New Eastern Outlook

New Eastern Outlook
Wed, 17 Aug 2022 18:20:40 +0000

What the US-Instigated Crisis in Taiwan Means for Europe


In response to Nancy Pelosi's stubborn – and provocative – visit to Taiwan, China has initiated military drills in the Taiwan Strait. This military drill amounts to a naval blockade of not only Taiwan but prolonged drills, with live shooting in the sea, could ultimately create a crisis that will, very much like the Ukraine crisis, hit the West – especially, the EU – pretty hard. In simple words, the European continent will once again be at the receiving end of what can only be called a US effort to project its power across the world to preserve its global hegemony. Therefore, with Europe being on the verge of directly becoming a casualty of US global power politics, this could ultimately drive a wedge between the US and the EU on a long-term basis. China is, therefore, indicating its willingness to inflict an economic cost that would not only hurt Taiwan but also its supposed friends elsewhere as well. It is in this context that we need to understand China's response to Pelosi's visit. Let's first see why the Taiwan Strait matters and how it is crucial for maintaining a stable economic landscape in Europe.

Consider this: almost half of the global container fleet and almost 88 per cent of the world's largest ships by tonnage pass through the Strait. A Chinese blockade of the Strait also means that Taiwan's Semiconductor Manufacturing sector, which accounts for almost 90 per cent of the world's cutting-edge chip capacity, will have a very hard time reaching its destination in the West. It is for this reason that, as many reports in the western mainstream media have highlighted, many businesses across the world are already preparing to brace for the devastating impact of Pelosi's visit.

This will have a direct – and unavoidable – impact on the US' closest ally, the EU. As the EU's 2016 Global Strategy document highlights, "there is a direct connection between European prosperity and Asian security." Taiwan's bilateral trade with the EU is around US$50 billion. In 2020, Taiwan's total exports to the EU totalled EUR26.4 billion. This export was dominated by ICT products, machinery and transport equipment.

This direct connection is now under stress because of US adventurism. While Europe, already facing an acute energy crisis and tackling the rising cost of living due to the war in Ukraine, must have learnt a lesson in the importance and necessity of an autonomous global policy and disposition, this has not been the case. Therefore, China's response, coupled with Europe's inability and/or unwillingness to learn, could serve as a second consecutive shock that could force Europe to realise the cost of alliance with the US. Ultimately, what the world needs is more centres of power, including Europe as an autonomous global player, to create a new, alternative global order away from a US-dominated, dollar-centric political and economic world order established after the Second World War.

Therefore, given the Chinese response and the possibility of global supply chains being seriously disrupted by China's drills in the Straits of Taiwan, it is conceivable that Washington might fight back with sanctions. But, just like US sanctions on Russia, sanctions on China will hurt Europe in ways that will multiply Europe's economic problems. This conclusion is drawn directly from the fact that China is already the EU's largest trading partner. There is deep and broad mutual dependence. A US sanctions regime on China will, therefore, mean a devastating blow to Europe's economic life.

As the data show, the EU currently has a deficit vis-à-vis China on trade in goods. However, it has a surplus vis-à-vis China on trade in services. Estimates, therefore, show that an escalation of the situation in the Straits of Taiwan could begin a crisis in the West – especially, in Europe – on a scale previously seen during the 2008 financial crisis. Can Europe afford such a crisis at a time when it is already paying a heavy price for insensibly toeing the US line vis-à-vis Russia/Ukraine? It can continue to do so only at the expense of its economic stability, which, if disrupted, will most certainly lead to political instability, allowing those European actors who favour a 'European' view of the world to push more vigorously for liberating Europe of the US influence and, thus, ensure its own economic security.

As Joseph Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, has, in the context of growing US-China global rivalry, repeatedly said, Europe needs to follow its "own path" and "act in accordance with our own values and interests." His ultimate conclusion is that "Europe has an enduring interest to work together with China, even if difficult, on a number of global issues on which it plays a crucial role."This conclusion is diametrically opposed to the growing calls in the US fordecoupling with China and/or imposing the worst ever sanctions on Beijing.

Europe, therefore, needs a Taiwan policy that protects its vital economic interests. While Europe may not be able to come up with a radical new policy i.e., oppose US interventionism, it can still, as voiced by European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager last year in October, "preserve the status quo."

