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Lavrov’s interview with the Great Game programme, December 28, 2022

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs | December 28, 2022

Question: Several years ago, I spoke with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. At that time I had just returned from Moscow and told him that if the US and NATO policy of ignoring Russia’s concerns – with a satisfying smack on the head – continued, Russia would have to use force. Kissinger said if we did this, we would suffer big damage and all of NATO would unite against us.

He was right – the collective West united in response to the special military operation and has shown even greater solidity than many expected. Russia stands proudly and confidently; Moscow does not look like a city that has wavered or that doubts its correctness and strength.

What do you think about the possibility of military escalation, on the one hand, and serious talks next year, on the other?

Sergey Lavrov: You are right that the collective West has closed ranks. But this was not because every country in the alliance felt it wanted to. They were rallied, by the United States, primarily. Their mentality of domination has not been moderated in any sense.

A couple of weeks ago, I noted a statement by a Stanford professor to the effect that the US needed to be a global policeman to save the world. Not only NATO but also the EU, as an association that only recently claimed strategic autonomy, has fully conformed to the West’s uniform policy. Centres for coordinating actions by NATO and the EU are being set up, neutral states (Finland and Sweden) are being included. A mobility programme began to be introduced long before that. It provides for using transport and other infrastructure in non-NATO countries for moving NATO’s equipment eastward, closer to our borders.

Recently, some in the Great Game discussed the global changes taking place in the EU and Europe as a whole, and a shift in the centre of gravity in favour of Europe, primarily Poland, the Baltic states. the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Europe’s grandees are lost in this situation. Four years ago, President of France Emmanuel Macron spoke about the need for Europe to rely on its own forces and to have its own army. A strategic compass was created as a step to strategic autonomy. He talked about NATO being braindead, in expressing his disappointment with the processes imposed from overseas. Now this talk is over. Mr Macron said at one time, it would be necessary to create a system of security in Europe with consideration for the interests of all countries, including Russia. But he was quickly rebuked by the junior members of the alliance. Everyone sees this as the normal course of events.

As for how Russia was perceived throughout these years, including the time you met with Mr Kissinger, our Western colleagues used to say that “Russia needs to know its place.” They said this with pleasure. This is an accurate observation. This “pleasure” was felt practically in the years after the USSR. First, they patted us on the shoulder in the direct and figurative sense of the word. They believed we were in the “the golden billion’s” pocket and were becoming part of the Western globalisation system. Now it is called a system of rules that must underlie the world order. We were seen as an ordinary junior partner that had the resources needed by the West and to which the West would transfer technology while preserving its position in its own coordinate system. The tune is set by the Western leaders, primarily the US and its closest allies in Europe, that have straightened their shoulders and think they have the right to dictate how Europe is developed.

A recent article by Henry Kissinger was widely commented on. We took note of his evaluations and forecasts, including the options for a final settlement. Surprisingly, no one paid attention to the line that said, “As the world’s leaders strive to end a war in which two nuclear powers contest a conventionally armed country.” It’s probably a Freudian slip, but Henry Kissinger is a wise person and never says anything for nothing.

But this is a candid statement about who is fighting against whom. We are at war with the collective West led by the United States which is a nuclear power. This war was declared years ago after the coup in Ukraine which was orchestrated by the United States and supported by the EU, and after no one planned to act on the Minsk agreements (as we now know for sure). Angela Merkel confirmed this.

Several years prior to her stepping down as chancellor, in a conversation with President Vladimir Putin, when he, for the umpteenth time, reminded her what was written in black and white about the importance of resolving special status-related issues in a direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk, Merkel said that this was a case of “constructive ambiguity.” Allegedly, Russia was overseeing things in Donbass, so it was supposed to sort things out with Kiev as well. This was not an epiphany or an attempt to jump on the Russophobic “train” that was picking up speed. It was a deeply rooted stance.

Experts from the Presidential Executive Office and the Foreign Ministry drafted an approved text of agreements that confirmed the principled provisions of the Minsk agreements for the Normandy Four summit held in Paris in December 2019. A ceasefire and the disengagement of forces along the entire line of contact was the number one provision. This was agreed upon by everyone.

When the four leaders sat down at a table in the Elysee Palace and the parties took their seats along the perimeter, President of Ukraine Zelensky said that he would not act on or sign a document on disengaging forces along the entire line of contact. The most he was willing to do was pick three pilot sites and try to see if disengagement would work there. We had our suspicions right away, but we chose to clarify the reason behind the metamorphosis occurring on the way from the consensus achieved by the experts and the destruction of this consensus at the heads of state level. The Americans sent a signal that if Zelensky were to disengage forces along the entire line of contact, the Russians would never give Donbass back.

Question: Do you know for a fact that he received this kind of advice or instruction from the United States?

Sergey Lavrov: I’m not sure about the name of the person who conveyed that. But they told him what I just said: if he disengaged the forces, he would drastically reduce his chances of taking these territories back. They wanted to take them back through military force for one, and only one, reason. They were unwilling to fulfil the Minsk agreements in part concerning the terms and conditions for restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity which were quite straightforward: the Russian language, their own local police (like the state police in the United States), and central authorities holding mandatory consultations when appointing judges and prosecutors, as well as special economic relations with neighbouring Russian regions.

The Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina has that. This is also included in an agreement on the creation of a Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo reached by Pristina and Belgrade in 2013 with lots of ceremony and EU mediation. Almost the same rights were granted to the Serbs in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, the same as in the Minsk agreements for the Russians living on the territories in question.

Zelensky refused to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity which he could do by providing to a portion of the people the rights enshrined in numerous international conventions and the constitution which still spells out the obligation of the state to ensure the rights of ethnic minorities, and the Russians are mentioned separately. Plan B has been in existence since 2019 in Paris. From time to time, certain Ukrainian leaders have let it out that the Minsk agreements were not in their interest and said military force must be used to take it back.

The Ukrainian tragedy goes back quite a while. They are now trying to cancel the portion of it that clarifies what is going on now and many other things as well. Russian culture in Ukraine has been cancelled for many years now. Laws to this end were adopted back when President Poroshenko was in office and continue to be pumped out under President Zelensky. A couple of years ago, they approved a law on the Ukrainian language as the state language. This caused alarm even at the CoE Venice Commission, the European Union, and the OSCE. But the most these venerable institutions could do at the time was tell the Ukrainians they could keep the law, but should update the applicable legislation on ethnic minorities.

A few weeks ago, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the law on ethnic minorities in the second reading. This is Ukrainian lawmaking at its best. It says that the state guarantees the rights of all minorities to the extent defined in the applicable legislation. The new law on ethnic minorities includes everything that was restricted before that (education, media and culture) as the basis for the rights that the Kiev regime is willing to grant to ethnic minorities. The Romanian leadership is in uproar. They are now talking vociferously about the need for consultations and that no one asked them what they thought. The attitude towards the Hungarians and the way Kiev treats the Hungarian minority is well known. Needless to say, Russians are treated even worse than the Hungarians.

Forgive me for digressing before taking your question. The issue is about approving or not approving the neo-colonial international order, which President Vladimir Putin spoke about. The West is covering it in a shroud of respect for its rules-based order. When this term came into use, I asked my Western colleagues (we were still talking back then) to give us a list of these rules. No wonder no one has ever given us any reference material that would show the specific rules or the code of conduct. The answer is simple. These rules mean that everyone must do as the United States says.

Remark: These rules have been put forward by the West but they were never approved by the UN.

Sergey Lavrov: They have never been approved by anyone. No one has seen them. When they first introduced this into the international discourse, we immediately raised our concern and tried to engage them in rational discussion. However, they were unwilling to do anything of the sort.

These rules were best expressed in a statement made by a professor from Stanford University, who said that the United States had to be the global policeman to save the world. In many of America’s doctrinal documents, Russia is referred to as an immediate threat. That not because we are going to attack anyone somehow but because we have challenged this world order. China is next in line. It poses the most formidable and systemic long-term challenge, and it is the only country capable of surpassing the United States in almost all areas. In terms of nuclear weapons stockpiles and the development of nuclear capabilities, Beijing will soon be on a par with Moscow and Washington.

