In reality, Russia has already lost the war in Ukraine both on the battlefield, in the propaganda war and geopolitically. Russia’s losses, the country’s army’s performance, the failure of the mobilization and the zero motivation of the soldiers are slowly beginning to become clear to ordinary citizens as well. The Russian middle class has also already begun to see the sanctions affecting their everyday life. All this eats away at the confidence in President Putin, who can no longer find any honorable way out of the situation he completely misjudged.
The Russian military – comprising at least the land, air and naval forces, as well as external and internal intelligence, command system and leadership at all levels – demonstrated its inability to wage even a conventional war; there is no experience of nuclear war yet, but in a system permeated by corruption, there may also be shortcomings in its execution.
At the start of the war, the Ukrainian army was not necessarily in better shape than Russia’s, but its motivation, intelligence capabilities, political leadership and Western support made it superior compared to its opponent.
When Ukraine now takes back the territories annexed to Russia, is able to strike even in Crimea, and when Russia is unable to cover its losses, the situation has completely turned in Ukraine’s favor. Even if Russia makes a full mobilization, this will not bring any solution in Russia’s favor either: the most competent material has already left the country, there are not enough weapons or trainers for those who remain, if the reserves are taken to the front, the massive losses and mass surrenders underline the complete failure.
President Putin’s only remaining playing card is a nuclear weapon, and when cornered, he can also use it. At the mildest end, what can be expected is a show-like test shot, which in itself is not harmful to anyone. The situation becomes more challenging if a tactical nuclear warhead is used in Ukraine, I don’t doubt that the Western countries would then be able to destroy the Russian armed forces in the territory of Ukraine with conventional missiles.
Putin may be ready to use strategic nuclear weapons as well, but I doubt that even the power elite – the silovaki – are ready to sacrifice their lives at the behest of their leader who is alienated from reality.
If Putin considers using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, the threshold for its use within the scope of the Russian security services will emerge. Even at the level of the power elite, the security agencies and the army are not a united, unanimous group, and at lower levels, a realistic picture of the situation is certainly available. The consequences of using a nuclear weapon can create a sufficient vision that Putin should be replaced already now by another leader who might be able to negotiate with Ukraine and the Western powers even about a “cold peace”, a cease-fire that would return the entire region up to Crimea to Ukraine, but would perhaps leave the war crime and reparations issues for the future.
There is also a small chance of a diplomatic solution if Putin, Ukraine and the USA work out some kind of truce at the meeting of the G-20 countries in Bali on November 15-16, 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his fight against anti-Semitism. According Arutz Sheva , at the initiative of President Putin, the Duma (Russian Parliament) has legislated a law outlawing “distorted and/or extremist” commentary of Scriptures. The purpose of the unusual law, it is widely understood, is the prevention of cynical advantage being taken of Biblical verses for anti-Semitic purposes.
Cynical person might say that this act is just a tactical political statement, but I think this law and the interest in it are real. Putin, a former KGB agent, has long been known to oppose anti-Semitism, and violent attacks against Jews in his country have in fact been on the decline in recent years. He also conducts warm relations with Israel – even as he does the same with Iran.
Rabbi Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia, said that the law is truly important in the fight against Russian anti-Semitism. He publicly thanked “my friend President Putin who bodily blocks all anti-Semitic phenomena” and the members of the Duma for “proving that Russia respects the beliefs of all its citizens.”
Even Putin is incapable of wiping out a thousand years of Russian anti-Semitic tradition, however he has long been fighting against it.
Background of anti-Semitism in USSR/Russia
Russia and Soviet Union has as a long, sordid, and bloody history of anti-Semitism. The Russian Czars enacted anti-Semitic legislation, subjecting the Jews to inferior status and forcing them to live in the pale of settlement far away from the large cities.
The word ‘pogram’ originated in Russia and refers to violent attacks by non-Jews on Jews in the Russian Empire. The first such incident is believed to have occurred in Odessa in 1821. Some Russians blamed Jews for the assassination of Tsar Alexander II (1881) which triggered pogroms and local economic conditions were attributed to Jewish money lending practices. Pogroms led many Jews to reassess life in the Russian Empire and many emigrated to the United States and Palestine.
Antisemitism in the Soviet Union reached new heights after 1948 during the campaign against the “rootless cosmopolitan”, in which numerous Yiddish-writing poets, writers, painters and sculptors were killed or arrested. This culminated in the so-called “Doctors’ trials”, in which a group of doctors (some of whom were Jewish) had allegedly conspired to murder Stalin.
USSR’s relations with Israel had been severed in 1967 because of the Six-Day War. Although Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev denounced anti-Semitism in a speech on February 22, 1981, the real change in relations began with an episode in 1988 when in southern Russia, a group of bandits seized a bus carrying school children and demanded an airplane to fly to Israel. To the terrorists’ surprise, the Israeli authorities immediately returned them to the Soviet government. This incident significantly accelerated the process of restoring relations between the countries.
While the anti-Semitism that existed as official state policy during the Soviet era has not resurfaced, some prominent political figures, particularly those associated with the Communist party, have employed anti-Semitism to further their own political ambitions. Scapegoating Jews as the source of Russia’s economic and social problems become increasingly common on both the national and local levels of the late 90’s.
Putin as philo-Semitic leader
Vladimir Putin would appear to be one of the more philo-Semitic leaders in Russian history.
The rise of Putin began in 1999 with the war in the Caucasus, when the decisive prime minister took a hard line against the separatists and Islamic radicals in Chechnya. He remodeled his actions on Israel, which has always declared that softness or flexibility toward terrorists can only lead to an escalation of the violence. The same approach was taken after the year 2000 when terrorists seized the theater in Moscow and the school in Beslan.
One example of the good health of Jewish society in Putin-era Russia is Moscow’s new [est. 2012] Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center – probably the largest Jewish history museum in the world. Mr. Putin has extended his personal support to the lavish project, donating a month’s salary for its construction, which cost around $50 million. The construction of a massive monument to Jewish identity would seem to be a pretty strange thing for an anti-Semite to do.
On 9th July 2014 President Putin met Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, to discuss joint efforts to combat anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism. The meeting was also attended by rabbis from Israel, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and France. The parties discussed joint efforts to prevent the “rewriting of history”: the fight against neo-Nazism and neo-fascism, as well as xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Putin assured the Jewish leaders that Russia will fight against any new manifestations ofNazism. Berel Lazar stated his views as follows:
“It is in Russia that people are genuinely concerned about the threat of neo-Nazism, Holocaust denial and revisionist approaches to World War II. Many leaders in different countries prefer to keep quiet about it, but here in Russia the matter is openly addressed. Tomorrow we fly to Sevastopol, where we will once again remember the 6 million [Jews] that died… for us, it is very gratifying to see how it is in Russia, a country where the Jewish way of life was previously banned, that such a dynamic Jewish community exists now. We are grateful to the government for its support and for the fight against anti-Semitism.
Many Jewish institutions were founded and flourished under Mr. Putin’s administration and many Jewish leaders, not all of them Putin-supporters, claim that he had little tolerance for the inbred Russian anti-Semitism. In a Russia which is facing a demographic crisis of negative growth, Putin certainly views the emigration of an estimated two million Jews, to Israel, North American and Germany, as a net loss of highly-educated and productive citizens. His government has set and supported a number of official and semi-official organizations whose objective is to maintain contact with these expatriates and if possible, persuade them to return to the rodina. The Foreign Ministry has even begun financing Jewish cultural events for Russian Jews around the world, such as a Hanukah party in Berlin.
Putin’s warm relations with the Jewish community in his country have long been a matter of curiosity. Some say it is because of his many Jewish friends and neighbors when he was a child. One story even has it that a Jewish family befriended him when he was a poor child in St Petersburg whose parents were barely ever home. Another story relates that years later, as Vice-Mayor of that city, Putin stuck his neck out to give permission for the opening of a Jewish school in the city, even though it was not in his authority to do so.
Putin’s government has long been playing the Soviet nostalgia card. In television documents, articles etc the Soviet past was made to seem glorious. The annexation of Crimea, air-strikes and regional cooperation in Syria and international cooperation with Iran nuke program have restored Russia’s geopolitical role; many writers and politicians now openly call for the revival of the Soviet Union. However the pining for the Soviet past has not had a significant anti-Semitic component.
There actually doesn’t seem to be any large-scale anti-Semitism in Russian society today. And opinion polls made by The Levada-Center show that Russians are positively disposed towards Israel.
The government level cooperation and mutual understanding of each others strategic interests between Russia and Israel seems to be fair and interactive. During the war in southern Lebanon in 2006, when Israeli special forces showed their Russian colleagues the markings on Russian shells that had been supplied to Syria and then transferred to Hezbollah, Moscow investigated and temporarily suspended its deal with Syria. On the eve of the war between Russia and Georgia, Moscow informally warned Israel that active military cooperation with Tbilisi could backfire, and Israel curtailed its involvement. Israel’s evolving relationship with Russia was also highlighted in the Netanyahu government’s decision not to vote on a 27th March 2014 UN General Assembly resolution on the situation in Crimea.
Israel’s generally cooperative relationship with Russia makes sense e.g. based on the large and politically influential Russian-speaking population in Israel, growing economic ties including a proposed free trade agreement, substantial tourism (Russia is second after the United States as a source of 600,000 tourists who visited Israel last year) and similarly unconstrained approaches to combating Islamic extremist terrorism that has led to tacit support for one another’s policies, including Russia’s wars in Chechnya. Vladimir Putin has made two visits to Israel as Russia’s president — double the number of trips by US President Barack Obama.
Recent meetings between Putin and Netanyahu, military co-ordination in the skies over Syria and closer economic ties appear to be strengthening the relations between the two countries. However the Russia’s fight against anti-Semitism will create real content to fair cooperation at grassroots too.
Presidents Putin and Peres jointly unveiled the, Victory monument in the coastal city of Netanya/Israel honoring the Soviet soldiers who freed central and eastern Europe from Nazism and liberated the German death camps in occupied Poland. | Photo credit: The World Jewish Congress
This month marks the one year anniversary of the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 – an incident that took place against a backdrop of a brutal proxy war – pitting Kiev and its supporters in Washington DC, the EU and NATO – against rebel forces in eastern Ukraine and Russia. As with most 21st century conflicts, truth has been the first casualty of war here. Last July, 21WIRE released its own preliminary investigation into the disaster. That post still remains one of the most successful articles in the site’s history. One year on, we’ll revisit and review many of those key points and attempt many of the reamining unanswered questions…
On July 17, 2014, flight MH17 traveling east from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – crashed near the village of Grabovo, and on the outskirts of the town of Torez just outside of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, approximately 40 km from the Ukrainian-Russian border.
To call this situation volatile would almost be an understatement. A pivotal event such as this could easily be used as a pretext for escalating not only a New Cold War between the West and Russia, but also a hot war. Only six months previously, the Ukraine found itself in the throes of a western-backed coupd’état in Kiev which tore the country apart. This was quickly followed by a snap referendum in Crimea, where voters opted for secession from the Ukraine and into the relatively secure arms of the Russian Federation. The west cried foul and so began a new grudge match. Arguably, tensions between the west and Moscow have been at their highest since the apex of the Cold War during the east-west Soviet era. Needless to say, with MH17 the stakes could not be any higher, and regarding the west, it was obvious who would be assigned the blame for this tragedy.
More than any other incident, this one was flushed out firstly through public relations channels, and then secondly through official government bodies. From the onset the West took its position by claiming it had “proof” that ‘Russian-backed rebels’ were responsible for shooting down the passenger airliner. Immediately after the incident took place, the western government-media complex insisted that the murder weapon was a Russian-made BUK Surface to Air Missile system.
A Russian-made BUK SAM Missile battery, commonly stocked by the Ukrainian Army (Image: Wikicommons)
Western mainstream media outlets wasted no time in disseminating this government-issued conspiracy theory, backed-up by a number of other clams of “evidence” coming out of the Washington-backed regime in Kiev. At the time, US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed to have a “mountain of evidence” convicting ‘pro-Russian separatists’ and Moscow. Unfortunately, Kerry’s mountain was no more than a mole hill. Nearly all of those claims have since been debunked and exposed as fraudulent – but from a public opinion perspective, the damage was already done. RELATED: ‘Remembering MH17′ with Ray McGovern and Patrick Henningsen Within 48 hours, News Corp and other pro-war rags ran a series of loaded headlines including, “Putin’s Missile”, “Putin’s Victims” and “From Vlad to Worse”. Vladimir Putin and his government in Russia were already convicted in the Kangaroo court of public opinion under the guise of guilt by association with Russian-speaking rebels fighting Kiev’s military forces in the east.
‘Factless’ News Corp: Always the loyal war rag.
However, upon closer examination of the facts surrounding this case, an alternative set of conclusions can be drawn from this event – one which points to the very strong possibility that what the world really witnessed last year was a classic ‘false flag’ event – an attempted slight-of-hand bit of military trickery designed to cast blame on one party for a crime that was really committed by another. It wouldn’t be the first time that this type of sub-plot was put into motion to advance a world power’s geopolitical objectives.
Revelation of the Method: A ‘False Flag’ Attack
The term false flag, or “black flag”, is most common in naval battles, and describes the historic covert, military use of a flag other than the perpetrator’s true flag colors as a type of ruse de guerre – designed to deceive and confuse in order to provide a fake ‘moral high ground’ in the theater of mass public opinion.
The classic blueprint for MH17 was not dreamt-up by Russian war planners, but by the Pentagon – over 50 years earlier. A clandestine plan known as Operation Northwoods, was similarly conjured in 1962 by the US Department of Defense’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the CIA in front of a Cold War backdrop pitting the United States against then Soviet ally Cuba, led by Fidel Castro. The plan was signed off by then JCS Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer and detailed how spooks would use prepositioned explosives to blow-up a passenger airliner over Cuba, blaming it on Cuba and by extension – Washington’s arch-nemesis the Soviet Union. This ‘false flag’ attack would then be used as valuable leverage in a global public opinion campaign against Washington’s existential and ideological enemies. They also talked about developing a “Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington”. Fortunately, the deceptive plot was eventually rejected by the Kennedy administration.
It’s important to note that had the US been successful in framing Moscow for the downing of MH17 in 2014, it would have given Washington a bright green light to intensify its efforts in destabilizing neighboring Ukraine, and later in Georgia, then in Estonia, and so on. As the MH17 false flag began to crumble, so did any prospects of a Washington geopolitical takeover in the region. Arguably, Washington DC and its allies attempted a similar geopolitical frame-up only one year earlier in August 2013 in Syria. What we now know to be a false flag chemical weapons attack took place in Ghutta, a suburb located on the outskirts of Damascus. The plan was simple: create a chemical or ‘WMD’ event to coincide with the visiting of UN weapons inspectors in Damascus and blame it on the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Once international outrage and blame could be established, then a US-led ‘Coalition’ would carry out yet another oxymoronic ‘humanitarian’ military intervention against Syria, topple the regime and then work on installing a US-compliant government there. It almost happened. Had the British Parliament passed a war resolution in early September, then the US would have had the green light to begin bombing – risking another potential world war in the process.
In the end it was Russia who quickly supplied the solution: a UN monitored disposal of all of the Syrian military’s aging chemical weapons stocks – and thus removing any future change by the US or Britain to fabricate another ‘WMD’ indictment against the Assad regime in Syria. That master chess move was down to Russia’s dab-handed foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and it was a masterstroke which may have helped to avoid a wider world war.
Tracing the whereabouts of MH17 during its final moments is of great importance if one is to determine what happened and why. For this reason, a number of key data sets and important information and testimonies have been buried – not by Russia and Russian-speaking rebels in the east Ukraine, but rather by US and European stakeholders as well as obscured by the entirety of the western corporate media.
We know that a Malaysian Airlines spokesman has already confirmed that, for some unknown reason, Kiev-based Ukrainian Air Traffic Control (ATC) ordered MH17 off of its original flight path along the international air route, known as L980. Most likely, this order was given to pilots while MH17 was still in Polish air space. L980 is one of the most popular and most congested air routes in the world, as well as a key link between major international hubs in Europe, like London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, Frankfurt, and Asian destinations, like Singapore, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. As MH17 moved into Ukrainian air space, it was moved by ATC Kiev approximately 200 miles north – putting it on a new course, heading directly into a war zone, a well-known dangerous area by now – one that hosted a number of downed military craft over the previous 3 weeks. Robert Mark, a commercial pilot and editor of Aviation International News Safety magazine, confirmed that most Malaysia Airlines flights from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur would normally travel along a route significantly further south than the route MH17 was diverted onto. Data on these and other similar flights can be found at the website Flight Radar24¹.
The plot (or the cover-up) thickens even more at this point, as publically available data appears to have been changed in the weeks following the incident. In the days after the crash, popular microblogger Vagellis Karmiros showed MH17’s clear change of course over the warzone to the north from compiling flight location and route data publically available on the website FlightAware. Karmiros’s findings were even featured in an infographic in the UK’s Daily Mail at the time².
The digital smoking gun: Then approximately six days after the crash, the information on popular publicly accessible flight tracking websites like FlightAware and FlightRadar24 appear to have been altered – to give the impression that all recent MH17 flights had gone over the Donetsk war zone too – effectively erasing the possibility that the plane’s flight path had been altered by Air Traffic Control in the first instance³. The following is a screenshot from FlightAware, of MH17 on the day of the incident, July 17, 2014, where the doomed journey came to an abrupt halt over the village of Grabovo, in eastern Ukraine. Notice the flight path along a trajectory north of Crimea:
Below are a set of five different FlightAware screenshots which originally showed how MH17’s normal route was approximately 200 miles south of its fatal kill zone on July 17th, 2014. Here are four samples: MH17 flight path for July 12, 2014 – Original data available in the immediate days following the crash:
MH17 ‘new’ flight path for July 12, 2014 – since changed approximately 6-7 days after the crash:
MH17 flight path for July 13, 2014 – Original data available in the immediate days following the crash:
MH17 ‘new’ flight path for July 13, 2014 – since changed approximately 6-7 days after the crash:
MH17 flight path for July 14, 2014 – Original data available in the immediate days following the crash:
MH17 ‘new’ flight path for July 14, 2014 – since changed approximately 6-7 days after the crash:
MH17 flight path for July 15, 2014 – Original data available in the immediate days following the crash:
MH17 ‘new’ flight path for July 15, 2014 – since changed from approximately 6-7 days after the crash:
Were these flight paths changed, and if so why? Again, the obvious motive here is misdirection. By altering the public-facing flight path data of MH17 after the fact would be to cloud the realization that MH17’s fateful path on July 17, 2014 was NOT it’s normal flight path – and thus halting any further inquiry as to exactly who diverted MH17 and why. According to these revised images that appears to be exactly what has been attempted here. Was FlightAware hacked and the flight path data altered? The answer to this question might help lead to finding out whether or not we are in fact witnessing a very elaborate cover-up here. The Missing Tapes
So what about the air traffic control tapes? These could easily provide the information investigators need to establish the who, what, when, where and why of MH17’s doomed journey. The BBC reported⁴ on July 17th: “Ukraine’s SBU security service has confiscated recordings of conversations between Ukrainian air traffic control officers and the crew of the doomed airliner, a source in Kiev has told Interfax news agency.”
Were the ATC audio records of the MH17 flight confiscated by the Kiev government? No reason has been given for this loss of transparency, but not a word from Washington regarding this cover-up of crucial evidence. Did the order to change the flight path come from the Ukrainian authorities? Was the pilot instructed to change course? To be sure, the order to change the flight path did not come from Eurocontrol, but more likely from ATC in Kiev.
Undoubtedly, this is the most obvious smoking gun that the fix was in for MH17 – as someone directed the flight directly over a war zone. Mainstream pundits and investigators have gone to great lengths to conceal this single most damning piece of evidence which should indicate that there is a running cover-up surrounding this incident.
Soon after the incident, British news outlets began floating the story – without evidence, that MH17 was diverted to “avoid thunderstorms in southern Ukraine”. This was also placed on Wikipedia at the same time⁵. Nico Voorbach, Dutch president of the ‘European Cockpit Association’, appears to be the man used to nudge along this talking point. Voorbach casually slides this crucial fabrication out there, telling The Guardian of all papers, “I heard that MH17 was diverting from some showers as there were thunderclouds”.
The only problem is that Malaysian Airlines immediately refuted this in a report from Malaysia News: “MAS operations director Captain Izham Ismail has also refuted claims that heavy weather led to MH17 changing its flight plan (…) There were no reports from the pilot to suggest that this was the case,” Izham said6.
What is significant, however, is that the Western media acknowledged that the change in the flight path did occur, indicating that the alleged “heavy weather” narrative is a fabrication designed to distract and obscure the fact that MH17’s course was indeed diverted directly into the war zone that day.
Amazingly, when searching all weather sites online, there is no weather data available for July 17th in the area of the incident. What? More digital chicanery to cover-up the truth?
Weather and Visibility Factor Another argument can be made that Kiev-based air traffic controllers not only led MH17 right over its alleged ‘target zone’ in Eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, but they also helped make it both visible to SAM missiles and to fighter jets. Although weather data online is all but unavailable for the area of Donetsk, Ukraine for July 17th, conditions are evident by numerous videos depicting the crash and crash site in the aftermath — it was cloudy and overcast, with more visibility above the cloud canopy. This factor is important because at its cruising altitude of approximately 33,000 feet (10,000 meters), the airliner would not be visible from the ground in the rebel-held area where Washington is insisting a SAM missile was launched. Why Kiev air traffic controllers order MH17 to suddenly drop its altitude, from 35,000 feet to around 33,000 feet, just before the plane’s demise is unknown for sure, but it would have been near impossible for the alleged rebel gunman occupying this relatively small rebel-held patch of land to make a visual sighting of MH17 and acquire the target during the 1-2 minute window they would have had (assuming they were even in possession of the BUK missile system). The following are some fresh footage and eyewitness reports from the scene of the crash:
Washington’s fragile ‘conspiracy theory’ quickly fell apart. Russian officials blindsided Washington and its NATO partners when it released all available satellite imagery and air traffic control data which was recorded in and around the final minutes of Flight MH17 – and presented it to the world media on live television. The data painted a very different picture, drawing contrasting conclusions to what Washington and Kiev officials had been disseminating via western media since July 17th. Following their presentation, Moscow handed its findings – air traffic data and time stamped satellite imagery – to European authorities. In stark contrast, US officials were reluctant to do the same – despite numerous cock-sure claims by high-ranking US officials including Secretary of State John Kerry.
On Monday July 21st, the Russian government, with almost every major global media outlet in attendance, released all of its air traffic data and satellite imaging data – all verifiable, including time stamps and supporting data. The entire content of the presentation was also handed over to the European authorities. Watch the official broadcast here:
The conclusions to be drawn from this are stunning, to say the least. Despite the public release of this information, US and British media outlets did not bother to report back to its people on these findings. They are as follows: Minutes before the downing of MH17, the plane made a mysterious ‘Left Turn’ as it flew over the Donetsk areaat approximately 17:20:00 Moscow Time, making a sharp 14km deviation, before attempting to regain its previous course before dropping altitude and disappearing from radar at 17:23:00. As we previously pointed out, air traffic controllers in Kiev had already diverted MH17 200 miles further north into the target zone, so the question remains: was Kiev ATC also responsible for this final, fatal diversion, or was there another reason for this unusual turn? According to clear satellite images provided, on July 16th, the Ukrainian Army positioned 3-4 anti-aircraft BUK M1 SAM missile batteries close to Donetsk. These systems included full launching, loading and radio location units, located in the immediate vicinity of the MH17 crash site. One system was placed approximately 8km northwest of Lugansk. In addition, a radio location system for these Ukrainian Army missile batteries is situated 5km north of Donetsk. On July 17th, the day of the incident, these batteries were moved to a position 8km south of Shahktyorsk. In addition to this, two other radio location units are also identified in the immediate vicinity. These SAM systems had a range of 35km distance, and 25km altitude. From July 18th, after the downing of MH17, Kiev’s BUK launchers were then moved away from the firing zone. Unlike rebel fighters, the Ukrainian military is in possession of some 27 BUK missile systems capable of bringing down high-flying jets, and forensic satellite imagery places at least 3 of their launchers in the Donetsk region on the day of this tragedy. Yet, Washington and NATO will not inquire about the possibility that any of these system had targeted MH17.
This is another definitive smoking gun: why did the Ukrainian Army move these short-range anti-aircraft SAM missile batteries into position on July 16-17th – to an interior region of East Ukraine where it’s known that the rebel resistance possess no air crafts whatsoever? Not surprisingly, both the US and Kiev have not answered that difficult question, perhaps for obvious reasons.
Most importantly however, Moscow radar picked up a Ukrainian Air Force fighter jet. At 17:20 Moscow Time, MH17 began to abruptly lose speed, eventually slowing to 124mph (200kmph). At that moment, what appears to be an SU-25 Ukrainian fighter jet appears on ATC radar, climbing in the direction of MH17 before trailing MH17 on the same flight path approximately 3-5km behind the passenger airliner, as it began rapidly approaching the same flight level. This happened just minutes before MH17 disappeared on radar. Note here that a Ukrainian fighter would not have been visible on ATC radar before it broke the ATC long-range standby radar tracking ceiling of 5km in altitude. Civilian ATC radar would not be able to identify this Su-25 as military because no secondary detection system is mounted – typical for military aircraft. Over the next four minutes, the Ukrainian fighter remained in the area. Note also that the Su-25 can be armed with air-to-air R-60 missiles with a range of up to 5km-12km.
Then assistant spokesperson for the US State Dept. Marie Harf had already declared her support for the western-backed coup in Kiev (Image: Twitter)
Washington’s Revised Conspiracy Theory In a damage control exercise, US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, called an ‘urgent’ press conference. The plan was to try and rescue the narrative. The Los Angeles Times reported: “U.S. intelligence agencies have so far been unable to determine the nationalities or identities of the crew that launched the missile. U.S. officials said it was possible the SA-11 [anti-aircraft missile] was launched by a defector from the Ukrainian military who was trained to use similar missile systems.” ⁷
The quiet U-turn by Washington signaled that its previous case blaming the rebels has been destroyed, and rather than concede that the Ukrainian Army has actually shot down MH17, they instead tried to concoct a revision about an unlikely Bond-like “rogue defector” villain and his “rogue team” – who all just happened to be wearing Ukrainian Army uniforms.
Even Hollywood’s best script writers could not rescue Washington’s terminally over-worked MH17 narrative.
The Crash Site
Most importantly, but completely overlooked by analysts following this story is the location (s) of the crash site itself. The scatter patterns of debris, along with the arguing which ensued between international bodies and the Donbass Rebels in east Ukraine – speaks volumes about a false flag master plan gone wrong.
The Boeing 777-200ER airliner lost contact at about 10 km before the eventual crash site. The fatal event occurred somewhere in the interval between 17:21:28and17:22:30Moscow Time.The exact time of the crash is believed to be at 17:23:00.
Had the plane been shot down further east, and crashed some 30-40 miles southeast of its eventual grave, then the Ukrainian Army would have had complete control of the crash site, the evidence, as well as the flight data recorder ‘blackboxes’. As luck would have it, Kiev and Washington were not afforded the luxury of being able to hermetically seal off the crime scene – and thus completely control the narrative. For whatever reason, the plane was shot down too early, placing the wreckage along with the all-important black boxes in the wrong place – all of which made the false flag narrative slightly more complicated to sell than operation planners had originally intended (theoretically anyway).
The Investigation That Wasn’t
Once again, Russia’s impressive chess move by presenting all of their satellite and radar data in the immediate aftermath of the crash may very well have helped to avoid a major international conflagration.
With the egg still drying on their faces, western mandarins shifted into PR damage-control mode. In a massive face-saving exercise, much was made in the western media and in high-powered political circles about the need for a “thorough and fair investigation into MH17”. Any chance of that happening quickly died once the flight data recorders were handed over to British authorities for safe keeping at the UK’s Air Accidents Investigative Branch located in Farnborough, England. It’s been nearly one year now since the aircraft’s black boxes were placed into the hands of British authorities and it seems as if any further factual inquiries into what really happened that day have hit the wall. After Russia’s data dump there is simply no chance that the ‘Russian-backed’ Rebels could be framed for the disaster, so NATO’s intelligentsia have little choice other than to simply sit on the evidence indefinitely. It seems that the biggest losers are still the victims’ families. In December 2014, the Netherlands rejected families’ demands to allow the UN to take over from Dutch leading the investigation, as relatives claim the Dutch have “completely botched” the case by failing to meet basic international CSI protocol for securing evidence, as well as their inability to build a legal case to prosecute those responsible. As a leading NATO member with a clear stake in the Ukrainian civil war, the Netherlands can hardly consider themselves as a neutral arbitrator in the case. This is a good example of what happens to false flags once they reach the legal phase – when all of the previous hype and inertia generating through break-neck media speculation and wild political hyperbole – comes to a grinding halt in the face of the facts. This past week saw the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) release its ‘preliminary findings’ in a new report which claims to have identified a “Russian BUK Missile” launcher as the smoking gun, as well as blaming Malaysian Airlines for being ‘sloppy’ in its professional conduct by “not doing enough” to prevent its plane from flying over the deadly war zone. Far from fact-based, both citations by the DSB amount to nothing more than gross speculation and wild theorizing. To call it an investigation is laughable. Western media pundits have also been working overtime to characterize the DSB as a neutral arbitrator who is also apolitical, and a “meticulous”, honest broker. As a leading member of NATO, the Netherlands are anything but neutral and for anyone to suggest that that is truly the case would be both naive, and worse – ignorant – considering how NATO has managed to leverage the west’s fictional account of MH17 in order to fund and arm the Ukrainian military, as well as begin its recent unprecedented, break-neck expansion eastward right up to Russia’s border. They claim that their final “definitive report” will be released sometime in the fall – but few in the know will be holding their breath, as this one looks like it has all the makings of a protracted exercise in obfuscation designed to stay as far away from any conclusive investigation as possible, and allowing for continuing political pressure on Moscow via the original blame game.
The disinformation merry-go-round Who needs evidence when you have social media instead? The week following the downing of MH17, Washington deployed its front-of-house asset, US ambassador to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt (image, left), in its endless running fabricated social media campaign designed to somehow convince the world (or at least naive US media consumers) that the Russian military were occupying eastern Ukraine. Here, his damning tweet would implicate Russia for “firing artillery over its border into the Ukraine.” As cheap stunts went, this was one of the lowest ever. It turns out that Pyatt had simply grabbed a series of images off of the Google World-style satellite mapping website Digital Globe, while proudly touting it as “evidence” of Russia artillery fired into eastern Ukraine. This sort of media buffoonery has since become par for the course ever since the neoconservative faction led by Victoria Nuland managed to seize control of the US State Department in 2013. Here is Pyatt’s ‘evidence’ as it appeared last summer:
Pyatt’s Twitter gaff was part of an “disinformation merry-go-round” currently on heavy rotation in Kiev. Unlike the all-too-eager media drones in the US and Europe, Russian officials have been able to explain the mechanics of the Washington-Kiev fiction mill:
“This scheme is called “an informational merry-go-round,” Konashenkov added, using an expression commonly uttered in Russia relating to feeding the information to the media. “It’s no secret to anyone that fakes like this are made by a group of US counselors staying in the Kiev building of the Security Council, led by General Randy Kee,” he noted.
The general outlined the cycle as follows: the US counselors in the Kiev feed the disinformation to the Ukrainian media, with the news being taken by the Washington official representatives and presented as statements.
Afterwards, Washington’s stage-managed Ukrainian media outlet’s immediately cited the US Ambassador’s flimsy findings and published numerous articles as labeled as “objective” reporting on alleged Russian military movements inside Ukrainian territory. Opportunity and Motive Considering the military conflict which was taking place in eastern Ukraine at the time, there are three uncomfortable coincidences (or realities) that were prevailing before the downing of MH17 on July 17th. Firstly, the crash was also timed with an all-out Ukrainian Military offensive which was planned weeks in advance and was set to begin on July 18th. Secondly, it was widely reported that the troops were losing morale, and were suffering defections in an increasingly unpopular military theater of Eastern Ukraine. Kiev was losing the PR war hearts and minds in the Ukraine and abroad. Lastly, following the downing of MH17, Kiev was again characterized as a victim of “Russian aggression” and went on to garner huge public sympathy and support.
In the weeks leading up to July 17th, NATO, led by the US, conducted two large-scale military and intelligence drills in the Black Sea region. The first was an annual affair named, SEA BREEZE 2014, which just so happened to end on… July 17th. The drill included hundreds of US military specialists running ‘war simulations’ in electronic warfare, data collection from a spy satellite, and ‘monitoring’ of all passenger aircraft flying in the region. In addition, both US and British armed forces had also scheduled a concurrent military exercise code named, Rapid Trident 2014, another NATO sanctioned international drill which takes place around the Ukraine, which, according to the US Forces in Europe website, is supposed to “promote regional stability and security, strengthen partnership capacity and foster trust while improving interoperability between the land forces of Ukraine, and NATO and partner nations.” Since March, the Pentagon has kept quiet regarding the number of US forces, and hardware assets expected to participate in the maneuvers. According to US Army spokesman Col. Steven Warren,Rapid Trident is the only Ukraine military exercise the US planned to participate in this year, and it’s main purpose was, “To help the Ukrainian military improve its troops and weapons operability with NATO forces.”Just another coincidence. Eye in the Sky Here’s yet another smoking gun. The US had deployed its latest state-of-the-art, experimental satellite which just happened to be positioned over Eastern Europe for 1-2 hours, and directly over Donetsk in eastern Ukraine between 5:06pm – 5:21pm – the exact time frame in which MH17 was shot down. Did the US know something was happening in advance? It certainly seems so. Will the US ever release the information it clearly has documenting the MH17 disaster? Probably never.
MH17 Endgame: International Sanctions Clearly, war planners in Washington are determined to fabricate a case against Russia in order to enable either of these two outcomes:
Create a ‘global’ mandate for wider international sanctions against Russia. 2. Create a UN Security Council Crisis by implicating Russia via an “international violation”. In retrospect, the primary endgame of framing Moscow for the downed passenger airliner was to impose international sanctions against Russia. It’s crucial to note here that the west’s continued determination in blaming rebels in eastern Ukraine for MH17, and by extension Moscow, seems necessary in order to maintain the facade which was the original basis for their sanctions regime against Russia. Unlike Washington, the European economies have suffered greatly from sanctions against Russia, hitting Germany, France and Spain exports particularly hard at a time when when an already fragile Eurozone is teetering on the edge of disaster. If the truth about MH17 were ever to be revealed, and thus shattering the cheap narrative constructed by Washington’s conflict marketing department last year, the political blow-back from Europe’s leading economies would be substantial, with America’s allies demanding some sort of quid pro quo to cover their own shortfalls.
Shameless Cheap Shot
In the aftermath of the tragedy, a number of unscrupulous politicians sought to score what they thought were easy points against Russian president Vladimir Putin. Topping that list of shameless actors is none other than Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott (image, left), who threatened to “shirt-front” Putin over the issue ahead of the G20 Summit hosted by Australia last November. When Putin arrived, Abbott bottled, and revised his rhetoric to asking the Russian leader for an apology and also financial compensation for MH17 victims’ families – even though there was absolutely no evidence to even suggest that Russia had anything to do with the crash.
Towing the NATO line, as ever, Abbott then invited Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko to visit Australia at a later date to “discuss security.” A Symbolic Date In terms of Russian history, there is not a more symbolic date than July 17th. This was also the date on which the Russian Imperial Romanov family led by Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and five children and other persons – were awoken at 2:00am and assassinated by firing squad in the early hours of 17 July 1918. Wikipedia recounts:
“Present with Nicholas, Alexandra and their children were their doctor and three of their servants, who had voluntarily chosen to remain with the family—the Tsar’s personal physician Eugene Botkin, his wife’s maid Anna Demidova, and the family’s chef, Ivan Kharitonov, and footman, Alexei Trupp. A firing squad had been assembled and was waiting in an adjoining room, composed of seven Communist soldiers from Central Europe, and three local Bolsheviks, all under the command of Bolshevik officer Yakov Yurovsky.”
Conclusion Russia’s public satellite ‘data dump’ on July 21, 2014 was certainly a game changer – effectively snookering Washington and Kiev. The existence of this intelligence means that, for fear of losing face on the issue, Washington and its NATO partners cannot present any real intelligence – which they also have in their possession. In an attempt to save face, western governmental bodies will now likely stop short of issuing any definitive statements as they already had last summer, of accusing either Donbass Rebels or Moscow of actually shooting down MH17. The only remaining option to nudge their PR agenda foward, is to continue with the campaign of endless innuendos and other slanderous remarks in the media sphere using nongovernmental agencies and war advocacy think tanks. During its news package this week on the latest Dutch Safety Board report, CNN featured Heather Conley (image, left) a senior VP from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. Conley crowed that somehow the report was another “blow to Vladimir Putin’s credibility.” Naturally, the irony is lost on Washington. One year on, and we’re still no closer to closure, and very far from justice regarding the case of MH17. Expect more cover-ups and misdirection from western authorities who fear any new evidence that may threaten the narrative they were aggressively canvassing in the immediately aftermath of the last year’s tragedy.
Meanwhile, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard and the aged old battle to control Euraisa’s Heartland continues… Additional footnotes: 1. http://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/mh17 2. https://twitter.com/VagelisKarmiros/status/489926167731142656/photo/1 3. http://flightaware.com/live/flight/MAS17/history/20140717/1000Z/EHAM/WMKK 4. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-28360784 5. Nico Voorbach, President, European Cockpit Association http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia_Airlines_Flight_17 6. http://news.malaysia.msn.com/tmi/dutch-pilot-says-mh17-could-have-veered-off-flight-path-in-bad-weather 7. http://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-ukraine-intelligence-us-20140722-story.html
Russia cancelled its South Stream gas pipeline project in December 2014 replacing it with new Turkish Stream pipeline. The follow-up of this Russian-Turkish project is re-routing the energy supply in whole Eastern Europe with Greek and Tesla [Balkan] Stream gas pipelines.
The head of Russian gas producer Gazprom stated on 7th May 2015 that the firm had decided to start building the Turkish Stream pipeline and that preparations to build the undersea stretch of the pipeline were under way. During a meeting between Gazprom’s Alexei Miller and Turkish Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz, the parties sent a resounding message to gas markets: the Turkish Stream will be brought on stream in 19 months. Natural Gas Europe reports: “We had very efficient and crucial talks today. It was agreed to bring onstream Turkish Stream and to start gas supplies in December 2016. Gazprom, while implementing its portion of work under the Turkish Stream project, will follow the agreements reached today,” Miller said in a note released on 7th May 2015.
“Gazprom has moved to the construction stage of the sea part of the Turkish Stream pipeline,” Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said in an interview with a Russian television. The Russian firm may be reviving the infrastructure that it built for the South Stream. South Stream gas pipeline construction in shallow waters will begin in first 10 days of June 2015. The pipes originally bought for South Stream will be used for the Turkish Stream. For laying the pipes in the bottom of Black Sea, Russia rented two pipe-laying vessels from Italian Saipem company in last fall. Following the cancellation of the South Stream pipeline project in late 2014, Gazprom has paid €25 million monthly to Saipem without any usage of the vessels – Castoro Sei and Saipem 7000.
Recently there has been some tensions between Russia and Turkey. Russia’s President Putin participated to the ceremony in Yerevan to commemorate the Armenian victims of the 1915 events, and Turkish leaders have made some critical comments over situation of tatars in Crimea. However now it seems that the Turkish and Russian delegations have renewed their commitment to increase energy ties. (More e.g in NaturalGasEurope ) .
While South Stream Pipeline project was replaced with Turkish Stream and planning is going on to continue project with Greece and Tesla Streams some serious threats still remain that could endanger the projects. These mostly have to deal a reoccurrence of instability in Macedonia [look my article Terrorism in Macedonia Wasn’t An Isolated Act! ]
Gas to Europe
There are three main sources of supply of pipeline gas to Europe. They are Russia, Norway and North Africa. Norway probably will keep or even reduce the volumes. Besides, North Africa provides gas only to Italy and Spain and its volumes have significantly reduced in recent years.
During last years LNG (liquid natural gas) has came more to European gas markets. There is now more LNG gas terminals in Europe and some new terminals will came in 2015 e.g in Poland and Lithuania so in principle it is possible to import LNG from US. However Europe has decreased its LNG imports due its high price; and as Asian LNG import prices as well demand are much more higher than those in Europe it seems that LNG is not real alternative to Russian gas. LNG suppliers have redirected the volumes of liquefied natural gas to other premium markets and Europe can only be guided by those surpluses when they are not in demand in Asia.
The construction of the Trans Anatolian Pipeline, which will connect the South Caucasus Pipeline to the Turkish-Greek border is already initiated and the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, bringing gas to the Italian market, will follow. These investments will secure some 10 billion cubic metres of gas a year from Azerbaijan by 2019 to the European market.
The Russian gas to Europe has now three main energy high ways: 1st The Nord Stream via Baltic Sea, 2nd Jamal, four pipelines through Belarus and 3rd Transgas or pipelines through Ukraine. More than 86 billion cubic meters (bcm) of the gas exported to Europe by Gazprom passed through Ukraine’s pipeline network in 2013 – about half of the total. There is also some economic reason to re-route Russian gas via Turkish Stream instead of Ukraine as modernising Ukraine’s gas transport system is estimated to cost 19.5 billion dollars.
After building the first Turkish Stream line, the existing Bulgaria Turkey line will be empty, however it can be used for reverse flow to Bulgaria. (Source: NewEurope )
Re-routing energy supply in Eastern Europe
Turkish Stream will redesign completely the energy supply route in Turkey and Eastern Europe. Gas that is currently transported via the Trans-Balkan Pipeline through Ukraine to Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey will be re-routed so that Turkey will become the first and not the last recipient of gas in the supply chain. One new aspect are gas interconnectors between Central and East European countries. These interconnectors allow a much better crisis supply of gas, together with new reverse-flow capacities.
Gazprom has already told Europe that it plans to cease using its current export route through Ukraine in 2019 and shift those natural gas supplies to the Turkish Stream pipeline. As Russia now begins construction on the first of Turkish Stream’s four parallel pipelines, each with a capacity of about 16 billion cubic meters. Gazprom can use this first pipeline to supply Turkish natural gas market. Three other pipelines can be implemented when EU and especially Central and East European countries decide to build infrastructure to deliver gas from Turkey to European markets currently transported by the Trans-Balkan pipeline (TBP) to Turkey via Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria. The expiration of a transit agreement on Russian gas supply through Ukraine in 2019 along with the completion of Turkish Stream mean that TBP will likely be suspended. This in itself would be beneficial to Turkey as its security of supply would no longer be vulnerable to Russia’s political stand-offs with Ukraine or other eastern European countries along the route.
On 7th April 2015 representatives of five countries – Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey – met in Budapest, announcing the formation of a working group to facilitate natural gas deliveries – specifically infrastructure development – to their markets from gas emanating from Turkey including possible participation in the Turkish Stream pipeline. The group has pledged to meet again in July and hopes to involve Albania and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
As for whether Gazprom can finance its three major pipeline projects the company has a strong balance sheet, relatively low level of net debt and robust cash flow. Considering it has spent $20 billion on transport over the last few years, the spending required on Turk Stream, Power of Siberia and Altai averages about $10 billion/year.
One of the main factors in Moscow’s shift from South Stream to Turkish Stream was the EU’s Third Energy Package (TEP). Under these rules, a single company cannot own the pipeline through which it also supplies gas. Neither Russia nor Turkey is an EU member, and so neither are bound by the TEP, which makes the construction of Turkish Stream much easier. However, the construction of Turkish Stream is not the only issue at stake. The pipeline will have to stop at the Turkey- Greece border because of the TEP rules, given that Greece is an EU member state.
In order to transport its gas to Greece and onwards, Gazprom needs to use existing interconnectors – either TAP or Interconnector-Turkey-Greece-Italy, including the DESFA-operated Greek National Gas Transmission System (NGTS). Turkish Stream will traverse the Greek territory as ‘Greek Stream’ and then it will spread itself into two routes. Turkish Stream will traverse the Greek territory as ‘Greek Stream’ and then it will spread itself into two routes. A main line towards the North via FYROM and Serbia and one towards Italy, merging itself with the Italy-Greece Interconnector (ITGI) which originally was to transfer Azeri sourced gas from Western Greece to Southern Italy via the Adriatic Sea. It is of interest to note that ITGI is already eligible under the EU’s Projects of Common Interest (PCI) and it is already owned by 50% by the Italian Company Edison which is a subsidiary of the French EDF.
That detail is of great importance regarding the EU Commission’s clauses of the Third Energy Package that will prohibit an involvement of Gazprom in that sector. Thus Greek Stream is envisaged as a 50-50 project between the Greek DEPA (and DESFA) and Gazprom and the remainder would be a DEPA and Edison partnership. It is supposed that the Italian market would also be used as a stage point for the introduction of some quantities of Russian gas into France as well. (Source and more in Natural Gas Europe )
Trans Adriatic Pipeline and the Turkish Stream pipeline will not be competitive, as each of them will have an own role to play. TAP cannot satisfy the huge demands in natural gas of the European states and peoples and that the project would not be an alternative to the Turkish Stream.
The Greek extension of a pipeline to pump Russian natural gas through Turkey to consumers in southern Europe could cost about 2 billion euros and its construction will create about 20 000 working places. An agreement on the construction of the Greek extension of a proposed pipeline to pump Russian natural gas through Turkey to consumers in southern Europe could be signed at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum on 18-20 June 2015.
Turkish Stream is replacing the previous South Stream project which Moscow ditched due to EU (and Bulgarian) resistance to unblock construction. The “Tesla Stream” is an offshoot of “Turkish Stream”. The concept is to connect ‘Turkish Stream’, the Russian pipeline to Turkey’s Eastern Thrace region, to a new hub on the Turkish-Greek border. Tesla pipeline would move gas further across the territory of Greece to the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia, Hungary, reaching the Baumgarten gas hub in Vienna, Austria. So compared to South Stream Turkish and Tesla Streams are detouring through Greece and Macedonia to compensate for the exclusion of Bulgaria.
The foreign ministers of Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary met 7th Apr. 2015 in Budapest to explore their potential participation in Russian plans for the new Turkish Stream pipeline. In the joint declaration on strengthening cooperation in the energy sphere which was signed at the end of the meeting, the parties “expressed their support for the idea of creating commercially viable routes and sources by supplying natural gas from Turkey to countries in Central and South-Eastern Europe via the territory of the member countries”. It was also emphasised that the pipeline would be fully covered by EU regulations. After this positive response Russia’s President Putin and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras have discussed the construction of the so-called Greek Stream pipeline across Greek territory. ‘Russia confirmed its readiness to consider the issue of funding the public and private Greek companies that would be involved in the project’ reads a note published on the Kremlin’s website, referring to the gas transportation system on the Greek territory.
Russia, Turkey and the West all share one rival in the Balkans: political instability. Located at the confluence of three historic empires, the strip of land between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea has long been the focus of competition among global powers. Now it is just one arena in the standoff between Russia and the West. The United States and the European Union have been involved in the internal politics of the Balkans since NATO committed troops in the aftermath of the Bosnian war and the conflict in Kosovo in the 1990s.
The bottom line from my perspective is that Turkish Stream will deliver 14 billion cubic metres per year to the Turkish market and there is a good change that another 49 billion cubic metres Russian gas per year will flow to Europe – partly for fulfilling the contracts already signed – via a new hub on the Turkish-Greek border and through Greece and Tesla Streams.
In my opinion it is also noteworthy that Turkish Stream and the creation of a gas hub on the Greek Turkish border, coupled with the planned TAP and TANAP pipelines, give Greece and Turkey more reason to enhance cooperation on energy matters as all these lines are generating remarkable transfer fees for both countries. Similarly also from its side Tesla Stream will create significant transfer fees for Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia, Hungary and Austria in addition to their energy security.
“The steadfast support of the people of Russia for India has been there even at difficult moments in our history. It has been a pillar of strength for India’s development, security and international relations. India, too, has always stood with Russia through its own challenges. The character of global politics and international relations is changing. However, the importance of this relationship and its unique place in India’s foreign policy will not change. In many ways, its significance to both countries will grow further in the future.”
( Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi)
Russia and India made 20 deals in 24 hours (on 11th Dec. 2014) given $100 billion-worth boost to their economies. The economic burden of Western sanctions has pushed Russia to the east in search of business opportunities. During President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in the presence of he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi 20 pacts were signed and the two sides ended with US$100 billion commercial contracts. (Source RT)
Rich pickings by both sides included deals worth $40 billion in nuclear energy, $50 billion in crude oil and gas and $10 billion in a host of other sectors, including defense, fertilizers, space, and diamonds. Moscow is seeking greater investment from Indian state-run companies in Russian oil and gas projects, including ones being explored in the Arctic.
New Indo-Russian deals
Putin’s just-ended India trip constitutes a major foreign policy success for the Russian President as he has successfully teamed up with China and India, Asia’s number one and third economies respectively. Some highlights of the Indo-Russia deals:
Russia would be constructing 12 new nuclear reactors for India in two decades – each will cost $3 billion apiece.
Russia holds the world’s second-biggest natural gas reserves and is among the globe’s biggest oil producers. Among the agreements today was a 10-year deal that will raise Indian imports of Russian oil almost 40-fold from current levels. The two nations plan to study the possibility of building a hydrocarbon pipeline system connecting India and Russia, according to a joint statement from Putin and Modi.
The $2.1 billion deal that 12 Indian companies dealing in diamonds have signed with Alrosa. Russia’s diamond reserves are more than 1 billion carats, the largest in the world, while Russia’s Alrosa accounts for more than quarter of the global diamond mining.
Reviving their good old defense partnership the new Indo-Russian initiative involves Russia producing state-of-the-art multi-role helicopters in Indian factories to cut down on costs and time overruns. This deal will be worth $3 billion once formally signed. In addition India will be at liberty to export these helicopters to third countries.
In addition there was also the $2 billion potash deal.
Russia would look at participating in the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor project.
Moscow is seeking greater investment from Indian state-run companies in Russian oil and gas projects, including ones being explored in the Arctic.
Both governments have set-up a Joint working group (JWG) to negotiate the specifications of an agreement, a final agreement would be signed between India and Eurasian Customs Union
The first major political initiative, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, between India and Russia began with the Strategic Partnership signed between the two countries in 2000. Traditionally, the Indo-Russian strategic partnership has been built on five major components: politics, defence, civil nuclear energy, anti-terrorism co-operation and space. However, in recent years a sixth component, economic, has grown in importance with both countries setting a target for US$20 billion in bilateral trade by 2015. The Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC), which is one of the largest and comprehensive governmental mechanisms that India has had with any country internationally.
India and Russia have several major joint military programmes including (Source WikiPedia):
According The HinduU.S. is upset at India-Russia deals. A day after Russian President Putin’s visit, the United States criticised India for the agreements signed between New Delhi and Moscow. Responding to a question on the 20 agreements signed, including one on the Rupee-Rouble trade, State department spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “Our view remains that it’s not time– for business as usual with Russia. But beyond that, we’d have to take a closer look at what these agreements entail.”
The U.S. and Ukraine have also expressed unhappiness that President Putin was accompanied by the Crimean Premier Sergey Aksyonov. Mr. Aksyonov is on the sanctions list of the U.S., Canada and European Union for his role in the accession of the former Ukrainian region to Russia in March this year. Mr. Aksyonov initialled a “partnership agreement” between Crimean and Indian businesses, particularly in the area of meat exports. The meeting with the Crimean Prime Minister followed Russia’s decision to allow the import of Indian buffalo meat last week. While the U.S. state department said it was “troubled” by his presence in New Delhi, Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko accused India of putting “money” ahead of “values” and “civilisation”.
The wider picture – besides new Indo-Russian cooperation – includes the Sino-Russian cooperation, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), The Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union EEU, the energy war and other bilateral operations.Faced with an increasingly hostile West, Russia is visibly turning East. In particular, China and Russia have become closer, signing a historic gas deal, conducting joint naval exercises, and increasing trade. Russia and China are determined to reduce U.S. and NATO presence in Central Asia to what it was before the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. The SCO has consistently rebuffed U.S. requests for observer status, and has pressured countries in the region to end U.S. basing rights. At present, the SCO has started to counterbalance NATO’s role in Asia.
The BRICS met 2013 in Durban, South Africa, to, among other steps, create their own credit rating agency, sidelining the “biased agendas” of the Moody’s/Standard & Poor’s variety. They endorsed plans to create a joint foreign exchange reserves pool. Initially it will include US$100 billion. It’s called a self-managed contingent reserve arrangement (CRA). During the July (2014) BRICS Summit in Brazil the five members agreed to directly confront the West’s institutional economic dominance. The BRICS agreed to establish the New Development Bank (NDB) based in Shanghai , pushed especially by India and Brazil, a concrete alternative to the Western-dominated World Bank and the Bretton Woods system.
So in near future BRICS will be trading in their own currencies, including a globally convertible yuan, further away from the US dollar and the petrodollar. All these actions are strengthening financial stability of BRICS – a some kind of safety net precaution, an extra line of defense.
Less than a month after the BRICS’ declaration of independence from the current strictures of world finance, the SCO—which includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan—approved India, Pakistan, Iran, and Mongolia for membership in the organization. Also SCO has received applications for the status of observers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
China and Turkey are now followed by Indo-Russian cooperation. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin held talks with India’s new prime minister Narendra Modi as sanctions-hit Moscow seeks to strengthen energy, defence and strategic ties in Asia. India opposes joining Western sanctions against Russia, and is likely to disregard a caution from Washington that now is not the right time to do business with Moscow.
Most importantly, the just-concluded 15th India-Russia annual summit has laid out a specific decadal roadmap for bringing about a complete transformation in the Indo-Russian bilateral ties and taking them to a much higher trajectory than ever before.
The latest developments in Russia’s strategic shift to East and now to India are in my opinion a strong symptom that alternative poles of power are emerging that soon may present a serious challenge to the U.S.-dominated world that emerged from the end of the Cold War. In my conclusion the era when the IMF, World Bank, and U.S. Treasury could essentially dictate international finances and intimidate or crush opponents with sanctions, pressure and threads are drawing to a close.
The great Eurasian axis between China and Russia boosted by ongoing Western sanctions due Ukraine is already in good motion. The deal done with China and the deal just done with Turkey redirect to these two countries gas that had previously been earmarked for Europe. (More inIs South Stream Pipeline Transforming Itself To “Turk Stream”?) These deals show that Russia had made a strategic decision this year to redirect its energy flow away from Europe. The Russian response to ongoing Western sanctions has been launching a counter-strategy including the formation of a potential non-dollar trading bloc among major players such as China, Iran, Turkey, India) in the global energy markets. (More about issue in ¥uan and Waterloo of Petro$; see also some geostrategic background in my slideshow Some Geostrategic Aspects in Russia vs. U.S. Relationship)
Last week I flew into Moscow, arriving at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8. It gets dark in Moscow around that time, and the sun doesn’t rise until about 10 a.m. at this time of the year — the so-called Black Days versus White Nights. For anyone used to life closer to the equator, this is unsettling. It is the first sign that you are not only in a foreign country, which I am used to, but also in a foreign environment. Yet as we drove toward downtown Moscow, well over an hour away, the traffic, the road work, were all commonplace. Moscow has three airports, and we flew into the farthest one from downtown, Domodedovo — the primary international airport. There is endless renovation going on in Moscow, and while it holds up traffic, it indicates that prosperity continues, at least in the capital.
Our host met us and we quickly went to work getting a sense of each other and talking about the events of the day. He had spent a great deal of time in the United States and was far more familiar with the nuances of American life than I was with Russian. In that he was the perfect host, translating his country to me, always with the spin of a Russian patriot, which he surely was. We talked as we drove into Moscow, managing to dive deep into the subject.
From him, and from conversations with Russian experts on most of the regions of the world — students at the Institute of International Relations — and with a handful of what I took to be ordinary citizens (not employed by government agencies engaged in managing Russia’s foreign and economic affairs), I gained a sense of Russia’s concerns. The concerns are what you might expect. The emphasis and order of those concerns were not.
Russians’ Economic Expectations
I thought the economic problems of Russia would be foremost on people’s minds. The plunge of the ruble, the decline in oil prices, a general slowdown in the economy and the effect of Western sanctions all appear in the West to be hammering the Russian economy. Yet this was not the conversation I was having. The decline in the ruble has affected foreign travel plans, but the public has only recently begun feeling the real impact of these factors, particularly through inflation.
But there was another reason given for the relative calm over the financial situation, and it came not only from government officials but also from private individuals and should be considered very seriously. The Russians pointed out that economic shambles was the norm for Russia, and prosperity the exception. There is always the expectation that prosperity will end and the normal constrictions of Russian poverty return.
The Russians suffered terribly during the 1990s under Boris Yeltsin but also under previous governments stretching back to the czars. In spite of this, several pointed out, they had won the wars they needed to win and had managed to live lives worth living. The golden age of the previous 10 years was coming to an end. That was to be expected, and it would be endured. The government officials meant this as a warning, and I do not think it was a bluff. The pivot of the conversation was about sanctions, and the intent was to show that they would not cause Russia to change its policy toward Ukraine.
Russians’ strength is that they can endure things that would break other nations. It was also pointed out that they tend to support the government regardless of competence when Russia feels threatened. Therefore, the Russians argued, no one should expect that sanctions, no matter how harsh, would cause Moscow to capitulate. Instead the Russians would respond with their own sanctions, which were not specified but which I assume would mean seizing the assets of Western companies in Russia and curtailing agricultural imports from Europe. There was no talk of cutting off natural gas supplies to Europe.
If this is so, then the Americans and Europeans are deluding themselves on the effects of sanctions. In general, I personally have little confidence in the use of sanctions. That being said, the Russians gave me another prism to look through. Sanctions reflect European and American thresholds of pain. They are designed to cause pain that the West could not withstand. Applied to others, the effects may vary.
My sense is that the Russians were serious. It would explain why the increased sanctions, plus oil price drops, economic downturns and the rest simply have not caused the erosion of confidence that would be expected. Reliable polling numbers show that President Vladimir Putin is still enormously popular. Whether he remains popular as the decline sets in, and whether the elite being hurt financially are equally sanguine, is another matter. But for me the most important lesson I might have learned in Russia — “might” being the operative term — is that Russians don’t respond to economic pressure as Westerners do, and that the idea made famous in a presidential campaign slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid,” may not apply the same way in Russia.
The Ukrainian Issue
There was much more toughness on Ukraine. There is acceptance that events in Ukraine were a reversal for Russia and resentment that the Obama administration mounted what Russians regard as a propaganda campaign to try to make it appear that Russia was the aggressor. Two points were regularly made. The first was that Crimea was historically part of Russia and that it was already dominated by the Russian military under treaty. There was no invasion but merely the assertion of reality. Second, there was heated insistence that eastern Ukraine is populated by Russians and that as in other countries, those Russians must be given a high degree of autonomy. One scholar pointed to the Canadian model and Quebec to show that the West normally has no problem with regional autonomy for ethnically different regions but is shocked that the Russians might want to practice a form of regionalism commonplace in the West.
The case of Kosovo is extremely important to the Russians both because they feel that their wishes were disregarded there and because it set a precedent. Years after the fall of the Serbian government that had threatened the Albanians in Kosovo, the West granted Kosovo independence. The Russians argued that the borders were redrawn although no danger to Kosovo existed. Russia didn’t want it to happen, but the West did it because it could. In the Russian view, having redrawn the map of Serbia, the West has no right to object to redrawing the map of Ukraine.
I try not to be drawn into matters of right and wrong, not because I don’t believe there is a difference but because history is rarely decided by moral principles. I have understood the Russians’ view of Ukraine as a necessary strategic buffer and the idea that without it they would face a significant threat, if not now, then someday. They point to Napoleon and Hitler as examples of enemies defeated by depth.
I tried to provide a strategic American perspective. The United States has spent the past century pursuing a single objective: avoiding the rise of any single hegemon that might be able to exploit Western European technology and capital and Russian resources and manpower. The United States intervened in World War I in 1917 to block German hegemony, and again in World War II. In the Cold War the goal was to prevent Russian hegemony. U.S. strategic policy has been consistent for a century.
The United States has been conditioned to be cautious of any rising hegemon. In this case the fear of a resurgent Russia is a recollection of the Cold War, but not an unreasonable one. As some pointed out to me, economic weakness has rarely meant military weakness or political disunity. I agreed with them on this and pointed out that this is precisely why the United States has a legitimate fear of Russia in Ukraine. If Russia manages to reassert its power in Ukraine, then what will come next? Russia has military and political power that could begin to impinge on Europe. Therefore, it is not irrational for the United States, and at least some European countries, to want to assert their power in Ukraine.
When I laid out this argument to a very senior official from the Russian Foreign Ministry, he basically said he had no idea what I was trying to say. While I think he fully understood the geopolitical imperatives guiding Russia in Ukraine, to him the centurylong imperatives guiding the United States are far too vast to apply to the Ukrainian issue. It is not a question of him only seeing his side of the issue. Rather, it is that for Russia, Ukraine is an immediate issue, and the picture I draw of American strategy is so abstract that it doesn’t seem to connect with the immediate reality. There is an automatic American response to what it sees as Russian assertiveness; however, the Russians feel they have been far from offensive and have been on the defense. For the official, American fears of Russian hegemony were simply too far-fetched to contemplate.
In other gatherings, with the senior staff of the Institute of International Relations, I tried a different tack, trying to explain that the Russians had embarrassed U.S. President Barack Obama in Syria. Obama had not wanted to attack when poison gas was used in Syria because it was militarily difficult and because if he toppled Syrian President Bashar al Assad, it would leave Sunni jihadists in charge of the country. The United States and Russia had identical interests, I asserted, and the Russian attempt to embarrass the president by making it appear that Putin had forced him to back down triggered the U.S. response in Ukraine. Frankly, I thought my geopolitical explanation was a lot more coherent than this argument, but I tried it out. The discussion was over lunch, but my time was spent explaining and arguing, not eating. I found that I could hold my own geopolitically but that they had mastered the intricacies of the Obama administration in ways I never will.
The Future for Russia and the West
The more important question was what will come next. The obvious question is whether the Ukrainian crisis will spread to the Baltics, Moldova or the Caucasus. I raised this with the Foreign Ministry official. He was emphatic, making the point several times that this crisis would not spread. I took that to mean that there would be no Russian riots in the Baltics, no unrest in Moldova and no military action in the Caucasus. I think he was sincere. The Russians are stretched as it is. They must deal with Ukraine, and they must cope with the existing sanctions, however much they can endure economic problems. The West has the resources to deal with multiple crises. Russia needs to contain this crisis in Ukraine.
The Russians will settle for a degree of autonomy for Russians within parts of eastern Ukraine. How much autonomy, I do not know. They need a significant gesture to protect their interests and to affirm their significance. Their point that regional autonomy exists in many countries is persuasive. But history is about power, and the West is using its power to press Russia hard. But obviously, nothing is more dangerous than wounding a bear. Killing him is better, but killing Russia has not proved easy.
I came away with two senses. One was that Putin was more secure than I thought. In the scheme of things, that does not mean much. Presidents come and go. But it is a reminder that things that would bring down a Western leader may leave a Russian leader untouched. Second, the Russians do not plan a campaign of aggression. Here I am more troubled — not because they want to invade anyone, but because nations frequently are not aware of what is about to happen, and they might react in ways that will surprise them. That is the most dangerous thing about the situation. It is not what is intended, which seems genuinely benign. What is dangerous is the action that is unanticipated, both by others and by Russia.
At the same time, my general analysis remains intact. Whatever Russia might do elsewhere, Ukraine is of fundamental strategic importance to Russia. Even if the east received a degree of autonomy, Russia would remain deeply concerned about the relationship of the rest of Ukraine to the West. As difficult as this is for Westerners to fathom, Russian history is a tale of buffers. Buffer states save Russia from Western invaders. Russia wants an arrangement that leaves Ukraine at least neutral.
For the United States, any rising power in Eurasia triggers an automatic response born of a century of history. As difficult as it is for Russians to understand, nearly half a century of a Cold War left the United States hypersensitive to the possible re-emergence of Russia. The United States spent the past century blocking the unification of Europe under a single, hostile power. What Russia intends and what America fears are very different things.
The United States and Europe have trouble understanding Russia’s fears. Russia has trouble understanding particularly American fears. The fears of both are real and legitimate. This is not a matter of misunderstanding between countries but of incompatible imperatives. All of the good will in the world — and there is precious little of that — cannot solve the problem of two major countries that are compelled to protect their interests and in doing so must make the other feel threatened. I learned much in my visit. I did not learn how to solve this problem, save that at the very least each must understand the fears of the other, even if they can’t calm them.
You are currently browsing the archives for the Russia category.
About Ariel Rusila
Ariel "Ari" Rusila is a blogger and former development project management expert from Finland with a special interest in the Balkan region. His other interests include geopolitics, conflicts and The Great Middle East. <"Conflicts By Ariel Rusila [aka ex-BalkanBlog] - ISSN 2342-6675 - covers issues of conflicts and regionally the Balkans (esp. Serbia), the Black Sea region and MENA (the greater Middle East and North Africa and esp. Israel) regions as well EurAsia.
* Anna Lindh Foundation NW * G.N.S. Press Association & European News Agency * International Press Card * EzineArticles Expert Author * Authors.com * Peace & Collaborative Development NW * Take-A-Pen * Suomi-Israel ry/Jyväskylä International Solidarity Work (member of board 2017-18) * Left Alliance/FIN * European Left/Agriculture WG