Common Grounds

Our Friday News Analysis | Blood is Thicker than Water

August 05, 2022


By Abraham A. van Kempen featuring: The US Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ms. Nancy Patricia Pelosi; the President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Vladimir Vladimirovitsj Putin; and the former President of the Soviet Union, Mr. Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev.


What is the Side of the Story that is Not Yet Decisive?

Our Friday News Analysis | Blood is Thicker than Water

President Ronald Reagan Meets Mikhail Gorbachev


Ohrid Macedonia, 5 August 2022 | If you know of any story that is decisive, tell the world. We're still searching.


Nancy Patricia Pelosi – Here She Comes and Goes Followed by Chinese Theatrics: a Striking Spectacle of Fireworks with Precision Missiles Hurling Over Land and Landing in the Sea


My esteemed colleague, New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman says it best in 'Why Pelosi's Visit to Taiwan Is Utterly RecklessThe timing could not be worse. The Ukraine war is not over,' published on 1 August 2022.


               "I have a lot of respect for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But if she does go ahead with a visit to Taiwan this week, against President Biden's wishes, she will be doing something utterly reckless, dangerous, and irresponsible.


               Nothing good will come of it. Taiwan will not be more secure or prosperous due to this purely symbolic visit, and many bad things could happen. These include a Chinese military response that could result in the US being plunged into indirect conflicts with a nuclear-armed Russia and a nuclear-armed China simultaneously.


               And if you think our European allies — facing an existential war with Russia over Ukraine — will join us if there is US conflict with China over Taiwan, triggered by this unnecessary visit, you are badly misreading the world."


Thom, don't worry. In the early 70s, I picked up an old saying in Taiwan: "Blood is thicker than water." The people on both sides of the conflict don't need the United States nor the EU-US-NATO Axis to intervene or interfere. They will determine when Taiwan and the mainland are ready for each other. We're now drawn into a typical Chinese carnival full of theatrics and fireworks. The two peoples will reunite at the opportune moment because they are historically and hysterically one.


Blood is thicker than water.



In a few moments, you’ll read some observations by Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev, followed by words by Mr. Vladimir Putin.


But first, I’ve got a ‘sour apple to peel’ (a Dutch saying meaning I’d like to have a strong word) with the EU-US (NATO) Axis leaders. Why? Why didn’t you do everything imaginable to build trust with the Russian Federation? After all, trust is the thrust to engender and sustain peaceful coexistence that might lead to friendship.


Instead, you intimidated the Russian people and provoked fear by expanding NATO from 14 countries during the Cold War to 30 countries, mostly since 2004. Then, you threatened Russia by persisting on including Ukraine and Georgia, not to mention Sweden and Finland to be followed by Ireland. What have you gained? War!


You blame Russia. You propagate, “Putin intends to expand Russian Lebensraum and return to the former glory of the Soviet Union.”


You’re so wrong. Mr. Putin wants to increase his market share to improve the Russian economy, not by grabbing land but by selling Russian oil, gas, foodstuffs, and other natural resources. Yes, Mr. Putin fully intends to expand his sphere of influence to make money, not to hoist the Russian flags all over Europe.


Any simpleton knows Russia’s rationale intuitively. Do the clowns in Brussels and their stooges in Washington – they call themselves world leaders of the World Community, also known as the Free World or the West – know this truth? Yes, of course, they do. Do they want Russia to become another economic powerhouse, like China? No! It is against the national interests of member-states that consider themselves part of the Free World to fuel economic development in Russia. As stated by the President of the United States, Mr. Joe Biden, “we intend to weaken Russia and get rid of Putin.”


If the West genuinely wanted peaceful coexistence, the EU-US (NATO) Axis would have:


               1) Allowed Ukraine to become a trading partner of BOTH the EU and the Russian Federation.


               2) Guaranteed open access to the seaports and shipping lanes and the pipelines in Ukraine to facilitate the free flow of oil and gas.


               3) Gradually disengage and eventually terminate NATO to countervail a threat that does not exist. The Russian Federation wants to work with, not against, Europe. After all, Russia is not just the largest country on earth, with 11 time zones. It is also the largest country in Europe.


And what an economic feast it could be for Ukraine. They could be simultaneously trading with East and West. Instead, today a small handful of NAZI sympathizers, indiscriminately armed to the tilt by the West, shoot Russians, their neighbors who’ve lived in the same communities for generations. I fully expect the Ukrainians and Russians to become friends again. But first, Russia must secure the sea lanes and pipelines and effectuate a regime change in Kyiv, ‘American style.’