You can look for the answer to the question about the possibility of escalation in various statements and analyses by political scientists.  The Russian authorities have not voiced an intention to take an escalation-based approach. We are committed to ensuring that the special military operation’s objectives are achieved. As President Vladimir Putin said, our indisputable priority is the four new regions of the Russian Federation. An end must be put to the threat of Nazification they have been exposed to for many years. We need to ensure security for all people living there, and their rights must be respected.

Another very important objective is to ensure that no threats to our security are created or remain on the Ukrainian territory. Now they say that the West did not try to urge Ukraine to engage in military action against Russia, however, I regard oppressing Russian-speaking people in Ukraine to be genuine aggression.

Question: I would like to clarify one issue. When you talk about the four regions, do you refer to their administrative borders or the part of their territory, as of today, that Russia has brought under its control?

Sergey Lavrov:  No, I am talking about the borders of these regions as part of the Russian Federation, in keeping with our country’s Constitution. It is an obvious thing.

Question: Do you mean that Russia needs to liberate these regions?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course. It is required by the public vote held in each of the four regions. This happened long ago in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, while in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions it was in autumn 2022.

Question: What you expect to achieve by the end of the negotiating process, or the recognition of this fact by Ukraine – are these prerequisites for launching the talks?

Sergey Lavrov: President of Russia Vladimir Putin has said many times that we never reject any proposal to achieve diplomatic agreements. The terms on which we agree to discuss them are well known. The fact that four territories belong to the Russian Federation is an indispensable condition for talks. But this is not all that must be discussed.

The second large block of problems, in addition to the destinies of the people who do not want to live under the current regime with its open Nazi and racist views is the security of the Russian Federation that has been subjected to numerous threats created on Ukrainian territory. Now some people are saying that this is not at all the case, that these exercises in Ukraine, including in the Black Sea, were “military cooperation for peaceful purposes.” The territory of Ukraine was actively developed. There were plans (we are aware of these as well) to establish a naval base in the Sea of Azov. You know that at that time this was a sea of two states. The construction of an Anglo-Saxon naval base would have radically changed the security situation. In the same way, there were plans to create a military base in then Ukrainian Crimea before the coup and the referendum in order to neutralise our capabilities in the Black Sea.

We do not launch spontaneous, offensive or striking operations unlike Ukraine. As a rule, Ukraine does this regardless of its losses. Its main goal is to produce a media effect there and then. The West would have continued to endlessly extoll its current leaders as representatives of genuine democracy. Vladimir Zelensky would be portrayed as a hero of the times, and he should have everything he wants for this reason. Yet, his requests are sometimes rejected. There are smart people in the West, who understand that these people and this regime should not be given some categories of arms.

“Anonymous specialists from the Pentagon have said more than once that they don’t have the right to prohibit Zelensky from striking the territories that are internationally recognised as part of Ukraine, including Crimea. There is some anonymous but credible evidence that American specialists were directly involved in modernising multiple launch rocket systems to extend their range to 1,000 kilometres. Nobody hides the fact that information from military and civil satellites belonging to US owners are actively used in real time for adjusting fire. US specialists are directly involved in targeting. We asked the Americans through the channels our Embassy still has, whether a decision to transfer a Patriot battery means the presence of US experts, considering the expertise needed to use it. We were given a lengthy explanation that this was not planned because the US didn’t want to and would not fight against Russia directly. It will take several months to prepare the Patriots for action, until the Ukrainian military master this technology. But there are dozens and maybe even hundreds of American military personnel there, and they were in Ukraine even before the coup. CIA employees occupied at least one floor in the Ukraine Security Service building. Now they have a big military attaché office. Obviously, military experts are not just visiting the Defence Ministry of Ukraine. They are giving direct consultative services (and probably doing more than that). There is also a group of specialists that (as the Pentagon explained in the US Congress) have controlled how American weapons were being used for months now. So, when some members of Congress tried to demand the creation of a special mechanism for this purpose, the Pentagon reassured them that they were monitoring all this. This is a rather interesting situation. There are many facts indicating that Western weapons are surfacing in Europe (maybe now in other regions as well). I asked my staff to make an open source compilation to show our interlocutors what is being swept under the rug at this point.

We are in no hurry. President of Russia Vladimir Putin talked about this. We would like to finish, as soon as possible, the war the West was preparing for and eventually unleashed against us through Ukraine. Our priority is the lives of the soldiers and civilians that remain in the zone of hostilities. We are patient people. We will defend our compatriots, citizens and lands that belonged to Russia for centuries, proceeding from these priorities.

Question:  You quite rightly said that the West is waging a war against us through Ukraine and not only. The West and the United States hypocritically claim (since they are not officially sending their troops to openly fight against Russia on Ukrainian territory) that they are not a party to this conflict. Therefore, without fear of a third world war, including a nuclear one, they can send Ukraine any type of weapons, provide them with intelligence and advise on the battlefield. We can see that both the number and quality of weapons the West provides to Ukraine is growing. The West is overcoming its own taboos established several months ago.

What is Russia doing and what will it do in 2023 to convince the West to abandon this dangerous logic and stop this trend?

Sergey Lavrov:  I believe that we must continue our policy outlined by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the ground to strengthen our capabilities, both technologically and from the viewpoint of military personnel who, after the partial mobilisation, have undergone serious training. A significant part of them is already there but most are not on the frontline where professionals, contract soldiers are fighting. A significant part of them is in reserve.

We will continue to strengthen our deployment. This decision was made in September 2022. The commander of the joint force was appointed. We are engaged in actions that will allow us to operate much more effectively in these territories in the very near future. I have no doubts about this.

We also pay attention to what you said – pumping Ukraine with large quantities of advanced Western weapons. I follow the discussion in our society, and on your programme, and in other political circles and formats.

Retired military professionals say that the supply of Western weapons needs to be cut off. I mean railways, bridges and tunnels. I believe this issue cannot be ignored by professionals. They have been paying attention to it for quite some time. They are responsible for taking professional decisions on the methods of obstructing and, ideally, blocking these supplies. One such method has been used and is still being used, which is inflicting damage on infrastructure, including energy infrastructure that enables the supply of these weapons. I believe there are also other plans for achieving the same objective.

We have scarce opportunities for talking to the West now. There is no particular desire to do this when you read statements by foreign ministers, prime ministers or presidents about the need to address the issue of security of Europe to protect it against Russia. They used to say “without Russia” and now they say “against Russia.” The idea of French President Emmanuel Macron to create a European political community boils down, roughly speaking, to the OSCE without Russia and Belarus. This was proposed by a man who a bit later said it was important to stay open to opportunities for building security institutions with Russia. Yet, the European political community will be gaining in strength. They have scheduled a regular summit for spring and are trying to drag all our neighbours, except Belarus, into it.

Considering this, we have no particular desire to talk to the West. When a concrete situation emerges where the West openly commits unlawful actions, then we ask questions. According to recent reports, Greece plans to transfer its S-300 missile systems to Ukraine. We asked our ambassador to contact the Greek Foreign Ministry and Defence Ministry and remind them that the systems in question had been transferred to Greece. You might remember that they had to be delivered to Cyprus but the West did all it could to not allow this to happen, given the insularity of Cyprus and it not being a NATO member. As a result, a compromise was reached that suited everyone. Greece bought this system. Under the contract for this deal, Greece may not transfer missiles to anyone without our approval. We reminded the Greeks about this. They said they remembered their obligations. We are closely following things like this, all the more so as the same provision prohibiting the transfer of our weapons to anyone applies to the majority of weapons in Eastern Europe – the member countries of the former Warsaw Treaty – where they were produced under licence. We need to be on our guard. Many unlawful actions are being committed under the slogan “Let’s Save Ukraine,” because “Ukraine Is Europe” and “Europe Is Ukraine.”

Question: Is the United States mistaken in thinking that it is safe, need not worry about any escalation or a direct armed clash with Russia and can render any and all military assistance to Ukraine until it enters a direct war against Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: President of Russia Vladimir Putin spoke about this at the recent expanded meeting of the Defence Ministry Board. He formulated our position as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief (I won’t add anything to it) on the new systems of our Navy, which have been put into operation now.

Question: Dimitri Simes started our conversation by saying that the West has closed ranks. I think the outgoing year has revealed an even more important trend. This is the formation of a global majority – the countries of the East and South, which do not accept Western hegemony and refused to side with the West against Russia. I perceive this year as the moment of truth in relations with the West and with non-West. Will our turn to the global majority be a strategic rather than opportunistic trend in Russian foreign policy that will be preserved and strengthened in 2023? What will Russia do in 2023 to promote its ties to the global majority and its role in world affairs?

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with those analysts reviewing the outgoing year who note that the discord between the West that claims hegemony and control over compliance with “its rules” everywhere, on the one hand, and the global majority, on the other, is an objective phenomenon. It was brewing and would have come to the surface eventually. We could no longer tolerate how Russians were being humiliated in Ukraine and how threats to our security were created there. We launched the special military operation that served as a catalyst and sharply accelerated this process.

It seems to me that after sanctions imposed on Russia following the coup against it and after the Crimean referendum, the majority of non-Western states had already realised that the system they were in with other countries was unreliable. This is a system of international currency, finance, globalisation, logistics chains, insurance for international shipments, freight rates and technological products that are produced by a handful of states. This applies to the same conductors on which the Americans are now trying to impose a veto. They have sanctioned Chinese companies that produce conductors in an obvious bid to slow down the development of the PRC. Everything happened much faster.

Many countries had to make a choice then and there. It was probably difficult, considering how deeply they were intertwined in the globalisation system. It was created by the Americans and discredited by them because Washington proved to be an unreliable curator and operator of this system.

Yes, we have heard the Chinese authorities saying that they are against hegemony and for building a fair world order, and the Indian authorities saying that they will be guided by the interests of India and that it is useless trying to convince them to abandon their national interests in favour of American geopolitical interests. Türkiye and Algeria, as well as Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil have not joined the sanctions either. The emergence of a new world order will certainly gain momentum and is already gaining momentum. It will objectively be a whole historical era.

I noticed that somebody said during one of your shows that globalisation is giving way to regionalisation, and that there will be several large blocks formed around regional leaders. These blocks will create the instruments and mechanisms that replace globalisation instruments and mechanisms that are being abused by those who created them. The debate focused on whether the United States was aware of that process. Somebody said that it was and that the Americans would like to accelerate the regionalisation of the global economy and international relations in general. However, China, which is also aware of the importance of regionalisation and is not against regionalisation as such, is creating its own instruments and structures but would like this process to take as much time as possible.

I thought that it was an interesting opinion. It should be carefully analysed. If the Americans really wanted to accelerate regionalisation, they would have wanted to agree on the terms as much as possible and as soon as possible. The sooner you negotiate and come to certain terms, the better the chance that you will preserve the instruments you have been using globally.

There is no doubt that the process is underway. And the choice is not between the global majority and the West; we will choose those who are reliable partners and honour agreements, who hold a promise when it comes to long-term projects and will not only look for short-term benefits.

I discussed this with my American colleagues back when we had channels for a regular dialogue. Many officials in the US administration admitted at the beginning of the pandemic that democracy as it is understood in the West has its limitations and that there are certain advantages in the system which the Americans describe as autocracy. Ultimately, autocracy is a centralised state with a strong vertical system of power, which can quickly take decisions that are implemented throughout the national territory. If we compare how different countries dealt with Covid-19, we will see that there are advantages in both systems. Our Chinese comrades have ultimately admitted that their decision to completely close off the country was not entirely correct, because it prevented the development of herd immunity. They are working now to rectify their mistake. However, the United States had the largest number of Covid cases by far.

I discussed the matter with former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. I asked if presidential and parliamentary election campaigns, held every two years, interfered with governing their vast, great and diverse country, even though it is a melting pot that turns all its citizens into Americans. She said that they did. They have a cumbersome system, but this is their problem, and they know how to address it. However, this has also become a problem for the rest of the world, because the Americans need to invent an external problem, threat or goal for every election campaign. Given the US weight on the international stage, global processes become hostage to and are strongly influenced by the Americans’ discussions of domestic issues and political infighting. Autocratic states, as defined by the United States, with a centralised system of government at least have the advantage of a more predictable horizon, like in China. One can argue if it does or does not comply with the principles of democracy, but who said that American democracy is the best form of government?

Winston Churchill could have been right, in part, when he said that “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” The world is changing, and we can still see something new invented in this domain.

Question: They ascribe another interesting statement to Winston Churchill, who reportedly said: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” I would like to say that anyone who wants to comprehend how wrong US democracy is should talk to an average member of the US Congress, and much will become clear.

Several days ago, you said that, according to the US media, including The New York Times, some people in the Biden administration are seriously thinking about launching a pre-emptive strike against the top Russian leadership. I called Washington and spoke with two people in the US administration on condition of anonymity.

Sergey Lavrov: I also quoted an anonymous source.

Question: They said that they could not vouch for all officials of the large US administration, but that, of course, there are no plans to hit the top Russian leadership, and that there can be no such plans. Do you believe, on the basis of what you know, that someone with real authority in Washington is planning a strike against the Russian leadership?

And my second question. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan have repeatedly said that Washington is warning Russia that it should not go down a certain road because this would cause the most serious repercussions. Would you like to use this opportunity and to tell the US administration what would happen if someone tried to conduct such a strike?

Sergey Lavrov: I quoted an anonymous source, but, unlike you, I don’t know him (you know your anonymous sources). I know that they called him a high-ranking source.

Question: Did The New York Times advertise him?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes.

Question: Does this mean that The New York Times took him seriously?

Sergey Lavrov: We are used to thinking that it is serious journalism. Although there are more and more indications that this is not always so, we, nevertheless, stick to this concept. I would like to deliberately exaggerate this anonymous leak because this source (he or she or it, using the current politically correct language) said that such a threat had been voiced and that, in principle, the Kremlin should not feel safe. The source said something along these lines. There was nothing specifically about Vladimir Putin, but everything was clear. I decided to deliberately emphasise this statement, made against the backdrop of constantly chattering talking heads who can obviously do nothing else but talk, but they aren’t very good at thinking. Alexey Danilov from Kiev, for example …

Question: National Security and Defence Council Secretary Alexey Danilov.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, he is a great expert on foreign affairs. There is also Mikhail Podolyak …

Question: An adviser to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.

Sergey Lavrov: Every day, they say that they will take back Crimea, and that the Kremlin should know that they will reach it and drop their bombs there.

The US administration did not respond in any way to a similar but slightly less vulgar statement by an anonymous source in Washington. Journalists did not ask White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre what they think about this at a briefing. When they asked about Crimea, an anonymous Pentagon source said that they could not forbid the Ukrainians from using their armed forces against a territory they consider to be part of Ukraine. This highlights a serious change in their position.

In April 2014, after the coup and the referendum in Crimea (I have already talked about it, it is not a secret), we gathered in Geneva ‒ US Secretary of State John Kerry, myself, EU’s leading diplomat Catherine Ashton and Andrey Deshchitsa, who acted as a foreign policy curator for the putschists. We sat down and discussed a one-page document that included, as the main statement, support of Ukraine’s federalisation and the start of the process involving all Ukrainian regions. It was a completely natural development for the EU delegate and John Kerry. The paper was still there later; however, it did not gain any status either. Concurrently, John Kerry and I had lengthy bilateral conversations. During one of them, he said that they were well aware of the fact that Crimeans’ choice was sincere and there was no doubt about it. And yet, that choice had to be formalised, through another referendum, with invited representatives from the OSCE, the UN and others. The first referendum had been conducted in haste. I explained to him that the rush was due to the fact that the putschists had thrown their “friendship trains” at Crimea, with armed militants, the Right Sector and other neo-Nazi ultra-radical groups that stormed the Supreme Council of Crimea. The local population did not want to wait for another aggressive provocation.

US President Joe Biden keeps saying that Ukraine must win in order to prevent the third world war. He said something to that effect only recently. I don’t understand this kind of reasoning because first, he says they will not directly confront Russia otherwise it will trigger world war three and later, he adds that Ukraine must win to prevent the world war. We don’t have a dialogue channel. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley occasionally calls Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov. US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin has spoken to our Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu maybe a couple of times. That is all good and helpful. But it comes down to us having to be careful.

Question: Back when Hillary Clinton was US Secretary of State, she formulated the underlying principle of American diplomacy, which remains in effect to this day – the United States “can walk and chew gum at the same time.” In this case, if applied to US-Russian relations, it means the United States is containing Russia, providing all-out support to Ukraine and trying to help Ukraine “defeat Russia on the battlefield,” while at the same time it wants to discuss with Russia issues that are of interest to them. Now they are interested in talking with Russia about the resumption of START-3 inspections at nuclear facilities. The United States argues that we are both nuclear superpowers and the inspections are essential for strategic stability. In my opinion, this is very hypocritical. I see the main threat to strategic stability in the hybrid war that the United States is waging against us, not in inspections or a lack thereof. In any case, do you think we need this? True, it is one of the opportunities for dialogue with the United States; but in the context the United States is proposing, should we agree?

Sergey Lavrov: When I was young, I was perfectly comfortable walking and chewing gum at the same time. This is an American metaphor. But we use other idioms, including “the cat would eat fish but not wet her feet.”

You are absolutely right. They are interested in the resumption of inspections. Naturally, we are analysing the situation. According to our assessment, they need this to be able to know what to expect “just in case” – for all the mantras about nuclear war being unacceptable, and we are still one hundred percent committed to this. We recently reaffirmed our commitment in a special statement. I am referring to the Russia-initiated statements by the five nuclear states that there could be no winners in a nuclear war and no such war should ever be started. In June 2021, at Russia’s initiative, presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin at the summit updated and reaffirmed the statements signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s.

They want to do these inspections. They send signals to us; we receive calls from representatives of the National Security Council who want to resume everything. We quote the treaty to them – exactly in the vein of your assessment that stability is not ensured by inspections. The preamble to this treaty says that the Russian Federation and the United States, will be working “to forge a new strategic relationship based on mutual trust, openness, predictability, and cooperation.” All of the above has been derailed by the United States. They have as good as labelled Russia an enemy. There is no trust, and they say so directly to us.

In the preamble, the parties also recognise the existence of the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms. And that was the farthest the Americans were willing to go to signal their understanding of our concerns about their missile defence plans, plans to create a global missile defence system. Well in any case, this interrelationship is enshrined in the treaty. Even in the previous period, before the current events, we highlighted that connection during consultations on the treaty’s implementation. The treaty further adds that this interrelationship will become more important as strategic nuclear arms are reduced. They said, it is just the preamble. We pointed out that after ratifying the treaty, our State Duma issued a statement that the treaty could not have been ratified unless it mentioned the close inseparable interrelationship between offensive and defensive strategic arms. This is not “just a preamble” to something unimportant; it is a legal fact. Of course, they are violating this obligation. A global missile defence system is being built along the perimeter of Russian and Chinese borders. All this “not to worry, it’s all against Iran and North Korea” talk is a thing of the past. Nobody remembers this anymore. It is openly declared that the anti-missile systems are there to “deter” Russia and China.

In this situation, if the only important part they see in this treaty is “you let us come and see,” this is not too fair. From a technical point of view, the sanctions have seriously hampered our ability to carry out cross inspections. Even if Russia is (hypothetically) given permission for aircraft to fly across all the countries on the way to Geneva, the members of the delegation and the crews, as we have found, will have problems paying for their hotel, food, and refuelling of the aircraft. None of this can be guaranteed. “Let’s just resume the inspections, and then we will solve things as we go.” The technical side is treated like a minor, even immaterial issue.

A strategically important issue is that they have undermined all the foundations this treaty relied on. Despite that, as we spelled this all out to our American colleagues, we said that we were fully committed to our obligations under the treaty as long as they could be implemented on an equal footing: we will provide them with the information as required by the treaty in a timely and complete manner and will send appropriate notices.

Question: Continuing the theme of real threats to strategic stability, Joe Biden said Ukraine must win on the battlefield to prevent a third world war. What do you think the US will do when Ukraine loses on the battlefield? This seems inevitable to me. They have convinced themselves that this war is not only (and not so much) for Ukraine, but for American leadership, for the notorious “rules-based international order,” that is for American hegemony. What will they do when Ukraine loses?

Sergey Lavrov: Your question has cornered me. I usually try to think before I say something. Even so, I let things slip sometimes, I confess. When a person says such things, they probably have something up their sleeve; if they really mean what they say, that is.

There is increasing talk on the need to start negotiating. But then Russia is accused of refusing, while President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated that there have been no serious proposals.

The Istanbul episode clearly showed that Ukraine was immediately scolded then: “Too early. You haven’t yet exhausted Russia to the point the United States would deem acceptable.” Now they don’t even blink when saying Kiev is “ready” to talk and Russia isn’t, amid Kiev’s declarations that Ukraine will never sit down at the negotiating table until they have their “native Ukrainian-Crimean” land and others back, until Russia “capitulates,” and pays “reparations.” Only then will we be accepted into some new “party.” After a tribunal, naturally. And in February 2023, they will put together some new ranks. It will be interesting to see.

Most processes have long been taken outside the UN framework. The French and the Germans have created some new platforms on international humanitarian law. Then they created an EU-led Alliance for Multilateralism. When asked why they couldn’t do this at the UN, a format as multilateral as possible, they said the old members were retrogrades, while they were progressive multilateralists.

Joe Biden later convened the Summit for Democracy, assuming the right to decide which democracy is more democratic. The criterion for being a democracy in the American interpretation is not just being loyal to the United States, but to the US Democratic Party. Linguistically understandable. Then came the European Political Community forum. The US recently hosted a US-Africa Summit. Unlike us, (Russia invited every African country to the first such summit and to the second one in mid-2023), the Americans themselves decided what Africa was, as a geographical concept. Six or seven countries were left out, because the governments were not “legitimate” enough, i.e., not appointed through elections. At the same time, the Ukrainian government came to power as a result of a bloody coup.

Question: As someone who has just arrived from Washington, I can argue with you. If the Biden administration decided that a country is not part of Africa, then it isn’t, full stop. You are challenging the basic premise. If someone has made a decision that a certain country is not part of Africa, why does Moscow object?

Sergey Lavrov: I’d like to finish the list of their bizarre manipulations with the possibility of creating another security forum excluding Russia. Vladimir Zelensky has put forward a 10-point plan, and Dmitry Kuleba is already appointing supervisors from the Western camp for each of the ten points. They will start handing out instructions soon.

Question: Let’s get back to Henry Kissinger. Many years ago he wrote that leaders rarely lie to each other. Things are different in public diplomacy, where telling the truth and nothing but the truth in dealings with the counterparty is not something that diplomats are expected to do. When leaders talk to each other, though, they don’t usually lie to each other, because they know they will have to deal with each other again and minimal trust is a bedrock principle of diplomacy.

Now, it appears that we have arrived at a point where trust is nonexistent, and Washington and Brussels are bragging about the fact that there is no trust in relations with Russia and cannot be any. Things that were discussed during talks with the President or with you are made public. They say warnings were issued during the Georgia crisis of 2008 to the effect that it was necessary to get Mikheil Saakashvili “out of the way.” Remarks are being ascribed to President Putin and you which (as it turned out later) you never made.

I have a question for you: how are you supposed to deal with your former US colleagues in these circumstances? For better or worse, the United States remains a great power, and you have to deal with them in order to maintain token public dialogues and a confidential dialogue that is still ongoing. What do you wish for in this regard? Not a rhetorical wish, but a serious wish to policymakers in Washington, so that a serious dialogue could start in the new year?

Sergey Lavrov: We are not going to make any wishes with regard to the dialogue. They are well aware of the fact that it was not us who broke off the dialogue. We are not going to ask them to resume it. That’s not who we are. We respond only to sensible offers when we receive an offer to meet.

There were several informal proposals during this period. Each time we agreed to meet. One of them materialised when Director of the Central Intelligence Agency William Burns met with Head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin in Ankara. The meeting was supposed to be confidential, but every piece of information under discussion was leaked to the public domain. Few things are kept secret these days, although we always try to keep up our end of the deal. More attempts were made to set up a meeting which also included references to Washington-issued instructions. We never said no. But eventually these attempts tapered off.

My wish is for them to be a little more democratic, not in the way they understand it, but in the way it is understood in the international arena. When we are talking about democratising international relations, we are not talking about some supernatural or breakthrough approaches. We are talking about the importance of having these relations rely on the UN Charter, according to which the UN is based on the sovereign equality of states. There’s no need for anything other than that. All we need to do is act in line with this commitment, which the United States (in conjunction with Russia) wrote with its own hands in this fundamental document. Otherwise, they feel entitled (I cited these examples and everyone is aware of them) to suddenly decide that the security of the United States has deteriorated abruptly or seriously depends on what is going on in Yugoslavia; or, someone suddenly begins to suspect Saddam Hussein of doing some kind of research in the field of WMD; or Muammar Gaddafi is all of a sudden not “good” enough or maybe knows too much about funding a presidential campaign in France in a given year. That is all they need to get going. An expeditionary force is then sent to a country lying 10,000 miles away from the United States. They levelled Libya. Now they are trying to put it back together again. Just like the Americans insisted at some point that Sudan must be divided into two parts. Then they started complaining that neither part is listening to them. Now, they demand that sanctions should be imposed against Sudan and South Sudan and are, in fact, imposing them.

Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in Iraq and cities were razed to the ground. No weapons were found. Tony Blair in his memoirs said that they made a mistake, but it can happen to anyone. All of that was done to the countries located on the other side of the ocean. I’m not even talking about the reasons the Americans came up with for intervening the Dominican Republic or Grenada. President Reagan was talking about a threat to the lives of US citizens. Just a threat. There were thousands of Americans there. They invade countries, topple governments, etc.

In our case with the Russians and the Russian-speaking people in Ukraine, their rights, language, education, media and culture were trampled on under the law. Then, there was the coup. The putschists then said that the Russian language must be banned and outlawed, and Russians should be driven out of Crimea. We went ahead and signed the Minsk agreements, which covered a small portion of the territories that are now under dispute. Not a single law was adopted in Ukraine under President Poroshenko or President Zelensky without the United States providing strong advice. Nothing would have happened if the West, primarily the United States, had complied with these overall simple agreements. There would have been no putsch or the coup if the Germans, French and Poles, who acted as guarantors of the deal signed by President Yanukovych and the opposition, had insisted on the putschists ending this mayhem and following up on the agreement. There would have been elections there five to six months down the road and the opposition would have won. Things were clear. Why did they have to do it? I have only one answer to that question. If this were the case, the theory put forward by Zbigniew Brzezinski would have come under revision and risk. Then, provided that the existing agreements were fulfilled, and everything remained within the 1991 borders, this would have created an environment for Russia and Ukraine to maintain good relations (it’s a fantasy, but I think it’s not far from the truth).

What they did instead was put Russophobes in place, break the deal with President Yanukovych and start doing what they keep doing now, namely, legitimising the Nazi theory and promoting Nazi practices via battalions into everyday life.

When US Congress was approving the US military budget, as it does every year, they imposed a ban on any kind of help, including military and financial, to Azov. Each time, the Pentagon objects to this and pushes for having this ban removed from the US budget. This speaks volumes.

Question: What is your forecast for the next year? I am not asking you to fantasise, it is not what a minister should do. Just what you can share in terms of your own expectations.

Sergey Lavrov: We must always be realistic. I am not a pessimist, although they say that a pessimist is simply a well-informed optimist. As for the glass, whether it is half full or half empty – it is also important which liquid is there.

My expectations are realistic. I am confident that with our resilience, patience and sense of purpose, we will defend the noble goals that are crucially important for our people and our country. We will do it consistently, while remaining ready for an equal dialogue and agreements that will ensure a truly equitable and indivisible security in Europe.

This includes respect for Russia’s interests. It is not something we have made up and now demand to be implemented. It is what all Western leaders put their names to in Istanbul in 1999 and in Astana in 2010, and also in the Russia-NATO Council documents. What they told us was untrue, to put it diplomatically.

December 30, 2022 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iranian tanker formerly impounded by Greece docks in Syria

The Cradle | December 3, 2022

The Lana, an Iranian crude oil tanker impounded by Greece and whose contents were illegally seized by the US earlier this year, delivered an estimated 700,000 barrels of oil to the Syrian port of Baniyas on 2 December, Reuters reported, citing a satellite tracking agency.

The oil delivery marks the end of a period of uncertainty regarding the fate of the shipment onboard the Lana tanker.

Greece’s impounding of the ship and the US seizure of its oil cargo took place in May of this year and was immediately condemned by Iranian authorities as an illegal act of ‘maritime piracy.’ In response, Iran seized two Greek tankers that same month, retaliating to the coordinated theft of its oil by Greece and the US. Tehran eventually released the Greek tankers on 16 November.

While part of the oil cargo was initially meant to be diverted to the US by the Ice Energy ship chartered by Washington, a Greek court ruled to return the oil to Iran in June.

The oil delivery to Syria comes as the country is facing severe fuel shortages due to the US occupation and looting of its oil fields. The oil looted by the US is smuggled out of Syria in massive quantities.

Lately, Turkish bombardments against the country’s energy facilities have also exacerbated the crisis.

According to data from the US-based United Against a Nuclear Iran lobby group, Syria received around 1.39 million barrels of oil from Iran in November alone. These oil shipments alleviate Syria’s crisis and improve Iran’s standing as an energy exporter – a role that it has been working hard to expand despite the sanctions imposed by Washington.

As the west fights to survive the man-made energy crisis and the ramifications of the Ukraine war, Iran has been attempting to build a strong economy based on mutual cooperation aimed at circumventing the sanctions against it.

December 3, 2022 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Protesters rally near derailed train with NATO hardware

RT | December 3, 2022

A group of Greek protesters gathered near a train carrying NATO equipment that derailed on Friday. The demonstrators were rallying against the presence of US military bases in Greece and the involvement of Western countries in the Ukraine conflict.

The train went off the tracks near the port of Alexandroupolis in northeastern Greece. According to local media, it was heading to the Balkan and Baltic states as part of NATO’s campaign to ramp up defenses against Russia.

It was transporting tanks, armored vehicles, and a number of containers.

The accident happened when the train was moving at a slow speed, and a wheel on one car leaned to the side due to the heavy cargo and slipped off the track, local media reported. Following the accident, cranes and other equipment were moved in to salvage the military hardware. There have been no reports of any injuries or damage to the equipment.

According to footage posted to social media, roughly a dozen people held a protest close to the train. The participants cried out a slogan: “Alexandroupolis is the port of the people, not the stronghold of the imperialists.”

“No participation in the war in Ukraine“ and “let the military bases and the Americans get out,” they said.

In May of this year, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias claimed that the port of Alexandroupolis would play a crucial role in supporting the US military presence in the country. Moreover, amid the Ukraine conflict, the city has become a key hub for US forces, who have been using it to deliver war material. In August, The New York Times reported, citing unnamed US officials, that the equipment was meant solely for use by American units on NATO territory, and not for Ukraine.

The new demonstration comes after this past spring Greek railway workers refused to transport US and NATO armored vehicles from Alexandroupolis to the borders of Ukraine, with several activists throwing red paint on the Western equipment.

December 3, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Iran confirms it released Greek tankers after Athens did same

Press TV – November 16, 2022

Iran has confirmed reports it released two Greek-flagged tankers that had been confiscated in the country’s waters in the Persian Gulf in May after an Iranian-flagged tanker was allowed to leave Greece.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said the Greek tankers had left Iranian waters earlier in the day based on an understanding reached between maritime authorities of Iran and Greece.

The statement indicated that Iranian-flagged tanker Lana had set sail from Greece hours earlier and seven months after it was seized in the country because of US pressure.

Tanker tracking services said on Wednesday that Lana was underway from Greece and Istanbul was listed as its destination.

Data from those services showed Greek tankers Delta Poseidon and Prudent Warrior were underway from Iran and were sailing to ports in the United Arab Emirates for inspections before returning to Greece.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said in its statement that Iranian and Greek maritime authorities had signed a memorandum of understanding to increase their cooperation in order to improve maritime security.

It said the agreement came following months of intensive negotiations between the two countries and allowed the confiscated vessels to leave on the same day.

The statement highlighted the fact that the United States had sought to confiscate an oil cargo on Lana under false accusations that it violated the unilateral American sanctions on Iran.

It described the move as a piracy and said it was in line with previous US attempts to confiscate Iranian oil in international or territorial waters.

November 17, 2022 Posted by | Economics, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Former Greek soccer player Vassilis Tsiartas is sentenced over Facebook post accused of being transphobic

By Cindy Harper | Reclaim The Net | November 10, 2022

Former Greek soccer player Vassilis Tsiartas was fined 5,000 euro ($5,008) and given a 10-month suspended prison sentence for criticizing the legalization of gender transition surgery in children.

Tsiartas was taken to court by the Transgender Support Association, which accused him of violating a law against “racism” that contains provisions against inciting violence or hatred based on gender ideology.

In 2017, responding to a law legalizing gender identity, the former soccer player posted on  that he hoped “the first sex changes are carried out on the children of those who ratified this abomination.” He added, “Legitimize pedophiles too, to complete the crimes.”

Tsiartas is the first person to be convicted under the law against incitement to violence or hatred. The Transgender Support Association called the conviction “particularly important for the transgender community.” It added that it will continue fighting “all forms of intolerance, racism, and incitement to discrimination, hatred, and violence.”

The LGBT group also wants to “fully safeguard the human rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ and especially transgender people in every sector of the public and private sphere.”

Tsiartas plans to appeal the ruling, according to the Greek Reporter.

November 10, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

US is Trying to Drive Erdogan into a Corner – but Without Success

By Vladimir Platov – New Eastern Outlook – 23.07.2022

Joe Biden’s administration is currently losing on all its foreign policy fronts, but he is still hoping for success, if nowhere else, in his confrontation with the Turkish leader Recep Erdoğan, so that he can demonstrate to the world and the US public, that there is still some “gunpowder left in the barrel.” This consideration took on a special importance for Joe Biden and his team in the days leading up to the US President’s Middle East trip, which promised little chance of victory for the White House. Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia did, in fact, turn out to be a total failure – it did nothing to improve his image and yielded no positive results either in terms of oil deals or in terms of reining in Russia’s influence in the region. In view of this failure, Washington needed to find a scapegoat, and picked on Recep Erdoğan.

The White House has realized that getting rid of the Turkish president, as it had hoped, is not going to be an easy matter, and has therefore stepped up its machinations in a bid to entrap him. One of its tactics was to inflame tensions between Turkey and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean. Relations between the two countries are not easy at the moment, given Turkey’s demands for Athens to demilitarize certain Aegean islands near the Turkish border and its challenges to Greece’s sovereignty over these islands. At the end of June Recep Erdoğan took the rather undiplomatic approach of publishing threatening tweets in Greek, demanding that Greece give up its territorial claims in the Aegean Sea, and referring to the 1919-1922 war between the two countries: “We warn Greece once more to avoid dreams, statements and actions that will lead to regret, as it did a century ago… .” He also warned Turkey will “not hesitate to enact rights recognized by international agreements on the demilitarization of the islands.” In a later tweet he accused Greece of “oppressing” the Turkish minorities in Western Thrace, Rhodes, and Kos, and supporting international terrorism, a reference to Athens’ relations with the Kurds. Greece, in turn, accuses Turkey of violating Greek airspace, and of carrying out illegal hydrocarbon exploration activities off the coast of Cyprus – a region that, Greece claims, falls within its exclusive economic area.

Over the last 200 years there have been numerous wars between Greece and Turkey – the Greek War of Independence in 1821-1829, and subsequent conflicts in 1897, 1912–1913, 1919–1922, and, in Cyprus, 1974. But Greece was only able to win with support from powerful allies, including Russia. Currently, however, as one of the key supporters of the West’s sanctions against Russia, Greece cannot rely on support from Moscow. Athens is unlikely to get much support from the US either, as recent years have seen a marked shift in Washington’s attitude to its vassal states and even to its obligations under international agreements. Washington’s recent decision to support Greece rather than Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean region is a striking example of such a change.

As for the relative strengths of the Greek and Turkish militaries, here Athens clearly lags behind Istanbul – the Greek army may be large, but due to lack of funding its weaponry is very out of date and its troops are poorly trained. Turkey, on the other hand, has the second most powerful military in NATO, after the US.

The standoff between Greece and Turkey, both members of NATO, has been going on for a long time, but it has intensified in recent years as relations between Washington and Turkey have deteriorated and Greece has replaced Turkey as the main US ally in the region. The new military alliance in the Eastern Mediterranean was recently formalized by an agreement between the two countries on long-term military support, under which Greece will host additional four US military bases.

Washington was perhaps hoping that the heightened tensions with Greece will encourage domestic opposition to Recep Erdoğan’s policies, but the effect has in fact been quite the opposite – the Turkish public have rallied round their president. On June 20 the Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet published an article by Mehmet Ali Guler, calling on Turkey to “sever ties with NATO” and looking at how its departure from the alliance might affect the balance of powers in the region. And, according to the Greek newspaper Vima, citing an interview with the commentator Erdoğan Karakuş for the Turkish television channel Haber Global, there have even been belligerent calls within Turkey for the country to “attack the US” if the latter were to provide assistance to Greece.

Well aware of Turkey’s need to update its Air Force, Washington is making use of the situation to put pressure on Ankara. Thus, even though following the meeting between Joe Biden and Recep Erdoğan in Madrid earlier this year Congress approved the supply of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, Washington has recently made the supply conditional on Turkey demonstrating its willingness to toe the White House policy line. First, a group of US Congressmen signed a statement objecting to the sale of the jets to Turkey. And then Washington required Ankara to break off its relations with Russia as a precondition for the supply of the jets. It appears that the US is only ready to sell its military hardware to countries that share its values. According to a report from the Greek press agency AMNA, that was the stance taken by Senator Robert Menendez, Chair of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee.

The US House of Representatives has also obstructed the sale, by approving an amendment to the defense budget preventing the US from transferring the jets to Turkey unless the Turkish government guarantees that they will not be used in order to violate Greek airspace.

In response to these moves, Turkey reiterated its support for Recep Erdoğan’s policies, making no secret of the fact that anti-American sentiments are growing in the country. For example, according to the Turkish newspaper Aydınlık, Doğu Perinçek, President of the Vatan Partisi, or Patriotic Party, called on the Turkish government to cancel its order for the F-16s on national security grounds.

Given the above background, it is interesting to speculate about the content of the private meeting between Recep Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 19. Especially since Russian military aircraft have demonstrated their clear superiority of US jets both in Syria and in Ukraine. Moreover, Turkey and Russia have in recent months been stepping up their cooperation on defense industry projects, and, in an interview published in Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper last December, Ismail Demir, President of Turkey’s Defense Industries, stated that the two countries may work together on the development of Turkish TF-X jets. Unlike the US, Russia will not impose any conditions on Turkey that go against its interests, nor will it push the Turkish Air Force into a corner by refusing to service its aircraft when Turkey most needs them, as the US is quite capable of doing should its strategic interests so require.

July 23, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

All of Greece turned into ‘huge US base,’ Greek lawmaker warns

Press TV – June 15, 2022

The Greek government has turned the whole country into a “huge US base,” a local lawmaker warned on Tuesday, amid attempts by Washington to expand its access to military zones across the European country.

Kleon Grigoriadis, in a speech in the Greek parliament on Tuesday, lambasted the government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over its foreign policy for allowing the United States to turn the whole of Greece into a massive American base.

“At the moment, American soldiers, not Turkish soldiers, are wandering in Crete, Alexandroupoli, Larisa, and other areas left by (the left-wing party) Syriza’s old comrades to the United States. Let’s be clear: Greece has now turned into a huge US base,” said the lawmaker, who is a deputy of the left-wing MeRA25 party,” he remarked.

Grigoriadis warned that an atmosphere of war with Turkey has been created in the press. He said Greek citizens have been intimidated by such a perception in an attempt to make acceptable the conversion of Greece into an American military base.

The lawmaker said the Greek people should learn from history lest their country turns into a tool for big powers.

“History shows that big powers use small powers as tools and use them for their own interests regardless of the pain they may cause, as in 1922,” Grigoriadis said.

Grigoriadis’s comments almost echoed last week’s remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who objected to the presence of US bases in Greece.

“Currently, nine US military bases have been established in Greece. Whom have they been deployed against? They say that against Russia. But we won’t buy that,” Erdogan said at the time.

Turkey and Greece have been at loggerheads for years over hydrocarbon resources and naval influence in the eastern Mediterranean.

In May, Erdogan said there were nearly ten American bases in Greece, asking: “Who is being threatened with these bases? Why are these bases being established in Greece?”

Back in November 2021, he warned that Greece itself had become a US military base. “At the moment, I can’t count all the American bases in Greece, there are so many. … It almost looks like Greece itself is a US base.”

The Greek authorities recently seized a tanker carrying Iranian oil in its territorial waters, under US pressure. The oil cargo was later transferred to the US, a move denounced by Iran as an “act of piracy”.

On Tuesday, Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) said in a statement that an Iranian-flagged tanker seized in April was released by Greek authorities.

“The Greek government finally issued an order and we are now witnessing the lifting of the ship’s seizure and the return of its cargo to its owner,” it said.

Iran’s foreign ministry had condemned the unacceptable surrender of Greece to Washington’s illegal pressure and reiterated that the seizure was an example of international piracy.

The seizure of the Iranian oil tanker took place at a time when the US administration claims it seeks the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran deal. So far, talks for the revival of the 2015 deal have come to a standstill.

Days after the seizure, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) seized two Greek oil tankers in the Persian Gulf over violations.

June 15, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 3 Comments

Greek Court Overrules Decision to Comply With US Request to Seize Cargo of Iranian Oil Tanker

Samizdat – 09.06.2022

An Iranian tanker carrying oil was stopped off the Greek coast at the request of the US, based on unilateral sanctions targeting Iran’s oil trade. Tehran condemned Athens for bending to Washington’s orders and lambasted the impounding as an act of state piracy.

A Greek Appeals court overruled an earlier ruling that had prompted impounding of Iranian tanker Lana’s oil cargo in favour of the US, Iran’s embassy in Athens has stated. The confiscation of the cargo was earlier appealed by Tehran.

It is unclear if either Athens or the US will be challenging the decision of the Appeals court, however, an anonymous source claimed in an interview with Reuters that it might not be easy to achieve.

“The action for the reversal of the ruling was accepted by the court. It will be hard to overrule [the appeal court’s ruling]”, the legal source claimed.

The oil in question was removed from Luna to another vessel hired by the US authorities in May as the court was still reviewing Tehran’s appeal. It was then supposed to be moved to the US, but it is unclear if the ship transporting the Iranian oil, which now must be returned to the owner, has reached US shores.

Iran’s embassy in Greece expressed hope that the crude can still be returned. The embassy said that it is conducting “intensive consultations” with Athens to “ensure full implementation” of the court’s latest ruling.

“With God’s grace, the entire oil shipment will be returned [to Iran],” the embassy said.

The tanker Luna itself has since been released and arrested by Greek authorities again. The first time the ship was arrested was in April in a response to the order coming from the US, which slapped sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and now hunts for its oil tankers around the world. The second arrest, however, is related to unpaid towing services, according to report by Reuters citing a lawyer representing an unnamed company behind the arrest order.

Iran condemned the actions of Athens, equalling them to state piracy and vowing to respond. Several weeks later Iran seized two Greek ships sailing on the fringes of Iranian national waters, accusing both of “maritime violations”. Athens slammed the arrest of the ships sailing under its flag, while several media outlets alleged that their arrest could have been a retaliation for impounding Luna’s cargo.

Iran’s top security official: Retaliatory measure best way to defend country against bullying

Press TV – June 9, 2022

The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) says the change in Greece’s approach to illegal confiscation of an Iranian tanker on the US order proves that retaliatory measure is the best way to protect the country against bullying.

Ali Shamkhani made the remark in a Thursday tweet after reports indicated that a Greek court has overturned an earlier ruling that allowed the United States to confiscate part of a shipment of Iranian crude on an Iranian-flagged vessel seized in the European country’s territorial waters.

“The action for the reversal of the ruling was accepted by the court,” a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. “It will be hard to overrule that (the appeal court’s ruling).”

The change in Greece’s behavior came after Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) retaliated Athens’ measure by seizing two Greek ships in the Persian Gulf for violations of rules and regulations. Tehran had already announced that it was going to take “punitive action” against Athens.

Reacting to the Greek court’s verdict, Shamkhani said, “The change in Greece’s behavior following Iran’s proportionate and powerful reaction to illegal seizure of its tanker on the US’ order, along with scores of other experiences, proves that the sole way to defend the country’s rights in the face of bullying, both in the case of JCPOA and in the [International Atomic Energy] Agency is retaliatory measure.”

Iran’s embassy in Athens on Thursday confirmed that the Greek Appeals court has overturned the initial ruling on the confiscation of Iranian oil following intensive follow-up.

“With God’s grace, the entire oil shipment will be returned [to Iran],” the embassy tweeted.

It added that the issue will remain on the agenda of “intensive consultations” between Iran and Greece to “ensure full implementation of the ruling.”

The embassy emphasized that preserving the Iranian nation’s rights is a red line.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry late last month summoned the Greek chargé d’affaires to protest the seizure of the Iranian-flagged vessel and confiscation of its crude cargo.

The ministry official condemned Greece’s “unacceptable” surrender to “illegal” US pressures and said the “seizure of the cargo of the ship” with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran was “an example of international piracy.”

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , | Leave a comment

Greek Opposition Demands Legal Clarification for Confiscation of Iranian Oil at US Behest

Samizdat | May 31, 2022

ATHENS – Greek largest opposition party, Coalition of the Radical Left – Progressive Alliance (SYRIZA), on Tuesday asked the Greek government to clarify the legal grounds for the confiscation of Iranian oil from a former Russian-flagged tanker at the request of the United States.

“What was the legal basis for the US request for legal assistance in confiscating oil from the tanker? Was the proposal of the [Greek] anti-money laundering authority to continue the detention of the Russian ship contrary [to the US request]? On what legal basis did the ship remain detained during the time between the cancellation of the original decision about its arrest by the anti-money laundering authority and the decision of the one-judge trial court of Chalcis to grant the US request?” the party said in a statement.

The party added that initially, the anti-money laundering authority decided not to confiscate Iranian oil or detain the tanker. US sanctions against Iran are not considered legal by the EU and Greece, the party noted.

The party also asked what actions had been taken for the immediate release of the crew, and why Greece did not receive significant support from the US, which initiated the process of confiscation.

Last Friday, Iran’s armed forces captured two Greek-flagged oil tankers — the Delta Poseidon and the Prudent Warrior — in Persian Gulf waters, reportedly in response to the seizure of the Iranian-flagged tanker Lana in Greek waters in mid-April on suspicion that it was avoiding EU sanctions. The US claimed that the vessel was carrying Iranian crude, subject to US sanctions, and requested that the cargo be handed over to it, despite later reports that it was a Russian-flagged tanker Pegas that had changed its ownership before entering Greek waters.

May 31, 2022 Posted by | Economics, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Spill from transfer of seized Iran oil alarms Greek environmentalists

Press TV – May 30, 2022

Local sources in Greece are reporting a growing spill from the country’s transfer of oil from an Iranian tanker seized recently off the Greek coast.

They have published images of the pollution in the Greek port of Karistos, blaming it for “non-standard” transfer without observing environmental principles.

The spill has already drawn protests from local environmentalists, the report said.

“Even if only one-thousandth of a shipment leaks during the transfer process at sea, the environmental damage will be incalculable,” the Greek Environmental Protection Association Karistos said in a statement.

“We have a legitimate interest in requesting that the tanker be removed immediately from the Gulf of Karistos and relocated to a safe transfer area,” it said.

The statement said the Karistos environment should not pay “another heavy price for the government’s political choices, and the Russian tanker should leave the port”.

The tanker, carrying Iranian oil, was seized in Greek waters under the pretext of violating sanctions and its cargo was ordered by the US to be moved to another vessel.

Iran condemned the seizure “an example of international piracy”, the responsibility of which “lies with the Greek government and the illegal occupants”. The charge d’affaires of the Greek embassy in Tehran was summoned to Iran’s ministry of foreign affairs and notified of the Islamic Republic strong indignation.

The Ports and Maritime Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran also issued a statement calling on the Greek government to fulfill its international obligations in this regard.

Earlier, Reuters quoted unnamed sources as saying that the US Department of Justice had confiscated 700,000 barrels of Iranian oil cargo off the southern Greek island of Evia on board a Russian-operated ship.

On Friday, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) seized two Greek oil tankers in the Persian Gulf over violations.

“The IRGC Navy today seized two Greek oil tankers for violations they have carried in the azure waters of the Persian Gulf,” the IRGC said in a statement.

Earlier that day, Iran’s Nour News reported that the country was going to take “punitive action” against Greece over the Iranian tanker’s seizure.

Tasnim news agency said a total of 17 Greek ships were sailing in the Persian Gulf, warning of further confiscations if Greece continued to take orders from the United States.

At least nine crew members on board the vessels are currently in the IRGC custody. Officials have said they are not detained and are in good health.

Senior political commentator Mohammad Marandi told Press TV that by seizing the Greek-flagged tankers, Tehran intends to send a message to Washington and its allies, “warning them against harming Iran’s oil trade.”

May 30, 2022 Posted by | Environmentalism | , | Leave a comment

Iran seizes Greek tankers after US ‘piracy’

Samizdat | May 27, 2022

Iranian soldiers seized two oil tankers flying the Greek flag in the Persian Gulf on Friday, while Tehran protested the confiscation of one of its own vessels in Greek waters earlier this week, calling it US “piracy.” Washington reportedly plans to sell the ship’s oil cargo, which was confiscated under sanctions targeting Russia.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy troops used helicopters to board the tankers Delta Poseidon and Prudent Warrior on Friday, the industry monitor Lloyd’s List reported. The ships were “later escorted by naval vessels from international traffic lanes to Iranian waters a few miles off the coast,” according to the same source.

The Greek Foreign Ministry confirmed the seizure of the two vessels and demanded their release. Iranian media likewise confirmed the capture of the ships, making clear it was reprisal against the actions of the government in Athens. More than 25% of the world’s tankers fly the Greek flag.

“The Islamic Republic has decided to take punitive measures against Greece after it seized an Iranian tanker and let the US government confiscate its crude oil,” reported Nour News, an outlet affiliated with the IRGC.

Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Ministry had summoned the ambassador of Switzerland – which represents US interests in Tehran – to protest the seizure of the Iranian-flagged tanker Pegas in Greek waters on Wednesday.

“The Islamic Republic expressed its deep concern over the US government’s continued violation of international laws and international maritime conventions,” according to the state news agency IRNA.

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization said the tanker had sought shelter along the Greek coast from bad weather after experiencing technical problems, and called the seizure of its cargo “a clear example of piracy.”

While the US government did not officially comment, Reuters reported on Thursday that Washington was planning to take the oil to the US on board another vessel, quoting three sources familiar with the matter.

The US has sanctioned Iran’s oil exports and previously seized Iranian tankers bound for Venezuela, citing its sanctions against Caracas. The capture of Pegas, however, seems to be related to sanctions against Moscow.

Pegas was previously owned by the Russian company Transmorflot and was sanctioned by the US on February 22, two days before the hostilities in Ukraine began. Transmorflot itself was sanctioned on May 8, but Pegas – renamed Lana on March 1 – was already under Iranian ownership by then and has been flying Tehran’s flag since May 1.

May 27, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 2 Comments

Iran summons Swiss envoy to protest US seizure of Iranian oil cargo

Press TV – May 27, 2022

Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the chargé d’affaires of Switzerland, which represents Washington’s interests in Tehran, to protest the US seizure of Iranian oil cargo from a Russian-operated ship in Greece’s territorial waters.

“The Swiss chargé d’affaires was summoned to convey Iran’s concern and strong protest over the continued violation of international laws and maritime conventions concerning free navigation and trade by the US administration,” the director-general of the ministry’s department for American Affairs, said in a statement on Friday.

The ministry also demanded the immediate release of the seized ship and its confiscated cargo.

The Swiss envoy, according to the statement, assured that he would convey Iran’s message to American officials.

Earlier, on Wednesday, Iran’s foreign ministry had summoned the Greek chargé d’affaires to lodge its protest over the same matter.

The ministry officials condemned Greece’s “unacceptable” surrender to “illegal” US pressures and said the “seizure of the cargo of the ship” with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran was “an example of international piracy.”

In a Thursday report, Reuters news agency cited unnamed sources saying the US Department of Justice had confiscated 700,000 barrels of Iranian oil cargo seized last month off the southern Greek island of Evia onboard a Russian-operated ship.

A Greek source was quoted in the report as saying that the oil cargo had been transferred to another ship hired by Washington and was supposed to be sent to the US, adding that the US Department of Justice had “informed Greece that the cargo on the vessel is Iranian oil.”

Another source was cited as saying that the Iranian oil cargo was currently being transferred to the Liberia-flagged tanker Ice Energy, which is operated by Greek shipping company Dynacom.

The ship, previously operating under the Russian flag, was sailing in international waters when it was forced to anchor near Greece over technical problems.

Iranian authorities have said they will hold the Greek government responsible for the confiscation of crude.

It is the second time the US has confiscated Iranian oil outside its territorial waters on trumped-up charges brought by American courts.

In 2020, four cargoes of Iranian oil bound for Venezuela were seized by the US with the help of foreign agents. The cargoes were then sold for more than $40 million, according to reports.

The latest incident comes amid stalled talks between Iran and world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear deal four years after Washington unilaterally walked out of the agreement and reinstated crippling sanctions on Iran.

Iran has blamed the lack of decisiveness in Washington for the pause in talks to salvage the deal. US authorities said on Wednesday that chances of reviving the agreement were very bleak, pointing to their reluctance.

May 27, 2022 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment