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US to pressure partners into enforcing anti-Russia sanctions

RT | January 28, 2023

The US Treasury Department’s top sanctions official will visit Türkiye and the United Arab Emirates next week to warn officials and businesses there that Washington will punish them if they dodge its sanctions on Russia, Reuters reported on Saturday.

Brian Nelson, the department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will travel to Oman, the UAE, and Türkiye between Sunday and Friday. Meeting with government officials, businesses and financial institutions, Nelson will caution them that they could lose access to US markets “on account of doing business with sanctioned entities,” a Treasury spokesperson told the news agency.

US officials have repeatedly highlighted Türkiye as a potential hub of sanctions evasion, and unnamed Western officials told the Financial Times in August that they were “deeply concerned” about allegations of trade between Turkish firms and sanctioned Russian entities.

Ankara responded that it “would not allow the breaching of sanctions by any institution or person,” following a phone call in which US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo seemingly threatened the “success of the Turkish economy” and “the integrity of its banking sector.”

The UAE has also received warnings from Washington, with Adeyemo urging the Emirates’ financial institutions last summer to be “exceedingly cautious” about doing business with other institutions connected to “the Russian financial system.” The Treasury spokesperson told Reuters that Nelson will condemn the UAE’s “poor sanctions compliance” during his visit.

In the last month, the US has sanctioned a prominent Turkish businessman over allegedly laundering money for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and a UAE-based aviation firm over alleged sales to Russia’s Wagner private military corporation. Multiple Emirati companies have also been penalized for evading US sanctions on Iran.

Both Türkiye and the UAE voted at the UN General Assembly last year to condemn Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, but neither has imposed sanctions of their own on Moscow. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has maintained close contact with his colleagues in both Kiev and Moscow, and said from the outset that his diplomatic handling of the conflict would be “balanced.”

With Türkiye and the US also at loggerheads over Ankara’s refusal to sign off on Finland’s and Sweden’s bids for NATO membership, Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin last week affirmed their intent to “develop comprehensive cooperation,” including by increasing the supply of Russian gas to Türkiye.

January 28, 2023 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

The 600 influential Russian Twitter bots narrative was pushed by mainstream media. Twitter executives knew it was false.

But kept quiet.

By Cindy Harper | Reclaim The Net | January 27, 2023

New  Files revelations show that the Twitter accounts on a list from the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) that were supposed to be of Russian bots were far from it. While Twitter had evidence to prove that the accounts weren’t Russian bots, employees kept quiet, afraid to go against mainstream media narrative.

The ASD describes itself as an organization that comes up with “strategies for government, private sector, and civil society to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on foreign state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions.” Its advisors are the likes of Michael Chertoff, who worked in the George W. Bush administration as Secretary of Homeland Security, Mike McFaul (who worked in the Obama administration as US Ambassador to ,) commentator Bill Kristol, and Hillary Clinton advisers Jake Sullivan and John Podesta.

ASD said that Hamilton 68, the name of a dashboard that’s supposed to monitor Russian bots on Twitter, was monitoring 600 Russian bots on the platform.

The idea of the 600 Russian bots listed on the dashboard was widespread throughout mainstream media.

“What makes this an important story is the sheer scale of the news footprint left by Hamilton 68’s digital McCarthyism. The quantity of headlines and TV segments dwarfs the impact of individual fabulists like Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass,” wrote journalist Matt Taibbi of Racket, who today released evidence about Twitter employees’ decision to keep quiet the fact that the information pushed by the mainstream media was false.

“Hamilton 68 was used as a source to assert Russian influence in an astonishing array of news stories: support for Brett Kavanaugh or the Devin Nunes memo, the Parkland shooting, manipulation of black voters, ‘attacks’ on the Mueller investigation…” Taibbi added.

“These stories raised fears in the population, and most insidious of all, were used to smear people like Tulsi Gabbard as foreign ‘assets,’ and drum up sympathy for political causes like ’s campaign by describing critics as Russian-aligned.”

Taibbi highlighted how even “fact-checkers” used the dubious source for their own reports: “It was a lie. The illusion of Russian support was created by tracking people like Joe Lauria, Sonia Monsour, and Dave Shestokas. Virtually every major American news organization cited these fake tales— even fact-checking sites like Snopes and Politifact.”

The reports, widely pushed by the mainstream media, were untrue and Twitter executives, who had access to more information about what was going on behind the scenes with the Twitter accounts, didn’t want to disrupt the narrative for fear they would receive negative reporting.

“In layman’s terms, the Hamilton 68 barely had any Russians. In fact, apart from a few RT accounts, it’s mostly full of ordinary Americans, Canadians, and British,” Taibbi wrote.

Taibbi published email evidence that shows Twitter’s controversial former Trust and Safety chief, Yoel Roth, realizing the list was incorrect.

The dashboard “falsely accuses a bunch of legitimate right-leaning accounts of being Russian bots,” he wrote. “I think we need to just call this out on the bullshit it is…

“I think it may make sense for us to revisit the idea of more actively refuting the dashboard. It’s a collection of right-leaning legitimate users that are being used to paint a polarizing and inaccurate picture of conversation on Twitter.”

But despite Roth’s clear realization about the inaccuracy about one of the biggest narratives of the last few years, he ultimately stayed quiet, Taibbi notes.

“We have to be careful in how much we push back on ASD publicly,” said one company official.

Taibbi noted how the false narrative made its way into the heart of US politics: “Perhaps most embarrassingly, elected officials promoted the site, and invited Hamilton ‘experts’ to testify. Dianne Feinstein, James Lankford, Richard Blumenthal, Adam Schiff, and Mark Warner were among the offenders.”

January 27, 2023 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poland expands offer of tanks for Ukraine

RT | January 27, 2023

Poland is ready to send 60 more tanks to Ukraine to help fight Russia, besides the 14 German-made Leopard 2 vehicles already pledged, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said.

“If we don’t want Ukraine to be defeated, we have to be very much open and brave in supporting Ukraine,” Morawiecki told Canada’s CTV News broadcaster on Friday.

According to the prime minister, Poland is trying “to lead by example,” showing its allies what should be done to help Kiev.

“Right now, we are ready to send 60 of our modernized tanks, 30 of them PT-91. And on top of those tanks, 14 tanks, Leopard 2 tanks, from in our possession,” he said.

Morawiecki also noted that last year Warsaw provided about 250 of its modernized Soviet-era T-72 tanks to the Ukrainian military.

Mikhail Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky, confirmed on Telegram on Friday that 60 more Polish tanks will be heading Ukraine’s way. According to Podolyak, the shipment consists of PT-91 Twardys, upgraded Soviet T-72M1 main battle tanks. “Thanks to our allies,” he wrote.

Morawiecki did not specify when the additional tanks will be supplied.

On Thursday, Poland’s Deputy Defense Minister Wojciech Skurkiewicz said Warsaw plans to provide 14 Leopard 2s to Kiev after Ukrainian troops finish training with them, which could happen in “several weeks.”

The delivery of Leopard 2s by Poland to Ukraine became possible on Wednesday after Germany officially approved the supply of 14 tanks from its own stocks to Kiev, and allowed other countries to re-export the German-made weaponry to the Zelensky government.

On the same day, the US agreed to supply Kiev with 31 of its M1 Abrams main battle tanks. Earlier this month, the planned delivery of Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine was announced by the UK.

Russia’s deputy envoy to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Maksim Buyakevich, warned on Thursday that arming the Ukrainian military with Western tanks “is a straight path into a full-blown conflict in Europe.”

Earlier this month, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov insisted that German, US and British military hardware will not change the outcome of the conflict, and that the tanks will “burn” if they arrive on the battlefield.

January 27, 2023 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

The Pentagon’s Perpetual Crisis Machine

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | January 26, 2023

Given President Biden’s decision to send 31 of its top-ranked M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, it is clear that the Pentagon has decided to escalate its war against Russia. Biden’s decision was followed by Germany’s decision to deliver 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to Ukraine. I’ll guarantee you there isn’t a Russian alive who doesn’t know about the time in the 1940s when Germany sent its tanks deep into Russia, killed millions of Russians, and almost succeeded in conquering the country.

If the increasing pressure that the Pentagon is putting on Russia does not result in a nuclear war between the United States and Russia, the advocates of this highly dangerous interventionist and escalatory strategy will later exclaim, “You see, we told you that there was never a risk of nuclear war.” But what’s interesting about the Pentagon’s strategy is that if it does result in nuclear war, there won’t be anyone around to point out how wrongheaded it was.

This is obviously no way to live. But this is what life is like under a national-security state form of governmental structure. The military-intelligence establishment needs a constant stream of crises to keep people agitated, hyped-up, afraid, anxious, and tense. In that way, they’ll look to the military-intelligence establishment to keep them “safe.” Without the constant stream of crises, people might be apt to ask, “Why do we need a national-security state? Why can’t we have our limited-government republic back?”

Moreover, a constant stream of crises ensures ever-increasing taxpayer-funded largess for the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, which are the three principal components of the national-security establishment. That amount will soon reach $1 trillion per year. I’ll guarantee you that the manufacturers of tanks are uncorking the champagne bottles today. After all, those tanks being sent to Ukraine have to be replaced. Hard-pressed American taxpayers will pay for them, either directly through taxes or indirectly through more federal debt (now at $31.5 trillion and climbing every day) and inflation.

That’s what the entire Cold War racket was all about — keeping Americans agitated, hyped-up, afraid, anxious, and tense. Everyone was inculcated with the notion that the Russian Reds were coming to get us. Only the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA could save us from a communist takeover. The only president who has ever been willing to confront this scam was President Kennedy, and we all know what happened to him.

When the Cold War came to an end, unfortunately the Cold War racket didn’t. The national-security establishment kept their old Cold War dinosaur NATO in existence. Breaching their promise to Russia, the Pentagon began using NATO to absorb former members of the Warsaw Pact. The Pentagon knew precisely what it was doing — setting the stage for the continuation of its old Cold War racket, at least with respect to Russia.

When the Pentagon ultimately crossed what Russia had repeatedly emphasized was a “red line” by threatening to absorb Ukraine into NATO, the Pentagon achieved what it wanted — the continuation of its old Cold War racket, except for the part that the Reds were coming to get us.

But they’re still not willing to let go of the Red part of their Cold War racket. That’s why they’re now doing their best to gin up a crisis with China over Taiwan. That crisis will enable them to exclaim, “See, you need us to protect you from both Russia and the Chinese Reds.”

And don’t forget — they still have their perpetual war-on-terrorism racket. Sure, they’re not killing people en masse anymore in Afghanistan and Iraq, but they still are killing people in the Middle East and Africa. The potential terrorist retaliation from those continuous killings are enough to justify the continuation of their forever war-on-terrorism racket as well as the continuous destruction of our rights, liberties, and financial security here at home, as part of the process of keeping us “safe” from the terrorists who supposedly hate us for our “freedom and values.”

The important thing is that a life of permanent, perpetual crises is neither necessary nor inevitable. There is a way to restore normal life to America — one that isn’t based on a continuous stream of crises. That way is to dismantle the national-security state form of governmental structure and restore our founding governmental system of a limited-government republic. The only question is whether Americans have the will and the fortitude to do this. One thing is for sure: Our freedom, well-being, and possibly even our survival depend on it.

January 26, 2023 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Did Germany just officially declare war on Russia?

By Drago Bosnic | January 26, 2023

During a debate at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock bluntly stated that Germany and its allies are at war with Russia. The unexpected admission, although essentially true, is quite shocking given the fact that many Western officials have been insisting they aren’t directly involved in the conflict with Moscow. Baerbock made the statement during a discussion over sending “Leopard 2” heavy tanks to the Kiev regime. Most mainstream media conveniently ignored her words, but numerous experts were alarmed and warned that Berlin just essentially declared war on Russia.

This stands in stark contrast to claims of other German officials who have been extremely careful with their statements for nearly a year, insisting that their country is not directly involved in the Ukrainian conflict and citing uncontrollable escalation as their primary concern. However, this official stance is now in serious question, as one of the country’s top officials just effectively nullified all of their efforts. Annalena Baerbock started her statement at PACE with the following:

“And therefore I’ve said already in the last days – yes, we have to do more to defend Ukraine. Yes, we have to do more also on tanks. But the most important and the crucial part is that we do it together and that we do not do the blame game in Europe, because we are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other.”

Ironically, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his now former defense minister Christine Lambrecht have been accused of being “weak” on arming the Neo-Nazi junta. They have frequently insisted that it would be dangerous to get more directly involved in NATO’s proxy war against Russia. However, it seems that the much more hawkish Baerbock is willing to say the quiet part out loud. Moscow immediately reacted to the comments, with Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova saying this is yet another proof that the political West was planning a war on Russia for quite some time now.

“If we add this to Merkel’s revelations that they were strengthening Ukraine and did not count on the Minsk agreements, then we are talking about a war against Russia that was planned in advance. Don’t say later that we didn’t warn you,” Zakharova said.

Baerbock’s comments come on the heels of nearly a year of direct Russophobic narrative, including openly declared plans for war with Russia. In mid-November, Der Spiegel published leaked German Defense Ministry documents, revealing that the Bundeswehr is preparing for war with Russia. The secret draft titled “Operational guidelines for the Armed Forces” was authored by none other than the German Chief of Staff, General Eberhard Zorn himself. He stressed the need for a “mega-reform” of the German military and clearly identified Russia as an “immediate threat”.

The claim makes little sense, as Germany is now over 1,500 km away from Russia, with Belarus, Poland and Ukraine standing between the two countries. While such assertions made some sense at the height of the (First) Cold War, when the Soviet Union had over half a million soldiers stationed in East Germany alone (in addition to other Warsaw Pact member states), the situation is effectively reversed nowadays. NATO is the one encroaching on Russia’s western borders, with the crawling expansion including coups and other interventions in various Eastern European and post-Soviet states. After decades of this creeping aggression and Moscow’s futile attempts to build a comprehensive partnership with the political West, Russia was forced to launch its counteroffensive.

Back in early March, the German government announced a dramatic increase in defense spending, including a €100 billion budget for the Bundeswehr, essentially double in comparison to 2021. Although this will inevitably put additional pressure on the already struggling German economy, ravaged by the sanctions boomerang from its failed economic siege of Russia, Berlin’s suicidal subservience to Washington DC seems to take precedence. Much of Germany’s prosperity was based on access to cheap Russian energy, now a thing of the past thanks to Berlin’s resurgent Russophobia.

In addition, Germany also uniquely holds historical responsibility on a scale virtually no other country in the world does, especially towards Russia. During the Second World War, it launched a brutal invasion of the Soviet Union, killing nearly 30 million people and destroying virtually everything in its path. Worse yet, after approximately 80 years of denazification in the aftermath of its WWII defeat, Berlin still decided to support the Neo-Nazi junta in Kiev, effectively renouncing its own official postwar political position. This also includes German weapons that are killing Russians, both soldiers and civilians.

Alarmed by the dramatic shift in rhetoric, many in Germany are already pointing out the fact that the country is repeating the same historical mistake by antagonizing Russia. Petr Bystron, an AfD (Alternative for Germany) member of the German Parliament, reminded his colleagues in the Bundestag of the consequences of sending German tanks to fight Russia in Ukraine:

“It’s an interesting approach you’re taking here. German tanks against Russia in Ukraine. By the way, your grandfathers have already tried to do it then with the Melnyks and Banderas [Ukrainian Nazi collaborators during WWII] and what was the result? Untold suffering, millions of deaths on both sides, and in the end, Russian tanks here in Berlin. And two of them are still here, in front of the Bundestag. You should pass by them every morning and remember it!”

Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.

January 26, 2023 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

Stop Whining & Turn Tap On: Why German Politicians Fear to Tell Truth About EU Energy Crunch

By Ekaterina Blinova – Sputnik – 25.01.2023

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck pinned the blame for the nation’s energy crunch and shift to dirty fuels on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, according to the minister, “turned off the gas tap.” International observers dismissed Habeck’s remarks as utter nonsense while speaking to Sputnik.

“What else is left for Mr. Habeck to do? He cannot say that it were his actions that led to such unfortunate consequences for the German economy and for German consumers,” Alexey Grivach, deputy head of Russia’s National Energy Security Fund, told Sputnik.

“After all, it is precisely because of his rash actions that all German citizens are now suffering – and not only Germany, but the entire European Union. Therefore, Habeck has engaged in such a political, verbal balancing act, trying to convince someone that if there is no gas in the pipe, then Russia is to blame. But, fortunately, everyone knows perfectly well what really happened.”

Speaking to journalists last Friday, Habeck claimed that half of Germany’s entire gas supply had been stopped by Russia. He added that given that Nord Stream pipelines had been destroyed, Germany would not be able to get Russian fuel through them in the foreseeable future.

Done by Habeck’s Own Hands

Sputnik’s interlocutors have been perplexed by Habeck’s whining: it was Berlin that succumbed to Washington’s pressure last year and froze Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project that would have doubled the total capacity of the Nord Stream system from 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) to 110 bcm.

It was Robert Habeck, in propria persona, who on February 22, 2022, instructed the withdrawal of a security-of-supply assessment granted under former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s tenure, which was required to authorize Nord Stream 2.

It was Habeck, again, who pledged in early May 2022 to replace all Russian energy imports, most notably natural gas, by as soon as mid-2024, following the beginning of Moscow’s special operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

The minister gleefully announced at that time that Germany’s share of Russian gas had already dropped from 55% in 2021 to around 35% by mid-April 2022, adding that even faster progress was achieved for oil and coal where shares had dropped to 12% and 8%, respectively. To that end, Berlin leased four floating LNG terminals online to supply some 33 bcm/year, seeking to start operating the first of the Floating Storage Regasification Units (FSRU) in late 2022 and 2023.

Apparently, Germany did not resist the actions of Canada which slapped sanctions on Russia and had long refused to return a Gazprom turbine for Nord Stream’s gas equipment. Russia initially sent the turbine to Siemens Canada in Montreal for a scheduled overhaul.

However, in June 2022, Canada imposed restrictions on Russia’s energy companies, including Gazprom, and the turbine remained stuck in the North American country. That disrupted the Nord Stream system’s work and raised concerns about pre-planned maintenance service for the other five turbines. After back-and-forths, Ottawa agreed to issue a “time-limited and revocable permit” to exempt the return of the equipment.

“For some reason, this turbine was returned to Germany without the appropriate documents and guarantees that further maintenance of such turbines will be carried out in accordance with the obligations and not in some kind of sanctions mood,” Grivach noted.

Only in late August 2022, the Canadian authorities said that they would allow for the maintenance of the remaining five turbines used by the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, but the damage was done in terms of reducing the flow of natural gas from Russia to Germany.

A month later, a sabotage attack destroyed three out of Gazprom’s four Nord Stream pipelines. So far, neither Germany nor its European peers have lifted a finger to initiate repair works. This apparently indicates that they don’t need Russian gas, remarked Alexey Fenenko, associate professor of the Department of International Security, Faculty of World Politics of Moscow State University.

Furthermore, following the September 2022 sabotage, European leaders immediately pointed the finger of blame at Russia and did not allow Moscow’s specialists to participate in EU investigations into the blast.

However, in December 2022, the US mainstream press quoted European officials and investigators as saying that they had not found any evidence confirming Russia’s guilt. They admitted that Moscow would have nothing to gain from blasting its own pipelines and agreed that there had been plenty of international players interested in Nord Stream’s destruction. Nonetheless, western journalists and European officials have not made any step to name potential suspects.

“It is clear that if it were Russia, as some had the audacity to assert, then they would have proved it very quickly. But, apparently, the facts indicate some very unpleasant, and maybe even some taboo topics,” Grivach remarked.

Habeck’s gloomy sentiment with regard to Germany’s prospects of receiving Russia’s gas is sly, according to Sputnik’s interlocutors.

First, in October 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled his readiness to deliver gas to Germany through a Nord Stream pipeline not damaged by the blast. “It has a capacity of 27.5 billion cubic meters per year, which is about eight percent of all gas imports to Europe,” Putin stated on October 12, 2022, stressing that the ball is in Europe’s court. “Russia is ready for the start of these deliveries (…) If [European leaders] want it – they have to turn on the tap, and that’s it.”

Second, the same month, Moscow suggested creating a new gas hub in Turkey capable of delivering the fuel to the Old Continent.

Third, Russia is ready to restore gas supplies through other gas pipelines, as Vladislav Belov, deputy director of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences and head of the Center for German Studies told Sputnik.

“Germany still has every opportunity to receive [Russian gas],” said Belov. “There is the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline, blocked by Poland, there is a gas pipeline through Ukraine, but it has reduced pumping through it by 40%. Germany has ample opportunity to put pressure on its allies. In addition, there is also the Turkish Stream, through which Russia fully fulfills all its obligations. In general, Russia is ready to supply gas to Germany, but the Germans themselves turned the tap off. It is up to them to be able to get as much gas as they need to keep their homes warm, to fill storage facilities and get gas at the prices that are currently on the spot market.”

It Was Europe’s Decision to Axe Russia’s Gas Supplies

The dramatic reduction of Russia’s gas supplies to Europe is the result of a political decision by EU member states, according to observers.

“The reasons are political. The European Union decided to stop the supply of all raw materials coming from Russia for political reasons.”

For his part, former Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis noted in an interview with Sputnik that he fully supports the position of former Austrian Vice-Chancellor Strache, who said that the German authorities are afraid to tell their own population the truth about the real reasons for rising gas and electricity prices and about a possible shortage of energy resources.

“Europe is paying a high price for the expensive natural gas it now has to buy,” said Lafazanis, adding that Europe itself is entirely responsible for the consequences of its energy policy and shift to LNG.

What’s more interesting, some European countries are continuing to buy Russia’s energy commodities nonetheless, Stepan noted.

“For example, Russian LNG is bought by France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and, of course, the United States are continuing to buy Russian LNG,” Stepan said. “The same applies to Russian oil. The UK claims it does not import anything from Russia, and suddenly there is news in the newspapers that several tankers with Russian oil will arrive in Britain (…) It turns out that there’s a double standard approach: on the one hand, politicians issue statements, and on the other hand, in practice, governments pretend that they know nothing about their companies continuing to import Russian raw materials, or they themselves violate their regulations.”

The allegations that Russia “weaponized” its energy supplies repeatedly voiced by western politicians look ridiculous to say the least, according to Sputnik’s interlocutors.

Moreover, Europe’s energy crisis started long before the Russian special operation in Ukraine, which is routinely cited as one of the causes behind spiking gas prices, according to Mehmet Dogan, a Turkish energy expert and CEO of energy consulting agency GazDay.

“Even before the aggravation of the situation in Ukraine, everyone was talking about the threat of an energy crisis,” Dogan told Sputnik. “Gas prices skyrocketed even before the outbreak of hostilities.”

“The gas crisis in Europe began even before the escalation in Ukraine. It was based on a sharp rise in prices for blue fuel. But European countries have tried to make Russia and Putin responsible for this crisis,” echoed Turkish energy expert Volkan Aslanoglu, stressing that Habeck’s recent statement appears to be completely detached from reality.

Russia Supplying EU Despite Sanctions & Military Aid to Kiev

There is yet another aspect to the ongoing debate that is rarely touched upon, according to Alexey Fenenko. The Russian academic considers Habeck’s remark about the blocking of the “gas valve” by Russia strange, given the intention of the EU to defeat the Russian Federation in an economic war.

Moreover, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made it clear at the latest World Economic Forum in Davos that to end the conflict in Ukraine Russia’s special military operation “must fail.” To that end, Germany and other western countries provide the Kiev regime with heavy weapons as long as needed, according to Scholz.

Indeed, the German media has reported that Berlin is now planning to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev, something that the German leadership had been previously reluctant to do. Earlier this month, Berlin vowed to supply Ukraine with armored personnel carriers and a Patriot missile battery. In addition, on January 15, expanded combat training of Ukrainian forces kicked off in Germany, according to the US press.

European leaders have stepped up supplies of weapons to Kiev since the beginning of Russia’s special military operation with prominent leaders rubbishing the idea of a diplomatic solution to the conflict, rather claiming that it should be sorted out on the battlefield.

All this time, despite the EU’s bellicose rhetoric and their de facto participation in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, Russia’s energy producers continued to observe their obligations and supply Europe with natural gas, oil and petroleum products.

Russia is still warming up the Old Continent, be it direct oil and gas exports or ensuring the flow of energy carriers through its territory, energy expert Milos Zdravkovic told Sputnik. Moscow is signaling openness and readiness to provide Europe with energy, even though Russia has enough lucrative opportunities in Asia.

European Gamble Doesn’t Bode Well

Meanwhile, EU economic prospects don’t look good, according to Zdravkovic. He noted that the EU does not know what energy prices will be in the foreseeable future both for heating and the needs of industry. European goods are set to become much more expensive than those produced by Asians and Americans due to turbulent gas costs. This will adversely affect the economy of Europe, Zdravkovic warned.

“Europe consumed at least 500 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year,” Zdravkovic explained. “Its consumption grew by about 10 bcm per year.”

In 2021, the EU imported 83% of its natural gas with Russia delivering over 40% of this volume. Given that, it’s impossible to swiftly replace Russia’s gas with LNG supplies, according to Zdravkovic.

“The capacity of the total fleet of LNG tankers and all terminals on our planet, on all continents, is 400 bcm,” the Serbian energy expert noted, adding that European leaders shouldn’t expect that these volumes will all go to the Old Continent.

Moreover, a complete shift to American LNG would require building the appropriate infrastructure, according to Alexey Fenenko. One should also add fuel costs for tankers which will carry LNG from the US to Europe when supplies become regular. All these costs will make energy pretty expensive for Europeans, the Russian scholar remarked.

Of course, European countries could also switch to coal and nuclear energy, but it will take at least ten years for them to reorient to these sources of energy, Fenenko added.

“Every cloud has its silver lining,” said Zdravkovic. “I am convinced that at the end of this crisis (…), no one will ever be able to force large European economies, EU civilians and inhabitants of [the Old Continent] to join such a gamble again. I think this will definitely never happen again and that in the future there will be much more cooperation.”

January 25, 2023 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Germany ‘at war’ with Russia – FM

RT | January 25, 2023

Arguing in favor of sending tanks to Kiev, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said EU countries were fighting a war against Russia. US and EU officials have previously gone out of their way to claim they were not a party to the conflict in Ukraine.

“And therefore I’ve said already in the last days – yes, we have to do more to defend Ukraine. Yes, we have to do more also on tanks,” Baerbock said during a debate at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Tuesday. “But the most important and the crucial part is that we do it together and that we do not do the blame game in Europe, because we are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other.”

While Chancellor Olaf Scholz has insisted that Germany ought to support Ukraine but avoid direct confrontation with Russia, his coalition partner Baerbock has taken a more hawkish position. According to German media, her Green Party has been in favor of sending Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev, and eventually managed to pressure Scholz into agreeing. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, who was reluctant to send tanks to Ukraine, was pushed to resign.

This is not the first time Baerbock has made waves with her position on the conflict. She told an EU gathering in Prague last August that she intends to deliver on her promises to Ukraine “no matter what my German voters think.”

Quoting Baerbock’s words on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the West just keeps admitting that they had been planning the current conflict for years.

“If we add this to Merkel’s revelations that they were strengthening Ukraine and did not count on the Minsk agreements, then we are talking about a war against Russia that was planned in advance. Don’t say later that we didn’t warn you,” Zakharova said.

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel told German media in early December that the 2014 ceasefire brokered by Berlin and Paris was actually a ploy to “give Ukraine valuable time” for a military build-up. Former French president Francois Hollande has confirmed this, while Ukraine’s leader at that time, Pyotr Poroshenko, openly admitted it as well.

Russia’s operation in Ukraine was a “forced and last-resort response to preparations for aggression by the US and its satellites,” former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday.

January 25, 2023 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , | 3 Comments

EU’s financial support for Ukraine now just shy of €50bn

By Jerome Hughes | Press TV | January 24, 2023

Brussels – Ukrainian officials took part in a meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers on Monday via video link. An additional €500m military aid package for Kiev was confirmed, but the EU is at pains to point out that’s just a drop in the ocean compared to what the bloc has already provided since last March.

Just a few days ago in the European Parliament, the strategy was condemned.

Workers have taken to the streets of Brussels to demand peace negotiations.

EU foreign ministers adopted a fresh round of sanctions against Iran on Monday over alleged human rights abuses. The grounds for such sanctions are vehemently rejected by Tehran. Critics say the West’s policy towards Russia and Iran is being driven by Washington.

Analysts say the EU’s access to markets in these countries is being hampered due to influence from the United States, and ultimately it is ordinary citizens who are paying the price.

Also on Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh updated EU foreign ministers on the appalling situation in the occupied territories. There was absolutely no discussion on the EU side regarding possible sanctions against Israel.

January 24, 2023 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

RT France Head Announces Broadcaster’s Closure After Paris Blocks Its Accounts

Sputnik – 21.01.2023

On the air in France, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, and Mediterranean countries since 2017, RT France quickly became one of the largest alternative Francophone news broadcasters in Europe and North America. RT France was banned from broadcasting throughout the EU and Canada in early 2022 for providing a Russian perspective on the Ukraine crisis.

RT France has announced its closure after the blocking of its bank accounts in France.

“After five years of harassment, the authorities in power have achieved their goal, the closure of RT France,” the broadcaster said in a press statement tweeted out by Editor-in-Chief Xenia Fedorova on Saturday.

“Under the cover of the 9th package of sanctions against Russia, which does not target our channel, but its shareholder and parent company, the Directorate General of the Treasury decided to freeze the bank accounts of RT France, making it impossible to continue our activity,” the statement explained.

The broadcaster cited a series of recent articles and columns in French media which it said was designed to smear RT France and take it off the air.

“Clearly working with the authorities, some of our colleagues confused their role as journalists with that of policemen or judges, calling… for censorship of our media, and not hesitating to resort to false information, claiming, for example, that the activity of RT France was prohibited or illegal,” the statement said.

After an EU blanket block against Sputnik and RT in early 2022, RT France continued broadcasting online and via a Russian satellite, and its content accessed via VPN or social media.

In Saturday’s statement, the broadcaster recalled that it has been the target of forces seeking to shut it up since its launch for offering a “breath of fresh air” in an “ever-less representative and increasingly narrow media world, where critical thinking is no longer allowed.” The channel expressed pride in the “seriousness and rigor” of its coverage, and stressed its keenness to “present all opinions, give everyone a voice,” and “dare to question” – to quote its slogan.

The broadcaster emphasized that its coverage of the conflict in Ukraine – which got it banned from television broadcast in 2022, was consistently treated in a “vigilant” and “balanced way,” “whatever our detractors, who very often only rarely glanced at our channel, and obviously with a biased way, say.”

“In this particular geopolitical context, the opportunity presented itself to take advantage of this situation to (finally) gag RT France by banishing it from the European Union and from France,” despite the absence of any legal justification, the broadcaster noted.

RT France also lamented that 123 of its French employees, including 77 journalists with press cards, now risk remaining unpaid for the month of January, and losing their jobs by government decree. “Beyond the terrible economic impact for many families, there is the question of the future of media pluralism in France, its representativeness, and its independence,” as well as “the freedom of thought and expression in our society,” its statement noted.

The broadcaster emphasized that its closure, accompanied by the “deafening silence” of other French media and journalists, is an “extremely dangerous first step, because after our channel other media will be targeted.”

RT France’s bank accounts were frozen this week on the basis of European sanctions adopted last December.

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned Paris that it would retaliate unless French authorities stop “terrorizing” its journalists.

Sputnik and RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan blasted the move to freeze the accounts on Friday, sarcastically calling it a true demonstration of “liberte, egalite et fraternite” (liberty, equality and fraternity).

RT France appealed its 2022 ban to the European Court of Justice last spring, but lost, hearing that the broadcaster needed to be silenced “at a time when opinions were forming on the war in Ukraine.”

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , , | 3 Comments

The situation in African countries is deteriorating as a result of US policies

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 20.01.2023 

In the last few years the USA and its Western allies have been making increasingly overt attempts to put pressure on Africa in a bid to stop the continent turning towards Russia and China.

The situation in African countries has started to deteriorate seriously as a result of the West’s thoughtless and self-serving sanctions against Russia, which have caused the continent problems in a number of areas, including that of food security. For example purely as a result of having to buy wheat from Argentina rather than from Russia, Angola has lost more than $15 million since the beginning of Moscow’s special operation to denazify the criminal regime in Ukraine and the West’s imposition of sanctions against Russia.

According to an announcement made by Turkey’s Minister of Agriculture Vahit Kirişci, since the signing of the “grain deal” 16.9 million tons of grain, carried by 633 ships, have been exported from Ukraine through the marine humanitarian corridor established under the deal. However, just 5.4% of the exported grain has found its way to poor nations, including African nations, despite the West’s insistence that the deal would prioritize shipments to these countries.

As for Russia, despite the restrictions imposed on it by the West, it has been able to export more than 15 million tons of grain as well as large volumes of mineral fertilizer, much of it intended for poor countries. Moreover, in discussions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdoğan last November, it was decided to supply grain to the poorest African nations free of charge.

According to Saudi media it is the events in Ukraine and the anti-Russian policies of the West that are to blame for the sharp rise in food prices in 2022 (wheat, rice, maize, vegetable oil etc.) and the resulting famine that caused widespread suffering, especially in the world’s poorest countries. By tightening their financial policies the developed nations have reduced the flow of funds to poor countries, and the departure of foreign investment has significantly exacerbated the food crisis – a problem which, even in 2023, will be particularly challenging to overcome. In March 2022 global food prices reached their highest ever level. According to statistics published by the media, global spending of food imports amounted to almost $2 trillion in 2022, significantly more than in previous years. Shortages of wheat and fertilizer have caused price increases and raised the cost of importing food for the most vulnerable sections of society (by more than $25 billion). State support for low income families has been unable to raise their standards of living, as most of the subsidies granted have been eaten up by rising food prices. Jasper Okodi, a consultant to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has stated that even if global prices fall the price of foods in local markets in unlikely to fall until the third quarter of 2023.

Unlike the West, Russia has been a trusted partner to African states for many decades. From the mid 20th Century onwards, as African nations achieved independence from the yoke of their former colonial masters, the Soviet Union provided them with a great deal of disinterested support, building up their social and economic infrastructure. As representatives of the African nations themselves insist, Russia has never been involved in schemes to rob Africans of their natural wealth, and has never applied political pressure in an attempt to gain economic benefits. In the current highly challenging conditions posed by the anti-Russian policies of the USA and its western allies, African leaders clearly understand that Russia, despite the aggressive and immoral opposition of the West, is fighting to bring about a just world order. It is also fighting the USA’s overt propaganda campaign, which is based on disinformation and lies about Moscow’s policies. Speaking on this and other issues at a meeting of the UN Security Council on January 10, Anna Evstigneeva, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation, categorically rejected the West’s attempts to discredit Russia’s assistance to African nations by falsely accusing it of appropriating African resources or contributing to the growth of terrorism in the continent.

Many African politicians have emphasized that while France, Britain and the USA are now losing their influence in Africa, in the past, when these countries dominated the continent, it was very difficult for Africans to stand up against Western neo-colonialism. But now the world order is changing and the African nations are able to breathe freely at last.

In an article published at the end of December The Times was forced to admit that 22 African nations refused to censure Russia’s special operation to protect residents in the Donbass at the UN General Assembly, and that in the light of current international feelings Moscow was winning more and more sympathy in the world’s most rapidly developing continent. The Times also recognized that the West has already lost the battle for Africa and that Africans are turning away from their former colonial powers and towards Russia, China, Turkey and the Persian Gulf States.

The struggle between the USA and Russia for influence in Africa took a new turn when South Africa’s president took on the chairmanship of the BRICS group and the country’s ruling party proposed inviting new members from among the world’s major developing nations to join the grouping. As the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “The BRICS group should lead the process of reforming the entire international architecture for the benefit of most countries in the world, and this group has an important role to play in leading the creation of new decision-making mechanisms in the UN and other international organizations to establish a more inclusive, just and sustainable world order.” And that will certainly end the global dominion of the West and particularly of the USA, which is why the USA is opposing such reform.

Washington is particularly critical of the plans for Russia, South Africa and China to hold joint naval exercises – known by the code name Mosi – in the Indian Ocean off the Southern African coast from February 17 to 26. The exercises will include artillery practice and anti-aircraft drills. Similar joint naval exercises were held in November 2019 in the South Atlantic ocean, off the Cape of Good Hope, not far from Cape Town.

In view of the above background and specifically Washington’s growing opposition to African countries’ good relations with Russia, Thandi Modise, South Africa’s Minister of Defense and Military Veterans was recently impelled to accuse the USA of putting pressure on those African nations that maintain good relations with Russia. The Wall Street Journal admitted the truth of this accusation in a recent article on the US reaction to the docking of the Russian cargo ship Lady R at a South African port.

The West understands that Russia has an interest in maintaining international relations with strong, self-sufficient and economically independent partner countries – including in Africa – which are able to ignore the West’s threats of repressive measures and work as allies of Moscow in the creation of a new multipolar world order. But it is precisely this process that the West fears, and it is imposing all the illegitimate sanctions that it can devise in order to impose its neocolonial policies in Africa.

January 20, 2023 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

RT Bank Accounts Frozen in France at Paris’ Behest

Samizdat – 20.01.2023

MOSCOW – Bank accounts of the RT France broadcaster’s desk have been frozen in France, Ksenia Fedorova, the broadcaster’s editor-in-chief, said on Friday, adding that the bank refers to the authorities’ order.

“We have received a letter from our bank regarding the freezing of RT France accounts by order of the French authorities in connection with the ninth round of sanctions adopted in December. Despite the fact that RT France is not on the list and has the right to operate in France, such a decision effectively paralyzes our activities,” Fedorova said in a statement.

Earlier, the head of the European Federation of Journalists, Ricardo Gutierrez, said that banning Russian media in the EU, including RT and Sputnik, “created a dangerous precedent that threatens press freedom”.

In early December, the French Council of State ordered the media regulator Arcom to reconsider its decision to continue broadcasting Russian TV channels Rossiya 1, NTV, and Channel One in Russia and Ukraine by the French satellite operator Eutelsat at the request of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Relations between Russian media and the West have become increasingly difficult in recent years. In November 2016, the European Parliament adopted a resolution stating the need to counter Russian media, with Sputnik and RT cited as the main threats in the document.

A number of western politicians, including US senators and congressmen, as well as the French president, accused Sputnik and RT of interfering in the US and French elections, but did not provide any evidence. Russian officials said such allegations were unsubstantiated.

January 20, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | | 2 Comments