President Vladimir Putin is speaking at the UN General Assembly today and will then meet with US President Barack Obama.
Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
The previous issue is here.
Russia This Week
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken the stage.
Putin said that the 70th anniversary of the UN is a good time to “take stock of history.” He referenced the Yalta conference which helped bring down Hitler, a conference made possible, Putin said, by Russian blood.
“It is true that lately the UN has been widely criticized for not being efficient enough” because of “fundamental differences in the UN Security Council.” “There have always been differences,” Putin says, and veto power has been used by all powers. Differences of opinion were anticipated and are important to the nature of the UN. Any attempt to change this is a “violation of international law.” Putin then claims that after the end of the Cold War a single power took over the world, challenging the mission of the UN through unilateral action.
Russia “stands ready to work with our partners on the basis of consensus,” and, Putin says, attempts to change this are “dangerous.”
There’s no evidence, Putin says, that efforts to arm “supposedly more
moderate” forces, presumably in Syria, are working. Putin then claimed
that external forces are funding terrorism.
Putin then says that Russia is supporting the Syrian and Iraqi
governments in order to combat ISIS, the only forces which are fighting
ISIS “and other terrorists organizations in Syria.”
“This is not about Russia’s ambitions, but it is about the fact
that we can no longer tolerate the status quo in the world.” He then
praised the idea of the creation of a “generally broad coalition,”
“similar to the anti-Hitler coalition.” Putin then asked that Muslim
states join Russia’s efforts.
Putin then says that the key strategy here is to strengthen statehood “where it still exists” and supply military support to “sovereign states” which are combating terrorism.
“It is crucial to restore government in Libya, support the government of Iraq, and supply support to the legitimate government of Syria.”
Putin then criticized the expansion of NATO despite the fall of the Soviet Union, presenting former Soviet nations with a “false choice” of west vs. east. “This is exactly what happened in Ukraine.” Putin claims that the revolution in Ukraine was “orchestrated from the outside.” He said that the solution to the Ukraine crisis remains adherence to the Minsk agreements, which Moscow helped to broker.
Putin then praised the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese “silk road,” which, Putin argues, can be “harmonized” with the European Union.
Putin then pledged to continue to make progress on reducing carbon emissions, and calls upon the UN to create a special forum to confront these threats.
Putin then recalled the UN’s first session. He referenced the core beliefs of the United Nations as stated then, and stressed that the UN needed to continue to adhere to those core values.
Of course, Putin makes no reference to the fact that the United Nations in its current form has allowed Russia to wage war in Ukraine while Russia’s veto has ensured that the Syrian regime has stayed in place.
Jordan’s King Abdullah, speaking in English, is addressing the UN. He started his statements with a blanket condemnation of the threat of radical religious forces who are committing the worst atrocities across the globe.
King Abdullah then outlined 7 steps to combating this threat:
1. Respect for all people, sects, and creeds.
2. Change of tone to highlight positivity and common ground.
3. Integrate core beliefs like love and compassion into action.
4. “Amplify the voice of moderation… we must not let our streams, broadband, and social media be dominated by those who spread hate.”
5. Recognize deceit — “hunger for power and control of people, of land.”
6. Be intolerant of intolerance — “moderation does not mean accepting those who trample others.”
7. Hyperconnectivity — “the internet of humanity,” connecting all humans together by common beliefs and “common cores.”This will offer more opportunity, “particularly to young people,” and ultimately solutions.
Abdullah then spoke to the cutback of UN programs which help refugees. “Today, Syrian refugees alone consistent 20% of my countries population… your support for our country has been a small fraction of the cost we have endured.” Abdullah stressed that global action and support for countries like Jordan and Lebanon were needed.
— James Miller
China’s leader, President Xi Jinping, is now speaking at the UN. Jinping started by praising the historical accomplishment of the establishment of the United Nations, Jinping praised the Chinese people who sacrificed so much to defeat Japanese imperial powers in World War II, the conflict which gave rise to the UN.
Jinping also praised the rise of a “multipolar world,” a world where no one power imposes its will, which Jinping says are in accordance with the mission of the UN. Of course this is also the buzzword Russia uses whenever the United States or Europe complains about Russian or Chinese wrong-doing in any part of the world.
Jinping went on to say that all countries should have the right to choose “development paths… should be upheld.” He makes no mention, of course, of Chinese interference in the territorial integrity of both Japan and Vietnam.
