«Russian engineers are installing a giant railway arch in the channel between Russia and Crimea, as a 19km (12-mile) road-rail bridge takes shape»
«It will take about a month to fix the arch, weighing 6,000 tonnes, to massive supports in the water»
«The road section of the Kerch Strait bridge will also have a giant arch»
* * *
«The controversial Crimean Bridge has been finished six months early and will link Russia’s southern Krasnodar region with the Crimean city of Kerch»
«The massive bridge will help reduce Crimea’s reliance on sea transport»
«Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to open a 19-kilometer bridge connecting southern Russia to the Crimean peninsula on Tuesday»
«The project cost 228 billion rubles ($3.69 billion, €3.1 billion) and will become the longest bridge in Europe, taking over the Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon, Portugal»
* * * * * * * *
La costruzione di questo ponte era iniziata proprio nel maggio 2015, ed è stata terminata in giusto tre anni.
Tre ordini di commenti.
In primo luogo, questo ponte segna un record per la brevità dei tempi di progettazione e di costruzione. In una situazione normale ci si sarebbe aspettati tempi variabili tra i cinque ed i sette anni.
In secondo luogo, i costi riferiti sarebbero 3.69 miliardi di Usd. Una cifra davvero molto contenuta. Per dare solo qualche esempio, quando nel 1968 venne emanata la legge 384 circa un ponte sullo Stretto di Messina, per i soli costi di progettazione furono stanziati 3.4 miliardi. L’offerta finale della ditta Eurolink fu di 3.88 miliardi euro, essendo il ponte lungo circa tre kilometri.
In terzo luogo, vi sono i noti problemi politici. La Russia ha dichiarato la Krimea territorio nazionale e la ha ammessa alla Federazione Russa dopo un referendum locale. Tale annessione non è stata riconosciuta essere legalmente valida da parte dell’Ukraina, dell’Unione Europea e di molte altre nazioni a livello mondiale. A seguito di questi fatti Usa ed Unione Europea hanno posto alla Russia una lunga serie di sanzioni economiche, anche se poi, nei fatti, alcune nazioni non le applicano.
The controversial Crimean Bridge has been finished six months early and will link Russia’s southern Krasnodar region with the Crimean city of Kerch. The massive bridge will help reduce Crimea’s reliance on sea transport.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to open a 19-kilometer bridge connecting southern Russia to the Crimean peninsula on Tuesday.
The controversial Crimean Bridge links the southern Krasnodar region with the Crimean city of Kerch and spans across a stretch of water between the Black Sea and the Azov Sea.
The project cost 228 billion rubles ($3.69 billion, €3.1 billion) and will become the longest bridge in Europe, taking over the Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon, Portugal.
It had been expected to be fully constructed by the end of 2018 but has been completed six months ahead of schedule and will be open to traffic on May 16, according to a Kremlin statement.
Ukraine condemns bridge
Ukraine has criticized the project, saying construction has damaged the environment and that larger ships will be unable to get through to its ports on the Azov Sea.
The results of a referendum deemed unconstitutional by the Ukrainian Constitutional Court on reunification with Russia found most people were in favor of joining Russia.
The annexation of the peninsula in 2014 was condemned by Kiev and the West as an illegal land grab.
EU and US sanctions target construction firm
European Union and US sanctions have targeted those involved in the realization of the bridge, particularly businessman Arkady Rotenberg, a close ally of Putin whose company Stroygazmontazh won the construction contract.
The peninsula has until now been difficult to access from southern Russia with long queues of vehicles often trying to board ferries, which are not always able to run during winter storms. The easiest mode of transportation is flying.
The blocks imposed by Kiev and Western sanctions have meant a large amount of food is transported from Russia to Crimea by ship, meaning the bridge will play an important role in reducing the region’s reliance on sea transport.
Mentre gli italiani seguono appassionati il minuetto politico che sta andando in scena da oltre due mesi e si stanno rassegnando a subire maxi aumenti dell’Iva – lo vuole l’Europa – la Germania si sta facendo i fatti propri con disinvolta nonchalance.
Il parere del Consiglio Europeo? Sarebbe una inutile perdita di tempo.
Una votazione del parlamento Europeo? Ma i parlamentari stanno già discutendo dei sexual harassment a Bruxelles.
Il parere favorevole delle Commissioni EU? Frau Merkel è più che sicura che se si fosse chiesto il loro parere, come da legge, le Commissioni avrebbero sicuramente dato risposta affermativa.
Un ingenuo potrebbe anche dire che vi sarebbero state severissime sanzioni ai mercimoni energetici con la Russia, nazione che proprio non rispetta il ruolo delle leggi europee e che non rispetta i diritti umani. Pensate che arriva al punto da non volere le ngo sul suo territorio.
Ma se anche Mr Putin si mangiasse quattro bambini al giorno, che mai sarebbe ciò di fronte ai superiori interessi germanici?
Orbene: la Germania ha iniziato alla chetichella il lavoro per il Nord Stream 2.
«Germany has started to pour concrete on a Russian gas pipeline that risks dividing the EU and harming its energy security»
«The construction began in Lubmin, on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, on Thursday (3 May), with the laying of foundations for a terminal that will receive 55bn cubic metres (bcm) a year of Russian gas via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline when it goes online in 2020»
«We’re confident that we’ll receive all relevant permits»
* * * * * * *
In poche parole.
La Germania inizia i lavori alla chetichella in collaborazione che i biechi russi, ossia quelli con i quali nessun altro dell’Unione Europea può collaborare. Ora capite perché Mr Gerhard Schröder è stato equiparato alla seconda carica politica russa?
Germany has started to pour concrete on a Russian gas pipeline that risks dividing the EU and harming its energy security.
The construction began in Lubmin, on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, on Thursday (3 May), with the laying of foundations for a terminal that will receive 55bn cubic metres (bcm) a year of Russian gas via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline when it goes online in 2020.
“We’re moving within the framework of the [German] planning approval decision,” a spokesman for Gazprom, the Russian firm behind the project, told German press agency DPA.
“We’re confident that we’ll receive all relevant permits,” the spokesman said.
The Baltic pipeline is to run from Russia via the maritime zones of Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. Finland recently granted a permit, with the other two pending.
Its opponents, including Poland, the Baltic states, and Nordic EU countries, have said Nord Stream 2 would help Russia to cut gas supplies to Western allies, including Ukraine, for strategic reasons.
The European Commission has said it could help Gazprom to gouge even higher prices in eastern Europe.
The US has also said it would make a mockery of Western sanctions on Russia, imposed over its invasion of Ukraine four years ago.
Next steps for the Russian project include the laying and welding of 200,000 pipe segments, each one weighing 24 tonnes, along 1,200 km of the Baltic Sea bed.
The pipes are already waiting in storage yards in Germany, Finland, and Sweden in a €9bn enterprise that includes five major EU energy firms and 200 other companies in 17 European countries, creating, Gazprom says, 1,000 jobs.
News of the Lubmin construction work comes despite German chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent nod to Nord Stream 2 critics.
“This is not just an economic project, but [its] … political factors must also be taken into account,” she said at a meeting with Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko in Berlin last month.
The construction is also moving ahead amid EU commission appeals to hold talks with Russia on how to apply European energy law to the pipeline.
Sofia Federica Augusta di Anhalt-Zerbst nacque a Stettino il 21 aprile 1729. Sposò l’erede al trono russo Pietro Fëdorovič, e quando questi divenne lo Czar Pietro III di Russia, fece un colpo di stato e divenne lei imperatrice. Pietro III fu assassinato. I russi sono sfortunati con i tedeschi.
Mr Gerhard Schröder, classe 1944, è membro della socialdemocrazia tedesca (Spd): è stato Cancelliere tedesco dal 27 ottobre 1999 fino al 22 novembre 2005.
«Alcuni mesi dopo la fine del mandato politico, accetta la nomina di Gazprom a capo del consorzio Nord Stream AG, che si occupa della costruzione di un gasdotto che collegherà la costa russa nella regione di Vyborg alla costa tedesca nella regione di Greifswald, passando per il Mar Baltico.» [Fonte]
«A friend of the Russian president, former German Chancellor Schröder has been working for the Russian energy industry since he lost to Chancellor Merkel in 2005»
«A Russian government decree published late on Friday night nominated former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to join the board of the Russian energy giant Rosneft»
«The company is majority-owned by the Russian government and has its headquarters near the Kremlin in Moscow.»
«Schröder was nominated as a non-executive director of Rosneft as part of the company’s plans to increase the number of board directors from nine to 11»
«His name was one of seven presented in the decree signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and published on the Russian government’s website»
«Rosneft is the world’s largest publicly traded petroleum company and is headed by Igor Sechin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who served as deputy prime minister until 2012. The company has been hit by Western sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its support for pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine»
«Rosneft has been hit by Western sanctions»
* * * * * * * *
Quanto riportato serve per rinfrescare la memoria di quanto per il momento sia successo.
Il 7 maggio Mr Putin si è insediato ufficialmente al Kremlin per il suo quarto mandato presidenziale.
Contrastanti le reazioni ufficiali tedesche. Il quarto mandato di Mr Putin è stato visto come un trionfo dell’autoritarismo autocratico, mentre il quarto mandato conferito a Frau Merkel era semplicemente il trionfo del sistema democratico.
Ma mentre i politici tedeschi ufficialmente prendevano posizione, richiedendo a gran voce altre sanzioni contro la Russia, Herr Schröder arrivava al termine della sua scalata al potere.
Alla cerimonia di insediamento di Mr Putin, Herr Schröder era al secondo posto, subito dopo Mr Dmitry Medvedev, Capo del Governo Russo, e subito prima di SE il Patriarca Kirill, Capo della Chiesa Ortodossa Russa.
Non solo, ad Herr Schröder è anche spettata una inedita stretta di mano da parte del Presidente Putin.
The Presidential Protocol Office is responsible for protocol during visits abroad and trips to the regions of Russia by the President and his wife. It takes care of protocol matters for events involving the President and his wife during visits to the Russian Federation by representatives of foreign countries and international organisations. It organises protocol for mass and other events involving the President or held on the instructions of the President or the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office.
Chief of the Presidential Protocol Office – Vladislav Kitayev.»
* * * * * * *
La constatazione che Herr Schröder sia la seconda personalità politica della Federazione Russa è la dimostrazione concreta della considerazione tributata alla sua persona, ma anche alla sua patria di origine. Sarebbe però anche molto difficile pensare che Mr Putin abbia assunto un comportamento del genere, ed Herr Schröder lo abbia accettato, senza che le cancellerie russe e tedesca si siano preventivamente consultate. Ma un simile gesto presupporrebbe non solo ottimi rapporti politici, ma anche economici e sociali.
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was granted a place in the front row of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration ceremony in the Kremlin and received an ‘exclusive’ handshake from the Russian leader.
Putin was sworn in for his fourth term as president Monday and Schroeder was among the guests of honor. He was one of just three people Putin shook hands with after taking the oath – along with Dmitry Medvedev, the chair of the Russian government, and Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
During Schroder’s time in office, he was a strong proponent of having closer ties between Germany and Russia. He advocated the creation of a direct underwater pipeline below the Baltic Sea, which would bring Russian natural gas directly to Germany, bypassing transit countries. After retiring as chancellor, he continued his work in the senior management of Nord Stream AG, a joint venture involving Russian and European companies, which operates the pipeline.
«In psichiatria, il disturbo delirante è una forma di delirio cronico basato su un sistema di credenze illusorie che il paziente crede vere (resistenti a ogni critica) e che ne alterano l’approccio con la realtà. Queste credenze sono in genere di tipo verosimile, come la convinzione di essere traditi dal proprio partner o di essere infettati da una malattia contagiosa. A parte l’incapacità di valutare oggettivamente il sistema di credenze illusorie che danno origine al delirio, il paziente mantiene le proprie facoltà razionali e in genere le sue capacità di relazione sociale non sono compromesse. Alcune forme di disturbo delirante (in particolare quelle basate su convinzioni a tema persecutorio, come la convinzione di essere spiati o di essere vittima di un complotto di qualche genere) vengono tradizionalmente indicate come casi di paranoia, termine che oggi è in disuso nella comunità scientifica internazionale.
