A Russian Diplomat’s Take on the World

As the West’s mainstream media portrays Russia as a crazy rogue state, Moscow’s thoughtful critiques of world affairs are ignored, not fitting the propaganda theme. Such was the case when Foreign Minister Lavrov explained why there would be no more “business as usual” with the West, as Gilbert Doctorow describes.

By Gilbert Doctorow

On Jan. 26, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held an important year-in-review press conference before an audience of about 150 journalists, including the BBC correspondent Steve Rosenberg and many other well-known representatives of mainstream Western media. The purpose of this annual event is to look back at issues faced by his Ministry over the past year and to give his appraisal of results achieved.

Lavrov’s opening remarks were concise, lasting perhaps 15 minutes, and the remaining two hours were turned over to the floor for questions. As the microphone was passed to journalists from many different countries, the discussion covered a great variety of subjects, including the likelihood of a new “re-set” with the United States, the negotiations over re-convening the Syrian peace talks in Geneva, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments on the findings of a U.K. public inquest into the Litvinenko murder, the possibilities for reestablishing diplomatic relations with Georgia, and prospects for resolving conflicting claims over the Southern Kurile islands so as to conclude a peace treaty with Japan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

To the best of my knowledge, not a single report of the event has yet appeared on major online American, French, British and German newspaper portals or television channels. This was not for lack of substance or newsworthy sound bites, including Lavrov’s headline comment that he agreed with Western leaders who said there would be “no business as usual” between Russia and the West.

As part of his opening comments, Lavrov said, “Our Western colleagues sometimes declare with passion that there can no longer be ‘business as usual with Russia.’ I am convinced that this is so and here we agree: there will be no more ‘business as usual’ when they tried to bind us with agreements which take into account above all the interests of either the European Union or the United States and they wanted to persuade us that this will do no harm to our interests. That history is over and done with. A new stage of history is dawning which can develop only on the basis of equal rights and all other principles of international law.”

Regarding a similar news blackout that followed another major Russian press briefing, the sharp-tongued Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented, what are all these accredited Western reporters doing in Moscow if nothing gets published abroad? Do they have some other occupation?

In keeping with custom, the Russian Foreign Ministry posted the entire video recording of Lavrov’s press conference on youtube.com and posted transcripts in Russian and English on the www.mid.ru site. The Russian version takes up 26 tightly spaced printed pages. This is what I have used, since I prefer to go to the source and do my own translations when I have the option. The English version probably takes 40 pages, given the normal expansion from Russian to English in the translation process.

What I noted first in the television broadcast on Russia’s Pervy Kanal and then in the transcript was both how well prepared Lavrov was to deal with a plethora of issues and how he gave detailed answers that went on for many minutes without making reference to any notes.

Secondly, it was obvious he spoke more “freely,” using fewer diplomatic euphemisms than I have ever seen before. I conclude that he was given a nod by his boss, President Vladimir Putin, not to hold back, to speak with perfect clarity. Given his experience as one of the longest-serving foreign ministers among the major powers and his innate intellect, Lavrov delivered what sounds at times like dictation for essays in proper written Russian.

For these reasons, I have decided to divide my treatment of the press conference into two parts. One will be Lavrov in his own words. And the other will be my conclusions about the international environment in the coming year given Russia’s basic positions, particularly the possible lifting of sanctions on Russia by the United States and the European Union and how the next U.S. administration can best prepare for relations with Russia, assuming there is no dramatic change in the thinking of American elites.

Sergey Lavrov in His Own Words

From the press briefing, I have extracted several big chunks of text that characterize the overarching views on international relations of Lavrov and the Kremlin, applying their Realpolitik prism and focused primarily on U.S.-Russian relations. This is essential if we are not to lose sight of the forest for the trees.

In questions and answers dealing with all countries but one, we hear about separate issues in various locations around the world holding interest mainly for discrete national audiences with their private concerns. With respect to one country, the U.S., Russia’s bilateral relations transcend the minister’s in-basket of contingencies.

Indeed, the whole Russian foreign policy really is about relations with the U.S. as expressed in the first two of the three passages in quotation marks below. The third passage, on sanctions, would seem to be more about relations with the E.U. I selected it because the issue of lifting sanctions will surely be a key foreign policy issue facing Russia in the first six months of this year, and behind it all looms the U.S. position on the question.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sign a joint statement seeking greater cooperation on inter-regional issues. (Photo credit: Department of State)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sign a joint statement seeking greater cooperation on inter-regional issues. (Photo credit: Department of State)

Question: Is a “re-set” possible in this final year of Barack Obama’s administration?

Lavrov: “The question should not be addressed to us. Our inter-state ties sank very low despite the excellent personal relations between former U.S. President George Bush and Russian President Putin. When U.S. President Barack Obama came to the White House and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a “re-set,” this reflected the fact that Americans themselves finally saw the abnormality of the situation wherein Russia and the USA were not cooperating to solve those problems which could not be decided without them…

‘We gave a rather constructive response to the “re-set.” We said that we appreciate the decision of the new Administration to correct the errors of its predecessors. We achieved quite a lot: the New START Treaty, the entry of Russia into the WTO, an array of new agreements on various conflict situations. But somehow this quickly began to drop back to zero. Now everyone, including our American colleagues, is telling us: “Just fulfill the Minsk accords on Ukraine and immediately everything will return to normal. We will immediately cancel the sanctions and tempting prospects of cooperation will open up between Russia and the United States over much more pleasant issues, not just in the management of crises; right away a constructive partnership program will take shape.”

