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The Wednesday night (May 3, 2023) attack on the Kremlin by two Ukrainian drones, allegedly an attempt to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin, is perhaps clear evidence that the Kiev regime is fighting a proxy war on behalf of the US-led NATO-European Union. President Volodymyr Zelensky was possibly unaware of the planned attack and, at the time of writing, was compelled to “extend” his stay in Finland where he had gone to meet the leaders of Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) to firm up his country’s military muscle.
But he soon made a “surprise visit” (May 4) at the International Criminal Court, The Netherlands, which has issued an arrest warrant for President Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. Earlier, while in Helsinki, Finland, Zelensky had denied any attack on Putin. In fact, Kiev said the Kremlin drone attack was a false flag conducted by Russia, but as the Ukrainian Postal Service promptly brought out a commemorative stamp of the incident, some high-level planning seems evident. Ukraine’s Air Force Command claimed on Thursday that Russian forces had attacked multiple regions overnight with Iranian-made drones.
Whoever planned the Kremlin attack, Kiev has been forced to bite more than its ability to chew. It will anxiously await Moscow’s serious retaliation, which may be deferred till after the May 9 parade commemorating the surrender of Nazi Germany. Should Zelensky find it difficult to return to Kiev, the regime will have to nominate a successor to open negotiations with Moscow. It would be an unexpected denouement, possibly a silent coup by members of the beleaguered regime who want to cut their losses.
Ukrainians are weary of Zelensky and his corruption-ridden regime that figured in the Pandora Papers years ago. In January 2023, a media exposé of illicit payments and inflated military contracts led to the sacking and resignations of several senior officials. Media reports suggest Zelensky has siphoned off $400 million from Western aid, a clear sign that the West wants to shift the battlefield, possibly to Taiwan and China.
Though the drones were shot down by Russian air defence, and there was no loss of life or damage to the Kremlin, Moscow issued a stern statement condemning the “terrorist attack” and attempt on the life of the President, and reserved the “right to respond when and how it sees fit”.
At his daily media briefing, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasised, “We are well aware that decisions on such a level of terrorist attacks are made not in Kyiv, but in Washington. Kyiv only does what it is told to do.” He dismissed American and Ukrainian denials and warned that Moscow would respond with “thoughtful, balanced and appropriate steps in the interests of our country,”
Russia’s security council meeting on Friday, May 5, discussed law and order and public security in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, and in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. Putin asserted that the goal was to quickly “integrate these historically Russian lands of Donbass and Novorossiya into the economic, legal and education space” of the country. However, the regions were still under attack by the Kiev regime, and the “neo-Nazis and their collaborators’ activity has expanded beyond the new constituent entities as crimes have been reported in other Russian regions as well.” Western intelligence services are helping in plotting the sabotage and terrorist attacks, Putin said, in a veiled reference to the drone attacks.
Moscow has not yet retaliated for the assassination of Darya Dugina (August 20, 2022), Nordstream pipeline sabotage (September 26, 2022), and the Crimean bridge attack (October 8, 2022). Another provocation was the bomb attack in St Petersburg on April 3, 2023, that killed military correspondent Vladlen Tatarsky. The drone attack on the Kremlin will not go unpunished.
President Putin has in recent days expressed rejection of “rules” invented and imposed by “certain countries.” At a meeting of the Council of Legislators at St. Petersburg (April 28, 2023), he pointed to the need to overcome the “economic aggression” of the collective West. He warned that the elites in these nations are destroying the world’s legal framework and channels of communication, but Russia will not retreat into “self-isolation” but will cooperate with “friendly countries” in Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America.
Whatever the intention behind the drone attack, it will cause the US-NATO-EU to struggle for inner coherence and accelerate the movement towards a multilateral world order. It will also escalate de facto European withdrawal of support for the Kiev regime. For several months, cities across Western Europe have been exploding in anger at the high cost of energy and food, unemployment, and the collapse of industries due to the ill-conceived economic sanctions against Moscow. Washington’s near-totalitarian control of major Western media and dogged propaganda about impending Russian defeat can no longer hide the truth of Kiev’s impending defeat.
During his visit to China (April 5-7, 2023), French President Emmanuel Macron asked his foreign policy adviser Emmanuel Bonne to work with Chinese foreign policy chief Wang Yi to prepare a “framework” for future negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv. Paris and Beijing also executed the first Yuan-settled LNG trade, giving further impetus to energy trade minus the US Dollar.
However, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and other EU leaders remain vehemently anti-Russia. Von der Leyen supported Zelenskyy’s call for a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes. Germany, despite the blow to its economy by the sabotage of the Nordstream energy pipeline, remains firmly in the US camp although the Berlin Chancery has recently sternly warned Kiev against carrying out attacks on Russia’s soil.
On March 25, 2023, Britain announced that it would give Ukraine depleted uranium munitions. In the Iraq war against Saddam Husain, DU weapons allegedly caused horrendous birth defects and cancers in the population. President Putin asserted that Russia would “respond accordingly given that the collective West is starting to use weapons with a ‘nuclear component’”.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian noted, “NATO dropped 15 tons of depleted uranium bombs on Yugoslavia, leaving death and agony for generations after the war. Since 1999, many children in Serbia have suffered from tumours, and 366 NATO soldiers have died of cancer.” Observers fear a serious escalation of conflict in view of the Kremlin drone attacks.
Responding to the new challenges, including possible moves by Japan and South Korea, Russia provided Minsk with several types of aircraft, including the Iskander that can use tactical weapons. It pledged to build a storage facility for nuclear weapons by July and weapons training in Belarus.
Conscious of the economic costs of curtailing energy purchases from Russia, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida informed parliament (March 27) that Japan will continue to participate in Russian energy projects on Sakhalin Island. In 2022, Japan had cut oil imports from Russia by 90% and coal by 60%, but it needs liquefied natural gas (LNG) for energy security.
Japan’s Sakhalin Oil and Gas Development Co (SODECO) owns a 30% stake in the Russian Far Eastern offshore project. Japan is currently the chair of the Group of Seven industrialized nations. But irritants remain. On March 27, 2023, the Secretary of Russia Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, pointed out that European nations and Japan had stopped supplying Russia with important, life-saving drugs.
Contrary to expectations, US-imposed sanctions gave a fillip to the de-dollarisation of the world economy as nations outside the Atlantic Alliance united to promote trade via local currencies and the yuan. On March 25, 2023, Brazil set up an RMB clearing house to enable Brazilian exporters to be paid in Chinese Yuan. The renminbi gained with Saudi Arabia adopting yuan-based loans under the BRI for infrastructure projects, particularly its futuristic city, Neom. All ten ASEAN countries are devising ways to drop the US Dollar, Euro and Yen for trade.
Currently, the dollar accounts for 58% of total global reserves, down from 73% in 2001. China and India are working to use their own currencies to settle international trade, while Russia accepts payments for its exports from a number of countries in the roubles and renminbi. US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen conceded that the dollar’s role as a world reserve currency could diminish.
India on April 18, 2023, signed a deal to adopt Moscow’s SPFS System for Banking Payments to Russia. The deal allowed for the acceptance of Ru-Pay cards and (UPI) in Russia and MIR cards and (FPS) in India.
In April, 19 countries applied to join the BRICS bloc ahead of its next summit in South Africa in August 2023. They include Algeria, Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, UAE etc.
In April 2023, Igor Kirillov, head of Russia’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Troops (RKhBZ), announced that as many as 240 pathogens of dangerous diseases have been found in four Ukrainian biological laboratories. The Federation Council thereafter approved the report of the parliamentary commission investigating the activities of American biological laboratories in Ukraine. The State Duma had already approved the document.
The shift from the US-dominated world order to an emerging multilateral world order is gaining momentum.
- Ukraine President Embezzled $400 Million From Fuel Purchase Aid: Report, World News, April 14, 2023. https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/ukraine-president-volodymyr-zelensky-embezzled-400-million-from-fuel-purchase-aid-report-3947123
- Ukraine could be looking at another Maidan, Jamie Dettmer, April 18, 2023. https://www.politico.eu/article/ukraine-war-another-maidan-revolution-dignity-russia-invasion/amp/
- Macron ‘working on secret plan’ with China to end Ukraine war, The Brussels Times, April 19, 2023. https://www.brusselstimes.com/463598/macron-working-on-secret-plan-with-china-to-end-ukraine-war
- What are depleted uranium munitions the UK is sending to Ukraine?, Al Jazeera, March 23, 2023. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/23/what-are-depleted-uranium-munitions-the-uk-is-sending-to-ukraine#:~:text=The%20British%20government%20has%20announced,needed%20to%20create%20nuclear%20weapons
- Japan needs Russian energy – Prime Minister, RT, March 27, 2023. https://www.rt.com/business/573671-japan-russia-sakhalin-energy-projects/
- Dollar losing reserve status at ‘stunning’ pace – Eurizon, RT, April 2023. https://www.rt.com/business/575049-dollar-losing-reserve-status/