Jinping then gets to a key point — the UN Security Council is crucial to the maintenance of this balance. In other words, he opposes changes to the UN charter.
Jinping, the ruler of a state-controlled economy, also criticized capitalism for creating social problems and economic instability. While his comments were echoed by leaders of capitalist countries, including Barack Obama, Jinping seems to be inferring that the Chinese model is part of the solution to these problems, a contention some would disagree with.
Jinping pledged $1 billion over ten years to support the UN’s work, and desires to create a permanent peacekeeping force.
— James Miller
Andrzej Duda, President of Poland, has begun his remarks to the UNGA. Few countries have been more concerned with Russia’s revanchism and open militarism in Eastern Europe, as Poland borders the Russian territory of Kaliningrad, as well as Belarus and Ukraine.
President Duda said “peace and law” are the foundations of the UN. He recalled the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 during World War II, noting that the Soviet Union invaded after that and “Poland disappeared from the map.”
International law, however, continues to be broken. Duda then continued to infer that, without mentioning Russia by name, a country has violated treaties, invaded neighbors, and abused its UN Security Council veto power. Duda said he supports a French proposal which would curb the ability to use a veto to block a response to genocide.
He mentions states which use proxy fighters to wage wars, states which try to create spheres of influence, states which violate territorial integrity… yet Duda never mentions Russia by name.
Duda did, however, mention Ukraine — in particular, the family members who have lost their loved ones in war, and the need for the international community to provide support to the survivors.
Poland offered greater support for efforts to fight global climate change, but Duda also offered more support for peacekeeping missions through the UN.
— James Miller
US President Barack Obama is currently speaking on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Russia, Iran, and Syria have been major issues at play in his address.
We will be analyzing Obama’s remarks soon.
Soon, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be taking the floor. Watch the video here and stay tuned for real-time analysis:
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), principal judicial organ of the UN, holds hearings in the case concerning Alleged Violations of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Colombia) from 28 September to 2 October 2015, at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the seat of the Court.
All the Chechen suspects in the case of the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov have all withdrawn their confessions, Rosbalt.ru and Gazeta.ru report.
Shadid Gubashev, arrested for his participation in the murder, has withdrawn his testimony, according to a source close to the investigation. Zaur Dadayev, said to be the trigger man, and four other suspects had earlier withdrawn their confessions claiming that they were given under torture.
According to the source, the Investigative Committee had “placed a great stake” on Gubashev because he was the only one left who had not retracted his statement. Unlike Dadayev and his brother Anzor Gubashev, he had not for many months claimed that his statements were “categorically” withdrawn as they had.
Now he has made a statement with regard to the transcript of his admission that it was made under deception and pressure. He said agents had organized a meeting with his brother Anzor, who told him that he had to make certain statements under dictation from the agents, and then they would all be released, including Khamzat Bakhayev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov, two other defendants. A fifth suspect died in a grenade blast when policemen came to his door soon after the murder.
Zaur Dadayev also complained that an agent had pressured him to confirm the testimony he had originally given, and that he could then expect the shortest possible sentence under the charges. Otherwise, he might face “life in prison.” He was also urged to drop his lawyer Shamsudin Tsakayev who was said to be “muddying the waters.”
Rosbalt has also learned some details from the forensic work done in the case. It was established that at the moment he was shot, Nemtsov was walking on the left, close to the road, and Anna Duritskaya, his companion was on the right. When the gunman opened fire, Nemtsov turned slightly to the left or else attempted to look over his left shoulder. All the bullets hit him in the back; 4 of the 6 gunshot wounds were deadly. Most of the bullets were made in 1982 or 1986 at the Tula weapons factory. Experts believe an Izh air pistol was used which had been modified to take live ammunition, and that a silencer was used. However, since the gun has not been retrieved, they also believe that the killer could have used a Makarov or Stechkin pistol.
Microscopic traces of the spent ammunition was found under the left ear and under the fingernails of Zaur Dadayev. However, Dadayev’s friends say that because Dadayev, a devout Muslim, observed purification rituals, he could not have been found with such evidence.
No official public comment on the course of the Nemtsov investigation has been made since March. Virtually all the news about the case has come via leaks from law-enforcement officials or those “close to the investigation” such as in this latest piece by Rosbalt.ru.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick