Thursday 8th of June 2023

the importance of geography is a fact of history......

On February 10, 2023 former Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl sat down for an exclusive interview with Sputnik.

During the chat, Kneissl shared her thoughts on a number of poignant issues, such as the ramifications of Seymour Hersh’s revelations about the destruction of Nord Stream pipelines, the prospects of Turkiye becoming a natural gas hub and European politicians’ actions related to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Sputnik: Good afternoon. We are in the Sputnik Studio in Moscow and our guest today is Karin Kneissl, former Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Middle East expert, and energy analyst. Welcome.

Karin Kneissl: Thank you very much for the invitation.

Sputnik: First of all, I wanted to ask you about the news coming from Turkiye, which aims at becoming a big energy hub. And now with the earthquake, will these plans change? Is something going to change or are we already dealing with the reality when Turkiye is already an energy hub?

Karin Kneissl: I would agree it's the latter situation because geography is the constant fact of history and with Turkey, or Turkiye as they now officially call the country since last year, you can really feel in many regards the importance of geography.

And the East-West Transit Corridor for oil or gas supply coming from the Caspian Basin, coming from Central Asia to be delivered to a European market, when we look back at the construction and the political preparation before the construction of the Baku-Tiflis-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, there we could already see some 23 or 22 years ago to what extent Turkiye plays a geostrategic role, and not just the geopolitical, but really in the genuine sense of geostrategic role via its geography. And the Baku-Tiflis-Ceyhan oil pipeline built by BP - what do you call it now Beyond Petroleum or British Petroleum? One can discuss it. But BP was the lead company in that.

And the US government, the British government, some other western governments were very closely involved in that. Some commentators back in the early 2000s even claimed that the changes in domestic Georgian politics were due to the construction of the preparation for the construction of that pipeline. So, Baku-Tiflis-Ceyhan (BTC) it was already clear that Turkiye plays a role.

Then came as of 2005, another big project which always remained a project. It was the so-called Nabucco gas pipeline. I was nasty enough, if I may say, to write in a book back then that if the managers, which were mostly OMV, the Austrian partially state-owned company, which was the lead manager in that, had gone to the opera and seen Vienna Blood by Mr. Strauss, they would have called it Vienna blood.

But by sheer chance they went to see Verdi's Nabucco and they called it Nabucco because they said it would be like in Nabucco, you know, the Hebrews in Babylon - it will be an independence or freedom pipeline. And this topic has been coming back now over the last two years with regard to the independence of Russian gas supply.

But in those days, Nabucco was a big thing, a very big thing. It was pushed by the European Commission. It was pushed by many governments to turn to Kiev into the main transit country for non-Russian gas. So that was the topic then.

And for me, I was always very doubtful, very skeptical about it, because they invested tremendous amounts of time, money, political action for the marketing of the whole thing, but they never had one single supply contract, never. It was about supply from Iraq, from Turkmenistan, Iran. It never worked. So there again, Turkiye came into the game and it was a lot about Nabucco.

But then things changed, completely changed because there Turkiye was supposed to be a transit country for the European market independent of Russian supply. In 2014, if we remember, in March-June, South Stream was torpedoed by the European Commission. South Stream was supposed to bring Russian gas via the Black Sea from Novosibirsk to the Bulgarian port.

That was completely torpedoed because of the Crimean crisis and the Russian side waited from June to December. I think it was in December 2014 that President Putin traveled to Ankara, met his counterpart President Erdogan, and then they decided to completely abandon new South Stream and build TurkStream.

So that was the time in late 2014 when Turkiye became an energy partner for Russia, which it was not to the same extent beforehand. Turkiye was considered to be an alternative energy partner to free oneself from a Russian dependence. And ever since 2014, we have seen this ever closer, getting energy partnership between Ankara and Moscow.

Sputnik: Since it was in the news this week, it was a very important announcement made by the American media. I wanted to discuss it with you. And it's a topic which may have the potential to cause a political earthquake, so to say, but it's not happening for some reason. American journalist Seymour Hersh suggested earlier this week that Nord Stream pipelines were blown up in a joint sabotage mission performed by Washington and Oslo with the Pentagon and Norwegian authorities denying any involvement. No matter who's to blame for the pipeline's destruction, Germany is clearly a big loser in this situation, since it relied heavily on Russian gas supplies. Do you think that the incident and the accusations have affected in any way the relations between Germany, Norway, and the US as the three nations are supposedly allies militarily and politically?

Karin Kneissl: Well, many of us have been following the sabotage act. Many European capitals put the finger against Russia and said, "it was Russia that blew up its own pipeline," which was nonsense, but many did. When I was asked over the last few months, I always said, well, there are many suspects in the room. And I didn't know...

It was just you had some indication, like President Biden in January announcing that if Russia invades Ukraine, it will be abandoned, the pipeline. For me, one thing was clear ever since 2018 that the US was very much determined to make sure that this pipeline system would never ever become operative. I would not have expected them to even blow it up.

But I said in public in 2018-19, when I still served as minister, I said, my impression is that even if they cannot prevent its finalization in terms of construction, which they tried as much as they could, but finally it was finished and then we had the whole certification process by the Germans, which was not really moving on.


And then well, then started happening what happened in 2022. But now let's say they can be sure that it will not work because they blew it up. So, this is one thing.

When it comes to Norway, it's very intriguing because Norway, as much as I have always been observing this country, was in many of our eyes, I may say, always like the master-pupil and diplomacy mediator, active Middle East mediator. Let us remember the Oslo agreements of the early 1990s.

You had many Norwegian ministers of foreign affairs, prime ministers who actively invested themselves often in a very clever and discreet way to make diplomacy happen. So, the fact that Norway is actively involved in such a, let's call it act of terrorism, breach of the international law, breach of the United Nations Charter, is really a big surprise to me.

Sputnik: One of the aspects that I wanted to mention and to ask you about it: Seymour Hersh also pointed in his article at the fact that, quote: "No major American newspaper dug into the earlier threats to the pipelines made by Biden and Under Secretary of State Nuland," as you also mentioned. If the US officials are really the ones responsible for ordering the attack on the pipelines and the media is covering it up on purpose, is it safe to assume that they are accomplices to this crime?

Karin Kneissl: Well, maybe I wouldn't go that far because I would like to still imagine that there's some sort of independent agenda setting in certain medias. What I would say is that they simply don't invest any independent thinking of that something as could have been behind it.

This is due to mediocrity, well, to a general decline that we see in media in the sense that many outlets have become outlets of communication and not of what you can call journalism, of which Seymour Hersh is still a representative because he's somebody who keeps asking questions, who invests time and courage and backbone in trying to find out what has happened.

And this is being curious. And we are in a time of where many media outlets are more stuck in communication than in the investigation.

So much to your question on journalism and their role as accomplices, if I may add, there is something else that I would consider as important to watch, maybe to follow up. It is a breach of international law. It's a breach of the United Nations Convention Charter. And maybe some of our audience remember a Cold War taking place in Central America in the 1980s. Nicaragua was one of the war theaters.

Back then in the 1980s, US Special Forces covert actions were very much active: El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, many of those countries. And one action they did was the mining off the coast of Nicaragua. Putting sea mines which impeded them from fishing and doing sea activities, marine activities.

That case was brought to the International Court of Justice in June 1986, if I correctly recall, I looked it up a few days ago, made a major case out of that. So, first of all, I would say the International Court of Justice, which was established by the UN charter, has a jurisdiction in that case.

The question is, will the parties to the case put their consent? You know, agree. Yes. Let the ICG speak on that. But I briefly went through the argumentation of the members of the International Court of Justice back then. And it's very interesting because in my first reading, there are many analogies. And so, the International Court of Justice should have a role. But who will go there?

Honestly, as far as I have understood, the consortium on Nord Stream, you don't have any state agency in there. You have companies because Nord Stream was always considered as a state project. Chancellor Merkel rightly said for years, "this is a business project. It's a commercial project." So who has lost money? Companies. Billions. But I doubt. Honestly, I doubt.

I don't see a Royal Dutch Shell, Total who are all part of the consortium, just like Gazprom, to go to court, whether it's not the International Court of Justice, which I would say they would have difficulties in going there. It's for states. But let's say, to the court that is foreseen in the contract, because there must be some sort of legal jurisdiction in case of damage and so on.

Maybe it's German court, maybe it's a UK court. No idea. But I doubt, I think they will refrain from doing that. And let me add to that, speaking of legal consequences. Maybe there is a group of environment protection agencies who say, "well, this was ecological terrorism" also.

Because the sabotage act triggered a tremendous release of methane. And some people said in the early days of October last year that this was a major damage to the environment, to marine life: from dolphins to whales, plants. Nobody has ever spoken about that. Not in October, not now. So now we know most probably it was some sort of covert action by CIA plus militaries, state agencies, Norway, UK, maybe even Sweden. We have no idea. But there are the many perpetrators.

So, since there is such a tremendous state of alert when it comes to climate change, whereas not a state of alert of people who would say, "well, what happened there?" I mean, this was a deliberate action against the environment as well.

Sputnik: Many western politicians claim that the conflict in Ukraine is their conflict. You pointed at that fact in your column in Vedomosti recently quoting Germany's top diplomat, Annalena Baerbock, who said in plain English, this is her quote: "We are fighting a war against Russia, not against each other." Later, German officials said that Baerbock's words were misinterpreted in some way. But it's not only her who makes such statements. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in June last year that "the war in Ukraine is ours. Ukraine must win." So, whose conflict is that? Are the German, Dutch and other European leaders really on the same page with their own voter base or they speak only for themselves?

Karin Kneissl: A very good question. The first reaction by, I would say, many readers who were in chatrooms of newspapers, social media, got very much irritated by this quote by Mrs. Annalena Baerbock and said, "Well, you're not speaking for me. I don't want to be part of a war. Who declared war?" And what was maybe the most irritating element was that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not really act immediately.

And when it acted, it put the finger on Russia and said, "this is again Russian propaganda by misinterpreting." So, the whole situation is very confusing. In my column for Vedomosti, I wanted to also go back in a larger historic context that actually in World War II, we didn't even have a war declaration.

Last time we had very formal, proper correct war declarations was in 1914. Summer 1914, it was one ultimatum chasing the next ultimatum. And 1919 we had treaties, whether you call them peace treaties or trust treaties, which have ended that war, which we didn't call World War I yet, we just called it the Big War, the Grande Guerre. The other one, we go back to Napoleon in 1812.


Although he didn't declare war on Russia, he just started writing and said he was fighting for some sort of Polish independence in the uniform of a Polish Ulam. So, I would say Mrs. Annalena Baerbock was fairly outspoken. Of course, you cannot call that now a proper form of war declaration because she is not in a position legally, constitutionally to do that.

But those who defend her say, "well, she only named a spade a spade," because it's anyway there. And others said, "how could that happen?" You know, how can a minister of foreign affairs, who should be very careful about wording, does that? But to put it in a nutshell and to sum it up, there is a lot of confusion on the western side because the fact that Ukraine army members are trained on German territory, on British territory.

And it's didn't start yesterday, it started some years ago. The fact that there's heavy arms supply and all that. You cannot anymore say that you are neutral or that this is not your war. I mean, this is de facto happening, whichever de jure interpretation you want to give to it.

Sputnik: When talking about the Ukraine conflict in your recent column, you also pointed at the fact that European politicians act emotionally rather than rationally in solving the issue. And for many EU diplomats, this is a kind of a war game rather than something serious. Is there any hope that we will see an adult approach to solving the Ukrainian conflict in the West? Are there any rational adults in European politics at the moment? Either political parties or leaders who can help to find a solution?

Karin Kneissl: Definitely there are adults left. I mean, I wouldn't say that it's just one big group of teenagers. But those who have to say and those who have in our time, unfortunately, the support of the published opinion, are very much into emotion. Whether it's Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen, who is, I think, in her early sixties now. I mean, she's a far cry away from being a teenager. Mrs. Annalena Baerbock is in her mid-forties. But they behave, all of them, in an emotional and not in a rational way. And this is the big issue. So, let the adults enter the room, please.

Sputnik: Austrian and Hungary agreed in the end of January not to send weapons to Ukraine with defense ministers of the two nations saying that they don't want further escalation of hostilities. Is there a lot of potential in what Budapest and Vienna can do together internationally, not only in regards to Ukraine, but in other matters as well?

Karin Kneissl: Let me quote a Hungarian official. I think his name is Mr. Moina, who said back in April last year, if I'm not mistaken, that Hungary as a NATO member, acts in a much more neutral way than Austria, which de jure is neutral and not a NATO member. Hungary has taken a very clear stance on the Ukraine war from day one. It has taken a very clear stance when it comes to cutting all relations with Russia.

And Hungary, just like Poland, just like the Baltics has had its share in a very difficult chapter of history during the Soviet time. 1956, the crushing of the revolution by the Hungarian anti-Communist rebels. I mean, that was quite a big thing. And I myself speak some Hungarian. I've spent some time in Hungary. I know the drama if you want after 1956.

So still you have today public opinion, whether they are now in support of the ruling party Fidesz or not, who would like to see, first of all, not war and secondly, also some sort of normal relation with Russia. This is a fact. While in Austria you have a much more warmongering atmosphere on all levels, not only in the media. I'm somehow the collateral damage of all that warmongering from time to time.

The fact that both countries said they're against arms supply, I wouldn't overinterpret that. I don't think that there will be some sort of solid cooperation because Hungary is much clearer in its position than Austria has been and is. And Austria has been, let us take also the re-elected federal president, Mr. Van der Bellen.

His first journey was to Kiev last week. And what did he say in Kiev? He criticized "the colonial war Russia is conducting against Ukraine." I mean, he has no idea about colonialism to call that a colonial war. But this is also something that was highly applauded by the Austrian press and not really supported by people who then discuss it in the chatrooms of the press articles.

Sputnik: I wanted to ask you about the news that Russia and China just made a deal on exporting gas to China via the Far Eastern route with Gazprom aiming at supplying a total of up to 48 billion cubic meters of natural gas. How promising is this eastward turn for Moscow? Would it be able to compensate for the decrease of Russia-EU gas sales in the long run?

Karin Kneissl: The Sino-Russian gas cooperation, oil cooperation started in 2004. Looking east became some sort of a policy. But still supply contracts with Europe, the European markets, of course, were much more important for also for the sake that many of the gas and oil fields that were online, that were there, are in western Siberia and not in central and eastern.

Only in the recent past Russia started to develop more and more its fields also in other parts of Siberia. So, it was all about Western Siberian fields going West. Then this energy cooperation gained in importance, in value, in volume in 2014.

In Shanghai, in May 2014, I think about 30 contracts were signed. Many people then said, "Oh, this is because of the Ukraine crisis." Well, you don't make such big contracts within a month. These contracts had been prepared long before the Crimean crisis.

And let us recall, exactly a year ago, there was a very strong partnership signed in Beijing between President Xi Jinping and President Putin on cooperation between Russia and China on many levels. I mean, it was the most dense and the most far reaching cooperation agreement they have signed so far. So, it started 20 years ago, and it has been evolving and getting more and more important.

Now, the issue is Asia is more than China. China is an important market, no doubt about that. But what I also have always been pointing out in my courses on the Chinese market is - don't forget demography. China is an aging country, just like Russia, just like Germany.

The one-child policy has led to a demographic bump. And in the long run, it's not the future market. So, this is also why companies, state-owned companies, have been betting over the last years on India, on Vietnam, on Malaysia, on Indonesia, and on the African continent, of course, by and large. Because in the long run, demography will have its say.

And whether it's selling oil or gas for mobility or for heating or for industry, or whether it's for the German car industry, let us also look at that in a very blunt way. I wrote a book on the transition of mobility three years ago. And people will build their factories close to the future customers, which is not Europe.

Sputnik: I wanted to ask you a question about your own personal story. You moved from Europe. You had to move to Lebanon because of the personal threats and because of being deplatformed and attempts being made to cancel you as a politician and as an expert. Are there any circumstances under which you might return sometime to France or to Europe in general, to any other country? Do you miss European lifestyle?

Karin Kneissl: Yes.

Sputnik: How is it for you?

Karin Kneissl: Because I miss it. I come to Russia from time to time since I'm missing Europe and since I'm missing a European lifestyle, art, city life, theater. So, I'm very grateful that I can teach now for the coming ten days because it allows me also to smell it all and inhale what for me is Europe.

Especially, I hope that I can come in summer because I miss the smell of a forest after the summer rain. This is something that is part of my being. So, for that reason, I come to Russia from time to time. Coming back to Austria, you know, a lot of things will have to happen.

There will have to be let me put it like that: apologies, because tremendous defamation, tremendous denunciation going on. And first of all, about apologies and other things. Maybe even if I may go that far, I would even ask for compensation for all what I had to go through. And that money I would give to charity associations in Lebanon, because they let me live there.

And it's all about being able to live. You know, in Austria, my life was made so impossible on a daily level that I that I'd had to decide at the age of 56 to leave. When it comes to France, it was all the pressure coming from Austria. It was all the denunciation, blacklists that Austrians had established and had been circulating.

So currently, if I say I miss France, I miss the little life. I tried to establish myself in the French countryside. But for the time being, for me, it's still all about survival, unfortunately. And it's very, very tiring because Lebanon is not an easy place.

I always knew it didn't come to me as a surprise that you need a family to survive there. You don't have estate. So, whether it's transporting gallons of water to have cooking water. Whether it is having your water reservoir, your electricity, diesel generator, I have to do all that myself.

And it's very, very tiring. In the end, you end up with a lot of back pain simply because of daily life organizing. And what do the Austrians say? They say, "Oh, she's hiding in Lebanon because she wants to, because she's running the entire KGB network now in the Middle East." Even the spokesperson of the Green Party, which is a junior partner in government, put the most amazing denunciations against my person. And nobody has ever reacted to that, you know?

It's just ongoing and ongoing. And like last time I was here in December, I published just a photo of Moscow under the snow and I said, "Moscow plus snow equals beauty." There were five big articles about me. "How can she go to her friends and perpetrators of genocide? She's in the capital of crime and genocide. That's what she's doing." Articles. I'm not speaking about social media. It's a well established paper who could then spend one entire page on a photo.

Sputnik: We've talked a lot about media and what the media has become. I wanted to talk to you about diplomacy and the part of your career when you were the foreign minister of Austria. Well, actually, we're speaking today on February the 10th, and it's the professional holiday for Russian diplomats. You probably had a lot of interaction with them when you were Vienna's top diplomat. What were your impressions from these meetings and interactions? Any good memories?

Karin Kneissl: Well, first of all, if I may try to say it: "Vam zhelayu v svoy diplomaticheskiy prazdnik horoshey vam raboty" (Says in Russian: On your Diplomatic day, I wish you great work! – ed. note Sputnik) Correct?

Sputnik: Correctly.

Karin Kneissl: Thank you! To my knowledge, Russia is the only country that celebrates a diplomat's day. And it's a good gesture because good diplomacy, I always say, "You never get a medal in the field for successful diplomacy."

Because if it has worked well, there's no outbreak of conflict. While a general will get a medal for bravery in the field. So, diplomacy is somehow unrewarding because if you really do it well, you are not seen. You are acting behind the screens, behind the corridors in order to make it happen. This should be effective diplomacy.

