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Russian diplomacy vs US belligerence: the contrasting cases of Ukraine and Iran

Whilst Russia always seeks dialogue even with declared enemies, the US prefers confrontation.

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The recent dismissal of Mikhail Zurabov, Moscow’s ambassador to Kiev has raised many important points. One of the more salient points is ‘why does Moscow still have representation in a capital whose rulers are openly hostile to Russia’? This is best addressed by contrasting recent Moscow-Kiev relations with those between Iran and the United States since 1979.

Whilst there are countless historical differences, there are some strange political parallels between the Iran Revolution of 1979 and the overthrow of the Ukrainian government in 2014. The differences are more obvious. For most of its long history Persia (later Iran) was an independent kingdom. Even incursions by the Umayyad and later Abbasid Arab Caliphates were not wholly destructive forces, as the Arabs in Persia adopted some Persian customs and often ruled alongside ethnic Persians. The only serious destruction to the sovereignty of Iran came during the 13th century Mongol invasions of Persia under Genghis Khan, a destructive period Russians can historically relate to.

By contrast, there has never been a true Ukrainian state until the 20th century. The early 20th century Ukrainian States were short lived and were tainted by the shadow of multi-party civil wars. A Ukrainian state as one knows it only came about in 1991 and did so according to the historically arbitrary borders of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, drawn in the 1920s.  The history of the region was historically divided between three great powers, the Russian Tsardom, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Ottoman Empire. Areas of Eastern and South Eastern Ukraine were effectively Ottoman until the rule of Catherine The Great in the 18th century.

Except for far western regions which remind Polish territory until being granted to Austria after the defeat of Napoleon, central and north east regions were formally part of Russia since 1667 when the Truce of Andrusovo was agreed between Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In reality, such areas were Russian as early as 1654 when Cossack Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky beseeched Russia for military assistance in his rebellion against his Polish-Lithuanian overlords.

Unlike ethnic Persians who have a well-established, ancient identity, the idea of a uniquely Ukrainian identity is a very recent intellectual phenomenon. The culture and language of the region is a synthesis of Polish and Russian. The word Ukrainian itself simply translates to ‘borderland’, which explains why many in Kiev today want to call themselves Rus (adopting a Russian identify) whilst they insist on referring to people living in the modern Russian Federation as ‘Muscovy’, something which in this context is an intentionally derogatory term.

But onto more recent political realities. In 1979 Iran adopted a foreign and ideological policy which was specifically anti-American. This along with the capturing of hostages at the American embassy in Tehran led to the end of US diplomatic relations with Iran, which until the revolution had been the closet American ally in the region. Even after the Obama brokered nuclear agreement of 2016, Iranian officials continue represent themselves to Washington via the neutrality of the Swiss Embassy and US interests in Tehran are communicated via the Embassy of Pakistan. 

The current rulers in Kiev have made their regime officially anti-Russian, both in terms of pursuing policies which discriminate against and debase ethnic Russians and Russian speakers, but also in terms of  policy towards the Russian Federation. Waving a Russian flag in front of the Rada in Kiev is today as dangerous as waving the American flag in front of the Iranian Parliament in 1979.

Yet perhaps surprisingly, Russia has not broken off relations with Kiev. The precedent set by US-Iranian relations would have put Russia in a good place to do so, even if temporarily.

This implies several things. First of all, it shows that the Russian government is not willing to discard centuries of shared history, culture and government due to the whims of a radical government which does not speak to the concerns of ordinary people. Secondly, it demonstrates what many in the world believe, that a government whose founding principle is hatred, cannot withstand the storms and stresses of daily events. This is especially true of a government prone to infighting, physical violence and a kind of corruption that would make a Goodfellas style mod boss blush.

The Iranian revolution was an internal struggle between many factions ranging from communist on one side to theocratic on the other. Had a Communist, liberal or moderate conservative faction won the revolution, the consequences would have been antithetical to those which transpired in the wake of the formation of an Islamic Republic.

The events in Ukraine in 2014 were different. The chaos represented a small band of people, with interests as dangerous as narrow, being funded and encouraged by external powers.

Samantha Power (R), the American ambassador to the United Nations talks to Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, before a vote regarding the Ukrainian crisis is taken at the U.N. Security Council in New York March 15, 2014. Russia on Saturday vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that declares a planned referendum on the status of Ukraine's Crimea region "can have no validity" and urges nations and international organizations not to recognize it. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3H7P2

Samantha Power (R), the U.S. ambassador to the UN talks to Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, before a vote regarding the Ukrainian crisis is taken at the UN Security Council in New York on March 15, 2014.

Perhaps the fact that Russia has maintained its quiet diplomatic presence in Kiev means that normalcy may one day return to Kiev, bringing with it the peace and prosperity which all peoples deserve.

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Macron cuts ski holiday short, vowing crack down on Yellow Vests (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 109.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the 18th consecutive week of Yellow Vests protests in Paris. Following last weeks lower participation, Saturday’s Yellow Vests in Paris gathered larger crowds, with various outbreaks of violence and rioting that has been blamed on extreme elements, who French authorities claim have infiltrated the movement.

“Act XVIII” of the protests has shown that the Yellow Vests have not given up. France’s Champs-Élysées boulevard was where most of the violence occurred, with the street being left in a pile of broken glass and flames.

One day after Paris was set ablaze, French President Emmanuel Macron cut his ski holiday short, returning to Paris and vowing to take “strong decisions” to prevent more violence.

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Via Zerohedge


Paris awoke on Sunday to smouldering fires, broken windows and looted stores following the 18th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.

Around 200 people were arrested according to BFM TV, while about 80 shops near the iconic Champs Elysees had been damaged and/or looted according to AFP, citing Champs Elysees committee president Jean-Noel Reinhardt.

The 373-year-old Saint Sulpice Roman Catholic church was set on fire while people were inside, however nobody was injured. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

The riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron skied on Friday, telling La Depeche du Midi “I’m going to spend two-three days here to relax, to find landscapes and friendly faces,” adding “I’m happy to see the Pyrenees like that, radiant, although I know it was more difficult at Christmas” referring to the lack of snow in December.

In response to Saturday’s violence, Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

The French President has family ties in the Hautes-Pyrénées, including Bagnères de Bigorre where his grandmother lived. He is a regular visitor to the region.

Emmanuel Macron (2ndL), head of the political movement In Marche! (Onwards!) And candidate for the 2017 presidential election, and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (L) have lunch April 12, 2017 (Reuters)

 

 

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Vesti calls out Pompeo on lying about Russia invading Ukraine [Video]

Secretary Pompeo displayed either stunning ignorance or a mass-attack of propaganda about what must be the most invisible war in history.

Seraphim Hanisch

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After the 2014 Maidan revolution and the subsequent secessions of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and after the rejoining of Crimea with its original nation of Russia, the Western media went on a campaign to prove the Russia is (/ was / was about to / had already / might / was thinking about / was planning to … etc.) invade Ukraine. For the next year or so, about every two weeks, internet news sources like Yahoo! News showed viewers pictures of tanks, box trucks and convoys to “prove” that the invasion was underway (or any of the other statuses confirming the possibilities above stated.) This information was doubtless provided to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Apparently, Secretary Pompeo believed this ruse, or is being paid to believe this ruse because in a speech recently, he talked about it as fact:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine an attempt to gain access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.

He stated this at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, the USA, Reuters reports.

Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish what he called “bad actors” on the world stage.

The United States has imposed harsh sanctions in the past several months on two major world oil producers, Venezuela and Iran.

Pompeo said the U.S. oil-and-gas export boom had given the United States the ability to meet energy demand once satisfied by its geopolitical rivals.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to a natural gas pipeline expansion from Russia to Central Europe.

Pompeo called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an attempt to gain access to the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Although the state-run news agency Vesti News often comes under criticism for rather reckless, or at least, extremely sarcastic propaganda at times, here they rightly nailed Mr. Pompeo’s lies to the wall and billboarded it on their program:

The news anchors even made a wisecrack about one of the political figures, Konstantin Zatulin saying as a joke that Russia plans to invade the United States to get its oil. They further noted that Secretary Pompeo is uneducated about the region and situation, but they offered him the chance to come to Russia and learn the correct information about what is going on.

To wit, Russia has not invaded Ukraine at all. There is no evidence to support such a claim, while there IS evidence to show that the West is actively interfering with Russia through the use of Ukraine as a proxyWhile this runs counter to the American narrative, it is simply the truth. Ukraine appears to be the victim of its own ambitions at this point, for while the US tantalizes the leadership of the country and even interferes with the Orthodox Church in the region, the country lurches towards a presidential election with three very poor candidates, most notably the one who is president there now, Petro Poroshenko.

However, the oil and gas side of the anti-Russian propaganda operation by the US is significant. The US wishes for Europe to buy gas from American suppliers, even though this is woefully inconvenient and expensive when Russia is literally at Europe’s doorstep with easy supplies. However, the Cold War Party in the United States, which still has a significant hold on US policy making categorizes the sale of Russia gas to powers like NATO ally Germany as a “threat” to European security.

It is interesting that Angela Merkel herself does not hold this line of thinking. It is also interesting and worthy of note, that this is not the only NATO member that is dealing more and more with Russia in terms of business. It underscores the loss of purpose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization suffers now since there is no Soviet Union to fight.

However, the US remains undaunted. If there is no enemy to fight, the Americans feel that they must create one, and Russia has been the main scapegoat for American power ambitions. More than ever now, this tactic appears to be the one in use for determining the US stance towards other powers in the world.

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Ariel Cohen exposes Washington’s latest twist in anti-Russia strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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