Category - Russian Federation

Putin Said to Explore Sidelining Assad Even as He Arms Him

Bloomberg, By Henry Meyer & Donna Abu-Nasr, September 13

Russia is sending signals to the U.S. and Saudi Arabia that it may allow Syria’s embattled leader Bashar al-Assad to be eased out of power as it seeks to forge a united front against Islamic State and retain influence in the region, officials and Syrian opposition leaders said.

Officials from the three countries, as well as from the opposition, have been negotiating possible terms for sidelining Assad since at least June, when President Vladimir Putin hosted Saudi King Salman’s son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed, they said. Saudi Arabia is Assad’s main regional enemy, while Russia is his longtime ally. Since then, Russia’s whirlwind diplomacy has brought key officials from across the region to Moscow for talks.

Syria’s civil war has traumatized the Middle East, spilling into neighbors and enabling the rise of Islamic State amid the turmoil. The latest Russian-backed efforts to end the conflict come as its fallout spreads westwards, with hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking refuge in the European Union.

Like every other aspect of the war in Syria, though, Russia’s policy isn’t straightforward. U.S. and Russian officials say they’re weighing a transition plan that would strip Assad of power while remaining interim head of state.

Russian Moves in Syria Pose Concerns for U.S.

New York Times, By Michael R. Gordon & Eric Schmitt, September 4

Washington — Russia has sent a military advance team to Syria and is taking other steps the United States fears may signal that President Vladimir V. Putin is planning to vastly expand his military support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, administration officials said Friday.

The Russian moves, including the recent transport of prefabricated housing units for hundreds of people to a Syrian airfield and the delivery of a portable air traffic control station there, are another complicating factor in Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeated efforts to enlist Mr. Putin’s support for a diplomatic solution to the bloody conflict in Syria.

The Russians have also filed military overflight requests with neighboring countries through September.

American officials acknowledge that they are not certain of Russia’s intentions, but some say the temporary housing suggests that Russia could deploy as many as 1,000 advisers or other military personnel to the airfield near the Assad family’s ancestral home. The airfield serves Latakia, Syria’s principal port city.


“We have regularly and repeatedly expressed our concern about Russian military support for the Assad regime,” said John Kirby, the State Department spokesman. “But we’re also watching their actions very carefully. If these reports are borne out, it would represent a very serious shift in the trajectory of the Syria conflict and call into question any Russian commitment to a peaceful settlement.”

Russia lays claim to vast areas of Arctic [again]

Foreign ministry says it has submitted bid to UN for more than 463,000 sq miles of sea shelf as competition for oil and gas resources heats up.

AP, August 4

Russia has submitted a bid to the UN claiming vast territories in the Arctic, the country’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry said in a statement that Russia is claiming 1.2m sq km (over 463,000 sq miles) of sea shelf extending more than 350 nautical miles (about 650km) from the shore.

Russia, the US, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, which is believed to hold up to a quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas. Rivalry for resources has intensified as shrinking polar ice is opening up new exploration opportunities.

VICE news: Russia Just Laid Claim to a Vast Chunk of the Arctic
CNBC: Move Over, Santa: Putin Claims the North Pole

National Endowment for Democracy is first ‘undesirable’ NGO banned in Russia

Washington-based nonprofit funded largely by US Congress, is the first banned group under a law against ‘undesirable’ international organisations.

The Guardian, By Alec Luhn, July 28

Moscow – The National Endowment for Democracy, a Washington-based nonprofit funded largely by the US Congress, has become the first group to be banned in Russia under a law against “undesirable” international nongovernmental organisations.

According to its website, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is “dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world” and has funded local non-governmental organisations in more than 90 countries. But in a statement on Tuesday, the prosecutor general’s office said it “poses a threat to the constitutional order of the Russian Federation and the defensive capability and security of the government”.

“Using Russian commercial and noncommercial organisations under its control, the National Endowment for Democracy participated in work to declare the results of election campaigns illegitimate, organise political actions intended to influence decisions made by the authorities, and discredit service in Russia’s armed forces,” the statement said.

Pando: What Pierre did next
After helping the State Department fund revolution in Ukraine, Omidyar is reportedly ready to invest in Gawker.

Breakaway Transnistria region could become next flashpoint with Russia

Moscow-allied de facto state between Moldova and Ukraine threatens to destabilize region

Al Jazeera, By Matthew Luxmoore, July 19

Tiraspol, Transnistria — Viktor Dobrov remembers the bullets. On June 19, 1992, receiving news of unrest at home while away on business in Russia, he flew back to Moldova’s capital Chisinau and spent three days making his way east through the epicenter of the country’s civil war, finally reaching the city of Tiraspol to rejoin his wife and 10-year-old son five days later on June 24.

“We walked across holding white flags. There were snipers sitting on the roofs, and shooting from all sides,” he recalled, pointing at a bridge across the Dniester River, which today demarcates Moldova’s border with the pseudo-state that emerged in the conflict’s wake.

By the time the Moldovan army’s efforts to reclaim the region were repelled by Russian-backed separatists, the military conflict had claimed some 600 lives. A ceasefire signed that July left a narrow strip of land running from the Ukrainian border to the Dniester’s right bank as part of a new, breakaway republic called Transnistria.

Despite being recognized by no official government, Transnistria has survived 25 years since declaring independence in 1990. Moldova has learned to live alongside its Moscow-backed separatist region, continuing to update contingency plans in the hopes of future re-integration. Meanwhile, Russia bases over 1,000 regular troops as part of its Operational Group on the territory, while an international peacekeeping force and a mediated program of negotiations help maintain calm.

Ukraine passes ‘historic’ constitutional changes to comply with Minsk agreements – Nuland

RT, July 17

Constitutional amendments just approved by the Ukrainian parliament have found whole-hearted support from US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who sees them as a sign that “Ukraine is doing its job” in meeting the Minsk agreements.

The amendments passed by lawmakers in the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada grant special status to the country’s war-torn eastern regions, as is stipulated in the Minsk agreements. The changes are said to be a step towards “decentralization” of the state.

The change in Ukraine’s basic law still needs to be approved by the constitutional court in Kiev.

It was very exciting to stand in the parliament and see the vibrant democracy in action; see the real debates and not fake discussions of old,” said Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at a press briefing at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center, according to the center’s press-release.

Islamic Battalions, Stocked With Chechens, Aid Ukraine in War With Rebels

New York Times, By Andrew E. Kramer, July 7

Mariupol, Ukraine — Wearing camouflage, with a bushy salt-and-pepper beard flowing over his chest and a bowie knife sheathed prominently in his belt, the man cut a fearsome figure in the nearly empty restaurant. Waiters hovered apprehensively near the kitchen, and try as he might, the man who calls himself “Muslim,” a former Chechen warlord, could not wave them over for more tea.

Even for Ukrainians hardened by more than a year of war here against Russian-backed separatists, the appearance of Islamic combatants, mostly Chechens, in towns near the front lines comes as something of a surprise — and for many of the Ukrainians, a welcome one.

“We like to fight the Russians,” said the Chechen, who refused to give his real name. “We always fight the Russians.”

Via Information Clearing House: Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists

We are the propagandists: The real story about how The New York Times and the White House has turned truth in the Ukraine on its head

A sophisticated game of manipulation is afoot over Russia: power, influence and money. U.S. hands are not clean., By Patrick L. Smith, June 3

A couple of weeks ago, this column guardedly suggested that John Kerry’s day-long talks in Sochi with Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, looked like a break in the clouds on numerous questions, primarily the Ukraine crisis. I saw no evidence that President Obama’s secretary of state had suddenly developed a sensible, post-imperium foreign strategy consonant with a new era. It was force of circumstance. It was the 21st century doing its work.

This work will get done, cleanly and peaceably or otherwise.

Sochi, an unexpected development, suggested the prospect of cleanliness and peace. But events since suggest that otherwise is more likely to prove the case. It is hard to say because it is hard to see, but our policy cliques may be gradually wading into very deep water in Ukraine.

Ever since the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, reality itself has come to seem up for grabs. Karl Rove, a diabolically competent political infighter but of no discernible intellectual weight, may have been prescient when he told us to forget our pedestrian notions of reality—real live reality. Empires create their own, he said, and we’re an empire now.
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Today’s Victory Day celebrations in Moscow mark a turning point in Russian history

Vineyard of the Saker, May 9

Today is truly a historical day. For the first time ever, the West has boycotted the Victory Day Parade in Moscow and, also for the first time ever, Chinese forces have marched on the Beautiful Square, (“Red” square is a mistranslation – the “Red Square” ought be called the “Beautiful Square”) with the Russians. I believe that this is a profoundly symbolic shift and one which makes perfectly good sense.


Both Russians and Americans are quite aware of what is at stake and neither side can back down. On one hand, if the US/NATO/EU prevail, they will have succeeded in breaking the Russian “back” and Russia will rapidly be submitted. Should that happen, all the BRICS countries will soon follow, including China. On the other hand, if Russia prevails in the Ukraine, then the US grip on the EU will soon be weakened and, possibly, lost altogether and the entire world will see that the Empire is crumbling. Should that happen, the entire international financial system will escape from the AngloZionst control and liquidate the petrodollar. The consequences of such a collapse will be felt worldwide.

The presence of Xi Jinpin next to Putin on this historic day, the participation of the Chinese military in the parade and the presence of PLA Navy ships alongside the Russian Black Sea Fleet, is a direct and powerful message to the world: in this titanic struggle, China is fully throwing her weight behind Russia.

[Sidebar: Notice on the photo of Xi and Putin that there is one more absolutely crucial figure sitting next to the war veteran: Nursultan Nazarbaev, the President of Kazakhstan. The crucial role this man has played to shape today’s world has not been recognized, but with time I am sure it will. Long before Putin, it was Nazarbaev who did everything in his power to prevent the breakup of the Soviet Union, the creation and strengthening of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union. I would note that Putin has, on several occasions, expressed his deep admiration for, and gratitude to, Nazarbaev whom he has explicitly described as the “father” of the new Eurasian union.]

This is the “new Russia” – one literally flanked by her two allies, China and Kazakhstan. It is hard to over-estimate the importance of this event: for the first time in 400 years Russia has finally fully turned her face to her natural ecosphere – the East.

Barack Obama: Two Time Nobelist?

You’ll no doubt recall the hue and cry when Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his stand on nuclear non-proliferation and his attempts to engage the Muslim world. Both the right and left in this country had great sport at this — and here I’ll agree — premature awarding of a prize to a man with few signal accomplishments in foreign policy, apart from being “not Bush”.

Six years later and I think it’s time to give him the Prize for real this time. Think about this past year: for a man who started his administration hoping to hit singles and doubles in foreign policy (consumed as he had to be by the domestic economic crisis), he’s kind of knocked a couple out of the park, provoking admiration from aboard and from mainstream Americans, and consternation from the idiot fringe that will sit on perches and poop all day, parroting “Obama bad, BRAWK!” Read More