MOSCOW – Russia expects from Germany specific details on an initiative on a new agreement on arms control in Europe, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
“We expect from the German side the concretization of its initiative and formation of a concept of dialogue. The reaction to the initiative of NATO steps by whose efforts arms control dialogue was brought to a dead end and frozen is important. Russia is open for discussion of issues of international security on the basis of equality and mutual consideration of interests,” the statement read.
On Wednesday, 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will convene for its 23rd two-day Ministerial Council in Hamburg hosted by its current chair Germany. One of the topics that Germany has pushed for the broad discussions this week under the OSCE framework is new arms control agreement with Russia.
The Russian Investigative Committee has charged two Ukrainian military commanders, whose units shelled Russian territory in 2014, with attempted murder of military servicemen and law enforcement officers.
Svetlana Petrenko, the spokesperson for the Russian Investigative Committee, told reporters on Tuesday that the committee has brought charges against Andrey Grishenko, head of the “South” Operational Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and Valeruy Ismailov, commander of Ukraine’s 27th Rocket Artillery Regiment. Russian investigators believe that both men were involved in organizing the repeated artillery attacks against Russian territory that took place from June to August in 2014.
Petrenko told reporters that Russian investigators had established that in these artillery raids, the Ukrainian military used heavy weapons, such as multiple-launch missile systems and self-propelled cannons, and as a result of these illegal and indiscriminate actions, many people were wounded and one elderly man was killed.
Investigators have already conducted dozens of inspections, about 140 examinations, and have spoken with about 1000 witnesses.
“In some cases, the actions of the Ukrainian military resembled terrorist tactics, such as repeated covert strikes on places with large gatherings of people. For example, when a group of Investigative Committee agents were studying the area of an artillery strike in Russia’s Rostov Region, they became targets of mortar fire. And the grouping of shots was becoming tighter, which is a sign that the mortar battery was using a spotter,” the spokesperson said. She also noted that the attack took place on Russian territory, about 1,500 meters from the Russian-Ukrainian border.
In August, the Investigative Committee launched criminal cases against the Ukrainian defense minister and several top military commanders over charges of using prohibited means of warfare in civilian areas in the conflict in Donbass. The agency stated that it had obtained sufficient proof that crimes against civilians in the self-proclaimed republics of Lugansk and Donetsk had been committed on the orders of top Ukrainian military commanders.
The Investigative Committee also stated that Ukraine had repeatedly violated the ceasefire agreement signed on February 15, 2015, with Ukraine’s National Guard using heavy artillery to deliberately destroy civilian infrastructure, and indiscriminately using heavy weapons in populated areas, killing and injuring civilians, including children.
In September, the Investigative Committee launched additional cases against Ukrainian military commanders over the attempted genocide of Russian-speakers in the self-proclaimed Donetsk republic.
In August 2015, the Investigative Committee presented a major report on war crimes committed by Kiev military and volunteers in Donbass, dubbed the ‘White Book.’ It was based on evidence collected by the agency during probes into cases where Ukrainian authorities and volunteers were suspected of using outlawed methods of warfare. The evidence includes testimony of eyewitnesses and participants of these events, photos and various materials presented by international organizations.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized western leaders after none appeared to condemn the shelling of a mobile Russian hospital by militants in Syria. Two Russian medics were killed after around a dozen of shells hit the facility in Aleppo.
“On December 5, a Russian military medic died as a mortar shell fired by militants directly hit the reception ward of a Russian mobile military hospital set up in Aleppo. Two medical specialists were also severely injured and one of them later died,” the ministry said.
“However, no words of condemnation can be heard from western capitals,” it added, criticizing western governments for their “politicized approach” to the assessment of the situation in Syria.
“We call on our partners to abandon the politicized approach and finally join the counter-terrorist efforts in Syria as well as the search for a political solution to the Syrian crisis” instead of waging a smear campaign in the media, the ministry said in its statement.
It then went on to criticize Paris and London, saying they are waging a “propaganda campaign” – in particular over the delivery of humanitarian aid.
“Our ‘concerned’ French and British colleagues cannot but know that such aid is already rendered to the Aleppo residents … by the Russian side through the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria and the Russian Emergencies Ministry,” the foreign ministry said.
It also slammed western governments for their repeated calls to stop the government operation in Eastern Aleppo, which “increasingly resembles the last desperate attempt to shield and save the terrorists and extremists supervised by [the West], who are on the losing side in the Aleppo [battle].”
The ministry said again that armed groups that the West attempts to support “use civilians as human shields, [and] shell and mine civilian infrastructure and humanitarian corridors.”
About 11 shells landed on the territory of the Russian hospital leading to its total destruction, Vladimir Savchenko, the head of the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria told journalists earlier on Monday.
The Russian Defense Ministry urged for the international community to condemn the attack and said that the incident would be investigated and all responsible would be held to account.
The ministry also said that it attributes blame for the hospital shelling to “terrorists and their patrons in the US, the UK and France.”
“It is beyond doubt that the shelling was conducted by the ‘opposition’ militants. Moscow understands who gave the Syrian militants the coordinates of the Russian hospital right at the moment when it started working,” the Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov said.
The US State Department, which is usually quick to comment on reports of attacks on medical facilities in Syria, found it difficult to confirm and therefore specifically condemn the shelling of the Russian hospital.
“I’ve seen the reports we’ve not been able to confirm; it’s difficult to do obviously, given the fighting and given our lack of access to what’s happening on the ground,” spokesperson Mark Toner told RT’s Gayane Chichakyan. “But to answer your question – of course we condemn any attack on a hospital or healthcare facility.”
RT has requested comment on the shelling of the Russian hospital from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and Amnesty International.
In response to a request from RT, Amnesty International said it is trying to check whether it is “able to comment on this.”
“But usually if we have not documented and been able to verify details for ourselves it can be tricky for us to provide a comment on specific attacks,” the emailed response reads.
“Repeated attacks on healthcare and other civilian infrastructure throughout Aleppo” indicated that “all sides to the conflict in Syria are failing in their duties to respect and protect healthcare workers, patients and hospitals, and to distinguish between them and military objectives,” the Red Cross told RT in a comment following the shelling of the hospital.
“Healthcare infrastructure, medical personnel and the sick and wounded are protected under international humanitarian law (IHL). They must not be attacked,” the Red Cross stressed, adding that “when hospitals come under fire, countless numbers of people are deprived of life-saving healthcare.”
© Lizzie Phelan / Twitter
Syrian opposition supporters bear responsibility for the casualties from the shelling of a Russian mobile military hospital, said writer Abdel Bari Atwan. It seems the rebels have been given advanced weapons particularly for such attacks, he added.
Extremists have shelled a Russian military hospital in Aleppo, killing two paramedics and injuring several service personnel. An RT Arabic producer was also wounded in the leg in the attack.
The attack on the Russian military hospital comes as the Russian Foreign Minister disclosed some of the details of the terms for the withdrawal of militants from eastern Aleppo proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
RT: What do you think of the attack’s timing, as it came after Russia and the US agreed on the terms of withdrawal for the militants in eastern Aleppo amid huge gains by the Syrian army in the city?
Abdel Bari Atwan: I believe the Aleppo battle is nearing its end. The Syrian army is controlling more than 60 percent of the eastern quarters of Aleppo. Now the negotiation is on its way between Russia and the US to evacuate the armed men – whatever they are, Islamist or moderate, to declare the end of the war in that part of Syria. The situation is moving towards the entrance of the Syrian government and their allies, Russian allies in particular. So it is a matter of time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole of Aleppo surrenders before the end of this year…
RT: Russia’s Defense Ministry said it knows where the so-called ‘opposition’ got the coordinates of the hospital.* Do you think it’s fair that both the militants and their backers are blamed?
ABA: … A week ago there were huge cries from the West, the US, all the Arab countries who are supporting the armed opposition about hospitals in Aleppo, or eastern Aleppo in particular, [being] bombed by Russian and by Syrians warplanes. Despite the denial, they still continue to blame the Russian and the Syrian warplanes. Now we can see that a Russian hospital that is taking care of injured people in that part of the world is bombed.
I do agree that definitely, the backers of this armed opposition bears the responsibility for these kinds of casualties…Also, it seems that the rebels received highly advanced weapons in order to carry out this kind of attack deliberately against the hospital, which is a new chapter of escalation…. The armed opposition is like a wounded tiger now, they are hitting everywhere, and they are trying to kill as many as they can, or destroy as much as they can from the Syrian side and the Russian side. It is obvious, but I believe their days are numbered in that part of Aleppo.
* “Without any doubt, the shelling was carried out by militants from the opposition. We understand where they got the exact coordinates of a specific Russian hospital from, the moment it started working. This means the responsibility for the deaths and injuries of our paramedics who were helping the children of Aleppo lies not only with the militants. The blood of our service personnel is also on the hands of those who created, fostered and armed these animals, calling them ‘opposition’ to justify this to their conscience and voters” — Igor Konashenkov, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson.
Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are the world’s five «nuclear weapons states», a description officially recognised in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which lays down that «each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices…»
It is apparent that the word ‘transfer’ involves ownership and not location, because the United States has transferred many nuclear weapons to countries which, although members of the US-NATO military alliance, are not nuclear weapons states. An analysis by the Nuclear Threat Initiative indicates that the US has positioned 160-200 B-61 nuclear warheads «at six bases in five NATO countries: Belgium (10-20), Germany (10-20), Italy (60-70), Netherlands (10-20), and Turkey (60-70)».
According to a NATO statement of December 2015, «A number of NATO member countries contribute a dual-capable aircraft (DCA) capability to the Alliance. These aircraft are available for nuclear roles at various levels of readiness – the highest level of readiness is measured in weeks. In their nuclear role, the aircraft are equipped to carry nuclear bombs and personnel are trained accordingly».
