On June 6, leaders of various European countries met in France for the 70th anniversary of the 1944 Normandy landing during WWII. Among others present were Russian President Vladimir Putin, US president Barack Obama and president-elect of the Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. In his usual diplomatic manner Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an interview to the French press at his Sochi residence before his visit to France.
Overall, I believe the French President Francois Hollande has to be commended for inviting President Vladimir Putin. France in general often plays a role of a connector between Russia and the West, and it seems Hollande wants to continue in the footsteps of his predecessors. Even Sarkozy managed to play this role in 2008 during the Georgia crisis, although Francois Mitterrand and Charles De Gaulle were undeniably much better at this. But of course it was also during those times when France was still a sovereign and independent state that wasn’t a part of NATO. Very diplomatically, President Putin hints at that during the interview.
Hollande faced a logistical challenge during Putin’s and Obama’s visit, as the US president Obama seems to be unable to handle being in the same room with Putin. Can’t bear looking him in the eye after what US has done in Ukraine (like spending $5bln+ to destabilize Ukraine as publicly admitted by Victoria #Nuland)? Or resenting that Putin again outsmarted him (as in the case of Crimea, which US planned on turning into a massive US military base against Russia, but failed)? Most likely – both. See Hilarious! Putin – Obama Split Screen at 70th D-Day Anniversary in France
To keep Putin and Obama separate, Hollande was ready to eat two dinners. He hosted two dinners in one night – one for Obama, another for Putin, which for a French may not be a problem.
But jokes aside, as I predicted, EU finds itself on some serious crossroads of history. EU has massive past relations with the US – economically, politically and militarily. But more and more people in the EU are realizing that their future lies in distancing themselves from the US and getting closer to Russia and the East.
This appears to be the first time a Russian President is attending this event held each year in France. In diplomatic terms such invitation is a signal that, despite tough rhetoric and cancelling of the G8 meeting in Sochi due to events in Ukraine, the EU leaders want to continue talking to Russia.
This confirms what I’ve talked about from the very beginning of the Ukraine crisis. EU is realizing – very slowly and reluctantly – that it is facing a major historic choice. We are going through a tectonic shift of directions and priorities, and of course the EU doesn’t want to give up its cushy and stable past, which it believes, it has earned during the past 70 years of relative peace on the European continent. Europe sees the unfolding crisis of the Western world and fears what the future may bring. However, holding on to the past effectively means siding with the dying dollar and crumbling US Empire. This means that the EU would have to give up its cushy past no matter how hard they try to hang on to it.
This also means that the future for the EU lies in closer integration with Russia and the East. Despite the logic and necessity of such actions, the EU is agonizing over switching gears. It seems paralyzed at the moment due to the massive political, economic and military pressures from the US, and partially from the UK.
However, the UK is at its own crossroads. Britain faces its own economic crisis, Scotland secession, and rising euro-scepticism. Interestingly enough, some in the UK would like to distance themselves from the US even more so than the rest of Europe. Moreover, the win of the euro-skeptics in the euro-parliament elections, indicates that the UK is poised to distance itself from the EU as well.
Unfortunately, 2/3 of the European politicians and media side with the US, while the EU business prefers Russia. In fact, the EU business is screaming bloody murder as the threat of sanctions against Russia makes Russia turn more and more decisively towards Asia. As a consequence, EU companies may be squeezed out of the Russian market, losing billions in investment.
Russian rep to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov says that EU companies are begging Russia not to adopt return sanctions against the EU, motivating it this way: “we are already losing a lot of money from the EU sanctions against Russia, Russia’s return sanctions will be really bad for us.” Hmm… What Russia is losing is not their concern obviously. Sounds grotesque, right? Source – interview by V. Chizhov: Чижов: Европейские компании просят Россию не применять против ЕС ответных санкций
Make no mistake: the consequence of weakening of the European economy, along with Russian, is undoubtedly intended by the US.
Eventually, the EU will have no choice but to get closer to Russia and Asia, and distance itself gradually from the US. This will be a very slow and reluctant process. EU will not want to do anything drastic that may lead to a confrontation with the US. Let’s remember, Europe is an occupied continent. There are 50,000 US troops in Germany alone. EU fears destabilization more than anything else, and it cannot afford any conflict with the US.
US knows that long-term the EU is poised to distance itself from its old Transatlantic ally. It’s a historic process, which cannot be avoided. US knows that it may be marginalized – and it fears being isolated. This is why US is desperate to delay the inevitable by binding EU to itself via the Transatlantic agreement; increasing US troop count in the EU; forcing on the EU its expensive shale gas, extracted via barbaric fracking, which harms the environment and decimates the American land; and by demanding from the EU more sanctions against Russia.
To get the US off its back, EU adopted some token sanctions against a number of Russian individuals. But the US keeps demanding economic sanctions, which are bound to harm the EU economy. Contrary to its usually politically meek and conciliatory position, the EU’s large business is sending SOS signals that by pressuring the EU into economic sanctions, the US companies are trying to weaken their European competitors.
Examples are the restrictions on the Russian gas supply to the EU, which, due to the Trojan horses of the US in Europe, such as Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have partially succeeded. One example is the constant turmoil with the Russian gas transit via Ukraine. The US deep interference in Ukraine and continuing prodding of the Kiev junta to act in an aggressive manner towards Donbass, Odessa and other Russian-speaking regions, is part of the US plan of destabilizing Ukraine and sabotaging Russian gas supply to Europe, thus damaging both Russian and European economies.
Another example is the EU insistence on minimizing the flow of gas though the Gazprom Opal pipeline designed to bypass Ukraine. To any independent observer it would seem logical that if the flow of gas to Europe through Ukraine is under constant threat, then it would be logical to bypass Ukraine. Despite that, Opal runs only at 50% capacity.
US insists that France must cancel the delivery of the two Mistral carriers they are supposed to deliver this year to Russia. They go as far as suggesting NATO should buy these carriers to partially cover France’s losses from the broken multibillion euro contract. What this will do to France-Russia relations, the potentiality of future contracts, and to France’s economy… this is not the concern of the US. Or rather, it is precisely the concern of the US – US would love to damage France-Russia relations!
As I said many times previously, driving a wedge between Western Europe and Russia, sabotaging Russian and EU relations and economies are very important goals of the US foreign policy.
Understanding all that, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to visit France, where during the Normandy event he had an opportunity to meet privately with various EU leaders. The true value of events such as these is that the country leaders can meet on the sidelines and discuss any important and pressing matters candidly and quietly. Without such meetings, there would be much less interaction, and hence understanding, between leaders. In order to foster understanding, constant communication and interaction is as necessary between states as it is necessary among ordinary people.
The fact that Putin has attended the event in France signals that the EU quietly wants to work with Russia, although overtly it is afraid to anger the big boss. Hence two different dinners.
Grotesque and sad, isn’t it? But to avoid international confrontation, it’s still better than the alternative.
Below are the best quotes of Putin’s interview, as well as the link to the video of the full interview. The French journos were rude and aggressive, attempting to trip Putin, which of course didn’t work. I would have liked to see them try talking like this to Obama or Merkel. The interview would have been cancelled in no time. Obama’s questions are always very carefully vetted ahead of time, and a journalist can’t deviate an inch from the script.
Putin looked relaxed, and at times amused, as the French journos kept interrupting himself and each other.
On that note, someone recently “accused” me of being a “Putin admirer.” I find that amusing. Some people’s tiny understanding of how the world works really amazes me. I’m not into “admiring” of any humans, although I respect some.
What I do admire is this: the natural beauty of our planet Earth and the Harmony, Beauty and Truth in general.
Putin is not my boyfriend to be in love with. When it comes to statesmen, I assess them according to the intention and results of their work. If they are doing what a statesman is supposed to do, then they earn my respect; if they fall short, I cannot respect them. Then for me, they are not “statesmen.” They become mere politicians, and that’s what most of them are.
After observing Putin’s actions for years, he has earned my respect of the highest order. He is the only leader of the modern world who makes perfect sense and who is not afraid to stand up to the Western aggression going hand in hand with the unreasonable and juvenile behavior. And he does it in such a way that the world keeps spinning, despite frantic attempts by certain powerful interests to start WWIII. Putin manages to pull wins out of the seemingly no-win situations, check-mating his opponents against all odds, and doing it without any bloodshed. Compare that to how USA acts!
This is because Putin is not only much more than a politician – he is also much more than a statesman. Of that I will talk in one of my future pieces.
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Guest Post by Russian President Vladimir Putin
Putin’s best quotes from French media talk
Edited time: June 05, 2014 12:08
Vladimir Putin faced a barrage of tricky questions from French media ahead of his meeting with world leaders at the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. Here are his best replies on key issues: Ukraine, Crimea and relations with the US.
On Ukraine, its sovereignty and Russian troops:
The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has been occupying the center of international attention since the end of last year. While the coup-appointed government in Kiev is carrying out a military crackdown on the southeast of the country, the US said that Russian troops are allegedly involved in the crisis and they have proof of that.
“What about proof? Why don’t they show it?” Putin told French media.
“The entire world remembers the US Secretary of State demonstrating the evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, waving around some test tube with washing powder in the UN Security Council. Eventually, the US troops invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein was hanged and later it turned out there had never been any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. You know – it’s one thing to say things and another to actually have evidence.”
“After the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev in February, the first thing the new authorities tried to do was to deprive the ethnic minorities of the right to use their native language. This caused great concern among the people living in eastern Ukraine.”
“I wouldn’t call them either pro-Russian or pro-Ukrainian. They are people who have certain rights, political, humanitarian rights, and they must have a chance to exercise those rights.”
“When [the coup] happened some people accepted this regime and were happy about it while other people, say, in eastern and southern Ukraine just won’t accept it.”
On Crimea, its referendum and historical ties to Russia:
After Crimea voted in its March referendum to join Russia, the West voiced concerns that the people in the region voted at gunpoint.
“Russian troops were in Crimea under the international treaty on the deployment of the Russian military base. It’s true that Russian troops helped Crimeans hold a referendum 1) on their independence and 2) on their desire to join the Russian Federation. No one can prevent these people from exercising a right that is stipulated in Article 1 of the UN Charter, the right of nations to self-determination.”
“We conducted an exclusively diplomatic and peaceful dialogue – I want to stress this – with our partners in Europe and the United States. In response to our attempts to hold such a dialogue and to negotiate an acceptable solution, they supported the anti-constitutional state coup in Ukraine, and following that we could not be sure that Ukraine would not become part of the North Atlantic military bloc. In that situation, we could not allow a historical part of the Russian territory with a predominantly ethnic Russian population to be incorporated into an international military alliance, especially because Crimeans wanted to be part of Russia.”
One journalist asked the president whether he wants to recreate the old borders of the Soviet Union.
“We want to use modern policies to improve our competitive advantage, including economic integration. This is what we are doing in the post-Soviet space within the Customs Union and now also within the Eurasian Union.”
On US relations and its aggressive foreign policies:
“Speaking of US policy, it’s clear that the United States is pursuing the most aggressive and toughest policy to defend its own interests – at least, this is how the American leaders see it – and they do it persistently.”
“There are basically no Russian troops abroad while US troops are everywhere. There are US military bases everywhere around the world and they are always involved in the fates of other countries, even though they are thousands of kilometers away from US borders.”
“So it is ironic that our US partners accuse us of breaching some of these rules,” Putin said, apparently referring to Hillary’s Clinton’s statement on Russia’s foreign policy in Eastern Europe, comparing it with Hitler’s in the 1930s.
“When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.”
On Russia, defense, sovereignty, and opposition parties:
Amid the tensions concerning the latest $1.6 billion military deal that France will supply Russia with two Mistral helicopter carriers, Putin said he hopes the two countries will continue to develop their ties.
“Overall, our relations in this area are developing well, and we would like to continue strengthening them – in aviation, shipbuilding, and other sectors.”
“A policy of expansionism and conquest has no future in the modern world. We’re confident that Russia can and should be a partner with its traditional allies, in the broad sense, now and also in the future.”
“Any country that becomes a member of a military alliance gives away some of its sovereignty to a supranational body. For Russia, this would be unacceptable. As for other countries, it has nothing to do with us. They have to decide such matters for themselves.”
“And there’s another example: François Mitterrand, who spoke of European confederation, with Russia as its member. I think this opportunity still exists and we will have it in the future.”
Speaking about internal policies Putin said that Russia is a common democratic state and its “current regime is not connected to any particular person”
“The overwhelming majority of Russian citizens tend to rely on their traditions, their history and, if I may say so, their traditional values. I see this as the foundation and a factor of stability in the Russian state, but none of this is associated with the President as an individual. Moreover, it should be remembered that we only started introducing standard democratic institutions recently. They are still in the process of evolving.”
“Some of our opponents say there are unacceptable restrictions. What kind of restrictions do we have? For example, we have banned the promotion of suicide, drugs and pedophilia. These are our restrictions. What’s wrong with that?”
“In the United States, since we talked about it, homosexuality is illegal in some states. We impose no criminal liability whatsoever. We banned only promoting homosexuality among minors. It is our right to protect our children and we will do it.”
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Related: Washington’s Iron Curtain — by Diana Johnstone, guest post on PaulCraigRoberts.org.