Tag Archive | "Russia"

“Unfriendly Relations” with Russia, American Imperialism and the Dangers of Nuclear War


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“Unfriendly Relations” with Russia, American Imperialism and the Dangers of Nuclear War: Trump and the Wolfowitz Doctrine

 

As President Trump affirms publicly his commitment to friendly relations with Russia at an economic summit in Hanoi, (the first President since Franklin Roosevelt to do so), the press backs the special prosecutor seeking to indict him, while NATO continues to ramp up its forces on Russia’s borders with Europe by bringing in tanks and other ‘defensive’ weapons. 

Although the United States was founded on Christian principles, and has one of the highest percentages of people practicing a religion of any Western country, most Americans seem not to realize that their country is building a case for nuclear war with the other major nuclear power. Until recently, Americans believed that while nuclear weapons were a necessary evil — because our enemies had them — every effort should be made to avoid using them. Now, Russian ‘behavior’ in its own back yard is seen as justifying an American attack, the inevitable use of nukes merely a slight detour on the path of human progress.

Has Russia done anything that even comes close to war-ranting talk of war?

Its two alleged sins are ‘invading’ Ukraine and ‘interfering’ in a sacred American exercise.

Interestingly, rather than using the word ‘election’, the beltway refers to Russia’s internet capers as ‘interfering in our Democracy’. Ever since the highest court baptized corporations as people, allowing them to spend unlimited money to help their candidates win elections, democracy has been spelled with a capital D, the media breathlessly zeroing in on the amounts candidates raise, rather than on the ideas they espouse. Vladimir Putin’s sin is not to have drawn a sword. 

These accusations only work because Americans were taught to regard Russia as an ‘evil empire’for having embraced a political philosophy intended to ensure the well-being of the 99%, (whether or not it succeeded). When, after seventy years, it executed a stunning turnaround, allowing capitalism to flourish (creating a lot of crooks and billionaires in the process), American policymakers could have applauded. Instead, Washington began building a case for confrontation.

The rationale behind this behavior is Washington’s stated plan to carve up the world’s largest country into loyal fiefdoms to ensure continuing American world hegemony. I’ve mentioned the Wolfowitz Doctrine before, but until it becomes mandatory high school reading, Americans will believe congressional and special investigations are necessary as a prelude to war.

Drafted in 1992, a year after the Soviet Union imploded, by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz (image right) and never superseded, under the humdrum title of Defense Planning Guidance, its purpose was and is 

“to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.” (emphasis added)

The notion of an imperial presidency did not do justice to this set of detailed policy recommendations intended to ensure that no country is ever able to challenge American hegemony. When it was leaked to the New York TimesSenator Edward Kennedy described its recommendation of pre-emptive military action to prevent any other nation from rising to superpower status as “a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept.” Confronted with widespread condemnation, the document was rewritten in softer language, and when the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan – neither of which could possibly challenge American hegemony – it became known as the Bush doctrine. 

Continued uninterruptedly at the cost of thousands of American, and especially foreign lives, some might see in it echoes of Hitler’s plan for a thousand year Reich, but sadly, most Americans believe their country is merely — and generously! —exercising ‘benevolent oversight’ over an innocent ‘rules-based’ order. As rewritten, the Defense Planning Guidance lays out pious aspirations:

“Our most fundamental goal is to deter or defeat attack from whatever source… The second goal is to strengthen and extend the system of defense arrangements that binds democratic and like-minded nations together in common defense against aggression, build habits of cooperation, avoid the re-nationalization of security policies, and provide security at lower costs and with lower risks for all. Our preference for a collective response to preclude threats or, if necessary, to deal with them is a key feature of our regional defense strategy. The third goal is to preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the re-emergence of a global threat to the interests of the U.S. and our allies.” 

No matter how it is couched, the Wolfowitz Doctrine is the twenty-year old foreign policy guide that Donald Trump’s ‘naive’ foreign policy goals challenge, provoking a no holds barred assault by those who helped him get elected. Americans are aware of the Authorization for the Use of Force (AUF) which theoretically has to be voted by Congress for the US to be able to attack another country, but they lack the key tool to make sense of US foreign policy.

Although Russia and China are the only countries capable of challenging US dominance, they have made no threats. To understand Washington’s seeming obsession with preventing it ever happening, we need to back up to 2007. In a landmark speech to the 2007 Munich International Security Conference, Vladimir Putin advocated an international architecture in which the four or five regional powers would cooperate on the international stage to ensure peace and prosperity for all. Since any form of power-sharing contradicts the Wolfowitz doctrine, the US responded by fomenting a series of color revolutions, starting with Georgia in 2008, then Ukraine in 2014 aimed at eventually carving up Russia itself that dared propose such a thing into obedient fiefdoms, presumably before taking on the other major power, China.  

In 2014, NPR broadcast a discussion between Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, and journalist Corey Flintoff, in which the Russian says:

“The socioeconomic problems of some countries are used as an e cuse to replace nationally-oriented governments with regimes controlled from abroad. Those regimes provide their patrons with unimpeded access to these countries’ resources…”

This suggests that President Putin was well aware of the Wolfowitz doctrine when the US assiduously backed the ‘freedom fighters’ in Kiev’s Maidan Square, who eventually overthrew the pro-Russian president, Victor Yanukovich (whose image Paul Manafort was paid to polish…).

Washington was not concerned by the leading role played by private, far-right militias who worship the memory of nationalist Stepan Bandera, who fought with the Nazis in World War II, expecting a victorious Hitler to grant Ukraine independence from the Soviet Union.

Neo-Nazi March in Kiev, portrait of Bandera

In fact, Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of State for Eastern European Affairs, Victoria Nuland, personally kept up the rebellion’s morale by handing out cookies in the Maidan encampments. When Yanukovich was forced to flee for his life, she chose his successor in consultation with then American Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, in a telephone conversa-tion which can be found on the web.  

Nuland and Pyatt in Kiev

Here we must back up to Ukraine’s tragic history as part of a changing set of entities that included some or all of its neighbors, Russia, Poland and the Baltic states, only achieving independence between 1917 and 1921. Ukraine’s nationalist aspirations continue to take precedence over any repugnance its people might feel vis a vis the Neo-Nazi militias, who in fact took over security after the 2014 coup. Attitudes are very different, however, among the Russian-speaking population located in the east of the country along the Russian border. Unbeknownst to most Americans, the Soviet Union lost 26 million people in repelling Hitler from its territory and liberating Eastern Europe. So when the coup government in Kiev removed equal status for the Russian language, referring to Russians as ‘cockroaches’, the inhabitants of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms.

They would have preferred to rejoin the mother country, but President Putin, who has a degree in international law, made clear that this was not going to happen. Instead, he backed their demands for significant local autonomy, helping the peoples’ militias resist attacks by Kiev’s troops. True to the Wolfowitz playbook, President Obama accused him of ‘invading’ his neighbor, acting ‘as though might makes right’.. 

“Wolfowitz” attributes even greater importance to events in Crimea. As in Eastern Ukraine, ninety percent of the peninsula’s inhabitants are also Russians, but the context is different: Russia cannot afford to lose its one warm water naval base, built by Catherine the Great in Sebastopol, so Putin organized a referendum, knowing Crimeans would vote overwhelmingly to rejoin the mother country. In fact, Crimea had always been part of Russia until in 1954, Khruschev gifted it to Ukraine. Currently, the Duma is discussing a bill that would rescind Khruschev’s decision, eliminating the peg upon which the US hangs its accusations of Russian illegality. 

(Among the more than 800 American military bases worldwide, twelve are in tiny South Korea, while only three Russian bases are located outside the borders of the Commonwealth of independent States, which replaced the Soviet Union. These consist of one air base and one port in Syria and a naval resupply facility in Vietnam.)

Under these circumstances and as a man committed to making deals rather than wars, candidate Trump announced his desire to improve relations with Russia, approved by a public that has long since forgotten the Wolfowitz Doctrine. However, for Washington bureaucrats, who remain the same from one president to the next, Wolfowitz remains the law of the land, and trips to Moscow that could be construed as ‘political’ were criminal. Russia having gone from being ‘foreign’ to ‘adversary’ to ‘enemy’ on the basis of its so-called ‘invasion’ of Ukraine, American citizens are required to signal any encounter with Russians to the FBI! Saudi Arabia can bomb tiny Yemen to smithereens, in the biggest ethnic cleansing ever, but talking to Russians can land you in jail. 

Relations between Obama and Putin, and even more so, between Hillary Clinton and the Russian President, were already so bad even before the election, that the US media accused the Russian President of purposely introducing a large dog into one of their meetings, knowing that Hillary fears canines. (Putin shows off his dogs the way Trump shows off his Mandarin-singing granddaughter, but according to the Kremlin, when he noticed Hillary’s discomfort, he apologized and dismissed the dog.)

Such ‘unverifiables’ litter the US/Russia relationship, but Hillary’s fear of dogs is by far more credible than is Russia’s ‘invasion’ of Ukraine. Had it actually occurred, Kiev would have fallen in twenty-four hours. And yet, Paul Manafort’s scrubbing from the Republican presidential platform of a promise to provide weapons to Kiev, is condemned as favoring Russia rather than as depriving a Neo-Nazi regime of the means to kill its own citizens.

In the end, Russiagate is just another example of America’s fairytale foreign policy: are Muslim militias, whether Hezbollah or Hamas, ‘terrorists’, or patriotic challenges to plans for a greater Israel?

As we witness the suspicious resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister via television from the Saudi capital, the reputation of the Saudi’s nemesis, Iran — which has not attacked another country in three hundred years, should depend upon the answer to that question. However, Americans are constantly reminded that during its 1979 revolution, Iran held fifty-two US Embassy staff hostage for 444 days! Unmentioned is the fact that its revolution was in response to the situation created twenty-six years earlier, when the US carried out a coup against the elected government that was about to nationalize Iran’s oil, replacing him with the Shah, who gave us the oil and ruled with an iron fist.

(Iran and Russia have long been allies, but because America’s political elite cannot imagine that the relationship is based on shared values, it thinks it can drive a wedge between them. A similar delusion applies to the Iran nuclear deal: to their credit, our European allies have warned the US that it cannot unilaterally abandon the agreement because the Western signatories are indivisible.)  

Whether or not one applauds the election of Donald Trump,  it should be obvious that if the nuclear great powers do not maintain friendly relations, the future of mankind is in jeopardy.

Why should Russia’s ‘behavior’ in its own back yard justify plans for war?

Why, instead of handing out medals to those who reached out to Russia, are we threatening to ruin their lives?

Why do those who hope that President Trump will not challenge North Korea to a nuclear exchange not also worry about the missiles we installed in Europe, to be launched against Russia in the event that it were to ‘invade’ the tiny Baltic countries to defend their Russian minorities? (This could conceivably happen were we to also install Neo-fascist regimes in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as the next step in trying to separate Russia from its ‘near abroad…..)

As long as the regime we installed in Kiev could be seen as merely ‘tolerating’ torchlight marches by far-right militias proclaiming their allegiance to Hitler ally Stepan Bandera, the media could ignore it (between visits by the likes of Senator John McCain).

Just recently, however, President Poroshenko’s (image right) government promoted the worst pages in Ukraine’s history with a statue of a leader who oversaw the killing of thousands of Jews before Hitler came to power. Symon Petliura is sculpted sitting on a bench with papers in his hand, as if he were a thinker rather than a mass murderer, as Kiev continues to be an ‘inspiration for far-right political parties winning elections across Europe.

Meanwhile, American citizens can only watch, powerless, as the country that founded the United Nations envisions destroying significant parts of the world in order to continue dominating what remains — in the name of its exceptionalism.

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Smoking gun or nothingburger? WaPo claims Russia ‘meddled’ in election through Google, YouTube


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Image result for Smoking gun CARTOON
RT 

In the latest of its near-weekly scoops, the Washington Post has claimed that “Russian operatives exploited Google’s platforms to interfere in the 2016 election.” However, as previously, its own evidence can’t bear the weight of its allegations.

While the report did genuinely break the news of an internal investigation at the California tech giant, which Google has since confirmed, it waits until paragraph six to specify what it has found so far.

“The people familiar with its investigation said that the company is looking at a set of ads that cost less than $100,000 and that it is still sorting out whether all of the ads came from trolls or whether some originated from legitimate Russian accounts,” write the authors.

Even if the figure involved is closer to $100,000 than, say, $10,000, it is notable that the two leading candidates in the 2016 election spent at least $1.8 billion, with Hillary Clinton outspending the winning candidate Donald Trump by a factor of two to one. Evidently, she didn’t have genius Russian “trolls” authoring her ads. But then again, the authors go on to note that “the number of ads posted and the number of times those ads were clicked on could not be learned” by Google, so maybe not.

The second part of the statement – about “legitimate Russian accounts” – seems to run even more contrary to the tenor of the report, suggesting in fact that adverts being audited may represent normal spending after all, something the Washington Postomitted from its headline and intro.

The use of anonymous sources – “people familiar”  that also later featured in a Reuters version of the report – to make claims about Russia that go beyond the factual, even in situations where there is no fundamental security reason to stay off the record, has become too common to produce more than a disappointed sigh.

But there is more.

“The discovery by Google is also significant because the ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook – a sign that the Russian effort to spread disinformation online may be a much broader problem than Silicon Valley companies have unearthed so far,” write Elizabeth Dwoskin and Adam Entous, responsible for many of the newspaper’s Russian-tech-meddling stories.

So, when a “Kremlin-affiliated troll farm” buys adverts, it is evidence of Russian meddling, but when that “troll farm” doesn’t buy adverts, it is also evidence of Russian meddling, indeed perhaps “broader” in scope?

It is in fact not until the penultimate paragraph of the story that the method of the investigation is revealed.

“Google downloaded [historical tweet] data from Twitter and was able to link Russian Twitter accounts to other accounts that had used Google’s services to buy ads,” write Dwoskin and Entous.

So, from this it appears that Google has simply identified Russian Twitter accounts, and tried to find which of them bought ads on YouTube and its DoubleClick ad network – and that’s it so far. In fact, somewhat sheepishly, the authors admit in the very last paragraph that “Google’s probe is still in its early stages.”

And that is fine. But now cycle back to the claims made in the headline and compare. Why not just report the investigation? Why the tenuous insinuations and overblown allegations?

Dwoskin is the newspaper’s Silicon Valley correspondent, Entous has two decades’ experience as a well-known security, intelligence and foreign affairs correspondent. Yet over the past year the stories by  them and others from the same newsroom, have resulted in multiple retractionsdenials, and instant  takedowns.

That is not to say that they are no longer capable of credible journalism. Almost apropos of nothing in their attempt to see what sticks, at one point they state “RT also has a sizeable presence on YouTube.” That part is definitely true.

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Iran, Iraq, Russia hold meeting in Moscow


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IRNA 

Deputy Foreign Ministers of Russia, Iran and Iraq held meeting here on Wednesday to consider situation in the Middle East, crises in Iraq and Syria and trilateral coordination.

Mikhail Bogdanov, Hossein Jaberi Ansari and Nazar Khairallah kicked off the meeting in the venue of Foreign Ministry Protocol Hall in the presence of their accompanying delegation as well as Iran’s Ambassador to Moscow Mehdi Sanayee.

The latest developments in the region, especially coordination to reduce tensions and crises in the region with the aim to increase stability and peace were topics of agenda.

Before holding the joint meeting, Bogdanov met separately with Jaberi Ansari and Nazar Khairallah and discussed different issues with them.

Bogdanov and Jaberi Ansari in their 4-hours meeting discussed a collection of issues concerning West Asia and North Africa, situations in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Palestine, crisis in relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and other international and regional issues.

Intra-Syrian talks in Astana and Geneva, Syrian humanitarian needs and the issue of rebuilding Syria were among issues discussed in the meeting.

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Russia, China call for freeze on both N. Korea launches & South’s drills with US 


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Moscow and Beijing are against any missile launches carried out by North Korea and are at the same time calling on the US to halt military drills in the region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says.

The statement comes following Lavrov’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in the Philippines capital, Manila on Sunday. The ministers discussed the situation in the Korean Peninsula following the adoption of new sanctions on North Korea by the UN Security Council.

Lavrov said Russia and China have already suggested a roadmap to resolve the Korean crisis.

“Our joint initiative includes support of Russia’s proposal to create a roadmap for gradual restoration of trust and provide conditions for the resumption of the Six-Party talks. We have agreed to promote this concept in practice, including in the UN,” Lavrov said after the meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Manila.

Previously, Wang called the new restrictive measures against Pyongyang “a necessary response” aimed at “blocking North Korea’s nuclear missile development,” as cited by the South China Morning Post. He added that sanctions are not the “ultimate goal” and called for the resumption the so-called six party talks, as the situation on the Korean Peninsula “has come to a very critical juncture.”

“Sanctions are needed but are not the ultimate goal. The purpose is to pull the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table, and seek a final solution to realize the peninsula’s denuclearization and long-term stability,” Wang said.

Lavrov reiterated the joint Russian-Chinese initiative for “double freezing” which had previously been rejected by the US. The initiative, put forward by the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers on July 4, would freeze “any missile launches and any nuclear tests in North Korea,” as well as “large-scale military exercises by the United States and South Korea,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister also said that the new resolution seeks to bring the North Korean leadership to the negotiating table – the six-party talks – while the restrictive measures are designed to make Pyongyang curb its missile and nuclear programs in accordance with UN resolutions.

On Saturday night, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to impose more restrictive measures on Pyongyang, banning exports of coal, iron, lead, and seafood. The move came in response to North Korea’s latest missile launches in July, which it, as well as South Korea and the US, claimed were intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests.

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Multi-polar World Arrives: Russia, China Face Down US Bully


NOVANEWS

By Finian CUNNINGHAM 

The United States’ hegemonic dominance in the world is heading to the exits. The decline in US uni-polar power has been underway for several years, in line with the emergence of a multi-polar world. This week, Russia and China showed important resolve to face down American bully tactics over North Korea. The confrontation suggests a turning point in the transition from American world dominance to a multi-polar one.

US President Donald Trump reiterated the possibility of military attack on North Korea while in Poland this week. This was also while Washington was hectoring China and Russia to join in a tougher response to North Korea over its ballistic missile launch days before – the former two nations themselves having recently been sanctioned anew by the US. Talk about American audacity and double think.

However, the crass arrogance shown by the US seems to have hit a new limit of tolerance in Moscow and Beijing. Both are beginning to demonstrate a loss of patience with the bumptious, insufferable Americans.

Reacting to North Korea’s breakthrough ballistic missile launch, Washington deployed its typical conceit, casually threatening to carry out a «retaliatory» military strike. Trump said he was considering «severe» options over Pyongyang’s «very, very dangerous behavior».

But Russia and China’s stance this time to the Americans had significantly stiffened. Both explicitly warned the US against taking military action against North Korea.

Moreover, Russia and China said that they would oppose Washington imposing further sanctions on the government of Kim Jong-un. The latter has already been subjected to six rounds of US-led sanctions.

In short, the American bully is finding that it is no longer able to dictate its unilateral way.

Addressing an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council, the Russian and Chinese ambassadors rejected the shrill American call for «global action to a global threat». Russian envoy Vladimir Safronkov stood firmly with his Chinese counterpart, saying that threatened American military action was simply not an option, and that a different policy was needed from the failed American one of slapping ever-more sanctions on North Korea.

One can imagine the exasperation felt within Washington of being bluntly told «no» to its invariable, self-anointed belligerence.

The alternative route being proposed by Russia and China was the «radical» one – radical from the American point of view – of diplomacy. It has perhaps taken the Russians and Chinese overdue time to reach this point. But what is remarkably apparent now is that they are asserting themselves against the US with increased confidence. And what they are asserting in this case is an eminently reasonable solution to the Korean crisis. They are calling for a freeze on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program in conjunction with the US freezing its constant military exercises on the peninsula, as well as withdrawing its anti-missile THAAD system. The next step is to then hold multilateral negotiations for a comprehensive peaceful settlement, without preconditions.

Such an eminently reasonable approach is anathema to the Americans. Because it negates their unilateral arrogance and self-righteousness to dictate terms.

This is a significant development, one that portends a new determination by Russia and China to confront the American bully head-on. For too long, Washington has gotten away with outrageous aggression, lawlessness, hypocrisy and absurd hubris, not just over Korea but on countless other international issues. On the world stage it behaves like a schoolyard bully, or perhaps more accurately that should be a street thug. Going around beating up other people, usually the weak, as it likes. Then when Washington feels particularly affronted about some perceived slight, it invokes international law and righteousness.

This week, what we saw over the North Korea missile launch and the typical American over-reaction was Russia and China saying to Washington: your days of self-licensing aggression and abusing international law are over; your American uni-polar hegemony is redundant.

Welcome to the multi-polar world forged largely by Russia and China where all nations must abide by international norms and law, principally the paramount pursuit of diplomacy.

Oh the shock to American arrogance to receive such a rude awakening.

The lawlessness of American «exceptionalism» is a theme that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been constantly hammering over the past decade. But it seems now that Russia and China are strong enough politically, economically and militarily to begin asserting and acting on the conviction that the days of American arrogance and lawlessness are indeed over. It is no coincidence that the firm Russian-Chinese opposition to American aggression over North Korea came at the same time that Putin was hosting his counterpart President Xi Jinping in Moscow, where both leaders hailed an even deeper Sino-Russian strategic alliance.

Moscow and Beijing censured North Korea over its 11th missile launch so far this year. They said it violated UN sanctions imposed on Pyongyang since it first exploded a nuclear warhead in 2006. Still, they sought to put a proper perspective on the event, rather than reflexively demonizing North Korea as the Americans never cease to do.

The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched this week by North Korea was not armed with a warhead but Pyongyang said it now has the capability to do so and to strike anywhere on the globe. The trajectory of the ICBM indicates that North Korea could now hit the US state of Alaska. That heralds a major breakthrough in North Korea’s military capability. Earlier this year, President Trump claimed that North Korea would never be allowed to reach that point. Well, it just did this week.

Nevertheless, Russia and China realize that the Korean crisis is a complex issue, not the simplistic narrative put out by Washington about a «rogue regime» threatening world peace. Moscow and Beijing are well aware that Washington is very much part of the problem, with its relentless military exercises and provocative threats to North Korea’s sovereignty.

Russia and China understand that the only reasonable solution is not reckless escalation, but a negotiated engagement by all sides, including North Korea, South Korea, the US, Japan, China and Russia. Past multilateral negotiations have come unstuck largely because of Washington’s high-handed imperious attitude. Winding down conflict on the Korean Peninsula necessitates the winding down of military forces by all sides, and a primary responsibility for that lies with the US, the external protagonist in the region.

As the Russia-China strategic alliance grows ever stronger heralding a «post-West» world order, as Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov put it, one which was dominated by American capitalism, the US petrodollar and its military machine, it seems unmistakable that both Russia and China have reached a practical limit of tolerance to Washington’s lawless arrogance.

In recent weeks, Washington has slapped more sanctions on both Russia and China, conducted provocative military incursions into their territorial domains, and continued to disparage them with media distortions. Washington possesses thousands of ICBMs, test-fires them all the time, and installs missile systems around Russian and Chinese territory. Washington has waged or covertly sponsored criminal wars across the Middle East over the past two decades, resulting in millions of innocent deaths and spawning of terror groups.

North Korea has attacked no-one, has an arsenal of perhaps 10 nuclear weapons and conducts its missile tests far from any of its neighbor’s territory.

Yet the lawless, mass-murdering Americans – the only nation to have actually dropped nuclear weapons on civilian populations – have the audacity to declare North Korea a threat to world peace and insist on the «right» to preemptively attack Pyongyang. And if Russia and China do not acquiesce to this American demand then Washington threatens to increase more sanctions on them.

The American bully is patently beyond itself from its own megalomanic despotism. But the big, crucial difference now is that Russia and China are moving to finally put this bully in its place. The multi-polar world has arrived. And the only «radical» thing that Russia and China are insisting on is that the US behaves like everyone else and abides by international law. That basic requirement is an indication of how lawless the Americans are.

Addressing bused-in supporters in Poland’s Warsaw Square this week, Trump declared with bravado that «the West [that is, the US] will never back down».

Well, we’ll see about that. As noted, the multi-polar world has arrived and America is being compelled to back down by an ascendant Russia and China who also happen to have world opinion on their side.

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Russia Never Interferes in Political Processes of Other Countries


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Image result for – Putin CARTOON

Sputnik 

SOCHI – Russia does not interfere in the domestic political processes in other countries, but is experiencing such attempts on its own, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference between two rounds of meetings in Sochi on Tuesday, May 2.

“We never interfere in political life and in the political processes in other countries, and we would very much like to see no one interfering in our political life and domestic political life,” Putin said at the news conference.

“Unfortunately, we are witnessing exactly the opposite things, for many years we have seen attempts to influence domestic political processes in Russia, both direct and through the so-called non-governmental organizations,” Putin said.

“As we are seeing all the harm that such efforts bring, as well as the futility of these efforts, it never occurred to us to interfere in the political processes of other countries,” the Russian leader stressed.

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Yuan Clearing Bank Opens in Moscow as Russia, China Dump Dollar in Bilateral Trade


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Russia and China accelerate local currency cooperation

 
Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping

Moscow and Beijing took another step towards de-dollarization with the announcement of the opening of a renminbi clearing bank in Russia on Wednesday. 

Local currency transactions were first used in both countries’ border regions. Today, more and more Chinese and Russian financial institutes and enterprises are using local currencies to invest and settle accounts, as the yuan-ruble trade platform is becoming more established and the transaction network is expanding amid deepening China-Russia economic and financial cooperation.

goodbye dollar, hello renminbi

The yuan clearing bank in Moscow will greatly accelerate trade in local currencies:

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) officially started operating as a Chinese renminbi (CNY) clearing bank in Russia Wednesday, a move set to facilitate the use of the currency and cooperation in various fields between the two countries.

“Under the guidance of the governments and central banks of both countries, ICBC’s Moscow branch will effectively fulfill its responsibility and obligation as a renminbi clearing bank by taking further advantage of its leading edge in renminbi businesses, providing customers with safe, high quality and convenient clearing services,” said Hu Hao, ICBC’s deputy governor, at the opening ceremony.

“Financial regulatory authorities of China and Russia have signed a series of major agreements, which marks a new level of financial cooperation,” said Dmitry Skobelkin, deputy governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation.

“The launching of renminbi clearing services in Russia will further expand local settlement business and promote financial cooperation between the two countries,” the official added.

With the continuous deepening of the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in recent years, the two countries are now starting to enhance local currency cooperation.

At the end of 2015, the Russian central bank announced the inclusion of the renminbi in its national foreign exchange reserves, making it Russia’s officially recognized reserve currency.

During Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s visit to China in June last year, the central banks of the two countries signed a memorandum of cooperation in starting renminbi clearing services in Russia, just three months before ICBC’s Moscow branch was appointed by China’s central bank as the clearing house for settling renminbi transactions there.

It’s no secret that Russia and China have employed a number of methods to slowly wean themselves off dollar dependency.

Russia became China’s largest energy exporter in February of last year after it agreed to accept payment in yuan.

The dollar is slowly losing its privileged place in international transactions.

We’re sure Washington is less than thrilled.

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The Russian Scare


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By Israel Shamir
russia-usa

Full disclosure: I’ve met with Russians. I met with a Russian this morning. She brought me coffee. Such crazy and dangerous things can occur in Moscow. I am afraid the CIA and NSA could take notice of this meeting, and then it can be used – even against you. “You have perused an article by Israel Shamir. Were you aware he had Russian contacts?”

Though I am not too young, this is the first time I have witnessed such a witch-hunt. In Russia, there are many foreigners, Europeans and Americans as well, and Russians mingle with them freely, with no fear. The Russians are not afraid to meet with the US Ambassador; they are rather proud of the occasion. When the US Ambassador throws a party or holds a reception, all who-is-who in Moscow come to Spaso-House, the residence.

Even in Stalin’s days, the Russians went to the reception, and Mikhail Bulgakov depicted such a reception as Satan’s ball in his Master and Margarita. In recent years, all Russian opposition figures have visited the US ambassador and had had hearty chats with him.

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Not only in Russia. The Wikileaks-published State Department cables describe hundreds of meetings between US Ambassadors and opposition figures all over the world. Amazingly, nowhere was such a meeting considered as a breach of national security and an incapacitating blemish on an opposition leader.

Well, probably in light of the Russian scare, nations should enact laws forbidding a person who had met with the US ambassador from occupying any public position or running for election. They could call it the Flynn Law, in the spirit of reciprocity.

The US political class has brought this calamity upon itself. If whoever met the Russian ambassador or a Russian government minister, or the Russian president (God forbid) is unsuitable for governing, the whole top layer of American politicians would be disqualified. Last year even Jill Stein, the super-kosher woman of the US politics, the Green Party candidate for president, visited Moscow and had a place at the table with Putin, before flying back and asking to recount the Wisconsin vote.

The Russians watch the new witch-hunt over the ocean with mild surprise. They did not know they were so formidable, so scary. Nor did I. I can list Russia’s faults from today till next Christmas – it is a country of terrible bureaucracy, of impossible laws, of annoying police, of huge social gaps, of harsh weather and bad roads – but I do not know of a single reason for considering Russia a threat to anybody. The Russians are keen to accept international law, they believe in national sovereignty, they do not tell other states how they should manage their civic life or do business. And they do not meddle in other states’ affairs, though it would be better if they did.

When in February 2014, Ms Nuland, then of the US State Department (the ‘F*ck the EU’ lady mercifully lost her job with ascent of Trump) and the US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt stoked the Maidan fire and doled out cookies in Kiev, the Russian Ambassador in Kiev made himself scarce. Perhaps he went to play golf. Not a single Russian political figure had bothered to go to Kiev and talk to people. Russian non-interference in the Ukraine’s affairs had been so scrupulous, as if the Ukraine were a remote Latin American state of little interest to Russians.

That fateful February three years ago, the only thing in which the Russians had interested were the Sochi Olympic Games. Kiev burned, but they discussed the biathlon. Biathlon, forsooth! The governors of Ukraine provinces asked Moscow whether it would come to save the day of the legitimate government, but in Moscow nobody picked up the receiver. On February 22, 2014, when the president Yanukovych escaped Kiev and went to Kharkov for meetings with the leaders of the Eastern Ukraine, the Russians could have established the legitimate government in Kharkov and at least split the Ukraine into two halves, with very little effort. But they did not show up and they did not say they would support such a government, and the people of Ukraine accepted the Kiev putsch.

If Putin were just slightly similar to the fire-breathing image of himself in the Western media, the Ukraine would be a Western province of Russia, as it had been for the last four hundred years, and it could have been done legally, without firing a single shot. But Vladimir Putin is not Vlad the Terrible of your comic strips. He is a great procrastinator, a man who will do nothing if possible. He goes into action only if there is no way to postpone it. He took the Crimea, or rather accepted the Crimeans’ demand to join Russia, as he (correctly) thought his people would not forgive him for surrendering the peninsula with its main fleet base to NATO and the Russian population to the tender mercy of ferociously anti-Russian Western Ukrainian gangs.

My old Israeli friend and Russia watcher, Yakov Kedmi, the former head of an Israeli intelligence service, predicted in April 2014 that the Russian army would take East and South Ukraine before the May 2014 presidential elections in Ukraine. I dismissed that as a pipe dream. Putin will do nothing if he is given half a chance. I was right.

Putin acted in Georgia in 2008 only after his peace-keeping troops had been attacked by the NATO-trained troops of President Saakashvili, who famously said his army would take Moscow in a fortnight. Even then he did not take Tbilisi the capital, but quietly pulled his troops back.

Even such provocations as the removal of Russian war-time graves and memorials, as stripping ethnic Russians of their citizenship rights in the Baltics, did not force his hand.

The last thing he wanted was to quarrel with the United States. He approved of the US invasion of Afghanistan and opened his territory for the transit of the US troops and weapons. He approved the resolutions on Iraq before the US invasion; he spoke against the invasion only in tandem with France and Germany. He agreed (rather, abstained) on the West-sponsored resolution on Libya leading to the murder of Colonel Gadhafi. He gave up the Russian bases in Vietnam and Cuba. He withdrew his troops from Tarsus, his only naval base in Syria, and returned to Syria only in face of an imminent American attack on the sovereign state, at request of its legitimate leader.

The Western media presents Russia as a ferocious Rottweiler, and the Russians do not recognise themselves in the mirror of the Western media. Russia is a Newfoundland dog, not a Rottweiler. It is big, strong, peaceful and not aggressive. I know, I have had Newfoundlands. Even a very nasty cat can’t wake up their fighting spirit.

Ideologically, Putin’s Russia is not all that different from the West. March 8, Women’s Day, is an official holiday in Russia, and Russian women have all the rights their Western sisters have, or even dream of. Russian billionaires are free to build the biggest yachts in the known universe. They pay as little taxes as anybody, a flat income tax rate of 13%. Even Trump is unlikely to beat that.

Communism is dead, and the official propaganda machine daily tells Russians that the Soviet days were dreadful, in spite of the living generation’s tender memories of Soviet equality. Communists have no access to the mass media, despite being the second biggest party in Russia.

The small and unpopular pro-Western (say, Clintonesque) opposition receives a lot of government support. They are allowed to demonstrate, they have a TV and newspapers, while anti-Western opposition, whether Trumpist or Communist, has been kept in the cold, without demos and only marginal media.

White nationalists, a small band, are being jailed at the first anti-Semitic jibe. Jeremy Bedford-Turner of Russia would have been in jail a long time ago. Moscow has 92 synagogues for less than a thousand practicing Jews – they are staffed and manned by the imported American Rabbis of Habad. Best and the choicest pieces of Russian municipal land are given to synagogues and Jewish cultural centres for free.

Article 282 of the Russian Penal Code is as strict as ADL or SPLC activists would dream of. A big part of Unz.com articles, if published in Russia, would send their authors to jail. Russia has millions of immigrants; it is actually the third country in the world by the number of accepted immigrants. The majority of them are Muslim. Moscow has one of the biggest mosques in the world. Russia has a visa-free arrangement with many Muslim countries.

Russia’s connection with the Alt-Right is a figment of the imagination. The Alt-Right has its Russian counterpart, the well-known philosopher and student of Heidegger, Alexander Dugin and his followers. They are faring worse than the Alt-Right in the West. Dugin is often presented as “Putin’s adviser”, but he has never so much as met Putin tête-à-tête. Dugin supports Putin, but Putin does not support Dugin. The philosopher has been pushed out of Moscow State University, landed in a marginal internet TV channel, and it is rumoured he is even being pushed out of that channel. His views are less acceptable in Russia than those of Bannon are in the US.

RT, the Russian TV channel, news agency and site, is always cautious, like the BBC. Recently, an Alt-Right American of Russian origin, Nina Kouprianova, whose witty twitter has many followers, far from being a “Moscow Mouthpiece”, as the beastly Daily Beast claimed, had her articles removed from the RT site. Her full-blooded support for Putin did not help her at all. Dugin is not a frequent guest in the RT, or on any major Russian channel.

On the positive side, there is freedom of speech “like in the West”, and attacks on Putin and his Prime Minister Medvedev are a daily routine in the Russian media and in social networks. Just now a short documentary by Mr Navalny accusing Medvedev of corruption has received its six million views. Millions of Russians use Facebook, where Mr Mark Zuckerberg teaches them what can be said in the polite society and what can’t.

In short, sorry to disappoint you, Russia is wonderful, but it is not an enemy of the West even in its Obama-Clinton version. It just wants to proceed with its own speed. It did not and does not want to interfere with your ideas.

The unlikely stories of Russian hackers influencing American voters can be laid to rest after publication of Vault 7, a vast collection of CIA hacking devices, in particular of its Umbrage. The CIA has created a “fingerprint” that can be used by forensic investigators to attribute multiple different attacks to the same entity.

Wikileaks explained: “This is analogous to finding the same distinctive knife wound on multiple separate murder victims. The unique wounding style creates suspicion that a single murderer is responsible. As soon one murder in the set is solved then the other murders also find likely attribution. The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation. With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from”.

So much about “Russian fingerprints” allegedly found in the DNC email leak and other Trump-related leaks! Indeed there is not and can’t be any proof of who hacked what, but the presumption is that if some proofs are presented, they were made up by the CIA.

And this leads us to the real villain of the story, the US intelligence community. It became so powerful that it decided to lead the country, the US, and the world, while keeping democratic institutions as a sham cover.

It is they, not timid Putin’s Russia, that is leading the world to its final Armageddon. It is they who organised the Russian Scare. Now we know that President Trump is the last defender of the dying democratic order, while his enemies in the mass media are CIA stooges.

As nobody likes to be manipulated, I’ll tell you, American voters. You weren’t manipulated by the Russians. The other way round, you are the freest people in the world, and you had and used the unique opportunity to save your country and the entire world from being taken over by spooks. This job is far from over, and there is nobody who will do it for you, certainly not the Russian president.

Now, armed by this knowledge, you can support your president and disregard the CIA-produced propaganda. Now we have no doubt that the President Obama indeed listened and read every word said or written by Donald Trump and in his vicinity. Now we have no doubt that the mass media is just another hacking tool in the CIA collection created to hack the most precious computers: your minds and your hearts.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on The Russian Scare

Russian Scientists Learn How to Identify Suspected Terrorists by Their Walk


NOVANEWS

Crowd

© Photo: pixabay
Researchers at the National Research Nuclear University/Moscow Engineering Physics Institute are developing a computer program capable of recognizing unusual behavior by an individual in a crowd environment, including by his or her manner of walking. The invention may prove extremely useful in helping to prevent acts of terror in public places.

According to a university press service obtained by RIA Novosti, the program operates by analyzing complex images from conventional security cameras. The program helps recognize and focus on suspicious individuals in a crowd environment based on the manner in which they walk, their physique, clothing style, etc. Development work aimed at providing the program with these capabilities is entering its final stages.

According to Vadim Danishin, the project’s lead developer, the program does not require any additional expensive hardware; the computing power of a conventional smartphone is sufficient.

“We have plans to test this invention, tasking it with the collection and analysis of statistics on the behavior of buyers and sellers in large shopping centers,” Danishin explained. “In the future, our algorithms can be used to identify unusual behavior, affixed to surveillance cameras in airports, train stations and on public transport,” he added. “This is a priority for contemporary IT security systems.”

In addition to its security applications, the new program could be used for virtual reality gaming, interactive advertising in shopping centers, and to create simulators providing automatic classification of behavior for drivers, pilots, doctors, firefighters, military personnel.

Related:
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It’s Complicated: Russian Students Invent Program to Predict Relationship Status
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Quantum Stealth: Russian Scientists Developing Best Ever Invisibility Cloak
Russian, Chinese Scientists Team Up to Unravel the Mysteries of Earthquakes

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Russian Scientists Learn How to Identify Suspected Terrorists by Their Walk

The Did-You-Talk-to-Russians Witch Hunt


NOVANEWS

Exclusive: Democrats, liberals and media pundits – in their rush to take down President Trump – are pushing a New McCarthyism aimed at Americans who have talked to Russians, risking a new witch hunt, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

In the anti-Russian frenzy sweeping American politics and media, Democrats, liberals and mainstream pundits are calling for an investigative body that could become a new kind of House Un-American Activities Committee to hunt down Americans who have communicated with Russians.

Red Square in Moscow with a winter festival to the left and the Kremlin to the right. (Photo by Robert Parry)

The proposed commission would have broad subpoena powers to investigate alleged connections between Trump’s supporters and the Russian government with the apparent goal of asking if they now have or have ever talked to a Russian who might have some tie to the Kremlin or its intelligence agencies.

Such an admission apparently would be prima facie evidence of disloyalty, a guilt-by-association “crime” on par with Sen. Joe McCarthy’s Cold War pursuit of “communists” who supposedly had infiltrated the U.S. government, the film industry and other American institutions.

Operating parallel to McCarthy’s Red Scare hearings was the House Un-American Activities Committee (or HUAC), a standing congressional panel from 1945-1975 when it was best known for investigating alleged communist subversion and propaganda. One of its top achievements was the blacklisting of the “Hollywood Ten” whose careers in the movie industry were damaged or destroyed.

Although the Cold War has long been over – and Russia has often cooperated with the U.S. government, especially on national security issues such as supplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan – Democrats and liberals seem ready to force Americans to again prove their loyalty if they engaged in conversations with Russians.

Or perhaps these “witnesses” can be entrapped into perjury charges if their recollections of conversations with Russians don’t match up with transcripts of their intercepted communications, a tactic similar to ones used by Sen. McCarthy and HUAC to trip up and imprison targets over such secondary charges.

Ousted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has already encountered such a predicament because he couldn’t recall all the details of a phone conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 29, 2016, after Flynn took the call while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

When Obama administration holdovers at the Justice Department decided to gin up a legal premise to go after Flynn, they cited the Logan Act, a law enacted in 1799 to prohibit private citizens from negotiating with foreign adversaries but never used to convict anyone. The law also is of dubious constitutionality and was surely never intended to apply to a president-elect’s advisers.

However, based on that flimsy pretext, FBI agents – with a transcript of the electronic intercept of the Kislyak-Flynn phone call in hand – tested Flynn’s memory of the conversation and found his recollections incomplete. Gotcha – lying to the FBI!

Under mounting media and political pressure, President Trump fired Flynn, apparently hoping that tossing Flynn overboard to the circling sharks would somehow calm the sharks down. Instead, blood in the water added to the frenzy.

Iran-Contra Comparison

Some prominent Democrats and liberals have compared Trump-connected contacts with Russians to President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal or President Reagan’s Iran-Contra Affair, an issue that I know a great deal about having helped expose it as a reporter for The Associated Press in the 1980s.

President Ronald Reagan, delivering his Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 1981.

The key difference is that Iran-Contra was an unconstitutional effort by the Reagan administration to finance an illegal war against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government in defiance of a congressional ban. The Trump-connected communications with Russians – to the degree they have occurred – appear to have been aimed at preventing a new and dangerous Cold War that could lead to a nuclear holocaust.

In other words, Iran-Contra was about enabling a paramilitary force to continue its brutal marauding inside a country that was no threat to the United States while the current “scandal” is about people trying to avoid hostilities between two nuclear superpowers, an existential threat that many mainstream and liberal pundits don’t want to recognize.

Indeed, there is a troubling denial-ism about the risks of an accidental or intentional war with Russia as the U.S. media and much of Official Washington’s establishment have lots of fun demonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin and jabbing the Russians by shoving NATO troops up to their borders and deploying anti-ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe. For some crazy reason, the Russians feel threatened.

False Narratives

This Russia-bashing and Russia-baiting have been accompanied by false narratives presented in the major U.S. newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, to justify increased tensions.

The Washington Post building in downtown Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Washington Post)

For instance, the Post’s senior foreign affairs writer Karen DeYoung on Friday described the civil war in Ukraine this way: “That conflict began when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014, then backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in what has become a grinding war, despite a deal to end it, called the Minsk agreement, negotiated with Putin by the leaders of France and Germany.”

But DeYoung’s synopsis is simply not true. The crisis began in the fall of 2013 when Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of what he regarded as a costly and unacceptable association agreement with the European Union, a move which prompted protests by Ukrainians in Kiev’s Maidan square.

The Obama administration’s State Department, U.S. neocon politicians such as Sen. John McCain, and various U.S.-backed “non-governmental organizations” then stoked those protests against Yanukovych, which grew violent as trained ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi street fighters poured in from western Ukraine.

In early 2014, a coup to overthrow the democratically elected Yanukovych took shape under the guidance of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt who were caught in a phone call in late January or early February 2014 conspiring to impose new leadership inside Ukraine.

Nuland disparaged a less extreme strategy favored by European diplomats with the pithy remark: “Fuck the E.U.” and went on to declare “Yats is the guy,” favoring Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the new leader. Nuland then pondered how to “glue this thing” while Pyatt ruminated about how to “midwife this thing.”

On Feb. 20, 2014, a mysterious sniper apparently firing from a building controlled by the ultranationalist Right Sektor killed both police and protesters, setting off a day of violence that left about 70 people dead including more than a dozen police.

The next day, three European governments struck a deal with Yanukovych in which he agreed to early elections and accepted reduced powers. But that political settlement wasn’t enough for the U.S.-backed militants who stormed government buildings on Feb. 22, forcing Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives.

Instead of standing by the Feb. 21 agreement, which the European nations had “guaranteed,” Nuland pushed for and got U.S. allies to accept the new post-coup regime as “legitimate,” with Yatsenyuk becoming prime minister and several top government posts given to the ultranationalists and neo-Nazis.

Spreading Violence

In the ensuing days, the right-wing violence spread beyond Kiev, prompting Crimea’s legislature to propose secession from Ukraine and readmission to Russia, whose relationship to the peninsula dated back to Catherine the Great.

Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine’s Azov battalion. (As filmed by a Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV)

Crimea scheduled a referendum that was opposed by the new regime in Kiev. Russian troops did not “invade” Crimea because some 20,000 were already stationed there as part of a basing agreement at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. The Russians did provide security for the referendum but there was no evidence of intimidation as the citizens of Crimea voted by 96 percent to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a move that Putin and the Russian duma accepted.

Eastern Ukrainians tried to follow Crimea’s lead with their own referendum, but Putin and Russia rejected their appeals to secede. However, when the Kiev regime launched an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” against the so-called Donbass region – spearheaded by ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi militias – Russia provided military assistance so these ethnic Russians would not be annihilated.

Karen DeYoung also framed the Minsk agreement as if it were imposed on Putin when he was one of its principal proponents and architects, winning its approval in early 2015 at a time when the Ukrainian military was facing battlefield reversals.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 7, 2014. (U.S. State Department photo)

But Assistant Secretary Nuland, working with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and the Ukrainian parliament, sabotaged the agreement by requiring the Donbass rebels to first surrender which they were unwilling to do, having no faith in the sincerity of the Kiev regime to live up to its commitment to grant limited autonomy to the Donbass.

In other words, Kiev inserted a poison pill to prevent a peaceful resolution, but the Western media and governments always blame the Minsk failure on Putin.

If Karen DeYoung wanted to boil all this history down to one paragraph, it might go: “The Ukraine conflict began when U.S. officials supported the violent overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych, prompting Crimea to rejoin Russia and causing ethnic Russians in the east to rise up against the U.S.-backed coup regime in Kiev, which then sought to crush the rebellion. The Kiev regime later torpedoed a peace deal that had been hammered out by Russian, Ukrainian and European negotiators in Minsk.”

But such a summary would not have the desired propaganda effect on the American people. It would not present the U.S.-backed side as the “white hats” and the pro-Russia side as the “black hats.”

The simple truth is that the story of Ukraine is far more complex and multi-sided than The Washington Post, The New York Times and most mainstream U.S. news outlets want to admit. They simply start the clock at the point of Crimea’s rejection of the post-coup regime and distort those facts to present the situation simply as a “Russian invasion.”

A Whipped-Up Hysteria

The major media’s distortion is so egregious that you could call it a lie, but it is a lie that has proved very useful in whipping up the current anti-Russian hysteria that is sweeping Official Washington and that has given birth to a New Cold War, now accompanied by a New McCarthyism that deems anyone who doesn’t accept the “groupthink” a “Russian apologist” or a “Moscow stooge.”

Wintery scene at Red Square in Moscow, Dec. 6, 2016. (Photo by Robert Parry)

Since last November’s election, this New McCarthyism has merged with hatred toward Donald Trump, especially after the outgoing Obama administration lodged unproven accusations that Russia undercut Hillary Clinton’s campaign by hacking into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and those of her campaign chairman John Podesta – and slipped that information to WikiLeaks.

Those emails showed how the DNC undercut the rival campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders and revealed the contents of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street banks as well as pay-to-play aspects of the Clinton Foundation, information that Clinton wanted to keep from the voters.

But no one thought the emails were a major factor in the Clinton-Trump race; indeed, Clinton blamed her stunning defeat on FBI Director James Comey’s last-minute decision to reopen and then re-close his investigation into security concerns about her use of a private email server as Secretary of State.

But the script on how Clinton lost was flipped during the Trump transition as President Obama’s intelligence agencies floated the Russia-hacked-the-election scenario although presenting no public evidence to support the claims. WikiLeaks representatives also denied getting the material from Russia, suggesting instead that it was leaked by two different American insiders.

A Ministry of Truth

Still, during the post-election period, the anti-Russian hysteria continued to build. In November, The Washington Post highlighted claims by an anonymous group called PropOrNot accusing some 200 Web sites, including Consortiumnews.com and other major independent media outlets, of disseminating Russian “propaganda.”

New York Times building in New York City. (Photo from Wikipedia)

The New York Times joined in the frenzy by calling for leading technology companies to marginalize Web sites that are deemed to be publishing “fake news,” a vague term that was applied not just to intentionally false stories but to information that questioned official narratives, no matter how dubious those narratives were. The New McCarthyism was morphing into a New Orwellianism.

The movement toward a Ministry of Truth gained further momentum in December when Congress passed and President Obama signed a military authorization bill that included a new $160 million bureaucracy to identify and counter alleged “Russian propaganda.”

The anger of Democrats and liberals toward President Trump in his first month has added more fuel to the Russia-bashing with some Democrats and liberals seeing it as a possible route toward neutralizing or impeaching Trump. Thus, the calls for a full-scale investigation with subpoena power to demand documents and compel testimony.

While the idea of getting to the full truth has a superficial appeal, it also carries dangers of launching a witch hunt that would drag American citizens before inquisitors asking about any contacts – no matter how innocuous – with Russians.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, HUAC also claimed that all it wanted was the truth about whether some Americans were allied with or sympathetic to Moscow. Sen. Joe McCarthy offered a similar rationale when he was trying to root out “disloyal” Americans with the question, “are you now or have you ever been a communist?”

That Democrats and liberals who hold the McCarthy era in understandable disdain would now seek to rekindle something similar reeks of rank opportunism and gross hypocrisy – doing whatever it takes to “get Trump” and build an activist movement that can revive the Democratic Party’s flagging political hopes.

But this particular opportunism and hypocrisy also carries with it the prospect of blindly ramping up tensions with Russia, diverting more taxpayer money into the Military-Industrial Complex and conceivably sparking – whether planned or unplanned – a nuclear Armageddon that could eliminate life on the planet. Perhaps this anti-Trump strategy should be rethought.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on The Did-You-Talk-to-Russians Witch Hunt

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