Russian decision to postpone the appointment of a new ambassador to NATO announced today marks a new low in rapidly deteriorating relations between the East and the West, but even more it underlines Kremlin assertiveness, and claims of parity, turning the page of a period when one could label Russia as a “regional power“.
However while looking at new splendid NATOheadquarters in Brussels one wonders what it the purpose of the Alliance today? What’s the raison d’être? If it is the revival of the Cold War, what is its aim this time? The Communism has fallen, and there is no official state ideology in Russia to defeat. The authoritarianism, human rights and rule of law issues can hardly be targets of criticism, while NATO ally Turkey’s ‘Sultan’ Erdogan openly, and literally conducts purges against his political opponents, and wages a war against Kurds, describing it the ‘Olive Branch’ operation against Islamic State.
Meanwhile the radicals are not shy about showing faces in Afghanistan. After a decade of military campaign, NATO has withdrawn its troops in 2014 without any definite conclusion, but rapid and widespread rise of Taliban. Nowadays the Islamists are taking grounds, imposing unprecedented levels of violence, and there is hardly a week without news of terrorist attacks, and numerous victims among civilians. Unlike the time of the beginning of the US military missionJawbreaker (2001) against Osama Ben Laden in Tora Bora, the radicals are not hiding in the caves, they are claiming power, and constructing networks in real and virtual world, controlling two-thirds of Afghan territory. The airstrikes in defeating the radicals do not help much, but turn against the Kabul and the West the entire population of the provinces for ‘collateral damages’.
Hundreds of Dashte Arche residents started moving to #Kunduz city in protest over #Afghan airstrike. They say that if the gov't doesn't investigate these airstrikes, all residents of Dashte Arche will joint the #Taliban and announce their support from Islamic Emirate of Taliban. pic.twitter.com/cvdC8hMAvd
However even the rapid progress of Taliban does not motivate NATO to start a coordinated action with Moscow, in spite of the obvious interest of both sides to defeat terrorism, there are instead allegations of Russians ‘arming Taliban’.
“They say they wouldn’t mind if we gave them weapons, but they don’t need weapons. They say ‘give us money, we’re buying weapons from the stocks of the Afghan army and police’,” AmbassadorZamir Kabulov was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.
Ambassador said that in their talks with the Taliban, the group’s representatives said they buy all their weapons illegally from the Afghan government and police, and asked for financial support for that.
While the West argues with Russia, reducing diplomatic missions and expelling staff, the Taliban actively uses an opportunity to expand, and it will succeed until there is a comprehensive joint NATO-Russia strategy for counter-terrorism. However within the current political situation, the low tight in diplomatic relations does not provide with an effective response to the rapidly growing terrorist threat.
The omitted factors in presumption of Moscow deliberate assault on a former KGB Colonel Sergei Skripal with Cold War mass-destruction chemical weapon Novichok reduce the blame of Prime Minister Theresa May to a highly subjective hypothesis.
Challenging the official conclusions, different episodes from Novichok sinister legend frame the official British version as endogenous, thus serving the political strategy of accusing Kremlin, but not pursuing the search of the truth, which goes begging…
The narrative of Novichok is deeply rooted in Cold War, when the USSR was flaunting its military might. The Communist party was so proud of a possession of such a powerful chemical weapon, that honoured both inventors of Novichok – Vladimir Ouglev (Владимир Углев) and Vil Mirzayanov (Виль Мирзаянов) with Lenin Prize (1991) for a break-thought in science. The special achievements of this new generation of nerve agents were it is unprecedented might – with one liter of liquid a population of multi-million city could be destroyed without a chance of recovery. The other characteristic was in method of application – in unremarkable composing elements, which represent no danger to humans if kept apart, will produce a lethal effect when assembled.
“Scripals are practically dead”, said the Vil Mirzayanov, an immigrant in the USA since collapse of the Soviet Empire. “And even if they survive, they will never recover”, he added. There is not antidote to Novichok.
Tragically Skirpals attacked with nerve agent were not the only victims who came to public attention. The sinister story of Russian banker Ivan Kivelidi (1995) assassinated by application of chemical weapon to a telephone in his office, shocked Russians. His secretary (30) and coroner (40) who performed autopsy on Kivelidi’s body also lost their lives – the poison was so powerful, that continued the devastation in derivatives.
After this sequence of suspicious deaths the investigation led to an employer of the scientific laboratory in the institute where the chemical was invented, and his wealthy client, who purchased the formula, – a businessman and former victim’s partner – Vladimir Khutsishvili. Both men arrested and sentenced. It is useful to mention that Kivelidi was not just “a” banker, but a chair of a club of bankers, with a pronounced interest in politics.
However it was unclear then how the former partner managed to insert the nerve agent in the telephone membrane – one should have special costume, triple layer gloves and gas mask to survive the manipulation, but the accused Vladimir Khutsishvili entered the office of the victim in tenue de ville…
At present one of two Novichok inventors lives in the USA, Mirzaynov claims that he revealed the formula of the chemical in his book, and at collapse of the USSR warned Americans about this secret Russian weapon, that should have been included in the list of prohibited substances. Russian expert at United Nations Igor Nikulin confirmed that the formula of Novichok was known by the potential foes after collapse of the USSR.
At present Russians instantly deny the possession of Novichok – in 1997 Kremlin ratified the Convention of prohibition of chemical weapons, and subsequently President Putin received report of a complete destruction of the entire Soviet arsenal in Russian Federation. But Igor Nikulin added that Novichok samples could have been kept in any of the former Soviet Republics after collapse of the Communist system. In the USSR one of the leading production laboratories of chemical weapons was situated in Noukous, in Uzbekistan, outside Russian jurisdiction, where the government worked closely with the USA in destruction of its arsenal.
Considering these omitted in public debate factors – the leak of Novichok formula from laboratory in 90th, and migration of its inventor Vil Mirzayanov to the USA, the access to production and samples in Soviet Republics, which became independent states, – the circle of potential holders of the nerve agent formula is significantly larger than Lubyanka secret service office in Moscow.
Beyond mentioned above, there are too many inexplicable elements in the assassination of Sripals: why father and daughter collapsed at the same moment? If she was the one who brought poison in her luggage from Moscow, and was exposed to it first, logically there should have been a time difference in their collapse, but there was not. If the suitcase was contaminated with such a powerful nerve agent as British media reports claim, all workers along the air transport chain should have been dead by now, but fortunately there are no reports of any ‘suspicious deaths’ so far. But was it Novichok, or some other nerve agent?.. Only an independent international inquiry can establish the truth, until independent experts have an access to the information, the accusations would remains in the realm of hypothesis, serving political concept of demonizing Russians, and dragging the world backward into Cold War era, where Skirpal belongs.
Recruited by MI6 while serving as a military attaché of Russian Embassy in Spain, Skripal sold 20 000 pages of secret documents, receiving more than £100 000 in 10 years before his arrest in 2004, and subsequent sentence for 13 years.
The former double agent was pardoned five years later in a swap operation between Moscow and Washington. Freed, the disgraced Colonel installed in a small English town of Salisbury, not far from his recruiter, where he led low profile lifestyle, until the spectacular assassination, worth masterpieces of Bondiana, when Skripal’s name stormed the headlines of media worldwide, and ascended to UN debate.
With Matteo SALVINI, MEP, leaving the European Parliament (EP) to lead one of the key economies of the European Union as a prime minister, the EU Institutions face one more set back. However in this particular case with Lega Nord chair ascendance, an extra turmoil is left behind in the Europarliament.
The incumbent president of the EP Antonio Tajani lost his bid for premiership in Italy, after a short involvement in election at the side of Silvio Berlusconi, his former boss and powerful friend. Many ask, if the EU institution head should demonstrate such a passionate involvement in national politics, ready to ditch his office in Brussels for a glimpse of hope to become a national leader, to succumb to magnetic powers of the Eternal City…
However one can’t step into the same waters twice, Tajani returned to Brussels ‘on his shield’. An initial concept to ‘civilize’ far right Lega Nord in alliance with Forza Italia is in tatters – it is Salvini, who surfaced as a victor, returning to European Parliament “with his shield”.
And now… There is the ‘loser’ of EP president from a party, which scored so low in the elections; roughly half of Italy is in Eurosceptic camp, and another congregation which he treated like a nuisance ascended to command. Tajani compromised himself, demonstrating his EU office is his ‘second to best choice’ to his own detriment, and what a disservice to declining European project! Vanitas vanitatum!
Undoubtedly the Manson House speech of the Prime Minister Theresa May has many virtues, offering constructive proposals for Article 50 agreement. In general it is also attempts to appeal to common sense of the EU leaders, and is reflecting an intense search for the best possible new formula for matching interests of both parties, instead of fitting into old EU dogmas of ‘four freedoms’. May’s vision of the basis of post-Brexit engagement is orientated towards future: robotics and artificial intelligence, the new technologies and most of all the British genius, which brought the nation to the forefront of the Digital Revolution. But can this dazzling and dynamic new engagement attract Brussels?..
If we agree on the leading role of the “outstanding individuals” in sculpturing history, and take a close-up on European Union protagonists influencing Brexit negotiations, we’ll see that they function in totally different modus operandi than the looking forward British PM.The European Commission president (the ‘Prime Minister of Europe’) Jean-Claude Juncker is concerned with keeping the EU project intact in its original form, repeatedly referring to the forefathers – Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet who resurrected Europe from the ashes of the WWII on entirely new basis. Devoting his life to the ideas of the United States of Europe, Juncker’s major preoccupation is the risk of Brexit provoking a collapse of the entire 70 years old architecture, erected gradually after the European Coal and Steel Community united in 1950 in order to secure lasting peace.
Ideologically Juncker faces similar problems in dealing with Brexit as the Pope, who faced unpleasant news from a rebellious English King, rejecting to acknowledge his authority, and thus pay tribute to the Holy See. Juncker’s preoccupation is not to let the heresy to spread, subsequently the creation of a new ‘dynamic and vibrant’ engagement with London would be detrimental to the original project, showing to the other member-states, that life outside the EU can be so much better than inside.
In this case May’ appeal to embrace together the wonders of Digital Revolution falls on deaf ears: Juncker, as usual, is looking backward, contemplating ashes of the WWII. Keeping in mind the origins of the European project, the protection of its ‘sacred’ four freedoms from British ‘heresy’ becomes paramount. Allowing the new engagement to be a success means to give in to those, who ‘betrayed’ the great idea of Schuman, and ‘tricked’ Britons into the trap of leave vote – an unthinkable compromise for such a ‘guardian’ of the EU Treaties as Jean-Claude Juncker.
In this context one can not exclude the ‘no-deal’ scenario, when the UK faces Brexting on WTO rules. Anyway, when dealing with dogmatics, it would be useful to keep an ace up the sleeve:)
Offering Russians unilateral visa-free to the EU – is one of the major proposals of the Alliance of European Liberals and Democrats announced at a year conference on EU-Russia relations #EURussia, taking place on the third anniversary of Boris Nemtsov assassination.
We need to upgrade our engagement w/ Russian civil society. This means facilitating visas for Russian citizens, opening up universities & research, increase scholarships, support civil society organisations & support plurality of the Russian speaking media space #EURussia
The move is meant in ‘immediate and unconditional’ support of the civil society, experiencing difficulty of alienation from Europe, while regular Russians increasingly perceive the EU as an antagonistic power, especially after confrontation with the negative consequences of the EU Enlargement policy, leading to conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine.
“The biggest mistake on our behalf towards the West is that we trusted you too much,” President Vladimir Putin said. He underlined that the West, in their turn, made an unforgivable mistake – abused this trust.
Would the visa-free enhance exchanges, people-to-people contacts and heal the profound mistrust Russians feel towards the West? While Donetsk and Lugansk are under siege, and Russian children go to school risking being shot by shelling of Ukrainian army, while so-called ‘Syrian opposition’, supported by European, kills Russian pilots on counter-terrorist missions, – while the bloodshed is going on, it will be rather simplistic to consider that visa-free would restore the harmony. Although had it ever existed in relations between Europe and Russia?..