The Chinese have no problem with maintaining the status quo in the short and long run. If the EU can maintain this stance with or without pressing the US to do the same, it can neutralise the impact of the short and long-term fallout of the Chinese response to the US attempts to disrupt – and alter – the Taiwan status quo. Anything short of that will inevitably put Europe in the line of fire.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan's foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

New Eastern Outlook
Wed, 17 Aug 2022 18:05:17 +0000

Nancy Pelosi and Wendy Sherman’s Tour of the Indo-Pacific Region


The latest trip abroad by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the lower house of the US Parliament, was commented on by the world media mainly for its most scandalous part which (expectedly) was a visit to Taiwan by a third person in the US government hierarchy.

The author's view regarding the significance of this part is that the increasing of tensions between the two leading world powers provoked by it is of a short-term nature. This relationship is highly likely (and fairly quickly) to return to an "almost initial" state of balancing, which has been influenced for decades by two contradictory factors. One of these is due to increasing US-China political competition in the international arena, and the other is due to the interest of both countries in maintaining a (long-established) state of "economic interdependence", taking all costs of the second factor into account (mainly for the US).

Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan seems to have been entirely motivated by the very difficult domestic political situation in the US itself. This visits was not welcomed even within the Democratic Party. Almost certainly both the forthcoming event itself and the format of the PRC's response to it were one of the main subjects of an earlier phone conversation between the two presidents. Remarkably, none of them publicly reacted to this act of political provocation. However during this act and afterwards, there were repeated affirmations from Washington of its respect for the One China principle which is of crucial importance for Beijing.

In the short term, one can hardly expect any significant harsh statements from the PRC, towards Taiwan in particular. For example, it could have been a "blockade" or even "razing everything that's on the island to the ground using missiles". It is the case at least because Beijing has as much (or rather more) interest in keeping safe (almost) the world monopolist in the field of microchip production, which is the Taiwanese company TSMC, all its 50,000 employees, as well as the housing of the latter.

Therefore, a meaningful component of Nancy Pelosi's entire tour should be linked to her visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. It was these countries without mentioning Taiwan that she indicated herself before departing on her tour. It was also said at the time that during her visit to each of these countries, the guest would "reaffirm America's strong and unshakeable commitment to our allies and friends in the region".

The first two countries are located in South-East Asia, i.e. in the most important of a number of sub-regions that make up the Indo-Pacific. Nancy Pelosi's visit to Singapore and Malaysia fits in with the general trend of recent particular US attention, to the situation in Southeast Asia. Both countries are members of the regional association ASEAN, with which all the world's leading actors are eager to develop relations.

As for Washington, its focus on Southeast Asia and ASEAN is motivated by attempts to counter the expansion of its main geopolitical opponent in the sub-region. Neither Singapore nor Malaysia is in a state of military-political alliance with Washington, but from some point of view they can be labelled (especially the former) as its "friends".

The same keynote is also an element of the frequent visits of American statesmen to the Republic of Korea and Japan. In contrast to the first two, the abovementioned countries are linked to the US through political-military alliances. A perennial headache for Washington, however, is the wary state of relations between the ROK and Japan, to say the least. This prevents the long-standing American plans for creating a triple alliance, naturally, with an anti-Chinese orientation.

Seoul maintains a large and highly lucrative economic relationship with Beijing and clearly does not want the alliance with Washington to become a threat to them. There does not appear to have been any visible change under the new president of the Republic of Korea either. In fact, Nancy Pelosi arrived in the ROK for the purpose of establishing contacts between the US Congress and the new government of one of its Asian allies.

But somehow it happened that she was unable to meet any of the government officials of interest to her in that country's capital. Apparently, they showed no desire to get involved even indirectly in the anti-China scandal that followed the guest from her previous stopover point. And the three-day visit to China by the ROK foreign minister a week later was all the more symbolic.

The aforementioned "scandal" was not scared of in Tokyo, where Nancy Pelosi received the warmest of receptions. During a breakfast held at the official residence of the Japanese government, the guest exchanged views with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on a wide range of issues, both on bilateral relations and the situation in the region as a whole. In particular, the two sides "confirmed that Japan and the United States will continue to work closely together to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait". Fumio Kishida has "strongly condemned" the PLA military exercises near Taiwan. In addition, he expressed his hope for "Pelosi's leadership and the support of the US Congress" in strengthening the Japan-US alliance and realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

It means that there have been once again reiterated the well-established mantras that have been invariably present in the official rhetoric of both Washington and Tokyo in recent years when it comes to the Indo-Pacific situation in general, around Taiwan in particular. Similar statements have been also made on the issue of the "Chinese threat" to both states.

