On the eve of his trip to the United States, where he will meet with President Barack Obama and the G8 nations at Camp David, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev has delivered an unequivocal message to the Western nations threatening to intervene with regime change operations in Syria, Iran, and elsewhere: such actions can lead to “nuclear war”. The headline on the Russia Today wire on Prime Minister Medvedev’s speech, which was given at the plenary session of the Russia-sponsored International Legal Forum in St. Petersburg today, was: “Infringing national sovereignty could lead to nuclear apocalypse.” The picture with the article showed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sitting right behind Medvedev. Medvedev’s warning comes in the midst of visible Russian concerns about the escalating Western intervention to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, in particular, which they see as an escalation of the illegal Libyan operation of 2011, and aimed directly at the sovereignty of every nation state. The relevant section of the speech, as translated on the official Russian Federation website, reads as follows:
“I would like to emphasise that we need to act in unison against such modern global challenges as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism, organised transnational crime, drug trafficking, and the threat of natural and man-made disasters. We can achieve this only through the collective efforts of states based on undeviating respect for the supremacy of law.
“Many say that the international legal system has become obsolete. I have heard this said many times during my political practice. They say that its norms do not always ensure an effective response to new challenges. This is partly true, because everything eventually becomes obsolete, and the legal system is no exception. But the acute need for modernising international law does not mean that we should abandon its founding principles, which I believe is an obvious truth.
“Particularly dangerous, in my view, are unilateral actions made in violation of the fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations, which is the main venue where the international community brings its problems. In fact, this is the only venue we have, even though some may not like it. But it truly is the only venue. And we understand that the UN Charter calls for respecting the supreme power of law and the sovereignty of states.
“One more thing that I believe is important, considering my experience in politics, is the concept of state sovereignty. It should not be undermined even if for the sake of achieving some immediate political gain, including an election to a particular post. Such attempts threaten global order. There have been many recent examples of the concept of state sovereignty being undermined. Military operations against foreign states bypassing the United Nations, declarations of illegitimacy of certain political regimes on behalf of foreign states rather than the people of the country involved and imposing various collective sanctions, again bypassing international institutions, are some of them. This does not improve the situation in the world while rash military interference in the affairs of another state usually results in radicals coming to power. Such actions, which undermine state sovereignty, can easily lead to full-scale regional wars even—I am not trying to scare anyone here—with the use of nuclear weapons. Everybody should remember this especially when we analyse the concept of state sovereignty.” (emphasis added)
Medvedev’s warning comes in the wake of the May 3 Moscow conference on Ballistic Missile Defense, in which Chairman of the Russian Joint Chiefs of Staff Nikolai Makarov warned that if NATO and the U.S. go ahead with the deployment currently planned, given the “destabilising nature of the missile defense system ... the decision on the preemptive use of available weapons will be made during the period of an escalating situation.”
Medvedev’s warning follows the clear message China delivered to Australia this week, on Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s first visit, that China is alarmed by Australia’s participation in Obama’s military escalation in the Asia-Pacific targeting China, which the Chinese characterised as a “cold war relationship”. The seriousness of the communications from Russia and China makes a fool of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who denied the gravity of the situation when she responded to a question at this week’s Berwick Community Cabinet meeting from CEC organiser Doug Mitchell about China’s alarm at Australia’s behaviour.
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