Saint-Petersburg bomb explosion named “incident”

The victims of the bomb explosion in Saint-Petersburg supermarket are ironic about the qualifying of the blast as a “murder attempt in public place”: “Assassinating us for food baskets?!”. The official version is obviously doubtful, taking into consideration the fact of the home-made engine spreading shrapnel or “frag” – fast-moving pieces of metal thrown off by a detonation, leaving 10 people seriously injured, and one in a critical condition. Among wounded is also a pregnant women.

The investigation is led by the National anti-terrorist committee, however the word “terrorism” is avoided in public discourse; the video with major suspect entering the supermarket, and some other images of the interior with damages were published by the anti-terrorist committee as well. The obvious official hypocrisy has political  reasons.

Petersburg media interpreted the approach of the authorities as an attempt to play down the gravity of the situation, damaging New Year celebrations atmosphere in town. The issue is particularly delicate, because the blast happened in the home city of the incumbent and future President of Russia Vladimir Putin, who will be re-elected on 18 March under slogans of “stability” (read “stagnation”). The terrorist act during festivities, committed by an individual of “non-Slavic” appearance, as the investigators stated, is seriously undermining the Disney-land image of happy and stable Russia the clans at power are attempting to project, justifying their choice for continuity of Putin’s unchallenged reign.

The rise of Islamists in Russia is aggravated by open border with the Central Asian countries, influenced by Islamic State radicals, who are constructing a belt from Iraq to Afghanistan, via Central Asian countries, regrouping their forces after the major defeat of the Caliphate in the Middle East.

Russia 1917-2017 from “dictatorship of proletariat” to oligarchy

The rejection of registration to Alexey Navalny did not come as a surprise to him – the authorities fabricated lawsuits against the major critic of Kremlin to find a reason to block his ascendance, regarding him as a dangerous challenger of oligarchy. However the announcement brought to a conclusion a century of Russia’s development: from 1917 seizure of control over the entire Empire by left radicals led by Lenin imposing the “dictatorship of proletariat”  to 2017 Putin’s plutocracy, or “dictatorship of oligarchy” formed at collapse of Soviet Empire the end of last century.

In a way both are extremes so typical to Russian character, product of a rhythm of development from stagnation to crisis.

With the exclusion of Navalny from elections the pattern of further political development is becoming familiar: the biological change of generations. Its climax reflected in so-called epoch of “ostentatious funerals” of dying out members of Politburo, who were eager to try the crown of the fading Empire even for a few months before the end of their life, prolonged due to professionalism of Kremlin physicians. The political commentators were defining the state of play from the color of the walls behind the  leader addressing the nation, and mostly they were  grey ones from Soviet hospitals. “USSR is governed from hospital ward!” – exclaimed one of the critics of Communist party. Now a well-known scenario is awaiting Russians again.

Accustomed to changes caused by two major factors: biological and organic (hydrocarbons, or simply price of oil and gas – the backbone of Russian economy), or combination of two, as it happened during Gorbachev’s perestroika, Russians are patiently waiting for the end of the cycle, preferring stagnation to revolution. The intense search of truth in a century brought from dictatorship of proletariat to oligarchy, bypassing democracy. With vivid memories over ‘big robbery’ of Russians in the 90s, they are hardly prepared for another experiment, looking forward to a long stretch of stagnation ahead. To the winter of discontent…

 

Tusk squealer’s help to Russian democratic opposition

With his public declaration of being “no fan of Russia”, the president of the European Council Donald Tusk offered a squealer’s help to Russian pro-European democratic opposition at crucial time of upcoming presidential elections, discrediting their giant efforts to convince electorate that Brussels is opponent of Kremlin, but not to people of Russia. Those, who wanted to vote for opposition to Russia’s ruler Vladimir Putin, from now onwards know, that they have no friends in Brussels. The top political body – the EU Council – is chaired by an open russophobe – Donald Tusk. Many could guess previously, but this affidavit put an end to any doubt – a protagonist from Cold war times degrades the relations between Europeans and Russians.

However this ‘affidavit’ of Tusk disaffection to Russia is not only undermining the efforts of the opposition forces in Russia, because it clarifies that pro-European electorate do not have friends among the EU top players, but it also has put an end to the entire EU policy of promotion of European values, and democracy in Russia, entirely dependent on confidence of Russian people that the West wishes them well. After Tusk’s declaration this confidence was abolished: any offer from Brussels from now onwards is a poisonous chalice.

For those who followed Tusk activities from his appointment in an obscure procedure behind closed doors, the affidavit of disaffection to Russia is a finishing touch to his public profile: in opposition to the U.S. President Donald Tump, undermining the government in his native Poland,  and now openly declaring his confrontational attitude to the EU top trading partner, – Tusk demonstrates total absence of a diplomatic fiber. But not only, completely taken by his personal emotional perceptions, Tusk has been unable to raise above mediocre to level of a statesman with sense of responsibility and vision. Generously remunerated loyalty to the EU institutions, wrongly understood as an enmity to the world outside European Quarter, produced squealer’s help of an EU apparatchik, matching the worst examples of dogmatism of Soviet era, he is not able to step out.

 

Moscow reacts with reserve on Washington sanctions

The signing of a law on tougher US sanctions against Russia, North Korea and Iran by President Trump does not change anything de facto in the current situation, the Russian President’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian TASS news agency.

“The very fact of signing the law doesn’t change anything,” he said when a reporter asked him about the impact of the sanctions and a possibility of retaliation from Russia.

“What kind of measures?” Peskov went on. “No new steps. Retaliatory measures have already been taken.”

 

EU-Russia talk – falling on deaf ears

The consultations between Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini were very brief, and hardly resembled the ostentatious format of the strategic partnership, practiced between the EU and Russian in the recent past, before the Maidan revolution in Ukraine. Lavrov did not make a secret of the EU meeting taking place as an addition to his visit to Belgium, however he agreed to accept the invitation, and thanked for it, considering exchange as useful.

However even at a glance at two gloomy and tense officials one could assess the talks as a formal exercise, where none of the parties expected a rapprochement. The long list of issues from the international agenda, cited by Mogherini, just made one think how little left in common between two neighbours, sharing the responsibility for the security and stability of the European continent.

Although Lavrov expressed confidence in returning of the EU-Russia relations to  its ‘normal course’, it is difficult to imagine how this normalisation is possible with the incumbent EU leadership’ hostility towards Kremlin. The comparison of Russian press to Islamic state propaganda in a resolution of the European Parliament marks the lowest of the relations since collapse of the USSR. But high tight is possible: fragile after the departure of the second net contributor in two years time, the EU after Brexit will have no reserves to continue its ‘crusade’ against Kremlin. “Money is a nerve of war’.

Cornered by the US request to contribute to NATO according to the engagement, and cut off the UK fee to the European purse, the EU27 will be pushed to reconsider its strategy towards Moscow unable to maintain the current level of hostility for purely economic reasons. Moreover in the end of the day the heavily  indebted Ukraine does not have the required features to remain an Appel of Discord for long – political instability and endemic corruption make it an unsuitable  partner for the EU, and unreliable client of Siberian gas for Russians. But coming on terms with realities of life is not an easy exercise for the ambitious Brussels bureaucrats, subsequently at the moment Lavrov’s reasoning falls on deaf ears.

 

Tillerson’s voyage to Moscow

Tillerson Moscow

Anna van Densky OPINION

It does not make much sense to discuss the possible outcome of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s (pictured)  first visit to Moscow, because the new US administration was not given an opportunity to work out their political strategy, or even modify the concept of the Obama’s administration. From the moment of the inauguration the inner political struggle took all the energy and resource, hardly leaving an opportunity to bring to live any of campaign foreign policy promises,  including the alliance with Russia against international terrorism.

While eager to play the doves of peace, the Democrats intentionally pushed the Republicans into the role of demons of war. The first visit of #Hillary to Moscow with a ‘reset button’ was a sheer public relations operation, however it worked on global popularity of Obama’s administration, profiling him on long-term as Nobel peace prize winner. On contrary the faux pas of the missile offensive in Syria shapes the image of Trump as a hawk, representing the unpredictable punitive forces with tyrannic inclinations, ignoring the international laws. Rex Tillerson’s mission is defined and shaped by this spontaneous US offensive in Syria.

However the US military action in Syria by no means is a result of a profound political thought, neither a beginning of a new strategy, but a haphazard tactical move to distract attention from #russianconnectons scandal during  the initial period of Trump’s presidency.

It seems that in the eyes of President Trump’s advises the offensive in Syria is about a creation of a backdrop to spoil the game of the Democrats, an answer to #russianconnections allegations. The allegations intensely undermining president’s Trump image in an attempt of the Democrats to win majority in the Congress in the future.

Tillerson’s call to Russians to abandon president Assad is largely a rhetoric exercise for a number of reasons, not the least an absence of an alternative – there is no opposition figure in Syria able to take the responsibilities, and enhance the reconciliation process.

