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Endangering European security: Biden’s assertion that Russia is number one ‘threat’ to US flies in face of facts & reason

By Glenn Diesen | RT | October 28, 2020

Joe Biden’s belief that Russia is the greatest danger to the US is based on emotion and outdated ideology. It should alarm Europeans as they could find themselves on the frontline of a ‘struggle’ that makes little or no sense.

US presidential challenger Joe Biden recently referred to Russia as the main threat to the US. The statement perplexed some observers given how his former boss Barack Obama dismissed Russia as a weak regional power in 2014, while in 2012 Obama himself had mocked Mitt Romney for arguing that Russia was America’s number one “geopolitical foe.”

Biden, the erstwhile vice president of Obama, has now seemingly made a complete reversal.

Remarkably, Russia has become the primary threat to the US without Washington clearly defining the rivalry. The vague references to Russia plotting against America, undermining democracy or being anti-Western have the common denominator of lacking coherence and conceptual clarity. What confrontation spawned this threat?

Anti-Western Russia

The Russian threat argument is founded on the narrative that Putin  apparently reversed the supposedly Western friendly policies of Yeltsin and reignited confrontation. Yet, what exactly would pro-Western policies entail?

Yeltsin pursued a radical pro-Western platform, accepting unilateral concessions and a demeaning student-teacher relationship vis-à-vis the West, in the belief that a Greater Europe would be constructed. However, the West looked at a weakened Russia and decided to construct a new Europe without Moscow. Through expansionism, NATO and the EU have become the main institutions to represent the continent and any Russian resistance is depicted as ambitions to restore the Soviet Empire.

Yeltsin’s entire foreign policy platform subsequently collapsed before he brought Putin to power to reform the untenable policies toward the West. Putin continued to push for a Greater Europe, although from a position of strength by rejecting unilateral concessions and being ‘socialized’ or ‘civilized’ by the West. However, the West continues to conceptualize Yeltsin’s pro-Western policies as a capitulation by forfeiting any role for Russia in Europe.

A revisionist power

Revisionism is the main concept that informs the West’s threat analysis of Russia. States can be divided into status quo powers, which seek to preserve the international system as it is, and revisionist powers that aim to overturn the status quo. Depicting Russia as a revisionist power for opposing NATO and EU expansionism is the great paradox that defines European security.

Irrespective of any benign intentions, the EU and NATO are revisionist by being the main vehicles to reorganize Europe. These two institutions push the dividing lines on the continent to the East and impose a destabilizing civilizational choice on the divided societies positioned between the West and Russia. NATO and the EU did not simply create an unfavorable status quo for Russia, they rejected the establishment of a new status quo order by rejecting any limitations to their expansion.

For centuries the West was concerned that the Russian Empire did not have any natural borders and expanded by impulse, yet in the post-Cold War era, this revisionist itch describes the West.

The failure to recognize Russia as a status quo power has continuously produced flawed predictions. In August 2008, Russia intervened in South Ossetia to repel an invasion by Georgia, which had been promised by NATO in April 2008 it would become a member of the military bloc. While Western media and politicians predicted that Russia would conquer Tbilisi and possibly annex Georgia, Russia merely restored the status quo of an autonomous South Ossetia.

In March 2014, Russia responded to the Western-backed toppling of Yanukovich by reabsorbing Crimea. Again, Western pundits’ warnings of Russia seeking to conquer Kiev and restore the Soviet empire proved to be wrong. Russia cemented its control over its strategic naval base in Crimea, which it already controlled before the Maidan.

Russia’s intervention in Syria in 2015 was similarly designed to preserve the status-quo, aimed against US efforts to topple the Syrian government in a wider revisionist effort to reorganize the power balance in the region.

Restoring the Soviet empire

Russia’s alleged effort to restore the Soviet empire similarly lacks coherence. The accusation evokes familiar and powerful Cold War connotations that can mobilize political support and resources among NATO states. However, what exactly does it mean to restore the Soviet empire and why would Russian tanks enter Warsaw?

Moscow is not led by communists seeking to rid the world of capitalism. Russia has neither the interest nor capacity to control a foreign population that does not want to live within Russian borders. How did this absurd concept end up dominating the Western discourse?

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred in 2012 to the Customs Union and the pending Eurasian Economic Union as an effort to “re-Sovietize the region” and proclaimed Washington’s intention to slow it down or break it up. The Eurasian Economic Union is not devoted to world revolution, rather it is a voluntary international institution largely modeled after the EU, which mostly focuses on facilitating free movement of people, goods, services and capital. Does the reference to the Soviet Union help us to understand the Eurasian Economic Union in any way, or does it merely revive the inference of incompatible values and threats?

The effort to make Russia fit in the clothes of the Soviet Union also manifests itself in the constant accusation of Moscow attempting to establish a sphere of influence, which implies a region of exclusive influence. Is the pot calling the kettle black? Moscow’s main argument under its Greater Europe Initiative has been to end bloc politics in Europe and replace it with mutual accommodation and harmonization of interests.

Before the toppling of Yanukovich, Moscow and Kiev proposed a trilateral EU-Russia-Ukraine trade commission to avoid zero-sum formats of exclusive influence. The EU Commission president denounced the proposal by Moscow and Kiev as unacceptable and insisted that Ukraine had to choose and make the right decision. Similarly, Russian influence in the Western Balkans is frequently denounced as an unacceptable intrusion into the EU’s backyard. EU and NATO policies inevitably become a struggle for spheres of influence as there is no conceptual space for legitimate Russian influence beyond its borders.

The ‘Sovietization’ thesis also explains why the West’s prediction about a Russian-Chinese clash over Central Asia did not materialize. Unlike the West, Beijing has not defined its strategy in the post-Soviet space as ‘saving’ the region from Russia. As both Russia and China do not demand exclusive influence in the region, a partnership has developed based on mutual recognition of legitimate interest.

Biden’s ideological threat perceptions

Biden’s antagonistic remarks about Russia should create concerns about the future of European security. The ideological language and reluctance to address Russian security interests results in an inaccurate interpretation of Moscow’s intentions while leaving no prospect for a compromise.

Russian security concerns and interests never enter the discourse in the West, and competition is subsequently interpreted solely as incompatible values. When competing security concerns are identified, compromise is the path to peace. However, when competing interests are clothed in the language of incompatible values, compromise is tantamount to appeasement and treason. There is subsequently no prospect for a solution to this impasse, and peace demands nothing less than victory.

Glenn Diesen is an Associate Professor at the University of South-Eastern Norway and an editor at the Russia in Global Affairs journal. Follow him on Twitter @glenndiesen

October 28, 2020 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia Rejects US Proposals on New START Verification, Ryabkov Says

By Irina Acheeva – Sputnik – 27.10.2020

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested extending the last arms control agreement between the United States and Russia for another year without any conditions, stressing that a world without the New START would be worryingly vulnerable.

Moscow maintains active dialogue on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), but will not make any other concessions, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said.

Ryabkov further elaborated that Moscow does not accept the US proposal for verification within the framework of the New START.

“We have the full impression that the Americans do not need any agreements, they only need verification. And verification, in the way proposed by them, is, basically, to establish external control over the most sensitive elements of ensuring the entire systems of our national security. This is unacceptable for us”, the deputy minister said.

According to Ryabkov, Russia “cannot agree to such a proposal for higher reasons”.

“We said and continue to say that any agreement in this area is possible only where both interests are balanced, as a certain compromise. We are ready for this but see no indication that the US side is prepared to compromise. Therefore we conclude that attaining basic agreement in the present segment is, to put it mildly, doubtful”, the diplomat noted.

He added that Moscow is disappointed by the signs it sees from the US regarding an extension of the New START.

“We are having vigorous talks with the US on these issues. The signs we are getting from them disappoint us. The Americans do not seem to understand that we cannot implement proposals, when the US, rather than making requests, keeps piling on demand after demand”, Ryabkov said.

The statement comes after Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said that Russia is urging the US to stop trying to bargain for benefits in the last days of the New START. Antonov also pointed out that Washington has bluntly rejected to prolong the treaty as it was signed without any conditions.

On 22 October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said “nothing bad will happen” if the New START gets extended for one year, as it would provide both sides with more time to find a compromise. US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has commented on Putin’s proposal calling it a “non-starter“.

The United States had previously suggested prolonging the treaty for one year if Moscow and Washington froze the number of their nuclear warheads during that period.

The New START that is set to expire in February 2021, is the last arms control agreement between the United States and Russia.

October 27, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Will US continue to further implement RAND Corporation’s strategy in relation to Russia?

By Lucas Leiroz | October 27, 2020

The recent conflicts in the Russian zone of influence have attracted attention around the world. But little has been said about the possibility that such conflicts are part of a single common plan, designed to geopolitically destabilize Russia. This possibility is what we can deduce when we recall some recent writings of the renowned think tank RAND Corporation, which, in 2019, openly defended the adoption of a series of measures to weaken Moscow, exploiting its vulnerabilities. Among such measures in the economic sphere the document proposed the manipulation of oil and gas prices that affect the Russian defense budget, as well as the imposition of increasingly rigid sanctions and in the political sphere – the spread of regional conflicts in its “periphery” which could perfectly include Nagorno-Karabakh, Kyrgyzstan and others.

Several of the points highlighted in the RAND’s document entitled “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia”, in its more than 350 pages, have been implemented so far, especially in the “immediate periphery”. The recent Belarusian political crisis itself, for example, highlights the role of external agents interested in the destabilization of this historic Russian ally – something that is openly defended in such a document which proposes a colorful revolution in Belarus. In addition, the incitement of conflicts in the Caucasus and Central Asia, the deterioration of the Syrian and Ukrainian situations, among others, are also strategic points raised by the dossier.

RAND’s goal is to define the areas where the US can compete most effectively, providing reports and proposals based on concrete data. Such reports must accurately define the vulnerabilities in the economic and military spheres of each nation against which the United States is competing, helping Washington to create its strategies. Several of the policies adopted by the US are the result of advices from RAND’s analysts. In this sense, RAND’s analysis about Russia and its draft strategy for a competition between the US and Russia today proposes that the best way to weaken Moscow is through a siege of conflicts in its territorial proximities. Obviously, it is not proposed to attack Russia, but to create wars along its entire border, destabilizing international security in the region – a scenario from which many other possibilities arise.

Despite all the complex political and military strategy, in the RAND document it is highlighted that the biggest Russian weakness in a dispute with the US is the economic issue. The think tank’s proposal focuses on heavy investment in energy production, mainly renewable energy, as well as encouraging domestic production of such energy sources in countries allied to the US, with the aim of reducing Russian exports – which would strongly affect Russian defense budgets. The central role of the US in the boycott against the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a clear example of how such strategies are being put into practice.

Another type of measures that RAND recommends is in the ideological and informational spheres. The Corporation advises a vigorous pro-Western information campaign aimed at highlighting aspects allegedly present in the Russian regime, such as endemic corruption. In any case, RAND considers this disinformation strategy to be “risky”, as it would encourage Moscow to highlight the weaknesses of Western democracies, leading to a new ideological war through disinformation campaigns.

Interestingly, Russia is constantly accused of interfering in the American electoral process through campaigns of disinformation and cyber war since the rise of Donald Trump four years ago. Now, with the new elections, the tendency is for such accusations to grow exponentially, showing a strategy of mass disinformation meticulously planned by strategists with clear goals.

In fact, there is no doubt about the power of influence of RAND Corporation’s analysis in the construction of US foreign policy strategies. The siege that is being proposed in the document gradually materializes, with strategies of economic suffocation, disinformation and inciting regional conflicts, but it remains to be seen what the consequences for the US domestic scenario will be. The RAND report had no way of predicting the emergence of a global tragedy such as the new coronavirus pandemic. In the context of more than 220,000 deaths due to the virus in the US, popular rebellions and inflamed racial tensions across the country and in the midst of a decisive electoral process, will Washington be able to maintain such a siege strategy? Is it sustainable for the US to stir up conflict in the vicinity of Russia when its internal bases are crumbling?

Perhaps the strategies designed by RAND last year are absolutely useless today. The pandemic structurally changed the dynamics of world geopolitics and currently the idea of an American siege against Russia is not conceivable. The tendency is that all conflicts will diminish as no major military power will intervene. The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh shows how the tendency is for conflicts to gradually stabilize. On the contrary, within the US, everything just tends to get worse. Perhaps Washington is taking a step beyond its reach. Or perhaps the interests of strategists at RAND Corporation and the American Deep State do not exactly imply what is best for the US.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

October 27, 2020 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Moscow won’t deploy controversial 9M729 missiles in European Russia if NATO reciprocates: Putin

By Jonny Tickle | RT | October 26, 2020

Russia will delay deployment of its much-debated 9M729 missiles in the European part of its territory, as a goodwill gesture, if NATO takes reciprocal steps. Monday’s proposal comes after the US withdrew from the INF treaty.

“Given the unrelenting tension between Russia and NATO, new threats to European security are becoming evident,” Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a statement posted on the Kremlin’s website.

Signed in 1987, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) banned land-based missiles with a range of more than 500km. According to Putin, the agreement was vital for ensuring international security and strategic stability, and the US’ withdrawal was a mistake which risks provoking a missile arms race.

In October 2018, American President Donald Trump announced that his country would withdraw from the treaty, blaming supposed Russian non-compliance. In particular, Trump accused the Kremlin of creating a missile that is effective over the legal limit of 500km, named 9M729. Steven Pifer, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, once estimated that its range is 2,000 kilometers. Pifer is now the director of the Arms Control Initiative at the Brookings’ lobby group, which is funded by Gulf states, amongst other donors.

As part of his stated attempt to de-escalate, Putin also revealed that he wishes to take further steps to minimize the negative consequences of the collapse of the INF Treaty, including an agreement for mutual inspections of missile systems. The president also reiterated Russia’s previous promise not to deploy ground-based INF missiles until US-made missiles of similar classes are deployed.

On the controversial 9M729 missiles, Putin maintained they are in “full compliance” with the previously existing INF treaty, but still offered not to position them in Europe.

“The Russian Federation, nevertheless, is ready, in the spirit of goodwill, to continue not to deploy 9M729 missiles in European Russia, but do so only provided NATO countries take reciprocal steps that preclude the deployment of the weapons earlier prohibited under the INF Treaty in Europe,” the statement read.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Break in Relations With the EU? – ‘If This Is the Way They Want It, So Be It’

By Alastair Crooke – Strategic Culture Foundation – October 26, 2020

Wolfgang Munchau of Euro Intelligence has been suggesting recently that the EU is making mistakes born from listening only to its own (like-minded) echo chamber. Munchau was referring to how – when Boris Johnson had sought for a deal “to be in sight” by this month’s EU summit, he was met with disdain. The Council said not only was there ‘no deal in sight’, but that there would be no acceleration of negotiations, and furthermore stuck rigidly to its three red-line, ‘non-negotiables’.

Macron haughtily afterwards stated that the UK had to “submit” to the bloc’s “conditions” – “We didn’t choose Brexit”.

To which Boris tartly retorted: ‘There’s no point then in talking’.

Munchau wryly noted that the biggest risk to any deal “is when you keep telling yourself that the other side needs ‘it’ more than you do”. Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, then made clear what the Council imagines ‘it’ to be: It is the EU’s majestic “huge and diversified markets”.

“The EU has a month to disabuse Emmanuel Macron of this intellectually lazy assertion. The EU should not base its negotiating strategy on [the]notion that Johnson will fold: Maybe he will, maybe not”, Munchau observed.

Well, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov clearly shares Munchau’s general analysis. Speaking at Valdai last week, Lavrov said, “When the European Union is speaking as a superior, Russia wants to know, can we do business with Europe?”

“… Those people in the West who are responsible for foreign policy and do not understand the necessity of mutually respectable conversation – well, we must simply stop for a while to communicate with them. Especially since Ursula von der Leyen states that geopolitical partnership with current Russia’s leadership is impossible. If this is the way they want it, so be it”, [he concluded].

Notably however, it was not Boris Yeltsin who made the greatest efforts to achieve Russia’s integration into the European space, but President Putin, during his first term in the early 2000s, until at least 2006. What Lavrov indirectly was acknowledging is how bad things have become. In effect, he simply stated what everyone already knew; namely, that the old framework for Russian-EU relations no longer exists. What’s there to talk about?

This is no small matter. If Merkel and the EU have shifted to integrating the Union, as a higher priority than attending to its relations with Russia, then all the old anti-Russian prejudices of East Europe – principally those of Poland – must be assuaged. This is what is happening, and it means the solidifying of Europe as ‘up and against’ Russia, China and their strategic partners. And with Germany again aspiring to its earlier prominence in and over Europe, tensions with Russia ( and therefore with China), will grow. Europe will be self-defining as the middle between two antagonistic poles to the East and West – a ‘friend’ of neither.

And – coincidentally, or not – on 14 October (a day later), President Xi symbolically visited, a micro-chip factory, and said that China will win the tech war, and will lead the world in multilateralism. Secondly, on the same day, President Xi visited a Marine Base, calling on the Chinese military to “put all (their) minds and energy on preparing for war”. China does not want war, he emphasised, but has accepted that it may happen. And finally, at Shenzhen economic zone’s 40th anniversary, Xi indicated that global changes are afoot: The status quo cannot continue, and “sometimes one needs to speak forcefully for the West to listen”.

In his own more muted way, President Xi was simply echoing Lavrov – underlining that the earlier framework for China-western relations also no long exists. This was implicit too when he said that he wanted China’s new stance to be endorsed by the CCP Plenum at the end of October, so that no-one could impute to China some policy ‘play’ towards the incoming U.S. President.

It seems there is a very clear message here for the EU. But are they listening? Whilst Europe does have ‘cards’ to play, it is hubris to assume that all will ‘submit’ to European ‘conditions’ and values, just to avoid losing access to its markets. Yes, indeed there is a large European ‘market’, but it has some very obvious lacunae too – No cloud platforms; little investment in telecoms and 5G (particularly in Germany); no security of energy supply at an affordable cost; and has no social media platforms to rival either those of the U.S. or China. China has the money and the know-how which the U.S. cannot replace.

Europe does have pockets of expertise (such as in AI and aerospace), but no Big Tech. And in terms of spending on Tech R & D, the EU is a minnow. Europe badly needs Chinese (and Russian) collaboration in Tech to participate in the ‘New Economy’, yet the U.S. wants the EU to sever completely from Chinese and Russian technology.

This is the point: The U.S. currently is concerting a full-spectrum strategy to isolate and weaken China and Russia. This is nothing new. It is a reprise both of the long-running ‘Anglo’ vendetta against Russia, and an attempt to try to extend Pompeo’s anti-China ‘Clean Network’ and ‘Clean Path’ policies to Europe. The term ‘clean’, of course, means ‘lock out’ of all Chinese tech – complete exclusion. The U.S. is making a big ‘ask’ of Europe – living as it does under the shadow of recession. Nonetheless, it is likely that Europe will (mostly) comply.

But viewed from 180° – from the Russian and Chinese perspective – their limited and tense relationship with the U.S. is unlikely to improve, whomsoever wins next month in Washington. The U.S. animus against Russia will continue irrespective. And as for Beijing, were Biden to win (an old foe of Huawei), China expects little change, beyond revised tactics. Biden is thought by Beijing likely to use multilateralism more in order to rally U.S. allies to form a United Front against China, than as a genuine commitment to taking Europe’s views into consideration. Obama’s Victoria Newland neatly expressed her then-Administration’s view (in respect to Ukraine): “F**K the EU!”.

Is it realistic that Germany and Europe will resist U.S. pressures? Merkel still wants NordStream 2, sure. And Germany notably has failed to invest in telecoms – and needs Huawei. Other key Tech (and the finance to support it) is available only from China. There are no substitutes. Yet, the Euro-élites’ hatred and loathing for Trump, and their conviction of a forthcoming Biden victory, will likely spur them to try and recreate the multilateral order with Washington at its head, were the Democrats to win. This means pressures on Europe to adopt an anti-Russian and anti-China stance may grow and become irresistible. The paradox is that the U.S. nonetheless will probably still view Europe as an ‘access-limited’, regulated market and trade threat.

Is it surprising then that these states – Russia and China – have come to their ‘we have had enough’ moment? They have had it with Europeans’ moralising about their values, and believing that everyone will ‘fold’ in the face of the threat of exclusion from Europe’s market.

China is now the world’s biggest economy (in PPP terms). Russia and Central Asia are already compatible with Chinese technology. China has already established this as ‘facts on the ground’. Politics will follow in its wake. China and Russia are indeed likely to win the Tech war (sooner, rather than later). Can any trade block really afford the moral ‘superiority’ dividend of standing aloof and ‘above’ this other “huge and diversified” market?

Tom Stevenson, an investment director at Fidelity International, writing in The Telegraph, points out that the pandemic’s adverse effects have been significantly greater in Europe and the Americas, both north and south, than in China:

“Despite accounting for nearly 60pc of the global population, Asia has had less than 15pc of Covid-related deaths this year. Europe, with less than 10pc of the world’s people, accounts for nearly a third of all deaths. Same story in north America. Third quarter GDP figures from China will show how this materially better pandemic performance is showing up in economic data. First in, first out and a much steeper recovery path, too. Credit Suisse thinks that by the end of next year, China’s economic output will be 11pc above its pre-virus level, while the U.S., Europe and Japan will still be catching up.

“Coronavirus has caused some fundamental changes in the way that businesses and whole industries now operate. In particular, global supply chains are being replaced by a more regional approach, which has reduced Asia’s dependence on the health of Europe and the U.S. Today around 60pc of all trade in Asia happens within the region. The big growth in our dependence on technology and the increasing digitisation of the economy also plays to China’s strengths”

It is insanity. On the one hand, the EU doggedly is following the U.S. in applying sanctions on Russia (even when France and Germany know the U.S. allegations on which these are based –the alleged Navalny poisoning– are false); it is complicit in trying to unbalance the situation near Russia’s borders; and then further demands to impose Europe’s values on others’ trade with Europe.

And at the same time, they expect China and Russia to continue as if nothing is awry, and to save them from bankruptcy. Who needs whom the most? Is anyone listening?

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Attempt to Inspire Hate’: Kremlin Regrets Biden’s Claim Russia is the ‘Biggest Threat to America’

By Sofia Chegodaeva – Sputnik – 26.10.2020

Moscow denies Joe Biden’s claims of a Russian threat, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, adding that this “threat” is not true at all and is just an attempt to inspire hatred towards Russia.

“This is absolutely not true, we totally disagree with that. We can only regret the fact that this is how total hatred for the Russian Federation is being promoted, that our country is portrayed as an enemy. This is not true,” Peskov said.

This comes after the US Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden told CBS on Sunday that he viewed Russia as “the biggest threat to America right now” with regards to US security and the country’s alliances.

Last week, Biden and incumbent US President Donald Trump held their final debate ahead of the November 3 presidential election, during which Trump claimed that Biden had received $3.5 million from Russia through President Vladimir Putin. Biden rejected the allegation, adding that he had not ever taken a “penny” from foreign sources.

Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to comment on Trump’s claims. “No comment,” he said, as aired by the Rossiya 1 broadcaster on Sunday.

Meanwhile, commenting on the final presidential debate in the US on Friday, Dmitry Peskov said that Trump and Biden had been competing “for who dislikes Russia more.” Russia’s presidential spokesman repeatedly rejected all allegations that Moscow had attempted to interfere in US domestic policy.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Russian Embassy Says Hacking Accusations Coming From US Have ‘Nothing to Do With Reality’

Sputnik – 20.10.2020

WASHINGTON – The Russian Embassy in Washington has refuted US claims of alleged Russian involvement in a major cyber attack targeting officials and various large-scale events, with an embassy representative telling Sputnik that Russia has no intention to engage in destabilizing operations.

On Monday, the US charged six alleged Russian military intelligence officers with a major cyber attack, claiming that they targeted large-scale events, such as elections in France, Ukraine’s power grid and American medical facilities.

“It is quite obvious that such information has nothing to do with reality and is aimed only at stirring up Russophobic sentiments in the American society, at launching a ‘witch hunt’ and spy mania. All this has been a distinctive feature of Washington’s political life for several years now. The US authorities are consistently destroying the once pragmatic Russian-American relations and artificially imposing a toxic perception of Russia and everything connected with it on their population,” a Russian embassy representative told Sputnik.

The representative of the embassy in Washington added that “Russia does not and has not had any intention of engaging in any kind of destabilizing operations around the world. This is not in line with our foreign policy, national interests, as well as our understanding of how relations between states are built. Russia respects the sovereignty of other countries and does not interfere in their affairs.”

The Russian embassy in Canada has also dismissed all allegations concerning Russia’s alleged cyber activity, calling them “absurd and baseless.”

Global Affairs Canada and the Communications Security Establishment issued a statement on Monday saying that “Canada is concerned over reports of a series of global malicious cyber activities, as detailed in today’s statements by the United States and the United Kingdom.” According to the release, the activities “are examples of the willingness of Russian military intelligence, GRU, to target critical infrastructure and international organizations.”

The Russian embassy in Canada said on Twitter on Monday that Ottawa was damaging its relations with Moscow by issuing such groundless statements.

“Another absurd and baseless Canada allegations on Russian ‘malicious cyber activity’ copycat US-UK intelligence disinformation as part of psychological war against Russia. Ottawa is further damaging Canadian-Russian relations following its Russophobic narrative,” the embassy said.

According to the indictment, unveiled on Monday, six alleged Russian military intelligence officers have used “the world’s most destructive malware to date,” including NotPetya, which wreaked havoc globally and caused nearly $1 billion in losses to victims identified during the probe.

US authorities alleged that in December of 2015 and 2016, the conspirators launched destructive malware attacks against the electric power grid in Ukraine. In the US, hospitals in Pennsylvania were allegedly attacked with malware. US authorities claimed that the suspects also tried to undermine the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and attempted to meddle in elections in France, as well as tried to compromise the Georgian parliament network and a major media company in the post-Soviet Republic. The group also allegedly conducted “spearphishing campaigns” against investigations by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Kingdom’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory into the Novichok nerve agent poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, according to the indictment.

A source at the Russian Foreign Ministry told Sputnik on Monday that the accusations are groundless, aim to create anti-Russian sentiments, and are addressed to the internal audience within the context of the upcoming presidential election in the United States.

October 20, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

Why Conflict in Caucasus Is Erdogan’s Revenge for Syria

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 17, 2020

Turkey’s outsize role in fueling the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is becoming more apparent. That’s why a peace deal will be hard to cut and indeed the conflict may blow up further into a protracted regional war. A war that could drag Russia into battling in the Caucasus on its southern periphery against NATO proxies.

In a phone call this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly backed Moscow’s efforts at mediating a ceasefire in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Notwithstanding, Erdogan appeared to deliver an ultimatum to his Russian counterpart. He said that there must be a “permanent solution” to the decades-long territorial dispute.

Erdogan and his Azerbaijan ally have already made it clear that the only solution acceptable to them is for Armenian separatists to relinquish their claim to Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey and Azerbaijan – bound by common Turkic culture – have long-called the Armenian-held enclave an illegal occupation of Azerbaijani territory since a border war ended in 1994.

When hostilities flared again last month on September 27 initial reports suggested the clashes were of a haphazard nature with both sides trading blame for starting the violence. However, it has since become clear that the actions taken on the Azeri side seem to have been a planned aggression with Turkey’s full support.

Following a previous deadly clash on July 12-13 involving about a dozen casualties among Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, there then proceeded massive military exercises in Azerbaijan involving 11,000 Turkish troops beginning on July 29. For nearly two weeks into August, the maneuvers deployed artillery, warplanes and air-defense units in what was evidently a major drive by Ankara and Baku to coordinate the armies from both countries to fulfill joint operations. Furthermore, reports indicated that Turkish forces, including F-16 fighter jets, remained in Azerbaijan following the unprecedented military drills.

Alongside the drills, there was also a dramatic increase in military arms sales from Turkey to Azerbaijan. According to Turkish export figures, there was a six-fold increase in weapons deals compared with the previous year, with most of the supply being delivered in the third quarter of 2020 between July and September. The armaments included drones and rocket launchers which have featured with such devastating impact since hostilities erupted on September 27.

A third factor suggesting planned aggression was the reported transport of mercenary fighters from Syria and Libya by Turkey to fight on the Azerbaijani side. Thousands of such militants belonging to jihadist brigades under the control of Turkey had arrived in the Azeri capital Baku before hostilities broke out on September 27. The logistics involved in organizing such a large-scale deployment can only mean long-term planning.

Armenian sources also claim that Azeri authorities had begun impounding civilian vehicles weeks before the shooting war opened. They also claim that when the fire-fights erupted on September 27, Turkish media were present on the ground to give live coverage of events.

It seems indisputable therefore that Turkey and Azerbaijan had made a strategic decision to implement a “final solution” to the protracted dispute with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

That’s what makes Russian efforts at mediating a cessation to hostilities all the more fraught. After marathon talks mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a ceasefire was introduced on October 10. However, within hours the truce unravelled with reports of resumed exchange of fire and shelling of cities on both sides. The main violations have been committed by the Azerbaijani side using advanced Turkish [as well as Israeli] weaponry. Armenian leaders have complained that the Azeri side does not seem interested in pursuing peace talks.

More perplexing is the widening of the conflict. Azerbaijan air strikes since the weekend ceasefire broke down have hit sites within Armenia, extending the conflict beyond the contested enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan has also claimed that Armenian missiles have hit cities within its territory. Armenia flatly denies carrying out such strikes, which begs the question: is a third party covertly staging provocations and fomenting escalation of conflict?

What is challenging for Russia is that it has a legal obligation to defend Armenia as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (1992). With Armenia coming under fire, the pressure will be on Moscow to intervene militarily.

This would see Russia being embroiled in another proxy war with NATO-member Turkey. But this is not in Syria. It is the Caucasus region on Russia’s southern border. There are concerns among senior Russian military figures that such a scenario is exactly what Turkey’s Recep Erdogan is aiming for. Turkey was outplayed by Russia in the proxy war in Syria. Erdogan and NATO’s plans for regime change in Damascus were dealt a bloody nose by Russia. It seems though that conflict in the Caucasus may now be Erdogan’s revenge.

Moscow may need to seriously revise its relations with Ankara, and let Erdogan know he is treading on red lines.

October 18, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia weighs military cooperation with Iran after arms embargo expiration: Foreign Ministry

Press TV – October 16, 2020

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman says Moscow will consider military technical cooperation with Iran in line with mutual interests after the expiration of a United Nations arms embargo on Tehran.

“We are convinced that all possibilities stemming from the expiration of the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 that are linked with military technical cooperation with Iran will be duly taken into account and used on the basis of mutual benefit and in the interests of the peoples of our two states,” Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

She was referring to the resolution that endorsed a multilateral 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers, including Russia.

All the parties to the talks about Iran’s nuclear program were aware from the very beginning that there is no link between restrictions on weapons supplies to Tehran and the settlement of issues pertaining to its nuclear program, added Zakharova.

She emphasized that the United Nations Security Council did not impose a weapons embargo on Iran in 2015, but the country “voluntarily undertook a number of restrictions.”

“It was done in the interests of the soonest successful outcome of the talks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to settle the situation around the Iranian nuclear program,” the Russian diplomat said.

She noted that the term of the corresponding provisions has expired.

Zakharova stressed that Iran was a “reliable partner” for Russia in many areas of cooperation.

On August 14, the UN Security Council almost unanimously refused to support a US-sponsored draft resolution on extending the arms embargo against Iran, which is due to expire on October 18 under the JCPOA.

During the 15-member Security Council vote, the US received support only from the Dominican Republic for its anti-Iran resolution, leaving it far short of the minimum nine ‘yes’ votes required for adoption.

The following month, Washington suffered another embarrassing loss as it failed to trigger the so-called snapback provision in the JCPOA aimed at re-imposing all UN sanctions against Iran.

The UN Security Council member states challenged the US’s rationale that it was still a participant state to the nuclear accord, citing its unilateral withdrawal in May 2018.

Speaking during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country will be free to trade weapons as of Sunday after the United States failed in its attempts to secure an extension of the embargo.

Moscow had earlier said “new opportunities” will emerge in cooperation with Iran the UN embargo expires, and that any agreements with Tehran will have “nothing to do with the unlawful and illegal actions of the US administration, which is trying to intimidate the entire world.”

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said late last month that Moscow and Tehran roundly reject efforts by the US to permanently extend an arms embargo against the Islamic Republic.

Speaking at a joint press conference that followed a meeting with his visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Moscow, Lavrov added, “We stressed that Moscow and Tehran, like the entire international community, categorically reject US ambitions to impose some kind of indefinite arms embargo.”


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October 16, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Russian Foreign Ministry Says Only The Hague to Blame For Collapse of Consultations Over MH17

Sputnik – 15.10.2020

MOSCOW – The Hague is the only one to blame for derailing consultations of Russia, Australia and the Netherlands on the MH17 plane crash over eastern Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

“Therefore, the Hague carries full responsibility for the collapse of the trilateral consultations,” the ministry said.

The ministry further noted that it finds it impossible to further participate in trilateral consultations with Australia and the Netherlands on the deadly MH17 crash after the Dutch lawsuit filed against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

“The Hague has chosen another option, without even waiting for interim results of the consultations — while only three rounds were held. It filed an interstate complaint against Russia with the ECHR. Such unfriendly steps by the Netherlands make the continuation of the trilateral consultations meaningless, as well as our participation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“As we remain committed to the provisions of the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 2166, we intend to continue cooperation with competent authorities in the Netherlands, including for discussing Ukraine’s failure to close its airspace for civilian aircraft flights over the Donbas armed conflict area. However, we will be doing it in other formats,” the ministry went on to say.

Moscow once again slammed the MH17 probe by the Netherlands and the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team as “biased, superficial and politicized.”

Commenting on Moscow’s statement, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said that the Netherlands regrets Russia’s decision to withdraw from trilateral consultations on MH17 with Australia.

“Russia has informed us of its unilateral decision to stop consultations on MH17. The Netherlands deeply regrets this decision by Russia,” Blok said.

In July, the Netherlands filed a lawsuit against Russia with the ECHR over the country’s alleged role in the deadly incident, which left almost 300 people killed back in 2014.

In its fresh statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry qualified the step “as another blow on the Russian-Dutch relations, and The Hague’s demonstration of its firm intention to continue the vicious policy of unilaterally putting on Russia the blame for what happened in the skies over Donbas, in defiance of common sense.”

The aircraft was downed over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014 as the self-proclaimed republics in the region were engulfed in an armed conflict with the new government following a violent coup in Kiev earlier that year. All 298 passengers – mostly Dutch citizens – and crew on board died in the crash.

The accident is being investigated by Dutch prosecutors and JIT (Joint Investigation Team), who claim that the plane was hit by a Buk missile that belonged to the Russian Armed Forces.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident and has called the JIT investigation biased, because Russia’s evidence showing the plane had been shot down by a Ukrainian Buk missile, proven with radar data, has been ignored by investigators. At the same time, Ukraine has failed to provide any primary radar data, saying that “the radar was not operating at that moment”.

Moreover, leaked documents from the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) showed that Ukrainian missile systems were installed closer to the scene of the incident than any Russian ones, with the plane being out of their range.

In 2018, JIT released a report claiming the missile that shot down MH17 was launched by DPR forces and that the Buk launcher had been delivered from Russia. Moscow stated that the probe was politically motivated, and noting the team had based its claims on unverified social media photos and videos, as well as assertions by the Ukrainian government.

October 15, 2020 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , , | Leave a comment

European oil companies will not tolerate Poland’s attempt to cancel Nord Stream 2

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 12, 2020

By handing out a €6.5 billion fine against Gazprom, Warsaw has obviously and massively miscalculated because it did not only antagonize the Russian energy company as was intended, but also European partners of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which the Polish government obviously had not considered. Even leaders within the European Union were shocked at the huge fine that Poland is attempting to impose against Nord Stream 2.

It may very well be that the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has lost itself when deciding on the price of the fine against Gazprom. But regardless of that, UOKiK has apparently also exceeded its jurisdiction. As the Düsseldorf-based energy supplier Uniper reports, the existing agreements on Nord Stream 2 have nothing to do with a joint venture, which is why the Polish laws on merger controls do not apply to them. The initial plans were to finance the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the establishment of a joint venture. For this, however, the companies involved should have received a permit in all the countries in which they operate, as well as from Poland, the only EU state that blocked this decision. The decision for it not to be a joint venture was made without further ado so as not to waste time or money in a dispute with Polish authorities.

The pipeline partners designed an alternative financing model for Nord Stream 2 and instead of joining Nord Stream 2 AG (Company) as a co-partner, the European energy companies are participating in the project as lenders so that Polish antitrust laws do not apply to them. However, Gazprom, the majority shareholder of Nord Stream 2 AG, has given its European partners shares in the company as collateral for the financing provided. If the loans from the Russian side are not paid, the European corporations automatically become the owners of Nord Stream 2 AG. Referring to this fact, the Polish antitrust authorities have declared the European partner companies to be quasi-shareholders in the pipeline project.

With this UOKiK also justifies the exorbitant fine against Gazprom and the fines of around €55 million against Uniper (German), Wintershall (German), Engie (French), OMV (Austrian) and Shell (English-Dutch). Neither Gazprom nor Nord Stream 2 are financially at risk at the moment and the Russian group has already announced that it will take the fine to court.

Poland is of course now aware that their attempts to fine the Nord Stream 2 project will amount to nothing. The aim of the Polish government is not so much to force a large sum of money from Gazprom in the long term, but rather to bury the pipeline project entirely. And this is the part where Warsaw has grossly miscalculated, not only European reactions, but Russian determination.

The goal to cancel Nord Stream 2 also explains why Polish authorities published their decision last week. Relations between the EU and Russia are extra strained because of the Navalny case and the situation in Belarus. France and Germany are working on new sanctions against Russia for the Navalny case and continue to apply pressure against Belarus.

Another question is how effective these measures will be. Sanctions have long degenerated into ambiguity as it is the usual way the West deals with Moscow. Russia has learnt how to adjust their economy accordingly, meaning that sanctions have turned into a farce. The West is regularly expanding its blacklists of sanctioned companies and private individuals, but there has been no significant effect. Political forces with a keen interest in the failure of Nord Stream 2 are plentiful in the West and they are currently advancing the Navalny case in the hope that it will cut the EU from Russia more strongly or permanently. This will not occur as Europe desperately needs Russian energy, which is why Nord Stream 2 is such a critical project for all involved.

Poland plays the main role in trying to cancel Nord Stream 2 and the decision by UOKiK is just another push to finally get Europe to abandon the pipeline project. According to a joint declaration by France and Germany, measures are currently being prepared for those alleged to be responsible in the Navalny case and their participation in the so-called Novichok program.

Despite these measures, Western Europe is bringing its energy project which is important for its own future out of the danger zone, while Poland is attracting even more displeasure from EU giants through its own operation. A penalty against Gazprom may be a Russian problem, but fines against leading corporations from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Austria are guaranteed to leave many of Europe’s biggest capitalist angered. The effort Warsaw is making to thwart Nord Stream 2 is visibly turning opposite to what they expected as there is little doubt the Nord Stream 2 project will come to fruition and completion.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

October 12, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | 2 Comments

Moscow: Berlin Must Explain Situation With Navalny Under European Convention on Mutual Legal Aid

Sputnik – 10.10.2020

Germany must clarify the situation involving Navalny to Russia in line with the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“The German side must provide explanations, despite its persistent reluctance to do so. Excuses previously made to us are not accepted. They are unconvincing,” the ministry’s statement reads.The ministry added that ‘Novichok’ is a purely Western brand, with about 140 varieties throughout Western countries, and Russia does not have it.

According to the ministry, the structure and mass spectrum of “Novichok,” which is claimed to have been behind the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and opposition figure Alexey Navalny, were first revealed in the mass spectral database of the American Institute of Standards in 1998 (NIST 98).

“It is telling that information on this substance came there from a research centre of the US Department of Defense. Subsequently, a whole family of toxin chemicals not covered by the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention] was formed on the basis of this compound. Along with Americans, at least 20 Western countries have worked with them [these toxins]. So, Novichok is a purely Western brand. It has been synthesized and is available in about 140 variants in these countries. We do not possess it,” the ministry added.

The OPCW said on Tuesday that a substance similar to nerve agent Novichok, but not included on the lists of banned chemicals, had been found in Navalny’s system. The German government believes the OPCW’s statement actually confirmed the opposition activist’s poisoning with a Novichok group substance but admits that the substance in question is not formally banned.

Russia has also said that the German Foreign Minister’s address to lawmakers on the “Navalny case” shows that Moscow is still subject to propaganda attacks.

“As for Heiko Maas’ thesis that Russia’s claims against Germany and the OPCW are absurd, such remarks are outrageous and do not stand up to any criticism. All we want is to get legal, technical and organizational assistance both in the bilateral Russian-German format and via the OPCW in the interests of conducting a comprehensive, objective and unbiased investigation of all the circumstances of the incident that occurred with Alexey Navalny,” the ministry said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said earlier that Berlin will discuss with its  OPCW and EU partners a general reaction to the incident with Navalny, adding that the EU may “very quickly” impose sanctions against those people who they believe are involved in the development of chemical weapons in Russia.

Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said earlier this week that the incident with Russian opposition figure Navalny was used just as a pretext for introducing sanctions against Russia that had long been in the works.

October 10, 2020 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | Leave a comment