A russian soldier on a humanitarian mission in Syria.
A Darius Shahtahmasebi op-ed in AntiMedia:
Over the past few weeks, some dramatic stories and a potential nuclear war have taken the media’s attention away from the non-story that is the Russiagate-election scandal. But as attention veers away from the Russian hacking narrative, why are genuine stories regarding Russia’s actual influence in the world almost completely ignored?
Russia is slowly but surely nabbing small but significant pieces of the American empire. Not only did Russia foil the U.S. military establishment’s plan to dominate Syria by inserting its military in the country and setting up a quasi-no-fly-zone of its own, but Russia is also acquiring pieces of the global chessboard through other means.
Let’s start backward. Washington’s violent, stalwart ally and regional power player Saudi Arabia has been cozying up to Russia over the course of the year amid Russia’s demonstrable successes in Syria. As Al-Jazeera explains:
“In late May, then Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman went to Russia to discuss with President Vladimir Putin the oil market and the situation in Syria. The visit came just three weeks before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef was removed and bin Salman took his position. While in Moscow, the latter said that ‘relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia are going through one of their best moments ever.’
“Two months later, Moscow and Riyadh signed a preliminary military cooperation agreement worth $3.5bn.The Saudis have requested transfer of technology to accompany the signing of the deal.” [emphasis added]
Al-Jazeera also notes that Saudi Arabia helped provide a platform for Egypt to negotiate between Moscow and the Syrian opposition, which held huge significance for Russia:
“The importance of this step for the Kremlin is obvious. Russia is extremely interested in concluding an agreement on de-escalation zones, the implementation of which is not possible exclusively within the framework of the tripartite initiative of Russia, Iran and Turkey, without the involvement of other actors. From this perspective, the role Saudi Arabia played in the signing of the two Cairo agreements between Russia and the Syrian opposition on East Ghouta and Rastan is very important.” [emphasis added]
This brings us to the next point. Turkey, a NATO member, was for some time one of the heaviest backers of the Syrian opposition in their attempt to overthrow the Syrian government, a Moscow ally. Turkey was so entrenched in its desire to overthrow the Assad regime that they were allegedly supporting ISIS in more ways than can be counted. The Turkish government is now working closely with both Tehran and Moscow to secure a questionable de-escalation process. Russian-owned media outlet Sputnik claims that according to a regional newspaper, Turkey will be ceasing its support for large elements of the Syrian opposition.
Where is the U.S. during all of this? Practically nowhere to be seen, to put it simply. Unsurprisingly, Turkey even expressed its desire to join a security bloc dominated by Russia and China, snubbing the E.U. and NATO in the process.
Russia now also has a strong presence in Libya, an oil-rich country the U.S. helped destabilize in 2011 to prevent its leader from independently enriching the African region independent of the U.S. and NATO powers. Russia has provided political and military assistance to Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, who controls a significant chunk of Libyan territory. Moscow is also involved in the diplomatic settlement between Haftar and the U.N.-backed Libyan government and has been attempting to create good relations with parties on both sides of the conflict.
But how – and why – did Russia find itself in Libya, as well? As explained by Chatham House, an independent policy institute based in London:
“The real driving forces behind Russian involvement in Libya are a mixture of ambition, opportunism and anti-Western sentiment.” [emphasis added]
In this context, it makes a lot more sense that Western powers are all of a sudden so much more interested in working with Haftar considering he is emerging as a significant Libyan figure and potential Russian client.
And one cannot talk about Libya without mentioning Egypt, another country in the region with which Russia has strengthened ties. Chatham House speculates that Russia was only able to assert itself in Libya through Egypt’s direction and recommendations that it support Haftar in the first place. Russia and Egypt are also improving their ties in relation to trade and economic cooperation and have been holding joint naval drills and military exercises over the past few years. Further, Russia has allegedly deployed its own Special Forces in Egypt with a specific eye on the Libyan conflict.
Russia also distances itself from the practices of the U.S., which allows it to become a more viable option for states in the region which desire less control over what they do. As Forbes notes:
“Military cooperation with Moscow matters to Cairo. US arms deals don’t allow for secondary sales– what Egypt buys has to stay in Egypt. No such strings come with Kremlin arms deals, and in the context of crony Egyptian capitalism arms deals with Russia can appear more attractive. Some of Moscow’s weapons are better suited for Egypt’s needs than American ones, and from an Egyptian perspective, a Russian MIG-29 is also simply easier to maintain than an American aircraft.” [emphasis added]
The U.S. is also concerned that Russia is injecting itself into Afghanistan (again), as well as increasing its military cooperation with Pakistan. Another prime example of Russia’s growing presence in the region is the fact that even though it has had strong American backing, Iraq reportedly wanted to turn to Russia for air cover in its war against ISIS.
All that being said, Russia’s influence extends exceedingly further than the Middle East and its neighbors, such as Ukraine. Just days ago, in an unusual show of force, Russia reportedly flew its nuclear-capable bombers close to the Korean peninsula at roughly the same time the U.S. and South Korea were conducting their annual military exercises.
Russia has a huge hand in South America, too, which is arguably one of the reasons why the U.S. is so desperate to “intervene” in Venezuela. As Anti-Media explained two weeks ago:
“As is usually the case, Washington’s desire to undermine yet another country has pushed that country into the open arms of America’s cold war rival, Russia. Reuters just released a ‘special report’ citing inside sources who revealed the South American nation is turning to Russia for cash and credit it needs to survive following American sanctions and offering prized state-owned oil assets in return.”
Russia’s hand in this country was greatly facilitated by the late Hugo Chavez, who cemented a $4 billion arms-for-oil-deal in 2006 with Russia while actively rejecting American corporations. As Anti-Media explained further:
“South America, once part of America’s almighty empire, has slowly but surely fallen out of the hands of the American elite and is playing by its own rules…Ecuador has also been looking to enjoy a close relationship with Russia for some time now and will look to expand this relationship in the coming months.
“Russia also has a quasi-military relationship with Peru, Argentina, and Nicaragua, as well as close economic ties with Mexico and Brazil. This has shaken the cage of U.S. anti-Russian paranoia over the course of the last few years.”
These are just a few examples that demonstrate the American empire is slowly breaking off piece by piece and being acquired by America’s Cold War rival Russia in the process. Most famous of the examples is undoubtedly the fact that Russia is also one of the leading nations in the so-called BRICS coalition, which has attempted to provide a buffer to American dominance of the financial order.
The next time the media decides to rattle on with the alleged interference carried out by Russia in the 2016 election, remember what is really at stake and that the true motives for confronting Russia are not rooted in concerns about democracy in any way, shape or form. Instead, the powers-that-be are concerned with the need to prop up a failing empire that Russia is continuously challenging.
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The u/s is reaping what it has sown – violence and distrust.
Russia has sown seeds of trade trust and friendship which also flow back to it.
As has been noted already, the biggest danger to this global love-fest is the death-throes of the imploding u/s-empire.
How can we guard against that?
Maybe by offering salvation and redemption when the shit hits the fan.
Live in peace. No one can understands only one. No war. We can discuss everything. By watching hockey or football. They don’t want to tolk. I m russian. Served in speztatz. Russian special forces. Right now i say only one. Stop. What are you doing. Fucking demonocrates ? You have been destroyed a lot of countries. Stop. Or we will come to you. To watch for your democracy.
‘Russia Slowly but Surely Putting an End to the American Empire’? Pushing its frontiers back perhaps. But ending it? You’re having a laugh. You should listen to Putin comparing US and Russian military capabilities.
There are two reasons why Russia is a global power: energy resources and nuclear weapons. As energy exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia have a permanent dialogue for their mutual interest in boosting energy prices, whatever is happening elsewhere in the world. When they are in dispute, the talks are private, in the same way that the USSR and apartheid South Africa formed a cartel to sell diamonds. When they are at peace, Russian-Saudi talks can be public. Russia’s nuclear weapons mean that the US will avoid a direct military confrontation in a way that they do not care when the other country is one that does not have nuclear weapons. This means that Russia can defend its interests when they matter more to Russia than to the US.
There are two illusions that the writer of this article and many readers appear to suffer from: that Russia is a socialist country and that Russia is a successful economy. It is neither. The Russian state is strong so that the gangsters in charge can stay in control. It is what a failed USA would look like. It’s economy is no longer a basket case. However, migration patterns indicate that its standard of living is not high. There is no need to build a wall along its southern border.
I am sorry but you are wrong in some instances in your last premise. Russia is no longer a socialist country is correct. However, since the Western cabal during the Yeltsin era tried to bankrupt Russia by raping and pillaging its wealth resulting in great wealth ending up in the hands of a few ‘gangsters, Putin has done much to disempower what has been termed the 5th column, something akin to the US deep state. Russia has just paid off the debt of all the ex USSR countries, it has a low debt to GDP ratio, it has huge gold reserves and natural resources. THe standard of living has increased dramatically since the poverty Yeltsin Era, but yes still a way to go. If the US didn’t BS its statistics you may find that your standard of living is in a terrible state as well. But let’s all put our heads in the sand and pretend that the US is as grand as they think they are/were. The world leader, hegemonic power, mighty war monger spending more on their military than the next 7 countries combined. And they can’t even beat the Vietnamese or end the war in Afghanistan. Have you thought that your gangsters might be those people who love going to war, destroying countries and killing young Americans so they can get rich from the profits? DO you people even think?
Major cities in Russia have plenty of immigrants, mostly from the Caucausus region and from Central Asia. It’s natural that people from there would migrate to Russia, since they already know the language. There are plenty of Russians who don’t like this, but under Putin, the government has strict laws against ‘inciting’ other religious or ethnic groups, so only on the internet can people discuss immigration negatively. So much for the Putin-as-nationalist-reactionary meme …
And don’t forget the million plus Ukrainians who have sought refuge in Russia since the US sponsored Maidan revolution in Kiev!
It would not surprise me if sometime in the 21st century the USA implodes like the Soviet Union did. California is talking about secession and Texas has always been independent minded.
Three statelets could of course emerge: ‘pot smoking surfers for online billionaires’ (aka the West Coast); ‘uptight waspies who think they are born to rule’ (aka the north east of the country); and ‘hicksville USA’ (aka everywhere else).
That would give Californians, Texans and New Yorkers a mini-empire each!
And some diplomatic divide and rule could solve the American Problem for good…..
Am I joking? Maybe…
But then again, maybe not…..
And what would happen with all those mountains of weapons in civilian and military hands?
The potential for bloody civil war would be enormous .. and then somebody would find a way to fiddle with the codes..
And Russia will inherit the burdens of the “friendships” it is cultivating globally at the expense of the US. And once it fails in any of those relationships, it too will be seen as an imperialist wanna-be hegemon.
What the article fails to acknowledge is client States have also wised up. It’s a west-centric appraisal framed in cold war oneupmanship perspective. How about Russia, seeing the effects of sanctions, has been forced to find revenue from other diverse sources. Weapons sales to govts blackballed by Western govts is a sure banker.
” As explained by Chatham House, an independent policy institute based in London:”
Well noted !
Indeed. I nearly choked.
Do you have any influence over Chatham? No? then it is independent form You, get it!
Exactly the point!
The USA is the prime architect of its own decline – soon they will be finding it ever more difficult to enlist ‘willing cannon fodder’ for their military. Their overseas expeditionary ambitions will be curbed by the pressing need to address the coming problems of natural disasters and societal conflict throughout the ‘Dis-United States and internal strife within the administration. The effects of all the bad-causes they have made over the last 50 years will soon become manifest as has culminated in the election of a President who will be reaping a bitter harvest. The outcome, whilst at first catastrophic, will eventually see a move towards building a lasting peace, but we will not be seeing this in our lifetime – this will be a legacy for future generations.
I like your thoughts….But, that’s barring any last ditch nuke war started by a country in it’s death throes. Also…it seems that climate change IS upon us , and may not be neutered and reversed in MANY lifetimes , if at all. Let us hope it’s not too late .
I like your thoughts as well, although I’m hoping to see a lasting turn toward true peace in our world within my lifetime. The people are weary of war, elitism, global power plays that rain destruction down on all living things. Our pain tolerance is high, but not infinite — and we’re beginning to think, “There must be a better way forward.”
It will take us a while yet, to find our footing in new ways of relating to one another as equals both within and between countries, but we’ll get around to doing the right things, having finally exhausted all other possibilities. What is not painful at this point is farcical and ludicrous and unbecoming of the human spirit. Not to mention exhausting. As we begin to discover the benefits of peaceful cooperation, transparency, and wholehearted movements toward uplifting all of humanity, all living things, we’ll gaze in relieved wonder as the human trajectory, so recently spiraling toward oblivion, reverses, and becomes an ever expanding trajectory toward the fulfillment of as-yet unimagined potentials.
The seeds of this are already beginning to sprout, all around the world — beneath the dust and clamor of the fading way-it-was — they are making their sure way to sunlight. If you look, you’ll see them. When you see them, protect and nurture them. Point them out to others. Share the hope.
As we turn ALL our human resources away from war and destruction, and toward cooperation, rescue and healing we will astound ourselves with what we can accomplish, and how quickly. None of the problems we face are unmanageable — we simply must choose, at last, to truly face them — together.
Inspiring comment, thank you for the lift.
Cummon uncle Sam, keep shooting yourself in the foot!
Does it really matter where the killing machines come from when people go hungry and the Earth’s elements go berserk?
To some extent, yes. Why? Because arms sales can often serve as tools of political control. That’s why countries that aim at being sovereign and independent–such as Iran and N. Korea–try to manufacture as much of their own arms in house as possible. Another strategy is to diversify your suppliers, so as not to get too dependent on any one of them.