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Maria Zakharova: ‘Ukraine crisis’ and ‘International Holocaust Remembrance Day’

Source: Russian MFA, Maria Zakharova, Moscow, January 27, 2023 (Read full briefing)

Ukraine crisis update

The eighth Ukraine Defence Contact Group meeting was held at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany on January 20. The results of this gathering clearly show the West’s complete lack of responsibility and its push for further escalation. The NATO countries have reiterated their plans to build up the supplies of the latest heavy offensive weapons to Kiev.

They have no regard for anyone in Ukraine. Now, it has become clear that they have no regard for their own people. After all, tanks don’t move by themselves. They need to be driven and serviced by people, especially tanks that have never seen service with the Ukrainian forces. I will put it this way: the service personnel who go to Ukraine as part of the tank battalions and brigades should be aware of the fate their governments have in mind for them if they look at their dead fellow countrymen and, unfortunately, the citizens of Ukraine, whom the West cares even less about (I am not even talking about the Zelensky-led regime). They are used as cannon fodder.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has claimed that NATO would not send soldiers or aircraft to Ukraine and would not become a “warring side.” Clearly, we will comment on statements like this instantly. We will also provide clarification and our official position.

I have a question for Mr Stoltenberg: Do you really see the EU and NATO countries’ citizens as dummkopfs? Do you really think that by sending battle tanks to Ukraine, tanks that must be serviced by specialists, and by forming (including at foreign-based Ukrainian embassies) conscription centres for recruiting citizens of other countries, you are still not a party to the conflict? What are you then? Come up with a different name for yourself. You need to identify yourself if you are not a party to the conflict.

Also, you need to sit down and develop a common approach. Or, is Germany no longer a NATO member? German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made it clear that the European countries and, sure enough, Germany are at war with Russia. How is it possible to be at war with someone without being a party to the conflict? What kind of political trickery have you devised? Who are you kidding? You have been deceiving the people of Ukraine for many years now and dragging them into a confrontation with Russia in order to use them as a tool. You cheated on your negotiating partners.

Let’s think back to Angela Merkel’s recent confession that they were not really planning to go down the negotiation path, that they just needed time to “make Ukraine stronger.” Now we know that it was not about making it “stronger,” but about flooding it with weapons and laying waste to Ukraine. Whom will NATO cheat next? Its own citizens?

Citizens of NATO countries should know that their bloc is fully involved in the confrontation with Russia. And that confrontation is gaining momentum. I am not going to analyse this here; it is up to the military to consider how effective the current move is – I am referring to the supply of tanks, etc. As I see it, they are far more concerned with the visual “effects” of the show they make of it than with it actually being “effective.” The words sound similar, and may be derived from the same root (I don’t know about other languages), but they are different in essence. True, the show has had an effect: Europe flinched. Even though they tried to reassure Europeans that this was just “solidarity” and “support.” And that they definitely were not a party to the conflict. But people who have gone through various kinds of historical events certainly know what we are talking about and where Europe is being dragged. But the visual effect is there. And efficacy? Or will it be measured in the number of victims?

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has rendered every statement made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg null and void. Speaking at the Council of Europe on January 25 (not in the media where her statements could be considered as her personal views, but officially, representing her country at the high level entrusted to her), she called a spade a spade and bluntly said they were “at war with Russia.”

President Joe Biden has also acknowledged Washington’s direct involvement in the management of the Ukrainian army. I will leave it to experts to decide (medical experts, for the most part) to what extent he was able to understand and control his statements. But this is what he said, and his statement has not yet been refuted by his team of press secretaries, specialists in “special communications.” He actually announced that “With spring approaching, the Ukrainian forces are <…> preparing for additional counter-offensives.”

So who decides what happens in Bankova Street? We know full well that it isn’t Vladimir Zelensky, although he pretends to make these decisions. But he doesn’t. In fact, the President of the United States has just told him what he would be doing in spring.  Obviously, a new $2.5 billion batch of weapons from the United States is going to help. It includes armoured vehicles, artillery and ammunition.

The Ramstein “training session” has kick-started the formation of a “tank coalition.” This is something they have long dreamed of – everyone who have put chestnuts in the fire, the most rabid Western “hawks,” and the Bankova bunch, of course. They are all linked in a chain. They have a real global scale conspiracy out there, to split the funds that are provided to them to “defend democracy.” And then the bubble burst and the whole world could see that terrible crime ring. It’s worse than corruption; it’s some terrible mix of splitting and redistributing colossal funds. If the President of the United States knows what the Kiev regime will do in spring, in a few months, up there in the White House, couldn’t he guess where the money sent to the Kiev regime was going? He did not just guess; he knew it. It is an international-level scheme for withdrawing funds and distributing them among the participants in this terrible “bloody chain.”