The claim that the readiness level is measured in weeks is intriguing, because, as indicated in the US-NATO Readiness Action Plan of October 2015, the entire alliance is gearing up for war against Russia and, among other blatantly provocative initiatives, is «Raising the readiness and capabilities of the Multinational Corps Northeast Headquarters in Szczecin, Poland and enhancing its role as a hub for regional cooperation».
NATO’s policy of confrontation with Russia is causing some disquiet in western Europe, whose citizens are kept in the dark about the depth and demands of the military alliance to which their countries are committed, such as their aircraft being «equipped to carry nuclear bombs». It is policy that the US B-61 nuclear weapons stored in Europe are delivered to targets by aircraft of the Belgian, Dutch, German and Italian air forces.
NATO declares that «Nuclear weapons are a core component of the Alliance’s overall capabilities for deterrence and defence alongside conventional and missile defence forces». This strategy was approved at its 2012 Summit in Chicago, but had been evident for many years and had been continued in spite of the ending of the Cold War against the Soviet Union, a quarter of a century ago. Since then NATO has maintained a firm nuclear posture, but the question that was never asked in the post-Cold War years of NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders was «against whom are your nuclear weapons directed?»
There could be only one target country. What nation other than Russia could possibly interest the US-NATO military alliance? It is unlikely that the Brussels headquarters of NATO, the regional office of the Pentagon, is considering using nuclear weapons against any other country in the world. Even in the course of its catastrophic wars in Afghanistan and Libya it couldn’t have possibly considered a nuclear option.
Large numbers of US nuclear weapons systems were withdrawn from Europe at the end of the Cold War, but many remain, in the embrace of NATO, which Brussels uncompromisingly states will «remain a nuclear alliance» for «as long as nuclear weapons exist».
At the manifestly anti-Russian NATO Summit in Warsaw in July it was noted by Arms Control that «Leaders of the 28 member countries of NATO strongly criticized Russian nuclear behaviour and reaffirmed the security role played by US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. The sections of the alliance statement, or communiqué, devoted to nuclear weapons are nearly three times as long as those issued at the 2014 summit in the United Kingdom». It is not surprising that Russia was criticised — but it is NATO that has been performing nuclear antics.
For many years before the 2016 Warsaw summit, NATO had been deploying aircraft all round Europe that were capable of delivering nuclear weapons against Russia. The only difference in recent times is that NATO, as recorded by Arms Control in June 2016, «is beefing up its nuclear posture. Polish F-16s participated for the first time on the sidelines of a NATO nuclear strike exercise at the end of 2014. As a clear signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, four B-52 bombers flew a nuclear strike mission over the North Pole and the North Sea in a bomber exercise in April 2015. Although these planes did not have nuclear weapons on board, they were equipped to carry 80 nuclear air-launched cruise missiles».
It goes further than that, because NATO’s most recent nuclear-associated deployments to the Baltic have involved aircraft from Belgium’s 10th Tactical Wing which is based at Kleine Brogel Air Base and flies US-supplied F-16 nuclear-capable strike aircraft. NATO reported that four of them are currently conducting missions from Ämari Air Base in Estonia, in order «to guard the Baltic skies against unauthorised overflights» and that their duties included «intercepting Russian aircraft flying in international airspace at the Baltic borders».
According to NATO, the Mission of the 10th Tactical Wing is «to generate air power effects in the full operational spectrum by putting into action the best combat ready people and equipment to execute or support both conventional and nuclear operations in a joint, national or multinational environment, anytime and anywhere, in the most proficient, safe and efficient manner». So it sends four of 10 Wing’s nuclear-capable F-16s, flown by nuclear-delivery trained pilots to Estonia to guard the Baltic skies.
In Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia the Alliance has established «NATO Force Integration Units» which are advanced military headquarters whose Mission is «to improve cooperation and coordination between NATO and national forces, and prepare and support exercises and any deployments needed». The relentless expansion of US-NATO forces right up to Russia’s borders continues apace, with formation of a «new standing Joint Logistic Support Group Headquarters, to support deployed forces».
NATO is on a war footing, and has made it clear that «nuclear weapons are a core component of the Alliance’s overall capabilities». The Belgian F-16 deployments, deliberately and provocatively in a most sensitive area on Russia’s borders, together with creation of advanced military control organisations in eight countries, have been authorised and greeted with approval by western governments whose citizens have little understanding that the west’s policy of confrontation is increasing tension day by day.
Russia has no intention of invading any of the Baltic nations, or, indeed, any other country. It has no interest whatever in becoming engaged in conflict that could result only in vast expenditure, no territorial gain of any value, and destruction of much-valued trade and other commercial arrangements.
Yet NATO’s nuclear capabilities are to be boosted by an $8 billion upgrade to the B-61 nuclear bombs held in the US and five other NATO nations. This escalation in nuclear capabilities is consistent with NATO’s deployment of nuclear-capable aircraft to countries on Russia’s borders, and it can be hoped only that next year Washington will call a halt to the escalating confrontation caused by a military organisation that the President-elect perceptively called «obsolete».
