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From ‘The Great Game’ to Ukraine: How the West’s anti-Russian narratives always turn out wrong

Subsequent scholarship shows that each and every narrative the West invents about a supposedly “expansionist” Russia is wrong. The Ukrainian conflict is simply the latest example in the series.

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Arthur Schopenhauer said that “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident”. There are two stark examples of this in respect of relations between Russia and western superpowers.

In the mid to late 19th century, it was very fashionable in political and scholarly circles to claim that the Russia Empire was deviously plotting to conquer British territory in Asia and that Russia would imminently use Afghanistan as an inroad to Britain’s vast Indian territory.

It was also claimed that the emergence of independent Christian states on the European frontier of the Ottoman Empire would help Russia to ultimately control the Straits and thus control Europe’s access to greater east. Britain’s propping up of a contracting Ottoman Empire to use as a sledgehammer against Russian ambitions became ingrained in Britain’s foreign policy under successive Conservative governments as part of a wider geo-political phenomenon referred to as ‘The Great Game’. 

By the middle of the 20th century, many came to describe the ‘Great Game’ as a mostly fanciful affair in which the establishment of Victorian Britain overstated the Russian threat and misread Russian interests. Lord Blake’s analysis of this period makes for valuable reading.

At the same time that British scholars were rushing to discredit 19th century policies against Russia, American leaders spoke constantly of the Soviet threat and most famously, Senator Joseph McCarthy led hearings/show trials against suspected Communist infiltrators who allegedly sought to establish Soviet rule in America.

By the late 20th century most American intellectuals dismissed such claims, often with disdain and sarcasm. People would laugh at an America held in the grips of a ‘Red Scare’ and all of the sudden pop starts like Bob Dylan and John Lennon who ridiculed such threats in the 1960s and 70s had transformed from ‘radical song writers’ to people simply pointing out flawed policy. By the end of the cold war it became acceptable for members of the political establishment to claim they enjoyed the music of The Beatles, Dylan and even Frank Zappa.

Whilst official government policy in America, Britain and much of Continental Europe (with the exception of many southern European states) remains committed to talking up the ‘Russian threat’, parties and politicians who could be described as ‘anti-establishment’ are increasingly growing tired of this factually incorrect narrative. The most well-known exponent of such views is of course Donald Trump.

However, the muted western response to Ukraine being exposed as a state sponsor of international terrorism is curious. In a sane world, leaders from all states would come to the UN and officially condemn the regime in Kiev for their attempt at taking lives and destroying infrastructure in Crimea.

They would also condemn the war crimes that Kiev, its para-militaries and its international terrorist fighters are committing in Donbass. However that would be wishful thinking as the so-called ‘responsible powers’ only condemn states for sponsoring terrorism when it is within the realm of their narrow political interests.

What is happening is that rather than performing an embarrassing about-face, the old guard who once forced the populace to swallow Hollywood style videos about impoverished Ukrainians wanting to live like rich Swedes whilst ignoring videos of fascists marching with torches chanting about their joy at the killings of Russians, Jews and Poles, are now slowly burying their heads in the sand and wishing the whole situation away.

The West took a gamble that the fascists would put on civilian clothes and speak in coded language.  Instead they got a Rada in Kiev that is one part circus and one part beer hall putsch (with an emphasis on the alcohol). They took a gamble that an IMF dictated neo-liberal economy would easily spring up, but instead all international neo-liberals have packed up and left leaving a corrupt economic swamp in which Mafioso politicians line their pockets more than ever before.

They bet on the fact that Russia would be too intimidated by the shadow of the 1990s to stand up for her comrades begging to be free. They bet on the fact that Russia would remain silent on the international stage when atrocities were committed against ethnic Russians.  In all of these gambles, the West has lost and lost badly. And this is before they bothered to realise that all Ukrainian industrial standards are in line with Russian ones and are highly incompatible with European standards, making any would have been free trade deal more or less a damp squib. 

Ukraine is now Iraq without the oil; divided, impoverished, corrupt, with regions breaking away, and terrorism and war rife.  Donbass is governed independently and likely always will be until some future stage when it will likely join the Eurasian Union and possibly beyond that, formally become republics of the Russian Federation. Crimea is as much a part of Russia as the Leningrad Oblast and will be defended from terror by the Russia state to the same degree.   

Because the terrorists in Ukraine do not threaten those in France, Germany or America, the western public has little interest in the events. Even if George Soros attempts to fund further propaganda videos, few people will be terribly bothered to watch them.

In the 1990s, many in the West looked back with embarrassment at all the money spent on bomb shelters, air raid sirens and education about how hiding under a plywood desk would shelter children from a nuclear blast. It all seems rather quaint and hyperbolic now. Maybe in 15 or 20 years time, people will look back on this era, dig out the archival CNN reports and say ‘did they really say that’/ ‘did they really mean that’?

But this of course can only happen if a tired Western establishment is not replaced with one which will redouble the efforts of the discredited leadership of Holland, the disgraced leadership of Cameron and the failed leadership of Obama. The new British Prime Minister speaks of dropping a nuclear weapon with a callously straight face, Hillary Clinton has never met a war she didn’t champion. To quote Churchill, “This is not the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning”.

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Peace on Korean Peninsula within reach, if only Trump can remove Pompeo & Bolton (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 152.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss the results of the Putin-Kim summit in Vladivostok, Russia, aimed at boosting bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries, as well as working to contribute to a final peace settlement on the Korean peninsula.

Putin’s meeting with Kim may prove to be a pivotal diplomatic moment, as North Korea continues to work towards normalizing ties with the U.S. amidst ongoing denuclearization talks with the Trump White House.

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Via the BBC…

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un needs international security guarantees if he is to end his nuclear programme.

Such guarantees would need to be offered within a multinational framework, he added, following talks near Vladivostok in Russia’s far east.

Mr Kim praised the summit as a “very meaningful one-on-one exchange”.

Mr Putin said North Korea’s leader was “fairly open” and had “talked freely on all issues that were on the agenda”.

The meeting followed the breakdown of talks between the US and North Korea in February, when Mr Kim met US President Donald Trump in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

Those talks reportedly stalled over North Korea’s demand for full economic sanctions relief in return for some denuclearisation commitments – a deal the US was not willing to make.

Speaking after the talks on Thursday, Mr Putin said he wanted to see full denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

But he said this could only be achieved through respect for international law.

“We need to restore the power of international law, to return to a state where international law, not the law of the strongest, determines the situation in the world,” he said.

Mr Kim greeted Russian officials warmly when he arrived in Russia on Wednesday.

The North Korean leader was entertained by a brass band in Vladivostok before he got inside a car flanked by bodyguards, who – in now familiar scenes – jogged alongside the vehicle as it departed.

What do we know about the summit?

According to the Russian presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin believes the six-party talks on North Korea, which are currently stalled, are the only efficient way of addressing the issue of nuclear weapons on the peninsula.

Those talks, which began in 2003, involve the two Koreas as well as China, Japan, Russia and the US.

“There are no other efficient international mechanisms at the moment,” Mr Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

“But, on the other hand, efforts are being made by other countries. Here all efforts merit support as long as they really aim at de-nuclearisation and resolving the problem of the two Koreas.”

What do both sides want?

This visit is being widely viewed as an opportunity for North Korea to show it has powerful allies following the breakdown of the talks with the US in February.

The country has blamed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the collapse of the Hanoi summit. Earlier this month North Korea demanded that Mr Pompeo be removed from nuclear talks, accusing him of “talking nonsense” and asking for someone “more careful” to replace him.

The summit is also an opportunity for Pyongyang to show that its economic future does not depend solely on the US. Mr Kim may try to put pressure on Moscow to ease sanctions.

Analysts say the summit is an opportunity for Russia to show that it is an important player on the Korean peninsula.

President Putin has been eager to meet the North Korean leader for quite some time. Yet amid the two Trump-Kim summits, the Kremlin has been somewhat sidelined.

Russia, like the US and China, is uncomfortable with North Korea being a nuclear state.

How close are Russia and North Korea?

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union (of which Russia is the main successor state) maintained close military and trade links with its communist ally, North Korea, for ideological and strategic reasons.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, trade links with post-communist Russia shrank and North Korea leaned towards China as its main ally.

Under President Putin, Russia recovered economically and in 2014 he wrote off most of North Korea’s Soviet-era debt in a major goodwill gesture.

While it is arguable how much leverage Russia has with the North today, the communist state still regards it as one of the least hostile foreign powers.

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Putin meets Kim for the first time (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at the historic meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the city of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.

The meeting marks the first ever summit between the two leaders.

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Via RT…

Leaders of Russia and North Korea sat down for a historic summit in Vladivostok, expressing hope it will revive the peace process in the Korean Peninsula and talks on normalizing relations with the US.

The summit on Russky Island, just off Vladivostok, started a little late because President Vladimir Putin’s flight was delayed. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had made the trip by train, arriving on Wednesday.

In brief public remarks before the talks, the two leaders expressed hope the summit will help move forward the reconciliation process in the Korean Peninsula. Putin welcomed Kim’s contributions to “normalizing relations” with the US and opening a dialogue with South Korea.

Kim said he hoped the Vladivostok summit would be a “milestone” in the talks about denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, but also build upon “traditionally friendly ties” between Russia and North Korea.

The North Korean leader also made a point of thanking Putin for flying all the way to Vladivostok for the meeting. The Far East Russian city is only 129 kilometers from the border with North Korea.

The historic summit takes place less than two months after Kim’s second summit with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi fell apart without a breakthrough on denuclearization. The US rejected North Korea’s request for partial sanctions relief in return for moves to dismantle nuclear and missile programs; Washington insists on full disarmament before any sanctions are removed.

Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the main subject of the Kim-Putin summit, but there will also be talks about bilateral relations, trade, and humanitarian aid. The first one-on-one meeting is scheduled to last about an hour, followed by further consultations involving other government officials.

Following the summit, Putin is scheduled to visit China.

 

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Kim And Putin: Changing The State Of The Board In Korea

The future of Korea could be decided by these two men today.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


Today is a big day for Korea. The first face-to-face summit of Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un takes place.

At the same time the 2nd annual Belt and Road Forum kicks off in Beijing.

This meeting between Putin and Kim has been in the works for a while but rumors of it only surfaced last week. But don’t let the idea that this was put together at the last minute fool you.

It wasn’t.

The future of Korea could be decided by these two men today.

I know that sounds bold. But hear me out.

And while no one seems to think this meeting is important or that anything of substance will come from it I do. It is exactly the kind of surprise that Putin loves to spring on the world without notice and by doing so change the board state of geopolitics.

  • Russia’s entrance into Syria in 2015, two days after Putin’s historic speech at the U.N. General Assembly
  • 2018’s State of the Union address where he announced hypersonic missiles, embarrassing the U.S. Militiary-Industrial Complex which accelerated the Bolton Doctrine of subjugating the world
  • Flying 2 TU-160 nuclear-armed bombers to Venezuela, creating panic in D.C. leading to the ham-fisted regime change operations there.
  • Nationalization of Yukos.
  • The operation to secure Crimea from U.S. invasion by marines aboard the U.S.S Donald Cook during the Ukrainian uprising against Viktor Yanukovich.

Both Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping are angry at the breakdown of the talks in Hanoi back in February. It was clear that everyone expected that meeting to be a rubber stamp on a deal already agreed to by all parties involved.

In fact the two meetings between Kim and Trump were only possible because Trump convinced them of his sincerity to resolve the ‘denuclearization’ of North Korea which would clear a path to rapid reunification.

It’s why they went along with the U.S.’s increased sanctions on North Korea as administered through the U.N. in 2017.

That John Bolton and Mike Pompeo destroyed those talks and Trump was unwilling or unable (who cares at this point, frankly, useless piece of crap that he is) to stop them embarrassed and betrayed them.

They are now done with Trump.

He’ll get nothing from either of them or Kim until Trump can prove he’s in charge of his administration, which he, clearly, is not.

And they will be moving forward with their own agenda for security and Asian economic integration. So I don’t think the timing of this meeting with that of the Belt and Road Forum is an accident.

And that means moving forward on solving the Korea problem without Trump.

It is clear from the rhetoric of Putin’s top diplomat, the irreplaceable Sergei Lavrov, that Russia’s patience is over. They are no longer interested in what Trump wants and they will now treat the U.S. as a threat, having upped their military stance towards the U.S. to that of “Threat.”

If Bolton wants anything from Russia at this point he best be prepared to start a war or piss off.

This is also why Russia took the gloves off with Ukraine in the run up to the Presidential elections, cutting off energy and machinery exports with Ukraine.

To put paid Putin’s growing impatience with U.S. policies, he just issued the order to allow residents of Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics to apply for Russian passports.

This will send Bolton into apoplexy. Angela Merkel of Germany will be none too pleased either. Putin is now playing hardball after years of unfailing politeness.

It’s also why Lavrov finalized arms and port deals all over the Middle East in recent weeks, including those with Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and India.

Bolton, Pompeo and Pence are ideologues. Trump is a typical Baby Boomer, who lives in a bubble of his own design and believes in an America that never existed.

None of them truly understand the fires they are stoking and simply believe in the Manifest Destiny of the U.S. to rule the world over a dim and barbaric world.

Putin, Xi, Rouhani in Iran and Kim in North Korea are pragmatic men. They understand the realities they live in. This is why I see Putin willing tomorrow to sit down with Kim and flaunt the U.N. sanctions and begin the investment process into North Korea that should have begun last year.

Putin would not be making these moves if he didn’t feel that Bolton was all bark and no bite when it came to actual war with Russia. He also knows that Germany needs him more than he needs Germany so despite the feet-dragging and rhetoric Nordstream 2 will go forward.

Trade is expanding between them despite the continued sanctions.

Putin may be willing to cut a deal with President-elect Zelensky on gas transit later in the year but only if the shelling of the LPR and DPR stops and he guarantees no more incidents in the Sea of Azov. This would also mollify Merkel a bit and make it easier for her politically to get Nordstream 2 over the finish line.

There are moments in history when people go too far. Bolton and Pompeo went too far in Hanoi. He will pay the price now. Putin and Kim will likely agree to something in Vladivostok that no one is expecting and won’t look like much at first.

But the reality is this summit itself marks a turning point in this story that will end with the U.S. being, in Trump’s transactional parlance, a “price taker” since it has so thoroughly failed at being a “price maker.”

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