April 25, 2014
Some Excellent Lavrov Snark
Asked whether he had reassessed former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s assertion that Russia is “America’s number one geopolitical foe,” Obama called Russia a “regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors — not out of strength but out of weakness.”
Obama ...: Russia Is ‘A Regional Power,’ ..., March 25 2014
#Lavrov: They say the situation in Ukraine depends entirely on us. We’re flattered, but surely a “regional power” cannot achieve that much?
MFA_Russia, 11:08 AM - 24 Apr 2014
All you need is Lavrov :-)
Posted by b on April 25, 2014 at 12:42 AM | Permalink
Posted by: james | Apr 25, 2014 1:35:32 AM | 1
I always wondered why the USSR was simply allowed to just fall apart without addressing the issues of ethnic Russians living beyond the borders of the Russian Federation, dividing the military, infrastructure and other assets, etc.
Now it is clear: after 20 years of chaos and instability, an authoritarian Russia can move to re-establish the old Empire from a position of strength.
Posted by: ralphieboy | Apr 25, 2014 2:42:00 AM | 2
Don't deify Lavrov and Putin. I've seen this tendency before.
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Apr 25, 2014 2:51:15 AM | 3
@ Demian | Apr 25, 2014 3:17:07 AM | 115 from your link:
Obama's comments in Tokyo call to mind a story in Sunday's New York Times by Peter Baker, which carried the curious headline "In Cold War Echo, Obama Strategy Writes Off Putin":
Mr. Obama will spend his final two and a half years in office trying to minimize the disruption Mr. Putin can cause, preserve whatever marginal cooperation can be saved and otherwise ignore the master of the Kremlin in favor of other foreign policy areas where progress remains possible.
"That is the strategy we ought to be pursuing," said Ivo H. Daalder, formerly Mr. Obama's ambassador to NATO and now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "If you just stand there, be confident and raise the cost gradually and increasingly to Russia, that doesn't solve your Crimea problem and it probably doesn't solve your eastern Ukraine problem. But it may solve your Russia problem."
Baker presents this as the administration's "retrofitting for a new age the approach to Moscow that was first set out by the diplomat George F. Kennan in 1947 and that dominated American strategy through the fall of the Soviet Union." But containment did not entail ignoring the rulers of the Soviet Union, much less doing so out of pique because they refused to nurture "a constructive relationship" with the U.S. president.
In my link, former Dutchman Ivo Daalder sets out Obama White House policy, a dictate from the NATO and Atlantic Council alliance initiating (inter)national security decisions, instead of a inadequate functioning EU foreign policy council.
Nothing new however, read article by Mark Ames in 2006:
○ How Dick Cheney Got His Cold War On
Posted by: Oui | Apr 25, 2014 4:05:51 AM | 5
I think the American foreign policy elite is just flailing in response to Russia's unexpected defiance. George Kennan knew Russian culture fairly well, and his containment strategy was directed against Communism, not the Russian state (in its Soviet incarnation or otherwise).
Containment is one thing when yours is the only major economy left intact after a world war, and you are a creditor to other nations. It is quite another when yours is not the largest economy in the world (the EU is), you will be overtaken in a few years by another (China), and you are a debtor to other nations.
This whole Obama administration plan of "containing" both China and Russia when at least one of those countries is financing the US Empire is as delusional as you can get.
Posted by: Demian | Apr 25, 2014 4:30:32 AM | 6
I think Mr. Lavrov is losing his patience with the defective Kerry-bot.
http://www.vz.ru/news/2014/4/25/683929.html Лавров назвал неприемлемыми высказывания Керри о телеканале RT
"Lavrov called unacceptable statements by Kerry about the RT channel"
From Google translator. It should be understandable enough.
"Statements of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who called the media "propaganda mouthpiece" unacceptable and uncultured, said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"They (the U.S.) accuse us, that we have included - in the words of yesterday in his unacceptable and prosecutorial tone savoir statement John Kerry - Putin's propaganda machine Russia Today», - the minister said at the Forum of Young Diplomats CIS countries, speaking about the ability of United States "to blame everything on its head" on the settlement of the crisis in Ukraine.
"So speak to the media is not very culturally" - quoted Lavrov RIA "Novosti" . However, he said he "can understand John Kerry in the sense that Russia Today is today a serious competitor CNN and other Western media."
"(These media) some time ago became convinced, perhaps, that they have a complete monopoly and no competition they are not threatened. Russia Today has won a huge audience in the United States and in Western Europe, not to mention Latin America, the Arab world. We will actively support this independent alternative view that Western propaganda tells us, "- said Lavrov."
The Kerry-bot has been malfunctioning on a regular basis lately. The way the defective android malfunctions leads one to believe it was programed with New York waiter android programing by mistake. Probably this is due to poor programing support, a result of budget cuts due to the massive government welfare now for Wall Street parasites. Maybe the USA should go back to using those old fashioned diplomats, like most other countries do?
Other interesting bit in the article:
"In a release sent to the newspaper VIEW comments editor in chief Margarita Simonyan, RT says: "Very sorry to hear that the head of the State Department refuses to recognize the facts that he does not like, and allows himself to make such allegations. We plan to send a formal request to the U.S. State Department with a request to give specific examples where RT distorted the facts, and demand an apology, - she said. - We are very sorry that the foreign minister of the United States is so little knowledge of the situation that's happening in Ukraine. "
Recall that in 2011, performing at the time Acting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Congress to increase the budget for U.S. foreign broadcasting, pointing to the fact that Washington is losing the global information war channels such as RT.
We also note that previously the founder and chief editor of the online edition Consortium News Robert Parry stated that observed in leading U.S. media propaganda hype and bias on the part of journalists about the events in Ukraine has no equal in the country's recent history.
"Even in the days of Ronald Reagan, created when much of the propaganda apparatus of the present government, in major news sources have more independence. Yes, reporters happened masses to jump from the "break reality" in times of war in the Persian Gulf under George W. father and the Iraq war under George W. Bush, son, when the major media willingly swallowed outright fakes. But in the current Ukrainian lighting event is something quite Orwellian, including the prosecution of another party to "propaganda", while its reports - though certainly not ideal - much more honest and more accurate than anything that made the U.S. press corps "- said the journalist.
In turn, the residents of the British capital also expressed confidence that the United Kingdom to the media coverage of the events in Ukraine unnecessarily demonized Russia and represent one-sided information about the situation.
Before this information resource created StopImperialism.com, geopolitical analyst Eric Dreitser said Washington also is trying to demonize Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, as Moscow's position on the events in Ukraine is at odds with American interests."
Posted by: scalawag | Apr 25, 2014 4:48:47 AM | 8
Here's an interesting account of Biden's visit - what was said etc.
I'm no military analyst, but I wish I had reliable detail of what kind of materiel may be entering Ukraine from the West. I've sensed all along the answer is "not much", and the Biden account seems to reinforce this. The US is not sending soldiers as we know, and I suspect (without any collateral for the opinion) that no mercenaries currently on the market are a match for these locals with their barricades. I also suspect that Russia could help the locals neutralize mercenaries without even appearing to have entered the country. There are still 20 mercs missing from Greystone aren't there?
The supply lines just don't seem to exist for the regime to engage in the east, even if they can find troops. They can't even feed their soldiers. And still the Ukraine army is sitting on the sidelines without having entered the game.
Russia is playing a perfect mirror to movements in the Ukraine, and surely their intelligence is at least 4 moves ahead of everyone else's game, including the US - which I believe is very largely incompetent, and showing it more every hour. 40,000 troops on the border are enough to take the whole country and demonstrate the true meaning of Nuland's "Fuck the EU". And yet if not one soldier is needed then not one soldier will enter.
I have to believe that Russia is not "waiting" for anything. Russia has been at war for days and weeks now, and is fully in command of tactics for every possible eventuality, far beyond simply military. I see only that every single player in this game has been thwarted at every turn. Sistema in action.
Posted by: Grieved | Apr 25, 2014 4:49:30 AM | 9
Who is the bitchest of all Obama's hysterical staff: Victoria F..EU or Furious Jen Psaki or Bitter Susan Rice , now that the lunatic Hilary is back to her no-salt kitchen trying to find a recipe that would make people forget that she has been the worst secretary of State in decades?
The US administration looks more and more like a failed "Muppets go to war" show
Posted by: virgile | Apr 25, 2014 8:54:09 AM | 12
Good summary! Why are US so whiny?
Looking at russian statements they are of 9/10 cases mature and not pathetic like american ones, why is that? Are US desperate? Please exaplain someone!
Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 25, 2014 9:21:11 AM | 13
Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 25, 2014 9:21:11 AM | 13
It is because they think they have to dumb it down for people to understand.
That is what it means living in a democracy :-)) But I guess the majority of US citizens don't trust them anyway, so it does not really matter.
In earnest - Lavrov is a career diplomat and Kerry is a politician. That is the difference. They are shocked that they are about to lose the propaganda war. That's why they suddenly have a go at Russia Today.
It only makes it worse.
It is not Kerry's fault - he has to condemn Russian interference in Ukraine, when everybody who is interested has heard the Victoria Nuland tape.
He cannot very well come out and say, oh well, we lost this one.
Posted by: somebody | Apr 25, 2014 9:32:41 AM | 14
I've written about RT's role in the past, a couple of times in fact. It's an interesting situation and actually quite novel. RT is funded by the Russian State Duma or Parliament, not by Putin's government. The director of RT is a very astute woman, who recognizes that there is a growing segment of the Western public that opposes the Empire's ambitions for global conquest, thus it is important for the Russian state to reach out to this segment.
At the same time, it also courts (if that's the right word), the weirdo right-wing, anti-immigration, anti-EU guys out of UKIP (UK Independence Party) and the like, because it too, serves Russian national interest (or so they believe). It's actually quite opportunist but it's quite open, it doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is (a few years ago, during it early days, RT asked me to become a 'pundit'. I declined.)
Thus, yes of course it's a mouthpiece of the Russian state (to the tune of some like $35 million a year that it costs to run it). There's a Spanish version as well.
So everything RT does, has to be viewed through the prism of Russian, national self-interest. This doesn't necessarily make their position wrong, or mere propaganda. Surely it depends on the POV of the viewer?
So it's not surprising, given how so much of the USNATO plan in the Ukraine and Syria has gone pear-shaped, that the Empire would launch an attack on RT, and it's not the first time. But I think it's indicative of the growing power of RT to challenge the West's state/media stranglehold of the news, which when you add it to rising influence of independent media, must surely be worrying to the psychos on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Posted by: William Bowles | Apr 25, 2014 9:34:27 AM | 15
Exactly hes a "career diplomat", hopefully Russia dont take the bait and began acting immature like kerry.
Yes going after RT show desperation, as Ive said earlier, I always knew RT was a great channel (of course one could criticise it still). This PR for RT by Kerry should give some 100'000 extra viewers, thanks kerry! Haha
Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 25, 2014 9:36:39 AM | 16
They say the situation in Ukraine depends entirely on us. We’re flattered, but surely a “regional power” cannot achieve that much?
Thanks b for this morning LOL and what deference in leaders.
Posted by: jo6pac | Apr 25, 2014 9:52:54 AM | 17
ROFL ~ "Muppets Go To War" and oh the endearing hilarity that ensues.
But seriously they are in quite a pickle with this internet thing. In order to really get their global war on they'd have to pull the plug on what has essentially replaced community, family, and real knowledge for most westerners. And when the people necessarily relearn those things, there's the global war; fucked again. So they've settled for low grade chaos in as many places as possible, just to maintain their OTT bulletproof gold-foiled 'standards of living'.
I say fuck those muppets and their pots of rouge.
Posted by: L Bean | Apr 25, 2014 10:08:36 AM | 18
Anyone know the ethnicity of that ugly Psaki spokeswoman? What is that? A talking carrot?
Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 25, 2014 10:13:46 AM | 19
Demian@6. On NATO expansion Kennan said "a tragic mistake"
''I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,'' said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ''I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.''http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/02/opinion/foreign-affairs-now-a-word-from-x.html
Posted by: harrylaw | Apr 25, 2014 11:15:35 AM | 20
@15 william bowles. thanks for that overview..
Posted by: james | Apr 25, 2014 2:18:52 PM | 21
Posted by: William Bowles | Apr 25, 2014 9:34:27 AM | 15
You gave a rather distorted and biased view. RT actually publishes material from a wide range of views, not just the narrow spectrum you claimed. They are also more critical of the Russian government than American or British media tend to be of their governments, especially the government sponsored channels. But such is allowed within Russia, as opposed to the now monolithic west.
Some more classic Lavrov:
http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_25/Russia-does-not-blackmail-other-countries-unlike-US-Lavrov-7654/ Russia does not blackmail other countries unlike US - Lavrov
"To complain to us that we have signed something in Geneva that legitimizes the actions of the current regime [in Ukraine] and demand that we take some de-escalating steps only in the southeast, is simply a lie. Therefore, we will insist on respecting the Geneva Accords and will categorically reject attempts for them to be distorted"
"US propaganda power has always been aimed at and continues being aimed at distorting the picture of what is happening in Ukraine, smearing the Russian Federation and smearing those who protest against the illegitimate actions of powers trying to ban the Russian language"
"We won't force anyone, we won't blackmail anyone with threats, that if you don't vote like we want you to, we'll cut your aid. That's how the Americans do it when they collect votes from around the world," Lavrov said during a CIS Youth Diplomats Forum. Lavrov said that is how the US acted "in order to convince other countries to recognize Kosovo and not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia". "We know all of this because we were told. We were told of the methods of how the Americans work with governments of all the various regions. That's not our method. We won't blackmail, we won't threaten. We are after all respectful people"
"In personal discussions, the Europeans and Americans, if no one is listening except for a Russian, then they give a more sensible assessment of events and become distressed, but just like in many other situations, when they have already made a public bet on someone, it's very difficult for them to publicly pull back"
"First of all, I mean the United States of America, they have a mind-blowing ability of turning everything upside down"
Posted by: scalawag | Apr 25, 2014 2:52:49 PM | 22
So what are these caught people doing in ukraine? apparently they are western military obervers?! Also they are not from the OSCE as kievregime likes to say..
Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 25, 2014 3:15:33 PM | 23
Posted by: scalawag | Apr 25, 2014 2:52:49 PM | 21
No, I gave a selective view of RT, attempting to focus on the major themes the station uses on a day-to-day basis.
And yes, it may well be somewhat critical of Russian govt actions, but not in any kind of adversarial manner. And in any case, you will not find a Russian version of RT. But I'm not concerned about Russia's internal policies, any more than I am of Ukraine's and surely this the point; it's foreign interference that's creating these disasters in the first place!
I think RT is broadly an excellent news channel and a breath of fresh air for a leftie like myself to actually see and hear a kindred spirit coming at me over the mass media, and have since the beginning but I'm under no illusions about why it does what it does, which is why RT appears to have a schizophrenic approach to events, with anti-imperialism on the one hand and right-wing popularism, on the other.
As I thought I wrote above, RT consciously targets what it regards as key sections of Western populations, sections that have no expression/representation in the MSM. The Russian state does this as part of its foreign policy, which is capitalist but nationalist and in a sense, tries to be 'non-aligned' much like China.
It's great that RT supports the independence of Syria but it didn't Libya's because it didn't impact on Russia. So let's not be under any illusions about Russia's foreign policy, under Putin it's driven entirely by national, self-interest.
Posted by: William Bowles | Apr 25, 2014 3:51:04 PM | 24
PS: Putin's national, self-interest is just fine with me, I just wish it was accompanied by a healthy anti-neoliberal economic policy.
Posted by: William Bowles | Apr 25, 2014 3:53:57 PM | 25
Why is Merkel saying this:
At a news conference in Berlin with Poland's prime minister, Donald Tusk, Merkel said Russia had the means to convince the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine to take a peaceful route but showed no sign of doing so.
"I spoke to the Russian president this morning and made clear again that on the one hand Ukraine has taken a whole series of steps to implement the Geneva accord but on the other side I see no Russian backing for the accord which would of course have an effect on the separatists in Ukraine," she said.
"We will therefore have to react. This will be a joint European action and an action by the G7 ... because of the lack of progress we will have to contemplate further sanctions within the second stage of sanctions."
Is she afraid that if shes stops bullying Putin that USG will nuke a medium sized German city, say Düsseldorf? Or even better, maybe the Americans have already told the Germans: "Remember what happened to Dresden the last time you guys got uppity?"
Posted by: Demian | Apr 25, 2014 4:02:38 PM | 26
Posted by: William Bowles | Apr 25, 2014 3:51:04 PM | 23
"It's great that RT supports the independence of Syria but it didn't Libya's because it didn't impact on Russia."
That is patently untrue. I regularly checked RT during that time and they were quite critical of the west's attacks on Libya. Even a simple Google search shows how dishonest your statement about their coverage is (using this criteria - 2011 rt "Russia today" libya):
You have confirmed of what I wrote earlier of your bias.
Posted by: scalawag | Apr 25, 2014 4:17:23 PM | 28
Posted by: William Bowles | Apr 25, 2014 4:05:26 PM | 26
I noticed you selectively ignored this part of that article (with the the article's western propaganda spin removed):
"In a way we are competing [with AJE] in other ways we are not," says Simonyan.
"In terms of trying to provide a different look and a different set of stories, in that way we are competing. We are trying to air stories which are not aired in the mainstream media and the audience is very grateful."
The audience is people who have business in Russia or a strong interest in Russia: "Mainly the audience we are trying to get is the type of audience which is not usually satisfied in the normal type of stories," she says.
"There might be more going on the world than they might be told."
As a broadcaster, RT enjoys editorial freedom - a point Simonyan is very clear on. This, she says, is because RT is 'funded by the state budget, which is not even decided by the government, it is decided by the state Duma'.
Simonyan says the channel can be as negative about Russia as it wishes.
"I have never in my life met a foreigner who wasn't extremely surprised when they went to Russia for the first time in their life. Why's that? Because the image of this country this person had in his mind before coming is completely or largely different from what the country is," she says.
The aim of RT is to 'bring the image closer to reality' and challenge 'fears that no longer exist'.
"Funnily enough we report many more negative things than positive things," she claims.
"[T]he negative things now are very different from the negative things that were in Russia 30 years ago," says Simonyan.
"They're not the same problems we had 30 years ago. We do have huge problems but they're completely different.
"We didn't have war in the Caucuses and problems in Chechnya 30 years ago, which we do have now. And vice versa: we did have issues with freedom of expression, with freedom of personality, which we don't have now - which some journalists still think are there."
That article is 5 years old and RT has changed quite a bit since then. It's grown considerably, and with that growth, it has increased the variety of views it presents. Rather than do the opposite, and narrowed its range of views to that of a supplicant, like in western alt media practice.
I also read a lot of Russian language media, and RT seems to be about in the middle as far as its criticism of the Russian government. Like with RT, the criticism level varies widely in each organization, both in tenor and in subject, so it is rather difficult to judge a comparison.
In my opinion, where RT suffers most is that they often (much too often) print the lies of the west without pointing out the falsehoods in what was said. That they have taken too much of a "western journalistic" style.
Posted by: scalawag | Apr 25, 2014 4:48:34 PM | 29
What a pathetic statement by merkel, it sounds like kerry wrote that statement.
Again WTF does Russia have to do with protesters!? Why are west so stupid?!
Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 25, 2014 5:18:40 PM | 30
Hehe. Or the same people write Merkel's and Kerry's statements:
Looks like RT is ruffling very important feathers in the US. So the strong words RT program – oh, network… maybe program - just like the Iraq war: “I'm a guest there and then I'm home.” This is the top US diplomat speaking. It's ghost-written of course, he did not write these words himself. He didn't even know what he was reading.
Here's the video of Kerry talking about RT.
Posted by: Demian | Apr 25, 2014 6:42:11 PM | 31
A lot of people seem to be worried about the Ukrainian army's attack on cities in the east. But I see no evidence that the army knows what they are doing. And I don't see any evidence that the Right Sector knows what it is doing.
Are these groups really a danger to people in the east???
It doesn't look like it to me.
Am I missing something?
Posted by: plantman | Apr 25, 2014 8:52:54 PM | 32
It's pretty clear that the Kiev putsch regime has absolutely no interest in listening to Ukrainians in the south and east. That is why anti-putsch people have seized government buildings there in the first place. Furthermore, it's hard not to conclude that the USG wants Kiev to put the anti-putsch resistance down by force. One "operation" started after the CIA director visited Kiev; the second one started after Biden visited Kiev.
Yes, few people in the army want to kill their own people. And yes, the Right Sector are just a bunch of fascist thugs. But you don't have to be an elite military unit to kill civilians, which are who the people occupying buildings are. If the USG puts enough pressure on Kiev to bring the southeast "under control", there is a real danger that a lot of blood will get spilled.
Posted by: Demian | Apr 25, 2014 9:33:47 PM | 33
Posted by: scalawag | Apr 25, 2014 4:17:23 PM | 28
Apologies: that should have read: Russia didn't support Gaddafi's Libya.
Posted by: William Bowles | Apr 26, 2014 6:36:21 AM | 34
during the Q and A Putin held, he says Gadafi was 'murdered'....
Putin rejected the resolution 1973 that was used to attack Libya, unfortunately he wasnt president
Medvedev is atlantist oriented...his view of Gadafi may have been more like the EU
Posted by: brian | Apr 26, 2014 9:57:44 AM | 35
the left and syria and russia.
The past few years have been educational in showing the world many on the left have been broadly running parallel to the US ad EU policies when it comes to Libya Syria and Russia...witness leftists like Louis Proyect, Pulse Media, Socialist alliance etc
'Having last week expounded upon the duplicity of the western “liberal lefts” position on the Imperialist-sponsored fascist coup in Ukraine, a particularly egregious example of the same petty bourgeois sophism so pervasive within western civilised dissent has once again reared its ugly head. In what can only be described as emo agitprop, the west’s flagship of misinformation and Imperialist propaganda recently published an article on Syria by self-proclaimed “leftist Artist” Molly Crabapple.'
Posted by: brian | Apr 26, 2014 10:04:56 AM | 36
brian @36 Good link, thanks. The next open thread we should return to the matter of the thoroughgoing corruption of the "left" particularly those parts which claim, unconvincingly in my view, to have Trotskyist origins, such as Tariq Ali, the Tony Cliff Memorial Workers Party and half the intellectuals in France.
Posted by: bevin | Apr 26, 2014 11:43:56 AM | 37
thanks to memri!(imagine me saying that!)
Two Saudis tell of their jihadi experience fighting in Syria on a Saudi TV: The rebellion is not really a rebellion; it is an invasion for the anti-Syrian-government force is mainly made of foreigners. Most of them were Saudis. All their commanders were hiding behind balaclavas or ski masks and were definitely not Syrian. Al Qaeda, al Nusra, or the so-called "moderate" FSA--were all the same sh-t.
Fighting for allah, alawite army...its all here
Posted by: brian | Apr 26, 2014 7:17:18 PM | 38
Posted by: brian | Apr 26, 2014 9:57:44 AM | 35
Yes, Medvedev is, as you say an 'Atlanticist' but the resolution you refer to was the UNSC's and Russia could have vetoed it but didn't. It was only when regime change in Syria became an issue, that the Russians 'woke up' to what was happening (tho just how blind do you need to be?). I remember distinctly cursing the Russians for not vetoing that 'no fly zone' resolution, as it was an act of war! So why do you suppose the Russians didn't get that?
No matter what, Russian foreign policy is decidedly schizophrenic, driven by conflicting desires and needs. On the one hand, they want to be part of the capitalist world but still get treated as a third world country.
The key here is Russian possession of nuclear weapons. Without them, they'd be toast. I think we have to remain critical here, it's no good accepting everything the Russians do just because it appears to challenge the Empire.
Posted by: William Bowles | Apr 28, 2014 10:47:45 AM | 39