Arms, Conflict, Corruption, Hillary Clinton, Law, Middle East, Military, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Scandal, Security, USA

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds hands with her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Reuters / Jim Young)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds hands with her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Reuters / Jim Young)

As the Obama administration increased military weapons exports, Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved transfer of more than $300 billion worth of arms manufactured by US defense contractors to 20 nations that were or have since become donors of the Clinton Foundation, a major philanthropic organization run by the Clinton family. According to a review of available records of foundation donors by the International Business Times, those countries included governments that have received frequent criticism by the State Department for repressive policies.

“Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents,” IBT wrote.

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Algeria, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar were nations that directly donated to the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s term as secretary of state, even as they were requesting weapons shipments. The donated money represents a loophole in US law regarding political contributions.

“Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions — a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy,” IBT noted. “But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers.”

The reviewed sales — both commercial and Pentagon-brokered — represent those made during “three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as secretary of state (from October 2010 to September 2012),” IBT reported. The deals made with the nations in question during this time add up to far more than arms agreements made with the same countries during the last three full fiscal years of George W. Bush’s administration, according to the report.

“The word was out to these groups that one of the best ways to gain access and influence with the Clintons was to give to this foundation,” Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, told IBT. “This shows why having public officials, or even spouses of public officials, connected with these nonprofits is problematic.”

The Clinton Foundation’s donor list has come under closer examination since Hillary Clinton announced she is seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016. In April, the Clintons acknowledged they have made “mistakes” regarding transparency amid increased public scrutiny concerning donations from foreign entities, especially when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, from 2009 to 2013.

Earlier this month, former President Bill Clinton defended his family foundation’s donors.

“I don’t think there’s anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people in countries that are seriously involved in development to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and lifts them up,” Mr. Clinton told NBC News.

The Clinton Foundation signed a foreign donor disclosure agreement just before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, yet neither the department nor the White House raised issues with potential conflicts of interest regarding the weapons agreements.

IBT reported that in 1995 President Clinton signed a presidential policy directive demanding the State Department take into account human rights abuses when considering the approval of military equipment or arms purchases from US companies. Yet Mrs Clinton’s State Department ignored this stipulation, helping the Obama administration increase weapons transfers.

The State Department, under the aegis of Clinton, hammered the Algerian government in its 2010 Human Rights Report for “restrictions on freedom of assembly and association,” allowing “arbitrary killing,” “widespread corruption,” and a “lack of judicial independence.”

“That year, the Algerian government donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation and its lobbyists met with the State Department officials who oversee enforcement of human rights policies. Clinton’s State Department the next year approved a one-year 70 percent increase in military export authorizations to the country,” IBT reported. “The increase included authorizations of almost 50,000 items classified as ‘toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents and associated equipment’ after the State Department did not authorize the export of any of such items to Algeria in the prior year.

“During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department authorized at least $2.4 billion of direct military hardware and services sales to Algeria — nearly triple such authorizations over the last full fiscal years during the Bush administration. The Clinton Foundation did not disclose Algeria’s donation until this year — a violation of the ethics agreement it entered into with the Obama administration.”

IBT also reported that major US weapons manufacturers and financial corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton lucrative speaking fees “reaching $625,000” just as arms deals they had an interest in were in the works with Mrs Clinton’s State Department.

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Hillary Clinton had pledged during her Senate confirmation hearings in 2009 that “in many, if not most cases, it is likely that the Foundation or President Clinton will not pursue an opportunity that presents a conflict.”

US weapons sales tripled in 2011 to a new yearly high of $66.3 billion, according to the New York Times, mostly driven by sales to Persian Gulf nations allied against Iran. This dollar total made up nearly 78 percent of all worldwide arms deals that year, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Reuters reported in January 2013 that the State Department office that has oversight of direct commercial arms sales “was on track to receive more than 85,000 license requests in 2012, a new record.”

The boom in arms sales by the Obama administration has continued to the present day, as Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are using American-made fighter jets against Islamic State and for proxy wars in places like Yemen and Syria.

According to the Times, foreign weapons sales now represent 25 percent to 30 percent of revenue taken in by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US-based arms dealers.

​Clinton Foundation admits ‘mistakes’ amid concerns of foreign donors 20

Donbass elections: Chance for peace in Ukraine

Published time: November 12, 2014 10:20

By Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011).

A woman casts a ballot during the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic leadership and local parliamentary elections at a polling station in the coastal settlement of Sedovo, south from Donetsk (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

A woman casts a ballot during the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic leadership and local parliamentary elections at a polling station in the coastal settlement of Sedovo, south from Donetsk (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

RT Op / Edge

Elections held in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions of Ukraine are very important in terms of legitimizing the authorities in the two regions and establishing the peace process in the country, with a high voter turnout.

These are the two regions whose populations had categorically refused to accept the coup in Kiev and its aftermath, and who rejected the divisive ideology that the triumphant Maidan leaders had tried to impose on the entire country. They showed their own perspective on the historical processes which had shaped modern Ukraine.

This means that negotiations between Kiev and Donbass, including within the Contact Group, will from now on bring together elected representatives of the respective populations. This will strengthen the chances for finding political solutions that would be, first, accepted by the people and, second, implemented in practice. Consequently, the elections are an important contribution to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

Russia respects the expression of the will of the people in southeastern Ukraine. The main task of the elected authorities is to address the extremely difficult economic and humanitarian situation in the region.

There are widespread accusations against Donbass to the effect that the elections run counter to the Minsk agreements and undermine the peace process. However, it is to be recalled that the Ukrainian authorities have not implemented many of their own Minsk commitments, including with respect to local elections.

They had failed to give effect to the special law adopted for that purpose: the law provided that its area of application was to be set by a special parliamentary decision that has never been adopted. They had set the date for local elections in Donbass for December 7, while the schedule agreed in Minsk provided for the timeframe between October 19 and November 3. In brief, they had made it impossible to hold elections within the framework of Ukrainian legislation, as was envisaged in Minsk.

To that, one may add the many other Ukrainian violations of Minsk commitments: the ceasefire is being violated, no amnesty has been granted, no progress is seen in devolution, no national dialogue is taking place, no economic program for Donbass has been adopted, and obstacles are created for humanitarian assistance to Donbass.

In these circumstances, it is utterly wrong to artificially pick one aspect of the interconnected Minsk agreements (the elections issue) and declare it the main criterion of the sustainability of the peace process.

If Kiev chooses to withdraw from talks under this pretext, it will bear full responsibility for derailing them. For Russia’s part, we are prepared to facilitate further dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk aimed at preservation of the single political, economic and humanitarian space of Ukraine.

 

Poroshenko considers canceling law on special local governance of Donbass

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (RIA Novosti/Nikolay Lazarenko)

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (RIA Novosti/Nikolay Lazarenko)

 

RT news

Ukraine may abolish its law on special local governance in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, President Petro Poroshenko announced on Monday. The measure will be discussed at a meeting with the National Security Council, called by the president for Tuesday.

In his address to the nation, the Ukrainian president said that Kiev stays true to the Minsk protocol, but has to make amendments to the special status law, which was approved by the parliament on September 16.

Ukraine is ready to adopt a new law on decentralization of power “if all sides get back to observance of the Minsk protocol,” Poroshenko said.

The protocol was approved in the Belarusian capital on September 5, with Kiev authorities and Donetsk and Lugansk militias agreeing on a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. The contact group in Minsk agreed on other key issues, including the exchange of war prisoners and humanitarian aid access to the conflict zone.

The document on special local governance in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, signed by Poroshenko last month, outlined “temporary order of local government in certain districts,” and suggested local elections in the districts to be scheduled for December.

Prime Minister of Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, casting his vote. RIA Novosti / Aleksey Kudenko

Prime Minister of Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, casting his vote. RIA Novosti / Aleksey Kudenko

The self-proclaimed people’s republics carried out elections this weekend. According to the vote’s final results, incumbent PM Aleksandr Zakharchenko won Sunday’s elections in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, taking some 75 percent of the votes. In Lugansk, 63 percent voted for the current leader, Igor Plotnitsky.

In his address, Poroshenko said Ukraine did not recognize the elections in the regions, calling it a “farce at gunpoint” and a “terrible event that has nothing in common with the real expression of the people’s will.”

The vote “brutally violates” the Minsk agreements, Poroshenko stated, adding that the vote threatened to disrupt the peace process in the area.

Representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions have said they abide by the Minsk protocol and are ready to continue their dialogue with Kiev, should its officials “act in a sensible way.”

Ukraine held its early parliamentary elections on October 26. Moscow recognized the results of both votes.

Earlier in October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the law giving special status to troubled regions in eastern Ukraine was “not perfect,” but might be used to finally stabilize the situation in the area.

Perhaps it’s not a perfect document, but it’s a step in the right direction, and we hope it will be used in complete resolution of security problems,” Putin said after closed-door talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Milan.

Nobel Peace Prize laureates call on Obama to release CIA torture report

U.S. president Barack Obama

U.S. president Barack Obama – (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)

 

Twelve winners of the Nobel Peace Prize have urged fellow laureate, US President Barack Obama, to release a Senate report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s post-9/11 Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program, also known as the torture report.

The laureates revealed late Sunday an open letter that called for “full disclosure to the American people of the extent and use of torture and rendition by American soldiers, operatives, and contractors, as well as the authorization of torture and rendition by American officials.”

The letter, posted on TheCommunity.com, also asked for a concrete plan to close secret international “black site” prisons – used by the US to hide, hold, and interrogate post-9/11 detainees – as well as the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, where many War on Terror captives languish with few or inconsistent legal maneuvers, if any at all, at their disposal.

The letter was signed by past Nobel winners José Ramos-Horta, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, F.W. De Klerk, Leymah Gbowee, Muhammad Yunus, John Hume, Bishop Carlos X. Belo, Betty Williams, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Jody Williams, Oscar Arias Sanchez, and Mohammad ElBaradei.

“In recent decades, by accepting the flagrant use of torture and other violations of international law in the name of combating terrorism, American leaders have eroded the very freedoms and rights that generations of their young gave their lives to defend,” the laureates wrote.

“They have again set an example that will be followed by others; only now, it is one that will be used to justify the use of torture by regimes around the world, including against American soldiers in foreign lands. In losing their way, they have made us all vulnerable.”

The letter called on Obama, winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize after less than a year in the White House, to follow principles of international law outlined in the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee’s $40 million investigation into the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program – which was active from September 11, 2001 to 2006 – has found that the spy agency purposely deceived the US Justice Department to attain legal justification for the use of torture techniques, among other findings. The investigation and subsequent crafting of the report ran from March 2009 to December 2012.

Of that 6,000-page investigative report, the public will only see a 500-page, partially-redacted executive summary that is in the process of declassification.

According to sources familiar with the unreleased report, the CIA, and not top officials of the George W. Bush administration, are blamed for interrogation tactics that amount to torture based on international legal standards.

The report outlines 20 main conclusions about the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program which, according to the investigation, intentionally evaded White House, congressional, and intra-agency oversight.

The White House is reportedly wrestling over how to interpret a ban on “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” ahead of a meeting in Geneva next month concerning the United Nations charter on torture.

According to the New York Times, the Obama administration remains divided over what stance a Washington delegation will officially take at the UN-sponsored Committee Against Torture panel early next month in the Swiss city.

Although Barack Obama said before and after being elected to the White House that United States officials should never engage in torturous activity, Times national security journalist Charlie Savage reported on Sunday this week that administration officials might formally adopt another stance — one on par with the policies of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush — when the panel convenes in a couple of weeks.

The Times reported that the attorneys who answer to the president are conflicted over whether or not the White House should revisit the Bush administration’s interpretation of a UN treaty, the likes of which authorized the use of enhanced interrogation tactics, like waterboarding and sleep deprivation, on individuals detained by military and intelligence agencies in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at facilities such as the Guantanamo Bay detention center and CIA so-called “black sites.”

The upcoming meeting will be the first one of Obama’s presidency, Savage acknowledged, presenting the commander-in-chief with a rare opportunity to speak of the UN Convention Against Torture, a treaty that since the 1980s has aimed to ensure prisoners the world over aren’t subjected to inhumane conditions.

In Sunday’s report, Savage wrote that Obama, then a US senator, spoke out adamantly against Pres. Bush when it was revealed in 2005 that his administration had been interpreting the UN treaty in a manner that they argued made it acceptable for CIA and Pentagon officials to disregard the prohibitions against torture if they weren’t on American soil.

Obama the president later condemned that reasoning with an executive order “ensuring lawful interrogations,” Savage added, although next month’s meeting may change that.

“But the Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty, and now, President Obama’s legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view,” Savage wrote. “It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.”

“State Department lawyers are said to be pushing to officially abandon the Bush-era interpretation,” Savage added, which would simply continue to let the 2009 Obama-signed executive order stand as Washington’s official word and further ensure that American officials are obligated to adhere to the torture treaty regardless of where in the world they are located.

Other attorneys, he added, have a different idea of what to do at next month’s meeting, however. “But military and intelligence lawyers are said to oppose accepting that the treaty imposes legal obligations on the United States’ actions abroad,” Savage wrote. “They say they need more time to study whether it would have operational impacts. They have also raised concerns that current or future wartime detainees abroad might invoke the treaty to sue American officials with claims of torture, although courts have repeatedly thrown out lawsuits brought by detainees held as terrorism suspects.”

Should those arguing on the latter side provoke, then the current administration could soon find itself agreeing with past policies that continue to be controversial nearly a decade after the Bush White House’s use of torture started to surface.

“Many foreign political leaders and non-governmental organizations have called for members of the Bush administration, including Bush himself, to face prosecution for allowing the abuse of detainees in US custody during the course of the US campaign against Islamic militant groups spurred by the 9/11 attacks,” Mark Hanrahan wrote for the International Business Times on Sunday. “The Bush administration, which launched the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had to contend with a number of allegations it allowed US officials to use torture against detainees during the course of its campaigns,” including the infamous Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq.

If the Pentagon and CIA attorneys prevail, then Washington could once again interpret the UN treaty in a manner that allows those same torturous practices to be performed on detainees once against, as long as any such instances occur abroad.

Last week, McClatchy news service reported that a classified $40 million probe launched by the Senate to investigate the CIA’s Bush-era detention and interrogation program concludes without holding any administration officials responsible for the scandals at Abu Ghraib and other facilities that to this day remain a major scar on the presidency.

“This report is not about the White House. It’s not about the president. It’s not about criminal liability. It’s about the CIA’s actions or inactions,” a person familiar with the report told McClatchy. “It does not look at the Bush administration’s lawyers to see if they were trying to literally do an end run around justice and the law.”

U.S. Vice President Biden Says U.S. Forced EU Countries to Impose Sanctions Against Russia

America persuaded Europe to impose sanctions against Russia, despite their initial reluctance, US Vice President Joe Biden was cited as saying at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government on Thursday.

America persuaded Europe to impose sanctions against Russia, despite their initial reluctance, US Vice President Joe Biden was cited as saying at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government on Thursday.

 

MOSCOW, October 3 (RIA Novosti) – The United States and US President Barack Obama personally forced the European Union members to introduce sanctions against Russian over its stance on the Ukrainian crisis, US Vice President Joe Biden announced.

Washington rallied “the world’s most developed countries to impose real cost on Russia” and introduce restrictive measures against Moscow, Biden said at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government on Thursday.

“It is true – they did not want to do that but again it was America’s leadership and the President of the United States insisting, oftentimes almost having to embarrass Europe to stand up and take economic hits to impose cost,” the vice president said.

“We don’t want Russia to collapse, we want Russia to succeed,” Biden added.

 

 

The relations between Russia and the United States have deteriorated amid the Ukrainian crisis, as Washington kept blaming Moscow for meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs.

Over the past few months, the United States has introduced several rounds of economic sanctions against Russia, with its allies later following the move and drawing up their own blacklists.

In response to western sanctions, in August, Moscow implemented a one-year ban on certain food imports from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway.

Why EU Sanctions Are Illegal and Why That Won’t Change Anything

The EU repeatedly boasts of its commitment to the rule of law. In reality, the legal basis of the sanctions it has imposed on Russia is extremely dubious. However, past experience shows that even when the EU’s own courts declare sanctions illegal, the EU, despite its fulsome proclamations, simply carries on with them anyway.

There is only one international body that is authorised under international law to impose sanctions: the Security Council of the United Nations. Its authority to impose sanctions is clearly set out in Article 41 of the UN Charter, which reads as follows:

The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

Any decision by the UN Security Council to impose sanctions under Article 41 has the force of law. UN Member States (including the states that make up the EU) are legally bound to enforce them.

The EU has no international legal authority to impose sanctions without obtaining a mandate from the Security Council. Doing so challenges the authority of the Security Council to impose sanctions. It also violates the rules of the World Trade Organisation.

The EU nonetheless claimed for itself this power in a 2004 position paper:

If necessary, the Council will impose autonomous EU sanctions in support of efforts to fight terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and, as a restrictive measure, to uphold respect for human rights, democracy, the rule of law and good governance. We will do this in accordance with our common foreign and security policy, as set out in Article 11 TEU, and in full conformity with our obligations under international law.

The position paper however fails to explain the legal basis upon which the EU claims this power. It refers to Article 11 of the Treaty on the European Union. This is has been replaced by Articles 21 and 24 of the amended Treaty on the European Union. Neither the original Article 11 nor Articles 21 and 24 of the amended Treaty on the European Union, however, refer to sanctions.

Reference is sometimes also made to Article 28 of the Treaty on the European Union, which reads:

Where the international situation requires operational action by the Union, the Council shall adopt the necessary decisions. They shall lay down their objectives, scope, the means to be made available to the Union, if necessary their duration, and the conditions for their implementation.

Reference is also made to Article 215 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which says:

Where a decision, adopted in accordance with Chapter 2 of Title V of the Treaty on European Union, provides for the interruption or reduction, in part or completely, of economic and financial relations with one or more third countries, the Council, acting by a qualified majority on a joint proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission, shall adopt the necessary measures.

None of these provisions however say the EU has the power to impose sanctions without a mandate from the Security Council.

The EU says the sanctions it imposes are intended to influence policy rather than punish people. In the words of an EU guidance document:

Sanctions are an instrument of a diplomatic or economic nature which seek to bring about a change in activities or policies such as violations of international law or human rights, or policies that do not respect the rule of law or democratic principles.

The same document goes on to say that EU sanctions must respect human rights and fundamentals freedoms.

The EU has, however, sanctioned Russian businesses and individuals who play no part in deciding Russian policy. It is impossible to see these sanctions as anything other than a punishment. As such, they appear to violate the principle that there should be no punishment without law. In the case of the journalist Dmitry Kiselyov, the violation of human rights looks even worse since it seems he is being punished for his opinions, contrary to Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which says:

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

No one however should be under any illusions. The EU, for all its boastful claims about upholding the rule of law, will not allow mere concerns about legality to stand in its way. Consider what happened when the EU imposed sanctions on various people in Iran. In a series of Judgments, the European Court of Justice – the EU’s own court – ruled many of these sanctions illegal. These Judgments were enthusiastically welcomed in Iran, which assumed the EU actually cared as much about the rule of law as it says it does. In fact, the EU simply overrode the Judgments by re-imposing the same sanctions on the same individuals, on a slightly different basis.

One hardly needs to guess how the EU would react if Iran or Russia were to do the same thing.

EU Failed Again to Break ‘Vicious’ Sanctions Circle: Russia’s EU Envoy

The European Union has failed again to break the vicious circle of sanction mentality by refusing to lift the current sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, Russia’s Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said Tuesday.

The European Union on Tuesday decided keep in place economic sanctions on Russia over its alleged backing of independence supporters in eastern Ukraine despite some “encouraging developments” in the situation.

“Unfortunately, it is still not happening, despite mounting signals indicating EU’s attempts to look at the prospects and review the strategy of development of relations with Russia,” Chizhov said, commenting on the EU decision.

“Let’s see how our partners will act in the future, but at present we are not really ‘inspired’ by their behavior,” the diplomat said, adding that the EU would most likely return to the discussion of the issue at the end of October.

The European Union, alongside the United States, has introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, an allegation Moscow has repeatedly denied. The latest batch of sanctions targeted Russian energy and defense companies, as well as certain individuals.

On September 25, the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations, comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union High Representative, said the economic sanctions against Russia could be lifted if the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine holds.

On September 28, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said ultimatums were an inefficient way of communicating with Russia, a country open to cooperation. Moscow also said that sanctions posed a threat to international peace and stability and contradicted the principles of international law.

Czech President Urges to Lift Russian Sanctions, Fight Islamic State

Czech President Milos Zeman urged during the 12th Rhodes Forum Friday to lift the sanctions imposed on Russia and to combine the efforts of developed countries to confront the real enemy – international terrorism and the dangers of the Islamic state (IS) plans.

We need to lift the sanctions, which are not only useless, but also cause the opposite effect and prevent dialogue … We need to develop … the dialogue based on the exchange in the fields of religion, capital and information. We have to fight international terrorism,” Zeman said.

The president recalled that long-term sanctions against Cuba only strengthened the Castro regime. The European Union and the United States have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, a claim Moscow has repeatedly denied.

The main contemporary problem, according to Zeman, is not the Ukrainian crisis but international terrorism. It originates in states with no real government, such as Somalia, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria, he said.

There is a danger … it’s called the Islamic State,” Zeman stated. He also said that the plans of the IS to occupy vast territories of Central Asia and even Europe may sound “crazy” just like Hitler’s plans, which were also initially considered to be “crazy”.

The IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting against Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, the group extended its attacks to northern and western Iraq, declaring a caliphate on the territories over which it had control.

Czech President Milos Zeman urged during the 12th Rhodes Forum Friday to lift the sanctions imposed on Russia and to combine the efforts of developed countries to confront the real enemy – international terrorism and the dangers of the Islamic state (IS) plans.

We need to lift the sanctions, which are not only useless, but also cause the opposite effect and prevent dialogue … We need to develop … the dialogue based on the exchange in the fields of religion, capital and information. We have to fight international terrorism,” Zeman said.

The president recalled that long-term sanctions against Cuba only strengthened the Castro regime. The European Union and the United States have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, a claim Moscow has repeatedly denied.

Foreign Affairs Analyst: Russia Should ‘Show Some Teeth’ in Response to Western Sanctions

Russia needs to react differently to the challenges it is currently facing brought on by Western sanctions and “show some teeth” or face running the risk of appearing weak causing measures to escalate, foreign affairs analyst, Srdja Trifkovic told RIA Novosti.

“Russia is facing serious challenges and it’s high time to show some teeth, because that is the only way. If you take hits and blows and respond inadequately or half-heartedly the other side will only escalate because it will not be taken as conciliatory attitude, it will be taken as weakness,” author, editor, and professor Trifkovic said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

Russia needs to go through a regime change and show the West, particularly the United States, its power and capabilities in the international world, according to the professor. Continuing to deliver engines for the American Saturn V rocket used to launch US spy satellites into space, for example, counters Russia’s retaliation against Western sanctions.

Trifkovic explained, “a serious reply to the sanctions should have been, “we’re selling all of our treasury bills now, and … we never buy any treasury bills again, and … by 2020 all of oil and gas transactions of the Russian Federation will be accounted in a basket of currencies that will include the euro, the Swiss franc, the Yuan, but not the US dollar.”

The United States currently retains its power by printing dollars with impunity. Should Russia eliminate the US dollar from major transactions, the international financial market would go through some “interesting” changes.

“If the Russians had announced before the second round of EU sanctions that they were imposing a surtax of 25 percent on all cars imported from the European Union, then there would have been no second round of sanctions,” Trifkovic said.

A 25 percent tax would cause powerful European car manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Jaguar, and BMW to influence political leaders into cooperating with Russia.

Trifkovic also suggested Russia “just impose a tax, 2,500 percent” on all airline carriers from countries imposing anti-Russian sanctions. An impossibly high 25-fold tax would cause passengers and businesses to shift to Asian airlines, leading taxed carriers to pressure political leaders into talks with Russia to lift sanctions.

According to the professor, no rational deal can be made between Russia and the West as the struggle is existential. A complete regime change, re-education of the country, and firmness is the way to sanction relief.

The West’s latest sanctions imposed on September 12, target Russia’s largest banks, oil and defense companies, as well as certain individuals. The companies were denied access to the European capital markets, while a number of individuals were subject to entry bans and asset freezes.

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander Mercouris is a London-based lawyer. The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Ukraine Right Sector threatens Poroshenko with Yanukovich’s fate

RTvideo_screenshot

Published time: September 18, 2014 06:01

Dozens of radicals threw sound and smoke grenades as they surrounded Kiev’s presidential building. The radical Right Sector leader threatened Ukraine’s president with same fate as Yanukovich, criticizing the law giving special status to eastern regions.

Around 300 angry protesters wore masks and shouted nationalistic slogans as they tried to break through a police barrier. They carried red and black flags belonging to the radical Right Sector group.

The aggressive crowd was demanding that President Petro Poroshenko veto a bill that was passed by parliament earlier this Tuesday.

The new law gives special status to eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, as well as amnesty to those who were fighting against government forces.

That particular status will also see early local election carried out this December and allow the use of the Russian language as an official one.

READ MORE: Special status to E. Ukraine regions, amnesty to combatants – parliament

In the meantime, the leader of the radical Right Sector Dmitry Yarosh described the law as “anti-national” on his Facebook page.

“Unless Poroshenko comes to senses, we’ll have a new president and commander-in-chief in Ukraine,” Yarosh warned. “If anyone doubts that it’s possible, he can write to Yanukovich. He can verify that impossible things can be made happen.”

Former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich lost power in February as a result of mass protests in which the radical nationalist group played a key role.

It’s not the first time that Yarosh and his supporters have threatened the Ukrainian leader over his policies. In August, Right Sector demanded that the president sack some senior officers in the Interior Ministry, whom the radicals accused of persecuting their members.

The ultimatum was retracted a day later as the Right Sector said police had released its people previously arrested for alleged smuggling of arms from the combat zones in the east of the country.

Screenshot from RT video

Wednesday’s violent protest was not the first acts of violence in Kiev in the last couple of days. On Tuesday another radical rally devolved into violence when ultra-nationalists protested against several laws approved by the parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

They burnt tires and even clashed with the National Guard right in front of the parliament building.

International law expert Alexander Mercouris believes that the radical element in Ukraine will continue the unrest over the president’s attempts to reach peace in the east.

“What we are seeing is an escalation within the Ukraine of the political crisis. For these people any kind of autonomy to the eastern regions utterly cuts against their ideology, which is of a centralized, ethnically united Ukrainian speaking Ukraine,” Mercouris told RT.

Screenshot from RT video

Screenshot from RT video

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‘We will react to NATO build-up!’ Key Putin quotes from defense policy address

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Moscow will respond to NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders, President Vladimir Putin said at the emergency Security Council meeting in Moscow. Here are his key quotes on Russia’s defense, Western sanctions, and violence in eastern Ukraine.

On NATO’S missile system and Russia’s defense

President Vladimir Putin (center) holding a meeting with Russian Security Council permanent members, July 22, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)

President Vladimir Putin (center) holding a meeting with Russian Security Council permanent members, July 22, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)

NATO forces have been increasing military presence in Eastern European countries bordering Russia and sending warships to the Baltic and Mediterranean due to the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis. NATO has also stated that it will endorse new funding for Ukraine’s defense, blaming Russia for destabilizing the situation in Ukraine.

We shall provide an adequate and well-measured response to NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders, and we shall take note of [the West] setting up a global missile defense architecture and building up its arsenals of precision-guided weapons,” Putin said on Tuesday.

No matter what our Western counterparts tell us, we can see what’s going on. As it stands, NATO is blatantly building up its forces in Eastern Europe, including the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea areas. Its operational and combat training activities are gaining in scale.”

Putin stated that NATO’s military build-up near Russia’s border is not just for defense, but is an “offensive weapon” and an “element of the US offensive system deployed outside the mainland.

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With that in mind, we need to promptly and diligently implement all the measures we have planned to strengthen our nation’s defense capabilities, including our plans for Crimea and Sevastopol, where we will practically have to set up our military architecture from scratch.”

On sanctions and sovereignty

Putin has criticized the rounds of sanctions that the US and EU have imposed on Russia, which began during Crimea’s accession to Russia and continued after the MH17 plane crash in Ukraine.

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ith that in mind, we need to promptly and diligently implement all the measures we have planned to strengthen our nation’s defense capabilities, including our plans for Crimea and Sevastopol, where we will practically have to set up our military architecture from scratch.”

The very concept of the state sovereignty is becoming diluted. Unwanted regimes and countries that are trying to exercise independent policy or simply stand in the way of someone’s interests are getting destabilized,” Putin said.

Attempts aimed at destabilizing the social and political situation, throwing off Russia and striking at its vulnerable and soft spots have been and will be made,” he added.

According to Putin, Western states are trying to “make Russia agreeable so that certain matters at the international arena are resolved in favor of other countries.”

The so-called competitive struggle at the international arena will imply the use of tools in both economic and political fields. This will include the potential of security services, modern information and communication technologies, and connections of dependent, puppet NGOs – the so-called soft power,” Putin pointed out. “Apparently, some countries regard it as democracy.”

Putin stressed that Russia has an edge over other states, as the country isn’t a member of any alliance.

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Any alliance member countries lose part of their sovereignty and it rarely goes in tune with the national interests of the country. But it’s their sovereign decision.”

On our part, we follow all the norms of international law and fulfill our obligations to our partners. We expect other countries and organizations, military and political alliances – Russia is not a part of any alliance, and that underpins our sovereignty – to take our national interests into consideration.

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The president also pointed out that any controversial issues in Russia will be “settled through diplomatic means only,” with no other state meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

Such methods that are used to pressure weak countries will not work on Russia, he said, adding that they are “absolutely unacceptable and counterproductive” and “undermining the current world order.”

On Ukraine crisis and MH17 investigation

Internal problems are often used to trigger coups that are financed from outside, Putin said.

Of course, there always are some kinds of problems, but it is not clear why one has to use them to completely destabilize and destroy the country – what we often see recently in various regions of the world.”

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As a result of such coups, radical nationalist – or simply neo-fascist, fundamentalist forces – come to power, which is what happened in Ukraine, Putin said.

Yes, after the coup, elections were held, but for some reason again those who funded or carried out the coup became the heads of state. The current authorities are using force trying to silence the part of the population that disagrees with this development,” Putin noted with regret.

The international community has been calling on Russia to use its influence on the eastern anti-government militia to cooperate in the resolution of the crisis.

We of course will do everything in our power but that is not nearly enough,” the president said.

Putin believes the West must appeal to Kiev to honor its ceasefire pledge.

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Putin highlighted that Kiev should not fuel the conflict, citing Tuesday’s incident when “the Ukrainian Armed Forces attacked Donetsk with their tanks” as the local militia were handing the black box of the crashed MH17 over to experts.

Tanks broke through to the train station and opened fire at it. The international experts there could not even look out of the windows,” said the Russian head of state. “It’s not like the rebels are shooting at themselves.”