17 November 2018
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258 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     250 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities



On recent Chatham House pieces: minding Ukraine's and one's own business

Sir Andrew Wood writes of the 'flawed' Minsk-2, though he knows, as a diplomat, that those agreements stopped fighting when the Ukrainian forces, including so called 'volunteer battalions' were losing. So, they meant peace. He also knows well enough, that there is no middle ground between peace and war. Leon Trotsky thought otherwise when he stormed out of the Brest-Litovsk peace talks, launching his famous "no peace, no war". Anyway this transient state is not sustainable. And a clear-cut road-map to peace, which the Minsk-2 is, represents the best hope for a long-term stability in Ukraine. It is either political solution, helped by diplomacy (the 'Normandy Four' etc.), or attempts at a military solution. It is also a choice between war and reform for war is a pretext for stone-walling on reforms.
It is in Russia's best interest to have as a neighbour a European Ukraine, but it will not be born out of the barrel of the gun. As to the wild nationalism, to the point of millenarianism against Russia (at the cutting edge of another 'European crusade', with some fanatics ready for martyrdom in the cause of 'rescuing European civilization from Russian menace' etc.). What world do these sick people live in? To appease them President P.Poroshenko lists among the options a military solution (though Minsk-2 'preferable') and even 'drang nach Moskau' (maybe, to remind us that Ukrainian nationalists fought on the Nazi side in another crusade, i.e. WW2).
I'd like to quote Dmitry Bykov, whom Sir Andrew, as former Ambassador in Moscow, may know and who in his lecture on Isaac Babel said, quite rightly, that nationalism reflects absence of "life programme", of any positive narrative at all. This explains why Ukrainian nationalists demand weapons and believe reforms imposed on Ukraine from outside to be a Western plot. And that is precisely where Sir Andrew is wrong in his flawed, very much un-European analysis.
Those who launched Ukraine on this destabilizing path by way of the EU 'expansionism on the cheap' were blind, or preferred to be blind, to the fact that they were unleashing nationalistic forces of the type that led to WWII, and that the West, to have its way in Ukraine, would have to fight another Crimean War. This is precisely what people like Carl Bildt, Radoslaw Sikorski and Victoria Nuland kept out of the picture, with the cover provided by the previous Brussels team. As is know, this 'lack of foresight' and 'contingency planning' is blamed by the political elite on professionals, i.e. FCO and intelligence. Is it why Sir Andrew takes the situation as a personal offence?
His colleague, James Nixey in his piece of 21 August admits: "Clearly the West does not always behave well, but few Western countries (I wonder which ones) can be classed as autocratic kleptocratic regimes". This strange logic absolves democratic governments of any responsibility, including for blunders with huge tragic implications. It is not only about destabilizing Ukraine, but also the British dead in the War in Iraq, not to mention that that war is one of the key sources of the migrant onslaught on Europe, which causes headaches to the security services.
Why not discuss the West's mistakes in the first place? Henry Kissinger in his recent interview with the National Interest magazine suggested "analyzing first how the Ukraine crisis occurred", "the first mistake being the inadvertent conduct of the European Union" for "they didn't understand the implications of some of their own conditions" and "there was no significant political discussion of what was in the making".
He also said, like Zb.Brzezinski did on many occasions, that Russia-Ukraine relationship is a special, unique case and has to be treated as such by outside players. Now everybody sees why, but there has always been enough expertise around to foresee that. Henry Kissinger also talks of decisions being made by "ahistorical people", who strip problems "of all context".
As to qualifying economic nature of government, why not take opinions on the US system, which is close to the British The NYT (25 August) recently quoted Nick Hanauer as follows: US "is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society". Roger Cohen in his article 'Politics upended in Britain and America' writes of "radical discontent and people believing the system is rigged": "They have good reason. Rigged to favor the super-rich, rigged to accentuate inequality, rigged to hide huge increases in the cost of living, rigged to buy elections, rigged to put off retirement, rigged to eviscerate pensions, rigged to export jobs, rigged to sabotage equal opportunity, rigged to hurt the middle class and minorities and the poor".
Leaving Thomas Pikety and Owen Jones in peace, 'feudal' means rent under various guises (PPP, PFI etc.), "return to the XIXth Century", domestic demand stuck at the level of 15 years ago, the postwar 'social contract' in tatters, and many other things meaning a rip-off at an immense scale. Does it quality as kleptocracy? I don't know. Certainly, it is not like 'taking food from the mouth of babes', to quote from a scene in the 'Scarlet Pimpernel'. But something is profoundly wrong from the point of view of a capitalism with a human face. There is a palpable sense of a demolition job being done in the society.
Once, at a Global Strategy Forum meeting last year Sir Andrew in response to my question said that the EU Association Agreement and a DCFTA were a bilateral matter for the EU and Ukraine and it was none of Russia's business. We could have said the same, but we have been engaging with the Germans and the French in finding a political solution to the crisis. And that is a responsible approach.
As to the Crimea, the power grab in February 2014 destroyed the politics of consensus that helped keep Ukraine together. It was through the subsequent hole in the constitutional space that the Crimea fell out, perhaps well in line with the Roman maxim quod cecidit erat gone, Russia merely provided a safe environment for the Crimeans to decide their own destiny.
Of course, the EU had blundered in Ukraine before the present twin crises of uncontrolled migration and Isis threat struck. But the truth still is that everybody has a sacred duty, including under the 'Protestant ethics', to mind his/her business well enough not to create problems for others. Adventures abroad may be a luxury one can afford, but they are mostly a sure indication of people being bored to death by having to deal with their own intractable problems. Creating problems for others doesn't help, just creates an illusion that one's own seem not that bad. Distractions like that of the Ukraine crisis still remain what they are, mere distractions.


09.08.2018 - Letter from Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko to the Guardian’s editor

In response to the Ambassador Beruchashvili’s letter, offering not so much a recollection of the August 2008 events in the Caucasus, but rather a misleading reiteration of the Georgian claims against Russia I have to refer to some of the universally recognized facts and consequences resulting from those tragic events.

24.07.2018 - Eastern Economic Forum: the East is bright (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

When talking about Russia’s Far East, you invariably remember its stunning natural beauty, abundance in natural resources and vast territories. But when one thinks of its investments prospects, you also invariably remember its harsh climate, low average population density and the lack of transport and other infrastructure. But now the situation is changing fundamentally. The region is undergoing a huge and qualitative revival. The development of the region has been declared one of the national priorities for Russia. In the last 5 years 18 advanced development zones and 5 free ports have been established in the Russian Far East. Long-term tax exemptions have been provided for large investment projects. Paperless e-visas for visitors of Vladivostok are available for citizens of 18 countries.

03.05.2018 - SALISBURY: A CLASSIFIED CASE (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

On 4 March 2018 two Russian citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal were reportedly poisoned in Salisbury, Wiltshire with the toxic chemical named A-234 under the British classification. On 12 March Foreign Secretary Johnson summoned me to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and said that Russia was “highly likely” responsible for the attack. He invited us to respond by the next day, whether this had been a direct act by the state or Russia had lost control over this nerve agent. The incident had international repercussions, including expulsion of 150 Russian diplomats from 28 countries, notwithstanding the fact that the charges were based on assumptions and unverifiable intelligence. The Western countries lost the same number of Moscow-based staff. Meanwhile, the British government provided no evidence either to the public, its allies or Russia. Subsequent events revealed that no proof of Russia’s involvement existed. On 1 May, National Security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill confirmed that (despite a number of previous leaks) no suspect had been identified, a statement that speaks for itself.

14.02.2018 - The international community needs a unified legal base to combat information crimes (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Amid the rapid advance in technologies we face a growing number of cyber-crimes: in 2016, these offences caused damage of $445 billion and by 2020, according to experts, this figure can reach up to $3 trillion, exceeding the overall income received from the Internet.

26.01.2018 - UNGA: Glorification of Nazism must stop (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

In December the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the traditional resolution on “Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of UN Member States: 133 states voted for this document, 57 became its co-sponsors, and only Ukraine and the United States voted against.

29.11.2017 - Afghan opium production jumps to record level (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

According to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2017 opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 per cent to a record level of 9,000 metric tons. The area under opium poppy cultivation also grew by 63 per cent to its highest level of 328,000 hectares. Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced. The 2017 record levels of opium production and poppy cultivation create multiple challenges for the country, its neighbours and many other countries that serve as a transit for or a destination of Afghan opiates. The significant levels of opium poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

19.10.2017 - Why to fight with memorials (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The campaign in Poland against World War II memorials to Soviet officers and soldiers, who had liberated the country from the Nazi occupation, is gaining momentum. Warsaw has created a legal framework allowing the disposal of Soviet/Russian memorial objects or taking them out of public sight, including the most widespread monuments of gratitude to the Red Army. Why?

18.10.2017 - Syria: collective humanitarian efforts, not sanctions, are needed more than ever (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The situation in Syria is undergoing serious transformation. Due to the de-escalation process, it has now become possible to drastically reduce the level of violence, to improve the humanitarian situation as well as to fight terrorists more efficiently. The ISIS-controlled territory is shrinking. On 14-15 September, at the international meeting in Astana all four de-escalation zones were finalized.

05.10.2017 - What You Have to Know about Status of Crimea (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the West tore up the constitutional space in Ukraine. The legitimate President of the country was overthrown. It was marked by a severe lack of democracy and violence that posed a direct threat to the well-being of Russian-speaking population of Crimea. Citizens of Crimea faced the choice of becoming an oppressed minority or severing their ties with the hostile regime to secure a future for themselves and their children. The decision to hold a referendum was made by legitimate local authorities. The independence of Crimea was proclaimed and an appeal to enter the Russian Federation was made based on the indisputable results of the popular vote. Standards of international law were fully observed as the right of nations to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter was exercised freely by the Crimeans. Crimea was recognized as an independent and sovereign state by Russia and on 18 March 2014 in Moscow the two countries signed a Treaty of Unification, under which the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became two new regions - subjects of the Russian Federation.

05.10.2017 - NATO increased military presence in Europe: road to nowhere (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

As part of the implementation of the conclusions of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, four multinational battlegroups have been deployed in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia with the total number of troops exceeding 4500. The idea of creating similar rotating units in Bulgaria and Romania in 2018 is being widely discussed by NATO members. If put together, these battlegroups amount to a motorized infantry brigade with heavy weapons.

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