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US professor lectures Washington: Crimea is Russian, learn history and stop risking WW3

Lyle J. Goldstein reminded American politicians that Crimea has been Russian territory as long as the US has existed – in fact much longer

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In reminding Americans the crucial historical role of Crimea to Russia, and Russia to Crimea, an American professor teaches us all the importance of history.

Among many things, Professor Lyle J.Goldstein said that:

Russia first acquired Crimea in the same year, 1783, that marked the end of the American Revolution. To put it bluntly, Russians have controlled Crimea for quite a long while now and are extremely unlikely to give it up, so let’s neither hold our breath, nor premise our strategy on absurdly ahistorical, neo-liberal premises. European security specialists have much more pressing issues to address obviously, including primarily the refugee crisis and terrorism. A more thorough knowledge of history could help American policymakers draft more responsible policies to stop the “free fall” in U.S.-Russian relations that now imperils Ukraine, Europe and the entire world.

You can read the Professor’s entire speech here. It’s very important to listen carefully to his advice. A deeper knowledge of history is truly key. While it is unlikely this will change the mind of top American policymakers, it may help the average citizen understand the historical role of Crimea in Russia.

Let’s start at the beginning of Russian history, and take a walk through geography, in order to understand the realities of Ukraine and Russia today. If people better understood this, they would be more equipt to discuss what is really happening.

Russia first emerged as a state called Rus’ or Kievan Rus’ in 862. At that time, Rus’ existed on a shared territory around northwestern Russia, Belarus, and Central and Western Ukraine. Rus’ existed long before the modern borders of the states located there today. Take a look at this map.

You can make out the modern borders of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia if you look closely. What you will also notice is that Crimea was not part of Rus’. Even if Ukraine wishes to claim to be the only successor of Kievan Rus’, one can see Crimea has NOTHING to do with so-called “Ancient Ukraine”.

By the 1240 century, Kiev would fall to the Mongols, and around 1362, Kiev, along with most of modern Ukraine would be ruled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the picture below, one can see clearly how Lithuania occupied even parts of modern Russia, for example, Smolensk.

By the 15th century, Lithuania will have joined with Poland into a single commonwealth, ruling most of Ukraine. At that same time, the eastern half of Rus’ survived, and Moscow managed to reuinte almost all of the old territories of Rus’, save for that in the west until later.

In the mid 17th century, Cossacks under the leadership of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, wishing to unite with their Orthodox and Rus(ian) brothers and sisters, accepted the help of the Russian Czar, and with him, restored freedom in the left-bank of the River Dnipro. Contrary to what it would sound like, left bank Ukraine is the right side of the River Dnipro when you look at a map.

The lands in purple above, constituted the heartland of the Cossacks, who liberated the dark green region of Malorossia (little Russia) just above. With the help of Russia, they liberated the upstream territories, however, the lavender lands below, including Crimea were sparsely inhabited still.

Eventually, the Russian Empire continued it’s advance westward liberating the rest of Ukraine. The regions it liberated in the west were called “Little Russia” and constituted many ancient lost parts of Rus’

In the south, they liberated the “Wild Fields”, and under Catherine the Great in the 18th century, they overthrew the Crimean Khanate. Under Catherine, Russia built the great cities of southern Ukraine: Odessa, Mikolaiv, Kherson, and yes, Sevastopol, Yalta, and Simferopol. This land, formerly an empty wild field, filled with Tatar raiders, was called now “New Russia”.

New Russia (Novorossia) was aptly named, because it was…well…new. It was settled by Cossacks, but also by many Russians from the territory of the modern Russian Federation. While cities above such as Kiev, Chernigov, Lviv, Lutsk, Poltava, etc. were built in a time when no one could define what was Russian vs Ukrainian, the southern cities were clearly built by Russia.

Unlike the upper territories, “Little Russia”, where the ancestors of Modern Ukrainians lived for almost 300 years separated from Russians, Novorossia was a new frontier, settled by mostly Russians. Its cities were not ancient principalities of Rus’, they were built in the Early Modern Period by the Russian Empress. There was no civilization there prior to Russia building it, so they belong as much to Russian culture as to Ukrainian. Just because they are located in modern Ukraine, does not make them any less Russian than Siberia or Kuban. Russia literally built them up from empty fields.

Ukraine is a mostly artificial invention. The land is of course, ancient, as are the people, but the name and current borders are contrived. As a matter of fact, many parts of modern Ukraine were added to the nation by Russia throughout history. Some parts of Western Ukraine were part of Poland or the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the 20th century, and they were simply stitched onto Ukraine.

This was the case with Crimea, which was a part of Russia simply added to Ukraine by Khrushchev, in as much as all of Ukraine was a part of Russia. Crimea is also crucially important to Russia because it is the site where Saint Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles of Kiev was baptised Orthodox. Saint Vladimir baptised all Russia into the Orthodox faith in 988, and was considered her greatest King. The place of his baptism is not far from modern Sevastopol, in a Greek colony, so one must understand this land is sacred to Russia. It is not simply a strategic place, it has more meaning than a foreigner could possibly understand.

Saint Vladimir’s Church beside Greek Ruins in Crimea

If someone really wishes to understand Ukraine, which means “Borderland” in the old Slavic language, one must see it less as a united nation or ethnic group, and more like a territory with legal sovereignty and statehood. According to international law, Ukraine, has the right to sovereignty, but it is factually wrong to see this as a separate nation-state with internal ethnic unity. You don’t have to hate Ukraine, or oppose the right of modern Ukraine to exist as a state in order to understand the land and people itself are not homogenous.

The reality is, Ukraine like two different countries split down the centre, and even within that division, there are subdivisions. Every region practically has its own foreign policy, and one is better served talking about Kharkov people, or Lviv people, or Odessa people, or Poltava people, than grouping them together as Ukrainians. Russia and Ukraine began together, and dividing them artificially is not a permanent solution, but it will breed permanent conflict.

The sooner westerners understand this historical and cultural fact, regardless how they feel about the Ukraine crisis, the sooner they can better understand what is really happening in Ukraine.

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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Putin and Erdogan Plan Syria-Idlib DMZ

What the Putin-Erdogan DMZ decision means is that the 50,000 Turkish troops occupying Idlib will take control over that land, and have responsibility over the largest concentration of jihadists anywhere on the planet.

Eric Zuesse

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As I recommended in a post on September 10th, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan jointly announced on September 17th, “We’ve agreed to create a demilitarized zone between the government troops and militants before October 15. The zone will be 15-20km wide,” which compares to the Korean DMZ’s 4-km width. I had had in mind the Korean experience, but obviously Putin and Erdogan are much better-informed about the situation than I am, and they have chosen a DMZ that’s four to five times wider. In any case, the consequences of such a decision will be momentous, unless U.S. President Donald Trump is so determined for there to be World War III as to stop at nothing in order to force it to happen no matter what Russia does or doesn’t do.

What the Putin-Erdogan DMZ decision means is that the 50,000 Turkish troops who now are occupying Idlib province of Syria will take control over that land, and will thus have the responsibility over the largest concentration of jihadists anywhere on the planet: Idlib. It contains the surviving Syrian Al Qaeda and ISIS fighters, including all of the ones throughout Syria who surrendered to the Syrian Army rather than be shot dead on the spot by Government forces.

For its part, the U.S. Government, backed by its allies and supported in this by high officials of the United Nations, had repeatedly threatened that if there occurs any chemical-weapons attack, or even any claimed chemical-weapons attack, inside Idlib, the U.S. and its allies will instantaneously blame the Syrian Government and bomb Syria, and will shoot down the planes of Syria and of Russia that oppose this bombing-campaign to conquer or ‘liberate’ Syria from its Government. The U.S. has announced its determination to protect what one high U.S. official — who is endorsing what Trump is doing there — “the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” He admits it, but he wants to protect them from being bombed by Syria and by Russia.

During recent weeks, the U.S. military has increasingly said that even if the jihadists they’ve been assisting to assemble the materials for a chemical-weapons attack fail to carry it out or to stage one, any attempt by Syrian and Russian forces to destroy the jihadists (which the U.S. side calls ‘rebels’) in Idlib will be met with overwhelming U.S.-and-allied firepower. That would spark WW III, because whichever side — Russia or U.S. — loses in the Syrian battlefield will nuclear-blitz-attack the other side so as to have the lesser damage from the nuclear war and thus (in military terms) ‘win’ WW III, because the blitz-attack will destroy many of the opposite side’s retaliatory weapons. In a nuclear war, the first side to attack will have a considerable advantage — reducing the number of weapons the other side can launch.

If, on the other hand, the DMZ-plan works, then Turkey’s forces will be responsible for vetting any of Idlib’s residents who try to leave, in order to prohibit jihadists and their supporters from leaving. Once that task (filtering out the non-dangerous inhabitants and retaining in Idlib only the jihadists and their supporters) is done, the entire world might be consulted on whether to exterminate the remaining residents or to set them free to return to the countries from which they came or to other countries. Presumably, no country would want those ‘refugees’. That would answer the question.

America’s Arab allies, the oil monarchies such as the Sauds who own Saudi Arabia and the Thanis who own Qatar, and which have funded Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, would then be put on a spot, because if they say “Exterminate them!” then their clergy who have provided the moral imprimatur upon those families’ ownership of those nations, will either be in rebellion or else will themselves become overthrown either by their own followers or else by their monarch — overthrown from below or from above.

Alternatively, after Turkey’s forces in Idlib will have allowed release from Idlib of all who will be allowed out, Syria’s and Russia’s bombers will simply go in and slaughter the then-surrounded jihadists and take upon themselves the responsibility for that, regardless of what the leaders of the U.S. and its allied governments might say.

On the night of September 17th in Syria, there were missile-attacks “from the sea” against several Syrian cities; and those attacks could have come from either Israel’s or America’s ships, or from other U.S.-allied ships. Russian Television bannered, “Russian plane disappears from radars during Israeli attack on Syria’s Latakia – MoD” and reported:

A Russian military Il-20 aircraft with 14 service members on board went off the radars during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Air traffic controllers at the Khmeimim Air Base “lost contact” with the aircraft on Wednesday evening, during the attack of Israeli F-16 fighters on Latakia, said the MOD.Russian radars also registered the launch of missiles from a French frigate in the Mediterranean on the evening of September 17. …
The attack on Latakia came just hours after Russia and Turkey negotiated a partial demilitarization of the Idlib province

If the missiles were authorized by President Trump, then WW III has already begun in its pre-nuclear stage. However, if the attacks were launched by Israel’s Netanyahu, and/or by France’s Macron, without U.S. authorization, then the U.S. President might respond to them by siding against that aggressor(s) (and also against what he used to call “Radical Islamic Terrorists”), so as to prevent a nuclear war.

Late on September 17th, Al Masdar News bannered “NATO warships move towards Syrian coast” and reported “The NATO flotilla cruising off the Syrian coast reportedly consists of a Dutch frigate, the De Ruyter, a Canadian frigate, the Ville de Quebec, and a Greek cruiser, the Elli.” Al Qaeda and ISIS have influential protectors.

Ultimately, the decision will be U.S. President Trump’s as to whether he is willing to subject the planet to WW III and to its following nuclear winter and consequent die-off of agriculture and of everyone, in order to ‘win’ a nuclear war, such as America’s aristocracy has especially championed since the year 2006. The nuclear-victory concept is called “Nuclear Primacy” — the use of nuclear weapons so as to win a nuclear war against Russia, instead of to prevent a nuclear war. That concept’s predecessor, the “Mutually Assured Destruction” or “M.A.D.” meta-strategy, predominated even in the U.S. until 2006. Trump will have to decide whether the purpose of America’s nuclear-weapons stockpiles is to prevent WW III, or is to win WW III.

In Russia, the purpose has always been to have nuclear weapons in order to prevent WW III. But America’s President will be the person who will make the ultimate decision on this. And Idlib might be the spark. Netanyahu or Macron might be wanting to drag the U.S. into war even against Russia, but the final decision will be Trump’s.

The ultimate question is: How far will the U.S. go in order to continue the U.S. dollar as being the overwhelmingly dominant global currency?

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Russian MoD: Il-20 downed by Syrian missile after attacking Israel’s F-16s used it as cover

Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces.

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Russia has stated that it “reserves right to response” after claiming that Israel’s actions led to downing of Il-20 by Syrian S-200 missiles.

The Russian military accused their Israeli counterparts for causing the downing of a Russian Il-20 plane by the Syrian air defense forces, which were responding to an Israeli air raid on Latakia.

Via RT


The Russian military say the Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events, which led to the shooting down of a Russian Il-20 plane by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

On Monday evening four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean, a statement by the Russian defense ministry said on Tuesday. The Israeli warplanes came at a small altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region”, it said.

The military said the French Navy’s frigate “Auvergne” as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area of the Israeli operation.

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile,” the statement said.

The Russian ministry stressed that the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, which didn’t stop them from “the provocation”. Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,” the statement said.

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