Tom Kirkman

'Gas War' Averted: Russia & Ukraine Agree To Crucial Transit Deal, Defying The Hawks

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Unexpected.  But Putin haters still gonna hate.  Ukraine Natural Gas corruption and kickbacks will apparently continue unabated, with Ukraine continuing to be a conduit for natural gas from Putin to EU.  Certain politicians in the U.S. will likely be gleeful about this.

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'Gas War' Averted: Russia & Ukraine Agree To Crucial Transit Deal, Defying The Hawks

This isn't supposed to happen according to those neo-Cold War pundits who keep telling us Putin is not only bent on taking over Ukraine, but Europe as well — especially through gas and energy dominance.

Per FT, a major gas transit deal has been reached between Ukraine and Russia "in principle" and will likely be imminently signed into effect by Moscow and Kiev leadership, ultimately ending a standoff after Ukraine ceased buying gas directly from Gazprom in 2015:

European natural gas prices fell sharply on Friday after Russia and Ukraine reached a provisional deal to allow the continued transit of gas to Europe in the new year. A stand-off between the two countries had threatened to disrupt supplies to Europe when the existing contract expires on December 31.

...Late on Thursday, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Orzhel said they had struck an agreement in principle for a new contract, adding that talks were set to continue in Minsk on Friday. 

1393546973_rus-ukgasdeal.jpg.18956baa64cbe846b78f6bf1d4d87b93.jpgNew contract looks to be struck to keep piping Russian gas through Ukraine to Europe, via Reuters.

“Our work today has been very efficient . . . the final protocol of the decision, which brings us closer to the signing of the final agreements, has been drafted,” Ukrainian negotiator Orzhel said of the talks, which were mediated by the European Commission in Berlin.

And just like that, the central rationale for new US sanctions targeting companies laying pipeline for the massive Gazprom-Europe Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany has been made mute and obsolete. Ironically the Nord Stream 2 sanctions are included in the 2020 NDAA which is about to cross Trump's desk, which ultimately aim to derail the project. The controversial 760-mile project that would allow Russia to export natural gas directly to Germany has been slammed by Washington as depriving Ukraine of badly needed gas transit fees along the current route for Russian supplies.

The US administration and media pundits have also charged Russia with attempting to compromise and intervene in Europe's energy independence for the sake of geopolitical leverage. And yet four years after the Crimea crisis, and more importantly just after Ukraine's Zelensky met with Putin a couple weeks ago in Paris, compromise and the defusing of tensions are in the air, despite US punitive measures and attempts to step in between.  ...

 

...  This means that 2020 will witness Russian gas flow as normal across Europe via Ukraine.  ...

 

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2 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

...  This means that 2020 will witness Russian gas flow as normal across Europe via Ukraine.  ...

Tom, I'm not very well educated about this, but I was under the impression that Ukraine was cut out of the loop on the Nord Stream 2. It is under the Baltic Sea, no, and follows alongside Nord Stream 1. My understanding was that Ukraine received some sort of "transit fee" (is that the right phrase?) and that it could be rescinded if and when it became unjustified (subject to Gazprom's interpretation). I don't know about this. It seems to me that Germany just crawled into bed with the devil. After WWII, Russia handled eastern Germany . . . very, very badly. Finally the wall had to come down so the west could resuscitate its own divided country. The US helped to rebuild western German and it has finally exceeded its former glory. To me, an accomplished curmudgeon, this is a jab into the eye with a sharp stick. And I do believe that Mr. Trump is going to see it that way, too. Enlighten me, sir!

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2 hours ago, Gerry Maddoux said:

It seems to me that Germany just crawled into bed with the devil.

Your assessment is correct.

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7 minutes ago, Jan van Eck said:

Your assessment is correct.

Hahaha a minute ago you were praising Neitzsche and the EU. 

You saw the light.

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11 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

...  This means that 2020 will witness Russian gas flow as normal across Europe via Ukraine.  ...

 

9 hours ago, Gerry Maddoux said:

I was under the impression that Ukraine was cut out of the loop on the Nord Stream 2. It is under the Baltic Sea, no, and follows alongside Nord Stream 1. My understanding was that Ukraine received some sort of "transit fee" (is that the right phrase?) and that it could be rescinded if and when it became unjustified (subject to Gazprom's interpretation). I don't know about this. 

... Enlighten me, sir!

 

Good points. First, here is a map of the pipeline for reference:

ndsm2_0.jpg.a4787df3271b64e5f71e1011a6788f6b.jpg

 

Further explanations are in these articles, short excerpts below; I bolded a few bits. 

》》》 A key sentence in all this is:

● "Putin said Moscow planned to keep gas transit via Ukraine irrespective of new gas pipelines Russia builds, in a sign of a softer stance toward its ex-Soviet neighbor" ●

 

Russia, Ukraine, EU agree 'in principle' on new gas deal: EU official

Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission, after hours-long talks on Thursday, agreed in principle on a new gas deal starting after Jan 1, 2020, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic told a briefing.

Ukraine is a key transit route for Russian piped gas exports to Europe. The current deal between the two post-Soviet countries expires at the end of the year.  ...

 

... Russia and Germany are allies in Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, to be launched next year. It would double Russian gas supplies to Germany via the route running beneath the Baltic Sea, known as Nord Stream 1.  ...

 

... Moscow is currently building two gas pipelines, Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream. The latter's extension to south-east Europe is aimed at bypassing Ukraine.

At his annual news conference on Thursday, Putin said Moscow planned to keep gas transit via Ukraine irrespective of new gas pipelines Russia builds, in a sign of a softer stance toward its ex-Soviet neighbor, from which Moscow annexed the Crimea peninsula in 2014.

"We will look for a solution that is acceptable for all parties, including Ukraine," Putin said, adding that Russia would be ready to give Kiev a discount of 20-25% for gas purchases.

"I am confident we will reach an agreement... We have no desire to exacerbate the situation... or use this to influence the situation in Ukraine itself."

Ukraine halted its own direct imports of Russian gas in November 2015.

 

 

=====================================

And a 2015 article, for some background:

Germany-favoured Nord Stream-2 risks strangling Ukraine, US says

A proposed pipeline to boost Russian gas supplies to Germany risks depriving Ukraine of more than $2 billion in transit fees, and runs counter to the EU’s goal of reducing its energy reliance on Russia, a US official said today (5 November).

The European Union has sought to help Kyiv in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and has looked to bolster energy ties with Ukraine as Russia threatens to stop piping gas via its neighbour.

“You have to ask: Why would you support Ukraine with one hand and strangle it with the other,” Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy Robin Dunnigan told a conference of policymakers.

“Cutting off all gas transit through Ukraine would deprive it of $2.2 billion in annual revenue,” Dunnigan said.

EURACTIV reported two months ago that the shareholders’ agreement on the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline project is hurting Ukraine and bringing Europe closer to Moscow’s energy orbit.

Russia’s Gazprom already sends gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea via the Nord Stream pipelines and the proposed Nord Stream-2 project would double capacity to 110 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year.

Gazprom also sends large volumes of gas to the EU via Ukraine but has said it aims to bypass this route, most recently under a plan to build a new pipeline to Turkey.  ...

 

... While the EU and United States have imposed sanctions on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea and its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, energy ties between Moscow and Europe remain deep. Russia provides around a third of the EU’s energy needs.

“North Stream-2 actually threatens not only Ukraine’s survivability and their resources, but it is a risk to fuel diversification in Europe, especially southeastern Europe,” Dunnigan said.  ...

 

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(edited)

Well  deal is for 65 bilion cubic meters transit next year and only for 40 bilion cubic meters after 2020. 

Its means Ukraine will loose about 2 bilion dollars per year and is a biggest victim of US politics to use Ukraine as tool against Russia. Because normally about at least 100 bilion meters of cubic gas would be sent this route and thereotically you could send about 140 bilions cubic meters through Ukraine. Unfortunately for Ukraine its gonna be only 40 in the future not 140 as is could be.

 

Dear US friends

If you want Europe to buy your LNG you simply need to sell it cheaper than Gazprom. You cant do that because you have about 3 $ per bbtu higher breakeven so you choose sanctions because your expensive LNG is really not cost compepetive. Thats all.

Nord Stream II will be finished and Ukraine in the future will loose much of their transit advantages if this country really wants to be a fascist oligarchy and a  US tool against Europe-Russia cooperation.

I must remind you this war started with US backed putsch in Maidan. Do you remeber Victoria Nulands cookies on Maidan? And Odessa massacre on 2nd of May 2014?

 And finally it turned out it was Right Sector snipers from Hotel Ukraine that shot most of protesters on Maidan according to Ivan Katchanovsky extensive studies

You really cant put your NATO bases near russian border because its a reason for New cold War. And potential WW3 an atomic one because Russia has no other options to defend herself.

You could have Russia back in 1991 as an ally but because of this there will be a sino-russian strategic alliance in the future.

Its natural consequence of US foreign policy after 1991.

Your broke promises made to Gorbachov to not expand NATO one inch eastward.

George Kennan predicted this on May 2, 1998

Quote

 

His voice is a bit frail now, but the mind, even at age 94, is as sharp as ever. So when I reached George Kennan by phone to get his reaction to the Senate's ratification of NATO expansion it was no surprise to find that the man who was the architect of America's successful containment of the Soviet Union and one of the great American statesmen of the 20th century was ready with an answer.

''I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,'' said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ''I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.''

''What bothers me is how superficial and ill informed the whole Senate debate was,'' added Mr. Kennan, who was present at the creation of NATO and whose anonymous 1947 article in the journal Foreign Affairs, signed ''X,'' defined America's cold-war containment policy for 40 years. ''I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don't people understand? Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

''And Russia's democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we've just signed up to defend from Russia,'' said Mr. Kennan, who joined the State Department in 1926 and was U.S. Ambassador to Moscow in 1952. ''It shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are -- but this is just wrong.''

I truly wonders what future historians will say. If we are lucky they will say that NATO expansion to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic simply didn't matter, because the vacuum it was supposed to fill had already been filled, only the Clinton team couldn't see it. They will say that the forces of globalization integrating Europe, coupled with the new arms control agreements, proved to be so powerful that Russia, despite NATO expansion, moved ahead with democratization and Westernization, and was gradually drawn into a loosely unified Europe. If we are unlucky they will say, as Mr. Kennan predicts, that NATO expansion set up a situation in which NATO now has to either expand all the way to Russia's border, triggering a new cold war, or stop expanding after these three new countries and create a new dividing line through Europe.

But there is one thing future historians will surely remark upon, and that is the utter poverty of imagination that characterized U.S. foreign policy in the late 1990's. They will note that one of the seminal events of this century took place between 1989 and 1992 -- the collapse of the Soviet Empire, which had the capability, imperial intentions and ideology to truly threaten the entire free world. Thanks to Western resolve and the courage of Russian democrats, that Soviet Empire collapsed without a shot, spawning a democratic Russia, setting free the former Soviet republics and leading to unprecedented arms control agreements with the U.S.

And what was America's response? It was to expand the NATO cold-war alliance against Russia and bring it closer to Russia's borders.

Yes, tell your children, and your children's children, that you lived in the age of Bill Clinton and William Cohen, the age of Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger, the age of Trent Lott and Joe Lieberman, and you too were present at the creation of the post-cold-war order, when these foreign policy Titans put their heads together and produced . . . a mouse.

We are in the age of midgets. The only good news is that we got here in one piece because there was another age -- one of great statesmen who had both imagination and courage.

 

 

Edited by Tomasz
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Did you forget to take your medication this morning?

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(edited)

No I just remember promises made back in 1989. Western leaders broke this promises so they are responsible for new Cold War and sino-russian alliance. Thats all.

https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/russia-programs/2017-12-12/nato-expansion-what-gorbachev-heard-western-leaders-early

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Washington D.C., December 12, 2017 – U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (http://nsarchive.gwu.edu).

The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels. 

The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of “pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.”[1] The key phrase, buttressed by the documents, is “led to believe.”

President George H.W. Bush had assured Gorbachev during the Malta summit in December 1989 that the U.S. would not take advantage (“I have not jumped up and down on the Berlin Wall”) of the revolutions in Eastern Europe to harm Soviet interests; but neither Bush nor Gorbachev at that point (or for that matter, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl) expected so soon the collapse of East Germany or the speed of German unification.[2]

The first concrete assurances by Western leaders on NATO began on January 31, 1990, when West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher opened the bidding with a major public speech at Tutzing, in Bavaria, on German unification. The U.S. Embassy in Bonn (see Document 1) informed Washington that Genscher made clear “that the changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an ‘impairment of Soviet security interests.’ Therefore, NATO should rule out an ‘expansion of its territory towards the east, i.e. moving it closer to the Soviet borders.’” The Bonn cable also noted Genscher’s proposal to leave the East German territory out of NATO military structures even in a unified Germany in NATO.[3] 

This latter idea of special status for the GDR territory was codified in the final German unification treaty signed on September 12, 1990, by the Two-Plus-Four foreign ministers (see Document 25). The former idea about “closer to the Soviet borders” is written down not in treaties but in multiple memoranda of conversation between the Soviets and the highest-level Western interlocutors (Genscher, Kohl, Baker, Gates, Bush, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Major, Woerner, and others) offering assurances throughout 1990 and into 1991 about protecting Soviet security interests and including the USSR in new European security structures. The two issues were related but not the same. Subsequent analysis sometimes conflated the two and argued that the discussion did not involve all of Europe. The documents published below show clearly that it did.

The “Tutzing formula” immediately became the center of a flurry of important diplomatic discussions over the next 10 days in 1990, leading to the crucial February 10, 1990, meeting in Moscow between Kohl and Gorbachev when the West German leader achieved Soviet assent in principle to German unification in NATO, as long as NATO did not expand to the east. The Soviets would need much more time to work with their domestic opinion (and financial aid from the West Germans) before formally signing the deal in September 1990.

The conversations before Kohl’s assurance involved explicit discussion of NATO expansion, the Central and East European countries, and how to convince the Soviets to accept unification. For example, on February 6, 1990, when Genscher met with British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd, the British record showed Genscher saying, “The Russians must have some assurance that if, for example, the Polish Government left the Warsaw Pact one day, they would not join NATO the next.” (See Document 2)

Having met with Genscher on his way into discussions with the Soviets, Baker repeated exactly the Genscher formulation in his meeting with Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on February 9, 1990, (see Document 4); and even more importantly, face to face with Gorbachev.

Not once, but three times, Baker tried out the “not one inch eastward” formula with Gorbachev in the February 9, 1990, meeting. He agreed with Gorbachev’s statement in response to the assurances that “NATO expansion is unacceptable.” Baker assured Gorbachev that “neither the President nor I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place,” and that the Americans understood that “not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.” (See Document 6) 

Afterwards, Baker wrote to Helmut Kohl who would meet with the Soviet leader on the next day, with much of the very same language. Baker reported: “And then I put the following question to him [Gorbachev]. Would you prefer to see a united Germany outside of NATO, independent and with no U.S. forces or would you prefer a unified Germany to be tied to NATO, with assurances that NATO’s jurisdiction would not shift one inch eastward from its present position? He answered that the Soviet leadership was giving real thought to all such options [….] He then added, ‘Certainly any extension of the zone of NATO would be unacceptable.’” Baker added in parentheses, for Kohl’s benefit, “By implication, NATO in its current zone might be acceptable.” (See Document 😎

Well-briefed by the American secretary of state, the West German chancellor understood a key Soviet bottom line, and assured Gorbachev on February 10, 1990: “We believe that NATO should not expand the sphere of its activity.” (See Document 9) After this meeting, Kohl could hardly contain his excitement at Gorbachev’s agreement in principle for German unification and, as part of the Helsinki formula that states choose their own alliances, so Germany could choose NATO. Kohl described in his memoirs walking all night around Moscow – but still understanding there was a price still to pay.

All the Western foreign ministers were on board with Genscher, Kohl, and Baker. Next came the British foreign minister, Douglas Hurd, on April 11, 1990. At this point, the East Germans had voted overwhelmingly for the deutschmark and for rapid unification, in the March 18 elections in which Kohl had surprised almost all observers with a real victory. Kohl’s analyses (first explained to Bush on December 3, 1989) that the GDR’s collapse would open all possibilities, that he had to run to get to the head of the train, that he needed U.S. backing, that unification could happen faster than anyone thought possible – all turned out to be correct. Monetary union would proceed as early as July and the assurances about security kept coming. Hurd reinforced the Baker-Genscher-Kohl message in his meeting with Gorbachev in Moscow, April 11, 1990, saying that Britain clearly “recognized the importance of doing nothing to prejudice Soviet interests and dignity.” (See Document 15)

The Baker conversation with Shevardnadze on May 4, 1990, as Baker described it in his own report to President Bush, most eloquently described what Western leaders were telling Gorbachev exactly at the moment: “I used your speech and our recognition of the need to adapt NATO, politically and militarily, and to develop CSCE to reassure Shevardnadze that the process would not yield winners and losers. Instead, it would produce a new legitimate European structure – one that would be inclusive, not exclusive.” (See Document 17) 

Baker said it again, directly to Gorbachev on May 18, 1990 in Moscow, giving Gorbachev his “nine points,” which included the transformation of NATO, strengthening European structures, keeping Germany non-nuclear, and taking Soviet security interests into account. Baker started off his remarks, “Before saying a few words about the German issue, I wanted to emphasize that our policies are not aimed at separating Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union. We had that policy before. But today we are interested in building a stable Europe, and doing it together with you.” (See Document 18)

The French leader Francois Mitterrand was not in a mind-meld with the Americans, quite the contrary, as evidenced by his telling Gorbachev in Moscow on May 25, 1990, that he was “personally in favor of gradually dismantling the military blocs”; but Mitterrand continued the cascade of assurances by saying the West must “create security conditions for you, as well as European security as a whole.” (See Document 19) Mitterrand immediately wrote Bush in a “cher George” letter about his conversation with the Soviet leader, that “we would certainly not refuse to detail the guarantees that he would have a right to expect for his country’s security.” (See Document 20)

At the Washington summit on May 31, 1990, Bush went out of his way to assure Gorbachev that Germany in NATO would never be directed at the USSR: “Believe me, we are not pushing Germany towards unification, and it is not us who determines the pace of this process. And of course, we have no intention, even in our thoughts, to harm the Soviet Union in any fashion. That is why we are speaking in favor of German unification in NATO without ignoring the wider context of the CSCE, taking the traditional economic ties between the two German states into consideration. Such a model, in our view, corresponds to the Soviet interests as well.” (See Document 21)

The “Iron Lady” also pitched in, after the Washington summit, in her meeting with Gorbachev in London on June 8, 1990. Thatcher anticipated the moves the Americans (with her support) would take in the early July NATO conference to support Gorbachev with descriptions of the transformation of NATO towards a more political, less militarily threatening, alliance. She said to Gorbachev: “We must find ways to give the Soviet Union confidence that its security would be assured…. CSCE could be an umbrella for all this, as well as being the forum which brought the Soviet Union fully into discussion about the future of Europe.” (See Document 22)

The NATO London Declaration on July 5, 1990 had quite a positive effect on deliberations in Moscow, according to most accounts, giving Gorbachev significant ammunition to counter his hardliners at the Party Congress which was taking place at that moment. Some versions of this history assert that an advance copy was provided to Shevardnadze’s aides, while others describe just an alert that allowed those aides to take the wire service copy and produce a Soviet positive assessment before the military or hardliners could call it propaganda.

As Kohl said to Gorbachev in Moscow on July 15, 1990, as they worked out the final deal on German unification: “We know what awaits NATO in the future, and I think you are now in the know as well,” referring to the NATO London Declaration. (See Document 23)

In his phone call to Gorbachev on July 17, Bush meant to reinforce the success of the Kohl-Gorbachev talks and the message of the London Declaration. Bush explained: “So what we tried to do was to take account of your concerns expressed to me and others, and we did it in the following ways: by our joint declaration on non-aggression; in our invitation to you to come to NATO; in our agreement to open NATO to regular diplomatic contact with your government and those of the Eastern European countries; and our offer on assurances on the future size of the armed forces of a united Germany – an issue I know you discussed with Helmut Kohl. We also fundamentally changed our military approach on conventional and nuclear forces. We conveyed the idea of an expanded, stronger CSCE with new institutions in which the USSR can share and be part of the new Europe.” (See Document 24)

The documents show that Gorbachev agreed to German unification in NATO as the result of this cascade of assurances, and on the basis of his own analysis that the future of the Soviet Union depended on its integration into Europe, for which Germany would be the decisive actor. He and most of his allies believed that some version of the common European home was still possible and would develop alongside the transformation of NATO to lead to a more inclusive and integrated European space, that the post-Cold War settlement would take account of the Soviet security interests. The alliance with Germany would not only overcome the Cold War but also turn on its head the legacy of the Great Patriotic War.

But inside the U.S. government, a different discussion continued, a debate about relations between NATO and Eastern Europe. Opinions differed, but the suggestion from the Defense Department as of October 25, 1990 was to leave “the door ajar” for East European membership in NATO. (See Document 27) The view of the State Department was that NATO expansion was not on the agenda, because it was not in the interest of the U.S. to organize “an anti-Soviet coalition” that extended to the Soviet borders, not least because it might reverse the positive trends in the Soviet Union. (See Document 26) The Bush administration took the latter view. And that’s what the Soviets heard.

As late as March 1991, according to the diary of the British ambassador to Moscow, British Prime Minister John Major personally assured Gorbachev, “We are not talking about the strengthening of NATO.” Subsequently, when Soviet defense minister Marshal Dmitri Yazov asked Major about East European leaders’ interest in NATO membership, the British leader responded, “Nothing of the sort will happen.” (See Document 28)

When Russian Supreme Soviet deputies came to Brussels to see NATO and meet with NATO secretary-general Manfred Woerner in July 1991, Woerner told the Russians that “We should not allow […] the isolation of the USSR from the European community.” According to the Russian memorandum of conversation, “Woerner stressed that the NATO Council and he are against the expansion of NATO (13 of 16 NATO members support this point of view).” (See Document 30)

Thus, Gorbachev went to the end of the Soviet Union assured that the West was not threatening his security and was not expanding NATO. Instead, the dissolution of the USSR was brought about by Russians (Boris Yeltsin and his leading advisory Gennady Burbulis) in concert with the former party bosses of the Soviet republics, especially Ukraine, in December 1991. The Cold War was long over by then. The Americans had tried to keep the Soviet Union together (see the Bush “Chicken Kiev” speech on August 1, 1991). NATO’s expansion was years in the future, when these disputes would erupt again, and more assurances would come to Russian leader Boris Yeltsin.

The Archive compiled these declassified documents for a panel discussion on November 10, 2017 at the annual conference of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Chicago under the title “Who Promised What to Whom on NATO Expansion?” The panel included: 

* Mark Kramer from the Davis Center at Harvard, editor of the Journal of Cold War Studies, whose 2009 Washington Quarterly article argued that the “no-NATO-enlargement pledge” was a “myth”;[4]

* Joshua R. Itkowitz Shifrinson from the Bush School at Texas A&M, whose 2016 International Security article argued the U.S. was playing a double game in 1990, leading Gorbachev to believe NATO would be subsumed in a new European security structure, while working to ensure hegemony in Europe and the maintenance of NATO;[5]

* James Goldgeier from American University, who wrote the authoritative book on the Clinton decision on NATO expansion, Not Whether But When, and described the misleading U.S. assurances to Russian leader Boris Yeltsin in a 2016 WarOnTheRocks article;[6]

* Svetlana Savranskaya and Tom Blanton from the National Security Archive, whose most recent book, The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush: Conversations That Ended the Cold War (CEU Press, 2016) analyzes and publishes the declassified transcripts and related documents from all of Gorbachev’s summits with U.S. presidents, including dozens of assurances about protecting the USSR’s security interests.[7]

[Today’s posting is the first of two on the subject. The second part will cover the Yeltsin discussions with Western leaders about NATO.]

 

 

Edited by Tomasz
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(edited)

Tomasz thank you for reminding our US users what western countries promised Gorbachov.

So I will inform you about Putin famous Munich speech in 2007 to show you that people in Russia still remember about that.

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/24034

Quote

 

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much dear Madam Federal Chancellor, Mr Teltschik, ladies and gentlemen!

I am truly grateful to be invited to such a representative conference that has assembled politicians, military officials, entrepreneurs and experts from more than 40 nations.

This conference’s structure allows me to avoid excessive politeness and the need to speak in roundabout, pleasant but empty diplomatic terms. This conference’s format will allow me to say what I really think about international security problems. And if my comments seem unduly polemical, pointed or inexact to our colleagues, then I would ask you not to get angry with me. After all, this is only a conference. And I hope that after the first two or three minutes of my speech Mr Teltschik will not turn on the red light over there.

Therefore. It is well known that international security comprises much more than issues relating to military and political stability. It involves the stability of the global economy, overcoming poverty, economic security and developing a dialogue between civilisations.

This universal, indivisible character of security is expressed as the basic principle that “security for one is security for all”. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said during the first few days that the Second World War was breaking out: “When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger.”

These words remain topical today. Incidentally, the theme of our conference – global crises, global responsibility – exemplifies this.

Only two decades ago the world was ideologically and economically divided and it was the huge strategic potential of two superpowers that ensured global security.

This global stand-off pushed the sharpest economic and social problems to the margins of the international community’s and the world’s agenda. And, just like any war, the Cold War left us with live ammunition, figuratively speaking. I am referring to ideological stereotypes, double standards and other typical aspects of Cold War bloc thinking.

The unipolar world that had been proposed after the Cold War did not take place either.

The history of humanity certainly has gone through unipolar periods and seen aspirations to world supremacy. And what hasn’t happened in world history?

However, what is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making.

It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.

And this certainly has nothing in common with democracy. Because, as you know, democracy is the power of the majority in light of the interests and opinions of the minority.

Incidentally, Russia – we – are constantly being taught about democracy. But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves.

I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today’s world. And this is not only because if there was individual leadership in today’s – and precisely in today’s – world, then the military, political and economic resources would not suffice. What is even more important is that the model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilisation.

Along with this, what is happening in today’s world – and we just started to discuss this – is a tentative to introduce precisely this concept into international affairs, the concept of a unipolar world.

And with which results?

Unilateral and frequently illegitimate actions have not resolved any problems. Moreover, they have caused new human tragedies and created new centres of tension. Judge for yourselves: wars as well as local and regional conflicts have not diminished. Mr Teltschik mentioned this very gently. And no less people perish in these conflicts – even more are dying than before. Significantly more, significantly more!

Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible.

We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?

In international relations we increasingly see the desire to resolve a given question according to so-called issues of political expediency, based on the current political climate.

And of course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasise this – no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course such a policy stimulates an arms race.

The force’s dominance inevitably encourages a number of countries to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, significantly new threats – though they were also well-known before – have appeared, and today threats such as terrorism have taken on a global character.

I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security.

And we must proceed by searching for a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the international dialogue. Especially since the international landscape is so varied and changes so quickly – changes in light of the dynamic development in a whole number of countries and regions.

Madam Federal Chancellor already mentioned this. The combined GDP measured in purchasing power parity of countries such as India and China is already greater than that of the United States. And a similar calculation with the GDP of the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – surpasses the cumulative GDP of the EU. And according to experts this gap will only increase in the future.

There is no reason to doubt that the economic potential of the new centres of global economic growth will inevitably be converted into political influence and will strengthen multipolarity.

In connection with this the role of multilateral diplomacy is significantly increasing. The need for principles such as openness, transparency and predictability in politics is uncontested and the use of force should be a really exceptional measure, comparable to using the death penalty in the judicial systems of certain states.

However, today we are witnessing the opposite tendency, namely a situation in which countries that forbid the death penalty even for murderers and other, dangerous criminals are airily participating in military operations that are difficult to consider legitimate. And as a matter of fact, these conflicts are killing people – hundreds and thousands of civilians!

But at the same time the question arises of whether we should be indifferent and aloof to various internal conflicts inside countries, to authoritarian regimes, to tyrants, and to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction? As a matter of fact, this was also at the centre of the question that our dear colleague Mr Lieberman asked the Federal Chancellor. If I correctly understood your question (addressing Mr Lieberman), then of course it is a serious one! Can we be indifferent observers in view of what is happening? I will try to answer your question as well: of course not.

But do we have the means to counter these threats? Certainly we do. It is sufficient to look at recent history. Did not our country have a peaceful transition to democracy? Indeed, we witnessed a peaceful transformation of the Soviet regime – a peaceful transformation! And what a regime! With what a number of weapons, including nuclear weapons! Why should we start bombing and shooting now at every available opportunity? Is it the case when without the threat of mutual destruction we do not have enough political culture, respect for democratic values and for the law?

I am convinced that the only mechanism that can make decisions about using military force as a last resort is the Charter of the United Nations. And in connection with this, either I did not understand what our colleague, the Italian Defence Minister, just said or what he said was inexact. In any case, I understood that the use of force can only be legitimate when the decision is taken by NATO, the EU, or the UN. If he really does think so, then we have different points of view. Or I didn’t hear correctly. The use of force can only be considered legitimate if the decision is sanctioned by the UN. And we do not need to substitute NATO or the EU for the UN. When the UN will truly unite the forces of the international community and can really react to events in various countries, when we will leave behind this disdain for international law, then the situation will be able to change. Otherwise the situation will simply result in a dead end, and the number of serious mistakes will be multiplied. Along with this, it is necessary to make sure that international law have a universal character both in the conception and application of its norms.

And one must not forget that democratic political actions necessarily go along with discussion and a laborious decision-making process.

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

The potential danger of the destabilisation of international relations is connected with obvious stagnation in the disarmament issue.

Russia supports the renewal of dialogue on this important question.

It is important to conserve the international legal framework relating to weapons destruction and therefore ensure continuity in the process of reducing nuclear weapons.

Together with the United States of America we agreed to reduce our nuclear strategic missile capabilities to up to 1700–2000 nuclear warheads by 31 December 2012. Russia intends to strictly fulfil the obligations it has taken on. We hope that our partners will also act in a transparent way and will refrain from laying aside a couple of hundred superfluous nuclear warheads for a rainy day. And if today the new American Defence Minister declares that the United States will not hide these superfluous weapons in warehouse or, as one might say, under a pillow or under the blanket, then I suggest that we all rise and greet this declaration standing. It would be a very important declaration.

Russia strictly adheres to and intends to further adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as well as the multilateral supervision regime for missile technologies. The principles incorporated in these documents are universal ones.

In connection with this I would like to recall that in the 1980s the USSR and the United States signed an agreement on destroying a whole range of small- and medium-range missiles but these documents do not have a universal character.

Today many other countries have these missiles, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, India, Iran, Pakistan and Israel. Many countries are working on these systems and plan to incorporate them as part of their weapons arsenals. And only the United States and Russia bear the responsibility to not create such weapons systems.

It is obvious that in these conditions we must think about ensuring our own security.

At the same time, it is impossible to sanction the appearance of new, destabilising high-tech weapons. Needless to say it refers to measures to prevent a new area of confrontation, especially in outer space. Star wars is no longer a fantasy – it is a reality. In the middle of the 1980s our American partners were already able to intercept their own satellite.

In Russia’s opinion, the militarisation of outer space could have unpredictable consequences for the international community, and provoke nothing less than the beginning of a nuclear era. And we have come forward more than once with initiatives designed to prevent the use of weapons in outer space.

Today I would like to tell you that we have prepared a project for an agreement on the prevention of deploying weapons in outer space. And in the near future it will be sent to our partners as an official proposal. Let’s work on this together.

Plans to expand certain elements of the anti-missile defence system to Europe cannot help but disturb us. Who needs the next step of what would be, in this case, an inevitable arms race? I deeply doubt that Europeans themselves do.

Missile weapons with a range of about five to eight thousand kilometres that really pose a threat to Europe do not exist in any of the so-called problem countries. And in the near future and prospects, this will not happen and is not even foreseeable. And any hypothetical launch of, for example, a North Korean rocket to American territory through western Europe obviously contradicts the laws of ballistics. As we say in Russia, it would be like using the right hand to reach the left ear.

And here in Germany I cannot help but mention the pitiable condition of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

The Adapted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was signed in 1999. It took into account a new geopolitical reality, namely the elimination of the Warsaw bloc. Seven years have passed and only four states have ratified this document, including the Russian Federation.

NATO countries openly declared that they will not ratify this treaty, including the provisions on flank restrictions (on deploying a certain number of armed forces in the flank zones), until Russia removed its military bases from Georgia and Moldova. Our army is leaving Georgia, even according to an accelerated schedule. We resolved the problems we had with our Georgian colleagues, as everybody knows. There are still 1,500 servicemen in Moldova that are carrying out peacekeeping operations and protecting warehouses with ammunition left over from Soviet times. We constantly discuss this issue with Mr Solana and he knows our position. We are ready to further work in this direction.

But what is happening at the same time? Simultaneously the so-called flexible frontline American bases with up to five thousand men in each. It turns out that NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders, and we continue to strictly fulfil the treaty obligations and do not react to these actions at all.

I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: “the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee”. Where are these guarantees?

The stones and concrete blocks of the Berlin Wall have long been distributed as souvenirs. But we should not forget that the fall of the Berlin Wall was possible thanks to a historic choice – one that was also made by our people, the people of Russia – a choice in favour of democracy, freedom, openness and a sincere partnership with all the members of the big European family.

And now they are trying to impose new dividing lines and walls on us – these walls may be virtual but they are nevertheless dividing, ones that cut through our continent. And is it possible that we will once again require many years and decades, as well as several generations of politicians, to dissemble and dismantle these new walls?

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

We are unequivocally in favour of strengthening the regime of non-proliferation. The present international legal principles allow us to develop technologies to manufacture nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes. And many countries with all good reasons want to create their own nuclear energy as a basis for their energy independence. But we also understand that these technologies can be quickly transformed into nuclear weapons.

This creates serious international tensions. The situation surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme acts as a clear example. And if the international community does not find a reasonable solution for resolving this conflict of interests, the world will continue to suffer similar, destabilising crises because there are more threshold countries than simply Iran. We both know this. We are going to constantly fight against the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Last year Russia put forward the initiative to establish international centres for the enrichment of uranium. We are open to the possibility that such centres not only be created in Russia, but also in other countries where there is a legitimate basis for using civil nuclear energy. Countries that want to develop their nuclear energy could guarantee that they will receive fuel through direct participation in these centres. And the centres would, of course, operate under strict IAEA supervision.

The latest initiatives put forward by American President George W. Bush are in conformity with the Russian proposals. I consider that Russia and the USA are objectively and equally interested in strengthening the regime of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their deployment. It is precisely our countries, with leading nuclear and missile capabilities, that must act as leaders in developing new, stricter non-proliferation measures. Russia is ready for such work. We are engaged in consultations with our American friends.

In general, we should talk about establishing a whole system of political incentives and economic stimuli whereby it would not be in states’ interests to establish their own capabilities in the nuclear fuel cycle but they would still have the opportunity to develop nuclear energy and strengthen their energy capabilities.

In connection with this I shall talk about international energy cooperation in more detail. Madam Federal Chancellor also spoke about this briefly – she mentioned, touched on this theme. In the energy sector Russia intends to create uniform market principles and transparent conditions for all. It is obvious that energy prices must be determined by the market instead of being the subject of political speculation, economic pressure or blackmail.

We are open to cooperation. Foreign companies participate in all our major energy projects. According to different estimates, up to 26 percent of the oil extraction in Russia – and please think about this figure – up to 26 percent of the oil extraction in Russia is done by foreign capital. Try, try to find me a similar example where Russian business participates extensively in key economic sectors in western countries. Such examples do not exist! There are no such examples.

I would also recall the parity of foreign investments in Russia and those Russia makes abroad. The parity is about fifteen to one. And here you have an obvious example of the openness and stability of the Russian economy.

Economic security is the sector in which all must adhere to uniform principles. We are ready to compete fairly.

For that reason more and more opportunities are appearing in the Russian economy. Experts and our western partners are objectively evaluating these changes. As such, Russia’s OECD sovereign credit rating improved and Russia passed from the fourth to the third group. And today in Munich I would like to use this occasion to thank our German colleagues for their help in the above decision.

Furthermore. As you know, the process of Russia joining the WTO has reached its final stages. I would point out that during long, difficult talks we heard words about freedom of speech, free trade, and equal possibilities more than once but, for some reason, exclusively in reference to the Russian market.

And there is still one more important theme that directly affects global security. Today many talk about the struggle against poverty. What is actually happening in this sphere? On the one hand, financial resources are allocated for programmes to help the world’s poorest countries – and at times substantial financial resources. But to be honest — and many here also know this – linked with the development of that same donor country’s companies. And on the other hand, developed countries simultaneously keep their agricultural subsidies and limit some countries’ access to high-tech products.

And let’s say things as they are – one hand distributes charitable help and the other hand not only preserves economic backwardness but also reaps the profits thereof. The increasing social tension in depressed regions inevitably results in the growth of radicalism, extremism, feeds terrorism and local conflicts. And if all this happens in, shall we say, a region such as the Middle East where there is increasingly the sense that the world at large is unfair, then there is the risk of global destabilisation.

It is obvious that the world’s leading countries should see this threat. And that they should therefore build a more democratic, fairer system of global economic relations, a system that would give everyone the chance and the possibility to develop.

Dear ladies and gentlemen, speaking at the Conference on Security Policy, it is impossible not to mention the activities of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As is well-known, this organisation was created to examine all – I shall emphasise this – all aspects of security: military, political, economic, humanitarian and, especially, the relations between these spheres.

What do we see happening today? We see that this balance is clearly destroyed. People are trying to transform the OSCE into a vulgar instrument designed to promote the foreign policy interests of one or a group of countries. And this task is also being accomplished by the OSCE’s bureaucratic apparatus which is absolutely not connected with the state founders in any way. Decision-making procedures and the involvement of so-called non-governmental organisations are tailored for this task. These organisations are formally independent but they are purposefully financed and therefore under control.

According to the founding documents, in the humanitarian sphere the OSCE is designed to assist country members in observing international human rights norms at their request. This is an important task. We support this. But this does not mean interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, and especially not imposing a regime that determines how these states should live and develop.

It is obvious that such interference does not promote the development of democratic states at all. On the contrary, it makes them dependent and, as a consequence, politically and economically unstable.

We expect that the OSCE be guided by its primary tasks and build relations with sovereign states based on respect, trust and transparency.

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

In conclusion I would like to note the following. We very often – and personally, I very often – hear appeals by our partners, including our European partners, to the effect that Russia should play an increasingly active role in world affairs.