“We are open for cooperation with everyone on an equal, mutually advantageous basis. We, of course, do not want anyone to build their policy based on the assumption that Russia and not Ukraine must fulfill the Minsk accords. It is written there who must fulfill them. I hope that this is well known to the USA. At least, my latest contacts with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the contacts of Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland with Assistant to the Russian President Surkov indicate that the USA can sort out the essence of the Minsk accords. Grosso modo, everyone understands everything. …

“I have just mentioned that people have begun to promise a new “re-set.” If we fulfill the Minsk accords, then immediately everything will become fine, with splendid and tempting prospects.

“But the cooling off of relations with the Administration of U.S. President Barack Obama and the end of the period associated with ‘re-set” began long before the Ukraine. Let’s remember how this occurred. First, when we finally got the consent of our Western partners to terms of our joining the WTO which were acceptable to Russia, the Americans understood that it was not in their interests to keep the Jackson-Vanik amendment. Otherwise they would be deprived of those privileges and advantages which are linked to our participation in the WTO. They began to prepare for the removal of this amendment.

“But Americans would not be Americans if they simply abolished it and said, ‘Enough, let’s now cooperate normally.’ They dreamed up the “Magnitsky Act,” although I am certain that what happened to Magnitsky was not set up. I very much hope that the truth will become known to everyone. It is disgusting how a provocation and speculation were built up around the death of a man. Nonetheless, this was done and you know who lobbied for this “Magnitsky Act,” which immediately replaced the Jackson-Vanik amendment.”

[The Magnitsky Act was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 2012 with the goal of punishing Russian officials believed responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in prison in 2009 amid accusations and counter-accusations of fraud.]

‘This all began when there was still no Ukraine [crisis], although they now try to lay the blame on violations of OSCE principles. Everything that is going on between the West and Russia is explained by the fact that Russia did not fulfill its obligations, did not respect the world order which was put together in Europe after the Helsinki Act [of 1975], etc. These are all attempts to justify and find an excuse for continuing the policy of containment. But this policy never ended.

‘After the ‘Magnitsky Act’ [in 2012], there was the completely inappropriate, overblown reaction to what happened to Edward Snowden, who found himself in Russia against our wishes [in 2013]. We did not know about this. He did not have a passport, his document was canceled while he was in flight. He could not go anywhere from Russia because of decisions taken in Washington. We could not help but give him the possibility to remain in Russia so as to stay safe, knowing which articles of the law they were threatening him with. The Americans made no secret about this. This was done simply as an elementary protection of a person’s right to life.

“U.S. President Barack Obama then canceled his visit to Russia. They made a huge scandal. Dozens of telephone calls came in from the FBI, from the CIA, the State Department. There were direct contacts with the President. They told us that if we do not give up Snowden, then relations will be broken off. The USA canceled the visit. It did not take place but U.S. President Obama came for the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg, where we, by the way, did something useful, we reached agreement on the principles of the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons.

“Ukraine was just a pretext. The Ukrainian crisis is linked not so much with justified concern over an alleged violation by Russia of the Helsinki principles (although everything began with Kosovo, with the [1999] bombing of Yugoslavia, etc). This was an expression of irritation that the coup d’etat did not lead to the results that were expected by those who supported it.

“I will tell you honestly that we don’t hold a grudge. We have no such traditions in relations between states. We understand that life is tougher than any ideal, romantic scheme like “re-set” or similar. We also understand that this is a world in which there are harsh clashes of interests that come down to us from the age of the West’s total domination and it is in the midst of a long transition period to a more durable system in which there will not be one or even two dominant poles, there will be several. The transition period is long and painful. Old habits die slowly. We all understand this.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“We understand that the USA is interested in having fewer competitors even with regards to those comparable to it in size, influence, military power, economy. We see this in the relations between the USA and China, in how the USA works with the European Union, trying to create a ring around it via the Transatlantic Partnership, and to the east of Russia, to create a Trans-Pacific Partnership which will not include Russia and China. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about this in detail when he analyzed the processes at work in the world economy and politics. We understand all of this.

“Surely every age brings with it new tendencies, frames of mind in one or another of the elites, especially in major countries which see in their own fashion the ways to fight for their interests. It would be very bad and ruinous for all of us if these processes moved outside the framework of generally accepted norms of international law.

“Then, simply put, everything would be topsy-turvy, and we would be drawn into a world of anarchy and chaos, something like what is going on in the Near East, perhaps without bloodshed. Each would act as he reckons necessary and nothing good would come out of this. It is very important to observe some kind of general rules of play.

“To answer your question, I would like for the USA to have a “re-set” with the whole world, so that the “re-set” was general, so that we could gather together and reconfirm our commitment to the UN Charter, to the principles embodied in it, including non-interference in internal affairs, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity and the right of peoples to self-determination, the right of peoples to choose their own future without interference from outside.”

Question: “At the Munich Security Conference in 2007 President Putin said to the West, “you need us more than we need you.” Is that still Russia’s position?”

Lavrov: “Ideally we both need one another to face the challenges and threats. But, the reality is different. The West comes to us much more often for help than we come to the West.”

(Lavrov said that in response to Western sanctions, Russia was striving to be self-sufficient and promoting import substitution, but not trying to cut itself off from the world and ready for cooperation based on equality.)

“We must do everything to ensure we do not depend on the whim of one or another group of countries, above all from our Western partners,” as happened when the West took offense at Russia for supporting ethnic Russians in Ukraine who did not recognize the 2014 coup d’etat.

