Voices from Russia

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Putin Makes an Offer to Donald Trump

00 putin mamayev kurgan memorial complex volograd russia 040915

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In a meeting with the senior staff of the FSB, President V V Putin outlined the threats facing Russia and the contours of a deal that he might do with US President Donald Trump. Whilst Trump battles the US intelligence community and the US élite, the foreign leader he most wants to deal with… Putin… addressed the senior staff of the FSB, Russia’s counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence agency, an organisation he once headed.

Whilst it’s all too tempting to contrast President Putin’s complete control of his government and intelligence services with President Trump’s struggle to achieve mastery over his own, one should resist that temptation. President Putin didn’t always have the undisputed mastery of his government and intelligence services that he has now. Only in 2003, following the arrest of the once all-powerful oligarch M B Khodorkovsky, and the subsequent expulsion from the government of individuals like former Chairman of the Government M M Kasyanov and former Minister of Foreign Affairs I S Ivanov (men beholden to Khodorkovsky and other oligarchs), did President Putin achieve the undisputed control of the Russian government and intelligence services that he has now.

The US and Russian political systems differ profoundly from each other, and one shouldn’t press the parallel between President Putin’s struggle with the oligarchs and President Trump’s current struggle with the US élite too far. Nonetheless, it does show one important fact that those frustrated by some of President Trump’s recent actions need to bear in mind… mere possession of the office of President in any political system doesn’t automatically translate into control of the government. A President who really wants to become the master of his government… as opposed to being a mere cypher for his bureaucracy… has to fight to achieve it. However, if President Putin didn’t always have the undisputed control of his government and intelligence services, he certainly has it now, and his meeting with the senior staff of the FSB serves to illustrate the fact. The meeting however also illustrates two other things:

  • the pressure Russia has been under
  • what President Putin and Russia actually want from US President Trump and the deal they want to make with him

On the question of the pressure Russia has been under, during his meeting with the FSB President Putin made this quite extraordinary comment:

Counterintelligence services also face greater demands today. Operational data show that foreign intelligence services’ activity in Russia hasn’t decreased. Last year, our counterintelligence services put a stop to the work of 53 foreign intelligence officers and 386 agents.

It bears saying that over the course of the hysterical scandal in the USA about the DNC and Podesta leaks, the fake “Trump Dossier”, and the telephone conversation between the Russian ambassador and General Flynn, so far, they’ve arrested not a single person or charged anyone with anything. Yet, here we have President Putin blandly saying that over the same period that this wave of hysteria and scandal has been underway in the USA, the FSB in Russia “stopped the work of 53 foreign intelligence officers and 386 agents”. This astonishing claim (imagine the FBI announcing it had uncovered 386 foreign agents working in the USA in the space of a single year) isn’t merely made calmly and almost in passing, with no special emphasis given to it, but it attracted almost no publicity, either from the Russian media or internationally.

President Putin’s comments on the pressure Russia has been under also highlight a further point… unlike the USA and the EU, Russia… with no assistance from the West… fought a home-grown Jihadist insurgency on its own soil. It proved remarkably successful in doing so, so that whereas when Putin became President Jihadists physically controlled large areas of Russian territory, today, they barely control any, reduced to a sporadically functioning (but still dangerous) terrorist movement. Nonetheless, as President Putin said, there’s no room for complacency or relaxation in the struggle against them:

The events and circumstances I mentioned require our security and intelligence services, especially the FSB, to concentrate their utmost attention and effort on the paramount task of fighting terrorism. We’ve already seen that our intelligence services dealt some serious blows to terrorists and their accomplices. Last year’s results confirm this… the number of terrorism-related crimes decreased. Preventive work has brought results. The FSB and other security agencies, with the National Antiterrorist Committee as coordinator, prevented 45 terrorism-related crimes, including 16 planned terrorist attacks. You deserve special gratitude for this. You need to continue your active efforts to identify and block terrorist groups’ activity, eliminate their financial base, prevent the activities of their emissaries from abroad and their dangerous activity on the internet, and take into account in this work Russian and international experience in this area. The murder of our ambassador to Turkey was a terrible crime that particularly highlighted the need to protect our citizens and missions abroad. I ask you to work together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the SVR to take additional measures to ensure their safety. Our priorities include firmly suppressing extremism. Security methods must go hand-in-hand with constant preventive work. It’s essential to prevent extremism from drawing young people into its criminal networks and to form an overall firm rejection of nationalism, xenophobia, and aggressive radicalism. In this context, of great importance is an open dialogue with civil society institutions and figures from Russia’s traditional religions.

Again, one is astonished to hear President Putin calmly say that his anti-terrorist agencies prevented 16 planned terrorist attacks on Russian territory in one year, as this was something everyday and normal. One has to ask what Western country has to face a terrorist assault on this scale. Over and above these “traditional” threats to Russia, Russia must also face the threat of cyberattacks, something openly talked about by former US President Obama and former US Vice-President Biden. Putin’s comments about this to the FSB are especially interesting in that they effectively confirm… although they don’t quite say… that although individual Russian agencies are responsible for ensuring their own cybersecurity, the FSB has overall responsibility for protecting Russia’s cybersecurity as a whole:

I’d like to note that the number of cyberattacks on official information resources tripled in 2016 compared to 2015. In this context, each agency must develop its segment of the state system for detecting and preventing cyberattacks on information resources and eliminating their consequences.

Whilst these comments give a clear idea of the range of the FSB’s work… showing once again that it’s an internal security agency and not an agency tasked with collecting foreign intelligence… President Putin took the opportunity of his meeting with the senior staff of the FSB to touch on foreign policy questions:

The global situation hasn’t become any more stable or better over the past year. On the contrary, many existing threats and challenges only became acuter. The military-political and economic rivalry between global and regional policy makers and between individual countries increased. We see bloody conflicts continue in a number of countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. International terrorist groups, essentially terrorist armies, receiving tacit and sometimes even open support from some countries, take an active part in these conflicts. The NATO summit last July in Warsaw declared Russia the main threat to the alliance for the first time since 1989, and NATO officially proclaimed containing Russia its new mission. With this aim, NATO continues its expansion. This expansion was already underway earlier, but now they believe they have even-more-serious reasons for doing so. They stepped up the deployment of strategic and conventional arms beyond the national borders of the principal NATO member states. They provoke us constantly and try to draw us into a confrontation. We see continued attempts to interfere in our internal affairs in a bid to destabilise the social and political situation in Russia itself. We also saw the recent serious flare-up in the southeast Ukraine (sic). This escalation pursues the clear aim of preventing the Minsk Agreements from going ahead. The current Ukrainian authorities are obviously not seeking a peaceful solution to this very complex problem; they decided to opt for the use of force instead. What’s more, they speak openly about organising sabotage and terrorism, particularly in Russia. Obviously, this is a matter of great concern.

These comments highlight Russia’s key areas of priority and it’s striking how far they differ from those Western commentators continuously attribute to them. There isn’t a word here about lifting sanctions, dissolving NATO or the EU, “treating Russia as an equal to the USA” on the global stage, recognising a Russian sphere of interest in Eastern Europe, “restoring the USSR”, conquering the Baltic States, or even arms control. Instead, Russia’s stated priorities are those I identified in my article of 19 January 2017:

  • ending NATO expansion especially into the territories of the former USSR
  • ending the West’s deployment of anti-ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe (“the deployment of strategic and conventional arms beyond the national borders of the principal NATO member states”)
  • ending the West’s régime-change policy, first and foremost as it pertains to Russia (“we see continued attempts to interfere in our internal affairs in a bid to destabilise the social and political situation in Russia itself”)

As I discussed in my 19 January article, in theory, it shouldn’t be difficult for President Trump to agree to all these things if he wants to do a deal with Russia because none of them affects the USA’s essential interests. Setting out these central Russian concerns shows how a deal between Russia and a Donald Trump administration might be possible. None of Russia’s concerns on any one of these issues affects Western security or impinges on the USA’s national interests. Trump called NATO “obsolete” and expressed indifference about the EU’s future. He’s clearly uninterested in expanding either into the territory of the former USSR, so he has no reason to feel that he’s making any serious concession by agreeing not to do so. Similarly, Trump has already forsworn the whole policy of régime-change. If so, then, he already agrees with Russia on this issue too.

The major sticking point will be arms control, with trust badly damaged because of Obama’s actions, with Russia almost certainly insisting on the dismantling of the anti-ballistic missile systems in Eastern Europe in return for nuclear weapons cuts. Indeed, Trump homed in on the issue of arms control in his interview with The London Times and Bild-Zeitung. However, securing an agreement to dismantle anti-ballistic missile systems in the teeth of what is likely to be furious opposition from US Congressional leadership, much of the Republican Party, and the powerful US armaments lobby, will be a titanic challenge. A complex and difficult negotiation lies ahead. Even the assumption Trump will succeed in consolidating his control of the US government is open to question, it’s far from clear he’d succeed. However, there’s one overwhelming point that argues in its favour… any objective assessment sees that what Russia wants from Trump is in the USA’s interest for him to give.

The USA loses nothing by agreeing to the things Russia wants because they in no way threaten the USA’s security or that of its allies. On the contrary, the pursuit of the grand geopolitical strategies of the neocons, with the policies of NATO expansion, anti-ballistic missile deployment, and regime-change that go with them, have brought the USA to an impasse. It is in the USA’s interest and in the interests of the USA’s allies to yield on them. Trump’s comments show that he has at least some understanding of this fact. We’ll have to wait and see how great that understanding is and whether he’d be able to put it into practise.

If he can do a deal on these fundamental issues, it isn’t difficult to see how he could also do a deal on the Ukraine, the issue that many people (wrongly, in my opinion) treat as a sticking point. As it happens, it isn’t at all difficult to see how one could do a deal on the Ukraine. In his comments to the senior staff of the FSB Putin made it clear that Russia wants the complete implementation of the Minsk Accords. Of course, that’s precisely what various officials of the Trump administration… Pence, Mattis, Tillerson, Haley, and of course Trump himself… also say. Given that this is so, provided the good will was there, it shouldn’t be difficult to agree on a deal on the Ukraine involving the complete implementation of the Minsk Accords. Everyone knows that the true reason that such a deal hasn’t happened up to now isn’t that Russia doesn’t want it. Instead, there’s no good will on the part of the Western powers, who’ve colluded with the Ukraine’s noncompliance with the Minsk Accords. Were this to change… it’d be something that’d be easy to do since everyone says that they want to see the Minsk Accords implemented… a breakthrough could quickly happen. Of course, it’s true that the Ukraine, at least in its present form, would be unlikely to survive the full implementation of the Minsk Accords. That’s why the Ukraine refuses to implement them. However, that isn’t something that… based on his own words… ought to concern President Trump. The key point is that if President Trump genuinely wants a deal on the Ukraine, the elements for it are all already there.

If Russia… as Putin’s comments to the senior staff of the FSB show… isn’t actually asking for very much (and nothing that President Trump should, in theory, find it impossible to concede)… it’s offering (as Putin’s comments to the FSB also show) what’s been on the table for a long time… coöperation in the fight against Jihadist terrorism, an issue that President Trump says is his foreign policy priority:

You must also work to take our counterterrorism coöperation with partners abroad to a new level, despite the difficulties that we see in various areas of international life. Of course, it’s a priority to intensify work with our partners in organisations such as the UN, the CSTO, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. It’s in our common interests to restore dialogue with the US intelligence services and with other NATO member countries. It wasn’t our fault that these ties ended. It wasn’t our fault that they didn’t develop. It’s very clear that all responsible countries and international groups should work together on counterterrorism because even simply exchanging information on terrorists’ financing channels and sources and on people involved in or suspected of links with terrorism can substantially improve the results of our common efforts.

Rarely in the history of international relations have the contours of a deal been easier to see… Russia is asking Trump for what he should have no trouble giving, and in return, they actually want to give him exactly the thing he says he wants. The biggest sticking point isn’t the Ukraine but anti-ballistic defence, although even on this issue, with the necessary goodwill, it should be possible to finesse some sort of agreement, probably based on the old 1970s concept of arms limitation and not the contemporary one of arms reduction. Whether we’d do the deal is another matter. Not only is it unclear whether Trump realises how easy the deal he wants with the Russians is, but he has to face down his many critics who don’t want a deal at all. However, the outlines of a deal, if he wants one, are there.

21 February 2017

Alexander Mercouris

The Duran

http://theduran.com/vladimir-putin-fsb-make-offer-to-donald-trump/

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Soviet Spymaster Remembers Che

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Forty-five years after Che Guevara’s death, a senior former Soviet/Russian intelligence officer paid tribute to the legendary revolutionary, disclosing some details of his life and death in an exclusive interview with RIA-Novosti. Lieutenant General (retired) Nikolai Leonov, of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), a successor to the KGB, first met Che long before the victory of the Cuban revolution, describing him as an “overwhelming figure” that belongs to all generations. Leonov, who retired as the head of the KGB Analytical Directorate in August 1991, said, “He was the embodiment of mythical and literary types that always struck a chord with people. In such cases I think of Christ the Saviour and Don Quixote”.

Leonov said he was the first Russian to meet Che, in 1956, in Mexico, saying, “He was just another guy. At the time we were both average young men”, adding that no one who had ever known him could think of a case where Che Guevara was cruel. Che was an absolutely independent, “holistic” political figure, who “always acted in Cuba’s national interests, as well as in the interests of all Latin American nations”. The Soviet reaction to the victory of the Cuban revolution greatly impressed Guevara, in particular, the readiness of then-Soviet leaders Nikita Khrushchyov and Aleksei Kosygin to provide all-out support and assistance. Che flew to Moscow not as a diplomat, but on a mission to sell 2 million tons of sugar that Cuba couldn’t sell in the USA. Waxing sentimental about the USSR, Leonov noted that Che was amazed at how more than 260 million Soviet citizens were able to live without having to worry about becoming rich at the expense of others. Che dreamed about freeing mankind from the lust for money. “Money is a horrible thing that sticks to you like toxic glue”, Leonov cited Che as saying.

Commenting on Che Guevara’s revolutionary activity in the Congo, Bolivia, and other Latin American countries, Leonov said it would be wrong to compare it to the export of colour revolutions by the Americans across the world, noting, “Che had very clear social goals… to make life better for the people, for the majority. None of those who are now organising colour revolutions cry at the sight of other people’s distress, but Che Guevara cried. That was why he went to the Congo, Bolivia, and Cuba”. Leonov claimed that the Bolivians killed Che on orders from the CIA. Although Bolivian President General René Barrientos Ortuño formally issued the order, he acted on peremptory advice from the CIA station chief in Bolivia, who was in charge of the operation. The USA acted in a great hurry to get rid of Che, seeing him as “a colossal danger… greater than a nuclear bomb dropped on American territory. His image still haunts the USA now”.

9 October 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/analysis/20121009/176515853.html

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Lavrov Confabs in Damascus… Assad Promises Referendum… USA Wants to Send “Humanitarian” Aid… The Syrian Pot Boils On

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During talks in Damascus on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he had to do what it takes to ensure peace in the country, saying, “It’s in our interests that the Arab peoples live in peace and harmony”. Lavrov’s visit came three days after Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the violent crackdown in Syria. He arrived along with Foreign Intelligence Service chief Mikhail Fradkov. Lavrov didn’t reveal the purpose of his mission, telling a news conference in Moscow on Monday it’d be “unveiled only to the addressee”. Ahead of the visit, he said the UN Security Council was too “hasty” in bringing the resolution to a vote and described Western condemnation of Moscow’s veto as “hysterical”. Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described the Russian and Chinese vetoes as a “fiasco” and said that his country was preparing a new initiative. He told a meeting of his ruling AK Party in Ankara, “We’ll start a new initiative with those countries that stand by the Syrian people, not the régime”.

The talks between Assad and Lavrov took place as Syrian authorities continued to bombard the city of Homs, a centre of resistance to his régime. The Syrian government denied targeting civilians and say security forces killed “dozens of terrorists” in Homs on Monday. Homs has been under attack from government forces for weeks; reports indicate that about Syrian forces killed one hundred people on Monday alone. Human rights groups say more than 7,000 people have died since the beginning of the uprising in March last year. The government said that around 2,000 members of its security forces died in the unrest. On Tuesday, EU foreign policy and security chief Catherine Ashton said that EU foreign ministers would meet in two weeks to discuss ways to stop the violence in Syria. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the violence in Syria was “totally unacceptable before humanity”. On Monday, the US State Department said that it shut its embassy in Damascus. Russia’s one of Syria’s main arms suppliers. In December, Russia signed a 550 million USD (16.4 billion Roubles. 414 million Euros. 346 million UK Pounds) contract to sell Syria 36 Yak-130 combat-capable trainer jets, and a Russian-owned ship reportedly carrying munitions docked at a Syrian port last month.

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On Tuesday, following talks in Damascus, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would declare a date in the near future for a referendum on a new constitution for his country, saying, “President Assad said that, in the next few days, he’ll meet with a commission that prepared a new projected constitution. This work is complete now; a time will be announced for a referendum on this document, which is so important to Syria”. Lavrov went on to say that al-Assad’s ready for dialogue with all political forces in the country, and ready to make talks happen, adding, “It’s clear that efforts to stop use of force must coincide with a declaration of dialogue between all political forces. Today, we’ve received confirmation of the Syrian President’s readiness to work toward this goal”.

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On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad confirmed his readiness to send an official government delegation to Moscow to hold talks with the Syrian opposition. Also on Tuesday, Lavrov held talks with Assad in Damascus to seek resolution of the Syrian crisis. After the talks, Lavrov said that al-Assad would declare a date for a referendum on a new constitution for his country in the near future. Lavrov’s visit, together with Foreign Intelligence Service chief Mikhail Fradkov, came three days after Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, backed by the Arab League and Western nations, to prevent a repetition of “the Libyan scenario”. Russia’s one of the staunchest supporters of the al-Assad régime during the current uprising.

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US State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said that the USA fears that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s national reconciliation initiatives would go nowhere. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks with Syrian President al-Assad in Damascus to seek resolution of the Syrian crisis. After the talks, Lavrov said that al-Assad would declare a date for a referendum on a new constitution for his country in the near future. US State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said, “The international community, as a whole, would be pretty sceptical if, instead of focusing on ending the violence, what we seem to have is a re-upping of this same offer that Assad has been making for months and months and months. Frankly, how that gets us to the kind of peaceful national dialogue about a democratic future for Syria that we all want to see isn’t very clear”. Nuland refused to comment on Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s recent visit to Syria, saying, “The Secretary and the Department will obviously reserve judgement until the Secretary has a chance to consult with Foreign Minister Lavrov after he gets back to Moscow”.

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Russia “must realise that betting everything on Assad’s a recipe for failure… not just for Russia’s interests in Syria, but for the stability of the region and for Syria’s future”. He added that the United States considered sending “humanitarian aid” to Syrians. Carney said, “We’re exploring the possibility of providing humanitarian aid to Syrians and we’re working with our partners, again, to ratchet up the pressure, ratchet up the isolation on Assad and his regime”. Asked if the US could start arming the opposition, Carney replied, “We’re not considering that step right now”. The statement comes hours after US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said that the USA should “start considering all options, including arming the opposition”.

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On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on the Arab world, the USA, and the EU to refrain from passing judgement on the national dialogue in Syria before it has even begun. Earlier, a US State Department spokesman said that the USA fears that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s national reconciliation initiatives would go nowhere. At a press conference, Lavrov said, “Attempts to predict the outcome of the national dialogue… generally speaking, that’s not the world community’s business. The Arab world, USA, and the EU should foster negotiations between all forces in Syria”. Lavrov, who held talks with al-Assad on Tuesday, confirmed that the Syrian Vice President has the authority to hold talks with all opposition groups and to organise an all-inclusive national dialogue. Lavrov also said the decision by several western countries to withdraw their ambassadors from Syria didn’t help to create conditions for a dialogue. He condemned the Arab League’s decision to suspend the operations of its peace mission in Syria, pointing up that the Arab League “contributed to stabilisation” in the conflict-torn country, saying, “The presence of foreign monitors always plays a restrictive role. It’s incomprehensible why some Persian Gulf countries pulled out their members of the mission, and why the mission’s operations were halted just when its report was to be heard in the UN Security Council”. Lavrov reiterated that Russia would do its best to assist the dialogue in Syria.

On Wednesday, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero accused al-Assad of already breaking the promises he made to Lavrov during the talks in Damascus, saying, “As we expected, the statements Bashar al-Assad made during the Russian Foreign Minister’s visit didn’t put end to the bloody repression. We received information that three families were killed overnight in their homes in Homs by regime supporters”.

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Russia used satellite imagery to help the Syrian government fight the growing insurgency in the country, the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported. On Wednesday, the London-based newspaper said that Russian officials provided President Bashar al-Assad with satellite imagery showing the location of the bases and main forces of the Free Syrian Army, the most prominent militant rebel group. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov travelled to Damascus for talks with al-Assad. The newspaper asserted that Mikhail Fradkov, the head of the SVR, who accompanied Lavrov to Damascus, allegedly handed over the imagery to Syrian government forces. Asharq Al-Awsat cited unidentified sources in al-Assad’s government, but also said that its information “wasn’t fully confirmed”. As of Wednesday afternoon, neither the MID nor the SVR had any comments on the story. The Free Syrian Army is the main organised force combating al-Assad’s government in the bloody uprising in Syria, which has claimed at least 5,000 lives since March 2011. Allegedly, the group is comprised primarily of army deserters; reports say that it has up to 20,000 fighters.

Russia’s the main international backer of al-Assad’s régime, having blocked two resolutions targeting it in the UN Security Council, and it’s a major arms supplier to it. In addition, Russian warships called at the Syrian port of Tartus in January. In recent weeks, President al-Assad’s forces stepped up their assaults on insurgents. Media reports indicate that they used artillery to bombard the city of Homs, a hotbed of protests; Syrian opposition activists said the shelling killed several hundred people. The pro-government Syrian SANA news agency blamed the clashes on attacks by unspecified terrorist groups. Yevgeni Satanovsky, the head of the Middle East Institute think-tank, said over the telephone, “Assad’s following a classic anti-insurgency tactic, trying to rout rebels from the cities into the countryside, where a full-scale assault can be launched using heavy weaponry. This tactic worked for the Algerian government, which defeated its own insurgency during a civil war in 1991-2002”.

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Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and SVR Director Mikhail Fradkov visited Damascus yesterday to help stabilise the situation in Syria through democratic reforms. Thousands welcomed them, waving Syrian and Russian flags, applauding, and chanting, “Thank you, Russia!” Tuesday’s visit by high-ranking Russian officials indicated that Moscow, which voted against the UN Security Council resolution on Syria, is trying to find a political solution. Lavrov said Russia asked the Security Council not to vote on its Syria resolution until they talked with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but that the pro-resolution countries refused to wait. They proceeded to vote on a document with no consideration for Russia’s request, possibly hoping to use Russia as a scapegoat if the situation worsens.

Armed with a letter from President Medvedev, Lavrov and Fradkov met with al-Assad. The meeting lasted approximately three hours. According to ITAR-TASS, Lavrov said, “Every leader in every country should understand their responsibility. You understand yours. It’s in our interests that the Arab peoples live in peace and harmony”. Bashar al-Assad replied, “Russia’s stance was crucial in saving my homeland. Russia and Syria are old friends, but Syria never wanted to be a burden to its friends. Syria wants to be a friend in need”. After the talks, Lavrov said that President al-Assad is committed to stopping the violence by all sides and that “the visit to Damascus was timely and useful”. President al-Assad accepted Russia’s proposal to increase the number of Arab League observers. Lavrov said the Syrian president planed to announce a referendum on a new constitution soon.

Experts don’t think the parties discussed the resignation of al-Assad, especially since it’d likely intensify the chaos. Yevgeni Satanovsky, president of the Middle East Institute, said, “Assad’s overthrow would only bring Islamist radicals to power, split the country, and lead to a massacre of Shias and Christians”. According to the Syrian newspaper Al-Watan, Lavrov and Fradkov may have discussed “methods for resisting any possible actions of the West and its Arab allies against Syria”. China supported Russia’s effort at a political solution. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China could also send a delegation to Syria to discuss a political settlement. Georgi Mirsky, a senior researcher at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), said, “Moscow’s supported by Iran, which is also facing international isolation, and possibly by Shia-led Iraq. Other countries will try to blame Russia if developments in Syria become touchy, whilst Moscow refuses to concede to the West”.

Meanwhile, Britain and France recalled their ambassadors for consultation. The USA closed its embassy in Damascus, allegedly due to deteriorating security, but many observers see this as the end of a long relationship. Over the past year, Washington’s view of al-Assad has changed from a pro-democracy leader to a ruthless dictator. Barack Obama said that they “continue to see unacceptable levels of violence” in Syria and that al-Assad should “step aside”.

7/8 February 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120207/171192015.html

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120207/171198205.html

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120207/171202926.html

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120208/171205380.html

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120208/171213195.html

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120208/171217615.html

http://en.rian.ru/papers/20120208/171214579.html

Editor’s Note:

Let’s keep this short. In US parlance, “humanitarian intervention” means bombs, invasion, and the massacre of the local Christian population (and the divvying up of the local resources by Western multinationals). We’ve seen that in the wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq. Now, the USA wishes to extend the benefits of its Laissez-faire Neoliberal paradise to Syria… and to turn the country over to radical Islamists, as the USA did in the countries mentioned. Russia and China are standing against it. Don’t forget… one of the two major causes of the present economic meltdown was the hellishly-expensive wars and “interventions” waged by the USA in foreign parts coupled with tax slashes for the One Percenters and their affluent effluent lackeys (the other was the scrapping of virtually all New Deal-era business and securities regulation, allowing greedy corporate vultures to run amuck).

Note well that Senator McCain (and his foreign policy guru Randall Scheunemann) effusively supported Saakashvili when the Georgians launched a sneak Grad bombardment of Tskhinval. Civilian deaths and suffering don’t matter to these soulless bastards as long as Western vulture capitalists get the opportunity to pick clean the resources of a given state or region. Both the Neocon Republicans and Interventionist Democrats applaud anything done by the McMansion dwellers. Note well how they lied in support of the Georgian aggressors in ’08… no doubt, they’re lying again.

A Note to Orthodox people in the diapora:

Yes, the usual culprits are up to their noses in this. You KNOW who they are… they make a pretentious noise in the District, don’t they? Send them NO money. A certain someone in Takoma Park (and his clueless NW DC puppet) will understand THAT, I guarantee it (they’re an Orthodox analogue of I M Weasel and I R Baboon). Don’t forget… Fathausen went to Georgia. I wonder who paid for it, and why? After all, the OCA has no real interest or jurisdiction in the Caucasus, does it, now? However, there ARE people over in Northern Virginia QUITE interested in that part of the world…

BMD

Monday, 6 February 2012

Lavrov Sez UN Resolution on Syria “Too Hasty”

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On Monday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defended Russia’s rejection of a UN resolution condemning the violent crackdown in Syria, saying the UN Security Council was too hasty in putting it to a vote. He told reporters in Moscow after talks with the Bahraini Foreign Minister, “It’s unfortunate that the [resolution’s] co-authors decided to put it to a vote hastily, although we had asked them to delay it for several days so that we could discuss the situation after [Russian Foreign Intelligence Service head] Mikhail Fradkov and I visited Damascus on 7 February. Nothing would have changed if they’d waited three days”. Lavrov and Fradkov are due to hold talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Lavrov’s comments came as the Syrian army launched one the fiercest assaults on the city of Homs in the 11-month uprising. On Monday, the BBC reported that it believes that 15 people are dead so far in the attacks.

Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution criticising Damascus over the weekend, claiming it lacked balance. Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said it targeted Assad’s government, but contained no measures against armed rebel groups. The vetoes drew a barrage of criticism from Western powers and the Syrian opposition. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called them a “travesty”, and the Syrian National Council said Russia and China were “responsible for the escalating acts of killing”. However, on Monday, Lavrov said that Security Council members were seeking to “blame the unrest on somebody” and accused “interested parties” of trying to topple Assad’s regime by encouraging the activities of armed groups and of supplying them with weapons. He also said that Russia was “surprised” at the Council’s rejection of the proposed Russian amendments to the text. He added, however, that Russia continued to support the Arab League’s efforts to halt violence in Syria. On Monday, China also defended its move, saying the proposed resolution wouldn’t help defuse the conflict.

6 February 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120206/171174048.html

Editor’s Note:

Let’s not be coy. The Old Master’s pointing the finger at Langley and saying that they’re shipping arms to the Syrian rebels, just as they did to bin Laden and the Taliban in the ‘80s. He’s simply saying that Russia won’t go along with a Western rape of Syria by the rapacious multinationals and their drooling Western pol enablers. “Sorry, Charlie… Starkist wants tunas that taste good”… and Chilly Hilly doesn’t even have good taste (remember her husband and Monica?). The Syrian people won’t suffer Western invasion and bombing… God bless Russia and China for standing tall.

BMD 

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