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India and Russia: a friendship enduring and passionate

Russian President Putin and Indian Prime Minister Modi showed at SPIEF in St. Petersburg a continued determination to preserve a strong mutual relationship between India and Russia which for all the continued tensions also ties India and China together.

Alexander Mercouris

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The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (“SPIEF”) which Russia holds every year in early summer in St.Petersburg invariably highlights Russia’s relations with one particular country.  This year that country was India.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended SPIEF at the head of a strong Indian delegation.  He had a bilateral meeting with Russian President Putin, and together with Putin attended SPIEF’s plenary session.

Putin and Modi then attended together a meeting with Indian business people who had come with Modi to SPIEF, a package of economic and other agreements focused mainly on upgrades to India’s infrastructure followed, and Putin and Modi rounded up their series of meetings with public statements reaffirming in fulsome terms the close friendship between the two countries.

This very friendly relationship between India and Russia is in many ways surprising.

The two countries do not have a close economic relationship, though part of the purpose of the meetings between Putin and Modi was to try to make it closer.

The two countries do cooperate in defence related matters, with Russia apparently in advanced talks to supply India with S-400 surface to air missiles to India.  However defence cooperation between the two countries is no longer as close as it once was.  India has pulled out of the joint IL-214 medium transport aircraft programme, has chosen to buy Rafale fighter jets from France in preference to MiG-35 fighters from Russia, and is reported to be having doubts about its joint development of a two seat fifth generation fighter based on Russia’s SU-T50, which is currently on flight test.

On international questions India has a fractious relationship with Russia’s great ally China, regards China’s ally Pakistan – with which Russia is improving relations – as its primary enemy, and has been improving its relations with the US, with which Russia’s relationship is extremely difficult.

Nonetheless political relations between India and Russia remain close, and the personal relationship between Putin and Modi appears to be extremely warm.

What explains this in some ways surprisingly strong relationship?

A major factor is sentiment.

The Russians have an enduring fascination with India extending far back into the nineteenth century, as reflected for example in Rimsky Korsakov’s Song of the Indian Guest, the Russian ballet La Bayadère (“the Indian Temple dancer”), and the curious Indian influenced Theosophical ideas of Madame Blavatsky.

These expressions of nineteenth century Orientalism took place in Russia alongside rigorous academic study of Indian culture and philosophy, in which Russia continues to excel to this day.  One of the best and most complete translations in any European language of the great Indian liturgical poem the Rigveda is in Russian, made in Russia by the great Russian scholar Tatyana Elizarenkova as part of a huge translation project starting in the 1970s.

Tsarist Russia however had no political relationship with India, which would in fact have been impossible during this period when India was part of the British empire.  Subsequently, after the 1917 Revolution, the Soviets took a strong interest in the Indian independence movement but disapproved of the pacifist and religiously oriented line followed by India’s two independence leaders, Gandhi and Nehru.

However following Indian independence relations between the USSR and India became extremely close.

The USSR lost no time establishing diplomatic relations with India after India gained independence in 1948, and Krishna Menon, India’s ambassador at large, was the last foreign guest to be received by Stalin on 17th February 1953, two weeks before his death (Krishna Menon has left a vivid and insightful account of the meeting).

Krishna Menon’s meeting with Stalin was followed two years later by Indian Prime Minister Nehru’s first visit to the USSR in June 1955, and – a few months later, in November 1955 – by the reciprocal visit of Khrushchev and Bulganin to India.

Very friendly ties were established as a result of these visits.  Following his trip to the USSR Nehru supposedly spoke of having left ‘part of his heart’ there, whilst Khrushchev during his visit is reported to have said that if India ever got into trouble all it needed to do was “shout across the Himalayas”.

Unquestionably the Indians were influenced by the Russians’ enthusiasm for India, but there is no doubt that Prime Minister Nehru, a socialist, also felt a strong ideological affinity for the USSR, as shown for example in these passages in his book Discovery of India

The Soviet revolution has moved human society forward by a great leap and sparked a fire that can never be extinguished. It laid the foundation of that new civilisation, towards which the world would move…..The October revolution was  undoubtedly  one of the great events of world history, the greatest since the first French revolution, and its story is more  absorbing from a human and dramatic  point of view, than any tale or phantasy….It is difficult to feel indifferent towards Russia, and it is more difficult to judge her achievements and her failures impartially….

