When it comes to breaking news of global importance, the fastest thumbs in Moscow may belong to Alexey Pushkov, a hawkish member of parliament who heads the Foreign Affairs Committee in Russia s State Duma.
That is not always a good thing. A little more than an hour after the twin bombings at Brussels s Zaventem Airport on Tuesday, Pushkov became likely the first Russian official to publicly comment on the terrorist attacks, eschewing condolences to chide Brussels-based NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for focusing on the imaginary Russian threat while ignoring terrorists right under his nose.
While Stoltenberg, getting carried away, battles the imaginary Russian threat and stations troops in Latvia, people are being blown up in Brussels right under his nose, Pushkov wrote. Nine minutes later, the Reuters news agency reported explosions on Brussels s metro in subsequent attacks that have killed at least 26, according to Belgian broadcaster RTBF.
Russia has a history of offering quick and generous support to the West in the wake of terrorist attacks. President Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to call President George W. Bush following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, offering his sympathy and later some Russian logistical support for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, Putin quickly offered his condolences to King Philippe of Belgium and extended his condolences to the Belgian people and assured them of his absolute solidarity with the Belgians at this difficult time, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday afternoon, a little more than an hour after Pushkov s remarks.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also offered public condolences. Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, tweeted that Moscow knows the price of such tragic events. I sympathize with families of those killed and wounded and to residents of the city.
But in public statements, other senior Russian politicians and officials went further, identifying in just hours the causes for the attacks as Europe s failed foreign policy, Russophobia, lax immigration policy and subservience to the United States. The solution? Closer cooperation with Moscow in the global fight against terrorism.
The Europeans are still paying a bloody tribute for their lack of a normal foreign policy, for being forced to submit to Uncle Sam and enforce policies that absolutely do not conform to their national, European government interests, as well as the interests of individual peoples, said Gennady Zyuganov, the head of Russia s Communist Party, which holds 92 seats in Russia s lower house of parliament, in a news conference on Tuesday.
Drawing down his airstrike in campaign in Syria last week, Putin declared that Russia had shown its undeniable leadership, will and responsibility in the fight against global terrorism. Russia has urged the West to revive channels of communications that were severed after the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in east Ukraine, most recently threatening to unilaterally enforce the cease-fire in Syria if the United States does not agree on how to punish violators.
Offering her condolences following the terrorist attack, Maria Zakharova, the press spokeswoman for Russia s Foreign Ministry, told reporters during a telephone interview on state television that it was impossible not to note the double standards in the sphere of terrorism as attacks become more common around the world.
One cannot support them in one region, in the Middle East or the North Caucasus, and still think that this terrible sickness of the modern world will not come to other parts of the world, she said, urging greater cooperation in the global fight against terrorism. It can t possibly be that way.
State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin called for the civilized world to unite against international terrorism and took aim at Europe s sanctions against Russia and the recent deal struck by the European Union with Turkey to stem the flow of refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, politicians and governments of EU member countries are busy imposing various kinds of sanctions, which drastically violate the fundamental rights of many millions of citizens, instead of focusing on terrorism, Naryshkin said, the Interfax news service reported. And bargaining on the future of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, paying 3 billion euros and another 3 billion euros, and actually bargaining on the fate of unfortunate people instead of being resolute in the fight against terrorism.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, an outspoken party leader in Russia s parliament sometimes compared to Donald Trump, said during a telephone interview on state television that Europe should close its borders to immigrants and deport everyone.
An hour after his first tweet, Pushkov circled around to offer condolences to those killed in the terrorist attacks ... and urge closer cooperation with Russia.
Deepest sympathies to the family members of those killed in Brussels, he wrote. It is time for Europe to understand where the genuine threat comes from and to join forces with Russia.