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Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Gen. Mark Milley Says Ukraine Should Not Use American Equipment to Attack Russia

Posted by M. C. on June 1, 2023

Contrarily, Milley refused to say Washington has drawn any firm conclusions yet. “I can’t say with definitive accuracy right this minute to you whether that—and I saw the same video—whether that’s U.S. supplied equipment or not, what was the nature of the attack, who did what to whom,” Milley insisted.

We are a nuclear superpower with 15-20 intelligence agencies but we don’t know nothin’

We give Ukraine weapons and it is a surprise Ukraine uses them. We don’t bother to audit and keep track of who gets what and it is a surprise US weapons are used by the neo-Nazis running the show against Russia.

Milley is like the moron that robs a bank and looks up at the camera without bothering to cover his face. You wonder which is worse robbing a bank (sending weapons to a nazi military) or just being so dumb about it (in Milley’s case being such a poor liar).

Libertarian Institute

by Connor Freeman

mark milley

The top U.S. general reaffirmed that Kiev has long been asked not to use military equipment provided by Washington to conduct attacks against Russian territory, according to Reuters. This policy is necessary because such attacks could provoke a direct clash between NATO and Russia, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley emphasized while speaking with reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday.

Milley’s comments came after a neo-Nazi group, which operates as part of Kiev’s armed forces and cooperates with Ukrainian military intelligence, carried out a cross-border raid in Russia. Denis Nikitin is the leader of the Russian Volunteer Corps, which is said to be made up of Russian citizens including some members of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion who fought, since 2014, for Kiev during the Donbas war. Nikitin said his men were using U.S. equipment, such as two M1224 MaxxPro armored vehicles, also known as MRAPs, during the raid. Members of another militia, the Freedom of Russia Legion, also participated in the assault.

According to Russian officials, the terrorists launched mortar and artillery attacks against civilian infrastructure and residential areas in the Belgorod region on Monday. Ukraine’s military intelligence hints that they were behind the attack, while stopping short of officially taking credit. Though, some documents included in the Discord Leaks suggest that Ukrainian President Zelensky’s regime was planning similar operations, specifically using these Russian volunteers equipped with “various qualitative types of NATO weapons.”

According to The New York Times, U.S. officials believe Kiev was behind Monday’s raid and the recent attempted drone strike on the Kremlin, which Moscow believes was an attempt to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin. The officials also believe Kiev is responsible for a series of assassinations and other covert attacks within Russia. Moreover, the deputy head of Ukraine’s main intelligence directorate admitted this week that they are actively attempting to assassinate Putin and other Russian officials.

Kiev’s position is that the Belgorod raid was carried out independently from Zelensky’s intelligence and military services. But the Freedom of Russia Legion’s special representative, Ilya Ponomarev, said the group received Kiev’s “green light” regarding the attack. Pictures and videos posted by the Russian military have confirmed Nikitin’s claims.

“It is no secret for us that more and more equipment is being delivered to Ukraine’s armed forces,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday when asked by reporters about the militias’ U.S.-made hardware.

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New DOJ Indictments Criminalize Dissent—Weaponizing the Very Censorship Tactics They Condemned in Russia | SYSTEM UPDATE #74

Posted by M. C. on April 20, 2023

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MoA – Journalist, Spy Or Cyber Front Warrior?

Posted by M. C. on April 5, 2023

Would the Wall Street Journal even know if the CIA hired one of its journos for a side job?

But fear not, the CIA would never do such:

Journalist, Spy Or Cyber Front Warrior?

Last Thursday, March 30, Russian authorities arrested the Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershovitch:

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was “acting on instructions from the American side to collect information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex that constitutes a state secret.” Gershkovich, who was arrested in the city of Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains region, will be held until at least May 29, according to Russian judicial officials.

The Wall Street Journal said it “vehemently denies” the allegation and demanded that Russia release Gershkovich, who has lived in Moscow for six years and was accredited by Russia’s foreign ministry. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Would the Wall Street Journal even know if the CIA hired one of its journos for a side job?

But fear not, the CIA would never do such:

The arrest shows that Moscow is “increasingly treating the United States as an open belligerent in a war against Russia,” according to George Beebe of the Quincy Institute, who previously led Russia analysis at the CIA.

Citing a 1977 law that banned CIA recruitment of journalists, Beebe argued that it is “very unlikely that Gershkovich is a U.S. intelligence asset or that his reporting was directed or influenced by the U.S. Intelligence Community.”

Surely, the CIA would never ever break a law, says a former CIA analyst …

But why then is the U.S. Secretary of State calling Russia for a talk about the man?

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday held a call with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to discuss Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and US citizen who was detained in Russia last week over spying allegations.

According to a State Department readout of the call, Blinken expressed the US’s “grave concern over Russia’s unacceptable detention of a US citizen journalist” and called for his “immediate release.”

According to the Russian side, Lavrov told Blinken that a Russian court will decide Gershkovich’s fate. “In light of the established evidence of the US national’s illegal activities, his future will be determined by court,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that Gershkovich, “acting at the behest of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of an enterprise within Russia’s military-industrial complex.”

May be I am naive, but what Gershkovich inquired about was way too much on the questionable side than to be called journalism:

Kevin Rothrock @KevinRothrock – 17:15 UTC · Mar 30, 2023

Journalist @kolezev, who spoke on background to @evangershkovich before his trip to Yekaterinburg, says Evan hoped to intercept employees (literally in the street) leaving the UralVagonZavod plant in Nizhny Tagil or the NPO Novator missile factory in Yekaterinburg, planning to ask them how they feel about the invasion of Ukraine.

This more than the WSJ’s Wagner Group investigation seems likeliest to have triggered the FSB’s “espionage” paranoia. Evan knew the risks but apparently hoped that the FSB would let him be, given that war sentiment isn’t a state secret.

Колезев ☮️
Мария Захарова заявила, что «то, чем занимался в Екатеринбурге сотрудник американского издания The Wall Street Journal, не имеет отношения к журналистике». Марии Захаровой, конечно, виднее, ей в ФСБ…

Tass summarizes the accusations:

  • US citizen Evan Gershkovich, a correspondent for the Moscow bureau of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), was detained in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Region, in the Urals region of Russia, on suspicion of espionage.
  • According to the FSB, the journalist was collecting top-secret data about an enterprise within the Russian military-industrial complex in the interests of the United States.
  • The American was detained while trying to obtain classified data.

Yekaterinburg has been a the metallurgical center of Russia for 300 years:

Yekaterinburg was founded on 18 November 1723 and named after Yekaterina I, the wife of Russian emperor Peter the Great. The city served as the mining capital of the Russian Empire as well as a strategic connection between Europe and Asia.

The city grew during the second world war when Russia moved its heavy industry away from the frontline to behind the Ural. UralVagonZavod is the largest tank manufacturer in the world. It is currently producing the T-90 tanks for the Russian army. NPO Novator is making anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons like the Kalibr cruise missiles which are currently in high demand.

To ask workers of such factories how they feel about the U.S. proxy war waged against Russia while that war is ongoing seems a bit off to me.

What would have been the offer by Gershkovich to any worker who would have spoken against the war?

Also, this was about more than just asking random workers:

The Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was interested in operation of military-industrial complex facilities in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Region Legislative Assembly deputy Vycheslav Vegner, whom the reporter interviewed earlier, told TASS Thursday.

“[During the interview, Gershkovich] started asking questions regarding the military-industrial complex of Yekaterinburg, he named one such enterprise – ‘Novator’- and so on,” Vegner said.

According to the lawmaker, the reported cited the experience of other regions on industry conversion and asked about the Sverdlovsk Region experience – for example, whether the enterprises change their profile, how many shifts there are, and if they are appropriately staffed. Vegner noted during the interview that he is not authorized to answer such question.

Anything about weapon production numbers or related issues are of course state secrets, at least during times of war. What then do we call such inquiries if not espionage?

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The So-Far Non-Existent Vulkan Leaks – Original

Posted by M. C. on April 3, 2023

Revealingly all three articles include the comprehensively debunked claim that Russia hacked the Clinton or DNC emails. They all include it despite the fact that none of the three articles makes the slightest attempt to connect this allegation to any of the leaked Vulkan documents, or to provide any evidence for it at all.

Note that it is not just the central Hultquist quote which is the same. In each case the teams of thirty journalists have very slightly altered a copy-and-pasted entire paragraph.

It took 30 MSM journalists to produce this gross propaganda. I could have done it alone for them in a night, working up three slightly different articles from what the security services have fed them, directly and indirectly.

by Craig Murray

The GuardianWashington Post, and Der Spiegel have last week published “bombshell” revelations about Russian cyberwarfare based on leaked documents, but have produced only one single, rather innocuous leaked document between them (in the Washington Post), with zero links to any.

Where are these documents and what do they actually say? Der Spiegel tells us:

This is all chronicled in 1,000 secret documents that include 5,299 pages full of project plans, instructions and internal emails from Vulkan from the years 2016 to 2021. Despite being all in Russian and extremely technical in nature, they provide unique insight into the depths of Russian cyberwarfare plans.

OK. So where are they?

Ten different media houses have cooperated on the leaks, and the articles have been produced by large teams of journalists in each individual publication.

The Guardian article is by Luke Harding, Stilyana Simeonova, Manisha Ganguly, and Dan Sabbagh. The Washington Post Article is by Craig Timberg, Ellen Nakashima, Hannes Munzinga, and Hakan Tanriverdi. The Der Spiegel article is by 22 named journalists!

By Nikolai Antoniadis, Sophia Baumann, Christo Buschek, Maria Christoph, Jörg Diehl, Alexander Epp, Christo Grozev, Roman Höfner, Max Hoppenstedt, Carina Huppertz, Dajana Kollig, Anna-Lena Kornfeld, Roman Lehberger, Hannes Munzinger, Frederik Obermaier, Bastian Obermayer, Fedir Petrov, Alexandra Rojkov, Marcel Rosenbach, Thomas Schulz, Hakan Tanriverdi, und Wolf Wiedmann-Schmidt

So that is 30 named journalists, with each publication deploying a large team to produce its own article.

And yet if you read through those three articles, you cannot help but note they are (ahem) remarkably similar.

From Der Spiegel:

“These documents suggest that Russia sees attacks on civilian critical infrastructure and social media manipulation as one-and-the-same mission, which is essentially an attack on the enemy’s will to fight,” says John Hultquist, a leading expert on Russian cyberwarfare and vice president of intelligence analysis at Mandiant, an IT security company.

From the Washington Post:

“These documents suggest that Russia sees attacks on civilian critical infrastructure and social media manipulation as one and the same mission, which is essentially an attack on the enemy’s will to fight,” said John Hultquist, the vice president for intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity firm Mandiant

From the Guardian:

John Hultquist, the vice-president of intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, which reviewed selections of the material at the request of the consortium, said: “These documents suggest that Russia sees attacks on civilian critical infrastructure and social media manipulation as one and the same mission, which is essentially an attack on the enemy’s will to fight.”

Note that it is not just the central Hultquist quote which is the same. In each case the teams of thirty journalists have very slightly altered a copy-and-pasted entire paragraph.

In fact the remarkable sameness of all three articles, with the same quotes and sources and same ideas, makes plain to anybody reading that all these articles are taken from a single source document. The question is who produced that central document? I assume it is one of the “five security services”, which all of the articles say were consulted.

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Dailywire Article-UN: Risk Of Nuclear War At Record High. Please Engage In Peace Talks, Russia And Ukraine.

Posted by M. C. on April 1, 2023

By  Tim Meads

Ukraine-Russia Bomb
(OLGA Zhukovskaya via Getty Images)

Well, folks, don’t look now, but the “risk of a nuclear weapon being used is currently higher than at any time since the depths of the cold war,” according to the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu.

The war in Ukraine — obviously — is what is driving that risk. Based on reports made during the UN’s security council on Friday, that war isn’t ending any time soon — as if there were any doubt of that. Americans should know it is not going to end any time soon, our commander-in-chief has said that our tax dollars and equipment will be supporting Ukraine in its battle against Russia for “as long as it takes” — whatever that means. The Swamp wants this war to continue — and so it will.

While Biden has been banging the war drums, Putin has been chatting with its neighbors and new BFF Belarus. Now, reports indicate that Russia will be stationing non-strategic nuclear weapons within Belarus territory. According to the UN, those will be in place for aerial use by July.

For its part, Russia denies such accusations.

“We are pursuing cooperation with Belarus without violating obligations,” Russian ambassador and Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said on Friday. “We are not transferring nuclear weapons. We are talking about the retrofitting of airplanes and training teams in the construction of a storage facility on the territory of Belarus.”

Yet he did make sure to note that Russia would respond to any “provocative measures” as it saw fit, while adding, “A nuclear war cannot be won.”

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Racing to Multipolarity – The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on April 1, 2023

The sanctions on Russia have had the unintended consequence of more firmly coupling Russia and China, a geopolitical shift away from unipolarity.

Unintended consequences seems to be a US specialty.

Ted Snider


(Photo by SERGEI KARPUKHIN/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Ted Snider

Mar 27, 202312:00 PM

In a quest to maintain its hegemony in a unipolar world, American foreign policy strategy has sought to weaken a Russia that it sees as an “acute threat” and to confront and contain a China that it sees as “the most comprehensive and serious challenge to U.S. national security.”

The immediate challenge is Russia, the theory goes, but the long-term challenge is China. It is not strategically optimal to fight both superpowers at once. Russia has to be weakened so China can be confronted in its challenge to the U.S.-led unipolar world.

The attempt to weaken Russia in the war in Ukraine, though, may be having the ironic effect of strengthening China’s role in an emerging multipolar world.

An unprecedented sanctions regime was intended to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and to prevent it from executing that invasion. It has not only failed to accomplish that goal; it also has had the unintended consequence of pushing Russia closer to China. Sealing Russia off from western markets forced Russia to look east to China, India, the Eurasian community, and a global community of sanctioned nations. So the sanctions regime has in fact hastened the advent of multipolarity, as well as strengthened China’s position abroad.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are “in constant communication.” And on March 20, Xi arrived in Russia for talks that are aimed, in part, to “reaffirm the special nature of the Russia-China partnership.”

On December 13, Xi promised that China “will work with Russia to extend strong mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests, and deepen practical cooperation in trade, agriculture, connectivity and other areas.” A week later, Xi said that China is “ready to build up strategic cooperation with Russia, providing each other with development opportunities and remaining global partners for the benefit of our countries…” The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that “Any attempt to stop China and Russia from marching forward is doomed to fail” and that “China and Russia will deepen exchanges at all levels, and promote China-Russia relations and cooperation in all areas to a higher level…”

Russian-Chinese trade has increased dramatically. In his recent address to the Federal Assembly, Putin said that “the Russian economy has embarked on a new growth cycle. Experts believe that it will rely on a fundamentally new model and structure. New, promising global markets, including the Asia-Pacific, are taking precedence…” He promised that Russia “will expand promising foreign economic ties and build new logistics corridors. … This will, in part, allow us to considerably expand our ties with Southeast Asian markets.”

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There Has Never In History Been A Greater Need For A Large Anti-War Movement

Posted by M. C. on February 27, 2023

But we’re not going to turn away from this trajectory unless the masses start using the power of our numbers to force a change from warmongering, militarism and continual escalation toward diplomacy, de-escalation and detente.

Caitlin Johnstone

Things are escalating more and more rapidly between the US-centralized power structure and the few remaining nations with the will and the means to stand against its demands for total obedience, namely China, Russia, and Iran. The world is becoming increasingly split between two groups of governments who are becoming increasingly hostile toward each other, and you don’t have to be a historian to know it’s probably a bad sign when that happens. Especially in the age of nuclear weapons.

The US State Department’s Victoria Nuland is now saying that the US is supporting Ukrainian strikes on Crimea, drawing sharp rebukes from Moscow with a stern reminder that the peninsula is a “red line” for the Kremlin which will result in escalations in the conflict if crossed. On Friday, Ukraine’s President Zelensky told the press that Kyiv is preparing a large offensive for the “de-occupation” of Crimea, which Moscow has considered a part of the Russian Federation since its annexation in 2014.

As Anatol Lieven explained for Jacobin earlier this month, this exact scenario is currently the one most likely to lead to a sequence of escalations ending in nuclear war. In light of the aforementioned recent revelations, the opening paragraph of Lieven’s article is even more chilling to read now than it was when it came out a couple of weeks ago:

The greatest threat of nuclear catastrophe that humanity has ever faced is now centered on the Crimean peninsula. In recent months, the Ukrainian government and army have repeatedly vowed to reconquer this territory, which Russia seized and annexed in 2014. The Russian establishment, and most ordinary Russians, for their part believe that holding Crimea is vital to Russian identity and Russia’s position as a great power. As a Russian liberal acquaintance (and no admirer of Putin) told me, “In the last resort, America would use nuclear weapons to save Hawaii and Pearl Harbor, and if we have to, we should use them to save Crimea.”

Jacobin @jacobin

Whether the Ukraine war brings on a global catastrophe will hinge in large part on whether Washington decides to back a Ukrainian effort to retake the Crimean peninsula. jacobin.comCrimea Is a Powder KegWhether the Ukraine war brings on a global catastrophe will hinge in large part on whether Washington decides to back a Ukrainian effort to retake the Crimean peninsula.7:00 AM ∙ Feb 11, 202318Likes6Retweets

And that’s just Russia. The war in Ukraine is being used to escalate against all powers not aligned with the US-centralized alliance, with recent developments including drone attacks on an Iranian weapons factory which reportedly arms Russian soldiers in Ukraine, and Chinese companies being sanctioned for “backfill activities in support of Russia’s defence sector” following US accusations that the Chinese government is preparing to arm Russia in the war.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly been holding multiple meetings with top military officials regarding potential future attacks on Iran to neutralize the alleged threat of Iran developing a nuclear arsenal, a “threat” that Netanyahu has personally been lying about for years

If you’ve been reading (and if you care about this stuff you probably should be), you’ve been seeing new articles about the latest imperial escalations against China on a near-daily basis now. Sometimes they come out multiple times per day; this past Thursday Dave DeCamp put out two completely separate news stories titled “US Plans to Expand Military Presence in Taiwan, a Move That Risks Provoking China” and “Philippines in Talks With US, Australia on Joint South China Sea Patrols“. Taiwan and the South China Sea are two powderkeg flashpoints where war could quickly erupt at any time in a number of different ways.

If you know where to look for good updates on the behavior of the US-centralized empire and you follow them from day to day, it’s clear that things are accelerating toward a global conflict of unimaginable horror.

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Of Course The Sanctions on Russia Backfired — Governments Never Seem To Learn

Posted by M. C. on February 14, 2023

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Understanding the Pentagon’s Provocation of Russia – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on February 2, 2023

What would Kennedy have done with Ukraine if he had been president? He would never have allowed the Pentagon to use NATO to absorb former members of the Warsaw Pact. He would have also recognized that Russia’s reaction to U.S. nuclear missiles in Ukraine would have been the same as the U.S. reaction to Russian missiles in Ukraine.

by Jacob G. Hornberger

President Kennedy had a unique ability that Pentagon generals did not have. He was able to analyze an international crisis by placing himself in the shoes of his adversary in an attempt to understand his adversary’s motives. Doing that enabled him to figure a way out of the crisis that did not involve war. The response of the generals and the Pentagon was always the same: invade, bomb, kill, and destroy.

Today’s generals are no different from their counterparts back in the early 1960s. They are unable to step into the shoes of Russian officials and try to figure out a resolution of the crisis in Ukraine. Instead, their answer is bombs, missiles, death, destruction and, now, tanks. They are simply not mentally equipped to do what Kennedy did. 

Understanding how Kennedy resolved the Cuban Missile Crisis goes a long way toward understanding what motivated the Russians to invade Ukraine. 

In 1962, Kennedy learned that the Soviet Union (i.e., Russia) was installing nuclear missiles in Cuba. With the full support of the Pentagon, Kennedy decided that he could not let that happen. There was no way that U.S. officials were going to permit the Russians to install nuclear missiles pointed at the United States from only 90 miles away.

And yet, the Soviets had every right in the world to install nuclear missiles in Cuba, so long as it was done with the consent of the Cuban regime. After all, even though the Pentagon and the CIA considered Cuba to be a de facto U.S. colony, Cuba was, in fact, an independent and sovereign country. If it wanted Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, it had the right to invite the Soviets to install them there.

Nonetheless, both Kennedy and the Pentagon decided that they would not permit Russia’s nuclear missiles to remain in Cuba. Why? Because they simply did not want nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S. from only 90 miles away. They considered such missiles to a grave threat to U.S. “national security.”

Reflecting how important this principle was to Kennedy, he was even willing to go to nuclear war against Russia to prevent those Russian missiles from being stationed in Cuba. In fact, what is not widely recognized is that Kennedy actually did initiate war against the Soviets. That was when he ordered a military blockade against Soviet ships carrying nuclear weapons to Cuba. Under international law, a blockade is an act of war. Fortunately, the Soviets did not respond with retaliatory war measures.

Yet, Kennedy’s blockade was met with severe disapproval of the generals. It was considered to be too weak. One member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff compared Kennedy’s blockade to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler at Munich. With their one-track mind, the generals were pressuring Kennedy to bomb and invade Cuba. Their insistence on pressuring Kennedy to take an action that would almost certainly result in nuclear war reflected how strongly they felt about not having Russian missiles so close to America’s border.

Thus, if Kennedy were president today, he wouldn’t need to ask why the Russians felt the same way about having U.S. nuclear missiles stationed in Ukraine, which shares a border with Russia. He would understand that their sentiments would be no different from the sentiments of Kennedy and the Pentagon with respect to Russian nuclear missiles in Cuba.

But there was another factor that Kennedy considered when he stepped into the shoes of the Russians in an attempt to understand the crisis and arrive at a mutually agreeable peaceful resolution of it.

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Russia’s “Sanction-Proof” Trade Corridor To India Frustrates The Neocons | ZeroHedge

Posted by M. C. on February 2, 2023

Unforeseen by the warparty wizards, the pentagram and their puppet, NATO.

The point of trade sanctions is to make the intended victims (civilian men, women and children) suffer so much that they rise up against their government. Didn’t work, again.

CIA textbook definition of Blowback.

Tyler Durden's Photo


Authored by Conor Gallagher via,

Russia, Iran, and India are speeding up efforts to complete a new transport corridor that would largely cut Europe, its sanctions, and any other threats out of the picture. 

The International North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) is a land-and sea-based 7,200-km long network comprising rail, road and water routes that are aimed at reducing costs and travel time for freight transport in a bid to boost trade between Russia, Iran, Central Asia, India.

For Russia, the “sanction-proof” corridor provides a major export channel to South Asia without needing to go through Europe. But Brussels and Washington, frustrated by their losing in Ukraine and inability to put much of a dent in the Russian economy, could lead them to take more desperate measures.

Lately, Estonia, which has a population smaller than Russia’s armed forces, has been making noise about causing problems in the Gulf of Finland, Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur is talking about how Helsinki and Tallinn will integrate their coastal missile defense, which he says would allow the countries to close the Gulf of Finland to Russian warships if necessary. Estonia is also floating the possibility of trying to inspect Russian ships. From Asia Times:

 It is unlikely Estonia can carry out any inspections given that it only has two patrol vessels (EML-Roland and EML-Risto) and no other warships except some mine layers. But if Estonia even tried, it would create another friction point that Russia could exploit if it chose.

There is also a strategic element. With Finland joining NATO and already a de facto member, the Gulf of Finland becomes significantly more hostile for Russia and there will be growing pressure on Russian political leaders to take action against a rising threat to Russian security.

While Ukraine is far away, the Russians see NATO’s “ganging up” on Russia as a key issue for Russian security and stability. This brings the Baltic region into sharper focus because Russians see NATO trying to surround them and undercut their economic and military advantages.

It’s hard to take Estonia’s bluster seriously but equally difficult to put anything past the neocons in Washington and their adherents in the Baltics. Regardless, Russia would prefer a trade route with India that saves time and money and avoids Europe.

©Peter Hermes Furian

While NATO’s war against Russia has sped up the cooperation between Moscow, Tehran, and New Delhi, India and Iran are coming under various types of pressure that could delay full implementation of the corridor. And Azerbaijan, a key nexus in the INSTC, is a wildcard as it grows increasingly confrontational with both Iran and Armenia.

First the recent developments on the INSTC:

  • India is helping to develop the Shahid Beheshti Terminal at Iran’s Chabahar Port in cooperation with the Iranian government.
  • Iran and Russia recently signed a contract for Russia to build a cargo vessel for Iran to be used at the Caspian port of Solyanka, which is being developed jointly by the two nations as part of efforts to strengthen the Caspian Sea transportation network.
  • RZD Logistics, a subsidiary of Russian railway monopoly RZD, has begun regular container train services from Moscow to Iran to serve growing trade with India by transloading.
  • Rezaul Hasan Laskar, the foreign affairs editor at Hindustan Times, says the strategic Chabahar Port in  southeastern Iran has “become more important following its growing use” but that “it needs to be connected to Iran’s railway network.” Iran has accelerated that project, and with an investment boost from Russia, is speeding up the completion of the Astara-Rasht-Qazvin railway, another transport corridor that will connect existing railways of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran to the INSTC.

In the meantime, most of the goods that Russia normally transported across the Baltic Sea to reach the North Sea port of Rotterdam now sail instead to India. Oilprice reports:

Russian crude oil loadings from Baltic ports are on track for a 50% hike from December to January, Reuters reports, citing its own data combined with trader insights.

Russian Urals and KEBCO crude oil loadings specifically from the ports of Primorsk and Ust-Luga will experience the increase, Reuters said, adding that the bulk of those loadings (some 70%) will head to India.

In December, Russia loaded 4.7 million tonnes of Urals and KEBCO from the Baltic ports, Reuters said, citing Refinitiv data.Russia now accounts for approximately 25% of India’s crude purchases, while some sources put it closer to 30%.

The increased trade with Russia is a primary driver bringing New Delhi and Tehran closer together – largely a result of Europe severing itself from Russia. According to Reuters, at the end of November Moscow sent India a list of more than 500 products it wants India exporting to Russia, “including parts for cars, aircraft and trains.” The report added:

Indian imports from Russia have grown nearly five times to $29 billion between Feb. 24 and Nov. 20 compared with $6 billion in the same period a year ago. Exports, meanwhile, have fallen to $1.9 billion from $2.4 billion, the source said. India is hoping to boost its exports to nearly $10 billion over coming months with Russia’s list of requests, according to the government source.

And with all the increased trade, New Delhi and Moscow are looking for more efficient supply lines.

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