OMC diz que China violou direito internacional ao restringir exportação de terras-raras

Postado originalmente em ISAPE blog:

Metais de terras-raras estão rapidamente se tornando no próximo recurso estratégico, e a China detém quase o total monopólio de sua produção. Contudo, painel da Organização Mundial do Comércio (OMC) determinou que a China estava violando direito comercial internacional ao restringir exportação dos minérios.

Fonte: Wikimedia Commons.

Fonte: Wikimedia Commons.

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Pepe Escobar: Why the EU can’t ‘isolate’ Russia

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Why the EU can’t ‘isolate’ Russia
By Pepe Escobar

German Chancellor Angela Merkel could teach US President Barack Obama one or two things about how to establish a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As if Obama would listen. He’d rather boost his constitutional law professor self, and pompously lecture an elite eurocrat audience in the glittering Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, like he did this Wednesday, on how Putin is the greatest threat to the US-administered global order since World War II. Well, it didn’t go that well; most eurocrats were busy taking selfies or twittering.

Putin, meanwhile, met with the CEO of German engineering and electrical conglomerate Siemens, Joe Kaeser, at his official residence outside Moscow. Siemens invested more than US$1.1 billion in Russia over the past two years, and that, Kaeser said, is bound to continue. Angela was certainly taking notes.

Obama couldn’t behave otherwise. The constitutional law expert knows nothing about Russia, in his (meager) political career never had to understand how Russia works, and may even fear Russia – surrounded as he is by a coterie of spectacularly mediocre aids. His Brussels rhetorical tour de force yielded absolutely nothing – apart from the threat that if Putin persisted in his “aggression” against eastern Ukraine or even NATO members-countries the president of the United States would unroll a much stiffer sanction package.

What else is new, considering this by supreme CIA asset and former Pentagon head in the first Obama administration, Bob Gates, is what passes for political analysis in the US.

The $1 trillion game-changer 
Demonized 24/7 by the sprawling Western propaganda machine as a ruthless aggressor, Putin and his Kremlin advisers just need to play Sun Tzu. The regime changers in Kiev are already mired in a vicious catfight. [1] And even Ukraine’s acting Prime Minister Arseniy Petrovych “Yats” Yatsenyuk has identified the gloomy times ahead, stressing that the signature of the economic part of the association agreement between Ukraine and the EU has been postponed – so there will be no “negative consequences” for industrialized eastern Ukraine.

Translation: he knows this will be the kiss of death for Ukrainian industry, on top of it coupled with an imminent structural adjustment by the International Monetary Fund linked to the EU (maybe) bailing out a bankrupt Ukraine.

Asia Times Online’s Spengler coined a formulation: “A specter is haunting Europe, and that is the specter of a Russian-Chinese alliance at the expense of Europe.” The alliance is already on – manifested in the G-20, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. There are military technology synergies on the horizon – the ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense system is to be unveiled by Moscow, and Beijing would absolutely love to have it. But for the real fireworks, just wait a few weeks, when Putin visits Beijing in May.

That’s when he will sign the famous $1 trillion gas deal according to which Gazprom will supply China’s CNPC with 3.75 billion cubic feet of gas a day for 30 years, starting in 2018 (China’s current daily gas demand is around 16 billion cubic feet).

Gazprom may still collect most of its profits from Europe, but Asia is its privileged future. On the competition front, the hyper-hyped US shale “revolution” is a myth – as much as the notion the US will be suddenly increasing exports of gas to the rest of the world any time soon.

Gazprom will use this mega-deal to boost investment in eastern Siberia – which sooner rather than later will be configured as the privileged hub for gas shipments to both Japan and South Korea. That’s the ultimate (substantial) reason why Asia won’t “isolate” Russia. ( See Asia will not ‘isolate’ Russia, Asia Times Online, March 25, 2014.)

Not to mention the much-anticipated “thermonuclear” (for the petrodollar) possibility that Russia and China will agree payment for the Gazprom-CNPC deal may be in yuan or rubles. That will be the dawn of a basket of currencies as the new international reserve currency – a key BRICS objective and the ultimate, incendiary, new (economic) fact on the ground.

Time to invest in Pipelineistan 
Even though its centrality pales compared to Asia, Europe, of course, is not “expendable” for Russia. There have been rumbles in Brussels by some poodles about canceling the South Stream pipeline – pumping Russian gas underneath the Black Sea (and bypassing Ukraine) to Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Greece, Italy and Austria. The Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister, Dragomir Stoynev, said no way. Same for the Czech Republic, because it badly needs Russian investment, and Hungary, which recently signed a nuclear energy deal with Moscow.

The only other possibility for the EU would be Caspian gas, from Azerbaijan – following on the trail of the Zbig Brzezinski-negotiated Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, which was conceived expressly to bypass both Russia and Iran. As if the EU would have the will, the speed and funds to spend billions of dollars to build yet another pipeline virtually tomorrow, and assuming Azerbaijan had enough supply capacity (it doesn’t; other actors, like Kazakhstan or ultra-unreliable Turkmenistan, which prefers to sell its gas to China, would have to be part of the picture).

Well, nobody ever lost money betting on the cluelessness of Brussels eurocrats. South Stream and other energy projects will create a lot of jobs and investment in many of the most troubled EU nations. Extra sanctions? No less than 91% of Poland’s energy, and 86% of Hungary’s, come from Russia. Over 20% of the foreign lending of French banks is to Russian companies. No less than 68 Russian companies trade at the London Stock Exchange. For the Club Med nations, Russian tourism is now a lifeline (1 million went to Italy last year, for instance.)

US Think Tankland is trying to fool American public opinion into believing what the Obama administration should be applying is a replay of the “containment” policy of 1945-1989 to “limit the development of Russia as a hegemonic power”. The “recipe”: weaponize everybody and his neighbor, from the Baltic nations to Azerbaijan, to “contain” Russia. The New Cold War is on because, from the point of view of US so-called “elites”, it never really left.

Meanwhile, Gazprom’s stock price is up. Buy now. You won’t regret it.

Notes:
1. Popcorn Please While “Putin’s Agitators” Rule in Kiev, Moon of Alabama, March 26, 2014.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Perú y Chile cumplen fallo de La Haya fijando nuevos límites marítimos

Jueves 27 de Marzo de 2014, 03:19 am

Perú y Chile cumplen fallo de La Haya fijando nuevos límites marítimos

Presidente peruano destacó rápidez con la que se aplicó el fallo judicial (Foto: Andina)

 
 

 

El presidente de Perú, Ollanta Humala, destacó este miércoles que su país y Chile “han dado un ejemplo a la comunidad internacional”, dando fiel cumplimiento y ejecución al fallo de la Corte Internacional de Justicia de La Haya del pasado 27 de enero, que fijó la frontera marítima entre ambas Estados.

“Hay fallos de La Haya que han demorado más de 40 años en ejecutarse, los más cortos no han bajado de cuatro años. Hoy, tanto Perú como Chile, podemos dar un ejemplo a la comunidad internacional de cómo (un fallo) puede ser ejecutado en un plazo corto”, resaltó Humala.

En un plazo menor a dos meses, los gobiernos de Lima y Santiago lograron delimitar nuevamente su frontera marítima, gracias al “trabajo coordinado y transparente de los especialistas de ambos países”, incorporando 50 mil 172 kilómetros cuadrados de mar a la jurisdicción peruana.

“Hemos cerrado la delimitación marítima con Chile y eso a todos nosotros nos debe llenar de tranquilidad y regocijo. ¡Que viva el Perú!”, exclamó Humala, tras recibir las conclusiones del trabajo realizado por los dos equipos técnicos.

Asimismo, el Mandatario recordó que desde el mismo día de la emisión del citado fallo, Perú respetó, cumplió y ejecutó la sentencia, asumiéndola como una política de Estado.

“Ahora podemos avanzar más lejos y rápido en las relaciones que se han estado construyendo”, acotó Humala durante una breve ceremonia en Palacio de Gobierno.

El acta con las coordenadas finales de las fronteras marítimas fue suscrito el martes en Lima, por representantes de la Dirección General de Soberanía, Límites y Asuntos Antárticos del Perú, y de la Dirección Nacional de Fronteras y Límites del Estado de Chile.

El dictamen de La Haya reconoció la existencia de una frontera marítima con Perú que sigue el paralelo -como lo planteaba Chile- pero fijó su extensión sólo hasta las 80 millas desde tierra.

Desde ese punto, trazó una línea equidistante hasta las 200 millas, incorporando así a la soberanía peruana 20 mil kilómetros cuadrados de área marítima que Chile tenía bajo su control y otros 30 mil que estaban en aguas internacionales y que Perú reclamaba como suyos.

teleSUR-EFE-AFP-Andina/MARL
Fonte: Telesur

YouTube ban: How Turkish officials conspired to stage Syria attack to provoke war

YouTube ban: How Turkish officials conspired to stage Syria attack to provoke war

Published time: March 28, 2014 12:52 
Edited time: March 30, 2014 19:25
 
 

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

 

“I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey.” This leaked conversation is coming back to haunt the highest echelons of the Turkish government as it plans a provocation in Syria, while scrambling to contain social media internally.

The leaked audiotapes that reveal Turkey’s highest ministers staging an anti-Assad military intervention in Syria, have already caused YouTube to be shut down in the country, as well as leading to fevered accusations of treachery and betrayal of Turkey’s political interests – “a declaration of war,” as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu put it.

This is of course after intelligence chief Hakan Fidan suggested seizing the opportunity to secure Turkish intervention in the Syrian conflict – a war that has already claimed 140,000 lives, and counting. In the conversation, Davutoğlu is heard saying that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sees any attack as an “opportunity” to increase troop presence in Syria, where it has staunchly supported the anti-Assad rebels.

Below is a transcript of that conversation in full. The video can be found below.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: 
“Prime Minister said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on Suleiman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us.”

Hakan Fidan: 
“I’ll send 4 men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey; we can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”

 

Hakan Fidan: 
“I’ll send 4 men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey

Feridun Sinirlioğlu: 
“Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.”

Yaşar Güler: 
“It’s a direct cause of war. I mean, what’re going to do is a direct cause of war.” 
——– 
FIRST SCREEN: 
Ahmet Davutoğlu: I couldn’t entirely understand the other thing; what exactly does our foreign ministry supposed to do? No, I’m not talking about the thing. There are other things we’re supposed to do. If we decide on this, we are to notify the United Nations, the Istanbul Consulate of the Syrian regime, right?

Feridun Sinirlioğlu: But if we decide on an operation in there, it should create a shocking effect. I mean, if we are going to do so. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but regardless of what we decide, I don’t think it’d be appropriate to notify anyone beforehand.

 

Feridun Sinirlioğlu: But if we decide on an operation in there, it should create a shocking effect. I 
mean, if we are going to do so. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but regardless of what we decide, I don’t think it’d be appropriate to notify anyone beforehand.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: OK, but we’re gonna have to prepare somehow. To avoid any shorts on regarding international law. I just realised when I was talking to the president (Abdullah Gül), if the Turkish tanks go in there, it means we’re in there in any case, right?

Yaşar Güler: It means we’re in, yes.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: Yeah, but there’s a difference between going in with aircraft and going in with tanks…

SECOND SCREEN: 
Yaşar Güler: Maybe we can tell the Syrian consulate general that, ISIL is currently working alongside the regime, and that place is Turkish land. We should definitely…

Ahmet Davutoğlu: But we have already said that, sent them several diplomatic notes.

Yaşar Güler: To Syria…

Feridun Sinirlioğlu: That’s right.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: Yes, we’ve sent them countless times. Therefore, I’d like to know what our Chief of Staff’s expects from our ministry.

Yaşar Güler: Maybe his intent was to say that, I don’t really know, he met with Mr. Fidan.

Hakan Fidan: Well, he did mention that part but we didn’t go into any further details.

Yaşar Güler: Maybe that was what he meant… A diplomatic note to Syria?

Hakan Fidan: Maybe the Foreign Ministry is assigned with coordination…

 

Residents of Syria's besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus, stand amidst debris as they wait to receive food parcels on March 24, 2014. (AFP Photo / Rami Al-Sayed)

Residents of Syria’s besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus, stand amidst debris as they wait to receive food parcels on March 24, 2014. (AFP Photo / Rami Al-Sayed)

 

THIRD SCREEN: 
Ahmet Davutoğlu: I mean, I could coordinate the diplomacy but civil war, the military…

Feridun Sinirlioğlu: That’s what I told back there. For one thing, the situation is different. An operation on ISIL has solid ground on international law. We’re going to portray this is Al-Qaeda, there’s no distress there if it’s a matter regarding Al-Qaeda. And if it comes to defending Suleiman Shah Tomb, that’s a matter of protecting our land.

Yaşar Güler: We don’t have any problems with that.

Hakan Fidan: Second after it happens, it’ll cause a great internal commotion (several bombing events is bound to happen within). The border is not under control…

Feridun Sinirlioğlu:I mean, yes, the bombings are of course going to happen. But I remember our talk from 3 years ago…

Yaşar Güler: Mr. Fidan should urgently receive back-up and we need to help him supply guns and ammo to rebels. We need to speak with the minister. Our Interior Minister, our Defense Minister. We need to talk about this and reach a resolution sir.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: How did we get special forces into action when there was a threat in Northern Iraq? We should have done so in there, too. We should have trained those men. We should have sent men. Anyway, we can’t do that, we can only do what diplomacy…

 

Ahmet Davutoğlu: How did we get special forces into action when there was a threat in Northern Iraq? We should have done so in there, too. We should have trained those men. We should have sent men.

Feridun Sinirlioğlu: I told you back then, for God’s sake, General, you know how we managed to get those tanks in, you were there.

Yaşar Güler: What, you mean our stuff?

Feridun Sinirlioğlu: Yes, how do you think we’ve managed to rally our tanks into Iraq? How? How did we manage to get special forces, the battalions in? I was involved in that. Let me be clear, there was no government decision on that, we have managed that just with a single order.

FOURTH SCREEN: 
Yaşar Güler: Well, I agree with you. For one thing, we’re not even discussing that. But there are different things that Syria can do right now.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: General, the reason we’re saying no to this operation is because we know about the capacity of those men.

Yaşar Güler: Look, sir, isn’t MKE (Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation) at minister’s bidding? Sir, I mean, Qatar is looking for ammo to buy in cash. Ready cash. So, why don’t they just get it done? It’s at Mr. Minister’s command.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: But there’s the spot we can’t act integratedly, we can’t coordinate.

Yaşar Güler: Then, our Prime Minister can summon both Mr. Defence Minister and Mr. Minister at the same time. Then he can directly talk to them.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: We, Mr. Siniroğlu and I, have literally begged Mr. Prime Minster for a private meeting, we said that things were not looking so bright.

 

Turkish Foreign Affairs minister Ahmet Davutoglu (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

Turkish Foreign Affairs minister Ahmet Davutoglu (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

 

FIFTH SCREEN: 
Yaşar Güler: Also, it doesn’t have to be a crowded meeting. Yourself, Mr. Defence Minister, Mr. Interior Minister and our Chief of Staff, the four of you are enough. There’s no need for a crowd. Because, sir, the main need there is guns and ammo. Not even guns, mainly ammo. We’ve just talked about this, sir. Let’s say we’re building an army down there, 1000 strong. If we get them into that war without previously storing a minimum of 6-months’ worth of ammo, these men will return to us after two months.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: They’re back already.

Yaşar Güler: They’ll return to us, sir.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: They’ve came back from… What was it? Çobanbey.

Yaşar Güler: Yes, indeed, sir. This matter can’t be just a burden on Mr. Fidan’s shoulders as it is now. It’s unacceptable. I mean, we can’t understand this. Why?

SIXTH SCREEN: 
Ahmet Davutoğlu: That evening we’d reached a resolution. And I thought that things were taking a turn for the good. Our…

Feridun Sinirlioğlu: We issued the MGK (National Security Council) resolution the day after. Then we talked with the general…

Ahmet Davutoğlu: And the other forces really do a good follow up on this weakness of ours. You say that you’re going to capture this place, and that men being there constitutes a risk factor. You pull them back. You capture the place. You reinforce it and send in your troops again.

Yaşar Güler: Exactly, sir. You’re absolutely right.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: Right? That’s how I interpret it. But after the evacuation, this is not a military necessity. It’s a whole other thing.

SEVENTH SCREEN 
Feridun Siniroğlu: There are some serious shifts in global and regional geopolitics. It now can spread to other places. You said it yourself today, and others agreed… We’re headed to a different game now. We should be able to see those. That ISIL and all that jazz, all those organisations are extremely open to manipulation. Having a region made up of organisations of similar nature will constitute a vital security risk for us. And when we first went into Northern Iraq, there was always the risk of PKK blowing up the place. If we thoroughly consider the risks and substantiate… As the general just said…

Yaşar Güler: Sir, when you were inside a moment ago, we were discussing just that. Openly. I mean, armed forces are a “tool” necessary for you in every turn.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: Of course. I always tell the Prime Minister, in your absence, the same thing in academic jargon, you can’t stay in those lands without hard power. Without hard power, there can be no soft power.

 

Civilians inspect a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Karam Homad district in Aleppo March 26, 2014. (Reuters / Mahmoud Hebbo)

Civilians inspect a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Karam Homad district in Aleppo March 26, 2014. (Reuters / Mahmoud Hebbo)

 

EIGTH SCREEN 
Yaşar Güler: Sir.

Feridun Sinirlioğlu: The national security has been politicised. I don’t remember anything like this in Turkish political history. It has become a matter of domestic policy. All talks we’ve done on defending our lands, our border security, our sovereign lands in there, they’ve all become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.

Yaşar Güler: Exactly.

Feridun Siniroğlu: That has never happened before. Unfortunately but…

Yaşar Güler: I mean, do even one of the opposition parties support you in such a high point of national security? Sir, is this a justifiable sense of national security?

Feridun Sinirlioğlu: I don’t even remember such a period.

NINTH SCREEN: 
Yaşar Güler: In what matter can we be unified, if not a matter of national security of such importance? None.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: The year 2012, we didn’t do it 2011. If only we’d took serious action back then, even in the summer of 2012.

Feridun Sinirlioğlu: They were at their lowest back in 2012.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: Internally, they were just like Libya. Who comes in and goes from power is not of any importance to us. But some things…

Yaşar Güler: Sir, to avoid any confusion, our need in 2011 was guns and ammo. In 2012, 2013 and today also. We’re in the exact same point. We absolutely need to find this and secure that place.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: Guns and ammo are not a big need for that place. Because we couldn’t get the human factor in order…

North & South Korea exchange artillery fire across sea border

North & South Korea exchange artillery fire across sea border

Published time: March 31, 2014 04:37 
Edited time: March 31, 2014 11:28
 
 
U.S. and South Korean marines participate in a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang March 31, 2014 (Reuters / Kim Hong-Ji)

U.S. and South Korean marines participate in a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang March 31, 2014 (Reuters / Kim Hong-Ji)

The North fired several artillery shells in territory north of the North Limit Line in the Yellow Sea at 12:15pm local time (03:15 GMT), reports South Korean news agency Yonhap. After several shells landed south of the border, South Korean military opened fire with K-9 self-propelled howitzers. 

“Some of the shells fired by North Korea dropped in our area and our side responded with fire,”
 a military spokesman told AFP news agency, adding that for the moment both sides were firing into the sea. The South Korean Ministry of Defense said that North Korea had fired off 500 rounds into southern territory and the South responded with 300 rounds. 

Earlier on Monday, the North Korean People’s Army warned their southern counterparts that military drills would be conducted in seven border regions. 

“North Korea demanded South Korea control its vessels in seven regions north of the NLL before it holds the live-fire drills,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of South Korea said in a statement. “We have banned vessels from entering the training zone for the safety of residents and sailors.” 

The North has drawn international condemnation over the last couple of weeks over its ballistic missile tests. Last week the UN Security Council warned Pyongyang that there would be consequences if it continued testing its missile technology. The Security Council passed a resolution in 2006 that prohibits the testing of ballistic missile technology by Pyongyang.

Amphibious assault vehicles of the South Korean Marine Corps throw smoke bombs as they move to land on shore during a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang March 31, 2014. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

Amphibious assault vehicles of the South Korean Marine Corps throw smoke bombs as they move to land on shore during a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang March 31, 2014. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

Pyongyang regards its missile tests as an act of protest against South Korea’s ongoing joint military drills with the US, which it calls a rehearsal for an invasion.

‘New form’ of nuclear test

Pyongyang stepped up its bellicose rhetoric on Sunday and threatened to carry out a “new form” of nuclear test. Giving no further information as to the nature of the new tests, the North Korean Foreign Ministry issued a statement, decrying the UN’s condemnation of its ballistic missile tests which it considers as purely “defensive.” 

In response, Pyongyang said it will employ “more diversified nuclear deterrence,” which would be used for hitting medium- and long-range targets “with a variety of striking power.” 

“We would not rule out a new form of nuclear test for bolstering up our nuclear deterrence,” said the Foreign Ministry in an official statement published on the KNCA news agency website. 

North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in February of last year, prompting Washington to ratchet up the economic sanctions on the Asian nation. Pyongyang also carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 allegedly using a small stockpile of plutonium. The North also claims to be running a uranium enrichment program, fueling fears in the region that it will be able to produce fuel for atomic bombs

http://rt.com/news/korea-rocket-fire-border-265/

Pepe Escobar: The Kerry-Lavrov chess match

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The Kerry-Lavrov chess match
By Pepe Escobar

It’s hardly a match between equals – as one is playing Monopoly while the other plays chess. It’s as if Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been postponing his checkmate, while US Secretary of State John Kerry increasingly realizes he’s facing the inevitable. 

Lavrov has explained over and over again, a loose federation is the only possible solution for Ukraine, as part of a “deep constitutional reform”. That would imply ethnic – and even sentimentally – Russian eastern and southern Ukraine would be largely autonomous. Kerry gave signs of agreeing around two weeks ago that Ukrainian regions need more decision power; but then the White House recharged its moral blitzkrieg – coinciding with President Barack Obama’s trip to The Hague and Brussels. Still, even after an inconclusive four-hour Kerry-Lavrov chess match in Paris, there will be a checkmate.

The Russian solution is the same plan proposed by Moscow already a few weeks ago, and again discussed on the phone by Obama and President Vladimir Putin on Friday – which prompted Kerry to redirect his flight to Paris. Each Ukrainian region, according to Lavrov, would be able to control its economy, taxes, culture, language, education and “external economic and cultural connections with neighboring countries or regions”. That’s such a sound plan that even former – or perennial, depending on spin – cold warriors such as Henry Kissinger and Zbig Brzezinski reasonably agree. 

The key problem is that Washington immovably considers the present Kiev set up - also known as the Khaganate of Nulands, as in State Department Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nulands – as legitimate. Moscow sees them as a bunch of putschists and fascists. And Washington still refuses to press Kiev to accept a federal system – thus allowing, among other things, Russian as an official second language.

The latest American stunt is a massive propaganda drive of “The Reds are coming” kind, about Russian troops massing at the border(pliant corporate media spins numbers over 100,000).

Kerry, for the moment, is at least refraining from hysteria; he admits Washington and Moscow agree a diplomatic solution is a must, just to revert to the new meme – the artificial, Pentagon/NATO-spun “prelude to an invasion”.

Washington’s official position remains that Moscow must disarm its forces in Crimea (it won’t happen); admit international observers (it might happen); and pull troops back from the eastern border (Moscow argues these are exercises, with the same number as usual – fewer than 20,000). Lavrov having to stress over and over again there are no Russian plans to invade eastern Ukraine sound almost like a punch line in stand-up comedy. 

Beware The Empire of Chaos 
Then there are the upcoming presidential elections. Rivers of vodka may be bet that that will be an extremely dodgy operation. The Svoboda and Right Sector goons currently in positions of power will do everything to tamper with the results (as they are not exactly popular). After German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s horse – former boxer “Klitsch” – decided to abandon the race, the leader is – what else – an oligarch: billionaire chocolate tycoon Petro Poroshenko. He already dismissed the federal solution, as in “somebody in the Russian government trying to tell us what type of governmental system we should have”.

images

And there’s nothing about “democracy” to start with, as the regime changers, as reported by Kommersant, are in full speed already rewriting the Ukrainian constitution, with Prime Minister “Yats” Arseniy Yatseniuk urging them to come up with the final redaction within the next two weeks.

The unspoken Siberian tiger in this room is a Russian unconditional. Kiev must officially pledge that Ukraine will not join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And we all know, since the Khaganate of Nulands was installed, this was always about the Pentagon-led expansion of NATO. 

Putin’s “carrot” to Obama is something that he also told him on the phone: the future of Transnistria in Moldova, on Ukraine’s south-west border, should be solved by talks in a 5+2 format; Moldova, Transnistria, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Russia and Ukraine, with the European Union and US as observers. Once again, no “invasion” involved.

Glaring in all this is an already immovable fact – Crimea joining the Russian Federation. And there’s no turning back, whatever the US, the EU and Kiev may spin. 

But that poses an ulterior problem. Putin’s rationale to move on Crimea – after Russian intelligence uncovered a plot to replicate in Simferopol the coup in Kiev – was that Crimea’s autonomy was not enough to protect it from the regime changers. The same could be argued later about ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in eastern and southern Ukraine. So the autonomy conditions – and the constitutional reform – would have to be ironclad. They probably won’t. 

Still, the stark fact is that no one gives a damn about “the Ukrainian people”, be it the US, the EU or the International Monetary Fund (Russia at least cares for Russians in Ukraine). Another even more sensitive ulterior problem, assuming Washington and Moscow reach a deal, is how far can you trust the “word” of the United States government. Russia has first-hand experience on the matter, as in Bush father promising Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand across eastern Europe. It did – like a blob in a cheap horror flick. 

We should never forget the Big Picture; as with the NSA Orwellian-panopticon complex, this is most of all about the application of the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, which implies encirclement of Russia (via NATO), coupled with the pivot-style encirclement of China. And the overarching logic remains the same; this is The Empire of Chaos in action.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Fonte: Asia Times

Russia has no intention to send troops into Ukraine – Lavrov

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Russia has no intention to send troops into Ukraine – Lavrov

Published time: March 29, 2014 09:35
Edited time: March 31, 2014 11:16

 There is no intention in Moscow to send its troops into eastern Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. Hopefully, the growing understanding in the West of Russia’s position will allow for a de-escalation of the tension, he added.

In an interview with Rossiya 24 TV channel, Lavrov spoke on the futile western attempts to isolate Russia diplomatically, the growing acceptance of the need for constitutional reform, which Moscow proposes, the prospects of NATO’s expansion into Ukraine and the potential for global presence of the Russian Navy.

‘No isolation of Russia in UN Assembly vote on Crimea’

Question: After the G7 countries announced their decision to withdraw from the G8, it was said that now Russia is isolated in the international arena. In the UN General Assembly 100 countries voted against Russia. The claim of Russia being isolated is true, then?

Sergey Lavrov: “Isolation” is a term invented by our Western partners who act with nostalgic neo-imperial ambitions in mind. The instant something isn’t to their liking they draw out this sanctions stick. The times when such strategy could be employed are long gone. They should think about getting everyone, with no exceptions, to work together, not about isolating their partners.

I’m surprised at how obsessively they’re trying to – create rather than find – proof of Russia’s isolation. I’ve seen a lot in my time, but for major countries to use all their diplomatic resources to twist the arms of the entire world, including our closest partners, in order for them to agree with the argument about Ukraine’s territorial integrity while ignoring the rest of the principles outlined in the UN Charter? I was astonished with the alacrity. Key government institutions expend so much effort on this.

It’s the case with the UN General Assembly vote. Such results are achieved by a combination of several means. First, our Ukrainian neighbors were advised to keep the tone of their draft resolution non-confrontational and level-headed, to send a positive message of the need to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Who would oppose that? But that’s not even half of the truth, it’s just a sliver of it. You and our viewers understand what I’m talking about.

Diplomats watch electronic monitors showing a vote count, as the U.N. General Assembly voted and approved a draft resolution on the territorial integrity of the Ukraine at the U.N. headquarters in New York March 27, 2014. (Reuters / Eduardo Munoz)

Diplomats watch electronic monitors showing a vote count, as the U.N. General Assembly voted and approved a draft resolution on the territorial integrity of the Ukraine at the U.N. headquarters in New York March 27, 2014. (Reuters / Eduardo Munoz)

Then, some countries that are naïve enough for it are told, “Look, it’s such a great resolution, why don’t you sign it and become a co-sponsor.” The more experienced ones who realize what’s really going on are approached with, “If you don’t support this resolution, there will be consequences.” And then they describe these consequences. We know about that. Our colleagues come to us and confide why this or that relatively small country has to cave in. For example, they were told contracts would not be signed or political dividends would be withheld. If we take into consideration that the West in the broad sense, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan etc., amounts to about 40-something countries, basically 50 states were forced or somehow persuaded to do it.

We hold no grudge against these delegations. It will not affect our relations with them. I can’t but point out another number: about 70 countries refused to support this resolution.

Q: And if we count the countries who didn’t cast a vote that would make it 93.

SL: So basically it’s a tie. The Western propaganda machine – there’s really no other way to call it – will hail it as a great victory in the media, but we know the value of this victory.

Q: 100 countries voted against Russia. The number of countries that voted for Russia abstained or didn’t cast a vote comes up to 93. This includes the brave countries that, despite the pressure, made this choice.

SL: This is no doubt a brave thing to do. It’s not anti-Western or anti-Ukrainian. It reflects a deep understanding of what’s going on the part of the countries who didn’t vote in favor and especially those who voted against. This wasn’t about territorial integrity or Ukraine at all.

‘China understands legitimate Russian interests and concerns in Ukraine’

Q: Three weeks ago, on our program, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said that Russia expects to see moral support from China. China abstained from voting on the resolution. After that President Obama and President of China Xi Jinping held a meeting, during which, as my Western colleagues told me, the Americans were trying to persuade China to scrap gas supply contracts with Russia. And then you met with Xi Jinping. So what is China to Russia?

SL: China is a very close partner of Russia. In our joint documents our relations are defined as comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation. All of China’s actions reaffirm its commitment to the principles we agreed on. If, as you say, the Americans did try to convince China to review its economic agreements with Russia on the highest level, it’s an off-the-scale naïve or brazen attitude. I would even say that not understanding the essence of Chinese politics and mentality is just inexcusable for the officials in charge of such negotiations.

At the very beginning China said that it takes into consideration the combination of historical and political factors. China strongly opposed using non-diplomatic measures and threats of sanctions to resolve this problem. Our contacts with our Chinese partners show that they not only understand Russia’s rightful interests in this case, but are also hand-in-hand with us in the understanding of the initial causes of the current crisis in Ukraine. There is no doubt about it. President Putin and President Xi Jinping spoke on the phone. On March 24, I met with President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. BRICS foreign ministers held talks as well.

Q: Did BRICS work out the joint statement in The Hague?

SL: It’s the chairperson’s statement, which the Foreign Minister of South Africa delivered after our meeting.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) shakes hands with Swiss President Didier Burkhalter (R), whose country currently holds the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) rotating presidency, prior to their meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council session on March 3, 2014 at the UN headquarters in Geneva. (AFP Photo / Salvatore Di Nolfi)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) shakes hands with Swiss President Didier Burkhalter (R), whose country currently holds the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) rotating presidency, prior to their meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council session on March 3, 2014 at the UN headquarters in Geneva. (AFP Photo / Salvatore Di Nolfi)

‘Ukraine, not Russia hampered OSCE mission deployment’

Q: Last Saturday we informed our viewers that the OSCE agreed on the mandate of a mission to be sent to Ukraine. Why did Russia object to it initially? What’s the mission going to work on?

SL: I would say that it was our Western and Ukrainian partners that initially objected to this mission.

Q: But as usual it was presented the other way around – Russia against the rest of Europe.

SL: We’re used to that. Orwellian talents are still widely used. Russia was willing to send the OSCE mission a week before the decision was finally made. Even though everything was clear by then, our partners demanded with inexplicable determination for Crimea to be included in the mandate as part of Ukraine.

One can completely disagree with our take on the situation, one can refuse to recognize the decisions made by Russia based on the will of the Crimean people and supported by an overwhelming majority. We understand that, it happens. But it’s just diplomatic impudence or complete diplomatic incompetence to fail to comprehend the real political situation and the utter uselessness of their demands after we said we would recognize any outcome of the referendum in Crimea, telling us that despite what the President said the mandate of the mission should include Crimea as part of Ukraine.

Q: Moscow was insisting that the mission should go to western regions of Ukraine as well as eastern. Was that achieved?

SL: Taking into consideration our Western colleagues’ well-proven talents to twist words and interpret provisions, we were insisting that cities and regions be listed in the mandate instead of it just saying “mission to Ukraine.” Of course the list includes cities situated both in western and eastern parts of Ukraine, but none situated on the territory of the Republic of Crimea of the Russian Federation.

‘Denunciations of Right Sector were long overdue’

Q: Maybe then what we see is some progress not only in terms of sending an OSCE mission to Ukraine, but also new Ukrainian authorities, their legitimacy aside, dealing with the Right Sector problem, as evidenced by the last 36-48 hours.

SL: It’s taken them too long, though it’s true that [it’s] better late than never. Over a month ago I raised the issue of the Right Sector and the necessity to dissociate from the radical forces with our Western partners. I asked them a very simple question: “If you agree that we need to defuse the situation, why won’t you publicly say what the Right Sector really is?” Same to a degree goes for the Svoboda party, whose platform references The Declaration of June 30, 1941, which expressed support of Nazi Germany and its efforts to establish a new world order. According to the party’s charter, it’s still committed to this principle.

Our colleagues reacted quite strangely to our requests to at least publicly express their opinion on these forces and exert their influence on the people in Kiev who claim they’re the new authorities so that they do the same. At first they avoided the issue, and then at one of the recent meetings, I think it was in London, US Secretary of State John Kerry told me that after close scrutiny they concluded that the Right Sector was trying to become a political movement. The subtext was that it’s a good thing, and Svoboda is moving towards [the] mainstream. That’s a quote. A lot of people were present at the meeting, so I’m not revealing a secret here. I was giving examples of the opposite trend concerning these groups, starting with their urging the public to shoot Russians in the head and kill them, calling Russians names, and all the way up to the beatings that take place even in the eastern parts of Ukraine where the members of these groups consider themselves at home.

Members of the Ukrainian far-right radical group Right Sector stand outside the parliament in Kiev March 28, 2014. (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Members of the Ukrainian far-right radical group Right Sector stand outside the parliament in Kiev March 28, 2014. (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

As for what’s been happening in the last few days, let’s hope that the Ukrainian government’s statements and steps are the result of some awareness campaign conducted by our Western partners. Like I said, better late than never.

Let’s see what comes out of it and whether those in power manage to bring to heel the people they relied on to get their current positions. The recent events, that is, when the Right Sector surrounded the Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian Parliament] building again and demanded for the Interior Minister to be sacked because of [Right Sector leader] Sashko Bilyi’s death, are very telling. Whatever one might think about the circumstances of his death, which, like in any such case, should be investigated thoroughly, one can’t fail to notice the moral boost his death gave to the people wearing Right Sector colors who follow the principles we all know about. It’s a very alarming signal.

It surprised me that while Russian television, including your channel, showed the siege of the Verkhovna Rada and commented comprehensively on the events unfolding between the Right Sector and the members of parliament, on their possible ramifications, Euronews hasn’t said a word about it, with Ukraine mentioned in the context of the IMF deal in the third or fourth news piece.

Sadly, this kind of coverage is also telling. We’ll try to establish the truth through channels alternative to mainstream Western media. I hope that your alternative channels become the mainstream.

‘Sad to see OSCE justify censorship of media in Ukraine’

Q: Alternative channels – that’s another matter, since Ukrainian cable providers were banned from transmitting Russian TV channels. At first, the OSCE condemned it. As far as I understand, this issue was raised even at your talks with the Western partners. Then it was slowly moved towards the bottom of the priorities list. As the OSCE representative said, there are national interests that allow for TV censorship.

SL: Yes, Dunja Mijatović said that. Let’s just say that being the OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media, she should show more freedom in her judgments. It’s lamentable that excuses are made for banning Russian channels. Who could imagine that channels can be banned if it’s done for protecting fundamental values? However, Ms. Mijatović dismissed in the past our numerous appeals that demonstrations with fascist and neo-Nazi slogans held in a number of the OSCE countries were unacceptable, citing freedom of speech. So in Ms. Mijatović’s opinion four channels are more dangerous than neo-Nazi demonstrations in the Baltic states and a number of other countries, including Germany.

‘Idea of Ukrainian Federation no longer taboo for western diplomats’

Q: What kind of a compromise with the West is possible? Russia is on one side of the line, and the US and the West are on the other, so which points can you agree on with your colleagues?

SL: I don’t believe we’re divided by that strict a line. We’re working on aligning our positions. Based on my latest meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in The Hague and my contacts with Germany, France and a number of other countries, I can say that there’s a possibility of drafting a joint initiative that we could offer to our Ukrainian colleagues.

It’s a very important consideration, because up until now our partners have been offering to set up a contact group within the framework of which Russia and the people who seized power in Kiev would negotiate under their supervision. Such a platform is absolutely unacceptable, and that’s not even the issue. What’s happening in Ukraine now is the result of the deep crisis in the political system, triggered by the inability – I wouldn’t want to accuse anyone of deliberately avoiding it – of each successive leader to reconcile the interests of the western and southeastern regions of Ukraine. It can’t go on like this.

We are convinced that Ukraine needs a fundamental constitutional reform. To be honest, we see no other way that would ensure Ukraine’s sustainable development except becoming a federation. Maybe someone knows better, and there’s a magic formula that would make a unitary system of government work in a state where in western, eastern and southern regions people celebrate different holidays, honor different heroes, have economic structure, speak different languages and think differently and gravitate towards different European cultures. It’s tough to live in a unitary state like that.

That’s why on March 10 we gave an unofficial document outlining our vision to our American, European and Chinese partners and other colleagues, including BRICS countries.

Q: So, a constitutional reform, elections…

SL: No. First of all, it states that the most urgent task is to stop the violence of armed groups, disarm militants and free all illegally seized buildings – which hasn’t been done yet – as well as squares, streets, cities, towns and villages.

First and foremost we mean Maidan. It’s just a disgrace for a European country and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe to have this kind of thing for half a year, and in front of Western visitors besides. We’re told Maidan will stay until presidential election take place, with the outcome that satisfies Maidan. It’s a disgrace for all who put up with it.

We proposed to start with sorting out these issues, especially since it was a responsibility Mr Klichko, Mr Yatsenyuk, and Mr Tyagnibok assumed when they signed the document along with the German, French and Polish foreign ministers.

Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski (R) and Ukraine's opposition leader Arseny Yatsenyuk (L) prepare to sign an EU-mediated peace deal with President Viktor Yanukovich, aiming to end a violent standoff that has left dozens dead and opening the way for a early presidential election this year, at the presidential headquarters in Kiev February 21, 2014. (Reuters / Konstantin Chernichkin)

Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski (R) and Ukraine’s opposition leader Arseny Yatsenyuk (L) prepare to sign an EU-mediated peace deal with President Viktor Yanukovich, aiming to end a violent standoff that has left dozens dead and opening the way for a early presidential election this year, at the presidential headquarters in Kiev February 21, 2014. (Reuters / Konstantin Chernichkin)

Another thing we proposed was to begin a comprehensive constitutional reform right away, with all political forces and regions having an equal say in it, to discuss establishing a federation, which would grant every region wide powers in the spheres of economy, culture, language, education, economic and cultural ties with neighboring countries or regions and guarantee minority rights.

Taking into consideration the number of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine, we propose and we’re convinced that there’s no other option – and a few presidential candidates said so on numerous occasions – but to make Russian language the second official language of Ukraine, and ensure the rights of minorities in every constituent entity in accordance with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Q: There are Hungarians and Romanians living there as well.

SL: Hungarians, Czechs, Germans – they are all complaining to the governments of their countries that they are no longer comfortable living in Ukraine. Czechs even wanted to go back home but the Czech government said, “No, we looked at the conditions you live in and we think you are fine.” This indicates that they care more about geopolitical matters and political expediency than about human rights.

A constitutional reform should be approved by a referendum. It should take into account the interests of all the regions. And once this constitution is approved by a nationwide vote, there should be a presidential and parliamentary election; new legislative assemblies should be elected in all the regions; and there should be new governors. Governors should be elected, not appointed. Eastern and southern regions insist on that.

We strongly believe this is the right way to go. In response, we are told through the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry that Russian proposals are a provocation and that we are meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs, because our ideas are inconsistent with the foundations of the Ukrainian state. Which ideas? First, federalization, and, second, Russian as the second official language. I don’t see how this is inconsistent with the foundations of the Ukrainian state.

Q: Do Western partners hear these proposals?

SL: They do. I can tell you that “federalization” is definitely no longer a taboo word in our talks. I really believe we should insist on it – not because it is our whim but because southern and eastern regions want that.

Q: Do you expect that these ideas will eventually reach Kiev, at least through Western capitals?

SL: That’s what I count on, because the current Ukrainian government can hardly be suspected of being independent.

‘Ukraine’s military neutrality must be stated unambiguously’

Q: Do Moscow and, say, Washington talk about Ukraine’s non-bloc status?

SL: This idea is present in our proposals. We definitely think that the new constitution should clearly say that Ukraine cannot be part of any bloc.

Q: Do Americans hear that?

SL: They hear that and you can tell whether they understand it or not by listening to their public statements. Speaking in Brussels last week, President Obama said that neither Ukraine nor NATO were ready and that there was no point talking about that.

Q: By the way, Yatsenyuk says he is not considering this option at this point.

SL: “At this point.” We are convinced there can be no ambiguity on this issue. There are too many of those caveats – “at this point” and “no intention.” Intentions can change, and you end up facing new facts on the ground.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (L) holds a new conference with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels March 6, 2014. (Reuters / Laurent Dubrule)

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (L) holds a new conference with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels March 6, 2014. (Reuters / Laurent Dubrule)

Q: Especially in the last couple of months.

SL: Not just in the last couple of months – in the last 25 years. We are told that the West keeps extending a hand of friendship, and Russia keeps choosing a zero-sum game. A few days ago, my colleague, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, published an article, in which he writes that Russia faces global isolation again, because, he says, you come to Russia with open arms and it turns away and pursues zero-sum mentality. But that’s totally unfair. On the contrary, we are always eager to engage in fair partnership. This is reflected in our proposals on indivisible security, which should be the same for everybody. It is wrong for NATO members to be protected with indivisible security and for everybody else to be treated as second-rate nations, so NATO can act as a magnet to attract new members and keep pushing the dividing line further to the east.

We were promised that this would not happen – and we were cheated. We were promised that NATO would not bring its military infrastructure closer to our borders – and we were cheated. We were promised there would be no military installations on the territory of the new NATO members. At first, we just listened to those promises and believed them. Then we started putting them on paper as political obligations, and serious people, Western leaders, signed those documents. But when we asked them how come those political obligations were ignored and whether we can make them legally binding, they told us, “No, political obligations are enough, and anyway, don’t worry, whatever we do is not against you.”

‘West plays ‘either-or’ game with Eastern Partnership’

SL: Speaking of zero-sum games we are being accused of, the EU Eastern Partnership project from the very beginning was based on the “either-or” concept: either you’re with us or you’re against us. Actually, our Western partners have been talking about this since the 2004 election in Ukraine. Back then, there was no Customs Union and no Eastern Partnership; there was an unconstitutional, artificially invented third round of the presidential election. Karel de Gucht, who then was the foreign minister of Belgium and who is now, by the way, the EU Trade Commissioner, publicly demanded that Ukrainians should vote and decide whether they want to be with Europe or with Russia. This is where such mentality comes from.

Eastern Partnership – as well as NATO expansion – was simply an instrument used to quickly take control over geopolitical territory. The EU was ready to push this project through at any cost. It completely ignored legitimate economic interests of both Ukraine’s neighbors, like Russia and other countries, and even the nations that were part of this program. There have been many studies on this issue. No wonder even Yatsenyuk says that Ukraine needs to take a closer look at the economic section of this agreement.

The same will happen with Moldova. They are doing their best to sign a similar agreement with Moldova this summer, before the upcoming election. And this agreement they intend to sign with Moldova – it completely ignores the issue of Transnistria. It ignores the 1997 agreement between Chisinau and Tiraspol which entitled Transnistria to international trade. It ignores what is happening with Transnistria today: Chisinau and the new Ukrainian authorities have basically blockaded the territory. But our European partners keep mum about that. In fact, the European Union and, I think, the United States approve of this policy.

We want to talk to them very seriously about that, because they are escalating tensions over Transnistria, almost claiming that it will be next. This is outrageous, provocative rhetoric. Actually, they want to create unbearable conditions for Tiraspol in violation, I repeat, of the agreements which entitled Transnistrians to certain travel, transit and trade rights. This is outrageous. They never learn. Once again, they seek to create a sore point in our relations.

‘Russia has no intention to send troops across Ukrainian border’

Q: Almost all the statements regarding sanctions, including those made by the EU and the US official political institutions, contain the phrase “further escalation.” By “further escalation” my Western colleagues mean that Russian military forces may cross the borders of the mainland Ukraine and move toward Kharkov, for example. Will this happen or not?

SL: President of Russia Vladimir Putin in his address given on March 18 in the Georgievsky Hall said clearly that we are very concerned with the situation with Russians and Russian speakers in eastern and southern Ukraine, especially after various Right Sector groups, a certain Beletsky and the Eastern Front rushed there. Those are absolutely odious people. You don’t need to be a physiognomist to be able to tell what their intentions are. They speak openly about that. Many leaked phone calls indicate how Russians will be treated in Ukraine not just by the Right Sector members.

The Russian president demanded that Ukrainian authorities and their Western patrons take immediate action to stop the violence. He said we are going to protect the rights of Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine using all the political, diplomatic and legal methods. I have nothing to add to that.

Soldiers of the separate tank battalion of the Baltic Fleet motorized infantry brigade, during loading of tanks on flatcars, for dislocation to the district selected for military exercises, in the city of Gusev, Kaliningrad Region on February 28, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Igor Zarembo)

Soldiers of the separate tank battalion of the Baltic Fleet motorized infantry brigade, during loading of tanks on flatcars, for dislocation to the district selected for military exercises, in the city of Gusev, Kaliningrad Region on February 28, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Igor Zarembo)

We need to be honest. You cannot just say like many times before – regarding Syria, Iran, etc. – that we have come to a crisis and that we just need to accept the reality. Russia is to settle the Syrian crisis, to solve the Iranian problem and to resolve the situation in Ukraine through direct talks with the Ukrainian authorities. The West is consistently trying to avoid the responsibility of dealing with those whom they nurtured and continue to support for their geopolitical purposes.

We have absolutely no intentions of crossing Ukrainian borders. This is not in our interests. We simply want everybody to work together; we want the violence to stop and we want the Western countries who are trying to sweep under the rug those cases of violence and to portray the situation in Ukraine in a positive light to realize they need to bear the responsibility.

According to Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, the Ukrainian authorities lately have been trying to disarm all those who possess firearms illegally – that is, the criminals. If this is the result of our Western partners’ efforts, then, I repeat, we are satisfied with that. We are ready to continue to work out joint recommendations for the Ukrainians to stop all the lawlessness and to start a deep constitutional process to reform their country.

‘No US-style naval bases build-up planned’

Q: There are speculations that Russia may respond to all these events by setting up its military bases in the Seychelles, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Cuba and even in Argentina.

SL: This is a complete lie. We have no plans whatsoever to build naval and military bases abroad in the sense which you put into the term. The Russian Navy is now much stronger than before. I believe after Crimea joined Russia, it will have much more opportunities for development. Along with the Black Sea Fleet, we also have the Pacific, the Northern Fleet, etc.

It’s very important for a country to have highly trained Navy, especially because today the Navy has not just to plough the ocean for training purposes but also to complete specific tasks like counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere. Ships have to travel to remote places. We have agreements with some countries allowing our vessels and warships to use their existing infrastructure for servicing, minor repairs, water and food replenishments and for the crew to rest.

We are absolutely not considering building bases similar to how America does it. And of course, unlike the US, we will not have any agreements, which would make our personnel immune to criminal prosecution in the countries where they are deployed.

By the way, I recently saw an interesting picture on the Internet: a map of the Russian Federation and US military bases around it. It looks very impressive. There are over a hundred of them. And there is a quote from a US soldier: “How dare Russians be so close to our bases?”

Q: Are you talking to the countries I mentioned about the possibility of our warships entering their seaports?

SL: There are a few countries we are talking to but these issues are handled by defense ministries.

Fonte: Russia Today