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Russia Slams US Threat of Military Action Against Venezuela

teleSUR | September 21, 2017

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned the U.S. for threatening the option of military intervention in Venezuela.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Lavrov criticized the illegitimate application of “unilateral sanctions” by certain Western countries, in reference to the restrictions imposed by the U.S. against Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.

Lavrov said it is unacceptable to instigate unrest and launch military threats in order to ‘democratize’ Venezuela, as are actions aimed at undermining the country’s legitimate authorities.

He insisted that in any internal conflict, the international community must urge all parties to commit to reconciliation.

“The policies of the West are based on the principle of ‘who is not with us, is against us,” said the Russian foreign minister, referring to the threats made by the U.S. President Donald Trump.

He also made reference to Cuba and said the blockade should be lifted, “Almost all UN member states have called for the immediate lifting of the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed on Havana for several decades.”

On the subject of North Korea, Lavrov said he did not support Pyongyang’s position but he objected to the “military hysteria” which could lead to “disaster.”

He urged the UN to consider the roadmap for talks with the North put forward by Russia and China to defuse the crisis on the Korean peninsula by diplomatic and peaceful means.

Both Moscow and Beijing are proposing the suspension of Washington’s joint military maneuvers with South Korea but the White House has rejected the plan.

Lavrov also condemned U.S. unilateral sanctions on Iran – he said they would undermine the nuclear deal with Tehran

“Using unilateral sanctions … is illegitimate and undermines the collective nature of international efforts. Everyone is witnessing with alarm today the newer and newer restrictions by the U.S. against Iran.”

“They threaten the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” he added, referring to the 2015 international accord between Iran and six world powers.

Trump has suggested he is leaning towards withdrawing from the deal, but several international allies are trying to dissuade him.

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

NATO is seeking to revive Сold War climate – Lavrov at UNGA

RT | September 21, 2017

NATO is currently seeking to revive the Cold War climate instead of building a dialogue with Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Russia has honestly walked along a long path of getting rid of the legacy of the Cold War but received no support in its efforts from its partners in the West, the minister said, expressing his regret over the fact that “some countries still prefer force to dialogue.”

“The West constructed its policy on the basis of a principle, ‘If you are not with us, you are against us’ and proceeded with hideous expansion of NATO to the east,” the Russian diplomat said, adding that such policy ultimately led only to “instability” in the post-Soviet republics and increased tensions in the region.

At the same time, the minister said that Russia is ready to cooperate with its western partners and work together in a constructive way to find mutually acceptable solutions of the pressing issues, including the Ukrainian crisis in particular.

He also expressed his hope that the Russian initiative that involves sending a UN peacekeeping mission to Eastern Ukraine would ultimately help to resolve the crisis, adding that the relevant draft resolution had been already submitted to the UN Security Council.

‘Unilateral sanctions – illegitimate’

“Centuries of history have shown that a lasting settlement of difference can only be [achieved] through dialog and balancing of the core interests of the conflicting parties,” the minister said, adding that, “unfortunately, the arsenal of many western states does not include diplomacy but only rough pressure.”

“Any unilateral sanctions imposed aside from the sanctions approved by the UN Security Council are illegitimate and undermine the collective nature of the international efforts,” Lavrov said.

He then expressed concern over the new rounds of sanctions imposed by the US against Iran and warned that they threaten the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which earlier greatly contributed to the restoration of the regional and global stability.

‘War hysteria around North Korea could lead to disaster’

Lavrov denounced the escalation of tensions around the Korean Peninsula by calling it a “very dangerous confrontational spiral.” The minister stressed that Russia condemns the North Korean nuclear tests conducted in violation of the UN resolutions, but added that war hysteria stirred up by the West around Pyongyang’s actions could end up in a “disaster.”

The minister then called on all the parties to the Korean crisis to start a dialogue, and said that there is “no alternative to the political and diplomatic settlement of the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula.”

He also urged the international community to support the joint Russian-Chinese roadmap of resolving the crisis that involves the “double freeze” initiative, envisaging Pyongyang stopping its nuclear and missile program in exchange for the US and South Korea abandoning their joint military exercises near the peninsula.

At the same time, Lavrov praised Tuesday’s statement by US President Donald Trump, in which he stressed the importance of respecting the principle of sovereignty in international relations. “We are pleased to see that the President of the United States, Donald Trump, … unilaterally stated that it is important to abide by the principle of sovereignty in the international affairs, that it is more important to lead by an example than dictate to other peoples,” the minister said.

‘Attempts to topple undesirable regimes only open way to terrorists’

It is unacceptable to incite riots and to threaten to use force to enforce “democratization” or undermine legitimate authorities in any country, Lavrov said. The attempts to ignore the opinions of others and to issue ultimatums without the UN approval “never led to anything good,” he added.

“The upsurge of international terrorism, millions of refugees and waves of illegal immigrants have come to a significant extent as a result of reckless attempts to remove some undesirable regimes, particularly through military intervention,” the minister said, adding that such actions brought only “chaos and destruction” to the Middle East and North Africa as well as “opened a way for terrorists.”

He then urged the international community to make additional efforts aimed at restoring stability in Syria and Iraq, adding that what has been done so far is still not enough, despite the success achieved in fighting Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) in the region.

“A string of bloody terrorist acts in the world shows that it is an illusion to try and create separate islands of security. Extremism and terrorism is something that we need to combat together, without using double standards and hidden agendas,” Lavrov said as he once again drew attention to what he called an “ambiguous” situation in Syria, where the US-led coalition seems to be sparing Al Nusra terrorists in its airstrikes while fighting another terrorist group, Islamic State.

‘No militarization of cyberspace’

Russia rejects the idea of militarization of cyberspace, Lavrov said, adding that this field should not be allowed to become “an area of military confrontation.” He went on to say that cyberspace should be prevented from being used to inflict economic damage or spread extremist propaganda.

He called on the international community to work out rules of “responsible behavior” in cyberspace that would be in the interests of all states. The diplomat also said that Russia drafted a universal convention on prevention of cybercrimes, including hacking attacks, and urged the General Assembly to discuss it during this year’s session.

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Russia warns US it will strike back if militia attacks in Syria don’t end

RT | September 21, 2017

Moscow has warned the US that if militias it supports in northeast Syria again attack positions of pro-government forces backed by Russia, the Russian military will use all its force to retaliate.

The troops of the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF), a predominantly Kurdish militia that receives support from the US military, have twice attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army in the Deir ez-Zor governorate with mortar and rocket fire, according to the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov.

“Russia unequivocally told the commanders of US forces in Al Udeid Airbase (Qatar) that it will not tolerate any shelling from the areas where the SDF are stationed,” Konashenkov said, adding that the attacks put at risk Russian military advisers embedded with Syrian government troops.

“Fire from positions in regions [controlled by the SDF] will be suppressed by all means necessary,” he stressed.

Konashenkov said Moscow suspected the SDF of colluding with the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL) in Deir ez-Zor rather than fighting it, as it claims to be. He said Russia had detected the transfer of SDF fighters from the IS stronghold of Raqqa, to join forces with the jihadists.

“SDF militants work to the same objectives as IS terrorists. Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between IS and the ‘third force,’ the SDF,” the Russian general said.

The statement said that the siege of Raqqa by the SDF has been halted, apparently in response to the latest advances by Syrian government forces in Deir ez-Zor, which is located to the east from Raqqa along the Euphrates River.

“The central parts of the former ISIL capital, which account for roughly 25 percent of the city, remain under full control of the terrorists,” Konashenkov remarked.

According to the statement, in the last 24 hours Syrian government troops “continued their offensive operation” to destroy the last “IS bridgehead” near the city of Deir ez-Zor, the provincial capital. Troops led by Syrian Army General Suheil al-Hassan liberated around 16 sq km of territory and two settlements on the western bank of the Euphrates River.

“More than 85 percent of Deir ez-Zor’s territory is under the full control of Syrian troops. Over the next week the city will be liberated completely,” Konashenkov said.

The city of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria was besieged by Islamic State in 2014. Syrian government forces lifted the blockade of the city in early September.

However, the liberation of Deir ez-Zor also triggered a confrontation between Syrian government forces and the US-backed SDF militants, the point of contention being control of Deir ez-Zor’s oil fields.

Following Damascus’s strategic victory, food, medicine and other essentials started to reach the city by convoy, where previously the inhabitants had to rely on air-drops.

The escalation of tension in eastern Syria is mirrored in the western Idlib governorate, where militant forces this week attacked Syrian positions in a designated de-escalation zone. The offensive threatened a unit of Russian military police, who were stationed in the area to monitor the ceasefire. Russia mounted an emergency rescue operation on Wednesday, in which three Russian special operations troops were injured. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the militants’ offensive had been instigated by US special services.

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear powers refrain from signing UN treaty on banning nukes

Press TV – September 20, 2017

World powers that possess nuclear weapons refrain from attending a ceremony at the United Nations to sign a long-anticipated treaty on banning nukes, merely arguing that the pact will not work.

None of the nuclear-armed states including the United States, Britain, Russia, France, China, India and Pakistan sent representatives to the ceremony for signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a pact that was adopted by 122 countries at the United Nations in July.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres opened the event in New York while hailing the agreement as a milestone and the first multilateral pact on disarmament in more than two decades.

Brazilian President Michel Temer was the first head of state to put his signature on the document, which comes amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program.

North Korea tested its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb earlier this month following the test-fire of two intercontinental ballistic missiles, weapons that experts say could target the mainland United States and could be used to carry a nuclear warhead.

The United States, Britain and France have dismissed the UN treaty as unrealistic, arguing that North Korea’s intensified nuclear activity has shown that they still need nuclear arms to maintain deterrence.

Supporters of the pact, however, say the time has come for the international community to push harder toward eliminating atomic weapons as a 50-year-old Non-Proliferation Treaty has effectively failed to contain the thirst of powers for expanding their nuclear arsenal.

“We call upon them to join this date with history,” said Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis at the ceremony, held on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly meeting of world leaders.

September 20, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘We need negotiations, not declarations’: Russia stays away from Trump’s UN reform plan

RT | September 18, 2017

As US President Donald Trump officially launched his 10-point reform program for the United Nations, Russian officials say they share many of the concerns it raises, but not the methods Washington is using to advance its solutions.

On Monday morning in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Trump delivered speeches in support of the reform declaration, which has been endorsed by 128 states.

According to the published text of the plan, it would give Guterres greater executive powers “encouraging him to lead organizational reform,” which would “provide greater transparency and predictability” and “promote gender parity and geographic diversity,” while combating “mandate duplication, redundancy, and overlap” and other forms of inefficiency at the international body.

“In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement. While the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent, and its staff has more than doubled since 2000, we are not seeing the results in line with this investment,” said Trump, who previously emphasized that the US is the biggest contributor to United Nations funds.

“To serve the people we support and the people who support us, we must be nimble and effective, flexible and efficient,” declared Guterres, the former Prime Minister of Portugal, who assumed his current post this year.

Countries that were hesitant or unwilling to sign the document – which include Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa – were not invited to the launch.

“There was no consultation either prior or following the publication of the declaration,” said Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s envoy to the UN, in an interview with TASS news agency, published Monday. “We are all for increasing the role of the UN on the international arena, and raising its efficiency. The organization needs reform, even if not a fundamental overhaul. But the reform itself should not come through a declaration, but through inter-governmental negotiations between members.”

State-owned daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta cited officials in the Russian delegation in New York, who criticized the US for hijacking the ongoing UN General Assembly for its own purposes, noting that the declaration “had nothing to do with the United Nations” and that Washington “has developed a bad habit of using the UN building during General Assemblies to push its own foreign policy agenda.”

Some were altogether suspicious of Trump’s motives, considering his previously dismissive attitude to the UN.

“Trump’s reform is a landmark move towards a unipolar world, and the reduction of the role of the UN in the international architecture that is forming in the 21st century. We are not ready to support or participate in this process,” Leonid Slutsky, the Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs in the Russian parliament, told RIA news agency.

“The US should start not with behind-the-scenes coalition-forming,” wrote Konstantin Kosachev, who heads in the Foreign Affairs Committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, on his Facebook page. “Instead, it should begin by acknowledging its mistakes, when it bypassed the UN in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria.”

September 18, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vladimir Putin and Russia versus Zionist Fairytales

By Phil Butler – New Eastern Outlook – 16.09.2017

Did you read the latest news that Vladimir Putin is rich and evil? Oh, you don’t read anymore, more power to you. Fake news has it that the Russian president has a new “secret” holiday mansion worth untold millions. Furthermore, some of the stories tell of Putin being the world’s richest and most evil man. For those of you who do not believe in fairytales, here’s a candid look at what Russians are really up against.

My initial reaction to reading “Drone footage shows Putin’s secret island mansion” at 9 News Australia was, “So what if the leader of Russia is rich?” I would have skimmed the article and moved on but for a familiar name popping up. I’ll get to the ousted industrialist shark Bill Browder in a minute, but first it’s important for readers to understand that Putin actually has little need of money in the traditional sense. Every financial magazine, every expert, and hordes of guessing investigators have tried for years to count Vladimir Putin’s gold, and to no avail. Some say he is worth more than Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos combined, but nobody can trace down this immense wealth. Amid all the speculation as to “why” the Panama Papers could not convict Putin, the pointedly obvious shines through. Nobody can trace Putin’s fortune because there isn’t one. But this is fodder for another story, let me move on to the latest Alexei Navalny fairytale and to this Browder character cited in the Australian piece.

I needn’t outline the role and the character of Alexei Navalny again here. The blogger who would be kind of Russian was last seen fueling up his drones for another flyby of Sergey Shoygu’s super secret space station home. Having attempted to label Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev a criminal for the places he’s vacationed at, Navalny seems unable to stop himself proving the insignificant. I think the best reason for Russians to ignore Putin’s biggest detractor is the simple fact he knows nothing of Russian people. Hey Navalny, heads up, Russians don’t care if Putin is rich, they only care if he does his job. Sorry, this western poster boy of change in Russia, he just sets me off. What an idiot. But let’s move on to another famous profiteer who Putin banished from Russia, the founder of Hermitage Capital Management, Bill Browder.

It’s amazing how western mainstream media and the politicians always turn to Putin haters to be experts or to get “proof” on the Russian leader. Haven’t you noticed yet how Russian mafia types like Yukos Oil oligarch Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and before him the now deceased Boris Berezovsky always pop up as “experts” on Putin? Isn’t it a bit strange that news media in the west never seem to cite people with a positive or moderate stance on Russia’s president? I am sure this coincidence is not because of the scarcity of pro-Putin experts. Whatever the reasoning, the Australian article fueled by Navalny’s drone footage dredges up another ousted financial crook who hates Putin’s guts. Most readers will identify Bill Broder with Hermitage Capital, but few will recall that the investment firm was also funded by one Beny Steimetz, the Israeli oligarch and financier just arrested (August 14) by Israeli and Swiss anti-corruption officials for wide scale fraud and money laundering. The Russian privatization shark who was once Israel’s richest man is a subject for another report. I only bring him up here to point at two facets of this war on Putin. First, the Jewish connection in all this is something that just needs to come out. Secondly, the ring of profiteers bent on Putin’s demise all have gigantic skeletons in their wardrobes. A story citing one Putin hater, when investigated, always leads to ten more. This is no coincidence.

Back to Browder, his Hermitage was at one time the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia. That was before Vladimir Putin put a stop to the rape of Russia’s legacy and the theft of her assets. This is undeniable fact, and even the lowliest of Russian peasants know it by now. Browder, a Chicago Jew, set out to profit from Russian privatization after Yeltsin, but was thwarted like other sharks when Putin’s hammer fell on other mafiosos. RICO suits, libel cases, tax evasion charges, and ties to some of the seediest characters in world finance highlight the man who pushed the now famous Magnitsky Act into US foreign policy play. It’s no coincidence that Browder has emerged as a central player in the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The privateer who made billions off Russian privatization turned into a human rights activist, and now he’s bent on seeing Donald Trump impeached!

