According to Voice of Russia and other news organizations, on May 23, 42 Arab military and national security leaders participated in an extraordinary day-long briefing by top Russian ministers and generals as part of the third annual Moscow International Security Conference. The single message presented in great detail by Russian and Belarus leaders was that the United States and NATO have been pursuing a strategy of regime change, targeted against nations of the Middle East, North Africa, Central Europe and parts of Asia, employing a new mode of warfare which they referred to as “color revolutions.”
The Russian and Belarus officials presented detailed power-point graphs and maps showing that, over the past decade, the United States, aided by some NATO allies, have attempted to overthrow governments in Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Even in cases where the “color revolutions” succeeded—like Libya—the consequences were widespread chaos, massive refugee crises, and the spread of terrorism.
The keynote address was delivered by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Other speakers spent the next hours providing details, case studies and assessments of the new warfare. Among the other speakers were Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Russian Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces General Valery Gerasimov, Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Nikolay Bordirzha, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Bogdanov, and Belarus Minister of Defense Yury Zhadobin.
While there reportedly were only four Americans in attendance, one of them, Dr. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was so struck by the Russian claims that the “color revolutions” sweeping Central Europe, states of the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and North Africa were all part of a conscious U.S. strategy, spanning the last two presidencies, for regime change against targeted nations, that he wrote a 52-page public report on the conference, complete with photographs of many of the power-points. Dr. Cordesman warned Western leaders, particularly the Obama Administration, that they could ignore the Russian assessments of “color revolutions” as the new form of warfare at their own peril. While he did not endorse the Russian viewpoint, he warned that this is clearly a new strategic evaluation coming out of the Kremlin that will shape how Russia responds to the unfolding events in the Middle East and Central Asia.
The Russian arguments that the “color revolutions” of the past decade have been part of a conscious US and NATO strategy of regime change to install pro-Western pliant regimes in vital countries will no doubt resonate with some Middle East governments.
Last December, Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, boasted to an audience at the National Press Club in Washington that the US government had spent $5 billion since the collapse of the Soviet Union, building pro-Western civil society organizations in Ukraine. Russian security officials would later intercept and publicize a phone conversation between Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, in which they discussed which Ukrainian opposition figures should be installed in power once the Yanukovich government, which was legitimately elected, was run out of office.
Public records in the US show that a range of US government and quasi-government agencies have been pouring money into the Ukrainian opposition for the past two decades. The National Endowment for Democracy and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) conduit government funds through such quasi-private organizations as the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute into “civil society” groups throughout Ukraine.
The criticisms of the “new warfare” are not limited to the Russians and their allies. This week, the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies hosted a conference of Washington specialists on the subject of “color revolutions” and there was a deep split among the speakers, many of whom demonstrated that the “regime change” recipe has failed frequently, resulting in a spreading of terrorism, instability and poverty. Several of the speakers argued that the whole concept of “spreading democracy” through “color revolutions” is fatally flawed and should be abandoned as a foreign policy goal of the United States.