent them from the closest integration or allied relations. They have very conditional, transparent borders. And when crossing them the citizens feel at home. They create families, study, work, do business. Incidentally, so do millions of those born in Ukraine who now live in Russia. We see them as our own close people.

Russia is open to dialogue with Ukraine and ready to discuss the most complex issues. But it is important for us to understand that our partner is defending its national interests but not serving someone else’s, and is not a tool in someone else’s hands to fight against us.

We respect the Ukrainian language and traditions. We respect Ukrainians’ desire to see their country free, safe and prosperous.

I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories.

Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.

Today, these words may be perceived by some people with hostility. They can be interpreted in many possible ways. Yet, many people will hear me. And I will say one thing – Russia has never been and will never be “anti-Ukraine”. And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

‘Outside interference’ in Cuban affairs is ‘unacceptable’ & foreign nations should let Havana solve its own issues, Moscow warns
worker | July 13, 2021 | 7:27 pm | Cuba, Russia | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/russia/529070-cuba-coup-washington-interference/

‘Outside interference’ in Cuban affairs is ‘unacceptable’ & foreign nations should let Havana solve its own issues, Moscow warns

‘Outside interference’ in Cuban affairs is ‘unacceptable’ & foreign nations should let Havana solve its own issues, Moscow warns
Any foreign interference in the affairs of Cuba is completely unacceptable, Russia has declared, after the Caribbean country erupted in protest over an ever-worsening economy and the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a comment published on its website, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that Moscow is “closely following the development of the situation in and around Cuba.”

“We consider outside interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, and any other destructive actions that would encourage destabilization of the situation on the island, to be unacceptable,” Zakharova said.

Thousands of Cubans have taken to the streets in cities around the country to participate in protests against the government, with many complaining about shortages of food and medicine, amidst a worsening economy. There have also been complaints about the government’s handling of the situation around Covid-19.

According to Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, those marching are “counter-revolutionaries,” with others in the administration blaming the US for being behind the protests. Díaz-Canel called on the defenders of the Cuban Revolution to take to the streets.

Speaking to Moscow daily Izvestia, Zbigniew Ivanovsky, the head of the Political Research Center at the Latin America Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, explained that the situation on the island has noticeably deteriorated in recent times.

“First of all, this is due to the fact that painful economic reforms are continuing,” Ivanovsky explained. “The circulation of the dollar is prohibited, and this is the main means of survival on the island.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has also dramatically affected the Caribbean country, with restrictions implemented due to the virus having virtually killed off all tourism, a vital source of income.

ALSO ON RT.COMIs Joe Biden playing electoral politics by doubling-down on Trump’s attacks on Cuba’s vital medical missions to poor countries?Last week, the Russian foreign ministry specifically mentioned the US’ treatment of Cuba, in a report about human rights violations around the world.

In the lengthy report, published on Thursday, Moscow accuses Washington of “continuing to grossly violate human rights both inside and outside the country,” including through illegal, unilateral measures like sanctions.

“The most egregious example is the embargo imposed on Cuba, that continues despite numerous UN General Assembly resolutions,” the report said.

The blockade of Cuba, which has been ongoing since the late 1950s, is the most enduring trade embargo in modern history.

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Uncle Sam Dumps Afghan Mess on Russia
worker | July 5, 2021 | 1:33 pm | Afghanistan, Russia | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202107051083312457-uncle-sam-dumps-afghan-mess-on-russia/

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Russia is right to be alarmed about the impending chaos in Afghanistan as the United States and NATO forces finally scurry away from the war-torn country.

After 20 years of waging a futile war in the Central Asian nation, costing over 241,000 lives and trillions of dollars, the US military is pulling out in haste.

Most of its remaining 3,000 troops have hurriedly vacated the country in recent days from the giant Bagram Airbase north of the capital, Kabul. There was hardly any media coverage of the momentous yet shameful exit, which evokes memories of the disgraceful Fall of Saigon when the last of US military and CIA operatives fled Vietnam in 1975 like rats off a sinking ship.

US President Joe Biden had earlier this year declared a September deadline for withdrawing forces. The retreat has happened already, leaving Afghanistan with an uncertain and dangerous future.

This June 10, 2017 photo released by the U.S. Marine Corpsshows an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter provides security from above while CH-47 Chinooks drop off supplies to U.S. Soldiers with Task Force Iron at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan.
© AP PHOTO / SGT. JUSTIN UPDEGRAFF
This June 10, 2017 photo released by the U.S. Marine Corpsshows an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter provides security from above while CH-47 Chinooks drop off supplies to U.S. Soldiers with Task Force Iron at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan.

The American commander of US forces, General Scott Miller, last week warned that Afghanistan is now facing a surge in civil war as Taliban militants push Afghan troops backed by Washington into ever-decreasing urban areas of control.

The perplexing thing for Russia is that Afghanistan has become a growth area for the Daesh* terror group which seems to have taken advantage of the void left by the Americans and other NATO forces. Daesh shares a similar fundamentalist Islamic ideology with the Taliban and there is good reason to suspect a level of cooperation between the two. That suggests that Afghanistan will become an even bigger haven for terrorist networks despite Taliban assurances that it will not.

If the Taliban and Daesh over-run Afghanistan in the next months, which is likely given the weak nature of US-backed Afghan security forces, then Russia will have a radical caliphate on its southern flank. It was to prevent such a threat to its national security that Moscow decided to intervene in the Syrian war to help the Assad government defeat jihadists and thereby prevent similar militants migrating to its Caucasia regions.

The jihadist problem of Syria was created by the United States and NATO partners as a covert means for regime change against President Assad. The Russian military intervention put paid to that American subterfuge by crushing the array of Daesh-affiliated militants.

Armed men attend a gathering to announce their support for Afghan security forces and that they are ready to fight against the Taliban, on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan June 23, 2021
© REUTERS / STRINGER
Armed men attend a gathering to announce their support for Afghan security forces and that they are ready to fight against the Taliban, on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan June 23, 2021

Now, ironically, the disorderly American defeat in Afghanistan is creating potential headaches for Russia.

Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s national security council, has been in discussions with Kabul to reportedly map out ways by which Moscow can help maintain regional stability. The discussions have been made all the more pressing by the rapid pullout by the Americans.

“The suppression of terrorism and drug crimes, as well as trade, economic and military-technical cooperation, were discussed in detail”, the Russian security council statement said.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has also expressed concern about the spread of Daesh in northern Afghanistan. Lavrov blamed the complacency by politicians in Kabul to engage in peace talks with the Taliban as being a factor in why Daesh is burgeoning amid the internal chaos.

Moscow’s experience of Afghanistan is not a happy one. When the Soviet Union intervened in 1979 to support a then allied government in Kabul against US-backed Mujahideen (a forerunner of the Taliban), that led to a disastrous 10-year war which gravely weakened the Soviet Union.

© REUTERS / JIM HOLLANDER
U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan

American imperial machinations in Afghanistan – supposedly in revenge for purported 9/11 terror attacks on the US in 2001 – have created an utter catastrophe. After two decades, Afghanistan lies in ruins and the Taliban are poised to once again be back in power. A recent study by Brown University estimates the cost of the war at $2.26 trillion. That cost will grow into the future amid healthcare payouts for veterans and financial interest. More than 71,000 Afghan civilians were killed. And for what? Afghanistan is American imperial hubris and state terrorism gone mad.

It is a bitter repercussion that the criminal destruction of Afghanistan by Washington is now bequeathing a national security problem for Russia and other neighbouring nations. It is tempting to suspect that the Americans are deliberately offloading their mess onto Russia and cynically enjoying the dilemma being foisted on Moscow.

* Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/”Islamic State”) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Russia-China the Endgame
worker | June 30, 2021 | 7:45 pm | China, Russia | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202106291083266685-russia-china-the-endgame/

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The consolidation of the Russia-China alliance this week spells the endgame for Western imperialism and the never-ending wars that it spawns.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s leader Xi Jinping celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Sino-Russian Treaty of Friendship, first signed in July 2001. The hallmark of that historic accord is a mutual commitment to peace, prosperity and global stability.

As Putin commented, the alliance between Russia and China is a vital source of “stability at a time of increasing geopolitical turbulence”. The latter remark is an oblique reference to the US-led Western states which are driven by ratcheting up antagonism and tensions with Moscow and Beijing using all sorts of spurious complaints.

The attempt by Washington (whether Republican or Democrat) and its Western minions to make trouble with Russia and China has become almost frenetic. Step back from the daily headlines in Western media and it is glaring just how much the agenda has become irrationally hostile towards Moscow and Beijing. Week after week there are unfounded allegations about aggression, security threats, cybercrime, interference, Covid-19, and so on. It’s like a mad cacophony to wind up tensions. Nevertheless, the deranged attitude of Western ruling cliques is but the death throes of a world order that has reached its expiration.

Russia and China’s partnership has hugely transformative geopolitical significance. Both these giant nations straddle the continents of Asia and Europe, connecting the Pacific with the Atlantic, ranging from the Arctic to the Mediterranean. Both are committed to a vision of a multipolar world where nations cooperate for mutual development. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) linking Eurasia with Africa and the Americas is the vision of the future, and Russia is a key partner in implementing that ambitious win-win project for global peace and prosperity.

This vision stands in stark contrast to the prevailing Western capitalist paradigm which operates through dominance, control and exploitation for American and European profiteering. That kind of centuries-old system necessarily involves imperialist conduct whereby natural resources of foreign nations are commandeered by brute military force, conflict, subjugation, subterfuge, skulduggery and other machinations.

The multipolar vision of global relations advocated by Russia and China is the nemesis of the Western imperialist system. And that explains why the Americans and their European vassals make every effort to demonize and distort Russia and China.

But the geopolitical potential of Russia and China is unstoppable. There is a force of natural justice that all nations will inevitably subscribe to as the only reasonable, feasible and sustainable way forward. It’s about people-centered development versus profit-driven disorder.

Moreover, the partnership between Russia and China is a geographer’s wonder study. Russia is the world’s largest national territory by landmass. With over 17 million square kilometers, it covers 11 time zones out of the world’s total of 24. The abundance of natural resources that Russia possesses is astounding, from reserves of natural gas, oil, metals and minerals, to forestry, agriculture and fisheries. It also can boast of highly advanced technology in multiple sectors. And it shares a long land border with China for easing trade.

Meanwhile, China has a population of 1.4 billion people, ten times that of Russia. With highly advanced technology and manufacturing, China is not only a vast market for Russian resources, it is also a gateway to the world economy. China has already become the world’s biggest economy over the United States according to some measures.

The US and Europe are post-industrial economies that are also post-peak of their prime. Their “prime” was always based on an extractive predatory relationship with the rest of the world that was predicated on inflicting conflict and poverty on others.

As China and Russia build on their strategic partnership for mutual prosperity and peace the upshot will inevitably entail the endgame for Western imperial powers which are atrophying from massive inequality, indebtedness, moral decadence and social decay.

Fortunately, too, and this is crucial, Russia and China have military defenses from new generations of hypersonic weaponry that make them impregnable against any warmongering notions by the United States. A failing empire like the US and its Western satellites is always a dangerous time as it tries to prevent the inevitable collapse, but starting a war with Russia and China is not an option.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.