Un disturbo delirante può essere basato su qualunque sistema di credenze erronee, ma alcune forme sono più frequenti di altre. I pazienti con disturbi di tipo erotomaniaco credono di essere segretamente amati da qualcuno; in alcuni casi il presunto amante è un personaggio famoso (sindrome di de Clerambault). Nei deliri di tipo megalomaniaco, il paziente è convinto di essere depositario di una capacità o di una conoscenza di grandissima importanza (per esempio, di avere una missione affidatagli direttamente da Dio). Nei deliri di tipo somatico il paziente è convinto di avere una deformità, una malattia o un altro difetto fisico grave, come un cattivo odore o parassiti. I deliri di tipo persecutorio (spesso genericamente indicati come paranoia) sono caratterizzati dal fatto che il paziente è convinto di essere vittima di un complotto o di una persecuzione (per esempio di essere spiato, di essere progressivamente avvelenato, o di trovarsi in procinto di essere assassinato).» [Fonte]
«Il disturbo paranoide è un disturbo di personalità caratterizzato da diffidenza e sospettosità che spingono a interpretare le motivazioni degli altri sempre come malevole per la propria persona o per le persone a cui il paranoico vuole bene (figli, genitori, famigliari…). Gli individui che maturano questa struttura di personalità sono dominati in maniera rigida e pervasiva da pensieri fissi di persecuzione, timori di venir danneggiati, paura continua di subire un tradimento anche da persone amate, senza che però l’intensità di tali pensieri raggiunga caratteri deliranti. L'”esame di realtà” rimane, infatti, intatto.
Secondo la prospettiva psicodinamica, queste caratteristiche di personalità sono prevalentemente attribuibili ad un massiccio uso del meccanismo di difesa della proiezione, attraverso il quale le caratteristiche ritenute cattive appartenenti alla propria persona vengono attribuite, proiettate all’esterno, su altre persone, o sull’intero ambiente, che verrà così percepito come costantemente ostile e pericoloso per la sopravvivenza dell’individuo.» [Fonte]
Il quadro non trattato ha un decorso naturale che sfocia in una forma di schizofrenia.
L’assunzione di alcune sostanze stupefacenti o farmaci sembra causare o peggiorare i sintomi.
Sono altresì frequenti i casi di abuso di sostanze (riscontrabili in quasi il 50% dei pazienti)
Circa la metà di questi pazienti erano cocainomani. Un quadro particolareggiato è stato pubblicato da:
Buckley PF, Miller BJ, Lehrer DS, Castle DJ, Psychiatric comorbidities and schizophrenia, in Schizophr Bull, vol. 35, nº 2, marzo 2009, pp. 383–402, DOI:10.1093/schbul/sbn135, PMC 2659306, PMID 19011234.
* * * * * * *
Le poche persone che siano riuscite a leggere fino in fondo il Mein Kampf oppure i Discorsi di Lenin vi avranno immediatamente riconosciuto questi due personaggi.
Era stata fatta un’elaborazione religiosa del delirio, ove il presunto nemico, per uno l’Ebreo e per l’altro il Borghese, erano considerati alla stregua del male assoluto, di satana. Un male così malvagio e così potente che nulla sarebbe stato sufficientemente perverso per fermarli: tutto sarebbe stato giustificato e giustificabile pur di annientarli.
Come conseguenza sequenziale, del resto ovvia, questo delirio forniva anche la ragione necessaria e sufficiente alla proprie esistenza ed al proprio agire. Il nazionalsocialismo esisteva per controbattere l’Ebreo, il comunismo per contenere le brame capitaliste del borghese.
E nella mente di Hitler e di Lenin diventava naturale il considerarsi dei benefattori della umanità, alla stregua dei santi.
* * * * * * *
Il delirio schizofrenico ha il grande vantaggio di essere facilmente comunicabile, comprensibile nella sua essenza e, soprattutto, di essere auto assolutorio: la colpa sarà sempre degli “Ebrei” oppure dei “Borghesi“.
Se gli esempi storici del nazionalsocialismo e del comunismo dovrebbero essere auto evidenti lo stesso potrebbe essere riferito all’ideologia liberal ed a quella del socialismo ideologico.
Ambedue giustificano la propria esistenza additando un nemico: per loro non esistono avversari politici. Esistono solo nemici.
Come Hitler e come Lenin si reputano salvatori del’umanità, filantropi è il termine che usano a proposito ed a sproposito. E come questi due dittatori restano stupefatti del fatto che la gente non li ami.
Negli Usa Mr Trump e ciò che rappresenta ha preso il posto di “Ebrei” o “Borghesi“. In Europa questo ruolo è stato addossato ai “populisti“.
È evidente quanto questa costruzione sia scazontica, se ne rendono conto gli stessi liberal e socialisti.
Ecco quindi, quasi a voler far buon peso, l’aggiunta della Russia.
Sicuramente questa esiste e fa di tutto per esistere al meglio: perché poi non dovrebbe?
Altrettanto sicuramente il suo Presidente cura gli affari della federazione: perché un russo non dovrebbe fare gli interessi della Russia?
Che i russi nel tutelare i propri interessi non guardino il pelo nell’uovo sembrerebbe non essere una loro peculiare caratteristica: più o meno tutte le nazioni si difendono e difendono i loro interessi con ogni mezzo, ivi compresi quelli illegali, dall’omicidio al ricatto.
Ma di qui al demonizzarli sistematicamente ce ne passa molto.
Alla fine si arriva al ridicolo.
Il buon Stalin soleva dire:
«Dicano pure che sono crudele, ma non che io sia ridicolo».
Che cosa può dirci della crisi con il governo britannico dopo il tentato omicidio dell’ex spia russa Serghej Skripal e di sua figlia Yulia nel centro di Salisbury?
«La storia è davvero molto strana. Secondo la stampa inglese il gas era di fabbricazione sovietica. Beh, anche se supponiamo l’impossibile – se l’attentatore fosse russo sarebbe stato proprio stupido a usare un gas sovietico rendendo immediatamente palese da dove proviene l’autore. Questo gas speciale era prodotto da una fabbrica chimica militare in Uzbekistan. Questa fabbrica è stata controllata dagli americani che l’hanno chiusa e hanno verificato che tutta produzione venisse distrutta. Un altro particolare: l’autore della formula di questo gas è un grande chimico russo [Vil Mirzanyanov] , immigrato negli Stati Uniti 26 anni fa, che per tutto questo tempo ha lavorato nei laboratori americani. In Inghilterra questa ex spia russa scambiata nove anni fa, era stata dimenticata. Ma una settimana prima dell’attentato, la televisione britannica ha trasmesso un film sulla sua storia. Poi c’è stato il tentato omicidio. Ancora, è molto strano che proprio nell’ospedale vicino dove Skripal e sua figlia sono stati ricoverati avessero un antidoto per il gas adoperato».
Parlare di armamenti strategici è sempre molto difficile, perché gli stati ben poco dichiarano di casa effettivamente abbiano disponibile così come chi siano i target militari.
È un più che comprensibile ed encomiabile segreto di stato, di cui si lascia trasparire qualcosa secondo opportunità. E non sempre sono cose vere.
Un altro grande motivo di incertezza deriva dal fatto che un sistema d’arma decantato potrebbe rivelarsi un fallimento sul campo. Potrebbe essere superato, malfunzionante, impiegato in malo modo, esattamente come potrebbe essere facilmente neutralizzato dal nemico.
«Five new invincible nuclear weapons:
– a new heavy liquid fueled long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM);
– a hypersonic multiwarhead air-launched cruise missile;
– a hypersonic ICBM;
– a ground-launched nuclear powered cruise missile;
– an intercontinental nuclear-powered undersea drone.»
Una sola cosa è certissima:
«The last thing the world needs is another arms race»
Molti i fattori da considerare.
– Sicuramente i progressi tecnici sono stati vorticosi negli ultimi tempi. Molti sistemi di arma sono diventati rapidamente obsoleti, impiegabili al più contro avversari di scarna consistenza. La loro manutenzione e miglioramento è quindi cosa del tutto naturale, così come la loro sostituzione.
– Altrettanto sicuramente spesso il capo del governo deve tenere presente l’opinione pubblica e la mentalità dell’opposizione interna. Non di rado l’individuare un nemico esterno, vero talora ma di norma fasullo, cementa la posizione del governante e ricompatta la nazione. Distoglie l’attenzione dai problemi interni.
«Please do not pay attention to what I am saying, I am also talking to my constituents»
– Dopo il collasso dell’Unione Sovietica alla fine degli anni ottanta la Russia ha attraversato un periodo travagliato e severo alla ricerca di una nuova identità, con un sistema economico sinistrato ed un struttura politica tutta da costruire ex novo. È solo con l’avvento di Mr Putin che ha iniziato a normalizzarsi, processo tuttora in corso. È quindi logico che desideri ripristinare la sua forza militare. Senza di questa sarebbe impossibile ogni politica estera.
– In occasione dell’implosione dell’Unione Sovietica l’Occidente è stato sprovvido. Con gli avversari esistono solo due tipologie di condotta: o li si annienta oppure si tratta in modo paritetico. L’Occidente ha umiliato la Russia, ed i russi hanno una memoria elefantiaca, abbinata ad una incredibile pazienza. Se è del tutto ragionevole che la Russia ambisca ad avere i mezzi necessari a difendersi, è altresì palpabile il desiderio di revanche. La Russia vuole riprendersi pienamente il ruolo internazionale, e vuole che esso sia riconosciuto.
– «In 2001, for no good reason, the George W. Bush administration unilaterally withdrew from the 1972 ABM Treaty that the Nixon administration had negotiated with the former Soviet Union». Non è questo tempo e luogo per questionare sull’accaduto, ma un comportamento è sicuramente censurabile: “unilaterally”. Un politico a capo di una superpotenza nucleare parla, tratta, riforma vecchi accordi e ne stipula dei nuovi.: tutti devono alzarsi soddisfatti dal tavolo delle trattative. I gesti unilaterali generano reazioni spesso fuori controllo.
– «Bush compounded the situation by announcing the United States would actually deploy an ABM system in Poland and the Czech Republic». Portare la Nato immediatamente a ridosso del confine con la Russia ha avuto come conseguenza immediata la necessità di disporre di sistemi di corto raggio, di offesa e di difesa. Di qui una corsa agli armamenti specifici.
– Da ultimo, l’affare Ukraina è stato trattato in modo quanto mai dilettantesco. L’Occidente ha cercato di incunearsi direttamente ai confini meridionali della Russia, scatenandone la reazione. Una operazione condotta in modo tentennante, lastricata di promesse mai mantenute. E la minaccia di mettervi armi nucleari ha scatenato una reazione di compattamento nazionale in Russia e di corsa agli armamenti di nuova generazione.
Il politico è colui che agglutina, che sa mutuare, che sa parlare con tutti e che, soprattutto, sta a sentire e cerca di capire cosa intenda e voglia il suo interlocutore. Un politico accorto o annienta o tratta.
The last thing the world needs is another arms race. The U.S. would do well to avoid taking Putin’s bait.
While watching President Vladimir Putin’s State of the Nation’s speech delivered before both houses of the Russian Parliament on March 1, 2018, I was reminded of an incident that occurred several years ago when I was testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives. During the hearing, a congressman (who eventually went on to become a senator) was making some accusations about the Pentagon that he could see were upsetting me. Before I could respond, he had one of his aides hand me a note that said, “Please do not pay attention to what I am saying, I am also talking to my constituents.”
As a result, for the rest of the hearing, I ignored most of the congressman’s claims and met with him after the hearing to discuss the issues he raised. We remained friends and worked together for several more years to deal with the challenges facing the country.
There is no doubt that the speech that Putin gave was in large part intended for his constituents. But it does have some ramifications for the international community, particularly the United States. While Putin will be overwhelmingly re-elected to his fourth (and final) presidential term, he obviously felt the need to energize his base to ensure high turnout – which he believes will legitimize what he feels are his accomplishments. Therefore, he told his audience in the arena as well as those watching or listening, the problems that have plagued Russia at home and abroad since the collapse of the Soviet Union are now over. But close examination of his speech shows that most of Putin’s claims are wildly exaggerated.
This is particularly true in the domestic area. Overall, the Russian economy is not doing well. While it grew by a modest 1.5 percent in 2017, this was the first year of real growth since 2014, and it actually contracted by 0.2 percent in 2016. About 20 million people, or 15 percent of the Russian population, live in poverty, and life expectancy is among the lowest in the industrial world. Yet, in his speech, Putin claimed that the Russian GDP will expand by 10 percent every year over the next five years. In addition, he said he would double spending on health care, increase spending on infrastructure, reduce poverty, and increase life expectancy by 10 percent.
While Putin’s address lasted almost two hours, he spent most of the time discussing domestic issues. But he seemed to reserve the most enthusiasm when speaking about his nuclear weapons, which also garnered the bulk of attention around the world. His message was that — despite the efforts of the United States to undermine Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent by enhancing its missile defenses in the U.S., Europe, and Asia and developing new nuclear weapons — Russia is taking actions to ensure that its nuclear arsenal will be more than capable of deterring the United States and protecting Russia and its allies.
According to Putin, Russia is developing five new invincible nuclear weapons: a new heavy liquid fueled long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM); a hypersonic multiwarhead air-launched cruise missile; a hypersonic ICBM; a ground-launched nuclear powered cruise missile; and an intercontinental nuclear-powered undersea drone. The Russian president claimed that these new weapons will not only negate the anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs) the United States has deployed but will now force it to listen to Russia on this subject. Putin even showed simulated videos of some of these “invincible nuclear weapons” hitting Florida.
It is not clear how much the Russians can or will spend on these new weapons or even whether they will work. In fact, the United States actually tried to develop a nuclear-powered cruise missile in the 1960s but had to cancel it and, moreover, such weapons are not even necessary to maintain strategic deterrence. There is considerable doubt about whether the ABMs that the United States has deployed can even deal with an attack from a handful of North Korean missiles, let alone the 5,000 in the Russian arsenal. A Pentagon report from last year claimed that the missile defense programs demonstrate a limited capability to defend the U.S. homeland from small numbers of medium-range missiles launched from North Korea or Iran.
But while these weapons are not necessary to ensure Russian strategic capability, and will divert scare resources from Russia’s pressing domestic needs, there is no doubt that the United States bears some responsibility for Putin’s attempt to develop his new strategic posture.
In 2001, for no good reason, the George W. Bush administration unilaterally withdrew from the 1972 ABM Treaty that the Nixon administration had negotiated with the former Soviet Union. Under this treaty, each side was prevented from deploying national defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. Bush claimed that it was necessary to withdraw from the treaty to defend against missile attacks from terrorist or rogue states, and argued that abrogating the treaty actually made no difference because the Soviet Union no longer existed. Both of these claims were, of course, bogus. The 1972 treaty prevented neither the Americans nor the Russians from developing defenses against short- and medium-range missiles. Moreover, in 1997, the United States affirmed that the ABM Treaty would now apply to Russia. Not surprisingly Putin claimed it was a mistake to abrogate the treaty but in 2001, given the weakened state of Russia, he was in no position to do anything about it. Rather than discussing the issue with him, the Bush administration simply ignored Putin’s concerns, something many experts warned could lead to a new arms race.
Bush compounded the situation by announcing the United States would actually deploy an ABM system in Poland and the Czech Republic, theoretically to guard against missiles from Iran, and President Barack Obama eventually placed a truncated version of the system in Romania and Poland. While the reasons given for this deployment were technically correct, this is not how the Russians perceived it, particularly after the Iran nuclear deal was concluded. They believe an ABM system in Eastern Europe is there to prevent them from responding to a conventional NATO attack on them or their allies. Putin has responded to this deployment by developing ground-launched cruise missiles that violate the spirit and intent of the INF Treaty.
The Russian reaction to our withdrawal from the ABM Treaty should not have surprised Bush and his acolytes. They should have remembered how the Russians reacted to President Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars program, even though most reputable experts and scientists argued that it would never work.
The Trump administration made the situation with Russia worse when its recently released nuclear posture review (NPR) announced that it was not only modernizing all three legs of the U.S. nuclear triad but adding two new lower yield nuclear weapons that it would use not only in retaliation for a nuclear attack but even against cyberattacks. In addition, Trump refused Putin’s offer to extend the New START Treaty for five years from its expiration in 2021.
While there is no doubt that Putin’s speech played well at home, the United States should not compound the problem by overreacting any more than I did when the congressman made those claims about the Pentagon many years ago. The last thing the United States and the world need is a new nuclear arms race, something Trump claimed in December 2016 that he would be open to. Rather, Russia and the United States must work together to deal with nuclear proliferation — especially in North Korea — and use the savings from a new agreement to deal with pressing domestic issues in both countries. Trump should capitalize on his “great relationship” with Putin by both extending New START and offering to begin a new round of arms control talks in which they could make a deal to not only reduce the excessive nuclear weapons on both sides but also reinvigorate the INF Treaty.
È stato un discorso focalizzato sui problemi sociali della Federazione.
La quasi totalità dei media si è focalizzata sugli spunti e sulle implicanze militari, che però sembrerebbero essere state le problematiche di minore importanza.
«It is our moral duty to provide all-round support to members of the older generation, who have made a tremendous contribution to national development. Senior citizens must have worthy conditions for a long, active and healthy life. Most importantly, we must raise pensions and index them regularly, so that they outpace inflation. We will also strive to reduce the gap between the size of pensions and pre-retirement wages»
«We consider every person important and valuable»
«We need to address all these issues using a comprehensive approach»
«Let me remind you that in 2000, 42 million people lived below the poverty line, which amounted to nearly 30 percent – 29 percent of the population. In 2012, this indicator fell to 10 percent.»
«Poverty has increased slightly against the backdrop of the economic crisis»
«Today, 20 million Russian nationals live in poverty. Of course, this is much fewer than the 42 million people in 2000, but it is still way too many»
«There are even working people who have to live very modest lives.»
«For the first time in our recent history, the minimum wage was equated with the subsistence level.»
«This provision will come into force on May 1, 2018, and will benefit about 4 million people»
* * * * * * * * * *
March 1, 2018. 14:00. Moscow.
The President of Russia delivered the Address to the Federal Assembly. The ceremony took place at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall.
The presentation of the Address was attended by Federation Council members, State Duma deputies, members of the Government, leaders of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court, governors, speakers of the legislatures of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, the leaders of traditional religions, public figures, including the heads of regional civic chambers, as well as the leaders of major media outlets.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Citizens of Russia, members of the Federation Council and State Duma,
Today’s Address is a very special landmark event, just as the times we are living in, when the choices we make and every step we take are set to shape the future of our country for decades to come.
It is at such turning points that Russia has proven, time and again, its ability to develop and renew itself, discover new territories, build cities, conquer space and make major discoveries. This unwavering forward-looking drive, coupled with traditions and values, ensured the continuity in the thousand-year-long history of our nation.
We have gone through major challenging transformations, and were able to overcome new and extremely complex economic and social challenges, preserved the unity of our country, built a democratic society and set it on the path to freedom and independence.
We ensured sustainability and stability in almost all areas of life, which is critical for a huge and multi-ethnic country like ours with its complex federative structure and diversity of cultures, with historical divides that are still alive in people’s memory and major challenges Russia had to face over the course of its history.
However, sustainability is the foundation of development but not its guarantee. We have no right to allow a situation when the stability that has been achieved would lead to complacency, all the more so as many problems remain unresolved.
Today, Russia ranks among the world’s leading nations with a powerful foreign economic and defence potential. But we have not yet reached the required level in the context of accomplishing our highly important task and guaranteeing people’s quality of life and prosperity. But we must do this, and we will do this.
As I said in the past, the state’s role and positions in the modern world are not determined only or predominantly by natural resources or production capacities; the decisive role is played by the people, as well as conditions for every individual’s development, self-assertion and creativity. Therefore, everything hinges on efforts to preserve the people of Russia and to guarantee the prosperity of our citizens We must achieve a decisive breakthrough in this area.
I repeat, a solid foundation has been created for this. Therefore, we can now set and accomplish new tasks. We already have substantial experience in implementing ambitious programmes and social projects. The Russian economy has proved its resilience, and the current stable macro-economic situation opens up new opportunities for surging ahead and maintaining long-term growth.
Finally, the world is now accumulating a tremendous technological potential making it possible to achieve a real breakthrough in improving the people’s quality of life and modernising the economy, the infrastructure and state governance and administration. How effectively we will able to use the colossal potentialities of the technological revolution, and how we will respond to its challenges depends on us alone. In this sense, the next few years will prove decisive for the country’s future. I reiterate, these years will be decisive.
I will tell you why. What I will say now has no connection to the domestic political cycle or even the presidential election. No matter who is elected President, each Russian citizen and all of us together must be able to see what is going on in the world, what is happening around us, and what challenges we are facing.
The speed of technological progress is accelerating sharply. It is rising dramatically. Those who manage to ride this technological wave will surge far ahead. Those who fail to do this will be submerged and drown in this wave.
Technological lag and dependence translate into reduced security and economic opportunities of the country and, ultimately, the loss of its sovereignty. This is the way things stand now. The lag inevitably weakens and erodes the human potential. Because new jobs, modern companies and an attractive life will develop in other, more successful countries where educated and talented young people will go, thereby draining the society’s vital powers and development energy.
As I have said, changes concern the entire civilization, and the sheer scale of these changes calls for an equally powerful response. We are ready to provide it. We are ready for a genuine breakthrough.
My confidence is based on the results we have achieved together, even though they may seem modest at first glance, as well as on the unity of Russian society and, most importantly, on the huge potential of Russia and our talented and ingenious people.
In order to move forward and to develop dynamically, we must expand freedom in all spheres, strengthen democratic institutions, local governments, civil society institutions and courts, and also open the country to the world and to new ideas and initiatives.
It is high time we take a number of tough decisions that are long overdue. We need to get rid of anything that stands in the way of our development and prevents people from fully unleashing their potential. It is our obligation to focus all resources and summon all our strength and willpower in this daring effort that must yield results.
Otherwise, there will be no future for us, our children or our country. It is not a question of someone conquering or devastating our land. No, that is not the danger. The main threat and our main enemy is the fact that we are falling behind. If we are unable to reverse this trend, we will fall even further behind. This is like a serious chronic disease that steadily saps the energy from the body and destroys it from within step by step. Quite often, this destructive process goes unnoticed by the body.
We need to master creative power and boost development so that no obstacles prevent us from moving forward with confidence and independently. We must take ownership of our destiny.
What should be our priority? Let me reiterate that I believe that the main, key development factor is the well-being of the people and the prosperity of Russian families.
Let me remind you that in 2000, 42 million people lived below the poverty line, which amounted to nearly 30 percent – 29 percent of the population. In 2012, this indicator fell to 10 percent.
Poverty has increased slightly against the backdrop of the economic crisis. Today, 20 million Russian nationals live in poverty. Of course, this is much fewer than the 42 million people in 2000, but it is still way too many. There are even working people who have to live very modest lives.
For the first time in our recent history, the minimum wage was equated with the subsistence level. This provision will come into force on May 1, 2018, and will benefit about 4 million people. This is an important step but it still falls short of offering a fundamental solution.
We need to upgrade the employment structure that has become inefficient and archaic, provide good jobs that motivate people, improve their well-being and help them uncover their talents. We need to create decent well-paid jobs. This would help deliver on one of the key objectives for the next decade, which is to guarantee sustained long-term real income growth, and to reduce the poverty rate by at least one half over the next six years.
It is our moral duty to provide all-round support to members of the older generation, who have made a tremendous contribution to national development. Senior citizens must have worthy conditions for a long, active and healthy life. Most importantly, we must raise pensions and index them regularly, so that they outpace inflation. We will also strive to reduce the gap between the size of pensions and pre-retirement wages. And, of course, we must raise the quality of healthcare and social support for senior citizens and help people who are alone and those facing problems in life.
We need to address all these issues using a comprehensive approach. As I see it, the future new Government will have to draft a special programme for the systematic support of senior citizens and for improving their quality of life.
We consider every person important and valuable. People need to know that they are needed, and they must live a long and healthy life and enjoy their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They need to see their children grow up and become successful in a powerful, rapidly developing and successful country that is attaining new development levels.
Russia must firmly assert itself among the five largest global economies, and its per-capita GDP must increase by 50 percent by the middle of the next decade. This is a very difficult task. I am confident that we are ready to accomplish it.
Of course, life expectancy is a highly important fundamental parameter for gauging the well-being of citizens and the country. In 2000, Russia posted a life expectancy of just over 65 years, with men’s life expectancy falling below 60 years. This is not just low, it is a tragedy, and this parameter is tragically inadequate.
In the past few years, Russia has been posting a major increase in average life expectancy levels, which is among the highest in the world. We have managed to accomplish this task. Life expectancy levels have increased by over seven years and now total 73 years. But, of course, this is not enough either. Today, we must set an entirely new goal. By the end of the next decade, Russia must confidently join the club of countries posting a life expectancy of 80-plus years, which includes Japan, France and Germany.
At the same time, life expectancy levels for people living a healthy, active and full life, when they are not hampered and pinned down by illness, must grow faster than planned. I am confident that we can achieve this goal, considering the positive trends of the previous years. For this purpose, the whole of Russia will have to make a quantum leap in its development, so that the life of every person is transformed.
reso pubblico il 19 di gennaio dal Russian International Affairs Council.
* * * * * * *
«And I will never forget that, just like I will never forget the state in which this country was in the early 1990s.»
«The Constitution of the United States and the electoral legislation are structured in such a way that more electors can vote for a candidate who is backed by fewer voters. And such situations do occur in the history of the United States. …. The other thing is that I am deeply convinced that no interference from the outside, in any country, even a small one, let alone in such a vast and great power as the United States, can influence the final outcome of the elections. It is not possible. Ever.»
«It does not sound like justification. It sounds like a statement of fact»
«Listen, his boss is the foreign minister. Do you think I have the time to talk to our ambassadors all over the world every day? This is nonsense»
«And virtually every person we have met on the street says what they respect about you is they feel that you have returned dignity to Russia, that you’ve returned Russia to a place of respect.»
* * * * * * *
«The common view in Moscow is that Trump had been overrated, that U.S.-Russian relations did not have a chance, that the Deep State is simply too powerful for any President to turn around, and that the U.S. establishment is genetically Russo-phobic»
On the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Vladimir Putin answered questions from NBC anchor Megyn Kelly.
Megyn Kelly: President Putin, you have repeatedly and passionately denied that Russia was behind the interference with our American presidential election, including on stage at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
But as you know, the consensus view in the United States is that you did. That’s what the 17 intelligence agencies concluded and that’s what the Republicans and the Democrats on the Congressional oversight committees who have seen the classified report have said. Are they all lying?
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: They have been misled and they are not analysing the information in its entirety. I have not once seen any direct proof of Russia’s interference in the presidential election in the USA.
We have talked about it with former president Obama and with several other officials. No one ever showed me any direct evidence.
When we spoke with President Obama about that, you know, you should probably better ask him about it – I think he will tell you that he, too, is confident of it. But when he and I talked I saw that he, too, started having doubts. At any rate, that’s how I saw it.
I have already told you, and I can say it again, that today’s technology is such that the final address can be masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one will be able to understand the origin of that address. And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack.
Modern technology is very sophisticated and subtle and allows this to be done. And when we realize that we will get rid of all the illusions. That’s one thing. The other thing is that I am deeply convinced that no interference from the outside, in any country, even a small one, let alone in such a vast and great power as the United States, can influence the final outcome of the elections. It is not possible. Ever.
Megyn Kelly: But the other side says is it was only 70,000 votes that won Trump the election, and therefore influencing 70,000 people might not have been that hard.
Vladimir Putin: The Constitution of the United States and the electoral legislation are structured in such a way that more electors can vote for a candidate who is backed by fewer voters. And such situations do occur in the history of the United States. True, isn’t it?
Therefore, if we were to discuss some kind of political and social justice, then probably that electoral legislation needs to be changed and bring a situation where the head of state would be elected by direct secret ballot and so there will be direct tabulation of votes that can be easily monitored. That’s all there is to it. And there will be no need for those who have lost the elections to point fingers and blame their troubles on anybody.
Now, if we turn this page over, I will tell you something that you most likely know about. I don’t want to offend anyone, but the United States, everywhere, all over the world, is actively interfering in electoral campaigns in other countries. Is this really news to you?
Just talk to people but in such a way (to the extent it is possible for you) so as to convince them that you’re not going to make it public. Point your finger to any spot on the world’s map, everywhere you’ll hear complaints that American officials interfere in their political domestic processes.
Therefore, if someone, and I am not saying that it’s us (we did not interfere), if anybody does influence in some way or attempts to influence or somehow participates in these processes, then the United States has nothing to be offended by. Who is talking? Who is taking offense that we are interfering? You yourselves interfere all the time.
Megyn Kelly: That sounds like a justification.
Vladimir Putin: It does not sound like justification. It sounds like a statement of fact. Each action invites appropriate counteraction, but, again, we don’t need to do that because I did not tell you this without a reason, both you personally and other members of the media, recently I was in France and I said the same things.
Presidents come and go, and even parties come to and away from power. But the main policy tack does not change. So by and large we don’t care who will be at the helm in the United States. We have a rough idea of what is going to happen. And in this regard, even if we wanted to it wouldn’t make any sense for us to interfere.
Megyn Kelly: You had said for months that Russia had nothing to do with the interference of the American election, and then this week you floated the idea of patriotic hackers doing it. Why the change and why now?
Vladimir Putin: It’s just that the French journalists asked me about those hackers, and just like I told them, I can tell you, that hackers may be anywhere. They may be in Russia, in Asia, in America, in Latin America. There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia. Can’t you imagine such a scenario? In the middle of an internal political fight, it was convenient for them, whatever the reason, to put out that information. And put it out they did. And, doing it, they made a reference to Russia. Can’t you imagine it happening? I can. Let us recall the assassination of President Kennedy.
There is a theory that Kennedy’s assassination was arranged by the United States special services. If this theory is correct, and one cannot rule it out, so what can be easier in today’s context, being able to rely on the entire technical capabilities available to special services than to organise some kind of attacks in the appropriate manner while making a reference to Russia in the process. Now, the candidate for the Democratic Party, is this candidate universally beloved in the United States? Was it such a popular person? That candidate, too, had political opponents and rivals.
Megyn Kelly: Let’s move on. A special counsel has been appointed to investigate contacts between your government and the Trump campaign. You have said that your ambassador Kislyak was just doing his job. Right? So, what exactly was discussed in those meetings?
Vladimir Putin: There were no sessions. You see, there were no sessions. When I saw that my jaw dropped.
Megyn Kelly: No meetings between Ambassador Kislyak and anybody from the Trump campaign?
Vladimir Putin: No clue. I am telling you honestly. I don’t know. That’s an ambassador’s every day, routine work. Do you think, an ambassador from any place in the world or from the US reports to me daily as to whom he meets with and what they discuss? It’s just absurd. Do you even understand what you are asking me?
Megyn Kelly: Well, you’re his boss.
Vladimir Putin: Listen, his boss is the foreign minister. Do you think I have the time to talk to our ambassadors all over the world every day? This is nonsense. Don’t you understand that this is just some kind of nonsense. I don’t even know with whom he met there. Had there been something out of the ordinary, something remarkable he of course would have advised the minister and the minister would have informed me. Nothing of that happened.
Megyn Kelly: Since it happened have you gone back to speak with the ambassador about what was in those discussions he had with Jared Kushner, with General Michael Flynn, with anybody else from the Trump campaign?
Vladimir Putin: No, I haven’t.
Megyn Kelly: Aren’t you interested?
Vladimir Putin: No. Because if there had been something meaningful he would have made a report to the minister, and the minister would have made a report to me. There weren’t even any reports. Just every day, routine work that doesn’t mean anything that may not even have any prospects.
It’s just that someone decided to find fault with it and, you know, select it as a line of attack against the current President. This isn’t for us to get into, these are your domestic political squabbles. So you deal with them. Nothing to talk about.
There was not even a specific discussion of sanctions or something else. I just find it amazing how you created a sensation where there wasn’t anything at all. And proceeded to turn that sensation into a tool for fighting the sitting president. You know, you’re just very resourceful people there, well done, probably your lives there are boring.
Megyn Kelly: I am sure you have heard by now that one of the things they are looking into is the fact that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, reportedly discussed with Ambassador Kislyak in December establishing a back channel for communications between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. And the suggestion was, by Mr Kushner, that they could do this at a Russian embassy or a Russian consulate. That they could use Russia’s communications gear to make those communications happen so that the United States intelligence service could not hear. Does that strike you as a good idea?
Vladimir Putin: Russia had no channels of communication with neither campaign, the campaigns of the US Presidential candidates. None whatsoever. Russia did not set up and did not have any channels with anyone. There may have been official contacts with the campaigns of all the candidates, which is a standard diplomatic practice.
Megyn Kelly: This is a proposal, a proposal by Mr Kushner.
Vladimir Putin: I am not aware of such a proposal. No such proposal ever reached me.
Megyn Kelly: Did you know General Michael Flynn? He came over here for a dinner a photo of which has been widely circulated in the American media. What was the nature of your relationship with him?
Vladimir Putin: You and I, we have a much closer relationship than with Mr Flynn. You and I met up yesterday evening. You and I have worked all day together. We are meeting yet again at this moment. When I came to the event at our company, Russia Today, and sat down at the table, next to me there was a gentleman, and someone else was sitting down on my other side.
I made a speech, then we talked about something else, then I got up and left. Afterwards, I was told, ”You know, that American gentleman, he used to do this before, used to work in the special services. And now he does this.“ ”Great,“ I said, ”Are you working with him somehow?“ “No, we just invited him as a guest, one of the guests.” And I replied: “Well, good for you!” And that’s it.
I almost did not talk to him. I said hello, we sat next to each other, then I said goodbye and left. This sums up my entire acquaintanceship with Mr Flynn. If Mr Flynn and I had this kind of interaction, while you and I, we have spent an entire day together, and Mr Flynn was fired from his job, you then should be arrested and put in jail.
Megyn Kelly: Many Americans hear the name, Vladimir Putin. And they think, ”He runs a country full of corruption, a country in which journalists, who are too critical, could wind up murdered, a country in which dissidents could wind up in jail or worse.“ To people who believe that, what is your message?
Vladimir Putin: I want to say that Russia is developing along a democratic path, this is without question so. No one should have any doubts about that. The fact that, amidst political rivalry and some other domestic developments, we see things happen here that are typical of other countries, I do not see anything unusual in it.
We have rallies, opposition rallies. And people here have the right to express their point of view. However, if people, while expressing their views, break the current legislation, the effective law in place, then of course, the law enforcement agencies try to restore order.
I am calling your attention to something that I discussed recently when on a trip to France and in my discussions with other European colleagues. Our police force, fortunately, so far, do not use batons, tear gas or any other extreme measures of instilling order, something that we often see in other countries, including in the United States.
Speaking of opposition, let us recall the movement Occupy Wall Street. Where is it now? The law enforcement agencies and special services in the US have taken it apart, into little pieces, and have dissolved it. I’m not asking you about how things stand in terms of democracy in the United States. Especially so that the electoral legislation is far from being perfect in the US. Why do you believe you are entitled to put such questions to us and, mind you, do it all the time, to moralize and to teach us how we should live?
We are ready to listen to our partners, ready to listen to appraisals and assessments when it is done in a friendly manner, in order to establish contacts and create a common atmosphere and dedicate ourselves to shared values. But we absolutely will not accept when such things are used as a tool of political struggle. I want everybody to know that. This is our message.
Megyn Kelly: There have been questions in America about Donald Trump’s finances. He hasn’t released his tax returns. There have been questions about this secret Russian dossier, which he says is fake, but which purports to have blackmail information in it generated by the Russians. There have been questions about the communications between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, all of which has Americans asking, ”Do you have something damage on our president?“
Vladimir Putin: Well, this is just another piece of nonsense. Where would we get any information about him? Did we have some kind of special relationship with him. There was no relationship whatsoever. Yes, he visited Moscow in his day. But, you know, I never met him.
Many Americans come here. There are representatives of 100 companies from the US, who have come to Russia. Do you think I have met each and every representative of those American companies? You probably saw me walk into the conference hall, where our colleagues were sitting. I consider them all to be our friends. They are all working in Russia and many of them have been doing it for many years. They are investors. They are the CEOs of major US companies. They are interested in joint work. And that’s great! And we will welcome each and every one of them. And we will consider each of them our friend.
And we will help them implement their plans in Russia and will try to steer things in a direction so that they can work here successfully and make a profit.
And should they all be arrested for it afterwards? Have you lost your minds there or something? What about the freedom of economy? What about human rights? Do you think we are gathering dirt on all of them now? Are you all right in the head, all of you there?
Megyn Kelly: Last question. We have been here in St Petersburg for about a week now. And virtually every person we have met on the street says what they respect about you is they feel that you have returned dignity to Russia, that you’ve returned Russia to a place of respect. You’ve been in the leadership of this country for 17 years now. Has it taken any sort of personal toll on you?
Vladimir Putin: I hope not. Do you know what I feel? I feel this live, direct connection to this land, to its history, to this country. You have said that you have been in St Petersburg for several days. Yesterday, I had a conversation with Indian Prime Minister. He had visited the Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery, where almost 400,000 residents of Leningrad were buried, most of them civilians. They died during the siege of Leningrad. They starved to death. And buried in one of those graves is my older brother whom I have never seen. And I will never forget that, just like I will never forget the state in which this country was in the early 1990s.
You and I have had a debate today in the course of our conversation. However, in this country, since 2000 – and we have many problems, and recently even the poverty threshold has become a little worse than we planned – the situation will recover, I am confident of that, and yet our population’s real wages have grown manifold. And so have pensions.
Our economy has become completely different, on the whole. The size has changed. The economy has almost doubled in size. And the quality is changing, not as fast as we would like it to, but the structure is changing.
Our Armed Forces are completely different today from what they were, say 15 years ago or so.
All of this, including our great history, great culture, all of this, not just what we see today, is what makes the vast majority of Russia’s citizens feel proud for their country.
At the end of 2016, both the political and expert communities in Russia appeared to be very pessimistic about the future of the world order in general, and the about the future of the West in particular. Indeed, the year had turned out to be an annus horribilis in many ways; numerous doomsday prophets referred to various harbingers of the looming cataclysms. They mentioned the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union and the victory of a non-system candidate in the U.S. presidential election. They highlighted the nearly global rise of right-wing populism and antiglobalism to a level that was unprecedented in recent decades. They talked about the wave of migration that was threatening to consume Europe. They pointed to the impotence of international organizations in the face of multiplying regional conflicts, and they noted a widespread decline in public confidence in practically all institutions of power .
These apocalyptic visions were, of course, somewhat self-serving. Notwithstanding all its problems, in 2016 Moscow demonstrated a lot of political, economic and social stability amidst this global turmoil. Inflation was put under control, devaluation of the national currency was stopped and even reversed, Western economic sanctions failed to bring Russia to its knees, and the parliamentary elections in September resulted in a predictable triumphant victory for the Kremlin’s United Russia Party. Political and economic risks in the coming year 2017 appeared to be relatively low and manageable. Technocrats in the government and in the presidential administration had reasons to be proud of their performance: the Russian system turned out to be more adaptive and flexible than its in-house and foreign critics had maintained.
The notion of stability as the supreme value was back in circulation and used widely in both domestic and international propaganda. Even if Russia’s stability looked more and more like the stagnation of the late Soviet period, stagnation still appeared to be a preferable alternative to the West’s disorder and commotion. Not surprisingly, the greatest portion of gloomy and even apocalyptic prophesies of Russian pundits had to do with the fate of the European Union. In 2014-2016, the EU found itself in a perfect storm that revealed the frightening fragility and obvious obsolescence of many of its fundamental political, financial, economic, institutional and even spiritual foundations. Russia’s problems appeared much less dramatic against the background of the EU seemingly sinking into chaos, and the apparent hopelessness of the “European project.” 
Subsequent developments in Europe, however, demonstrated that the European Union had not lost its resilience and its cohesion. In this chapter, I argue that in 2017 Russian foreign policy started a painful process of reassessing its previous assumptions about the EU and its midterm prospects. This reassessment ran parallel to a growing disappointment in the ability of the Trump Administration in the United States to change the negative momentum in the U.S.-Russian relationship or to pursue a consistent foreign policy in general. One can foresee these changes in the Russian approach to the West continuing in 2018 and beyond.
Engagement Can Wait
The expectation (and, for some, the eager anticipation) of the inevitable collapse of the current world order influenced Russia’s foreign policy and relevant discussions, particularly in late 2016 and early 2017. Indeed, what sense did it make to invest effort, energy and political capital in difficult negotiations with leaders whose days were numbered anyway? Would it be reasonable to keep following rules of the game that had been accepted way back when if these same rules would be rewritten very soon? Was it worth agreeing to concessions and uncomfortable compromises if a new post-Western world was about to arrive? Would it not be wiser to wait it out and observe from a safe distance the epic demise of the old era, which had formed at the turn of the century?
Russian foreign policy at that juncture seemed to follow a wait-and-see approach, abstaining from any far-reaching proposals, not to mention potential concessions to Western partners or recondition of Russia’s past mistakes. The last visible attempt to set Russia-EU relations into motion was the occasion of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s visit to Russia for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 16, 2016. President Vladimir Putin handed to his guest a list of specific proposals on restoring Moscow’s relations with Brussels. The EU, however, never reacted to the Russian list. Instead, the Kremlin had to live with the five principles of Federica Mogherini, only one of which (selective engagement with Russia on foreign policy issues vital to the EU) could be interpreted as a promise of limited cooperation in the future, but even this principle was deliberately vague and ambiguous.
A similar last-minute pitch failed in relations with the Obama Administration. On September 10th, 2016 in Geneva, after long and exhausting talks, John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov announced a tentative ceasefire deal for Syria. They also stated that this deal was to lead the way to a joint U.S.-Russian air campaign against ISIS and other extremist groups and new negotiations on the country’s political future.
This hope —to use Syria as an opportunity to limit the damage in Russian-American relations caused by the Ukrainian crisis—did not last very long. The painfully negotiated Kerry-Lavrov peace plan collapsed just a few weeks after signing. The Russian side accused the United States of failing to exercise the needed pressure on the select groups of the anti-Assad opposition to make them abide by the terms of the ceasefire agreement—a task that was arguably too big for Washington to handle successfully. Russians also complained that the United States had not been able to separate the moderate Syrian opposition from more radical factions gravitating to ISIS and al-Qaeda. Again, it remains unclear whether the United States was in a position to arrange such a separation. However, the main source of the Kremlin’s frustrations was the perceived unwill-ingness of the U.S. military to work in any substantive way with its Russian counterparts. In the fall of 2016 in Moscow, it became popular to argue that the Pentagon had managed to overrule the State Department, and that the hawkish views or Ash Carter had prevailed over the more moderate positions of John Kerry.
It seems that these failures to engage Europe and the United States, as well as the perception that the West was entering a long-term period of disarray and decline, led to a serious reassessment of Russian foreign policy priorities. Syria serves as an example of this reassessment. After the unsuccessful attempt to create a Russian-U.S. alliance, the Kremlin focused its energy and diplomatic skills on building a coalition of regional players through the Astana de-escalation process. Bringing Turkey and Iran to the negotiating table was an unquestionable diplomatic victory for Vladimir Putin, and the Kremlin worked hard to get major Arab countries interested in this new arrangement. The invitation was also extended to the United States, but U.S. participation was no longer considered critical for the success of Russia’s Syrian strategy.
Taking all of Russia’s internal problems and restraints into account, in 2016 Moscow appeared to have one undeniable advantage over the West: a more considerable reserve of time. Russia’s ailments, extremely serious as they are, are chronic and sometimes even dormant in nature: they have matured over years if not decades. The problems of the West, meanwhile, went from dormant to acute within a single year in 2016, and international experts started talking about the possibility of a fatal outcome. At any rate, the Kremlin had reasons to believe that in any possible confrontation scenario, Moscow would be able to outperform Western capitals, precisely because it had more time on its hands. The nature of the Russian political system, the high level of political mobilization and social consensus reached after the crisis of 2014, the marginalization of the domestic opposition and the relatively stable performance of the Russian economy—all these factors made the Russian leadership confident that it would not encounter major problems during, or following, the presidential elections of 2018.
Finally, the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States raised hopes in Moscow that Russia would be in a position to cut a deal with Washington above the heads of European capitals. Some of the election campaign statements by the new President sounded very encouraging; they apparently reflected a worldview and a set of foreign policy principles not very different from these of President Vladimir Putin. Though some Russian experts on the United States cautioned against too high expectations about possible change in U.S. foreign policy, the mood in Moscow on the eve of 2017 was largely optimistic. Only the pro-Western liberal minority was looking to the future with concerns and fear. This cohort of Russian intellectuals suspected that any further deepening of the crisis in the West would become a significant boost to authoritarian political trends inside Russia; the crisis and the growing impotence of the West could also create temptations for a more adventurist and risk-taking Kremlin foreign policy.
No Revolution This Week
Looking back to the “Trumpomania” of late 2016—early 2017, today many in Russia have turned from enthusiasm to fatalism. The common view in Moscow is that Trump had been overrated, that U.S.-Russian relations did not have a chance, that the Deep State is simply too powerful for any President to turn around, and that the U.S. establishment is genetically Russo-phobic. The logical conclusion is that in 2017, Russia could have done nothing and can do nothing today to change the momentum of the relationship. We now have to sit on our hands waiting for some shifts in U.S. politics. This is not a very optimistic view. However, was it really the case? Could we speculate about an alternative track of the relationship if Moscow had taken a different, more proactive approach, beginning in January 2017?
The inertia of negative trends in Russian-U.S. relations in early 2017 was very powerful and hard to stop. Policies toward Moscow became an important component of U.S. domestic politics and President Trump was significantly constrained in what he could offer his counterpart in the Kremlin. However, in my view, Russian policy made a few tactical mistakes that closed the door to even limited progress in the bilateral relationship during the first few months of the new Administration.
First, the political fallout of the alleged Russia’s interference into the U.S. presidential election of 2016 was grossly underestimated in Moscow. Instead of demonstrating its understanding of American concerns—no matter how grounded and justified these concerns looked from the Russian side—and offering full cooperation in investigating the hackers’ case, the Russian leadership took a very condescending and dismissive position in this matter. “This isn’t for us to get into; these are your domestic political squabbles. Therefore, you deal with them. Nothing to talk about,”  was how President Putin responded to Megyn Kelly’s question about hackers at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in early June. This dismissive attitude played a significant role in consolidating the anti-Russian consensus in America. Two month later the U.S. Congress almost unanimously approved a new far-reaching sanctions package against Russia.
Second, it its attempts to reach out to the United States, the Russian leadership targeted exclusively the new Administration, instead of sending meaningful signals to the U.S. public at large, including its representatives in the U.S. Congress. For instance, Moscow could have announced the abolition of the notorious Dima Yakovlev Law that banned adoption of Russian orphans by U.S. citizens. It could have demonstrated its good will by reconsidering the list of U.S. undesirable organizations that had been kicked out of Russia during the last years of the Obama Administration. It could have restarted a number of frozen U.S.-Russian exchange pro-grams in education and civil society (the FLEX program being one of the most evident options). Unfortunately, none of these evident steps was made—probably because the Kremlin did not consider U.S. public opinion to be an important factor in shaping the Trump Administration’s foreign policy.
Finally, to the extent we can judge the initial Russian proposals to the new U.S. Administration, which allegedly were submitted to the White house in late March-early April 2017, they were limited primarily to restoring communications in three areas. Moscow offered to resume political dialogue, contacts between top U.S. and Russian military officials and information exchange between intelligence agencies of the two countries. Nothing suggests that these proposals contained any substantive ideas or demonstrated any new flexibility in Kremlin positions on matters like Syria or Ukraine. There was nothing in the proposals that would give the Trump Administration the prospect of an early and spectacular foreign policy success.
In 2017 it became evident that not only had the Trump Administration inherited the U.S.-Russian crisis from its predecessors, this coincided with what was arguably the most profound political crisis in the United States since Watergate. What was more, America had also entered a social crisis that went way beyond the Washington, DC Beltway and had the potential to affect the whole of American society. The hope that Donald Trump could be a strong president capable of restoring the shaken unity of the American people did not pan out, while the polarization of different political and social groups increased throughout most of 2017. The White house became significantly restricted in its ability to conduct a consistent foreign policy, not to mention implement any long-term strategy.
At the same time, the developments of 2017 suggest that the decline of the old era in Europe has been postponed, if not cancelled outright. The populist Eurosceptics failed in the Dutch and French elections, and the German election reaffirmed the continuity of Berlin’s European strategy. Notwithstanding all of Brexit’s negative implications, it actually resulted in the European idea gaining more popular support within the EU’s 27 remaining member states, and it became unlikely that any would follow suit any time soon. The migration crisis was not completely resolved, but in 2017 it no longer appeared as dramatic as it did in 2016 and especially in 2015. The euro did not crash, and no eurozone nations were thrown out.
It seems that Moscow was late to accept the important change of the curve in European developments and to change its tactics, if not strategy, towards Europe. Otherwise, it is hard to understand, for example, why Vladimir Putin chose to greet personally French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin in March and why the Russian mainstream media were so critical, if not hostile, to Emmanuel Macron literally until the day of the second round of the French presidential elections. To be fair to the Kremlin, it demonstrated a much more prudent approach to the parliamentary elections in Germany in September. On the other hand, one can argue that there was a fundamental difference between the French and German election cycles of 2017: in France, three of four presidential candidate argued for a more accommodative EU policy toward Russia, including possible change to the regime of sanctions; in Germany no mainstream political party contemplated such a change.
The Resilience of the West
It would appear that the United States and Europe followed opposite courses in 2017: while Brussels was beginning to react to its systemic problems, albeit slowly and falteringly, Washington only watched its problems grow. On the other hand, these processes in Europe and North America, which might seem incompatible through the prism of global politics, essentially reflected in different ways the same fundamental meaning of 2017. The Western world as a whole demonstrated more ability to adjust, more resistance to destabilizing factors, and more resilience than anyone could have credited it with in late 2016. It would probably be an overstatement to label 2017 as annus mirabilis, but it was definitely not as bad as 2016, and it countered some of the most pessimistic views on the inevitability of Western decline.
It is true that after Trump became president, disputes intensified within NATO as to how the burden of defense expenses should be distributed within the Alliance. However, the May 2017 NATO summit in Brussels did not prove catastrophic, and any attempts to write NATO off appear to be very much premature. It is also true that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership project is no more, but this has not resulted in heated trade wars between Europe and North America, nor will such conflicts break out in the future. Washington has left the Paris climate accord, but the major part of American business and society continue to observe the letter and spirit of that agreement.
This does not mean that 2017 resolved the postmodernist crisis in international relations: the fundamental problems of the modern global political system did not disappear in 2017, and the system will still have to change one way or another. however, we can now see that postmodernism is characterized by a good share of momentum and will continue to fight against advancing traditionalist forces for years to come. Therefore, current changes will most likely be characterized by a protracted evolution rather than a swift revolution; they will take years and even decades to complete. This process will have its ups and downs, speedups and slowdowns. however, it is unlikely that historians of the future, let alone contemporaries, will be able to pinpoint the moment when global politics transitioned from one qualitative state to the next. Speaking specifically of 2017, one can conclude that this period was dominated by restorative trends rather than by revolutionary ones.
What does this all mean for Russia? First and foremost, in 2017 decision-makers in the Kremlin should have cast away all illusions that Russia’s problems with the West would disappear on the back of the radical changes taking place within the West itself. The assumption that Moscow’s main task was to wait out this period in global politics, which, although extremely unpleasant for Russia, might appear to be short-lived, turned out to be highly questionable. In 2017, it became apparent that the Kremlin had no guaranteed advantage in short- and mid-term planning over the West. The Russian leadership had to plan for a marathon, not a sprint, and it was by no means a given that Moscow was better equipped to last out this contest than its Western opponents.
The upheavals of the past few years might not have completely cut down the snobbish, overconfident and not entirely perspicacious European bureaucrats and strategists, but they may at least have forced them to come down to earth. For the sake of the future of the European project, Brussels and other European capital cities were actively looking for new EU development paths, discussing possible solutions to key issues of political and economic reforms and plans to reform the key European institutions. Can we say in earnest that in 2017 Russia was discussing the future of the Russian project with the same zealousness, breadth and intensity?
It is of course possible that skeptics will soon mount another attack on the European Union, and that pro-Russian leaders will come to power in one or two European countries. It is also possible that Trump will manage to win a tactical victory over the Deep State, minimizing the practical implementation of new anti-Russian sanctions. A new major armed conflict in the Middle East could distract the West from its confrontation with Russia, or global political instability could lead to a steep oil price hike. However, building a strategy on such premises is akin to planning a family budget in hope of a hefty lottery win. The unpredictability of international developments should not justify the absence of a cohesive strategy, especially when one has to deal with an opponent who is far superior in terms of overall economic, social and military attributes of power.
In addition, it is now becoming clear that Russia will not be able to engage in strategic interaction with the Trump administration while leaving the disintegrating EU by the wayside. So far, the opposite has been true.
It appears that in the foreseeable future, Russia cannot hope for much more than tactical interaction with the United States on a limited set of issues, such as Syria, North Korea, the Arctic and nuclear non-proliferation. If Moscow is particularly lucky, it might expand this list to add strategic stability, the fight against global terrorism and certain other problems. However, cooperation with the Americans on the creation of a new world order is no longer possible. The firmness of the anti-Russian consensus in Washington is indisputable; splitting this consensus will take a very long time, if it happens at all. Very few people in Moscow today believe that the decisions on anti-Russian sanctions made in Washington in 2017 are likely to be reconsidered anytime soon. What is currently happening in U.S.-Russia relations is more than a worsening of the weather; it is a fundamental climatic shift, the coming of a new Ice Age.
The EU, on the other hand, appears to be more promising for Russia. In order to overcome its numerous problems and ailments, the European Union will inevitably have to revise many of its existing mechanisms, procedures and priorities, and even, to an extent, its rules and principles. Russia could assist with the European Union’s transformation for its own benefit by supporting a stronger Europe and abstaining from patronizing anti-European parties and movements across the continent. In this case, it could hope to gradually expand cooperation with Europe, on the con-dition that at least some minimal progress is achieved on Ukraine, which is central to Russia-EU relations.
This does not imply that fundamental disagreements between Moscow and Brussels will cease to exist. The worldview of the current political leadership in the Kremlin is not going to change; an ideological revolution in the European Union is no more likely. In the observable future Russia will not become a part of the European project. Nevertheless, this division does not preclude various forms of cooperation similar to these during the 1970s or 1980s.
Back to the Cold War
Since no revolution took place in global politics in 2017, practical solutions need to be sought in the framework of the existing system of political coordinates; more grandiose plans have to wait. The old model of geopolitical confrontation between East and West, i.e., the Cold War model, should be revisited as an interim solution for the Russia-West adversarial relationship. This model is certainly far from ideal, it is expensive and to a great extent outdated. Nevertheless, notwithstanding all its shortcomings, the Cold War model used to ensure a satisfactory level of stability and predictability, both in Europe and in the world as a whole.
This model included numerous channels of political interaction, contacts among militaries, risk mitigation measures and arms control treaties. Furthermore, the Cold War model was based on mutual respect and even a degree of mutual trust. So why not fall back on this time-tested con-frontation management practice, using such mechanisms as the NATO–Russia Council, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, or new ad-hoc formats like the Russia-NATO Crisis Management Group, which has been repeatedly proposed?
At this stage the name of the game in Russia’s relations with the West is not mutual trust, but rather mutual predictability. Since it is very difficult to make predictions about the Trump Administration, major European counties and the European Union at large become more important for Russia than was the case earlier. For example, both Russia and the EU have strategic interests to secure the multilateral agreement of the Iranian nuclear dossier. Likewise, the Russian and the EU positions are close on the North Korean problem.
In some areas, there is actually no need to return to the old model because it is still in place. This goes for Russia’s nuclear interaction with the United States, for example. The two remaining pillars of this interaction, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and New START Treaty, while certainly offering some positive aspects, are nevertheless fully compliant with the logic of controlled confrontation and are fully within the Cold War paradigm. Retaining and reinforcing these accords would not require any historic political breakthrough, unilateral concessions, or switching to a fundamentally new format of Moscow’s relations with Washington.
The goal to preserve INF and New START is definitely worth fighting for. Nevertheless, even if this hard battle is won, this will not signal the end of the fight to secure and to strengthen strategic arms control in the 21st century. Neither INF nor New START prevents the United States from spending $1 trillion in the next 30 years on modernizing its nuclear bombs, bombers, missiles and submarines. Russia will also continue its large-scale strategic modernization program, even if the two agreements remain in place.
The crisis of strategic arms control is more complex and fundamental than the uncertain future of the two agreements, as important as they are. In the 21st century, strategic arms control is no longer about arithmetic; it requires applications of higher mathematics. These days, mobility dom-inates location, precision beats throw-weight; and the line between nuclear and conventional weapons has become almost invisible. The old arms control paradigm has entered into its own perfect storm. While preservation of its Cold War heritage is indispensable, preservation in itself is clearly not sufficient to provide for strategic stability in a completely new global environment.
One can argue that traditional distinctions between strategic, intermediate-range and tactical systems are becoming antiquated. The reality is that the United States and Russia have and will continue to have strikingly different geopolitical and geostrategic positions in the world; their threat perceptions and their respective strategic doctrines will never be identical to each other. If so, the United States and Russia could merge New START and INF into one umbrella agreement that would set overall ceilings for nuclear warheads and launchers on both sides. Within these overall ceilings both Washington and Moscow would be in a position to blend individual cocktails of strategic, intermediate range and tactical systems to their liking. For a better taste, they could even add the missile defense component to the mix. The only sub-ceiling that they might need to preserve is the sub-ceiling for deployed warheads, which are of particular concern to the other side. This sub-ceiling can amount to a half or one third of the total number.
This approach will not address all the contemporary challenges to strategic arms control. For example, the time has come move away from a bilateral U.S.-Russian format to a multilateral one, but this approach will not do that. Still, an innovative approach would be a loud and clear signal to third nuclear powers that there is political will in both the White House and in the Kremlin not only to preserve, but also to enhance and to modernize global strategic security.
Skeptics can argue that today is not the best time to experiment with new approaches to strategic arms control. U.S.-Russian relations have hit historical lows, trust between the two countries is non-existent, political opposition to any new deals will be too strong to generate domestic support for any new agreements. These are exactly the arguments used back in the 1950s against a possible U.S.—Soviet collaboration to write a set of rules for the new nuclear world. It took the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 to start moving away from this perception, and another ten years to sign the first U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Agreement (SALT 1). Are we ready to wait for another missile crisis—in North Korea or elsewhere? Can we afford another ten years for a new detente between Washington and Moscow?
The Second Layer of the Pie
Overhauling and restarting the old Cold War model is a necessary but insufficient factor for the future stabilization of Russia’s relations with the West. With all its comparative advantages, this model has at least four key structural limitations. First, the Cold War model is inherently static. It is aimed at preserving the status quo and precludes any evolution. Such a model is extremely difficult to reform; it was no accident that the Cold War ended not in an orderly transformation of the controlled confrontation model, but in a dramatic and chaotic collapse in the late 1980s. Given the dynamics of the international system today, any attempt to codify Rus-sia-West relations for an extended period of time is unlikely to be successful. There are simple too many independent variables that might affect these relations, from rising China to the fourth industrial revolution to global climate change.
Second, the Cold War was primarily fought by two vertically structured politico-military blocs, which split Europe into the Soviet and U.S. spheres of influence. It would be absolutely impossible to divide today’s Europe into distinct spheres of influence; the very idea of spheres of influence is considered to be hopelessly antiquated and unacceptable, at least in the Western world. Besides, contemporary Russia is not comparable to the former USSR at the peak of its might; a geopolitical parity between Moscow and the combined West is only possible if Russia creates a political and military alliance with China, but it is highly unlikely that Russia would be the leading partner in such an alliance.
Third, Soviet and U.S. leaders built the Cold War model in order to counter the most dangerous threats of the 20th century. Even though many of these threats still exist, the 21st century has brought up new challenges, including those posed by non-governmental actors. The Cold War model cannot offer much in terms of counteracting the new generation of threats to international security. In many ways, the Cold War model was the last incarnation of the traditional Westphalian world, which is no longer the world in which we live.
Fourth, the Cold War model was relatively effective in a situation when the two confronting systems remained virtually isolated from one another and separated by incompatible ideologies. No such economic, political or humanitarian confrontation between Russia and the West exists anymore, nor could it be reinstated, despite certain attempts being made on both sides. The current media war between Russia and the West looks like a caricature of the ideological struggle between communism and liberal democracy in the middle of the 20th century. Nor can Russia be isolated from the West in an age of unprecedented human mobility, porous borders, global information and communications technologies. Despite all of Russia’s efforts aimed at self-reliance, import substitution and higher protectionism, the country’s dependence on the outside word is likely to increase, not decrease.
The old model’s considerable limitations necessitate the introduction of a new complementary dimension to Russia-West relations. The role of such a dimension could be played out through a system of global, regional and sub-regional regimes that would preserve and expand the common space between Russia and Europe, between Eurasia and the Euro-Atlantic area.
In the initial phase, such regimes would be easier to preserve and develop in less politically sensitive fields, such as education, science and culture. However, it may be possible to apply the regimes model to nontraditional security challenges, including international terrorism, drug trafficking, cross-border crime, energy security and even cyber security. The regimes model can also work on the sub-regional level: for example, it has long been applied effectively in the Arctic.
In the current situation, the regimes model could efficiently complement the old Cold War model in Russia’s relations with the West. As distinct from the inherently rigid Cold War model, which requires strict codification of agreements reached, the regimes model is flexible, often making it possible to do without burdensome negotiations over technicalities and avoid complex and protracted ratification procedures.
While the Cold War model requires a universally recognized hierarchy of parties in international relations, the regimes model is based on horizontal interactions between the parties involved, which may include not only large and small states, but also non-governmental actors such as regions and municipalities, private companies and civil institutions, international organizations and cross-border movements. This significantly expands the range of potential stakeholders interested in the development of cooperation, creating a critical mass for subsequent breakthroughs.
Skeptics would argue that this approach has already been tried in the relations between Russia and the West, but failed to prevent the current crisis and therefore should be rejected as inefficient. I would make a counterargument: the current crisis would be much deeper and more difficult to manage if the two sides did not have a thick network of social, humanitarian, cultural, educational and other contacts. Despite an ongoing and intense information war, the West still remains a point of orientation to millions and millions of Russians. It is true that Russians have not become completely immune to anti-Western propaganda, but the depth and the sustainability of anti-Western moods in the Russian society can be questioned.
Whereas the Cold War model proceeds from the premise that the parties are prepared for major deals such as the 1975 Helsinki Accords, and is mainly based on a top-down approach, the regimes model works in situations of strategic uncertainty, in the absence of major deals, and is mostly based on a bottom-up approach. Shoots of cooperation sprout up wherever there are even the most minuscule cracks in the asphalt of confrontation.
The question is whether such different models of Russia’s relations with the West can possibly be combined within a single hybrid format. That this is possible in principle follows from the peculiarities of contemporary social organization in Russia and the West, which differs radically from how things were organized in the middle of the 20th century. Thanks to the high level of social, professional and cultural fragmentation in contemporary societies, the existence of multiple group and individual identities, and the extremely intricate mechanisms of interaction within vertical, horizontal, formal, informal, basic and situational ties, both models will have their target audiences, proponents, operators and ideologists in Russia and the West.
It is easy to predict that the logic of confrontation will inevitably restrict and distort the logic of cooperation. One way or another, the two mutually complementary models affect each other, because they simply cannot be isolated. However, the art of foreign policy presupposes, among other things, the ability to play chess on several boards simultaneously, or to be more precise, to play chess, poker and even the exotic Asian game Go at the same time, not just the traditional Russian game of gorodki. The most important thing is to delimit the spheres of application of the two models and gradually shift the balance between them from the former to the latter.
Looking Beyond the Horizon
Any significant changes in the current pattern of relations between Russia and the West is likely to be a slow, gradual and long process. At this stage, there are not many compelling reasons for the Kremlin to reconsider its fundamental approaches to the West. On the one hand, the current status quo is perceived as not perfect, but generally acceptable. Potential risks associated with maintaining the status quo are regarded as relatively low compared to risks that might emerge from attempts at changing the status quo. The margin of safety of both the Russian political system and its economy is still quite significant. On the other hand, the trend towards a new consolidation of the West is still very fragile and arguably reversible. There are many political, social and economic problems, to which neither the United States, not the European Union, have found credible solutions.
The status quo-focused foreign policy does not exclude trial balloons, tactical adjustments, incremental concessions, and situational collaboration. All these are important in 2018 and in years to come. However, a more fundamental change in Russian foreign policy is not likely to come as a cumulative effect of incremental adjustments or situational collaboration. Neither will it result from a revelation of a Russian leader, no matter who this leader is likely to be a few years from now. At the end of the day, Russia’s foreign policy priorities will be defined by the economic and social development trajectory upon which the nation will embark once it has depleted the potential of the current development model.
Russia can definitely survive without the West generally, and without Europe in particular. It might even prosper without the West if global prices on oil and other commodities go up again and a new golden rain waters the national economy. It does not matter much to whom you sell your commodities—clients in the West or clients in the East, developed or developing nations, mature democracies or authoritarian regimes. With Russia’s rent-seeking economy in place, the West is not likely to reemerge as an indispensable partner for Moscow. Moreover, Russia can even stick to a neo-isolationist foreign policy, consistently trying to protect its citizens from the dangers and challenges of the globalizing world.
This foreign policy option will be even more probable if the overall international system evolves in the direction of more nationalism, protectionism, rigid balance of powers, continuous decay of international institutions and international law. If the name of game is survival rather than development, if the top national priority everywhere is security rather than development, then incentives to change anything will remain low.
However, let us suppose that the name of the game is not to maintain the rent-seeking economic model, but to pursue a strategy of encouraging deep structural economic reforms, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, and unleashing the creative potential of the Russian people. Let us suppose that the modern liberal world order successfully overcomes the ongoing crisis and the international system move away from hard to soft power, from unilateralism to multilateralism, from closeness to openness. In this case connecting to the West, borrowing best Western practices, learning from Western mistakes is going to be a critical precondition for any successful Russian modernization. This has always been the case, ever since Italian architects supervised the erection of the red brick Kremlin walls in Moscow back in 1485.
Given all the uncertainties of future developments in Russia and in the West, it might make sense to define three time horizons for this very complex and uneasy relationship. Each of these has its own logic, priorities, goals, opportunities, and limitations. The first is about de-escalation, which involves a stable cease-fire in Donbass, moderation of inflammatory rhetoric on both sides, a truce in the information war, and resumption of political and military contacts and various levels. The second is about stabilization, including a more general political settlement in Ukraine along the lines of the Minsk Agreements, gradual removal of sanctions and countersanctions, a set of confidence-building measures in Europe, promotion of cooperation in areas of mutual concern (e.g. soft security), unilateral limitations on military deployments, and strengthening European regimes in humanitarian fields. Moving on to the third, long-term horizon, we should review and revise the idea of a Greater Europe that was unsuccessfully tried after the end of the Cold War; our second attempt should be based on lessons learned from the failure of the first attempt.
Sul pipeline Nord Stream 2 si embricano una multiforme serie di interessi non da poco.
Ma accanto ai grandi interessi, ve ne sono anche alcuni di microbica bottega, che però pesano.
L’ex-cancelliere Spd Schröder è attivo nel consiglio di amministrazione della società che gestisce il Nord Stream 1. Ma recentemente ha anche assunto un ruolo nel consiglio di amministrazione della Rosneft.
Ma si sa. C’è anche gente che si domanda perché lui due cariche ed altri nessuna.
Si pensi, tanto per fare un esempio, ad una cancelliera trombata alle elezioni ed in cerca di una tana sicura ove posare le ossa ad tre milioni l’anno. Ma servirebbe convincere prima Herr Schröder a dimettersi da un consiglio di amministrazione e quindi Mr Putin a concedere l’ambito seggio.
Ecco quindi che il Nord Stream 2 diventa immediatamente un progetto strategico per la Germania, ma anche con viva soddisfazione della Russia, tutta contenta nel constatare la dipendenza energetica della Germania.
Ma sul Nord Stream 2 vi sono anche altri appetiti.
«The German energy groups Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, the Anglo-Dutch group Shell and France’s Engie have provided financial support to the 1,225-kilometer (760-mile) pipeline»
La Russia, in poche parole, non tirerebbe fuori un centesimo bucato, ma tedeschi, austriaci, olandesi e francesi sono su di una graticola non da poco: hanno preso impegni e versato le prime tranche e non stanno vedendo nulla indietro.
In questo momento Frau Merkel è al quarto mese di colloqui preliminari per appurare se poter quindi iniziare delle trattative per formare una eventuale Große Koalition. Senza un governo in carica, il Nord Stream 2 giace impotente: langue, generando perdite giorno dopo giorno.
Ma sono anche tempi grami da altri punti di vista.
«Beyond the key parliamentary budget committee … the chairmanships of the budget, legal affairs and tourism committees».
La Commissione Parlamentare per il Bilancio, unitamente a quella per gli affari legali sdaranno però chiamate ad esprimere pareri vincolanti sul Nord Stream 2, e corrono voci che tra Frau Merkel ed AfD non corra poi troppo buon sangue.
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Orbene, tanto per cacciare ancora un po’ di benzina sul fuoco, Mr Tillerson e Mr Czaputowicz si son visti ed hanno parlato del più e del meno.
«The top diplomats from both countries want to limit Russian gas — in part because it gives Moscow political influence»
«But energy sales also drive the economy, which helps the Kremlin finance foreign military ventures»
«Like Poland, the United States opposes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline …. We share the view that it is necessary to diversify energy supplies into Europe»
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Il discorso non farebbe una piega se Mr Tillerson non avesse tenuto una famiglia di volpi sotto le ascelle.
Formalmente, nulla da eccepire.
Ma a pensar male si fa peccato anche se spesso ci si azzecca.
Fatto si è che le società petrolifere ed energetiche russe non sono mica dello stato russo: sono proprietà del Kremlin, che gestisce gli utili a piacer suo. Ed il Kremlin ha uno sguardo di tutto riguardo per gli armamenti.
Questa è anche la spiegazione di come faccia la Federazione Russa a mantenere delle forze armate quali quelle che ha con il modestissimo budget a bilancio statale: sessantasei miliardi di dollari americani.
A questo punto dovrebbe essere evidente la manovra che Mr Tillerson sta portando avanti dietro ordine del Presidente Trump.
Nulla nella vita reale è semplice né riducibile a slogan.
The top diplomats from both countries want to limit Russian gas — in part because it gives Moscow political influence. But energy sales also drive the economy, which helps the Kremlin finance foreign military ventures.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed the US’s support for Poland’s position after meeting his counterpart, Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, in Warsaw.
“Like Poland, the United States opposes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” Tillerson said during a news conference with Czaputowicz. “We see it as undermining Europe’s overall energy security and stability and providing Russia yet another tool to politicize energy as a political tool.”
Tillerson added: “Our opposition is driven by our mutual strategic interests.”
The undersea pipeline would be the second to deliver Russian gas directly to Western Europe via the Baltic Sea, bypassing the traditional land route through Ukraine and Poland.
“We share the view that it is necessary to diversify energy supplies into Europe,” Czaputowicz said.
Russia still provides two-thirds of Poland’s gas supply, but Warsaw started importing liquefied natural gas from the United States last year in its own bid to diversify its fuel supplies.
Closer military ties
Tillerson encouraged other European countries to follow suit and also voiced support for a pipeline connecting Poland and Norway, which Warsaw is developing with the aim of further limiting its dependency on Russia.
Poland, which spent four decades under Soviet rule, has been an EU member since 2004. Many officials consider Russia an existential threat, particularly after Moscow seized the Crimean Peninsula from neighboring Ukraine in 2014.
Poland’s northern neighbors — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — are also alarmed by Moscow’s aggression and Europe’s dependency on Russian energy supplies. But Germany and Austria have focused on the commercial benefits of importing cheap gas from Russia.
Separately, Tillerson and Czaputowicz pledged to enhance military cooperation, including increasing the US’s military presence — which currently numbers 5,000 across two separate missions related directly to the US and to NATO — in Poland.
“The stationing of American troops on our territory gives us, the Poles, a sense of security, and we are grateful for that,” Czaputowicz said. “We want this presence to be even bigger, and we want it to be permanent.”
I detrattori cronici della religione si facciano pure venire le coliche di colecisti e le crisi epilettiche: fatti loro.
Così come quei poveracci che scambiano le religioni per ideologie, come se i termini fossero equivalenti.
Guardiamo invece con attenzione quello che sta nel mondo: la realtà che è in atto e che alla fine schiaccia sotto la evidenza dei fatti.
È in corso a livello mondiale la devoluzione dell’ideologia liberal e di quella socialista.
Uno dei loro tratti caratteristici, forse il principale da cui far discendere tutto il loro pensiero come conseguenza, è la professione di ateismo positivo, con rigetto e demonizzazione delle religioni, del trascendente.
Immortale odium et numquam sanabile vulnus.
Ateismo che impongono denominandolo libertà religiosa: si è liberi di essere atei.
Logica conseguenza deduttiva il rigetto delle radici cristiane su cui è stato eretto tutto l’Occidente.
Eppure la storia ci fa vedere come siano state proprio le radici cristiane a muovere quelle rivolta polacca che destabilizzò l’Unione Sovietica al punto tale da far implodere il regime comunista. E come il popolo russo sia riuscito a riprendersi dalle macerie comuniste proprio stringendosi alla sua millenaria tradizione cristiana. E questo Mr Putin lo sa più che bene.
Più di recente stiamo assistendo alla rivolta del Visegrad contro la dittatura liberal degli eurocrati: ma cosa mai sarebbe il Visegrad se non la rinascita dell’orgoglio cristiano? I paesi del Visegrad sono cristiani e difendono la loro religione, prima ancora di difendere la propria sovranità nazionale. Concetto questo che sfugge ai più, perché presumono che la religione sia morta. Una delle tante loro idee bislacche.
«Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Orthodox Christians and all Russians on Christmas celebrated according to the Julian calendar on January 7»
«A Kremlin press service statement quoted Putin as saying that Christmas “gives millions of believers joy and hope.”»
«Putin said the holiday accustoms Orthodox Christians to “spiritual origins and fatherly traditions, and unites them around eternal Christian values” and the “centuries-old historic and cultural heritage of our people.”»
«Putin also said the Orthodox Christian Church has “made a significant contribution to strengthening high moral ideals in society, educating the growing generation, and solving vital social problems.”»
Ma uno dei segni che i tempi stanno mutando e che la voce dei liberal si sta facendo sentire sempre meno è l’atto storico compito da Mr Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, presidente dell’Egitto.
«In Egypt, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi attended an Orthodox Christmas service at a new church in a symbolic act of solidarity with his country’s embattled Christian community, the Copts.»
«Sisi, a Muslim, told the packed cathedral outside of Cairo on the Orthodox Christmas Eve that “you are our family. We are one and no one can divide us.”»
«His appearance at the cathedral along with Coptic Pope Tawadros II came as tens of thousands of soldiers and police were deployed outside churches in Egypt to secure against attacks by Islamic militants, who have targeted Christians for the past two years in bomb attacks that have killed about 100 people»
* * * * * * *
Al Sisi ha dimostrato non solo di avere una chiara visione del retaggio religioso e storico dell’Egitto, ma anche e soprattutto un coraggio da vendere.
In Egitto fazioni estremiste islamiche hanno abbondantemente irrorato di sangue le Chiese Copte, assassinando migliaia di persone innocenti.
Non solo Mr Al Sisi ha messo a repentaglio la propria vita, ma adesso sarà anche lui nel mirino dei terroristi.
Si dica pure ciò che si voglia, ma vedere uomini coraggiosi, che hanno ideali per i quali vivere perché ne hanno per i quali morire, rincuora e non poco, sul futuro della umanità.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Orthodox Christians and all Russians on Christmas celebrated according to the Julian calendar on January 7.
A Kremlin press service statement quoted Putin as saying that Christmas “gives millions of believers joy and hope.”
Putin said the holiday accustoms Orthodox Christians to “spiritual origins and fatherly traditions, and unites them around eternal Christian values” and the “centuries-old historic and cultural heritage of our people.”
Putin also said the Orthodox Christian Church has “made a significant contribution to strengthening high moral ideals in society, educating the growing generation, and solving vital social problems.”
Putin attended Orthodox Christmas services at the Church of saints Simeon and Ann in St. Petersburg as the clock turned to January 7.
Meanwhile, Russian state television channels showed a live broadcast of the Christmas Eve midnight Mass from Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.
Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill conducted the ceremonies at the Moscow site before hundreds of worshippers, including several Russian government and parliamentary officials.
Orthodox Christians in Russia and most other Orthodox countries celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar on January 7, two weeks after most Western Christian churches that use the Gregorian calendar.
January 7 is a national holiday in Russia, as well as in Belarus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, and Ukraine. The Armenian Orthodox Church celebrated on January 6.
In Bethlehem, Palestinians Christians — angry with church land sales to Israelis — scuffled with Palestinian police, as they attempted to block the arrival of the Holy Land’s Greek Orthodox patriarch for Christmas celebrations.
Demonstrators banged on the sides of police escort vehicles, but Patriarch Theophilos III managed to safely move in his limousine to the Church of the Nativity for the traditional Orthodox Christmas eve observance.
In Istanbul, the Greek Orthodox Christian community celebrated Epiphany with the blessing of the waters.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians around the world and the archbishop of Constantinople, led the liturgy at the Patriarchal Church of St. George.
The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates Jesus’ baptism on Epiphany. Most Christian religions observe Epiphany to recall the three wise men who followed a star to find the baby Jesus.
In Egypt, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi attended an Orthodox Christmas service at a new church in a symbolic act of solidarity with his country’s embattled Christian community, the Copts.
Sisi, a Muslim, told the packed cathedral outside of Cairo on the Orthodox Christmas Eve that “you are our family. We are one and no one can divide us.”
His appearance at the cathedral along with Coptic Pope Tawadros II came as tens of thousands of soldiers and police were deployed outside churches in Egypt to secure against attacks by Islamic militants, who have targeted Christians for the past two years in bomb attacks that have killed about 100 people.
Mentre l’Occidente si balocca con i suoi problemi di formare e gestire governi impossibili, sottraendo così tempo altrimenti prezioso per propalare la teoria del gender e tutelare la propria scala valoriale, mentre Frau Merkel, gioca a fare la desaparecida della politica tedesca, quel bel tomo del Presidente Mr Putin prosegue implacabile la sua corsa verso la Casa Bianca, ove intenderebbe porre a breve termine la sua dacia estiva. Come risultato iniziale potrebbe accontentarsi di Berlino oppure di Parigi: è una persona continente e sobria.
«Russian gas giant sees 2018 Europe exports at least at 180bcm»
«LNG imports may increase, yet not by cutting Gazprom share»
Lo scorso anno Gazprom, di cui il Governo russo è proprietario al 50.23%, aveva un total assets di 252 miliardi Usd, dando lavoro a 462,400 dipendenti.
«Alexander Ivanovich Medvedev, born 14 August 1955 in Shakhtyorsk, Sakhalin Oblast, is the current Deputy Chairman of the Management Committee of Russian energy company Gazprom. Medvedev also served as Director-General of Gazprom’s export arm Gazprom Export from 2006 until 2014. He is a member of the Coordination Committee of RosUkrEnergo and a member of the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream AG» [Fonte]
«Russia is working to keep natural gas exports to Europe near record levels in 2018»
«The state-controlled gas giant plans to ship a minimum of 180 billion cubic meters next year»
«Gazprom meets more than a third of Europe’s demand for natural gas, Russia’s biggest and most lucrative market worth some $37 billion in revenue this year»
* * * * * * *
La Russia fornisce all’Europa circa un terzo del suo fabbisogno di gas naturale e conta di aumentare la quota di mercato che già detiene.
«Officials across Europe accuse Russia of everything from meddling in elections to menacing coastlines and airspace with warships and planes. Earlier this month, the U.K.’s armed forces warned of a growing threat for the Atlantic undersea communications cables, the internet and international trade from Russia’s submarines»
Ci sarebbero le sanzioni in essere contro la Russia, ma come abbiamo imparato il secondo giorno in Accademia, i regolamenti ci sono apposta per quelli che non sanno proprio come regolarsi.
Gli Occidentali hanno raccontato di Mr Putin cose mirabolanti: avrebbe truccato le elezioni americane, ritoccando con agile mano tutte le schede, avrebbe drogato i risultati delle elezioni tedesche, che se no Frau Merkel avrebbe conseguito la maggioranza assoluta e così via.
– Russian gas giant sees 2018 Europe exports at least at 180bcm
– LNG imports may increase, yet not by cutting Gazprom share
Russia is working to keep natural gas exports to Europe near record levels in 2018 after the continent’s biggest supplier, Gazprom PJSC, said its deliveries this year signal it is achieving on its ambitions to expand.
The state-controlled gas giant plans to ship a minimum of 180 billion cubic meters next year, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Alexander Medvedev said in an interview in St. Petersburg. That volume would be the second highest ever after at least 190 billion cubic meters expected this year, which is a record.
“Of course, it’s business, not sports,” Medvedev said. Yet, this is “a new stage” in the company’s history.
Gazprom meets more than a third of Europe’s demand for natural gas, Russia’s biggest and most lucrative market worth some $37 billion in revenue this year. Tighter trade links with the Kremlin-backed company contrast with increasing tensions on the military and political front.
Officials across Europe accuse Russia of everything from meddling in elections to menacing coastlines and airspace with warships and planes. Earlier this month, the U.K.’s armed forces warned of a growing threat for the Atlantic undersea communications cables, the internet and international trade from Russia’s submarines.
European Union lawmakers have had their hearts set on diversifying energy supplies away from Russia and are urging expansion of ports to handle liquefied natural gas tankers from the U.S. Production there has skyrocketed, making the U.S. a potential top producer of LNG in the mid-2020s, according to International Energy Agencyestimates.
Gazprom accuses the U.S. of politicizing its economic interests in the EU through a sanctions law earlier this year that targeted pipeline projects. Executives in Russia have so far shrugged off the threat of serious competition in Europe.
While EU gas demand depends on weather and economic growth, it’s likely to increase next year as domestic production falls and coal prices recover, making imports from Gazprom more competitive, Medvedev said. Russia has the biggest potential to meet the additional demand, he said.
Medvedev acknowledged that Europe may take more LNG imports, especially when demand exceeds the capacity of pipeline suppliers. In Britain, pipeline imports are near peak levels, and there’s little storage available to give its system flexibility. The executive said supplies drawn from pipelines will remain more competitive than LNG.
Latin America and Asia so far remain priority markets for the super-chilled gas, especially from the U.S., amid higher prices there, Medvedev said. “This applies to both traditional and new markets — China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam.”
“A global LNG market still does not exist,” he said. “There are three large regional markets — America, Europe and Asia — with a big price difference. An Asian price premium will stay in place as demand there is booming.”