Russia construction ambitions in Greece

Brussels 11.12.2021 In a very unusual format the spokesperson of Kremlin gave an interview to a Greek TV Channel, acting like a diplomat.
Dmitry Peskov said Russia is interested in implementing megaprojects in Greece much like it does in Turkey, while talking to an English-language interview with the Greek Antenna TV channel. The conversation took place before the December 8 meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Sochi. The full interview was issued on Saturday, December 11.

The Kremlin official said that Russia is interested in expanding economic cooperation with Greece. “We have lots and lots of Russian companies who are ready to invest in Greek economy. We are interested in implementing huge, mega projects like we do it in Turkey. Of course, it is not that every project is allowed [in Greece], for example, we are building a nuclear station in Akkuyu in Turkey, but, unfortunately, nuclear energy is forbidden in Greece,” he explained.

Peskov said that Russia holds the decisive role of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in high esteem. “He is the type of man that is being appreciated by President Putin because when President Erdogan said something he meant it and he did it. This is important.”

As for the differences between Russia and Turkey on a number of issues, the Kremlin official said that “it’s impossible not to have them,” pointing out that in Syria, the two countries used to have quite tense moments where their interests were colliding in several spheres. “But every time the two presidents found it possible to come together, to sit for five, six, seven hours and not going in front of the press without reaching a solution. Every time they managed to do it,” the spokesman noted.

In response to a question as to whom Russia would support in case of an armed incident in the Aegean Sea, the Kremlin official said that “the last thing we would like to see in the Aegean or in the Mediterranean Sea is us being closer to a conflict. We were very worried in August of 2020 when there was a collision between the ships of two countries,” stressing that it is desirable to avoid any repetition of similar incidents in the future. According to him, Russia would like to support the resolution of issues between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea. “We would like to support a solution,” he said, noting that Russia would like to see both sides proceed taking the reality into account “because every solution is a two-way street, with the reciprocal wish to reach the solution.”

In response to a question whether Greece may expect Russia’s full support against Turkey’s actions in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, the Kremlin official said that Turkey insisted that the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and Greece’s demands to establish the internationally recognized width of the continental shelf of inhabited islands in the Aegean Sea as well as the scale of the exclusive economic zone would definitely harm Turkey’s national interests and deprive it of its right to use the natural resources of the region. “So, we call for both sides to be calm and to be reasonable in solving the problem,” Putin’s press secretary concluded.

Russian diplomat warns NATO against “delusions”

Brussels 28.11.2021 The assumptions heard in the United States that Russia is likely to be frightened with NATO capabilities in Ukraine and the Black Sea are dangerous delusions, Russia’s Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov said on the YouTube channel during a TV show on Saturday, November 28.

“NATO states are taking over the Black Sea, Ukrainian territory. There are assumptions, which are voiced here, that certain daredevils or a group of combatants may turn up in Ukraine, who will try to test the strength of Russian defenses, expecting that we will not respond fearing the NATO potential. I would like to say and emphasize unequivocally that it is a very dangerous delusion,” the diplomat said.

Antonov pointed out that Washington is increasingly expanding the range of weapons delivered to Ukraine.

“Militarily speaking, this range of weapons funneled to Ukraine is expanding more and more. The Stinger [man-portable air-defense systems], Javelin [anti-tank weapons] and even our Mi-17 [helicopters] got there,” he said.

“They keep saying that these are defensive weapons. But we know what ‘defensive weapons’ mean, what the US Mk-41 systems are like, which, on the one hand, are certainly defensive, as they are anti-missile systems, but it has already been proven, and the Americans are not concealing now that they can be used for launching intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles,” the diplomat stressed.

Kremlin issues warning to Taliban

Brussels 14.07.2021 Russian senior official accused the Afghan government of hypocrisy and said it needed to start proper negotiations with the Taliban about the country’s future before it was too late. (Image above: illustration, Afghanistan).

Zamir Kabulov, a special Representative on Afghanistan, issued the warning ahead of upcoming talks about the Afghan crisis in Tajikistan where Foreign Ministers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation were meeting.

