Saturday 23rd of October 2021

of undivided friendships...






















The United States of America cannot maintain its declining power and influence in the world unless it can dominate Russia and China and it cannot dominate them so long as they are allied. Each of the two nations is a major world power, and China is soon to become, if it is not already, the dominant economic power.



Divided against each other they would make themselves more vulnerable to US imperialism that has the objective of splitting both nations into controllable and exploitable pieces. Together, their strategic economic, societal, cultural and military cooperation makes them as strong and stronger than the US and its allies in NATO, Australia and Japan and able to effectively resist and counter the increasingly hostile and threatening policies and actions of the Americans.

So it important to celebrate, as both Russia and China did this week, the Russia-Chinese Treaty on Good Neighbourliness, and Friendly Cooperation that was signed in July 16, 2001 by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin. You can read the text here.

In 25 short paragraphs the two nations set out their intent to deepen and expand their cooperation in all spheres, and to base their policies and behaviour in international law and the quest for peace in the world. It specifically resolves any and all border disputes between the two.

Yet, the Americans are intent on trying to drive a wedge between Russia and China using border disputes as a hammer. A few days before the summit meeting between president Putin and President Biden the Washington Post in an op-ed piece, presented the hopes of the Americans, when Isaac Stone Fish, wrote,

‘Despite the countless irritants in the US-Russia relationship, … there is now space to enlist Moscow as a silent but meaningful partner in the global campaign to curb the pernicious aspects of the Chinese Communist Party’s international influence.’

He went on to cite the reasons way the Americans think they can drive in that wedge; rival claims to territories in the east of Russia being the most important, stating,

‘To begin with, Moscow has more to fear from Beijing than Washington. Like the Philippines, India and Bhutan, where Russia is vulnerable to Chinese territorial encroachment.”

But this writer is living in the past. He writes as if the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation does not exist. He forgets that the Sino-Soviet Border War of 1969 arose out of a complex of historical, geographical and political factors, none of which now exist.

Aside from border disputes, both then accused the other of being “revisionists,” that is sliding back to capitalism, instead of maintaining socialism, and, indeed looking back, we can see that both were partly right, because the Soviet Union continued down the road towards the restoration of capitalism and, after Mao, China also went some way down that same road while maintaining the control of the Party.

And indeed, The Sino-Soviet War was a gift to the Americans who immediately used it to drive a further wedge into the socialist camp. Shortly after the war ended, the Americans sent Kissinger to Beijing followed by an opening of relations between the US and China which the Americans exploited to their advantage, against the USSR.

But for the Americans to hope that history can be repeated except as farce, as Marx said, that, once again, they can succeed in dividing Russia and China is futile. First of all the border disputes were all finally settled by a series of negotiations and agreements from 2003 to 2008 and these negotiations were a direct result of the Russian-Chinese Treaty signed in 2001. The border disputes are no longer an issue.

Secondly, the world situation is completely different. Russia now has a capitalist government but has experienced US influence in the early 90‘s and rejected it as the disaster for the economy and the people it was. China under Xi Jinping is reasserting Marxism in every aspect of society. Yet, despite ideological differences, they share the desire to develop as sovereign nations on their own terms, share a long history of cooperation and cultural and economic exchange, and share a common self-declared enemy, which seems intent on making their association and cooperation even stronger.

Their common rival is far weaker than it was in 1969. We remember that America was defeated in the Vietnam War partly due to the crucial military assistance provided to Vietnam by both the USSR and China. It has been defeated in most of is wars since and expended vast sums of its national wealth for little concrete gain. Internally it is riven with factional infighting in the two major parties and between them, and the American people are forced to limit themselves to a choice between the two big business parties, are not permitted anything like a national labour party of any kind, and are told this rigged system is a democracy. Its infrastructure is falling apart, its education system, health care; homelessness is endemic, drug overdoses, and shootings on a mass scale are a daily routine, a symptom of a society tearing itself apart.

It commands the NATO war alliance but the alliance is divided and the real power is held in Washington with the other members so many vassals, afraid of what the big bully will do if they go their own way. Germany is trying to reassert its own power. France has always been a reluctant bride and Turkey uses it for its own best interests but is deeply suspicious of the US, while the UK, which has left the EU, dreams of ancient days of empire without the means to attain it, as London plays second fiddle to Washington.

The US has contempt for international law and the UN Charter. Russia and China regard them as the cornerstones of peace and diplomacy. The US issues diktats to the world; China and Russia seek dialogue and reason. The US constantly threatens war, or its substitute, economic embargo, against any nation refusing to accept its claim to world suzerainty. Russia and China are trying to build a multipolar world order where no nation can dominate the others, and insist on diplomacy and international law. The US insists on bombs and cruise missiles, on torture of prisoners, on assassinations, on the lies of its propaganda, on the pretence of democracy rather than its reality.

The Americans were deluded when they met with President Putin in Geneva, hoping that they could lure him into abandoning China. Their anger at not succeeding appeared very quickly after the summit with new sanctions imposed on Russia and multiple accusations, by sources linked to US intelligence, that both China and Russia have carried out cyber attacks on US and UK businesses and national systems. All this, along with the constant NATO military exercises, the increased preparations for war, the hostile rhetoric, serve only to reinforce the Russia-China relationship. The Americans seem to be making decisions and taking actions based on self-delusions. Only that can explain the futile hope of being able to divide Russia and China when their every action succeeds in the exact opposite, proving to Russia and China that their strong relationship needs to be even stronger.

But other American commentators have expressed the same delusion as Stone does above. One writer in The Interpreter stated that despite the Treaty Russia should be ‘wary of China”, that Russia is the “junior partner” has conflicting interests in India, the Arctic and other places, is economically reliant on China and so on. He wrote:

“It is important at least to engage seriously and directly with Russia, encouraging Moscow to contemplate the risks of excessive dependence on its eastern neighbour.”

The chattering class in the US spends much of its time thinking of ways to divide Russia and China, and are clearly worried about the relative decline of US influence in the world and how to reverse it. Michael Pillsbury of the Rand Corporation, former under-secretary of defence under President Reagan and adviser to president Bush, and Senior Fellow and Director of Chinese Strategy at the Hudson Institute which has been very active with anti-Chinese propaganda, is worried that Russia has become a distraction and that Biden needs to “develop more leverage on China to make progress in confronting the top adversary.”

In other words, the American leadership is faced with a problem of its own making; two major powers driven together by their experience with US aggression, who are willing to stand up to the declining American hegemony, the existence of which alliance prevents the US from being able to solve its internal problems through the unchallenged exploitation of world resources and markets. The Americans have no solution to this dilemma except to increase their military power, build more weapons, spend more national wealth on arms and to threaten everyone, everywhere; the dead-end it has been in for a long time.

The world has great problems that need to be solved, if they can be, of human caused abrupt climate change, of the covid-pandemic, of poverty and food supply, of environmental collapse, all of which need international cooperation. Russia and China have shown the way forward, have shown what cooperation between nations and peoples can do, while the Americans wallow in delusions and dreams of a world that no longer exists. So we must, with the Russians and Chinese, all celebrate the Treaty signed on July 16, 2001 that ensured peace and cooperation between the two nations and hope that, one day, and it better be sooner than later, a world treaty of friendship and cooperation will be signed by all the nations of the world.



Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


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divide to rule...




from the other side...


From Current Concerns


cc. What follows is a recent article by Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, for the Russian newspaper Kommersant. The English translation is the version authorised by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Subheadings have been added by the Current Concerns editorial team.



The frank and generally constructive conversation that took place at the 16 June 2021 summit meeting between presidents Vladimir Putin and Joseph Biden in Geneva resulted in an agreement to launch a substantive dialogue on strategic stability, reaffirming the crucial premise that nuclear war is unacceptable. The two sides also reached an understanding on the advisability of engaging in consultations on cybersecurity, the operation of diplomatic missions, the fate of imprisoned Russian and US citizens and a number of regional conflicts.
  The Russian leader made it clear, including in his public statements, that finding a mutually acceptable balance of interests strictly on a parity basis is the only way to deliver on any of these tracks. There were no objections during the talks. However, in their immediate aftermath, US officials, including those who participated in the Geneva meeting, started asserting what seemed to be foregone tenets, perorating that they had “made it clear” to Moscow, “warned it, and stated their demands.” Moreover, all these “warnings” went hand in hand with threats: if Moscow does not accept the “rules of the road” set forth in Geneva in a matter of several months, it would come under renewed pressure.
  Of course, it has yet to be seen how the consultations to define specific ways for fulfilling the Geneva understandings as mentioned above will proceed. As Vladimir Putin said during his news conference following the talks, “we have a lot to work on.” That said, it is telling that Washington’s ineradicable position was voiced immediately following the talks, especially since European capitals immediately took heed of the Big Brother’s sentiment and picked up the tune with much gusto and relish. The gist of their statements is that they are ready to normalise their relations with Moscow, but only after it changes the way it behaves.

Does the West still only want to do what it thinks is right?

It is as if a choir has been pre-arranged to sing along with the lead vocalist. It seems that this was what the series of high-level Western events in the build-up to the Russia-US talks was all about: the Group of Seven Summit in Cornwall, UK, the NATO Summit in Brussels, as well as Joseph Biden’s meeting with President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
  These meetings were carefully prepared in a way that leaves no doubt that the West wanted to send a clear message: it stands united like never before and will do what it believes to be right in international affairs, while forcing others, primarily Russia and China, to follow its lead. The documents adopted at the Cornwall and Brussels summits cemented the rules-based world order concept as a counterweight to the universal principles of international law with the UN Charter as its primary source.

“Rules” instead of International Law

In doing so, the West deliberately shies away from spelling out the rules it purports to follow, just as it refrains from explaining why they are needed. After all, there are already thousands of universal international legal instruments setting out clear national commitments and transparent verification mechanisms. The beauty of these Western “rules” lies precisely in the fact that they lack any specific content. When someone acts against the will of the West, it immediately responds with a groundless claim that “the rules have been broken” (without bothering to present any evidence) and declares its “right to hold the perpetrators accountable.” The less specific they get, the freer their hand to carry on with the arbitrary practice of employing dirty tactics as a way to pressure competitors. During the so-called “wild 1990s” in Russia, we used to refer to such practices as laying down the law.

Reunificaton of the “Western family”

To the participants in the G7, NATO and US-EU summits, this series of high-level events signalled the return by the United States into European affairs and the restored consolidation of the Old World under the wing of the new administration in Washington. Most NATO and EU members met this U-turn with enthusiastic comments rather than just a sigh of relief. The adherence to liberal values as the humanity’s guiding star provides an ideological underpinning for the reunification of the “Western family.” Without any false modesty, Washington and Brussels called themselves “an anchor for democracy, peace and security,” as opposed to “authoritarianism in all its forms.” In particular, they proclaimed their intent to use sanctions to “support democracy across the globe.” To this effect, they took on board the American idea of convening a Summit for Democracy. Make no mistake, the West will cherry pick the participants in this summit. It will also set an agenda that is unlikely to meet any opposition from the participants of its choosing. There has been talk of democracy-exporting countries undertaking “enhanced commitments” to ensure universal adherence to “democratic standards” and devising mechanisms for controlling these processes.

New Anglo-American Atlantic Charter

The revitalised Anglo-American Atlantic Charter approved by Joseph Biden and Boris Johnson on 10 June 2021 on the sidelines of the G7 Summit is also worth noting. It was cast as an updated version of the 1941 document signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill under the same title. At the time, it played an important role in shaping the contours of the post-war world order.
  However, neither Washington, nor London mentioned an essential historical fact: eighty years ago, the USSR and a number of European governments in exile joined the 1941 charter, paving the way to making it one of the conceptual pillars of the Anti-Hitler Coalition and one of the legal blueprints of the UN Charter.
  By the same token, the New Atlantic Charter has been designed as a starting point for building a new world order, but guided solely by Western “rules.” Its provisions are ideologically tainted. They seek to widen the gap between the so-called liberal democracies and all other nations, as well as legitimise the rules-based order. The new charter fails to mention the UN or the OSCE, while stating without any reservations the adherence by the Western nations to their commitments as NATO members, viewed de facto as the only legitimate decision-making centre (at least this is how former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen described NATO’s role). It is clear that the same philosophy will guide the preparations for the Summit for Democracy.

Russia and China – “authoritarian powers”?

Labelled as “authoritarian powers,” Russia and China have been designated as the main obstacles to delivering on the agenda set out at the June summits. From a general perspective, they face two groups of grievances, loosely defined as external and internal. In terms of international affairs, Beijing is accused of being too assertive in pursuing its economic interests (The Belt and Road initiative), as well as expanding its military and, in general, technological might with a view to increasing its influence. Russia stands accused of adopting an “aggressive posture” in a number of regions. This is the way they treat Moscow’s policy aimed at countering ultra-radical and neo-Nazi aspirations in its immediate neighbourhood, where the rights of Russians, as well as other ethnic minorities, are being suppressed, and the Russian language, education and culture rooted out. They also dislike the fact than Moscow stands up for countries that became victims to Western gambles, were attacked by international terrorists and risked losing their statehood, as was the case with Syria.
  Still, the West reserved its biggest words to the inner workings of the “non-democratic” countries and its commitment to reshape them to fit into the Western mould. This entails bringing society in compliance with the vision of democracy as preached by Washington and Brussels. This lies at the root of the demands that Moscow and Beijing, as well as all others, follow the Western prescriptions on human rights, civil society, opposition treatment, the media, governance and the interaction between the branches of power. While proclaiming the “right” to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries for the sake of promoting democracy as it understands it, the West instantly loses all interest when we raise the prospect of making international relations more democratic, including renouncing arrogant behaviour and committing to abide by the universally recognised tenets of international law instead of “rules.” By expanding sanctions and other illegitimate coercive measures against sovereign states, the West promotes totalitarian rule in global affairs, assuming an imperial, neo-colonial stance in its relations with third countries. They are asked to adopt the democratic rule under the model of the Western choosing, and forget about democracy in international affairs, since someone will be deciding everything for them. All that is asked of these third countries is to keep quiet, or face reprisals.

Such uncompromising policy leads nowhere

Clearheaded politicians in Europe and America realise that this uncompromising policy leads nowhere, and are beginning to think pragmatically, albeit out of public view, recognising that the world has more than just one civilisation. They are beginning to recognise that Russia, China and other major powers have a history that dates back a thousand years, and have their own traditions, values and way of life. Attempts to decide whose values are better, and whose are worse, seem pointless. Instead, the West must simply recognise that there are other ways to govern that may be different from the Western approaches, and accept and respect this as a given. No country is immune to human rights issues, so why all this high-browed hubris? Why do the Western countries assume that they can deal with these issues on their own, since they are democracies, while others have yet to reach this level, and are in need of assistance that the West will generously provide.

Messianism does not help solve real problems

International relations are going through fundamental shifts that affect everyone without exception. Trying to predict where it will take us is impossible. Still, there is a question: messianic aspirations apart, what is the most effective form of government for coping with and removing threats that transcend borders and affect all people, no matter where they live? Political scientists are beginning to compare the available toolboxes used by the so-called liberal democracies and by “autocratic regimes.” In this context, it is telling that the term “autocratic democracy” has been suggested, even if timidly.
  These are useful considerations, and serious-minded politicians who are currently in power, among others, must take heed. Thinking and scrutinising what is going on around us has never hurt anyone. The multipolar world is becoming reality. Attempts to ignore this reality by asserting oneself as the only legitimate decision-making centre will hardly bring about solutions to real, rather than farfetched challenges. Instead, what is needed is mutually respectful dialogue involving the leading powers and with due regard for the interests of all other members of the international community. This implies an unconditional commitment to abide by the universally accepted norms and principles of international law, including respecting the sovereign equality of states, non-interference in their domestic affairs, peaceful resolution of conflict, and the right to self-determination.

The West wants to slow down the process of the emergence of a polycentric world

Taken as a whole, the historical West dominated the world for five hundred years. However, there is no doubt that it now sees that this era is coming to a close, while clinging to the status it used to enjoy, and putting artificial brakes on the objective process consisting in the emergence of a polycentric world. This brought about an attempt to provide a conceptual underpinning to the new vision of multilateralism. For example, France and Germany tried to promote “effective multilateralism,” rooted in the EU ideals and actions, and serving as a model to everyone else, rather than promoting UN’s inclusive multilateralism.

… and it wants to do so with its “rules”

By imposing the concept of a rules-based order, the West seeks to shift the conversation on key issues to the platforms of its liking, where no dissident voices can be heard. This is how like-minded groups and various “appeals” emerge. This is about coordinating prescriptions and then making everyone else follow them. Examples include an “appeal for trust and security in cyberspace”, “the humanitarian appeal for action”, and a “global partnership to protect media freedom”. Each of these platforms brings together only several dozen countries, which is far from a majority, as far as the international community is concerned. The UN system offers inclusive negotiations platforms on all of the abovementioned subjects. Understandably, this gives rise to alternative points of view that have to be taken into consideration in search of a compromise, but all the West wants is to impose its own rules.

Sanctions in violation of the UN Charter

At the same time, the EU develops dedicated horizontal sanctions regimes for each of its “like-minded groups,” of course, without looking back at the UN Charter. This is how it works: those who join these “appeals” or “partnerships” decide among themselves who violates their requirements in a given sphere, and the European Union imposes sanctions on those at fault. What a convenient method. They can indict and punish all by themselves without ever needing to turn to the UN Security Council. They even came up with a rationale to this effect: since we have an alliance of the most effective multilateralists, we can teach others to master these best practices. To those who believe this to be undemocratic or at odds with a vision of genuine multilateralism, President of France Emmanuel Macron offered an explanation in his remarks on 11 May 2021: multilateralism does not mean necessity to strike unanimity, and the position of those "who do not wish to continue moving forward must not be able to stop ... an ambitious avant-garde" of the world community.
  Make no mistake: there is nothing wrong with the rules per se. On the contrary, the UN Charter is a set of rules, but these rules were approved by all countries of the world, rather than by a closed group at a cosy get-together.

“The Law” and “the rules”

An interesting detail: in Russian, the words “law” and “rule” share a single root. To us, a rule that is genuine and just is inseparable from the law. This is not the case for Western languages. For instance, in English, the words “law” and “rule” do not share any resemblance. See the difference? “Rule” is not so much about the law, in the sense of generally accepted laws, as it is about the decisions taken by the one who rules or governs. It is also worth noting that “rule” shares a single root with “ruler,” with the latter’s meanings including the commonplace device for measuring and drawing straight lines. It can be inferred that through its concept of “rules” the West seeks to align everyone around its vision or apply the same yardstick to everybody, so that everyone falls into a single file.
  While reflecting on linguistics, worldview, sentiment, and the way they vary from one nation or culture to another, it is worth recollecting how the West has been justifying NATO’s unreserved eastward expansion towards the Russian border. When we point to the assurances provided to the Soviet Union that this would not happen, we hear that these were merely spoken promises, and there were no documents signed to this effect. There is a centuries-old tradition in Russia of making handshake deals without signing anything and holding one’s word as sacrosanct, but it seems unlikely to ever take hold in the West.
  Efforts to replace international law by Western “rules” include an immanently dangerous policy of revising the history and outcomes of the Second World War and the Nuremberg trials verdicts as the foundation of today’s world order. The West refuses to support a Russia-sponsored UN resolution proclaiming that glorifying Nazism is unacceptable, and rejects our proposals to discuss the demolition of monuments to those who liberated Europe. They also want to condemn to oblivion momentous post-war developments, such as the 1960 UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, initiated by our country. The former colonial powers seek to efface this memory by replacing it with hastily concocted rituals like taking a knee ahead of sports competitions, in order to divert attention from their historical responsibility for colonial-era crimes.

The “rules-based order” is the embodiment of double standards

The “rules-based order” is the embodiment of double standards. The right to self-determination is recognised as an absolute “rule” whenever it can be used to an advantage. This applies to the Malvinas Islands, or the Falklands, some 12,000 kilometres from Great Britain, to the remote former colonial territories Paris and London retain despite multiple UN resolutions and rulings by the International Court of Justice, as well as Kosovo, which obtained its “independence” in violation of a UN Security Council resolution. However, if self-determination runs counter to the Western geopolitical interests, as it happened when the people of Crimea voted for reunification with Russia, this principle is cast aside, while condemning the free choice made by the people and punishing them with sanctions.

Encroaching on the very human nature

Apart from encroaching on international law, the “rules” concept also manifests itself in attempts to encroach on the very human nature. In a number of Western countries, students learn at school that Jesus Christ was bisexual. Attempts by reasonable politicians to shield the younger generation from aggressive LGBT propaganda are met with bellicose protests from the “enlightened Europe.” All world religions, the genetic code of the planet’s key civilisations, are under attack. The United States is at the forefront of state interference in church affairs, openly seeking to drive a wedge into the Orthodox world, whose values are viewed as a powerful spiritual obstacle for the liberal concept of boundless permissiveness.
  The insistence and even stubbornness demonstrated by the West in imposing its “rules” are striking. Of course, domestic politics is a factor, with the need to show voters how tough your foreign policy can get when dealing with “autocratic foes” during every electoral cycle, which happen every two years in the United States.
  Still, it was also the West that coined the “liberty, equality, fraternity” motto. I do not know whether the term “fraternity” is politically correct in today’s Europe from a “gender perspective”, but there were no attempts to encroach on equality so far. As mentioned above, while preaching equality and democracy in their countries and demanding that other follow its lead, the West refuses to discuss ways to ensure equality and democracy in international affairs.

“This approach is clearly at odds with the ideals of freedom”

This approach is clearly at odds with the ideals of freedom. The veil of its superiority conceals weakness and the fear of engaging in a frank conversation not only with yes-men and those eager to fall in line, but also with opponents with different beliefs and values, not neo-liberal or neo-conservative ones, but those learned at mother’s knee, inherited from many past generations, traditions and beliefs.
  It is much harder to accept the diversity and competition of ideas in the development of the world than to invent prescriptions for all of humanity within a narrow circle of the like-minded, free from any disputes on matters of principle, which makes the emergence of truth all but impossible. However, universal platforms can produce agreements that are much more solid, sustainable, and can be subject to objective verification.

Exceptionalism complex

This immutable truth struggles to make it through to the Western elites, consumed as they are with the exceptionalism complex. As I mentioned earlier in this article, right after the talks between Vladimir Putin and Joseph Biden, EU and NATO officials rushed to announce that nothing has changed in the way they treat Russia. Moreover, they are ready to see their relations with Moscow deteriorate further, they claimed.
  Moreover, it is an aggressive Russophobic minority that increasingly sets the EU’s policy, as confirmed by the EU Summit in Brussels on 24 and 25 June 2021, where the future of relations with Russia was on the agenda. The idea voiced by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to hold a meeting with Vladimir Putin was killed before it saw the light of day. Observers noted that the Russia-US Summit in Geneva was tantamount to a go-ahead by the United States to have this meeting, but the Baltic states, siding with Poland, cut short this “uncoordinated” attempt by Berlin and Paris, while the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry summoned the German and French ambassadors to explain their governments’ actions. What came out of the debates at the Brussels summit was an instruction to the European Commission and the European Union External Action Service to devise new sanctions against Moscow without referring to any specific “sins,” just in case. No doubt they will come up with something, should the need arise.

Aimed at the subjugation of other regions of the world 

Neither NATO, nor the EU intend to divert from their policy of subjugating other regions of the world, proclaiming a self-designated global messianic mission. The North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation is seeking to proactively contribute to America’s strategy for the Indo-Pacific Region, clearly targeted at containing China, and undermining ASEAN’s role in its decades-long efforts to build an inclusive cooperation architecture for Asia-Pacific. In turn, the European Union drafts programmes to “embrace” geopolitical spaces in its neighbourhood and beyond, without coordinating these initiatives even with the invited countries. This is what the Eastern Partnership, as well as a recent programme approved by Brussels for Central Asia, are all about. There is a fundamental difference between these approaches and the ones guiding integration processes with Russia’s involvement: the CIS, the CSTO, EurAsEC and the SCO, which seek to develop relations with external partners exclusively on the basis of parity and mutual agreement.
  With its contemptuous attitude towards other members of the international community, the West finds itself on the wrong side of history.

Russia will discuss any issues only on an equal footing

Serious, self-respecting countries will never tolerate attempts to talk to them through ultimatums and will discuss any issues only on an equal footing.
  As for Russia, it is high time that everyone understands that we have drawn a definitive line under any attempts to play a one-way game with us. All the mantras we hear from the Western capitals on their readiness to put their relations with Moscow back on track, as long as it repents and changes its tack, are meaningless. Still, many persist, as if by inertia, in presenting us with unilateral demands, which does little, if any, credit to how realistic they are.

Protection of own national interests

The policy of having the Russian Federation develop on its own, independently and protecting national interests, while remaining open to reaching agreements with foreign partners on an equal basis, has long been at the core of all its position papers on foreign policy, national security and defence. However, judging by the practical steps taken over the recent years by the West, they probably thought that Russia did not really mean what it preached, as if it did not intend to follow through on these principles. This includes the hysterical response to Moscow’s efforts to stand up for the rights of Russians in the aftermath of the bloody 2014 government coup in Ukraine, supported by the United States, NATO and the EU. They thought that if they applied some more pressure on the elites and targeted their interests, while expanding personal, financial and other sectoral sanctions, Moscow would come to its senses and realise that it would face mounting challenges on its development path, as long as it did not “change its behaviour,” which implies obeying the West. Even when Russia made it clear that we view this policy by the United States and Europe as a new reality and will proceed on economic and other matters from the premise that we cannot depend on unreliable partners, the West persisted in believing that, at the end of the day, Moscow “will come to its senses” and will make the required concessions for the sake of financial reward. Let me emphasise what President Vladimir Putin has said on multiple occasions: there have been no unilateral concessions since the late 1990s and there never will be. If you want to work with us, recover lost profits and business reputations, let us sit down and agree on ways we can meet each other half way in order to find fair solutions and compromises.

What the West should understand

It is essential that the West understands that this is a firmly ingrained worldview among the people of Russia, reflecting the attitude of the overwhelming majority here. The “irreconcilable” opponents of the Russian government who have placed their stakes on the West and believe that all Russia’s woes come from its anti-Western stance advocate unilateral concessions for the sake of seeing the sanctions lifted and receiving hypothetical financial gains. But they are totally marginal in Russian society. During his June 16, 2021 news conference in Geneva, Vladimir Putin made it abundantly clear what the West is after when it supports these marginal forces.
  These are disruptive efforts as far as history is concerned, while Russians have always demonstrated maturity, a sense of self-respect, dignity and national pride, and the ability to think independently, especially during hard times, while remaining open to the rest of the world, but only on an equal, mutually beneficial footing. Once we put the confusion and mayhem of the 1990s behind us, these values became the bedrock of Russia’s foreign policy concept in the 21st century. The people of Russia can decide on how they view the actions by their government without getting any prompts from abroad.

Platforms of dialogue

As to the question on how to proceed on the international stage, there is no doubt that leaders will always play an important role, but they have to reaffirm their authority, offer new ideas and lead by conviction, not ultimatums. The Group of Twenty, among others, is a natural platform for working out mutually acceptable agreements. It brings together the leading economies, young and old, including the G7, as well as the BRICS and its like-minded countries. Russia’s initiative to form a Greater Eurasian Partnership by coordinating the efforts of countries and organisations across the continent holds a powerful consolidating potential. Seeking to facilitate an honest conversation on the key global stability matters, President Vladimir Putin suggested convening a summit of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council that have special responsibility for maintaining international peace and stability on the planet.

Bringing more democracy to international relations

Efforts to bring more democracy to international relations and affirm a polycentric world order include reforming the UN Security Council by strengthening it with Asian, African and Latin American countries, and ending the anomaly with the excessive representation of the West in the UN’s main body.
  Regardless of any ambitions and threats, our country remains committed to a sovereign and independent foreign policy, while also ready to offer a unifying agenda in international affairs with due account for the cultural and civilisational diversity in today’s world. Confrontation is not our choice, no matter the rationale. On 22 June 2021, Vladimir Putin published an article “Being Open, Despite the Past,” in which he emphasised: “We simply cannot afford to carry the burden of past misunderstandings, hard feelings, conflicts, and mistakes.” He also discussed the need to ensure security without dividing lines, a common space for equitable cooperation and inclusive development. This approach hinges on Russia’s thousand-year history and is fully consistent with the current stage in its development. We will persist in promoting the emergence of an international relations culture based on the supreme values of justice and enabling all countries, large and small, to develop in peace and freedom. We will always remain open to honest dialogue with anyone who demonstrates a reciprocal readiness to find a balance of interests firmly rooted in international law. These are the rules we adhere to.  •


Source: of 28 June 2021 (official translation)


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the malaise symptoms...



The symptoms are increasingly clear that the United States is losing its ability to be a game changer in world events. It is equally clear that they neither accept nor even necessarily recognise the decline in their status. Some recent examples illustrate the point.

Prior to his meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Geneva, the United States president Joseph Biden gave an interview on United States television. In the course of the interview, he made the extraordinary claim that his Russian counterpart was “a killer”. Not only was this an extremely ill-judged comment, it is patently absurd for any US president to label his opponent “a killer”.

Since at least the end of World War II 76 years ago, the United States has been the unquestioned leading power in making chaos throughout the world. In the course of those decades the US has been responsible for the deaths of multiple millions of people in every continent. In this context, for any US president to label his opponent a killer is a sick joke.

A second symptom of a declining power is to denigrate the opposition. Again, the Americans are in a class of their own. Former president Obama was rudely dismissive of Russia’s industrial progress, suggesting they produced little more than armaments. In this he echoed former United States Senator the late John McCain who similarly dismissed Russia’s economy.

The Russian economy is in fact extremely resilient, but in this context one of the most important markers is its ability to produce world-class weaponry that is a generation ahead of its US equivalent. The American intelligence services are not so stupid that they fail to recognise that in the formulation of recent weapons the Russians are well ahead of their American counterparts.

What the United States reaction does suggest is that they fail to appreciate just how far behind they are. They still conduct themselves with an amazing degree of arrogance, whether in Europe against Russia or in the Far East against China.

This manifests itself in such exercises as so-called freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea. The fact that they are unable to point to a single example of the passage of their ships being hindered is a fact that seemingly escapes western journalists who are almost unanimous in supporting these blatantly provocative exercises.

The fact that the Chinese are seemingly increasingly losing their patience with these blatantly provocative exercises is not a point to be ignored. Recent Chinese statements have made it clear that there is a limit to their patience. Recent United States gestures in support of Taiwan have clearly caused the Chinese some upset. This upset has been reflected not only in their increasingly strong rhetoric, but also in more and more frequent intrusions by Chinese warships into the waters close to Taiwan. The rhetoric has also become stronger and more pointed. It would not be a surprise to see some definite military moves by the Chinese to assert their backing the rhetoric of “one China” with actual military action.

At his meeting with Putin in Geneva, Biden made a number of conciliatory gestures. Unfortunately, words were all that happened. There has been no reduction of the sanctions that the United States has imposed on Russia, and in fact they were enlarged following the Geneva meeting.

The ostensible reason for this was Russia’s alleged actions against Ukraine, and the Russian insistence that the waters adjoining Crimea are Russian territory. The British were the latest to challenge this assertion by sending a warship within Crimea’s territorial waters. The British position was that the waters were in fact Ukrainian territory and they were therefore entitled to sail within them.

The apparent basis for the British belief that Crimea is part of Ukraine, apparently stemming back to the 1950s transfer of Crimea to Ukraine. This is a classic example of British (and Western) blindness to both history and the democratic process.

The British have conveniently ignored the fact that they fought a war against Russia in the 1850s, known in Western history books as the Crimean War. The attitude also ignores the fact that in 2014 Crimea voted overwhelmingly (by 97% with an 87% turnout) to depart their brief adherence to Ukraine and return to Russia. “Return” is the operative word.

British (and Western) complaints about that exercise also ignore the precedent in Kosovo, which similarly voted to leave Serbia and assert its independence status. The West ignoring the Kosovo precedent probably owes more than a little to the fact that Kosovo is now one of the United States’ largest foreign military bases. It is also an important way station for the (again American) dominance of Afghanistan’s heroin trade.

Part of the United States motivation for its partial change of behaviour to Russia is the belief by the Americans that they can separate the Russians from their relationship with China. That relationship recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. The United State is pursuing a chimera into thinking that can separate China and Russia.

The closeness of the ties between the two states can be seen for example, in a unified approach to Afghanistan. The Americans are allegedly withdrawing from Afghanistan, although it is not obvious from their behaviour, which includes maintaining a tight grip on the heroin trade, and their bombing flights to attack Taliban (organization banned in Russia) positions. The Americans seem to have completely forgotten their 2020 agreement with the Taliban. They seem determined to pursue a policy of maintaining the current Kabul government, whose future can now be measured in weeks.

Both the Russians and the Chinese are dictating the future of the incoming Taliban government. This includes a determination that the Taliban repeat their 1990s policy of eliminating the heroin traffic from within its borders. The Russians have also strengthened the National borders of the former Soviet states that are joined to Afghanistan. There is no real concern about Afghanistan wanting to violate these borders, but the concern is that terrorist groups will seek to violate the borders and exercise terrorist actions, particularly in China’s Xinjiang region, a major target of western propaganda that asserts baseless claims of genocide in that region against the Uighur population.

A recent vote of independent states overwhelmingly confirmed that China’s policy was a matter for the Chinese, completely overshadowing an earlier vote of some western nations that sought to condemn China.

What these examples all illustrate is that the days of United States hegemony are over. The world, led by Russia and China, are forging a new path, most clearly represented by overwhelming world support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In getting the United States to recognise these changes in the balance of world affairs is the major challenge of the present decade. The United States will be reluctant to accept this reality. In that, the world faces its greatest challenge.



James O’Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


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