Countering said "threats" was also the cause for he foreign tour of an equally energetic lady, namely US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who visited Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Australia and New Zealand from 3 to 9 August. All of these countries are located in the South Pacific, which Washington as well as Tokyo and Canberra have recently been paying as much attention as Southeast Asia. And this attention is due to the same reasons, i.e. Beijing's expanding influence in the South Pacific as well.

In particular, in the spring of this year the US was very concerned about the conclusion of a framework security agreement between China and Solomon Islands. And in late May already, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited a number of countries on a ten-day trip to the sub-region, some of which appeared on Wendy Sherman's list of places to visit two months later.

Among these "several" reasons let's have a look at Solomon Islands. It was in this country where representatives of the two main allies of the Indo-Pacific region, i.e. the US and Japan, met again. Makoto Oniki, First Deputy Minister of Defence, spoke on behalf of the latter in Solomon Islands.

The formal occasion of the meeting between Sherman and Oniki in the country's capital, Honiara, was the 80th anniversary of the start of the (six-month) "Battle of Guadalcanal". It became one of the bloodiest of the entire Pacific War, in which current allies were sworn enemies. Incidentally, such metamorphoses in inter-state relations have been the rule rather than the exception throughout history. Using the link below one can see a photo of the two statesmen standing side by side during the memorial ceremony for the dead citizens of the countries that were at war at the time.

To the ceremony in question, let us make what appear to be some noteworthy remarks. First, there was also present the representative of Australia, a country that had been an active participant in the war in the Pacific in general and the "Battle of Guadalcanal" in particular. Even today, Australia remains one of Washington's most important allies in the Indo-Pacific. Commentators on Solomon Islands' meeting of senior US, Japanese and Australian officials again unanimously point to the "China factor" as its main motive.

Finally, no less noteworthy (to which commentators also draw attention) is the absence from the ceremony of the head of the country that hosted and (ostensibly) organised the meeting. Again, only three months earlier, the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands had reached a kind of agreement with China that caused negative reactions in all three countries. But he certainly could not deny their representatives the opportunity to honour the many thousands of servicemen whose remains rest at the bottom of the sea around one of the islands of the Solomon Archipelago.

However, the absence of the head of the nowadays archipelago country at the commemorative ceremony clearly demonstrates which of the opposing players in the Indo-Pacific region Solomon Islands leadership favours.

This peculiarity of Wendy Sherman's visit to Solomon Islands prompted a persistent journalist to pester her with "inconvenient" questions at the final press conference. Apparently, the political science professor had a hard time finding answers.

In overall, it can be concluded that the nature as well as the outcome of the Indo-Pacific region tours by two important members of the American political elite fit into the overall process of worsening relations between the world's leading powers.

Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

New Eastern Outlook
Wed, 17 Aug 2022 17:35:28 +0000

In Addition to Gas, Drinking Water is Becoming a Strategic Resource


The sanctions war on Russia, inspired by the Russophobic policies of the United States and its allies, has plunged the world into not only economic and energy crises, but also ecological collapse. To comply with instructions from Washington to reduce Russian gas deliveries, the authorities of the Western states have considered reviving coal power as well as revising the ban on shale gas technology, which, according to Raphael Schmeller – author of an article in the German junge Welt – has become "fateful news" for the climate.

As a result of the West's refusal to implement climate protection policies, the world is in a climate crisis and literally on fire. In many parts of Europe and America new temperature records are being recorded, and Western politicians committed to Washington are only diligently pouring fuel on the fire. For example, the German Minister for Economic Affairs, Robert Habeck, who is a member of the Green Party (!), is going to take steps to increase the use of coal for electricity generation, amidst the German government's cuts in gas supplies from Russia. Although it is well known everywhere, including in Germany, that in comparison to gas, much more carbon dioxide, the main cause of anthropogenic climate change, is emitted when using coal to generate electricity.

The use of fracking technology, which the Free Democratic Party of Germany (FDP), part of the governing coalition, strongly advocates, is equally damaging to the climate. Although it is also no secret that fracking is a real "climate killer", as it can trigger earthquakes and lead to groundwater contamination, increasing global methane emissions, the climate-damaging effects of which have already been demonstrated by this technology popular in the US and the evidence of a large number of scientific studies.

All this leads to devastating consequences for humanity, such as species extinction, unbearable heat, destruction of ecosystems and flooding of cities.  Such effects of climate change are accelerating and will inevitably become painfully apparent in the next 20 years. Already today, simple drinking water has become one of the world's most precious resources, around which regional or even global wars could break out in the future.

Lakes and rivers in Europe are drying up due to the heat, and Spain, France, Germany, Serbia, the UK and many other EU countries are facing drought, according to Western media reports. Residents of Europe believe that if it does not rain and the authorities do not find some alternative water supply, dark times will come.

According to Britain's Daily Mail, residents in the southeast of Britain are forced to stand in long queues for water, with some 8,500 homes in the county of Surrey facing a water shortage. Earlier, this publication reported that a total of 20.5 million people may be affected by water restrictions in Britain amid unprecedented heatwave. Amid temperatures reaching over 40 degrees in the kingdom in July, the country's fire brigade is experiencing its busiest period since World War II due to an increase in fires and other incidents.

After a drought was officially declared in 8 of England's 14 districts, millions of Britons faced restrictions on their water use, according to The Times. Britain's largest water company, Thames Water, has already warned consumers of major water supply disruptions, the Daily Mail reports. Experts warn that such extreme weather conditions will inevitably lead to a reduction in the UK's harvest and a sharp rise in food prices. On top of the record inflation in the last 40 years, the UK is experiencing a cost of living crisis for millions of people in this country, an increase in their dissatisfaction with government policies.

In the unprecedented drought, more than 100 municipalities in France have been left without drinking water and farmers have lost a substantial part of their crops and livestock feed, France 2 TV channel reports. To deal with a crisis that has taken on "historic proportions", the government has called for tighter restrictions on water use, hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2003 fiasco, when the authorities looked unfortunate in the heatwave that engulfed the country. In this context, authorities in 88 departments in France have already restricted water consumption, with some departments in the Pays de la Loire and New Aquitaine regions having declared the highest – red – alert level, which restricts water use to "any non-priority tasks, including for agricultural purposes". The use of water is only allowed for "health, safety, drinking water consumption and hygiene purposes". It is noted, however, that such extensive restrictions are "exceptional for this time of year" and the period of dry and hot weather is predicted to be long.

Spanish public broadcaster TVE reported that water supply restrictions had also been imposed in many Spanish settlements due to the drought. The country's 317 reservoirs had a storage capacity of 40.4% of their capacity at the end of July, 33% lower than the average for the past decade, authorities said. According to the Spanish weather service Aemet, the current period is already the fourth driest on record.

The western regions of the USA also faced the longest drought in 1200 years, resulting in a water shortage the country is currently experiencing. Water levels in rivers and lakes have dropped to record lows, and cities have begun imposing restrictions on water consumption. The unprecedented drought has caused California's rivers to turn back, water from the gulf has flowed into them and the rivers have become salty, German broadcaster NTD reported.

A state of emergency has been declared in northern Canada because of water shortages and record low levels in the local Apex River as a result of a lack of rainfall. Although Canada has about 20% of the world's freshwater supply, indigenous communities across the country have historically faced water shortage.

Water shortage has also become a reality in Central Asian countries. In Kazakhstan alone, for example, there may be a water deficit of 23.2 cubic kilometers, comparable to the total annual abstraction. During the Soviet period, the region's water and energy needs were regulated by the will of a single center: the upstream republics supplied their downstream neighbors with water in the summer and received hydrocarbons as compensation for the energy deficit in the winter. However, the mechanism that had worked effectively in a planned economy was rendered inoperative by the sprawl into "national flats", ambition ran high and resources became a tool for asserting young-state sovereignty.

However, the solution to the water problem in Central Asia differs from water initiatives in Europe, where the European Commission has allowed the reuse of water from municipal wastewater treatment plants as a key method of solving the problem of water shortage. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova has already commented on the proposal to use sewage in Europe, saying that

"Drinking what someone else has already drank or poured or watered or drained is a new height for connoisseurs of perversion".

As for Central Asia, there is the only correct way to solve the problem: a negotiation process, an adjustment of the legal framework in this field, is needed. Past experience and the logic of future transformations lead to the decision that only a strong regional integration structure with significant resources – the Eurasian Economic Council – can best handle the Central Asian water problem.

However, in order to achieve not only a delicate balance but also sustainable development, the Central Asian region needs a major integration format. And it is what Russia has been promoting since 2016 – the Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP), which can be defined as "integration of integrations". The role of Russia, the backbone country and the largest economy of the union, is undoubtedly even more important in this option of solving Central Asia's water problems, with the integration potential of the EAEU.

Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

New Eastern Outlook
Wed, 17 Aug 2022 09:59:21 +0000

The Authority of the British Monarchy in Australia Continues to Fall


On August 2, 2022, a scandal occurred in the Senate of Australia – the upper house of parliament. One of its members, a representative of the Green Party Lidia Thorpe during her taking the oath of office as a senator called the British Queen Elizabeth II, who is the formal head of Australia, a colonizer. President of the Senate Sue Lines demanded that Thorpe read the oath again, without adding extra words to the official text. After a short pause, Lidia Thorpe fulfilled the requirement of the President of the Senate, taking the oath again without her own additions. This incident demonstrated the increase of the negative attitude of a considerable proportion of Australian society towards the British monarchy.

It is important to note that Lidia Thorpe was the first representative of the aboriginal (indigenous) population of Australia in the history of the country who received the status of senator. Preserving memories of the hard times of colonialism, as well as honoring the memory of past generations of Aboriginal Australians who suffered during the colonization of the fifth continent by the British, Thorpe has a negative attitude to the role of the British monarchy in modern Australia. According to her, the current coat of arms and flag of the country symbolize colonization and do not represent all the peoples who live in Australia. Consequently, the state symbols should be changed. And Thorpe considers the abolition of the monarchy to be her primary task as a senator.

Many indigenous Australians have a negative opinion of the British crown at the head of their state, since for them it is a reminder of their oppression in the past. For several centuries, until the middle of the XX century, the Aboriginal Australians were seriously restricted in their rights, and the Australian leadership, consisting exclusively of persons of European origin, pursued a nationalist policy and made openly racist statements against the indigenous population. For example, John Bleakley, who served as director of the Department of Indigenous Affairs from 1914 to 1942, stated that the main purpose of his organization was not only to protect "savages" from arbitrariness on the part of white Australians, but also to help protect the white race from the danger posed by "backward nationalities". At the end of the 19th century, indigenous Australians were used as extremely cheap labor necessary for the development of new lands. The working conditions of the Australian Aborigines could only be compared with those of slaves. If at the beginning of the XIX century there were about 100 thousand indigenous Australians living in Australia, then according to the results of the population census in 1901, the number of representatives of indigenous peoples amounted to 26.5 thousand people with 3.8 million total inhabitants of Australia.

White Australians, who have now radically rethought the history of their country, are no less skeptical about the institution of the monarchy, as they have come to understand that royal rule is a reminder of historical injustice. Today, more than half of Australians support the idea of introducing a republican form of government in the country. Back in 1999, a referendum was held in Australia, where only 55% of residents supported the preservation of the monarchy.

As you know, for centuries Britain has been one of Russia's main geopolitical rivals. London did everything possible to limit the spread of Russian influence in the world. But rethinking their own history is gradually leading to a reassessment of the history of other countries, without relying on the opinion of London. Thus, the Australian society is gradually ceasing to consider Russia as a force that poses a danger to Australia. A considerable contribution to the increase in the growth of consciousness of the population is made by the Union of Cossacks of Australia, whose main activity is aimed at spreading reliable information about Russia's foreign policy. Also, a large Russian-speaking community, formed mainly from immigrants from the former USSR countries who moved to Australia in the 1990s, has a tangible impact on Australian public sentiment.

Many Australians revere the exploits of the Soviet people who suffered heavy losses and made a decisive contribution to the victory over Nazism in 1945. For example, on May 9, 2021 in Sydney, the Australian MP for New South Wales, Marjorie O'Neill, took part in the celebrations to mark the Soviet victory in World War II and laid flowers at the Soviet Soldiers Memorial, wearing St George's Ribbon.

