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/

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/

Monday, 1 August 2016

The Problem with Blaming Putin for DNC Hack that Exposed Bernie was Cheated

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A popular internet meme asks how the Democrats can accuse alleged Russian hackers of subverting American democracy when the DNC leaks expose that the primary elections were a fraud. The most recent Gallup poll, conducted from 18-25 July, found that 58 percent of voters had an unfavourable opinion of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, with only 37 percent of voters saying they support either candidate… historically negative figures worse than ever reported for any candidate for the US presidency and a glaring red flag for American democracy.

It begs the question of how in a democratic society can a candidate opposed by more than 50 percent of the public can oppose the candidate… either one… who will ultimately take office as a representative of the people. This inexplicable reality faced by American voters, millions of whom according to a separate poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP) would choose a giant meteor crashing into earth and not selecting either of the candidates, in fact has an explanation as was learned by the DNC leaks. Donald Trump called it on 4 May 2016 when he posted on Twitter:

I’d rather run against Crooked Hillary Clinton than Bernie Sanders and that’ll happen because the books are cooked against Bernie!

The candidate whose selling point is actually that he knows the rigged system better than anybody else because he used to be a part of it, turned out not so surprisingly to be correct. On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks brought the proof to the party exposing a vague web of connections between top Democratic operatives, leading mainstream media “journalists”, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign who together conspired to push anti-Bernie narratives on the public and to launder money towards the former Secretary of State’s campaign whose millionaire and billionaire donors struggled to keep pace with Bernie’s small-dollar fundraising machine.

One email between operatives even stooped so low as to have a Democratic operative go out into the field to ask what Bernie Sanders “believes”… whether he was Jewish or an atheist… in order to mar the candidate in the eyes of the political staffers’ “Southern Baptist peeps”. Other emails included pushing the narrative that Bernie supporters turned violent in the wake of the Nevada Democratic Convention, itself subject to claims of impropriety by Democratic Party officials, even though Sanders supporters didn’t engage in physical conflict or “throw chairs” as was first reported by top Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston. The DNC asked that this narrative be pushed “without attribution”… that the fiction not be traced back to Party officials. The emails also expose a steady pattern of reporters routing through the DNC before their own editors, Democratic Party officials being able to pre-select the questions asked of Clinton or her surrogates, and fundamentally altering the manner in which the mainstream media covered the race.

The fix was in. They stole an American election. The people must choose between two major candidates who hardly rate higher than arsenic poisoning in the public’s opinion. That’s why the narrative that Putin somehow attempted to rig the American election is so cartoonish… it was already rigged. Arvin Vohra in an interview with RT said:

I think pointing the finger at the Russians is just a way to distract people from the central issue, which is that the DNC was using a rigged game to prevent the popular guy from actually getting the election.

He’s right. Unfortunately, the mainstream media adopted that strategy whole hog from the first time that the words were uttered from the lips of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook, who concocted a conspiracy theory out of whole cloth that’s now the election’s lead narrative. When asked about allegations that Russia was behind the DNC email leaks, Minister of Foreign Affairs S V Lavrov blasted the reporter, saying, “I don’t want to use four-letter words”. Many Americans probably feel the same way, but those folks will never have a chance to vote for their candidate… at least, now, they know why.

30 July 2016

Sputnik International

http://sputniknews.com/analysis/20160730/1043793317/putin-trump-bernie-hillary-wikileaks.html

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Lavrov Called for End of Economic Blockade against Novorossiya at OSCE Confab

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Minister of Foreign Affairs S V Lavrov, speaking at a meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Belgrade, called for an immediate end to the economic blockade of the Donbass:

The most-pressing priority facing us is the immediate lifting of the economic blockade of the Donbass, which is totally unjustified. We remain convinced that the prospects for a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian conflict are real… no one contests this. To implement this, we must scrupulously carry through all aspects of the Minsk accords through direct dialogue, to ensure that the Ukrainian side doesn’t shirk its obligations nor assign blame to others, nor issue militant rhetoric to provoke a breach of the ceasefire. Our collective effort through the Normandy Quartet contact group and the OSCE mission special monitoring mission in the Ukraine should aim at settling the Ukrainian issue.

3 December 2015

NTV

http://www.ntv.ru/novosti/1579791/

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