In the meantime, the EU-US (NATO) Axis has instigated the idea that Russia and China are considering forming separate countervailing alliances. One global police force under the auspices of the EU-US (NATO) Axis is out of balance. The world needs to recalibrate the balance of power, starting with Russia allied with Iran, possibly with several other countries in the Middle East, the Sub-Continent, and Africa. China might contemplate developing an Asian Pact in alliance with most of Asia and perhaps even the Americas, south of Mexico. As I have stated in previous articles, this is a formula for peaceful coexistence but a potential recipe for disaster. But can the world rely on one global police force? The 198 member countries of the United Nations can no longer condone more police brutality. 


Thank you, EU, thank you, US, thank you, NATO, for inculcating fear. Historically, despite the ups and downs, Russians and Ukrainians feel more at home with each other than with NATO.


I speak with authority. I lectured at the University of Kyiv in Chelyabinsk, located more than 2,300 kilometers East of Kyiv in deep Russia.


Blood is thicker than water.



Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev


He is harsh on Europe and the United States in the Ukraine crisis. In Gorbachev's eyes, the West bears a large part of the responsibility for the conflict.

There have been better years in the life of Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, still kicking at 91, but he has trouble walking and sitting.  Mr. Gorbachev is considered the gravedigger of the Soviet Union. He is celebrated in the West and hated in Russia. Neither does him justice. Today he sees his life's work in danger, the policy of détente between East and West.

Gorbachev has taken positions that many in the West repudiate. He has defended the annexation of Crimea, saying it fully corresponds to "the will of the people there." In October 2014, he called the United States "a great plague." The following month in Berlin, to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall, 'Gorbi' said he was "absolutely convinced that Putin defended Russia's interests better than anyone else."
Mr. Gorbachev is Russian and feels Russian.When Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as head of State on December 25, 1991, the red flag was lowered over the Moscow Kremlin, and the new Russia's blue, white, and red tricolor was hoisted. The communist world empire was history. Since then, Gorbachev has been considered the man who buried the Soviet Union. In Russia, therefore, he is sometimes met with open hatred. In the West, on the other hand, he is revered for tearing down the Wall.Yes, Gorbachev wanted to end the Cold War and eliminate the arms race and the danger of a thermonuclear war, not Russia.
When Gorbachev came to power in 1985, he wanted to modernize the Soviet world power, not eliminate it. Ukraine played a vital role in the plans, and Gorbachev—all Russian—considers Moscow's legitimate sphere of influence even today as their natural trading partner.
Gorbachev defends Russian foreign policy against criticism from the West. But that doesn't make him a Putin friend. “Putin suffers from excessive self-confidence; maybe he even sees himself right next to God," Gorbachev told SPIEGEL. He sharply condemns the Kremlin's internal policies and the crackdown on members of the opposition like the blogger Alexei Navalny, "who is being put under house arrest just because he opened his mouth."
Despite Gorbachev’s differences with Putin, ‘blood remains thicker than water.’
Extracted from: Der Spiegel

Vladimir Vladimirovitsj Putin
Twenty years ago, it looked like Russian President Putin would move closer to the West.


               “Russia is a friendly European country. For our country, which has endured a century of war catastrophes, the main goal is stable peace on the continent," said Russian President Vladimir Putin.


It is September 25, 2001, a few weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Putin spoke to more than 650 members of the Bundestag in Berlin.


He started in Russian and then went into perfect German, wrapped his politician audience around his finger, flirted, and earned applause. He called the MPs his "dear friends" and talked about expanding the German-Russian partnership into a joint "European house," explaining: "The Cold War is over."
His presentation ended in applause that lasted for a few minutes. The entire Bundestag heaved itself out of its armchairs for the almost 50-year-old Putin. Analysis of his speeches clarified how quickly his political priorities had shifted. It showed how Putin's distrust of the West evolved.
Putin was elected President in March 2000. Three months later, he delivered his first State of the Union address. He presented his vision of a cooperative, peaceful, integrated Russia:
               "Not strong against the international community, not against other strong nations, but together with them."
At his first Kremlin press conference as President in July 2001, Putin, like his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, proposed Russia's accession to NATO - the defense organization established in 1949 to counter the Soviet threat.
The US did not respond directly to Putin's proposal, but the NATO-Russia Council was formed a year later. In June 2001, then-US President George W. Bush "looked Putin in the eye" and said:
               "I found President Putin to be very direct and trustworthy … I could get a feel for his soul, a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country."
Putin, however, compared Bush's warm words in stark contrast to the expansion of NATO:
               "It is a military organization. Yes, military! Yes, moving towards our border! Why?"
The image that the West wants to encircle and destabilize Russia was already gaining ground in the Kremlin during Putin's first term in office. The "Rose Revolution" in Georgia ended in a peaceful change of power in 2003, thanks to Washington's support. Still, Russia rebuffed Georgia’s new, Western-European-oriented government.
Together with the ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine in 2004 and the 2005 ‘Tulip Revolution’ in Kyrgyzstan, the Kremlin deduced that the West was sowing unrest in Russia's vicinity, intending to effectuate a coup in Russia.
In 2004 Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia, and Slovakia joined NATO. Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic had joined five years earlier. The Kremlin regarded this as an attempt to reduce Russia's influence in its forecourt. The idea of ​​a Moscow-dominated sphere of power was still deeply rooted in the Kremlin.
As Putin's first two terms in office approached the end, a turning point emerged in Russia's relations with the West. In early 2007, at the Munich Security Conference, Putin spoke plainly - and criticized the West more openly than ever before.
               He said the US was striving for "monopolar world domination" and imposed its norms on other states by force.
               Putin called NATO's eastward expansion a provocation that was weakening mutual trust.
               He said armed forces were closing in on Russia's state borders while Russia exercised restraint. It was a warning: “up to here and no further.”
Frosty Relations with NATO
At the NATO summit in April 2008, the US pushed for Ukraine and Georgia to be given candidate status. France and Germany were against it. After all, the communiqué was a compromise: Ukraine and Georgia would one day become members of NATO, according to the vague formulation. However, Moscow drew the red line not to be crossed by NATO. From then on, Russian policy made it impossible for Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO.
Russia Declared South Ossetia and the Abkhazia independent States
In the Summer of 2008, when Dmitry Medvedev was President and Vladimir Putin was his prime minister, the Russian Federation claimed that genocide was in progress in the South Ossetia region and that the people of Abkhazia were being subjected to acts of violence. The Russian army invaded Georgia to protect Russian citizens, as reported in Russia. The war ended after five days with a victory for Russia, which declared South Ossetia and Abkhazia independent states.
The 2014 Crimean crisis
Moscow initially tried to control President Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine, preventing him from moving closer to the West. Yanukovych wanted to sign an association agreement with the EU but surprisingly backed out after Putin threatened him with a gas supply freeze. The protests that followed on the Maidan ended in blood. Yanukovych fled.
The fact that American diplomats showed up on the Maidan was interpreted in Moscow as a conspiracy against Russia. The Kremlin also rumored that NATO ships were about to dock in Sevastopol and other Black Sea ports. The Maidan protests have been criticized on the Crimean Peninsula. Taking advantage of the anti-Kyiv sentiment, Russia invaded with its soldiers and held an independence referendum. Crimea voted en masse to be annexed by Russia. As a result, approval ratings for Putin in Russia rose.
In the Donbas, dissatisfaction with Kyiv led to the emergency of separatist groups. After 2014, Russia also supported them militarily in the confrontation with Kyiv to permanently destabilize Ukraine. Concomitantly, meddling inside Ukraine might have hindered Ukraine on its way to NATO membership.
Putin's State of the Union address in 2014 showed how deep the distrust and resentment of the West became.
               “The US goal was to see Russia and former Yugoslavia ‘disintegrate and dismember’ by supporting separatism and ‘exporting revolutions,’” he said.
Putin's military rhetoric is coming to a head
Putin’s 2018 State of the Union address was the most aggressive and anti-Western ever. It was not the first speech in which military terms appeared conspicuously. The analysis showed that as early as 2006, words such as ‘military, missile, armed, weapon, nuclear, and defense’ were frequently mentioned. But the context of these terms changed radically, as exemplified by the word ‘nuclear.’
In his 2006 speech, Putin used the word ‘nuclear’ in three different contexts.
               Putin first spoke of nuclear energy as a promising sector. He demanded, for example: "We must take measures to develop nuclear energy."
               Then atomic weapons came into play in the context of terrorism and disarmament.
               Finally, he emphasized the importance of a modern Russian army, including a nuclear-armed force, whose development must not be at the expense of the country's social and economic development.
In Putin's 2018 speech, on the other hand, the context of nuclear energy and disarmament was wholly omitted. From the start, Putin painted an image of the US and NATO as enemies and a threat, leaving Russia no choice but to arm themselves – including with nuclear weapons.
               "The United States is building a global missile defense system," he said and warned,
               "If we don't do anything, Russia's nuclear weapons potential will ultimately become worthless."
After that, Putin presented the Russian army's latest nuclear weapons for the world to fear. He warned the West:
               "Any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies … will be considered a nuclear attack against that country. Retaliation will be immediate, with all the consequences that entail."
Blood is thicker than water.
Adapted from:NZZ Putin’s Radikalisierung


Read more: A Word from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's Article 'Staged Incidents as the Western Approaches to Doing Politics,' published in Izvestia newspaper, 18 July 2022.

Read more: 'Why [American Political Scientist] John Mearsheimer Blames the US for the Crisis in Ukraine,' New Yorker Magazine, 5 April 2022.


Read more: 'Beware of the resurgent Russophobia,' Al Jazeera, 26 April 2022.




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