Putin Blew the Whistle on Who Grew ISIS in 2014 (Video)

RUSSIA INSIDER
Mon, Oct 26, 2015

Putin Blew the Whistle on Who Grew ISIS in 2014 (Video)
But he can’t figure out if US did it out of stupidity or malice

This short video showing Vladimir Putin answering a question on ISIS from a US journalist was filmed at the Valdai International Discussion Club in late 2014. While millions of patriotic Americans still believe the simple narrative of ‘Russia is bad, USA is good’, Putin’s explosive comments blow that mindset right out of the water- and they also clearly explain why the Russian President has just decided to send in his military to support Assad’s fight against the Islamic State. After telling the audience that (unlike Obama’s view of him) he does not consider the USA a threat to Russia, Putin begins responding to a question about the ISIS problem.

The President begins: “Well who on earth armed them? Who armed the Syrians who were fighting with Assad? Who created the necessary political climate that facilitated this situation? Who pushed for the delivery of arms to the region?”

Yes, you guessed it: he’s talking about the USA.

Putin: US Neocons Created and Keep Supporting ISIS

Putin continues:

“Do you really not understand who is fighting in Syria? They are mercenaries, mostly. Do you understand they are paid money? Mercenaries fight for whichever side pays more. So they arm them and pay them a certain amount. I even know what these amounts are.” He explains how this insane foreign policy has backfired on the United States: the mercenaries don’t give back the arms, and when they find out they can earn more money fighting for ISIS, they swap sides- taking the USA’s weapons with them, and occupying the oil fields.But who is buying the oil from these terrorists, Putin asks, and why are sanctions not applied to those who purchase it?

“Do you think the USA doesn’t know who is buying the oil?” Putin asks his audience defiantly. “Is it not their allies that are buying oil from ISIS?” Putin then points out that the USA certainly has the power to persuade their allies to stop buying oil from the mercenaries who have deflected to the Islamic State. But, he suggests (here’s where it gets interesting) “they do not wish to influence them.”

Putin claims that in those areas of Syria where ISIS are extracting oil and paying mercenaries great rates of pay, more and more Syrian ‘rebels’ (anti-Assad fighters who were supposed to be on our side) are joining the Islamic State. “So you support them, arm them, and tomorrow they join ISIS. Can they not think a step ahead?” he says scathingly about US foreign policy. “I consider this absolutely unprofessional politics. We must support civilized, democratic opposition in Syria. We don’t stand for this kind of politics of the USA. We think it is wrong.”

If this is true- and concrete evidence suggests it is- Putin’s tirade is very difficult to argue with. Sure, the Russian President has a hell of a lot to answer for, but who is the real terrorist in this situation? Could it be that the USA was also behind the Ukrainian coup all along, supported by its minions in the corporate press who sought to lay the blame on Russia’s doorstep? After all, it was Putin, not Obama, who extended an olive branch to the American people by writing an op-ed in the New York Times in 2013 calling for peace and co-operation between the two powers.

Putin’s comments back up what many have been saying about ISIS and its strong connection to the USA since the start of this crisis. Please share this video to raise awareness of which war-mongering superpower is really to blame for the majority of the misery in this world. You might also like to check out Putin’s United Nations meeting speech late last month, where he talks more about these themes and asks the USA and its allies with reference to Syria: “Now do you realize what you have done?”

Transcript:

“Another threat that President Obama mentioned was ISIS. Well who on earth armed them?

Who armed the Syrians that are fighting Assad?

Who created the necessary political/informational climate that facilitated this situation?

Who pushed the delivery of arms to the area?

Do you really not understand as to who is fighting in Syria?

They are mercenaries mostly.

Do you understand they are paid money?

Mercenaries fight for whichever side pays more.

So they arm them and pay them a certain amount

I even know what these amounts are.

So they fight, they have the arms, you cannot get them to return the weapons of course, at the end..

Then they discover elsewhere pays a little more..

Then they occupy the oil fields wherever; in Iraq, in Syria.

They start extracting the oil-and this oil is purchased by somebody.

Where are the sanctions on the parties purchasing this oil?

Do you believe the US does not know who is buying it? Is it not their allies that are buying the oil from ISIS?

Do you not think that US has the power to influence their allies? Or is the point that they indeed do not wish to influence them?

Then why bomb ISIS?

In areas where they started extracting oil and paying mercenaries more, in those areas the rebels from ‘civilised’ Syrian opposition forces immediately joined ISIS because they are paid more.

I consider this absolutely unprofessional politics. It is not grounded in facts , in the real world.

We must support civilized democratic opposition in Syria.

So you support, arm them and then tomorrow they join ISIS.

Can they [USA] not think a step ahead?

We cannot stand for this kind of politics of the US. We consider it wrong. It harms all parties, including you [USA].”

Putin: US Neocons Created and Keep Supporting ISIS

Fort Russ remembers… Putin’s rating is breaking all records

vladimir

                         Vladimir Putin President of the Russian Federation – 88%

 

Russia’s unbelievable transparency in Syria surprises, astonishes, shocks!

October 17, 2015
Translated from French

While the coalition always keeps the lid on what it does, which indicates its insincerity about its so-called struggle against terrorism, Moscow hides nothing. This poses a real difficulty for the coalition, whose second nature is mendacious propaganda.  

The customary bellicose rhetoric of NATO continues its old ways, but [without details] it is not possible to rebut. Assisted by the propaganda of the mainstream media, NATO attempts in vain to make believe that there are good terrorists and bad terrorists.

Russian aviation has bombarded 40 “terrorist targets” in Syria in the course of the last 24 hours — a significant decrease compared to preceding days, the Russian defense minister announced Wednesday. 

General Igor Konachenkov, spokesman for the ministry, specified that tactical fighter bombers of the type Su-34, and ground attack machines, Su-24M and Su-25M, have completed 41 aerial sorties to strike “40 terrorist targets” in the provinces of Aleppo (north), Idleb (northwest), Hama (center), Latakia northwest), and Deir Ezzor (east). The Russian jets have notably targeted “infrastructures of the group “Islamic State,” he added. 

The others, unable to justify their aerial sorties in Syria or in Iraq are shocked. Actually, they are not bombing anything but the desert.

Translator note: The original headline is just as emphatic as the above: 
“L’incroyable transparence russe étonne, détonne et choque” I love it. INCROYABLE!
Originally posted on June 11, 2015
Vladimir Putin is supported by the vast majority of Russian citizens. Such data was provided by the Pew American research center. According to the expert survey, the rating of the Russian President has reached 88%. This is the absolute maximum for the last 15 years. 
The experts also shared other figures. The policy of the President of Russia towards Ukraine was supported by 83% of respondents, friendship with China – 90%, and Russia’s strategy towards the US – 85%.

Assad and Putin meet at the Kremlin (transcript)

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October 21, 2015

Kremlin.ru

Vladimir Putin: Mr President,

Let me wish you a warm welcome to Moscow. Despite the dramatic situation in your country, you have responded to our request and come here to Russia, and we thank you for this.

We took the decision upon your request to provide effective aid to the Syrian people in fighting the international terrorists who have unleashed a genuine war against Syria. The Syrian people have been practically alone in putting up resistance and fighting these international terrorists for several years now, and have suffered great losses. Lately though, there have been some major positive results in this fight.

The attempts by international terrorists to bring whole swathes of territory in the Middle East under their control and destabilize the situation in the region raise legitimate concerns in many countries around the world. This is a matter of concern for Russia too, given that sadly, people from the former Soviet Union, around 4,000 people at least, have taken up arms and are fighting on Syrian territory against the government forces. Of course, we cannot let these people gain combat experience and go through ideological indoctrination and then return to Russia.

On the question of a settlement in Syria, our position is that positive results in military operations will lay the base for then working out a long-term settlement based on a political process that involves all political forces, ethnic and religious groups. Ultimately, it is the Syrian people alone who must have the deciding voice here.

Syria is Russia’s friend and we are ready to make our contribution not only to the military operations and the fight against terrorism, but also to the political process. We would do this, of course, in close contact with the other global powers and with the countries in the region that want to see a peaceful settlement to this conflict.

Once again, I wish you welcome, Mr President.

President of Syria Bashar al-Assad (retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr President.

First of all, I want to express our tremendous gratitude to the Russian leadership and people for the help they are providing Syria. Thank you for supporting Syria’s unity and independence. Most important of all is that this is being done within the framework of international law.

I must say that the political steps the Russian Federation has been taking since the start of the crisis made it possible to prevent events in Syria from taking an even more tragic turn. If it were not for your actions and decisions, the terrorism that is spreading through the region now would have made even greater gains and spread to even wider territories. You have confirmed your course of action by joining in the military operations as part of a common front in the fight against terrorism.

Of course, we all know that any military action must be followed by political steps. Of course, our common goal is to bring about the vision the Syrian people have of their own country’s future.

We must be particularly aware that military strikes against the terrorists are essential above all because we must fight terrorism, and also because terrorism is a real obstacle on the road to reaching a political settlement. Of course, the entire nation wants to take part in deciding the country’s fate, and not just the government.

I want to thank the Russian people once more for the help you are giving Syria and express the hope that we will vanquish terrorism and continue working together to rebuild our country economically and politically and ensure peaceful life for everyone.

Russia Bombs ISIS

By Stephen Lendman
Global Research, October 01, 2015
Region: Middle East & North Africa, Russia and FSU
Theme: US NATO War Agenda

Russian airborne troops

Russian airborne troops

After announcing it would conduct aerial operations in Syria, Russian warplanes struck Islamic State targets straightaway – in contrast to Washington’s campaign, attacking Syrian and Iraqi infrastructure targets, supporting its Islamic State foot soldiers on the ground.

Russian Aerospace Forces Major-General Igor Konashenkov said:

In accordance with a decision by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin, Russian Aerospace Forces planes on Wednesday started an operation to deal pinpoint strikes against ground targets of the IS terrorist group in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The Russian Defense Minister, General of the Army Sergey Shoigu, has told his counterparts in the Collective Security Treaty Organization that in the course of the military operation in Syria, Russian warplanes have been attacking military equipment, communication centers, motor vehicles, and munitions and fuel and lubricants depots of the Islamic State terrorists.

Russia’s upper house Federation Council authorized the operation, acting on Putin’s request – after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad asked him for help.

Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov said “ground attack aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft…fighter-bomber planes (and attack) helicopters” may be used.

The “Islamic State does not have an air defense system, maybe just portable Stingers. (I)f aircraft are used correctly, it is an efficient means of destruction, especially on desert-like terrain.”

Russian armed forces are also being used to protect its Tartus naval facility and Syrian airbases used for strikes on ISIS.

Putin sent the US-led anti-Assad coalition a message. He respects Syrian sovereignty. Assad is a legitimate leader, overwhelmingly supported by his people.

They alone have the right to decide who’ll lead them, no one else, for sure no foreign powers for their own self-interest.

Russian upper house Federation Council deputy International Affairs Committee chairman, Andrey Klimov expects mixed Western reactions to the latest development.

“In the European Union there are many politicians who are unhappy about US activities in the Middle East, which have caused a heavy influx of refugees to the Old World countries,” he said.

These politicians share Russia’s stance regarding the Syrian settlement. I will be meeting with some of them within hours.

“But in the West, there are some other personalities, who will be critical of Moscow regardless of what we may be doing in the Middle East” – especially Washington.

Putin expressed great concern about the terrorist threat to Russia. He’s acting for national security reasons and to aid his Syrian ally from US aggression. Presidential aide Vladimir Kozhin said “(a)ll the necessary Russian armaments will be supplied to Syria.”

Washington for the first time in many years is on the back foot. Its policies virtually always go unchallenged, no matter how outrageous.

Putin acting responsibly changes things. Washington fosters terrorism, uses it to advance its imperium. Putin and the entire free world want it eliminated. Attacking ISIS targets in Syria is a good start.

A Final Comment

Sputnik News reported Putin telling cabinet ministers Russian military operations in Syria are “temporary.” He’s not “planning to go headfirst into the Syrian conflict.”

The only true way to combat international terrorism – and those fighting in Syria and its neighboring countries are just that, international terrorists – is through pre-emption, and fighting and destroying insurgents in territories that are already occupied, instead of waiting for them to come to our house.

Russia’s direct involvement changes the equation on the ground. Washington had things its way unchallenged so far. No longer.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached atlendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.
Copyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2015

Putin’s Blitz Leaves Washington Rankled and Confused

Posted by Ainhoa Aristizabal

Global Research, October 01, 2015
Mike Whitney, CounterPunch, 2015
Region: Middle East & North Africa, Russia and FSU, USA
Theme: US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: SYRIA: NATO’S NEXT WAR?

obama-putin-510x383-400x300On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a blistering critique of US foreign policy to the UN General Assembly.

On Tuesday, Barack Obama shoved a knife in Putin’s back. This is from Reuters:

“France will discuss with its partners in the coming days a proposal by Turkey and members of the Syrian opposition for a no-fly zone in northern Syria, French President Francois Hollande said on Monday…

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius “in the coming days will look at what the demarcation would be, how this zone could be secured and what our partners think,” Hollande told reporters on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly…

Hollande said such a proposal could eventually be rubber-stamped with a U.N. Security Council resolution that “would give international legitimacy to what’s happening in this zone.”…(France, partners to discuss northern Syria ‘safe zone’: Hollande, Reuters)

Hollande is a liar and a puppet. He knows the Security Council will never approve a no-fly zone. Russia and China have already said so. And they’ve explained why they are opposed to it, too. It’s because they don’t want another failed state on their hands like Libya, which is what happened last time the US and NATO imposed a no-fly zone.

But that’s beside the point. The real reason the no-fly zone issue has resurfaced is because it was one of the concessions Obama made to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the use of Incirlik airbase. Washington has kept the terms of that deal secret, but Hollande has let the cat out of the bag.

So who put sock-puppet Hollande up to this no-fly zone nonsense?

Why the Obama administration, of course. Does anyone seriously believe that Hollande is conducting his own independent policy in Syria? Of course not. Hollande is just doing what he’s been told to do, just like he did when he was told to scotch the Mistral deal that cost France a whopping $1.2 billion. Washington and NATO didn’t like the idea that France was selling state-of-the-art helicopter carriers to arch-rival Putin, so they ordered Hollande to put the kibosh on the deal. Which he did, because that’s what puppets do; they obey their masters. Now he’s providing cover for Obama so the real details of the Incirlik agreement remain off the public’s radar. That’s why we say, Obama shoved a knife in Putin’s back, because, ultimately, the no-fly zone damages Russia’s interests in Syria.

The significance of the Reuters article cannot be overstated. It suggests that there was a quid pro quo for the use of Incirlik, and that Turkey’s demands were accepted. Why is that important?

Because Turkey had three demands:

1–Safe zones in north Syria (which means that Turkey would basically annex a good portion of Syrian sovereign territory.)
2–A no-fly zone (which would allow either Turkish troops, US Special Forces or US-backed jihadi militants to conduct their military operations with the support of US air cover.)
3–A commitment from the US that it will help Turkey remove Assad.

Did Obama agree to all three of these demands before Erdogan agreed to let the USAF use Incirlik?

Yes, at least I think he did, which is why I think we are at the beginning of Phase 2 of the US aggression against Syria. Incirlik changes everything. US bombers, drones and fighters can enter Syrian airspace in just 15 minutes instead of 3 to 4 hours from Bahrain. That means more sorties, more surveillance drones, and more air-cover for US-backed militias and Special Forces on the ground. It means the US can impose a de facto no-fly zone over most of Syria that will expose and weaken Syrian forces tipping the odds decisively in favor of Obama’s jihadi army. Incirlik is a game-changer, the cornerstone of US policy in Syria. With access to Incirlik, victory is within Washington’s reach. That’s how important Incirlik is.

And that’s why the normally-cautious Putin decided to deploy his warplanes, troops and weaponry so soon after the Incirlik deal was signed. He could see the handwriting on the wall. He knew he had to either act fast and turn the tide or accept the fact that the US and Turkey were going to topple Assad sometime after Turkey’s snap elections on November 1. That was his timeline for action. So he did the right thing and joined the fighting.

But what does Putin do now?

On Wednesday, just two days after Putin announced to the UN General Assembly: “We can no longer tolerate the current state of affairs in the world,” Putin ordered the bombing of targets in Homs, an ISIS stronghold in West Syria. The attacks, which were unanimously approved by the Russian parliament earlier in the day, and which are entirely legal under international law (Putin was invited by Syria’s sitting president, Assad, to carry out the airstrikes), have put US policy in a tailspin. While the Russian military is maintaining an open channel to the Pentagon and reporting when-and-where it is carrying out its airstrikes, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said that the US plans to “continue to fly missions over Iraq and Syria” increasing the possibility of an unintended clash that could lead to a confrontation between the US and Russia.

Is that what Washington wants, a violent incident that pits one nuclear-armed adversary against the other?

Let’s consider one probable scenario: Let’s say an F-16 is shot down over Syria while providing air cover for Obama’s militants on the ground. Now that Russia is conducting air raids over Syria, there’s a good chance that Putin would be blamed for the incident like he was when the Malaysian airliner was downed over East Ukraine.

So what happens next?

Judging by similar incidents in the past, the media would swing into full-propaganda mode exhorting the administration to launch retaliatory attacks on Russian military sites while calling for a broader US-NATO mobilization. That, in turn, would force Putin to either fight back and up-the-ante or back-down and face disgrace. Either way, Putin loses and the US gets one step closer to its objective of toppling Bashar al Assad.

Putin knows all this. He understands the risks of military involvement which is why he has only reluctantly committed to the present campaign. That said; we should expect him to act in much the same way as he did when Georgian troops invaded South Ossetia in 2007. Putin immediately deployed the tanks to push the invading troops back over the border into Georgia and then quickly ended the hostilities. He was lambasted by critics on the right for not invading Georgia and removing their leader, Mikheil Saakashvili, in the Capital. But as it turned out, Putin’s restraint spared Russia the unnecessary hardship of occupation which can drain resources and erode public support. Putin was right and his critics were wrong.

Will his actions in Syria mirror those in South Ossetia?

It’s hard to say, but it’s clear that the Obama crew is thunderstruck by the speed of the intervention. Check this out from the UK Guardian: “Back at the White House, spokesperson Josh Earnest suggests that Vladimir Putin did not give Barack Obama warning about his intentions to begin air strikes in Syria.

“We have long said we would welcome constructive Russian coordination,” Earnest says, before qualifying that the talks between US and Russian militaries will be purely tactical: “to ensure that our military activities and the military activities of coalition partners would be safely conducted.” (The Guardian)

What does Earnest’s statement mean? It means the entire US political class was caught off-guard by Putin’s blitz and has not yet settled on an appropriate response. They know that Putin is undoing years of work by rolling up proxy-units that were supposed to achieve US objectives, but there is no agreement among ruling elites about what should be done. And making a decision of that magnitude could take time, which means that Putin should be able to obliterate a fair number of the terrorist hideouts and restore control of large parts of the country to Assad before the US ever agrees to a strategy. In fact, if he moves fast, he might even be able to force the US and their Gulf allies to the bargaining table where a political solution could be reached.

It’s a long-shot, but it’s a much better option than waiting around for the US to impose a no-fly zone that would collapse the central government and reduce Syria to Libya-type anarchy. There’s no future in that at all.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Copyright © Mike Whitney, CounterPunch, 2015

Western Defeat in Ukraine

 Western Defeat in Ukraine

 

By Roger Cohen  – Published by The New York Times

LONDON — It was not a surprise that President Vladimir Putin of Russia came out in strong support of FIFA against the “blatant attempt” of the United States “to extend its jurisdiction to other states.” Institutionalized corruption is Putin’s thing. The governing body of world soccer has become a near-perfect illustration of how such a system works, almost as good as the once-pliant Ukraine of Putin’s ousted puppet, former President Viktor Yanukovych.

American power is Putin’s obsession. He professes to see its long arm everywhere, subverting Russia and countries of its former empire. So the Justice Department’s move against FIFA fit every Russian geostrategic theory. (In addition, of course, Putin is worried about the 2018 World Cup in Russia, as he should be. To say the event will carry echoes of the Berlin Olympics of 1936 would be an exaggeration, but not a wild one.)

It is not a surprise that various Russian generals and officials have been blustering about nukes, even threatening to wipe out poor little Denmark’s navy; nor that they have made clear that they will defend the annexation of Crimea (where the extension of Russian jurisdiction was on the “blatant” side) with every weapon in their arsenal. Force is the language Putin understands better than any other. He knows how uncomfortable much of Europe has become with this lexicon.

There are in fact no more surprises. Putin has turned on the West, seeing opposition to it as the glue of his regime, rather than integration with it as the path to Russian progress. He has opted for his life’s work: buying people, compromising them, threatening them.

Perhaps it was the street protests in Moscow of late 2011. Perhaps it was a perception of Western perfidy in Libya earlier that year. Perhaps it was some inkling about a moment of American weakness. Perhaps it really was the ouster through a popular uprising of the grossly corrupt Yanukovych in Ukraine. Perhaps it was simply his inner K.G.B. officer rising to the surface, a yearning for the empire lost. In the end the reasons are secondary to the reality, which is that Putin has opted to ignite Russian nationalism by cultivating the myth of Western encirclement of the largest nation on earth by far. The G-7 will convene in a few days without him. Of course it will. The Russian president is no longer interested in the rules of that club. Controlled antagonism to it suits him better.

Some 15 months have gone by since the annexation of Crimea. A few things have become clear. On the whole, they are troubling. The first is how muted, really, the American reaction has been to Moscow’s seizure of a chunk of Ukrainian territory and Russia’s stirring-up of a little war in eastern Ukraine with its more than 6,000 dead. The United States is not even a party to the Minsk accords, the deeply flawed agreement to unwind the conflict that looks more like a means to freeze it in place.

By Ainhoa Aristizabal – Unruly Hearts

Roger, you sound like a broken record in bringing Washington’s rhetoric.  But let me remind you that the US has invaded 70 nations since 1776. Any wonder why americans are not welcome in many countries? Of course, americans reaction to Crimeans asking Russia to make them part of the Russian Federation hasn’t impressed them a bit being that their country has invaded 70 nations, and even occupied some of those countries.

The 4th of July is Independence Day for the United States and commemorates the 4 July 1776 Declaration of Independence for the US, the key passage of which is “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Unfortunately american racism has grossly violated the proposition that “all men are created equal” and the worst form of racism involves invasion of other countries, as well as the growing racism in your country. The US has invaded about 70 countries since its inception and has invaded a total of about 50 countries since 1945 [1]. The World needs to declare a transition from the 4th of July as Independence for America Day to the 4th of July as Independence from America Day.

The following is a list of countries invaded by the US forces  (naval, military and ultimately air forces) since its inception in order of major incidents. This catalogue derives heavily form the work of US academic Dr Zoltan Grossman’s article “From Wounded Knee to Libya: a century of U.S. military interventions” [1], Gideon Polya’s book ‘Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (that includes a brief history of all countries since Neolithic times) [2] and William Blum’s book “ Rogue State ” [3]. This list includes instances of violent deployment of US forces within America (e.g. against demonstrators, miners etc), and includes small-scale bombing and military intervention operations, military evacuations of Americans and specific instances of explicit threats of use of nuclear weapons. The list does not include the 1801-1805 US Marine Barbary War operations against Barbary pirates based in Morocco , Algeria , Tunisia and Libya , and also ignores massive US subversion of virtually all countries in the world.

US leads ‘largest multinational exercise held in Ukraine’ – Follows Pentagon’s Advice to Conquer the World?

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Ukrainian soldiers and servicemen of the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team take part in a joint military exercise called “Fearless Guardian 2015” at the military training area in Yavoriv, outside Lviv, Ukraine, May 12, 2015.Oleksandr Klymenko/Reuters

Troops from the US, UK, Germany and 14 other countries are set to conduct what officials are calling the “largest multinational exercise held in Ukraine” in the west of the country over the coming weeks.

The exercises will be conducted in Lviv region, in western Ukraine, far from the conflict zone in the east, with as many as 1,800 servicemen from 18 countries taking part from today until the end of the month.

The Saber Guardian and Rapid Trident exercises are conducted annually between the US army in Europe and European states which agree to participate. Last year they included 1,300 defence staff from 15 militaries, including Ukraine. However last year, only Rapid Trident took place on Ukrainian soil, with Saber Guardian being organised in Bulgaria.

Beside the US military and their Ukrainian hosts, personnel from other Nato allied nations joining the exercise include the UK, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Canada, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, while non-members Serbia, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan are also set to participate.

“Multinational exercises have been conducted in Ukraine since 1995, however it is safe to say that this is the largest multinational exercise held in Ukraine to date,” Don Wrenn public affairs public affairs specialist for US Army Europe, who is at the site of the exercises says.

Despite the heightening tension in eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed rebels have intensified fire towards Kiev-held positions since May, Wrenn says the exercise has no relation to the specific conflict.

“It is not anything to do with the political situation,” Wrenn says “This exercise was planned ahead of time. Countries were notified that it would occur and we can’t directly connect with the situation going on. Rapid Trident has been going for years in Ukraine.”

“Part of why this is larger this year is that there are two exercises going ahead at the same time in the same place,” Wrenn explains. The Saber Guardian exercise rotates between host nations, it just so happens that this year it was Ukraine’s turn to host it, coinciding with Rapid Trident

“The two were held together and integrated with each other,” Wrenn says. Training will begin tomorrow, after the end of today’s opening ceremony.

“We will be looking at practicing skills such as casualty evacuation and first aid, reacting to being ambushed in both an offensive posture or in defensive mode, we are conducting training in how to identify and react to improvised explosives and devices and there will be some simulated outpost operations.”

“These are all skills that are to be used either in combat or peacekeeping. Some Ukrainian armored vehicles will be included but most of the vehicles being used are just US humvees and wheeled vehicles,” he adds. Contrary to some media reports, no air operations are scheduled as part of the exercise.

Although a period of relative calm followed in the east after a ceasefire agreement was signed by the rebel leaders, Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in February, clashes increase along the contact lines in May and by June the rebels launched the largest offensive since the battle for the strategic town of Debaltseve on the eve of the ceasefire deal.

Rebel leader Alexander Zaharchenko once again publically set target towns which the rebels plan to “take” in May and Reuters, Nato and the Ukrainian government have all reported an increasing military build up on the Russian side of the border.

Since the start of the conflict with pro-Russian rebels in the east, Ukraine has led a series of reforms to its military in a bid to strengthen its efficiency in the short and long term. Eastern regions have obtained physical reinforcement bases and Ukraine has also pursued stronger ties with western neighbours such as the joint battalion it formed last year with Poland and Lithuania,

President Petro Poroshenko pledged yesterday to increase Ukraine’s security spending power, adding a further 5 billion hryvna (over €200m) to the defence budget, according to a statement released on his official website. Independent Russian news site Slon reported that the last Ukrainian budget allotted 90 billion hryvna to defence spending, which, together with Poroshenko’s latest pledge equals around €4bn.

However,  Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s claim that the Ukraine will take over Donbass by the end of the year seems to be one more of his tricks. 

According to Forbes, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has offered Russian counterpart Vldimir Putin to ”include Donbass” in the territory of the federation. The announcement was released to Forbes magazine through an anonymous source.

It was stated that the proposal had been extended during the Normandy Four talks held in Minsk on February 11 and 12.

”Poroshenko directly told me, ”Take Donbass”, and I responded, ”Have you gone mad ? I don’t need Donbass. If you don’t need it, announce its independence”, was the statement Vladimir Putin made at his meeting with Russian industrialists and businessmen on March 19, as quoted by Forbes.

In the words of the Russian President, Poroshenko then stated that Ukrainian authorities are not able to take the step, ” Then, let Ukrainian authorities pay the pensions and social care to the population of Donbass and let them restore the banking system,” Putin allegedly insisted.

The ceasefire deal included 14 points connected to the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, release of prisoners, the providing of humanitarian aid for the severely affected regions of Ukraine, as well as establishing of special statute for the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk Republics.

According to the source released information to Forbes, Putin himself is skeptical regarding the peace deal and believes that Ukrainian authorities are attempting to win the fight with rebel forces and to destroy Donbass in economic terms.

Allegedly, Putin said that EU leaders are well aware of the Ukrainian intentions, but the strengthening of the conflict is said to be in favor of US foreign polices. He also informed business leaders that the EU sanctions against Russia are unlikely to be removed in the upcoming years.

On the other hand, Poroshenko’s relations with Poland have deteriorated.

A scheduled meeting of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko with the winner of the Polish presidential elections Andrzej Duda in Warsaw will not now take place, Polish news agency PAP reported on Wednesday, with reference to its own sources close to the newly-elected head of state.

At home, Poroshenko is facing serious problems with the nationalist “Right Sector” paramilitary group.  The popular assembly is dubbed ‘Away With Traitors in Power!’

The popular assembly dubbed “Away With Traitors in Power!”organized by Ukraine’s far-right paramilitary group, Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) has started on Independence Square (Maidan).

Here’s the scene on ‘s Maidan right now. 1000+ now gathered for far-right nationalist rally:

WATCH LIVE STREAMING VIDEO  HERE

The rally follows a recent shootout involving members of ‘Right Sector’, security teams close to Ukrainian MP Mykhailo Lanyo and local police officers which took place in the town of Mukacheve in Ukraine’s western Zakarpattia region on July 11. Four people were killed and up to 14 were wounded in the exchange of gunfire.

‘Right Sector’ is one of a number of militarised groups that emerged during violent protests that toppled former Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovych a year ago.

The militias went on to fight alongside Ukrainian troops in the east against Russian-backed militants, but concerns have risen over whether they could pose a challenge to President Poroshenko and the government or threaten public security.

‘Right Sector’ and police have accused each other of initiating the violence in Mukacheve, but on Tuesday a spokesman for the group said two of its members had surrendered to the SBU security service. 

 

Irresponsibly Freezing Russian Assets

 

Irresponsibly Freezing Russian Assets

 

French and Belgian Russian asset freezes along with extending EU sanctions through January came (not coincidentally) on day one of the 19th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

It’s an impressive annual three-day event attracting thousands of participants – including world political and business leaders, journalists and others from dozens of countries worldwide.

The Forum’s web site states:

“SPIEF gathers the leading decision-makers of the emerging economic powers to identify and deliberate the key challenges facing Russia, emerging markets, and the world at large, while engaging communities to find common purpose and establish frameworks to forge solutions which will drive the growth and stability agenda.”

Vladimir Putin welcomed participants calling SPIEF “a platform for candid discussions to be held on a wide range of economic, financial and social issues, with long-term contracts and agreements being concluded on the sidelines.”

“The slogan for this year’s event, ‘Time to Act: Shared Paths to Stability and Growth’, reflects our strategy in the new realities of today’s global economy.”

“I firmly believe that the ideas and proposals formulated at this year’s Forum will go a long way towards improving economic cooperation and strengthening mutual trust.”

In response to EU nations extending sanctions, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia will respond based on the “principle of reciprocity” – indicating Moscow’s counter-sanctions will remain in force.

Neither side benefits. Russian Railways head Vladimir Yakunin called sanctions “economic masochism.” EU nations continue acting against their own interests by playing Washington’s dirty game – a futile attempt to marginalize, weaken, contain and isolate Russia.

In response, Moscow established closer ties with China and other nations unwilling to harm their own interests by supporting Washington’s.

France and Belgium acted irresponsibly by freezing Russian assets. French authorities targeted VTB, Russia’s second largest bank.

Diplomatic accounts were frozen, then unlocked. Rossiya Segodnya international news agency’s bank accounts were seized. The operation includes Sputnik News.

At the same time, Belgian authorities seized Russian assets – including its Embassy’s and Permanent UN Mission accounts.

The action relates to contested Russian debt former Yukos Oil owners claim they’re owed. The company declared bankruptcy after Moscow demanded it pay back taxes evaded for years.

Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky spent more than a decade in prison (2003 – 2013) for embezzlement and tax evasion. In the 1990s, he was Russia’s richest oligarch with close ties to Kremlin bureaucrats.

In 1995, he bought Yukos assets for $300 million – a tiny fraction of their worth. In 2003, their market value was $30 billion – a 100-fold ill-gotten gain.

In July 2014, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ordered $50 billion paid to former Yukos shareholders. It called the company “the object of a series of politically motivated attacks.”

Russia’s Justice Minister Aleksandr Konovalov said freezing Russian assets is “a blatant violation of international law.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry called Belgium’s actions “an unfriendly act…a blatant (international law) violation.” It indicated retaliatory measures may follow if what happened isn’t reversed.

Putin aide Andrey Belousov called actions by France and Belgium politicized. “Moscow hopes to avoid a new escalation in relations,” he said. At the same time, it’s “considering a number of measures to deal with” what happened if things aren’t resolved responsibly.

Last November, Moscow appealed PCA’s $50 billion Yukos decision – on grounds of lacking jurisdiction over internal Russian affairs. Without justification, the Court claimed Russia’s “primary objective…was not to collect taxes but rather to bankrupt Yukos and appropriate its valuable assets.”

Russian oligarch Khodorkovsky amassed great wealth the old-fashioned way. During an October 2008 Council to Combat Corruption session, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said:

Corruption in our nation has not simply become wide-scale. It has become a common, everyday phenomenon which characterizes the very life of our society.

We are not simply talking about commonplace bribery. We are talking about a severe illness which is corroding the economy and corrupting all society.”

According to an earlier Russian Internal Affairs Ministry estimate, annual corruption ranges from $20 – $40 billion. Other assessments indicate much greater amounts of stolen wealth – involving business, government officials and bureaucrats.

French and Belgian moves had nothing to do with alleged Moscow law violations. They were entirely politically motivated – connected to Washington’s Russia bashing agenda pressuring EU nations to do much of its dirty work against their own self-interest.

The latest moves are tied to SPIEF’s opening, nonexistent “Russian aggression” in Ukraine, its successful English and other foreign language media effectively countering Western propaganda, and America’s longstanding regime change objective.

What can’t go on forever, won’t. At least eight EU countries support lifting Russian sanctions – Austria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, even France.

Heavy US pressure keeps them from acting in their own self-interest – for how long remains to be seen.

Posted by Stephen Lendman

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