Lost forests: Russia considers banning lumber exports to China over concerns about illegal logging

lost-forests:-russia-considers-banning-lumber-exports-to-china-over-concerns-about-illegal-logging

15-08-19 10:10:00,

Moscow may impose a full embargo on lumber exports to its largest trade partner, China, if Beijing fails to deal with illegal logging, Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has warned.

“China should have a clear understanding that if it fails to engage in solving this problem, we will have no other choice but to ban the export of  lumber completely,” minister Dmitry Kobylkin told Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper.

“They come, buy up the [illegal] timber and leave us to clear up the debris,” Kobylkin said of Chinese loggers.

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The minister has already asked Chinese law enforcement to take on the illegal loggers, and says the problem can be solved only if the Chinese take concrete steps. As an example, he suggested the building of special seed-growing facilities and replant trees to restore the lost forests “for our children and grandchildren.”

In July, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said that illegal logging increases the risk of floods, after rising water devastated the Russian Siberian region of Irkutsk, leaving more than 10 people dead and driving thousands from their homes.

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Shortly after the severe flooding, wildfires started to rage in Irkutsk, Yakutia, Krasnoyarsk and some other regions, burning more than 2,5 million hectares of forest. Russian prosecutors suspect the fires were deliberately set to cover up illegal logging.

Russia is the leading supplier of lumber to China and accounts for around 30 percent of the country’s imports of the material, according to Forbes. In 2017, year-on-year exports rose 23 percent and reached $4.8 billion.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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Russia enters super-fast communication era with launch of first 5G zone in Moscow

russia-enters-super-fast-communication-era-with-launch-of-first-5g-zone-in-moscow

08-08-19 05:29:00,

A pilot 5G zone, the first of its kind, has been launched in the heart of the Russian capital on Thursday. Swedish telecom company Ericsson provided the equipment for the network, which is run by Russian mobile operator Tele2.

“Today’s event means that the 5G era in Russia has already begun, after tests we are moving to use the technology via a commercial network,” Tele2 CEO Sergei Edmin said, announcing the launch.

The pilot zone for the super-fast network fully covers Moscow’s landmark Tverskaya street, from the Kremlin to the busy Garden Ring highway, the company said in a statement.

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“We are happy to launch the first 5G zone in Moscow,” the head of Ericsson’s division in Russia, Sebastian Tolstoy, stated.

Tele2 added that the special zone was created under Russia’s government-funded national program for the development of the digital economy. The project will be expanded to other Russian cities. 5G networks are set to be launched commercially in five cities with populations over a million by 2022, and will be deployed in 10 more cities by 2024.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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Russia urges BRICS states to take part in rebuilding Syria – Lavrov

russia-urges-brics-states-to-take-part-in-rebuilding-syria-–-lavrov

26-07-19 05:46:00,

Moscow is urging its partners in the BRICS group of nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to take part in work towards the post-war restoration of Syria, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.

“It is crucially important to support the processes of Syria’s post-conflict restoration,” he told a BRICS foreign ministerial session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“We urge participation in this activity and note in this connection efforts taken by our Chinese and Indian friends,” TASS quoted Lavrov as saying.

The main tasks ahead are the restoration of sovereignty and territorial integrity, extermination of remaining terrorists, [and] assistance in the return of refugees with an advance of the political process led by the Syrians themselves, Lavrov said. “The launch of a constitutional committee that is expected shortly will be a crucial stage on this path.”

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Russia Won’t Leave Iran to the Wolves! New Bilateral Cooperation Measures Approved By Kremlin! | The Vineyard of the Saker

russia-won’t-leave-iran-to-the-wolves!-new-bilateral-cooperation-measures-approved-by-kremlin!-|-the-vineyard-of-the-saker

20-06-19 04:44:00,

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‘It was to blame Russia from the beginning’: Malaysia PM fires back at MH17 probe

‘it-was-to-blame-russia-from-the-beginning’:-malaysia-pm-fires-back-at-mh17-probe

20-06-19 08:36:00,

Malaysia is “unhappy” about the findings of the Dutch-led inquiry into the MH17 crash, which pointed the finger at Russia even before the probe began, the country’s PM said, noting that there was more politics than fact-finding.

Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s prime minister, voiced his unease after the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) revealed the latest results of the investigation. The group was quick to implicate Moscow – and this is why, according to the PM, Malaysia isn’t convinced of the probe’s integrity.

We are very unhappy. From the very beginning, it became a political issue on how to accuse Russia of the wrongdoing.

“Even before they examined the case, they have already claimed it [the shooting down of MH17] was done by Russia,” the prime minister said as cited by the local media.

On Wednesday, the JIT flagged four individuals – three Russians and one Ukrainian – as key suspects in the tragedy.

The investigators accuse them of playing a significant role in shooting down the MH17, by receiving a surface-to-air Buk missile, allegedly from Russia. Both Moscow and the international investigators agree that the Malaysian Boeing, with 298 people on board, was taken down by a Buk missile.

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Moscow, however, insists the Buk belonged to the Ukrainian military, and was a type of missile not in service in the armed forces of Russia anymore.

Malaysia, which has kept an eye on the investigation since its inception, wants “proof of guilt [that Russia did it].”

So far, “there is no proof, only hearsay,” Mahathir insisted.

The crash was also investigated by the Dutch Safety Board, which focused on the technical part of the tragedy. Notably, it criticized Ukraine for not closing the airspace during the 2014 armed conflict in the east which also contributed to the fatal incident. However, their final report contained many “inconsistencies” and “unsubstantiated claims,” Moscow has said.

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Russia Expert’s 2017 Prophecy About The Nuclear Threat Of Russiagate Is Coming True

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16-06-19 07:51:00,

The New York Times has published an anonymously sourced report titled “U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid” about the “placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before” which could potentially “plunge Russia into darkness or cripple its military,” with one anonymous official reporting that “We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.”

Obviously this is yet another serious escalation in the continually mounting series of steps that have been taken into a new cold war between the planet’s two nuclear superpowers. Had a report been leaked to Russian media from anonymous Kremlin officials that Moscow was escalating its cyber-aggressions against America’s energy grid, this would doubtless be labeled an act of war by the political/media class of the US and its allies with demands for immediate retaliation.

To put this in perspective, The New York Times reported last year that the Pentagon was pushing for the US Nuclear Posture Review to include the strategy of retaliating against serious Russian cyberattacks on American power grids with nuclear weapons.

So that’s scary enough. What’s even scarier is the information that the Times buried way down in the 21st to 23rd paragraphs of its report:

“Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place ‘implants’ — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid.

“Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.

“Because the new law defines the actions in cyberspace as akin to traditional military activity on the ground, in the air or at sea, no such briefing would be necessary, they added.”

In an article titled “Pentagon Keeps Trump in the Dark About its Cyber Attacks on Russia“,

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Russia plans to invest billions in AI, remove all barriers for ‘tech pioneers’

russia-plans-to-invest-billions-in-ai,-remove-all-barriers-for-‘tech-pioneers’

30-05-19 04:17:00,

Russian laws must be amended to facilitate the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI), Vladimir Putin said. The Russian President had earlier asserted that AI will become the key to world dominance in the future.

The solutions based on AI may be more expensive than traditional ones at the start, but “afterwards, they’ll provide for such a huge leap forward that all of the initial investments will be repaid,” Putin said, during a high-profile meeting on artificial intelligence in Moscow.

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If Russia wants to achieve this “it’s important to remove legal and administrative barriers for ‘technological pioneering’, but without forgetting about the security of the state, society and maintaining the rights of citizens.”

Intellectual property in the AI sector must be thoroughly protected and conditions for patenting those technologies in Russia created, he told the ministers in attendance.

Another important task will be the creation and legal regulation of a state-of-the-art infrastructure for storing and processing the data required for the development of artificial intelligence algorithms.

“Special conditions” for private investments in AI programs must be provided in the country, Putin said. But he also agreed that development in the field should also be promoted through government contracts.

The state must make sure that the introduction of artificial intelligence by Russian companies allows them to organically get hold of the market both in the domestically and internationally, he added.

The federal project on artificial intelligence will be presented by the government until October at the latest. If approved, it’ll see 90 million rubles (around $1.4 billion) invested in AI during a six-year period.

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Before the meeting, the President was shown Russia’s latest developments in artificial intelligence. Cognitive Technologies group has already made a name for itself by producing software and sensors for driverless cars and locomotives. The company said that it had managed to reduce the price of its 4d imaging radars to just $100-a-piece and earned more than $220,000 after exhibiting in Detroit – that’s the sanctions war unleashed by Washington against Moscow.

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Rand Corp.: ‘How To Destroy Russia’

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23-05-19 06:46:00,

Authored by Manlio Dinucci via VoltaireNet.org,

The conclusions of the latest confidential report by the Rand Corporation were recently made public in a « Brief ». They explain how to wage a new Cold War against Russia. Certain recommendations have already been implemented, but this systemic exposure enables us to understand their true objective.

Force the adversary to expand recklessly in order to unbalance him, and then destroy him. This is not the description of a judo hold, but a plan against Russia elaborated by the Rand Corporation, the most influential think tank in the USA. With a staff of thousands of experts, Rand presents itself as the world’s most reliable source for Intelligence and political analysis for the leaders of the United States and their allies.

The Rand Corp prides itself on having contributed to the elaboration of the long-term strategy which enabled the United States to win the Cold War, by forcing the Soviet Union to consume its own economic resources in the strategic confrontation. It is this model which was the inspiration for the new plan, Overextending and Unbalancing Russia, published by Rand. According to their analysts, Russia remains a powerful adversary for the United States in certain fundamental sectors. To handle this opposition, the USA and their allies will have to pursue a joint long-term strategy which exploits Russia’s vulnerabilities. So Rand analyses the various means with which to unbalance Russia, indicating for each the probabilities of success, the benefits, the cost, and the risks for the USA.

Rand analysts estimate that Russia’s greatest vulnerability is that of its economy, due to its heavy dependency on oil and gas exports. The income from these exports can be reduced by strengthening sanctions and increasing the energy exports of the United States. The goal is to oblige Europe to diminish its importation of Russian natural gas, and replace it by liquefied natural gas transported by sea from other countries.

Another way of destabilising the Russian economy in the long run is to encourage the emigration of qualified personnel, particularly young Russians with a high level of education. In the ideological and information sectors, it would be necessary to encourage internal contestation and at the same time,

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Russia may offer fast-track citizenship scheme to all Ukrainians – Putin

russia-may-offer-fast-track-citizenship-scheme-to-all-ukrainians-putin

27-04-19 09:34:00,

Moscow may soon extend its fast-track naturalization procedure to all citizens of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin announced days after residents of the country’s east were allowed to get Russian passports within three months.

“We’re thinking on granting Russian citizenship to Ukrainians under a simplified procedure,” Vladimir Putin told reporters on the sidelines of the Belt and Road summit in Beijing.

Read more

‘Not as good as Poles or Romanians?’ Putin defends offer of Russian passports to E. Ukrainians

Russia has recently made it easier for residents of the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine to become Russian citizens. Expanding on that, Putin said the decision “wasn’t spontaneous.”

The government has calculated everything, including the number of potential applicants, the number of future retirees and, most importantly, the funding needed to implement the measure. Putin said the offer of passports would cost an estimated $1.5bn, but it will not affect benefits or other social responsibilities.

Unsurprisingly, the move drew criticism from Kiev and the West, but Moscow defended the proposal arguing it was not intended to provoke anyone. “The issue of passports is a humanitarian one,” Putin said this week.

Ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians who feel connected to Russia find themselves in a precarious situation. They have been stripped “of many things [including] fundamental human rights,” the president asserted.

Those coming from eastern Ukraine often have trouble in everyday life in Russia, be it enrolling at a university or simply booking a flight, Putin explained. Back at home, they have no adequate access to healthcare and social services as Kiev has essentially cut off the region from the rest of the country.

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Mask off? US ambassador to Russia says US practices diplomacy with aircraft carriers

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24-04-19 07:07:00,

The US ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, says there is little need for his craft as “200,000 tons of diplomacy” are prowling the waters of the Mediterranean, unabashedly endorsing military show-offs as a political tool.

“Each of the carriers operating in the Mediterranean at this time represent 100,000 tons of international diplomacy,” Huntsman said in a statement to the US Navy’s 6th Fleet.

Huntsman was speaking aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, part of the dual carrier strike group that also consists of the USS John C. Stennis, the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier. The warships kicked off their joint training operations on Wednesday. It is the first time since summer 2016 that two carrier strike groups have operated in the Mediterranean at the same time.

Speaking to CNN, Huntsman sang the praises of the US’ maritime muscle, calling US saber-rattling virtually at Russia’s doorstep “forward operating diplomacy.”

When you have 200,000 tons of diplomacy that is cruising in the Mediterranean – this is what I call diplomacy, this is forward operating diplomacy – nothing else needs to be said.

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While Moscow has long criticized the US military build-up near its borders as a hostile move further straining the rocky relationship between the two countries, Huntsman argued that such military maneuvers are somehow a necessary prerequisite for easing tensions with Moscow.

“You have all the confidence you need to sit down and try to find solutions to the problems that have divided us now for many, many years,” he said.

Each US carrier strike group comprises several vessels led by the carriers and dozens of aircraft. A total of 10 ships, 130 aircraft, and 9,000 sailors and marines are taking part in the drills.

READ MORE: Russian cruise missiles hit ISIS from Mediterranean & Caspian; 600 killed in one strike

Since the beginning of its involvement in Syria, Russia has bolstered its presence in the Mediterranean, having repeatedly struck Islamic State positions with cruise missiles launched from its military ships.

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Video: War on Russia? Growing Military Deployment of US-NATO in the Black Sea – Global Research

video-war-on-russia-growing-military-deployment-of-us-nato-in-the-black-sea-8211-global-research

11-04-19 07:32:00,

NATO is preparing a package of measures to counter Russia in the Black Sea region. This package includes the deployment of NATO warships to the Black Sea to guarantee ‘passage’ of Ukrainian ships via the Kerch Strait, U.S. ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison stressed during a press briefing on April 2.

Hutchison said that the prepared package “beefs up the surveillance, both air surveillance as well as more of the NATO country ships going into the Black Sea to assure that there is safe passage from Ukrainian vessels through the Kerch Straits, the Sea of Azov”.

Earlier the US State Department announced that the Black Sea package is a response to the challenges the US and NATO face in the region, “not merely because of the Kerch Strait incident,” but because “Russia is threatening the alliance all along the eastern flank, not just in the north.

The public announcement of a possible NATO operation in the Kerch Strait is itself a move undermining the shaky stability created after the incident of November 25, 2018, when Russian coastal guards detained 3 ships of the Ukrainian Navy, which were attempting to enter the Kerch Strait in a way which violated the established norms and rules. Then, Moscow’s actions gave rise to large-scale hysteria in mainstream and Ukrainian media outlets. However, the situation developed no further. Ukraine’s “partners” limited their response to formal declarations. It was clear that the Kiev government was the side that had provoked the conflict. Before and after the Kerch Strait incident Ukrainian ships were passing the strait after going through the formal procedures established in this area.

If NATO naval forces together with or in some form assisting Ukrainian forces were to make an attempt to break through the Kerch Strait by force violating the established rules of passage, this would be seen by Moscow as an aggressive military action, which would provoke an equivalent response. In other words, a military clash could be expected. In such an event, the situation might escalate further. The media and political importance of such developments could be compared with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which became the formal pretext for the start of the First World War or the annexation of the Sudetenland by Nazi Germany before the start of the Second World War.

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Why Does Russia Waste Time on Diplomatic Outreach to the US? – Stephen Lendman

why-does-russia-waste-time-on-diplomatic-outreach-to-the-us-8211-stephen-lendman

02-04-19 12:46:00,

Why Does Russia Waste Time on Diplomatic Outreach to the US?

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.orgHome – Stephen Lendman)

Days of when the US negotiated fairly with Russia (and other countries) ended during the Clinton co-presidency, never revived, reaching a perilous low under Trump.

Washington demands other nations bend to its will – pressuring, bullying, and threatening them to get its way, waging political, economic, financial, and sanctions war to assert its authority – attacking them belligerently if other tactics fail.

US promises when made are hollow, breached time and again, most recently against Iran, North Korea, and Russia, pressuring China to subordinate its rights to US interests on trade and other issues – unsuccessfully after months of trying.

US policymakers consistently say one thing, then do something entirely different – demanding everything, giving nothing in return, why they can never be trusted. 

Diplomacy with Washington’s political class is an exercise in futility, especially for Russia, US enemy No. 1, wanting Kremlin governance replaced by puppet rule it controls, wanting the country’s vast resources looted, its people exploited.

Most importantly, US dark forces want the world’s leading super-power eliminated – together with China the only nations able to challenge Washington’s aim for global dominance effectively.

The only language US policymakers understand is toughness. A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down. It accomplishes nothing in dealing with Washington.

When will Moscow stop calling the US its partner? When will its  ruling authorities no longer tolerate hostile US actions?

When will they stop pretending diplomatic outreach to Washington can work? When will they give its hardliners a strong dose of their own medicine – short of nuclear war?

It’s where things are heading if Moscow doesn’t challenge their imperial agenda with toughness. Why did Russia’s Foreign Ministry waste time informing the Trump regime why its military personnel are in Venezuela?

Unlike US contempt for rule of law principles, Russia observes them to the letter in geopolitical dealings with other countries – no explanations needed to anyone about its legal relations with Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s legitimate president, not imposter Guaido.

Calling on Washington to respect Russia’s right to cooperate with Venezuela falls on deaf ears at the White House,

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How Germany Gave Russia Bolshevism

how-germany-gave-russia-bolshevism

09-03-19 10:29:00,

Not a revolution. It was a coup cooked up by the Kaiser, may he forever burn in hell

    Zurich, April 9, 1917: 32 Russian emigrants are at the train station, waiting to depart. But they’re not the only ones there. Shouts of “traitors, scoundrels, pigs” ring out at the travelers. Supporters of the group are also there, singing “The Internationale.” The tracks are blocked for a short while, then train moves off.

    The German chartered train was provided by Kaiser Wilhelm II with the aim of furthering the Russian Revolution. In one of the wagons sat none other than Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin. With German help, Lenin left his exile in Switzerland and, a week later, reached his destination: Petrograd, which would later be renamed to Leningrad then changed back to today’s Saint Petersburg.

    In Russia, the February Revolution was just over, Czar Nicholas II had been swept from the throne, a provisional government was in office, and the October Revolution was not yet in sight.

    Prussian bayonets and Russian proletarian fists

    Lenin’s return to his home country was followed with great attention in Berlin.

    “Lenin’s entry into Russia was a success. He is working according to your wishes,” was the message Germany’s top army command sent to its Foreign Office.

    A political paradox, or so it would seem: Kaiser Wilhelm II joining forces with the communist Lenin. The German emperor’s aim was to finally undermine the czarist empire with which the so-called Central Powers – Germany and Austria-Hungary – had been at war since 1914.

    Berlin’s strategy was clear: Lenin and his Bolsheviks were meant to destabilize Russia thereby — in the middle of the First World War — easing the burden of fighting on the Eastern Front. The German Empire was relying on an old rule of diplomacy: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. And the plan worked.

    The idea originated with a man who took the communist nom de guerre”Parvus,” or the little one: Israel Lazarevich Gelfand. He was a Russian Jew who at the end of 1914 had already been using his influence to offer the German ambassador in Constantinople an alliance of “Prussian bayonets and Russian proletarian fists.”

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    It Is Israel, Not Russia, That Interferes in US Political Life – PaulCraigRoberts.org

    it-is-israel-not-russia-that-interferes-in-us-political-life-8211-paulcraigroberts.org

    08-03-19 01:49:00,

    It Is Israel, Not Russia, That Interferes in US Political Life

    Who Does Congress Represent?  

    Ilhan Omar is a brave woman.  She has embarrassed the corrupt Democratic Party that, together with the Republicans and many evangelical Christians, have sold out America to Israel. 

    More and more people have come out in her defense, refusing to be silenced by the criminal state of Israel.  Dr. Paul Kindlon explains what is at stake.

    He accuses Congress of Treason if Congress legislates at the Israel Lobby’s insistence the death of the First Amendment.  Enough members of the House and Senate have been purchased by the Israel Lobby that the traitors will sell out the US Constitution for Israel’s interests if they can get away with it. 

    I Accuse Congress of Treason

    Dr. Paul Kindlon

    Let us be clear…the U.S. Congressional vote condemning criticism of Israel as a form of anti-Semitism – if it passes – will be an act of treachery of historical proportions. Do not be fooled – this is a move by politicians in the pocket of a foreign power to make censorship legal, ending two-hundred plus years of freedom of speech in our country.

    I accuse the Congressional representatives who will vote for this resolution of being un-American and of spitting in the face of the founding fathers. It will truly be a dark day in our nation’s history and those responsible will be condemned and held in utter contempt by posterity.

    I accuse the Congressional members who vote for this resolution to be traitors to their country and heritage. Men and women who knowingly, willingly and perversely trample upon our sacred first amendment – that uniquely democratic principle that has inspired so many countries to emulate us in order to enjoy the freedom to speak openly and freely.

    I accuse the mainstream, corporate, media of aiding and abetting this crime against American democracy. Of turning its back on professional standards and practice. Presenting straight-forward news and balanced reporting have been abandoned because it makes far less money than providing PR and low-level entertainment. It’s all about the Benjamins and humiliating subservience to a foreign government.

    I accuse the mainstream media of going tabloid,

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    Russia’s Jewish Problem – PaulCraigRoberts.org

    russias-jewish-problem-8211-paulcraigroberts.org

    07-03-19 12:50:00,

    Copyright .© Paul Craig Roberts 2018.- Please contact us for information on syndication rights.


    This site offers factual information and viewpoints that might be useful in arriving at an understanding of the events of our time. We believe that the information comes from reliable sources, but cannot guarantee the information to be free of mistakes and incorrect interpretations. IPE has no official position on any issue and does not necessarily endorse the statements of any contributor.

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    Video: Russia Slides Towards Internal Political Crisis – Global Research

    video-russia-slides-towards-internal-political-crisis-8211-global-research

    27-02-19 03:22:00,

    This is a critical look at the situation in Russia. The video is based on an article of one of our readers and additional data.

    ***

    The Russia of 2019 is in a complicated economic and even political situation. Smoldering conflicts near its borders amid continued pressure from the US and NATO affect the situation in the country negatively. This is manifested in society and in national politics. The approval rating of the Russian government and personally of President Vladimir Putin has been decreasing.

    According to VCIOM, a state pollster, in January 2019, Putin’s confidence rating was only 32.8%. This is 24% less than in January 2018 when it was 57.2%. At the same time, the confidence rating of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was 7.8%. The approval rating of his cabinet is 37.7% while the disapproval rating is 38.7%. Opposition sources show data, which is far worse for the current Russian leadership.

    This tendency is not linked to the foreign policy course of the Kremlin. Rather, it’s the result of the recent series of liberal-minded economic reforms, which look similar to the approaches exercised by the Russian government in the mid-1990s. The decision to increase Value Added Tax amid the slowing Russian economy, especially in the industrial sector, and a very unpopular pension reform increasing the retirement age were both factors contributing to the further growth of discontent in the population.

    Russia’s GDP increased by 2.3% in 2018 compared to 1.6% in 2017. However, the Ministry of Economic Development, in its document entitled “Economic Picture” stated that this is linked to “one-time factors” and is not “stable”. The ministry maintained its earlier forecast stating that GDP growth in 2019 will be 1.3%. It confirmed increasing capital outflow. In this case, the repayment of funds to Western creditors by the Russian private sector is one of the causes.

    The Ministry of Economic Development also pointed out that the expendable income of the population decreased by 0.2%. Statutory charges, including the increased taxes, are named as one of the reasons. The document says that statutory charges grew by 14.8% in 2018.

    Additionally, the population is facing an increasingly restrictive administrative pressure: new fines and other penalties for minor violations in various fields and additional administrative restrictions limiting the freedom of actions of citizens.

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    Russia Regards the “Indo-Pacific Region” as an “Artificially Imposed” Pro-US Concept – Global Research

    russia-regards-the-indo-pacific-region-as-an-artificially-imposed-pro-us-concept-8211-global-research

    27-02-19 09:11:00,

    Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov strongly spoke out against the US’ so-called “Indo-Pacific” concept that’s recently become very popular among Indian strategists, remarking that it’s ”artificially imposed” and conditioned on containing China. 

    From “Conspiracy Theory” To Strategic Fact

    Routinely dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” by hyper-jingoist Indian commentators, none other than Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov just confirmed that it’s actually a strategic fact that the US’ so-called “Indo-Pacific Region” (IOR) concept that’s recently become very popular in New Delhi is “artificially imposed” and conditioned on “containing China”. His remarks were reported on by Russia’s publicly funded international media outlet TASS and made in connection with his words about another externally supported structure, the so-called “Middle East Strategic Alliance” (MESA), better known by many as the “Arab NATO” initiative. So as not to be accused of misportraying the Foreign Minister’s comments, here’s the entirety of TASS’ short article on his comments:

    TASS’ Report

    “The United States is trying to impose the creation of the so-called Arab NATO, the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), despite serious doubts of its possible members, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

     The steps have been made to reshape geopolitical landscape in a way to obstruct the natural development of events and try to contain the formation of new growth centers, Lavrov told a conference dubbed International Cooperation in a Troubled World, organized by the Valdai International Discussion Club in partnership with the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam.

     “One of the examples is the Middle East Strategic Alliance, which now [US President Donald] Trump’s administration is trying to impose on the Persian Gulf states plus Jordan and Egypt while overcoming very serious doubts of potential members, and here Israel is also pursuing its interests around this initiative,” Lavrov said.

     Another artificially imposed concept is the Indo-Pacific Region, which Washington has started advancing together with Japan and Australia with an apparent goal of containing China and involving India in military and political and maritime processes, Lavrov said, noting that this concept undermines the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the region.

    “I want to compare natural processes integrating countries based on their coinciding interests and artificial processes,

     » Lees verder

    All Roads Lead To Russia For Unhinged Hysterics In British Media

    all-roads-lead-to-russia-for-unhinged-hysterics-in-british-media

    26-02-19 08:45:00,

    Authored by George Galloway, op-ed via RT.com,

    A fortnight ago, the Mail on Sunday devoted over 12 pages to the destruction of Jeremy Corbyn in one of the biggest misfires in media history. It returned like a dog to its own vomit last weekend with more tales from the east.

    This time, the main target was not Labour leader Corbyn but his right-hand man Seumas Milne (full disclosure: Milne has been a close friend of mine since the 1970s), the Labour Party’s director of communications and strategy.

    The top line was – in the mouth of Sir Richard Dearlove, the disgraced former head of the British Iraq-War security services – that unless Corbyn ditched Milne, neither the US nor other “allied” countries would share information with the UK under a Corbyn premiership, which would thereby be rendered impossible. The implication was that the Privy Council would advise the Queen to select someone else instead of the winner of the election!

    Former head of mi6 (the same head of mi6 who supplied false intelligence for Blair ‘dodgy dossier’ used to justify attack on Iraq) suggests it’s not for an elected prime minister but the security services to decide who PM can or can’t appoint as an advisorhttps://t.co/mrAdLhhAz4

    — Charles Shoebridge (@ShoebridgeC) February 24, 2019

    Milne – it was claimed over several thousand words in the paper – has effectively been a former Soviet and now Russian surrogate since the 1970s. Moreover, he is linked to “terrorist groups” which are themselves – in the words of the article – said to be Russian surrogates.

    To call this fervid doesn’t do fever any justice. In 50 years of following British journalism (and many years writing a column for the Mail on Sunday), I have never seen more hallucinogenic ravings make it into print anywhere.

    Milne is a scholar, a brilliant Oxford-trained intellectual who before serving nearly 30 years as an associate editor of the Guardian, worked for the BBC’s Andrew Neil at the Economist. He is the author of bestselling books that are still in print after three decades.

     » Lees verder

    US Accusation That Russia Was Violating the INF Treaty Is as Credible as the Iraq WMD Lie

    us-accusation-that-russia-was-violating-the-inf-treaty-is-as-credible-as-the-iraq-wmd-lie

    25-02-19 09:32:00,

    The US seems intent on following in the same path as previous intelligence failures in Iraq and Iran. This time, however, the consequences will resonate beyond regional chaos

    The United States has a track record of asking nations to prove a negative when it comes to compliance with arms control agreements, and then holding them to account when they fail to do so. The deficit of integrity over U.S. claims against Iraq regarding weapons of mass destruction and Iran and its nuclear program speaks volumes about how corrupt America’s policymaking apparatus has become. Now the United States is making the same mistake again by pulling out of the INF Treaty, which it claims Russia violated.

    “A high degree of confidence is required before the United States will publicly charge another party with violation of an international agreement.” Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) Thomas Graham, Jr. delivered those remarks during testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 1994. At that time, the ACDA served as the lead agency regarding arms control compliance. The intelligence community supported the ACDA’s mission of making firm compliance judgments by providing the necessary intelligence information and analysis.

    ACDA was supported in this effort by the CIA’s Arms Control Intelligence Staff, or ACIS. ACIS provided intelligence support tailored for the specific compliance monitoring and verification requirements stemming from arms control agreements such as the INF Treaty and the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START). It brought a different skill set and mindset than the work being done by the CIA’s Nonproliferation Center, or NPC, whose targets were less structured and far more nebulous and nuanced. It was one thing to assess that nation A was exporting technology capable of supporting nuclear enrichment to nation B; it was far different to determine that Russia had destroyed its silos to the depths mandated by a treaty.

    For the former, there was far more latitude in interpreting data used to make assessments. The latter required a level of specificity that was unforgiving and often difficult to achieve.

    There was a synergy between ACDA and ACIS that extended throughout the intelligence cycle. ACDA would task ACIS with information and analysis.

     » Lees verder

    Russia Long Looked West. That Is About to Change

    russia-long-looked-west.-that-is-about-to-change

    21-02-19 11:21:00,

    Three almost uninterrupted centuries of Russian self-comparison, self-assessment, self-identification with the West and ever deeper involvement in the intra-Western geopolitical and imperial competition have come to an end. Harsh lessons Russians have drawn from its three centuries of intimate interaction with the West — its Occidental Era — were reinforced by the post-Cold War failure to create a ‘common European home’ from Vancouver to Vladivostok, leading to the conclusion that Russia had betrayed the meaning of its national seal – the double-headed eagle looking both west and east. Although Russia still references the West as a competitor as well as standard in some respects, Vladimir Putin’s Russia now rejects the post-modernist West and its neo-imperial civilizational, indeed, ‘civilizationalist’ ambitions in Russia’s neighborhood. Instead of seeking to be part of the West or defeat the Western geopolitical paradigm, it seeks along with China and, in some respects, India and several more regional powers in building an alternative global civilization to that in the post-modern West.

    Three Centuries Facing West

    Ever since Peter the Great cut his ‘window on Europe’ along the White Sea in 1703, Russia, with fits and starts, has been on a journey defined by, headed towards, and often driven by the West. Peter’s great, yet often culturally superficial and largely technical reforms set Russia off on its Western journey. Peter literally forced Russia to model itself on Europe and measure itself in European terms. This remained true whether Russia’s relations with the West were in a condition of comity and cooperation or were competitive, even conflictive. In other words, first Europe and then the larger West became Russia’s ‘significant Other’, which Russia constantly referenced. The Petrine reforms and the century of Russia’s Western-defined Enlightenment that followed consolidated Russia’s referencing its European Other. Moreover, by Empress Elizabeth’s reign (1740-1762) the Russian court and aristocracy viewed themselves as Europeans. From Peter the Great forward, Russia also oriented its foreign affairs on Europe, continuously shifting in its alliances between competing European powers in accordance with the structural and geographical vicissitudes of European geopolitics, Russian interests, and her domestic needs and inclinations in any given period under any given emperor or empress.

    Russia’s turn West had its costs and benefits. Most of the latter affected Russia’s domestically. From Peter the Great’s reforms,

     » Lees verder

    Russia’s reserves fully cover nation’s internal & foreign debt for 1st time ever – Putin

    russias-reserves-fully-cover-nations-internal-amp-foreign-debt-for-1st-time-ever-putin

    20-02-19 11:09:00,

    Russia’s foreign exchange reserves can now cover all of the debt owed by both the government and domestic businesses, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced.

    “For the first time in history our reserves fully cover foreign debt, including government and commercial sector debt,” Putin said addressing the Federal Assembly in Moscow on Wednesday.

    The country’s external debt amounts to $453.7 billion, while its international reserve funds stand at $475 billion as of February 8, 2019, according to infographics presented by the president.

    Also on rt.com
    Russia’s gold reserves smash Soviet-era record as part of Moscow’s de-dollarization drive

    Putin added that money allocated by Russia’s sovereign wealth fund also greatly contributes to the national budget, amounting to more than $1 billion last year.

    The Russian president said he wants the national economy to grow more than 3 percent in 2021, with foreign investment in the country set to rise 6-7 percent. To reach such figures, the president set several tasks for the government, such as increased productivity, making Russia attractive to foreign companies, and improving regional infrastructure.

    Also on rt.com
    Russia shifts $100bn of its reserves into yuan, yen & euro in a great dollar dump

    Russia’s external debt has fallen by $64.4 billion or 12.4 percent from the beginning of last year to the lowest level in a decade, the Central Bank of Russia announced in January. Moscow has reduced its foreign debt by $280 billion since mid-2014, when it reached a peak of nearly $733 billion due to the initial impact of Western sanctions.

    Meanwhile, Russia’s foreign exchange reserves have been growing for three consecutive years, increasing 8.3 percent to over $468 billion in the beginning of this year.

    For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

     » Lees verder

    The End of Russia’s Occidental Era (for Now)

    the-end-of-russias-occidental-era-for-now

    19-02-19 12:46:00,

    The End of Russia’s Occidental Era (for Now)

    Gordon M. HAHN

    Three almost uninterrupted centuries of Russian self-comparison, self-assessment, self-identification with the West and ever deeper involvement in the intra-Western geopolitical and imperial competition have come to an end. Harsh lessons Russians have drawn from its three centuries of intimate interaction with the West — its Occidental Era — were reinforced by the post-Cold War failure to create a ‘common European home’ from Vancouver to Vladivostok, leading to the conclusion that Russia had betrayed the meaning of its national seal – the double-headed eagle looking both west and east. Although Russia still references the West as a competitor as well as standard in some respects, Vladimir Putin’s Russia now rejects the post-modernist West and its neo-imperial civilizational, indeed, ‘civilizationalist’ ambitions in Russia’s neighborhood. Instead of seeking to be part of the West or defeat the Western geopolitical paradigm, it seeks along with China and, in some respects, India and several more regional powers in building an alternative global civilization to that in the post-modern West.

    Three Centuries Facing West

    Ever since Peter the Great cut his ‘window on Europe’ along the White Sea in 1703, Russia, with fits and starts, has been on a journey defined by, headed towards, and often driven by the West. Peter’s great, yet often culturally superficial and largely technical reforms set Russia off on its Western journey. Peter literally forced Russia to model itself on Europe and measure itself in European terms. This remained true whether Russia’s relations with the West were in a condition of comity and cooperation or were competitive, even conflictive. In other words, first Europe and then the larger West became Russia’s ‘significant Other’, which Russia constantly referenced. The Petrine reforms and the century of Russia’s Western-defined Enlightenment that followed consolidated Russia’s referencing its European Other. Moreover, by Empress Elizabeth’s reign (1740-1762) the Russian court and aristocracy viewed themselves as Europeans. From Peter the Great forward, Russia also oriented its foreign affairs on Europe, continuously shifting in its alliances between competing European powers in accordance with the structural and geographical vicissitudes of European geopolitics, Russian interests, and her domestic needs and inclinations in any given period under any given emperor or empress.

    Russia’s turn West had its costs and benefits. Most of the latter affected Russia’s domestically.

     » Lees verder

    What Are Russia and Turkey Preparing for Syria? A Disagreement in Sochi – Global Research

    what-are-russia-and-turkey-preparing-for-syria-a-disagreement-in-sochi-8211-global-research

    14-02-19 09:00:00,

    The 14thof February meeting in Sochi between the three Presidents (Russia, Turkey and Iran) is not expected to find solutions agreeable to all parties about the two main problem areas left in Syria: northeast Syria (Manbij to Qamishli/al-Hasaka), currently occupied by US forces, and Idlib city and its rural areas occupied by jihadist groups friendly to Turkey. 

    There are fundamentally different points of view. At the top of the agenda, the gathering is expected to have further discussions on a possible US withdrawal in the coming weeks – the month of April seems plausible – as announced by officials in Washington.

    All parties are agreed, however, that US withdrawal is a priority and will be a relief to the Levant. Therefore, any step that help to reach this objective smoothly should be taken. Nevertheless, the main differences are triggered by the Russian desire and intention to conclude a “temporary deal” with Turkey over North-east Syria’s status after the US withdrawal. These differences are related to the price Syria should pay to see US forces out of the country.

    Sources among decision makers in Damascus said “Russia is trying to find an excuse for Turkey to move into north-east Syria, within a “buffer zone” of 12,000 sq km out of the 42,000 sq km that represent the zone east of the Euphrates under US occupation, reviving the 1998 Adana agreement between Ankara and Damascus”.

    On January the 23rd, President Putin said the 20-year-old agreement was still binding. A Syrian source reports,

    “The Russian President is trying to open the road for Turkey to regain a direct relationship with Syria on a higher level. Russia believes the temporary presence of Turkey is acceptable as long as the unity of Syria is non-negotiable. But we in Damascus believe that if Turkey moves in, it will be difficult to dislodge its forces ever again”.

    Russia has never abandoned the idea of Syrian unity and considers it important for the entire geographic area to return under the control of the central government. Nevertheless, Moscow believes the danger from the US is greater, and that it is worth seeing Turkey replacing the US forces temporarily if this is what Washington wants.

    On the other hand,

     » Lees verder

    RIP INF Treaty: Russia’s Victory, America’s Waterloo – Global Research

    rip-inf-treaty-russias-victory-americas-waterloo-8211-global-research

    13-02-19 01:29:00,

    On March 1, 2018 the world learned of Russia’s new weapons systems, said to be based on new physical principles. Addressing the Federal Assembly, Putin explained how they came to be: in 2002 the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. At the time, the Russians declared that they will be forced to respond, and were basically told “Do whatever you want.”

    And so they did, developing new weapons that no anti-ballistic missile system can ever hope to stop. The new Russian weapons include one that is already on combat duty (Kinzhal), one that is being readied for mass production (Avangard) and several that are currently being tested (Poseidon, Burevestnik, Peresvet, Sarmat). Their characteristics, briefly, are as follows:

    • Kinzhal: a hypersonic air-launched cruise missile that flies at Mach 10 (7700 miles per hour) and can destroy both ground installations and ships.
    • Avangard: a maneuverable hypersonic payload delivery system for intercontinental ballistic missiles that flies at better than Mach 20 (15300 miles per hour). It has a 740-mile range and can carry a nuclear charge of up to 300 kilotons.
    • Poseidon: an autonomous nuclear-powered torpedo with unlimited range that can travel at a 3000-foot depth maintaining a little over 100 knots.
    • Burevestnik: a nuclear-powered cruise missile that flies at around 270 miles per hour and can stay in the air for 24 hours, giving it a 6000-mile range.
    • Peresvet: a mobile laser complex that can blind drones and satellites, knocking out space and aerial reconnaissance systems.
    • Sarmat: a new heavy intercontinental missile that can fly arbitrary suborbital courses (such as over the South Pole) and strike arbitrary points anywhere on the planet. Because it does not follow a predictable ballistic trajectory it is impossible to intercept.

    The initial Western reaction to this announcement was an eerie silence. A few people tried to convince anyone who would listen that this was all bluff and computer animation, and that these weapons systems did not really exist. (The animation was of rather low quality, one might add, probably because Russian military types couldn’t possibly imagine that slick graphics, such as what the Americans waste their money on, would make Russia any safer.) But eventually the new weapons systems were demonstrated to work and US intelligence services confirmed their existence.

     » Lees verder

    Russia takes steps to survive global internet shutdown with its own web – MPs

    russia-takes-steps-to-survive-global-internet-shutdown-with-its-own-web-mps

    13-02-19 08:45:00,

    Russia is preparing itself to be disconnected from the World Wide Web. The Lower House of Parliament passed in the first reading a law ensuring the security of the Russian part of the internet.

    The bill envisions the ‘Runet’ – the Russian segment of the internet – being able to operate independently from the rest of the world in case of global malfunctions or deliberate internet disconnection. The measures to ensure internet stability include the creation of a national DNS system that stores all of the domain names and corresponding IP numbers.

    The new legislation was drafted in response to the new US cyber strategy that accuses Russia, along with China, Iran, and North Korea, of using cyber tools to “undermine” its economy and democracy. It also threatens dire consequences for anyone conducting cyber activity against the US.

    Also on rt.com
    Russia will launch ‘alternative internet’ only in worst-case scenario – Foreign Ministry

    The autonomous system would ensure that Russia doesn’t face a total internet shutdown if relations with the West completely collapse and the US goes as far as cutting off Russian IP addresses from the World Wide Web.

    Back in 2012, then-US President Barack Obama signed an executive order allowing him to take control of all communications on American soil, including those crucial for the normal operation of the internet.

    The US National Security Agency actually caused a three-day internet blackout in Syria in November 2012, whistleblower Edward Snowden told Wired magazine. NSA hackers accidently ‘bricked’ one of the core routers while trying to install spyware on it.

    Like this story? Share it with a friend!

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    Russia to US: Destroy Tomahawk launchpads & attack drones to return to INF compliance

    russia-to-us-destroy-tomahawk-launchpads-amp-attack-drones-to-return-to-inf-compliance

    09-02-19 10:01:00,

    The US was in breach of the INF treaty for years, the Russia’s defense ministry told the summoned US diplomat, calling on the US to destroy cruise missile launchpads, target-missiles and attack drones to return to INF compliance.

    The Ministry of Defense (MOD) summoned the US military attaché in Moscow on Wednesday to hand him the treaty-related memo.

    The Russian side suggested that the Americans “return to strict compliance” with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty before it expires in six months.

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    DC hawks, US defense giants race to score profits from INF demise

    In order to achieve this, the US must “destroy its Mk-41 universal launchers, designed for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles and target missiles,” which in fact have the same specifications as ground-based medium- and shorter-range ballistic missiles prohibited by the INF.

    The American attack drones should also be disposed of because they fall under the definition of “land-based cruise missile” in accordance with the deal, the ministry added.

    In early February, Washington unilaterally withdrew from the INF deal, which had been the cornerstone of European security since 1987. The US accused Russia of building prohibited missiles, but said that it may return to the accord if Moscow eliminates the ‘violation’ within the next 180 days.

    Also on rt.com
    Russia must create land-based hypersonic missiles with 500km+ range by 2020 – MoD

    The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that it “categorically denies groundless claims of Russia violating its obligations under the treaty.”

    “The US accusations are false,” Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the ministry’s spokesman, said.

    Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

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    Russia has no more to say on INF Treaty, will quit pact in 6 months in mirror response – Lavrov

    russia-has-no-more-to-say-on-inf-treaty-will-quit-pact-in-6-months-in-mirror-response-lavrov

    06-02-19 11:04:00,

    Moscow will quit the INF Treaty in six months in a mirror response to US withdrawal from the nuclear pact, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said as Donald Trump revealed that Washington is considering negotiating a new agreement.

    “Russia has said everything [it is going to say] concerning the INF issue, responding to US’ unfounded allegations,” Lavrov said on Wednesday. Moscow’s top diplomat also stated that Russia is delivering a mirror response and will quit the treaty in six months.

    He was commenting on US President Trump’s statement that Washington might be interested in negotiating another agreement that would include China and other countries.

    Also on rt.com
    Russia suspends INF Treaty in ‘mirror response’ to US halting the agreement

    Last week, President Vladimir Putin said Moscow is suspending its participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty after the US announced its withdrawal from the agreement. Both Moscow and Washington have accused each other of violating the terms of the nuclear pact.

    The treaty was signed by the US and USSR in 1987, and had remained a key pillar of European security.

    If you like this story, share it with a friend!

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    Russia’s secret war | The Vineyard of the Saker

    russias-secret-war-the-vineyard-of-the-saker

    05-02-19 06:01:00,

    Russia’s secret war by Time Forward! project and Evgeny Super

    Translated by Scott Humor and captioned by Leo.

    We have discovered that Russia has been waging a secret, carefully concealed war for the past 7 years. It is a war against corruption and unfair income distribution. You find this hard to believe? We will tell you in detail immediately after the selection of positive news of the week.

    News Time

    In Lipetsk, a factory for manufacturing industrial safety systems was opened. The investments are 1 billion rubles ($15.2 million).

    Modernization of production worth 500 million rubles ($7.6 million) is completed at the Serov mechanical manufacturer.

    In the Stavropol Krai (territory) Russia’s first lactose production was launched with investments of 400 million rubles ($6.1 million).

    In Moscow – new production of cable systems.

    In the Nizhny Novgorod region was launched a new workshop for the production of special vehicles.

    The first industrial park was opened in the Novgorod region.

    The first assembly production of milking robots in Russia was opened in Bashkiria with investment of over 400 million rubles ($6.1 million).

    In Veliky Novgorod – a new production of mixed fertilizers.

    The key stage of testing the Poseidon unmanned multi-purpose strategic underwater combat weapon has been successfully completed.

    The Russian Army has adopted the new combat robotic complex “Uran-9”.

    A modern mobile radar complex “Resonance-N” with elements of artificial intelligence has been deployed in the Arctic.

    Russian schools specializing in physics and mathematics will now receive federal funding under the national Education project. This will allow them to upgrade their infrastructure and take more students on a budget basis.

    Anti-corruption actions

    This past week front pages of the largest mass media outlets decry the subject of corruption. One of the reasons for their interest was the publication of the Corruption Perceptions Index by the Transparency International, according to which Russia has worsened its position to the 138th place next to Papua New Guinea, Lebanon and Mexico.

    Of course, there is corruption in Russia, but the objectivity of this rating is questionable. It is compiled by the international organization Transparency International on the basis of  “expert assessments,” which in turn are based on questioning the citizens regarding their personal perception of corruption.

     » Lees verder

    Russia Walking a Fine Line between Turkey & the US in Syria | New Eastern Outlook

    russia-walking-a-fine-line-between-turkey-amp-the-us-in-syria-new-eastern-outlook

    03-02-19 07:22:00,

    PERT76332T7

    The politics of ‘safe-zone’, a stretch of Syrian territory along Turkey-Syria border jointly managed by Turkey and the U.S., has certainly given a new twist to the Syrian end-game. Most certainly, the US’ encouragement of this ‘safe-zone’ is part of its plan to win back its largely lost position and leverage in Syria. For Turkey, this ‘safe zone’ would ensure its position vis-à-vis Kurdish militias. The diplomatic manoeuvring around ‘safe-zone’, therefore, is of crucial significance. A US-Turkish understanding over this ‘safe-zone’ would certainly weaken Syria’s control over its own territory and it would create difficulties for Russia and Iran to complete the objective of establishing Syrian sovereignty over all of Syria, restoring the pre-war Syrian territorial reality. But Russia and Iran also want to make sure that Turkey continues to side with them, as the Syrian neighbour is not only a crucial partner in Sochi and Astana peace processes, but also a vital connection in the wider Eurasian connection that Russia has built over the last few years. Therefore, a US manoeuvre to win over Turkey by wetting its appetite for ‘safe zone’—a demand that the US had previously rejected many times—presented a major diplomatic challenge for Russia, which of course, featured prominently in the last week’s meeting between Turkey’s Erdogan and Russia’s Putin.

    But what was even more prominent in that meeting was the way Putin’s diplomacy neutralised rather successfully the US ability to manipulate Turkey’s security concerns. This was done by not only showing sensitivity to Tukey’s concerns and interests, but also by reinforcing the importance of a US withdrawal from Syria as the key to settling all aspects of the conflict. In doing this, Putin’s intention was obviously to take Russia’s relations away from the reach of US tentacles.

    To begin with, Putin first salvaged Turkey out of the criticism it had faced from Syria regarding the un-authorised presence of Turkish forces inside Syria. He did so by making a clear distinction between the US and Turkey in Syria. Although Putin underscored that any foreign presence on Syrian soil will lack “international legal grounds” if it is not on the basis of an invitation from Damascus or emanating out of a decision of the UN Security Council—and in saying so he was specifically referring to the US occupation of Syria— he was quick to give a special qualification to Turkish presence by calling it “constructive cooperation”,

     » Lees verder

    China, Russia Preparing For “Blackout Warfare” With “Super-EMP” Bombs

    china-russia-preparing-for-8220blackout-warfare8221-with-8220super-emp8221-bombs

    31-01-19 10:14:00,

    Russia, China and several other nations are developing powerful high-altitude nuclear bombs that can produce super-electromagnetic pulse (EMP) waves capable of knocking out critical electronic infrastructure, according to several declassified 2017 reports from the now-defunct Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from EMP Attack (see below). 

    “Foreign adversaries may aptly consider nuclear EMP attack a weapon that can gravely damage the U.S. by striking at its technological Achilles Heel, without having to confront the U.S. military,” reads the report, which notes how foreign actors could use EMP attacks virtually anywhere in the world. 

    “Super-EMP” weapons, as they are termed by Russia, are nuclear weapons specially designed to generate an extraordinarily powerful E1 EMP field. Super-EMP warheads are designed to produce gamma rays, which generate the E1 EMP effect, not a big explosion, and typically have very low explosive yields, only 1-10 kilotons … Even EMP hardened U.S. strategic forces and command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) systems are potentially vulnerable to such a threat. –Firstempcommission.org

    “Nuclear EMP attack is part of the military doctrines, plans, and exercises of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran for a revolutionary new way of warfare against military forces and civilian critical infrastructures by cyber, sabotage, and EMP,” the report continues. 

    “The Commission sees the high-altitude nuclear explosion-generated electromagnetic pulse as an existential threat to the survival of the United States and its allies that can be exploited by major nuclear powers and small-scale nuclear weapon powers, including North Korea and non-state actors, such as nuclear-armed terrorists.” 

    Nuclear-electronic warfare is also known as “Blackout War” according to the Washington Free Beacon

    EMP attacks will be carried out at such high altitudes they will produce no blast or other immediate effects harmful to humans. Instead, three types of EMP waves in seconds damage electronics and the strikes are regarded by adversaries as not an act of nuclear war.

    “Potential adversaries understand that millions could die from the long-term collateral effects of EMP and cyber-attacks that cause protracted black-out of national electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures,”

     » Lees verder

    The U.S. Is Paying for What It Did to Russia in Afghanistan

    the-us.-is-paying-for-what-it-did-to-russia-in-afghanistan

    27-01-19 09:53:00,

    As I approach 75, I’m having a commonplace experience for my age. I live with a brain that’s beginning to dump previously secure memories — names, the contents of books I read long ago (or all too recently), events, whatever. If you’re of a certain age yourself, you know the story.

    Recently, however, I realized that this experience of loss, like so much else in our world, is more complex than I imagined. What I mean is that such loss also involves gain. It’s turned my mind to, and made me something of an instant expert on, one aspect of twenty-first-century America: the memory hole that’s swallowed up parts of our all-too-recent history. In fact, I’ve been wondering whether aging imperial powers, like old men and women, have a tendency to discard what once had been oh-so-familiar. There’s a difference, though, when it comes to the elites of the aging empire I live in at least. They don’t just dump things relatively randomly as I seem to be doing. Instead, they conveniently obliterate all memory of their country’s — that is, their own — follies and misdeeds.

    Let me give you an example. But you need to bear with me here because I’m about to jump into the disordered mind of a man who, though two years younger than me, has what might be called — given present-day controversies — a borderline personality.  I’m thinking of President Donald Trump, or rather of a particular moment in his chaotic recent mental life. As the New Year dawned, he chaired what now passes for a “cabinet meeting.” That mainly means an event in which those present grovel before, fawn over, and outrageously praise him in front of the cameras. Otherwise, Trump, a man who doesn’t seem to know the meaning of advice or of a meeting, held a 95-minute presidential ramble through the brambles in front of a Game of Thrones-style “[Iran] Sanctions Are Coming” poster of… well, him. The media typically ate it up, even while critiquing the president’s understanding of that HBO TV series. And so it goes in the Washington of 2019.

    Excuse me if I seem to be wandering off subject (another attribute of the aging mind),

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    Russia’s foreign debt at decade low, as economy shifts away from neo-liberal order (Video)

    russias-foreign-debt-at-decade-low-as-economy-shifts-away-from-neo-liberal-order-video

    27-01-19 09:53:00,

    Authored by Brian Cloughley via The Strategic Culture Foundation:

    In 2007, when making a speech during his bid for the presidency of the United States, the late Senator John McCain spoke about Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons’ programme and when questioned as to whether there might be US reaction to such allegations responded by singing “That old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran… bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb.”

    This jovial retort about killing people by bombing them was not surprising to those who remembered that during the US war on Vietnam McCain was shot down on a mission to bomb a power generation plant in Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam, in the course of the entrancingly-named Operation Rolling Thunder.  If he hadn’t been shot down before he released his bombs there would almost certainly have been civilian casualties and deaths. Power stations in cities are not manned by soldiers, after all, and around the Hanoi plant there were houses that would doubtless be struck by errant bombs.

    But who cares about civilians who are killed or maimed in bombing or rocket attacks?

    In Syria, for example, in October 2018 “the US-led coalition was responsible for 46% of civilian casualties from all explosive weapon use in Syria.”  And in November Reuters reported that “At least 30 Afghan civilians were killed in US air strikes in the Afghan province of Helmand, officials and residents of the area said on Wednesday, the latest casualties from a surge in air operations aimed at driving the Taliban into talks.”

    Forbes records that “the US has never dropped as many bombs on Afghanistan as it did this year. According to U.S. Air Forces Central Command data, manned and unmanned aircraft released 5,213 weapons between January and the end of September 2018. The UN announced that the number of civilian casualties in the first nine months of 2018 is higher than in any year since it started documenting them in 2009.”  On January 25 Defense Post reported that “Afghanistan is investigating reports that at least 16 civilians including women and children were killed in an airstrike in southern Helmand province,

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    The End Of Russia’s “Democratic Illusions” About America

    the-end-of-russias-democratic-illusions-about-america

    27-01-19 01:49:00,

    Authored by Brian Cloughley via The Strategic Culture Foundation:

    In 2007, when making a speech during his bid for the presidency of the United States, the late Senator John McCain spoke about Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons’ programme and when questioned as to whether there might be US reaction to such allegations responded by singing “That old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran… bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb.”

    This jovial retort about killing people by bombing them was not surprising to those who remembered that during the US war on Vietnam McCain was shot down on a mission to bomb a power generation plant in Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam, in the course of the entrancingly-named Operation Rolling Thunder.  If he hadn’t been shot down before he released his bombs there would almost certainly have been civilian casualties and deaths. Power stations in cities are not manned by soldiers, after all, and around the Hanoi plant there were houses that would doubtless be struck by errant bombs.

    But who cares about civilians who are killed or maimed in bombing or rocket attacks?

    In Syria, for example, in October 2018 “the US-led coalition was responsible for 46% of civilian casualties from all explosive weapon use in Syria.”  And in November Reuters reported that “At least 30 Afghan civilians were killed in US air strikes in the Afghan province of Helmand, officials and residents of the area said on Wednesday, the latest casualties from a surge in air operations aimed at driving the Taliban into talks.”

    Forbes records that “the US has never dropped as many bombs on Afghanistan as it did this year. According to U.S. Air Forces Central Command data, manned and unmanned aircraft released 5,213 weapons between January and the end of September 2018. The UN announced that the number of civilian casualties in the first nine months of 2018 is higher than in any year since it started documenting them in 2009.”  On January 25 Defense Post reported that “Afghanistan is investigating reports that at least 16 civilians including women and children were killed in an airstrike in southern Helmand province,

     » Lees verder