As a reminder, London initiated this when it promised to provide Kiev with 14 Challenger 2 tanks. The United States and Germany followed suit and announced that they would throw in several battalions of US-made Abrams and German-made Leopard tanks. Concurrently, Berlin issued permission to its NATO partners to re-export Leopards to Ukraine. What? Still not a party to the conflict? Again, please articulate NATO’s single opinion on this question. Stop sending mixed signals and zombifying people by prevaricating and throwing in new terms every day. Tell it like it is.

On January 26, when commenting on the forthcoming deliveries of tanks, Zelensky stated blatantly that Kiev would now demand that the allies send him combat aircraft and long-range missiles. Is that what “non-parties to a conflict” who do not participate in hostilities normally do?

Importantly, the armoured vehicles that are sent to Ukraine are designed for offensive combat operations. The US administration is not hiding the fact that this new equipment is designed to help “liberate” Ukrainian territory, including Crimea. No, Crimea is not Ukrainian territory. It is Russian territory. It was, it is and it will be Russian territory. Adviser to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Mikhail Podolyak echoes his American handlers. He hasn’t been fired yet, and I’m not sure about their plans. Has he resolved every problem? Will they let him “crawl away” or will they “throw him out?” It’s hard to tell, we’ll see. So far in his capacity, Podolyak has been claiming that “300 to 400 Western tanks on the battlefield” would help Ukraine move to the “final phase of the war” to “de-occupy” the country. Seriously? I know that anything that the people in Vladimir Zelensky’s circle have to say cannot be taken seriously. His illness is contagious. But not everything is designed for TikTok. There are people who have a good grasp on the strategy and the tactics of military operations. On an earlier occasion, Podolyak made public their plans to use NATO weapons to attack Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and other Russian cities.

All of that goes to show once again that the West is about to up the ante in the conflict, which will only draw it out and bring more casualties. The masks are off. This has not been about defending Ukraine for a long time now. Kiev and its NATO overseers are ready to do anything to inflict maximum damage on our country.

As a reminder, any and all Western weapons that end up in Ukraine will become a legitimate target for the Russian armed forces. Tanks will not reverse the situation in Kiev’s favour, but will bring the Western countries to a new level of confrontation with Russia.

Western financial, military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine has become a source of rampant corruption. But corruption is something very different. Read more about it. This happens when there are controlling bodies that are functioning with different levels of efficiency, but they exist and they are acting, at any rate, when they are viable. What does Ukraine have? Laws? They rewrite them 20 times a day. Law-enforcement? Only when law-enforcement bodies need to take people by force and send to the slaughter. They have long stopped controlling everything else. They are involved in robberies and criminal theft themselves. Has the country established any special institutions to counter corruption that are producing results? Certainly not. It has done absolutely nothing.

 Meanwhile, this was one of the homework assignments given to Vladimir Zelensky by his Western teachers. They verbally instructed him to pay attention to corruption. But apparently, he understood this in his own way. He probably thought that it was only possible to destroy corruption in Ukraine along with the rest of the country and that there was no other way of defeating it. This is not corruption, as people commonly understand it. This is the creation of a money-laundering scam for the collective West over many years. It can be used to withdraw resources and transfer money from one account to another. It has been the talk of the town for a long time, and there have been many de facto confirmations that this exists. Yes, they say the word “corruption” but let’s give it an asterisk-footnote to explain that in the context of Ukraine, it’s real banditry, pure and simple.

Western assistance is the blood system, the breeding ground for thriving criminal theft. At present, the scale of this corruption defies any analysis because the figures go through the roof. This is tens of billions of dollars, euros and other currencies, and it comes not as direct financial aid, the destination of which cannot be traced. It is clear that a tremendous amount of people are involved in this. They say what others want to hear while stealing money on a global scale. The same is happening with the equipment. One item is written on paper but something else is supplied. Sometimes, nothing at all is supplied. This is why in a pre-election frenzy, the United States has raised the question of an audit and the need to make this system at least a bit transparent and orderly. Some kind of report must be made. Elections are coming and people will ask where all this money went.

In all probability, Washington is concerned about this trend. Last week it sent CIA Director William Burns to Kiev. His visit led to many high-profile resignations not only on Bankovskaya Street but also in the regions, on the ground. Zelensky dismissed the deputy chief of his office Kirill Tymoshenko, several regional leaders and district prosecutors. High-ranking officials in republican departments, including the Defence Ministry have lost their positions. All of them are charged with embezzlement and fraud with public money.

What embezzlement and fraud are you talking about? Just these 20 or 30 people and that’s all? This pattern was common before they came to these power structures. Money sent from the West landed in the same banks in one week. It scrolled through Ukraine and returned to accounts next door and sometimes even to the same accounts. Everyone knew this perfectly well. We repeatedly talked about big entrepreneurs selling luxury items. They had a “schedule of assistance for Ukraine” by world financial institutions. They knew that as soon as another tranche was sent to Europe, they should expect representatives of Ukrainian beau monde to arrive in Europe in a week to buy luxury items. Nobody concealed this. True, at that time the damage done by the Kiev regime to Ukraine and its people was not so bad. Now everything is a bit different and the scale has grown.

However, this corruption scandal (with 20-50 people exposed, who were very much in the way of the Kiev regime becoming “clean and transparent”) have not affected US plans to support the Kiev regime financially. This support will continue, but perhaps under tighter American scrutiny, giving them additional leverage over an already obedient Ukrainian leadership. Again, this is more necessary in the pre-election period to show how much they have their hand on the ‘pulse’. There is, actually, no pulse, but they do have a hand on it.

Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmitry Kuleba has unleashed more anti-Russian invective. In his recent article for the publication Politico he started discussing the lessons of negotiations with Russia based on the example of the Minsk process. A miracle of lies. Nothing but demagoguery and various petty inventions like “Russia is not playing fair”, “imitating diplomacy” and not honouring commitments. It is a blatant lie on a grand scale. Why, as a matter of principle, this entire piece is not labelled a deliberate fake is a good question. Kuleba calls for not repeating the “mistakes of Minsk “, which, in his opinion, should “serve as an example of how not to negotiate with Russia.” This is after former Chancellor Angela Merkel said that for them the Minsk agreements were an opportunity to gain time for the Kiev regime to become stronger. This is part of the same story when they supply tanks, instructors, and they are going to supply even more. And at the same time they say they are not a party to the conflict. They are just helping. It is the same here. They themselves did not comply with the Minsk agreements on a single point, and they are blaming us. They do not even hide the fact that they were never going to implement them. They come out and immediately contradict themselves, not even noticing what they said just a month ago, and start all over again.

At that the Ukrainian minister noted that any hypothetical agreement with Moscow would have only one result: “an even bloodier war.”

Such statements are nothing but an attempt to turn everything upside down once again. Let me remind you that for eight years Kiev has been negotiating in Minsk (information for Dmitry Kuleba) not with Russia, but with Donbass (it says so and was signed, among others, by President Poroshenko and passed on to the next Ukrainian leader exactly in this form) with the mediation of our country and the OSCE. It says exactly that and nothing else. Zelensky started saying that the Minsk agreements in the form in which he received them did not meet the “current trends of the times” and that he had not signed them at all and that, in fact, everything had to be changed.

Ukraine wasn’t going to comply with the Minsk Agreements from the get go. Ex-president Poroshenko, one of the people behind the Minsk Agreements who also put his signature on them, has publicly confessed to that (this is to refresh Mr Kuleba’s memory). According to him, Kiev needed these agreements to get ready for a war against Russia. Former leaders of Germany and France, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, respectively, who co-authored the Minsk Package of Measures and co-sponsored the peace process reaffirmed this confession in December 2022. Are these confessions not credible enough for Bankovaya Street? Do they even care about what the people who sided with them are saying? This is about how that they need to self-identify, jot things down and check their notes to see what they said the other day.

So, Kuleba’s words about “not playing fair”, “imitating diplomacy” and failing to honour commitments best characterise the approaches to the negotiating process practiced by Kiev, Berlin and Paris. They said so without mincing words.

We have been talking for eight years about the importance of honouring the Minsk Agreements, while Russia’s need for them is of a secondary nature. Ukraine needs them in the first place, since they guarantee the integrity of the state, peace in that country and coexistence of the people who have been driven apart for many years and forced to acquire a different skill set. They tried to “replace their firmware” and tweak their “settings.” They tried to explain that the Minsk Agreements were important, relevant and good for Ukraine. We did not force anyone into doing anything. It was the result of a negotiating process with compromises made on both sides. We chased everyone for eight years in order to let them know that this was the very thing that could work miracles for them, keep the situation from deteriorating and make Ukraine a truly free and democratic country.

Remember their sneer at the word “federalisation?” We remember that well. Switzerland and Canada were not good enough for them as examples to follow. They had their own path. Someone in Washington also told them under their breath that they are special, not like the rest of them. They are alternative, and they should have an alternative plan, too, not like everyone else. “Do not implement the Minsk Agreements,” the Americans kept telling them. Remember, many wrote that the United States was opposing the Minsk Agreements as best it could, because it was not part of the Normandy format that it had sought to join. And there is no need to pretend that it is impossible to negotiate with Moscow.

Let me remind Mr Kuleba (maybe next time he will at least keep track of the publications that post his “scribbles” or ask him questions) about April 2022. I wonder if he still remembers what happened then, or did it also get erased from his memory as “unnecessary and unsettling information”? In April 2022, he, a Kiev regime official, and the entire “gang” from Bankovaya Street refused to continue the negotiations that they themselves talked about.

I assure you, and you can take my word for it, that some time down the road they will be claiming, as they did with regard to the Minsk Agreements, that it was only Moscow that refused to continue the talks. Who cares? Lying is okay. Spreading lies and pretending that they represent the ultimate truth has become the hallmark of the collective West. To all our reminders about what they said before, and to our attempts to confront them their own quotes and signatures, they keep saying that “we need to think about the future and look forward. Don’t live in the past.” Just like the unforgettable Liz Truss used to say. Give it some time, and I assure you that we will hear them say that the Kiev regime has been deceived again. They wanted to hold talks, but someone prevented them from doing so for some obscure reason. I assure you, mark the time, very soon it will turn out that they were “rooting for peace and negotiations harder than anyone.”

Now that they have been shown the battle tanks, they are saying that matters should be settled “on the battlefield.” And when things are settled, they (those who will survive) will be telling future generations that they really wanted peace and talks and were begging for diplomacy, but were denied. This is how it will play out, mark my words.

Recently the population of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, and the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions of Russia have seen Kiev’s propaganda go into high gear. All of a sudden, the Ukrainian authorities became aware of the millions of people living there and are now trying to win them over using media resources. During eight years they regarded them as “inhuman beings,” or “specimen,” or offered them to “pack their things for the train to Russia” and now they have remembered their citizens. Remember Petr Poroshenko saying that those who lived in areas controlled by the Kiev regime, or the West, which is the same thing, would receive education at schools and universities while those who were in the regions mentioned before would live in basements. As they say, dreams come true, however, they have been slightly corrected. Now people in other regions in Ukraine live the way that Petr Poroshenko portrayed when trying to bully the people of Donbass. Those were the dreams of the Kiev regime. They wanted it like this. They had a plan for a peace settlement on the table. A friendly and patient hand was extended to them and it could have helped as it always does. But they were told that they had an “alternative” mindset and that no Minsk plan was suitable for them. Other plans had already been prepared for them in the West. 

Notably, this show of “concern” for people is being accompanied by the relentless shelling of cities and villages, during which these people, innocent civilians, die or get wounded.

According to information from relevant bodies in the new Russian regions, since February 2022, the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics have been shelled by the Ukrainian armed forces about 16,000 times. Is that how they take care of their citizens? Ukrainian troops have fired 105,000 high-caliber shells. As a result of artillery strikes in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and in the liberated areas of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions in 2022, 4,574 civilians died, including 153 children, and several thousand people, including 279 children, were wounded.

Kiev never had any need for those people. Of course, it would have been different had they twisted themselves in knots and sworn loyalty to what they had always believed was alien and not just harmful but fatal for them, much like silent “specimen” being resigned to their fate and obeying the master. What were they tirelessly repeating about freedom for many years, claiming that only the Kiev regime would bring freedom to Ukraine? You know nothing about freedom. Freedom means speaking your mother tongue and being independent of opinions being imposed on you to force you to forget about your ancestors. Freedom is neither anarchy nor killing your own journalists, or bullying people, or burning citizens of your country to triumphant cries from the crowd. Freedom is the opportunity to refuse to admit that the preceding is normal even if you understand that you are putting your life at risk.

Let me reiterate, the Kiev regime never needed these people as free people and did not need them as people in general. What mattered was destabilising the social situation and provoking anti-Russia sentiment. However, these contrivances were fated to fail. In September 2022, the people of the above regions made a deliberate and free choice in favour of Russia, and not for the first time, at that. It happened first in 2014, and now it has been repeated. Between 2014 and 2022, the people there were not languidly waiting for the matter to settle. They were fighting for the principled decisions which they took under Ukrainian law, the standards of international law, and their conscience and honour. In September 2022, they made a deliberate and free choice in favour of Russia which will be able to reliably protect them from the actions of the Ukrainian neo-Nazis.

Many people today laugh and ask where are the Nazis there? A tattooed swastika? That’s nothing, just a juvenile folly. We hear that regularly. Glorification of certain historical figures? This is because they used to “love” Ukraine in their own way.

Recently I read a report (we will provide a reference) on how they issued postage stamps in Lvov glorifying the Waffen SS Division “Galicia.” Look at it, if you have not seen it yet. Official postage stamps. With SS uniforms on them. Now, in 2023. On these very days.

We will speak more about this in the context of the many countries observing International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as designated by the UN General Assembly resolution. Meanwhile, postage stamps were issued in Lvov depicting historical figures from the Waffen SS Division “Galicia” wearing a uniform that was condemned and cursed not only for moral reasons but also by the Nuremberg Trials.

The above confirms that the “collective West” is set to face off against Russia and does not see any moral limitations in anything. Lying? OK, they will be lying. Supplying weapons to escalate the conflict to new levels? They will certainly do that. More people to sacrifice? That’s what will be done. For them, this is normal; it is right. This is what should be done, because they are “a wonderful garden” while the rest are a “jungle.” 

Nevertheless, however hard the US and its allies try to arm Kiev, drag out the combat operations and close their eyes to its monstrous crimes, they will never succeed.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

On January 27, today, but in 1945 – 78 years ago – Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration camp Аuschwitz-Birkenau or Oswiecim. In 2005, this day was declared International Holocaust Remembrance Day by a UN General Assembly resolution co-authored by Russia.

The Second World War was the greatest military tragedy in the history of civilisation that brought unprecedented suffering to humanity, and the Holocaust is one of its saddest chapters.

It is part of World War II. In scale and brutality, the Holocaust ranks among the worst crimes against humanity. Today, 78 years after the end of the war, we still mourn the millions of people who suffered the inferno of Nazi concentration camps and ghettos: Jews, Roma, Slavs. The memory of these victims and of those who liberated the world from the plague of Nazism at the cost of their own lives must remain sacred and be passed on from generation to generation.

In recent years, we have been increasingly confronted with manifestations of anti-Semitism, racial intolerance and aggressive nationalism. We note the increased advocacy of misanthropic ideas, the increasing activity of various kinds of radicals and attempts to divide states and societies along ethnic or confessional lines. All this threatens the fundamental principles of democracy and human rights in their best, true essence, and international security and stability. Forgetting the lessons of history can lead to a repetition of tragedy.

We can see this. The gas chambers were then, while the Trade Union House in Odessa is now. The meaning is the same: to destroy dissidents in the most brutal way possible, by improvised means, and then to celebrate it, followed by allowing no remorse whatsoever. It is the same, it is just that 78 years have passed since Red Army soldiers liberated Auschwitz and the world saw what a machine of death it was.

I want to say that humanity made a lot of thrillers and horror movies after that. In this sense, Hollywood has shown the wonders of ingenuity: costumes, special effects, makeup, but nothing can compare to the power of the influence of the photos of what the Red Army soldiers found in Auschwitz. Take a look. Put them on the table in front of you, talk to your families, your children, tell them about it. After all, it is not only the state and the government that should be talking about these subjects. Something should stir somewhere inside, where they say our soul is. Something must urge us now, including on this day. There are many other days for this, but let’s just talk and remember in a human way. Without politics. Without taking one side or the other, but just remembering, the way it was 78 years ago.

It is our common duty to do everything we can to ensure that mass crimes like Auschwitz never happen again. We must cherish the sacred memory of the events of the Second World War, firmly resist any attempts to rewrite history (and there are some), to revise our country’s contribution to the Great Victory, and to defend the honour, dignity and good name of the living and the fallen.

I sincerely believe that the memory of those who sacrificed their lives in the name of these victims deserves no less honour.

Systematic work to counter the glorification of Nazism must remain an important priority on the international agenda. Russia will continue to be active in opposing the revision of the outcome of the Second World War and in opposing neo-Nazism, extremism and religious intolerance.