Diplomacy has been in a coma for at least a year. If not that because what has been going on ever since expelling of diplomats, cutting of ties, verbal attacks on all levels, covert actions such as blowing up the pipeline, etc., war... All that has led to a coma of diplomacy, if not its total death for the time being. And diplomacy should be reinvented.

And since you ask about my interaction with Russian diplomats, the first time I met the Russian ambassador, I was already a minister and I had no contacts with any of... I only had when I traveled first time in my life to Moscow. I went to the Russian consulate for all the paperwork, which was quite heavy.

But apart from that, I never had. And the way it is constructed in the western media is as if I had always been, you know, a kind of a pawn by the Russian side, unfortunately. And I hope that with some sort of reinvention of diplomacy that is needed. Some sort of new recruitment also. You need you need new brains. You need new people.

You need people who are handsome but who are also sensitive enough and sensible enough to create the right atmosphere. That what diplomacy is about. So that things can happen. And this we are missing in many, many diplomatic apparatuses. Not only in the US State Department, which always was about transformative diplomacy.

Let me add that Thomas Jefferson, when he was still working in diplomacy for the very young Republic of the United States, he served in France, pre-revolutionary France. So, he was shocked by what he saw in Versailles. And he already said then: "we have to transform the system. We have to reinvent." So, US diplomacy, if I may dare to say, was never so much about non-interference in domestic affairs. It was always about transforming the host country.

Sputnik: Well, thank you for your time with us today. We are in the Sputnik Studio in Moscow, and we've been talking with our guest Karin Kneissl, former Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Middle East expert, and energy analyst. Thank you.

Karin Kneissl: Thank you very much for the kind conversation, interesting conversation.

Sputnik: Thank you.


Read more:




a tectonic conspiracy......

by Politician

There are currently no effective geophysical weapons (a hypothetical weapon favored by conspiracy theorists) capable of causing earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, etc. Scientists point out that there is no reliable evidence of the existence of a weapon whose strike imitates destructive natural phenomena.

At the same time, scientists from the USA and the USSR assumed that an earthquake could be caused by an initiating explosion at a given (pre-calculated) point (including at a considerable distance from target "). However, such an explosion would have to be at least nuclear, meaning it would be detected by US, Russian, German, French, Chinese, British and Japanese monitoring facilities. Another option is to launch a missile (even a conventional one) at a volcano, which would trigger its eruption (and accompanying tectonic oscillations).

By the way, work on "combat tectonics" was carried out in both superpowers during the "Cold War" — in the USSR they were called "study of remote impact methods on the focus of earthquakes using weak seismic fields and energy transfer from the explosion", in the USA — "tectonic experiments with weak seismic fields". They are believed to have been completed in the early 90s — and in both countries they are classified with maximum secrecy.

As for the "artificial tsunami", on the basis of the super-torpedo boat project of the Nobel Prize-winning academician Sakharov, an underwater nuclear drone, Poseidon, was created in Russia.

In addition, the world community has "protected" itself (even if it did not help with nuclear weapons) and adopted a number of international treaties and agreements limiting "deliberate impacts on geophysical environments".

The scientific community has also discussed the possibility of causing an earthquake by directing a neutrino beam towards the Earth's core, but this would require the power of the Large Hadron Collider and the result would be unpredictable (until planetary catastrophe ).

At the same time, mankind has already mastered the local influence on the weather — for example, the dispersal of fogs and clouds using airplanes and rockets with banal cement-like powders or special reagents which cause precipitation in the right place. There have also been active discussions of "heating stands" — high-powered radio wave sources for ionospheric diagnostics (known as "Sura" in Russia, "EISCAT" in Norway, " HAARP” in the United States) — but there is no evidence of their “military” application.

However, information about geoweapons has circulated among the population.

We speak of the words of the (sarcastic) "prophet" Zhirinovsky: "At night, our scientists will change the Earth's gravitational field a little, and your country will be under water. In 24 hours your whole country will be under water. Is this a joke?!"

Ну, так и Дмитрий Медведев в бытность президентом России проговорился о "папке про папку о контактах с НЛО".

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