The reader might be surprise to discover the source of the statement “Russia is more dangerous than ISIS” was actually Bill Browder, rather than rabid Arizona Senator John McCain. Or was McCain first? Both Russia haters told reporters of the grave danger to the US at the same time actually, back in May of 2017. Perhaps the narrative of US war hawk politicians and ousted financial henchmen has become just that convergent, but I somehow doubt the coincidence. Both Browder and McCain contend that Russian President Vladimir Putin used the country’s primary security agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), to meddle in the U.S. presidential election, but neither has shown any proof of their claims. I mention this “coincidental” melding of message for obvious reasons. Or maybe McCain and Browder are now pals as this Browder Tweet on McCain returning to the Senate to do battle against Russia after his hospital stint suggests. What’s most amazing to me is the way FOX and other networks readily use Browder and other suspected criminals without searching out counter arguments for their stories. Maybe Rupert Murdoch can answer that one. And so on, and so on, and so on…

Every time I start researching for one of these stories I end up in a deep and dark rabbit hole of collusion and confusion. In each and every case I end up with Vladimir Putin stoically defending a position against wild assertions with no proof whatsoever. The big picture of the “game” by now is like watching a schoolyard name calling and finger pointing contest. The iconic bullies and thugs are on one end of the yard, while their target stands virtually alone looking as innocent as a lamb for a variety of reasons. It’s become ridiculous, but there’s always more.

A story by Kevin Alfred Strom at the National Vanguard, which was originally published back in 2004, adds light to a facet of the Russia privatization profiteering, and ties into some recent stories of my own here on NEO. “The Silent Coup: Putin vs. the Oligarchs” deals with these ousted oligarchs and the western investors intent on carving up Russia after the wall came down. But more importantly, the piece cites Putin on the case of Jewish mafiosos always seeming to play a role. The story of influence by Israel, AIPAC, and a cadre of Jewish billionaires converge when Strom cites Vladimir Putin in his story. Notable Jewish figures like Boris Berezovsky, Mikhail Friedman, Vladimir Gusinsky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Alexander Smolensky are highlighted in the story alongside Putin’s lesser publicized views on Zionists in Russia at the time of privatization. The piece also points out the Russian people’s utter hatred for most of these Jewish oligarchs, a hatred that has absolutely nothing to do with anti-Semitism by the way. Since Putin seized the Rothschild/Khodorkovsky share of Yukos Oil, Russia has been divesting herself of the only Zionist plot that matters, the ending of Jewish mafia/oligarch control of the country. Not many readers will realize that Russia’s Central Bank (CBR) is a member of Rothschild BIS.

An article by Alexander Azadgan at KATEHON expands on the Jewish money component, and reiterates the possibility of Putin nationalizing the CBR. Given new sanctions by the US and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev describing them as “full scale economic war” waged on Russia, it’s important to observe Putin’s moves east and especially the new BRICS dealings. For Russians, it matters little if Vladimir Putin has 100 yachts and fifty mansions, as long as Russia is not raped and destroyed by the unscrupulous of the world. Putin’s job is clear, defend Russia – period. His compensation is of little consequence to his people. All we hear, read, and see about Putin’s Russia is from a London, Brussels, or Washington standpoint – never a Moscow one. The influence of Zionist bankers is well known to Russians, and almost unheard of by Americans. The enemy Russia really consists of Zionists and technocrats who do know the name of the game, and the public they use to do their bidding. In the same way the Jewish religion and Jewish people are used for the Zionist bankers’ purposes, the waiting public is leveraged through blind ignorance and propaganda against Russia. For those who believe alternative fairytales I can only say…

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

Russia, US Officials Revive Dialogue on Arms Control: Offering Glimmer of Hope

By Andrei AKULOV | Strategic Culture Foundation | 14.09.2017

The New Start Treaty was in focus of the talks held in Helsinki between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon on September 11-12. The parties agreed that the treaty should be implemented without exception. It was revealed that expert consultations on the future of the agreement had begun. A meeting of the US-Russian bilateral commission on implementing the New START would take place in the near future so that the two sides could continue their discussion of the technical aspects of implementation.

In force since 2011, New START foresees the reduction of both countries’ nuclear arsenals to 1,550 warheads and 700 operationally deployed launch systems by 2018. The treaty also obliges Moscow and Washington to exchange information about their nuclear weapon stockpiles. It is one of the few nuclear agreements still being honored amid the current strained relations between Washington and Moscow. The treaty is set to expire in 2021 and stipulates that the parties may agree to extend it for a period of no more than five years.

With no negotiations in sight on a new strategic arms reduction agreement, it would be prudent to extend the treaty till 2026. True, it would be even more beneficial to have a new treaty, if possible, but there are obstacles on the way. At this level of reductions, other nuclear powers should join. This prospect is hardly feasible at present, and yet step-by-step progress toward constructive consultations on nuclear arms reductions and transparency measures is possible. The US program of creating a global missile defense is also a hindrance. There is also a problem of mistrust against the background of the relationship at its lowest ebb.

An agreement to extend the landmark treaty is the way to stabilize the ties and prevent a competition. It would revive the hopes for saving the arms control regime, which is being eroded, to put the world back to the brink of nuclear war where it had been before the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1963. The mutual limits and the robust verification and compliance regime, including satellites, on-site inspections, required notifications, and data exchanges enhance stability and reduce incentives for engaging in an arms race. With no verification procedures in place, the leaderships of both countries would lose a critical source of intelligence, hampering policymakers’ ability to make informed decisions. By extending New START, the parties could add stability at the time of increasing tensions.

In February, President Trump decried the New START Treaty. He said it was one-sided and «Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran deal … We’re going to start making good deals», he said in an interview with Reuters. He also responded negatively to Russian President Putin’s suggestion to extend that treaty in a January phone call.

