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Colombia’s FARC Delivers 60% of Weapons to UN Peace Mission

teleSUR | June 14, 2107

 

The Colombian FARC guerrilla delivered another 30 percent of their weapons Tuesday to the United Nation as part of the landmark peace agreement with the government ending over half a century of civil war.

“With this act, the FARC wants to show Colombia and the world that we leave behind the page of war and starting to write the page of peace … that our commitment is total and that we are going to give everything for the peace of the country,” Pablo Catatumbo, member of the FARC’s leadership, said during the event.

On June 7, the FARC delivered the first 30 percent of the weapons, kicking off its historic disarmament. On Tuesday, another 30 percent will be handed over, and the more than 7,000 members of the groups will deliver the total amount by June 20.

The event that took place in La Elvira, in the western department of Cauca, and had been expected to be attended by President Juan Manuel Santos, the former prime minister of Spain Felipe Gonzalez and former President of Uruguay Jose Mujica.

But the political figures could not participate at the last minute due to heavy rain and had to follow the event through a video conference. Santos from an air base in the city of Cali said: “Today, without a doubt, is a historic day. What we witnessed on television — we could not be there physically because weather did not allow us — is something that the country only a few years ago would never have believed was possible.”

The next step for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia will be the transition to civilian life and the creation of a political party to participate in the next elections.

The head of the Colombian FARC guerrilla Rodrigo Londoño, also known as Timoleon Jimenez or Timochenko, who is in Norway, said he urged the Colombian government to fight against paramilitary violence in the country.

“We are leaving our weapons behind to continue with politics that we have always maintained and our efforts to build a fairer and just Colombia, where people who think differently are not murdered for their ideas,” Timochenko said during a press conference in Oslo during a forum on conflict resolution.

The leader has said that the government has been slow in implementing the agreement and that there have been problems including security issues and infrastructure shortages for the 26 transition zones where the rebels have assembled before returning to civil life.

He stressed that the most critical issue, though, was that Santos administration has not admitted the ongoing problem of paramilitarism in the country or set out a course of action to tackle it. Timochenko called on the international community to pressure the government to eradicate it, as he says it has become “an obstacle for peace.”

Norway, together with Cuba, was a guarantor country in the four-year peace negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government. Talks wrapped up in Havana last year once the historic peace accord was finalized. The peace deal brings an end to over 50 years of internal armed conflict that killed some 260,000 people and victimized millions more.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , | Leave a comment

In Continued Targeting of Only Africans, ICC Calls for Arrest of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

teleSUR | June 14, 2017

Just shortly after Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, was released from prison Saturday, the International Criminal Court on Wednesday called for his arrest.

“Libya is obliged to immediately arrest and surrender Mr. Gaddafi to the ICC, regardless of any purported amnesty law in Libya,” ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

The body — which in its history has only prosecuted Africans — alleges that Gaddafi suppressed opposition to his father’s rule during uprisings in 2011, accusing him of crimes against humanity.

Gaddafi often spoke out defiantly against attempts to topple the government his father led, having gained prominence as a high-ranking official and spokesman during the NATO-backed campaign against the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

That campaign soon became a “regime change” effort that led to the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi and Libya’s plunge into all-out civil war.

The North African country has since become a base for various transnational extremist factions such as al-Qaida, the Islamic State group and the Libyan Islamic Fighting group.

The ICC, on the other hand, has largely been discredited in Africa, with Gambia’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang noting last October that the ICC is, “in fact, an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans.”

Earlier this year, leaders from the African Union adopted a non-binding decision to withdraw from the court.

In addition to the ICC’s calls for arrest, a Tripoli court in 2015 sentenced Saif to death in absentia for alleged war crimes as well.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Last White Helmets in Aleppo: in lieu of a film review

By Tim Hayward | June 14, 2017

In the wake of Netflix’s Oscar winning The White Helmets comes the Sundance Festival Grand Jury Prize winning Last Men of Aleppo. According to early reviews, audiences leave screenings with a desperate feeling that something ought to be done, but with a sense of helplessness about not knowing what.[1]

While that is very understandable, there are some things we can know if we really want to, even though the film does not reveal them.

First, in case it is true that among audiences are people who wish there was something they could do to just make the bombing in Aleppo stop, I would mention that it has stopped. It stopped before Christmas 2016. The siege of Aleppo ended, and the citizens who had been trapped there, essentially as human shields, were able to leave. Most went to the Western part of the town that had remained under government control.[2] The fighters who had been in control of the eastern quarters were given amnesty and left town in green buses laid on by the Syrian government. They were allowed to take their handheld weapons. The White Helmets went with them to Idlib, although some may have gone to Turkey (where their video clips were edited into this new film).

Since their departure, law and order has been restored across the whole of Aleppo. The eastern part is no longer bombed. Nor does it any longer experience the kidnappings, rape, murder, crucifixion, torture, sexual exploitation and organ trafficking that had been permitted and perpetrated by the “rebels”. It also no longer serves as the launch pad for mortars and hell cannon fired into the civilian population in the Western part of town.[3]

believe

Aleppo 2017

Citizens are returning and starting to rebuild their lives in East Aleppo. The White Helmets, meanwhile, are providing their services in the Al Qaeda held territory of Idlib.

Viewers of the film may find this puzzling news, given they’ll have heard ‘the White Helmets’ collective insistence that they’ll never abandon Aleppo’ and that ‘Aleppo will always be their home’.[4] The fact is no White Helmets operate in Aleppo now, just as none did before the “rebels” seized its Eastern part. Incidentally, the real Syrian Civil Defence volunteers, who have operated in areas under legitimate government since 1953, wear red helmets.[5]

Several further facts about the White Helmets are not much publicised either in the news media or these films. One is that they are not actually volunteers in the usual sense, for they are paid. The funding comes from foreign governments, notably UK and USA (as explained, respectively, by Boris Johnson and Mark Toner).

The White Helmets do not typically put others first, at least according to witnesses, and in Aleppo had a reputation for robbing the houses they entered and the people they helped.[6] Not that they helped ordinary citizens, for the most part, since it appears their main practical role was to provide support to the fighters.[7] Their filmed rescues are not all necessarily genuine.[8] Nor is it true that they assembled as a group spontaneously. This was the work of British military man James Le Mesurier, with funding from Western governments, notably Britain and America. He organised training for them in Turkey.

Among the White Helmets are fighters who, despite what we are told, can be seen with weapons.[9] They are also accessories at executions.[10]

A beauty of film is that it can conjure a world of pure imagination. When this potent capacity is applied in the making of a documentary it can make the material more compelling. It can, of course, also serve to manipulate and distort the evidence it presents.

The film does not aspire to help audiences understand better “what they can do” about the terrible situation in Syria. It tends to reinforce the received wisdom about the supposed heroes of Aleppo. But anybody wondering how truthful it is will want to review that received wisdom, and perhaps consider some of the now numerous critical accounts of the role the White Helmets have actually been playing in the Syrian war.

One might then also try to understand what the deep motivation is for Western media and even film industry award institutions to be involved in glorifying people who are at a maximum of one degree of separation from active terrorists. By thinking about this, one may better understand – unswayed by the artful manipulations of a motion picture – exactly what one should really be worrying about.

The West’s support for regime change wars has brought devastation to whole countries. Think about Iraq or Libya as well as Syria. It has brought refugees. It has involved allowing British citizens freely to train for jihad. It has allowed them to fight against legitimate governments abroad and return home. We have seen them here. We saw them in Manchester recently, and on Tower Bridge. I fear we may see more.

We live in a time, I believe, when it is vital to be challenging the assumptions that support the escalation of conflicts. While the message of White Helmets films may seem to be about the need for peace and humanity, their underlying function – and the reason for their being funded by hawkish governments – is to reinforce the need for intervention to overthrow another country’s government.

That is why I think films like this are not really best described as documentaries. For what the White Helmets are, as John Pilger has succinctly observed, is ‘a complete propaganda construct’.[11]

Not having seen the film ‘Last Men in Aleppo’, I am not in a position to recommend it. A short film I can recommend is this. At less than 4 minutes, a view of it will be time well spent if you are tempted to believe what is said in White Helmets promotional material.

Notes

[1] ‘I suspect it’s the filmmakers’ wish that once those initial feelings ebb, moviegoers will ask what they can do to help. This picture doesn’t offer hope; its aim is to compel us to create some.’ Glenn Kenny in the New York Times 2 May 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/02/movies/last-men-in-aleppo-review.html?_r=0

[2] This is recorded by Aron Lund in an article that is by no means sympathetic to Assad’s government: https://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2017/04/12/eastern-aleppo-under-al-assad

[3] You would not know it from this film, or the Netflix one, or the Western media more generally, but the Western part of Aleppo is far more populous than the eastern part and has remained functioning – despite the incoming shells from the “rebel” areas – throughout the war.

[4] This is from the review by Vikram Murthi, 3 May 2017 http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/last-men-in-aleppo-2017

[5] http://21stcenturywire.com/2017/04/02/the-real-syria-civil-defence-saving-real-syrians-not-oscar-winning-white-helmets-saving-al-qaeda/ This resource gives detailed information about the real Syrian civil defence as well as some further insight into operations by the White Helmets.

[6] See for instance this account by Aleppo journalist Khaled Iskef: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSl1wT6Q0Lg . Indicative is this interview with a young boy from Aleppo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSBvd9i_jAs

[7] Abu Jaber Al-Sheikh, the leader of Hay’at Tahreer Al-Sham (Al-Qaeda in Syria) thanks the White Helmets and calls them “the hidden soldiers of the revolution”. This was part of his speech commemorating the 6th anniversary of the Jihadist insurgency in Syria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvTAi0MXY6w See also the evidence on the ground in Eastern Aleppo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpyCkk47Hhs

[8] We cannot be certain exactly what is and what is not staged in White Helmets films, but we can be certain of their capacity to make convincing fakes for the camera, since they demonstrated it with their notorious Mannequin Challenge video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zgl271A6LgQ .

[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k6hSS6xBTw

[10] Evidence can be found on social media but I have opted not to link to it here since it is disturbingly graphic.

[11] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X27B0yuazGo.  Since Pilger is known to be on the political left, it is interesting to note that a similarly critical view of the White Helmets is given by someone usually regarded as on the political right, Peter Hitchens:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwjw0vkV7_I

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel and the Trump Administration Use Saudis for the Next ‘Controlled Chaos’ Project

Sputnik – 14.06.2017

Amid the ongoing diplomatic row between Qatar and a number of Arab states and increased tensions in the Persian Gulf, Sputnik Turkiye talked to Hamide Yigit, a Turkish political analyst and an expert in Middle Eastern affairs, who explained what role the Trump administration will play in this conflict.

Hamide Yigit, a Turkish political analyst and expert in Middle Eastern affairs who has written a number of research papers on the Middle Eastern crises, commented to Sputnik Turkiye on the ongoing diplomatic row in between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and its impact on the region.

The expert stressed that the Trump administration is trying to fully re-carve the Middle Eastern strategy of the Obama administration, which was based on the support of the Muslim Brotherhood, by betting on the control over radical Islamist forces from a new unified center. That is why Trump has focused his new foreign policy line on Saudi Arabia, she said.

“We could say that Trump has signalled a new stage in American Middle Eastern policy after the failure of the Middle Eastern policy of the previous administration, which bet on the structures affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and left the legacy of a weakened US position in Syria against Russia’s strengthened influence in the region,” Hamide Yigit told Sputnik.

The new political line of President Trump, she further elaborated, is aimed at focusing on the Persian Gulf and pivoting towards Saudi Arabia. Such a strategy, however, poses certain difficulties for the US, as Saudi Arabia has suffered both political and economic defeats in Syria and Yemen.

However on the other hand, the polycracy among the jihadists in Syria has hampered US plans in that country. Thus the Trump administration decided to set up a unified control center for dealing with the radical Islamists but opted for the exclusion of Qatar from this system in favor of Saudi Arabia.

The dual power among jihadists, the expert explained, creates certain problems which could escalate into a confrontation. Hence the US has chosen Saudi Arabia to host a center which will incorporate all the levers of a hybrid war.

The crisis in the Persian Gulf, Hamide Yigit told Sputnik, is one of the latest US projects aimed at creating so-called “controlled chaos” in the region.

“At this particular moment it is hard to forecast how long this crisis will last. However if this US’ project, which provokes the escalation of tensions in the region, proves a success, it might hit a serious blow to Turkish positions in the region,” the expert explained.

In current conditions, she further said, Turkey should be aimed at maximum rapprochement with Iran and Russia, up to its accession into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

On the Iran’s example it is clearly seen how the project of the “controlled chaos” has been started in Syria and gradually embraced other countries of the region. Hence Hamide Yigit suggested that the relations between the Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf monarchies and Iran will aggravate even further.

