What a difference a year – an eternity in geopolitics – makes. No one could see this coming; the ideological matrix of all strands of Salafi-jihadi terror – which Russia fights no holds barred, from ISIS/Daesh to the Caucasus Emirate – beating a path to the Kremlin and about to embrace Russia as a strategic ally.The House of Saud was horrified by Russia’s successful campaign to prevent regime change in Syria. Moscow was solidifying its alliance with Tehran. Hawks in the Obama administration were imposing on Saudi Arabia a strategy of keeping oil prices down to hurt the Russian economy.
Tag Archives: Russia
Für Michail kam die Öffnung der Kinderheime ein paar Jahre zu spät. Als die Heimleitung anfing, mit Fotos in der Zeitung und Aufrufen im Radio nach Pflegeeltern für die Kinder zu suchen, war er schon ein Teenager. Familien nehmen aber am liebsten Säuglinge oder kleine Mädchen auf. Jugendliche, die sich schon rasieren, haben schlechte Chancen. «Michail konnte zu seiner Zeit nicht vermittelt werden», sagt die Heimdirektorin Irina Orlowa entschuldigend.
Mit siebzehn Jahren brauche er sowieso keine Erziehungsberechtigten mehr, wehrt Michail ab. Seine Stimme klingt schon männlich, doch das Lächeln ist noch knabenhaft. In kurzer Hose sitzt der Jugendliche an diesem warmen Tag im Sprechzimmer der Psychologin des Kinderheims Nr. 2 in der sibirischen Stadt Kemerowo. Die Direktorin hat ihn hereingebeten, damit er einer ausländischen Journalistin Fragen beantwortet.
Is there truth in the conspiracy theories about who killed Russian Lieutenant General Valery Asapov in Syria?
The Russian air force arrived in Syria two years ago this week to save President Bashar al-Assad and his army. They succeeded. The Syrian army held out, albeit at the cost of (then) 56,000 of its soldiers. “We’re not going to have another Afghanistan here,” the Russians told everyone they met in Damascus. But of course, soon they would have Forward Air Observers on the ground to vector their Sukhois onto their targets, de-mining specialists to pull the forests of Isis bombs out of the soil, military police officers to oversee the passage of Islamist fighters out of Syria’s great western cities. And generals to advise – and, last week, to be killed – in Syria.
USSR: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. At first, the name does not refer to a territory, but to an idea — world revolution. Its borders will be those of the uprising that has triumphed in Russia, and later of those expected to triumph elsewhere. In the top left corner of a huge red flag, a hammer and sickle symbolises the new state, the first national anthem of which is The Internationale.The founder of the USSR is internationalist, no question. Lenin spends much of his life as a professional revolutionary in exile in Munich, London, Geneva, Paris, Krakow, Zurich, Helsinki… And he takes part in almost all the major debates of the workers’ movement. In April 1917 he returns to Russia, where the Revolution has broken out and the tsar has abdicated. As his train is crossing Germany at the height of the Great War, he hears The Marseillaise, a song that symbolises the French Revolution for many of his comrades. In many respects, this represents a more significant reference point in Lenin’s writing than the history of tsarist Russia. Doing as well as the Jacobins — ‘the best models of a democratic revolution and of resistance to a coalition of monarchs against a republic’ (1) — and lasting longer than the Paris Commune are his obsessions. Nationalism has no part in it.
Recently, I came across a book at home that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. It’s called “Russia: Faces of a Torn Country.” The title may not be particularly original, but it is certainly apt. The book covers Russia as it was a quarter-century ago: a kind of madhouse. The Soviet Union had just collapsed, hopes for a new beginning had proven largely illusionary, ex-functionaries and cunning businessmen had seized the inheritance of the Soviet Union for themselves and were enjoying their sudden wealth as the rest of the country slid into poverty. Grandmothers stood in the wind and rain for hours at the tolkuchkas, flea markets, trying to sell their wedding china alongside students advertising their lovingly assembled stamp collections. Meanwhile, war raged at the periphery of the realm.
A test opening of St Petersburg’s Zenit Arena in February treated 10,000 spectators to car racing, motorcycle tricks, dancers and a performing bear introduced as “Russia’s greatest hero”. But the patriotic ceremony failed to note that the stadium, in which Russia kick off the Confederations Cup in a fortnight in preparation for next year’s World Cup, was built mostly by immigrant workers from Asia, including from one of the world’s most repressive countries, North Korea.
A subcontractor who asked to remain anonymous said at least 190 “downtrodden” North Koreans had worked long hours with no days off between August and November last year and that one, a 47-year-old, had died on site. “These guys are afraid to speak to people. They don’t look at anyone. They’re like prisoners of war,” the subcontractor said.
China’s cardinal foreign policy imperative is to refrain from interfering abroad while advancing the proverbial good relations with key political actors – even when they may be at each other’s throats.Still, it’s nothing but gut-wrenching for Beijing to watch the current, unpredictable, Saudi-Qatari standoff. There’s no endgame in sight, as plausible scenarios include even regime change and a seismic geopolitical shift in Southwest Asia – what a Western-centric view calls the Middle East.And blood on the tracks in Southwest Asia cannot but translate into major trouble ahead for the New Silk Roads, now rebranded Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
RUSSIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept.
The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.
In the end, there was hardly a reset; rather a sort of tentative pause on Cold War 2.0. Interminable days of sound and fury were trudging along when President Trump finally decided NATO is “no longer obsolete”; still, he wants to “get along” with Russia.
Just ahead of meeting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin had stressed on Russian TV that trust (between Russia and the US) is “at a workable level, especially in the military dimension, but it hasn’t improved. On the contrary, it has degraded.” Emphasis on a pedestrian “workable,” but most of all “degraded” – as in the National Security Council releasing a report essentially accusing Moscow of spreading fake news.
The persecutors of Chechnya’s gay citizens now feel strong, untouchable, invincible. Their victims, who they arrest, beat and torture, are at their mercy. They are protected by many things: by the tinpot tyrants who rule a republic violently subjugated by Vladimir Putin; by the den of reactionary views that is the Moscow regime; and by the acquiescence – support even – of a society soaked in homophobic hatred.Their consciences will not trouble them. It is always comforting to imagine that those who commit atrocities against fellow human beings are sociopaths or evil. But that does not explain the great horrors of human history, from fascism to colonialism. Inhumanity is only made possible by stripping a group of its humanity. You only feel empathy, after all, for those you feel are human beings like you. That’s how human beings who in other contexts feel compassion and love and warmth can become capable of the most unspeakable horrors.