“I have cited Dmitry Yarosh [leader of the radical nationalists, the Right Sector] that they wanted to destroy Russian speakers in Ukraine or deprive them of their rights. We want to insure ourselves against such situations.”

“I note that it’s not we who are running to our European colleagues and saying, “Let’s do something to remove the sanctions.” Not at all. We are focused on not depending on such zigzags in Western policy, not depending on Europe’s saluting the USA. But in our bilateral contacts our European colleagues, when they come to us or meet us in international forums, say: “Let’s think of something. Help us carry out the Minsk accords, otherwise these sanctions will do a lot of damage. We want to turn the page.”

“It turns out that in this situation we are needed more by them than they are needed by us. Including for fulfillment of the Minsk accords. Yes, we have influence in Donbass [the ethnic Russian section of eastern Ukraine] and we support them. Surely, without our help and humanitarian deliveries Donbass would be in a pitiful state. But one also has to exert influence in Kiev. We need the West to influence the Kiev authorities, but so far this is not happening.

“Or look at the question of the Iranian nuclear program. At the decisive stages of these negotiations we were literally bombarded with requests when it was necessary to solve the questions of exporting enriched uranium in exchange for natural uranium, which was the key condition for achieving agreements; when it was necessary to resolve the question about who will convert the enrichment sites at Fordu into research for production of medical isotopes, etc.

“They came with requests to us, requests which carry a significant financial burden, or at least which do not bring any material benefit. But we fulfilled our part of the work. Now everyone is calling us and our Chinese colleagues about the North Korean problem: ‘help us do something to make North Korea observe its obligations.’ Or take the case of Syria.”

“I can’t think of any requests we made to our Western colleagues recently. We don’t believe it is proper to make requests. After you sign agreements following negotiations, you now have to execute obligations, not to make requests for favors.”

Question on whether sanctions will end early.

Lavrov: “I’d say that among a large number of our partners there is the awareness that they cannot go on this way any longer, that this is harmful to them. Our justification for speaking about some possible positive changes comes down to the following: our Western partners more and more often begin to understand that they have fallen into a trap of their own making when they said that they will lift the sanctions after Russia fulfills the Minsk accords. They have now understood that, very likely, this was a ‘slip of the tongue.'”

“But in Kiev this was heard very often and was interpreted as an indulgence allowing them not to carry out the Minsk accords. Their failure to perform not only means that Kiev does not have to undertake any actions and fulfill its obligations. It also means that the West will have to keep the sanctions in place against Russia. It was necessary to prove all of this to some gentlemen who are in Kiev fanning radical attitudes.”

“The West understands the hopelessness of the present situation, when everyone pretends that Russia must fulfill the Minsk accords but Ukraine can do nothing, not change its constitution, not give a special status to the Donbass, not put through an amnesty, not organize elections in consultation with Donbass. Everyone understands that no one will resolve these things for Ukraine.

“Everyone understands that this is abnormal, something pathological which emerged in turning the Ukrainian crisis, which arose as a result of an absolutely illegal, anti-constitutional coup d’etat, into a measuring stick for all relations between Russia and the West. This is absolutely abnormal, an unhealthy situation, artificially fanned from countries that are far removed from Europe. Europe no longer wants to be held hostage to this situation. For me, this is obvious.”

General Conclusions

In presenting these three long excerpts from Lavrov’s Jan. 26 press conference, my intention was to give readers a feel for Lavrov’s method of argumentation and his somber tone in what was delivered without notes and in response to questions from journalists in the audience.

In his prepared opening remarks, Lavrov had already set out some of the key points in the overall approach to international affairs from Russia’s analytical tool of realism and national interest. The number one issue facing Russia and the world from his perspective is to arrive at a new system of managing international affairs. Russia’s relations with the West are part and parcel of this broader challenge.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

This wished-for new system would be one built on full equality of relations between states, respect for their interests and non-interference in internal affairs. Lavrov was repeating Vladimir Putin’s call upon nations to re-dedicate themselves to the principles of the United Nations Charter that Putin issued in New York in September 2015 at the 70th anniversary gathering of the General Assembly. The new system of global governance will come about as a result of reforms to the basic international institutions whereby political and economic power is reallocated in ways that reflect changes in relative economic and military power of nations from the days when these institutions were established.

By itself, there is nothing particular new in this vision. It has been in the public domain for years and guided calls for readjusting the voting powers within the International Monetary Fund. The novel element, which will be shocking to many in Washington, was Sergey Lavrov’s clear and repeated identification of the United States as the power frustrating the renewal of world governance by stubbornly defending its hegemonic control of institutions and seeking to consolidate still further its control over its allies in Europe and Asia at the expense of their national interests and in furtherance of its own interests.

Hence, Lavrov’s mention of the TPP and TIPP projects. Hence, his repeated mention of forces from afar, meaning the U.S., that have imposed European sanctions on Russia against the wishes of separate E.U. member states.

At one point, in responding to a journalist from Japan, Lavrov completely abandoned veiled language. He said Russia favored in principle giving a permanent seat on the UN Security Council to Japan, but would do so only when it was clear Japan will contribute its own national views to deliberations, broadening the perspectives on the table, and not merely provide the United States with an additional voting member under its control.

It is interesting that Lavrov explicitly denied that Russia feels “offended,” or as I have written using an alternative translation, “holds a grudge” over how it has been treated by the United States in the downward spiral of relations from the high point of the 2009 “re-set” to today’s nadir.