In an interview with state RIA news agency, the high official said that while the Afghan government paid lip service to the idea of talks it was not doing enough to make them happen.

“It’s hypocrisy. It’s an attempt to close their eyes to the reality which exists and these are empty words,” Kabulov told RIA when talking about the Afghan’s government’s stance on negotiations with the Taliban. “We need deeds” Kabulov has underlined.

The only way out of the current crisis which has seen the Taliban make military gains on the back of an exit by U.S. and NATO forces was for all sides to assemble at the negotiating table in Kabul, the official continued. Russia and other regional powers favoured a transitional government in Afghanistan, he added.

Any attempt by the Taliban to damage the security of Russia’s allies in Central Asia will be fraught with large losses for the Taliban movement, continued Zamir Kabulov.
“We are closely monitoring the situation. Taliban should understand that “any attempt to damage the security of our allies in Central Asia will be fraught with great losses for them, if not the loss of everything” Kabulov continued.

Putin: doesn’t guarantee Navalny right for life

Brussels 14.06.2021 Russian President Vladimir Putin denied ordering an assassination on Kremlin prominent critic political rival Alexei Navalny, but in an exclusive interview with NBC News he did not guarantee that the jailed Kremlin critic, who survived being poisoned with a nerve agent, would get out of prison alive.

“Look, such decisions in this country are not made by the president,” Putin said.

That was one of several striking moments in Putin’s first interview in three years with a U.S. news organisation, days ahead of his meeting with President Joe Biden in Geneva.
Reminded that Navalny wasn’t just any prisoner, Putin has underlined: “He will not be treated any worse than anybody else.”

Putin granted an exclusive interview, and had a talk with NBCNews journalist for nearly an hour and a half while U.S. President Joe Biden met with the leaders of G7 industrialised nations in Cornwall,UK, from which Russia was suspended in 2014 after Maidan revolution in Ukraine, and following refusal of the Republic of Crimea to accept new Kiev ruler who ascended power by coup d’état, shortly afterwards Crimea joined Russian Republic following the referendum.

According to the 2001 census, 77% of Crimean inhabitants named Russian as their native language, 11.4% – Crimean Tatar, and 10.1% – Ukrainian.

Putin: “extraordinary individual” Trump

Brussels 11.06.2021 Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his interview with NBC News that he respects former US leader Donald Trump, defining him as a “extraordinary individual”. (Image: meeting in Helsinki, July 2018)

“Well even now, I believe that former U.S. president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual, otherwise he would not have become U.S. President,” Putin said.

“He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And, but he didn’t come from the U.S. establishment, he had not been part of big time politics before, and some like it some don’t like it but that is a fact,” Putin noted.

The full version of the interview will be aired on Monday, June 14 on Trump’s birthday.

On Thursday, June 10, Trump asked Joe Biden in a written statement to give Putin his “warmest regards” at the upcoming Geneva summit. The former president said his meeting with the Russian leader in Helsinki, Finland in 2018 was “great and very productive.”

In the statement the 45th President of the United States of America Donald J. Trump wrote:

As President, I had a great and very productive meeting in Helsinki, Finland, with President Putin of Russia. Despite the belated Fake News portrayal of the meeting, the United States won much, including the respect of President Putin and Russia. Because of the phony Russia, Russia, Russia Hoax, made-up and paid for by the Democrats and Crooked Hillary Clinton, the United States was put at a disadvantage—a disadvantage that was nevertheless overcome by me. As to who do I trust, they asked, Russia or our “Intelligence” from the Obama era, meaning people like Comey, McCabe, the two lovers, Brennan, Clapper, and numerous other sleezebags, or Russia, the answer, after all that has been found out and written, should be obvious. Our government has rarely had such lowlifes as these working for it. Good luck to Biden in dealing with President Putin—don’t fall asleep during the meeting, and please give him my warmest regards!”

Previously President Putin has already expressed his opinion about the impeachment of President Trump in an interview in 2019: “Absolutely far-fetched reasons. This is just a continuation of the political struggle. Democrats are charging Trump with charges of collusion with Russia, or they have invented some kind of pressure on Ukraine.” Putin added that Senate Republicans are unlikely to want to impeach their president.

Russian President added that Russia is interested in developing relations with the United States, regardless of who sits in the White House.

EU-Russia: combating coronavirus

Brussels 07.06.2021 “I conveyed a message of EU unity in my call with president Putin. The downwards trend in EU-Russia relations can only change if Russia stops disruptive behaviour. Fighting the pandemic and making effective vaccines available to everyone is a goal we discussed” Charles Michel, the EU Council President wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

Telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel:

Telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel
“Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel.
Relations between Russia and the European Union, as well as a number of current international issues, were discussed in detail.
“Vladimir Putin stressed that, although Russia and the European Union remained significant trade and investment partners, the current state of Russia-EU relations could not be considered satisfactory. It was noted that a return to pragmatic and respectful cooperation would be in the interests of both. Mutual opinion was expressed that it is important to step up cooperation in specific areas like healthcare, the climate agenda, and settling regional conflicts.

“Combating the spread of the coronavirus infection was also discussed, including the prospects for certifying the Russian vaccine Sputnik V in the European Union and ensuring conditions for mutual travel while complying with anti-pandemic restrictions.

“Developments around Nagorno-Karabakh were discussed in terms of the importance of the further and consistent implementation of the statements made by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on November 9, 2020 and January 11, 2021. Priority tasks include unblocking economic and transport connections in the region and resolving local humanitarian problems. Charles Michel expressed support for these efforts, including the work of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs (Russia, the US and France).

“Regarding the additional sanctions pressure on Belarus from the European Union, Vladimir Putin noted that such an approach, like any attempt to interfere in this sovereign state’s domestic affairs, was counterproductive.

“When discussing the internal Ukrainian crisis, both sides noted that the 2015 Minsk Package of Measures remained the only basis for the settlement process. The President of Russia said that the Kiev authorities must strictly implement all previously reached agreements, primarily on establishing a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk and legalising the special status of Donbass.

“During the discussion of developments in Libya, Vladimir Putin and Charles Michel spoke in favour of further promoting the political process and supporting the established authorities during the transition period”.

Steven Seagal joins pro-Kremlin party

Brussels 30.05.2021 Hollywood actor Steven Seagal, who has Russian citizenship, has joined a pro-Kremlin political party Справедливая Россия (Just Russia). The A Just Russia party backs almost all Kremlin initiatives and supports President Vladimir Putin but formally is a rival of the ruling United Russia party.

At a ceremony on May 29, Seagal posed for pictures next to one of the party leaders, Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin, who is associated with Russia-backed separatists of Lugansk and Donetsk in Donbass reagion.

Seagal, who has personal ties with President Putin, was given Russian citizenship in 2016.

The 69-year-old actor has starred in Hollywood action movies such as Above The Law (1988), Hard To Kill (1990), and Under Siege (1992). His movies were popular in the Soviet Union and then in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics.

One of several Western actors and athletes who have been granted Russian citizenship under Putin, he was appointed by the Foreign Ministry as a special envoy for cultural ties with the United States in 2018.

The U.S.-born martial artist has retained his American citizenship.

INF funeral revives nuclear war threat

Russia‘s defense minister Sergey Shoygu announced the  intention to build mid-range, nuclear-capable missiles a week after the President Trump has decided to abandon INF Treaty, which is considered to be one of the biggest achievement of humanity, closing the chapter of  the Cold War. The world is pushed back full force into the situation of the imminent risk of the World war III, triggered by will or by an accident. The dangerous perception of possibility to wage and win a nuclear war is back.

It would be very naive to think that technology is perfect: in 1983 Soviet officer on duty has prevented the nuclear war just because of his exceptional capacity for analysis, assuming the information he received from computers was erroneous – an episode of Cold War known as “false nuclear attack“.

The humanity was exceptionally lucky, that Stanislav Petrov was on duty on September 26, 1983 to identify the missile attack warnings as “false alarm“. His personal decision to disobey the rules is seen as having prevented a retaliatory nuclear attack based on erroneous signals on the United States and its NATO allies missiles, which could have resulted in immediate escalation to the full-scaled nuclear war. Now we, as humanity are back to the situation when our survival depends on decision of an officer on duty, watching the monitor.

Last five years both the Americans and Russians blamed each other the violation of the INF, however it was NATO rapidly expanding.

Kremlin accuses the U.S. of violating the INF by the deployment of Aegis missile defence system in Romania and Poland, indicating that the launchers used in that system for defensive interceptors could be adapted to fire offensive cruise missiles.

In return Washington accused Russians of employment mystery missile  9M729  for Iskander launchers being more powerful than declared (480 km).  Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov acknowledged its existence but firmly denied it was capable to hit targets between 500 -5,500 km away, strictly compliant with the INF.

The problems accumulating in the US-Russia relations have created a toxic mass within a new political and military context, caused by NATO galloping enlargement with a subsequent advancing of the military infrastructure to Russian borders: after including the East European countries, belonging to the Warsaw Pact the moment of the INF signature between Reagan and Gorbachev. nowadays the Alliance moved further to the East opening its door for Georgia and Ukraine. The perspective of installing Aegis there will create a vulnerability for Moscow, impossible to neglect.

However existing problems of relations between superpowers do not give a right to cancel the greatest achievement of the past, reversing progress, and pushing humanity to the brink of a fatal nuclear conflict, of which Europe is becoming a hostage. The American ambition for the hegemony has price too high to pay – the extinction of our civilization.

Putin’s Firebird versus Chinese Dragon

Anna van Densky. OPINION.

The predictions are plentiful at the IV inauguration of the very same Russian ruler. However only few are optimistic ones, the majority is fearing the deepening schism between Russia and the West, the revival of the Cold War modus operandi, and even risk of the accidental eruption of the III World war. But if not following the extreme scenarios, what the EU can expect from the IV mandate of Vladimir Putin? Clearly not much in terms of science, progress or respect of human rights, but highly likely the continuation of stagnation  with the subsequent loss of traditional Russian spheres of influence like Balkans, Caucasus, and Central Asia.

The recent events in Armenia showed the fragility of the only ally in the Caucasus, and the switch of Kazakh alphabet to Latin letters indicated to direction of the development the leadership has chosen, clearly not impressed by Kremlin’s achievements. For traditional allies and neighbours Russia is not an attractive construct: rusting vertical of power, causing corruption at all levels, elite openly preferring to keep their fortunes and families abroad; economy firmly becoming a global supplier of raw materials; and declining population. The latter deserves some special attention, because with the current trends Siberia is rapidly inhabited by Chinese neighbours, hardworking and politically inactive, filling working places of those Russians who leave for the European part of the country, or void of many of extinct villages. The process called by the Siberians themselves as ‘Chinese colonisation‘.

When voting Putin for the fourth time, Russian have chosen for a traditional biologic cycle of political power change, it means that the current model will come to a natural end in 15  year from now, when Putin‘s close cercle reaches the age it would be physically unable to keep a grip on power, and even on their own fading away lives. No one is immortal. But what kind of Russia will the West encounter then?..

Culturally in 15-20 years Russia will be a different place. At present 38 million Chinese live in bordering Heilongjiang province, while in the entire Siberia just 36 million, and lately in the province the Communist party allowed to have a third child to the couples with the higher income. Growing population with growing needs, and limited resources, but remembering Deng Xiaoping advise they keep low profile, while “aiming to do something big.” In social media Russians share posts about Chinese taking over enterprises and territories. Siberians have collected 140 000 signatures under petition to Putin, asking him to stop the commercial destruction of forests, but in vain.

Cornered by the Western sanctions, Kremlin has little choice to turn to the East, selling natural resources, and welcoming Chinese workers to cope with the economic trouble caused by the stance of the West. Above it all the Chinese are so much friendlier to Kremlin, never reminding about Human rights, Freedom of speech, or requesting the liberation of political prisoners. What a stark contract with the West!

However the Chinese factor is not the only one, the other element is rapid spreading of Islam over Russian territory. In case the current trends stay in 20 year from now the country’s population will transform from predominantly Orthodox to Muslim. One more challenge for Europe, desperate to cope with radical Islam and home-grown terrorists.

