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Joe Biden’s ‘conspiracy theory’ memo to U.S. media doesn’t match the facts

John Solomon Reports | January 21, 2020

Former vice president Joe Biden’s extraordinary campaign memo this week imploring U.S. news media to reject the allegations surrounding his son Hunter’s work for a Ukrainian natural gas company makes several bold declarations.

The memo by Biden campaign aides Kate Bedingfield and Tony Blinken specifically warned reporters covering the impeachment trial they would be acting as “enablers of misinformation” if they repeated allegations that the former vice president forced the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor, who was investigating Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden worked as a highly compensated board member.

Biden’s memo argues there is no evidence that the former vice president’s or Hunter Biden’s conduct raised any concern, and that Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin’s investigation was “dormant” when the vice president forced the prosecutor to be fired in Ukraine.

The memo calls the allegation a “conspiracy theory”  (and, in full disclosure, blames my reporting for the allegations surfacing last year.)

But the memo omits critical impeachment testimony and other evidence that paint a far different portrait than Biden’s there’s-nothing-to-talk-about-here rebuttal.

Here are the facts, with links to public evidence, so you can decide for yourself.

Fact: Joe Biden admitted to forcing Shokin’s firing in March 2016.

It is irrefutable, and not a conspiracy theory, that Joe Biden bragged in this 2018 speech to a foreign policy group that he threatened in March 2016 to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid to Kiev if then-Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko didn’t immediately fire Shokin.

“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden told the 2018 audience in recounting what he told Poroshenko

“Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event.

Fact: Shokin’s prosecutors were actively investigating Burisma when he was fired.

While some news organizations cited by the Biden memo have reported the investigation was “dormant” in March 2016, official files released by the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office, in fact, show there was substantial investigative activity in the weeks just before Joe Biden forced Shokin’s firing.

The corruption investigations into Burisma and its founder began in 2014. Around the same time, Hunter Biden and his U.S. business partner Devon Archer were added to Burisma’s board, and their Rosemont Seneca Bohais firm began receiving regular $166,666 monthly payments, which totaled nearly $2 million a year. Both banks records seized by the FBI in America and Burisma’s own ledgers in Ukraine confirm these payments.

To put the payments in perspective, the annual amounts paid by Burisma to Hunter Biden’s and Devon Archer’s Rosemont Seneca Bohais firm were 30 times the average median annual household income for everyday Americans.

For a period of time in 2015, those investigations were stalled as Ukraine was creating a new FBI-like law enforcement agency known as the National Anti-Corruption Bureau ((NABU) to investigate endemic corruption in the former Soviet republic.

There was friction between NABU and the prosecutor general’s office for a while. And then in September 2015, then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt demanded more action in the Burisma investigation. You can read his speech here. Activity ramped up extensively soon after.

In December 2015, the prosecutor’s files show, Shokin’s office transferred the evidence it had gathered against Burisma to NABU for investigation.

In early February 2016, Shokin’s office secured a court order allowing prosecutors to re-seize some of the Burisma founder’s property, including his home and luxury car, as part of the ongoing probe.

Two weeks later, in mid-February 2016, Latvian law enforcement sent this alert to Ukrainian prosecutors flagging several payments from Burisma to American accounts as “suspicious.” The payments included some monies to Hunter Biden’s and Devon Archer’s firm. Latvian authorities recently confirmed it sent the alert.

Shokin told both me and ABC News that just before he was fired under pressure from Joe Biden he also was making plans to interview Hunter Biden.

Fact: Burisma’s lawyers in 2016 were pressing U.S. and Ukrainian authorities to end the corruption investigations.

Burisma’s main U.S. lawyer John Buretta acknowledged in this February 2017 interview with a Ukraine newspaper that the company remained under investigation in 2016, until he negotiated for one case to be dismissed and the other to be settled by payment of a large tax penalty.

Documents released under an open records lawsuit show Burisma legal team was pressuring the State Department in February 2016 to end the corruption allegations against the gas firm and specifically invoked Hunter Biden’s name as part of the campaign. You can read those documents here.

In addition, immediately after Joe Biden succeeded in getting Shokin ousted, Burisma’s lawyers sought to meet with his successor as chief prosecutor to settle the case. Here is the Ukrainian prosecutors’ summary memo of one of their meetings with the firm’s lawyers.

Fact: There is substantial evidence Joe Biden and his office knew about the Burisma probe and his son’s role as a board member.

The New York Times reported in this December 2015 article that the Burisma investigation was ongoing and Hunter Biden’s role in the company was undercutting Joe Biden’s push to fight Ukrainian corruption. The article quoted the vice president’s office.

In addition, Hunter Biden acknowledged in this interview he had discussed his Burisma job with his father on one occasion and that his father responded by saying he hoped the younger Biden knew what he was doing.

And when America’s new ambassador to Ukraine was being confirmed in 2016 before the Senate she was specifically advised to refer questions about Hunter Biden, Burisma and the probe to Joe Biden’s VP office, according to these State Department documents.

Fact: Federal Ethics rules require government officials to avoid taking policy actions affecting close relatives.

Office of Government Ethics rules require all government officials to recuse themselves from any policy actions that could impact a close relative or cause a reasonable person to see the appearance of a conflict of interest or question their impartiality.

“The impartiality rule requires an employee to consider appearance concerns before participating in a particular matter if someone close to the employee is involved as a party to the matter,” these rules state. “This requirement to refrain from participating (or recuse) is designed to avoid the appearance of favoritism in government decision-making.”

Fact: Multiple State Department officials testified the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

In House impeachment testimony, Obama-era State Department officials declared the juxtaposition of Joe Biden overseeing Ukraine policy, including the anti-corruption efforts, at the same his son Hunter worked for a Ukraine gas firm under corruption investigation created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

In fact, deputy assistant secretary George Kent said he was so concerned by Burisma’s corrupt reputation that he blocked a project the State Department had with Burisma and tried to warn Joe Biden’s office about the concerns about an apparent conflict of interest.

Likewise, the House Democrats’ star impeachment witness, former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovich, agreed the Bidens’ role in Ukraine created an ethic issue. “I think that it could raise the appearance of a conflict of interest,” she testified. You can read her testimony here.

Fact: Hunter Biden acknowleged he may have gotten his Burisma job solely because of his last name.

In this interview last summer, Hunter Biden said it might have been a “mistake” to serve on the Burisma board and that it was possible he was hired simply because of his proximity to the vice president.

“If your last name wasn’t Biden, do you think you would’ve been asked to be on the board of Burisma?,” a reporter asked.

“I don’t know. I don’t know. Probably not, in retrospect,” Hunter Biden answered. “But that’s — you know — I don’t think that there’s a lot of things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn’t Biden.”

Fact: Ukraine law enforcement reopened the Burisma investigation in early 2019, well before President Trump mentioned the matter to Ukraine’s new president Vlodymyr Zelensky.

This may be the single biggest under-reported fact in the impeachment scandal: four months before Trump and Zelensky had their infamous phone call, Ukraine law enforcement officials officially reopened their investigation into Burisma and its founder.

The effort began independent of Trump or his lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s legal work. In fact, it was NABU – the very agency Joe Biden and the Obama administration helped start – that recommended in February 2019 to reopen the probe.

NABU director Artem Sytnyk made this announcement that he was recommending a new notice of suspicion be opened to launch the case against Burisma and its founder because of new evidence uncovered by detectives.

Ukrainian officials said that new evidence included records suggesting a possible money laundering scheme dating to 2010 and continuing until 2015.

A month later in March 2019, Deputy Prosecutor General Konstantin Kulyk officially filed this notice of suspicion re-opening the case.

And Reuters recently quoted Ukrainian officials as saying the ongoing probe was expanded to allegations of theft of public funds.

The implications of this timetable are significant to the Trump impeachment trial because the president couldn’t have pressured Ukraine to re-open the investigation in July 2019 when Kiev had already done so on its own, months earlier.

For a complete timeline of all the key events in the Ukraine scandal, you can click here.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Biden campaign warns media not to spread ‘debunked’ claims about his activities in Ukraine or else

RT | January 20, 2020

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has issued a warning to the media cautioning journalists against spreading what he called “debunked” theories about his controversial role in having a Ukrainian prosecutor removed from office.

In the memo first reported by NBC News, Biden’s campaign accuses President Donald Trump of “spreading a malicious and conclusively debunked conspiracy theory” that the former VP engaged in wrongdoing when he pressured Ukraine to fire former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

Biden has previously bragged about his role in having Shokin fired, even admitting on camera that he presented an ultimatum to Ukrainian authorities, threatening to withhold a billion-dollar loan guarantee unless the prosecutor was given the boot. It emerged later that Biden’s own son Hunter sat on the board of the Burisma energy company which Shokin had been investigating for corruption.

The memo, described as “unusual” by NBC News, demands that “any media organization referencing, reporting on, or repeating” claims that Biden engaged in wrongdoing “must state clearly and unambiguously that they have been discredited and debunked by authoritative sources.”

The memo instructs journalists that it is “not sufficient” to say allegations against the Democratic candidate are “unsubstantiated.” They must tell readers there is a mountain of evidence which debunks them, it says. Any journalists or media organizations failing to adhere to Biden’s standards in their reporting on his and his families’ activities in Ukraine are accused of “malpractice.”

The memo comes as Republicans call for Hunter Biden to testify during Donald Trump’s impending Senate impeachment trial. Trump was impeached last month by the US House Representatives for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” relating to the alleged claim that he withheld aid from Ukraine in an effort to force an investigation into Biden’s involvement with Burisma and his role in Shokin’s firing.

However, even if Biden’s claim that he was not motivated by his son’s position on Burisma’s board when he insisted on Shokin’s sacking is true, he has already publicly admitted to threatening to withhold money from Ukraine unless authorities did his bidding — which, somewhat ironically, is exactly what Democrats impeached Trump for last month.

One campaign that did not get Biden’s memo is that of Bernie Sanders, which has earned criticism from the left for calling Biden “corrupt” in an attack ad. Among the critics was liberal economist Paul Krugman.

rump’s trial in the Senate is set to kick off this week and has been dismissed by his legal team as a “highly partisan and reckless obsession” engineered by Democrats who want him thrown out of office.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

An American Oligarch‘s Dirty Tale of Corruption

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 12.06.2015

Rarely does the world get a true look inside the corrupt world of Western oligarchs and the brazen manipulations they use to enhance their fortunes at the expense of the public good. The following comes from correspondence of the Hungarian-born billionaire, now naturalized American speculator, George Soros. The hacker group CyberBerkut has published online letters allegedly written by Soros that reveal him not only as puppet master of the US-backed Ukraine regime. They also reveal his machinations with the US Government and the officials of the European Union in a scheme where, if he succeeds, he could win billions in the plunder of Ukraine assets. All, of course, would be at the expense of Ukrainian citizens and of EU taxpayers.

What the three hacked documents reveal is a degree of behind-the-scene manipulation of the most minute details of the Kiev regime by the New York billionaire.

In the longest memo, dated March 15, 2015 and marked “Confidential” Soros outlines a detailed map of actions for the Ukraine regime. Titled, “A short and medium term comprehensive strategy for the new Ukraine,” the memo from Soros calls for steps to “restore the fighting capacity of Ukraine without violating the Minsk agreement.” To do the restoring, Soros blithely notes that “General Wesley Clark, Polish General Skrzypczak and a few specialists under the auspices of the Atlantic Council [emphasis added—f.w.e.] will advise President Poroshenko how to restore the fighting capacity of Ukraine without violating the Minsk agreement.”

Soros also calls for supplying lethal arms to Ukraine and secretly training Ukrainian army personnel in Romania to avoid direct NATO presence in Ukraine. The Atlantic Council is a leading Washington pro-NATO think tank.

Notably, Wesley Clark is also a business associate of Soros in BNK Petroleum which does business in Poland.

Clark, some might recall, was the mentally-unstable NATO General in charge of the 1999 bombing of Serbia who ordered NATO soldiers to fire on Russian soldiers guarding the Pristina International Airport. The Russians were there as a part of an agreed joint NATO–Russia peacekeeping operation supposed to police Kosovo. The British Commander, General Mike Jackson refused Clark, retorting, “I’m not going to start the Third World War for you.” Now Clark apparently decided to come out of retirement for the chance to go at Russia directly.

Naked asset grab

In his March 2015 memo Soros further writes that Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s “first priority must be to regain control of financial markets,” which he assures Poroshenko that Soros would be ready to assist in: “I am ready to call Jack Lew of the US Treasury to sound him out about the swap agreement.”

He also calls on the EU to give Ukraine an annual aid sum of €11 billion via a special EU borrowing facility. Soros proposes in effect using the EU’s “AAA” top credit rating to provide a risk insurance for investment into Ukraine.

Whose risk would the EU insure?

Soros details, “I am prepared to invest up to €1 billion in Ukrainian businesses. This is likely to attract the interest of the investment community. As stated above, Ukraine must become an attractive investment destination.” Not to leave any doubt, Soros continues, “The investments will be for-profit but I will pledge to contribute the profits to my foundations. This should allay suspicions that I am advocating policies in search of personal gain. “

Anyone familiar with the history of the Soros Open Society Foundations in Eastern Europe and around the world since the late 1980’s, will know that his supposedly philanthropic “democracy-building” projects in Poland, Russia, or Ukraine in the 1990’s allowed Soros the businessman to literally plunder the former communist countries using Harvard University’s “shock therapy” messiah, and Soros associate, Jeffrey Sachs, to convince the post-Soviet governments to privatize and open to a “free market” at once, rather than gradually.

The example of Soros in Liberia is instructive for understanding the seemingly seamless interplay between Soros the shrewd businessman and Soros the philanthropist. In West Africa George Soros backed a former Open Society employee of his, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, giving her international publicity and through his influence, even arranging a Nobel Peace Prize for her in 2011, insuring her election as president. Before her presidency she had been well-indoctrinated into the Western free market game, studying economics at Harvard and working for the US-controlled World Bank in Washington and the Rockefeller Citibank in Nairobi. Before becoming Liberia’s President, she worked for Soros directly as chair of his Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

Once in office, President Sirleaf opened the doors for Soros to take over major Liberian gold and base metals assets along with his partner, Nathaniel Rothschild. One of her first acts as President was to also invite the Pentagon’s new Africa Command, AFRICOM, into Liberia whose purpose as a Liberian investigation revealed, was to “protect George Soros and Rothschild mining operations in West Africa rather than champion stability and human rights.”

Naftogaz the target

The Soros memo makes clear he has his eyes on the Ukrainian state gas and energy monopoly, Naftogaz. He writes, “The centerpiece of economic reforms will be the reorganization of Naftogaz and the introduction of market pricing for all forms of energy, replacing hidden subsidies…”

In an earlier letter Soros wrote in December 2014 to both President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, Soros openly called for his Shock Therapy: “I want to appeal to you to unite behind the reformers in your government and give your wholehearted support to a radical, ‘big bang’ type of approach. That is to say, administrative controls would be removed and the economy would move to market prices rapidly rather than gradually… Naftogaz needs to be reorganized with a big bang replacing the hidden subsidies…”

Splitting Naftogaz into separate companies could allow Soros to take control of one of the new branches and essentially privatize its profits. He already suggested that he indirectly brought in US consulting company, McKinsey, to advise Naftogaz on the privatization “big bang.”

The Puppet-Master?

The totality of what is revealed in the three hacked documents show that Soros is effectively the puppet-master pulling most of the strings in Kiev. Soros Foundation’s Ukraine branch, International Renaissance Foundation (IRF) has been involved in Ukraine since 1989. His IRF doled out more than $100 million to Ukrainian NGOs two years before the fall of the Soviet Union, creating the preconditions for Ukraine’s independence from Russia in 1991. Soros also admitted to financing the 2013-2014 Maidan Square protests that brought the current government into power.

Soros’ foundations were also deeply involved in the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought the corrupt but pro-NATO Viktor Yushchenko into power with his American wife who had been in the US State Department. In 2004 just weeks after Soros’ International Renaissance Foundation had succeeded in getting Viktor Yushchenko as President of Ukraine, Michael McFaul wrote an OpEd for the Washington Post. McFaul, a specialist in organizing color revolutions, who later became US Ambassador to Russia, revealed:

Did Americans meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine? Yes. The American agents of influence would prefer different language to describe their activities — democratic assistance, democracy promotion, civil society support, etc. — but their work, however labeled, seeks to influence political change in Ukraine. The U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy and a few other foundations sponsored certain U.S. organizations, including Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the Solidarity Center, the Eurasia Foundation, Internews and several others to provide small grants and technical assistance to Ukrainian civil society. The European Union, individual European countries and the Soros-funded International Renaissance Foundation did the same.

Soros shapes ‘New Ukraine’

Today the CyberBerkut hacked papers show that Soros’ IRF money is behind creation of a National Reform Council, a body organized by presidential decree from Poroshenko which allows the Ukrainian president to push bills through Ukraine’s legislature. Soros writes, “The framework for bringing the various branches of government together has also emerged. The National Reform Council (NRC) brings together the presidential administration, the cabinet of ministers, the Rada and its committees and civil society. The International Renaissance Foundation which is the Ukrainian branch of the Soros Foundations was the sole financial supporter of the NRC until now…”

Soros’ NRC in effect is the vehicle to allow the President to override parliamentary debate to push through “reforms,” with the declared first priority being privatization of Naftogaz and raising gas prices drastically to Ukrainian industry and households, something the bankrupt country can hardly afford.

In his letter to Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk, Soros hints that he played a key role in selection of three key non-Ukrainian ministers—Natalia Jaresko, an American ex- State Department official as Finance Minister; Aivras Abromavicius of Lithuania as Economics Minister, and a health minister from Georgia. Soros in his December 2014 letter, referring to his proposal for a “big bank” privatization of Naftogaz and price rise, states, “You are fortunate to have appointed three ‘new Ukrainian’ ministers and several natives (sic) who are committed to this approach.”

Elsewhere Soros speaks about de facto creating the impression within the EU that the current government of Yatsenyuk is finally cleaning out the notorious corruption that has dominated every Kiev regime since 1991. Creating that temporary reform illusion, he remarks, will convince the EU to cough up the €11 billion annual investment insurance fund. His March 2015 paper says that, “It is essential for the government to produce a visible demonstration (sic) during the next three months in order to change the widely prevailing image of Ukraine as an utterly corrupt country.” That he states will open the EU to make the €11 billion insurance guarantee investment fund.

While saying that it is important to show Ukraine as a country that is not corrupt, Soros reveals he has little concern when transparency and proper procedures block his agenda. Talking about his proposals to reform Ukraine’s constitution to enable privatizations and other Soros-friendly moves, he complains, “The process has been slowed down by the insistence of the newly elected Rada on proper procedures and total transparency.”

Soros suggests that he intends to create this “visible demonstration” through his initiatives, such as using the Soros-funded National Reform Council, a body organized by presidential decree which allows the Ukrainian president to push bills through Ukraine’s legislature.

George Soros is also using his new European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank to lobby his Ukraine strategy, with his council members such as Alexander Graf Lambsdorff or Joschka Fischer or Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, not to mention former ECB head, Jean-Claude Trichet no doubt playing a subtle role.

George Soros, now 84, was born in Hungary as a Jew, George Sorosz. Soros once boasted in a TV interview that he posed during the war as a gentile with forged papers, assisting the Horthy government to seize property of other Hungarian Jews who were being shipped to the Nazi death camps. Soros told the TV moderator, “There was no sense that I shouldn’t be there, because that was–well, actually, in a funny way, it’s just like in markets–that if I weren’t there–of course, I wasn’t doing it, but somebody else would.”

This is the same morality apparently behind Soros’ activities in Ukraine today. It seems again to matter not to him that the Ukrainian government he helped bring to power in the February 2014 US coup d’etat is riddled with explicit anti-semites and self-proclaimed neo-Nazis from the Svoboda Party and Pravy Sektor. George Soros is clearly a devotee of “public-private-partnership.” Only here the public gets fleeced to enrich private investors like Mr. Soros and friends. Cynically, Soros signs his Ukraine strategy memo, “George Soros–A self-appointed advocate of the new Ukraine, March 12, 2015.”

January 17, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s the Point of NATO If You Are Not Prepared to Use It Against Iran?

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 16, 2020

Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance commits all members to participate in the defense of any single member that is attacked. An attack on one is an attack on all. Forged in the early stages of the cold war, the alliance originally included most of the leading non-communist states in Western Europe, as well as Turkey. It was intended to deter any attacks orchestrated by the Soviet Union and was defensive in nature.

Currently NATO is an anachronism as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but the desire to continue to play soldier on an international stage has granted it a measure of life support. Indeed, the alliance is regularly auditioning for new members. Its latest addition is Montenegro, which has a military consisting of 2,000 men and women, roughly one brigade. If Montenegro should be attacked, the United States is obligated to come to its assistance.

It would all be something like comic opera featuring the Duke of Plaza Toro but for the fact that there are certain things that NATO does that are not really defensive in nature but are rather destabilizing. Having expanded NATO right up to the border with Russia, which the U.S. promised not to do and then reneged, military exercises staged by the alliance currently occur right next to Russian airspace and coastal waters. To support the incursions, the myth that Moscow is expansionistic (while also seeking to destroy what passes for democracy in the West) is constantly cited. According to the current version, Russian President Vladimir Putin is just waiting to resume control over Ukraine, Georgia, Poland and the Baltic States in an effort to reconstitute the old Soviet Union. This has led to demands from the usual suspects in the U.S. Congress that Georgia and Ukraine be admitted into the alliance, which would really create an existential threat for Russia that it would have to respond to. There have also been some suggestions that Israel might join NATO. A war that no one wants either in the Middle East or in Europe could be the result if the expansion plans bear fruit.

Having nothing to do beyond aggravating the Russians, the alliance has gone along with some of the transnational abominations initially created by virtue of the Global War on Terror initiated by the loosely wrapped American president George W. Bush. The NATO alliance currently has 8,000 service members participating in a training mission in Afghanistan and its key member states have also been parts of the various coalitions that Washington has bribed or coerced into being. NATO was also actively involved in the fiasco that turned Libya into a gangster state. It had previously been the most developed nation in Africa. Currently French and British soldiers are part of the Operation Inherent Resolve (don’t you love the names!) in Syria and NATO itself is part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

NATO will now be doing its part to help defend the United States against terrorist attack. Last Wednesday the alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke with President Donald Trump on the phone in the wake of the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport. The killing was apparently carried out using missiles fired by a U.S. Reaper drone and was justified by the U.S. by claiming that Soleimani was a terrorist due to his affiliation with the listed terrorist Quds Force. It was also asserted that Soleimani was planning an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and would have killed “hundreds” of Americans. Evidence supporting the claims was so flimsy that even some Republicans balked at approving the chain of events.

Nine Iraqis also died in the attack, including the Iraqi General who headed the Kata’Ib Hezbollah Militia, which had been incorporated into the Iraqi Army to fight against the terrorist group ISIS. During the week preceding the execution of Soleimani, the U.S. had staged an air attack that killed 25 Iraqi members of Kata’Ib, the incident that then sparked the rioting at the American Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

Bearing in mind that the alleged thwarted terrorist attacks took place seven thousand miles away from the United States, it is hard to make the case that the U.S. was directly threatened requiring a response from NATO under Article 5. No doubt the Mike Pompeo State Department will claim that its Embassy is sovereign territory and therefor part of the United States. It is a bullshit argument, but it will no doubt be made. The White House has already made a similar sovereignty claim vis-à-vis the two U.S. bases in Iraq that were hit by a barrage of a dozen Iranian missiles a day after the killing of Soleimani. Unlike the case of Soleimani and his party, no one was killed by the Iranian attacks, quite possibly a deliberate mis-targeting to avoid an escalation in the conflict.

In spite of the fact that there was no actual threat and no factual basis for a call to arms, last Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke by phone with President Donald Trump “on developments in the Middle East.” A NATO press release stated that the two men discussed “the situation in the region and NATO’s role.”

According to the press release “The President asked the Secretary General for NATO to become more involved in the Middle East. They agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism.” A tweet by White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere later confirmed that Trump had “emphasized the value of NATO increasing its role in preventing conflict and preserving peace in the Middle East.” Prior to the phone call, Trump had announced that he would ask NATO “to become much more involved in the Middle East process.”

As the Trumpean concept of a peace process is total surrender on the part of the targeted parties, be they Palestinians or Iranians, it will be interesting to see just how the new arrangement works. Sending soldiers into unstable places to do unnecessary things as part of a non-existent strategy will not sit well with many Europeans. It should not sit well with Americans either.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Burisma Hack Story: Attempt to Put ‘Trump’, ‘Russia’ & ‘Impeachment’ in the Same Headline?

Sputnik – January 16, 2020

The timing of the media fuss over the alleged “Russian hack” of Burisma coincides with the resumption of the impeachment process by the Senate, say American academics, suggesting that the story could be a mere distraction aimed at evoking the spectre of “Trump-Russia” collusion amid the 2020 election cycle.

Ukraine has kicked off an investigation into a suspected cyberattack by so-called “Russian military hackers” on the energy company Burisma requesting assistance from the FBI. As The New York Times claimed Monday, Fancy Bears or Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) 28, allegedly subjected the energy company to phishing attacks, citing a recent report by Area 1 Security, a California-based American cybersecurity firm.

Burisma entered the spotlight light during the Democrats-driven impeachment process against Donald Trump due to its connections with the son of presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter, who previously served on the company’s board of directors and is believed to have financially benefitted from the apparent nepotistic scheme.

Falling short of confirming whether the hackers obtained any information, the Area 1 report says that the timing of the alleged malicious activities in relation to the 2020 US elections “raises the spectre that this is an early warning of what we have anticipated since the successful cyberattacks undertaken during the 2016 US elections”, referring to unfounded allegations of Russia’s interference in the previous US presidential race and hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Media Fuss Over Alleged Burisma Hack is ‘Distraction’

“The level of media attention given to this story in the United States is curious”, says Matthew Wilson, an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University. “Assuming that this hacking did, in fact, occur – and I have no reason to doubt that it did – nothing has yet come of it. No one in Russia (or elsewhere) has released anything about the Bidens gleaned from a hack of Burisma’s servers, and discussion of the motives behind the hack is entirely speculative”.

According to the professor, “one almost suspects that it is simply an attempt by some in the American media to get the words ‘Trump’, ‘Russia’, and ‘impeachment’ into the same headline” ahead of a Senate impeachment trial that is likely to commence very shortly.

For her part, Laura Wilson, a political science professor at the University of Indianapolis, does not rule out that the hacking allegations serve as distraction from two important events: the Trump impeachment and the US 2020 presidential elections.

“As the Senate takes up the question of removal of office after the House passed the impeachment resolution, and the parties and candidates prepare for the upcoming primary elections, these major events will undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping the future of our country and require attention and focus”, she says.

According to Wilson, “distractions in any way should be considered just that, distractions, and though other issues will come up, they need to be evaluated fairly and swiftly given their potential impact relative to the importance of the impeachment and election”.

It’s ‘Less Than Definitive’ That Fancy Bears Hacked Burisma

American monthly Wired noted Tuesday that “it’s still not entirely proven” that Fancy Bears did hack Burisma citing cybersecurity analysts who see Area 1’s evidence tying the alleged phishing campaign to the aforementioned hackers as “less than definitive”.

The media outlet quotes security firm ThreatConnect that shared its brief analysis of the phishing campaign’s features on Twitter concluding that “none of these characteristics are definitively indicative of APT28 activity” and that “we don’t have any specific information on how the domains have been operationalised”.

Wired added that in response to its request, Area 1 Security said it has more evidence to back up its findings but declined to share it publicly.

Area 1 Security’s belief that the hacking was conducted by “Russian military hackers” originates from earlier assumptions made by Crowdstrike, a former DNC contractor, that hacker group Fancy Bear, which supposedly broke into the DNC email servers in 2016, had something to do with Russia’s Main Intelligence Department (GRU). However, this connection has never been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Furthermore, according to some cyber experts, the so-called “Fancy Bear” or Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) 28 could be nothing more than a collection of hacking tools originating from the dark web that can be used by virtually anyone.

On the other hand, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), a group of former officers from the United States Intelligence Community, has repeatedly stated that the leak of DNC files was an inside job and not an external breach into the committee’s system.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Hear no evil, see no evil, print no evil? MSM warn journalists away from Burisma/Biden info after ‘hack’ report

By Helen Buyniski | RT | January 14, 2020

The US political and media elite have warned any journalist who might think of publishing (or even looking at) material potentially hacked from Ukrainian gas firm Burisma that they’re essentially handing 2020’s election to Russia.

Burisma Holdings – the Ukrainian company where Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden’s son Hunter served as a director – has been hacked, cybersecurity firm Area 1 announced on Tuesday. Area 1 has ties to both the NSA and Crowdstrike, the firm behind 2016’s still-unproven “Russian hacking” allegations, and has fingered “Fancy Bear” – the ‘hacking group’ at the center of those allegations – as the culprit.

No files have been released from the “hack,” but that hasn’t stopped American political and media thought leaders from issuing dire warnings to any journalists thinking of publishing or even reading them if they ever are released. To do so would be giving aid and comfort to the enemy – one step above treason – and nothing less than a capital thoughtcrime, these individuals have suggested.

Daily Beast editor Noah Shachtman put out a notice to his fellow editors warning them to steer clear of any information that could possibly have come from the hack. Since there was no confirmation of any data being copied, planted, or removed in that “hack,” editors might just want to be safe and ignore any negative information that might emerge relating to Biden. Problem solved!

According to Area 1, the Burisma “hack” echoed the setup that brought down Clinton campaign director John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee in 2016 – a phishing scheme in which executives received emails linking to fake login pages and a few hapless dupes fed their passwords to the scammers. Area 1 didn’t share what (if any) data had been accessed or stolen – they merely informed the media that “the timing of the Russian campaign mirrors the GRU hacks we saw in 2016 against the DNC and John Podesta… in what we can only assume is a repeat of Russian interference in the last election.”

As if on cue, 2016’s victim-in-chief, former Secretary of State and almost-president Hillary Clinton, leapt into the fray, lamenting that “Russians appear to be re-running their 2016 hacking playbook.” She warned the media against “playing along” by publishing any ‘hacked’ material, lest “the Russians help pick our POTUS again.”

A CNN reporter weighed in, warning “Russia could leak Burisma emails, and slip in some doctored emails, to harm Biden later on, if he is the Democratic nominee.” Russiagate true-believer Malcolm Nance predicted an oddly specific version of the same thing. And MSNBC took that conspiratorial line public, essentially warning Americans to discard any and all leaked emails, lest a few fakes (or deepfakes!) slip by.

“We are just not clear on what’s real and what’s not anymore,” an ‘expert’ lamented, sounding vaguely panicked.

News of the “hack” follows closely on the heels of anonymous US officials’ claim that “Russian disinformation operations” are targeting Biden – once the surefire Democratic frontrunner, but lately second to Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and even Pete Buttigieg, depending on the poll. The Biden campaign seized on news of the “hack” as proof their candidate was still a force to be reckoned with, making sure to get in a dig at President Donald Trump at the same time in campaign spokesman Andrew Bates’ comment to the New York Times. “Any American president who had not repeatedly encouraged foreign interventions of this kind would immediately condemn this attack on the sovereignty of our elections,” he said, surprising anyone who didn’t realize ‘the sovereignty of our elections’ extends deep into Ukraine.

Area 1 specializes in “preemptive cybersecurity,” and asking the entire US news media to ignore any data that might potentially have come from a phishing attack on a Ukrainian energy firm fits that definition rather well. But interfering with freedom of the press in the name of preventing foreign interference means there’s no need for a Russian bogeyman anymore – the political establishment can defeat itself.

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

UkraineGate documentary: Joe Biden’s ‘someone solid’ for Ukrainian General Prosecutor was anything but

Click here for video

RT | January 13, 2020

Former US vice-president and White House hopeful Joe Biden “brazenly lied” about supporting anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine while actually hindering them, according to a new hard-hitting documentary film.

US President Donald Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives based on the narrative that he interfered in Ukrainian domestic affairs for personal political gain – but it was Biden himself who interfered while he was Barack Obama’s deputy, according to ‘UkraineGate: Inconvenient Facts.’

The documentary was produced by French investigative journalist Olivier Berruyer, founder of popular anti-corruption and economics blog Les Crises.

Biden publicly boasted about using US and international aid as leverage in 2015 to get prosecutor Viktor Shokin fired and replaced by Yuriy Lutsenko, who was an interior minister in 2005-2006 but was later convicted by a Ukrainian court for corruption. After the 2014 Euromaidan coup the sentence was quashed.

Those interviewed in Berruyer’s film describe Lutsenko as a “crook” who was “abusing his office,” a man who “does not have any moral values and principles,” and who had done “nothing” to fight corruption while in his post.

“Our investigation and its many powerful testimonies prove that Joe Biden lied brazenly and misled many people” when he claimed Shokin’s replacement was “someone solid,” says Berruyer.

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Bumpy Road to New Russia-Ukraine Gas Agreement

By Tim Korso – Sputnik – 31.12.2019

After several years of arguing in courts and disputing the decisions afterwards, Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz have finally signed a new long-term contract on gas transits via Ukrainian territory, which will come into effect on 1 January 2020.

The gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine essentially started over violations of a contract signed back in 2009. It posited that Ukraine would buy a certain amount of Russian gas annually, while Gazprom would transit a certain minimum volume of gas every year through the Ukrainian pipeline. However, at some point after the Ukrainian government was overthrown in the 2014 coup, Kiev stopped buying gas, thereby initiating a gas dispute between countries.

Here is how it erupted and developed over the years, with mutual demands, lawsuits, and attempts to reconcile.

Ukraine’s Violations and Gazprom’s Demands

  • Following the coup, Kiev started accumulating debt by not paying for the gas it had obtained from Russia. This was partially due to Moscow discontinuing discounts on gas that had been granted to the country, raising prices from 286 dollars to the market level of 485 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres.
  • These discounts were tied to a leasing contract for a Black Sea military base for Russia’s fleet in Crimea, which was voided soon after the 2014 coup.
  • The Ukrainian gas debt reached $5 billion and in June 2014, Gazprom started supplying gas to Ukraine on a pre-paid basis only. Kiev refused to buy it on such terms, while demanding a return to the old gas price, stopping its gas purchases from Russia.
  • Gazprom filed a suit with the Stockholm Court of Arbitration, demanding that Ukraine’s Naftogaz gas company repay the debt and pay a fine for not buying the minimum gas volume from Russia.
  • Gazprom made several proposals for gas prices to Kiev, offering to reduce it to 232 dollars, but Ukraine repeatedly skipped payments throughout 2015. On 25 November 2015, Russia stopped supplying gas to the country for good due to its unwillingness to pay for it.
  • The amount demanded by Gazprom from Naftogaz over its debt and unbought gas grew as the dispute continued, increasing from $5 billion to $37 billion by 2017.
  • The Stockholm Court of Arbitration decided on 22 December 2017 to partially satisfy Gazprom’s demands, ruling that Naftogaz had to pay $2.019 billion to the Russian company. It dismissed Kiev’s demands for a reduction of gas prices.

Ukraine’s Naftogaz’s Counter-Demands

  • Parallel with Gazprom’s demands, Ukraine’s Naftogaz in October 2014 filed its own suit with the Stockholm Court of Arbitration, accusing the Russian company of violating the provisions of the 2009 contract by transiting less than the minimum set volumes of gas annually.
  • Naftogaz also demanded that the transit prices set in 2009 be increased.
  • The amount demanded by Naftogaz was constantly growing, reaching $27 billion in 2017.
  • The Stockholm Court of Arbitration ruled on 28 February 2018 that Gazprom owed $4.673 billion to Naftogaz for transiting less than the required volume of gas through Ukraine’s pipeline system.

Signing of New Contract

While Ukraine was satisfied with the court’s decision, Gazprom appealed the ruling, refusing to pay the consequent $2.56 billion fine. The fine also served as a stumbling block in the negotiations between Gazprom and Naftogaz on a new contract to replace the one signed in 2009 – the Russian company demanded that the two parties mutually nullify their demands in order to sign an agreement. Kiev refused to do so, even though the contract would guarantee gas transits through Ukraine despite the upcoming launch of two new pipelines to Europe from Russia.

In the end, Russia acceded to Ukraine’s demands and signed the new contract on 31 December 2019 while agreeing to pay $2.56 billion, with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev calling it a “necessary compromise”. At the same time, the new deal ensures that the two sides will never file any new suits on old contracts in the future and will recall all pending cases from the courts against each other.

Gazprom will transit at least 65 billion cubic metres (over two trillion cubic feet) in 2020 and 40 billion cubic metres (1.5 trillion cubic feet) per year thereafter for four more years through Ukraine under the new contract. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Kiev expects to receive at least $7 billion in revenue during the five-year period that the contract covers.

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia & Ukraine strike last-minute gas transit deal to avoid stoppage of energy supplies to Europe

RT | December 30, 2019

Russian and Ukrainian state energy majors Gazprom and Naftogaz have reached a breakthrough agreement to continue the transit of Russian natural gas to European countries using the Ukrainian pipeline network.

The package deal inked between the Russian company and Ukraine has restored the balance of interests between the parties, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller said, noting that the Russian energy giant “has made everything possible and has proved one more time that it is a responsible supplier and a reliable partner.”

The agreement will ensure the transit of Russian gas through pipelines on Ukrainian territory for the next five years, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has revealed, adding that Kiev is set to receive over $7 billion from Moscow within the deal.

After the current contract expires, the parties will have the option to extend the deal for the next 10 years, Zelensky wrote in a Facebook post late on Monday.

Pursuant to the deal, Ukraine’s Naftogaz will transmit 65 billion cubic meters of Russian gas in 2020 and 40 billion cubic meters annually in the 2021-2024 period, the Ukrainian leader confirmed.

All legal issues that now exist between the two companies have been settled, Gazprom has confirmed in a statement, noting that the parties also agreed not to initiate any lawsuits with respect to the 2009 transit contract that expires in January.

The two sides signed the documents on Monday following a marathon five days of negotiations in Vienna, with the old agreement due to expire on December 31.

Last week, Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement “in principle” to extend the gas contract, and they have been working on the final documents since then. The delegations had to determine how Russia’s Gazprom will cooperate with the Ukrainian operator of the national gas system, and how the transit of the blue fuel will be organized, as well as finalizing an agreement to drop reciprocal claims.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | 3 Comments

Georgia and Ukraine Joining NATO Will Likely Have the Opposite Effect Against Russia

By Paul Antonopoulos | December 30, 2019

Back in April, during a ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meeting in Washington, it was agreed that a package of measures to strengthen support for Georgia and Ukraine, particularly in the area of ​​maritime defense, would be made.

“We agreed on a package of measures to improve our situational awareness and to step up our support for both Georgia and Ukraine in areas such as the training of maritime forces and coast guards, port visits and exercises and sharing information,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, while NATO ships were simultaneously conducting naval exercises with Ukraine and Georgia in the Black Sea.

There is little doubt that there is the long-term goal of bringing Ukraine and Georgia into the NATO alliance as a three-pronged attack against Russia in the attempt to isolate and pressure the Eurasian Giant:

Both Ukraine and Georgia are Black Sea states, along with Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey who are already NATO members. The Black Sea is the location of Russia’s warmwater ports, i.e. its access for year-round trade with the international community.

Although Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast is completely surrounded by NATO members Poland and Lithuania, and fellow NATO members Norway, Estonia and Latvia share small land borders with Russia, a Ukrainian admittance into the alliance will be the biggest encroachment by NATO against Russia since the infamous February 1990 promise made by then-U.S. Secretary of State James Baker who made “iron-clad guarantees” to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward,” if the Soviets supported the reunification of Germany. This was obviously a lie.

Georgia will become a Caucasian salient, on the fringes of where Europe becomes Asia, in the attempt to surround and isolate Russia.

However, both Ukraine and Georgia face significant obstacles as they have unresolved territorial disputes: Ukraine with the Lugansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic, and Georgia which does not recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia despite the reality that these states have achieved sovereignty. So long as the sovereignty and independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and the status quo of Donbass remain unresolved, there is little chance Ukraine and Georgia will be able to join NATO with European member states unwilling to go to war with Russia for the sake of these two countries.

As L. Todd Wood, a former special operations helicopter pilot, said in an opinion piece published in the Washington Times in November last year, “Ukrainians and Georgians are good people and deserve our support to realize their dreams. But it’s time to stop with the creeping borders of the alliance. Moscow […] declared that if Georgia or Ukraine joined NATO, Russia would be “forced to act.” I take that threat at face value. Frankly, they have no choice. Any self-respecting Russian leader would have to react or resign.”

Perhaps this is exactly what the U.S. wants though? The Soviet Union, the reason for the establishment of NATO to begin with, is long gone and will not return. This calls into question the purpose of NATO today, and it comes down to two U.S. self-serving reasons:

The desperate prevention of a new Multipolar World Order, which Russia plays a critical part in. It is for this reason that China has now also been identified by NATO as a “very strong competitor.” However, Russia’s defense of South Ossetia in 2008 and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative have already indicated that the era of unipolarity has come to an end.

To ensure that the U.S. Military Industrial Complex maintains a monopoly on arms sales to the 29-member alliance. The addition of Georgia and Ukraine to NATO will force these countries to spend at least 2% of their GDP on their military, which U.S. military manufacturers will benefit from.

Any Ukrainian-Georgian admittance into NATO will undoubtedly create problems for Russia as it will have to increase its defense spending and it would signal the final eastward expansion onto large swathes of Russia’s European borders. Realistically though, NATO is fractured as never seen before. It is unlikely that Georgia and Ukraine will join the alliance anytime soon, especially as mentioned, it is unlikely European states will want to risk a conflict with Russia over them despite what Washington may want.

In turn, Moscow has its own options to utilize against Georgia and Ukraine such as deepening military support and ties to Donbass, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Also, as done in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the local government of Sevastopol in 2014, referendums could be conducted in Donbass, Abkhazia and South Ossetia to determine if these republic’s want to join Russia. With this trump card (trump being used unironically), by Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO, they could be further weakened by the potential expansion of Russian territory through legal means.

In this light, although Georgia and Ukraine have the goal of joining NATO in the belief that it will help defend their interests against a so-called Russian aggression, it is likely to have the opposite outcome.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

How Impeachment Is Escalating the New US-Russian Cold War

Stephen F. Cohen • Unz Review • December 27, 2019

Podcast of John Batchelor Show

Summary of Broadcast Produced by Yvonne Lorenzo:

As the New Cold War gathers up speed and escalates, we are entering a “fact free world” as allegations are made that are proved not to be true are promoted; for example, the allegation that the DNC was hacked by Russia has been officially debunked—no one could name the seventeen intelligence agencies, the Coast Guard was one. The notion of the hacking was cooked up by two agencies: by the DNI’s head James Clapper and Brennan at the CIA. Nevertheless, recently News Anchor Chuck Todd of NBC (the most pro-Russiagate network, the ones who shamelessly accused presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard of being a Russian asset) took it one step further: ignoring the facts, Todd again stated that seventeen intelligence agencies agreed that the Russians not only interfered in the election but that they swung the election to Trump. While interference is one thing, no one has previously made that allegation. Consequently, we are now in a fact free discourse in America: no evidence is necessary to prove anything, falsehoods are taken up by the legacy media, what Professor Cohen would call a world of tabloid gossip media, except in their favor the tabloids, fearing lawsuits, will do some fact checking, which is conspicuous in its absence in the legacy media. And Professor Cohen noted that it’s hard to get traction and you can’t have a conversation with someone when you don’t agree upon the facts.

In conversation on a cruise with fellow liberals, Professor Cohen noted most take the view that where there is smoke there is fire and there is something to these allegations of Russiagate and Putin’s control over Trump; they state the media wouldn’t continue to promote these conspiracy theories, these allegations about Trump’s nefarious relations with the Kremlin, without reason and so there must be something to them. Yet while facts have become absolutely critical Cohen notes you can’t get people to focus on the facts; for that reason, he feels despair and observes that for the first time in his life in his public discussions of Russia there are no basic premises that people accept any more, for if you say “If there’s smoke, there’s fire,” that is just not a logical way of thinking: you either have the facts or you don’t.

Batchelor also points out in the impeachment charges there is a great deal of presumption; there are no facts regarding the president as well, and he cites Trump’s letter to Nancy Pelosi and poses this question: what does the Kremlin think about the impeachment?

Cohen answers that the Russian high policy class in the 1990s—the America worship period—they and not just the youth, strongly believed that Russia’s future was with the West and America in particular, and now what strikes Russians most is the role of Russian intelligence services in the Western allegations. Pro-America Russians thought that American intelligence services didn’t play the role that the Soviet ones did. In Russian history classes and as a staple of popular culture, the sinister role of the “secret police” goes back to the Czarist era but what distinguished America was that it didn’t have anything comparable in abuses by its intelligence services—or so it was believed. Consequently, for those who looked up to America, it’s a source of disillusion and shock to learn that the American special services “went off the reservation” for quite a long time, not unlike Russia’s, and so they have become disillusioned while for those who tried to get Russians to be more nationalistic, their perspective is to say with gratification, “We told you so. Now will you please grow up!”

Russians call the American agencies “the organs” perhaps not being clear on the difference between the CIA and the FBI and conflating them. For Russians, the role of such agencies is baked into the culture and this has resulted in rethinking not only about America but about their own special services. An Op-Ed piece in a Russian liberal newspaper the Russian liberal author wrote, after watching what’s unfolding in America, we used to beat up on our intelligence services for decades but now maybe we need them. Contrary to a “cult of the intelligence services,” Cohen thinks what must be determined is the role of the American intelligence services in creating Russiagate from the very beginning.

Yet what is critical is to know how Russiagate began in America, with the Barr-Durham probe into the origins of Russia and Russiagate will continue to be a major issue in the 2020 election. What struck Cohen about the letter from Trump to Pelosi—which was so eloquent he doubts Trump wrote it—was that he understands it will be an issue in the 2020 elections, and it was a campaign document. That aside, Trump is aware that Democrats are campaigning still on Russiagate; nothing has turned up that it factual. Therefore, despite the absence of facts, this will be a major issue. Ukraine has turned into a stand-in for Russia.

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, once a quintessential conservative, published an article titled “Time to Call out and Remove Putin’s Propagandist in America.” While the article is slightly cagier than that headline, essentially she wants to shutdown and deprive access to media who aren’t espousing and promoting the Russiagate/Russophobic narratives. Cohen condemns that kind of behavior is that. On opposite side of Rubin, Cohen stated he himself has never advocated the silencing and removal of those who promote among other falsehoods the provably false Russiagate narrative. He asks where are things drifting and he answers discourse and relations are becoming ugly and awful.

Returning to the past, he notes there was an assumption that Russia under Yeltsin would emerge as a replica and junior partner of America; Cohen believes those who promote the Russiagate narrative and demonize Trump because their “impossible dream” failed—Russia is too old, too vast to ever be a replica of America. What took Professor Cohen aback in the testimony from Fiona Hill and others was how deep and wide the Russophobia runs in the Washington think tanks. Until she spoke and testified he had no idea how much she—and the other Russia experts—hate Russia.

Batchelor noted this is the language of civil war in Trump’s letter; Trump uses the term “Star Chamber of partisan persecution” and “coup” which are the language of a country torn in half and he asked the question whether the weakening of the civil contract to be an advantage to Putin and Russia. Cohen notes every newspaper and media source in America say Putin is delighted since it is his goal is to foment disarray in America.

The fact is, however, this chaos and dysfunction and enmity is one of the last things Putin wants. Putin’s purpose is to rebuild Russia from the economic and political catastrophes of the 1990s; Putin’s role is to reverse the demographic trend—men died in their fifties in the 1990s—and spend funds on modernization; that would be his legacy. Four hundred billion dollars has been saved to implement the modernization program. That attempt would be taken with modernizing partnerships with the West. Therefore, the last thing he wants is a new Cold War; the last thing he wants is political turmoil in America or in any Western nation. Cohen points out President Macron of France appears to understand that; he called for a rethinking of relations and said there could be no European security without Russia. Macron has broken with Washington and there will be a hell of fight because Washington is against it. But the notion that Putin wants to disrupt American society is wrong; Putin wants stability and partners.

Cohen still thinks that leadership—the new President of Ukraine, Trump and Putin—could make a difference.

December 29, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

New Year’s swap: Dozens head home as Ukraine & breakaway Donbass conduct ‘all for all’ prisoner exchange

RT | December 29, 2019

Kiev is exchanging dozens of prisoners with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics in the first such effort in two years. The swap was given a boost at the recent Normandy Four talks in Paris.

The self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic has handed over 51 people to Kiev, while receiving 61 of their followers. The Lugansk region returned 25 and took in 63 prisoners; nine people held by Kiev refused to partake in the exchange.

The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that Kiev had received a total of 76 people from Donetsk and Lugansk.

Donetsk’s authorities said their list could be longer, as some people asked to be repatriated shortly before the exchange.

The swap, carried out under an “all for all” formula, was the first since a similar humanitarian effort in December 2017.

The prisoner exchange was overseen by officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). No ceasefire violations were recorded on the frontier.

It also comes weeks after leaders from France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine agreed at a peace summit in Paris to push for a full ceasefire and a new troop disengagement by March 2020.

The summit was the first of its kind in three years, also marking the first time Russian President Vladimir Putin talked reconciliation with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Before the summit, Kiev and the rebel forces ordered a partial pullback in several areas of the frontline. However, several Ukrainian nationalist organizations stood up against Zelensky’s policies, even deploying their own armed groups to prevent the government from withdrawing their soldiers.

December 29, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment