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Russia is the one power that can unite rivals India and China

Within the framework of the BRICS alignment of states, Russia can play a crucial mediating role

Andrew Korybko




(Oriental Review) – Instead of stoking a strategic-security dilemma between the two Asian Great Powers that would only work out to the US’ ultimate benefit, India would do best to cordially compete with China through the BRICS+ format in order to incorporate an implicit rules-based structure to their rivalry and have a chance at reaping the advantages that Russia’s “balancing act” could provide in maintaining stability between them.

BRICS+ is considered a “dirty word” by most Indians, especially their ultra-jingoistic Hindutva ruling class, because it’s understood as a euphemism for institutionalizing China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) global vision of New Silk Road connectivity that New Delhi has been vehemently opposed to since its inception. That’s unfortunate from the perspective of the emerging Multipolar World Order because it strongly suggests that India is predestined to become the US’ premier 21st-century partnerin “containing China”, with destabilizing consequences for the two Asian Great Powers involved. This scenario is disadvantageous to Russia’s stated vision of a Greater Eurasian Partnership in the supercontinent because it challenges Moscow’s efforts to integrate the Eurasian Union, SCO, and OBOR, thereby presenting a large-scale strategic threat to its long-term interests.

Russia’s “Balancing” Role

Russia is uniquely positioned to function as the supreme “balancing” force in Eurasia for the entirety of this century, provided of course that can skillfully leverage its multi-vectored diplomacy to that end, and especially in Asia when it comes to preserving stability between its Chinese and Indian partners. It’s therefore of the highest importance that Russia convinces India that it has more to gain by joining BRICS+ in its own way than to avoid the initiative entirely, since India’s participation in this initiative is integral to Russia successfully pulling off its envisioned 21st-century “balancing” act in promoting multipolarity across Eurasia. This doesn’t just entail the two Asian Great Powers in question, but also has a lot to do with Russia’s fast-moving rapprochement with Pakistan and the need for Moscow to dispel India’s American-encouraged suspicions about its intent.

Another driving factor is the interest that Russia has in becoming the go-to “balancing” party for all of China’s Silk Road partners and adversaries, which in this context includes rival South Asian states Pakistan and India, respectively. Russia understands that the best way for it to attain a higher strategic value to China in its own partnership with the country, and therefore correct whatever real or perceived “lopsided” relations it may have with Beijing, is take on a greater degree of importance along the Silk Roads in becoming an indispensable force to its success and stability. Bearing this in mind, it’s most prudent for Russia’s diplomats to speak to their Indian counterparts in a “language that they know” so as to most effectively convince them of the self-interested benefits that they stand to gain by joining BRICS+, which can be summarized as participating in an implicit rules-based platform for competing with China and from where they can draw upon Russia’s “balancing” influence to their advantage.

To elaborate a bit more in depth, India should conceptualize BRICS+ as a vehicle for expanding its multidimensional partnership with Russia across the entire geographic space of “Greater South Asia”, with New Delhi inviting Moscow to participate in a wide array of joint projects so as to mitigate whatever unpleasant competitive perceptions Beijing may have of them. In addition, Russia could do the same with Indian involvement in its own territory in order to justify “internally balancing” foreign direct investment in strategic locations such as the Chinese-bordering Far East without fear of offending China. If the Russian-Indian bilateral relationship migrates to BRICS+ and accepts this new branding, then it would open up a previously untapped and wide array of mutually advantageous possibilities for each of them such as the proposals that will be discussed below.

Reconceptualizing The Chinese-Indian Competition In SAARC And BIMSTEC

India’s most immediate geopolitical concern is naturally its own neighborhood as institutionalized through the largely overlapping South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), both of which New Delhi believes Beijing is trying to “poach” away from its hoped-for hegemonic influence by using the allure of the New Silk Roads. The Chinese-Indian New Cold War has seen these two BRICS “frenemies” compete with one another all across these regional integration organizations in varying intensities and to different extents, but their rivalry could be managed if they each conducted it through the shared platform of BRICS+. While it might be impossible to dispel the “zero-sum” mentality guiding Indian decision makers at the moment, reconceptualizing their SAARC and BIMSTEC competitions with China as being part of BRICS+ could allow both parties to “save face” anytime they experience a subjective “loss” to the other since the end result would still nevertheless be a “BRICS victory”.

Advancing The “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor”

Opening up SAARC and BIMSTEC to BRICS+ could also allow India to call upon its Russian partner to more deeply involve itself in these regions through Indian-led joint projects that function as part of its “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” (AAGC), which is being hyped up by the country’s media and their Western partners as New Delhi’s “response” to OBOR. While that appears to be a gross over-exaggeration of its future potential for self-serving domestic political purposes, it shouldn’t be overlooked that the idea itself does indeed have a certain degree of promise inherent to it, especially if it manages to develop “soft infrastructure” in the Greater Indian/African Ocean Region in parallel with the “hard infrastructure” that China is constructing through OBOR. An exciting detail about the AAGC is that it expects to rely on Japanese capital for most of its projects, though this is a double-edged sword of sorts because it invites China and others to frame the initiate as a unipolar-backed obstacle for obstructing the Silk Roads.

So long as the AAGC remains a mostly Indo-Japanese undertaking, then it will continue to be viewed with suspicion and inevitably contribute to the New Cold War between China and India. The entire paradigm could suddenly shift, however, if Russia was invited to participate in the AAGC and openly announced its support for endeavor, as Moscow’s multipolar credentials would lend a large degree of trustworthiness and credibility to its associated projects and could go a long way towards easing China’s suspicions. Moreover, just as China is expected to use BRICS+ to promote OBOR, so too could India do the same with the AAGC, possibly even double-branding its investments in Russia’s Far East as being under the banner of both BRICS+ and the AAGC. Not only that, but Moscow might finally have found its gateway for returning to the “Global South” in a tangible trade-worthy sense by carving out its own niche in the AAGC in cooperation with its Indo-Japanese partners, which would also strengthen its ongoing rapprochement with Tokyo too.

Bringing Shadow Partners Into BRICS+

As can be surmised from the above, India’s formal involvement in BRICS+ would allow it to indirectly incorporate shadow partners like Japan into the platform via their participation in the AAGC, thus enabling it to boost its competitive potential vis-à-vis China without openly drawing its consternation. Since the aforementioned section described Tokyo’s role in this structure, it won’t be redundantly reiterated in this part, with the focus instead shifting to how Iran and Israel could fit into this framework. Both entities are located in the Mideast and are accordingly included in India’s “Link West” policy of West Asian (“Mideast”) engagement, and each of them has their own special relationship with Russia. Iran is an important party to the Astana peace process while many Israelis share civic, linguistic, and/or ethnic ties with Russia. In consideration of this, Russia could help India make more pronounced and rapid inroads with each of them, possibly in exchange for New Delhi opening up the door to Moscow in the “Global South” regions of ASEAN and Africa via the AAGC.

Russia and India already cooperate with Iran through the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) that’s expected to one day facilitate South Asian and EU trade via Iran, Azerbaijan, and Russia, but the inclusion of this project into BRICS+ as a signature undertaking of the AAGC could draw Tehran even closer into the multipolar institutional fold. Furthermore, since Russian businessmen could theoretically use the NSTC to trade with Pakistan just as much as with India, it’s to Moscow’s interests to convey to New Delhi that its nationals have no “zero-sum” intentions in doing so and are merely chasing their own “win-win” economic solutions, and this could best be achieved by integrating the NSTC into BRICS+. As for Israel, a joint report recently authored by some of Russia and India’s most prominent think tanks calls for them to commence trilateral relations with the Mideast entity that’s already one of Moscow’s closest regional allies. By utilizing the two-way patronage network that exists between Russia and Israel, Moscow could help New Delhi make lightning-fast progress in diversifying its partnership with Tel Aviv.

Concluding Thoughts

This policy proposal is intended to advance Russia’s grand strategic interests as they relate to its tacit desire to “balance” Eurasian affairs across the current century, taking into account the nuances of Moscow’s multidimensional relations with its partners in New Delhi and Beijing in order to craft the most realistic suggestions for how Russia could become the arbiter of the Chinese-Indian New Cold War. There is no state besides Russia that’s capable of managing the growing competition between these two Asian Great Powers, and it is absolutely imperative for Moscow to craft mechanisms for controlling their rivalry so as to guarantee the stability of the emerging Multipolar World Order. The best way to do this is by convincing India to join the BRICS+ platform after opening its eyes to the benefits that it stands to attain by doing so, speaking to its decision makers in a “zero-sum” language that they understand but recognizing that the end result would be to the “win-win” benefit of all Eurasian parties regardless, though so long as Russia successfully sustains the “balance” between them.

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone



Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:

The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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EU’s ‘toothless’ response to creation of Kosovo army risks worsening the crisis – Moscow

Russia’s ambassador to the UN said that the EU could have and should have done more to stop the breakaway region from creating its own army.





Via RT…

The creation of Kosovo’s own 5,000-strong army is a threat to peace and security in a turbulent region and may lead to a new escalation, Russia’s UN envoy has warned, calling the EU’s lackluster response irresponsible.

Speaking at the UN Security Council emergency meeting on Kosovo, Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzya said that the EU could have and should have done more to stop the breakaway region from creating its own army to replace its lightly armed emergency response force.

“The EU reaction to the decision by Pristina cannot be described as other than toothless. This irresponsible policy has crossed the line,” Nebenzya said, after the UNSC meeting on Monday.

The diplomat said the lack of decisive action on the part of the 28-member bloc was a “great disappointment,” adding that the EU seems to “have turned a blind eye on the illegal creation of Kosovo’s ‘army.’”

The law, approved by Kosovo lawmakers on Friday, paves the way for doubling the size of the current Kosovo Security Force and for turning it into a de facto army, with 5,000 soldiers and 3,000 reservists.

The move did not go down well even with Kosovo’s usual backers, with both NATO and the EU voicing their indignation. NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg called the decision “ill-timed” and lamented that Kosovo’s authorities had ignored “the concerns expressed by NATO.”

The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, has echoed those concerns, saying in a statement that the mandate of Kosovo’s forces “should only be changed through an inclusive and gradual process” in accordance with the state’s constitution.

The only nation to openly applaud the controversial move was the US, with its ambassador to Kosovo, Phillip Kosnett, saying that Washington “reaffirms its support” for the upgrade as it is “only natural for Kosovo as a sovereign, independent country” to have a full-fledged army.

The Kosovo MPs’ decision has drawn anger in the Serbian capital Belgrade and provoked a strong response from Moscow, which calledon the UN mission in Kosovo to demilitarize the area in accordance with UNSC resolution 1244, and to disband any armed units.

Nebenzya pointed out that the UN resolution does not allow any Kosovo Albanian military units to be present in the region’s territory. He accused Western countries, including members of the NATO-led international peacekeeping force (KFOR), of “condoning and supporting” the violation by Pristina of the resolution.

It is feared that the army, though a relatively small force, might inflame tensions in the region and impede attempts at reconciliation between Pristina and Belgrade. Serbia has warned that it might consider an armed intervention if the army becomes a threat to the 120,000-strong Serb minority in Kosovo.

“The advance of Kosovo’s army presents a threat to the peace and security in the region, which may lead to the recurrence of the armed conflict,” Nebenzya stated.

In addition to creating its own army, Kosovo in November hit Serbia with a 100 percent import tariff on goods, defying calls by the US and the EU to roll the measure back.

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Ukraine’s President Says “High” Threat Of Russian Invasion, Urges NATO Entry In Next 5 Years

Poroshenko is trying desperately to hold on to power, even if it means provoking Russia.



Via Zerohedge

Perhaps still seeking to justify imposing martial law over broad swathes of his country, and attempting to keep international pressure and media focus on a narrative of “Russian aggression,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denounced what he called the high “threat of Russian invasion” during a press conference on Sunday, according to Bloomberg.

Though what some analysts expected would be a rapid flair up of tit-for-tat incidents following the late November Kerch Strait seizure of three Ukrainian vessels and their crew by the Russian Navy has gone somewhat quiet, with no further major incident to follow, Poroshenko has continued to signal to the West that Russia could invade at any moment.

“The lion’s share of Russian troops remain” along the Russian border with Ukraine, Poroshenko told journalists at a press conference in the capital, Kiev. “Unfortunately, less than 10 percent were withdrawn,” he said, and added: “As of now, the threat of Russian troops invading remains. We have to be ready for this, we won’t allow a repeat of 2014.”

Poroshenko, who declared martial law on Nov. 26, citing at the time possible imminent “full-scale war with Russia” and Russian tank and troop build-up, on Sunday noted that he will end martial law on Dec. 26 and the temporarily suspended presidential campaign will kick off should there be no Russian invasion. He also previously banned all Russian males ages 16-60 from entering Ukraine as part of implementation of 30 days of martial law over ten provinces, though it’s unclear if this policy will be rescinded.

During his remarks, the Ukrainian president said his country should push to join NATO and the EU within the next five years, per Bloomberg:

While declining to announce whether he will seek a second term in the office, Poroshenko said that Ukraine should achieve peace, overcome the consequences of its economic crisis and to meet criteria to join the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during next five years.

But concerning both his retaining power and his ongoing “threat exaggeration” — there’s even widespread domestic acknowledgement that the two are clearly linked.

According to The Globe and Mail:

While Mr. Poroshenko’s domestic rivals accuse him of exaggerating the threat in order to boost his own flagging political fortunes — polls suggest Mr. Poroshenko is on track to lose his job in a March election — military experts say there are reasons to take the Ukrainian president’s warning seriously.

As we observed previously, while European officials have urged both sides to exercise restraint, the incident shows just how easily Russia and the West could be drawn into a military conflict over Ukraine.

Certainly Poroshenko’s words appear designed to telegraph just such an outcome, which would keep him in power as a war-time president, hasten more and massive western military support and aid, and quicken his country’s entry into NATO — the latter which is already treating Ukraine as a de facto strategic outpost.

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