However, the current realities do not allow Australia to abandon the monarchy in the near future, as the country is currently in a rather difficult geopolitical situation. First of all, this is due to the fact that Australia is trying to maintain its influence in a strategically important region – Oceania, where there are 11 sovereign small island states that can turn away from Australia at any moment and adopt a pro-Chinese position. The containment of China, including in the South Pacific, has become one of the key goals of the creation in 2021 of the AUKUS trilateral defense alliance consisting of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The consequence of the appearance of this organization was the strengthening of the control of the United States and its allies in the Pacific Ocean. Despite the anti–monarchical public sentiment in Australia, the country's leadership understands that the introduction of a republican form of government may be perceived as an unfriendly gesture towards one of the closest allies in AUKUS – the United Kingdom. In this regard, the prospect of the abolition of the monarchy in Australia will become more real only if the situation in Oceania becomes less tense.

In accordance with the charter of the Commonwealth of Nations headed by the British monarch, which includes Australia, the United Kingdom, as well as most of its former colonies, the refusal of the participating country from royal rule implies an automatic withdrawal from this international organization. Nevertheless, a state that has become a republic has the right to appeal to the member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations with a request to remain in this international association. If Australia decides to change its state system, it will most likely retain its membership in the Commonwealth of Nations, as Canberra maintains close trade and economic ties with many member states of this organization, including India, New Zealand and the small island countries of Oceania.

So, in the foreseeable future, Australia is likely to abandon the monarchy and switch to a republican form of government. The Australian public is psychologically ready for the big changes. There is one little thing left: to hold a new referendum on the abolition of royal rule. However, this is unlikely to be possible in the very near future, given the difficult circumstances associated with the current world situation.

Petr Konovalov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

New Eastern Outlook
Tue, 16 Aug 2022 18:15:42 +0000

Russian Patience With the War in Ukraine Is Not Endless as the West May Soon Learn


In March of this year Russian troops captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. It has been in Russian possession ever since, although the Ukrainian forces have made desperate attempts to recapture it. These attempts have included bombing and shelling of the site. To describe this and incredibly stupid is an understatement.

The plant is a nuclear plant and its wanton destruction could cause the dispersal of nuclear material far from the site. To say that it endangers the lives not only of the Russian occupiers and the surrounding Ukrainians living in proximity to the plant is a massive understatement. The destruction of the plant risks a nuclear contamination of a vast surrounding area that includes not only Ukrainian territory, but also that of its geographical neighbours, including Russia, Poland and Hungary.

The Russians have protested the bombing and shelling of the plant, thus far without success. The Ukrainians seem impervious to the risks that are evident to all the people in the region, and as noted, in surrounding countries as well. The remarkable response by the Ukrainians is to blame the Russians for the shelling of the plant. This is not only demonstrably false, but is proven to be so. There is absolutely no reason for the Russians to destroy the plant, not least because it would endanger its own people.

What theUkrainian motive is for the shelling is not clear. They have expressed the wish to retake possession of the plant, but that is not going to happen. Nobody in their right mind would hand such a potentially dangerous object over to the Ukrainians who have shown by their actions a reckless disregard not only for the inhabitants of the plant, but also the lives and safety of the millions of people living within the likely zone of contamination in the event that the plant is destroyed.

The Ukrainians are not of course acting on their own in this reckless conduct. The Ukrainians are backed by the by the full forces of the NATO powers, who seem willing to allow the fighting to continue until the last Ukrainian. There is no realistic possibility of Ukraine ever winning this war and the intervention, through arms, "volunteers" and political support from the western powers who are backing the discredited regime of Zelenskyy.

These same Western powers that are backing the Ukraine regime are the same powers who endlessly site their devotion to the "rules based international order" which in the Ukrainian context is no more than a sick joke. The Ukrainian government has recently banned at least nine political groups that oppose it, including those that appeal to a Russian speaking audience. That group has suffered extra restrictions, including the banning of their native language.

It is the Western powers that have been supplying the missiles that have been hitting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant over the past week or so. They must bear a degree of responsibility for the damage that is done to the plant and to the surrounding countryside and neighbouring nations. It has been estimated that the nuclear radioactive contamination that will ensue will be greater than both the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters that have occurred in recent years. Both of these nuclear disasters were accidents and were not deliberately planned for.

The Zaporizhzhia disaster by contrast is a deliberately engineered catastrophe. The United Nations' international nuclear supervisory agency, the IAEA has condemned the attack on Zaporizhzhia as "suicidal". The United Nations has not however, specifically condemned the Ukrainians for the attack on the plant, claiming instead that there were "conflicting reports"on who was to be held accountable. This is a disgraceful abdication of the UN's responsibility. It is abundantly obvious who is responsible for the attacks, and that is the Ukrainians. The Russians have no conceivable motive for damaging the plane and to suggest otherwise betrays an alarming lack of logic by the UN.

The Kiev regime, together with its United States master, has been the main source of the claim that the Russians are responsible for what is happening at the plant. They say that the Russians are alleging Ukrainian responsibility for the attacks as cover for its own nefarious plans for the nuclear plant. It is an example of the type of twisted logic that one has come to expect from the Ukrainian regime and from their American masters. The latter are constantly seeking the means to criticise Russia and the nuclear power plant is a classic example of them seeking to turn to their advantage a Russian success, in this case the capture of the plant in March, shortly after the beginning of the Russian intervention.

There is one other point that clearly illustrates Ukrainian culpability for the missile attacks on the nuclear plant. The evidence clearly demonstrates that the missiles were fired from territory that is still under the control of the Ukrainian forces. It is a relatively simple matter to track missiles from their point of origin and the evidence has clearly demonstrated Ukrainian culpability for the attacks.

The attacks on a nuclear power plant illustrate the desperation of the Ukrainian government that despite extensive western military and political support is manifestly losing the war in Ukraine. A further measure of the extent to which the Ukrainian regime will go also came to light a littler over a week ago with a report from Amnesty International. That report made it very clear that the Kiev regime was using civilian centres such as schools and hospitals as well as residential areas as locations for their artillery weapons. When the Russians respond by attacking these weapons centres they are accused by the Ukrainians and by the insipid western media of attacking civilian centres. It is a well-established ploy by the Ukrainians and must be known to the apologists in the western media who continue to present incredibly one-eyed reports of the fighting.

The Russians have responded to this barrage of Ukrainian misinformation by summonsing the United Nations Security Council for an emergency session to highlight the dangers posed by the actions of the Ukrainian forces. Russia is calling for IAEA inspectors to be allowed to visit visit and report Ukrainian positions. This has met with predictable opposition from the British and American representatives on the Security Council. Their destructive attitude itself speaks volumes as to the true nature of the western backing of the Ukrainians ion the Wass, regardless of this multiple crimes.

There currently seems to be no limited to the steps that the Americans will take to support their Ukrainian allies. Thus far that strategy has been of little direct risk to the Americans who are content to use the Ukrainians as their proxies in this war. How long Russian patience will persist in the face of this strategy is an open question. The Americans for their part seem content to go on pushing at Russian patience. They may learn that such patience is not unlimited.

James O'Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

New Eastern Outlook
Tue, 16 Aug 2022 17:55:13 +0000

How Much has the US Promised to Pay for Lithuania’s anti-Chinese Policy?


On August 7, a delegation of 11 Lithuanian officials led by Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Agnė Vaiciukevičiūtė arrived in Taiwan on a five-day visit. According to the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry, the purpose of the delegation's visit is to "strengthen strategic cooperation and business ties in advanced sectors." In reality, however, the Lithuanian vice-ministers talked about the possibility of signing documents that hinted at Taiwan's independence, thus sending a signal to the separatist forces on the island that was not friendly to Beijing.

Stubbornly pursuing the anti-Beijing course imposed by Washington politicians on the limitrophe country, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister earlier commented on the recent visit of the US House of Representatives speaker to Taiwan, saying that with this move Pelosi supposedly "opened the door" to the island "even wider." Voicing instructions from Washington on the matter, he expressed confidence that very soon "other defenders of freedom and democracy" would arrive there.

At the same time, a few days before the visit of Lithuanian officials to Taiwan, Lithuanian Seimas speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, answering questions from foreign correspondents, said she intended to discuss with leading EU politicians the possibility of a "joint visit to Taiwan" in the near future.

In 2022, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs and Innovation Jovita Neliupšienė and Deputy Minister of Agriculture Egidijus Giedraitis also visited Taiwan, indicating that Vilnius is deliberately implementing the relevant anti-Chinese directives from Washington.

Chinese authorities have criticized the visit of Lithuanian government members to Taiwan, believing that Lithuanian officials support the island's separatists. "We express our strong displeasure over this visit as it is a gross interference in our internal affairs. This is a challenge to the One China principle, a vicious provocation and an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country. The PRC will retaliate decisively," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin told at a briefing.

According to Chinese media, Lithuania, with which China tried to build friendly and mutually beneficial relations after 1991, has since last year become the vanguard of anti-Chinese policies in Europe. However, it should be recalled that before 2019 Lithuania also tried to maintain positive relations with China: back in 2018, while in Beijing, then Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė called cooperation with the PRC "important" and very beneficial. According to UN Comtrade, Lithuania's exports to China in 2020 amounted to $357.7 million, while imports from the PRC were $1.8 billion, making China the seventh largest import trading partner for Vilnius. Critically reacting to the development of relations between Vilnius and Beijing, Washington immediately made it clear to its Baltic satellite that it would decide with whom Lithuania would be friends and with whom not. In this way, the USA had already chosen Lithuania as a weak link of the European Union, through which any anti-Chinese and anti-Russian initiatives could be thrown in, making Vilnius, which does not have any independence, an instrument of its policy.

Thus the situation between Lithuania and China began to change as the US-China trade wars escalated and Lithuania's "cooperation" with the US intensified. Already in 2019, the Lithuanian State Security Department first called China a threat, and then Lithuanian President G. Nausėda said he sees Chinese investment in Lithuanian ports as a menace as well. This was followed, with blatant initiation by Washington, by a scandal involving Huawei Corporation, which intended to deploy a fifth-generation mobile phone network in Lithuania and which Vilnius indiscriminately accused of spying activities. In February 2021, the Lithuanian Seimas, showing its servile allegiance to Washington, began drafting a resolution on the situation of Uighurs in the "authoritarian communist" PRC, and the MP Dovilė Šakalienė even promised to seek an international investigation into "Beijing's crimes" in this regard. In March last year, Vilnius announced plans to open a trade and economic representative office in Taiwan, and in May Lithuania left the 17+1 Forum for Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries and called on other participants to follow suit.

With the opening of the first "Taiwan representative office" in the EU in Lithuania on November 18, Lithuanian-Chinese relations took a turn for the worse, with China recalling its Ambassador from Vilnius and suggesting that Lithuania do the same. Beijing then decided to downgrade diplomatic relations with the Baltic republic to Chargé d'affaires.

And in December of the same year, the Chinese government banned imports of goods from Lithuania, after which Lithuanian exporters were excluded from the Celestial Empire's customs system, which stopped allowing Lithuanian goods and goods with Lithuanian components into the country, and also stopped accepting import applications from Lithuania. These sanctions tactics by Beijing have led to a 40% drop in cargo turnover in the port of Klaipeda alone and to desperate appeals by Vilnius to the US and EU for help against the Chinese sanctions.  However, a loophole was found in these sanctions – goods went through the ports of neighboring countries. At some point, the European Commission's efforts apparently bore fruit, and the Baltic Republic returned to the PRC's customs systems.  However, China did teach Vilnius a lesson by showing where sanctions from the "collective West" can lead. Although the PRC then loosened its grip temporarily, the move nevertheless signaled that it wanted to see whether Lithuania was ready to "re-educate" itself. If not, the demonstration lesson could be repeated.

That said, however, it should be noted that the economic logic behind Vilnius' decision to ostensibly support Taiwan clearly does not work. Back in the early 1990s, such logic would have been politically shaky, but economically understandable, as there was then a mirage of "inexhaustible Taiwanese investment". Today, however, the situation is different, especially in the context of the economic crisis in the Baltic Republic itself. And the only explanation for the current moves by Vilnius in this direction can only be the hopes of Lithuania to be compensated by the United States for losses from such openly anti-Chinese moves – in economic and military-political terms. Vilnius is clearly counting on the US to further strengthen the Baltic bridgehead as part of its military containment of Russia, as well as to provide the Lithuanian government with a new generous compensation in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars in direct loan guarantees, while de facto helping not so much Vilnius as its own companies.

However, all indications are that, despite possible American "compensation", Vilnius will in any case be the main loser in this story.  After all, it has managed not only to make an enemy of Beijing, but also to set Europe up and, in relations with Washington, to move from the rank of satellite to the even less honorable category of "provocateurs". And as history shows, the United States leaves them to the mercy of fate as soon as it sees fit.

Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

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