With the president-elect’s nominations for the positions of national security adviser and defense secretary announced, Donald Trump’s team is expected to articulate its policy on nuclear arms issues.
As a Republican nominee, Donald Trump sharply criticized the US military’s existing nuclear weapons programs. The New START Treaty is to provide arms control restrictions on Russia-US strategic offensive potentials till 2021, but nothing definite has so far been said by the president-elect’s team members about non-strategic potential – the B-61-12 life extension program (LEP). The issue threatens to become a bone of contention at the time Russia and NATO mull launching discussions on a new European arms control treaty that may become a milestone document in the history of the Old Continent.
The B61-12, the new US nuclear bomb intended to replace the B-61 deployed in Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Turkey, was «officially authorized» in August by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). This agency is responsible for the military use of nuclear technology.
The weapon has entered the final development phase of the upgraded airborne nuclear bomb B61-12 prior to production. The B61-12, the cost of which is expected to run about $8 billion to $12 billion for 400 to 500 bombs, will begin to be mass-produced in fiscal 2020 to replace the B-61.
The B61-12 is widely believed to be a new weapon. Being a guided nuclear munition, it can hit targets far more precisely than its predecessors. The capability to penetrate below the surface has significant implications for hardened targets within the B61-12’s reach.
With «dial-a-yield» technology, the explosive force can be adjusted before launch. It is designed to have four selectable explosive yields: 0.3 kilotons (kt.), 1.5 kt., 10 kt. and 50 kt. This combination of accuracy and low-yield make the B61-12 the most usable nuclear bomb in America’s arsenal. The smaller yields and better targeting can make the arms more tempting to use – even to use first, rather than in retaliation, knowing the radioactive fallout and collateral damage would be limited.
The B61-12 will initially be integrated with B-2, F-15E, F-16, and Tornado aircraft. From the 2020s, the weapon will also be integrated with, first, the F-35A bomber-fighter F-35 and later the LRS-B next-generation long-range bomber. The US Air Force says it does not predict when the squadron of F-35s will be combat-proven, but that it is probably during one of its overseas deployments at the beginning of 2017. The new bombs lower the nuclear threshold or make the launching of a nuclear attack against Russia more likely.
According to Rick Wayman, Director of Programs at Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, «the B61-12 is uniquely destabilizing». In his opinion, the B61-12 LEP is an «exhibit A of the second nuclear age – a new nuclear arms race for the 21st century». Mr. Wayman believes that the presence of B61, B61-12’s predecessor, in five NATO countries, namely Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey, inflames tensions with Russia.
The upgrade makes Russia take retaliatory measures increasing the possibility of Europe plunging in the quagmire of arms race. Russia considers US forward-based tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe to be an addition to the US strategic arsenal that is capable of striking deep into its territory. It will greatly complicate further arms control efforts with the New START Treaty expiring in 2021.
The withdrawal of these weapons is a prerequisite for starting talks on reduction of tactical nuclear weapons. The US decision to implement the LEP makes such prospects bleak.
NATO members to host the new weapon on their soil should realize that the move will automatically make them targets for possible pre-emptive or retaliatory attack. Countries that host foreign nuclear weapons don’t enhance their security.
The program competes with resources needed for more important conventional forces and operations to fight the real terrorist threat, not the imaginary one, allegedly coming from Russia.
The need to deploy the weapon is widely questioned by US experts.
Around 200 B61 bombs are currently deployed in underground vaults at six bases in Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey. About half of the munitions are earmarked for delivery by the national aircraft of these states – the parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 that forbids non-nuclear states from receiving nuclear weapons.
Article I of the NPT prohibits the transfer of nuclear weapons from NWS (nuclear weapons states) to other states: «Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices». Article II requires NNWS (non-nuclear weapons states) not to receive nuclear weapons: «Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any transfer or whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices».
Cancellation of the program would pave the way for the two great powers to launch arms control dialogue. It would also make possible talks on arms control between Russia and NATO. It makes the stance taken by the US administration on the B61-12 program an issue of fundamental importance.
The House of Representatives wants to cut the Pentagon’s military-to-military cooperation with Russia. The provisions included in a $618.7 billion defense budget bill impose strict conditions for the US military on working with its Russian counterparts.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets policy for the Department of Defense for the next year, has been approved by a vote of 375-34.
The measure would allocate $618.7 billion, including extra $3.2 billion on top of what President Obama requested for the Pentagon, was agreed after months of heated debates.
Tucked in the middle of the legislation is a whole section dedicated to “matters relating” to Russia, more than lawmakers devoted to Islamic State, NATO or cooperation with Europe combined.
The bill lays out a set of conditions, which the DOD would have to abide by in case it wants or has to deal with Russia.
Specifically, the bill bans the Pentagon from using Congress-approved funds “for bilateral military-to-military cooperation between the governments of the United States and Russia” unless the DOD proves to Capital Hill that Moscow “ceased its occupation of Ukrainian territory and its aggressive activities that threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.”
The Department would also have to “certify” to Congress that Russia “is abiding by the terms of and taking steps in support of the Minsk Protocols regarding a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.”
However, the lawmakers did not entirely close the door to military cooperation with Moscow.
The same section of the Act “permits a waiver under specified conditions.”
While it does not spell out those exact conditions, one of the following sections implies America’s “national interest.”
Thus, the NDAA’s Sec. 1236 “prohibits funds from being used to implement any activity that recognizes the sovereignty of Russia over Crimea,” yet it allows the Pentagon to waive the prohibition if it can prove to Congress that doing so would be in the national interest.
The lawmakers have also limited funds that the DOD can dedicate to enable confidence-building measures, such as surveillance flights by Russia over US territories or anywhere covered by the Open Skies Treaty.
The Pentagon would have to provide Congress with a “specified certification and report” if it wants to allow Moscow to carry out an initial, exhibition surveillance flight or certification event of an aircraft equipped with an upgraded sensor.
Both Moscow and Washington are signatories to the Treaty, which allows unarmed observation flights over territories of 34 participating nations to establish transparency of ongoing military activity.
Under the Treaty, surveillance take place under agreed flight path. An observation mission may be denied by a host country on flight safety reasons, but not for reasons of national security.
In June, Russia became the first Open Skies Treaty member to install digital equipment on its two surveillance aircraft, which was okayed by experts from 22 Open Skies Treaty countries.
The NDAA is steps away from Obama’s table with the Senate set vote on it some time next week.
Russia was included in the annual intelligence policy authorization bill passed by the House earlier this week.
Passed by 390-30, the draft stipulates the creation of a dedicated committee “to counter active measures” by Russia “exert covert influence over peoples and governments”.
The new body would include the congressional intelligence committees, including Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees of both the House and the Senate.
The way the House lawmakers see it, the new committee would meet on a regular basis and would be required to report to Congress steps it is taking “to counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence.”
Another provision of the bill limits the movements of Russian diplomats based in the US to a maximum of 25 miles from their official posts unless the FBI notifies Congress that it does not have record of wrongdoing by those individuals.
Despite the fact that the document precisely aligns with the agenda of the Obama administration, with just two months left, its future hangs largely in balance, William Jones from Executive Intelligence Review media outlet told RT.
“It’s still a part of present paradigm that we have with the Obama administration, and what we’re seeing now is the tail end, with less than two months left in his administration. But it seems to me that we are moving into a situation where everything that is being done now is largely on hold. Money will be allocated if this bill goes through, and it’s not clear if it will. There have been objections raised by the Secretary of Defense, and there was consideration by the White House, because it [the bill] exceeded the limits that the White House had put on the original [document],” he said.
Open letter to the president-elect of the USA requesting new investigation into the downing of MH-17
Dear Mr. Trump,
Your election has raised hopes that easing of tensions, between U.S. and Russia, and peacemaking in Europe in general is achievable. Settlement of the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine and lifting the sanctions against Russia which is vital for the world community has a realistic chance now. With this in mind, there is also hope for a higher quality investigation into the disputed downing of MH17, as you expressed your doubts in an October 2015 interview, regarding the proof of Russian guilt:
“They say it wasn’t them. It may have been their weapon, but they didn’t use it, they didn’t fire it, they even said the other side fired it to blame them. I mean to be honest with you, you’ll probably never know for sure.“ (MSNBC)
Indeed, we agree with you, we will never be sure, with the kind of investigation we have seen over the past two years. The official investigation of the “Dutch Safety Board“ (DSB) and the “Joint Investigation Team“(JIT) was neither independent nor convincing. This kind of investigation forms a huge burden particularly to the families who lost their loved ones in the downing of MH17. They need to know the truth.
WE ARE ASKING YOU, TO PLEASE PUSH FOR A NEW INVESTIGATION. This could happen within an international framework like the U.N. comprising the following aspects:
(1) A team of international, independent scientists who would be able to exclude veto power for any government. This exclusion of veto is especially important, due to the overwhelming role of one of the involved parties, Ukraine. The main source of information to the DSB and JIT used for their official investigations was SBU, the Ukrainian secret service.
(2) Keeping all scenarios on the table.
(3) Declassifying and releasing “available satellite images” claimed by Secretary of State, John Kerry, on 20th of July 2014; or (if not) disclaiming their existence.
(4) Conducting forensic examination of impact holes (for metal residues) in the MH17 wreckage and reproducing the same pattern of damage by shelling tests (as usually done in crime cases). Completing key information fields, such as body forensics, voice recorder, radar data etc.
(5) Prior construction of, a clear path to an international, objective trial in the U.N. framework with judges from countries which are not connected with the crash.
FURTHERMORE, WE ARE ASKING YOU TO PLEASE INITIATE PEACE TALKS WITH ALL PARTIES CONCERNED (including but not limited to Russia, Ukraine, and the EU) aiming at settling the dispute and establishing a reconstruction plan for Eastern Ukraine including the compensation of the MH17 families.
Thank you so much, in advance, for your attention to this matter.
Independent journalists & experts on MH17,
- MARK BARTALMAI, journalist & Ukraine documentaries producer, GERMANY
- DR. THIERRY BAUDET, journalist, publicist & initiator of Dutch referendum on EU/Ukraine association agreement, NETHERLANDS
- BERND BIEDERMANN, missile defense colonel ret., military attaché ret. & book author, GERMANY
- CHRISTOPHER BLACK, international criminal lawyer, CANADA
- NORBERT FLEISCHER, investigative journalist, GERMANY
- PROF. DR. ELMAR GIEMULLA, lawyer of German MH17 victims, GERMANY
- DR. HERMANN HAGENA, airforce general ret. & author of MH17 military study, GERMANY
- PROF. DSC. OTTO-FRIEDRICH HAGENA, physicist, GERMANY
- PETER HAISENKO, journalist, publisher & former “Lufthansa” pilot, GERMANY
- JOHN HELMER, longest-serving foreign correspondent in Russia, UNITED STATES
- FRANK HÖFER, journalist & film producer, GERMANY
- DIETER KLEEMANN, airforce colonel / trainer ret. & book author, GERMANY
- PATRICK LANCASTER, investigative journalist with 100s of hours on MH17 site from day one & U.S. Navy veteran, UNITED STATES
- DR. JAMES O´NEILL, barrister on human rights & geopolitical analyst, AUSTRALIA
- JOOST NIEMÖLLER, journalist & MH17 book author, NETHERLANDS
- GRAHAM PHILLIPS, investigative journalist, UNITED KINGDOM
- PROF. DR. KEES VAN DER PIJL, political scientist, peace activist & author, NETHERLANDS
- HECTOR REBAN, political analyst & blogger on MH17, NETHERLANDS
- NORBERT K. REISBERG, . ret., airforce pilot ret. & military scientist, GERMANY
- DAN SHEPPARD, private MH17 researcher, AUSTRALIA
- JOACHIM SIEGERIST, journalist, publisher & author, GERMANY
- BILLY SIX, investigative journalist & book author, GERMANY
- MAX VAN DER WERFF, blogger & private MH17 investigator, NETHERLANDS
- PROF. KAREL VAN WOLFEREN, journalist, political analyst & book author, NETHERLANDS
- MOHD AZAHAR ZANUDIN, technician, supplier for army/police & blogger on MH17, MALAYSIA
Spokesman for media – Mr. Billy Six
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tel. 0049 152 269 27 443
President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree approving Russia’s new Foreign Policy Concept. The document specifies Moscow’s position on key global issues, highlighting its relations with the US, EU, China and other countries.
Published on Thursday, the concept is now in force, replacing the previous one from 2013. Moscow’s “views on core principles, priority directions, aims and tasks of the Russian foreign policy” are stated in the document of almost 40 pages.
Saying that Russia pursues an independent foreign policy based both on national interests and respect for international law, the concept states that Moscow’s policy is “open, foreseeable” and “shaped by centuries” of Russia’s historic role in the development of global civilization.
“Russia is fully aware of its special responsibility for maintaining security in the world both on global and regional levels, and is aimed at cooperative actions with all concerned states in the interest to solve common issues,” the document says.
Moscow calls for “creation of a broad international anti-terrorist coalition, firmly based on a legal framework, and effective and systematic cooperation among states,” the document says. No “double standards” should have a place in such a coalition, which should become the main force to fight global terrorism.
Nuclear war hazard low, but US missile shield threatens Russia’s national security
Moscow stands for the creation of “zones free of nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction, especially in the Middle East,” the concept states, adding that “fighting international terrorism is key priority in international security.”
No country should use terrorist organizations to pursue its “political, ideological and other aims,” it says. Political and legal framework for nuclear and other weapons nonproliferation course is key, to avoid risks of such weapons landing in the hands of terrorist organizations.
Russia stays true to its international obligations in the arms control, and expects the same from its partners. Washington’s development of its global missile defense system is viewed as a “threat to national security,” with Moscow “reserving the right to take relevant counter measures.”
“Russia stands for constructive cooperation with the US in the field of arms control, with a compulsory allowance for an inseparable correlation between strategic offensive and defense weapons,” the document says. Global strategic stability should be the key factor in possible further arms reduction, it adds.
“Despite [the fact] that a threat of a large-scale war, including nuclear war, initiated between key states remains low, risks that [such states] may be involved in regional crisis, escalating them, are growing,” the new Foreign Policy Concept warns.
Russia-US dialogue possible, but only if US abandons its ‘restraining’ course
Washington and its allies have been pursuing a “restraining course” against Russia, aiming to “pressure” it both politically and economically, the document says, adding that such policy “undermines regional and global security.” It also harms long-term interests of both sides, and goes against a “growing necessity for cooperation” and joint counteraction to global threats.
Russia reserves the right to “harsh” retaliatory measures to “unfriendly actions,” including measures in toughening its national defense.
