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China’s Investment Trap has Become a Major Concern in Central Asia

By Grete Mautner – New Eastern Outlook – May 26, 2018

Perhaps the most curious topic of today’s Central Asian agenda is the growing dependence of local states on Chinese loans, which would often be referred to in regional media sources as “means of neocolonialism.”

In recent years, China has visibly stepped up its involvement in the affairs of Central Asia states, taking advantage of both its loans and its soft power. However, Beijing is trying to pacify worried voices across the region terrified by the demographic and economic might of China. There’s no denying that Central Asia for China is among the most crucial regions, since it shares a common border with a number of regional countries that play a pivotal part in ensuring China’s security and supply of energy and resources.

Nobody is making a big secret today of the fact that China lends regional governments long-term loans with low annual interest rates that can get as low as 2%. Against the backdrop of those hard-to-get Western financial investments, there’s really no alternative to Beijing’s loans. However, those always come with strings attached, as China’s loans would often be provided to back up large infrastructure projects, with Beijing’s contractors demanded be involved, providing labor, logistics and technology.

This financial hegemony never seems to be after a swift return on investments, as it would be typically interested in getting the other state financially dependent. The debt that has grown with time can be restructured and paid through granting China access to raw materials or stakes in the national companies of those states that borrowed money from Beijing. But in what way does this differ from the classic colonial scheme when investments would often be repaid with natural resources and lands? It’s no wonder that the West is trying to do the same to Ukraine these days, demanding it to open the agricultural market to bring its fertile lands to the hammer.

Kazakhstan

There’s little doubt that Kazakhstan ranks first among regional states who’s national wealth relies on Chinese loans and direct investments. According to its national bank, Astana owed China the staggering 12.6 billion dollars at the beginning of this year.

Against the backdrop that China’s loans are granted on the condition of Beijing receiving access to this country’s raw materials along with stakes in a handful of national enterprises, the topic of Chinese loans remains by far the most uncomfortable for Kazakhstan to discuss publicly. The situation got even worse when in 2016 in local media sources announced that Kazakhstan was planning to put another 1.7 million hectares of land on sale, with spontaneous mass protests breaking out across the state, as no one believed that the land would not be sold to foreigners. These protests led to the adoption of moratorium on such sales until the end of 2021, but still such a possibility remains on the cards.

Kyrgyzstan

The American Center for Global Development published a report on China’s debtors last March, identifying a total of eight most financially vulnerable countries. Of the Central Asian countries, both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan made the top of the list, since the sheer amount of money they are bound to pay Beijing has surpassed 50% of their total foreign debt.

Last year, Bishkek‘s national debt reached the staggering rate of 65% of this Kyrgyz state GDP, with external debt making up to 90% of this total.

As it was announced at the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance of Kyrgyzstan in April, the total debt of Kyrgyzstan to China has reached 1.7 billion dollars. The sole largest outside creditor of Bishkek is China’s own Export-Import Bank, that can demand local politicians to hand a total of 470,000 dollars back at any given moment. Sure, China’s involvement in Kyrgyzstan would be unthinkable without large infrastructural projects like roads, electric power infrastructure, along with local industries like the oil refinery of Kara-Balta and gold mines of Taldy-Bulak Levoberezhny.

The country will have to pay China back at least 320 million dollars in the next five years. At the same time, local elected representatives would repeatedly stress the fact that back in the day when an agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China was drafted, those negotiating it were not really taking Kyrgyz interests into consideration, so there’s a chance that when the above mentioned period is over, Bishkek won’t have the money to pay its largest creditor. In addition, the agreement implies that all legal disputes between Kyrgyzstan and China are to be settled in the the Hong Kong arbitration court, which doesn’t make things any more promising for the debtor. Moreover, in the next couple years additional 300 million are to be spent on the servicing of the external debt of Kyrgyzstan, and, according to the local ministry of finance, the Kyrgyz Republic will be theoretically capable to repay its debt to China in the next quarter century or so.

The matter of the massive Kyrgyz debt to China is kept out of the public discussion in the country, as it can trigger massive protests. But since Bishkek has an abundance of natural resources in the form of gold, iron, rare earth metals and other deposits, Beijing doesn’t look too worried about the prospects of its involvement in the affairs of this state.

Tajikistan

In the regional media, Tajikistan is often being referred to as the “ultimate hostage of Beijing” or even “the Chinese colony”, along with all sorts of equally humiliating comparisons.

Dushanbe’s national debt to the Republic to China at the beginning of the year reached 1209.6 million dollars, which amount to 50% of the total foreign debt of Tajikistan.

China is eagerly making investments into Tajik energy and road construction projects, along with a wide range of other sectors, including aluminum production, cellular communications, and gold mining.

As for the repayment for this massive debt, China’s TBEA has recently received exclusive rights to mine the Upper Kumarg gold mine. Earlier, this same company obtained access to the East Douba deposits. TBEA will be extracting gold from these sites until it returns the funds invested in the construction of a large power plant in Tajikistan. Earlier, TBEA received similar rights on the mining of coal in Tajikistan. But now it’s talking gold.

In addition to natural resources and shares in national enterprises, Tajikistan can grant China control over its transport routes and lands. For instance, back in 2011 Tajikistan surrendered to China 1% of its total territory, which amounts to more than 400 square miles of once disputed lands in the Eastern Pamirs. China is particularly interested in those areas that are rich in minerals (uranium, gold, bauxite, asbestos, rock crystal and much more). Therefore, it is possible that China is going to be more that willing to explore various scenarios of Dushanbe fulfilling its financial obligations to it in the future.

Turkmenistan

This republic is being known as a place where China has occupied a dominant position in a number of financial fields. The country has virtually no other revenues on top of those that it receives from exporting natural gas to China, however this country’s closed nature makes further analysis virtually impossible.

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, perhaps, can be found in a list of less defendant states in the region when China’s loans are concerned. However, recently China has been trying to address this drawback, as Uzbekistan looks a much more promising market for investments than most its neighbors.

There’s no point in arguing that loans are an instrument of external pressure. And China is known for its way of never writing off debts, like Russia would often do. On top of this, Beijing has a large number of unresolved territorial disputes, like the ones with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. And if we take into consideration the fact the return of China’s historic territories is part of Beijing’s foreign policy, one can not exclude the fact that land concessions in exchange for investments will remain among China’s most desirable aspect of its foreign policy in the Central Asia region.

Today, there are strong fears across the region that China, which has become one of the largest regional players and a principal partner can demand them to pay the whole sum, while  Beijing sees no reason to be finicky in its investments, but there’s those that don’t want to experience this.

May 26, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia ‘absolutely’ rejects Dutch & Aussie accusations it’s responsible for MH17 downing

RT | May 25, 2018

Moscow has rejected any involvement in the crash of flight MH17 in Ukraine after the Netherlands and Australia declared Russia “responsible” for the deployment of a BUK missile system that downed the jet in 2014.

Moscow neither accepts nor trusts the results of an international investigation into the MH17 crash as it was not allowed to take part in it, according to the Russian president’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“Of course, without being able to be a full participant, Russia does not know to what extent the results of this work can be trusted,” he said.

Peskov echoed the position of the Russian president Vladimir Putin who earlier said that, although Ukraine was included in the probe, Russia was barred from participating in establishing the truth.

Asked if he can confirm that Russia vehemently denies any involvement in the MH17 downing, Peskov replied “absolutely.”

Earlier on Friday, Amsterdam and Canberra said Russia is “responsible for its part in the downing of flight MH17” following a Thursday press conference of the Dutch-led International Investigation Team (JIT). The latter concluded that a BUK missile system from a Russian 53rd brigade was transported to eastern Ukraine and used to down the passenger plane with more than 300 people onboard. The system was then said to have returned to Russia.

“The [Dutch] government is now taking the next step by formally holding Russia accountable,” Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok said in a statement. However, the Russian military earlier said that not a single weapons system crossed the border.

MH17 tragedy may be used to achieve political goals – Lavrov

The country’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Moscow would not reject closer cooperation on the MH17 probe, but only if the data it provides is included as well. He also compared the case with the Skripal scandal, in which London made groundless allegations and pinned the blame on Moscow, but failed to provide any proof.

“If our partners have decided to speculate on this case, when it comes to the most serious human tragedy, the death of hundreds of people, to achieve their political goals, I leave it on their conscience,” Lavrov said.

Despite the JIT claiming that it conducted a separate probe, it did not move any further than the British investigative group Bellingcat – some reports of which came under fire and were refuted by Russian activists. Among other flaws in the earlier Bellingcat claims was the assertion that the Ukrainian Army had no Buk systems in the conflict area. However, in a countering statement, Russian activists presented reports from the Ukrainian media itself showing Buk missiles in the area prior to the downing of the plane.

Bellingcat’s online investigations have previously raised questions regarding their accuracy. After the group’s founder, Eliot Higgins, published one of his reports on Syria, he was asked to discuss his findings with prominent MIT physicist Theodore Postol. However, the blogger declined the debate and insulted the scientist, triggering an avalanche of criticism on Twitter.

The allegation that the missile belonged to the Russian military had earlier been debunked by the Buk manufacturer, Almaz-Antey. Its real-time experiment showed that the projectile which hit MH17 (Boeing 777) was from an earlier generation and is no longer in service with the Russian military. It was found that the plane was likely shot down using an old 9M38 missile, not the newer type 9M38M1 with distinct butterfly-shaped metal fragments, which were allegedly recovered by the Dutch Safety Board.

Moreover, Almaz-Antey’s findings, which analyzed the angle from which the projectiles entered the cockpit of the ill-fated flight, showed that the most probable location of the launch site could be only on Kiev-controlled territory. Untampered Russian radar data provided by Moscow led to similar conclusions.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Ukrainian forces kept around 20 Buk systems, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The military also stressed that Moscow has not supplied any new missiles to Ukraine since then.

Read more:

Accusations and threats, but where are the facts? – Russia challenges West on truth

May 25, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

‘Ukraine war on free speech coordinated with US’

RT | May 24, 2018

There is no independent policy in Kiev, they do everything in conjunction with the US, and new sanctions against Russian media reinforce those suspicions, executive editor of 21st Century Wire.com Patrick Henningsen told RT.

Ukraine has blocked access to the websites of Russian news organizations by including them on a sanctions list that is in sync with the US Treasury. RIA Novosti-Ukraine and Sputnik with the agencies’ resources are banned for three years.

RT: How do you view these sanctions against Russian media organizations? Is there a violation of freedom of speech?

Patrick Henningsen: I think you could make that argument anywhere in the world. We should make that argument anywhere in the world. This is clearly a political move; this also follows a pattern of targeting foreign media in countries like the US with its insistence that RT America employees register as foreign agents, etc. There have been similar attacks on PressTV in the UK, taking them off Eutelsat as well in Europe in 2012. It is definitely a war on free speech. But it is also an effort by the US; it seems very much a coordinated US effort to control public opinion, to control narratives. If you look at it in a wider scope, it is really about the management of information.

RT: Why are they doing it now?

PH: I think the timing is essential. I think we are seeing this at the very exact time you are seeing an escalation of tensions, and combat and military activities by Kiev in the Donbass. This would make sense. If a war is to escalate or if fighting is to escalate, the first thing you would like to do is to cut off any sources of opposition information. And certainly, they might view any Russian media outlets in Ukraine as a potential source of sympathetic narratives towards the people of Donbass and Luhansk. That doesn’t surprise me at all. In the wake of any war, if you look at history, one of the first targets will be media, right before the tensions are escalating or the war is beginning, this is the first thing you will see.

RT: Do you think will there be international reaction to this?

PH: In America, there are a lot of people cheering this on. Certainly, the government and the mainstream press and corporate media in America will look at this as a great thing. They need to get the Russians out because Russians only produce propaganda – this is how the narrative goes. This is why this is kind of a disturbing trend. The scope of discourse is being limited under the guise of national security. This is what the US is endorsing in Ukraine. So, one would except the US would follow suit within its own borders because… Kiev is acting as an agent of the US. And everybody is accusing the US favorite or installed, some like say, government in Kiev as being a puppet of the US. These actions only reinforce those suspicions. Clearly, there is no independent policy in Kiev, they are doing everything in conjunction with the US…

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Sputnik, RIA Novosti Ukraine Blocked in Ukraine According to New Sanctions List

Sputnik – May 24, 2018

Ukrainian authorities have added Sputnik and RIA Novosti-Ukraine to a sanctions list for three years, with the agencies’ resources and websites blocked in Ukraine.

“Blocking of assets — temporary restriction of the right of a person to use and dispose of his property; suspension of fulfillment of economic and financial obligations; restriction or termination of the provision of telecommunications services and the use of public telecommunications networks,” reads the document published on the website of the President of Ukraine.

Also included in the sanctions list is the RIA Novosti-Ukraine news portal, whose head Kirill Vyshinsk, was recently arrested. Ukraine has also blocked access to the sites россиясегодня.рф, Sputniknews.com, Ria.ru, Rsport.ria.ru, 1prime.ru, and realty.ria.ru, according to the site of the Ukrainian president.

The head of the Russian State Duma’s CIS Committee, Leonid Kalashnikov, called for an immediate halt to economic cooperation with Ukraine in response to the blocking of Sputnik and RIA Novosti-Ukraine.

“We need to draw conclusions for ourselves, including starting to take [measures] in economic cooperation with Ukraine, reducing it and stopping it,” Kalashnikov told Sputnik.

Commenting on the situation, Rossiya Segodnya director-general Dmitry Kiselev said that Ukraine’s decision shows the powerlessness of Kiev authorities which may be preparing to “cleanse” the media space ahead of next spring’s presidential elections.

“This shows the powerlessness of the regime which came to force as a result of a bloody coup and failed to establish normal life according to modern democratic canon. There is nothing left for it to do apart from persecuting its own citizens, persecuting journalists, persecuting freedom of speech, banning respected outlets, and, possibly preparing for a cleansing of the media space ahead of the so-called presidential elections,” Kiselev said.

Earlier this month, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) broke into the offices of RIA Novosti-Ukraine in Kiev. Agency head Kirill Vyshinsky was detained on charges of treason. The SBU accuses Vyshinsky of supporting the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) in Ukraine’s war-torn southeast. Later, a court in the Ukrainian city of Kherson ruled that Vyshinsky would be put under arrest.

On May 16, the International Federation of Journalists called on Ukrainian authorities to immediately release Vyshinsky, and condemned Kiev’s actions as inadmissible.

Freedom of Press Concerns in Ukraine

The block against RIA Novosti-Ukraine and Russian news resources including Sputnik is another step in a long list of measures affecting press freedoms in Ukraine since the 2014 Maidan coup d’etat. Before Vyshinsky, a number of other Ukrainian journalists have been arrested, killed under mysterious circumstances, or forced to flee their home country.

High profile cases include the 2015 murder of well-known opposition journalist Oles Buzina, the 2015 detention of journalist and peace campaigner Ruslan Kotsaba, who urged Ukrainians to resist mobilization for Kiev’s military operation in eastern Ukraine, and the arrests of other journalists, including Vasily Muravitsky, Dmitry Vasilets and Yevgeny Timonin, charged with “treason,” “supporting terrorist organizations” and other offenses for their opposition journalism or coverage of the civil war in the east.Over the last four years, Kiev has devoted considerable resources to blocking Russian television broadcasts in the country, and to impeding the work of foreign journalists in the country. The country’s authorities have also targeted Russian books, movies and television shows, going so far as to list Russian fairy tales as a threat to Ukraine’s national security. In late 2016, President Poroshenko signed a decree restricting access to so-called “anti-Ukrainian content” coming from Russia.

A May 2017 decree targeted Sputnik, Rossiya Segodnya, as well as Russian television channels Zvezda, TVC, NTV, RenTV, RBC and others. Last year, the Ukrainian government also banned Russian social media services Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, a move which was met with discontent among many ordinary Ukrainians.

This week, on the eve of Saturday’s Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Kiev, Russian sports journalists have issued an appeal to Ukrainian authorities to release Vyshinsky from his detention, saying his arrest is an infringement of journalists’ rights in Ukraine.

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Missile that downed MH17 came from Russian military, unit of origin pinpointed – intl investigators

RT | May 24, 2018

A Dutch-led probe says the missile that hit flight MH17 over Ukraine came from a unit in western Russia. Claims about its Russian origin were made by activist group Bellingcat earlier, but it was seriously questioned back then.

The international team investigating the 2014 tragedy, in which Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, reiterated the claim that it was a Buk missile, but now claims it also pinpointed the exact unit responsible.

The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) “has come to the conclusion that the BUK-TELAR that shot down MH17 came from 53rd Anti-aircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk in Russia,” the head of the crime squad of the Dutch National Police, Wilbert Paulissen, told reporters on Thursday.

The findings also claim that the missile carrier came from Russia and was returned to the country. However, the investigators have apparently failed to move any further than British online investigative activist group Bellingcat, which presented their report nearly one year ago and made the same allegations.

“We realize that the investigation collective Bellingcat has already concluded the same and published it,” Paulissen said, noting that his team carried out a separate, “independent” probe.

The conclusions were announced even though the probe is still unfinished and currently in its “last phase,” and there is still much to be done, according to JIT members. Two questions still remain unanswered – who was responsible for shooting down the plane, and why did it happen? Moreover, further evidence to back up the “revelations” is currently not available to the public.

In 2016, the Dutch-led group said it suspected around 100 people could be linked to the alleged transportation of the Buk missile system to eastern Ukraine and the missile launch. Nearly two years of investigation made their role clearer, according to Thursday’s update, but the number of people involved was narrowed down to dozens, Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said.

While the latest JIT statement hardly presents anything new, earlier Bellingcat reports were refuted by ‘Anti-Bellingcat’ activists. Russian bloggers, journalists, aviation experts, and volunteers united in a group to highlight significant flaws and inaccuracies in the Bellingcat version of the tragedy.

For example, there is the repeated claim that a Buk missile system was transported through the Russian-Ukrainian border to the place the missile was allegedly fired and then returned. The Bellingcat report used pictures and data from open sources, showing the Buk system on both sides of the border and claiming it was the same. However, the one spotted in Russia was of different modification, the activists noted, pointing out that it contains a “step” on the left side of the system.

The British group’s claims that there were no Ukrainian Buk missile systems in the conflict-zone were also debunked by their Russian peers. They provided various screen shots of Ukrainian media reports picturing the systems belonging to the Ukrainian Army in the same area.

Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Russia provided uncut radar-location data “that cannot be faked or changed” and “clearly” shows the missile did not come from the direction the investigators claimed. However, all data on the tragedy provided by Moscow was only selectively accepted by the multinational team of investigators, Lavrov said at a joint news conference with his Dutch counterpart, Stef Blok in Moscow.

May 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

Russia rejects Hague court order to compensate Ukrainian companies as illegitimate

RT | May 11, 2018

Russia has rejected the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s order to compensate Ukrainian companies for losses, allegedly stemming from the 2014 Crimea reunification, saying that the issue was outside the jurisdiction of The Hague.

The Russian Justice Ministry made the statement after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of 18 Ukrainian companies that sought compensation from the Russian government over damages allegedly inflicted as a result of the 2014 reunification of the Crimean Republic and the Russian Federation.

The court did not disclose other details of the lawsuit, but the Justice Ministry told Russian news agency RBC that the Ukrainian plaintiffs want about $140 million plus interest.

“The Russian Federation does not recognize the above mentioned decision because the court of arbitration is outside the jurisdiction allowing it to look into this case,” reads the Justice Ministry’s statement.

Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Moscow did not consider itself a party in the process and therefore had no intention to comply with the ruling. “Russia was not represented in this court in any way, we have not sent our representative to this process and this is why we do not consider ourselves a party in this trial,” he said.

Russia has already faced huge compensation claims in The Hague Arbitration Court. It happened after the 2014 decision which called on Russia to pay about $50 billion to shareholders in Yukos Oil Company, dissolved after its founder and key owner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was jailed over embezzlement and major tax evasion.

The 2014 ruling led to temporary freeze of some Russian assets abroad, including a plot of land on which a new Orthodox cathedral in Paris is located and Moscow’s stake in the Euronews TV channel.

Moscow appealed the decision, also claiming the judgement did not fall within the jurisdiction of the arbitration court. In mid-2016 Russia won the appeal and by late 2017 former Yukos shareholders completely withdrew their claims and the freezes on the Russian property were lifted.

Read more:

Ex-Yukos shareholders give up fight for Russian assets in France

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

US Supplies Ukraine with Lethal Weapons to Escalate Conflict and Bury Hopes for Peace

By Arkady SAVITSKY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 03.05.2018

Washington has confirmed the delivery of FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile systems to Kiev. Ukrainian personnel started training with the new weapons on May 2.

The aid package approved in March specified 210 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 37 Javelin launchers. Since 2014, the US has provided over $850 million to bolster Ukraine’s security. Although the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 allocates $350 million for this purpose, this is the first time Kiev has received lethal weapons from Washington. Shipments of Barrett M107A1 rifles are next.

The news has come at a time when the “anti-terror operation” (ATO) in the separatist Donbas region in eastern Ukraine has just ended (on April 30), to be replaced by a joint-forces operation (JFO). The regular military, the security forces (the SBU), the police, the national guard, and the border service will all be united under one command. The SBU had been in charge before what is being called the Donbas “reintegration law” was signed and took effect in late February. The US supports the idea of bringing in UN peacekeepers who will be deployed under the terms demanded by Kiev.

From now on, the talks between Volker and Surkov will be seen in a different light, because Washington is no longer a mediator, but rather an accomplice who is fueling the conflict. With such explicit US support, Kiev will double down on its military solution. Corruption is rampant in Ukraine. It will be no surprise if the weapons fall into wrong hands and are used against the US military somewhere outside of Europe.

The weapons deliveries are always followed by military instructors who come in to provide local training. It being gradually sucked into an armed conflict that has absolutely nothing to do with America’s national security. After all, Ukraine is a European headache. The US Navy is already present in Ochakov. Their military presence so close to Russia’s borders cannot go unnoticed by Moscow. Washington will be responsible for the consequences. Russia has not deployed its military along the American border. Nor has it sent weapons to any US neighbors.

The Javelins have been shipped to a country that has just been slammed for its human-rights violations in a report drafted by the State Department. Many international organizations have sounded the alarm over the abuse of power in Ukraine, which has just become a recipient of American military aid. There is nothing US officials love more than lecturing others on freedom, democracy, and human rights. Those are their words. Deliveries of lethal weapons to one of the most corrupt countries in the world are their deeds. The Javelins sent to Ukraine will swell the power of the oligarchs who are raking in fortunes thanks to their cozy relationships with the powers that be. The conflict in the Donbas is being used to distract public attention from worsening domestic problems.

Washington is turning a blind eye to the abuse of power in that country because Kiev has agreed to relinquish its own national sovereignty and allow itself to be turned into a tool of US foreign policy. It has recently joined an anti-Russia bloc of three nations and was rewarded by being granted an official status in NATO.

Every move has consequences. Russia can easily supply the self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine with the Kornet anti-tank system, which is militarily superior to the Javelin. The Russian weapon has proven itself effective on the battlefield even against state-of–the-art tanks such as the Israeli Merkava IV. Moscow can supply the republics with weapons and electronic warfare systems in greater quantities for the simple reason that it does not have to ship that equipment across the Atlantic Ocean and all of Europe. And now that the US has crossed the red line, Russia’s hands are free.

In theory Russia could recognize the republics as independent states, once the Minsk II accords have been forgotten and war preparations are in full gear. If their governments invite Russian forces in, in order to guarantee their own security, Moscow will act strictly in accordance with international law by agreeing to those requests.

The Javelins will not change anything. Those weapons systems are not powerful enough to give Ukrainian troops the crucial advantage they will need to ensure a victory. But the move will certainly inflame tensions, making the lives of ordinary Ukrainians worse, not better. They need political and economic reforms, not new weapons. The last thing Europeans want is the resumption of war in Ukraine. But the weapons are there. The warnings have been ignored and there is no turning back. The repercussions will be destructive. From this moment forward Washington must bear the responsibility for whatever goes wrong.

May 3, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

US State Dept. Says Ukraine Forces Allegedly Involved in Torture

Sputnik – 20.04.2018

WASHINGTON – The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) is allegedly involved in a series of crimes, including torture, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions, the State Department said in its annual human rights report released on Friday.

“Human rights groups and the United Nations noted significant deficiencies in investigations into human rights abuses committed by [Ukraine’s] government security forces, in particular into allegations of torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and other abuses reportedly perpetrated by SBU,” the report said.

The perpetrators of the 2014 Euromaidan shootings in the country’s capital Kiev have not been held accountable, the report added.

At the same time, the SBU continues to impose pressure on media outlets concerning “reporting on sensitive issues, such as military losses,” according to the report.

The US State Department also noted that Ukraine’s government committed a series of human rights violations, including corruption, censorship and violence against ethnic minorities.

“Abuses included widespread government corruption, censorship, blocking of websites, government failure to hold accountable perpetrators of violence against journalists and anti-corruption activists, violence against ethnic minorities and LGBTI persons,” the report reads.

The State Department said the “most significant” abuses occurred in the Donbass region, where it said unlawful killings and politically motivating disappearances have occurred.

The report also cited “multiple reports of attacks on journalists investigating government corruption” and accused Ukrainian authorities of restricting media content “on vague grounds.”

The State Department report documents the status of human rights and worker rights in nearly 200 countries and territories. Its latest issue addresses violations that happened in 2017.

April 21, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | 1 Comment

Germany: Nord Stream 2 project not possible without clarity about Ukrainian role

Press TV – April 10, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that plans for a controversial second underwater pipeline to bring gas from Russia could not go forward without Ukrainian involvement in overland transit.

“A Nord Stream 2 project without clarity about the Ukrainian transit role is not possible,” Merkel said, after talks in Berlin with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

The German leader said the pipeline plans, which have long thrown a wrench in bilateral ties, had played a big role in their discussions.

In an interview with German business daily Handelsblatt Monday, Poroshenko urged Berlin to abandon plans to build Nord Stream 2, saying it would enable an “economic and energy blockade” against Ukraine and blasting it as “political bribe money for loyalty to Russia.”

Merkel has long called Nord Stream 2 a purely “economic project” with no need for political intervention. Her comments mark a significant shift from that stance.

She said that in her talks with Poroshenko “I listened closely to the concerns of Ukraine.”

“The fact is that we cannot allow that, with Nord Stream 2, Ukraine would have no significance at all any more with regard to gas transit,” Merkel told reporters at a joint press conference.

She noted that while there would “always be dependence on Russian gas,” Ukraine relied heavily on income from transit fees.

The pipeline as planned would double the amount of Russian gas arriving in the European Union’s most powerful economy via the Baltic Sea — without transiting Ukraine — by late 2019.

Authorities in Germany issued the final permits needed for construction of Nord Stream 2 on its territory and in its waters to begin last month, although other nations’ green lights are still needed.

But “the Ukrainian transit pipeline is much cheaper and can be modernized cheaply and easily,” Poroshenko insisted in the Handelsblatt interview.

He accused Russia of being an “extremely unreliable partner” in energy provision, pointing to state-owned energy firm Gazprom’s refusal to pay Ukraine billions of euros (dollars) after shutting off gas supplies in the middle of winter.

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

UK’s new defense strategy: Con-Fusion Doctrine

By John Wight | RT | March 30, 2018

The Fusion Doctrine – no, not the title of the next Bond movie, the name of the UK’s new security and defense strategy.

And, yes, you guessed it: a key threat cited within this security strategy, set out in a new UK government report, is Russia.

Described as a mechanism to “strengthen [Britain’s] collective approach to national security,” the Fusion Doctrine aims to combine and harness the UK’s economic, security, technological, and military capabilities with this objective in mind.

As mentioned, among the array of threats cited, Russia, predictably, has been placed front and center. This is on the basis that Moscow was allegedly responsible for, with regard to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, the “indiscriminate and reckless use of a military-grade nerve agent on British soil.”

It gets worse. The Skripal poisoning, we are told, “happened against a backdrop of a well-established pattern of Russian State aggression. Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea was the first time since the Second World War that one sovereign nation has forcibly taken territory from another in Europe. Russia has fomented conflict in the Donbas and supported the Assad regime, including when the regime deliberately ignored its obligation to stop using chemical weapons. Russia has also violated the national airspace of European countries and mounted a sustained campaign of cyber espionage and disruption, including meddling in elections.”

The scale of the distortion incorporated in the aforementioned passage is simply breathtaking. It confirms that in Whitehall ideological blinkers are mandatory when it comes to surveying a world that London, in its capacity as a key pillar of the Pax Americana that ensued after the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, has played an egregious role in helping to destabilize.

This pattern of destabilization includes the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia, culminating in the bombing of Serbia in 1999 (of which more later); the destruction of Iraq in 2003; the destruction of Libya in 2011, leading not to the birth of liberal democracy, as claimed, but instead to the country being transformed from a functioning state into a failed state, precipitating the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. This pattern also includes an attempt to topple the legitimate Syrian government over the past seven years with support for an opposition dominated by sectarian extremists intent on turning Syria into a vast killing field of its minority communities.

As for Crimea, I deal with the fatuous claim of Russian aggression here. Suffice to say that in 2014 a democratically elected and internationally recognized government in Kiev was overthrown in a violent coup, actively supported and sponsored by Western governments, including London.

The coup – which went by the suitably benign name of Euromaidan, after Maidan Square in central Kiev, where peaceful protests turned into armed confrontation with Ukrainian police and security personnel after neo-Nazis and fascists took charge – was a brutal violation of the democratic rights of millions of Ukrainian citizens, including millions of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, people whose physical well-being was placed in danger as a consequence.

The claim that Russia’s actions in the aftermath of these ugly events can be described as aggression is ludicrous. On the contrary, the intervention undertaken by Moscow compares favorably to NATO’s intervention in the internal affairs of internationally recognized governments, specifically the bombing of Serbia in 1999, which led to the establishment of Kosovo as an independent state in 2008.

The key differences between Kosovo and Crimea are: 1) unlike the former, not one bomb or missile was dropped and not one shot was fired during Russia’s intervention, and 2) unlike the people of Kosovo, the people of Crimea were afforded the right to decide their future in a democratic referendum thereafter.

Theresa May’s assertion that Russia was responsible for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury is at the time of writing as baseless as the accusation of Russian state interference in the 2016 US presidential election, the Brexit referendum of the same year, or indeed the litany of national elections that have failed to turn up the desired and expected result in recent times.

Rather than base her assertion on concrete evidence, May has allowed her government to be led by a feral media, which has whipped up toxic Russophobic tropes redolent of the 19th rather than 21st century, into adopting a new Cold War paradigm.

The real motive for this paradigm is not concern over any threat Moscow may pose to Western democracy or security, as claimed. The real motive for this new Cold War paradigm is Russia’s refusal to bow to Western hegemony – the very same that has been responsible for unremitting chaos and carnage in the name of democracy.

Thus the UK’s new Fusion Doctrine should be renamed the Confusion Doctrine.

March 31, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia-US Security Dialogue Looming: Time to Address a Broader Security Agenda

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 25.03.2018

A lot of people close to the US president wanted to prevent it at any cost but Donald Trump congratulated President Putin anyway and had a phone conversation with him. The US president said that the two would meet “in the not too distant future.” Preventing an arms race is one issue on the agenda. Donald Trump knew the move would bring forth a tempest but he did it anyway. The president considered the relationship with Moscow to be important enough to defy his numerous opponents. Serbia has already offered to host a summit.

Right after the two presidents’ conversation, the Russian and American chiefs of staff discussed Syria. What’s even more important is that they have agreed to more military-to-military contacts in the future. Why has it suddenly become so important for Washington to launch a dialog on defense issues? The answer was provided by General John E. Hyten, the Commander of US Strategic Command, who admitted in the Senate that the US is defenseless in the face of the threat from hypersonic weapons. This realization came right after Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed his recent information about the new systems capable of hypervelocity flight that are currently being tested and are soon to be operational.

The US is a great military power but it’s not strong enough to force everyone to dance to its tune. Its defense programs suffer from serious shortcomings. The current arms-control system is in crisis. New challenges keep cropping up. They should be incorporated into the international security agenda but that’s not happening.

The looming hypersonic race is a burning issue that still needs to be addressed. It’s a domain in which the US is lagging behind Russia. When the Russian president announced those breakthroughs in military technology, his revelations were met with some skepticism in the West. But the ensuing events proved him right. Vladimir Putin pulled it off, making hotheads come to their senses and realize the need for talks to address the security challenges. Washington needs this dialog more than Moscow does.

So, the Americans’ coveted leadership in military technology has turned out to be a pipe dream. But their furtive steps to bring NATO right to Russia’s doorstep are not. The most interesting things often fall off the radar.

Moldova is planning to phase out its draft in order to have a professional military. This month, Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine formed an anti-Russia alliance. Moving to an all-volunteer force is in keeping with the political goals of this group and is seen as an important step on the path to NATO membership. That reform is scheduled to begin this fall. This is a very costly endeavor, especially when one is talking about the poorest country in Europe. Chisinau cannot afford it. It will be fully dependent on assistance from Romania and other NATO states.

Moldova’s process of embracing the bloc has accelerated recently. A joint Romanian-Moldovan task force equipped and trained in accordance with NATO standards is on its way. That step was agreed on in February. According to the military cooperation agreement signed by Chisinau and Bucharest in 2012 and ratified by the Moldovan parliament in 2013, Romanian troops and police forces enjoy freedom of movement on Moldovan territory. In other words, a NATO member has a free hand in Moldova, although the region of Transnistria, where Russian peacekeepers are stationed, is part of that country. This is a real hornet’s nest and the problem remains unaddressed.

The fact that Poland has shifted its best military forces, including its most modern tanks, eastward has not gone unnoticed in Russia. The country will receive 70 AGM-158B JASSM-ER long-range air-to-surface missiles from the US by 2020 or a bit earlier. With an operational range of roughly 1,000 km, this stealth weapon boasting a penetrating warhead can hit infrastructure deep inside Russia. One does not have to be a military expert to realize that the JASSM-ER’s prime mission is to knock out Russian Iskander short-range missiles deployed in the Kaliningrad region in a first strike.

The small Polish town of Powidz is to become a NATO hub for the Baltics and Northern Europe. Construction is underway to build a storage facility for a brigade’s worth of military hardware and personnel. The US Aegis Ashore BMD system will be operational in Poland this year. This is a highly destabilizing weapon that will become a target for a first strike by the Russian military.

Nor has Russia forgotten about the 300 US Marines stationed in Norway, or the construction of a sophisticated new radar system known as Globus 3 in the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. This is a violation of international law, as Svalbard was supposed to be demilitarized under a 1925 treaty. The facility there is an element of NATO’s ballistic missile defense (BMD) system. The joint US-Norwegian radar station is viewed by Moscow as a clear provocation. Norway is to be provided with over 50 US F-35 stealth fighters in 2019, enabling it to strike Russian territory. The F-35 is a nuclear-capable plane.

All these moves are being closely watched by the Russian military. Even if new weapons are incorporated into the bilateral arms-control agenda, the efforts to create the potential for a first strike near Russia’s borders are certainly not something Moscow can turn a blind eye toward. This does not create the right environment for a security dialog between Moscow and Washington. Everything is connected.

What Russia and the US really need is not just talks about curbing super weapons, but also negotiations addressing a much broader security agenda.

March 25, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Silenced’? Ukrainian Military Pilot Accused of Attack on Boeing MH17 Found Dead

Sputnik | March 19, 2018

Vladislav Voloshin, the Ukrainian combat pilot which some Russian investigative journalists have accused of responsibility for the MH17 disaster, allegedly shot himself Sunday at his home.

According to a press release by police in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, the 29-year-old pilot’s wife heard the gunshot and called the emergency services. Voloshin succumbed to his wounds on route to hospital. According to the police, the pilot was shot by a Makarov pistol, a standard issue military and police side arm in Ukraine. The weapon has been sent for examination. Police have opened a criminal investigation.

Relatives told police that Voloshin had been in a depressed state, and had voiced suicidal thoughts. Friends and family told local media that he was suffering from problems associated with the reconstruction of Mykolaiv’s airport, where he was acting director.

Voloshin’s name came to be associated with independent investigations into the destruction of Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. In late 2014, a Ukrainian army aircraft mechanic told Russian media that the passenger airliner may have been downed by a Su-25 close air support aircraft flown by Voloshin. The Ukrainian side confirmed that the pilot was in the military at the time, but denied that he flew on the day the Malaysian airliner was brought down.

Speaking to Sputnik about Voloshin’s suspected suicide, Ukrainian politics expert Bogdan Bezpalko said that Kiev’s version aside, “one cannot help but think that the other side may have eliminated him as a dangerous witness who could have lifted the veil of secrecy over the downing of MH17, which would subsequently strengthen Russia’s position.” According to the political scientist, “it’s quite obvious that it was not in Russia’s interest to shoot down this plane, and that all this was a provocation directed against our country.”

In Bezpalko’s view, Kiev and its Western power will continue to do everything they can to see that the truth about the tragedy of flight MH17 does not surface anytime soon. “It’s possible that others who could shed light on this matter will be ‘silenced’ in one way or another. So I don’t think we will learn the truth any time soon. I would like to recall, for example, that all matters related to the flight of Rudolf Hess to Britain [in 1941] remain classified to the British people for 100 years. And I think that the circumstances of the airliner will be made known only when the urgency of the matter disappears,” the observer said.

On July 17, 2014, a Malasyia Airlines Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed outside the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people onboard.

Kiev blamed the crash on the Donbass independence fighters, who countered by saying they did not have the means to bring down an aircraft flying at such a high altitude. An inquiry by Dutch investigators concluded that the Boeing was shot down by a Buk missile system, which it alleged was delivered to the militia from Russia and then sent back. Moscow slammed the inquiry’s bias, saying that the investigators’ conclusions were based exclusively on information received from the Ukrainian side. A separate investigation by Almaz-Antei, maker of the Buk system, concluded that the Boeing was shot down from territory controlled by the Ukrainian military.

March 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , | 2 Comments