In his inauguration speech Vladimir Putin compared Russia to Phoenix – magic Firebird, living rebirth. However even a very myopic observer could notice, that after each crisis Russian Firebird comes smaller in size, with further shrinking population. Would it come back as a Firebird after a quarter of a century of Putin‘s uninterrupted rule? Or will it be consumed by the Chinese Dragon? (The President himself has well prepared his children, who learned Chinese language at school:)

To conclude, the fourth inauguration of Vladimir Putin is a turning point, a clear choice for decline and Russia’s disintegration. Subsequently the EU needs to adjust its four road maps with Moscow, conducting its foreign policy having in view the upcoming Russia‘s ethnic, and religious change. Abyssus abyssum invocat! (One abuse leads to another).

Image: Siberia becoming a desert, while the forests are cut out in barbaric way, and sold to Chinese companies. Source: social media.

Siberian forest cut out

#Armenia unexpected break away

Today’s vote at noon in Armenian parliament electing Prime Minister is crucial for the future of Armenians, but also the Caucasus, and the Kremlin, gradually losing influence in the region. While oil-rich Azerbaijan manifests its affiliation with Turkey, and Georgia is open about is ambition to join NATO, Armenians, as the last ally of Russia in the region abruptly, and unexpectedly are breaking away led by an opposition politician Nikol Pashinyan,  who has never been hiding his pro-European stance.

Massive street manifestations are rather startling as a phenomenon for the ex-Soviet Republic, where leaders are not used to democratic accountability. At first glance the current turmoil came as a result of a political miscalculation of a former President Serzh Sargsyanwho ‘mechanically’ applied Kremlin scheme of moving from President’s to Prime Ministers chair to continue his unchallenged rule from a different office interior decorations.

The scenario was clearly not appreciated by Armenians, who considered the manipulation as a fraud: while reforming the country from a presidential to a parliamentary republic, Sargsyan ensured citizens, that he is not going to claim any more mandates.  But later he broke his promise arranging  for himself the Prime Minister’s chair, and fueling the indignation of Armenians, who streamed into the streets, manifesting their protest.

However there is more to indignation of Armenians than discontent with their former President attempt to impose himself in Vladimir Putin‘s style as a tsar or an eternal ruler. There is an entire rejection of outdated Russian authoritarian system, plagued with corruption and nepotism. If in the Soviet era the information flows were under strict control of the Communist party, nowadays it is increasingly difficult to govern neglecting ‘demos‘, who is intensely communicating with each other via smartphones.

In age of Digital revolution, when people can easily find an alternative information via internet, the role of Armenian diaspora in Europe and the USA is not the least factor to contribute public opinion disposition. People to people contacts with friends and family members, sharing experiences of life in democratic societies became an efficient engine of progress, shifting Armenians away from outdated authoritarian rule of heirs of Soviet nomenklatura. 

The experts would say that Russia can not be rapidly removed or replaced or abandoned due to its status in resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh frozen conflict, offering to Armenia military and political guarantees, through Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). And they are right. Pashinyan has already confirmed that in case his party leads the country, no changes will be introduced to its membership in both CSTO (‘Tashkent Treaty’), or Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

However, now it is too early for Pashanyan to reveal his real aims.

Unlike Sargsyan, he did not fight in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK), and does not have any personal affiliation to the region claiming independence. Like many of Armenians of his generation he presumably wishes to move on with the resolution of the conflict, inclining to a compromise to end the stalemate, and isolation of his country in the Caucasus. Subsequently in coming years it will be increasingly difficult for Kremlin to keep the alliance with #Yerevan, in total absence of incentives, relying only on protracting the NK stalemate.

The entire situation with street protests in Armenia is a definite indicator of Russia‘s loss of influence in the region and an absolute decline. It is reminiscent of the other colored revolutions in ex-Soviet Republics, coming as unpleasant surprise to Kremlin inhabitants unable to understand the people’ rejection of their obsolete modus vivendi on the ruins of Soviet Empire in a perimeter protected by ballistic missiles. The very same missiles which did not save their predecessors from collapse.