The West’s cryptic or mocking remarks doubting the Kremlin statement on the failed Ukrainian attempt to assassinate President Vladimir Putin do not detract from the fact that Moscow has no reason on earth to fabricate such a grave allegation that has prompted the scaling down of its Victory Day celebrations on May 9, which is a triumphal moment in all of Russian history, especially now when it is fighting off the recrudescence of Nazi ideology on Europe’s political landscape single-handedly all over again.
The alacrity with which the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken debunked the Kremlin allegation, perhaps, gives the game away. It is in the neocon DNA to duck in such defining moments. That said, predictably, Blinken also distanced the Biden administration from the Kremlin attack.
Earlier, the chairman of Joints Chiefs of Staff General Marks Milley also did a similar thing in an interview with the Foreign Affairs magazine disowning in advance any responsibility for the upcoming Ukrainian “counteroffensive”. This is the Biden Administration’s new refrain — hear no evil, speak no evil. No more talk, either, of backing Kiev all the way “no matter what it takes” — as Biden used to say ad nauseam.
New York Times reported Tuesday that a ‘pro-Ukrainian group’ sabotaged Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic on Sept. 27, 2022
There is a cardinal difference between the Washington Post report of June 18, 1972 by Alfred Lewis breaking the news of the Watergate burglary and the sensational claim by the New York Times on Tuesday — per a CNN report — that “intelligence suggests that a pro-Ukrainian group” sabotaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines.
The WaPo reported on Watergate several months after Richard Nixon’s thumping victory for a second term as president, while the Times’ claim has been advanced even before Joe Biden has announced his candidacy for the November 2024 election.
“The U.S. government should end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets,” the editors of the Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El Pais wrote in a joint letter published Monday.
The letter was signed by Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger and the editors and publishers of the Guardian (Britain), Le Monde (France), Der Spiegel (Germany) and El Pais (Spain).
In a joint letter, the news organizations warned that the indictment of Julian Assange “sets a dangerous precedent” that could chill reporting about matters of national security.
“Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists,” the letter said. “If that work is criminalized, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.”
If the metaphor of the “Great Game” can be applied to the Ukrainian crisis, with the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) at it core, it has begun causing reverberations across the entire Eurasian space. The great game lurking in the shade in the Caucasus and Central Asian regions in recent years is visibly accelerating.
The edge of the game is above everything else the targeting of Russia and China by the United States. This unfolding game cannot be underestimated, as its outcome may impact the shaping of a new model of the world order.
Starting with the Caspian Summit in Ashgabat on June 29, the inter-connected templates of the great game in the Caucasus began surfacing. The fact that the summit was scheduled at all despite the raging conflict in Ukraine — and that Russian President Vladimir Putin took time out to attend it — testified to the high importance of the event.
Finance ministers are the pangolins in the world of international diplomacy, solitary animals and predatory, unlike foreign ministers who are like glowworms, mesmerising and gorgeous animals that create light through their tail. While the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attending G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali a week ago staged a dramatic walkout when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rose to speak, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen simply sat through the speech by Russian minister Anton Siluanov at the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs that began in Bali on Friday.
Indeed, Yellen said her piece — calling Russia’s war in Ukraine the “greatest challenge” to the global economy and all that — while Russian Deputy Finance Minister Timur Maksimov who was present, calmly listened. But a joint communique is unlikely, as the US is pressing G20 allies for a price cap on Russian oil, where consensus is lacking. All the same, the moderation in Yellen’s behaviour catches attention, as she realises, perhaps, that she no longer sets the global agenda.
The wider Ukraine meaning lies in this insight: Other leaders are no longer naïve when the West offers glass beads (or paper dollars) in exchange for their real riches
The West, in its cavalier manner, entered upon war with the Russia-China axis, without due care. It expected easy ‘wins’ with sanctions imploding the Russian economy, and with military urban-war tactics borrowed from Syria, bleeding out the Russian army. Instead, it is turning-out to be a monumental débacle. More than that, its multiple failures and insultingly-cocksure propaganda are proving a breakpoint, ushering-in a new era rather than nailing down the old order, as the West had hoped.
Why is this new era so grave? Firstly, because of that which lies ‘beneath’. The structural weaknesses and ‘dry rot’ that have been accumulating over decades, in damp basements. It was kept away, out of sight. The ‘children’ were removed from earshot, when ‘adults’ spoke amongst themselves, to acknowledge the decay and rot affecting their Mansions.
“Americans are in Ukraine,” states the New York Times, noting that the exact number of U.S. citizens fighting on the front lines of the conflict is unknown.
The New York Times adds that some of these Americans are also volunteering for casualty evacuation teams and to be bomb disposal specialists, logistics experts and instructors.
The New York Times also claims that there are currently small teams of former special operations members providing training to Ukrainian soldiers and, in some cases, helping Kiev’s forces plan combat missions.
On July 1 at the White House, US President Joe Biden made a startling disclosure that “the idea we’re going to be able to click a switch, bring down the cost of gasoline, is not likely in the near term.”
American gas exporters have positioned themselves accordingly to fill the gap as Europe turns away from Russian imports. FT reported recently that “US liquefied natural gas producers have announced a string of deals to boost exports as the industry capitalises on shortages that have left Europe with a mounting energy crisis.”
The deals are so lucrative that Cheniere, America’s leading gas exporter, has taken an investment decision to push ahead with a project that will boost its capacity more than 20 per cent by late 2025, anticipating long-term supply deals and locked in purchases of US gas over the coming decades. The US producers of gas are reportedly running plants flat-out to increase supplies to the EU.
Henry Kissinger predicted some three weeks ago that the Ukraine war was dangerously close to becoming a war against Russia. That was a prescient remark. The NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in a weekend interview told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper that in the alliance’s estimation, the Ukraine war could wage for years.
“We must prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not let up in supporting Ukraine. Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, also because of rising energy and food prices,” Stoltenberg said. He added that the supply of state-of-the-art weaponry to Ukrainian troops would increase the chance of liberating the Donbass region from Russian control.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday stressed that the public needs to keep up its support of Ukraine after nearly four months of war.
Media reports said:
“The worry that we have is that a bit of Ukraine-fatigue is starting to set in around the world,” Johnson told reporters on the back of a trip to Kyiv. “It is very important to show that we are with them for the long haul and we are giving them that strategic resilience that they need.”
Johnson on Friday made his second surprise trip to the Ukrainian capital. The British government, in a show of support, offered Ukraine a military training program that could train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days. Johnson’s office said it would “fundamentally change the equation of the war.”