Moscow “is interested in building mutually beneficial relations with the US, taking into consideration the two countries’ responsibility for global strategic stability and the state of international security in general,” the concept stresses, adding that the two nations have significant opportunities in trade, investment, scientific and other forms of cooperation.
The development of dialogue on bilateral relations, as well as on other international issues “is only possible if based on equality, mutual respect and non-interference in one another’s internal affairs.”
In regard to contacts with NATO, Moscow plans to build its relations with the alliance based on its eagerness to be engaged in equal partnership. So far, Russia negatively regards NATO’s expansion, with its military infrastructure getting closer to the Russian borders. Such actions are considered as “defying the principle of equal security” and might cause new “division lines in Europe.”
Meanwhile, Moscow praises the role of the United Nations in “regulating international relations and coordinating world policies,” saying that there are no other options to replace the organization in the 21st century.
Relations with EU among Moscow’s priorities, abolishing visa regime will strengthen ties
Stepping-up mutually beneficial bilateral ties with European countries is named among one of Russia’s key priorities in the new Foreign Policy Concept.
The EU is Russia’s important trade and economic partner, the document says, adding that Moscow also regards Europe as its associate in foreign policy and is looking for “stable cooperation” based on mutual respect. Relations with Germany, France, Italy and Spain are mentioned as being key for the Kremlin in promoting its interests on the international arena.
“The strategic task in relations with the EU is forming a broad economic and humanitarian space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean,” that will unite and “harmonize” the European continent, the concept says.
“The visa regime remains one of the main barriers in the way of development of contacts between Russia and the EU. The gradual cancellation of the visa regime on a reciprocal basis will become a powerful impulse for strengthening cooperation between Russia and the EU in economic, humanitarian, cultural, educational and other spheres,” the document says.
Russia to strengthen ties with the East, presence in the Antarctic
Among Moscow’s other foreign policy priorities, the concept mentions developing further relations with its eastern neighbors. “Full-scale” partnership and cooperation with China is on the agenda, as well as “further deepening” of strategic partnership with India. With the latter, Russia has always had “privileged” relations, according to the document, which says that the two nations’ cooperation is based on corresponding foreign policies, “historic friendship and deep mutual trust.”
Japan and other countries in the Asia-Pacific Region are also mentioned as important partners to work with in the near future.
“Russia will also continue its work on preserving and widening its presence in the Antarctic,” the concept states, adding that Moscow is as well “open for building relations with Canada” to cooperate in the Arctic and other regions.
Russia’s position on Syria is also mentioned in the new Foreign Policy Concept, with Moscow standing for the Middle Eastern country’s “unity, independence and territorial integrity.” Representatives of all ethnic and religious groups in Syria should be provided with equal security and peace, and enjoy “equal rights and opportunities,” the document says.
The Financial Times provides confirmation that as claimed by The Duran in early November Turkey is brokering talks between Russia and the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo for them to surrender the eastern districts of the city.
Back on 2nd November 2016 I wrote a piece for The Duran in which I said that all diplomatic contacts with the US over Syria having completely failed, the Russians were trying to negotiate the surrender of eastern Aleppo with Turkey.
This is what I said:
“Having despaired of getting the US to separate Al-Qaeda/Jabhat Al-Nusra from the other Jihadis in Aleppo, and getting them to withdraw, it is likely the Russians are trying to agree the same thing with the Turks. Indeed [General] Gerasimov’s [Russia’s Chief of General Staff] comments today essentially say as much.”
Today there is confirmation from the Financial Times that such talks in Ankara are indeed underway. Here is what it reports:
“Syrian rebels are in secret talks with Russia to end the fighting in Aleppo, according to opposition figures, a development that shows how the US could become sidelined in some of the Middle East’s most pivotal conflicts.
Four opposition members from rebel-held northern Syria told the Financial Times that Turkey has been brokering talks in Ankara with Moscow, whose military intervention last year on the side of President Bashar al-Assad helped turn the five-year civil war in the regime’s favour. Russia is now backing regime efforts to recapture the rebel’s last urban stronghold in Syria’s second city of Aleppo.
“The Russians and Turks are talking without the US now. It [Washington] is completely shut out of these talks, and doesn’t even know what’s going on in Ankara,” said one opposition figure, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.”
Importantly the Russians are not denying the talks. Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s formidable spokeswoman, responded to questions by the Financial Times about the talks as follows
“Washington isolated itself. We’ve been negotiating with the [Syrian] opposition in Turkey for years — it’s not news.”
The Financial Times misunderstands the negotiations which are underway. It quotes Charles Lister, a Syria expert at the Middle East Institute in Washington, as explaining Russia’s intentions in this way
“Russia is hedging its bets. It would prefer to make a deal with the opposition. If Aleppo were to fall, the Syrian regime would need so many troops to hold the city that its forces would be left thin elsewhere in the country — or dependent on Iranian help, which Moscow would prefer to avoid.”
This is certainly wrong. As The Duran has been reporting ever since September, the consistent Russian demand, and the key provision of the unsuccessful Kerry-Lavrov agreement of September, is that all the Jihadis fighters must quit eastern Aleppo, which must be surrendered to the government.
It should hardly need saying that Aleppo would be far more defensible without any Jihadi fighters there, rather than with Jihadi fighters owing allegiance to terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS still in control of some of the eastern districts of the city.
Charles Lister’s analysis is I am sorry to say just another example of the wishful thinking and failure to assess realities in Syria objectively which has beset Western understanding of the conflict in Syria since its start. … Full article
The House of Representatives has passed an intelligence bill aimed at tackling what Washington claims is political interference by Russia on a global level.
The 93-page bill, passed by the House in a 390-30 vote on Wednesday, calls for setting up a new, interagency panel to suppress Russia’s alleged attempts to “exert covert influence over peoples and governments,” The Washington Post reported.
The draft legislation goes on to state that the panel would be tasked with “countering active measures by Russia to exert covert influence, including exposing falsehoods, agents of influence, corruption, human rights abuses, terrorism and assassinations carried out by the security services or political elites of the Russian Federation or their proxies.”
The bill could be seen in direct opposition to President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to strengthen relations with Moscow.
In addition to thwarting Russia’s alleged interference, the bill also outlines funding for efforts to foil attacks and deny terrorists safe harbor in Iraq, Syria, North Africa, and other locations. It aims to strengthen counter-intelligence and address threats from adversaries in cyberspace, space and at sea.
It also updates whistleblower procedures in the intelligence community and requires a declassification review of intelligence reports on detainees transferred out of Guantanamo Bay by President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush.
The Senate is expected to vote on the bill before the end of the year.
Also Wednesday, the six Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a letter to President Obama, seeking declassification of information about Russia’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election.
“We believe there is additional information concerning the Russian government and the US election that should be declassified and released to the public,” they wrote in the letter. “We are conveying specifics through classified channels.”
Moscow has dismissed claims that it meddled in the US presidential election as “nonsense,” with President Vladimir Putin calling the accusation an attempt to distract American voters from domestic issues.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently told Italian newspaper Corriere della sera that there is still no proof of Moscow’s alleged meddling in the US presidential elections, calling the accusations “myth-making with a goal to solve the short-term political objectives.”
“No promised ‘evidence’ of interference in the electoral process has been presented neither to the American, nor to the international public,” Lavrov said.
Allegations that Russian hacking attacks aided the victory of Donald Trump are a myth, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Italian newspaper Corriere della sera. The interview also focused on sanctions against Moscow and NATO-Russia tensions.
In the immediate aftermath of the victory of Donald Trump at the US presidential elections, American and international media were quick to assume the alleged hacking of the camp of the Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by “Russian hackers” was to blame for the result.
Speaking to the Corriere della sera in an interview published late Wednesday, Lavrov stressed that the only ones who really “helped” Donald Trump to become the 45th US president were American citizens.
“It is symptomatic that the authors of such insinuations, who had inflated Russophobic hysteria in the United States on the eve of the vote, are now playing mum. No promised ‘evidence’ of interference in the electoral process has been presented neither to the American, nor to the international public,” Lavrov said.
In October, Washington officially accused Moscow of staging hacking assaults on US officials and institutions, though not delivering any facts or other information backing the serious statement. Kremlin rebuffed the accusations by the US as “nonsense.” The lack of proof has raised numerous questions as to what exact purposes the allegations might have actually served, Lavrov said.
“This confirms once again that the whole story is from the field of myth-making with a goal to solve the short-term political objectives,” the foreign minister added.
On November 29, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also weighed in, linking the recent hacking attacks on the country’s telecommunications group Deutsche Telecom to Moscow. However, the German leader admitted she did not know who exactly the attackers were.
‘Italy businesses dissatisfied with Russia sanctions’
When asked on how Russia is viewing relations with Italy, which is among the countries who imposed sanctions on Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis, Lavrov noted that both sides are suffering from the measures.
“Sanctions introduced by the EU against Russia, joined by Italy, and the Russian retaliatory steps had a negative impact on bilateral trade and economic cooperation,” Lavrov said. He also noted that Italy, which used to be the fourth-largest trading partner with Russia, now ranks sixth, while Washington has surpassed Rome and is now placed fifth.
“Thus, Washington, who became the initiator of a large part of the anti-Russian intentions, is not suffering any losses. Perhaps there is something our Italian and in general European partners have to think about,” Lavrov said. Russia, for its part, has already “adjusted” itself to the restrictions with the country’s economy solidly “standing on its feet.”
The Russian foreign minister also noted that “Italian political, business, public circles are increasingly expressing [their] dissatisfaction with the sanctions policies, advocate for the return” of the growing bilateral ties between the two states.
“A number of regions in Italy adopted a resolution calling for the removal of anti-Russian sanctions,” Lavrov said. He added Moscow hopes that Rome will build relations with Russia “based primarily on self-interest.”
“All the rich history of Russian-Italian relations, which are based on years of experience of fruitful cooperation, is an example that with joint efforts we managed to achieve significant results,” Lavrov said.