The warnings of a number of experts that the Syrian war will further spill over to Iran are visibly becoming a reality. Iran is being virtually dragged into this war, the expert said.

Earlier Israel repeatedly made certain steps aimed at drawing Iran into this war, but the US kept preventing it, the political analyst said.

Now Saudi Arabia is provoking the escalation of tensions. It might certainly want to incite a large-scale conflict as its mere existence is directly dependent on the US-backed project of a large-scale war in the Middle East, Hamide Yigit concluded.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mission Complete: What the US Really Had in Mind for Ukraine

A simmering conflict in the center of Europe, which can be re-ignited at any time

Sputnik – June 14, 2017

On Tuesday, political specialists from the Moscow-based advisory group Foreign Policy presented their report on four possible scenarios for the further development of Ukraine. Sputnik Radio discussed the suggested scenarios with political analyst Vladimir Zharikhin, who also explained what the US has already completed in the country.

On Tuesday, Nikolai Silaev, Senior Researcher at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and Research Director for Foreign Policy, and Andrei Sushentsov, the Valdai Club’s Program Director and a managing partner with Foreign Policy presented their report on four possible scenarios for the further development of Ukraine.Russia’s Kommersant newspaper obtained a copy of the analysis. The authors suggest that both a large hot war and a comprehensive political settlement of the Donbass separatist crisis are equally unlikely to happen in Ukraine in the nearest future.

They put forward the four scenarios they deem possible for the future of the country, based on the assumption that Ukraine will take a back seat in the agendas of the major players – the US, EU and Russia. The authors specifically note that there are no longer people who are interested in Ukraine within US President Trump’s circle, as Joe Biden and Victoria Nuland had been during the Obama administration.

“Without the supervision of the US, the government in Kiev resumed its military and political experiments in Donbass in January-February 2017,” the paper notes.

“The Ukrainian crisis continues to evolve within the boundaries of the constants defined by the spring of 2015: a large hot war is unlikely, the settlement [of the crisis] is frozen, and the Minsk agreements remain the basis of the political process,” the newspaper quotes the report as saying.

The first of the scenarios, entitled “movement in the rut”, suggests the retention of political stability in the country at its current level and ongoing support of the Ukrainian government by the West. The Western leaders, however, silently recognize the weakness of President Poroshenko, the failure of any reforms and the escalating struggle between different political forces.A large-scale offensive of the Ukrainian army in Donbass is unlikely as Kiev fears its defeat.

The second scenario, “Kiev on a trailer,” suggests internal political destabilization in the country. In its mild form, it is a confrontation between the President and the new country’s parliament, due to be formed after early parliamentary elections. In its acute form, it evolves into massive street protests, including armed conflicts, the threat of a coup and the collapse of government agencies.

Under this scenario, the settlement in Donbass is fully blocked, amid an increased risk of the resumption of large-scale military operations. In this case the West can become hostage to its own sluggish foreign policy regarding Ukraine.

In the third variant, “Collapse and indifference,” the US and EU are less interested in Ukraine. Financial aid from the West is shrinking, and Kiev’s authorities face the immediate threat of a new macroeconomic catastrophe. Western mainstream media and politicians criticize Kiev for failed reforms, uncontrolled political violence and the growing influence of radical nationalists.

The summary: the ruling circles lose their key source of power – explicit support from the West. It is no longer possible or becomes very difficult to continue “selling” the conflict in the east of the country as the “defense of Europe from Russian aggression.”

The final scenario, “A threat of isolation”: the political regime in Kiev maintains stability, however its support from the West is declining. The OSCE representatives, leaders of Germany and France (part of the Normandy Four group) publicly nod and comment on situations when Ukraine’s actions contradict its obligations under the Minsk agreements and prevent the settlement of the conflict in Donbass.

“In the rhetoric of the Western politicians, the issue of lifting anti-Russian sanctions is being increasingly separated from the issue of the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis,” the report says. However there are no pre-conditions for the early parliamentary elections. The authorities are still able to keep the country under control. The political influence of the right-wing armed groups is waning. The shelling of Donbass and armed incidents at the line of contact both ebb.

In conclusion, the report suggests that the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis is possible only in the event of a compromise among all the external players. However, the compromise is highly unlikely: Russia does not want Ukraine to be consolidated along Western and anti-Russian lines. The West doesn’t want Ukraine to be consolidated along pro-Russian lines.

Funeral of militia men in Donetsk Region
© Sputnik/ Gennady Dubovoy
The Ukrainian government, in turn, will remain divided over the two options for consolidation. Meanwhile, the external players should take into account the possibility of a new spiral of the Ukrainian crisis amid the electoral cycle of 2018. There is every chance for the repetition of the so-called Euromaidan scenario.

“It is in everyone’s common interest not to turn Ukraine into a battlefield between Russia and the West,” the authors therefore concluded.

Radio Sputnik discussed the report with Deputy Director of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Institute Vladimir Zharikhin, who suggested that the first scenario is the most probable.

“Unfortunately the Ukrainian leadership has lost its subjectivity, or personality, long ago. I mean that the key decisions in Ukraine are made not by the Ukrainian leaders but by external players. If we suggest that the events will continue to develop in the way they are doing now, the first scenario is the most probable,” he told Sputnik.

The political analyst also noted what the US has already completed in Ukraine.

“Any speculations regarding whether the West has become tired of Ukraine and whether it will now leave it alone have no grounds. The Western countries, at least the US, have completed what they were initially after: they have created a simmering conflict in the center of Europe, which can be re-ignited at any time. However, from their point of view, it’s best to let it simmer for a while,” Zharikhin said.

The expert also pointed out that the Ukrainian conflict won’t resolve itself.

“If the Ukrainian authorities try to follow the wisdom of Chinese general Sun Tzu ‘If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by,’ those are irrelevant illusions. They won’t float by,” Zharikhin said.

The political analyst, however, noted that no matter how paradoxical it sounds, the Ukrainian authorities nevertheless strengthen their authority.

“The Ukrainian leaders are destroying their country, but strengthening their own authority. Through destroying of the remains of the democratic order in the country, tightening their authority and intimidating the population, they consolidate power,” he concluded.

SEE ALSO:

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Over 10,000 Killed, Nearly 24,000 Injured in Ukraine’s Conflict Since 2014 – UN

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Putin, Ukraine and What Americans Know

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 13, 2017

A prime example of how today’s mainstream media paradigm works in the U.S. is the case of Ukraine, where Americans have been shielded from evidence that the 2014 ouster of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych was a U.S.-supported coup d’etat spearheaded by violent neo-Nazi extremists.

As The New York Times has instructed us, there was no coup in Ukraine; there was no U.S. interference; and there weren’t even that many neo-Nazis. And, the ensuing civil conflict wasn’t a resistance among Yanukovych’s supporters to his illegal ouster; no, it was “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.”

If you deviate from this groupthink – if you point out how U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland talked about the U.S. spending $5 billion on Ukraine; if you mention her pre-coup intercepted phone call with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who the new leaders would be and how “to glue” or how “to “midwife this thing”; if you note how Nuland and Sen. John McCain urged on the violent anti-Yanukovych protesters; if you recognize that snipers firing from far-right-controlled buildings killed both police and protesters to provoke the climactic ouster of Yanukovych; and if you think all that indeed looks like a coup – you obviously are the victim of “Russian propaganda and disinformation.”

But most Americans probably haven’t heard any of that evidence revealing a coup, thanks to the mainstream U.S. media, which has essentially banned those deviant facts from the public discourse. If they are mentioned at all, they are lumped together with “fake news” amid the reassuring hope that soon there will be algorithms to purge such troublesome information from the Internet.

So, if Americans tune in to Part Three of Oliver Stone’s “The Putin Interviews” on “Showtime” and hear Russian President Vladimir Putin explain his perspective on the Ukraine crisis, they may become alarmed that Putin, leader of a nuclear-armed country, is delusional.

A Nuanced Perspective

In reality, Putin’s account of the Ukraine crisis is fairly nuanced. He notes that there was genuine popular anger over the corruption that came to dominate Ukraine after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 and the selling off of the nation’s assets to well-connected “oligarchs.”

Putin recognizes that many Ukrainians felt that an association with the European Union could help solve their problems. But that created a problem for Russia because of the absence of tariffs between Russia and Ukraine and concerns about the future of bilateral trade that is especially important to Ukraine, which stood to lose some $160 billion.

When Yanukovych decided to postpone the E.U. agreement so he could iron out that problem, protests erupted, Putin said. But — from that point on — Putin’s narrative deviates from what the U.S. government and mainstream media tell the American people.

“Our European and American partners managed to mount this horse of discontent of the people and instead of trying to find out what was really happening, they decided to support the coup d’etat,” Putin said.

Contrary to the U.S. claims blaming Yanukovych for the violence in the Maidan protests, Putin said, “Yanukovych didn’t give an order to use weapons against civilians. And incidentally, our Western partners, including the United States, asked us to influence him so that he did not give any orders to use weapons. They told us, ‘We ask you to prevent President Yanukovych from using the armed forces.’ And they promised … they were going to do everything for the opposition to clear the squares and the administrative buildings.

“We said, ‘Very well, that is a good proposal. We are going to work on it.’ And, as you know, President Yanukovych didn’t resort to using the Armed Forces. And President Yanukovych said that he couldn’t imagine any other way of dealing with this situation. He couldn’t sign an order on the use of weapons.”

Though Putin did not specifically finger blame for the sniper fire on Feb. 20, 2014, which killed more than a dozen police and scores of protesters, he said, “Well, who could have placed these snipers? Interested parties, parties who wanted to escalate the situation. … We have information available to us that armed groups were trained in the western parts of Ukraine itself, in Poland, and in a number of other places.”

After the bloodshed of Feb. 20, Yanukovych and opposition leaders on Feb. 21 signed an accord, brokered and guaranteed by three European governments, for early elections and, in the meantime, a reduction of Yanukovych’s powers.

Ignoring a Political Deal

But the opposition, led by neo-Nazi and other extreme nationalist street fighters, brushed aside the agreement and escalated their seizing of government buildings, although The New York Times and other U.S. accounts would have the American people believe that Yanukovych simply abandoned his office.

“That’s the version used to justify the support granted to the coup,” Putin said. “Once the President left for Kharkov, the second largest city in the country to attend an internal political event, armed men seized the Presidential Residence. Imagine something like that in the U.S., if the White House was seized, what would you call that? A coup d’etat? Or say that they just came to sweep the floors?

“The Prosecutor General was shot at, one of the security officers was wounded. And the motorcade of President Yanukovych himself was shot at. So it’s nothing short of an armed seizure of power. Moreover, one day afterwards he used our support and relocated to Crimea (where he stayed for more than a week) thinking that there was still a chance that those who put their signatures on the (Feb. 21) agreement with the opposition would make an attempt to settle this conflict by civilized democratic legal means. But that never happened and it became clear that if he were taken he would be killed.

“Everything can be perverted and distorted, millions of people can be deceived, if you use the monopoly of the media. But in the end, I believe that for an impartial spectator it is clear what has happened – a coup d’etat had taken place.”

Putin noted how the new regime in Kiev immediately sought to limit use of the Russian language and allowed extreme nationalist elements to move against eastern provinces known as the Donbass where ethnic Russians were the vast majority of the population.

Putin continued, “First, there were attempts at arresting them [ethnic Russians] using the police, but the police defected to their side quite quickly. Then the central authorities started to use Special Forces and in the night, people were snatched and taken to prison. Certainly, people in Donbass, after that, they took up arms.

“But once this happened, hostilities started so instead of engaging in dialogue with people in the southeast part of Ukraine, they [Ukraine government officials] used Special Forces, and started to use weapons directly – tanks and even military aircraft. There were strikes from multiple rocket launchers against residential neighborhoods. … We repeatedly appealed to this new leadership asking them to abstain from extreme actions.”

However, the civil conflict only grew worse with thousands of people killed in some of the worst violence that Europe has seen since World War II. In the U.S. mainstream media, however, the crisis was blamed entirely on Putin and Russia.

The Crimea Case

As for the so-called “annexation” of Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea that was historically part of Russia and that even after the Soviet break-up hosted a major Russian naval base at Sevastopol, Putin’s account also deviated sharply from what Americans have been told.

When Stone asked about the “annexation,” Putin responded: “We were not the ones to annex Crimea. The citizens of Crimea decided to join Russia. The legitimate parliament of Crimea, which was elected based on the Ukrainian legislation, announced a referendum. The Parliament, by an overwhelming majority, voted to join Russia.

“The coup d’etat in Ukraine was accompanied by a surge in violence. And there was even the threat that violence would be perpetrated by nationalists against Crimea, against those who consider themselves to be Russian and who think Russian is their mother language. And people got concerned — they were preoccupied by their own safety.

“According to the corresponding international agreement [with Ukraine], we had a right to have 20,000 people at our military base in the Crimea. We had to facilitate the work of the Parliament of Crimea, the representative government body, in order for this Parliament to be able to assemble and affect actions in accordance with the law.

“The people had to feel they were safe. Yes, we created conditions for people to go to polling stations, but we did not engage in any hostilities. More than 90 percent of the Crimean population turned out, they voted, and once the ballot was cast, the [Crimean] Parliament, based on the outcome of the referendum, addressed the Russian parliament, asking to incorporate it into the Russian Federation.

“Moreover, Ukraine lost the territory, not due to Russia’s position, but due to the position assumed by those who are living in Crimea. These people didn’t want to live under the banner of nationalists.”

Stone challenged some of Putin’s concerns that Ukraine might have turned the Russian naval base over to NATO. “Even if NATO made an agreement with Ukraine, I still don’t see a threat to Russia with the new weaponry,” Stone said.

Putin responded: “I see a threat. The threat consists in the fact that once NATO comes to this or that country, the political leadership of that country as a whole, along with its population, cannot influence the decisions NATO takes, including the decisions related to stationing the military infrastructure. Even very sensitive weapons systems can be deployed. I’m also talking about the anti-ballistic missile systems.”

Putin also argued that the U.S. government exploited the situation in Ukraine to spread hostile propaganda against Russia, saying:

”Through initiating the crisis in Ukraine, they’ve [American officials] managed to stimulate such an attitude towards Russia, viewing Russia as an enemy, a possible potential aggressor. But very soon everyone is going to understand, that there is no threat whatsoever emanating from Russia, either to the Baltic countries, or to Eastern Europe, or to Western Europe.”

A Dangerous Standoff

Putin shed light, too, on a little-noticed confrontation involving a U.S. destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, that steamed through the Black Sea toward Crimea in the middle of the crisis but turned back when Russian aircraft buzzed the ship and Russia activated its shoreline defense systems.

Stone compared the situation to the Cuban Missile Crisis when a Soviet ship turned back rather than challenge the blockade that President John Kennedy had established around the island. But Putin didn’t see the confrontation with the U.S. destroyers as grave as that.

Putin said, “Once Crimea became a full-fledged part of the Russian Federation, our attitude toward this territory changed dramatically. If we see a threat to our territory, and Crimea is now part of Russia, just as any other country, we will have to protect our territory by all means at our disposal. …

“I wouldn’t draw an analogy with the Cuban Missile Crisis, because back then the world was on the brink of a nuclear apocalypse. Luckily, the situation didn’t go so far this time. Even though we did indeed deploy our most sophisticated, our cutting-edge systems for the coastal defense,” known as the Bastion.

“Certainly – against such missiles as the ones we’ve deployed in Crimea – such a ship as the Destroyer Donald Cook is simply defenseless. … Our Commanders always have the authorization to use any means for the defense of the Russian Federation. … Yes, certainly it would have been very bad. What was the Donald Cook doing so close to our land? Who was trying to provoke whom? And we are determined to protect our territory. …

“Once the destroyer was located and detected, they [the U.S. crew] saw that there was a threat, and the ship itself saw that it was the target of the missile systems. I don’t know who the Captain was, but he showed much restraint, I think he is a responsible man, and a courageous officer to boot. I think it was the right decision that he took. He decided not to escalate the situation. He decided not to proceed. It doesn’t at all mean that it would have been attacked by our missiles, but we had to show them that our coast was protected by the missile systems.

“The Captain sees right away that his ship has become the target of missile systems – he has special equipment to detect such kinds of situations. … But indeed we were brought to the brink, so to speak. … Yes, certainly. We had to respond somehow. Yes, we were open to positive dialogue. We did everything to achieve a political settlement. But they [U.S. officials] had to give their support to this unconstitutional seizure of power. I still wonder why they had to do that?”

It also remains a question why the U.S. mainstream media feels that it must protect the American people from alternative views even as the risks of nuclear confrontation escalate.

Regarding other issues discussed by Putin, click here.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment