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US Lawmakers Urge More Pressure, Full CAATSA Sanctions Against Russia, Iran

Sputnik – 21.05.2019

WASHINGTON US President Donald Trump should fully implement sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act as a result of the activities of Iran and Russia in Syria, 400 US lawmakers said in a letter to the US president.

“Increase pressure on Iran and Russia with respect to activities in Syria”, the letter said. “America must continue economic and diplomatic efforts to counter Iran’s support for Hezbollah and other terrorist groups as well as Russia’s support for the brutal Assad regime. We encourage full implementation of sanctions authorized in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a broadly supported bipartisan bill that you signed into law”.

The lawmakers expressed concern by the threat posed by terrorists and US adversaries in Syria and recommended steps the United States can take to limit the terrorists’ presence, counter adversaries as well as strengthen Israel’s security and continue to oppose international efforts to isolate and weaken the Jewish state.

“With the region in flux, it remains critical that we reiterate to both friend and foe in the region that we continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself”, the letter said. “We must also look for ways to augment our support in the context of the current ten-year Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel and to ensure that Israel has access to the resources and materiel it needs to defend itself against the threats it faces on its northern border”.

The lawmakers also urged increasing pressure on Hezbollah by fully implementing the 2015 and 2018 sanctions against the organization and those who fund it.

“Additionally, we must continue to press UNIFIL to carry out its UN Security Council mandate, including investigating and reporting the presence of arms and tunnels on Israel’s border”, the letter said.

On 29 January 2018, the United States began imposing sanctions on foreign companies under CAATSA Section 231 on all major transactions made with the Russian defence or intelligence sector.

The US Congress passed CAATSA in response to allegations that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the US political system.

May 20, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

If US sanctions Turkey, can India be far behind?

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | March 9, 2019

Turkish-American relations are at a crossroads. Unlike the past history of their troubled relationship which saw hiccups but the two NATO allies moved on eventually, this time around, they are barreling toward a clash.

From an Indian perspective, it is of interest that the clash is over the Turkish decision to buy the S-400 Triumf missile defence system from Russia, which violates the US’ sanctions regime against Russia known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

In September last year, Washington invoked CAATSA for the first time and sanctioned China over its purchase of Russian military jets and surface-to-air missiles — 10 Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 missiles. Will it be Turkey’s turn now? And if Turkey gets sanctioned, can India be far behind?

The US had explicitly warned India against going ahead with the S-400 Triumf deal with Russia. But India went ahead, nonetheless, last October. (The deal is estimated to be worth at least $5.4 billion.) But while Delhi went about its decision tactfully, Ankara is openly defiant. The Turkish President Recep Erdogan stated on Wednesday in a TV interview,

“We signed a deal with Russia for the purchase of S-400, and will start co-production. It’s done. There can never be a turning back. This would not be ethical, it would be immoral. Nobody should ask us to lick up what we spat. Later, we may perhaps go for the S-500s as well, after the S-400.”

The US probably never ever heard such spiteful words from a key NATO ally. Erdogan also warned that the U.S. should not try to “discipline” Turkey through trade measures. If it did, he emphasised, Turkey has its own measures prepared. One of the trade measures he alluded to is the US’ intention to exclude Turkey from the generalised system of preferences (GSP).

Interestingly, while notifying the US Congress last week regarding his intention to remove the GSP benefits to them in trade, President Trump bracketed India with Turkey. India downplayed Trump’s move, saying the GSP benefits are only marginally affecting India’s exports to the US. But Erdogan apparently plans to retaliate.

The Pentagon has sharply reacted to Erdogan’s remarks, warning Turkey of “grave consequence in terms of our military relationship.” Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the senior US general for operations in Europe and NATO’s top officer, warned in congressional testimony on Tuesday that Turkey’s pursuit of the S-400 deal would jeopardise American plans to sell to Ankara the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for both policy and security reasons.

“My best military advice would be that we don’t then follow through with the F-35, flying it or working with an ally that’s working with Russian systems,” Scaparrotti told the Senate Armed Services Committee in testimony. According to a Reuter report, he hinted at concerns that Turkey’s using both the S-400s and the F-35 could provide Russia with valuable information on how to defeat the tech-heavy jet slated to become a signature fighter for NATO countries and their partners.

However, Turkey is not backing down. The Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has disclosed that the S-400 missile system will reach Turkey in July and deployment will go ahead as planned in October. The space for diplomatic manoeuvring is shrinking and, clearly, the chances for imposition of US sanctions against Turkey under CAATSA are increasing.

Of course, if Washington imposes sanctions against its key NATO ally, it is going to be highly problematic to exempt India from similar punitive measures for committing the very same offence. Interestingly, like Erdogan, Modi is also getting a very bad press in the US lately. They are the kind of ultra-nationalists that the US regards as hindrances to its regional strategies.

The Turks harbour the suspicion that the failed coup in July 2016, which was masterminded by the Turkish Islamist preacher Fetullah Gulen living in Pennsylvania in exile for the past two decades, had covert American support.

Last week, incidentally, US First Lady Melania Trump visited a pre-kindergarten class in Oklahoma, which Ankara believes is linked to supporters of Gulen. Turks believe that the White House was taunting Erdogan.

President Trump’s detractors in the US and in Europe used to berate him for empathising with “strong men” like Erdogan or Vladimir Putin. But as it turns out, the US finds such world leaders irksome in their zeal to uphold strategic autonomy in their foreign and security policies. The US media has been highly critical of Modi too in the recent months.

But US attempts to undermine these nationalist leaderships have run into headwinds since leaders like Erdogan and Putin happen to enjoy mass support in their respective countries. For sure, Washington will be keenly watching the outcome of the upcoming parliamentary election in India in April-May where Modi is seeking a renewed mandate.

As for India, what emerges at the end of the 5-year term of the Modi government is that under his watch India’s relations with the US have been pragmatic and based on limited common interests — shared notions of countering the rise of China and Islamism — and that too, without undermining India’s strategic autonomy. The US seems disappointed that Modi failed to fulfil their high expectations of him as a strategic partner. A sense of frustration is palpable among the US’ lobbyists in India as well.

At any rate, the Modi government continues to negotiate big weapons deals with Russia, disregarding the CAATSA. Last week, PM Modi inaugurated a massive Russian-Indian joint venture, which will reportedly produce about 7,50,000 AK-203 rifles, the most recent version of the famous AK-47 rifles for the use of the Indian armed forces as the standard assault rifle for decades to come. Again, on Friday, Delhi inked a defence deal worth over $3 billion with Moscow for the lease  of a nuclear-powered attack submarine from Russia. It cannot be lost on Washington that the Modi government expedited these mega deals with Russia even as its term in office is ending, while US arms vendors have been kept waiting.

All in all, the S-400 which is one of the world’s most advanced AMB systems, is fast acquiring the reputation of a Russian “geopolitical missile” targeted at the US. If the US proceeds with sanctions against Turkey on account of the S-400 deal, it will have deleterious downstream impact on many geo-strategic templates.

The very cohesion of the NATO and the alliance’s overall effectiveness in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East could be affected. Similarly, the US also eyes India as a potentially big customer for American weaponry and will be shooting at its own feet if it were to sanction India. Suffice to say, paradoxically, any US sanctions may only increase Turkey or India’s dependence on Russia for sourcing advanced weaponry, which of course would defeat the very purpose of the CAATSA.

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

India-Russia relations go way beyond defence deals

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | October 9, 2018

Amidst the welter of commentaries on the Indian-Russian annual summit last week in New Delhi, what stands out is that the government has outstripped our strategic analysts. The latter viewed the Russian summit last week exclusively through the prism of the $6 billion S-400 missile defence deal. Now, that turned out to be like missing the wood for the trees.

The United States’ Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) stipulates secondary sanctions against countries that enter into “significant transactions” with the Russian defence industry. Our S-400 deal became a celebrated test case. So, when in the face of threats held out by the American side relentlessly, when PM Modi went ahead with the S-400 deal, it stunned onlookers.

The ensuing confusion will take time to wither away. It will take time before it sinks in that US bluster aside, there is no way US will sanction India. The CAATSA is a legislation that the US Congress imposed on a reluctant president in the civil war conditions in US politics to stop him from improving relations with Russia (on which there is bipartisan consensus.) True, secondary sanctions have been imposed on China, but US does not intend to export arms to that country anyway!

But that is not the case with India or Turkey. Despite Turkey’s decision to not only fast track its S-400 deal with Russia and to make advance payments to the Russian manufacturer, US still intends to go ahead with its sale of F-35 stealth fighters. Turks nonchalantly told Washington that if the latter wanted to impose sanctions and annul the F-35 business deal, that’s fine with them, and they’d simply source stealth aircraft from some other country (read Russia). But, no, US still wants the F-35 deal to go through, because F-35 is a highly lucrative super business deal for Lockheed Martin, which hopes to sell to Turkey 100-120 aircraft at over $80 million per piece! In effect, Turkey called the American bluff.

Americans have keen business acumen and will not let go a honeypot like the Indian market. In fact, Modi has taken an even tougher decision to go ahead with oil imports from Iran and to sign up contracts for the month of November, although Trump warned that November 4 would be the cutoff date.

Alas, there is a lack of awareness as to what is happening. Our think tankers weaned on American folklore have been programmed to estimate that Russia is a spent force in global politics. They don’t realize that Americans themselves had no doubts already by the start of the millennium that Russia was on the comeback trail. The high oil prices in 2010-2011 proved a game changer for Russia. It was no coincidence that the first American sanctions against Russia was imposed in 2012 – Magnitsky Act – on human rights issues!

The knowledge of Russian politics and the raison d’etre of India-Russia relations is abysmally poor among Indian analysts. Modi’s strategic decision to revive India-Russia relationship as an anchor sheet of foreign policy is yet to sink in. What Americans know and Modi knows but our think tankers do not yet know is that Russia has not only returned to the global stage as a great power but with renewed capabilities in military technology and with an economy that has survived the western sanctions. The high oil prices in the period ahead will only add to Russia’s income significantly.

If the Americans sanction against India’s use of dollars for its transactions with Russia, make no mistake, Indian and Russian ingenuity will find a way to put in place a clearing system that altogether obviates the use of dollar. Arguably, it will be a blessing in disguise if the US forces India and Russia to revive their old Cold War era payment system, because if that happens, the economic content of the relationship will increase exponentially. Will the US want a major global economy like India to jettison the use of dollar and get accustomed to local currency payments?

Again, the US-Russia-China triangle is today splendidly working for Moscow and Beijing to counter the US, while both capitals retain strategic autonomy and neither seeks a military alliance. India can also be a beneficiary here if the available platforms are optimally used – BRICS, RIC and SCO, in particular. Modi made it clear at last week’s summit that India stands with Russia in strengthening multipolarity. It is a clear rejection of the US’ characterization of Russia as a “revisionist power.” Earlier, at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore in June, Modi underscored that India does not regard Indo-Pacific to be a strategy. The import of all this should be very clear except if one insists on holding the American brief on Russia and China. Simply put, India has a lot in common with Russia and China in regard of the emerging world order. Modi’s Wuhan initiative and his visit to Sochi soon afterward suggest that he is open to the idea of India’s Eurasian integration.

Things are looking up for India-Russia relations after the long winter of the UPA rule. For the first time in the post-Cold war era, there are signs that trade and investment between India and Russia is gaining traction. Energy sector is poised to generate massive business volume in a conceivable future. The defence cooperation still remains appreciable – at 62% of India’s arms procurement – despite the atrophy during the UPA rule.

It is sound realism that in a multipolar world, India strengthens relationships with Russia with whom it has common interests in regard of the emerging world order. The army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat’s remarks in the weekend asserting that the S-400 deal is a manifestation of India’s independent foreign policy must be viewed in that light. Last week’s summit averted a real risk of India ending up in America’s “Indo-Pacific” stable as a domesticated milch cow.

October 9, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Stakes Rise in Browder-Gate – EU Threatens Cyprus with Article 7

By Tom Luango | September 15, 2018

It’s been quite a week for Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty. First Hungary and now Cyprus. And all because of some guy named Bill Browder?

Despite numerous warnings and obstacles, Cyprus continues to assist Russia in investigating the finances of Bill Browder. This has resulted in letters of warning to Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades as well as lawsuits by Browder citing the investigation violates his human rights.

Like everything else in this world, just ask Browder.

Last fall Browder and 17 MEP’s launched a two-pronged assault on Cyprus to end their assisting Russia’s investigation into Browder. Browder with the lawsuit. The MEP’s with a letter of warning.

The lawsuit has failed, however. The Nicosia District Court handed down a ruling recently which allowed for Browder to sue for damages to his reputation but not putting an injunction on the investigation.

More than a month ago the Nicosia District Court said that the cooperation with Russia in its politically motivated probe would violate the human rights of Bill Browder and his associate Ivan Cherkasov and the two would have good prospects in claiming damages from the government. Still, the court rejected Browder’s application for an order preventing Cypriot authorities from cooperating with Russia in its proceedings against him on the grounds that any damage would not be irreparable.

And this is where this gets interesting.

Because now in light of this ruling the stakes have been raised. Four of those original 17 MEP’s, many of whom are on the infamous “Soros List” as being in the pay of Open Society Foundation, sent a more serious letter of warning to Anastasaides threatening Cyprus with censure via Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty for not upholding the European Union’s standards on human rights.

Now this is a dangerous escalation in service of an investigation into someone who, agree or not, Russia has a legitimate interest in pursuing. Dismissing all of Russia’s concerns about Browder as ‘politically motivated’ is pure grandstanding. It carries no weight of law and stinks of a far deeper and more serious corruption.

Because if Browder was as pure as the driven snow as he presents himself to the world then he would have no issue whatsoever in Cyprus opening up his books to Russia and put his question of guilt to rest once and for all.

The ruling from the court stated that Cypriot officials are not barred from helping Russia get to the bottom of Browder’s web of offshore accounts, all of which, according to Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya, run through Cyprus.

From RT last year:

“He [Browder] is afraid of the Russian probe that has conclusive evidence of his financial crimes and proof that his theory of Magnitsky’s death is an absolute fake. That’s why Browder is ready to stage any provocation,” Veselnitskaya said. She went on to say that the investor’s decision to intervene was particularly “influenced by the fact that the entire network of offshore companies that make up his organized criminal group is located on the territory of Cyprus.”

The incident that Veselnitskaya was referring to took place in late October 2017. At that time, 17 members of the European Parliament appealed to Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades in an open letter, in which they called on him to stop assisting Russia in its investigation against Browder.

Remember, Veselnitskaya was the woman who met with Donald Trump Jr. during the 2016 campaign. She was adamant she had information that was pertinent to them.  The Mueller probe and the media tried to spin that meeting as her giving Trump access to Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.

But what she was really trying to give them was the low-down on Browder, the Magnitsky Act and the whole rotten, sordid history of him, Edmund Safra of Republic National Bank and the raping of Russia by them and others in the 1990’s.

And to show Trump that the Magnitsky Act was built on a lie and the sanctions against Russia should be lifted because of this.

Some of this I covered in an earlier article.

The Real Browder Story

And this is the whole point.  Browder’s story is fiction.

Magnitsky was his accountant and not his lawyer, who knew all about his dealings and could convict Browder of a raft of crimes far greater than the ones Russia already has in absentia.

Putin had no interest in having Magnitsky executed or beaten to death in prison. If anyone had an incentive to keep Magnitsky alive it was Vladimir Putin. If anyone had incentive to have Magnitsky die in prison it was Browder. And so, the whole story that Browder has woven, the myth around himself is so insane that it bears repeating over and over.

Browder’s story is fiction.

Because when you stop and put all the pieces together you realize a number of things and none of them are good.

First, Browder was deeply enmeshed in the plot to frame Yeltsin for stealing $7 billion in IMF money which created the conditions for bringing Putin to power.

Second, he, Mihail Khordokovsky and others have systematically lobbied Congress and the European Parliament to peddle this false story of the brave freedom fighter Magnitsky against the evil Putin to get revenge, in Khordokovsky’s case, on Putin for deposing him from power in Russia and stealing back the wealth Khordokovsky stole during the Yelstin years, namely Yukos.

And for Browder it was the culmination of years of work to destroy Russia from within and stay one step ahead of the hangman’s noose. His 2015 book Red Notice is a work of near fiction as outlined by Alex Krainer in his book The Grand Deception: The Truth About Bill Browder, The Magnitsky Act and Anti-Russia Sanctions.

And the Magnitsky Act was the way everyone interested who can prove this could be silenced through sanctions.

But, it’s bigger than that.

This was policy.

The Magnitsky Act is a lynchpin of American and European foreign policy to destroy Russia and subjugate the world.

It was enacted alongside other legislation to take back control of the political narrative of the world; rein in free speech on the internet by tying any activity not approved of by The Davos Crowd to be subject to sanctions on the nebulous basis of ‘human rights violations.’

The Magnitsky Act has weaponized virtue-signaling and, in my mind it was intentionally done to open up another path to protect the most vile and venal people in the world to arrogate power to themselves without consequence.

Today we stand on the brink of an open hot war between the U.S. and Russia because of the lies which have been stacked on top of each other in service of this monstrous piece of legislation.

With each day it and its follow-up, last year’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), are used as immense hammers to bring untold misery to millions around the world.

People like Browder are nothing by petty thieves. It is obvious to me he started out as a willing pawn because he was young, hungry and vaguely psychopathic. The deeper he got in it the more erratic his behavior became.

Browder is being protected by powerful people in the U.S. and EU not because he’s so important but because exposing him exposes them.

This is why another country is being threatened with the stripping of what few rights sovereign nations have within the EU, Cyprus, over his books.

Poland stood up for Hungary the other day over ideological reasons. No one seems ready to stand up to the conspiracy surrounding Browder, Khordokovsky and the Magnitsky Act.

But, if someone in power finally does, it could change everything we think we know about geopolitics.

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Washington Freezes Open Sky Treaty With Moscow in New Defense Bill

Sputnik – 13.08.2018

US President Donald Trump signed the $716 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2019 at Fort Drum, New York on Monday.

The bill funds the Department of Defense as well as funding to accelerate US efforts to field a conventional prompt strike capability before 2022, $6.3 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), and will obligate Defense Secretary James Mattis to submit a plan to Congress that would stop Turkey from getting F-35 aircraft if it purchases the Russian S-400 air defense system.

“An assessment of the potential purchase by the Government of the Republic of Turkey of the S-400 air and missile defense system from the Russian Federation and the potential effects of such purchase on the United States-Turkey bilateral relationship, including an assessment of impacts on other United States weapon systems and platforms operated jointly with the Republic of Turkey,” the legislation said.

The measure also includes $250 million in lethal defensive items for Ukraine.

Moreover, according to the NDAA, Trump must submit a report to the US Congress by January 2019 regarding whether Russia is in breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

“Not later than January 15, 2019, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a determination whether — (1) the Russian federation is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty; and (2) the prohibitions set forth in Article VI of the INF Treaty remain binding on the United States as a matter of United States law,” the NDAA said.

In addition, the United States will discuss with Russia if the latter’s new strategic weapon systems are in compliance with the New Strategic Arms Reduction (START) Treaty.

“Not later than December 31, 2018, the President shall… submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report as to whether… the President has raised the issue of covered Russian systems in the appropriate fora with the Russian Federation under Article V of the New START Treaty or otherwise,” the legislation said.

The NDAA also notes that the Russian systems of concern include the heavy intercontinental missile system Sarmat, the air-launched nuclear-powered cruise missile X-101, the unmanned underwater vehicle the US government calls “Status 6,” and the long-distance guided flight hypersonic glide vehicle Avangard.

Trump must report if Russia will agree to declare the covered systems as strategic offensive arms or otherwise pursuant to the New START Treaty, the legislation said.

The White House will notify the appropriate congressional committees as to whether the position of Russia threatens the viability of the New START Treaty or requires appropriate US political, economic or military responses, the legislation also said.

Moreover, the 2019 US National Defense Authorization Act revealed that Trump must present to Congress within 90 days a report on persons involved in transactions with Russia’s intelligence or military sectors.

“Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report that describes those persons that the President has determined under section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act [CAATSA]… have knowingly engaged, on or after August 2, 2017, in a significant transaction with a person that is part of, or operates for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation, the NDAA showed on Monday.

The NDAA also requires the US President to update such a report every 90 days following the first submission for the next five years.

Meanwhile, the bill also reinforces US partnership with Israel and authorizes co-production of missile defense systems as well as enhances US support for European partners against Russia by funding the European Deterrence Initiative.

Particularly, the Department of Defense must submit a report to Congress by next March on the feasibility of permanent deployment of US troops in Poland.

“Not later than March 1, 2019, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the feasibility and advisability of permanently stationing United States forces in the Republic of Poland,” the document said.

“The report required by subsection (a) shall include the following: An assessment of the types of permanently stationed United States forces in Poland required to deter aggression by the Russian Federation and execute Department of Defense contingency plans, including combat enabler units in capability areas such as (A) combat engineering; (B) logistics and sustainment; (C) warfighting headquarters elements; (D) long-range fires; (E) air and missile defense; (F) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and (G) electronic warfare,” the NDAA said.

The NDAA also explained that an assessment of the permanent deployment feasibility should include an evaluation whether a US permanent deployment would increase deterrence against Russian as well as an assessment of Russia’s possible response.

In addition, the report should consist of an “assessment of the international political considerations of permanently stationing such a brigade combat team in Poland, including within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO),” the NDAA said.

Notably, the United States will also accelerate its hypersonic missile defense program and provide a report within 90 days to congressional defense committees.

“Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) shall accelerate the hypersonic missile defense program of the Missile Defense Agency,” the document said.

The NDAA requires head of the Missile Defense Agency to “deploy such program in conjunction with a persistent space-based missile defense sensor program.”

NDAA provides 90 days for Missile Defense Agency to submit a report on the hypersonic missile defense program to the US Senate and House of Representatives defense committees.

The report, which may include classified annex along with unclassified content, should provide an estimate of the cost, technical requirements and acquisition plan, the NDAA said.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

US Senators Introduce Sanctions Bill, Targeting Russia’s Sovereign Debt, Energy

Sputnik – 5 02.08.2018

New legislation introduced in the US Senate would require Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to determine whether Russia should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.

A bipartisan group of US senators on Thursday introduced a new package of punitive measures aimed at Russia. A proposed bill includes new sanctions against Russia’s political figures, restrictions on energy investments and limitations connected with uranium imports.

The harshest part of the new bill calls for the sanctioning of Russian sovereign debt.

Six US Senators said in a press release that the legislation “will increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s continued interference in our elections, malign influence in Syria, aggression in Crimea, and other activities.”

According to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, “the current sanctions regime has failed to deter Russia from meddling in the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections.”

“Our goal is to change the status quo and impose crushing sanctions and other measures against Putin’s Russia until he ceases and desists meddling in the US electoral process, halts cyberattacks on US infrastructure, removes Russia from Ukraine, and ceases efforts to create chaos in Syria,” he added.

Congress passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in July 2017 in response to allegations that Russia sought to influence the 2016 US presidential election. The Trump administration has been widely criticized for not doing enough in response to Moscow’s alleged activities in 2016; however, the White House claimed otherwise, saying that Trump has been tougher on Russia than any previous administration.

Relations between Russia and the United States rapidly deteriorated following the crisis in Ukraine in 2014. Washington introduced several rounds of anti-Russia sanctions after Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the latter’s alleged involvement in the ongoing Ukraine conflict. Russia has refuted all the accusations and issued retaliatory economic restrictions.

August 2, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Graham, Menendez team up for bipartisan anti-Russia bill

RT | July 24, 2018

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) are working on a draft law that would impose sanctions on Russian sovereign debt and demand Senate approval for US quitting NATO, among other things.

The two senators announced on Tuesday they will be introducing the new sanctions law “to ensure the maximum impact on the Kremlin’s campaign against our democracy and the rules-based international order.”

The US must make it clear it will “not waver in our rejection of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future,” Graham and Menendez said.

Although the bill is still being drafted, Graham and Menendez said it would include increased sanctions on Russian energy and financial sectors, “oligarchs and parastatal entities” and on sovereign debt as well as sanctions against “cyber actors in Russia.”

It will also establish a National Center to Respond to Russian Threats and a sanctions coordinator office at the State Department, demand reports on implementing the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), and authorize financial aid to “bolster democratic institutions across Europe to defend against Russian interference.”

Last, but not least, the bill would impose a Senate approval requirement for US withdrawal from NATO.

Graham is an outspoken foreign policy hawk and long-time wingman of the Russia-obsessed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona). Last week, he called for the World Cup soccer ball, presented as a gift to President Donald Trump by his Russian counterpart at the summit in Helsinki, Finland to be examined for surveillance devices.

As the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez is a powerful voice among the Democrats, who continue blaming Russia for the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election.

It is unclear how much support the Graham-Menendez bill will get in the Senate. However, CAATSA was approved 98-2 last year.

Just last week, the Senate voted 98-0 on a nonbinding resolution expressing the sense that the “United States should refuse to make available any current or former diplomat, civil servant, political appointee, law enforcement official or member of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by the government or Vladimir Putin,” in response to false reports that former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul would be “handed over” to Moscow.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Sanctions May Force India Out of Iran’s Chabahar Port With China More Than Able to Fill This Gap

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | June 27, 2018

Iran’s Chabahar Port on the Gulf of Oman represents the crowning achievement of Indo-Iranian cooperation in recent decades. The port itself represents the centre of the wider North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) which will link India to Russia and the wider north-western Eurasian space via Iran and Azerbaijan. While under Premier Narendra Modi, India has sought to sell NSTC as an alternative to China’s One Belt–One Road and in particular as rival to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which links China to the wider Indian Ocean space via the Arabian Sea port at Gwadar, Iranian officials who themselves are eager participants in One Belt–One Road, have wisely distanced themselves from India’s zero-sum narrative on Chabahar and NSTC more widely.

Likewise, as Iranian relations with Pakistan continue to improve, it also remains clear that Iranian leaders are carefully avoiding being sucked into south Asia’s manifold rivalries by maintaining healthy ties with China, India and increasingly Pakistan simultaneously.

As it stands, Gwadar is a more substantial port vis-a-vis Chabahar in terms of its capacity and the fact that unlike the Indian built port in Iran, the Chinese built Gwadar is a Panamax deep water port. In this sense, both Gwadar and Chabahar could function together on the win-win model which would see some of the supplies shipped from China to Pakistan via Gwadar being routed on to Chabahar depending on their ultimate destination. Here one could see One Belt–One Road and the North South Transport Corridor functioning as integrated rather than as rival logistics networks – something that Pakistani officials recently spoke about with optimism.

Now though, India’s very presence in Chabahar may be impacted negatively as the US moves to sanction countries that conduct business with Iran. The US CAATSA sanctions aimed at Iran are back in the spotlight after the US withdrawal from the JPCOA (aka Iran nuclear deal) caused Washington to threaten many of its longstanding allies against conducting further business with Iran under the threat of so-called second party sanctions. These threats have most notably been aimed at the European Union, in spite of the fact that the bloc remains rhetorically adamant that it will continue to preserve the JCPOA without US involvement.

India has also come under threat of sanctions due to its healthy relationship with the Islamic Republic. The US has stated that it will sanction Indian companies who do business with Iran and this week, the US issued an even more specific threat to its Indian partner, stating that New Delhi will face sanctions if it continues to purchase Iranian oil.

Last month it was reported that international investors in Chabahar were beginning to show signs of nervousness in light of the new sanctions threats from Washington. As India is already facing tariffs on its exports to the United States while simultaneously cutting itself off from a would-be win-win Chinese partnership, India is scarcely in a position to economically leverage the United States which under Donald Trump has taken a merciless approach to conducting trade wars with allies as well as threatening partners with sanctions if they do business with countries including Russia, Iran and the DPRK (although this might soon change in the case of the DPRK).

This could mean that as the primary investor and operator of the Chabahar Port, India could find itself cut off from its own investment under the cloud of sanctions. If it comes to this and India is forced to either partially or even entirely withdraw from the Chabahar project, it would mean that Iran would seek a new international partner for the port.

The only realistic partner to take over Chabahar would be China, a nation with experience in port building and management, a country that has shown itself to be able to transact deals with Iran in spite of the attitude of Washington and a country that because of America’s own dependence on Chinese goods – is largely sanction proof for all practical purposes.

Not only could China help to revive the economic fortunes of Chabahar if India becomes frightened off due to threats from the United States, but China could actually help Chabahar to grow both infrastructurally and commercially by linking it into a uniformed trade route centred on the larger Gwadar port and existing One Belt–One Road lines of connectivity in the region. This would ultimately be a win-win for China, Iran and Pakistan.

If India were to abandon the underlying prejudices behind its zero-sum approach to antagonising both China and Pakistan, India could actually remain active in Chabahar as key player in a wider Sino-Iranian partnership which would necessarily also include Pakistan via CPEC. This could help to not only reduce tensions with India’s largest neighbours, but it could demonstrate that the only way for India to effectively leverage US threats of further tariffs and sanctions is by keeping at least one foot in China’s already open door.

However, given the attitude of the current Indian government, such a win-win model looks increasingly distant however theoretically attractive it might sound when analysed objectively. Because of this, the more likely scenario for Chabahar will be a short-term waiting game where India will see just how far the US is willing to punish its newfound south Asian partner due to its dealings with Iran.

If India’s involvement in Chabahar does come under a US financial attack, it is all but certain that India will minimise its involvement in the flagship project – thus paving the way for China to take over where India left off.

The choice for India therefore is three fold: New Delhi can simply hope for the best while possibly sweetening the deal by making concessions to the US over existing tariffs, India can bow out of Chabahar in order to possibly attain better trading relations with the US in the future or India can work with China to leverage the US over its anti-Iranian position.

At a time when the US is embracing unilateralism in its economic relations with the rest of the world – India must look realistically at its options, even if this means dropping its Sinophobic prejudices.

June 27, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US tries to stop S-400 deal with India

By Frank Sellers | The Duran | June 27, 2018

In much the same manner as the US attempted to kill the S-400 deal with Turkey, they are now setting out to end India’s defense relationship with Russia, especially if they can manage to undermine this SAM deal. The idea is to utilize sanctions to get the job done. If the US can manage to dissuade India from buying their SAM systems from India over fear that they might contravene some sanction issued by Washington, then that’s what they aim to do, while simultaneously offering America’s THAAD system to New Delhi as a replacement.

The Economic Times reports:

NEW DELHI: The United States may try to persuade India to consider its ballistic missile defence options in an attempt to keep it from pressing ahead with the S-400 deal with Russia.

ET has learnt that the US could make ballistic missile defence an agenda point in the upcoming Indo-US 2+2 dialogue on July 6 for which external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be in Washington.

The likely option on the table would be the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. It is a sophisticated missile defence system which is believed to be particularly effective against long-range missiles.

The S-400 missile defence system is, however, said to be effective against a larger array of aerial attacks, particularly fighter aircraft such as the F-18s and F-35s.

The latest version of the Russian made S-400 has a longer range but the jury is out on whether it’s more effective than the THAAD against intermediate range and intercontinental ballistic missile systems. ET has gathered that India’s proposed S-400 purchase from Russia has prompted a reassessment within Trump administration on whether India would have gone ahead with the nearly Rs 39,000-crore deal with Russia had the US moved faster with the THAAD offer.

Now, the S-400 deal has become a politically sensitive issue with the US. The US Congress is debating a Bill to allow for sanctions against Russian defence entities which could cover entities in recipient nations as well.

Given India’s strong defence partnership with Russia, the Trump administration, through secretary of defence James Mattis, has pitched for a waiver for countries such as India on the condition that it progressively reduce its military dependency on Russia.

The Congress has still not provided satisfactory relief despite hectic lobbying within Washington. The problem is compounded by the fact that the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) covers the S-400 system in the category of technologically sophisticated equipment which must be specifically targeted for this purpose.

India has argued that its S-400 deal with Russia was in the works before the US started debating the subject. In any event, it will predate the CAATSA if and when it’s written into law.

Besides, people close to the negotiations told ET, it is unreasonable for US to expect India to decouple its defence relationship with Russia, which has been a proven reliable partner through several conflicts.

The US, senior government officials said, must appreciate that unlike many of the other countries which purchase defence equipment from Russia, India does not target Russian armament against American interests and will not do so in future.

India is likely to elaborate on these lines at the inaugural 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries, while the US might urge India to first exhaust options the American industry can offer.

With the deal to purchase Russia’s S-400 SAM system predating America’s CAATSA sanctions act, the US is short on its options for blocking the deal. But sanctions are still playing a role in complicating its consummation as sanctions against Russia are rendering it somewhat difficult to relay compensation to the Russians for equipment and services rendered, therefore forcing both parties to find a way to deal outside of the dollar and outside of financial systems with exposure to Western markets. This particular moment in time for relations between India and the US is marked by trade tensions, as India finds itself in a position to dodge not just sanctions on its trade partners Russia and Iran, but also Trump’s trade wars, which affect goods sold in the American market, where India is imposing reciprocal tariff measures against the United States.

June 27, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

US Senate Warns Russia of Sanctions if S-400 Sold to Any Foreign Nations

Sputnik – 17.03.2018

WASHINGTON – A group of US lawmakers led by Senator Bob Menendez told the State Department in a letter that any sale of Russian S-400 air defense system should lead to new punitive measures as stipulated in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

“We are writing today to specifically inquire about reported negotiations between Russia and certain countries over sales of the Russian government’s S-400 air defense system and whether these reported deals could trigger mandatory CAATSA sanctions,” the letter said on Friday. “Under any circumstance, a S-400 sale would be considered a ‘significant transaction’ and we expect that any sale would result in designations.”

The lawmakers also requested that the State Department provide detailed analysis on the current status of Russian S-400 talks with China, Turkey, India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and any other country.

The senators based their letter on a report produced by the Congressional Research Service, which showed that Russia has been working on potential defense deals with different countries.

Menendez and co-signers demanded information on how the State Department is trying to prevent the sales of S-400 being finalized and reiterated Washington’s accusations of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and meddling in democratic process in foreign states.

The request comes just a day after the Treasury Department used the CAATSA legislation, along with an Executive Order that was amended by CAATSA, to impose sanctions on five entities and 19 individuals.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Main Intelligence Directorate and six Russian individuals were sanctioned under the CAATSA legislation.

The US Congress passed CAATSA last summer in response to allegations that Russia sought to influence the 2016 US presidential election. Trump signed it into law on August 2.

Russia has repeatedly denied all allegations of interference in the US election, calling the accusations “absurd.”

March 16, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

US Warns Iraq Against Buying Russian S-400 Air Defenses

By Marko Marjanović | Russia Insider | February 26, 2018

Iraq is interested in getting the Russian S-400 air defenses. Earlier this week an Iraqi delegation traveled to Moscow to discuss buying it. The Russian defense industry has confirmed Iraqi interest and the Russian ambassador to Baghdad confirms Russia would be happy to sell.

So albeit nothing concrete has happened yet the US is already warning Iraq not to go through with the purchase (27min, 52s):

During a press briefing State Department’s Heather Nauert has explained the US has informed Baghdad getting Russian air defenses would go against America’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 which imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia — which would mean Iraq would be facing US sanctions for doing business with Russia.

QUESTION: Okay. Let me ask you about Iraq. It’s getting – you’ve described the terrible things that Russia is doing in Syria, whether Russia’s activity in Iraq would be deny – benign. Iraq recently received Russian tanks, T-90 tanks, and it’s reportedly considering the purchase of the S-400 air defense system. What is your comment on that and would those transactions make Iraq susceptible to CAATSA sanctions?

MS NAUERT: Well, first of all, we are communicating with governments all around the world, such as Iraq and others, about the CAATSA law, and making those governments aware of how they could run afoul of the CAATSA law and the potential repercussions as a result. So we made it clear to all of those – all of – many of the countries that we work with – information about our new law. So let me – I just want to be clear about that.
Secondly, I don’t know if this deal that you speak of is a done deal or not, so I’m not going to get ahead of what that may be, but I can just tell you that we make it clear with our partners and allies.

QUESTION: So it sounds like, from what you’re saying, if this S-400 deal were to go ahead and be concluded, they could be in violation of CAATSA?MS NAUERT: Look, that’s a hypothetical, but we have made it clear to countries around the world this is our law, this is what will cause your country, your government to run afoul of the law, and countries then need to make a choice.

Iraq has traditionally got its arms imports from Moscow and has recently concluded a $4.7 billion weapons deal with Russia that included purchases of T-90 tanks and BMP-3 vehicles. Before the unexpected rise of ISIS in 2014 Baghdad was in talks to purchase the Russian S-300 air defenses.

China and India, as well as traditional US clients Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar have already ordered the missiles or are interested in doing so.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

US warns Iraq of ‘consequences’ if it buys Russian S-400 missile systems

Press TV – February 23, 2018

The United States has warned Iraq, among a number of other countries, of the consequences of extending military cooperation with Russia, and striking deals to purchase advanced weaponry, particularly the S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Neuert said on Thursday that Washington has contacted many countries, including Iraq, to explain the significance of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), and possible consequences that would arise in the wake of defense agreements with Moscow.

On August 2, 2017, US President Donald Trump signed into law the CAATSA that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.

Neuert said she did not know whether Iraq and Russia have finalized an accord on the S-400 missile systems.

The remarks came only a few days after Saudi Arabia’s Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that Baghdad is planning to buy Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile system from Moscow.

There are also reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has tasked a team of advisers from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and National Security Council to negotiate the purchase of the missile systems with Russian officials.

Earlier this month, Chairman of the Defense Committee of the Russian Federation Council, Colonel General Viktor Bondarev, named Syria, Iraq, Sudan and Egypt as the potential buyers of the defense systems.

Last week, Chief Executive Officer of Rostec, Russia’s state-owned corporation for promoting the development, production and export of high-tech industrial products, stated that Moscow is ready to sell its air defense systems to any country with security concerns.

February 23, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 4 Comments