Tag Archives: Russia

How Tehran Fits into Russia-China Strategy

A few days after our Asia Times report, an article based on “senior sources close to the Iranian regime” and crammed with fear-mongering, baseless accusations of corruption and outright ignorance about key military issues claimed that Russia would turn the Iranian ports of Bandar Abbas and Chabahar into forward military bases complete with submarines, Spetsnaz special forces and Su-57 fighter jets, thus applying a “stranglehold” to the Persian Gulf.

For starters, “senior sources close to the Iranian regime” would never reveal such sensitive national-security details, much less to Anglo-American foreign media. In my own case, even though I have made several visits to Iran while consistently reporting on Iran for Asia Times, and even though authorities at myriad levels know where I’m coming from, I have not managed to get answers from Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps generals to 16 detailed questions I sent nearly a month ago. According to my interlocutors, these are deemed “too sensitive” and, yes, a matter of national security.

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Posted by on August 19, 2019 in Asia, Europe


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The Comeback of a Soviet Dictator

It’s May 9 and around 200 people have gathered in a parking lot in Novosibirsk, the third largest city in Russia. They are here to dedicate a monument, with some waving World War II flags, including the flag of a rifle division that conquered the Reichstag in Berlin in 1945. Veterans with medals covering their breasts sit in the first row.

Next to the monument, a man is waiting, a slip of paper in his jacket pocket on which he has outlined his speech. He has been waiting 20 years for this moment. A recording of Beethoven’s Fifth plays as the man steps forward and, together with the mayor, loosens the red tape to allow the white covering to fall from the monument. The crowd cheers as Stalin is revealed in the glittering sunlight.

Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, who later gave himself the name Stalin, or “Man of Steel,” was the son of a shoemaker and attended church school. And, until his death in March 1953, he was the dictator of the Soviet Union — and one of the biggest criminals of the 20th century.

The man who unveiled the monument to Stalin on this May afternoon in the parking lot of the Communist Party’s regional headquarters is named Alexei Denisyuk. The 41-year-old is a lawyer and the editor-in-chief of a newspaper called Hammer and Sickle — and he is convinced that he will live to see the return of the Soviet Union.

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Posted by on August 9, 2019 in Europe, Reportages


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Attack on Iran would be an attack on Russia

Russia is meticulously advancing Eurasian chessboard moves that should be observed in conjunction, as Moscow proposes to the Global South an approach diametrically opposed to Western sanctions, threats and economic war. Here are three recent examples.

Ten days ago, via a document officially approved by the United Nations, the Russian Foreign Ministry advanced a new concept of collective security for the Persian Gulf.

Moscow stresses that “practical work on launching the process of creating a security system in the Persian Gulf” should start with “bilateral and multilateral consultations between interested parties, including countries both within the region and outside of it,” as well as organizations such as the UN Security Council, League of Arab States, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Gulf Cooperation Council.

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Posted by on August 9, 2019 in Europe, Middle East


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Perché brucia il circolo polare artico

Di solito il paesaggio della Siberia orientale non somiglia all’inferno. In inverno è coperto da un lenzuolo di neve. D’estate le sue foreste sono rigogliose e i suoi terreni acquitrinosi impregnati d’acqua. Quest’anno, tuttavia, la regione sta andando a fuoco, come accade ad ampie zone del circolo polare artico.

Non è mai stato registrato niente di questa portata da quando, nel 2003, sono cominciati i rilevamenti satellitari ad alta risoluzione nell’estremo nord russo. Uno studio del 2013 suggerisce che anche la quantità d’incendi nelle regioni boreali sia anomala rispetto agli ultimi diecimila anni.

I ricercatori definiscono “senza precedenti” gli eventi di quest’anno. I dati di quest’estate sono “folli”, secondo Guillermo Rein, studioso dell’Imperial college di Londra.

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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Europe, Uncategorized


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Congress and the Press Should Pick Up Where Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller Left Off

Last week, CNN published an explosive story related to the Trump-Russia case that raised important new questions about ties between Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Russia.

The report said that CNN had obtained hundreds of pages of surveillance reports compiled for the Ecuadorian government by a Spanish security company, which showed that Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, received “in-person deliveries, potentially of hacked materials related to the 2016 U.S. election, during a series of suspicious meetings” while he lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. “Assange met with Russians and world-class hackers at critical moments, frequently for hours at a time,” CNN reported. He “acquired powerful new computing network hardware to facilitate data transfers just weeks before WikiLeaks received hacked materials from Russian operatives.”

The CNN report — which appeared on a day when the Washington press corps was distracted by President Donald Trump’s racist tweets — was largely ignored. But with former special counsel Robert Mueller testifying before Congress on Wednesday, the little-noticed Assange story was yet another reminder that despite Mueller’s efforts, many important questions about the Trump-Russia case remain unresolved.

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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in North America


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Russia-India-China will be the big G20 hit

It all started with the Vladimir Putin–Xi Jinping summit in Moscow on June 5. Far from a mere bilateral, this meeting upgraded the Eurasian integration process to another level. The Russian and Chinese presidents discussed everything from the progressive interconnection of the New Silk Roads with the Eurasia Economic Union, especially in and around Central Asia, to their concerted strategy for the Korean Peninsula.

A particular theme stood out: They discussed how the connecting role of Persia in the Ancient Silk Road is about to be replicated by Iran in the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And that is non-negotiable. Especially after the Russia-China strategic partnership, less than a month before the Moscow summit, offered explicit support for Tehran signaling that regime change simply won’t be accepted, diplomatic sources say.

Putin and Xi solidified the roadmap at the St Petersburg Economic Forum. And the Greater Eurasia interconnection continued to be woven immediately after at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek, with two essential interlocutors: India, a fellow BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and SCO member, and SCO observer Iran.

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Posted by on July 17, 2019 in Asia, Economy, Europe, Middle East


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Putin’s Wrong, But So Are Liberals

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion last week that Western liberalism was obsolete provoked some strident rebuttals. A contemptuous silence might have been preferable, saving us the embarrassment of Boris Johnson invoking “our values,” or European Council President Donald Tusk claiming, against overwhelming evidence, that it was authoritarianism that was obsolete.

Even the Financial Times, to which Putin confided his views, was reduced to childishly asserting that “while America is no longer the shining city on the hill it once seemed, the world’s poor and oppressed still head overwhelmingly for the U.S. and western Europe” rather than Russia.

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Posted by on July 16, 2019 in Europe


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The Eagle, the Bear and the Dragon

Once upon a time, deep into the night in selected campfires across the deserts of Southwest Asia, I used to tell a fable about the eagle, the bear and the dragon — much to the amusement of my Arab and Persian interlocutors.

It was about how, in the young 21st century, the eagle, the bear and the dragon had taken their (furry) gloves off and engaged in what turned out to be Cold War 2.0.

As we approach the end of the second decade of this already incandescent century, perhaps it’s fruitful to upgrade the fable. With all due respect to Jean de la Fontaine, excuse me while I kiss the (desert) sky again. – Advertisement –

Long gone are the days when a frustrated bear repeatedly offered to cooperate with the eagle and its minions on a burning question: nuclear missiles.

The bear repeatedly argued that the deployment of interceptor missiles and radars in that land of the blind leading the blind — Europe — was a threat. The eagle repeatedly argued that this is to protect us from those rogue Persians.

Now the eagle — claiming the dragon is getting an easy ride — has torn down every treaty in sight and is bent on deploying nuclear missiles in selected eastern parts of the land of the blind leading the blind, essentially targeting the bear.

All That Glitters is Silk

Roughly two decades after what top bear Putin defined as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century,” he proposed a form of USSR light; a political/economic body called the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

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Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Asia, Europe, North America


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The New Silk Roads reach the next level

The Belt and Road Forum in Beijing was a graphic demonstration of how tactical adjustments are essential to enhance the appeal of a complex overall strategy. Talk about a turbo-charged 4.0 version of the legendary Deng Xiaoping maxim “crossing the river while feeling the stones.” – Advertisement –

For all the somewhat straitjacket approach of Chinese official pronouncements, President Xi Jinping stressed a sort of “three musts” for the advance of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) debt sustainability, protection of the environment (or “green growth”), and no tolerance for corruption.

Add to that a growing battle against trade protectionism, more bilateral free-trade deals, more financing or investments, cooperation on third-party markets, and even a plan to sell Silk Road bonds.

In his keynote speech, Xi stressed how multilateral cooperation on “six corridors and six channels serving multiple countries and ports” is all go. He was referring to BRI’s six major connectivity corridors spanning Eurasia and the fact that BRI is still in its planning stage; implementation actually starts in 2021.

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Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Asia


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The media and the Mueller report

US Attorney General William Barr published his four-page summary of the conclusions of the Mueller report on 24 March 2019. Will this be a day that lives in infamy for mainstream media? Special Counsel Robert Mueller had spent more than two years investigating, with considerable resources, alleged collusion between President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to influence the 2016 US presidential election in Trump’s favour. Barr’s summary of the 400-page report said that ‘the Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election’ (see The end of Russiagate, in this issue).

Mueller was so far beyond suspicion of Trumpian bias that he had become a subject of devotion for Democrats (there were even ‘St Robert Mueller’ prayer candles for sale online). But his report did not sustain the popular fake news that Trump was being blackmailed, or had become ‘Putin’s puppet’, based on Steele report-derived stories that the Kremlin had compromising video footage of his sexual escapades in a hotel in Moscow in 2013; dignified newspapers used the Russian spy term kompromat with relish. ‘Russiagate’ had become a recurring tag and story in prestigious publications from early 2017 (1).

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Posted by on May 9, 2019 in North America


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