The military leaders appear to have a different view. Gen. John Hyten, the head of US Strategic Command, told Congress in March that he is a “big supporter” of the treaty. According to him, “bilateral, verifiable arms control agreements are essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent.” Secretaries of Defense and State, support New START. The Federation of American Scientists supports the treaty. European allies also back the idea of keeping New START in force. According to Federica Mogherini, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, “The right path is the one marked by the New START Treaty and its implementation. This is the kind of cooperation between Russia and the United States that we Europeans like to see.”

The United States is currently pursuing a near-complete overhaul of all elements of its strategic nuclear potential. Over the next 30 years, it plans to have a new ICBM, a new strategic submarine, a new bomber, and a new nuclear cruise missile. However, none of the plans are inhibited by New START. Russia is going through modernization of its nuclear triad. It’s absolutely important to keep the limitations and verification procedures in place to ensure adequate planning.

Extending New START could help create a positive atmosphere for improving the US-Russia relationship. It would help head off unconstrained nuclear arms race and global security. Failing to pursue an extension would be a major missed opportunity.

Nobody expects spectacular breakthroughs, but it’s good news the issue of strategic stability was at last addressed during a high level Russia-US meeting. It was abnormal that the nuclear arms reductions were not part of the bilateral agenda for such a long period of time. It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the fact that the dialogue is revived at the time when the entire arms control and non-proliferation regime is unraveling. Looks like at last a glimmer of light appeared at the end of the tunnel.

September 14, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Anti-Russian sanctions cost Europe $100bn – UN Special Rapporteur

RT | September 13, 2017

Over the last three years, the European Union has been losing at least $3.2 billion every month due to the anti-Russian penalties, according to a report by a UN Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy.

“The most credible approximation is of $3.2 billion a month,” says the report on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures, as quoted by Sputnik.

Jazairy stressed that Russia had sustained a direct loss of nearly $15 billion a year or a total of $55 billion so far.

“The resulting overall income loss of $155 billion is shared by source and target countries,” he added.

EU sanctions against Russia were introduced in 2014 over the country’s alleged involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. The penalties targeted Russia’s financial, energy, and defense sectors, along with some government officials, businessmen, and public figures.

Moscow responded by imposing an embargo on agricultural produce, food and raw materials on countries that joined the anti-Russian sanctions. Since then the sides have repeatedly broadened and extended the restrictive measures.

Russia is the EU’s fourth-largest trading partner after the US, China and Switzerland. The country is also Europe’s biggest natural gas supplier, as well as one of its biggest oil suppliers.

The penalties have been severely criticized by European politicians and businessmen as both politically ineffective and economically harmful for both Russia and Europe.

September 13, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

US Comes to Russia With ‘Absurd’ Request for More Sanctions Against North Korea

Sputnik | September 11, 2107

Given the US approach to its relations with Russia, it is “absurd” for Washington to expect Moscow’s support for its sanctions plan for North Korea, Georgiy Toloraya of the Russian Academy of Sciences told Sputnik.

On Monday, the UN Security Council is to vote on a US-drafted resolution that would strengthen sanctions against North Korea in the aftermath of a reported sixth nuclear test.

The original version of the text called for a trade embargo on oil and textiles and a financial and travel ban for leader Kim Jong-un. China and Russia oppose sanctions that could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in the country, which was already put under more sanctions in August. With that in view, the US has watered down the text in order to win the approval of the Security Council, although it still proposes a ban on North Korean textiles.

Georgiy Toloraya, Director of the Center for Russian Strategy in Asia at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Economics, told Sputnik that the US position, which expects Russia to support sanctions against North Korea while at the same time sanctioning Russia, is “absurd.”

“The Americans want to deprive the North Koreans of heat, to expel all their guest workers who are needed by Russia in the Far East, and also to stop the export of textiles from the DPRK. What does that have to do with the nuclear missile program?” Toloraya asked.

“In addition, the Russian president said correctly that it is quite absurd to include Russia along with the DPRK on the sanctions list, and then ask us to take joint actions on sanctions. Moreover, we consider this unnecessary because sanctions simply don’t work.”

In July, the US Congress approved a sanctions bill targeting Russia, Iran and North Korea. Speaking at the BRICS conference last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “It’s ridiculous to put us on the same sanctions list as North Korea and then ask for our help in imposing sanctions on North Korea.”

Zhou Yongsheng of the Center for International Relations Studies at the Diplomatic Academy told Sputnik China that as far as sanctions are concerned, it’s either all or nothing.

“I think that if we really apply a full package of sanctions to the DPRK, then this will also help solve the nuclear problem. Since right now the supply of energy resources and grain to the DPRK has not been completely stopped, this means that the DPRK has the means for a confrontation with the international community. In the event that some kind of supply to the DPRK is interrupted completely, then the country won’t last too long and it is very possible that it will make some concessions,” Zhou declared.

At a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday, Putin remarked on the importance of deescalating the tense situation in the Korean peninsula.

“There is no point in giving in to emotions and driving North Korea into a corner. Now, more than ever, everybody needs to stay calm and avoid steps that lead to an escalation of tension,” Putin said.

Moon Jae-in and Putin signed a host of deals to boost bilateral cooperation in the areas of joint financial and investment platforms, healthcare and IT. Putin also reiterated Russia’s readiness to develop trilateral projects in the Far East with both North and South Korea, which would open the country up economically and politically.

“Development of the Far East will not only contribute to the prosperity of the two states but also to changes in North Korea, which will become a basis for trilateral relations,” the South Korean president said.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

Moscow to bring diplomatic missions in US, Washington’s in Russia to parity – Lavrov

RT | September 11, 2017

Moscow will bring the terms of work of its diplomatic missions in the US and those of Washington in Russia into “full parity,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced. The statement comes after the Russian Consulate in San Francisco and two trade missions in Washington, DC, and NYC were forced to close at the end of August.

Russian authorities, Lavrov said, asked the Americans to make sure the overall number of their diplomatic staff working in Russia equals that of the number of Russian diplomats working in the US.

“But in doing so, we included into that overall number everyone who work at the Russian mission in the UN,” Lavrov told reporters at a press conference in Amman, Jordan, on Monday.

“Understandably, this is a separate issue not relating to bilateral [US-Russia] relations.

“Nevertheless, doing so we showed our good will,” he continued. “The US has sort of pocketed our kind gesture and said ‘If Russians want parity, make them close one of four consulates [in the US] as we have only three consulates in Russia.’”

The US State Department insisted that the move was reciprocal to Moscow’s decision to cut the number of American diplomatic staff in Russia.

Lavrov added that Moscow is now looking at conditions under which the American diplomatic missions operate in Russia, and vice versa.

“If the US makes parity a criterion, we will bring those conditions in full accordance with what is called parity,” Lavrov said.

Last week, President Vladimir Putin also spoke of disparity between Russia and the US in the number of their diplomatic staff.

“We have agreed with our [American] partners that there should be parity of the number of diplomatic staff in Russia and the United States. There were some 1,300 diplomats from the US; we had 455. We corrected this,” Putin told journalists last Tuesday.

“But among those 455 diplomatic staff working in the United States there are 155 people working at the United Nations. Strictly speaking, they are not part of the diplomatic corps accredited by the US State Department,” he added.

“So true parity would be the US not having 455 diplomats in Russia, but 155 fewer.”

The lingering diplomatic row between Washington and Moscow began back in 2016, when the outgoing Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland. Notably, Moscow chose not to retaliate at the time, hoping to mend ties during Donald Trump’s presidency.

American lawmakers, however, limited Trump’s ability to formulate foreign policy towards Russia by barring him from easing sanctions on Russia without congressional approval.

In July, following the US Congress’ approval of new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea in one package, Moscow cut the staff at American missions in Russia by 755 people. This brought the number to the same as Russian diplomatic staff in the US, which is 455 people.

In August, Washington announced in response that US consulates in Russia had halted issuing all non-immigrant visas for Russian citizens until further notice.

On August 31, on the Trump administration cited “the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians” and ordered the Russian Consulate in San Francisco, as well as two trade missions in Washington, DC, and New York City, to close. Moreover, FBI operatives conducted searches at Russia’s San Francisco Consulate.

The Russian Foreign Ministry vehemently opposed the closures, accusing operatives of the US security agencies that entered the Russian Consulate in San Francisco of “behaving like raiders.”

“Representatives of the US law enforcement agencies conduct unknown activities on the territory of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco. They mutilate expensive parquet and do work without permission. Most importantly, nobody knows who these people are, who behave like raiders,” the ministry said.

Under the Vienna Convention

on Diplomatic Relations, premises of [any] diplomatic or consular mission “shall be inviolable” and “agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.”

September 11, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Steadfast Pinnacle 2017: Dozens of NATO commanders flock to Latvia for war games

RT | September 10, 2017

he Steadfast Pyramid 2017 military exercise kicks off in Latvia on Sunday, with 40 senior commanders from NATO states, as well as Finland and Sweden. They are expected to train how to “plan and conduct operations” amid the bloc’s buildup in the region.

Steadfast Pyramid 2017 and Steadfast Pinnacle 2017, involving more than 40 senior officers from NATO member states, plus Finland and Sweden, will take place at the Riga-based Latvian Defense Academy, the country’s national news agency LETA reported on Sunday.

Steadfast Pyramid, the first part of the exercise, will last until September 15. It is reportedly “to improve the ability of top-level officers and commanders to plan and lead joint operations,” according to LETA.

Steadfast Pinnacle, the next stage of the drill, will last from September 17 until September 22. Steadfast Pyramid and Steadfast Pinnacle were first held in Latvia in 2011.

British General James Everard, the NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is expected to arrive in Latvia to oversee both stages of the exercise, Latvia’s Defense Ministry said, according to LETA.

Not much is known so far about the war games. A NATO fact sheet says Steadfast Pyramid and Steadfast Pinnacle are focused on “further developing the abilities of commanders and senior staff to plan and conduct operations through the application of operational art in decision making.”

Latvia, a former Soviet republic, has seen a major NATO buildup over the past months. Recently, NATO deployed four multinational battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland as part of Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP). These combat-ready battlegroups, led by the UK, Canada, Germany, and the US respectively, are meant to demonstrate “the strength of the transatlantic bond.”

A 1,100-strong battlegroup led by Canada is stationed in Latvia, comprising a number of mechanized infantry units as well as a tank company and some support elements, according to NATO. 

Poland and the Baltic states are calling for a stronger military presence in their countries, claiming it is necessary to deter “assertive” Russia.

Lithuania, another Baltic state, has suggested developing a “military Schengen project that would facilitate the movement of troops in Europe.”

Earlier this week, Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said the Benelux countries – Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg – as well as Finland and Estonia, support the plan, which includes “simplifying procedures and investing in infrastructure.”

Moscow has consistently said the ongoing buildup threatens Russian and European security. In mid-July, Russian envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko said the alliance is pushing forward for “an intensive mastering of the potential theater of military operations, accompanied by the development of the necessary infrastructure.”

From July to November, NATO will hold 15 drills complementing each other, “which are held in the same operative field and aimed at providing a vast range of support measures,” Grushko added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier said that Moscow will not remain silent facing emerging threats on its western borders. NATO’s saber-rattling leaves Russia no other choice than to “give a suitable response to all of these actions,” he said, noting that Moscow’s countermeasures will be “much cheaper,” if not quite as technologically advanced, Putin told award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone.

READ MORE: 

Russia will respond to NATO expansion to keep strategic balance – Putin

Lithuania proposes ‘military Schengen’ plan for easier movement of troops in Europe

US to boost air & troop presence in Lithuania during Russia-Belarus drills

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Mexican Standoff Goes Nuclear

By Frank Lee | OffGuardian | September 10, 2017

In the red corner…

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu

… And in the blue corner…

James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, United States Secretary for Defence

Apart from the criminally insane, (John McCain, Lindsey Graham et al.) nobody wants war, particularly nuclear war. Unfortunately, however, war happens, sometimes by accident sometimes by design. The present standoff between the US/NATO and Russia and China is a case in point. The United States ever present hegemonic ambitions are hardly secret and have been displayed in their most virulent and openly aggressive forms since the collapse of the USSR.

This latter event was a key moment in the present historical conjuncture. During the 1990s Russia was prostrate and the US/NATO juggernaut was able to take full advantage of the situation. The war against what used to be called the third world, had always been a feature of US foreign policy, however now with the disappearance of the one geopolitical bloc which could hold the US in check, the US imperial leviathan was able to extend its aggression to both Russia and more lately China. Ex-soviet satellites, and even ex-Soviet republics in Europe were sucked into the voracious maw of NATO, which was to double in size and expand right up to Russia’s western frontier. In passing, we may note that the collapse of communism also had the effect of an abject surrender of the centre-left/social democratic currents in Europe, and their conversion to both neoliberalism and neoconservatism.

NATO membership meant that the US effectively controlled Europe’s foreign policy and this policy fait accompli was ratified in the Lisbon Treaty which meant that Europe’s defence and security policy was outsourced to a non-member of the EU, i.e. the United States, who control NATO. In short, the EU became a civilian wing of NATO. These events were of course a naked provocation as was the dismemberment of Yugoslavia in the 90s.

The continued policy of provocation became the order of the day. In 2008 NATO announced boldly that Georgia and Ukraine “will become members of NATO.” Thereupon Georgia’s comical President Mikheil Saakasvili bombarded Tskhinvali, capital of the self-declared Republic of South Ossetia that had resisted integration into the current Republic of Georgia since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. In this instance Russia defended South Ossetia, invading Georgia. It then recognized the independence, both of South Ossetia and of the Republic of Abkhazia, from Georgia. (This may be a tit-for-tat response to the U.S.’s decision to recognize Kosovo’s independence from Serbia six months earlier.) Then in 2014 came the ultimate provocation: the American backed coup in Ukraine which resulted in the ongoing and open-ended Ukrainian imbroglio 2014-2017. This resulted inter alia in the referendum and defection of the Crimea into the Russian Federation, and a nasty little war in the Russian-speaking Don Bass which chose to secede from the Ukraine.

US historian and foreign policy realist John Mearsheimer in 2014 argued, I think correctly, that:

According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin’s decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine.

But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West.

At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine — beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 — were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbour turned into a Western bastion.

For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president — which he rightly labelled a “coup” — was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West” Foreign Affairs – Autumn 2014

It should be understood that possible Ukrainian and Georgian membership of NATO is still on the table, which in itself constitutes a provocation. This much was made clear by the NATO Secretary-General – the wretched Jens Stoltenberg – who recently visited Kiev and held discussions with the Kiev Junta boss Poroshenko. US representative in the shape of ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis has also been a recent visitor. The issue of supplying lethal US arms to the Kiev Junta was certainly discussed but no definitive judgement has been made – yet.

So where is all this leading? To the fabled Mexican standoff that’s where. Regarding the issue of lethal arms. The Ukrainians already have these – they have been and were supplied covertly through the Baltics and Poland (naturally Poland) during the earlier period of the war 2014-2016. The Ukrainian Army (UAF) has been trained and equipped by NATO and has 200,000 men under arms, mostly wretched conscripts, who would rather be somewhere else, but with some more effective punitive neo-Nazi units. At present, there are all sorts of rumours circulating of a supposedly imminent invasion of the Don Bass by a rejuvenated Ukrainian military. Maybe, but in the past these rumours have generally come to nothing. But be sure that if this turns out to be the case it will be an American decision, not Poroshenko’s who is a US/NATO puppet. However, the US investment in the training and arming of UAF is no guarantee of battlefield effectiveness; the US also trained and equipped the Georgian Army as well as the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) both of whom who hardly distinguished themselves in the heat of battle.

If such an invasion does occur the relevant questions would seem to be how will Russia react. Putin is on record as saying he will ‘not allow’ a Ukrainian army to annihilate the people of the Don Bass, this is said to be a Red Line for Putin. As in previous clashes Russia did at least covertly intervene in the fighting; there were also Russian (and other national) volunteers who fought on the side of the Don Bass militias. As for the ethnic Russian population of the Don Bass they want under no circumstances to be reintegrated with their hated enemies in the west and central Ukraine. Too much blood has been split for an implementation of the Minsk agreements, which in any case the Kiev Junta has shown no interest in implementing.

Trying to force the Don Bass into a Ukraine governed by the same oligarch/Nazi coalition Junta ensconced in Kiev, would be like trying to force Protestant Northern Ireland into the Catholic Irish Republic. This would simply lead to a continuation of the war – albeit in a different form.

In the event of renewed hostilities and the Don Bass being in danger of being over-run, can Russia stand by and do nothing? In this case it would mean the neo-Nazi battalions will be right on Russia’s border less than 100 km from the city of Rostov-on-Don. Should Putin be taken at face value when he said he would not contemplate this eventuality?

In the event that the DPR/LPR do fall this would mean a massive victory for the NATO-backed UAF proxies and a strategic disaster for Russia who will then be seen as a paper tiger, thereby emboldening the Anglo-Zionist empire in its programme for the destruction of Russia as an independent sovereign state. If Putin does stand firm – as he must – what then will be the reaction of the US/NATO and what would be the political repercussions in Ukraine itself? After heavy defeats suffered by the UAF at Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo a third defeat would be likely to lead to very serious domestic political upheaval. In this scenario, I think both US/NATO would simply turn their backs on the whole failing project, particularly the EU. Who knows?

Ultimately Ukraine is of extreme strategic interest to Russia, but of negligible interest to the United States. Risking a nuclear war with Russia over a tin-pot regime in Ukraine and thereby exposing the US homeland to nuclear decimation over a war they don’t have to fight seems very unlikely. And as for the notion of winning (whatever that means) a nuclear war, I doubt any sane person believes that is possible. See below.

The Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABM) systems are so unreliable it would almost be an accident if they worked. They’ve never been tested under real conditions and they can be defeated by very basic countermeasures.”
Ted Postol, a professor at MIT and a former scientific advisor for the Pentagon.

When I think of the persistent history of the forlorn idea of the defence against a nuclear attack, I am tempted to think that the notion especially typifies Einstein’s grim and painfully realistic observation that ‘the unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking.’ It has certainly been normal in history to think of fashionable defences against evolving military threats. But nuclear weapons unleashed in a large-scale attack bring a sure destruction, one so massive as to rule out any successful defence. Defence in conflict, a traditional mode of thinking, is here no longer plausible. In a nuclear war, the long-standing ‘norm’ of reliance on defence has become a self-deception, a most human and understandable one, and one that is rooted in an aversion to the new reality.”William J Perry – Secretary of State for Defence for the United States 1994-1997.
(‘My Journey at the Nuclear Brink’)

Defending the United States against a major Russian or Chinese ballistic missile attack is currently not feasible. A reliable and affordable defence that could protect America against a Russian ICBM and SLBM force that could launch some 1,500 ballistic missile warheads simply does not exist. While the Chinese force is much smaller, numbering several dozen ICBMs, it probably includes countermeasures that would seriously complicate disruption by missile defines systems…

For the foreseeable future, offense wins the offense-defence relationship. Offensive ballistic missile technology is far more mature than that of missile defence, and cost considerations favour the offense. Adding fourteen more GMD interceptors by 2017 will require the Pentagon to spend about $1 billion. The Russians and Chinese can each add fourteen more warheads to their strategic offensive forces at considerably less cost. One reason that the Russians are building a replacement for their heavy SS-18 ICBM is to have a missile that can carry ten-fifteen warheads as a means of overwhelming a future American missile defence.

It is important to remember that the other side may not sit passively as the U.S. military develops missile defences. Other nuclear powers may choose to build up their strategic offensive forces in response, increasing the number of nuclear weapons targeted at the United States (China comes to mind). Indeed, it was concern that the ABM systems of the 1960s would spark an uncontrollable strategic offensive arms race that led to negotiation of the 1972 ABM Treaty.
None of this is to say that a future technological breakthrough might not produce a change in the offense-defence equation. Some new technology could be developed that would make defence against ballistic missiles far more lethal, cost-effective and attractive, tilting the equation to favour defence instead of offense. But that breakthrough does not appear to be on the horizon, at least not for the next fifteen-twenty years. And a key lesson of the past thirty-two years is that technology in the missile defence area often does not deliver on its potential—at least not as rapidly, or as inexpensively, as originally thought.” The National Interest. March 2015 – Steven Pifer

Steven Pifer directs the Brookings Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative.

And Finally, from The National Interest 14-08-2017:

Technology, in effect, made Russia America’s insufferable but inescapable Siamese twin. The strategic reality is even more horrific. However demonic, however destructive, however devious, however deserving of being strangled Russia is, the brute fact is that we cannot kill this bastard without committing suicide.” Graham Allison

Setting aside the usual American self-righteous, messianic, ‘indispensable nation’, bombast, – vide supra – the central core of the above statements makes the realist-realpolitik argument very forcefully. (1) The US is not invulnerable and (2) It would suffer massive damage, possibly terminal, in a nuclear exchange, as would the whole world. Ideologues, fools, journalists and mountebanks may wish to assert otherwise but the truth is self-evident and sobering. The media, deep-state, Tweedledum-Tweedledee two party cartel and the MIC, national security state, are pushing America and the rest of the world towards this precipice hoping Russia will surrender. This is, to say the least, an extremely risky strategy. But what if Russia chooses not to surrender? Will any US President be willing to sacrifice New York for Moscow, or Los Angeles for St. Petersburg? I somehow doubt it. Sticking my neck out I think the whole thing is a bluff; to be sure a dangerous one, but I think the realist argument will trump (sorry about the pun) the ideological one. One thing we can be sure of is that appeasement has not worked with the Anglo-Zionist empire and it never will.

To quote Kipling;

He who pays the Dangeld never gets rid of the Dane.”

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment