Vladimir Putin

What we do know about the Eurasian Union?

On May 29 Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia mark the anniversary of the establishment of the EAEU. Despite it was formed 9 years ago, in Sri Lanka people still know little about this organization.

What is EAEU?

In 1994, the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev at his lecture at Moscow State University formulated an idea of the Eurasian economic union. After the tragedy of the collapse of the USSR, all 15 republics of the former Union faced numerous problems, connected with the devastating economic crisis, which resulted in the crash of the economy, industry and a sharp decline in living standards. In some parts of the former biggest nation of the world civil conflicts were unleashed. Many Western enterprises entered the hot area, using imperfections of the new laws to grow rich and take out the unique technologies from the heart of the former second industrial power. In this pot of instability, the western robbers and our domestic collaborators had fished in troubled waters to improve their positions. They designed to use any means to become richer in the people’s tragedy, developing criminal businesses and killing innocent people.

The governments of the newly independent countries faced an enormous amount of challenges. The industrial cooperation between parts of the previously united country was broken, but there were no units that could act independently. The united system of transport and banking crashed in a moment, as all around. So, in 1995 the governments came to the agreement that there is no way forward but to pass this path together. In 1995 the Agreement about the Customs Union was signed by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which was widened in 1999 in the Treaty on Customs Union and Common Free Market Zone.

The formation of the Eurasian Economic Union was long and complicated. In some treats, it is very similar to the process of European integration, which started after the Second World War from the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and resulted in the European Union in 2004. Nevertheless, the former Soviet republics today are continuing discussions about free economic cooperation with no political part – and the current state and policy of the European bureaucrats is one of the main reasons for this kind of limit.

In any circumstances, we used a positive experience of European integration in our process. As Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned in his article “A new integration project for Eurasia: The Future in the Making”, “it took Europe 40 years to move from the European Coal and Steel Community to the full European Union. The establishment of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space is proceeding at a much faster pace because we could draw on the experience of the EU and other regional associations. And this is our obvious advantage since it means we are in a position to avoid mistakes and unnecessary bureaucratic superstructures”.

In 2000 the Treaty of Establishing Eurasian Economic Community was signed. In 2010 the new step of the economic integration of the space of the former Soviet Union was done – Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan created and finally launched with success the Customs Union. In 2011 the Eurasian Commission was established and the start of full-scale Eurasian economic integration was declared. In 2012 the Eurasian Economic space started its operation as a single market that provides for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital.

Finally, on May 29, 2014, the Treaty of the Eurasian Economic Union was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belorussian President Lukashenko and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The operation of this Union of more than 190 mln people, an area of more than 20 mln square kilometres and a GDP of 1.84 bln US dollars started in the new year of 2015.

The same year Armenia and Kyrgyzstan joined the EAEU. In 2018 the new, common Code of Customs was launched and the numerous programs to develop further integration within the Union were elaborated. All these achievements were warmly welcomed by the common people, who benefit from the renewed economic state. Prices for many products came down, as there were no more barriers. The common standards and courses of law simplified the operation of businesses.

Among those countries who wanted to join the Union were Ukraine and Moldova. But unlawful Nazi coup-d’etat in Kyiv, inspired by the Anglo-Saxons, crushed the longstanding approach of the Ukrainian people to live and labour together with their neighbours and brothers peacefully. After the change of power in Moldova this state has turned to the route of deep integration with Romania and the EU as well, with the majority of people looking forward to being with Russia and the EAEU.

What place EAEU has in International Relations?

Besides the full membership, first of all, there is the so-called “observer membership”. Cuba and Uzbekistan have the status of observers to the EAEU. Moldova since 2017 has also been the first state with such status, but in 2021, as it was mentioned above, that state became a victim of aggressive Western policy. Its president found that joining the EAEU was “out of the law procedures”, but the state is still considered to stand as an observer.

The EAEU has a net of the Free Trade Zone agreements, this kind of treaty is signed with Vietnam, Iran, China, Serbia and Singapore. At least 10 countries find cooperation with EAEU interesting in this format. Much more countries and international organizations have signed Memorandums of interaction with the EAEU.

What are the main objectives and goals of EAEU?

The main objectives of the Union are creating conditions for the stable development of the economies of the member states in order to improve the living standards of their population. It is highlighted in Article 4 of the basic Treaty. To obtain these objectives, the member states agree on mutual recognition of the qualifications, unification of the technical regulations and standards, coordinating the macroeconomic policy, establishing the common financial market and many other measures to ensure balanced economic development.

Due to the policy of Western unilateral sanctions and the consequences of the COVID pandemic, the current state of the Global Economy is very close to the new World Economy Crisis. There are numerous risks for the member-states now, from the limitations that last from the outbreak of COVID to instability in the fossil fuels markets, capital migrations to the “safe havens” and, of course, the policy of restrictions. There are some internal challenges as well, for example, the need for diversification, modernization, low speed of economic growth and investment activities say in innovations.

The priority of the Union’s development at the moment is to overcome the mentioned challenges that can cause problems for the economies of member states. So, in this path, we are aimed at attracting investment to the perspective directions of economic development. EAEU members are coming closer to boosting innovations, widening the industrial cooperation within the Union and achieving the goals of formatting the new techno-economic paradigm.

There are several criteria for the maintenance of the macroeconomic stability of the EAEU. The annual budget deficit should be less than 3% of GDP, state debt – less than 50%, and inflation – not more than 5% in addition to the lowest rate among the member states.

The goals and directions of the EAEU are largely in line with the goals and targets of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Regional economic cooperation contributes to the achievements of the UN SDGs and becomes an additional tool for ensuring high-quality and sustainable economic growth of member-states.

EAEU focuses attention on the green economy principles as well. There is a conception of harmonizing approaches of the member states in the context of the green transformation of the world economy and the problems of climate change. There are a number of areas that are affected by climate change within the borders of the Union, mostly by deforestation, desertification, air, soil and water pollution. The most prospective sphere of cooperation in green transition is transporting. More than 80% of arterial railways are using electrical traction. Eurasian Union is contributing much attention to the projects of electrical city common transport, for example, electro buses. Development of renewable, hydro- and atomic generation is among the priorities of the member states.

What is the vision of the future of EAEU?

There is a strategy for the development of the EAEU, passed as a declaration in 2018. It contains 11 main directions or 332 different amendments to the current procedures common for the EAEU:

  • Full elimination of barriers
  • Increasing effectiveness of the EAEUstructures
  • Increasing the effectiveness of management and financing to create highly effective export-oriented sectors of the economy
  • Improving customs regulations
  • Guarantees of the quality of the products
  • Development of the digital infrastructure and space
  • Elaborating flexible mechanisms of targeted assistance
  • Coordinating efforts of implementing innovations
  • Maintaining full implementation of all agreements within the frames of the Eurasian integration
  • Widening economic cooperation in healthcare, education, tourism and sport
  • Formatting EAEU as a centre of development in the coming new multipolar world order

These measures will result in pushing forward the rate of interest of the small and medium enterprises that actually are the basis of any economy. Stipulating the scientific approaches in developing business and state management will also lead to the growth of innovations, and, as a result, in the growing living standards of our people.

Even though the Western countries unleashed a total war against our Motherland, progress in economic development is inevitable, and we are witnessing the first points of it right now. We realize perfectly that this progress is harmful to our enemies that are dreaming of how to turn our countries into distraction and depravation, to split the forming unity, to break all those that were done with great efforts. Our enemies like a cancer tumour are sucking the blood of the entire world, as they have done for ages maintaining their hypocritical colonial policy. But their time is coming to an end with no possibility to enlarge it.

Long live the Eurasian Economic Union and its leaders! Long live the people of the EAEU! Down with the Western hegemony and hypocrisy!

Press Secretary Office of the Russian Embassy in Colombo

US hopes to snatch victory from jaws of defeat in Ukraine


The G7 Leaders’ 2700-word statement on Ukraine, issued in Hiroshima after their summit meeting glossed over the burning question today — the so-called counter-offensive against the Russian forces.

It is a deafening silence, since rumours are swirling about the disappearance of the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces. Significantly, President Vladimir Zelensky himself is making himself scarce from Kiev touring world capitals — Helsinki, Hague, Rome, Vatican, Berlin, Paris, London and Jeddah and Hiroshima. It does seem that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

As the G7 summit ended, the head of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin announced on Saturday that the Russian operation to capture the strategic communication hub of Bakhmut in Donbass region of eastern Ukraine lasting 224 days, has been brought to a successful completion, overcoming the resistance by more than 80,000 Ukrainian troops. 

It is a painful moment for Zelensky, who had boasted before US lawmakers in Capitol Hill last December that “just like the Battle of Saratoga (in 1777 during the American Revolutionary War), the fight for Bakhmut will change the trajectory of our war for independence and for freedom.” 

Meanwhile, to distract attention, there is talk now about a subtle shift in the US policy regarding supply of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in an indeterminate future. In reality, though, no one can tell what the Ukrainian rump state will look like when the jets arrive.  Unsurprisingly, the Biden Administration still seems to be in two minds. F-16 is a hot item for export; what happens if the Russians were to blow it out of the sky with their hi-tech weapons and rubbish its fame ? 

The Russians seem to have concluded that nothing short of a total victory will make the Americans and the British understand that Moscow means business on the three objectives behind the special military operations that are non-negotiable: security and safety of the ethnic Russian community and their right to live in peace and dignity in the new territories; demilitarisation and de-Nazification of Ukraine; and a neutral, sovereign, independent Ukraine freed from the US clutches and no longer a hostile neighbour. 

To be sure, the unprecedented levels of US hostility towards Russia only hardened Moscow’s resolve. If the Anglo-Saxon alliance keeps climbing the escalation ladder, the Russian campaign may well expand the operation to the entire region east of the Dnieper River. The Russians are in this war for the long haul and the ball is in the  American court.

What comes to mind is a speech last July by President Vladimir Putin while addressing the Duma. He had said, “Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. Well, what can I say? Let them try. We have already heard a lot about the West wanting to fight us ‘to the last Ukrainian.’ This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but that seems to be where it is going. But everyone should know that, by and large, we have not started anything in earnest yet.” 

Well, the Russian operation has finally started “in earnest.” The thinking behind the delay is unmistakeable. Putin underscored in his speech that the West should know that the longer Russia’s special military operation goes on, “the harder it will be for them to negotiate with us.”  

Therefore, the big question is about the Ukrainian counteroffensive. The Russian forces enjoy overwhelming superiority in every sense militarily. Even if the hard core of the Ukrainian forces who were trained in the West, numbering some 30-35000 soldiers, manage to achieve some “breakthrough” in the 950-kilometre long frontline, what happens thereafter? 

Make no mistake, a massive Russian counterattack will follow and the Ukrainian soldiers may only end up in a fire trap and suffer huge losses in their tens of thousands. What would the Anglo-Saxon axis have achieved? 

Besides, the Ukrainian military will have so thoroughly exhausted itself that there will be nothing stopping the Russian forces from advancing toward Kharkov and Odessa. Herein lies the paradox. For, from that point, Russians will have no one to talk to. 

If past American behaviour — be it Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq and Syria — is anything to go by, Washington will do nothing. The well-known American strategic thinker Col. (Retd.) David MacGreggor couldn’t have put things better when he said earlier this week: 

“I can tell you that Washington is going to do nothing. And I’ve always warned… we (United States) are not a continental power, not a land power anywhere but in our own Hemisphere. We are primarily an aerospace and maritime power, much like Great Britain. And what does that mean? When things go badly for us, we sail away, we fly away, we go home… That’s what we always do. Eventually, we just leave. And I think, that’s on the agenda now.” 

The stony silence of the G7 statement on the Ukrainian counteroffensive is understandable. The G7 statement needs to be juxtaposed with a report appearing in Politico on the eve of the summit in Hiroshima which, quoting senior US officials elaborated on an audacious plan to transform Ukraine war into a “frozen conflict” on the analogy of the Korean Peninsula or Kashmir. 

A Pentagon official told the daily that recent military aid packages to Ukraine reflect the Biden administration’s “shift to a longer-term strategy.” Reportedly, US officials are already talking to Kiev about the nature of their relationship in the future. 

Principally, if Ukraine’s NATO membership bid stalls, western guarantees could range from a NATO-style Article 5 mutual defence deal to Israel-style arms deals with Ukraine so that “the conflict will wind up somewhere in between an active war and a chilled standoff.”

Indeed, the G7 statement began conceptualising the “Europeanisation” of Ukraine with reforms, market economy driven by private sector and western financial institutions, and boosting Kiev’s deterrent capability vis-a-vis Russia militarily. 

It is quite amazing. Hardly has one flawed narrative — espousing Russia’s military defeat in Ukraine and the overthrow of Putin — unravelled, another narrative is being hoisted, predicated on the simplistic notion that Russia will simply roll over and passively watch the US integrating Ukraine into the western alliance system to create an open wound festering on Russia’s western borders that will drain resources for decades to come and complicating ties with neighbours.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s reaction to the G7 Summit confirms that Moscow will not fall into the trap of a “frozen conflict.” Lavrov said, “Could you take a look at those decisions which are being debated and adopted at the G7 summit in Hiroshima and which are aimed at dual containment of Russia and the People’s Republic of China?

“The objective was announced loudly and frankly, which is to defeat Russia on the battlefield, and without stopping at this, to eliminate it later as a geopolitical rival, so to speak, along with any other country that claims an independent place in the world, they will be suppressed as opponents.”

Lavrov also pointed out that the Western countries’ expert community is overtly discussing the order to work out scenarios aimed at Russia’s breakup, and “they do not conceal that the existence of Russia as an independent centre is incompatible with the goal of the West’s global domination.” The Minister said, “We have to give a firm and consistent response to the war declared upon us.”

Yet, it is not as if Americans are incapable of seeing the war through Russia’s eyes. Read here a letter pleading for some sanity in Washington penned by a group of distinguished former American diplomats and military officials associated with the Eisenhower Media Network. By the way, they paid to get it in the New York Times, but the rest of the establishment media chose to ignore it.

Navigating the Triangular Ties: India, China, and the United States


Despite the best efforts by the US to influence India to bring the country within its orbit of influence, it is unlikely that India will forsake its deep-rooted friendship with Russia. India is unlikely to forget repeated vetoes by the Soviet Union during the Bangladesh liberation war. The History of Indo-Russian Friendship is deep and spans many decades. Besides the basis of the relationship suits the strategic needs of both.


In a recent article in the Foreign Affairs magazine, Ashley Tellis( May 1 2023) pointed out that during the Bush and Obama administrations, U.S. ambitions centered largely on helping build India’s power in order to prevent China from dominating Asia. As U.S.-China relations steadily deteriorated during the Trump administration—when Sino-Indian relations hit rock bottom as well—Washington began to entertain the more expansive notion that its support for New Delhi would gradually induce India to play a greater military role in containing China’s growing power. There are reasons to believe it will not. One must also remember that during the UN-sponsored vote to criticize the Russian invasion of Ukraine India was one of the countries that abstained to criticize the Russian invasion. India took the position that the issue should be settled without further spilling of bloodshed.


BBC in its report of 3rd March 2022 stated that India had to walk a diplomatic tightrope over Ukraine as it tried to balance its ties with Moscow and the West. Delhi’s first statement in the UN Security Council (UNSC) did not name any country directly but it said it regretted that calls from the international community to give diplomacy and dialogue a chance had not been heeded.It, however, stopped short of criticizing Russia. And before the UNSC voted on a draft UN resolution to condemn the invasion, Delhi faced calls from Russia, the US, and Ukraine “to do the right thing”. Ukraine and Russia even issued public appeals for Delhi to take a clear stand. India chose to abstain from the vote but a careful reading of its statement suggests that it did go a step further and indirectly asked Moscow to respect international law. India talked about the importance of “the UN Charter, international law, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states”, adding that “all member states need to honor these principles in finding a constructive way forward”. Reuter’s on September 28 2022 reported that India was articulating its position against the Ukraine war more robustly to counter criticism that it is soft on Russia, but it still has not held Moscow responsible for the invasion and will not alter its policy on importing cheap Russian oil and coal.

In their first in-person meeting since the Feb. 24 invasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told President Vladimir Putin that “today’s era is not an era of war ” – the clearest position New Delhi has taken on the conflict. India’s foreign minister followed up at the U.N. Security Council, describing the trajectory of the Ukraine war as “very concerning” and the risk of a nuclear escalation as of “particular anxiety”.New Delhi’s shift, even though nuanced, reflected concern about the growing economic costs of the conflict and how it would affect India. Russia’s first mobilization of troops since World War Two marks a major escalation of the conflict that has thrown markets into turmoil and threatens a global recession. Moreover, India is worried the war is pushing Russia closer to China, which has fraught relations with New Delhi.   India also hopes its more robust approach would help it meet criticism by Western allies that it is too close to Moscow.

US National Security Advisor and European Commission On Trade Relations With China 

Washington Post(05-01-23)  reported that the US National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan acknowledged the fact that, despite the growing tensions and confrontation with China, trade between the two countries remains robust and reached record levels last year. And he echoed the rhetoric of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who has spoken of “de-risking” Europe’s supply chains from overexposure to China rather than fully “decoupling” from what, by some indicators, is already the world’s largest economy. The United States’ moves to curb trade with China in goods that could boost Beijing’s artificial intelligence and tech prowess are, in Sullivan’s framing, an exception rather than the norm. The world has to be aware of the Sino-Russian entente versus democracy practised mostly by the Western powers and also by emerging powers like India. The Sino-Russian compact would like to demonstrate that an illiberal system can deliver essential goods to the needy far more quickly than liberal democracies can. China has attracted many developing countries through its Road and Bridge Initiative.

Xi-Jinping and The Belt & Road Initiative Of China

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, known within China as the One Belt One Road or OBOR for short)is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in more than 150 countries and international organizations. It is considered a centerpiece of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s foreign policy.  The BRI forms a central component of Xi’s “Major Country Diplomacy” strategy, which calls for China to assume a greater leadership role in global affairs in accordance with its rising power and status. It has been compared to the American Marshall Plan. As of January 2023, 151 countries were listed as having signed up to the BRI. The participating countries include almost 75% of the world’s population and account for more than half of the world’s GDP. The Chinese government calls the initiative “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future.”The project has a target completion date of 2049, which will coincide with the centennial of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s founding. According to British consultants,  BRI is likely to increase the world GDP by $7.1 trillion per annum by 2040, and that benefits will be “widespread” as improved infrastructure reduces “frictions that hold back world trade”.

Supporters praise the BRI for its potential to boost the global GDP, particularly in developing countries. However, there has also been criticism over human rights violations and environmental impact, as well as concerns about debt-trap diplomacy. The Belt and Road Initiative addresses an “infrastructure gap” and thus has the potential to accelerate economic growth across the Asia Pacific, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe. A report from the World Pension Council estimates that Asia, excluding China, requires up to US$900 billion of infrastructure investments per year over the next decade, mostly in debt instruments, 50% above current infrastructure spending rates. 

The gaping need for long-term capital explains why many Asian and Eastern European heads of state “gladly expressed their interest to join this new international financial institution focusing solely on ‘real assets’ and infrastructure-driven economic growth”.(WIKIPEDIA).  Already, some estimates list the Belt and Road Initiative as one of the largest infrastructures and investment projects in history, covering more than 68 countries, including 65% of the world’s population and 40% of the global gross domestic product as of 2017.  Development of the Renminbi as a currency of international transactions, development of the infrastructures of Asian countries, strengthening diplomatic relations whilst reducing dependency on the US and creating new markets for Chinese products, exporting surplus industrial capacity, and integrating commodities-rich countries more closely into the Chinese economy are all objectives of the BRI.While some countries, especially the United States, view the project critically because of possible Chinese influence, others point to the creation of a new global growth engine by connecting and moving Asia, Europe, and Africa closer together.

In the maritime silk road, which is already the route for more than half of all containers in the world, Deepwater ports are being expanded, logistical hubs are being built and new traffic routes are being created in the hinterland. The maritime silk road runs with its connections from the Chinese coast to the south, linking Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta.  All in all, the ship connections for container transports between Asia and Europe will be reorganized. Experts have compared the initiative to the post-World War II Marshall Plan.

Despite the apprehension expressed by e.g. Donald Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence warning developing countries of the debt trap by China many of these countries have embraced Chinese offer mainly because they lack funds for infrastructural development which they need badly. In short, the fear of a debt trap or not many developing countries are expected to sign up with China for the immediate gain they will receive through this alliance. 

Zelensky regime’s fate is sealed


The West’s cryptic or mocking remarks doubting the Kremlin statement on the failed Ukrainian attempt to assassinate President Vladimir Putin do not detract from the fact that Moscow has no reason on earth to fabricate such a grave allegation that has prompted the scaling down of its Victory Day celebrations on May 9, which is a triumphal moment in all of Russian history, especially now when it is fighting off the recrudescence of Nazi ideology on Europe’s political landscape single-handedly all over again. 

The alacrity with which the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken debunked the Kremlin allegation, perhaps, gives the game away. It is in the neocon DNA to duck in such defining moments. That said, predictably, Blinken also distanced the Biden administration  from the Kremlin attack. 

Earlier, the chairman of Joints Chiefs of Staff General Marks Milley also did a similar thing in an interview with the Foreign Affairs magazine disowning in advance any responsibility for the upcoming Ukrainian “counteroffensive”. This is the Biden Administration’s new refrain — hear no evil, speak no evil. No more talk, either, of backing Kiev all the way “no matter what it takes” — as Biden used to say ad nauseam

The heart of the matter is that Kiev’s much touted “counteroffensive” is struggling amidst widespread western prognosis that it is destined to be a damp squib. Actually, the salience of the Foreign Affairs podcast this week with Gen. Milley was also his diffidence about the outcome. Milley refused to be categorical that Kiev would even launch its “counteroffensive”! 

There is a huge dilemma today as the entire western narrative of a Russian defeat stands exposed as a pack of lies, and alongside, the myth of Kiev’s military prowess to take on the far superior military might of a superpower has evaporated. The Ukrainian military is being ground to the dust systematically. In reality, Ukraine has become an open wound that is fast turning gangrene, and little time is left to cauterise the wound. 

However, Kiev regime is ridden with factionalism. There are powerful cliques who are averse to peace talks with Russia short of capitulation by Moscow and instead want an escalation so that the Western powers remain committed. And even after Boris Johnson’s exit, they have supporters in the West. 

The militant clique ensconced in the power structure in Kiev could well have been the perpetrators of this dangerous act of provocation directed against the Kremlin with an ulterior agenda to trigger a Russian retaliation. 

From Blinken’s vacuous remark, it seems the neocons in the Biden Administration led by Victoria Nuland are in no mood to rein in the mavericks in Kiev, either. As for Europe, it has lost its voice too. 

This will probably show up in history books as a historic failure of European leadership and at its core lies the paradox that it is not France but the German government that has aligned itself closer with the US in the Ukraine war and risking an intra-European “epoch of confrontation.”

Even otherwise, these are fateful times, with the political middle ground already shrinking in France and Italy and is much weakened in Germany itself in the wake of the pandemic, the war, and inflation. Importantly, this is only partly an economic story, as the decline of the centre and the de-industrialisation in Europe are closely related and the social fabric that supported the centre has come unstuck. 

Germany, the powerhouse of Europe, has been relatively lucky so far. It benefited from cheap labour from east Europe and cheap gas from Russia. But that is over now and the decline of German industry is foreseeable. When society fragments, the political system also fragments and it will take progressively greater effort to govern such countries. Germany and Italy have a three-party coalitions; the Netherlands has four parties; Belgium has a seven-party coalition. 

For the present, the hardliners in the Kiev regime have set the pace of events and Europeans will meekly follow. But there’s a ‘chill in the room’ — to borrow the words of Judie Foster in the horror film Silence of the Lambs when Anthony Hopkins transformed in a flash into Hannibal Lecter. 

Make no mistake, this is a tipping point; the clumsy attempt on Putin’s life jolts the kaleidoscope beyond recognition. The only comforting thought is that the Kremlin leadership is not going to be driven by emotion. The considered Kremlin reaction is available from the remarks by the Russian Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov: 

“How would Americans react if a drone hit the White House, the Capitol or the Pentagon? The answer is obvious for any politician as well as for an average citizen: the punishment will be harsh and inevitable.” 

The ambassador went on to draw the bottom line: “Russia will respond to this insolent and presumptuous terrorist attack. We will answer when we consider it necessary. We will answer in accordance with the assessments of the threat that Kiev posed to the leadership of our country.” 

No knee-jerk reactions are to be expected. Nonetheless, the scaling down of the Victory Day celebrations on the Red Square itself must have been a difficult decision. The Victory Day on May 9 is the most important holiday in Russia when the public and the state come together in a patriotic celebration during which people remember their family members who sacrificed their lives to defeat Nazism.

Many of the day’s features—parades, songs and commemorative practices—date back to the Soviet era. Victory Day is the only major public holiday that made the transition to post-Soviet Russia. In a country that lost many of its idols and heroic achievements with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, triumph over Nazism remained a source of enormous collective and personal pride.

But Putin’s hands are tied beyond a point when the country is in rage and demanding retribution, as evident from the comments by former Russian President and current Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev: “After today’s terrorist attack, there are no options left except for the physical elimination of Zelensky and his clique.” 

As for Zelensky, he simply left Kiev for Helsinki — and to the Hague thereafter, and arrive in Berlin by May 13 on a state visit — sensing danger, perhaps. Indeed, the fate of the Zelensky regime seems sealed. Zelensky reminds us of the mythical Wandering Jew, who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. 

China shifts gear on Ukraine mediation


For all the noise out of Washington, more and more countries are integrating their supply chains with China. Even the UK Foreign Secretary is making overtures to China, while Zelensky had a “long and meaningful” phone call with Xi Jinping on Wednesday. Washington’s position, sanctions and all, is disintegrating.

It is too early to predict what will emerge out of the speech on Tuesday at Mansion House by the UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly outlining the government’s position on China. The Global Times gave a cautious welcome

Clearly, Britain feels the urgency to dig its way out of the foxhole in which it found itself following the collapse of the Five Eyes attempt to ignite the Hong Kong protests. Britain cannot be far behind when the overall interests of European countries that enjoy deep mutually beneficial economic ties with the world’s second largest economy, are manifesting as reluctance to be dragged into becoming a vanguard that confronts China. (See my blog Who gains from a forever war in Ukraine?)  

That said, the timing is interesting. Cleverly’s speech came on the eve of the phone conversation between Chinese President Xi Jinping Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (at the latter’s request.) From its unique perch on the transatlantic axis, Britain can sense tremors that impact the geopolitics of Indo-Pacific and the Ukraine conflict, which are in some ways inter-connected. Britain is positioning itself. 

Contents of conversations at top leadership level are never publicly divulged and the overwhelming mass lies submerged, like icebergs breaking off glaciers. But the Chinese readout of Xi-Zelensky conversation on Tuesday exudes positive tone. 

Xi hailed Sino-Ukrainian relations as “strategic partnership boosting development and revitalisation of the two countries” and went on make a flattering reference to Zelensky’s personal role. Xi also stated China’s consistent position that “Mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is the political foundation of China-Ukraine relations.” Xi showed readiness in advancing the two countries’ strategic partnership with a long-term perspective. 

On Ukraine issue, Xi made three key points:  China’s “core stance is to facilitate talks for peace,” as enunciated in its position paper of February 24; Beijing intends to be proactive; and, dialogue and negotiation are the only way forward. 

The salience lies in Xi’s pointed reference to “rational thinking and voices on the rise” lately and that Kiev should “seize the opportunity and build up favourable conditions for the political settlement.” 

Xi kept his eyes on the ball and may have hinted that Zelensky can still win by a nose if only the risky, senseless idea of a “counteroffensive,” the germane seeds of which have been planted on his mind by Washington and London, is set side. 

Sensing Zelensky’s receptiveness, perhaps, Xi proposed that China will “make its efforts for early ceasefire and restoration of peace.” Specifically, “China will send the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs to Ukraine and other countries to have in-depth communication with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.”

But no timeline was mentioned. Nonetheless, Xi has made a proactive move. What could be the calculus? At the obvious level, Xi has just had a series of interactions with European leaders who visited Beijing, which convinced him that “Ukraine crisis is evolving in complex ways with major impacts on the international landscape,” as he told Zelensky. 

Meanwhile, the leaked Pentagon documents exposed that disunity, distrust and divergences between the US, Europe and Ukraine are serious and keep worsening. On the other hand, Washington is not only the biggest obstacle to a ceasefire and peace talks but is nudging the western allies to rally behind its Indo-Pacific Strategy to contain China. 

This is where French President Emmanuel Macron’s extraordinary outburst in his interview with Politico, aboard Cotam Unité (France’s Air Force One) while returning from China after spending around six hours with Xi, becomes a defining moment.

To be sure, Macron’s stirring call that Europe should avoid “getting into a bloc versus bloc logic” resonated in Zhongnanhai — viz., Europe’s longing for strategic autonomy; Europe’s gnawing doubts and weariness of being a “vassal”; and Europe’s multiple challenges in social governance and its prioritisation of development and prosperity ultimately leaving it with no choice but to embrace Eurasia with greater connectivity, develop bilateral economic and trade relations with China, and rebuild ties with Russia. An avalanche of Chinese commentaries followed Macron’s remarks. (hereherehereherehere )

A clincher, however, would have been the recent leak of classified US and NATO documents on the Ukrainian military and Kiev’s much-anticipated “spring counteroffensive” (on which the US Department of Justice has since opened an investigation.) 

The documents exposed numerous disadvantages and shortcomings of Ukrainian military and gave way Washington’s top secret assessment that Ukrainian military is in dire straits after recent setbacks. Indeed, a pall of uncertainty and loss of self-esteem descended on Kiev, which is increasingly unsure about the steadfastness and reliability of Western support. 

Compounding these complexes were the leaked intelligence reports that the US “is also spying on Ukraine’s top military and political leaders, a reflection of Washington’s struggle to get a clear view of Ukraine’s fighting strategies.” (New York Times) Shades of Edward Snowden — this is how the US keeps its hegemony!  

Nonetheless, an editorial in Global Times  has written: “As time goes by, the international community has engaged in more cool reflection on this hot conflict. Especially, the willingness to negotiate among all parties is rising, and more rational voices are emerging in various European countries. In a sense, the window of opportunity for promoting a political solution to the Ukraine crisis has emerged.”

Xi swiftly followed through his conversation with Zelensky by appointing Li Hui, the deputy director-general of the department of Eurasia in the foreign ministry, to head China’s delegation for the settlement of the crisis in Ukraine. It is a smart decision. 

Li Hui, one of China’s ablest Eurasia hands, had previously served as the envoy to the Kremlin for an extraordinarily long period of ten years (2009-2019). He is very familiar with both the Ukrainian and Russian situation, understands the psychology of Slavic peoples and, of course, he speaks Russian. 

The appointment of a special representative signifies a serious  attempt to activate mediation functions to build bridges. But there are formidable challenges. Russia welcomes anything that could bring the end of the Ukraine conflict closer, but the bottom line will be that it still needs to achieve the aims of its special military operation  in Ukraine.

Also, Russia does not see readiness on the part of the West for a peaceful settlement. There is sound basis to it, as Washington relies entirely on military solution and total victory. 

China-brokered negotiations will be a huge blow to the American strategy in Ukraine and if it gains traction, that will put the US on the back foot in Indo-Pacific as well. In the short term, therefore, pressure may only build up on Zelensky to launch the “counteroffensive.” 

Unmasking Western Hypocrisy: A Candid Interview with Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka



by Our Diplomatic Affairs Editor

Recently, Our Diplomatic Affairs Editor had the opportunity to conduct an exclusive interview with the Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Levan S. Dzhagaryan, at the Russian Embassy in Colombo. The interview covered a range of topics including the longstanding relationship between Sri Lanka and Russia, the current state of bilateral relations, the de-dollarization campaign of Global South, and the Ambassador’s message to foreign diplomats.

Ambassador Dzhagaryan shared his thoughts and insights on these important issues, providing valuable perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing Sri Lanka and the wider international community. The interview provided a unique opportunity to gain deeper insights into the perspectives of one of the most senior Russian diplomats in the region, and sheds light on the current state of relations between Sri Lanka and Russia, as well as the broader geopolitical dynamics shaping the world today.

Levan S. Dzhagaryan has an extensive diplomatic career that includes working in various regions around the world, including the Middle East. He has served as a diplomat for over three decades, beginning his career in 1987. He has worked in Iran, Afghanistan, and other countries in the region, gaining invaluable experience in dealing with complex political and diplomatic situations.

In the late 1980s, Dzhagaryan served as a diplomat in Afghanistan during the Soviet military presence in Afghanistan, a period of intense conflict and political turmoil. This experience provided him with a unique perspective on international relations, conflict resolution, and the importance of dialogue and cooperation between nations.

Read the excerpts from the interview; 

Question: Mr. Ambassador, thank you very much for accepting our request. Let’s start this interview with your assessment of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. How is the situation there now?

Answer: This is not a conflict between Ukraine and Russia, but rather a conflict between Russia and Western countries, particularly the United States of America. What we are expecting is for Ukraine to announce that it is a NATO country. Then they can officially deploy their forces, which they are currently doing unofficially, near the Russian border by forcing a direct threat.

Imagine if Russia deployed our missiles close to the United States, as happened in Cuba in 1962, and everyone knows what happened. Now the same thing is being done by the United States in our border countries. How on earth can that be justified? When they do it, it is justifiable, but when others do it to ensure their borders, it is not acceptable and is called an “unprovoked war” or “invasion.” This is nothing but a double standard.

Question: You are pointing at the West, but the more the crisis drags on, the more people suffer. Responsible parties must take immediate steps to solve this problem. Do you have anything in mind in terms of conflict resolution?

Answer: To resolve this crisis, China is playing a significant and remarkable role. To cease the ongoing violence and find a lasting solution, China last month proposed a 12-point peace plan. Some provisions of this plan that may lay a foundation for peace negotiations, but Ukraine is continuing to play a hoodwink as they cannot decide by themselves. Ukraine is obviously a puppet government. They are under American and certain European countries’ control. Ukrainians are not decision-makers. Everything they do depends on Washington. Therefore, they are afraid of a ceasefire, as a ceasefire would benefit unarmed civilians. What they want is more suffering for civilians and for the war to continue. These manipulators don’t want peace, and if they continue like this, we have no alternative but to continue the war and upgrade it into a full-scale war.

Question: If you can talk about the geopolitical landscape in this crisis, what is the biggest threat to Russia at the moment?

Answer: The current geopolitical scenario is a threat to our sovereignty and independence. Russia is an independent country, and the US does not like independent countries. That is why they are trying to undermine China. The new world order is giving us an opportunity to understand who we are and how the West has bullied us. The threat Russia is facing is not an isolated threat. This is exactly what the Global South is facing at this moment. That is why the Global South is coming together.

Question: You have repeatedly stated that Russia is unfairly targeted by the West. Can you explain your perspective on this issue?

Answer: Indeed, we firmly believe that Russia is unfairly targeted by the West. We have always been willing to cooperate with any country on an equal footing. In the past, we have had strong relationships with charismatic political leaders in the West who understood Russia’s integrity. We worked together while protecting mutual respect and sensitivity. One example is Germany, where Russia helped to prosper its economy. However, some countries have recently blown up energy pipelines, attempting to blame Russia, but their efforts have been unsuccessful. We have urged the UN Security Council to set up a working group to investigate this crime, but it is being refused. Everyone knows who is behind this attack, and it was not simply a group in Ukraine, but a sophisticated attack. Therefore, after the incident, President Biden, Under Secretary Nuland, and others shared their joys. It is evident that Americans were using trade with European countries to promote their trade, and this is precisely what has happened. As a result, Europeans are now forced to purchase expensive LNG, and they will soon realize who their true enemy is.

Question: Many countries abstained from voting on the Russian resolution at the UN Security Council on Nord Stream Sabotage. Can you comment on this?

Answer: Yes, only three countries stood in favor of our resolution. Other countries refrained from voting due to enormous pressure from the United States and its allies. We have to ask, if these countries had nothing to do with this international terror act of sabotaging the pipeline, why are they afraid of conducting an impartial investigation? Why won’t they allow Russians to be a part of this investigation?

Question: The West has responded to your allegations by saying that they are unproven. How do you react to this?

Answer: If our allegations are unproven, then we are willing to participate and cooperate in an investigation. However, they have continued to deny our demands for an impartial investigation. This attack is an act of state terrorism and shameful inhumanity. They have no right to blame other countries. The country that created ISIS has no right whatsoever to criticize other countries. President Trump even publicly told Hilary Clinton, when she was Secretary of State, “You should be rewarded by ISIS because you have created them.”

Levan S. Dzhagaryan as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Sri Lanka talking to Sri Lanka Guardian [ Photo: Laknath Seneviratne]

Question: Let’s talk about your role as a Russian diplomat. You served as the Russian Ambassador to Iran before your assignment here in Colombo. What do you see as the biggest threat Iran is facing today, and how can Russia help address it?

Answer: Iran is a beautiful and rich country with friendly people. However, since 1979, Iran has been suffering from unfairly targeted sanctions imposed by the US and EU. Despite this, Iran has managed to create a strong economy. I particularly saw that Iranian youth are true patriots and are well-versed in mathematics and sciences, which is a huge national potential. But the US is always poking Iran and trying their best to destabilize the country using different tools. Certain media outfits and social groups funded by the West situated abroad are trying to defame Iran and topple the government. The West can’t tolerate when there is an independent country. As a true friend with historic roots, Russia maintains a strong relationship with Iran, and we have mutual respect for each other. China’s move to normalize relationships with other Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, is significant, and I hope we can work towards strong relationships with other Arab countries, particularly Turkey and Syria.

Question: The interesting point is the US doesn’t have a physical mission in Iran, but during the Obama administration, they started nuclear negotiations. How do you see this?

Answer: Switzerland is keeping a special unit to maintain the Iran-US relationship, and there are a few other Western missions operating in Tehran. At the time, they were very cooperative, which ultimately resulted in a good deal. But later, it turned into a blunt attempt to interfere with Iran’s internal affairs.

Question: The Iraq intervention is now 20 years old, and the crisis in the Middle East continues. Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel in the region?

Answer: Many issues need to be solved, and as a diplomat, I’m optimistic about it. However, the Iraq intervention by the US and its allies, like in many other countries, is a gross violation of international laws and conventions, as well as the United Nations Charter. Just like how they destroyed Iraq, Americans are destroying Syria. The presence of American troops in Syria is not only unnecessary but also a gross violation of the country’s sovereignty. Who invited them to Syria? Nobody. They are just there to loot, yes; loot the natural resources from Syria. Our demand is to withdraw the American troops from Syria quickly and start a dialogue with the government headed by President Asad. As far as I understand, the President is ready for a dialogue with opposition groups. I think all parties should come to a compromise to end this brutal crisis instigated by the West.

Question: But at the same time, those regimes, be it Syria, Iraq, Libya, or elsewhere, are blamed for serious violations of human rights?

Answer: What are human rights? It is a well-formulated tool for double standards. Americans have a lot of problems inside their country; if they are concerned about human rights, they should solve their issues at home first before dictating to other countries on how to protect human rights. They turn a blind eye to certain countries of their choice but attack other independent countries for not bowing down to their dictations. Look at Latvia and Estonia; many Russians are there without identities. Does the West talk about that? No, because they maintain friendship with them. What about the killing of Darya Dugina by Ukrainian assassins? Do any “human rights nations” or any human rights protection and promotion organizations talk about it? Not at all. Their hypocrisy is crystal clear. Those who deny the actions of the Ukrainian government are not persecuted, and those who speak against it are. In my opinion, whenever the Western allegations on human rights come up, first see their ulterior motives and track records, then you can see the double standards and hypocrisy there. What you have to be careful of is not allowing those hypocrites to interfere in your internal affairs.

Question: Do you think, in this situation, the Global South moving forward to establish a multipolar world is a realistic dream?

Answer: It is indeed realistic, and more and more countries in the Global South are coming together after centuries of bullying and undermining. The West has deceived us with their lies right from the beginning; how can we trust them? The United Nations itself rules out that Americans violated international laws and conventions. If they start bragging about human rights protection and promotion, my message is very clear: please stand up and see yourself in the mirror. In Syria, my message is even clearer: “Yankees, go home!”

Question: Well, give us your take on the recent visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Answer: We are very happy about this significant move. We are not a military alliance. We don’t force threats to anyone else, but we stand for securing our borders and sovereignty. We are focused on the humanitarian field, more importantly, the economy of each other.

Question: However, the US Dollar is still dominating the global economy.

Answer: We must work towards getting rid of the US dollar as the dominant currency. Our priorities are to establish an undisrupted supply chain, prevent external meddling in internal affairs, and achieve independent economic sustainability. The de-dollarization campaign is gaining momentum and trades between countries using local currencies are increasing. Russia, China, Iran, India, and Saudi Arabia have all seen success in these trades. The era of US dollar dominance is coming to an end, and these are positive signs. I hope the Global South will become even more united and strong to face future challenges.

Question: But whenever this discourse on de-dollarization comes to light, there will be a Western-sponsored war that breaks out. For instance, when Saddam Hussein started selling oil to Europe using European currencies, the United States bombed Iraq. When Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya started selling oil for gold, the United States bombed Libya. I’m afraid the same scenario might be repeated soon to divert attention from the deepening financial crisis in the West.

Answer: It is indeed possible. As you correctly point out, Western powers may create a tipping point to divert attention from their domestic issues and focus on external enemies. It is ironic that most of the time, the “external enemy” is also created by them. For instance, in the case of Libya, it was a transit point connecting the West and Africa. Muammar al-Qaddafi was a nice man to the West and bribed many Western political leaders. Ultimately, he paid the price, but at what cost?

Levan S. Dzhagaryan as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Sri Lanka talking to Sri Lanka Guardian [ Photo: Laknath Seneviratne]

Question: With complex and interconnected challenges, how can a country like Sri Lanka work together with Russia and other like-minded countries? You know Sri Lanka is under many obligations over its current financial predicament.

Answer: I understand that the situation in Sri Lanka is crucial and serious. We are pursuing a very balanced position on Sri Lanka, in terms of our bilateral relationships and other international issues, including the Ukraine crisis. We hope Sri Lanka will be able to settle its domestic problems soon. As the Russian ambassador, I would like to reaffirm that we do not interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka. Our message is that Sri Lanka is rising by itself and overcoming challenges, and I don’t think anyone has the right to lecture Sri Lanka on what to do.

I may sound like I’m extremely anti-American, but I am not. American people are a grateful people, and they have created a very strong nation with many talented people in many subjects. We respect the American people, but we cannot agree with the aggressive and provocative actions of the United States government, including the Congress.

Question: Sri Lanka and Russia have maintained longstanding relationships since the USSR era. How do you plan to strengthen our bilateral relationship during your time as the Russian ambassador to Sri Lanka?

Answer: As a new ambassador to South Asia, I have proposed several projects to the Sri Lankan government that can take our relationship to the next level. Although our focus is currently on Ukraine and defeating its puppet regime, we are also looking to expand our agricultural and trade ties while encouraging more Russian tourists to visit Sri Lanka.

Question: Finally, as a senior Russian diplomat, what message do you have for foreign diplomats?

Answer: My message is simple: Learn, learn, and learn. Try to study the true history of the country you are working on and be modest. Be open to dialogue and listen to each other. While dedicating yourself to your motherland, also try to love and respect the country you are working in. Arrogance or the desire to interfere in the internal affairs of a country will only complicate the situation and lead you nowhere.

China and Russia deepen strategic alliance in successful talks


 Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday agreed to strengthen bilateral ties based on principles of good-neighborliness, friendship and win-win cooperation, as well as to deepen the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era.

Describing Xi’s state visit to Russia as “a journey of friendship, cooperation and peace,” experts have said that strengthening China-Russia relations will promote regional peace and stability while contributing to balancing the global strategic landscape.

On Tuesday afternoon local time, Xi held talks with Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow. They had sincere, friendly and fruitful talks on the bilateral ties and major regional and international issues of mutual interest, and reached new, important common understandings in many fields.

Noting that China and Russia are each other’s biggest neighbor, Xi said that consolidating and developing long-term good-neighborly relations with Russia is consistent with historical logic and a strategic choice of China, which will not be changed by any turn of events.

Since his first state visit to Russia 10 years ago, Xi said, China and Russia have enjoyed mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual benefit. Relations between the two countries have grown from strength to strength, showing the features of being more comprehensive, more practical, and more strategic, he added.

No matter how the international landscape may change, China will stay committed to advancing China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era, Xi said.

In the eyes of Amadou Diop, a Senegalese expert on China, Xi’s state visit to Russia is “of great importance,” which will inject strong positive energy into the complex international situation.

“China and Russia are working more closely with developing countries to promote multilateralism and common prosperity, and to respect and protect the interests of developing countries,” said Diop.

Xi’s visit once again testifies to the importance of Russia-China relations and reaffirms that Russia and China will continue to practice true multilateralism, promote the construction of a multipolar world, enhance global governance, and contribute to world development, said Sergei Lukonin, head of the Department of Chinese Politics and Economics at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

During the talks with Putin, Xi pointed out that as permanent members of the UN Security Council and major countries in the world, China and Russia have natural responsibilities to make joint efforts to steer and promote global governance in a direction that meets the expectations of the international community and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

He called on both sides to enhance communication and coordination on international affairs, especially in the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS and other multilateral frameworks, practice true multilateralism, oppose hegemonism and power politics, contribute to global post-COVID economic recovery, advance the trend toward a multi-polar world, and promote the reform and improvement of the global governance system.

For his part, Putin congratulated China on helping to successfully bring about historic outcomes from the talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Beijing, adding that it has fully demonstrated China’s important status and positive influence as a major country in the world.

Russia appreciates China for consistently upholding an objective and impartial position on international affairs, supports the Global Security Initiative, the Global Development Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative China has put forward and stands ready to further enhance international coordination with China, Putin said.

For the developing world, said Abdoul Karim Drame, a Malian political columnist and expert on geopolitics, the strengthening of China-Russia relations is expected to promote the developing of a multipolar world, which will allow African countries to better assert their sovereignty by benefiting from more balanced international relations that respect each nation’s political and economic choices.

“I believe Xi’s visit to Russia will inject strong positive energy into international relations and make new contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind,” he said.

Palestinian political analyst Omar Helmy Al-Ghoul believes that a reasonable international order should uphold multilateralism and treat every country and nation in an equal manner, rather than be dominated by some small circle of countries.

Meanwhile, Xi and Putin stressed on Tuesday that the Ukraine crisis should be solved through dialogues.

In the Joint Statement of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation on Deepening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era, the two sides oppose the practice by any country or group of countries to seek advantages in the military, political and other areas to the detriment of the legitimate security interests of other countries.

The Russian side reaffirms its commitment to the resumption of peace talks as soon as possible, which China appreciates. The Russian side welcomes China’s willingness to play a positive role for the political and diplomatic settlement of the Ukraine crisis and welcomes the constructive proposals set forth in China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis.

The two sides point out that to settle the Ukraine crisis, the security concerns of all countries must be respected, bloc confrontation should be prevented and fanning the flames avoided.

The two sides also stress that responsible dialogue is the best way for appropriate solutions. To this end, the international community should provide support to the relevant constructive efforts.

China and Russia call for stopping all moves that lead to tensions and the protraction of fighting to prevent the crisis from getting worse or even out of control. They oppose any unilateral sanctions unauthorized by the UN Security Council.

China has launched a “very important initiative” to find a political solution to the Ukraine crisis, and international society should recognize China for its role as a country working for global peace and stability, said Mohammad Reza Manafi, editor-in-chief for the Asia-Pacific news desk of Iran’s official news agency IRNA.

“China has convinced the rest of the world that it believes that world peace and friendship will benefit all people everywhere, and that war and hostility will never serve humanity,” Manafi said.

A Donbas Diary: Looking Back at the Early Stages of the Conflict in Ukraine


It is evening in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, one of NATO’s easternmost members. I am waiting at the edge of Izvor Park in the city center to meet with a young friend who has fled Ukraine. In the backdrop of the park is the Palace of the Parliament, the brutalist architectural crown jewel of the Ceaușescu era, and the heaviest building on earth.

When my friend Pyotr arrives, we sit for beers and share our recent stories; it is late March 2022, just one month since Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine began. I have been maneuvering a bureaucratic maze as I try to gain entry into the Russian Federation and the separatist republics of the Donbas; I am awaiting a call back from consulates in Romania and Moldova. Pyotr has just arrived from Kiev by train. A number of his comrades in communist, socialist, and union organizations around Ukraine have been detained.

Recently, the Kononovich brothers, notable Ukrainian communists, had been arrested and disappeared (following their imprisonment, they are now under house arrest). Over a few days of conversation, I learn more from Pyotr than I could ever put into writing; he says to me at one point: “if there is one thing to understand, it is that sovereignty in Ukraine and Eastern Europe has been stolen by the West not through any military invasion or political party, but through the infiltration of Ukrainian civil society by Western interests, NGOs, and right-wing nationalists. Everyone in Ukraine knows that Washington directs this process, whether they support it or not.”

After a week in Bucharest, I head for the consulate in neighboring Moldova, where I have just spent nearly a month reporting on the refugee influx from Ukraine. I have been advised that it is my only option for obtaining a visa to Russia. The divide between pro-Western and pro-Russian civilians is palpable where the Moldovan government is led by Maia Sandu, a graduate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and former staffer for the World Bank.

Just as in Ukraine, there is a push in Moldova by pro-West factions to limit public use of the Russian language, despite Russian being the native tongue of hundreds of thousands of Moldovans. One man I speak to there, who is the head of a Ukrainian diaspora NGO, and a former candidate for vice mayor of Chișinău, the capital city, happily informs me that Ukrainians are European, while Russians have “Mongol blood.”

At last, the visa materializes. I leave Moldova and travel to Russia, and then I make my way through Russia to Rostov-on-Don, the last stop on Russian Federation turf before the border with the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics (DPR/LPR). There, in the Donbas, a region that became a mining powerhouse in the USSR, war has been raging for eight years. I am questioned for hours at every border crossing, even in Saint Petersburg, because of my U.S. passport and my tattoos (of which I have many). I am never violated or intimidated, just thoroughly questioned and checked. Mostly, it seems to me, the border officials are looking for swastikas, or evidence of Ukrainian nationalist affiliations, the markers of an individual likely to be hostile to Russia’s advances.

My final crossing into DPR happens in the evening. I emerge from a forest into the capital city of Donetsk. I arrived ready to accept any reality that I witnessed. What I saw was a people who had been through hell, and had adjusted to it, all the while unwavering in their commitment to what they see as a fight for self-determination against the reach of the United States and its vassals, especially NATO.

I see Russian, Soviet, and DPR flags everywhere, along with large signs and billboards: “To Victory,” “We Take Care of Our Own,” “We are Russia.” Victory Day, the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany by Soviet forces on May 9, 1945, perhaps still the most significant day on the Russian calendar, is fast approaching.

I am brought by an official escort to the Central Hotel, about 300 meters from an enormous statue of Lenin that overlooks the main square of Donetsk. There is no active plumbing in the city for about 20-22 hours each day, and no hot water at all; Ukrainian armed forces had blown out the water supply. For the first time in my life, I can hear live artillery going off in relative proximity.

The next morning, I walk to the “fancy” hotel in town, where journalists congregate to have coffee and use fast Wi-Fi (that hotel has since been leveled by Ukrainian munitions; a friend of mine was injured in the attack). I strike up a conversation with a Moscow-based Canadian journalist, who sees on a Donetsk Telegram feed that the Sokol market in the Kirovsky District of Donetsk has just been hit by shelling and that there are fatalities. We rush to a cab and head there.

When we pull up to the marketplace, smoke is everywhere, and many stalls have been burned to a crisp. Shelling continues nearby, close enough to shake the earth beneath our feet. We are brought to a member of the neighborhood safety commission, Gennady Andreevich, who walks us through the wreckage, down side alleys into the food market. An old woman’s body is lying on the ground in a pool of blood. “She came to buy vegetables,” he tells us. “There was also a local teacher who came to buy supplies for his mechanics class; his body was not left in recognizable condition. They never target military positions, you know? Always the markets, where the people go to socialize, to work, to get the things they need to live… or the residential buildings. See? Over there? That is where our neighborhood office is. They hit that last month. My colleague was killed.” He points to a large concrete building.

He is steely, but not without emotion. “There is absolutely no military reason to strike places like this,” he tells us. “They do it to strike fear in our hearts, but it does not work.” This is just my first day, and I am already seeing that the things we’ve been hearing about Donbas are anything but the common NATO refrain of “Kremlin fabrications.”

The following night, a residential building behind a school is hit, and we discover an elderly couple arranging some of the wreckage at the entrance to their building. The woman, who will only give her first name, Elena, is eager to speak with a Western reporter. She tells us that their block has been hit almost weekly for eight years, as they live on the outskirts, near the front. Most of the younger people have abandoned the area, she says, but she has had to stay to care for her bedridden father. “He served as a miner in the Ukrainian army in the USSR. He received many distinguished medals,” she tells us. “They attack us, simply because we did not want to follow a government that betrayed our heritage. We in the Donbas did not support Euromaidan. We are Ukrainian, but we are Russian.” I ask if the Minsk accords, which previously negotiated ceasefires between the separatists and Ukraine, had helped at all. “When Minsk was signed, the shelling here on the edge of the city only got worse.” We pass through their apartment, where their grandchildren left just that morning. She credits an Eastern Orthodox icon painting of Mary for protecting them.

“What would you have to say to anyone reading or watching this in the West?” I ask her.

“I want to repeat to America and to Europe: You send weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine kills… I’m not sure who they consider us to be now, but we are Ukrainian. We all have Ukrainian passports. You aggravate and escalate the situation even more. You should sit at the negotiation table, and not try to solve this by sending more arms.”

I spend some of April, all of May, and some of June in the Donbas. I tour front-line cities, alone and with military transports; I meet with people everywhere: there is Alexei Aybu in Lugansk, a member of “Borotba,” (Struggle), a Ukrainian communist party, who fled Odessa after he barely survived the May 2014 Ukrainian nationalist massacre of more than 40 of his comrades in the trade union building. There is “Aurora,” a Donetsk-based Marxist women’s collective comprised of a mix of locals from the Donbas and refugees from western Ukraine, who have especially harsh words for Western “socialists” who are largely backing their attackers in Kiev.

In Mariupol, we see destruction on an inhuman level. Over and over, the locals there tell us that the Ukrainian Azov battalion, who at the time of my visit are still in the Azovstal bunker, has occupied the city for years with an iron fist; they tell us that when the Russians came nearer, Azov laid waste to the city, not allowing civilians any safe escape corridors, and threatening them with death should they attempt to flee.

Everywhere this narrative is repeated, as is the theme of Kiev as an occupier, and Moscow as the liberator. We see the huge influx of reconstruction and humanitarian aid brought in from Russia, while all Western organizations seem to have abandoned Donbas. I tour the peripheral districts at length; everywhere is another memorial for the dead, a list of names, and stuffed animals to remember the children. It is estimated that between 2014-2022, 15,000 people lost their lives in the Donbas, the vast majority in these extremely poor residential areas, forgotten casualties in a war hidden from the view of the West, who seem to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin awoke one morning in February and decided he wanted some of Ukraine.

On May 9 (the aforementioned Victory Day of the Soviets over Germany in World War II), I join a caravan of reporters (I’m the only U.S. journalist in sight) to Mellitopol, a city in the Zaporozhye region, next to Mariupol. Mellitopol had also been occupied by Kiev-friendly forces until February 2022, but the city was abandoned by Ukraine without a fight. We have come to witness the festivities for Victory Day; for seven years of what the locals we spoke with there called “occupation” by the Kiev regime, any celebrations of the Soviet victory in World War II have been made illegal, so this will be the first one. Most of us assume that given the instability of the political climate, the curfews, and the closeness of the ongoing battles, it will be a fairly subdued affair.

Instead, at least 10,000 people take the streets, in a procession led by a column of Red Army veterans, many of whom fought in the World War II Battle of Stalingrad. The jubilation is contagious; tears stream down the eyes of people of all ages, including both those who lived through World War II, and those who have only lived through this one. It is an experience unlike any other.

A woman sees me capturing footage of the procession, and beckons me over. She says, “You tell them over there, we are Russian, and we have always been Russian. We defeated fascism then, and we will do it again.”

I asked many people there if they had criticisms of the Russian government, or of Putin’s decisions. There is one refrain that I heard, over and over, maybe best articulated by Svetlana Valkovich, of the aforementioned “Aurora” group: “Putin, yes, made many mistakes. Most of all, he waited far too long to come to help us here in Donbas. We begged Russia to come for years, but at least they have come now.”

Source: Globetrotter

China’s Role in Ukraine and Russia: A Game-Changer in Geopolitics


Days before the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2023, U.S. officials claimed that China was considering providing Russia with lethal weaponry to support its military campaign. China denied the accusations, and on the anniversary of the invasion instead put forth its 12-point peace plan to end the conflict. These events followed after tensions between Beijing and Washington flared during the Chinese spy balloon scandal that began in early February 2023.

Since the war’s inception, the U.S. has cautioned China not to support Russia. Following reports that Russia had asked China for military assistance in March 2022, Washington warned that countries providing “material, economic, financial [or] rhetorical” support to Russia would face “consequences.” The Biden administration also confronted China in January 2023 with “evidence that [suggested] some Chinese state-owned companies may be providing assistance” to the Russian military.

China has largely adhered to Western sanctions restricting business with Russia. Nonetheless, it has been essential to Russia’s economic resilience and its war campaign since February 2022. China substantially increased its coal, oil, and natural gas imports from Russia in 2022, for example, which alongside India’s increased imports, have helped the Kremlin negate some of the effects of declining energy sales to Europe. The underlying motive for increased Chinese and Indian purchases of Russian energy, however, remains the steep discounts they have been offered by Russia, which is desperate to replace its former customers in Europe.

China has also increased its technology exports to Russia for use by its defense industry after many Russian companies were denied access to technology from Europe and the U.S. because of the imposition of sanctions. According to the think tank Silverado Policy Accelerator, “Russia continues to have access to crucial dual-use technologies such as semiconductors, thanks in part to China and Hong Kong.” Additionally, China has helped Russia undermine Western economic sanctions by developing international payment systems outside of Western control and has advocated for building an “international alliance of businesses” comprising non-Western companies.

Beijing has also been essential in undermining Western efforts to portray Russia as an international pariah. China has repeatedly abstained from UN votes condemning the Russian invasion and voted against an April 2022 resolution to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. Beijing also seems to have vacillated between calling the situation in Ukraine a conflict and calling out the breaking of UN rules regarding borders. In addition, China, alongside Russia, declined to endorse the G-20 communique that featured language critical of the war in Ukraine at the end of the meeting on March 2, 2023. Chinese state media has also been largely favorable or neutral to Russia since the invasion began.

Russian and Chinese forces have held several bilateral military exercises and patrols since February 2022. The last exercise took place in the East China Sea in December 2022, and the “main purpose of the exercise [was] to strengthen naval cooperation between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China and to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” the Russian Ministry statement said. Meanwhile, both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met and posed for photos at the September 2022 Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit. And in the coming months, Xi Jinping is expected to travel to Russia after top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi visited Moscow in February 2023.

While China has shown it is willing to assist Russia, it has been careful to avoid perceptions of overt support. China has cited the need to respect and safeguard “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries,” without denouncing Russia or calling for it to end the conflict. But after China’s top drone maker, Da Jiang Innovations (DJI), banned exports of its drones to Ukraine and Russia in April 2022, Russia has continued to freely operate DJI surveillance technology to target Ukrainian drone operators, demonstrating the limits of Chinese neutrality.

Alongside the suspected impending Chinese military supplies to Russia, that were referred to by the Biden administration, Beijing is clearly more invested in a Russian victory than a Ukrainian one, even if it won’t admit it publicly.

So why is China so invested in supporting Russia while refusing to do so openly? There is no doubt a calculus in Beijing that the greater and longer the West focuses on Ukraine, the fewer resources Western countries can afford to give to Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific region. Prolonging the conflict would also weaken Russia, which in some Chinese nationalist circles is still viewed as a competitor and as having unjustly seized Chinese territory in the 19th century.

Still, there are clear benefits for China if the conflict ends sooner rather than later, and on Russian terms. Just weeks before the invasion in February 2022, Russia and China had signed their “no limits” partnership, while both Xi and Putin have called the other their “best friend.” Giving support to allies will help increase trust toward Beijing while also growing its leverage over a strained Russia.

China also desires a stable, friendly neighbor. A Russian defeat could lead to the country’s collapse, potentially destabilizing much of Eurasia. Russian leadership change, in case of a defeat, could also usher in a pro-Western Russian government on China’s doorstep, something Beijing is keen to avoid.

The war has in turn destabilized global energy and food markets and caused extreme instability in the global economy, at a time when China’s national economy is still fragile as it recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Russia is a vital economic partner to China, largely in the energy industry, but also owing to the Kremlin’s role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative to increase trade across Eurasia.

While Russia’s importance in this regard has diminished since the invasion, Moscow retains significant leverage among the former Soviet countries that form the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), as well as across the energy industries of Central Asia.

A Ukrainian military defeat would also have negative effects on the U.S.’ standing in global affairs by proving Western military assistance was unable to turn the tide of a major conflict. Contrastingly, a Ukrainian victory would solidify Western support for Taiwan, embolden Western-style democracy advocates around the world, and reverse perceptions in China of Western decline in global affairs.

But an open supply of lethal weaponry could destroy China’s economic relations with the West when China is still studying the effects of sanctions on a major economy like Russia. This has not prevented Beijing from pointing out the U.S.’ double standard in supplying the Taiwanese military with weapons, most recently in March 2023, when Foreign Minister Qin Gang asked “Why, while asking China not to provide arms to Russia, has the United States sold arms to Taiwan in violation of a [1982] joint communique?”

While relations between the U.S. and China are increasingly tense, there is fear in Beijing that overt support for Russia could damage Beijing’s relations with the EU. The EU is now China’s largest export market, and China still hopes to drive a wedge between the EU and the U.S. and prevent the development of a joint trans-Atlantic policy toward China. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on March 5, 2023, said that China will not supply Russia with lethal military aid “suggesting that Berlin has received bilateral assurances from Beijing on the issue.” Together with Xi Jinping’s comments in November 2022 stressing the need to avoid the threat or use of nuclear weapons, China seeks to highlight its mediating position and prove it is a responsible actor in world affairs that promotes peace. The Chinese-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to re-establish official relations on March 10, 2023, was further evidence of this initiative.

Contrastingly, China views the U.S. as a rogue superpower, and sees “confrontation and conflict” with the U.S. as inevitable unless Washington changes course, according to Qin Gang. And while China continues to be suspicious of U.S. attempts to contain it, such policies have become increasingly acknowledged even in U.S. political circles in recent years.

Nonetheless, both lethal and non-lethal military aid to Russia from China will likely increase, funneled indirectly through willing third countries. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s arrival for a state visit to Beijing on February 28 caused alarm in the U.S. precisely because of this reason. Ultimately, China sees the Ukraine war as part of a wider conflict with the U.S.-led Western world. Aiding Russia is seen as a strategic decision for China, meaning its “pro-Russian neutrality” will continue to be cautiously tested in Beijing.

While China did not cause the Ukraine crisis, it seeks to navigate it effectively. The Sino-Soviet split in the early 1960s allowed Beijing to rapidly expand its ties with the West, and the Ukraine crisis will help China benefit from its relationship with Russia amid global economic uncertainty. China will take the necessary steps to avoid spooking the EU, while recognizing that tension with Washington may be inescapable.

Source: Globetrotter

Russia & U.S. Clash in the Sky: Officially Enter World War III?


The relationship between Washington and Moscow is already near the breaking point, and early this morning, risked spinning entirely out of control, when a pair of Russian jets first harassed and then attacked an unarmed American MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drone flying over the international waters of the Black Sea. The two Su-27 fighters dumped fuel on the drone, apparently trying to blind its sensors, before colliding with its propeller, bringing the $32 million piece of military hardware crashing down to the water below.

Predictably, Russia’s Ministry of Defense offered a different account of what took place, saying the drone’s own maneuvers caused it to rapidly lose altitude and crash. In any event, it was the first documented physical clash between the armed forces of the United States and Russia resulting from the war in Ukraine, a perilous precedent that should give everyone some pause.

Apparently, these kinds of high-altitude confrontations between the U.S. and Russia are “not an uncommon occurrence,” according to John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman. Still, Kirby acknowledged this incident as “noteworthy because of how unsafe and unprofessional it was,” to say nothing of how the “reckless” attack further inflames an already tense atmosphere, and adds to the danger of a direct clash between the United States and Russia.

Notably, the U.S. and Russia had no communication during the incident, and thus no way to deescalate, or express intentions. Afterward, the Russian ambassador in Washington was summoned to receive formal American objections to the attack, which Ned Price at the State Department called a “brazen violation of international law.” 

Certainly, incidents like these add to the grave risk of mistakes and miscalculations between the two nuclear powers, and the danger of unintended escalation, with all that entails. Relations between Moscow and Washington are already at an all-time low, amid Vladimir Putin’s catastrophically botched invasion of Ukraine, and Joe Biden’s arming of Kyiv, and it likely wouldn’t take much to send things spiraling further downward.

The danger of accidental escalation is real

The aerial run-in merely reinforced the sense that any errant spark could lead to serious and unintended consequences, a complete rupture in relations, and the possibility of armed conflict. The downed Reaper was unmanned; what if it had been a manned surveillance flight, and the U.S. incurred casualties as a result of Russian aggression? 

Clearly, it would be a different story, and an incredibly dangerous one.

Still, the White House seemed keen not to allow the incident to devolve into a tit-for-tat cycle of mutual escalation, and apparently resisted calls to respond with military force. As New York Times reporter David Sanger said on CNN today, the White House wanted to respond “calmly,” and avoid the prospect of unintended escalation, particularly because the drone was unmanned.

Nonetheless, it’s clear, Sanger said, that the Russians have a mounting appetite to take on the Americans on the sidelines of the war in Ukraine, even as Russia struggles desperately on the battlefield. Russia’s recent offensives in Bakhmut and elsewhere have resulted in meager territorial advances, and at a staggering cost in human life, particularly the life of Russian conscripts and mercenaries, who have been engaged in suicidal assaults to inch forward against Ukraine’s fortified defenses. 

After losing an estimated 200,000 casualties and counting in its disastrous campaign to subdue and absorb Ukraine, the Kremlin has increasingly characterized the war as an existential conflict between Russia and the United States. Incidents like the one today show the danger of that notion coming to fruition, in what would be an apocalyptic nuclear confrontation humanity would be unlikely to survive, should one begin.

A light in the darkness for Putin

Meanwhile, favorable developments amid early presidential posturing have given Vladimir Putin something to smile about, as presidential frontrunner Gov. Ron DeSantis went on Tucker Carlson’s show and argued that defending Ukraine was not in America’s vital national interest. He referred to Putin’s wanton aggression as a “territorial dispute,” and made it clear that if elected, American aid to Ukraine would quickly evaporate.

Clearly, the Florida governor is aligning himself with Donald Trump’s isolationist MAGA bent, even as he prepares to take on the former president for the Republican nomination in 2024, as Trump faces the prospect of criminal indictments.

DeSantis’s view stands in sharp contrast to many of the elected leaders of the Republican Party, and provoked a round of heated criticism from Marco Rubio, Lyndsey Graham, Liz Cheney, Mitch McConnell, and other leading lights in the GOP, who have argued that the United States should be doing even more for Ukraine, and certainly not less.

However, Ron DeSantis has always fashioned himself in Trump’s tainted image, as a combative culture warrior, and jingoistic “America First” nationalist, so his view on Ukraine should come as no surprise. Rather, it shows DeSantis’s strategy is to mimic Donald Trump and his ever evolving political positions, while keeping himself free of the toxic drama and criminal investigations that constantly engulf the former president.

In any case, it’s a major win for the Kremlin, and Vladimir Putin himself, who has been banking on a change in leadership in Washington to bail him out of his dismal war in Ukraine. If DeSantis, or god forbid, Trump were to retake the White House, and military and financial aid to Kyiv dried up, Putin’s path to victory would suddenly become far more clear, and plausible.

For his part, Vladimir Putin can be expected to do everything in his power to assist his allies in the MAGA wing of the Republican Party to achieve electoral victory in 2024, and Ron DeSantis is now on that short list. Presumably, the Kremlin will intervene vigorously in the next American election, by carrying out cyberattacks, hacking, and targeted propaganda to elevate a pro-Putin candidate, much like in 2016.

However, this time, America’s national security establishment has no excuse not to see it coming, and should be prepared to counter the Kremlin’s machinations forcefully, and from the outset. The Biden administration has every incentive to prevent Putin from sabotaging American democracy, and everything to lose should they fail.

Source: alexziperovich.substack.com

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