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"They Never Learn" - Russia's Take On The "West" And The Shifting Geopolitical Balance Of Power

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Over the past month, there has been a lot of "Hilsenrathing", or the biased media urgently "explaining" to the Western world, just what Russia's actions mean both tactically in response to Ukraine developments, and strategically as part of Putin's global perspective. So instead of relying on the broken media narrative which serves merely to perpetuate US corporate interests and rally the public behind this or that company's geopolitical interests, here, straight from the horse's mouth, in this case Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, how Russia sees itself in a world in which it is allegedly "isolated", and "threatening Ukraine" with further invasion but more importantly, how the Russians view the rapidly changing global balance of power, in which post-USSR Russia has emerged from the backwood of slighted nations and stormed to the stage of nations who dare defy the former global hegemon, the US.

Some notable highlights by Lavrov from the interview conducted with Rossiya 24:

  • “Isolation” is a term invented by our Western partners who act with nostalgic neo-imperial ambitions in mind. The instant something isn’t to their liking they draw out this sanctions stick. The times when such strategy could be employed are long gone.... I’m surprised at how obsessively they’re trying to – create rather than find – proof of Russia’s isolation.
  • China is a very close partner of Russia. In our joint documents our relations are defined as comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation. All of China’s actions reaffirm its commitment to the principles we agreed on. If, as you say, the Americans did try to convince China to review its economic agreements with Russia on the highest level, it’s an off-the-scale naïve or brazen attitude. I would even say that not understanding the essence of Chinese politics and mentality is just inexcusable for the officials in charge of such negotiations.
  • At the very beginning China said that it takes into consideration the combination of historical and political factors. China strongly opposed using non-diplomatic measures and threats of sanctions to resolve this problem. Our contacts with our Chinese partners show that they not only understand Russia’s rightful interests in this case, but are also hand-in-hand with us in the understanding of the initial causes of the current crisis in Ukraine. There is no doubt about it.
  • Over a month ago I raised the issue of the Right Sector and the necessity to dissociate from the radical forces with our Western partners. I asked them a very simple question: “If you agree that we need to defuse the situation, why won’t you publicly say what the Right Sector really is?” Same to a degree goes for the Svoboda party, whose platform references The Declaration of June 30, 1941, which expressed support of Nazi Germany and its efforts to establish a new world order. According to the party’s charter, it’s still committed to this principle. US Secretary of State John Kerry told me that after close scrutiny they concluded that the Right Sector was trying to become a political movement. The subtext was that it’s a good thing, and Svoboda is moving towards [the] mainstream. That’s a quote.

The punchline:

  • It is wrong for NATO members to be protected with indivisible security and for everybody else to be treated as second-rate nations, so NATO can act as a magnet to attract new members and keep pushing the dividing line further to the east.
  • We were promised that NATO would not bring its military infrastructure closer to our borders – and we were cheated. We were promised there would be no military installations on the territory of the new NATO members. At first, we just listened to those promises and believed them. Then we started putting them on paper as political obligations, and serious people, Western leaders, signed those documents. But when we asked them how come those political obligations were ignored and whether we can make them legally binding, they told us, “No, political obligations are enough, and anyway, don’t worry, whatever we do is not against you.”
  • Eastern Partnership – as well as NATO expansion – was simply an instrument used to quickly take control over geopolitical territory. The EU was ready to push this project through at any cost. It completely ignored legitimate economic interests of both Ukraine’s neighbors, like Russia and other countries, and even the nations that were part of this program. There have been many studies on this issue. No wonder even Yatsenyuk says that Ukraine needs to take a closer look at the economic section of this agreement.

And the next steps in terms of what Russia sees an ongoing response to NATO incursion:

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

     

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

Click on the image below for the full interview:

And the full transcript, courtesy of RT.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘China understands legitimate Russian interests and concerns in Ukraine’

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

'Ukraine, not Russia hampered OSCE mission deployment'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Denunciations of Right Sector were long overdue’

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: So, a constitutional reform, elections...

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Do Western partners hear these proposals?

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

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

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

‘Ukraine’s military neutrality must be stated unambiguously’

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

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

Q: Do Americans hear that?

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

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

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

 

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

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

Q: Especially in the last couple of months.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sun, 03/30/2014 - 10:06 | 4607544 stant
stant's picture

warren pollock gave the heads up about the ukrain couple years ago

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 10:18 | 4607555 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

We are told that the West keeps extending a hand of friendship, and Russia keeps choosing a zero-sum game. A few days ago, my colleague, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, published an article, in which he writes that Russia faces global isolation again, because, he says, you come to Russia with open arms and it turns away and pursues zero-sum mentality. But that’s totally unfair. On the contrary, we are always eager to engage in fair partnership. 

True of Russia, Banana Republics in General and govenment in general.  Says a lot about why progress is so rare in the world today.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 10:28 | 4607569 SafelyGraze
SafelyGraze's picture

russian propagandas are truthier than american propagandas

hugs,
max-n-stacy 

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 11:21 | 4607659 Bad Attitude
Bad Attitude's picture

I don't trust a word of what Obama and Kerry are saying about Ukraine. I don't trust a word of what they say about anything else, either. When it comes to international affairs, everything Obama has touched has turned to shit.

Forward (over the cliff)!

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 12:04 | 4607759 Things that go bump
Things that go bump's picture

Why listen to words when the picture of the guys with their faces covered says everything you need to know. 

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 12:47 | 4607847 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

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

This is correct.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 13:01 | 4607878 Dollarmedes
Dollarmedes's picture

Obama, Putin, Kerry, Lavrov, etc.

They're ALL liars. Nothing any one of them says is automatically believable or discredited since all great lies have a grain of truth in them. You have to sort through a mountain of bullshit to find that grain, though.

Don't trust any of them. Think for yourself.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 14:03 | 4607994 weburke
weburke's picture

think there is a grain of truth in there? displays of power tell enough tales fer me.....right now there is a spinning thing around DC that makes no meteorological sense. The great unwatched show, fighting slow water effects with air......huh?? Men with that kind of power have no audience applauding, or shaking fists.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 15:22 | 4608208 ndotken
ndotken's picture

The only people that like the US Government are the oligarchs and the mooches that suck the tit of it.  Most people in the world like Americans ... but they hate our government ... just like the majority of  Americans do

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 16:18 | 4608339 highandwired
Sun, 03/30/2014 - 17:57 | 4608553 Antifaschistische
Antifaschistische's picture

Russia should step up to the plate and offer the world an alternative to Swiss (and other various off shore) money havens.   To do this, a country has to have an iron clad repution for trust.   Okay, the Russian's aren't there yet...and neither are the Chinese.  But it's a goal they commit to incrementally.  One success at a time.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 19:06 | 4608741 Squid-puppets a...
Squid-puppets a-go-go's picture

listening to the tone and tenor of this interview, russia seems quite diplomatic and restrained - self interested, sure, isnt everyone

but then when you listen to american 'diplomats' - by comparison - they are lunatics bent on provocation. They let no lie go untold.

what on earth makes the current american political and cultural climate so irrevocably belligerent? Its like they think agression is the only choice that ever generates success, like the notion of co-operation in any endeavour is inferior and worthy of contempt

that surely is the foundation and definition of evil in its base human pragmatic (non-ideological) sense

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 23:06 | 4609414 jtg
jtg's picture

The American people are getting the government they deserve. The US government, its stupidity and mendacity, reflects what the American people are.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 22:01 | 4609232 August
August's picture

I had lunch today with an Iraqi doctor (Muslim) who still has family in the old country.  I was commenting that I might like to visit, but was concerned re my US passport;  he responded that Americans were welcome in the area.  "Saddam was not Iraq, and the US government is not America.  Saddam destroyed Iraq, and the Americans came and burned down the ruins."

I'd like to think that the above perception was wideapread outside the USA, but I'd personally find it a challenge not to hate the citizens of a country which had just destroyed my own society.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 16:32 | 4608376 tempo
tempo's picture

left wing teacher union thugs.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 13:54 | 4607986 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

And oddly, it is Putin who has benefited at so many of Obama's turns.  They are on the same team.  Their team doesn't include you and me.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 16:30 | 4608368 MrSteve
MrSteve's picture

Sad thing is, the world was so much better off with Hillary running State. We'll all know the petro-ruble is real when the Nigerian bank examiner scam starts sending out emails asking for rubles to be sent to them to enable bank audits.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 23:02 | 4609397 jtg
jtg's picture

Did you forget that Hillary brought in Victoria Nuland into the State Dept to run the agenda on Ukraine? She also has her fingerprints on the bombing of Yugoslavia and Libya, me she rot in hell (some day).

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 14:46 | 4608104 nelsonmandella
nelsonmandella's picture

and african comunistists are happier than asian comuninists 

 

now   

 

who do you work for again ?

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 15:11 | 4608176 daveO
daveO's picture

Because it's their gas and oil.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 17:43 | 4608441 Againstthelie
Againstthelie's picture

If anyone believes propaganda was always false, then he already is believing, that he was not being fed with propaganda and has already been trapped.

So you are on the path to more wisdom.

You need to understand: ONLY propaganda exists. Nothing else!

The decisive question is, if it is true or false - and not if the obvious, that propaganda is made, is openly admitted or, if it is camouflaged as "objective information". In fact the latter is more dangerous.

If you listen to RT, you listen to it with the expectation in mind to hear the Russian perspective. Which is GOOD that you expect that! It enhances your understanding of what is presented, it sharpens your mind while you listen!

But the sheeple consuming western mainstream media for twohundred years have been believing to be informed objectively! The machanism of scepticism is destroyed with the believe in a free press! It is the greatest propaganda trick ever!

The Plutocrats ridiculed this exceptional honesty and political education of the German people by their Nazi PROPAGANDA MINISTER Dr. Goebbels, when he explained to the Germans, that ofcourse they were making propaganda to achieve certain goals (they did even call him that way!) and that the myth of free press was nothing but a lie and a free press never had existed!

Is it only coincidence that those who invented the lie of a "free press", the Plutocracies, have no war ministers, but only DEFENSE ministers these days... Or that they are calling themselfes Democracies, while they in fact are Plutocracies?

 

But if everything is propaganda, how can we, als individuals, ever discover the truth?

The same way as any judge tries to find it! No judge will ever believe, that the parties were telling him the truth, he always must accept, that each party presents it's case in the best possible way. A judge therefore also knows, that only propaganda exists. So how can he find out, what could be the truth if?

AUDIATUR ET ALTERA PARS.

That's the key to truth if something like that even exists. And not the sheeple's naive belive in a truly "free press"! I'm wondering how many libertarians have ever understood it, that a free press has NEVER existed and is only a lie? How many have ever understood that the principle of audiatur et altera pars is the method to come closer to the truth and not by believing this or that more "free" newspapers or media outlets!

How many are reading ZH in the believe, it was not propaganda and telling them the truth instead to understand, that it represents often THE OTHER SIDE?

Listen to the AUTHENTIC arguments of BOTH sides and when you have the problem for each side understood and sufficient arguments insepected, it is possible that you will be able to find out, which side has the better arguments, or maybe you will even discover which side is lying.

 

Listen to the Lawrow interview and listen to what Kerry says. Ups!

Listen to Putin's interviews (NOT what they tell you about it!) and listen to Obama's interviews or speeches.

And you will easily discover who is the liar.

 

But be warned: if you begin to apply this to all the taboos they have erected to hinder you from looking what the AUTHENTIC arguments of the other side are, then everything you have believed in, sooner or later, will collapse. But which is the first prerequisite to overcome your enslavement...

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 10:32 | 4607577 EatYourCornTake...
EatYourCornTakeyourPill's picture

No intentions of invasion yet the troops keep mounting up at the border. Not a cheap tourist expedition that is.

I found it funny that Lavrov considers abstentions as votes in their favor, whereas countries are probably just trying to stay out of it.

To think that I used to take RT as a serious news source. I guess there is no such thing as news. We have to get our info from different blogs and then make up our own minds. Unfortunate.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 11:29 | 4607676 CuttingEdge
CuttingEdge's picture

Interesting that in the past few weeks, up until annexation, at no time has Russia exceeded its post-USSR breakup agreed 25k military personnel on the Crimean peninsula. Yet to watch the MSM you would think they had invaded en masse.

The same applies on the border with Ukraine. A fact which the NATO dick-in-chief tacitly acknowledged at a briefing last week, while at the same time trying to convince the world they were preparing for an invasion. Man's a cunt. On a string.

Taking RT too seriously? RT is a propaganda station with some good programmes. Name one western MSM outlet not under the control of the US government. Judging by the coverage of Syria and Ukraine, editorial and journallistic integrity in the west is in the sewer - probably because no one wants to be another Max Hastings.

 

 

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 13:36 | 4607956 lakecity55
lakecity55's picture

Geez, how much common sense does it take to understand everyone is going to support their own agenda?

I do not think at this point in time that the Russian Federation maintains the ultra-strict type of media controls it did under the old USSR. That form of control is now used in the USSA.

Use Voltaire net, RT, Asia Times, etc. Also peruse blogs. Go to Times of India, El Pais (english version if you do not read Spanish). Granma is superb for your basic Cuban socialist party line. Just because I do not agree with their ideology does not mean there are gems of truth to be found.

I just realized I cannot remember the last time I watched any US network news or cable news. I do scan the NYT as they are the Pravda of the current regime, so as to get the Regime's Party Line.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 15:01 | 4608150 Starkiller
Starkiller's picture

Sorry man, but El Pais is even more controlled by OTAN lackeys than FOX or WSJ. Is not about ideology, they are just bougth. And cheaply.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 16:00 | 4608294 11b40
11b40's picture

The point is, don't trust any of them and pick up info from a wide variety of sources.

Yes, everyone talks their own book, even here.  Do your own due diligence is something we know sould be SOP for stocks.  Now it should be SOP for news, too.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 17:59 | 4608560 Againstthelie
Againstthelie's picture

Geez, how much common sense does it take to understand everyone is going to support their own agenda?

If you look how many believe in "free press", and do not know that it never has existed anywhere and is nothing but a lie then you have your answer.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 12:51 | 4607859 lakecity55
lakecity55's picture

Of course they will tend to support Russian Federation outlook.

But, they seem to have more useful information, while US MSM only sucks the Black Queen's cock.

"Bill O'Reilly here. I just did another interview with Bath House, and I must assure you, he is as hard as ever! Check out this nifty Presidential ball point pen he gave me!"

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 14:40 | 4608093 KickIce
KickIce's picture

Except that "hand of friendship" comes with US militaty presence, a Rothschild Central Bank, debt, and a depletion of the country's natural resources; until they become like Detroit and then there is no further interest.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 15:15 | 4608184 daveO
daveO's picture

It's the freshly squeezed treatment. We squeeze their orange dry and hand the dry peel back to them.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 16:50 | 4608427 dcohen
dcohen's picture

It is a nuclear banana, and it can blow the heads off the neocons.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 10:07 | 4607546 Arrowflinger
Arrowflinger's picture

Rubes versus rubles. This is how the world ends?

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 15:18 | 4608198 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

This is not a plug for Greg Hunter, but he did have two very recent interviews that help us with keeping global perspective and helps us put the Ukraine/Crimea crisis as the latest example of US Hegemony and the emminent demise (built-in self-destruction of its monetary system):

1. James Rickards-Dollar Going to Collapse 80% or 90% or More

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCsm5m89SVM    

2. Brandon Smith-U.S. Debt Will Explode in 2014

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgX_LvwXCqs

Obama, his handlers and Fed's Owners (GS, JPM, Citi, BAC, WF... and its key owners), the MIC and all the US, EU and ME beneficiaries (Egypt, Israel, KSA) of the Fed and the MIC, know that The End is nearing for their fiat-debt currency/monetary system. 

They are merely trying to buy more time, while jockeying for 'position'.  'Position' in max land grabs, asset & resource grabs, and debt-as-slavery (free labor) grabs.  The parties with the most of each, ends up coming out the strongest and richest after the Big Reset -- to hopefully rule the world, or most of its natural and demographic wealth.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 10:07 | 4607547 Rakshas
Rakshas's picture

Zbig gave it up 17 years ago...... 

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 10:08 | 4607548 Headbanger
Headbanger's picture

Those poor bastards tank crews don't have a chance against an Abrams or a Challenger with modern armor plating.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 10:31 | 4607574 Snidley Whipsnae
Snidley Whipsnae's picture

Shermans didn't have a chance against much better NAZI tanks in WW2... but the Shermans prevailed... 

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 10:40 | 4607588 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

The Shermans were in fact, death traps.  One of the still under reported scandals of the war.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 11:09 | 4607633 Wile-E-Coyote
Wile-E-Coyote's picture

1850 Tiger tanks MKI & II's built against 50000 Shermans. The kill ratio was approx 10:1 so the Sherman could afford to be shit. Allied tank crews used to shit themselves if they so much as got a whiff of a Tiger. Who wouldn't.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 11:44 | 4607713 optimator
optimator's picture

Ronson Lighters.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 12:06 | 4607765 Things that go bump
Things that go bump's picture

That could probably be said for any tank. Anyway, war is a death trap. 

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 12:48 | 4607853 lakecity55
lakecity55's picture

We who were infantry like tanx.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 14:35 | 4608072 Keyser
Keyser's picture

Not really. Sherman tanks ran on gas, German tanks ran on diesel. The first German round to hit a Sherman would turn it into spam in a can. Thus the odds. Obviously the Yanks and their tanks were expendible. Same as it always was. 

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 16:14 | 4608320 agent default
agent default's picture

German tanks mostly used the Maybach HL230 V12 which is a gasoline engine. Only the Russians used Diesel engines in their tanks. 

The main problem with the Sherman was that it was seriously under gunned due to Pentagon turf wars.  The story of the Sherman tank's armament is a good example of how expendable high brass considers their troops to be.  Those involved with the armament of the Sherman should have been hanged.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 19:15 | 4608756 Squid-puppets a...
Squid-puppets a-go-go's picture

pentagon turf wars?

what, George w.'s grampappy Prescott only let the heavy duty stuff go to his german subsidiaries? sounds rite

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 11:43 | 4607706 optimator
optimator's picture

But those DEMOCRAT Shermans outnumbered them and with tactical air support eventually wore them down.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 10:32 | 4607575 TPTB_r_TBTF
TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

Maybe the A10 Warthogs will be able to show their worth and survive the budget cuts.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 10:43 | 4607592 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

Damn fine tank killers, no doubt, but the world moves on.

I am one of the least techy in these parts, but I can't help thinking about what you can do to tanks with shoulder fired rockets.  Probably get most of what you need from radio shack.

Everyone seems to think Ukraine will get whooped.  They thought that about the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, too.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 11:40 | 4607694 optimator
optimator's picture

The Merkava was considered one of the worlds best tanks.  Last time they rolled into Lebanon for training what was left of them were towed out.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 14:10 | 4608014 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Correct, you are not that techy, as you failed to observe what is in PLAIN SIGHT:  ACTIVE ARMOR on the tanks.

Your shoulder-fired crap will mean jack shit.  FYI.

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 17:57 | 4608554 jwoop66
jwoop66's picture

how many times can you hit the same spot on a tank with active armor, and the active armor still works?

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