Voices from Russia

Sunday, 4 December 2016

What’s Behind the Turning Point in the Battle for Aleppo

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After long months under jihadist control, the Russian Centre for Syrian Reconciliation said that the Syrian Army liberated parts of eastern Aleppo (with 90,000 residents). The Centre stated that 507 terrorists have already left Aleppo and laid down arms, adding that the authorities immediately granted amnesty to 484 fighters from amongst local residents. Igor Korotchenko, editor of National Defence magazine, said:

This turning point in the fight for Aleppo reflects the growing superiority of the Syrian government troops over the enemy, including Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) and the al-Nusra Front. The high morale of Assad’s army, its skilful tactics in urban fighting, and the increased competence of Syrian Amy commanders contribute to that. In addition, the terrorists face growing resistance from the local population, who don’t provide them any kind of help at all. Locals are unwilling to act as human shields for the jihadists. This turning point in the fight for Aleppo came despite no air support for the Syrian Army, in line with current moratoriums on Russian and Syrian airstrikes in a 10-kilometre (6.2 miles) radius around Aleppo. The jihadists can no longer effectively use their military supply lines, as Syrian government forces interdict them. All this paves the way for a full liberation of eastern Aleppo from the terrorists, which in turn will contribute to a large-scale political dialogue between Bashar al-Assad’s government and the moderate Syrian opposition. It’s important to reach a consensus on Syria between Russia and the new US Administration, to separate moderate opposition groups from terrorists, as well as coördinate efforts by the Russian Air Force group and the US-led coalition in Syria.

Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs S V Lavrov said that US Secretary of State John Kerry finally made proposals on how to move forward on the crisis in Aleppo that seem acceptable to Russia. The statement came after the two men met on the sidelines of the Mediterranean Dialogues in Rome, Italy, a conference dealing with security issues faced by countries on the Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean. Lavrov told reporters after they asked him if there was any progress with Washington on dissociation of the terrorists and moderate opposition in Syria:

Yesterday during our meeting in Rome, Kerry turned in American proposals in line with proposals defended for a long time by our experts.

Over recent months, Aleppo was a major battleground in Syria, with government forces, jihadists, and numerous opposition groups engaged. Encircled by government forces, militants hold Eastern Aleppo, and the fighting affects thousands of civilians still trapped in the city. According to Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien, between 200,000 and 300,000 civilians are still in the terrorist-held eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo.

4 December 2016

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201612041048143551-syria-aleppo-army-turning-point/

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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Putin Slams USA With Geopolitical Judo

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With a swift determined twist, Russian leader V V Putin wrong-footed his American adversary, pinning him to the ground over the Syrian crisis. Writhing and flustered, the American opponent is protesting at being upended. First, in the form of a contorted media campaign smearing Russia’s military operations as somehow criminal. Second, the Americans are breathlessly claiming that Russia’s “outrageous” support for Syrian state forces is scuppering peace efforts. Third, the Americans tried to intimidate Russia by cutting off diplomatic contact over Syria, which is a veiled attempt to threaten Russia militarily, either from direct American intervention in Syria or indirectly by upping supply of anti-aircraft missiles to proxy terror groups.

Russia is having none of this American menacing. It proceeded to ramp up the military offensive along with Syrian forces to defeat the Western-backed terror groups in their last redoubt in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. If they vanquish the anti-government mercenaries there, then, the six-year foreign-fuelled war for régime change in Syria is all but over. In the diplomatic sphere, US Secretary of State John Kerry engaged with his Russian counterpart S V Lavrov for months. In diplomatic jargon, the two sides referred to each other as “partners”. However, in supporting opposing sides in the war and having diametric objectives, the real relationship between Washington and Moscow is clear… they’re adversaries. President Putin, an aficionado of judo and martial arts, once revealed part of his pugilist philosophy learned from growing up on the mean streets of postwar Leningrad… if a fight’s looming, then, don’t hesitate to strike first. Something of this philosophy just played out in Syria. The ceasefire plan worked out by Kerry and Lavrov was never possible, but we can commend both Russia and its Syrian ally for giving peace a chance by initially abiding by the ceasefire declared on 12 September. However, with the various foreign-backed insurgent groups continuing violence with hundreds of truce violations, it was clear that there was no chance of any kind of peaceful resolution. Furthermore, the much-vaunted American appeals for separation between so-called “moderate rebels” and proscribed terrorist brigades were a fallacy. All along, the Americans, their NATO allies, and their regional client régimes supported an array of illegally armed insurgents… terrorists. There’s no separation.

The deadly American airstrike on a Syrian army base in Deir ez-Zor on 17 September was the final proof that the Americans were never serious about calling a ceasefire. It was always about exploiting a much-needed relief for the foreign-backed terror proxies, which Russia and Syrian forces had hammered for the past year. Now, Russia and Syria shall resume their defeat of the terror brigades with even more vengeance because the failed ceasefire proved the fraudulence of Washington’s position on Syria… as not the backer of moderate rebels, but as the sponsor of terrorists, the same sort of terrorists who allegedly carried out the 9/11 attacks in New York City, which supposedly justified the USA’s foreign wars over the past 15 years. Now, here’s where Russia’s move in Syria becomes even more profound. Last weekend, after the Western media propaganda blitz about humanitarian suffering in Aleppo, Moscow issued a pointed statement warning that if the American-led military coalition, which is illegally operating in Syria in the first place, were to attack Syrian government forces again, then that would entail a “tectonic shift” for the region. Moscow’s statement was an unmistakable warning that any further American-led military action in Syria would mean all-out war.

This week, the Minoborony Rossii followed up this line in the sand by disclosing that it deployed the fearsome anti-aircraft/anti-missile S-300 missile system in Syria. Notably, too, the S-300 deployment came two days after Washington said that it was cutting off diplomatic talks with Russia over Syria. In other words, if Washington’s diplomatic snub meant to intimidate Russia, then, it clearly didn’t work. The stakes are higher than just the conflict in Syria. For at least five years, since Washington jettisoned its putative “reset policy” with Moscow, the American-led NATO military alliance pursued what can only be described as a policy of hostility towards Russia, a policy whose tacit logic is eventual war. Washington wants Russia to capitulate to its global hegemony, to revert to its pathetic vassal status as we saw under Yeltsin’s weak post-Soviet leadership. When Putin assumed power 16 years ago, Russia stopped being an American shoeshine boy. The country recovered its independence and national pride, as well as, crucially, its military prowess. Because of this independence, Washington and its European lackeys embarked on a geopolitical strategy of undermining Russia in every conceivable way, through NATO intimidation, political and media demonisation, and economic sanctions. However, this week, it appears that Putin finally had enough of relentless bullying from an American tyrant that is so out of line it found itself hopelessly wrong-footed.

When Putin announced the end of the bilateral accord with Washington to dispose of nuclear-weapon-grade plutonium, he said, with correct assessment, that it was because the Americans failed to keep their side of that bargain, and, moreover, because of the wider American hostility towards Russia on a raft of international issues, including Syria. Significantly, Russia demands that if the USA wants to resume the plutonium accord, then, it must fulfil several conditions. They include scaling back NATO forces on Russia’s borders, ending political harassment, scrapping economic sanctions, and compensating Russia for all financial losses. The BBC described Russia’s demands as an “astonishing list of conditions”. The point is that Russia knows that it gained the upper-hand over its American adversary. The Russian bear patiently tolerated unremitting provocations from the arrogant Americans for years. Even the ultimate US provocation of threatening Russia with war failed to deter Moscow from pursuing what it knows is right… to be treated with respect as an equal. The past year demonstrated that Russia has the military capability to face down any American threat, including the abominable threat of nuclear war, which the Americans repeatedly menaced through sly comments issued by its Pentagon chiefs. It seems not a coincidence this week that Russia announced defence drills involving 40 million of its citizens. In effect, Russia appears to be saying to the USA… we aren’t afraid of anything, we’re ready to defend our nation with even better capability than you have, so don’t even think about going to war. Washington can bluster all it wants about mulling military options in Syria, as it does in the Ukraine and elsewhere. Nevertheless, it’s futile bluster because Washington knows now that Russia slammed it with a geopolitical judo swing. The worst thing an adversary can do is underestimate an opponent. The arrogant ignorant Americans have certainly done that with regard to Russia.

5 October 2016

Finian Cunningham

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201610051046020974-putin-us-geopolitical-judo/

Sunday, 1 November 2015

1 November 2015. They All Had Faces… They All Had Names… BASTARDS!

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25 of the victims of the aircrash in the Sinai were kids. KIDS. INNOCENTS.

There are three main culprits in this. Firstly, there were the putative perps… ISIS. If you thought that ISIS wasn’t long for this world before, trust me, it just signed its death warrant with this. All of Russia is now convinced that ISIS did this. This terakt* did nothing but to fill every Russian with a cold and terrible resolve… there’ll be no rest until all of ISIS lies safely in the grave. Secondly, there are the Uniate/schismo nationalists in the Ukraine. They danced for glee at this. Their social media posts were full of rejoicing and chortling. Make no mistake on that, Russians saw that, too, as did the patriot elements in Novorossiya and the rest of the Ukraine. That inhuman and bloodthirsty outpouring drove the last nails into the junta’s coffin. Mind you, they’ll stagger on for a while, yet. However, no Russian wants any part of them or their lunacy. Thirdly, there were the Langley puppeteers of ISIS and the Uniate/schismo nationalists… if this turns out to be a terakt, it’ll have “Made in the USA” stamped all over it. American neoliberal “conservatives” have no regard for human life or common decency, as one can see in the actions and words of Chilly Hilly, John McCain, Barack Obama, Butcher Biden, Ted Cruz, Victoria Nuland, John Kerry, and Paul Ryan. Note well that both Republicans and “official” Democrats are equally bloodthirsty murderers.

Official America has fallen… it REFUSES to get up. IT REFUSES. Reflect on that, and reflect on it well.

Никто не забыт, ничто не забыто! Nothing is forgotten, no one is forgotten!

America had best understand that violence, trickery, and deceit can only take one so far…

  • Terakt: Russian acronym for “terrorist action”

BMD

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Perhaps You Missed It: We’re at War with Russia

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The USA is waging economic, financial, trade, and political war against Russia and even kinetic war-by-proxy in the Ukraine. Worryingly, nobody in power in the USA or Europe really seems willing to tell us exactly why. From the Russian point of view, everything from its plunging rouble to bitter sanctions to the falling price of oil is the USA’s fault, either directly or indirectly. Whether that’s fair is irrelevant; that’s the Russian POV now. Therefore, no surprise, it doesn’t dispose them toward goodwill negotiations with the West generally and the USA specifically. Until the arrest Monday of an alleged Russian spy in the Bronx, the anti-Russian stance in the American media had quieted down significantly, presumably, as the political leadership moved its attention on to other things, leaving Russia largely out of the American news cycle. Throughout, though, there continued to be plenty of serious action taking place in Russia and the Ukraine… including what one could describe as a re-escalation of the conflict in Novorossiya… as well as related activity in the USA deserving of our careful attention.

The USA (via John Kerry) and NATO steadily accused Russia of having funnelled hundreds of tanks, APCs, and other heavy equipment to the Novorossiyan forces. These assertions bring to mind the Sherlock Holmes case of the dog that didn’t bark, where the absence of a piece of evidence leads us to a very different conclusion than the one the American political establishment would like us to believe. The sorts of weaponry that NATO and the USA charged Russia with providing are virtually impossible to hide from the air. Snapping high-resolution photos of such war machinery is child’s play for today’s military satellites, and even civilian ones too. If the assertions were true, we should’ve seen a flood of photographs of Russian heavy equipment every step of the way as it passed into the Ukraine. However, no one offered such, not even one so far. Moreover, the simplest explanation for this is that none exists. If they did, you can be 100 percent certain that the US government would’ve released them and had them replayed repeatedly on CNN until everybody and their uncle could distinguish a T-72 tank from a T-64.

What concerns me even more than these undocumented charges are two especially ill-conceived, if not overtly confrontational, pieces of legislation passed by Congress in December. The first is H.Res 758, passed on 4 December, which, amongst other charges, accused Russia of having invaded the Ukraine, again without providing or referring to any sort of evidence photographic or otherwise. Entitled “Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighbouring countries aimed at political and economic domination” the resolution has a variety of one-sided assertions and leaves no diplomatic wiggle room for the possibility that Russia sees what’s transpired in the Ukraine differently. According to Ron Paul, these sorts of resolutions are dangerous because they politically commit the American political structure to rigid stances that’re politically difficult to back down from; historically, they’ve been a stepping stone on the path to war.

On 11 December, the Senate passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, or S.2828. This goes even further than merely condemning Russia; it authorises distributing both lethal and non-lethal military aid to Kiev, including sniper and assault rifles, mortars and shells, stinger missiles, anti-tank missiles, night vision goggles, radar systems, and a host of other hardware items. If we turned the tables around, if it were Russian lawmakers passing a resolution condemning the USA for a variety of international crimes for which they offered exactly zero proof, then, actively armed a dangerous conflict right on the American border, I think we all know just how ablaze with indignity the American political leadership would be, and rightly so.

Therefore, it isn’t surprising that Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said in response, “Both houses of the US Congress approved the Ukraine Freedom Support Act bypassing debates and proper voting. The overtly confrontational message of the new law can’t but evoke profound regret. Once again, Washington levels baseless sweeping accusations against Russia and threatens more sanctions”. The bizarre part of this story is that I can’t yet find any credible analysis or commentary explaining exactly what American interests in the Ukraine are so compelling as to risk increasing confrontation with Russia. Moreover, it bothers a great many analysts that the USA is on an increasingly combative course with yet another country without providing any evidence in support of its accusations and actions… again.

In response, Russia is rapidly withdrawing from additional dialogue with the USA and Europe, drawing ever closer to China, Turkey, and India. Russians feel that they’re already under siege from the USA, and that the USA has already committed acts of war. Despite being almost completely out of the American news cycle, events are in and around the Ukraine situation are actually picking up pace. On 15 January, junta strongman Poroshenko signed a decree mobilising 50,000 new servicemen to the front lines, whilst Russia announced that Europe would have to accept gas via Turkey, it’s shutting down the route through the Ukraine. This situation remains much more fluid and nuanced than the Western media is telling us, with much more to this story than a short column allows, those interested in delving deeper can read our latest report here.

In short, the situation is getting more strained, not less, and it has the very real chance of blossoming into something far larger and more deadly than the sparse coverage in the Western press might imply. If it looks like a war, acts like a war and smells like a war, it may just be a war. These events should concern everyone greatly, but especially European readers.

20 January 2015

Chris Martenson

MarketWatch

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/perhaps-you-missed-it-were-at-war-with-russia-2015-01-20

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