It’s about time there was objective assessment of where Russia intends to move on the world stage. There’s no point in continuing confrontation.
The U.S.-NATO military exercise Sea Breeze ended on July 19 after two weeks in which 30 ships from 14 NATO nations and their “Enhanced Opportunities Partners” (EOP), including Ukraine, conducted combat manoeuvres specifically directed against Russia, and NATO was open about the fact that “NATO has increased its presence in the Black Sea”. This example of aggressive confrontation was the most recent in a series of U.S.-NATO operations along Russia’s borders, which are described officially as “NATO’s Eastern Flank”.
NATO has established an “Enhanced Forward Presence” in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland while developing “a tailored forward presence in the Black Sea region” and the message of hostility could not be clearer. It is therefore not surprising that Russia has developed a new deterrent weapon. It was announced on July 19 that a Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missile was successfully tested from the navy frigate Admiral Gorshkov in the White Sea, and there was an immediate outburst of protest by NATO which issued a statement claiming that Russia had created “a greater risk of escalation and miscalculation” because its “new hypersonic missiles are highly destabilizing and pose significant risks to security and stability across the Euro-Atlantic area.” It escapes the notice of NATO and the Washington administration that if there had not been the remorseless — and expanding — build-up of U.S.-NATO-EOP troops, combat ships, electronic warfare systems and strike aircraft on the “Eastern Flank” there would have been no requirement for Russia to develop counter-measures requiring expertise and money that the Russian government would have preferred to devote to expanding trade and improving domestic conditions.
The U.S.-NATO military build-up has been complemented by a campaign of psychological warfare aimed at placing Russia under suspicion for any number of supposed violations of international practices, the latest of which was described in the UK’s Guardian newspaper on July 17, headlined “Kremlin papers appear to show Putin’s plot to put Trump in White House”. The report was written by journalist Luke Harding who claims he based it on highly-classified Russian language documents which were examined by unidentified “independent experts” whose verdict was that they “appeared” to be “genuine.” The intriguing thing, however, is that the story was not picked up by any other of the mainstream media (Fox News mentioned it; see below), not even the Washington Post, which, although generally an excellent publication, is anti-Russian to the point that doubt can be cast on its longtime reputation for objectivity and even-handedness.
It cannot be said that the Guardian is intrinsically anti-Russian, and indeed it is balanced in its approach to international affairs, but its anti-Russian report was so full of qualifiers (“appears . . . suggests . . . apparent . . .seems”) that publication in such a reputable paper is disturbing. It brings to mind the Zinoviev Letter of a century ago, which the Financial Times describes as “an inflammatory document supposedly sent to the British Communist party in September 1924 by Grigory Zinoviev, head of the Comintern, the Soviet organ that promoted worldwide revolution by means of propaganda and subversion.” The FT notes that Trotsky’s comment at the time was “How a document so nonsensical, so politically meaningless, a document which cries aloud that it is a forgery, could become the focus of attention of the leading political parties of the oldest civilised country in the world, a country of centuries of world supremacy and of a parliamentary regime — that is what is truly incomprehensible.”
The Guardian itself ran a story on the Zinoviev Letter in 1999, reporting an official government investigation into the scandal. This recorded that the letter, sent to the Daily Mail newspaper to attempt to influence an impending general election, was forged and “almost certainly leaked by MI6 or MI5 officers.” The Mail’s headlines included “Civil War Plot by Socialists’ Masters: Moscow Orders To Our Reds; Great Plot Disclosed.”
The Guardian’s headlines, such as “Papers appear to show Putin’s plot to put Trump in White House”, are compelling — but when Fox News, of all media outlets, commented that the paper “stopped short of saying [the documents] were absolutely authentic”, then it is evident that the Guardian has a distinct credibility problem. Fox went on to say that the documents “seem written to match a liberal fantasy” and that “readers are left to wonder what is true, what is exaggerated and what is malarkey . . .”
The anti-Russia malarkey business has been thriving, and one of its most unsavoury manifestations has been the U.S. campaign to destroy the agreement between Germany and Russia on the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which is so important to Europe (and has at last been approved, thanks to Chancellor Merkel). This major project is over 95 per cent complete, but was stalled in its final stages by sanctions imposed by President Trump (which action totally contradicts the contention of the U.S. media and various agencies that Trump was pro-Russia).
Nord Stream is designed to “transport natural gas into the European Union to enhance security of supply, support climate goals and strengthen the internal energy market. The EU’s domestic gas production is in rapid decline. To meet demand, the EU needs reliable, affordable and sustainable new gas supplies.” It could not be clearer that the project was of great benefit — but not directly to the United States, which is why politicians in Washington were so determined to have it scuttled.
The BBC reported at the time of the Trump sanctions that “The almost $11 bn (£8.4 bn) Nord Stream 2 project has infuriated the U.S., with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers opposing it. The Trump administration fears the pipeline will tighten Russia’s grip over Europe’s energy supply and reduce its own share of the lucrative European market for American liquefied natural gas (emphasis added). President Trump has said the 1,225 km (760-mile) pipeline, owned by Gazprom, could turn Germany into a ‘hostage of Russia’.”
The real reason for U.S. hostility to Nord Stream lies outside Europe. Even the Washington Post had to admit that in spite of all the malarkey about a supposed Russian threat, “it’s also clear that the U.S. has been keen to increase its own sales to Europe of what it calls ‘freedom gas.’ The Washington authorities were committed for many years to stopping the gas link, or at least putting significant hurdles in its way.” It all comes down to lost profits for Washington. No objective analyst would imagine that Russia, after spending billions of dollars and standing to earn regular, guaranteed returns from its vast investment, would switch off supplies, but the intensity of anti-Russia feeling in the U.S. Congress is such that objectivity falls prey to ultra-nationalistic bombast — and the profit motive.
Russia’s recently-published National Security Strategy is described by the Carnegie Endowment for Peace as a valuable document, and the Endowment sums up the Western approach by writing that “Getting Russia right — assessing its capabilities and intentions, the long-term drivers of its policy and threat perceptions, as well as its accomplishments — is essential because the alternative of misreading them is a recipe for wasted resources, distorted national priorities, and increased risk of confrontation.”
Continuing to target Russia is a grave mistake on the part of the Washington-London Axis, and it’s about time there was objective assessment of where Russia intends to move on the world stage. There’s no point in continuing confrontation.