In connection with this I would allow myself to make one small remark. It is hardly necessary to incite us to do so. Russia is a country with a history that spans more than a thousand years and has practically always used the privilege to carry out an independent foreign policy.

We are not going to change this tradition today. At the same time, we are well aware of how the world has changed and we have a realistic sense of our own opportunities and potential. And of course we would like to interact with responsible and independent partners with whom we could work together in constructing a fair and democratic world order that would ensure security and prosperity not only for a select few, but for all.

Thank you for your attention.

Horst Teltschik: Thank you very much for your important speech. We heard new themes, including the issue of global security architecture – one was not in the foreground over the last few years – disarmament, arms control, the issue of the NATO-Russian relations, and cooperation in the field of technology.

There are still a whole number of questions and Mr President is ready to answer.

Question: Dear Mr President, thank you for your speech. I would like to emphasise that the German Bundestag is convinced of Russia’s importance as Europe’s partner and of the importance of the role you play. The Federal Chancellor said this in her speech.

Proceeding from experience, I would like to mention two issues in your speech. First of all, on your opinion of NATO and NATO expansion, a phenomenon that you consider dangerous for Russia. Would you acknowledge that this phenomenon is, in practice, not expansion but rather the self-determination of democratic states who want this? And that NATO finds it difficult to accept states that do not declare this readiness? You could admit that thanks to NATO expansion eastern borders have become more reliable, more secure. Why are you afraid of democracy? I am convinced that only democratic states can become members of NATO. This stabilises neighbours.

About what is happening inside your country. The murder of Anna Politkovskaya was a symbol. One can say that this affects many journalists, makes everybody afraid, and the law on non-governmental organisations also causes alarm.

Question: I well understand your comments about non-proliferation. Especially at the end of the Cold War we saw a reduction of the deployment of nuclear weapons, but we also saw increased terrorism. Nuclear materials must be kept away from terrorists.

Question: Coming back to the question that was also asked to the Federal Chancellor. What does the future hold for Kosovo and Serbia? What is your opinion of Mr Ahtisaari? How will Russia influence resolving this problem?

Question: Can you comment on the experiences of Russian servicemen in Chechnya? And about your comments on energy: you briefly mentioned the market role energy plays in politics. The EU is interested in reaching a partnership agreement that contains fixed policy principles. Are you ready to guarantee reliable energy deliveries, including in the agreement?

Question: Mr President, your speech was both sincere and frank. I hope that you understand my frank and direct question. In the 1990s Russian experts actively helped Iran develop missile technologies. Iran now has advanced medium- and long-range missiles that would enable it to strike Russia and part of Europe. They are also working towards placing nuclear warheads on these missiles. Your country has made efforts to negotiate with Iran on this issue and supported the UN Security Council resolution to prevent Iran from carrying out such a policy.

My question is as follows: what efforts will Russia make – through the UN or otherwise – to stop these very serious events in Iran?

Question: I am confident that the historians of the future will not describe our conference as one in which the Second Cold War was declared. But they could. You said that it is necessary to put pressure on Iran and to provide positive incentives. But is it not true that Russia is interfering with the process of applying strong pressure through sanctions? Secondly, with regards to deliveries of weapons, Russia is encouraging Iran, especially since these weapons appeared in Lebanon and in Gaza. What are your comments on this?

Question: I understand your sincerity and I hope that you will accept our sincerity. First of all, about arms control. Who needs a new arms race? I want to point out that the USA has not developed a new strategic weapon in more than two decades and that you recently tested the Topol-M missile, and that it is already deployed in silos and on mobile installations. You criticised the USA for unilateral actions and said twice that military actions can only be legitimate if they receive UN approval. The USA is carrying out military actions in Iraq and in Afghanistan according to UN decisions and today in Kosovo the majority of troops are supporting peace-making operations in this country.

My question is the following: are you saying that independently of how Russia perceives a threat to its international interests, it will not undertake military operations without UN approval?

Question: You talked about the danger of a unipolar world in which one sovereign makes a decision without consulting anyone else. In many people’s opinion, in Russia we are seeing an increasingly unipolar government where competing centres of influence are forced to tow the party line, whether it be in the State Duma, the regional leadership, the media, business communities or non-governmental organisations. Would a unipolar government be such a reliable partner when the issue of energy security is at stake?

President Vladimir Putin: First of all I would like to thank you for your questions. Very interesting. It is a shame that we have little time left because I would be pleased to have a separate discussion with all of you. I very much enjoy this, I like it.

I will begin with the last question about the unipolar nature of the Russian government. Today the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the United Russia Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and other political forces as well sit in the Russian parliament. And their basic positions differ significantly. If you aren’t aware of this then just have a talk with the leadership of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and then with the leader of our liberal democrats, Mr Zhirinovsky. You will see the difference at once. If you cannot see it now, then have a talk with them. There is no problem here, simply go to Moscow and talk to them.

About our future plans. We would like to have a mature political system, a multi-party system with responsible politicians who can anticipate the country’s development and not only work responsibly before elections and immediately after, but in a long-term future as well. That is what we aspire to. And this system will certainly be a multi-party one. All our actions within Russia, including changing the State Duma election regime, the election regime in the Russian parliament, are designed to strengthen a multi-party system in Russia.

And now about whether our government cabinet is able to operate responsibly in resolving issues linked to energy deliveries and ensuring energy security. Of course it can! Moreover, all that we have done and are doing is designed to achieve only one goal, namely to transfer our relations with consumers and countries that transport our energy to market-based, transparent principles and long-term contracts.

I will remind you and my colleague, the President of Ukraine, who is sitting opposite from me, also knows this. For fifteen years prior to 2006, as long as we did not make the corresponding decisions during our difficult talks, deliveries of Russian energy and, first and foremost, of gas to Europe depended on the conditions and prices for the deliveries of Russian gas to Ukraine itself. And this was something that Ukraine and Russia agreed among themselves. And if we reached no agreement, then all European consumers would sit there with no gas. Would you like to see this happen? I don’t think so. And despite all the scandals, the protection of interests, and differences of opinion we were able to agree with President Yushchenko. I consider that he made a responsible, absolutely correct and market-oriented decision. We signed separate contracts for the delivery of our gas to Ukraine and for delivering Russian gas to Europe for the next five years. You should thank us, both Russia and Ukraine, for this decision. And thank you also for your question.

It would have been better if I answered your questions at once.

Regarding our perception of NATO’s eastern expansion, I already mentioned the guarantees that were made and that are not being observed today. Do you happen to think that this is normal practice in international affairs? But all right, forget it. Forget these guarantees. With respect to democracy and NATO expansion. NATO is not a universal organisation, as opposed to the UN. It is first and foremost a military and political alliance, military and political! Well, ensuring one’s own security is the right of any sovereign state. We are not arguing against this. Of course we are not objecting to this. But why is it necessary to put military infrastructure on our borders during this expansion? Can someone answer this question? Unless the expansion of military infrastructure is connected with fighting against today’s global threats? Let’s put it this way, what is the most important of these threats for us today – the most important for Russia, for the USA and for Europe – it is terrorism and the fight against it.

Does one need Russia to fight against terrorism? Of course! Does one need India to fight against terrorism! Of course! But we are not members of NATO and other countries aren’t either. But we can only work on this issue effectively by joining our forces. As such, expanding infrastructure, especially military infrastructure, to our borders is not connected in any way with the democratic choices of individual states. And I would ask that we not mix these two concepts.

You know, I wrote so illegibly here that even I cannot read my own writing. I will therefore answer what I can read and if I do not answer something, please remind me of the question.

What will happen with Kosovo and with Serbia? Only Kosovars and Serbs can know. And let’s not tell them how they should live their lives. There is no need to play God and resolve all of these peoples’ problems. Together we can only create certain necessary conditions and help people resolve their own problems. Create the necessary conditions and act as the guarantors of certain agreements. But we should not impose these agreements. Otherwise, we shall simply put the situation into a dead end. And if one of the participants in this difficult process feels offended or humiliated, then the problem will last for centuries. We will only create a dead end.

What does our position consist in? Our position consists in adhering precisely to this principle. And if we see that one party is clearly dissatisfied with the proposals to resolve the situation then we are not going to support this option.

I did not exactly understand what you meant when you asked about our servicemen’s experience in Chechnya. Their experience is not pleasant, but it is extensive. And if you are interested in the general situation in Chechnya, then I can tell you that a parliament and a president have been elected, and that the government is functioning. All the bodies of authority and administration have been formed. Practically all the political forces in Chechnya have been involved in work in the Republic. As an example, the former Defence Minister of Aslan Maskhadov’s government is now a member of parliament in Chechnya. And we made a whole series of decisions that would allow former insurgents to return not only to normal life, but also to the Republic’s political activities. As such, today we prefer to act by using economic and political means and, in practice, we have transferred the responsibility for ensuring security almost 100 percent to the Chechen people. Because the agencies of law and order that were formed in Chechnya are almost 100 percent composed of local citizens, from those living in Chechnya on a permanent basis – from Chechens.

As to Lebanon, I also did not quite understand what you meant. But, yes, the fact that we sent military construction workers to Lebanon to restore bridges and infrastructure that was destroyed in the conflict with Israel is a confirmation of a well-known situation, the one I described just now. And military units protecting these builders were made up of servicemen from Chechnya and with Chechen origins. We recognised that if our servicemen must operate in regions inhabited by Muslims, sending a contingent of Muslim servicemen would be no bad thing. And we were not mistaken. The local population really gave a warm welcome to our military builders.

Now about the energy agreement with the European Union, since this is how I understood the question. We have said many times that we are not against agreeing on the principles underlying our energy relations with the EU. Moreover, the principles contained in the Charter are generally comprehensible. But the Charter itself is not so acceptable to us. Because not only Russia but also our European partners do not adhere to its principles. It is enough to remember that the market for nuclear materials remains closed for us. Nobody has opened this market to us.

There are also other moments which I simply do not want to draw attention to now. But as to the principles themselves, we are already using these principles in our work with German companies. I shall remind you of the transaction that took place between Gazprom and BASF. As a matter of fact, this was an asset swap. We are ready to continue to work this way. We are ready. But in each concrete instance we must understand what we give, what our partners give, calculate, have an independent international expert evaluation, and then make a decision. We are ready to engage in this work. We have actually just recently done something similar with our Italian partners, with the company ENI. And we did more than simply sign an agreement about deliveries until 2035 – I think – we also talked about swapping assets. And we are studying this same type of cooperation with our Ukrainian friends. This is going ahead.

And is it necessary to fix these principles in a possible future fundamental text between Russia and the EU? It is possible to have different opinions on this issue. I consider that it is not necessary because, in addition to energy, we have other spheres in which we cooperate with the EU, including agriculture, high-tech and transportation. And all of this is very important and very interesting. And we cannot put all of this in one fundamental act that should act as a framework document. Or would you want us to put only what you need in the document and leave what we need outside of the framework? Let’s discuss things honestly with one another and take mutually acceptable decisions.

“In the 1990s Russia helped Iran develop missile technologies”. I think that you asked me this question. “Today Iran wants to put nuclear warheads on these missiles that could reach Europe. What is Russia going to do about the Iranian nuclear programme?” Is that so?

Well first of all, I do not have data that in the 1990s Russia helped Iran create its own missile technologies. It was other countries that worked very actively towards this. And technology was transferred through different channels. And we have proof of this. At the time I gave these proofs directly to the President of the United States. And technology also came from Europe and from Asian countries.

So Russia is hardly at fault here. I assure you. Russia is the country least involved here. Least of all. If it is involved at all. At the time I was still working in St Petersburg, but we were not involved with this. I can assure you of this. But you know that at the business level something could have happened. We trained experts in institutes and so on. And at the request and according to the information of our American partners we reacted harshly to this. Immediately and harshly. We did not observe such a reaction from our other partners, including European partners. Moreover, I do not know whether you are aware of this or not but you should know that military technology and special equipment is still coming from the United States. Until now. Until now spare parts for F-14 planes come from the armed forces and the Pentagon. As far as I know, there is even an investigation taking place in the United States on this account. And despite the fact that this investigation is proceeding and that these spare parts were seized at the border and then sent back, after a certain amount of time, according to the data I have – and if they are not correct then check them – those same cargos were again seized at the border. Even bearing a tag ‘material evidence’.

You know, this stream is really hard to stop. We need to work together to do so.

About whether or not Iran has missiles that threaten Europe. You are mistaken. Today Iran has – Mr Gates is here today and certainly knows this data better than I do, and the Russian Defence Minister is also here – missiles with a range of 2000 kilometres.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov: 1600–1700 kilometres.

Vladimir Putin: 1600–1700 kilometres. Only. Well, count how many kilometres there are between Munich and the Iranian border. Iran has no such missiles. They plan to develop some with a range of 2400 kilometres. It is not known whether they have the technology to do so. And with respect to 4000, 5000 or 6000 kilometres, then I think that this would simply require a different economy. So, it is improbable in general. And Iran is not threatening Europe. With regard to the idea that they are preparing to use nuclear warheads then we do not have such data. We do not have this data about nuclear warheads.

North Korea has tested a nuclear device. Iranians are constantly saying that their nuclear programme has a peaceful character. But I agree with you that the international community has concerns about the character and quality of Iran’s nuclear programmes. And Mr ElBaradai recently stated these concerns in what I think were six or seven points. I agree with you about this. And I do not understand why the Iranian party has still not reacted in a positive and constructive way to the concerns that Mr ElBaradai stated and therefore assuaged these concerns. I do not understand this just as you do not understand it.

What are we going to do? I think that together we need to work patiently and carefully. And, that’s right, to create incentives and show the Iranian leadership that cooperation with the international community is much better than confrontation.

Yes, and again about the deliveries of weapons to Iran. You know that there has been more talk than deliveries. Our military and technical cooperation with Iran is minimal. Simply minimal. I am not sure what minimal figures it is estimated at. In general we deliver much less arms to the Middle East than other countries, including the United States. No comparison is possible there. We recently delivered an anti-aircraft weapon system to Iran – that is true – with a medium range, approximately 30 to 50 kilometres. That is true. Why did we do this? I can explain why. We did this so that Iran did not feel it had been driven into a corner. So that it didn’t feel that it was in some kind of hostile environment. Rather that Iran could understand that it had channels of communication and friends that it could trust. We very much expect that the Iranian party will understand and hear our signals.

As to our weapons in Lebanon and in the Gaza strip. I am not aware of our weapons in the Gaza strip. I have not heard of such examples. Well, Kalashnikovs are in general the most widely used small arms in the world. They are probably everywhere. And probably there are still automatic Kalashnikovs in Germany or, in any case, some that have still not been destroyed. That is one hundred percent certain.

In Lebanon it is true. Elements of our anti-tank systems really have been seen there. That is true. Our Israeli partners told me about this at once. We carried out a thorough investigation into what happened. And we determined that these systems had remained in Lebanese territory after the Syrian army left. We carried out the corresponding work with our Syrian partners. We determined that our future military and technical cooperation with Syria would exclude the possibility that weapons could fall into any hands other than the ones they were destined for. We developed such a system. Among other things, we agreed on a system of possible warehouse inspections, at any time that is convenient for Russian experts. Inspections in warehouses after deliveries of Russian weapons systems to Syria.

“The USA are not developing strategic weapons but Russia is. Will Russia use force in the future if it is not sanctioned by the UN? Russia is developing a system of strategic weapons”.

Fine question, excellent! I am very grateful to you for this question. It will give me the opportunity to talk about the essence of what is happening. What are we indebted to in the past decades if there was a stand-off between two superpowers and two systems but nevertheless a big war did not take place? We are indebted to the balance of powers between these two superpowers. There was an equilibrium and a fear of mutual destruction. And in those days one party was afraid to make an extra step without consulting the other. And this was certainly a fragile peace and a frightening one. But as we see today, it was reliable enough. Today, it seems that the peace is not so reliable.

Yes, the United States is ostensibly not developing an offensive weapon. In any case, the public does not know about this. Even though they are certainly developing them. But we aren’t even going to ask about this now. We know that these developments are proceeding. But we pretend that we don’t know, so we say that they aren’t developing new weapons. But what do we know? That the United States is actively developing and already strengthening an anti-missile defence system. Today this system is ineffective but we do not know exactly whether it will one day be effective. But in theory it is being created for that purpose. So hypothetically we recognise that when this moment arrives, the possible threat from our nuclear forces will be completely neutralised. Russia’s present nuclear capabilities, that is. The balance of powers will be absolutely destroyed and one of the parties will benefit from the feeling of complete security. This means that its hands will be free not only in local but eventually also in global conflicts.

We are discussing this with you now. I would not want anyone to suspect any aggressive intentions on our part. But the system of international relations is just like mathematics. There are no personal dimensions. And of course we should react to this. How? Either the same as you and therefore by building a multi-billion dollar anti-missile system or, in view of our present economic and financial possibilities, by developing an asymmetrical answer. So that everybody can understand that the anti-missile defence system is useless against Russia because we have certain weapons that easily overcome it. And we are proceeding in this direction. It is cheaper for us. And this is in no way directed against the United States themselves.

I completely agree if you say that the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) is not directed against us, just as our new weapons are not directed against you. And I fully agree with my colleague and my friend about another thing. Do you know – and I will not be afraid of the word – that in spite of all our disagreements I consider the President of the United States my friend. He is a decent person and I know that today the wolves can blame the United States for everything that is being done on the international arena and internally. But I know that he is a decent person and it is possible to talk and reach agreements with him. And when I talked to him he said: “I proceed from the fact that Russia and the USA will never be opponents and enemies again”. I agree with him. But I repeat once again that there are symmetries and asymmetries here, there is nothing personal. It is simply a calculation.

And now about whether Russia will use military force without the sanction of the UN. We will always operate strictly within the international legal framework. My basic education is in law and I will allow myself to remind both myself and my colleagues that according to the UN Charter peace-keeping operations require the sanction of both the UN and the UN Security Council. This is in the case of peace-keeping operations. But in the UN Charter there is also an article about self-defence. And no sanctions are required in this case.

So, what have I forgotten?

Question: My question was about multipolarity in Russia itself and about the attitude of the international community towards Russia if Russia does not observe these principles, in reference to the murder of journalists, fears, anxieties, the absence of freedom and non-governmental organisations.

Vladimir Putin: I will say a couple of words. I already answered part of the question when I talked about the structure of the Russian parliament. Look at who is represented there, the political views of the people who have leadership positions in parliament, the legitimate parties. Now, as to non-governmental organisations, they are working actively in Russia. Yes, we introduced a new system for registering these organisations. But it is not that different from registration systems in other countries. And we have not yet seen any complaints from non-governmental organisations themselves. We have not refused registration to almost any organisations. There were two or three cases that were refused on simply formal grounds and these organisations are working on correcting certain provisions in their charters and so on. Nobody has been refused registration based on substantial, fundamental issues. All are continuing to work in the most active possible way and will continue to do so in the future.

What bothers us? I can say and I think that it is clear for all, that when these non-governmental organisations are financed by foreign governments, we see them as an instrument that foreign states use to carry out their Russian policies. That is the first thing. The second. In every country there are certain rules for financing, shall we say, election campaigns. Financing from foreign governments, including within governmental campaigns, proceeds through non-governmental organisations. And who is happy about this? Is this normal democracy? It is secret financing. Hidden from society. Where is the democracy here? Can you tell me? No! You can’t tell me and you never will be able to. Because there is no democracy here, there is simply one state exerting influence on another.

But we are interested in developing civil society in Russia, so that it scolds and criticises the authorities, helps them determine their own mistakes, and correct their policies in Russian citizens’ interests. We are certainly interested in this and we will support civil society and non-governmental organisations.

As to fears and so on, are you aware that today Russians have fewer fears than citizens in many other countries? Because in the last few years we made cardinal changes to improve the economic well-being of our citizens. We still have a great many problems. And we still have a great many unresolved problems. Including problems linked with poverty. And I can tell you that fears basically come from this source.

As to journalists then yes, this represents an important and difficult problem. And, incidentally, journalists are not only killed in Russia, but in other countries as well. Where are most journalists killed? You are an expert and probably know in which country the most journalists died in, say, the last year and a half? The largest number of journalists were killed in Iraq.

As to tragedies within Russia, we will certainly struggle with these phenomena in the most thorough way possible and sternly punish all criminals who try to undermine trust in Russia and damage our political system.

Thank you for your attention.

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Edited by kommersant
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@Tomasz and @kommersant this is a very interesting topic. If it was already discussed at this forum @Tom Kirkman please help with the link as I am really interested about this issues.

The topic of Soviet Union and later Russia history in the period of 1985-2000 (since Gorbatchev became General Secretary of Communist Party until Putin became President of Russia) and the foreign relations with Western countries and China is really an interesting one.

I understand that for both of you @Tomasz and @kommersant the "betrayal" of United States relating to NATO expansion is an important part of this discussion.

My opinion is that there is nothing like "promises" or "accords" in realpolitik. Every country has only interests (also US and Russia). So when Clinton promised to not expand NATO it was just a smart move to bide time. Russia was gradually being weakened by domestic economic and political problems, I admit with a little "help" from foreign, Western advisors.

In my opinion low global oil prices in 90s exacerbated Russia's domestic problems with rebalancing economy after Soviet Union economic collapse.

The situation started to improve a lot since 2000, not because young and cunning Putin became President but oil prices markedly increased and gave Russian Federation large source of $ dollar incomes from exports of hydrocarbons.

High hydrocarbon prices averted collapse of Russia, and allowed significant development of the country since early 2000s.

The most important strategic goal of the United States is to "Not allow emergence of strong peer like country in the world". Due to geographical limitations such country can only emerge in Eurasia, in the current territorry of Russia and China.

Soviet Union was perceived as such competitor after WW2, but its ineffective economic policies made it impossible. Since 1960s it was obvious that Soviet Union will never be US peer, only competitor in narrow, military terms.

History of US-Russia relations in the period of 1990-2000 are really interesting from our, present perspective, because around this time United States made the largest strategic mistake in all its history.

In late 1990s it was apparent that China will probably rise to become US peer competitor. But US authorities were too arrogant and treated Russia badly. US thought that it will be strong enough to throw to dustbin the Triangle Rule of global relations.

In 1990s US should invest in Russian capabilities and start trade and technology war with China. This was the only way to stop China.

So in June 2001 Shanghai Cooperation Organization was created by Russia and China at that moment still Senior (Russia) and Junior (China) partners. 3 months later, Bush Junior's the most stupid reation of the century after 9/11 terrorist attack, enabled Rise of China.

 

 

 

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In 2001 Bush Junior should accuse China of perpetrating 9/11 terrorist attack. It was actually much more probable than blaming Aghanistan, Iran or Iraq at that moment.

It would be smart move and allow imposing all the sanctions and contain China rise.

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5 hours ago, Douglas Buckland said:

Did you forget to take your medication this morning?

Russians still have 90s in their vivid memory. It was a decade of humilation for Russia, just after Soviet Union partition. Most of these sad events were direct consequence of need to overhaul economic system destroyed by decades of planned economy and overburdened by military expenses. But it is only natural to also blame foreign culprits like US. I remember papers of these time, they were triumphiant, and of the history and so on. Only necessity of common enemy created SCO in June 2001, and allowed Russia-China alliance.

2001 is the pivotal year of 21st century. Look at its chronology, month by month. A lot of what happened till 2019 in foreign relations started in 2001.

January Bush Jr inauguration (Top priority : containment of China)

April Hainan Island incident

June 15 Shanghai Co-operation Organization created by Russia and China

September 11 Terrorist attacks in US

Priority changed: War on Terror

October 11 Invasion of Afghanistan

December 11 China allowed to enter WTO

Bush Jr agreed to entrance of China (in opposition to earlier Bill Clinton) because he needed China for War of Terror in Asia.

 

 

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(edited)

Do people in US really remember Cuban Crisis?

Because ukraine-russian border is less than 400 km from Moscow. 

Its matter of national security like soviet missiles on Cuba and all sensible experts should understand that at the latest after Munich speech back in 2007..

So I can assure you Russia will never leave Ukraine alone to join NATO or make pact with USA and put NATO troops in this country.

Russian official said it at least several times that Georgia and Ukraine is red line.

You may not like it but thats realpolitic no great power will accept hostile military alliance coming close to its border.

 

But coming back to topic I read very interesting commentary in Kiev Post

Quote

 

It’s hard to understate the significance of this agreement if, indeed, it moves from a deal in principle to an actual deal. This would mark the first economic/trade deal of any note between Ukraine and Russia in the period since the EuroMaidan Revolution that deposed President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

And let’s not forget that, over this period, the Ukraine-Russia trade/economic relationship has been beset by legal battles, court cases and collapsing trade flows.

To put things into perspective, at the time of the EuroMaidan, something like 35-40% of Ukrainian trade flows were with/to Russia, and now they are in single digits. In 2009, at the time the prior to the Russia- Ukraine gas pricing/transit agreement, Ukraine was set to import around 40 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia for domestic consumption, with around 117 billion cubic members in gas set for transit through Ukraine to Europe. Since then gas imports from Russia (which had been costing something like $12 billion annually) were down to close to zero over the past year, while gas transit flows had more or less halved.

What is going on?

Well in part, this reflects the fact that Russia needs Ukraine for at least the next year, until Nord Stream 2 is fully up and running, it still is unable to fully cut Ukraine out of gas transit, albeit Nord Stream 2 significantly reduces its dependency. So it does need some kind of deal with Ukraine – it pitched for a one-year deal, but given the Ukrainians were looking for another 10-year deal, it had to give something up to Ukraine, and under strong pressure from the Europeans. It seems like the Ukrainians got much more than they expected – a 5-year deal perhaps.

Why is Putin being so generous?

In part, I think he feels he has won the geopolitical battle with the West, with Trump looking set to get a second term in the US, Brexit, and with French President Emmanuel Macron, et al., looking to normalize the relationship with Russia. Being seen to be reasonable over gas talks with Ukraine – which really are about assuring gas supplies to Europe, not Ukraine, plays well to the agenda of those in the West wanting normalization in the relationship with Russia. And Vladimir Putin knows this – a similar theme is perhaps playing out now in terms of peace talks under the Normandy format with Ukraine. Russia is not giving up that much, but perceptions in the West matter – and Putin is plying a line that Russia is being reasonable. Prisoner swaps, et al play to this. And really what is Moscow giving up? Not much in terms of gas – as it lost the Stockholm ruling over $3 billion or so owed to Naftogaz, and Gazprom will have to pay, eventually, while it still looks set to get Nord Stream 2 completed sometime in 2020. So it is actually further down the line of cutting Ukraine out of gas transit to Europe.

And what about the Ukrainians?

The Ukrainians were hoping that U.S. sanctions on Nord Stream would come much earlier, and scupper the project. But Trump administration and Congress stalled on this – to the point that Nord Stream 2 is now a done deal. But I think over the past 4-5 years, Ukraine has come to the realization that it can live without gas supplies from Russia, and also the $3 billion annual gas transit fees it earns in that respect.

Indeed, in some respects, moving out of Russia’s gas supply chain could be a big positive, as this whole business has in the past bred a dependency on Russia and corruption culture amongst Ukraine’s elites (an estimated $3 billion disappeared in graft annually amongst Ukrainian elites from this business). Thinking beyond this business has allowed Ukraine to further reform in the energy/gas sector (rationalize prices, cut demand and increase supply), and to realize that it can actually be self-sufficient in energy in the medium term, and even a gas exporter over the longer term. Ukraine has already cut its annual gas import bill from $12 billion as mentioned to $2 billion or so, and this could easily move into a net export earner. A remarkable turnaround in just over a decade.

And I guess this particular gas deal accepts the inevitable that Nord Stream 2 is now a reality, and from a Ukrainian perspective better use what remaining leverage it has, screwing Russia for as much as possible. And in this respect it looks like a five-year deal, where Russia pays the sums owed as per the Stockholm arbitration ruling, perhaps having this set against discounted gas prices from Russia for a period, and being assured of some gas transit fees for at least the five-year period.

Perhaps gas transit will be set at 60 billion cubic meters on a declining scale over the five-year period. But from a Ukrainian perspective, this buys Ukraine more time to build alternatives for the time when Russian gas transit stops. And perhaps therein, Ukraine is mindful that Russia’s natural gas transit business to Europe is in decline anyway, as it faces increasing competition from the Gulf and the U.S. in terms of LNG imports to Europe. Why fight for a business which might soon be a shadow of what it once was?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Marcin said:

@Tomasz and @kommersant this is a very interesting topic. If it was already discussed at this forum @Tom Kirkman please help with the link as I am really interested about this issues.

The topic of Soviet Union and later Russia history in the period of 1985-2000 (since Gorbatchev became General Secretary of Communist Party until Putin became President of Russia) and the foreign relations with Western countries and China is really an interesting one.

I understand that for both of you @Tomasz and @kommersant the "betrayal" of United States relating to NATO expansion is an important part of this discussion

@Jan van Eck to the white courtesy phone please.

This is not really my area of expertise, but Jan has written quite a bit about this general Russia / U.S  / NATO imbroglio.

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(edited)

3 hours ago, Tomasz said:

Do people in US really remember Cuban Crisis?

Because ukraine-russian border is less than 400 km from Moscow. 

Its matter of national security like soviet missiles on Cuba and all sensible experts should understand that at the latest after Munich speech back in 2007..

So I can assure you Russia will never leave Ukraine alone to join NATO or make pact with USA and put NATO troops in this country.

Russian official said it at least several times that Georgia and Ukraine is red line.

You may not like it but thats realpolitic no great power will accept hostile military alliance coming close to its border.

 

But coming back to topic I read very interesting commentary in Kiev Post

 

I am Polish so naturally being between Germany and Russia, with US far far away I am interested in European history and US nuclear doctrine.

@Tomasz is Russian but I think he is right. US is trying to lower and lower the bar for usage of nuclear weapons. It seems insane but it is the truth. This is major reason why I think US is at present the most dangerous and agressive country in the world, not Russia, China, Iran, North Korea but US.

Recently the bar for nuke usage was put even lower by program of tactical nukes in US.

Remember that losing hegemony to China (and without Russia winning over China is easier) is a great thing, worth limited nuclear conflict.

The most dangerous are facts on the ground, and not retoric, retoric is for stupid morons, sheep. United States spends a lot of money, my estimation is at least 1/2 of its budget solely for the war with China or Russia. All this gear: F-35, thousand of tankers, so many AEGIS destroyers, modernization of nuclear weapons are unnecessary unless you want to attack China (Russia) in the future.

Of course China knows about it and since 2010 is relatively safe due to deployment of solid fuel powered ICBMs.

China and Russia are afraid about crippling first strike, nuclear strike from Ukrainian (towards Russia), Japanese, South Korean, Taiwanese, Guam base territories (towards China).

US nuclear doctrine is vague and it makes possible offensive use of nuclear weapons.

Remember that Americans are really s**pid people, en masse, and really like their exceptionalism. It would be easy to convince them that China attack is imminent so we (US) need to sort it out first.

Even at this forum, after 2-3 weeks study of prejudices and stereotypes of intelligent, knowledgeable, upper middle class US (or UK) users is of my primary interest, not China or US. I did not think they could be so imprinted, embedded in the minds of people. Pure North Korean style, only "democratic".

US users are nice, fantastic people, but single topic of US exceptionalism triggers some pure madness.

That is why China and Russia expanded so much mobile ICBM launchers, located in a few million sq kilometres of their vast territories. But US still thinks that targeted strikes by stealth fighters and bombers to destroy this mobile launchers will make later nuclear strike possible. Trillions of US dollars: 1,000,000,000,000 of US dollars stand behind this phantasies so maybe they are real to some extent.

Arm race accelerated, China has 10 times more advanced vessels already commissioned or building or planning than were commissioned during whole Hu Jintao decade. And I do not think China has only 300 warheads. Their program is obscure.

Edited by Marcin
typo
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10 hours ago, Douglas Buckland said:

Did you forget to take your medication this morning?

Let me guess...you never been good at history, right?

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@Tomasz Regarding article in Kiev Post - it is far away from reality. 1) Ukraine gas reverse transit from Europe is a political sideshow. It does not work this way, pipeline was designed to keep certain pressure and gas flow from Russia to Europe 2) Gas transit business is fading away for Ukraine only. Europe is going to import more gas as local production declining and transition from coal (Germany soon will shut down nuclear as well). US LNG could not compete with cheaper pipeline gas, therefore not much competition from US LNG...

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@Gerry Maddoux

Update:

BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE UKRAINE-RUSSIA GAS DEAL

Representatives of Russia and Ukraine signed a protocol on gas transit and claims settlement following the results of gas negotiations in Minsk on December 20.

According to Alexey Miller, the chairman of Gazprom’s Management Committee, Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz may sign a contract on transit of Russian gas through Ukraine for 5 years, the volume of gas transit in 2020 will amount to 65 bln cubic meters, and in 2021-2024 – 40 bln cubic meters annually.

Miller said that the agreement would envisage “a waiver of any new claims, withdrawal of arbitration and legal claims that did not result in final decisions and a payment in line with the verdict of the Stockholm court.”

The gas agreements include an increase in the transit tariff, the payment of $3 billion to Ukraine by the decision of the Stockholm arbitration until the end of 2019. It should be noted that the Ukrainian dept for Russian gas supplies is now about $3 billion. Nonetheless, the Kiev leadership rejects any set-off proposals and demands a direct payment of $3 billion from Russia. At the same time, the Ukrainian side does not even consider a possibility of  returning its $3 billion dept to Russia anytime in the near future. So, the agreements are not equitable.

Ukraine’s fiscal revenues in 2019 are expected be reach $36.97 billion. Therefore, the $3 billion payment from Russia is equal to approximately 8% of Ukraine’s annual fiscal revenue.

According to Ukrainian sources, Ukraine receives approximately up to $3 billion per year as gas transit fees from Russia. In 2019, Russia transited about 87 bln cubic meters through Ukraine. Ahead of the gas agreements between Moscow and Kiev, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia is to continue selling gas to Ukraine with a 25% discount. In own turn, Ukraine sells gas to its businesses and population at market-bases rates under demands of the IMF. This situation would allow the Ukrainian government to get up to $1.5 billion of revenue.

The money received by the Kiev regime will be used to pay loans to the IMF and EU instituations and increase military expenditures to combat the so-called “Russian agression”. Ukraine’s 2020 national budget includes more than UAH 245 billion (about $9.9 billion) for security and defense. In the 2019 budget, the spending on security and defense was about UAH 185 billion (about $8 billion). This is the increase of 23%.

Furthermore, the Ukrainain Prime Minister revealed that the years of 2019-2021 will be the peak period of paying external obligations to Western creditors – the IMF and EU institutions. The total spending planned in Ukraine’s 2020 national budget is UAH 1195.3 billion ($48 billion). The main expenditure item is the public debt managment: UAH 141 billion ($5.7 billion).

... 

(more in the link)

 

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2 hours ago, dukeNukem said:

Let me guess...you never been good at history, right?

Bad guess, but I am willing to bet that you are an ‘authority’ on the subject.

 

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On 12/21/2019 at 2:17 PM, Tom Kirkman said:

@Jan van Eck to the white courtesy phone please.

This is not really my area of expertise, but Jan has written quite a bit about this general Russia / U.S  / NATO imbroglio.

Sorry, Tom; trying to wade through the posts here, I can see that the contributors are writing from emotional angst, which is not rational.  Everybody seems to misunderstand NATO and the basis for its continuance.  Especially the writers that either consider themselves "Russian" or think they are of Russian descent.  I cannot touch this column, far too intense.  Cheers. 

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Russia & Ukraine to drop reciprocal claims and lift asset seizures as part of new gas transit agreement

Transit of Russian gas by Ukraine will be carried out on mutually beneficial and acceptable conditions for both parties, according to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak.

Novak said in an interview with Russia 24 TV that “A contract will be signed between Gazprom and Naftogaz for providing services as an entity that will act as the organizer of transit. These are commercial agreements which are mutually beneficial.”

He added that starting from January 1, Russia and Ukraine will cancel mutual claims while asset seizures will be lifted.

“We have agreed to start from scratch on January 1, reciprocal claims will be nullified, property seizures will be lifted due to court rulings in legal claims,” the minister said.

Moscow and Kiev sealed a gas cooperation protocol on December 20 to secure Russian gas transit after expiration of the current contract. Russia’s Gazprom said last week it would settle court disputes with Ukraine’s Naftogaz, and anti-monopoly disputes with the Ukrainian government by December 29.

Under the new protocol, Naftogaz should reserve capacities for transporting 65 billion cubic meters of gas in 2020 and 40 billion cubic meters annually in 2021-2024.

The protocol also includes legal dispute settlement arrangements. According to them, Gazprom will have to pay Naftogaz $2.9 billion in compliance with the Stockholm arbitration ruling and the sides will have to sign an agreement on dropping lawsuits for which there is no final decision. The Ukrainian government will have to ink a settlement agreement with Gazprom on $7.4 billion in antitrust claims.

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On 12/21/2019 at 9:18 PM, Marcin said:

Remember that Americans are really s**pid people, en masse, and really like their exceptionalism. It would be easy to convince them that China attack is imminent so we (US) need to sort it out first.

Even at this forum, after 2-3 weeks study of prejudices and stereotypes of intelligent, knowledgeable, upper middle class US (or UK) users is of my primary interest, not China or US. I did not think they could be so imprinted, embedded in the minds of people. Pure North Korean style, only "democratic".

US users are nice, fantastic people, but single topic of US exceptionalism triggers some pure madness.

I will await a bot or apologist comment sir, despite some rather perfect phrasing here. 

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(edited)

 

I would like to remind everyone that the Russians and Ukrainians formed one state for almost 400 years. Whatever the West does, there are huge ties between these nations. There is a whole bunch of Russian-Ukrainian marriages and families scattered on both sides of the border and on the other hand the whole of the former USSR where a given fate has been thrown. Maybe they will be in dispute for a long time but it is a dispute in the family because the interrelationships are incredibly strong.

I would also like to make you aware that even such Poles in the alliance with the US are mentally definitely closer to the Russians than to Western Europe or the Americans.History is very difficult but the mentality and even the language are similar which cannot be said about the West.

Even such a stupid thing that numerous Polish emigration in the US very often goes to Ukrainian or Russian restaurants because in a situation where there is no Polish place, they most resemble native climates.

They are simply Slavic peoples who have lived side by side for over a thousand years and will always be mentally and culturally closer to each other than to Germans, English or Americans.

Edited by Tomasz

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