Tag Archives: Russia

Putin’s Sinister Threats And Lies Extend Far Beyond His Own Country

Op-Ed Contributor

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is making his second visit to Burma

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is making his second visit to Burma

To understand why 3 people lie stricken in Salisbury, look at Vladimir Putin’s actions inside Russia.

Yesterday he was proclaimed the winner of an election that resembled a coronation, complete with a triumphant ceremony outside the walls of the Kremlin. Mr Putin’s leading opponent had obviously been banned from standing and an abundance of CCTV footage appeared to show election officials nonchalantly stuffing ballot boxes.

One loyal functionary in Siberia used balloons in Russia’s national colours for the novel function of covering up a prying camera. “A choice without a real competition, as we have seen in this election, unfortunately is not a real choice,” was the verdict of the observer mission from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

As he extends his grip on power, Mr Putin is taking his country in a dangerous direction. Throughout his rule he has eroded the liberties of the Russian people, tightened the screws of state repression and hunted down supposed foes.

When a leader starts behaving in this way then no-one should be surprised if many of his compatriots feel drawn to the example of countries that observe a different scale of values. They will notice that plenty of nations hold elections where no-one knows the result in advance. They will see how free societies in Europe, America and elsewhere thrive and prosper precisely because people are able to live as they choose, provided they do no harm.

They will understand how an independent media exposes the failings or evasions of democratic governments. And they will wonder why Russia cannot have the same? Mr Putin cannot give the straight answer, which is that he must deny Russia those freedoms in order to guarantee his perpetual rule. Instead, he has to send an emphatic message that asking awkward questions or turning against him carries a terrible price. Which brings us back to Salisbury. The use of a Russian military grade ‘Novichok’ nerve agent against Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, was very deliberate.

As Ken Clarke pointed out in Parliament last week, the obvious Russian-ness of the weapon was designed to send a signal to anyone pondering dissent amid the intensifying repression of Mr Putin’s Russia. The message is clear: we will hunt you down, we will find you and we will kill you – and though we will scornfully deny our guilt, the world will know that Russia did it.

There was a hint of this in Mr Putin’s first public response to Salisbury. He denied Russia’s culpability – of course – while carefully injecting a note of menace. “If it was military grade agent,” he said, “they would have died on the spot, obviously.”

Obviously. After all, he had already told state television that traitors would “kick the bucket” and “choke” on their “pieces of silver”. Yet the Kremlin, accustomed to a tame official media, is clearly struggling to get its story straight.

Since the Skripals and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey were struck down on March 4, Russian officials and the state media have claimed variously that ‘Novichok’ never existed, or the stockpiles were destroyed, or they weren’t destroyed but mysteriously escaped to other countries.

Alexander Shulgin, the Russian Ambassador to The Hague, told Sky News: “I’ve never heard about this programme, about this Novichok agent. Never.” But his memory suddenly improved when he appeared on Russia Today and said that Novichok had been developed by the Soviet Union. “There never was such a programme under such a codename in the Russian Federation,” he said. “However, in Soviet times research began to produce a new generation of poisonous substances.”

This seemed to wrongfoot the Russian foreign ministry, whose spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, declared on the same day that neither Russia nor the Soviet Union had created Novichok. “This programme is not the creation of Russia or the Soviet Union,” she said, before disgracefully pointing the finger at Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, America – and inevitably the UK.

Meanwhile, other Russian officials have sought to conjure doubt and suspicion out of thin air. Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian Ambassador in London, questioned the absence of photographs of the Skripals in their hospital beds.

His counterpart in Brussels, Vladimir Chizhov, accused Britain of breaking “consular conventions” because Russian officials had not been able to visit the Skripals.

The response to the 2 envoys is so obvious that I can scarcely believe they require instruction. Sergei and Yulia Skripal have been in a coma since 4 March – as you would expect from victims of a nerve agent attack. They cannot give their consent to be photographed or receive visitors. Under the NHS Code of Practice, hospitals must have their patients’ permission before allowing this to happen.

And I will make the point as delicately as possible: it is not obvious that the Skripals, of all patients, would welcome a visit from Russian officials. The Russian state is resorting to its usual strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation.

But when I met my European counterparts in Brussels yesterday, what struck me most is that no-one is fooled. Just about every country represented around the table had been affected by malign or disruptive Russian behaviour. Most had endured the kind of mendacious propaganda onslaught that the UK is experiencing today.

This is how Mr Putin behaves at home; we should not expect anything different abroad.

Statement On OSCE Report On Russian Presidential Election

FCO statement on the OSCE report into the Russian presidential election

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

An FCO spokesperson said:

The OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission to the Russian Presidential elections has now issued their initial report.

The report makes clear that restrictions on fundamental freedoms, in particular freedom of expression and assembly, including the detention of activists, resulted in a lack of genuine competition in the election. The Russian Central Election Commission also placed restrictions on candidate registration, and President Putin benefited from dominating coverage in the state media.

We continue to call on the Russian Government to comply with its international commitments in the Council of Europe and OSCE to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression.

Can Nuclear War Be Avoided?

Op-Ed Contributor

Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts

Two factors are driving the world to nuclear war. One is the constant stream of insults, false accusations and broken agreements that the West has been dumping on Russia year after year. The other is Russia’s response, or, perhaps more correctly, the lack thereof.

Articles documenting Washington’s betrayals and provocations of Russia are available online and on my website. There is no point in repeating them here.

I have pointed out that the Russian government’s factual, diplomatic, and legal responses actually produce more provocations and insults. See, for example, https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/03/17/war-is-on-the-horizon Stephen Lendman agrees (http://stephenlendman.org/2018/03/russia-expelling-23-uk-diplomats-way-inadequate) and so does Peter Koenig ( https://thesaker.is/russias-reaction-to-the-insults-of-the-west-is-political-suicide).

Russia has two alternatives to the self-defeating response the government has chosen. One, recommended by Peter Koenig and myself, is to turn her back on the West, cleanse herself of all Western embassies, businesses, media, and NGOs, and cease relying on Western communication systems and bank clearing mechanisms. The West has nothing Russia needs. The West is exhausted and corrupt. The future lies in the East of which Russia is a part. Russia should focus on the partnership with China and relationships in the East and simply stop responding to blatantly false accusations and provocative insults.

Russia can be part of the West only if Russia surrenders to Washington’s hegemony. One would have thought that by now the Russian government would have figured out that Washington is determined to marginalize and isolate Russia, discredit Russia’s government, dislodge Putin and install a puppet like May, Macron, and Merkel, and failing these efforts to push Russia to the point that her only alternatives are to surrender or go to war.

Did it ever occur to the diplomat Lavrov and low-key Putin that the President of Russia would be called a murderer by a British foreign secretary on the basis of a fabrication created by the British government?

Are Lavrov and Putin finally getting the message that it is self-defeating to appeal to facts and law when the West has no respect for either and regards recourse to facts and law as signs of weakness and fear?

What is Russia going to do when Lavrov or Putin travel abroad on some diplomatic or state mission and one or the other or both are seized and charged with war crimes or some other fabricated offense? It can’t happen, you say? Yes it can happen. Preparation for such an event is one of the reasons that Washington crafts the portrait of Russia’s President as “the new Hitler.” Pre-emptive arrest and execution are US policy.

For years Washington has been kidnapping Russians in other countries outside US legal jurisdiction (Israel is the only other country to get away with imposing the extra-territoriality of its illegal edicts). Roman Seleznev, son of a member of the Russian Duma, was kidnapped in the Maldives in the Indian Ocean by the US and put on trial in the US for hacking credit cards. Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot was kidnaped by Washington in Liberia and charged with cocaine smuggling, a principle activity of the CIA. Evgeny Buryakov was sentenced for gathering economic intelligence, a routine activity of economists and diplomats. Victor Bout was seized by Washington in Thailand and sentenced for selling weapons to rebels, an “offense” the US has committed throughout the world and is committing today on a large scale in the Middle East. Considering the high frame-up rate of US “justice,” we have no way of knowing if these trials are anything more than show trials to teach Russia the lesson that Russian citizens are safe nowhere.

Russia’s other alternative to the self-defeating one the government has chosen is to hit back hard. Lendman suggests that when US or Israeli attacks on Syria kill Russians, Russia should destroy the bases from which the attacks originated and simply quit worrying about whether the necessary retaliation kills Americans and Israelis. Why are Americans and Israelis more important than Russians and Syrians? Does the Russian government believe the propaganda about Americans being “exceptional and indispensable” and the Israelis being “God’s chosen people?”

Perhaps a better way of showing force would be for Russia to call a meeting of the UN Security Council at which Russia could make a presentation along these lines:

Confront the US and its vassals with the long list of the treaties and agreements broken and ignored by the US and now by the UK.

Confront the US and its vassals with the long list of hostile and unsupported accusations against Russia and the West’s refusal to resolve the issues on a factual, evidential basis.

Confront the US and its vassals with the fact that neither Russia nor the US and its allies believe one word of the accusations which are intended to serve Washington’s hegemony by marginalizing and isolating Russia.

Confront the US and its vassals with the fact that similar demonizations of Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, and Assad led to military invasions of their countries. Ask if the US and its vassals are preparing their populations for a military attack on Russia.

Confront the US and its vassals with the fact that the tension between the nuclear superpowers is far higher than during the Cold War of the 20th century and that the lies and mendacity of the US government have completely destroyed Russian trust in Washington.

Confront the US and its vassals with the fact that during the Cold War there were numerous false warnings of incoming enemy ICBMs, but that as the two governments were working to reduce tensions, neither side believed the warnings, whereas today the situation is far different. In view of the extraordinary hostility displayed toward Russia by the US and its vassals, Russia cannot take a chance that a warning is false. As the US and its vassals are targeted by Russian nuclear forces, the West has the world on a course of destruction. Is this what Washington and its vassals want? Is the choice Washington’s hegemony or death? Ask Washington’s vassals why they support this insane choice.

For so long Americans have laughed at the cartoon picture of the bearded man holding his sign, “The End Is Near,” that Americans probably cannot intelligently respond to a warning no matter who gives it.

Similarly, Western policymakers are so demented and the presstitute media so corrupt that the response to a Russian approach to the UN as outlined above would be used as proof of the West’s anti-Russian propaganda. The headlines would read: “Russia Threatens the World With Nuclear War.”

Therefore, it seems that the only alternative is for Russia to turn her back—but not her eyes—on the West and to find her future in the East.

All indications are that Russia is unwilling to do this. For the Russian government, being a part of the West is more important than life itself.

Speech: Salisbury Attack: Foreign Secretary’s Remarks To Media At The March 2018 Foreign Affairs Council

Boris Johnson spoke to media before Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on international support for UK relating to the nerve agent attack in Salisbury

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Good morning. I have been very heartened already by the strength of the support that the UK is getting in respect of the incident in Salisbury and I think that is partly because they can see that Britain is acting [with] punctilious accordance with our obligations under the Treaty on Chemical Weapons and I would contrast that with how the Russians are behaving.

Today the technical experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are arriving in the UK to take the samples from Salisbury and in the meantime the Russian denials grow increasingly absurd. At one time they say that they never made Novichok, at another time they say that they did make Novichok but all the stocks have been destroyed. Then again they say that they made Novichok but all the stocks have been destroyed but some of them have mysteriously escaped to Sweden or at the Czech Republic or Slovakia or the United States – or even – America, or the United Kingdom.

I think what people can see is that this is a classic Russian strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation. And what really strikes me talking to European friends and partners today is that 12 years after the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London they are not fooling anybody anymore. There is scarcely a country around the table – here in Brussels – that has not been affected by some kind of malign or disruptive Russian behaviour and that is why I think the strength and the resolve of our European friends is so striking today. Thank you very much.

Watch the Foreign Secretary speaking


Read more about the government’s response to the Salisbury attack

War Is On The Horizon

Op-Ed Contributor

Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts

Have Washington and its British vassal set a stage for testing whether Russia has the stomach for war?

How else do we interpret the announcement by General Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, that “we have reliable information at our disposal that US instructors have trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of At-Tanf, to stage provocations involving chemical warfare agents in southern Syria. They are preparing a series of chemical munitions explosions. This fact will be used to blame the government forces. The components to produce chemical munitions have been already delivered to the southern de-escalation zone under the guise of humanitarian convoys of a number of NGOs. The provocations will be used as a pretext by the United States and its allies to launch strikes on military and government infrastructure in Syria.” https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-17/russia-claims-us-training-syrian-militants-false-flag-chemical-attack-justify
Also: https://southfront.org/u-s-deploys-naval-strike-groups-for-attacks-on-syria-trains-militants-for-false-flag-chemical-attacks
And: http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/17/555774/US-training-Syria-militants-for-false-flag-chemical-attacks-Russian-cmdr

Don’t expect to hear anything about this in the totally discredited Western presstitute media, which is a propaganda ministry for war.

The Russian government must be kicking itself that it again failed to finish the job in Syria and instead permitted Washington to expand its Syrian presence, arm and train its mercenaries, provide chemical weapons, and assemble its fleet to attack Syrian forces in order to prevent their reconquest of Syrian territory.

The question before us is: If the information that General Rudskoy cited is correct, what will Russia do? Will Russia use its missile defences and air superiority to shoot down the US missiles and aircraft, or will Russia accept the attack and again denounce the illegality of Washington’s action and protest to the UN?

If Russia accepts the attack, Washington will push harder. Sooner or later Russia will be unable to accept another push, and war will break out.

If war breaks out, will it be a limited conventional war or will Washington use the excuse to launch nuclear ICBMs against Russia? These questions must be going through the minds of Russia’s leadership. Russia faces the grave danger that Washington’s Fifth Column inside Russia, the Alanticist Integrationists, those Russians in the political and business leadership who believe Russia must be, at all costs, integrated into the Western world, will lock the government in indecision and expose Russia to a nuclear first strike.

So far Russia has continued to defeat itself by playing according to the rules of diplomacy and international law despite the obvious fact that Washington has no respect for either. During the past week, Washington’s British vassal, a country of no military or political significance, demonstrated total contempt for Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. In other words, the insult to Russia came from a mere vassal state of Washington’s empire. An alleged poisoning by an alleged Russian nerve gas, the very existance of which is doubted by US and UK experts, of an inconsequential former spy and his daugher has been blamed, without a shred of evidence, on Russia by the British prime minister, defense minister, and foreign minister.

The British prime minister violated law and agreements to which Britain is partner by giving Russia 24 hours to respond to an accusation for which no evidence was provided. Law and the agreements require that the country making an accusation share the evidence with the accused country, which has 10 days to assess the evidence and reply. The British government refused to abide by the agreement to which it is partner. Moreover, the British foreign minister Boris Johnson personally accused Russia’s President Putin of ording the attempted murder of the inconsequential spy. For more information on the former spy and his lack of consequence and the absurdity of the orchestrated event, see recent postings on my website.

Not content with the unprecedented insult to Russia and its President, the British defense minister of a country that has no capability whatsoever of defending itself against Russia, even with its leige lord’s help, said in response to Russia’s rejection of the unsupported-by-any-evidence charge that “Russia should shut up and go away.”

This was too much for the Russian Ministry of Defense. General Igor Konashenkov replied:

“The rhetoric of an uncouth shrew demonstrated by the Head of the British Ministry of Defense makes his utter intellectual impotence perfectly evident. All this confirms not only the nullity of all accusations towards Russia we have been hearing from London for the last several years but also that the ‘accusers’ themselves are nonentities.

“The ‘Great’ Britain has long turned not only into a cozy nest for defectors from all over the world but also into a hub for all sorts of fake news-producing agencies: from the British ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ to the created by a British intelligence officer pseudo-Syrian ‘White Helmets’.

“As to boorish words of the British Defense Minister regarding Russia, it seems that in the absence of the real results of professional activity, rudeness is the only weapon remaining in the arsenal of the Her Majesty’s Military.” https://thesaker.is/official-russian-reply-to-the-british-shut-up-and-go-away/

Note the total dismissal of ‘Great’ Britain by the Russian Ministry of Defence as a military and political power. From the Russian military’s standpoint Washington’s British vassal state is a total nonentity. This suggests that the Russian military is focused on Washington and is unlikely to tolerate Washington’s agents in Russian government and business circles if they attempt to leave Russia exposed by indecision.

Perhaps the Russians will decide it is past time for them to demonstrate their superior military capabilities, and they will take out not only the US missiles and airplanes but also the fleets from which the attack is launched while putting their nuclear forces on high alert. What then would Washington do? Can a government composed of bullies drunk on hubris come to a sensible decision, or would people so arrogant as to think themselves “exceptional” and “indispensable” condemn the world, including the plants, animals, birds, and all creatures who have no idea of the murderous lunatics that rule the Western world, to death?

There is no greater threat to life on earth than Washington. Constraining Washington’s determination to destroy life on earth is the greatest challenge humanity has faced. If we fail, we all die, every one of us and all creatures.

Despite Russia’s military superiority, the humanity of the Russian government places it at a disadvantage as there is no concern for humanity in Washington.

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