Image: citizens’ journalism ‘Killed children of Donbass’
The linguistic argument over President Trump choice of epithet to describe the situation of rampant criminality in Haiti ( 219 murders per 100,000 a year), and some other African countries overshadowed the concern with the situation itself, becoming a hysteria of Pharisees, outraged for pointing to the unpleasant truth.
African nations started to express their protest and request apology for the unflattering comparison, being used to comfortable “politically correct” public discourse, indulging in escapism. The population rushed to express their frustration and rage in destruction. (Image below: spontaneous protests in H&M store in South Africa against epithet “shit hole”, reportedly used by President Trump.
A discussion in White House with President Donald Trump on immigration regulation that suggested asylum for people from Haiti and other likewise places, caused a whirlwind of emotions. Why US citizens should welcome immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than from Norway? The question the President reportedly asked, according to sources present in conversation leaked to press and make headline. But it is not rate of gang rapes that concerned the general public, but an obligation to hide the abhorrent reality, making it a taboo. The next question is how to fight evil, if politicians are not allowed to raise an issue without censorship?
“It is not a pipe!” says the line on painting of the father of Surrealism Renée Magritte. The international politics has become totally surrealistic, rejecting realities, and sheltering in illusions. While the UK FCO travel advice (see below) warns about horrors of Haiti, Pharisees among the US #Democrats attack the President for using an epithet, slightly hinting on degradation of failed states and territories, with highest rates of murders and gang rapes on planet Earth. Pharisees do not attack the problem, they attack the President pursuing their own political aims, manipulation public opinion in their own selfish interest, waging infowar against Republicans. However it is time to establish the truth, all Pharisees should present a reason for their indignation. If President is wrong, they should leave for next holiday there:) Welcome to #Haiti! We are waiting in anticipation for the photographs on your Facebook pages:)
A hint of a possibility of II Brexit referendum made by one of the most prominent Leave EU campaigners, the Member of the European Parliament, Nigel Farage made headlines worldwide, however the possibility of the second plebiscite is just hypothetical.
Maybe, just maybe, we should have a second referendum on EU membership. It would kill off the issue for a generation once and for all. https://t.co/FQxniMi5MA
Any genuine public vote has element of risk, and Prime minister Theresa May knows it from her own experience of nearly lost snap elections, reportedly ill-advised by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. She was aiming at confirming her authority in leading nation through Brexit, her stated reason was to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations, but she achieved a poor result of losing majority, facing perspective of ‘hung’ parliament.
After the snap elections unexpected failure May would hardly try her luck the second time calling for referendum on Brexit, gambling her political future. In case LeaveEU wins the second referendum, May as a figure of a compromise, and a former ‘Remainer’ won’t be able to keep a grip on power, and the Brexit hardliners would sweep away May’ government – a blend of ‘moderate’ Brexiteers (read ‘converted Remainers’) like Prime Minister herself, and genuine Brexiteers receiving ministerial portfolios in exchange of toning down.
The II Brexit referendum is not only a ‘Russian roulette’ for Theresa May, and her government, but even more so for the EU. If one recalls the experience of the II Irish referendum, as a model of a clever managing an exercise of ‘direct democracy’, one forgets that in Irish case there was no alternative. The Republic of Ireland was the only member state to hold a referendum on Lisbon Treaty, and without second referendum the situation could not move on for the entire EU block, unlike the case of Brexit led by PM May, who has already accepted lion’s share of Brussels claims.
The gambling risks are not affordable for the EU in decline, struggling against rapidly rising Eurosceptic parties. The moral damages can be dramatic, however the financial could be devastating . Till now for PM May offered the EU a generous ‘allowance’, and transition period with unclear end date. In case of the II ‘yes’ to Brexit vote, the ‘hardliners’ will not leave a penny to Brussels bureaucrats, neither will they take the “poisonous pill’ of Brexit deal. In short, the addiction to gambling may invite catastrophe for both the EU as a fragilized block and the UK incumbent Government. Above it all, Theresa May as a Remainer heading Brexit is too precious interlocutor for the EU to risk to lose.