The talks about dismissing Assad in military action in ‘regime change’ favorite US concept are even more surrealistic after the assassination of Libya’s leader colonel Gaddafi, whose death marked a beginning of an ongoing turmoil, transferring the entire country in a huge playground of jihadists.  Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya – the US foreign policy has demonstrated an out of ordinary capacity to destroy, but not reconstruct. Subsequently in Kremlin there is an understanding of that ‘creative capacity’ of the US, and certainly there is no slightest desire to give up a secular ally as Assad, who was educated in London, to one of the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ bearded fanatics.

The decision of Kremlin to decline the meeting between Putin and Tillerson indicates the initial pessimistic modality of the talks in Russian foreign ministry, because in first place there is no political agenda or strategy. Today State Department activity is a hostage of the warfare the Democrats declared to the Republican president, rejecting to accept his power and the choice of American people.

Without any new doctrine, scattered in tactical moves the US administration is chosing for spectacular actions and loud declarations to disguise its huge problems at home. No one expects any results from Tillerson-Lavrov (illustration) talks: Russians will not bow to the US to retreat from the Middle East, leaving Assad to the  wolves and Americans, stuck with home politics problems, will continue to use tactic of distracting of public attention from its interior weakness and failures by the belligerent rhetoric and operations, flexing steroid muscles of the military-industrial complex, – the true master of the game behind the scenes.

Dulce bellum inexpertis! *

(* War seems lovely to unexperienced, Latin)

PUBLISHED in @EuropeDiplomatic

Syria: Trump starring Machiavelli

Trump US Syria

The President Trump’ missile strikes on Syria amid #RussianConnections investigation give a déjà vue feeling reminiscent of Bill Clinton’ bombing of Iraq amid #MonicaGate. The initiative of a crusade for alleged chemical weapons used by president Assad reminded many,  including UN diplomat is, the bulb with white powder, demonstrated by gen.Powell before US invasion in Iraq.  Trump’s missile strike evoked so many memories…

It is hard to belive the US President was so touched by the dead babies in Syria, as some suggest,  to order a strike in an emotional move. Just couple of weeks ago (17.03.2017) he let pass unnoticed the assassination of 300  civilians in residential area of Mosul. There were certainly babies among the Iraqi victims too, but it was qualified as an ‘an unintentional accident of war’ without any consequences for the perpetrators.

Nobody was indignant about these casualties, the slain were not honored by Ambassador Haley demonstrative grief and indignation at UN emergency meeting, and there was no urgent meeting as such. The information in the beginning came to public attention  through non-American media sources, while  the US representatives were trying to find excuses for the  massive loss of human live, ‘further investigating’ and ‘learning lesson’.

In case of late US missile strike on Syria is became clear that is was planned sometime before the alleged chemical incident reported by  human rights NGOs used by the administration in bona fide, and merely as a pretext to intervene. Why ?

The first explanation is on the surface: it allows to distract attention from ongoing #RussianConnections investigation fuelled by the Democrats. Startled to discover the President is acting towards Assad in the same lines as Hillary Clinton suggested, the opponents have to put their criticism of Trump’s foreign policy on a halt, finding themselves in confusion over the U-turn strategy of the Commander-in-Chief.

Even more so the Democrates were puzzled with stakes in prism of policy towards Russia – just a week before Rex Tillerson visit to Moscow, – the missile attack on Syria, a Russian ally, transforms the US Foreign Secretary in a powerful foe, entering Moscow in the context close to the dark times of Cold War. Although there is some feeling that the Americans were sure, that president Putin would not clash with them over a remote airbase in Syria.

Awkwardly the ‘imperialistic’ ambition of Trump’s administration would help a great deal to President’s Putin re-election (endorsement) for the fourth term, uniting the nation in face of ‘American threat’, convincing a regular Russian in need of a ‘strong man’ at a steering wheel in turbulent times.

Altogether with one strike President Trump hit many goals: distracting attention of his opponents at home, pleasing his electorate with an image of a powerful and fearless world leader, protecting world order and going back to blacks of international politics making some of the European leaders delighted by clashes with Kremlin, and later paradoxically not so discontent, how it might look at first glance, benefiting from US unlawful military action in domestic political discourse. The revival of the US ‘imperialistic ambitions’ will help Putin in re-elections (endorsement) of his fourth term by regular Russians, convincing them he is a ‘strong man’ they need to withstand the predator’s instinct of ‘American imperialism.’

Machiavelli style of President Trump, making it an almost perfect a ‘knights move,’ is certainly impressive in many ways, if not contributing to Daesh survival, but never mind. Most probably DAESH was not ment to vanish, creating a protracted conflict in the Middle East. However it is a different issue. Today the mega-winner of the strikes is the Commander-in-Chief himself. Vivat!