Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Russia Sez Hagel’s Chemical Weapons Claim a “Blatant Lie”… Pentagon Backtracks

01 Today's Special Lies!

______________________________

Russian military experts dismissed US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel‘s allegations about Russia supplying chemical weapons to Syria. Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Public Council of the Minoborony and the chief editor of Национальная оборона (Natsionalnaya oborona: National Defence) magazine, said, “The Pentagon chief’s statement is a blatant lie like the notorious test tubes with anthrax from the arsenal of Saddam Hussein that then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell shook in the Security Council“. Apparently, Korotchenko was referring to an incident in 2003 when Powell demonstrated a model test tube of anthrax to show the supposed power of the Iraqi régime’s biological weapons. However, an American-led survey was unable to locate WMD stockpiles in Iraq. Korotchenko said, “The USA has powerful and effective special services, and Hagel could’ve turned to them to get comprehensive information that the Russian Federation never supplied weapons of mass destruction to anyone, even to its closest allies”.

******

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel perked up some ears at today’s House Foreign Affairs hearing on Syria with a brief exchange in which he said that Russia supplied chemical weapons to Syria. It all happened in an exchange with Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC), during which Hagel said that it’s no secret that the Assad régime has significant stockpiles of chemical weapons. When Wilson asked where they’d come from, Hagel said, “Well, the Russians supply them. Others are supplying them with those chemical weapons. They make some themselves”. After the hearing concluded, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little issued a clarification, explaining that Hagel was referring to the “well-known conventional arms relationship between Syria and Russia”. He also pointed up that Syria had a “decades-old largely indigenous chemical weapons programme”. He added that some Russian military equipment and support could be modified to support Syria’s chemical weapons programme.

Here’s the full text of Little’s statement:

In a response to a member of Congress, Secretary Hagel was referring to the well-known conventional arms relationship between Syria and Russia. The Syrian régime has a decades-old largely indigenous chemical weapons programme. Currently, Russia provides the Syrian régime a wide variety of military equipment and support, some of which can be modified or otherwise used to support the chemical weapons program. We’ve publicly and privately expressed our concern over the destabilising impact on the Syrian conflict and the wider region of continued military shipments to the Assad régime.

5 September 2013 (MSK)

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_09_05/Russia-says-Hagels-chemical-weapons-claim-a-blatant-law-8900/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_09_05/Pentagon-clarifies-US-Defense-Secretary-s-comments-that-Russia-sent-chemical-weapons-to-Syria-5358/

Editor’s Note:

The two biggest tub-thumpers for war in Syria are Chuck Hagel and John Kerry… the first is a “LibertarianRepublican, the second is a Centrist Democrat. This shows that Obama‘s a Centrist, not a leftist at all. People such as Rush Limbaugh who call Obama a “socialist” show their invincible ignorance, bullheaded stupidity, provincial rudeness, and lack of general exposure to the world outside of the USA. Obama’s no more a socialist than Wet Willy Romney is… mind you, he’s better than any of the Republicans (who’d kiss the naked arses of the Evangelical yahoo oddbods if they gained power now) out there, but this warmongering, and the supporters that it’s garnered, show that Leftists have to oppose the Prez on this one. Shitbirds of a feather flock together…

BMD

Advertisements

Putin Speaks… On This and On That

00.01b Russian Paralympians. 08.12. Putin. Moscow

______________________________

On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview that Russia doesn’t rule out agreeing to a military operation in Syria, provided Damascus‘ responsibility for using chemical weapons is proven… but only with UN approval. In an interview with the AP and Первый Канал (Pervy Kanal: Channel One), Putin emphasised that there’s still no “exact information” about what exactly happened in Syria, or even that chemical weapons were used at all. Putin said, “It’s still not clear whether chemical weapons or simply some kind of harmful chemical substances were used”. He underscored that it was necessary to await the conclusions of the UN inspection team that was sent to Syria at the end of last month to investigate the sites of alleged chemical weapons attacks. Putin described video footage of dead children allegedly killed by the chemical attacks as “horrible”, but said the footage didn’t provide any answers to his questions about who was responsible. He claimed the video could’ve been produced by militants linked to al-Qaeda, “which has always been noted for its brutality”. Putin said that if the UN analysis revealed “clear proof” that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapon attack, Russia “would be ready to act in the most decisive and serious manner”, but emphasised that military action could only be taken against Damascus following a joint decision by the UN Security Council, saying, “Any other methods to justify use of force against an independent and sovereign state are unacceptable, and can only be qualified as aggression”. Putin confirmed that Russia supplied some components for S-300 air defence missile systems to Syria, but suspended completion of those deliveries, noting, “If we see that they [Syria] are taking some steps related to the violation of existing international standards, then, we’ll consider how to act in the future, including supplying sensitive weapons in certain regions of the world”.

******

President Putin denied the existence of anti-gay laws in Russia, pledged not to allow discrimination against homosexual athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics and said that he might meet members of Russia’s LGBT community for talks on their status if they requested it. Putin signed a controversial and vaguely-worded law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors, an offense punishable with hefty fines. Whilst the law’s proponents argue it’s aimed at protecting children, critics claim the legislation is part of a much wider crackdown on Russia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Putin retorted to those accusations by claiming Russian gays aren’t abused in any walk of life, adding that he is comfortable about working with them and granting them state awards, according to a transcript of his interview with the AP and Первый Канал (Pervy Kanal: Channel One), posted on his website Wednesday.

Putin said, “People of non-traditional sexual orientation are in no way abused professionally, or, when it comes to the level of salaries, or, even if they achieve something creatively in their work, they aren’t abused even from the viewpoint of the government’s recognition of their achievements, I mean when they get awards, medals. They’re absolutely fully-valued citizens of the Russian Federation, equal in their rights. I assure you, I work with such people, I sometimes give state medals and awards to them for their achievements in various fields”. Asked whether the law he’d signed will be enforced at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, Putin said, “There’d be no negative consequences, I hope. We have no laws directed against persons of non-traditional sexual orientation. A law banning the propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation was adopted in Russia, but these are absolutely different things”.

In August, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko (Ministry of Sport is Minsport in Russian bureaucratese) equated the promotion of homosexuality with that of alcohol and drug abuse, whilst the MVD insisted it would enforce the law at the Sochi Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it sought clarification before issuing a formal statement on the law, whilst some international gay rights groups called for a boycott of the Games. Putin said anyone concerned about the implementation of the law at the Olympics could be assured that “Russia will strictly support the Olympic principles that don’t allow discrimination against people for any reason… nationality, gender, or anything else you mentioned, including sexual orientation”. World leaders including US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the law and insisted that it’s the wrong way to tackle the issue.

For many years, the authorities banned gay rallies in Moscow and other Russian cities, the police dispersed them, and anti-gay protesters, including vigilante Orthodox Christian groups, violently assaulted and verbally abused LGBT activists. Putin said that he could meet with LGBT activists to discuss their problems, if they ask him to, saying, “As a rule, I meet with everyone who comes up with a request about a meeting and offers to discuss a certain problem that they think is important”, adding, “so far, there have been no offers” from LGBT activists. Putin reportedly said about such a meeting, “Why not?” One of Russia’s leading gay rights campaigners was quick to respond to the offer. Nikolai Alekseyev said on Twitter, “Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich! I ask you for a meeting to discuss the situation about LGBT [issues] in Russia and in the world!” Alekseyev, who has for years been trying to hold a Gay Pride event in Russia, said that he’d submit an official request for a meeting to Putin’s administration. Although Moscow repealed in 1993 a Stalin-era law punishing gays with up to five years in jail, attitudes toward homosexuality remain conservative in Russian society. According to a poll in May by the Levada Centre, almost 80 percent of Russians are in favour of banning promotion of non-traditional relationships. A VTsIOM poll in June suggested that 40 percent of Russians think homosexuality should be a crime.

******

On Wednesday, President Putin said in an interview that the USA “is possibly right” to seek the extradition of whistleblower Edward Snowden from Russia, but that Moscow won’t hand him over. Putin said, “The problem isn’t that we’re defending Snowden. We’re not. The problem is that we don’t have a mutual extradition treaty with the USA. The USA refused to sign such a treaty with us. They don’t extradite our criminals… who have tortured people, trafficked people, whose hands are covered in blood. It’s clear that we’re not handing him over, he can feel safe here”. He added that Snowden was a “strange guy… who’s doomed himself to a fairly complicated life”. Putin said that the American security services “could’ve acted more professionally” when tracking down Snowden, who initially fled the USA for Hong Kong. Putin observed that instead of intercepting him in some transit country friendly to the USA, the US government mounted a campaign of pressure that left Snowden stranded in Russia. Putin also confirmed earlier reports that Snowden contacted the Russian embassy in Hong Kong to probe them over a potential asylum bid. However, Putin said that he made it clear that Snowden would have to “give up any activity harmful to Russian-American relations” in order to be admitted into Russia. Putin noted, “He walked away, he just walked away”. Snowden, 30, a former intelligence contractor for the US National Security Agency, passed information to the media in May on American and British state-run surveillance programmes. He found himself stranded in Russia en route to Cuba and was granted a year’s asylum in Russia last month after spending 40 days in Sheremetyevo International Airport’s transit zone.

******

President Putin said that US President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel a planned visit to Moscow was “no particular disaster. I’d like the US president to visit Moscow so that we’ve an opportunity to talk, to discuss issues that emerged, but I also see no particular disaster in [the cancellation]”. Obama planned to visit the Russian capital ahead of the G20 summit in St Petersburg due on 5-6 September. However, Obama officially cancelled his visit, citing Moscow’s decision to grant a temporary asylum to fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, wanted by the USA for revealing an extensive state surveillance network. In the interview, Putin complimented Obama as a good conversationalist, saying, “Our talks are always constructive, to the point and quite sincere. In this respect, the US leader is a very good conversation partner, it’s easy to talk to him because it’s clear what he wants, his stance is clear, he listens to the position of his conversation partner, his opponent, he reacts to it. For me, it is interesting to work with him”. He expressed hope that he would be able to meet with Obama on the sidelines of the upcoming summit to discuss disarmament, global economy and other issues, observing, “I expect that I’d have an opportunity to talk to my US counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 summit in St Petersburg. I’m sure that if the meeting takes place, even … on the sidelines of the summit, it’d be very useful in itself. Anyway, we have many issues on which we’re working and which we’re interested in resolving”. Putin said that the Syrian issue would be raised during the summit and addressed in various formats.

******

On Wednesday, President Putin accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of “lying” in Congress by saying there was no al-Qaeda in Syria. Putin said in televised comments, “I watched the debates in Congress. A congressman asked Mr Kerry, ‘Is al-Qaeda there?’ He said, ‘No, we’re telling you responsibly that they aren’t’”. Putin added that the Syrian rebels’ “main combat unit is Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda unit. They [the USA] are aware of that. … He [Kerry] lied, and he knows that he lied. This is sad”. During a US congressional debate on Tuesday, Kerry said that there’s a “threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of al-Nusra”, known as al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria. He didn’t directly say that al-Qaeda is in Syria. Also, Kerry said at a 15 August meeting in Washington with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari that there were “many al-Qaeda leaders now operating in Syria”, according to the transcript of the meeting posted on the US Department of State’s website.

On Wednesday, Putin said at a discussion of the Syria crisis with his presidential human rights council that it was beyond the authority of the US Congress to sanction a military strike on Syria, saying, “What are they sanctioning? They’re sanctioning aggression, because anything outside the UN Security Council framework is aggression, except for self-defence. However, as we know, Syria isn’t attacking the USA, so this isn’t about defence. This is inadmissible in principle”. Putin pointed up that the USA expected that the Syrian rebels would defeat the pro-government troops and that US military intervention on the ground wouldn’t be needed. Yet, he said, just a short time ago, the Syrian government appeared likely to win the war. He said, “Why do they [the USA] say that not a single American soldier will appear in Syria? Because they think this is unnecessary, that those militants will cope on their own. What they need is support using means and equipment they don’t have… planes, missile equipment. This should be given to them. Well, they’ll get it, right now”.

Putin also questioned the reliability of the American evidence of the Syrian régime’s alleged involvement in conducting a chemical weapons attack late last month that killed civilians. Putin said it was absurd to assume that the Syrian government would’ve decided to use such weapons at a point when it was about to defeat its opponents. The USA said that it’s confident that a 21 August chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs was carried out by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, so, US President Barack Obama is lobbying US lawmakers to support punitive military action against Syrian state targets in response.

4 September 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/russia/20130904/183157113/Russia-Does-Not-Rule-Out-Backing-Military-Action-in-Syria–Putin.html

http://en.ria.ru/russia/20130904/183159399/Putin-No-Laws-Against-Gays-in-Russia–Reports.html

http://en.ria.ru/russia/20130904/183164706/Russia-Will-Not-Hand-Snowden-Over-to-US–Putin.html

http://en.ria.ru/politics/20130904/183166382/Putin-Sees-No-Disaster-in-Cancellation-of-Obama-Visit.html

http://en.ria.ru/russia/20130904/183168334/US-Lied-When-It-Said-Theres-No-Al-Qaida-in-Syria–Putin.html

Editor’s Note:

Putin made several things clear today:

  • Homosexuality isn’t illegal in Russia, nor is it going to be made such
  • ANY military operation against Syria MUST have the approval of the UN Security Council
  • Edward Snowden is safe in Russia
  • Obama’s cancellation of a planned meeting was a mere piffle… he and Obama would talk mano-a-mano in other venues
  • Putin believes that John Kerry is a lying scumbag, and “called him out” on his remarks about Syria
  • Putin doesn’t believe a word of the US government’s rationale for war on Syria… he makes it clear that Russia (and, most probably, China) oppose it

This was all in vain… the Western media listens to “its masters’ voice”, not the voice of the truth. However, there’s a good side to all of this… many Americans no longer trust the Corporate Media, and they’ve sought out alternatives. That’s who VVP is addressing. I do think that he’s reached many of them…

BMD  

Five Years After the Five-Day War, Everyone’s Learned Their Lessons

01g South Ossetia 2010

______________________________

Russia and Georgia’s clash over South Ossetia happened five years ago, but today it feels like an age away. Much has changed since then in Georgia and Russia, as well in all the countries that were indirectly involved in the conflict. Georgia was the first post-Soviet republic to engage in a direct military clash with Russia, certainly an extraordinary event. Georgia changed politically since then, with a new government coming to power last fall. The five-day war didn’t topple Mikhail Saakashvili, as many in Moscow hoped it would, but it did seriously mar his moral and political image. Little by little, Saakashvili’s government abandoned its pro-reform policy and turned into a repressive régime that wanted only one thing… to remain in power at all costs. When a strong political rival appeared three years later, it turned out that Saakashvili’s chair was much shakier than many thought.

Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream, which won the parliamentary elections last fall, promised to examine the causes of the military conflict and the role of Tbilisi in it. Some members of the current Georgian government said that the government made gross mistakes, but Georgia is unlikely to do a U-turn on its attitude toward the war. The war did major damage, and if a leading politician tried too abruptly to change the idea that Georgia was a victim in the events, the political consequences might be unpredictable. It’s unclear whether anyone should do this at all, although such a positive change would be of truly revolutionary importance for relations with Russia and a breakthrough in relations.

The new Georgian authorities are grappling with many problems. However, most predictions agree that the Georgian Dream will easily win the presidential election in October and that Saakashvili’s United National Movement is losing weight. Firstly, Georgia still heavily depends on the West, which sees Georgian Dream’s attempts to restore political order as a persecution campaign, even if there may be very serious reasons behind it. Therefore, the government should move slowly and act prudently. Secondly, people heaved a sigh of relief when the previous government’s pressure eased, but they soon became aware of drawbacks in the new democratic rule. Georgians are heatedly discussing their problems, and political life is in full swing, but there are few practical results so far. Furthermore, with the United National Movement discredited and no other serious political forces in the country, the government is in a dangerous position, with no opposition to keep it in check. Life without opposition corrupts, as we know from history. Nonetheless, it looks like Georgia learned its lesson and is unlikely to act opportunistically again.

The West took a warning from the Georgian example. The August 2008 war put an end to the idea of NATO’s eastward expansion, which the West hasn’t discussed since, at least not in practical terms. Only a major change in American policy would bring this issue back in focus. However, so far, events have gone in the opposite direction. NATO’s extensive development, which masked the lack of a strategy in the 2000s, gave way to attempts to adapt the bloc to the more practical tasks at hand. These tasks have very little connection with the Caucasus, and the bloc is no longer enthusiastic about the post-Soviet space as a whole.

The five years after the South Ossetian war were a time of quest for Russia. Many saw the defeat of Georgia as a major landmark and a psychological resurgence after more than 20 years of geopolitical retreat. At the same time, it became clear that Russia wouldn’t pursue an expansionist policy to regain the losses it sustained after the dissolution of the USSR, which the West and some neighbouring countries feared would be the case. Moscow is gradually abandoning the post-imperial mentality rooted in the Soviet collapse and related feelings in favour of a new vision of itself and its interests in the neighbouring countries. The Customs Union idea proposed several months after the war was a major improvement on all previous plans. It focuses on economic expediency and the logic of mutually beneficial integration rather than reunion for the sake of reunion.

Russia’s most controversial postwar move was the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In the five years since, Russia hasn’t convinced any major country to do the same, and it’s unlikely to succeed any time soon. Moscow had to make the decision because the situation was rocky and they needed to stabilise the state of affairs. Nevertheless, it hasn’t resolved the problem. It only put the political and diplomatic conflict on ice, and it’s a fact that what’s frozen sometimes melts. A final settlement will come only when we find a solution that suits all sides, which means that aggravation is still possible, even though the status quo is stable and no one wants an escalation.

One can describe the South Ossetian war, which is deeply rooted in the dissolution of the USSR, as the closing page in a long chapter. The global financial crisis, which broke out a month later, put into question the results of an era that began in the 1990s and was a time of triumph for the West and its market ideology. It also engendered processes that have made things even more problematic. The Arab Spring, which began two-and-a-half years after the South Ossetian war, further complicated matters. There’ll be many more such events before a new world order emerges from the chaos. Russia paid a high price for being a lead actor in 20th-century history. It had its share of shocks and would rather be a spectator from now on, unless a new play develops in direct proximity to its borders.

01 Fyodor Lukyanov RIA-Novosti8 August 2013

Fyodor Lukyanov

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/columnists/20130808/182661056/Uncertain-World-5-Years-After-the-5-Day-War-Everyones-Learned.html

Editor’s Note:

The above is far different from the narrative that’s still bruited in neocon and interventionist circles. They claim that Georgia was the totally-innocent victim of Russian neo-imperial aggression. Such wasn’t so… indeed, they’re the most disgusting apologists for AMERICAN neo-imperialism. Since 1991, American neocons and interventionists have been drunk on their ”victory” in the Cold War. Factually, the Cold War ended in 1987, after the Reykjavik Summit, not the 1991 implosion of the USSR, which was something else altogether (and had nothing to do with Socialist vs Market ideologies, in any case). America has run riot… showing all concerned that the leading elements of the USA are greedy, self-centred, and violent; they’re incompetent, uncivilised, uncultured, and indecent, not fit for the role of a “world leader”. That’s true of both the Right and Centre in American politics (there’s no Left in the USA… the last Leftists were FDR and Henry Wallace).

We see the moral bankruptcy of the trend in the USA (and the West, in general) that’s been regnant since the time of Slobberin’ Ronnie. “Might makes right” has run rampant in the USA… “Greed is Good”, “The race goes to the swiftest”, and “You earned it” sum up its evil credo. It’s Social Darwinism (actually, a misnomer, as it owes everything to Spencer, not Darwin) writ large. America’s become a McMansion… glitzy on the outside, cheap softwood plyboard inside (with the termites busy at work). It’s time to put things right… but shall we? That’s up to YOU…

If we don’t, the consequences will be dire… I’m not advocating chaos and bloodshed, I’m predicting that it could happen if we don’t scrap our present neoliberal Rightwing arrangements… that’s two very different things…

BMD   

Russian Forces on Heightened Alert

russian-soldier

______________________________

According to Deputy Minister of Defence Anatoly Antonov, the Russian Federation raised the combat readiness of the Central Command Post of the General Staff and the control centre for troops in Aerospace Defence due to missile tests in the Mediterranean. He called the region a powder keg and warned that if a fire starts there, “it may spread not only to neighbouring countries, but also to other regions of the world”. The launches in the Mediterranean Sea were part of joint tests between Israel and the USA. The first reported detection of two ballistic missile launches in the Eastern Mediterranean area came from the Minoborony. Antonov added that the Russian forces are closely monitoring everything that happens in the Mediterranean region.

4 September 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_09_04/Russian-Forces-on-heightened-alert-Antonov-8372/

Editor’s Note:

The USA is playing with matches around a rapidly-spreading pool of petrol… and giggling. In the end, there’s no difference between the Right of Centre neocons and the Centre-Left humanitarian interventionists (there’s a slight, but perceptible, difference in their general political slants). Despite surface disparities, they’re the same underneath… “The USA will rule the world because we’re better than everyone else is”. Doesn’t their vacuity scare you? (Orthodox people should note that Potapov, Lyonyo, Paffhausen, and Alexander Webster (and the konvertsy in general) are part of this noisome lot). American power is much like a McMansion… glitzy and impressive on the outside, but cheap softwood plyboard underneath… that is, something that’ll break and fail at the first serious strain. The Affluent Effluent has partied hearty over some thirty years of hubris and voodoo economics… but now the bill is due. Did you notice that they expect us to pay for their toot? Just sayin’…

BMD 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.