Unsurprisingly Nehru the socialist also tended to look to the USSR for economic development models for India, as shown for example by this comment

Russia thus interests us, because it may help  us to find some solution  for the serious problems which the world faces today.. It interests us especially because conditions there have not  been, and are not even now, very dissimilar to conditions in India.  Both are vast agricultural countries with only the  beginning of industrialisation, and both have to face poverty and illiteracy.  If Russia finds a satisfactory solution for these, our work in India would be made easier.

It should be said however that despite expressing these sentiments Nehru never attempted to reproduce in India anything that remotely resembled the Soviet economic model.

Beyond these sentiments, Soviet-Indian friendship from the 1950s was consolidated by certain very clear shared geostrategic interests.

For the USSR India was a key friend during the Cold War.  Though never exactly an ally, during difficult periods in the Cold War when the USSR appeared to be threatened with international isolation the fact that the USSR had a close friend in India – by population the world’s second largest country, and a major power – was for the Soviets always psychologically reassuring.

For the Indians friendship with the USSR gave India important leverage in its relations with the US, and protection from the two countries which from the 1960s India came to see as increasingly hostile: Pakistan and China.

Indeed the simultaneous collapse of India’s and the USSR’s once close relationships with China after 1960 became a key factor in consolidating their friendship, with the pivotal event being the USSR’s decision to side with India against China in the Indo-Chinese border war of 1962.

The decade after 1962 was the heyday of Indian-Soviet friendship, with the USSR re-equipping the Indian armed forces, building after 1964 a huge complex in India to build MiG-21 fighters, and making major investments in India’s heavy industry and technology base.

Soviet political, diplomatic and military assistance was also crucial in enabling India to win the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, which conclusively established India as the dominant power on the Indian subcontinent.

Inevitably such an intense relationship between India and the USSR created conditions for a strong friendship, which has never ceased.

The Russians during this period became accustomed to thinking of India as a friend, whilst the Indians for their part could not ignore or overlook the fact that in every major crisis India faced after independence it could always rely on support from the USSR.

This close relationship between the USSR and India however always had a somewhat artificial character.

Though the USSR played a major role in the 1960s in upgrading India’s industrial and technological base, the economic relationship was never reciprocal since the centrally planned Soviet economy was ill adapted to trade relationships with third countries outside the Soviet sphere, and India anyway at this time had little to offer which was of interest to the USSR’s planners.

The result was that when the USSR disintegrated in 1991 there was no firm basis for the economic links which had been forged in the 1960s to continue.  Economic contacts between the two countries dwindled and have never since then been strong.  Today the trade relationship between Russia and India is barely significant, with neither country featuring amongst the significant trading partners of the other.

It has also been the case that since 1991 the two countries have become significantly less important to each other politically.

The disintegration of the USSR in 1991 led to a steep decline in Russian power at precisely the time when the Indian economy began to put on speed and when India began to forge strong diplomatic ties with other states, notably since 2000 with the US.

Moreover whereas in the 1960s the USSR’s economy dwarfed India’s, today India’s economy is larger than Russia’s, though the standard of living in India continues to be lower than in Russia.  Inevitably that reduces the attraction for India of economic ties with Russia.

Overshadowing everything is the rise of China and the change in attitude of the two countries towards China.

Whereas India continues to have a prickly and often rivalrous relationship with China, Russia has become China’s ally.

The paradox in this is that whilst India’s economic relationship with Russia is extremely limited, its political relations with Russia remain friendly, whereas India’s economic relationship with China – its biggest trade partner – is very strong, but its political relations are very uneasy.

The talks between Putin and Modi at SPIEF were mainly intended to find some way to renew the economic relationship between the two countries and to bring it back to something approaching its earlier level.  Given that the two countries are not however obvious trade partners it is uncertain whether this can succeed.

The political relationship between the two countries however remains important.  The history of friendly ties forged during the heyday of Soviet-Indian friendship in the 1960s, and the fact that the two countries have never had serious conflicts with each other, means that at a political level they continue to get on well with each other.  Moreover though their friendship has less value to each country than it did in the 1960s, the fact that they are still friends continues to give them diplomatic leverage in their respective relations with the US and China whilst acting as a generally stabilising factor in international affairs.

The friendship between Russia and China also has one other potentially important advantage for India especially.  It provides a bridge between India and China, enabling India and China to use their good relations with Russia to manage their sometimes difficult relationship with each other.

Putin – with Modi sitting right beside him – discussed this at length during during the plenary session at SPIEF

You know, disagreements always have been and still are part of the fabric of our world. Our task – mine, and President Xí Jinping’s and Prime Minister Modi’s – is to find streets, two-way streets, despite all these disagreements, rather than get stuck in dead ends.

Once the three of us – the President of Russia, and the leaders of China and India – got together here some time in 2005 despite all the difficulties, including regional disagreements. We agreed to get together and resolve common problems. This work was launched despite all the difficulties and disagreements.

It was launched and went so well that Brazil and the South African Republic wanted to join us. This led to the emergence of BRICS, which is a major factor in international affairs today. I believe this is a very positive process, and that is how it is viewed by the People’s Republic of China, by the Chinese leaders.

I spoke about this fairly recently, maybe at yesterday’s meeting with the heads of news agencies – we conducted border talks with China for forty years but owing to the atmosphere that was created in our bilateral relations we managed to find a compromise. Of course, one could say that we gave in on something or China gave in on something, but we got it done and it created more opportunities for advancing relations.

We have never had any problems with India. I hope we never will have any. On the contrary, we have only positives, and there are a great many. I am referring to our historical cooperation. Yesterday we signed a number of agreements that are aimed at developing the already traditional areas of cooperation as well as new ones.

We are trying to find new forms of interaction and, naturally, we want to focus on innovative sectors of the modern economy first and foremost. This certainly applies to the nuclear industry, as you mentioned. A number of units are already operating in India and we have ambitious plans for future cooperation. There are very interesting and promising areas for us to work in.

We will provide comprehensive support to those who are involved in this because such cooperation will benefit the people of both India and Russia and, actually, the entire region. This will also facilitate the implementation of the Chinese leadership’s projects related to the Silk Road. We spoke about coordinating efforts of the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Silk Road plans. There are always issues that require additional study. But we want to follow this path and we will follow it, and provided there is goodwill, we most certainly will achieve success.

(bold italics added)

Though India and China have a prickly relationship, it is in neither of their interests to become outright enemies, a fact fully understood by both.  It therefore suits each of them to have in Russia a powerful country which is friendly to both of them, providing a link between them.

This is the reverse of the situation in the 1960s when what brought the USSR and India together was their shared enmity with China.  Today on the contrary it is the fact that Russia is an ally of China’s that makes its friendship valuable to India.

Whether the Russians can continue to act successfully as a link between the Chinese and the Indians will depend on how successfully these three Great Powers manage their relations with each other.

The interactions between the Russians and the Indians at SPIEF show that they both understand the nature of this relationship and that they both seem determined to maintain it on a strong level with each other.

That in turn promises well for future relations between India and China for all the continuing difficulties which exist between the two of them.

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Ukraine Wants Nuclear Weapons: Will the West Bow to the Regime in Kiev?

Efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation are one of the few issues on which the great powers agree, intending to continue to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and to prevent new entrants into the exclusive nuclear club.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The former Ukrainian envoy to NATO, Major General Petro Garashchuk, recently stated in an interview with Obozrevatel TV:

“I’ll say it once more. We have the ability to develop and produce our own nuclear weapons, currently available in the world, such as the one that was built in the former USSR and which is now in independent Ukraine, located in the city of Dnipro (former Dnipropetrovsk) that can produce these kinds of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Neither the United States, nor Russia, nor China have produced a missile named Satan … At the same time, Ukraine does not have to worry about international sanctions when creating these nuclear weapons.”

The issue of nuclear weapons has always united the great powers, especially following the signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The decision to reduce the number of nuclear weapons towards the end of the Cold War went hand in hand with the need to prevent the spread of such weapons of mass destruction to other countries in the best interests of humanity. During the final stages of the Cold War, the scientific community expended great effort on impressing upon the American and Soviet leadership how a limited nuclear exchange would wipe out humanity. Moscow and Washington thus began START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) negotiations to reduce the risk of a nuclear winter. Following the dissolution of the USSR, the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances persuaded Ukraine to relinquish its nuclear weapons and accede to the NPT in exchange for security assurances from its signatories.

Ukraine has in recent years begun entertaining the possibility of returning to the nuclear fold, especially in light of North Korea’s recent actions. Kim Jong-un’s lesson seems to be that a nuclear deterrent remains the only way of guaranteeing complete protection against a regional hegemon. The situation in Ukraine, however, differs from that of North Korea, including in terms of alliances and power relations. Kiev’s government came into power as a result of a coup d’etat carried out by extremist nationalist elements who seek their inspiration from Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. The long arm of NATO has always been deeply involved in the dark machinations that led to Poroshenko’s ascendency to the Ukrainian presidency. From a geopolitical point of view, NATO’s operation in Ukraine (instigating a civil war in the wake of a coup) follows in the footsteps of what happened in Georgia. NATO tends to organize countries with existing anti-Russia sentiments to channel their Russophobia into concrete actions that aim to undermine Moscow. The war in the Donbass is a prime example.

However, Ukraine has been unable to subdue the rebels in the Donbass region, the conflict freezing into a stalemate and the popularity of the Kiev government falling as the population’s quality of life experiences a precipitous decline. The United States and the European Union have not kept their promises, leaving Poroshenko desperate and tempted to resort to provocations like the recent Kerch strait incident or such as those that are apparently already in the works, as recently reported by the DPR authorities.

The idea of Ukraine resuming its production of nuclear weapons is currently being floated by minor figures, but it could take hold in the coming months, especially if the conflict continues in its frozen state and Kiev becomes frustrated and desperate. The neoconservative wing of the American ruling elite, absolutely committed to the destruction of the Russian Federation, could encourage Kiev along this path, in spite of the incalculable risks involved. The EU, on the other hand, would likely be terrified at the prospect, which would also place it between a rock and a hard place. Kiev, on one side, would be able to extract from the EU much needed economic assistance in exchange for not going nuclear, while on the other side the neocons would be irresponsibly egging the Ukrainians on.

Moscow, if faced with such a possibility, would not just stand there. In spite of Russia having good relations with North Korea, it did not seem too excited at the prospect of having a nuclear-armed neighbor. With Ukraine, the response would be much more severe. A nuclear-armed Ukraine would be a red line for Moscow, just as Crimea and Sevastopol were. It is worth remembering the Russian president’s words when referring to the possibility of a NATO invasion of Crimea during the 2014 coup:

“We were ready to do it [putting Russia’s nuclear arsenal on alert]. Russian people live there, they are in danger, we cannot leave them. It was not us who committed to coup, it was the nationalists and people with extreme beliefs. I do not think this is actually anyone’s wish – to turn it into a global conflict.”

As Kiev stands on the precipice, it will be good for the neocons, the neoliberals and their European lackeys to consider the consequences of advising Kiev to jump or not. Giving the nuclear go-ahead to a Ukrainian leadership so unstable and detached from reality may just be the spark that sets off Armageddon.

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Mike Pompeo lays out his vision for American exceptionalism (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 158.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda take a look at Mike Pompeo’s shocking Brussels speech, where the U.S. Secretary of State took aim at the European Union and United Nations, citing such institutions as outdated and poorly managed, in need of a new dogma that places America at its epicenter.

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Speaking in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unwittingly underscored why nobody takes the United States seriously on the international stage. Via The Council on Foreign Relations


In a disingenuous speech at the German Marshall Fund, Pompeo depicted the transactional and hypernationalist Trump administration as “rallying the noble nations of the world to build a new liberal order.” He did so while launching gratuitous attacks on the European Union, United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund (IMF)—pillars of the existing postwar order the United States did so much to create. He remained silent, naturally, on the body blows that the current administration has delivered to its erstwhile allies and partners, and to the institutions that once upon a time permitted the United States to legitimate rather than squander its international leadership.

In Pompeo’s telling, Donald J. Trump is simply seeking a return to the world that former Secretary of State George Marshall helped to create. In the decades after 1945, the United States “underwrote new institutions” and “entered into treaties to codify Western values of freedom and human rights.” So doing, the United States “won the Cold War” and—thanks to the late President George H. W. Bush, “we won the peace” that followed. “This is the type of leadership that President Trump is boldly reasserting.”

That leadership is needed because the United States “allowed this liberal order to begin to corrode” once the bipolar conflict ended. “Multilateralism has too often become viewed as an end unto itself,” Pompeo explained. “The more treaties we sign, the safer we supposedly are. The more bureaucrats we have, the better the job gets done.” What is needed is a multilateralism that once again places the nation-state front and center.

Leave aside for the moment that nobody actually believes what Pompeo alleges: that multilateralism should be an end in itself; that paper commitments are credible absent implementation, verification, and enforcement; or that the yardstick of success is how many bureaucrats get hired. What sensible people do believe is that multilateral cooperation is often (though not always) the best way for nations to advance their interests in an interconnected world of complicated problems. Working with others is typically superior to unilateralism, since going it alone leaves the United States with the choice of trying to do everything itself (with uncertain results) or doing nothing. Multilateralism also provides far more bang for the buck than President Trump’s favored approach to diplomacy, bilateralism.

Much of Pompeo’s address was a selective and tendentious critique of international institutions that depicts them as invariably antithetical to national sovereignty. Sure, he conceded, the European Union has “delivered a great deal of prosperity to the continent.” But it has since gone badly off track, as the “political wake-up call” of Brexit showed. All this raised a question in his mind: “Is the EU ensuring that the interests of countries and their citizens are placed before those of bureaucrats and Brussels?”

The answer, as one listener shouted out, is “Yes!” The secretary, like many U.S. conservative critics of European integration, is unaware that EU member states continue to hold the lion’s share of power in the bloc, which remains more intergovernmental than supranational. Pompeo seems equally unaware of how disastrously Brexit is playing out. With each passing day, the costs of this catastrophic, self-inflicted wound are clearer. In its quest for complete policy autonomy—on ostensible “sovereignty” grounds—the United Kingdom will likely have to accept, as the price for EU market access, an entire body of law and regulations that it will have no say in shaping. So much for advancing British sovereignty.

Pompeo similarly mischaracterizes the World Bank and IMF as having gone badly off track. “Today, these institutions often counsel countries who have mismanaged their economic affairs to impose austerity measures that inhibit growth and crowd out private sector actors.” This is an odd, hybrid critique. It combines a shopworn, leftist criticism from the 1990s—that the international financial institutions (IFIs) punish poor countries with structural adjustment programs—with the conservative accusation that the IFIs are socialist, big-government behemoths. Both are ridiculous caricatures. They ignore how much soul-searching the IFIs have done since the 1990s, as well as how focused they are on nurturing an enabling institutional environment for the private sector in partner countries.

Pompeo also aims his blunderbuss at the United Nations. He complains that the United Nations’ “peacekeeping missions drag on for decades, no closer to peace,” ignoring the indispensable role that blue helmets play in preventing atrocities, as well as a recent Government Accountability Office report documenting how cost-effective such operations are compared to U.S. troops. Similarly, Pompeo claims, “The UN’s climate-related treaties are viewed by some nations simply as a vehicle to redistribute wealth”—an accusation that is both unsubstantiated and ignores the urgent need to mobilize global climate financing to save the planet.

Bizarrely, Pompeo also turns his sights on the Organization of American States (OAS) and the African Union (AU), for alleged shortcomings. Has the OAS, he asks, done enough “to promote its four pillars of democracy, human rights, security, and economic development?” Um, no. Could that have something to do with the lack of U.S. leadership in the Americas on democracy and human rights? Yes. Might it have helped if the Trump administration had filled the position of assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs before October 15 of this year? Probably.

Equally puzzling is Pompeo’s single line riff on the AU. “In Africa, does the African Union advance the mutual interest of its nation-state members?” Presumably the answer is yes, or its members would be headed for the door. The AU continues to struggle in financing its budget, but it has made great strides since its founding in 2002 to better advance security, stability, and good governance on the continent.

“International bodies must help facilitate cooperation that bolsters the security and values of the free world, or they must be reformed or eliminated,” Pompeo declared. Sounds reasonable. But where is this “free world” of which the secretary speaks, and what standing does the United States today have to defend, much less reform it? In the two years since he took office, Donald Trump has never expressed any interest in defending the international order, much less “returning [the United States] to its traditional, central leadership role in the world,” as Pompeo claims. Indeed, the phrase “U.S. leadership” has rarely escaped Trump’s lips, and he has gone out of his way to alienate longstanding Western allies and partners in venues from NATO to the G7.

When he looks at the world, the president cares only about what’s in it for the United States (and, naturally, for him). That cynicism explains the president’s deafening silence on human rights violations and indeed his readiness to cozy up to strongmen and killers from Vladimir Putin to Rodrigo Duterte to Mohammed bin Salman to too many more to list. Given Trump’s authoritarian sympathies and instincts, Pompeo’s warnings about “Orwellian human rights violations” in China and “suppressed opposition voices” in Russia ring hollow.

“The central question that we face,” Pompeo asked in Brussels, “is the question of whether the system as currently configured, as it exists today—does it work? Does it work for all the people of the world?” The answer, of course, is not as well as it should, and not for nearly enough of them. But if the secretary is seeking to identify impediments to a better functioning multilateral system, he can look to his left in his next Cabinet meeting.

“Principled realism” is the label Pompeo has given Trump’s foreign policy. Alas, it betrays few principles and its connection to reality is tenuous. The president has abandoned any pursuit of universal values, and his single-minded obsession to “reassert our sovereignty” (as Pompeo characterizes it) is actually depriving the United States of joining with others to build the prosperous, secure, and sustainable world that Americans want.

“Bad actors have exploited our lack of leadership for their own gain,” the secretary of state declared in Belgium. “This is the poisoned fruit of American retreat.” How true. Pompeo’s next sentence—“President Trump is determined to reverse that”—was less persuasive.

 

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Russia calls on US to put a leash on Petro Poroshenko

The West’s pass for Mr. Poroshenko may blow up in NATO’s and the US’s face if the Ukrainian President tries to start a war with Russia.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Russia called on Washington not to ignore the Poroshenko directives creating an active military buildup along the Ukrainian-Donbass frontier, this buildup consisting of Ukrainian forces and right-wing ultranationalists, lest it “trigger the implementation of a bloody scenario”, according to a Dec 11 report from TASS.

The [Russian] Embassy [to the US] urges the US State Department to recognize the presence of US instructors in the zone of combat actions, who are involved in a command and staff and field training of Ukraine’s assault airborne brigades. “We expect that the US will bring to reason its proteges. Their aggressive plans are not only doomed to failure but also run counter to the statements of the administration on its commitment to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine by political and diplomatic means,” the statement said.

This warning came after Eduard Basurin, the deputy defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic noted that the Ukrainian army was massing troops and materiel for a possible large-scale offensive at the Mariupol section of the contact line in Donbass. According to Basurin, this action is expected to take place on 14 December. TASS offered more details:

According to the DPR’s reconnaissance data, Ukrainian troops plan to seize the DPR’s Novoazovsky and Temanovsky districts and take control over the border section with Russia. The main attack force of over 12,000 servicemen has been deployed along the contact line near the settlements of Novotroitskoye, Shirokino, and Rovnopol. Moreover, more than 50 tanks, 40 multiple missile launcher systems, 180 artillery systems and mortars have been reportedly pulled to the area, Basurin added. Besides, 12 BM-30 Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers have been sent near Volodarsky.

The DPR has warned about possible provocations plotted by Ukrainian troops several times. Thus, in early December, the DPR’s defense ministry cited reconnaissance data indicating that the Ukrainian military was planning to stage an offensive and deliver an airstrike. At a Contact Group meeting on December 5, DPR’s Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova raised the issue of Kiev’s possible use of chemical weapons in the conflict area.

This is a continuation of the reported buildup The Duran reported in this article linked here, and it is a continuation of the full-scale drama that started with the Kerch Strait incident, which itself appears to have been staged by Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko. Following that incident, the president was able to get about half of Ukraine placed under a 30-day period of martial law, citing “imminent Russian aggression.”

President Poroshenko is arguably a dangerous man. He appears to be desperate to maintain a hold on power, though his approval numbers and support is abysmally low in Ukraine. While he presents himself as a hero, agitating for armed conflict with Russia and simultaneously interfering in the affairs of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, he is actually one of the most dangerous leaders the world has to contend with, precisely because he is unfit to lead.

Such men and women are dangerous because their desperation makes them short-sighted, only concerned about their power and standing.

An irony about this matter is that President Poroshenko appears to be exactly what the EuroMaidan was “supposed” to free Ukraine of; that is, a stooge puppet leader that marches to orders from a foreign power and does nothing for the improvement of the nation and its citizens.

The ouster of Viktor Yanukovich was seen as the sure ticket to “freedom from Russia” for Ukraine, and it may well have been that Mr. Yanukovich was an incompetent leader. However, his removal resulted in a tryannical regíme coming into power, that resulting in the secession of two Ukrainian regions into independent republics and a third secession of strategically super-important Crimea, who voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia.

While this activity was used by the West to try to bolster its own narrative that Russia remains the evil henchman in Europe, the reality of life in Ukraine doesn’t match this allegation at all. A nation that demonstrates such behavior shows that there are many problems, and the nature of these secessions points at a great deal of fear from Russian-speaking Ukrainian people about the government that is supposed to be their own.

President Poroshenko presents a face to the world that the West is apparently willing to support, but the in-country approval of this man as leader speaks volumes. The West’s blind support of him “against Russia” may be one of the most tragic errors yet in Western foreign policy.

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