Isn’t it Time for the UN to Move to Europe?

The high-level week that traditionally opened the current 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, it seems, determined the outcome of the event, initiated by the American “philistinism in the nobility” and the Russian jab at the gone too far petty Philistine.

The press secretary the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova reacted to the White House’s publication of the content of the US President Donald Trump’s telephone conversation with the president of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky. She advised the Americans to not stop there and to make all classified files public, up to the shorthand reports of CIA meetings.

The reaction of the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman is clear. Diplomatic practice doesn’t imply the publication of shorthand reports of confidential conversations between heads of states unilaterally. Such a step is possible only with the consent of the parties, and Trump didn’t coordinate his actions with Zelensky. The effect of surprise was important for him, and Zelensky’s environment in the course of coordination surely would’ve allowed a leak that would give the Democrats (who the move of the American president was aimed at) the time and opportunity to think about and organise a counter-move.

Secondly, the immediate superior of Maria Zakharova – the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested to the international community to think about transferring the high-level conferences (at the scale of General Assembly sessions) from the US to some other country that would be more responsible in fulfilling the responsibilities of a host country. Technically, implementing this proposal is not difficult. Besides the headquarters in New York, the UN has additional offices in Vienna, Geneva, and even in Nairobi. If the capital of Kenya can seem too exotic, then the office in Geneva occupies the historical building of the League of Nations, and in Vienna there is the OSCE headquarters. Transferring the main actions of the UN to Europe (and further – moving a part of the apparatus of the headquarters there) would facilitate the coordination of actions with other international organisations.

It is clear that Lavrov’s proposal is nothing more than a reaction to the US’ refusal to issue visas to several members of the Russian delegation at the 74th session of the General Assembly. It will not reach its practical implementation in the near future. But the fact itself is important.

The proposal was made at the 11th conference on facilitating the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, which was held on the sidelines of the General Assembly and did not cause shock or confusion among those present. In principle, if the issue was proposed as an agenda item for bilateral or multilateral international negotiations, it would be accepted for discussion. Meanwhile, until recently it was impossible to imagine a calm interested reaction of the international community to the proposal to talk about transferring the events held within the framework of the session of the UN General Assembly away from the United States. The right to host such conferences was an unofficial supplement to hegemonic status. And now look how tomorrow Lavrov will suggest to transfer the headquarters of the UN to Vladivostok (or to Shanghai).

The American authorities, after having tried to humiliate Russia, stumbled on the vetted reaction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which pointed out to the US its changed place in the world’s ranking. Like saying that they brought it on themselves.

I very much doubt it. Trump has recently made every effort to normalise relations with Russia. This is not just his campaign promise, but a part of the long-term strategy of the political group that led him to the Presidency. To focus on itself [USA – ed], to restore the economy and finance, to slowly “strangle” one by one (using the convenient moments when they will arise) the potential allies of Russia and only then get back to work on Moscow – this is the plan of an adequate part of the American elite, which understands that the mechanism of exerting pressure on everyone – always and everywhere – ceased to work, part of the American resources are exhausted, others are stretched, finance is overstrained, and the economy stagnates under the weight of geopolitical obligations. In these circumstances, a small “bite” in the form of groundless refusal of visas for Russian diplomats was not needed by anyone. It is with them, with diplomats, that the Americans have to negotiate.

But it lies precisely in line with the efforts made in the last months of the Obama administration (between Trump’s election victory and his inauguration), when the US authorities initiated several long-playing provocations with the closure of Russian consulates, searches in the buildings of diplomatic missions, and the imposition of restrictions on the use of diplomatic property and the movements of diplomats. Actions imperceptible to Russia as a whole, but specifically annoying the diplomatic corps, striking not only the prestige of the country, but also the comfort of the people representing it.

Via a series of unceasing provocations, the Americans then literally forced the Russian Foreign Ministry to retaliate, which did not improve personal relations between Russian and American diplomats, and thus did not contribute to their constructive interaction in negotiations on the entire spectrum of bilateral problems. It seems that even now, when Trump takes a new series of active steps for rapprochement with Russia, the Democrats. whose people maximally filled up the State Department and embassies, organised another provocation designed to sabotage the implementation of the strategic foreign policy objectives of the Trump administration.

The vetted response of Lavrov, which does not touch Trump personally, gives the US President the chance once again to show to voters that the Democrats, who are trying to undermine his chances of being re-elected, don’t mind doing things that are contrary to the interests of the US and undermine the prestige of the country.

Trump showed during his meeting in New York with Zelensky, which the above-mentioned comment of Maria Zakharova was an echo of, that he is able to use such gifts, even himself creating the necessary format.

In the same way, waging an internal political fight against Trump, the Democrats created a scandal over his telephone negotiations with Zelensky, during which the president allegedly threatened his Ukrainian counterpart, demanding compromising evidence on Biden – his most probable competitor in the coming election. Knowing that diplomatic practice doesn’t assume the publication of the shorthand report of negotiations, the Democrats, nevertheless, persistently demanded to make it available to Congress, threatening to start the procedure of impeachment otherwise.

They would hardly have succeeded in removing Trump. But they had an opportunity to impetuously criticise him in the press, accusing him of sacrificing the interests of the US for his political ambitions, and talk about impeachment (or even launching the procedure) would draw the attention of voters to this point. In general, the Democrats prepared a trap for Trump and, being sure that he was already caught, were preparing to slam the lid shut.

It was then that Trump published the shorthand report of the conversation, from which it follows that he didn’t do any of what was imputed to him by the Democrats, and Biden’s name was mentioned only in the general context of combatting corruption in Ukraine.

Oh horror! Zelensky completely agreed with him without being put under any pressure, was even ahead of the American president in terms of criticising certain American officials, and promised to start a transparent anti-corruption investigation no later than September.

Immediately after the publication, Trump met Zelensky, foreknowing that the Ukrainian delegation won’t protest against his actions. Zelensky tried too hard to obtain this meeting and also advertised it too much that it was unimaginable for him to risk losing it because of a violation of diplomatic ethics by the US President. Especially since Ukrainian politicians sincerely consider that it is allowed in relation to Washington more than in relation to others.

The Ukrainians didn’t understand this, but for the Americans, their constructive negotiations with Trump immediately after the publication of the shorthand report of the telephone conversation became the proof that Zelensky completely supports Trump and confirms his words. The Democrats were humiliated. Especially since the US Department of Justice, having quickly reviewed the content of the conversation, issued the conclusion that the President did not commit a violation of US laws or abuse his authority. There is no reason to start the procedure of impeachment. Trump can again address the American people and point to how the US Democrats are a disgrace, creating diplomatic scandals from scratch in their narrow-party interests.

The two events – Lavrov’s proposal and the publication of the shorthand report of the conversation between Trump with Zelensky – are inter-connected, but have different roots.

Trump prepared the latter himself. In the first case, the conditions for an attack on the Democrats were created for him by Lavrov. But in both cases we are dealing with the Democrat Party’s obvious neglect of the interests of the US – for the sake of their candidate winning in the election. Their attempts to use the session of the General Assembly as a resonator for the promotion of their position were competently suppressed by Trump and stopped by Lavrov. A strong blow was dealt to them, the 74th session of the UN General Assembly became a symbol of their defeat. But this is not the end of the fight – it is only the beginning. The Democrats will still try to recover from the suffered defeat and start a counterplay.

Within the next year many beautiful combinations during the fascinating fighting between American politicians await us. The more time and effort they put into it, the more they undermine America’s prestige with their feuds, the better off we are.

Rostislav Ishchenko

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