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Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. on Friday of endangering global security by imposing a “unilateral diktat” on the rest of the world and shifted blame for the Ukraine crisis onto the West.
In a 40-minute diatribe against the West that was reminiscent of the Cold War and underlined the depth of the rift between Moscow and the West, Putin also denied trying to rebuild the Soviet empire at the expense of Russia’s neighbors.
“We did not start this,” Putin told an informal group of experts on Russia that includes many Western specialists critical of him, warning that Washington was trying to “remake the whole world” based on its own interests.
“Statements that Russia is trying to reinstate some sort of empire, that it is encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbors, are groundless,” the former KGB agent declared in a speech delivered standing at a podium, without a smile, in a ski resort in mountains above the Black Sea city of Sochi.
Listing a series of conflicts in which he faulted U.S. actions, including Libya, Syria and Iraq, Putin asked whether Washington’s policies had strengthened peace and democracy.
“No,” he declared. “The unilateral diktat and the imposing of schemes [on others] have exactly the opposite effect.”
Putin, 62, has stepped up anti-Western rhetoric since returning to the Kremlin as president in 2012, helping push up his popularity ratings since the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March.
Even so, the speech was one of the most hostile Putin has delivered against the West and it appeared partly intended to show Russian voters he will stand up to the rest of the world and defend their interests.
The criticisms of a world order dominated by Washington, more than two decades after the Cold War, recalled a 2007 speech in Munich in which Putin shocked the West by lambasting Washington’s “unipolar” world view. The speech prompted many Western leaders to reassess their view of Putin.
Shifting the Blame
The annual meetings of what is known as the Valdai Club have rarely featured such open, direct and tough language in their debates on Russian policy.
Critics say the meetings have become a showcase for Kremlin policy, with the session attended by Putin shown live on state television and little discussion of Russia’s record on human rights and democracy, which is criticized in the West.
Putin rejected criticism over the Ukraine crisis, in which Moscow has sided with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, and threw the West’s criticisms of Moscow back in its face.
Repeating accusations that Western governments helped pro-Western groups stage a coup d’etat that ousted a pro-Moscow president in Kiev in February, Putin said: “No one wanted to listen to us, and no one wanted to talk to us.”
“Instead of a difficult but, I underline, civilized dialogue they brought about a state coup. They pushed the country into chaos, economic and social collapse, and civil war with huge losses,” he said.
Dismissing U.S. and European Union sanctions imposed on Moscow as a mistake, he said: “Russia will not be posturing, get offended, ask someone for anything. Russia is self-sufficient.”
He made only passing references to the decline of Russia’s $2 trillion economy, which is in danger of sliding into recession as its currency tumbles along with the price of oil, its main export item.
But he said in a question and answer session after his speech that Russia would not burn though its gold and foreign currency reserves thoughtlessly to prop up the economy.
Putin has increasingly sought to shift blame for the economic crisis onto global problems, the sanctions and the oil price. He and other Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, have also used increasingly tough language to blame the West for the Ukraine crisis.
A cease-fire has been in force in Ukraine since Sept. 5, but it has been violated daily and the West says Moscow continues to have troops and weapons in east Ukraine. Russia denies this.
Neil Buckley reporting,
Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the US of undermining the post-Cold War world order, warning that without efforts to establish a new system of global governance the world could collapse into anarchy and chaos.
In one of his most anti-US speeches in 15 years as Russia’s most powerful politician, Mr Putin insisted allegations that its annexation of Crimea showed that it was trying to rebuild the Soviet empire were “groundless”. Russia had no intention of encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbours, he insisted.
Instead, the Russian leader blamed the US for triggering both Crimea’s breakaway from Ukraine and thousands of deaths in the war in the east of the country, by backing what Mr Putin called an armed coup against former president Viktor Yanukovich in February.
“We didn’t start this,” Mr Putin said. Citing a string of US-led military interventions from Kosovo to Libya, he insisted the US had declared itself victor when the Cold War ended and “decided to … reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests”.
“This is the way the nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune – in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely … I think they have committed many follies,” he told a conference of foreign academics and journalists at an Olympic ski venue near Sochi.
The speech was one of Mr Putin’s most important foreign policy statements since he surprised the west in Munich in 2007 by accusing the US of “overstepping its boundaries in every way” and creating new dividing lines in Europe.
Some commentators speculated that it reflected Moscow’s fury after US President Barack Obama recently ranked Russia alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis, and the Ebola virus among the top three global threats. But his tone surprised even supporters.
“Very tough about the US, first time so [tough],” tweeted Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of the ardently pro-Kremlin RT television channel. “Our answer to B Obama.”
Mr Putin signalled he believed the US and Russia should draw a line under recent events and sit down with other big economies to redesign the system of global governance along “multipolar” lines.
While he conceded this could be a lengthy and gruelling task, Mr Putin warned the alternative could be serious conflicts involving major countries. He also evoked the danger of a new Cold War-type stand-off, saying existing arms control treaties risked being violated.
Any effort to bring the two countries together for talks, however, could be complicated by the west’s insistence that Russia’s annexation of Crimea is an illegal occupation, and by Moscow’s anger over resulting EU and US sanctions.
Mr Putin said the sanctions undermined world trade rules and globalisation, but said Russia was a strong country that could weather the measures, and would not “beg” to get them lifted.
The Russian president suggested the UN could be “adapted to new realities”, while regional “pillars” of a new system, such as Russia’s own planned Eurasian Union of ex-Soviet states, could help enhance security.
But he insisted such moves were only necessary since the US had ridden roughshod over existing rules – for example when it invaded Iraq without UN Security Council backing.
“If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances … got in the way of [US] aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition,” he said.
The strength of Mr Putin’s language also took US listeners aback. Addressing a question to the president after his speech, Toby Gati, a former White House official under President Bill Clinton, said she “did not recognise” as her own country the one the Russian president claimed to be describing.
Halya Coynash reporting,
25-year-old Crimean Tatar, Edem Asanov, has been found dead in an abandoned sanatorium in Yevpatoria, a week after he disappeared on Sept 29. Edem Asanov was not politically active, and according to his sister was a peaceful person who was not inclined to conflict.
There is as yet no information as to how the young man died, though natural causes can be excluded. Edem Asanov’s funeral will take place on Tuesday.
There have been four abductions or disappearances since Sept 27, and at least three other Crimean Tatar families will almost certainly be going through hell, together with the Asanov family.
In the early evening of Sept 27, two young Crimean Tatars were abducted from Sary-Su near Belogorsk in the Crimea. 19-year-old Islam Dzhepparov and his 23-year-old cousin Dzhevdet Islamov were forced into a dark blue Volkswagen Transporter and taken away in the direction of Feodosiya.
The claims from the police and FSB [Russian security service] that they know nothing about the abduction have been met with scepticism, which is exacerbated by their failure to find the young men despite having all details, including the minivan’s registration number.
Hundreds of Crimean Tatars gathered the next day outside Islam Dzhepparov’s home. Islam’s father had a meeting with the head of the occupation government Sergei Aksyonov on Oct. 1. Abdureshit Dzhepaparov says that everything was done to provoke Crimean Tatars to make measures in retaliations. “On the roofs around the building where the meeting took place there were a lot of snipers, people saw jeeps with men carrying machine guns, and around the city there were a lot of soldiers.”
Two days later, on Monday Sept 29, Edem Asanov set off for work at the Prymorye sanatorium in Yevpatoriya. We now know why he did not arrive.
23-year-old Crimean Tatar Apselymov Eskender has not been seen since Oct 3 when he left his flat in Simferopol and headed for work. He did not arrive, and there is no answer from his telephone. Shevket Namatullayev, a Crimean journalist, has passed on details about how the young man was dressed and a request from his parents to phone if people have any information
It is increasingly difficult to believe in any chance with these abductions and disappearances. They coincide with a major offensive against the Mejlis, or representative-executive body of the Crimean Tatar people and Muslims in the Crimea. Veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev has spoken of 18 disappearances of Crimean Tatars since Russian invaded and annexed the Crimea in March this year.
Head of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov recalls chillingly relevant words written by Memorial about the Northern Caucuses. “Abductions are carried out by staff both of the local, and the federal enforcement bodies. A number of the abductions take place according to the classic, “Chechen” scenario, when armed men in masks burst into a home and take the person they want away. However many abductions are carried out very ‘professionally’: a person leaves his home and doesn’t return, or later he’s found murdered.”
The almost certain murder of Edem Asanov, the abduction of two young Crimean Tatars and disappearance of a fourth young man of similar age, against the background of all other repressive measures, can only heighten the suspicion that the Crimean puppet regime and those pulling its strings in Moscow want to intimidate the Crimean Tatars and force them to leave their homeland.
by Dmitry Tymchuk.
A building damaged by shelling is seen on September 23, 2014 outside the town of Komunar, some 50kms northeast of Donetsk. © AFP
Brothers and sisters!
Here’s the Summary for September 23, 2014
The bad news:
. Combats continue in Donbas. The hotspots today are Donetsk, Debaltseve, Avdiivka.
Earlier, analysts from IR (Information Resistance) presumed that the entire bloody terrorist game around the airport in Donetsk was a cover for the accumulation of Russian-terrorist forces to the north (near Yasynuvata-Panteleymonivka) for a further attack on Avdiivka [Donetsk Oblast]. Obviously, this is an option.
By shooting at residential areas in Donbas cities, as is known, the mercenaries are carrying out another function which is important for them: cultivating hatred for Ukrainian troops, who allegedly are the ones firing among the locals. We have known about this vile tactic of the terrorists for a long time, but as IR surveys prove, the local citizens, deprived of free access to information, in their majority really do religiously believe that the shootings are indeed the handiwork of ‘Banderas.’
. DNR [Donetsk People's Republic] mercenaries plan to hold elections for the ‘head of the republic’ and their own so-called ‘parliament’ on November 2nd on the territory they occupied. Meanwhile ‘DNR Prime Minister’ A. Zakharchenko claimed the terrorists would not allow carrying out the elections to the Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian Parliament] in Donbas, which will take place on October 26.
People will soon start dying of starvation at the hands of these unique individuals, and they are still carrying on. According to our information, the local ‘commands’ in cities controlled by the DNR were given orders to prepare voters’ lists and start ‘educational work,’ threatening reprisals against those who do not show up for this ‘election.’ It looks strange: everyone understands that the ‘head of the republic’ for these soldiers of the Alcoholic Front will be appointed in Moscow. What is the reason for this circus?
. The Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration stated today that the morgues in the oblasts that are adjacent to the antiterrorist operation zone have over a thousand deceased Ukrainian servicemen, 552 of which have not been identified yet.
I don’t know where these numbers come from, but it’s not that – it’s true that a lot of fallen soldiers have not been identified and are listed as ‘missing in action,’ especially after the events at the end of August. Then, when in the world it is customary to consider that the war isn’t over until the last fallen soldier is buried, and if we are a civilized state and a civilized society, when making agreements regarding peace in Donbas, we cannot forget about the fallen heroes.
If we don’t know or won’t remember the names of those who gave their lives for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, then how much is this sovereignty worth?
The good news:
. The intensity of the shelling of Ukrainian troop positions has decreased significantly. Information that the Russian-terrorist troops have withdrawn artillery greater than 100 mm in caliber from the ‘front line’ is confirmed. Ukrainian troops are also withdrawing weaponry on their side.
However, the process of removing the mercenaries’ artillery was only documented in individual areas. Unfortunately, we cannot speak of a full implementation of the ceasefire conditions. But, the beginning of a positive process is launched, though we do not exclude the possibility that Russian troops and terrorists simply mimic the process of de-escalating the conflict.
. Defense Minister V. Heletey stated that the Defense Ministry is reviewing the ‘concept of the Ukrainian army.’ “We are fully reviewing the concept of the Ukrainian army – in order to understand what it is that Ukraine needs today,” he said.
To begin with, it is understood that we need a new Military Doctrine – thankfully, the Cabinet of Ministers has already set a target to develop it. And here begins the most important thing: a clear analysis and integration of reform of the armed forces, intelligence agencies and the intelligence community.
In the examples of Crimea and Donbas, we have seen that the conflicts that are relevant to Ukraine today cannot be solved using the power and resources of only one institution, but only by using all the resources, and only in close cooperation (which is exactly what our “security forces” are not very used to doing). Accordingly, the processes of reforming the Defense Ministry and the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Border Services, the State Security Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service should be closely related, as we cannot ensure cooperation by reforming each institution separately.
It is very unclear how this will work out, as the military structures are used to playing tug-of-war and pursuing absolute secrecy from the ‘competition.’ Without overcoming these unhealthy tendencies, we simply cannot talk about self-sufficient and effective reform within the state security sector.
. I was quite pleased by the results of a sociological survey carried out by the Russian Sociological Service Fund to Fight Corruption. According to Russian sociologists, in Odesa and Kharkiv oblasts, 34% of local residents see the future of Ukraine as being together with Europe, meanwhile only 17% see it with Russia.
In this case, 87% of respondents see the future of their region only in a united Ukraine. Comments are superfluous.
. And now from the humorous news. The Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation stated that Russia plans to launch a “full-scale exploration of the Moon” in the late 20’s – early 30’s.
As I understand it, by hanging the subsidization of Crimea around Russian taxpayers’ necks, and seeking to ‘master’ a subsidized Donbas, the Kremlin is looking for new spaces for ‘the Russian World.’ This immediately reminds me of an old joke about the boy who comes to his father and shouts: “Father, they said on the radio that the Muscovites have gone to space!” to which the father happily replies: “What, all of them?”
Esteemed denizens of the Kremlin, if you’re not going to the Moon all together, at least send Putin there first, please. We will even chip in for this happy occasion to happen before the end of the 20’s. We, Ukrainians, are not against Russia’s space expansions – just do us a favor and don’t come back.
A large column of protesters waving both Russian and Ukrainian flags marched in central Moscow.
Tens of thousands of people are marching in Moscow in protest against Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict.
People are chanting “No to war!” and “Stop lying!” Similar rallies are taking place in St Petersburg and other Russian cities.
Ukraine accuses Russia of arming rebels in the east and sending Russian troops across the border. Moscow denies this.
More than 3,000 people have died in fighting since April.
A truce was agreed on 5 September but there have been repeated violations since then.
The fighting began after Russia annexed Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula in March – a move condemned by Ukraine and the West.
Organisers of the anti-war march in Moscow said they hoped as many as 50,000 people would attend.Supporters of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine held their own smaller rally in Moscow.
Demonstrators – with both Russian and Ukrainian flags – are marching from Pushkin Square to Sakharov Boulevard in central Moscow.
Organisers earlier said they hoped up to 50,000 people would take part to denounce what they described as Russia’s “aggressive foreign policy”.
Police have stepped up security, but so far there are no reports of serious violence.
It is Russia’s first major anti-war rally since the fighting began five months ago in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
A number of supporters of the pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine held their own rally in Moscow.
The new agreement seeks to stop the repeated violations of a ceasefire agreed on 5 September.
Earlier on Sunday, Gen Philip Breedlove, Nato’s supreme commander in Europe, said the ceasefire between the Ukrainian government and the separatists currently existed “in name only”.
He said the numbers of artillery rounds fired recently was comparable to periods before the truce came into effect two weeks ago.
“The situation in Ukraine is not good right now.
“The number of events, and the number of rounds fired and the artillery used across the past few days match some of the pre-ceasefire levels. The ceasefire is still there in name, but what is happening on the ground is quite a different story,” he added.
Anti-war protesters hold Ukrainian flags and a banner, “Hands off Ukraine,” in the center of Moscow on Sept. 21. Thousands of Russians marched through Moscow to protest against the Kremlin’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis, in the country’s first major anti-war rally since fighting erupted in April.. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER UTKIN © AFP.
Gen Breedlove said that since last week, some Russian forces inside Ukraine had returned to Russia but remained available to “bring their military force to bear on Ukraine”.
He added, however, that he was “hopeful” about a new agreement – the so-called memorandum – signed in the early hours of Saturday.
That deal envisages the creation of a 30km (19 miles) buffer zone and the withdrawal of heavy weaponry.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said government forces would pull back from the buffer zone only if the rebels and Russian troops did the same thing.
Minsk memorandum: Key points
- To pull heavy weaponry 15km back each side of the line of contact, creating a 30km security zone.
- To ban offensive operations.
- To ban flights by combat aircraft over the security zone.
- To set up an OSCE monitoring mission.
- To withdraw all foreign mercenaries from the conflict zone.