The context for this remark is the ever-present denunciations in mainstream Western media of Vladimir Putin’s speeches on foreign affairs. Putin’s observations on how things went awry since the end of the Cold War are regularly categorized as “diatribes” and “revisionist,” by which is meant aggressive, threatening and possibly irrational.

Lavrov said Russia acknowledges it is a tough world out there and competition is harsh. That is the true sense of his headline remark that there can be no return to “business as usual” or the idealistic notions underlying the”re-set” even when the current sanctions against Russia are lifted.

Russia is nonetheless open for business on equal and mutually advantageous terms where and when possible. In this regard, Lavrov is in complete agreement with American experts like Angela Stent at Georgetown University who advise the incoming U.S. administration in 2017 against planning some new “re-set.” They come to that common conclusion from diametrically opposed premises over who is responsible for the new reality.

Lavrov speaks of our being in a long and painful transition period from a world dominated by the West, which in turn is dominated by one power, the United States, to a multipolar world with a number of key participants in global governance. But that does not exclude amelioration and he appears to share the view now spreading in Western media, that U.S. and European sanctions will be lifted in the near future.

One recent example of this expectation that generates euphoria in Western business circles appeared in Bloomberg online the day before Lavrov’s news conference: “Russian Entente Nears as Allies Hint at End of Ukraine Sanctions.”

The important message, which Sergey Lavrov delivered on Jan. 26, is that Russia has not and will not mend its ways. He told us Russia did not beg for relief from sanctions and is not trading its support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria in return for relief over Ukraine.

We may be sure that the United States and the European Union will present the lifting of sanctions as a trade-off. But the reality will be a retreat from a policy that is unsustainable because it harms Western interests far more than Russian interests. This was the sense of Lavrov’s insistence that the West needs Russia more than Russia needs the West.

The present, ongoing economic harm to European farmers and other select sectors of the economy from Russia’s tit-for-tat embargo is obvious. The harm to U.S. interests is more subtle.

It was recently highlighted in an article published in Foreign Affairs magazine by a research fellow of the Cato Institute entitled “Not-So Smart Sanctions.” There we read that the Washington establishment is finally worried over the creation by Russia and China of alternative global financial institutions to those based in Washington.

The BRICS Bank, the Asia Infrastructure Development Bank, the introduction of bank clearing centers competing with SWIFT: all are intended to end, once and for all, America’s possibilities for inflicting crippling economic pain on those falling into its latest list of enemies as was done to punish the Kremlin over annexation of Crimea and intervention in Donbass.

Lavrov spoke repeatedly about defending “national interests” as the guiding principle of foreign relations. In this connection, the shadow of Hans Morgenthau, a founder and major theorist of America’s Realist School, may be said to have shared the podium with him. But Lavrov and the Russians have taken to a new level the principles set out in Politics Among Nations, Morgenthau’s famous textbook which generations of American college students once studied in their Government 101 courses.

Lavrov’s Russia is calling upon nations to shed their chains, to stop pushing their national interests to one side while listening to instructions from Washington. Nations should compete and jostle for influence in a free market of ideas and influences, while playing by generally recognized rules.

If the rules are followed, the international environment will not collapse into chaos notwithstanding sharp contradictions between nations.

Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator, American Committee for East West Accord, Ltd. His latest book Does Russia Have a Future? (August 2015) is available in paperback and e-book from Amazon.com and affiliated websites. For donations to support the European activities of ACEWA, write to [email protected]. © Gilbert Doctorow, 2015

38 comments for “A Russian Diplomat’s Take on the World

  1. Jimmy
    February 1, 2016 at 03:08

    Whenever a country claims to be just and the other evil…it’s propaganda. Every government is corrupt to one degree or another. Both Russia and the US are corrupt bullies. If we knew what plans were hatched in the shadows by the rich and powerful, we would freek out. The outrageous part is that we (the people) are afraid to topple our current governments because something more wicked might this way come. So, can we at least have honor among theives?!!

  2. Gordon Glynn
    February 1, 2016 at 00:36

    When we rooted it, it was dangerous virus of anti human-beings (AH virus) which had sparked out since 1967, or precisely after WWII. The West clearly infected and contaminated because their body was met that virus’ culture.

  3. Njal Thorgeirsson
    January 31, 2016 at 20:01

    I cannot find the English transcript of the news conference at http://www.mid.ru. Can someone help me please. Email me at [email protected].

    • James lake
      February 2, 2016 at 00:57

      Go to the page on the website you correct address in your email, it will take you to a page un Russian, at the top of the page, click on EN at the top, you will get the English translation of all speeches meetings etc,
      The press briefing you want is filed under date 26th January

    • James lake
      February 2, 2016 at 00:57

      Go to the page on the website you correct address in your email, it will take you to a page un Russian, at the top of the page, click on EN at the top, you will get the English translation of all speeches meetings etc,
      The press briefing you want is filed under date 26th January

  4. Njal Thorgeirsson
    January 31, 2016 at 20:01

    I cannot find the English transcript of the news conference at http://www.mid.ru. Can someone help me please. Email me at [email protected].

  5. January 31, 2016 at 10:07

    Dr. David Glaser has ruined the time line on Litvinenko’s poisoning by stating in an article for The Guardian that he had to have been poisoned well before as the senses don’t record what is happening, only when the brain registers what is happening to the body.

    Means Saha wasn’t poisoned when he had tea with the other set ups in the hotel on November 1st.

    It could have only happened when he had lunch with Tolkachev and Sidelnikov on Oxford Street on October 30th.

  6. Griffin
    January 30, 2016 at 22:27

    http://www.ad.nl/ad/nl/31544/Rampvlucht-MH17/article/detail/4230233/2016/01/22/Deskundigen-MH17-Vreemd-dat-radars-uit-stonden.dhtml More news on Ukraines missing MH-17 radar information: From Google translate. Experts MH17: Strange that radars were not operational

    By: Edwin van der Aa
    22-1-16 – 15:30

    Piet van Genderen, Radar Expert University of Technology and Riemens, CEO of Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) during the hearing on the policy response to the research about the MH17. © Reuters. It is strange that three radar systems in Ukraine were disabled for maintenance during the disaster of flight MH17 said radar expert Piet van Genderen at TU Delft on Friday in the lower house, where among other things the report by the Dutch Safety Board on disaster of flight MH17 is being discussed.

    Markus Schiller, Missile Expert, ST Analytics GmbH, Munich, Pascal Paulissen (M), senior researcher Weapon Systems (principal investigator sub-report TNO) and Louk Absil (R), Director Force Protection, TNO during the hearing on the policy response to the research about the MH17 . © Reuters.

    Van Genderen said that it is unlikely that there was planned maintenance occurring simultaneously on the three ‘primary’ radar systems. One explanation could be that there was a lack of spare parts to keep them running.

    Netherlands has received information from Ukraine and Russia. Both countries have made video recordings available of the radar screens. However, the raw data of the primary radar data was not made available.
    Russia has stated that it was not transferred because it was not saved, however, the three Ukrainian systems in the area stood out. According to Van Genderen, with closer examination of the raw data from the primary radar the chances would be greater of determining where the missile came from.

    Survivors have therefore written a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin. They ask him, including whether he is willing to do everything to recover radar and satellite images. The families of deceased passengers also previously wrote letters to Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the US Secretary of State John Kerry and President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko.

    Expert of the Dutch Aerospace Centre, Michel Peters, claiming Friday that the damage to the plane can simply be caused by a BUK missile. ,, It is particularly in the light of the warhead. ”

    The Lower House is conducting talks all day with experts about MH17. These include the decision on the air routes above conflict, as well as radar and satellite data in the MH17 case and the future prosecution and trial of the perpetrators.

    According to experts, airlines and services should be required to share information about the safety of flights. Bart de Vries, head of Flight Operations for KLM, announced that the airline needs good information on the safety of air routes. Each society would, he should have a system to receive this information and to respond to them.

    Intelligence agencies now share information with airlines, but are not obliged to. KLM had in his own words had no information about the danger over eastern Ukraine, where flight MH17 ended by a rocket attack.
    We had in the first 48 hours can do things differently, but I would surround myself so again with the same group of people

    Dick Schoof, National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security
    The role of the Dutch government is discussed. To set aviation lawyer Arthur Flieger that the Netherlands may simply prohibit airlines to fly over dangerous areas. Then there is clarity for everyone, and does not need any airline itself weigh the risks.

    Réne Torenvlied, professor of public management at the University of Twente, says that the initial response to the disaster was difficult. Survivors also were dissatisfied with the actions of the government.

    The government wants above all to learn from the mistakes. Until today there is aftercare. National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security, Dick Schoof: ,, We were in the first 48 hours can do things differently, but I would so again surround with the same group of people. “

  7. Griffin
    January 30, 2016 at 22:26

    http://www.telegraaf.nl/binnenland/25060848/___Vier_civiele_radarsystemen_bij_MH17___.html New MH-17 news: From Google translate: Four radars were active for MH17 ‘
    by Paul Eldering and Jolanda van der Graaf
    The shootdown of down MH17 was imaged by at least four radars in the vicinity said Professor and radar expert Piet van Genderen at TU Delft during a hearing in the Parliament. “The primary radar images of these four facilities are the most important because the chances are that the they picked up a BUK missile and it should be seen. Also, the disintegration of the aircraft is on these images, it should be almost certainly noticeable. ”

    It involves three Ukrainian systems – one in the Lugansk airport and two long-range radar in the vicinity – and a fourth Russian radar at Rostov.
    “That all these facilities were all not in operation or under maintenance as Ukraine and Russia claim is not credible,” said the professor.

    Like Van Genderen, satellite expert Marco Langbroek believes that the images are crucial to the criminal investigation as to who the perpetrators are. According to Langbroek there must exist a large number of satellite images of the disaster. This includes the so-called Space Based Infrared Systems, the top-secret radar systems of the Americans. “Three of these satellites covered Ukraine at the time of the crash,” said Langbroek. “It seems to me that justice has every interest to have this information. Indeed, the evidence can thus be substantiated.”

    According to Minister Van der Steur of Security and Justice, the Public Prosecutor’s has no need for additional radar and satellite images. However, he said that if later it is different, “the government will do its utmost to make available relevant information to the Public Prosecution for the criminal investigation.”
    Despite the letter of Van der Steur, survivors, experts and also have MPs, still have serious doubts about the events surrounding the radar and satellite imagery.

    http://www.dagelijksestandaard.nl/2016/01/minimaal-vier-radarsystemen-moeten-beelden-hebben-van-ramp-mh17/# Additional new MH-17 news: From Google translate. A minimum of four radar systems should have images of MH17 disaster

    By Michael van der Galien January 22, 2016

    Professor and radar expert Piet van Genderen, TU Delft, says that at least four radars should have picked up the images of flight MH17 being downed.

    That is a remarkable statement because it proves the government has no radar images and also has not been able to get their hands on them.

    During a hearing in the House, Van Genderen literally said the following:

    “The primary radar images of these four facilities are the most important because the chances are that they picked up the image of the BUK missile and it should be seen. Also, the disintegration of the aircraft is on these images, it should almost certainly be noticeable.”

    This involves three radar stations in Ukraine and one in Russia. All four facilities would see what brought down the plane. These countries, however, deny they have these images.

    Van Genderen trust it for a penny:

    “That these facilities were all out of operation or undergoing maintenance as Ukraine and Russia claim is not credible.”

    Satellite Expert Marco Langbroek adds that he finds it strange that the government is doing nothing to retrieve the satellite imagery.

    “Three of these satellites covered Ukraine at the time of the crash. It seems to me that to see justice served there is every interest to have this information. Indeed, the evidence can thus be substantiated. ”

    And now it comes: Minister Ard van der Steur still maintains that he does not need more images of the flight. He states this while every expert says that these images are a) in existence and b) will prove conclusively who shot the aircraft down.

  8. January 30, 2016 at 16:39

    Good piece!

    More on Lavrov:


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    EMBASSY MOSCOW 182 Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns. Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

    February 1, 2008


    (C) Summary:

    Following a muted first reaction to Ukraine’s intent to seek a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the Bucharest summit (ref A), Foreign Minister Lavrov and other senior officials have reiterated strong opposition, stressing that Russia would view further eastward expansion as a potential military threat. NATO enlargement, particularly to Ukraine, remains “an emotional and neuralgic” issue for Russia, but strategic policy considerations also underlie strong opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia.

    In Ukraine, these include fears that the issue could potentially split the country in two, leading to violence or even, some claim, civil war, which would force Russia to decide whether to intervene. Additionally, the GOR and experts continue to claim that Ukrainian NATO membership would have a major impact on Russia’s defense industry, Russian-Ukrainian family connections, and bilateral relations generally. In Georgia, the GOR fears continued instability and “provocative acts” in the separatist regions. End summary. MFA: NATO Enlargement “Potential Military Threat to Russia” …

    It is thanks to Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks that we have this gem. (Anyone still in the dark as to why Establishment Washington has put Manning in prison for most of the rest of his life? … and why the Fawning Corporate Media have avoided this Lavrov warning like the plague?)

    As the Moscow cable shows, when Lavrov called Amb. Burns in, Lavrov minced few words. To his credit, Burns played it straight in his cable from Moscow.

    That was Feb. 1, 2008.

    (A week before that (on Jan. 23), former Sen. (and NY Knicks star) Bill Bradley showed great frustration, bemoaning NATO expansion as a “fundamental blunder.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-alxZvUCS8 [six minutes; worth seeing])

    On April 3, just two months after Lavrov’s warning, NATO thumbed its nose at Russia; to wit:
    Bucharest Summit Declaration Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Bucharest on 3 April 2008
    “… NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO. … ”

    Good work, Gil!

    Ray McGovern

    • Dieter Heymann
      January 31, 2016 at 13:36

      Indeed. One look at the Baltic and Black Seas told me before it happened what the return of Crimea to Russia was all about. Except for the small strip at the mouth of the Neva the Baltic is a NATO sea. If Ukraine had become a NATO member the Black Sea with Sevastopol a NATO port would in essence have become a NATO lake too with Russia holding on to a strategically almost worthless strip of coastline and a second- or even lower grade naval port at Novorissisk. Crimea put a stop to that. Permanently. The fact that apparently no one in the White House realized that Putin’s Crimea move would be inevitable tells us also a good deal about the political amateurism at the White House. It is scary.
      And what good is the Arctic Ocean until the time when all of its ice has melted?

  9. January 30, 2016 at 15:16

    The Russian/American “reset’ led by Mrs. William Clinton as US Secretary of State in a meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, she held small red plastic button on a small stand in her hand out to Lavrov. “Teasingly” implying by the way of everyone’s knowledge of her President husband’s obsessive sexual relations, a sexual context to this reset US public relations idea to decorate a needed new state of affairs, essentially trivialising a deeply serious suggestion. Thereby nullifying it as she presented it! A US policy presentation preference. Lavrov, a good sport, a diplomat to his toes, smiled then laughed, putting his hand on or under Clinton’s over the red button. Mentioning this action in the article as a high point, it was in fact a low point as Clinton knew then that the US only wanted to destroy and to remove sovereign Russia. Many others of us knew that too, but with the media muzzled it was not hotly debated. Only now does this debate begin.

  10. Bob Van Noy
    January 30, 2016 at 10:48

    It seems to me that that diplomacy as practiced by Sergey Lavrov died with President Kennedy as witnessed right here on this site with the writing of William R. Polk. One can see the same character, humor and intelligence in Mr. Polk as one sees in Mr. Lavrov. I suspect that what is missing in American diplomacy is moral certitude.

  11. January 30, 2016 at 01:55

    RFE/RL covered it, of course, with the so-thick-he-has-his-own-unique-resonant-frequency clod Brian Whitmore speculating that Lavrov should consider a career in comedy. Yes, highly original and absolutely characteristic of his leaden wit.


    Washington has learned nothing, and I imagine I am not the only one to be astonished that the Obama government turned out to be worse than the Bush government – every bit as closed-minded and ideological, every bit as martial and nationalistic, but even more reckless and dysfunctional. Attempting to reason with America is hopeless, and it is completely committed to forcing its concept of leadership upon the world. The only tool in its toolbox is a hammer, and the only philosophy in its manifesto is confrontation. It has forgotten the meaning of partnership, if it ever knew it. It is a relief in a way that Washington is not going to offer to kiss and make up, because it would almost certainly have a dagger up its sleeve.

    Russia’s position in this is a strong one; its economy is taking a hit, yes, but the global economy is extremely shaky and if it tips into another financial crisis, a lot of countries are going to be far worse off than Russia and China, who have large cash reserves and could endure prolonged hardship. The steps taken already toward reducing dependency on the west through import substitution show promise, and it is now unlikely those markets will ever be open to the west the way they once were, no matter how fervent and sincere any promises of reconciliation without prejudice. If the world economy stumbles hard, the United States will not be able to spend itself out of this one with a flood of cheap money and buying up its own debt, because it never really stopped doing that since the last crash and there is no way it could absorb the kind of debt load it would need to generate more massive bailouts, while it dares not raise the interest rate. Who would it borrow from? China? Ha, ha.

    Washington’s mockery and crass rudeness is intended to reassure Europe that the USA is still the fastest gun in the saloon. But I have to wonder how many European leaders remain convinced of that to the extent they are willing to risk further economic damage in order to promote America’s wedge-headed foreign policy. The picture may look far differently after the next round of European elections, and if sanctions remain in place until that time, it is hurting the west more than it is hurting Russia.

  12. January 29, 2016 at 21:56

    Everything that Lavrov says is common sense. The fact that these things need to be explained is a sign of total inadequacy of Western politicians.

    • Chet Roman
      January 30, 2016 at 13:12

      I agree that what Lavrov says is common sense, however, we would be making a serious error to characterize this as a sign of Western politician’s inadequacy. It is a sign of Western, primarily the U.S.’s, imperial ambitions not a lack of political understanding or skill. The U.S. stated goal is that of military “full-spectrum dominance” of the world and essentially the same with regard to political dominance. This is a very important differentiation, that explains why the U.S. is trying to isolate and break up Russia and China militarily and economically (TPP, TTIP).

  13. ltr
    January 29, 2016 at 19:17

    The Washington disdain for the Russian President as a reflection of a healthy Russia is continually startling and disheartening and can only prove self-defeating as a strategy for weakening Russia.

  14. ltr
    January 29, 2016 at 19:13


    September 24, 2015

    White House Says President Obama and Vladimir Putin Will Meet Next Week

    WASHINGTON — At one point during his daily briefing, [Josh] Earnest noted Mr. Putin’s habit of slouching while meeting with counterparts, pointing to a recent photo of him with Israel’s prime minister.

    “President Putin was striking a now-familiar pose of less-than-perfect posture and unbuttoned jacket and, you know, knees spread far apart to convey a particular image,” he said….

  15. ltr
    January 29, 2016 at 19:13


    September 15 2015

    Obama Weighing Talks With Putin on Syrian Crisis

    WASHINGTON — Mr. Obama views Mr. Putin as a thug, according to advisers and analysts.


    September 20, 2015

    Mr. Putin’s Mixed Messages on Syria

    Mr. Obama considers Mr. Putin a thug, his advisers say….

  16. ltr
    January 29, 2016 at 19:00


    January 29, 2016

    Kremlin Demands Explanation for ‘Outrageous’ U.S. Remarks About Putin

    MOSCOW — Statements by two senior American officials that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has enriched himself through corruption are “outrageous and insulting,” Dmitry S. Peskov, the president’s spokesman, said on Friday.

    Adam J. Szubin, the Treasury Department’s acting secretary for terrorism and financial crimes, said in an interview broadcast by the BBC this week that Mr. Putin was a “picture of corruption,” using state funds to enrich his closest friends while disguising his own wealth.

    Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, backed up that position, saying that the Treasury’s assessment “best reflects the administration’s view.” …

    • KamNam
      January 30, 2016 at 07:19

      Well the wes,t esp america, is now so devoid of any common or even uncommon sense, they are literally lashing out with anything, no matter how inane it is. The last throws of an empty container, before it looses it’s function.

    • Chet Roman
      January 30, 2016 at 12:57

      It’s interesting that Szubin accuses others of “corruption” when the Treasury Department is infested with and corrupted by agents of a foreign power.

      Adam Szubin is the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence; he replaced Stuart Levey who replaced David Cohen (now Deputy Director of the CIA, Mossad must be breaking out the Champaign). Apparently, a critical requirement for the position is to be a Zionist agent of Israel and continue to spew the Zionist anti-Putin and anti-Iran propaganda.

  17. Herman
    January 29, 2016 at 18:51

    The saddest part of the commentary is the author’s observation that the western media did not provide coverage of the media conference by Foreign Minister Lavrov. The message from Lavrov seems to be for the Europeans, stand up for your own interests, not those of the United States and a very thin layer of elites in Europe.

    I think Putin will be remembered for articulating a view of the world which awakens it to the lop-sided power concentrations which go back to World War II.

    And that explains, more than anything the attempt to demonize him and thereby dilute his message. It obviously works in the US but doubt it will in the rest of the world.

    • Bill Bodden
      January 30, 2016 at 00:12

      The saddest part of the commentary is the author’s observation that the western media did not provide coverage of the media conference by Foreign Minister Lavrov.

      That was business as usual.

  18. ltr
    January 29, 2016 at 18:16

    Invaluable reporting and analysis.

  19. rosemerry
    January 29, 2016 at 17:09

    What a difference in the diplomatic language and careful, well thought out explanations between Mr Putin and Mr Lavrov, on one side, and Mr Obama and Mr Kerry, on their side (not forgetting Hillary Clinton, a model of diplomacy!!).

  20. rosemerry
    January 29, 2016 at 17:05

    You believe that story, but there is plenty of evidence against it, including the interview with Ken Livingston on the BBC, where a Russian emigrée countered the various arguments. Alexander Mercouris also has clear counter arguments about who caused the murder of Litvinenko.

  21. Tom Welsh
    January 29, 2016 at 14:51

    ‘It is interesting that Lavrov explicitly denied that Russia feels “offended,” or as I have written using an alternative translation, “holds a grudge” over how it has been treated by the United States…’

    That is perhaps less of a concession than might appear at first sight. What the Russians are saying, likely enough, is, “We can’t expect any better of you, so we won’t”. The leopard does not change its spots, and the hyena will continue to behave like a hyena.

    • Kiza
      January 30, 2016 at 02:06

      At least someone understood, lol.

      But the fact that not a peep about this important press conference got into the Western MSM, is simply catastrophic for the West. It just shows that the West has become so weak internally that it cannot stand to even attempt to spin the point of view of its opponents, as was common during the previous Cold War. Instead, a complete blanket of silence, not to risk own population siding with Lavrov and Putin, which is becoming more and more common (there is a definite Putin admiration club in the West, made up mostly of the remaining Western conservatives). Instead, the West is ruled by a rottenly corrupt globalist-Marxist elite, which is incapable of doing even one thing right (domestic economy, Libya, Iraq, Syria, refugees etc). It is the incapable calling the capable corrupt. These Ziocon mugs will just never give up on their need to control the World.

      • John
        January 30, 2016 at 04:33

        You seem to have gotten Marx and Machiavelli confused.

        • Kiza
          January 30, 2016 at 04:55

          The fact that Zio-conservatives control the contemporary conservatives does not make them conservative at all. In fact, they draw roots from Leon Trotsky and other anti-Stalinists, who no-one could call other than Marxist. The fact that they are also Machiavellian does not change their ideology, because many Marxists were, especially Lenin.

        • Gordon Casper
          January 31, 2016 at 18:16

          I agree with John, there is nothing Marxist to be found in the US nor the EU.

      • richard vajs
        January 30, 2016 at 08:44

        You are correct. I started watching RT television, have gotten addicted to hearing the truth, and now have become very dissatisfied with MSM propaganda – it truly is Zionist crap. It has destroyed America with its advocacy for inequality, financial banditry, and wars for Israel.

        • Tori
          January 30, 2016 at 10:39

          I wondered if anybody else was watching RT. Have you had any luck suggesting to others that they watch it?

          • Curious
            January 30, 2016 at 13:35

            May I also suggest the RT app for your phone. It is very informative and deals with many issues around the world and doesn’t resort to the ‘sound bite, twitter’ world of the US media. I have read RT for years but have not watched the TV version. To get informed, or to simply read a different view of world events, RT is a good read.

            I also cannot bear to listen to Western news and I have worked in that world for over 20 years. To think many people form an opinion of world affairs based on 24 minutes (minus pharm commercials) is absolutely nuts.The 24 hr news cycle has just become the ‘department of redundancy department’. It’s best to ignore the noise.

        • William
          January 30, 2016 at 19:16

          Richard, I think that you are entirely correct. There is no “American” media any longer. There is only propaganda from newspapers and TV owned or controlled by American Jews who are Israeli firsters, not America firsters. This rather obvious fact cannot be mentioned because the owners of U.S. media are committed to Israel but also because any criticism — ANY criticism of Israel — leads to immediate labels of anti-Semitism. The entire Jewish community comes together and reacts desperately, focusing the MSM against such criticism, providing enormous sums of money to counter criticism, valid or invalid, and organize Israel firsters world wide. Business leaders receive threats of boycotts, politicians, already bought, are compelled to comply with the pro-Israel line. Round and round the wheel goes, and where it stops, nobody knows.

      • MG
        January 30, 2016 at 13:28

        “the West is ruled by a rottenly corrupt globalist-Marxist elite” – this is really funny!

        • Kiza
          January 30, 2016 at 21:02

          Firstly, I challenge anyone to suggest one thing since the WW2 which the US has done clearly against the Israeli interest. When something is not directly beneficial to Israel, such was the Camp David deal or the recent Iran deal, then the US has to pay a zillion dollar “I am sorry” to Israel, they just demand it and get it.

          But it is wrong to say that all US Jews support Zionists, the dual citizens who put Israel always first. I am aware of many Jews who oppose such behavior and this is how and why an expression “self-hating Jew” was invented.

          Secondly, watching RT helps approach the truth about events, but personally I also like watching the MSM sometimes for a good laugh at their lies and a good laugh at the people who suck them up (it is not nice laughing at people’s stupidity, I know). Yet, the best source of info is not RT then all these alt-websites, such as consortium news.

          Finally, many people think that Marxists must blare about communism all the time and must be pro-worker etc, not understanding that any movement can have a derivation which keeps some of the original ideas but puts accent on other ideas, which the original movement did not emphasize. Many also do not appreciate that the the first Soviet Politburo was made up around 90% of the Jews. Thus today we get a “corrupt Marxist-globalist elite of Israel firsters implementing a global revolution in favor of Jewish oligarchs”. In short, the Ziocons.

          The rest is detail.

          • MG
            February 1, 2016 at 17:38

            // I challenge anyone to suggest one thing since the WW2 which the US has done clearly against the Israeli interest. //
            Suez Crisis 1956 – US forcing Israel to withdraw from the Sinai peninsula also.

            //first Soviet Politburo was made up around 90% of the Jews//
            Is this statement from Hitler’s politburo?!

            This is really funny!

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