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Roger Stone Shines New Light on Russia-Gate Hoax

By Matthew Ehret | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 21, 2019

As if more evidence was needed to debunk the pathetic narrative that the Russians hacked the DNC computers during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump confidant Roger Stone, currently on trial for lying during the Mueller inquisition released an important truth to the light of day on May 10th. During a court filing, Stone’s lawyers finally gave a voice for the first time in an official setting to former NSA Technical Director Bill Binney, who has been fighting to have his testimony heard by special prosecutor Robert Mueller for nearly two years to no avail.

Binney’s incredible array of forensic evidence demonstrating the impossibility of a Russian hack brings the focus back to the real motive behind Russia-Gate: The destruction of the potential alliance between Russia and a reformed USA under a non-technocratic leader.

The Story so Far

For those who are unaware, Trump advisor and long-time friend Roger Stone is under indictment for his alleged role in the broad “conspiracy to coordinate the Russian-led intervention” into the 2016 elections and for lying to Mueller. He is also pleading not guilty to accusations of obstruction of justice and witness tampering. If the facts now show that there was never any Russian hacking, it follows that the case against both Stone and President Trump should be rendered null and void.

In a nine page motion to suppress ill-gotten evidence now being used against Roger Stone, his lawyers made the point that the entire case, including all warrants to collect evidence were contingent upon the pre-supposition that the Russians irrefutably hacked the DNC computers and provided the data to WikiLeaks. The motion stated: “It is clear. . . that the government has relied on the assumptions made by a source outside of the U.S. intelligence community that the Russian State was involved in the hacking and that the data taken from the various servers were given to WikiLeaks… The government does not have the evidence, and it knew it did not have the evidence, when it applied for these search warrants.”

Bill Binney’s Voice is Finally Heard

Stone’s motion includes expert testimony by Bill Binney whose forensic evidence proved conclusively that the 49.1 megabytes per second download speed of emails from DNC servers on May 23-25th, 2016 which were uploaded to WikiLeaks could not possibly have occurred through the means of a hack of any source external to the USA but rather COULD ONLY have occurred via a thumb drive such as that which DNC staffer Seth Rich conducted and released to WikiLeaks before his murder on July 10th, 2016.

In spite of having briefed CIA Director Mike Pompeo at Trump’s personal request in October 2017, Binney has been blocked for two years from providing expert testimony during the $26 million inquisition. Binney’s affidavit states in part: “WikiLeaks did not receive the stolen data from the Russian government. Intrinsic metadata in the publicly available files on WikiLeaks demonstrates that the files that were acquired by WikiLeaks were delivered in a medium such as a thumb drive physically local to the DNC.”

Much of the evidence used in Stone’s motion was featured first by Binney, alongside his colleague Larry Johnson (former CIA analyst) in a February 13th memo “Why the DNC was not Hacked by the Russians” which provide a mountain of information overthrowing the Mueller narrative. In the memo and affidavit, Binney also demonstrates that the file information of the WikiLeaks emails includes evidence that they were registered under a FAT file system since all of the time stamps were rounded off to even last numbers. If the files were acquired via a Russian hack, Binney explains that there would be no such rounding of numbers but an equal distribution of even and odd time stamps.

Lastly, Binney points out the absurdity that anti-Russian private security firm CrowdStrike admitted that they observed that supposed Russian hackers began penetrating DNC servers on May 6th, 2016 yet chose to do nothing until June 10th, 2016. For these reasons Stone is demanding unredacted copies of CrowdStrike’s forensic reports which have never been made public. CrowdStrike had a monopoly on all DNC computers and other physical evidence at the time, which has never been made accessible to the FBI or any other government agency.

More Layers of Narrative Crumble

With the destruction of the Russia-Gate story, a yet higher, long standing and more poisonous narrative is ready to crumble. This century-old narrative states that America is the rightful heir to the British Empire and must co-rule a post-nation state world order together under an “Anglo-American special relationship”. In the 20th century this view was promoted by anglophile puppet presidents on both sides of the aisle.

While all truly nationalist American leaders from 1776 to the present have fought against the British Imperial system which has poisoned America from within since its earliest days, the unfortunate majority of American political leaders have been either witless puppets at best and outright agents of the British deep state at worst. The seeds of the deep state were established by pro-Monarchist families that chose to remain in America after the “United Empire Loyalists” ran off to set up English-speaking Canada in 1783 creating a base for British operations into the Americas ever since.  Such mini dynastic clans such as the Bushes, the Mueller family, the Morgans, Duponts etc. are heirs to this unfortunate disease today (1). Every political leader who arose in defense of America’s constitutional traditions faced this British deep state cancer embedded within the Republic and many gave their lives in the fight. It is of note that eight presidents have died in office during the Republic’s short experience, and it should not surprise anyone to hear that all eight were actively opposing in various degrees; Wall Street control of finances within America and British Imperial intrigues abroad (2).

Many of America’s greatest patriots fought hard to ally America with Russia. The historic friendship of Russia and America began in the earliest days of the American Revolution with Catherine the Great’s League of Armed Neutrality and again came alive with Russia’s intervention on Lincoln’s behalf during the Civil War. Amidst a sea of British-intrigue it again congealed under the friendship of Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin who realized they had more in common with each other than either had with Sir Winston Churchill.

Now that Donald Trump and his allies are increasingly free of the shackles of the Mueller hoax, we are witnessing an incredible potential breakthrough as the June 27-28th G20 emerges where Presidents Trump, Putin and Xi Jinping will be meeting. Since the earliest days of the 2016 election campaign, President Trump has distinguished himself apart from the technocrats and neo-con puppets infecting America’s elite by stating repeatedly how “friendship with Russia and China is a good thing”, and has continued to display a policy orientation preferring a revival of America’s genuinely nationalist interests and cooperation with Russia and China in opposition to many war mongers within his own cabinet.

Although these revelations of May 10th may not appear to be a large matter, we must recall that it was a single Stone that took down Goliath.

(1) Much of this story is exposed in the 1984 book Treason in America: From Aaron Burr to Averell Harriman by Anton Chaitkin.

(2) William Harrison (1840), Zachary Taylor (1850), Abraham Lincoln (1865), James Garfield (1881), William McKinley (1901), Warren Hardin (1923), Franklin Roosevelt (1945), John F. Kennedy (1963). Additionally, noteworthy assassinated figures include Alexander Hamilton (1804), Martin Luther King Jr. (1968) and leading Presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy (1968)

May 21, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

‘Who is this woman?’ Kremlin denies any connection to scandal that brought down Austrian VC

RT | May 20, 2019

The Kremlin has dismissed the notion that it played a role in a scandal that prompted the resignation of Austria’s vice-chancellor, noting that the videotaped discussion about a potential shady deal has no known links to Russia.

“I can’t assess the appearance of this video because it doesn’t apply to either the Russian Federation or the president or the government,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Monday. “We don’t know for sure who this woman is, whether she is Russian, whether she is a Russian national. Therefore, this story doesn’t and can’t have anything to do with us,” he said, referring to the alleged “Russian oligarch’s niece” featured in the video.

Last week two German publications, Spiegel and Suddeutsche Zeitung, released clips of a video showing a July 2017 meeting at an Ibiza villa, in which Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) and vice-chancellor of Austria, and Johann Gudenus, Strache’s protégé and senior figure in the FPO, discuss a scheme involving a woman identified as “Alena Makarova” by Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

In the video, the men chat with the mysterious woman – billed as the niece of Russian oligarch Igor Makarov – about how she could buy a majority share in Austria’s major tabloid, Kronen Zeitung, and use it to prop up FPO’s bid in the October 2017 national election.

However, the woman in the video has not been identified – and Igor Makarov is an only child and therefore doesn’t have any nieces.
Also on rt.com ‘I was only child’: Russian oligarch denies links to woman in epicenter of Austrian leak scandal

Strache, who resigned as vice-chancellor after the video emerged, has denied any wrongdoing, saying the leaked footage lacks key details and that its publication two years after the events was a “political assassination.”

The scandal was jumped on by the Western press, which used it as an example of alleged Kremlin influence in Europe, especially among right-wing political parties.

May 20, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | 1 Comment

Democrat Tulsi Gabbard fends off ‘fake news’ accusations of Russian support

RT | May 19, 2019

Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard’s anti-war stance has seen her slammed in the media for over-friendliness to Moscow. After this week’s hit piece the Hawaiian Congresswoman called these accusations “fake news.”

Speaking to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Gabbard repeated several of her core foreign policy messages: Regime change operations are “counterproductive and wasteful,” and escalating military tension with Russia and China is a “dangerous” game for the US.

A combat veteran and foreign-policy focused candidate, Gabbard launched her presidential campaign in January. From the outset she was lambasted by both parties and the mainstream media for meeting with Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad, and was branded a “Putin puppet” for suggesting that the US improve relations with Russia, at a time when most of her party was consumed with ‘Russiagate’ hysteria.

Stephanopoulos kept the theme going on Sunday, pressing Gabbard on a recent Daily Beast article accusing her campaign of taking a shocking THREE donations from “Putin apologists,” and one from actress Susan Sarandon – who committed the mortal sin of supporting the Green Party’s Jill Stein in her 2016 election bid, and not Hillary Clinton, as the Hollywood consensus demanded.

Save for one returned contribution from a businessman involved in some unlicensed transactions, no donation mentioned by the Daily Beast amounted to more than $1,000.

“It’s unfortunate you’re citing that article, George, because it’s a whole lot of fake news,” Gabbard responded. “What’s in the best interest of national security? Keeping American people safe.”

“And what I’m pointing out consistently, time and time again, is our continued wasteful regime change wars have been counterproductive to the interests of the American people.”

The latest debacle was ridiculed by commentators on Twitter. Independent journalist Ben Norton called the Daily Beast’s article “embarrassingly bad,” while The Hill’s Krystal Ball blasted the Daily Beast’s reporters for searching through 65,000 donors to find “3 with views that fit their pre-conceived narrative.”

Gabbard is currently polling at around one percent, in a crowded field of 24 Democratic candidates. As the mainstream media continues to fixate on her supposed sympathies for the Kremlin, the Hawaiian has stuck to her guns. On Thursday, Gabbard warned President Donald Trump against “launching a very stupid and costly war with Iran,” and called out “war hawks in his administration” like National Security Advisor John Bolton, for leading the US towards another conflict in the Middle East.

May 19, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 4 Comments

‘All decent people’ oppose ‘damaging’ Russia sanctions, Salvini says ahead of EU elections

RT | May 19, 2019

EU sanctions targeting Russia don’t work and “all decent people” support removing them, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said ahead of next week’s European Parliamentary elections.

“I continue to believe that we don’t need sanctions. The issue of their removal unites all decent people,” Salvini told Sputnik news agency after holding a major rally that included leaders of 11 right-wing European parties in Milan on Saturday.

The leader of the right-wing League party argued that the economic warfare between the EU and Russia has “caused damage and resolved nothing.”

“If a tool does not work, it is removed,” he added.

Salvini stressed that much would depend on the outcome of the upcoming elections, including whether it would be possible to repeal the anti-Russia restrictions.

Polls show that Salvini’s right-wing alliance, Europe of Nations and Freedom, is expected to become one of the largest blocs in the next EU parliament.

The political group “will perform a historic feat to pass from the 8th place in Europe to third or maybe second,” National Rally leader Marine Le Pen predicted while speaking at the Milan rally.

The United States and the European Union imposed restrictions on Russia produce and other goods following Crimea’s reunification with Russia in 2014. Moscow reciprocated the sanctions in a tit-for-tat move. Since then, the sanctions regime has expanded to include banking and other sectors.

As a result, many European businesses have been pushed out of the Russian market. The issue has sparked considerable anger in Germany, where politicians from both the left and the right have spoken out against the policy as counter-productive and harmful to German interests.

May 19, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

How Russiagate replaced Analysis of the 2016 Election

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | May 19, 2019

An honest and accurate analysis of the 2016 election is not just an academic exercise. It is very relevant to the current election campaign. Yet over the past two years, Russiagate has dominated media and political debate and largely replaced a serious analysis of the factors leading to Trump’s victory. The public has been flooded with the various elements of the story that Russia intervened and Trump colluded with them. The latter accusation was negated by the Mueller Report but elements of the Democratic Party and media refuse to move on. Now it’s the lofty but vague accusations of “obstruction of justice” along with renewed dirt digging. To some it is a “constitutional crisis”, but to many it looks like more partisan fighting.

Russiagate has distracted from pressing issues

Russiagate has distracted attention and energy away from crucial and pressing issues such as income inequality, the housing and homeless crisis, inadequate healthcare, militarized police, over-priced college education, impossible student loans and deteriorating infrastructure. The tax structure was changed to benefit wealthy individuals and corporations with little opposition. The Trump administration has undermined environmental laws, civil rights, national parks and women’s equality while directing ever more money to military contractors. Working class Americans are struggling with rising living costs, low wages, student debt, and racism. They constitute the bulk of the military which is spread all over the world, sustaining continuing occupations in war zones including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and parts of Africa. While all this has been going on, the Democratic establishment and much of the media have been focused on Russiagate, the Mueller Report, and related issues.

Immediately after the 2016 Election

In the immediate wake of the 2016 election there was some forthright analysis. Bernie Sanders said, “What Trump did very effectively is tap the angst and the anger and the hurt and pain that millions of working class people are feeling. What he said is, ‘I Donald Trump am going to be a champion of the working class… I know you are working longer hours for lower wages, seeing your jobs going to China, can’t afford childcare, can’t afford to send your kids to college. I Donald Trump alone can solve these problems. … What you have is a guy who utilized the media, manipulated the media very well. He is an entertainer, he is a professional at that. But I will tell you that I think there needs to be a profound change in the way the Democratic Party does business. It is not good enough to have a liberal elite. I come from the white working class and I am deeply humiliated that the Democratic Party cannot talk to the people where I came from.”

Days after the election, the Washington Post published an op-ed titled “Hillary Clinton Lost. Bernie Sanders could have won. We chose the wrong candidate.” The author analyzed the results saying, “Donald Trump’s stunning victory is less surprising when we remember a simple fact: Hillary Clinton is a deeply unpopular politician.” The writer analyzed why Sanders would have prevailed against Trump and predicted “there will be years of recriminations.”

Russiagate replaced Recrimination

But instead of analysis, the media and Democrats have emphasized foreign interference. There is an element of self-interest in this narrative. As reported in “Russian Roulette” (p127), when the Clinton team first learned that Wikileaks was going to release damaging Democratic National Party emails in June 2016, they “brought in outside consultants to plot a PR strategy for handling the news of the hack … the story would advance a narrative that benefited the Clinton campaign and the Democrats: The Russians were interfering in the US election, presumably to assist Trump.”

After losing the election, Team Clinton doubled down on this PR strategy. As described in the book Shattered (p. 395) the day after the election campaign managers assembled the communication team “to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up and up …. they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”

This narrative has been remarkably effective in supplanting critical review of the election.

One Year After the Election

The Center for American Progress (CAP) was founded by John Podesta and is closely aligned with the Democratic Party. In November 2017 they produced an analysis titled  “Voter Trends in 2016: A Final Examination“. Interestingly, there is not a single reference to Russia. Key conclusions are that “it is critical for Democrats to attract more support from the white non-college-educated voting bloc” and “Democrats must go beyond the ‘identity politics’ versus ‘economic populism’ debate to create a genuine cross-racial, cross-class coalition …” It suggests that Wall Street has the same interests as Main Street and the working class.

A progressive team produced a very different analysis titled Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis. They did this because “the (Democratic) party’s national leadership has shown scant interest in addressing many of the key factors that led to electoral disaster.” The report analyzes why the party turnout was less than expected and why traditional Democratic Party supporters are declining. It includes recommendations to end the party’s undemocratic practices, expand voting rights and counter voter suppression. The report contains details and specific recommendations lacking in the CAP report. It includes an overall analysis which says “The Democratic Party should disentangle itself – ideologically and financially – from Wall Street, the military-industrial complex and other corporate interests that put profits ahead of public needs.”

Two Years After the Election

In October 2018, the progressive team produced a follow-up report titled “Autopsy: One Year Later“.  It says, “The Democratic Party has implemented modest reforms, but corporate power continues to dominate the party.”

In a recent phone interview, the editor of that report, Norman Solomon, said it appears some in the Democratic Party establishment would rather lose the next election to Republicans than give up control of the party.

What really happened in 2016?

Beyond the initial critiques and “Autopsy” research, there has been little discussion, debate or lessons learned about the 2016 election. Politics has been dominated by Russiagate.

Why did so many working class voters switch from Obama to Trump? A major reason is because Hillary Clinton is associated with Wall Street and the economic policies of her husband President Bill Clinton. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), promoted by Bill Clinton, resulted in huge decline in manufacturing jobs in swing states such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Of course, this would influence their thinking and votes. Hillary Clinton’s support for the Trans Pacific Partnership was another indication of her policies.

What about the low turnout from the African American community? Again, the lack of enthusiasm is rooted in objective reality. Hillary Clinton is associated with “welfare reform” promoted by her husband. According to this study from the University of Michigan, “As of the beginning of 2011, about 1.46 million U.S. households with about 2.8 million children were surviving on $2 or less in income per person per day in a given month… The prevalence of extreme poverty rose sharply between 1996 and 2011. This growth has been concentrated among those groups that were most affected by the 1996 welfare reform.”

Over the past several decades there has been a huge increase in prison incarceration due to increasingly strict punishments and mandatory prison sentences. Since the poor and working class have been the primary victims of welfare and criminal justice “reforms” initiated or sustained through the Clinton presidency, it’s understandable why they were not keen on Hillary Clinton. The notion that low turnout was due to African Americans being unduly influenced by Russian Facebook posts is seen as “bigoted paternalism” by blogger Teodrose Fikremanian who says, “The corporate recorders at the NY Times would have us believe that the reason African-Americans did not uniformly vote for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats is because they were too dimwitted to think for themselves and were subsequently manipulated by foreign agents. This yellow press drivel is nothing more than propaganda that could have been written by George Wallace.”

How Clinton became the Nominee

Since the 2016 election there has been little public discussion of the process whereby Hillary Clinton became the Democratic Party nominee. It’s apparent she was pre-ordained by the Democratic Party elite. As exposed in the DNC emails, there was bias and violations of the party obligations at the highest levels. On top of that, it should now be clear that the pundits, pollsters and election experts were out of touch, made poor predictions and decisions.

Bernie Sanders would have been a much stronger candidate. He would have won the same party loyalists who voted for Clinton. His message attacking Wall Street would have resonated with significant sections of the working class and poor who were unenthusiastic (to say the least) about Clinton. An indication is that in critical swing states such as Wisconsin and Michigan Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary race.

Clinton had no response for Trump’s attacks on multinational trade agreements and his false promises of serving the working class. Sanders would have had vastly more appeal to working class and minorities. His primary campaign showed his huge appeal to youth and third party voters. In short, it’s likely that Sanders would have trounced Trump. Where is the accountability for how Clinton ended up as the Democratic Party candidate?

The Relevance of 2016 to 2020

The 2016 election is highly relevant today. Already we see the same pattern of establishment bias and “horse race” journalism which focuses on fund-raising, polls and elite-biased “electability” instead of dealing with real issues, who has solutions, who has appeal to which groups.

Mainstream media and pundits are already promoting Joe Biden. Syndicated columnist EJ Dionne, a Democratic establishment favorite, is indicative. In his article “Can Biden be the helmsman who gets us past the storm?” Dionne speaks of the “strength he (Biden) brings” and the “comfort he creates”. In the same vein, Andrew Sullivan pushes Biden in his article “Why Joe Biden Might be the Best to Beat Trump“. Sullivan thinks that Biden has appeal in the working class because he joked about claims he is too ‘hands on’. But while Biden may be tight with AFL-CIO leadership, he is closely associated with highly unpopular neoliberal trade deals which have resulted in manufacturing decline.

The establishment bias for Biden is matched by the bias against Democratic Party candidates who directly challenge Wall Street and US foreign policy. On Wall Street, that would be Bernie Sanders. On foreign policy, that is Tulsi Gabbard. With a military background Tulsi Gabbard has broad appeal, an inclusive message and a uniquely sharp critique of US “regime change” foreign policy. She calls out media pundits like Fareed Zakaria for goading Trump to invade Venezuela. In contrast with Rachel Maddow taunting John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to be MORE aggressive, Tulsi Gabbard has been denouncing Trump’s collusion with Saudi Arabia and Israel’s Netanyahu, saying it’s not in US interests. Gabbard’s anti-interventionist anti-occupation perspective has significant support from US troops. A recent poll indicates that military families want complete withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria. It seems conservatives have become more anti-war than liberals.

This points to another important yet under-discussed lesson from 2016: a factor in Trump’s victory was that he campaigned as an anti-war candidate against the hawkish Hillary Clinton. As pointed out here, “Donald Trump won more votes from communities with high military casualties than from similar communities which suffered fewer casualties.”

Instead of pointing out that Trump has betrayed his anti-war campaign promises, corporate media (and some Democratic Party outlets) seem to be undermining the candidate with the strongest anti-war message. An article at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) says, “Corporate media target Gabbard for her Anti-Interventionism, a word they can barely pronounce.”

Russiagate has distracted most Democrats from analyzing how they lost in 2016. It has given them the dubious belief that it was because of foreign interference. They have failed to analyze or take stock of the consequences of DNC bias, the preference for Wall Street over working class concerns, and the failure to challenge the military industrial complex and foreign policy based on ‘regime change’ interventions.

There needs to be more analysis and lessons learned from the 2016 election to avoid a repeat of that disaster. As indicated in the Autopsy, there needs to be a transparent and fair campaign for nominee based on more than establishment and Wall Street favoritism. There also needs to be consideration of which candidates reach beyond the partisan divide and can energize and advance the interests of the majority of Americans rather than the elite. The most crucial issues and especially US military and foreign policy need to be seriously debated.

Blaming an outside power is a good way to prevent self analysis and positive change. It’s gone on far too long.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist who grew up in Canada but currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. He can be reached at rsterling1@gmail.com.

May 19, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Where Lyme Disease Came From and Why It Eludes Treatment

By David Swanson | CounterPunch | May 17, 2019

A new book called Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons by Kris Newby adds significantly to our understanding of Lyme disease, while oddly seeming to avoid mention of what we already knew.

Newby claims (in 2019) that if a scientist named Willy Burgdorfer had not made a confession in 2013, the secret that Lyme disease came from a biological weapons program would have died with him. Yet, in 2004 Michael Christopher Carroll published a book called Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Germ Laboratory. He appeared on several television shows to discuss the book, including on NBC’s Today Show, where the book was made a Today Show Book Club selection. Lab 257 hit the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list soon after its publication.

Newby’s book reaches the same conclusion as Carroll’s, namely that the most likely source of diseased ticks is Plum Island. Newby reaches this conclusion on page 224 after mentioning Plum Island only once in passing in a list of facilities on page 47 and otherwise avoiding it throughout the book. This is bizarre, because Newby’s book otherwise goes into great depth, and even chronicles extensive research efforts that lead largely to dead ends, and because there is information available about Plum Island, and because Carroll’s best-selling book seems to demand comment, supportive or dismissive or otherwise.

In fact, I think that, despite the avoidance of any discussion of Plum Island, Newby’s research complements Carroll’s quite well, strengthens the same general conclusion, and then adds significant new understanding. So, let’s look at what Carroll told us, and then at what Newby adds.

Less than 2 miles off the east end of Long Island sits Plum Island, where the U.S. government makes or at least made biological weapons, including weapons consisting of diseased insects that can be dropped from airplanes on a (presumably foreign) population. One such insect is the deer tick, pursued as a germ weapon by the Nazis, the Japanese, the Soviets, and the Americans.

Deer swim to Plum Island. Birds fly to Plum Island. The island lies in the middle of the Atlantic migration route for numerous species. “Ticks,” Carroll writes, “find baby chicks irresistible.”

In July of 1975 a new or very rare disease appeared in Old Lyme, Connecticut, just north of Plum Island. And what was on Plum Island? A germ warfare lab to which the U.S. government had brought former Nazi germ warfare scientists in the 1940s to work on the same evil work for a different employer. These included the head of the Nazi germ warfare program who had worked directly for Heinrich Himmler. On Plum Island was a germ warfare lab that frequently conducted its experiments out of doors. After all, it was on an island. What could go wrong? Documents record outdoor experiments with diseased ticks in the 1950s (when we know that the United States was using such weaponized life forms in North Korea). Even Plum Island’s indoors, where participants admit to experiments with ticks, was not sealed tight. And test animals mingled with wild deer, test birds with wild birds.

By the 1990s, the eastern end of Long Island had by far the greatest concentration of Lyme disease. If you drew a circle around the area of the world heavily impacted by Lyme disease, which happened to be in the Northeast United States, the center of that circle was Plum Island.

Plum Island experimented with the Lone Star tick, whose habitat at the time was confined to Texas. Yet it showed up in New York and Connecticut, infecting people with Lyme disease — and killing them. The Lone Star tick is now endemic in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

If Newby agrees or disagrees with any of the above, she does not inform us. But here’s what she adds to it.

The outbreak of unusual tick-borne disease around Long Island Sound actually started in 1968, and it involved three diseases: Lyme arthritis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and babesiosis. A U.S. bioweapons scientist, Willy Burgdorfer, credited in 1982 with discovering the cause of Lyme disease, may have put the diseases into ticks 30 years earlier. And his report on the cause of Lyme disease may have involved a significant omission that has made it harder to diagnose or cure. The public focus on only one of the three diseases has allowed a disaster that could have been contained to become widespread.

Newby documents in detail Burgdorfer’s work for the U.S. government giving diseases to ticks in large quantities to be used as weapons, as they have been in Cuba in 1962, for example. “He was growing microbes inside ticks, having the ticks feed on animals, and then harvesting the microbes from the animals that exhibited the level of illness the military had requested.”

Burgdorfer published a paper in 1952 about the intentional infecting of ticks. In 2013, filmmaker Tim Grey asked him, on camera, whether the pathogen he had identified in 1982 as the cause of Lyme disease was the same one or similar or a generational mutation of the one he’d written about in 1952. Burgdorfer replied in the affirmative.

Interviewed by Newby, Burgdorfer described his efforts to create an illness that would be difficult to test for — knowledge of which he might have shared earlier with beneficial results for those suffering.

Newby, who has herself suffered from Lyme disease, blames the profit interests of companies and the corruption of government for the poor handling of Lyme disease. But her writing suggests to me a possibility she doesn’t raise, namely that those who know where Lyme disease came from have avoided properly addressing it because of where it came from.

Newby assumes throughout the book that there has to have been a particular major incident near Long Island Sound, either an accident or an experiment on the public or an attack by a foreign nation. Burgdorfer reportedly claimed to another researcher that Russia stole U.S. bioweapons. Based on that and nothing else, Newby speculates that perhaps Russia attacked the United States with diseased ticks, coincidentally right in the location where the U.S. government experimented with diseased ticks.

“What this book brings to light,” Newby writes, “is that the U.S. military has conducted thousands of experiments exploring the use of ticks and tick-borne diseases as biological weapons, and in some cases, these agents escaped into the environment. The government needs to declassify the details of these open-air bioweapons tests so that we can begin to repair the damage these pathogens are inflicting on human and animals in the ecosystem.”

Another product of U.S. bio-weapons tax dollars at work, of course, was the anthrax mailed to politicians in 2001. While Newby speculates that perhaps someone was trying to demonstrate the danger for our own good, I don’t think we should forget that one purpose served — whether or not intended — by the “anthrax attacks” was a significant augmentation of the Iraq war lies. The attacks were falsely blamed on Iraq, and even if people have forgotten that, they fell for it long enough for it to matter. The one bit of truth in current public understanding of Lyme disease is that it has not been falsely blamed on some country the United States is eager to bomb. Let’s keep it that way!

May 17, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 3 Comments

Imperiled Dutch PM’s party: Vote us, or our Kremlin-loving rivals will give country to Putin

RT | May 17, 2019

When you get crushed at the ballot box and want to undercut the guys who beat you, the best strategy is to say they are in love with the Kremlin and want to sell the country to Putin, the ruling Dutch party apparently believes.

People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the party of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, is in a perilous situation at the moment. Two months ago political newcomers from Forum for Democracy (FvD) crushed the centrist ruling coalition in provincial elections.

Next week Dutch voters choose their representatives at the European Parliament and Prime Minister Rutte and his people have apparently decided it’s time to unpack the ultimate weapon: red-baiting.

A political ad published by VVD on Thursday tells the Dutch they shouldn’t vote for FvD because its leader Thierry Baudet … wants to hand the Netherlands over to Vladimir Putin. Why? Because Baudet, is in love with the Russian president – at least that’s what the cartoonish popping out eyes, with hearts in them and the hashtag #Kremlincrush imply.

The ad does not seem very convincing though. The evidence of Baudet’s infatuation boils down to him going against Western establishment’s common wisdom in saying that the threat of Russia is grossly exaggerated and that Moscow could be a good ally in the modern world. Why the Eurosceptic nationalist party would be conspiring to betray its country to a foreign power is never explained.

The secret proof is probably the Soviet anthem, which creators of the video used as background music. The Russian one uses the same tune with different lyrics, so they are difficult to distinguish for a foreigner, but maybe VVD wanted to say Baudet had been recruited over 30 years ago, when the USSR still existed?

The attack is the latest in a series launched by VVD against their FvD opponents in the run up to next week’s vote and may seem like an act of desperation, but it is actually not. At least that’s what Klaas Dijkhoff, the leader of the party faction in the Dutch House, says.

“We just lost an election. This doesn’t mean we are in a panic,” he told Algemeen Dagblad daily. “If our military and intelligence services all say Russia is a threat and you say Russia can be our friend, you have some explaining to do.”

FvD on the contrary believe their critics are simply going into a full meltdown before ultimate political demise.

Russia scaremongering is quite a popular campaign tactic these days in many countries, but it doesn’t necessarily pay off. For example, Ukraine’s incumbent President Petro Poroshenko tried to get reelected by stating that his actual opponent is Putin rather than Volodymyr Zelensky, the comedian turned politician, whose name was on the ballot. Zelensky won in a landslide, scoring over 73 percent of the votes.

VVD is no stranger to using Putin’s name for political grandstanding and getting burned as a result. Halbe Zijlstra, Dijkhoff’s predecessor as party faction leader who later became foreign minister, had to resign in disgrace last year after confessing that he had lied about a meeting with Putin. Zijlstra had falsely claimed that he heard the Russian leader lay an imperialistic claim on neighboring countries.

May 17, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Washington Needs New Mindset for a US-Russia Reset

Strategic Culture Foundation | May 17, 2019

As the old saying goes, it’s good to talk. US Secretary Mike Pompeo was cordially received this week by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Pompeo spoke of repairing the frayed bilateral relations and of finding “common ground” between the US and Russia on a range of pressing international issues. President Putin also said he aspired for much better relations between the two countries, and pointed out that the world’s biggest nuclear powers have an onerous obligation to cooperate.

Indeed, the issue of arms control was reportedly a top agenda item in lengthy discussions between Putin and Pompeo, and separately with Lavrov. Both sides expressed willingness to work on negotiating new controls and on extending the New Start treaty concerning strategic nuclear weapons which is due to expire in 2021. After the US unilaterally suspended its participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty earlier this year, amid dubious accusations against Russia for breaching the treaty, the stated willingness by Pompeo to return to negotiations is welcome.

On several other issues, the US and Russian sides clashed over differences. Russia defended the sovereign right of Venezuela to be free from Washington’s interference. Lavrov called for dialogue in the South American country as the way forward to resolve political conflict, not for Washington to “impose” its will on the Venezuelan people.

The Russian side also warned against further escalation of military tensions by the US towards Iran, reiterating the importance of respecting the 2015 international nuclear accord, which Washington unilaterally abrogated last year.

In principle, having sharp differences and opposing views is not a problem. Diplomacy is all about robust exchange of views and criticisms. At least, Pompeo’s engagement with Moscow shows that the Trump administration is willing to build on diplomatic relations based on mutual respect.

Earlier this month, Presidents Trump and Putin held a constructive phone call which no doubt helped set the agenda for discussions this week. There are further meetings planned between Lavrov and Pompeo at next month’s G20 summit in Japan. The White House has also said that during the summit, Trump is open to meeting with Putin. The Kremlin responded positively to that offer. It would be the first meeting between the two leaders since their summit in Helsinki last July.

This cordial outreach is encouraging, especially given the past two years of relentless political and media antagonism from the American side towards Russia and Putin in particular, with the latter vilified for allegedly orchestrating Kremlin interference in the 2016 US presidential elections. Trump has always scoffed at those claims as a demeaning slur fabricated by his domestic political enemies. Moscow, of course, has consistently slammed the accusations as baseless slander. Given that a two-year investigation into the matter by special counsel and former FBI chief Robert Mueller concluded that there was “no Russian conspiracy”, that would seem to be a vindication of both Trump and Russia, and the end of the whole tawdry matter. Time to move on.

However, that’s why the additional comments on alleged Russian interference by Pompeo this week were jarring and disconcerting. He reportedly warned President Putin about not interfering in US elections “again” and for Russia to demonstrate “that it was a thing of the past”. Such an attitude from Trump’s top diplomat is reprehensible. The irony is that the Trump administration has been assailed with false claims of Russian collusion, and yet here was Pompeo spouting the same nonsense to his Russian hosts, instead of seizing the opportunity to get on with real, pressing issues of utmost importance.

Perhaps Pompeo was anticipating the furious anti-Russia media reaction back in the US where a plethora of commentators decried his otherwise convivial meeting with Putin. The fact that large sections of the mainstream US media did ham up ridiculous insults about “collusion” shows that there is a deep-seated pernicious Russophobia among the American establishment. Pompeo appears to be susceptible to owning similar pejorative views on Russia, if he can still articulate the scurrilous notion of electoral interference.

That is a troubling sign of dim prospects for a restored relationship. Pompeo’s remarks about “not interfering again” illustrates how ingrained the notion is in Washington that Russia meddled in American affairs. If Washington persists in this fundamentally Russophobic delusion, then the prospects for normal bilateral relations are indeed limited.

If one side has such a paranoid and delusional view of the other side, then the scope for a productive dialogue on other matters is badly hampered.

A genuine reset in US-Russia relations will require a sea-change in the political mindset in Washington. Cold War thinking should be “the thing of the past” not the tedious repetition of slander against Russia.

President Trump seems willing to make a fresh start with Russia. Maybe he ought to think about shaking up his diplomatic corps with some reasonable people who don’t just regurgitate Russophobic nonsense.

May 17, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Year of selective blindness: Russian journalist still in Ukrainian jail under bogus treason charges

A rally in support of Kirill Vyshynsky in Moscow. ©Sputnik / Aleksey Kudenko
By Alexandre Antonov | RT | May 15, 2019

Exactly a year ago the head of a Russian-Ukrainian news agency was snatched in Kiev and put in jail under a charge of high treason. Western champions of media rights have shown spectacular will to ignore the scandalous case.

Being a journalist in a nation where the government can put you in jail for unfavorable reporting is understandably risky, but at least one can hope to find international support after getting into trouble. Foreign governments and international organizations would cry foul and try to pressure the persecutors.

Well, Kirill Vyshinsky didn’t get this response. On March 15, 2018 he was arrested by agents of the SBU, Ukraine’s powerful national security agency, and charged with treason. His alleged crime was that as head of a Russian-Ukrainian news agency he waged “information warfare” against Ukraine, or at least that’s what the SBU said at the time. The accusation may result in a 15 year jail term.

Vyshinsky has been kept in pre-trial detention since, denied bail or hospital treatment and restricted in visitation rights. The prosecution managed to formulate an 80-page indictment by March, listing 72 stories and opinion pieces published by the news agency since 2014, which the prosecution claims to be manipulative or false.

The journalist insists the accusations are absurd. How can a factually accurate news report about Crimea changing its time zone to that of Moscow or an opinion piece giving a historic overview of referenda held in Ukraine since gaining independence in 1991 be anti-Ukrainian, he argued. The prosecutors said even factually accurate stories can be “anti-Ukrainian in nature.”

Regardless of one’s attitude to what happened between Ukraine and Russia during and after the Maidan mass protests, accurate reporting of facts should not be criminalized. Just imagine what would happen, for example, if in 1999 Russia arrested and put on trial the head of the BBC Russian service, saying the British broadcaster’s coverage of the freshly reignited hostilities in Chechnya was “anti-Russian.” All hell would break loose, and rightfully so.

On Wednesday, there was a protest in front of the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow, calling on Kiev to free Vyshinsky. And a deafening silence from the usual Western defenders of media freedom. Amnesty International, for example, doesn’t mention Vyshinsky’s name on its website at all – not even on the Russian-language and Ukrainian-language versions.

Officials from the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe and International Federation of Journalists voiced concern about Vyshinsky’s continued incarceration when asked for comments by the Russian media. But the organizations didn’t release any official statements on the occasion of the anniversary. Neither did the Committee to Protect Journalists, although it did report the start of Vyshynsky’s trial in early April.

As for mainstream media in the West, they don’t seem to be particularly interested in their Russian-Ukrainian colleague. Unless, of course, there is a chance to brand him a Russian propagandist who may threaten America’s democracy. A story that the Daily Beast ran in March says Vyshinsky’s wife hired US political consultant Ezra Friedlander to lobby for the journalist’s release in Ukraine, and implied that this may have compromised Friedlander’s other clients, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler. In other words, red-baiting at its best.

Apparently, not all reporters are made equal in the eyes of the West. There are those that deserve protection. And there are people like Vyshinsky, or WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, who are not really reporters – just some guys telling true but unwelcomed facts about the US and its allies. They deserve to rot in jail, right?

May 15, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Tishchenko’s Case Has Signs of US Intelligence Services’ Provocation – Embassy

Sputnik – 15.05.2019

The case of Russian citizen Oleg Tishchenko, who was extradited from Georgia to the United States, has signs of a provocation, staged by the US intelligence services, the Russian Embassy in the United States said in a statement.

“The Russian Embassy in the United States is closely following the situation around the arrest of Russian citizen O. M. Tishchenko, who has earlier been extradited from Georgia [to the United States]. He is accused of five charges, including smuggling, violation of the law on arms exports ban as well as conspiracy against the United States. The case has signs of the US intelligence services’ provocation,” the statement posted on the embassy’s Facebook page on late Tuesday said.

According to the embassy, Tishchenko is held now in a prison in the Weber County of the US state of Utah.

“Now we are seeking consular access to our compatriot. We will provide O. M. Tishchenko with the necessary consular assistance so that his rights will be respected,” the statement added.

Tishchenko, 42, is a video game developer, who worked on high-precision flight simulators. He is accused of online purchasing documentation about various planes, including F-16, F-22 and F-35 fighters. The criminal case was opened in 2016 and, in early 2019, Tishchenko was arrested in Georgia and later transferred to the United States.

May 15, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | | Leave a comment

The Russians are coming for European elections! Just don’t ask for proof

Graham Dockery | RT | May, 2019

Those dastardly Russian hackers are alive and well and meddling in the upcoming European Parliament elections, warned the New York Times. Just don’t expect to see any proof, because the paper offers none.

Fresh from interfering in seemingly everything wrong in America, unidentified Russian hackers have shifted their attention to Europe, deploying information warfare tactics to give a boost to populist and right-wing parties ahead of next month’s European Parliament elections. At least according to a New York Times article, given the front-page treatment on Sunday.

The story is heavy with accusation. The Russians, it states, are busy “spreading disinformation, encouraging discord and amplifying distrust in the centrist parties that have governed for decades.” Among their tools are news websites that “bear the same electronic signatures as pro-Kremlin websites,” Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, and WhatsApp groups.

Although the Times article claimed that “intelligence officials,” and “security experts” back up its theories, it quotes only one: Former FBI analyst Daniel Jones, who now runs a nonprofit entitled Advance Democracy.

“They’re working to destroy everything that was built post-World War II,” Jones said, an explanation rivaling George W. Bush’s “they hate our freedom” for its nonsensical reductionism.

Is it possible that Jones might have an agenda? Most definitely. The former intelligence analyst runs a second nonprofit, The Democracy Integrity Project, from his home in Virginia. TDIP spent much of the last two years emailing a daily “collusion”newsletter to journalists, including those at the New York Times.

Jones’ ties to the Democratic party machine are also extensive. A former staffer for California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), Jones reportedly worked with opposition research firm Fusion GPS to continue to search for evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia even after Trump’s election. The uncorroborated claims made in the so-called ‘Steele Dossier’ often featured prominently in TDIP’s daily memos to reporters, and leaked text messages to Democrat Senate Intelligence Committee member Mark Warner revealed Jones to be an associate of Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier.

With the Steele Dossier deemed unfit to print by every single mainstream media outlet (except, of course, Buzzfeed ), and with the “collusion” narrative completely dismantled by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report, who else can the New York Times bring in to back up their Russian meddling expose?

Enter Ben Nimmo, who claims at the end of the article that Europe is a “test bed” for Russian interference efforts. Again, Nimmo offers no proof, but a glimpse at his resume gives an idea of what his motivations might be. A senior fellow at NATO-sponsored think tank the Atlantic Council, Nimmo has emerged in recent years as a reliable Russia-basher, always ready to give a juicy soundbite to the media. He’s also identified thousands of ‘Russian-linked’ Twitter accounts, based on some thoroughly dodgy methodology.

With two ‘experts’ down, what has the Times got left? Not much. The article notes that “a definitive attribution would require the kind of tools that the American government used to reveal the 2016 interference.” Of course, none is provided.

Even if the Russians aren’t involved, the article claims that populist and right-wing groups in Europe are “adopting many of the Kremlin’s tactics.” In practice, this means that the nasties on the right side of the political spectrum make funny memes and videos to support their candidates of choice.

Running through the article is a palpable fear that the centrism that has dominated European politics for more than half a century is now under threat. “False and divisive stories about the European Union, NATO, immigrants and more,” amplify the threat, driving voters into the embrace of populist parties, “many of them sympathetic to Russia.”

However, never once does it occur to the authors that perhaps Europeans are simply tiring of the consensus. Perhaps they disagree with mass immigration, especially at a time of slow economic recovery from the Great Recession. Perhaps they disagree with the often unaccountable bureaucracy of Brussels, and their membership in a military alliance that they have personally never felt a connection with. After all, populism is called populism because its positions are popular ones.

But nope, it’s all a sinister Russian plot to undermine democracy. Let’s go with that one.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

US, Russia engage on Venezuela

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | May 12, 2019

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov remarked last Thursday in Moscow that no contacts between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump are expected at the G20 summit in Japan on June 28-29. “An encounter is not planned so far and there is no talk about a meeting,” Peskov said.

This remark was made in the run-up to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s forthcoming visit to Russia on April 12-14. There has been much speculation in the US media that a summit meeting between Trump and Putin was likely among Pompeo’s talking points with the Russian leadership.

The ‘pull asides’ that Trump has been resorting to on the sidelines of international events to have a quick word with Putin have fallen into a pattern. Firstly, things remained strictly between the two statesmen at a personal level and secondly, Trump had to take care no feathers were ruffled back home while the Robert Mueller inquiry on ‘Russia collusion’ was going on. The arrangement left the Russian side unhappy, since the unstructured informal conversations eventually led to nothing. Russian-American relations continued to deteriorate.

Unsurprisingly, it has taken over one year for Pompeo to schedule his first visit to Moscow after he took over as state secretary in April 2018. (No US secretary of defence has yet visited Russia during the Trump presidency, either.) The proposal on Pompeo’s visit was hurriedly mooted by Washington just a few days ago, earlier this month. Therefore, if Pompeo’s visit is being treated on a low key, it could be that Moscow doesn’t expect anything much to come out of it.

The point is, although the Mueller inquiry could not prove any ‘collusion’ between Trump and the Kremlin, Russia still remains a toxic subject domestically in the US. For Trump’s detractors, he and Russia are often synonymous. The narrative that Trump and people around him were engaged in improper activities with Russia is not about to wither away and there are further moves likely in the Washington Beltway to find out about any other possible links between the Trump organisation and even his family and Russian entities or oligarchs.

Then, there is the vexed issue of the US sanctions against Russia, which inherently curb the scope for any meaningful expansion of ties. The post-2016 sanctions do not stem from executive orders but emanate out of laws passed by the US Congress, which takes away from Trump’s hands the powers to remove them — and, equally, they  are not even tied to specific Russian behaviours. The Russians understand well enough that the sanctions won’t be lifted for a long time.

Within such constraints, what is it that Pompeo’s visit hopes to achieve? At a state department briefing on May 10, an unnamed senior US official disclosed that arms control will top Pompeo’s agenda during the Russia visit. He said Trump seeks new agreements with Russia “that reflect modern reality. These agreements must include a broader range of countries and account for a broader range of weapon systems than our current bilateral treaties with Russia.” Besides, he said, “There will be a full range of global challenges to discuss, including Ukraine, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, and North Korea.”

However, there are enough signs that the main thing to watch could be whether a US-Russia deal on Venezuela becomes possible. Three weeks back, Fiona Hill, senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council in the White House, had visited Moscow for consultations. Amongst others, she met Putin’s foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov. According to media reports, Hill prioritised Venezuela as the most important topic in the US-Russia relations at the moment.

Arguably, more than oil or the Monroe Doctrine, what motivates Trump could be the impact of a regime change in Venezuela on the Hispanic voters in the 2020 presidential race in Florida. This impression would only have been reinforced last week when Pompeo met Lavrov on the sidelines of the Arctic Council meeting in Helsinki when, again, Venezuela figured prominently in their discussion.

With the recent US-backed coup attempt in Venezuela on April 30 having failed spectacularly, the probability of an outright US intervention is low — almost non-existent.  Trump would be reaching out for Russian help for a constitutional transition in Caracas that he could project as a ‘win’. Both Washington and Moscow are highly experienced in adopting a transactional approach to their relationship.

For Russia, on the other hand, its support for the Maduro government in Caracas is driven as much by financial and energy interests as by Moscow’s vision of a multipolar world order that is based on international law. As the Moscow-based analyst Fred Weir wrote recently, “while it may look and sound like a Cold War standoff, for Russia it is really about the simpler issue of establishing rules for competing big powers in a post-Cold War world. In Venezuela, and between the US and Russia generally, there is no sharp ideological divide over world-shaping doctrines like communism versus capitalism.”

Simply put, the Russian-American discord over Venezuela boils down to this: Washington wants Russia to stop ‘meddling’ in the Western Hemisphere, while Moscow would expect that the US also should stop fomenting anti-Moscow revolutions in Russia’s backyard. Otherwise, Russian experts acknowledge, it matters little to Moscow who rules in Caracas.

The influential strategic thinker in Moscow Fyodor Lukyanov told Weir, “The relationship that emerged between Russia and Venezuela was an accident. It was mainly the initiative of Hugo Chávez, who was seeking counterbalances to his country’s dependence on the US. Of course this was enthusiastically supported in Moscow. But it should be pointed out that at that time, the early 2000s, Chávez was rich and could pay for Russian arms and advice. Since Chávez died, and his successor has not proven so adept or popular, many in Moscow have been worried about our heavy investments in a potentially unstable regime.”

It is entirely conceivable that this complicated Russian-American tango of ‘meddling’ in the other side’s region could be in the first instance what prompted Washington to schedule Pompeo’s hurried visit to Russia to meet Lavrov and Putin in Sochi on April 14. Evidently, the Trump administration’s resuscitation of the Monroe Doctrine provides a diplomatic opening to Moscow, which of course continues to cherish the territories of the former Soviet republics as its own ‘sphere of influence’, too.

To quote Lukyanov again, “This citing of the Monroe Doctrine is something quite intriguing, and it would be warmly welcomed in Moscow if we thought the Americans took it seriously.” Indeed, some reports on Fiona Hill’s talks in Moscow last month hinted that she made a proposal to what roughly involved Russia letting up on Venezuela in exchange for some US concessions on Ukraine.

Be that as it may, significantly, Russian and Venezuelan foreign ministers met in Moscow on the eve of Lavrov’s meeting with Pompeo in Helsinki last week. What needs to be factored in is that although the coup attempt of April 30 failed, the situation in Venezuela is fluid. According to the Russian media, President Maduro has expelled dozens of army officers for their involvement in the coup, including high ranking officers.

To be sure, Moscow would know that a political solution is needed. The good part is that regime change is off the table as of now, which gives the respite to negotiate. After the meeting with Pompeo in Helsinki, Lavrov told the media that he’d rule out any foreign military intervention in Venezuela.

But the problem is that trust is lacking between Washington and Moscow. Russia cannot be sure that the American side will keep its side of the bargain — that is, assuming there is a will to negotiate at all. Again, there is the issue of US sanctions, which has crippled the Venezuelan economy over recent years. This is important because Russia’s exposure to Venezuela is huge. At the very least, Russian investments (loans) to Venezuela since 2005 amount to $17 billion.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment